It wasn't too long before an opportunity in Michigan presented itself. A complete Cad 390 engine and Hydra-matic transmission from a 1959 Cadillac were put up for sale. The pickup was empty and the price was right. Don offered up his place for an overnight stay and Ben and I hit the road for a quick turnaround. We made it back by Sunday afternoon though missed out by minutes on a Radarange. We may also have worn out a few cassettes….
Next thing you know, the Cadillac-LaSalle Grand National was staring me in the face. Betwixt the construction projects and travel, I was also working on the '59 CdV that's been off the road since '09. Brakes were completely dry and still on a single MC. The rebuilt engine was untested. The fuel system needed an overhaul including a new fuel tank, hoses and fuel sending unit, and the exhaust remained loud as hell despite throwing money at it back in '05. The leather was dry, the interior panels were once again discolored and the mice had made a real mess. But by the end of July, the car was ready, and we set out for Milwaukee with Ben and his '61 for the show. It was the perfect 'shot in the arm' needed to get the car ready and roadworthy and we had a great time traversing the countryside and taking in the other beautiful cars despite the rainy departure. I think we may have even made a few friends there.
With barely time for a breath, Cara, myself, and both grandmas, loaded into Grandma K’s Deville and set-sail for Walker, MN for a week of relaxation. This was the first 4th of July trip since my grandma sold her place so it was a little different game plan, but I'll save that for another entry. Let it be said, there was some Cracker Barrel on the way! The fireworks did not disappoint and Cara and I got in a little canoeing. We even came right upon a bald eagle perched on a branch enjoying a fish he had just caught. Our presence didn’t seem to faze him.
The '59 Pontiac became the daily-driver after putting exactly 1000 miles on it last fall. Mileage is probably triple that by now this year. The only issue has been a faulty fuel pump (new last year) causing a knock and occasional starvation issue. Easy fix once I figured it out.
For a brief while, we had a functioning 1957 dishwasher, after adding casters, replacing hoses, and sprucing things up a bit by adding a lighted dial. Unfortunately, it was not to be as the pump seal started leaking thereafter, so this one goes back on the list for repair. A GE combo machine was added to the collection and after a few hours work, is now in service. This was my first transaction with Uship and getting the machine from California to Iowa was interesting with delays, excuses, and break-downs, but it made it intact.
Almost every week there was something new in July…from getting tipped off about a CRP program and getting the ball rolling with the local FSA office, to finishing the rock and drainage at the pole building. I even finally pulled the trigger on a much-needed tractor at the local dealership which handled mowing duty, lane maintenance and snow removal this December. Plus hauling and transporting rock and other heavy things around the place (like toting a THM325 from the Lodge to the pole building in its bucket).
|Taking a break to enjoy a weekend bonfire|
By this point we were bearing down on August, and a welcome invite from some washer friends had us loading up the Sky and heading to Minnetonka, MN for the weekend. The weather was perfect as we enjoyed drinks on the lake, cruising away the afternoon. Just recalling it from the distance of this snowy January morning is enough to give me a little inspiration to get the Blue Gill restored. The trip was memorable for another reason as well….we almost died. A 4x8 sheet of plywood broke off of a semi we were about to pass and hit us square on, but since we were so low to the ground we were fortunate that it only skimmed us. Any other vehicle and the force would probably have tripped the airbags while we were doing close to 70MPH. This also meant that I had to deal with the transport company’s insurance and have the repairs made on the car.
But August was busy for other reasons, too. My failed attempts at trying to finish the Lodge EIFS had culminated with me tracking down Fernando. He took on the job but it was slow going, finally wrapping up almost a month later. Meanwhile I focused on the Annex siding. Finished the front, the rear and 95% of the west, though only the rear received paint treatment. My bigger focus was finishing CS3 and between rocking the foyer, installing pavers and milling cedar for the rear siding (which I painted a 2nd coat earlier in the spring) I’d say is just about there. I also discovered MMM and the potential of early retirement that month which I’ve written about prior.
|Trimming out the doors after EIFS completion|
During this time Cara and I were also busy sending out invites and securing Black Hawk Park for our wedding celebration (29Aug). The party was a major success even with torrential downpours the days prior.
September kind of snuck up on us. I found a little breathing room to get things ready before Geoff dropped in from Australia and spent a couple weeks. We paid the Kiwi a visit to exchange a teletype for a homebrew computer that was once a Mohawk Data Systems Key-to-tape unit and took in some super computers in an Iowa barn as well as a Delorean, but more importantly, toured the Iowa countryside in the Suburban on a sunny, but chilly, day, and had a memorable meal at the Dirty Dog.
|The '59 Catalina and '61 DeVille ventured to Montour, IA.|
The month marched on, I continued with my evening RR panel repairs for folks and struck up a deal with a seller on the east coast who had an actual RR-1. A friend is holding it until I can get out there in 2016; while I don’t want to count my eggs before they’re hatched, this would be a real centerpiece in the collection. Meanwhile, more dealing was taking place on setting up the CRP paperwork for next year. Cutting out costs and getting my insurance up to date, and deciding to sell off the Sky. I could either have that money working for me generating interest, or working against me as depreciation in a used car. Time to get serious!
Now it was getting cold and the prospect of snow was on the way. With the potential for MidAm to come in this winter and work in our field, I decided a gate and fence would be cheap insurance not only from trespassers, but also from damage to my personal portion of the lane from their heavy equipment. I cut up some of the old drive-in 6x6 timbers and Cara and I installed them along with a 12’ gate down near the tracks. It took a few weeks (not a lot of evening light in December) but I eventually got the barbwire fence put in along with the timber N-frames at each end. A come-along put the needed several-hundred pounds of tension on the barbed wire so I could get it tacked in place and supported. An educational project for sure.
I had wanted to get CS3 online in the fall, but eventually decided the only way to get the project moving forward was to skip connecting to water at that time (digging down to the well and installing an underground valve and drainage would have been a major undertaking). I can run an alternate path to the east side of the building at a later date, and the savings of trying to combine both in the same trench is minimal in the long run. After lining up the trencher, I got cold feet and decided to ‘play it by the book’ with the service entrance. It worked out as we spent all day trenching from the new gate to CS3, then CS3 to the Annex for power. We got a little snow a week later and the electrical inspector got back to me and gave the go-ahead for the service entrance. While not exactly a ‘fun’ time, cables were buried for power to the meter and for communication into the lodge.
We wrapped up the year with solar power up at the road, an automatic gate opener controlled from the Lodge, and full time power into CS3.