First 2021 project (a little one)

Yesterday the tide went out far enough for me and Sal to get at the lower terminus end of the highline. That lower ‘end’ is a large rock (bigger than small van) in the lagoon (at high tide, the rock is just submerged). We collected the tools, positioned our old Wacker Neuson genset on a pallet platform I built up (but without the little cover-shed I intend), made up the new 125′ long, 10/2 armored cable and laid out the new highline after pulling up the old one.

The highline starts at the top of the hill (about 75 feet in elevation but spread out over about 125′ of slope – it is a steep climb). We go up and down it pretty well but only because I have a long rope attached like a loose-hanging handrail that we can use to save ourselves from pitching forward as we descend and something to assist us with when coming up by allowing us to use our arms and legs to make the climb. Without that simple rope, we would very likely have tumbled more than a few times. And yesterday was a challenge even WITH the rope.

I had to take my Big Bosch Hammer (BBH) drill down to the big rock to drill a big hole into which I would epoxy a big 8″ x 3/4″ eye bolt. It was NOT a small job. Of course, there were all the logs we had accumulated in the way (they are waiting on the highline to be functioning before they can be lifted). But the Big Bosch man is heavy and the bits it uses are heavy and so is the additional extension cord, the tools and crap one needs to do anything. I figured my ‘tool’ bag weighed 40 pounds.

Forty pounds swinging loosely on you as you climb up and down a steep hill tends to throw you off balance with every step. Not to mention that weight also wanting to drag you down quicker than you want to go and making it a harder climb coming back up when the chore is done. And my balance ain’t what it used to be. I was careful.

But, first let me go on a small tangent: The Wacker Neuson (WN) is something else! I got it from a contractor friend when it had ended it’s second life. First it was a ‘commercial rental unit’ and used and abused by the construction industry for a few years before my friend took it on a clear-out-the-junk sale and he heaped more abuse and neglect on the poor beast for a few years more. When he was gonna chuck it, I came along. This is a poorly cared for (read: never) unit that still puts out 5600 watts while looking like it fell down a few rocky slopes like ours.

I took it because I have a ‘work station’ down at the lagoon for boat maintenance (done but once a year) and I needed power when I do that. That work station was too far to use an extension cord from one of my other two gensets back at the main workshop. I took the WN down to the lagoon a couple years ago and used it. It was good. But, in the tradition of neglect, I used it, I abused it and then I left it there for an entire year….. which, because the bottom of the boat did NOT need cleaning that next year, sat for a second year! The only thing I did right was to fill the gas tank to the top and run the carburetor dry before the two years of ignoring it. I finally went to get it and service it but, before I did, I pulled on the starter cord. Twice. It fired up! Ran like a clock. Left in the weather for two years, two-year-old gas, needing an oil change…..it fired right up!!??? WN uses a Honda engine and that accounts for much that but they must do something more to their ‘package’ for it to be that good.

Hmmm….maybe there is an anti-Murphy out there. Instead of screwing you over, Aunty Murphy sprinkles little miracles now and then.

Anyway, I was not going to repeat that neglect and so I hauled it up the hill and put the love to it and, with an oil change, etc., it ran even better. I then placed it closer to the ‘work station’ but NOT all the way. It was set 150 feet from my workshop but still another 150 feet from the lower workstation. And I think it put on a bit of weight. That old WN has to weigh in at 150 pounds +. In fact, part of the + was the little wagon I fabricated so that I could move it around. That little wagon weighs 30 or 40 pounds. Sal and I had to drag the WN-on-a-little-wagon over 200 feet along a rocky trail to put it in position. In the relocating, Sal must have pushed a switch……..and therein lies the story.

We got all set up. Drill was in place. I was in place down the hill perched somewhat off-balance on the lagoon rock. The genset was running. Everything was plugged in (and everything had been tested as working before we did all that heavy labour). I pulled the BBH trigger….and……nothing! No juice! WTH!!!!

Sal went up the hill to ensure the plug was still in (it had to be, it was a locking plug). Nothing.

For reasons unfathomable to me a lot of machinery no longer sports ‘English’ written labels and instructions. Nowadays, they use so-called universal symbols. Arrows, pictures of rabbits, decals sporting lightning bolts, gas cans embossed on lids and – one of the worst – an I on one side of a rocker switch and an O on the other. One of them means ‘on’, one means ‘off’. BOTH ‘on’ and ‘off’ start with ‘O’ !!!!!!!

Anyway, we worked all the symbols and switches and finally got it going again and the power flowed. I went down and drilled. Turns out the lagoon rock is only a few years away from eventually becoming a diamond. That was the hardest rock I have ever had to drill into. To get in 6 inches, I drilled for over half an hour.

Then we covered the ‘eye’ bolt in epoxy and hammered it into the hole using a small sledge. That required fifteen minutes of whacking to get it all the way in.

Finally, we attached the new ‘rope’ cable section (rope won’t rust) that is the lowest ten feet and connected it to the galvanized cable that runs the rest of the way up. That ten feet keeps the metal cable at least 6 feet out of the water. My last cable assembly (without the rope section) lasted 15 years. It got rusty and snapped at the very spot you’d expect – at the water line. This one should do at least 20-25. I will be oxidized off the planet by then.

Today, we fasten the top-side end of the cable. That is a simple job except that the cable has to be pulled tight/taught/bowstring-tight. That is a 3/8″ galvanized cable laying slack down a 125′ slope that we have pull taught and then fasten. Should be a piece of cake.

I hope Aunty Murphy is around.

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