UPDATE: You’ll find this year’s ongoing ice report near the top of the column on the right of the page. Please contribute your observations as other readers consume them eagerly.

After a very quiet fall my inbox jolted to life this morning with urgent messages regarding the new ice.

Competition is already warming up for the ice-out contest, but the most interesting addition to Maggie Fleming’s email chain this morning has to be from Stephen Wasteneys, who thinks his brother Hardolph might now be trapped at the cottage by the ice.

The Len’s Cove camera is now in a new location, so you may wish to check out this link:


Update 9:20 a.m.

Stephen Wasteneys commented:

(My brother) is on Holder island. I just spoke with him and that part of the lake is still wide open so it is probably just the harbour where it is sheltered that has frozen.

He said the high winds of the last few days have significantly cooled the lake off however and with the right conditions it will go. He still has a few more days work up there, so hopefully it won’t ….



“We no longer seek the high road so into a valley of consequence we tread.”

Stephen Harper has led Canada from the middle of the road with his personal foreign policy project in Israel and armed adventures in the Arab world.

The ease with which a gunman made his way through the Parliament Buildings yesterday underlined the basic disconnect of this government from reality: Harper’s warnings of threats from IS were to scare up votes, not to justify preparations for an actual attack. No doubt he was as astounded as everyone else in the building when the mad gunman appeared.

Government by Stephen Harper is all bombast and spin with no thought of consequences except at the ballot box.

Canadians will absorb this week’s hits and resume our lives because we are a resilient people, but we must not allow anyone to take political advantage from this egregious error.



First came the cabin frame from Black’s Corners Motorsport to replace the original “roll bar” and screen on the Ranger TM. Turns out the stock cabin frame on early 2000′s Rangers wasn’t ROPS certified, so dealers had to install more robust frames for commercial use. Steve had three still in their original packages in his warehouse, so he sold me one for $250.

Then came a Kijiji purchase, a leftover metal roof ($150) from the dealer in North Bay. A centre-mounted mirror came from eBay for about $60.

As summer faded into fall I started to look for a windshield. The cheapie I picked is built from 3/16″ Lexan, ($256 from Extreme Metal Products). Then the exhaust fumes forced the dog to hang her head out into the slipstream, so the rear half of the enclosure was in order.

I had used spring clamps and red duct tape to hold the stern cover off our old sedan cruiser in place on Tony’s Ranger 500 last winter. This worked surprisingly well for ice fishing, so I ordered a pair of rear windows online at the lowest price I could find, $40 USD. The rather flimsy plastic in the new rear cover led me to suspect that it will likely break from impact during the winter, but if it does I’ll sew in a heavier vinyl panel from a boat canopy shop. The canvas portions and velcro straps should work well to hold a more durable rear panel.*  (See update below.)

The Ranger’s definitely more liveable now on dog-walks in rainy or cold weather.

A new battery from Ward’s Marina in Kingston ($165) gives the starter a lot more torque than before and should help in cold weather. The guys at the counter were surprised when I asked for parts for a TM. They had thought their red 2004 TM was the only one in the area. Used on the lot as a tow vehicle since new, theirs has 1300 hours on it with just normal maintenance.

“They’re bulletproof,” the owner commented.

*UPDATE:  7 November, 2014

I had to move the rear window down a couple of inches on the cabin frame in order to block exhaust fumes which were permeating the cabin from below the seat back.  The $40 rear window is a couple of inches too short-waisted to do its job properly.  When I get around to it I’ll screw on a 9″ strip of plywood or metal to fill the gap between the bottom of the cabin frame and the lower edge of the rear cover.  Then it should work fine.  With the device lowered to where it shows 3″ of air below the cabin roof the fumes are no longer a problem, though it’s not a viable long-term solution.  Next time I’d buy a more expensive model ($65.) which appears longer in the illustrations online.

The plug in my 16′ boat lost its centre tonight while I was fishing. When I got to the dock I called my slip-mate Tony and he told me he had a spare on the rear deck of his boat, but it was too small, so in the dark while the water gushed in I had to take his plug apart and fit it with the rubber from mine. Then it went in and the pump began to suck air.

It’s been a long time since I have had to fight to keep a boat from sinking. I’d forgotten how much fun it is.

The failed plug’s mechanism had corroded off some months ago and I had substituted a piece of steel for the brass, and then tonight the metal parts disappeared, leaving a drinking-straw-sized hole.

Just for the record, the plastic envelope artificial worms come in makes a lousy emergency bilge plug. A plastic bag is somewhat better until it washes upstream beneath the floorboards.

From now on I’ll keep two fresh plugs of the correct size on the rear deck by the engine.

With some shame I have plagiarized the following article from the excellent Winnipeg Free Press because I’m pretty sure it’s important to all Canadian gearheads.


By: Ashley Prest
Posted: 05/6/2014

If you are planning to buy a used vehicle in the United States and bring it home to Canada, a new U.S. government rule means a bit more legwork. If you don’t do it, it could cost you a lot more money.

What is the Automated Export System?

The Automated Export System (AES) is a mandatory filing requirement by the U.S. Census Bureau of Electronic Export Information (EEI). The exporter or authorized agent must file the vehicle’s EEI information using AES.

From AES, the importer (or authorized agent) will receive an Internal Transaction Number (ITN) number in a confirmation message. This number must be presented to U.S. Customs to bring the vehicle into Canada. (www.riv.ca)

The rule requires electronic export information (EEI) to be filed for any used “self-propelled vehicles” — any automobile, truck, tractor, bus, motorcycle, motor home, agricultural machinery, construction equipment or any other kind of special-use machinery designed for running on land — through the U.S. Government’s automated export system (AES).

“Starting April 5, the exporter in the U.S. is required to file automated export system information. They have to report to the U.S. Census to tell them who they are, what they’re sending, whom it’s going to, in a nutshell,” said Trevor Franzmann, sales and marketing manager at A.D. Rutherford International, a Winnipeg customs broker who works with customers on both sides of the U.S./Canada border.

“This is absolutely making it more difficult to buy a vehicle in the U.S. and bring it across the border.”

Statistics Canada’s international accounts and trade division figures for 2013 showed there were 1,332 self-propelled vehicles imported to Manitoba alone from the U.S., for a total value of about $44 million. Across Canada in 2013, there were 18,441 vehicles brought in from the U.S., for a total value of more than $555 million.

Since April 5, self-propelled vehicles exported from the U.S. to Canada are no longer exempt from AES filing. The filing must take place 72 hours prior to crossing the border.

A fine up to $10,000, under the U.S. Census Bureau foreign trade regulations, can be levied for failing to submit the AES information.

“It’s excessive, to say the least. The bottom line is it (the vehicle purchased) is not going to be allowed in the country (Canada) if you don’t file your AES filing,” Franzmann said.

An “informed compliance” period is in place until Oct. 2, giving people time to figure out the new requirements. Franzmann said Canadian buyers of vehicles from the U.S. should start complying right now or risk having the vehicle held up at the border.

“People should also be aware that, even though there is informed compliance right now, U.S. Customs has the right to deny you entry if you don’t file the AES,” he said.

Once the AES filing has been completed, an internal transaction number (ITN) will be assigned. The importer or a customs broker needs to present that number to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to bring the vehicle across the border.

“Simply, it ends up being the Canadian (buyer’s) responsibility to make sure AES filing is done, because that vehicle is not going to get into the country (Canada) unless you are provided with an ITN, an internal transaction number,” Franzmann said.

A potential problem is that to complete the AES filing, the U.S. seller is required to have a federal tax identification number called an EIN. Private individuals in the U.S. might not have an EIN number but, under the new rule, the American seller will have to get one to comply with the AES filing.
That means taking the time to apply to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and some private sellers don’t want to do that.

“What we’re telling our customers is find out if the seller has or will get an EIN number. If the seller won’t, don’t buy or get your money back,” Franzmann said.

Another possible point of confusion is which person is ultimately responsible for the AES filing.

Dale Kelly, chief of the U.S. foreign trade division, said that can vary with the location of the Canadian purchasing the vehicle.

“If the person from Canada (the importer) is actually in the U.S. at the time the goods are purchased or obtained for export, then that person/company/individual is considered the U.S. principal party in interest and responsible for the filing of the AES,” Kelly said in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.

“Only if the merchandise was sold by a U.S. person or company and the Canadian person never came to the U.S., then that U.S. company would be considered the U.S. principal party in interest.”

Canadians importing a vehicle must be prepared to meet all requirements at the U.S. border in addition to paying fees and taxes. Canadian Border Services Agency spokeswoman Esme Bailey said Canadians should contact the CBSA before they plan to import a vehicle by calling 1-800-461-9999 and visiting the website http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 6, 2014 A6

Toad goes biblical on Bet.

September 21, 2014

This afternoon my wife stepped out the back door with a steaming plate of sockeye Alfredo only to have a tree toad fall ten feet off the roof and hit the heap of penne noodles dead centre. No damage to the toad from the hot airbag, apparently, though he took some time to contemplate his adventure before moving on.


Adventures in the auto shop

September 21, 2014


This month has produced a series of adventures in auto repair. First came my young friend Sean Izatt on a Friday night with three friends to install a new exhaust system on his Subaru. The removal and installation went surprisingly well, considering that nobody had told Sean that he would need bolts to hold the thing together. We improvised and everybody learned useful things.

In my case I learned that manifold bolts aren’t rusted into the head the way they used to be, and in fact aren’t all that tight on a modern engine. So one can change an exhaust system without access to an ox-acetylene torch.

This knowledge stood me in good stead when the family Lexus started to growl soon after Sean’s visit.

With the hoist in the auto shop I didn’t seriously consider taking the car to the dealership for the job. When the Toyota parts guy confided that most dealership customers opt for off-brand exhaust systems I decided to give Walker a try, and ordered online from RockAuto.com.

In three days the exhaust system with gasket kit turned up at Wellesley Island Building Supply, the local Kinek outlet. I bought connecting bolts and washers at Baker’s Feed Store. With HST the materials for the project came to $673 CDN.

But while the pipes were in transit, Charlie arrived to collect a BMW race car he had bought in Austin Texas and had shipped to Watertown. This meant endless signal light repairs to two trucks and a trailer, as well as wiring my Tacoma with a brake controller.

When the driver backed the 1991 BMW 318 off the auto carrier it was covered with the accumulated grime of a four thousand mile ride, but it was clear that this is a quality machine built with the best of components. The paint job wouldn’t be out of place at a car show. It’s a very basic car, completely without upholstery except for the padding on the racing seats. No heater or cup holders here. No power steering, either. Engine bay space has been given over to a large straight six engine from a larger car. An electric fan pinned to the radiator pulls air through from the front. But every component seems to be the best that money can buy.

Charlie commented: “It looks like a low-priced runner built for someone with a hundred thousand-dollar car he doesn’t want to take to the track.”

Tom Stutzman and his beloved Tundra towed the Texas-plated treasure home to the farm.

The car had come with a history of coolant issues, so Charlie added a new, all-metal water pump and a new thermostat. Things didn’t go well until on Wednesday morning he found a blown fuse for the electric fan hidden under the wiring harness. With the fan in operation the coolant would stay in the radiator and not erupt like Vesuvius. A track session again became feasible, though with a very short timeline, so Charlie scrambled to get the car, my Tacoma and the trailer ready for departure Thursday evening for a long weekend at Mosport with the Porsche Club of Canada.

Early reports indicate that the BMW is a strong car, though it’s hard work to drive at Mosport without power steering.


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