My 1995 TAFE 35DI came with a very good bucket and a cab fabricated in the dealer’s shop. Clearly the tractor had been used primarily for winter snow removal, as it had only 340 hours on it when I bought it in 2004.

The door is a little narrow for my girth, so I decided to remove the entire cab for summer as I had a lot of mowing to do around my trees. Peter Myers made a replica of the top part of the roll bar and we lifted the cab right off the tractor and stored it. Peter’s replica bolted neatly into place and the roll bar was again intact.

Next I ordered a vinyl roof. $700 later it arrived with a sticker “For the prevention of skin cancer.”

Fall involves switching the cap and the cab by lifting each in turn into place by a chain block attached to the top beam of the car hoist and maneuvering the tractor into position beneath.

But the limitation of this cab, or “half a cab” as Lloyd calls it, is that it consists of laminated glass sheets fastened with caulking to the outside of a 1 1/4″ square tube frame. Vibration and sudden wrenches on the cab frame tend to stress the glass panels. One particularly energetic session this spring had broken one small pane outright and stressed a couple of others.

We removed the broken pane and I took it to Kingston Plate and Window glass. No problem, they would make a copy of the broken part at $18 per square foot, rounded corners included. When I picked it up I asked for a tube of caulking to fasten the glass to the frame. That’s when the trouble began.

Basically, silicone caulking won’t do the job. They suggested I talk to an auto glass expert, so today in Smiths Falls I stopped in at Dave’s Independent Auto Glass to inquire. The two guys about my age were very helpful.

The key part of the process is the sanding of the frame down to bare metal and the application of a special primer to both the frame and the area of the glass to contact the frame. One guy exhorted me to mask the area of the window I didn’t want painted black, as everyone gets wobbly with the little brush which comes with the primer — a small furry ball on a metal stick like a shoe polish brush back when they had such things.

Finding a warm room came first, as this is not a cold-weather job. I parked the TAFE in Ruby’s garage and lit a fire in the box stove. Then I had at the offended frame with an angle grinder, finishing up with my random orbital sander and 40 grit.

An hour and a half later the shop was warm, so I gingerly brushed the primer onto both frame and glass. Heady fumes there, almost recreational, but nothing exploded.

Then came the polyurethane caulk which holds modern windshields in place. They had warned me that it takes 72 hours to cure fully. I vowed to give up the shop for that interval, though I noticed on the tube that it claims a 2-hour drive-away rating. The nozzle with the caulking tube had an unusual slit in one side. Dave explained that the nozzle leaves a triangular bead on the frame which the glass then squashes into place.

I broke open the seal on the caulking and tried a couple of squirts with the caulking gun. The stuff had the viscosity of frozen tar.

Not to be defeated by arthritic hands, I went to the wood shop and collected my pneumatic caulking gun and hooked it to Charlie’s big-ass air compressor. Bet turned it on and I signalled her to shut the motor off as soon as the black goo began to flow. Too much pressure would empty the expensive tube in a couple of seconds. The large air supply meant that I could caulk the entire window with only a moderate reduction in pressure. With my smaller compressor I set the pressure to around 30 lb. to produce the same effect.

This tool cost a bit over $60. at Princess Auto. Its advantage is that it releases pressure instantly when the trigger is released. Cheaper models do not.

The bead went on nicely and held very well to the steel. At the last moment Bet placed a metal C-clamp on the bottom rail in what we hoped was the correct position to hold the weight of the window in case the caulk did not.


I set the glass on the clamp, tried to line it up, and pushed it up against the frame. It held. Bet placed a restraining hand upon it while I scampered up the step ladder to attach three strips of wide masking tape which I had previously set on the roof. They tightened up nicely and removed the risk of a crash. More bands of masking tape went everywhere, just to be sure.


The following morning everything had firmed up nicely, so I backed the TAFE out. If this window holds, I’ll replace two others.


After they released me from hospital Bet took the mower and cut three trails to the woods through the long grass.  Then she made us walk them a couple of times per day.  Last week I added to the cumulative distance by mowing around another eight-acre field. The roads through the woodlot make fine walking as well at this time of year.  I look forward to the trails now, though Bet and Taffy don’t always come along.

By the time we visited the chief heart specialist at the Kingston Heart Unit last week, my numbers were all very good.  He wheeled out a new diabetes pill which protects against heart attacks and kidney failure with only the occasional amputated foot if you don’t drink enough water.

There’s a sort of all-or-nothing culture in this department.

Then came the stress test. I’d never tried a treadmill before and found the nurse’s cheerleader attitude confusing.  

For months everyone had programmed me: “We call your heart condition the widow-maker. Do nothing strenuous or you may die without warning, or at the very least tear your chest apart.”  The entire staff of Kingston General Hospital was on about this.  Family, friends and the homework reading material sang the same hymns.  

Then this young heretic wanted me to knock myself out to impress her.

There was no upper limit on her demands.

I hadn’t seen yearning like this since I told the Liberal Party I would only send them money if they did NOT call me to ask for it.  

That works, by the way.

So I left some room for improvement on the next stress test, but the lungs, legs and refurbished heart worked fine for almost six minutes, flat out, as the nurse increased the treadmill’s speed and slope.  This is a non-athelete speaking here, remember.

My offer to take any cancellation at all got the physiotherapy moved from late February to early November. I argued there isn’t much one can do around a farm tractor to prepare it for winter snow removal if one can only lift 15 pounds. 

The first session is Thursday at Hotel Dieu.

In summary, I’m far from back to normal in strength and flexibility, but I don’t need pain killers any more, the healing’s going well, and blood sugar and hemoglobin are good. 

Apart from occasional trouble dragging the appropriate noun out of memory while speaking, my brain functions reasonably well.  I heard Bet tell someone one day that my disposition is good.

The lazy nouns may not be a bad tradeoff for a 20 lb. weight loss.

It’s a relief to drive again.

And I still can’t play the piano. 

Ruby’s air conditioning

October 25, 2017

Over the course of the summer it seemed that Ruby’s air conditioning system was becoming less vigorous.  Then I rode in the passenger seat on a return from Kingston one warm afternoon.  The passenger vent doesn’t work.  I cooked.  My wife is a lot more tolerant of the heat in a vehicle than I am.

For the rest of the summer we drove Bet’s Lexus to my many medical appointments.  Its excellent climate control and electronically cooled front seats won out.

As I recovered from the heart operation I put my scattered thoughts to the problem.  Leaving an elderly Porsche parked for weeks at a time wouldn’t do.  I recalled that Ruby’s longtime mechanic had recharged the system in B.C. just before Charlie delivered it to the railroad yard in Vancouver back in July of 2016.  I’d go to the local air conditioning shop and have it done again.

Google suggested Olgivie’s on Kilmarnok Island.  I made an appointment and turned up to find a clean facility with a lot of expensive cars, high-end pickups, and heavy trucks around.  The tech came out to listen to my request for a diagnosis, then returned with a printed statement that claimed one a.c. solenoid for the passenger side wasn’t working, but the cooling system works fine with less output on the right.  I gave them the requested $100 and left, more impressed with the car wash than the diagnosis.

Air conditioning performance steadily decreased until I feared for the compressor if it ran out of lubricant.

The next closest shop is Pat’s Radiator in Kingston.  After an initial talk with the counter guy I dropped Ruby off there for service between appointments at the hospital.  They vacuumed the system and recharged it with oil and refrigerant. Because the tech could find no leak, he added a green dye and suggested I have a look after a week or two of driving.  The counter guy told me small leaks often occur in this climate because of extremes of temperature and then can’t be located when it warms up.  Out of the blue he commented:  “You haven’t driven it very much, have you?”  I think he was referring to Ruby’s mileage and condition in comparison to its year. Generally techs in Ontario don’t expect much of a car built in 2003, but Vancouver cars have it easy.

My $238 was well spent, as the a/c now seems to work quite well.  No leaks are evident so far.  I’d take Ruby back to “Pat’s” for other repairs.

The blog’s called The Walnut Diary, so I decided to take advantage of some drone videos our son Charlie shot on Sunday.  He filmed on very high resolution, then uploaded them to You-Tube so that your computer can stream them at a resolution it likes.  With my Mac I need to turn up the resolution to 720 after it loads.

Charlie recommends turning off your sound while viewing.  It’s just motor, propeller and wind noise, anyway.


As recovery progresses, I am discovering new ways to hurt.  Yesterday’s session with the central vacuum cleaner hose was an eye-opener.  It looks as easy as can be, right?  Plug in the hose and push the nozzle around the floor.  But that nozzle is a bit over four feet from the operator’s right hand, and he moves it from side to side by twisting motions of his hand.  What do you figure the mechanical disadvantage of those movements is, 36:1?  And say the suction produces 1 lb. of friction on a hardwood floor.  That’s 36 pounds on your wrist to move it.  My wrists, arms, chest and all are restricted to a 15 lb. maximum load.  Lots of pectoral and shoulder pain overnight.

Today’s adventure was a drive in my neglected Toyota Tacoma pickup.  The truck started willingly after three months of idleness.  No problem.  It rumbled down the driveway and onto County Road 42.  Up through the gears, until it came time to shift into fifth.  Eyowch!  That movement against the little spring in the transmission to get into fifth really hurts on a muscle that must have been cut off six weeks ago.  I toughed it out with every upshift, but now that it’s home I think I’ll leave the Tacoma where it’s parked for a couple of weeks.


My economics prof once told us: “The only valid principle of taxation is that that tax is best which gets the most feathers for the least amount of squawking.”

Taxation is a messy, morally-ambivalent activity, especially so in a progressive democracy. I support Morneau’s efforts. In fact, tax reform is a precondition of my continued support of the Trudeau government. I am sure there are lots of voters in my situation who share this view.

Give Morneau a set of earmuffs and put him back to work at a dirty, distasteful job. He’s building a better Canada, though it’s sometimes hard to tell because of the feathers in the air.

Google discovered a more detailed examination of this topic I wrote on September 15, 2015:

I watched the videos the kids posted of our Thanksgiving Day walk.  There’s this pale, stiff, sick-looking old guy around the edges of the action.  Much thinner than before, though.  That’s because of the walking.

Bet quickly realized that I would grow bored with the driveway as an exercise track, so she headed off through the plantations of walnuts with the lawn mower, creating trails.  To my amazement she failed to hit a single rock. We now have a variety of routes with a choice of interesting foliage or panoramic views.  The entourage (Bet and the dog) accompanies me on most expeditions, so all are exercised on one-mile hikes, two or three times per day.

That part of my recovery is fine.  Legs, heart and lungs work well.  It’s the rest of the day that causes grumbles.  I can’t really do anything but walk.  This morning I tried to dry the dog and felt a sharp pain down the incision on my chest.  Oops.  Can’t stretch.  Yesterday I moved my Porsche out of the shop to its parking space.  Sore pecs for the remainder of the day from steering an SUV with power steering into a parking space!  Two days before I tried a little run on the Kubota equipped with a belly mower and hydraulic everything.  Sore pecs.  I literally can’t steer anything.

Of course any sort of housework is out if I can’t handle a steering wheel.

On the other hand, yesterday’s turkey and pie were outstanding, and we had a great time with Charlie and Roz and baby Ada, even if Bet had to do all of the work.

So far my bride still seems glad to have me around, but I’ll have to tread carefully in this area.