Showing posts with label trailer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trailer. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gearing back up

So last week I got to pick up Adventure The Trailer from the repair shop.  They welded in a new "stud" and remounted the hi-tie on it - it's quite good work up close.  Yay!  Let's never do that again, Funder!
 And Evelyn, the Tights Lady, made me new tights!  After VC, I'd emailed her to see about getting the silver-stripe tights patched and getting some fleece tights for my next inevitable "and then it started snowing" ride story.

"Oooh!" she said.  "I've got just the pair in mind for you.  They're really crazy, but they'll be perfect for you!"

"Aiight," I said.  After you've spent two years in neon smiley face tights, "really crazy" is no longer a scary term.

They showed up today and they are incredibly comfortable, warm, and really crazy.  

Yellow full-seat.  (I am sparing you the butt pic.)
 Blue stripe on the left.
Purple stripe on the right.
It's gonna look awesome with my blue-and-purple gear!  BRING IT, SNOW, I'M READY NOW!

(Please, please, gods of snow, stop tormenting me now that I have the right gear?)

Anyway, if all goes well and I don't crash the trailer or lame the horse, I'm off to a day or two at Gold Rush Shuffle over Thanksgiving.  If I manage to avoid frostbite and not inexplicably chicken out and quit, I should get Dixie's and my 500 miles there.  Fingers crossed, please!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Broke horse, broke trailer

This weekend I got out to another regional park, Tilden, to ride with a new friend K and her friend E. K is an elegant, classy, former dressage rider who is interested in possibly slumming with us grimy colorful endurance folks, and she's bringing a green little Arab along on the trails.  E was riding another green Arab, not her usual mount, so we had a long slow afternoon ride.

I'd been planning on meeting them in the park's parking lot (man, that sentence looks really funny, but I can't think of any other way to say it without it being really clunky), but it was absolutely packed with cars.  There were like three major kid-and-dog birthday parties and a bunch of random people.  I drove into one lot looking for an exit, realized it dead-ended, and backed out of there like it ain't no thang.

Side note:  California drivers are just as idiotic as you've heard, guys.  I had people DRIVING AROUND ME as I was backing up.  Pugs biting my tires.  Dads leading toddlers straight behind me. Ugh.

But eventually I got turned around, and down the twisty road to the even twisty-er private driveway, and I found a nice pulloff and unloaded my phenomenal horse and got her ready to ride.  I accomplished all of this without any drama.  Because we're pros.

Isn't Gino cute?
We headed up to the park, past the miniature steam train and the birthday parties and the dog-walkers. Dixie was all "ain't no thang" about everything except the horse trough, which she refused to approach. Keepin' it classy, mare.  We wound our way up into the park, across a few roads and up and down hills, over a little spillway bridge and down the side of a dam.  I finally remembered to take some pics after that.
 Dixie was such a good girl all day.  The green geldings were silly and green, and Dixie didn't pick up on it at all.  She was just unflappable.  I'm so, so glad I put in the time on her.

Eventually we curved east and started climbing up onto the ridge to head south to the barn.  The footing got a little worse - I hadn't booted Dixie, and I should have, but we weren't going fast.
It was a really gorgeous day, maybe in the 70s and sunny.  I know, literally everyone who doesn't live on the California coast is really jealous, but them's the breaks - the weather here is awesome.  

We climbed a hardened fire-road for at least a couple of miles.  K, when you can trot up that and have horse left, you're more than ready!  

There were views from the ridge.  Mt. Diablo to the east:
And San Francisco to the west:
You can't see the Golden Gate Bridge through the fog in the strait, but you can see the city, Yerba Buena Island, Treasure Island, and the pretty new span of the Bay Bridge.  Yerba Buena is the hill in the Bay; Treasure Island is the flat bit of land just to the right. 
I like that one too.

We looped on back to the barn and I left Dixie at the trailer with a bucket of EGM pellets.  I chatted with K and E as they groomed their horses for a while, then realized that I had to hurry to get home and feed Cersei and the cats.  I trotted back to the trailer, stowed the buckets, yanked the rope off the hi-tie, and loaded Dixie.  Then I threw the stool and lead in the tack room, locked up, and drove away.  

(You probably know where this is going.)

I got up the drive to the road and started for home.  A woman on a horse yelled "your hi-tie is out!" as I passed her.  I yelled "Thanks!", muttered "fuck," and pulled over.  

Yeah, I crunched the shit out of the hi-tie.  

The pool noodle betrayed me.  It's supposed to be nice and visible so I notice the hi-tie's out before I hit a tree.  However, I will say that it sacrificed itself to save the precious fiberglass.  The hi-tie isn't even scratched.  
The guys at Barstad & Donitch are gonna fix it for me.  

I'm not embarrassing myself by telling you this just out of some sense of masochism.  (Although I'd love to hear your biggest facepalm I-can't-believe-I-did-that trailer mishaps!)  I want to talk about the actual stupid mistake I made.  

It wasn't "driving away with the hi-tie open."  It was "not having the right mental checklist ready."  

It's really important to have an unbreakable routine for a lot of things.  I have a really good one for actually hitching up the trailer, and I won't let anyone disturb me while I'm running through the steps of hooking up every bit of the trailer to the corresponding bits of the truck.  I have a pretty good one for checking my tack before I untie and mount up.  But I don't - or I didn't - have a good one for packing-loading-leaving.  

Everybody seems to have an irrational or quasi-rational phobia about trailering - I can't back this thing up, or what if the hitch comes off the ball, or what if the safety chains break - something that's unlikely to happen that you can't help but double and triple-check.  Mine is that the horse door will come open.  Since Dixie rides loose and backwards (and she rides so well that way I just can't change it), this would be epically bad.  I triple check the door latch.  Sometimes I don't make it out of the driveway before I jump out and check it again.  I get fixated on that latch.

And that's what I did wrong on Sunday.  I made 100% sure that the door was latched, and I wasn't thinking about anything else, and I didn't have a mental checklist to run.  

I think it should go like this, every single time no exceptions:
  • stow the tack
  • stow the loose junk, like hoofpicks
  • stow the buckets and haybag
  • tie the horse to the trailer
  • stow the hi-tie
  • stow the stool
  • load the horse
  • stow the lead, lock the tack room
  • check the horse door one last time
  • drive
If I always do that in that order, I won't have to visit the trailer mechanics nearly so often.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

Equine infrastructure improvements

This one's just a little roundup of Stuff I've Had Done to make endurance easier, in a general sense.

So when we went to Sunriver, I stopped for gas (in Weed, CA, and if you think they're not capitalizing on that name, you are sorely mistaken).  I was prodding at things while I was waiting for the tank to fill, as one does, and when I shoved at the spare tire mount on the tongue it fucking broke off in my hand. Oh. Shit.

So I threw the spare on top of the rest of the shit in the truck and away we went. But throwing the spare on top of the rest of the shit is really, really irritating, so I wanted to get a new spare tire mount installed, plus I wanted some attachment points to tie a bale of hay in the horse compartment.  I asked my semi-local endurance group (Quicksilver Endurance Riders) but their recommendations, universally, were for this one dude in Morgan Hill.  That's like 60 miles of shitty traffic from where my trailer lives, so I turned to Yelp and found Barstadt & Donitch, like a half a mile away, and talked to them about it.

They did lovely work!  I got the spare tire mounted where I'd originally wanted it mounted, above the fender on the driver's side.  (Yes, that's a shitty place if I have to change a tire on the road, but mounting it on the passenger side would interfere with the hi-tie/horse care, and I hi-tie a hell of a lot more often than I change tires on the interstate.  Plus that's what US Rider is for.)

They know what they're doing.  The problem with trying to DIY it was that the perfect attachment point is between two of those metal studs, and I really wanted it attached to the studs.  They bolted horizontal metal straps down, attached at each stud, with the actual mounting rings positioned in exactly the right spot to snug the bale down as smoothly as possible.
 Works with the divider in use...
 And with the divider open.
The shitty bungee is for photo purposes only, and after I took those I went home and found a nice new racheting tie-down.  Nothing is impossible where horses are concerned, but it would be very difficult for Dixie to get a foot in that strap.  

My hay stayed put for the whole Tahoe Rim trip - with just Dixie, riding backwards, to Lucy's, then we popped Roo in the front stall and put Dixie riding forwards in the back stall.  It's out of the way for her and much, much easier for me than loading and unloading a huge Cali bale in the back of the truck.

Mel and I persuaded her brother to weld me a homemade hoof stand too.  I picked it up on the trip to TRR and OH MY GOD NO ONE TOLD ME HOW AMAZING THEY ARE.  I had become gradually confirmation-biased over the years - I knew a hoof stand would be nice to have, but a mass-produced retail hoof stand costs as much as a ride entry!  I'd done ok trimming without one, and that just proved that I didn't really need one.  I still think you don't need one but lordy mercy they're nice to have.

Anyway, T said I had to paint it so it wouldn't rust.
 Black was boring though.
 I made a bunch of stencils and did it up in my usual tasteless style.

You'll know it's me when I come through your barn
I'm gonna trim that horse in style
I'm gonna drive everybody wild
'Cause I'll have the only one there is around.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Never let them tell you that they're all the same*

The One Point Five Year Plan is coming to a close. As you may or may not know, because I talk about it all the time but in indirect ways, last December my husband took a job in San Francisco, with the ultimate goal of moving me + the four-leggers + all the stuff out there in 12-18 months. Now, the 18 months is at an end and we (the Nevada part of the collective) are making the Great Leap Westward.

My dashing husband has arranged the house on the other end of the trip. This was no small feat, and I'm not downplaying his involvement - but if he wanted to tell The Internet about his life, he'd have a blog. I have:

Fought down my Zen desire to throw away all our stuff, and instead neatly packed it.

Arranged for shipping containers.

Loaded one of the containers.

Hired Big Dudes to load the rest of the containers.

Consolidated and packed all my Horse Stuff.
This is a "mobile tool carrier" from Home Depot, and it's also a sweet tack trunk.

The bottom has electrolytes and psyllium. Middle has vitamins/random crap. Upper has trimming tools / more random crap.

Done necessary truck and trailer maintenance and upgrades.
The truck needed its SHOCKINGLY EXPENSIVE 30k mile service. The trailer needed some minor Dixie-clysm repairs, plus a new spare tire mount. Remember when I made a cabinet? That killed the tack room spare tire mount, so I needed a new one.

Gotten the cats, dog, and horse UTD on vaccinations and health stuff.
^^ Ok, not post-vax, that's just how he likes to sleep in the bathroom. FOR REALS, post-sedation for tooth floating:
Not so good at walking.

Arranged for a reroof of the house. Pix forthcoming. SEE? I don't ALWAYS do it myself!!

Cleaned most of the house (minus the room I'm living in, the kitchen, and the bathroom I'm showering in).

Arranged for Horse Living Quarters (at the barn I liked the most, in Portola Valley!)

Washed the horse's nasty mane, and took a video that's too large to wirelessly transfer, and will be the subject of a future post.

Let no less than three sets of strangers potential renters tour the house in various states of horrible disarray.

Tomorrow is T-1 Day. All I need to do is clean the bathroom and kitchen, pick up the last couple weeks of dog poo, hook up the trailer, take the last of the recycling to the dump, load cram all the stuff in the barn into the trailer, return the cable modem, pick up my Coggins and health certificate for Dixie, pre-load the truck, clean the kitchen and bathroom, and sleep peacefully. Then Friday I can feed Dixie, trap the cats, finish loading the truck and trailer, and roar over Donner and into San Francisco with everything I own. Piece of cake.

(Wish me luck!!)

*Going to California, Led Zeppelin

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Enclosing a stock-type trailer, or, we are *go* for ROM

First, the weather forecast has improved.

The forecast earlier this week had a low of 19 Friday night and a high of 43 on Saturday. Today's forecast calls for a low of 34 with calm winds Friday night, and a high of 46, calm winds, and a 40% chance of precip on Saturday. I would feel like an asshole having my horse hi-tied with a blanket in a blizzard, but the Friday night forecast is not bad at all.

And on the Funder Comfort Front, I have completed my latest redneck trailer modifications. Thanks for the good suggestions (especially CG and cndcowgirl, for the board idea, and AareneX for the buddy heater). I know Caitlin wanted deets on the mod, so here's what I did.

This is one of my fastest projects ever, from idea to usability, so I feel like there's a lot of little details I've missed. Here's what I thought of, though:

I wanted a solution that would fit in the bed of the truck. I wanted something that I could put up and take down, in the Nevada Wind, all by myself if need be. I did not want a dark cave, and I did not want to spend TOO much money since this was so last-minute. Of course it has to be horse-safe, and it has to be person/dog safe.

I had two problems: How to block the wind, and how to (safely) shut the trailer with me inside. I spent a good three hours slowly browsing Lowes and Home Depot, and I found one possible solution that exceeded my spur-of-the-moment budget.
You could mount u shaped aluminum channels to the top and bottom of the trailer "windows". Add some bolts at one end, slide your plywood/plexiglass in, and screw in wing nuts at the other end to hold the panels in place. The only problem is that the channels are $10 per 8', and I'd need 7 or 8 of them.

So I went with choice #2, which is not nearly as classy looking but very functional: bolts. I bought a bunch of 1/4" carriage bolts, washers, lock washers, nuts, and acorn nuts.

Since I wasn't planning on making this road-worthy (it just doesn't get THAT cold here!), I went with 1/4" plywood. Well, I think I got 11/32", actually. 1/4" would work, but I'd worry that anything thinner would flex too much in the wind. I had dreams of doing the whole thing in plexiglass, but dag yall, that stuff is expensive! I got one little flimsy piece, 24x36, for like $30.

Here's how my trailer window bars are laid out:

Notice that on the sides, the horizontal bars are on the inside of the vertical bars. The gate is smooth - the horizontals and verticals on it are welded together flat. One of the problems I envisioned with hoisting a piece of plywood over my head and trying to slam it down on some bolts was that the bolts might shift back into their holes. The main reason I went with 1/4" carriage bolts was because I knew I had a 1/4" drill and tap set. For the gate, I drilled and tapped the holes (that means you drill a hole that's slightly smaller than what you need, then you use the tap bit to ream out spirals for the bolts to bolt into - it makes the hole you drilled look like the inside of a nut.) But honestly, that's a pain in the ass, so I mounted my bolts on the inner horizontal bars for the side pieces.

You can see what I did pretty well on the plexi shot:

The flat side of the bolt is inside the trailer. There's a nut securing the bolt in place against the trailer bar, then a space, then the wood/plexi, then a washer and a nut. (I ended up swapping out those bolts for some slightly shorter ones, so I don't have to use THREE nuts, just the one against the trailer and one acorn nut holding it all on.)

The easiest way to mark the holes will be to drill and place your bolts and have your helper hold the board on the outside, while you stand on the inside and mark the spots you need to drill. Should you have misplaced your helper, this is the best I came up with: drill and place your bolts, cut your wood to size, and slam it up from below so the top of the wood hits the bottom of the bolts. Mark the wood, drop it, and measure from the top of the windows down to the bolts, then transfer those measurements to the wood. That's what I did. Obviously, there are no pictures of this process.

After I got everything fitted, I primed the outsides so it wouldn't look so horrible - eventually I'll prime and paint both sides. And I routered directions on there, so I wouldn't waste my time trying to hang them upside down and so I won't suffocate.

If you don't have a router and this isn't a good enough reason to go buy one, just drill some air holes. A lot of air holes.

From the inside, it's surprisingly cozy and bright. The window is on the hi-tie side, duh, so I can stand up and glance out at Dixie.

Here's how I solved my second problem of how to shut myself inside.

I bolted some eyebolts in the plywood and "tied" them together with that double-sided camping velcro. It's plenty strong enough to hold the door closed but it would be very fast to undo if I needed out in a hurry. Since the boards won't stay up when the horse is in there, I'm not worried that she's going to put an eye out somehow.

I need to add a couple more bolts and hooks to the plywood. I want one to hang my tiny LED lantern from, and a tiny bolt to hang the carbon monoxide detector, and probably a couple more for reasons I can't think of right now.

I am pretty confident that this will work just fine. We have had Wind for the last two days - I wrestled those boards up for multiple test fittings in honest 40 mph winds. Today I put everything together in gentle 20 mph breezes and went inside with the little buddy heater, and it warmed the space up in about 5 minutes.

  • I think, instead of using the linchpin, I will padlock the door bar so I can't be accidentally locked inside by some well-meaning clueless asshole.
  • can put the panels on from the ground, but it's easier if I stand on my little stepstool/mounting block that lives in the tack room.
  • I still need to go back and drill new weep holes in the horizontal bars, just in case moisture gets in.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Installing a Hi-Tie on a Trails West Adventure

I think this is the only possible place to mount it. I googled for a while in the hopes that someone else had put pictures up, but no luck, so this is my contribution to the collective knowledge of the internet.

There's a steel header running horizontally just above where I mounted it, but it's too thick for the stock bolts. There's thinner studs around the tack room door, but the bracket is too big (plus it'd be awful to have the horse that close to the tack room). The vertical stud I mounted it to runs from the floor to the header, so it's as good as it gets.

All you need is a corded drill with a quality 1/2" bit. Be careful for the kick when the drill first punches through - you'll be on a ladder leaning into the drill. I just tightened the bolts with channel lock slip joint pliers. Locktite wouldn't hurt. Add some cap nuts if you think your horse could possibly put an eye out. A very easy DIY!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Trailer mods 101

Caitlin asked about tools. Jonni's touched on it, but I thought I'd post pics of my MVTs.

Here's my drill. It's just a Hitachi 12v. I wouldn't recommend cheaping out with a 9.4v, but you honestly don't need an 18v either. Have two batteries, and swap as soon as you think you're losing power.

The secret weapon: a drill and tap kit.

When you think you want to hang something, go look in the nails/screws/fasteners section of the hardware store and pick out your hardware. Eyebolts, carriage bolts, and screws all come in wood (pointy tip) or metal (flat tip) versions. Get the flat tip metal kind. Then go over to the drill bit aisle and look for the right size drill and tap kit. They're on little cards, just like the drill bits. You can get fine thread or coarse thread; get what matches your fastener.

The drill bit is just a good quality metal bit. It's a tiny bit smaller than the tap bit, which is where the magic happens.

My thumb is covering up the end that goes in the drill. The business end is slightly tapered, and it reams the metal into threads so you can just screw the fastener in. It's a little tricky to get it going - it usually takes me a couple tries - but when you've done it right, it spins a bit then screws itself into the hole. Unscrew it, then screw in your fastener.

You can see that I label bits with blue painter's tape. Yeah, a roll of it is expensive, but it unsticks cleanly - I've reused that piece of tape on those bits several times.

I like to use a dab of Loctite too.

There's a couple different kinds. This stuff will unlock with hand tools and force - they also make a kind that won't unlock without heat, but that's way overkill for our purpose. This just keeps vibration over time from unscrewing your hard work. (Is your wheelbarrow wobbly? USE LOCTITE.)

Hope that helps! Still thinking about all the good ideas and considerations for my bucket holders. I'll post when I decide something!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Trailer advice please!

I got some bucket clips that I'm going to bolt onto my trailer, but I'm not quite sure where to put them.

Here's the off side of the trailer.

A haybag (haynet, now that I finally got a small-mesh one!) hangs from a carabiner hooked onto the U bracket. Dixie is tied by her lead to the vertical bar above the U bracket. I'm thinking about putting the bucket holder right where that bucket is now - it could sit on the fender, out of (normal) foot-reach. I like to use those 8-quart flat-back buckets, since I don't feed much concentrate - the larger 20 qt ones irritate Dixie because she can't see while she's slurping up the last grains.

I usually put her water in a 5 gallon bucket or a big muck bucket (depending on the length of our stay) at the back of the fender. She's only knocked it over a few times there, and I check on her often enough that if the silly cow does knock it over, she can just go thirsty for a couple hours. ;)

Is that a good place to bolt a bucket clip? Any better suggestions? I think when I get a hi-tie, hopefully this summer, it'll still be a convenient place to feed. I've got short bolts and cap nuts to attach it, and the capped bolts should be out of her way when she's riding normally in the trailer.

I did a few more improvements too.

I don't want to fill up the water tank, go on a day trip, come home, and drain it before it freezes. I thought about getting those 5-7 gallon camping cubes, but then I decided 5 gallon buckets with snap-fit lids would work almost as well. I tapped holes for eyebolts in the "studs" of the trailer wall and there's a bungee keeping them in place. They're pretty stable, and the lids are tight - I filled them up and rolled them around some and they didn't come loose. Plus, it's a bit more weight up front to help balance the horse in the back. In the summer when I've got the big tank full, I can put hay pellets or grain in the buckets.

Hung a paper towel holder off the doorframe. I dunno about you but I always need paper towels.

Got AERC to send me a BIG sticker with my membership renewal.

The trailer is my woman-cave, and any person-cave needs a sexy calendar. Behold my Swedish Horsemen 2012 calendar! G just rolled his eyes when that package showed up for Christmas. The silver thing is a magnet keeping it in place.

Velcro'd up a little notebook to keep track of trailer mileage / maintenance / repairs.

One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne! Just cause.