Monday, May 1, 2017

Altoona, IA - Cars, Trucks and Amps

And, now it’s May 1, May Day, and I’m writing the first blog entry I’ve written since we got back to Iowa. I’m so far behind. In fact, one of the entries I wrote today was about a hike we took on March 27th. What gives? Have I been sleeping this whole time? Eating at Panera? No, we’ve been busy. These two old retired people have been busier than we were when we had jobs. But, that’s the story I hear from every retired person. The difference is that we’re not getting paid to be busy now.

One of the reasons we came back was because the closing on our new home was June 1 and we wanted time to make some changes in it before the fall came and we had some guests. (Oh, boy, summer in Mesa, AZ) Another was that Gary’s sister and brother-in-law, Cathy and Tom, were moving in early April and we thought we could help them. Then, we wanted to help my brother, Jack, buy a new truck and change his electrical system from fuses to breakers. It’s always easier to have someone else’s opinions on big purchases like those. (Not that he listens to us much but we thought we’d give our opinions.) Finally, we had to empty our storage unit so that we could take what we still wanted down to our new home in Mesa.

I’ve got some pictures of what we’ve been doing. First, here’s my brother’s electrical system. The house was build sometime in the 1940’s and it still had fuses. My brother took some pictures to show us his system. (He loves to take pictures with his new iPad.) Here’s one box.
And, here’s the box that was installed for his dryer later.
Do these look old or do they look old? But the problem is that the wires in the house are 20 Amp and my brother has installed all 30 Amp fuses. Well, he wanted to avoid having to replace them when he had his TV on while he was drying his clothes, running the AC and heating some coffee in the microwave while the refrigerator was on and he was running on his treadmill. You see the problem here. 30 Amp fuses on 20 Amp wires just tends to burn and melt the insulation on the wires and cause fires. No big problem, right?

Time to update. And, update he did. Shiny, new, up-to-date. BUT - the house still has 20Amp wires.
He found himself running downstairs when the breaker tripped. ‘No problem’ says Jack. I will just put in 30 Amp breakers. But now, you’ve got 30 Amp breakers on 20 Amp wires. Hmmm. Gary worked with him to track which fuses matched which switches and made a slight change. But that still did not work so it looks as if Jack and Gary need to look at it a bit more. But - maybe Jack can’t run everything at once like he wants. We can’t run two small electric heaters, the Keurig and my hairdryer while the refrigerator and the hot water heater are going. Something has to give. Welcome to the real world, Jack.

Then a new truck. His old truck is a 1997 model and needs rust work every spring. Still runs well but the rust is keeping him busy. Well, how about a new truck? Maybe not new - but how about a 2014 model?

Sure, he says. He found 2 in Fort Dodge, IA where he lives. And, since he seldom drives out side the city limits, he probably should buy local. And, he found one he liked. Since he had telegraphed to everyone and his brother that he wanted this one at Shimkat Motors, it made the negotiations a bit harder but we got the price down and got a bed liner to boot. Jack then maneuvered to get two caps not just one.

Funny - when we were with the ‘negotiator’ he told me that I looked like my mother who worked for the Bureau of Labor Statistics back in the 80’s and come into the dealership every month to check prices. Meanwhile Gary was talking with a guy who was in the Men’s Civic Glee Club with several of Gary’s uncles and had a picture on his office wall of them all in the Glee Club. Small town.

And, here’s Jack with his old truck. We’ve heard that Shimkat is asking $7000 for it - more than he paid many years and many miles ago. But, not how shiny and waxed he kept it.
and with his new one. Note the new RAM hat.

Speaking of vehicles. Gary looked out our front window one morning and saw this. Leaking so fast that, even after we moved it, we’ve got a new drip within 5 minutes.
Oops. Cripes this is the problem we dealt with last year - leaking water pump.
So we took it in and found that last year we had leaking seals and this time we have a leaking pump. Of course. Check the two rusty sections above.

Poorer by a bunch. Maybe we won’t eat out for the next month. Nah, not eating out won’t come close to the cost of the water pump.

And, that’s part of what we’ve been doing. Now to Cathy’s and Tom’s big move.

‘You generally learn the value of money from the lack of it.’

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