Start it off with a bang, Stop it, What a win, It tows

So I went into my four day weekend with a desire to accomplish certain things so I went back to my reliable paper motivator, writing these items down on a list.  The plan was to start things off Friday by changing the pads on the front brakes of the Prius.  Well that project got sidetracked a bit when I woke up to a mess in the hobby room.

I had glanced in the room to check on the progress of a roughly two day long print of one of my WoW characters.  I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw pure chaos instead.  One of the shelves that was above two of my 3D printers, including the CR-10 in the middle of the two day print had collapsed, falling on top of the printers and spilling the contents of the shelf all over the room.  Of course my print was ruined as the shelf obstructed the CR-10.  I actually felt lucky that the printer didn’t seem to be all that screwed up.  Both Cindy and I were amazed that we did not hear the shelf break and crash during the night.  Based on my security DVR camera it went down around 3:30AM.

I looked at the shelf to see what happened.  I didn’t think I had that much weight on it.  It appeared that the clips that secure it to the wall had failed.  When I looked at the shelf above the failed one I saw one of those two wall clips was starting to pull out as well so I obviously had some work to do.  After I cleaned up the considerable mess I made note of what I would need to redo/strengthen the shelves.  I bought the parts later which included metal clips instead of plastic and I increased the amount of supports and clips by a factor of two.

So I finally got to turn my attention to the Prius mid-morning.  I had changed the pads and rotors on a number of vehicles in the last 10 years so I wasn’t too worried about the technical aspect of it.  I had no pulsation or pulling so I just got the pads, assuming the rotors were fine. (they were)  I went a different route with the pads, paying more than double the price of third party prices to get a hold of a pair of OEM Toyota brake pads.  I am hoping the 200,000+ mile Prius lasts me a another few years so I made the extra investment in parts.

The new pads ironically were the reason for my only real hiccup during the work.  With aftermarket pads you just take them out of the box and slap them in.  With the OEM pads you have to move the metal shields on the back of the pads from the old set to the new, something I did not realize until I already had one side done.  Other than that the job went well although to be honest, the old pads still had about half of their life left.  I’m not sure if it is the regenerative braking a hybrid does or what, but brakes seem to last forever on them.

So the rest of Friday was spent mostly dealing with more aftermath from the shelf collapse.  I ran to Home Depot not once but twice in total.  The first time to get shelf hardware, the second was to pick up ANOTHER six foot workbench.  After talking with Cindy, who had suggested another bench already, we came up with a plan that involved adding a bench to the hobby room and re-utilizing the desk in there for Cindy for her Cameo work.  It a domino affect that had her old smaller desk relocated to the master bedroom where it will be used as a sewing station.  It was funny how the collapse of the shelf lead to this series of events but Cindy and I really like the end result.

Saturday morning I got up and got my run in.  There was another cold front approaching but the temps in the upper 50’s felt comfortable to run in.  After I returned I didn’t waste much time before digging into more of my list, targeting the weeding, weedwhacking, and mowing portion of it.  I had an interruption as I kept fighting with the weed whacker, it would only run in the choke position, which is too fast.  If I used normal throttle it would sputter and die.  I gave up on it and switched to my DeWalt battery powered whacker which is ok but doesn’t have nearly the same power and speed.  I later discovered that one of the fuel lines had a crack in it, giving me something else to add to the list.

I kept busy right up until kickoff time of the Eagles playoff game. I was worried that the Eagles, who posted their best season in a decade or more was going to fall into a one and done scenario, despite being the number one seed in the NFC.  The Falcons actually came into the Linc being the favorites, despite being the number six seed.  Unlike the Eagles that sort of sputtered towards the finish of the year, the Falcons were improving.

The game was very frustrating as turnovers and mistakes were coming at a steady pace.  It felt like the Falcons were more in control for a good portion of the game but even so, the score remained close.  The Eagles slowly clawed their way back from a small deficit but found themselves up by 5 with time running out but the Falcons having the ball.  When the Eagles allowed the Falcons to get a first down on a 4th and 6 I thought to myself, “Here we go again, another year of having our hearts ripped out with a playoff collapse”  It felt that way all the way till the very end when the Falcons were 1st and goal with plenty of time on the clock.  However somehow the Birds managed to keep them out of the endzone, capped off by a dramatic fourth down when Julio Jones, who was killing the Eagles time and again could not come down with a high pass after he had slipped down a moment before.  I clapped my hands and yelled loudly, scaring Elsa whom came over for comfort and to help me celebrate.  It was the most emotion I have felt from football in a long, long time, dating back to the Andy Reid era.

It was a great win and a very exciting way to end my Saturday.  The Vikings, who had an even more dramatic win will be coming into town next week.  I can only hope the Eagles keep finding a way to grind out a win despite less than ideal circumstances.

So Sunday came and I only had one item left on my to do list, “Test Tow”.  For quite awhile I wanted to hook Cindy’s RV up to the Tacoma and tow it around to make sure it was viable.  When Cindy bought the RV I spent $1000 to get a 10,000 pound stabilizing hitch installed on the truck but I had not used it yet, the RV was delivered by the dealership.

During the morning I attended to a few small things around the house like replacing the fuel lines in the weed whacker, a first time thing for me.  It was a bit challenging feeding tube from the inside of the gas tank up to the carb but I figured it out.  The whacker fired up and ran like a champ afterward, better than it has for awhile so I have a feeling the crack was there for awhile.

So after lunch we turned our attention to the RV.  Cindy was obviously nervous about towing her trailer since we have not done so with the Tacoma.  I too had anxiety about the process, not only because I knew that Cindy was worried about her RV but I was worried about my truck and how it would do towing something close to 6000 pounds.  I also had never hooked up the hitch myself, I only watched it being done at the dealership for the test fit.

Cindy headed out before me and made sure the RV was tow ready, putting away loose items and securing other things.  We also figured it would be smart to drain the gray and fresh water tanks as much as possible to cut down on weight.  I then pulled the Tacoma into the yard and backed towards the hitch on the the trailer.  It took a couple tries to get the ball of the hitch lined up with the receiver but it wasn’t quite as precise as I thought it may have had to be.  Because of the design of the receiver, close is normally good enough as it will slide down over the ball once weight is applied.

So after getting the ball secured we had to get the stabilizer bars locked in.  The joints for the bars were very stiff, so stiff that I asked Cindy to go grab some WD-40.  Even with using it I had to use all of my weight to push the bars on either side into place.  The last parts of the process was hooking up the safety chains and then cranking the handle of the receiver jack so that all of the weight of the front of the trailer was supported by the Tacoma.  The back end of the truck dropped a little but not horribly from the load.

So we decided we first would do some test laps around the back of the yard.  I pulled ahead slowly and heard a lot of noise behind me.  Cindy was really concerned but it was just normal noises of the hitch dealing with the very uneven terrain in the yard.  I did a big slow loop and then let Cindy take the truck around as well for a lap.  The Tacoma seemed up to the task so now it was time for stage two, a road test.

This was one of the things I was most nervous about.  The path out of the back yard is tight and the opening in the gate is even tighter.   With Cindy acting as a spotter I slowly pulled the truck and 26 foot trailer out of the backyard with literally an inch or two to spare.  With Elsa in the back seat the three of us headed out onto open road with Cindy’s RV.  She was VERY nervous.

So I had never towed anything nearly this substantial before.  It felt strange as I could feel the truck dealing with the weight of the trailer and the back and forth physics of it.  It also required a realignment of your normal driving position on the road as the trailer is much wider than my Tacoma.  However as the miles passed I got more and more accustomed to the feeling.  We did a big square that included getting up onto the interstate for approximately 5 miles.  That was the only time the truck was not very happy, keeping a pretty steady 4500 RPM to maintain roughly 65 mph.  Even so, it felt capable and pretty stable.

On the way back I surprised Cindy by offering to let her drive the truck.  I actually was surprised as well but my time driving was uneventful enough that I felt Cindy would be fine as well.  She went through much of the same early adjustment weirdness that I did but she drove us all the way home and even drove it back into the driveway and into the backyard.  It was a much more stressful process at the beginning than the end.  We both felt good to know that the mid-size Tacoma, a truck you will hardly ever see towing something that big, is up to the task.  We also felt happy that we were able to complete a 30 mile trip without incident.

Last night we watched the latest Transformers movie.  I’m not sure why I keep hoping that the next Transformer movie will be something different than all the prior sequels, dumb.  Yea there are cool visuals but they only get you so far.  The dialogue, plot, and overall feel of the series just is lame.  I drifted in and out somewhat so maybe that was part of my lack of understanding but I doubt it.  It was one of those movies that I tell Cindy I am glad we didn’t pay $30 to see in a theater to see a B at best flick.

Today is my last day of my extended weekend.  I am hoping to finally overdose on fun things I want to do instead of things I feel I need to do.  3D printing, WoW, and EUCing all should be in the picture in some degree.


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