‘been busy and the weather is frightful.
My free time for the last two weeks have involved helping some friends take down and cut up a massive maple tree from one of their yards. The original arrangement was that I would just help cut it up and he would keep the wood, since he has a woodstove. However, when I took down the trunk, there was just so much wood lying around that he offered up “whatever I needed.” I ended up taking the big chunks, which he was able to load onto the Pig using one of his farm tractors.
Charlie is my farming neighbor, and kind of like everyone’s grandfather in the community. He is either 91 or 92, I forget exactly, and he is still farming, although age is gradually catching up to him. I had to laugh outloud one night when I was working. He had been at it all day and was obviously tired. He had to go inside to help his wife get dinner ready, so I thought that was that. But Charlie, unable to sit still when there is work going on, came out three times to either check on things or offer help.
The tree, which was starting to succumb to disease, was 75 years old. Not that we counted the rings on the table sized stump when I was done; rather because Charlie remembered helping his father plant it. I managed to get 1 -1/2 cords, or three truckloads of big wood. After I split it, it will sit for a year to season before it can heat the house.
I usually get called into these big jobs because one of my saws is “logger sized” and there aren’t many of those around, and because I have experience dropping big trees. Plus, I do it for free or for some of the wood. Being a true “woodtick” I learned how to handfile chains. Now a perfectionist would keep at it and get better, but I found it tedious and time consuming. The result was that I ended up buying a sharpening attachment for a Dremel tool and using that.
It did a passible job, was quicker, and I managed well enough for several years. Every so often, I would take a chain to a professional sharpener to get a good edge, and have the teeth evened out so it would go back to cutting straight, because my sharpening had gotten off. It usually costs around $4.00 a chain.
But after these two weeks, I just was not satisfied with how the saws were cutting until I pulled out a new chain. The difference was significant. So I started shopping for a bench style grinder. The good ones cost between $2-300, which I knew I couldn’t afford and I wouldn’t use enough to justify. I ended up taking a chance on a Chinese copy from Harbor Freight that was on sale over at their store for $42. The chainsaw guys say they do a respectable job, although not without some issues.
The other night I set it up and sharpened 7 chains. Last night I took my worst worn chain, put it on the big saw and went out back to cut up a large piece so it would fit in the splitter. It cut as good as the new chain the other night.
So I am happy and figure that the sharpener has already paid for over half of its cost. I’ve got more trees lined up to cut, so I’m thinking it was a prudent investment. Any woodtick will tell you that that secret is not how big the saw is, but rather how sharp the chain is. And a sharp chain is a safe chain!
Bicycles…well, they’re standing right next to the work bench where all of this grinding takes place. I’m not spending any money, but I am window shopping for some S240 camping gear. Riv has a decent sleeping bag, REI has a nice tent, and Dick’s has a Thermarest knock-off that looks pretty nice. It seems like a small multi-fuel stove might be the ticket for anything longer than a day trip.
I’m also considering a Jandd front Expedition rack. The Jandd seems to be reasonably priced and functional, and allows running panniers low with a wide top deck for strapping things down. I’ve discovered that my little Trek rack isn’t that great at securing actual panniers, although it does a fine job for strapping stuff down.
(Much nicer than mine and not a Jandd, but you get the idea of where I’m headed.)
I’m not sure how good the LHT will ride with a “front-loader” setup. I’ve seen a few Rivs this way and I kind of like the look, but I read from the purists that it has to do with fork trail. That whole argument might be overrated, and it’s all going to come down to a combination of cost and functionality. For all I know, a typical rear rack set up might be the final result. The big thing at this point is research, and learning before leaping. I’m hoping that next summer will bring on some nice overnight trips.
In the meantime, I’m mentally getting ready for a winter’s worth of night rides.