Tom Clyde: Nuts!
This past week of skiing has been amazing, sort of a whole season’s worth of powder in a single week. I managed to get out for most of it, hitting favorite spots at both Deer Valley and Park City, hiking the side country, exploring the trees, and just generally having more fun that I probably deserve. Quality skiing was usually followed by lunch with friends. It was all very civilized, and the best Park City has to offer. It was like living in some marketing piece, at least until I got home.
The place has been deserted. Despite traffic jams that seem worse every day, there was room in the parking lots. One day S.R. 248 was backed up to the Rail Trail crossing. I have no idea where the people all went, but by the time I inched my way to Bonanza, the traffic vanished, and I parked in Lot 2 at Deer Valley. With the sun out and 6 inches of new snow on top of the six from the day before, and Little Cottonwood closed. So it’s been a real treat to have conditions like this during the January slow-down.
I’m still adjusting to new equipment. Scarpa makes the most amazing, elastic ski boots. I’ve skied them for years, gone through several pairs in different models. The one constant is that when I put them on in the morning, it’s hard to get them to buckle at all, even in the loosest notch. Then about three runs into the day, I have to crank them down again. A few runs more, and I’m on the tightest notch on the buckle. I don’t know how they do that, expanding almost two sizes, and then returning to their original size over night. I don’t think my bird-like ankles are swelling in the morning. So one of these days, I need to spend some time with a boot guy and/or a podiatrist. But not while the skiing is this good.
The dark side of all this snow is that I have to plow things open at home. We’re not quite at Donner Party conditions, but there’s a lot of snow to deal with. It’s more pleasant now that I have a tractor with a heated cab. But it still takes a couple of hours each time, and I have to get at least a quick pass on my road before I can drive out in the morning. It’s really dark and cold at 5:30, and the dogs won’t even get up with me. One day I noticed that the lever that controls the direction of chute on the blower was working fine in one direction, but the hydraulics really groaned when I tried to point it the other way.
I’d reached the point of needing a recovery day from skiing, and decided to figure out what was happening. The hydraulic valve itself is located down under the floor of the cab. It’s connected to the lever on the control panel by a rod that bolts to the lever, down inside the panel. I could see through the gap where the lever moves that the bolt was loose, and the nut was about to fall off. Seeing and fixing are two entirely different things. I had to take the control panel apart. There were seven well hidden bolts holding it in place, in three different sizes, and a rat’s nest of wiring in the way.
Once I got the thing opened up, the repair was easy. Then I remembered that I had done this before, and if the nut was going to vibrate loose again, it really called for a better solution. I considered duct tape, but decided to do it right. That’s why they make those lock nuts with the nylon insert in them. I’ve got a peanut butter jar full of them in assorted (as in completely random) sizes in the shop. The only problem is that everything else on the ranch is English size, and the new tractor is metric.
So I did what I had to do, and drove 15 miles into town, on really messy roads, to buy a 37-cent nut. With the drive, the nut probably cost close to $20, but there was more snow on the way and I had to get it put back together.
It was hard to get my hand down in the panel, and on the first turn of the nut, it fell into the deep recesses of the tractor. There was no retrieving it. I wasn’t about to drive back into town for another $20 nut, so I put the original back on. That was just going to vibrate loose again. To make sure I didn’t have to do this again, I got a 5/16 nut out of the peanut butter jar and forced it on to the 8mm bolt as a lock nut. It’s not going anywhere. Ever.
Let it snow.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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