May 2014
Howle's Hints

May Maintenance

This photo shows the wear bars on this truck tire. In a few more thousand miles, it will be time to invest in new tires on this one.

Time for Tires

“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”
– 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (KJV)

Many good things come from work. A man gets his worth from his work. The quickest way to strip a man of his dignity is to take his job or his work away from him. This is not the message we have been getting from Washington, however.

Job Lock?

After the Congressional Budget Office gave their figures showing how many Americans would lose their jobs as a result of the Affordable Health Care Act, the spinning began. Suddenly, we hear of all these former workers being freed from "Job Lock." They would now be able to follow their passions, whether it be painting or windsurfing.

Now we are being told that these new job loss figures are a good thing. The only other time I’ve heard of something this ridiculous was when IBM "emancipated" 8,000 "wage slaves" which really meant they laid off 8,000 workers. This amounted to 8,000 workers being freed from "Job Lock."

I personally don’t want to be liberated from "Job Lock." I’ve gotten used to being able to buy groceries and pay the power bill. Also, I like to work, as weird as that sounds in today’s economic climate. My favorite work is the kind that makes you sweat profusely, eat heartily and sleep soundly.

This May, I hope my fellow Alabamians stay "Job Locked" as we all try to pay our bills, for groceries, kids and ever increasing taxes.

Air Pressure Points

Now that warm weather is here, don’t forget to check the air pressure in your tires. According to Firestone, a tire will typically lose one or two pounds of air per month during cold weather. In warmer weather, tires lose even more air. This lost air results in more money being spent on fuel. It’s like pushing a wheelbarrow with a slack tire versus a full, tight tire.

The only time I would suggest lowering air pressure is to get more traction coming out of mud or snow. Be sure, however, to re-inflate the tires once you are out of a fix. Firestone suggests checking your air pressure every time you fill up, and remember to check the spare tire. You can find the recommended air pressure psi amounts on the side of the tire and on the tire placard attached to the vehicle door edge.

Time for Tires?

For years, the test for knowing when to replace your truck or car tires involved using a penny. You hold the penny heads-up, upside-down and stick it into the deepest part of the tire tread. If the tread comes up to the top of Abe Lincoln’s head, it means the tire still has 2/32" of useable tread, which is the legal minimum in most states.

Fortunately, there’s an easier test today on most tires. Most new tires have tread wear indicators. We also know them as wear bars. These wear bars are between 1/32 and 2/32 of an inch in height and are located in the deepest part of the tread. When the tread is worn down even with the wear bars, it’s time to buy new tires.

White Vinegar

White distilled vinegar has hundreds of uses. Here are a few. If you add a couple of tablespoons of white distilled vinegar to your boiling water, it will prevent cracked eggs. White vinegar can also be run through your coffee maker to remove mineral deposits and remove stains from coffee cups and pots.

White distilled vinegar can also be used to polish vehicle chrome and clean the film from the insides of the windows. Finally, white distilled vinegar is a natural germ killer and can be used to clean stove and countertops. You can also wash your fresh vegetables with a mixture of one tablespoon white vinegar and a quart of water.

May Maintenance

This is the time of year when you want to make sure all your tractors and equipment have been serviced properly. If you have a grease fitting that won’t take grease, chances are, that’s the fitting that needs it the most. With a small wrench, you can remove the entire fitting and replace it with a new one.

Make sure you have a free flow of air on your tractor. Clean out the radiator protector screen and replace any air filters if they are clogged. The quickest way to ruin a diesel engine is overheating due to constricted air flow. Also, make sure the fuel filter has been replaced.

While you’re at it, use this time to service your garden tiller and lawn mower for the season. Clean air filters, change oil and oil filters, grease fittings, and remove any debris that may have wrapped around lawn mower blades or tiller tines.

Well, this May I’ve given a lot of reminders about jobs that need to be completed around the farm. I hope I haven’t made you feel "Job Locked" this May. All I can say is just keep working, stay "Job Locked" and keep voting.

John Howle is a freelance writer from Heflin.