In my groggy haze this morning, I forgot to set up a Monday post. Long story short, we didn’t even see any teal during the early season, except for maybe one group at some distance. Lots of geese, and we even got two to circle, but none close enough to shoot.  Continue reading

Another Entry in the Epic of the Ditch Boat

So, for a long time, the ditch boat has looked like a hollow, dusty shell. Matt’s been slowly laying fiberglass to repair holes and cracks to make her float again. Well, a few weeks ago, the last bit of fiberglass was laid on the inside of the hull, and construction of the floor began.


It’s looking like we’ll need to replace the motors for the windshield wipers- they’re fried. It may need a new foghorn as well. The anchor lights all work, and the new bilge pump is wired in correctly as well. Over the weekend, we also pulled the engine out the corner it was sitting in and began cleaning it up a bit.



So far, we’ve gotten the fuel filter and the carburetor off of it. The carburetor is in dire need of a cleaning and some replacement parts. There’s still oil in the engine, it’s clean and there’s plenty of it. The connections and surfaces on and under the distributor cap all look like new. The sparkplugs are rusted and will definitely be replaced. We’re going to buy new hoses and replace the fan belt on the front, in case any of those rubber parts are dry rotted. Then we’ll try getting it started, in the hopes that it won’t need too much further work.

Springtime Slump

Things are a bit slow around these parts lately. I never did get out the last two days of my turkey season, work had me come in. I’m debating getting a leftover tag for mid-May, if there are any. But that will be a break period between one semester and an accelerated summer course I’m taking, and work should be getting nuts about then. Matt didn’t head up north this past weekend since they still have snow and ice up there. He has a leftover tag for down here for the second-to-last season.

I39 Southbound. Wind turbines at Paw Paw.

I39 Southbound. Wind turbines at Paw Paw.


I spent the weekend back home visiting my family. The weather was much warmer and my nephew is getting huge. My invitation to hunt down in Illinois was renewed, and I got my first sunburn of the year.

Besides that, our fishing season opens back up this coming weekend. We have a wedding to attend Saturday evening, but I’m working on Matt to head out Saturday morning to fish, and probably Sunday as well. We’re a little wary to take the poor old jon boat out. The transom has begun to sort of fall off, and it leaks. Matt’s got his eye on a new G3 boat.

Speaking of boats, Matt cut out and glued together the transom for the big boat. We had to special order marine-grade plywood at our local Home Depot. It’s two pieces of 3/4 inch plywood glued together with Liquid Nails.

The Liquid Nails had a 7-day cure time, so we'll use something else to glue anything else on the boat.

The Liquid Nails had a 7-day cure time, so we’ll use something else to glue anything else on the boat.



And then there’s not much else. The outlook for the week is chill and rainy. 40’s and rain almost every single day. I’m sort of glad I soaked up too much of that 70 degree sun on Saturday.

Our Ugly Old Canoe.

I’m not sure how much I’ve ever talked about it. Our canoe. It’s old. It’s ugly. And it leaks. I know I’ve uploaded a couple pictures of fish in the bottom of it, in pools of water.

Matt's little pike.

You can see the water under him.

You can see the water under him.

Last weekend, Brother’s friend observed that not only was paddling it like steering a semi truck, but “we also appear to be taking on water?”. We assured him that yeah, that was perfectly normal. Nights up north where we left it partially beached, we’d return to it and have to dump it out before me pushed off. Matt did buy it for $60 from a guy on Craigslist. That guy had repaired the hull with a piece of aluminum and some Bondo (not kidding). Watching Brother’s Friend paddle it around trying to pick up fallen ducks, I realized why we got all those funny looks. Thing is ugly.

Our ugly old canoe in the shelter we put up for Ditch Boat.

Our ugly old canoe in the shelter we put up for Ditch Boat.

Well, Matt’s planning on taking 3-5 people with him tomorrow for the duck opener. At least two guys from his office, and at least two I know of from the Janesville office. Our jon boat can hold 3 grown men, max, if we’re also hauling guns and decoys. So, the canoe is going with. But we both felt bad about sticking some poor fools in our leaky, tippy canoe for their first time duck hunting. Matt’s been meaning to fix the leak all summer, but doing it from the outside would mean sanding off all the paint, scraping off all the Bondo, removing that piece of aluminum, and starting fresh. He slapped on a BandAid for the time being. For permanent if it works out.

SAMSUNGHe laid fiberglass all down the middle, where the cracks were. It’s been drying under Ditch Boat’s shelter for the last few days. It’s been dry and relatively warm, with very low humidity. So, hopefully we now have a more watertight canoe for the newbs to use, and for us to have. It’s still pretty ugly, though.



Manic Weekends.

In this house, we tend to procrastinate. Now, we have perfectly good reasons for this. Namely, work. Summer is the time it’s easiest for us to get things done that require being outdoors, since there isn’t a ton of snow to move, or frostbite warnings, frozen precipitation, or anything like that. But it’s also a busy time for both of our jobs. I know for me, the litany of Things To Be Done is kind of like constant background noise that sort of picks up when I’m looking directly at any one project. But for Matt, as far as I can tell, it all comes painfully into focus when he’s about to become even busier than normal.

Last weekend, while I was spending all my time slinging drinks to peoples’ dads and grandpas, he cleaned and reorganized our two spare bedrooms and the garage. Now, one of the spare rooms held mostly his stuff- awards, paperwork and references for work, uniforms, etc. The other I had intended to get to when the season at work wound down, since it held all our hunting gear. The garage was a hopeless mess, but the man does good work. It’s now got a lot more usable space.

Where am I going with all of this? I’ll tell you. Yesterday was Wisconsin’s early goose opener. So, he’s been realizing over the last week or two that with him taking over the Madison station + hunting season (for everything), we aren’t going to get anything done, really. We have done so much this weekend in addition to goose hunting, and most of it for me involved squeezing whatever it was in before I had to be at work in the afternoon or evening.

Most of the work centered around the Ditch Boat. Matt had sanded things down slowly over summer, and it was ready to be patched. He agreed to take off a weekend to fully fiberglass the exterior during deer season, but it was good to get the interior side of the big holes done. There are still a couple soft spots to sand down and reinforce, as well as a handful of cracks to take care of so that the hull is whole before winter.

You can see we also put a shelter up over it. This is just in advance of nasty Fall and Winter weather. It will be here before we know it, and Matt plans to be able to do some work on it over winter, as well.  Mainly, he’ll cut the wooden parts of the floor and cure them in fiberglass resin to waterproof them. Then, come Spring, he hopes to install the floor. After that, we’ll work on getting the engine to run, and run new wiring.



A Little Bit of Good News


So, I’ve been working a bunch this week- lots of closing shifts, which means I’m not usually home before 10 or 11. Midnight in some cases, like last night. It was a busy, rowdy night at the bar, but everyone cleared out around 11:30, and we were able to close and get out by about 12:30. I checked my phone around 11, and saw that Matt had texted me. He was saying he’d done something awesome, and wanted me to bring him home a reward. He sent it around 9. Figuring he’d be long since asleep by the time I finally got home, I decided I’d get him ice cream on Friday.

This morning, we got up, and he tried to get me to guess what the awesome thing was. It was pre-coffee, and I had nothing to go on, so I failed that one. He’d tinkered even more with the old boat motor, and got her to start! Turns out that in spite of draining the tank 3 or 4 times in the last month and a half, there was still some water lurking in the fuel. Luckily, this motor is from 1949, and is incredibly easy to work with. Couple that with the fact that he got it registered for Wisconsin (it was previously registered in Iowa), and we can take her out again! Now we just have to remember to renew our Madison Lake Access Permit so we can use all of the 16 lovely, well-maintained launches on the Madison chain.

In other news, the camper sprung a leak. Honestly, it’s probably the leak that originally caused all that mold in the upper part of the front, where we had to knock out all the modly paneling. Matt’s been up there spraying over cracks with that nifty spray-able rubber stuff that Rustoleum makes. We’ve got a blower fan set in there to dry things out a bit now.

This weekend, we were planning on trekking back to Milwaukee to go to Summerfest. But I also have a Friday night off for the first time since probably February, when the golf course started up their Friday Fish Fry. We may make it out to fish tonight and a couple more times this weekend, and we’ll be able to do more than troll a quarter mile from the launch!

We Can’t Catch A Break

Ugh, this boat trailer. The bad luck continues- I finally got it in to a specialty rim/wheel warehouse to see if the hub or rim could be replaced. Within about 20 seconds of looking at it, the guy at the counter says the hub can’t be replaced. And the only 13 inch rims they have? Are for front-wheel drive cars. According to the warehouse guy, the lug studs are in wrong, and would cause the same amount of wobble, and blow the tire again. They’re only approximately the same size, as with everything else, because we couldn’t find exact matches to the ones we had. They won’t seat flush with the inside of the hub. Our only option for keeping this trailer now is to replace the entire axle, hubs, rims, and tires. For around $200. We paid about the same amount for this trailer. I told him that if we decided to go that route, that I’d order it by Friday.

Matt managed to push the boat and trailer out of the driveway and into the middle of the front yard. Now I can at least get the Bagster picked up, and we can shuffle things around. We’ll pull the big boat forward to block it up and patch the hull. Sadly, this means no bowfishing this weekend. We’re headed down to my home in Illinois so I can see my family, celebrate my sister’s birthday, and finally meet my nephew. We wanted to bowfish for Asian carp. Now we can’t.

Everything Has to be Difficult.

I know that in the PlayOutdoors household, we don’t typically do things the easy way. And given how easily I was able to find content to put in those links just now, I shouldn’t really be surprised at how anything yesterday went down.

While I did manage to get the wiring straightened out a little bit, I was still completely unable to find an owner’s manual for this boat, much less a wiring diagram that would have been any kind of useful. I even scoured iBoats, as recommended by both dear old Dad, and by the sales department of Reinell’s new ownership (they finally answered that email I sent). That at least got done though.

Matt got home surprisingly early yesterday. Normally, he’s home anywhere between 8pm and 10. Yesterday he pulled up around 6, just as I was making dinner and saving him a plate. We hung out for a bit, but I’m really itching to get out and fish, damnit, so I’ve been pestering him like nothing else to get the boat trailer fixed. We trekked on down to Farm and Fleet as more thunderstorms rolled in, wheel hub in hand so we can try to match up a replacement part.

Ideally, we'll find both the hub and the drum to cover it.

Ideally, we’ll find both the hub and the drum to cover it. You can also see the flat spot we ground into the rim.

If I had a dollar for every time we’d gone into a retail store this year, and caused the poor service clerk to go “…Hmmm…Uhhhh.”. Unfortunately, this isn’t like finding parts for a car or truck. You can’t just tell them it’s a 1996 Chevy whatever. This is just an old, homely little boat trailer. To top it off, the entire trailer had been spray painted a number of times, and any marking on the hub to indicate size has long since been hidden. The initial clerk we talked to even chuckled how this thing had been red, then black, then red again.

Our nearest Farm and Fleet had a trailer parts section, but no hubs that would fit the spindle on our axle. The truck and trailer parts store next door was closed already, so we might give that a go today. We tried the O’Reilly up the road. They had some that were close matches, but nothing that fit what we needed. They, however, pulled out the micrometers to measure exactly. They also recommended two more truck/hauling/trailer specialty stores in town that either might have something we need, or could order it more easily. So they were at least helpful in that regard. Matt says that if these places can’t help us, he’s already found a similarly sized trailer at a place near his office, and that we’re dropping the $250 to just get a new one, rather than continuing to hassle with this thing.

While still at Farm and Fleet though, we found that they carry fiberglass cloth and resin at about half the price as Home Depot. And they also sell a number of specialty paints and enamel, made for engines and whatnot. Matt got a bunch of resin and cloth to begin patching the hole he put into the boat, as well as the crack near the stern.

In further we-do-things-the-hard-way news, we took the wire brushes to the gas tank for a little while last night.  Matt was telling me he’d seen gas tanks half the size of ours for almost $300. Theoretically having to pay $600 for the kind of tank we need, when we still haven’t even found a tandem axle trailer for the thing? Ugh. I set to wire brushing with a vengeance.  Fortunately, all of the rust on the outside seems to be on the top of the gas tank, even though it was sitting in that grody wet foam. I got a lot of the bubbling, peeling old enamel off my end, and I brushed a lot of the rust off, too. Next time we do this, we’re wearing masks, though. I’m still sneezing black.

You can see all the rust powder on the floor.

You can see all the rust powder on the floor.

Another Task Chipped Away.

It was muggy, my entire backside and legs were itchy. My hands were covered in fiberglass dust, and I was muttering impolite words about the work of marine electricians from the early 70s. But, what really counts is that I got everything disconnected. All the forward electrical is separated, snipped, and labelled. Most of the wires inside the console are labelled. It had glass fuses, even. None of them blown.


There was also a little panel of metal tabs that other wire terminals plugged onto, which you can see top right of the photo. I numbered and labelled them the same way I did the fuses. There was one wiring harness in the entire mess, and it supplied power to this doohickey, which I assume is the “blower” that a sign above the ignition says to let run before starting.


Anyhow. Now that this is all done, we can take the console out and the rest of the wires to the rear of the boat can hang out overboard for a while. While the heavy rainfall over the last two days has rinsed a lot of the fiberglass dust out of the rear of the boat, there’s still plenty under the roof. I was out there in a squall today and noted plenty of leaks we’ll have to address.

Everything labelled as neatly as possible.

Everything labelled as neatly as possible.

All the wires to the electrical components up front are tied up and out of the way.

All the wires to the electrical components up front are tied up and out of the way.

I’m glad this part is done.

Fun With Vintage Wiring and Possibly Transistors. Maybe Vacuum Tubes.

Just a quick blurb this evening. I got into the boat on my own today to do a bit of work. After spending most of the afternoon digging holes, putting flowers into them, and getting a sunburn, I decided to take on that wiring harness.


That is the back side of the console. Yikes, right? Most of that rat’s nest went toward the rear of the boat, I assume to the battery. They were all bundled like this.


In old zip ties and old electrical tape. With apparently random splices and changes of wire color.  And wires woven around each other. Whatever electrician did this was certainly whimsical.  I got roughly half of the wires snipped and labelled. Mostly, it was the easy ones running to lights, the horn, windshield wipers. However, I was racing against this, and sunset.

It looked much more ominous in person.

It looked much more ominous in person.

And I was losing. I got inside just as it began to rain. Anyways, my plan is to snip the wires near the console, flag them with a masking tape/Sharpie label stating what they run to. And then I flag them further up the circuit, close to where they connect to the device, since that’s where the label will stay fairly sheltered.  For examples, I labelled two exterior lights, two interior lights, the horn, windshield wipers, and the engine temp gauge. We figure that when it comes time to re-wire, whether we use the old console or not, we can splice everything back together. The previous electrician certainly did so with reckless abandon. Oh, the 70s.

Since the storm brought premature darkness, I plan to move along to the much, much more complicated wiring of the switches and gauges tomorrow. Once we pull the electrical that is just dangling with the console, we can hose out the old fiberglass dust and make the boat much less itchy over all.