Backing A Trailer

It is interesting to watch people with campers in camper parks, or people with boats at boat ramps.  What’s really comical is when somebody is trying to direct the driver, and they haven’t worked out their signals.

Backing a trailer is really not all that difficult, when you realize some basic things about it.  That’s also true with a lot of things, isn’t it?

A major mistake a lot of people make when trying to back a trailer is that they don’t pull down far enough to begin with, then they try to move too fast.  It’s best to pull down as far as you think you need to, then pull down a little further.   Taking it slow will do as much as anything to at least make it look like you know what you’re doing.

A long trailer actually is easier to manage in reverse than a short trailer, because it will make its turn more slowly.  When a short trailer starts turning, if you don’t follow through very quickly with your vehicle, it will go too far, requiring pulling up and taking another stab at it.

Where the trailer is hitched on your tow vehicle makes a lot of difference, also.   A bumper hitch and a fifth wheel hitch respond very differently.

I see many people turn the opposite direction from the one intended, when attempting to back a trailer.  If you have trouble with this, you might try putting your hand on the bottom of your steering wheel and moving your hand in the direction you want the trailer to go.

It is not a bad idea to take your trailer to an empty parking lot someplace and spend some time practicing backing it in at different angles.  It’s not rocket science, it’s like a whole lot of other things:  you just need to get the feel of it, get comfortable with it, and then look forward to opportunities to get to do it.


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Old Dog, New Trick

My mom recently gave me a knife sharpening stone that had belonged to my dad.  I was glad to get it, but I had never been able to successfully sharpen a knife.  I read a couple of “how to” articles, thought about it for a little while, and launced into it.  I did it!  I was able to get my knife razor sharp.  Here is the “how to” of knife sharpening, from

  1. The mistakes that are commonly made in sharpening knives are uncontrolled bevel angles, failure to establish a new edge, and leaving the final bevel too rough.
  2. Pick an angle to sharpen your knife. If you already know what angle your knife is sharpened at, you probably wish to sharpen at this angle again. If you don’t know your angle but wish to, ask the manufacturer of your knife or inquire at a knowledgeable knife shop to determine what angle is appropriate for your knife. Otherwise, you must make a decision: choose an angle of 10°-30° per side; shallower angles make a sharper edge that doesn’t last as long, steep angles are more durable, 20° is a good compromise: select an angle that matches the use the knife will receive. When shopping for a sharpening system, make sure it provides an edge guide mechanism that supports at least a couple of different angles.
  3. If available, use an angle guide to control your edge’s angle. Otherwise, you will have to control the angle by hand, which is hard and requires a well-formed perception of angles.
  4. For a symmetrical edge, sharpen the knife by dragging it across the lubricated (with oil or water) stone, the opposite direction you would move it to slice a thin layer off the stone. This allows a burr to form and prolongs the stone’s life.
  5. Continue grinding at this angle until your grind goes roughly half way through the steel. This doesn’t need to be precise, just guess. For a one-sided edge (“scandi grind”, “chisel grind”, ect.), skip to step number 6.
  6. Flip the knife over and sharpen the other side of the blade until you create a new edge; the easiest way to determine that you have removed enough metal is to sharpen until you have raised a “burr“, a feature that steel will naturally form when one bevel is ground until it meets another. It will generally be too small to see, but you can feel it scraping/catching on your thumb if you stroke away (dull side of the knife to the sharp) from the edge. Finer stones produce smaller burrs, but they are still there.
  7. If you do not remove enough metal to create a new edge, you will leave some of the dull edge in place. A dull blade (or a blade with dull spots or nicks) will reflect light from the very edge of the blade. A razor sharp knife edge will not show “bright spots” when you hold it blade up under a bright light. You will need to remove enough material from the sides of the bevel so that the edge stops reflecting light.
  8. Flip the knife over and sharpen the other side of the blade in a similar fashion.
  9. Remove the resulting burr by “cutting into” a hone (a finer stone). That is, still holding the blade at the same controlled angle, move the blade in the opposite direction you moved the blade in steps 4-8. Some people feel this step should be done with a dry stone for reasons beyond the scope of this article.
  10. If you wish, you may further polish or even strop the edge to the desired sharpness. This makes the edge better suited for “push cutting” (cutting directly into materials, pushing strait down without sliding the blade across the object) but generally impairs slicing ability: without the ‘microscopic serrations’ left by grinding with a stone, the blade tends to not bite into things like tomato skins.

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Watching The Westerns

I do not sit in front the TV hours on end, but I do enjoy Westerns.  One thing I like about the older westerns is that the “good guys” were easily distinguished from the “bad guys.”

One of my all time favorite characters is Gene Autry.  It is my understanding that, in real life, as well as on screen, he was a man of the highest integrity.   In one episode, another cowboy invited Gene into the saloon for a drink, to which Gene said, “I don’t use alcohol or tobacco, and I don’t gamble.  Nothing good will ever come from such things.”  Now, there’s a role model!

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I Repacked My Wheel Bearings

My boat trailer has “bearing buddies.”  Those are little ends over the wheel hubs with alamites into which grease can be applied.   I have read that, in spite of having those, the bearings needed to be repacked every now and then.

I hooked the tongue of the trailer to my truck, Jacked up each side and put jack stands underneath.  I removed the bearing buddies by slightly hitting them on the sides with a hammer.  Then, it became a messy job, requiring lots of paper towels.  The old grease had to be wiped out, but I was surprised at how good everything looked inside;  so good, I quickly began to wish I had left it alone.  But, since I had gone that far, I decided to go ahead.

The wheel did not have to be removed, as if I were changing a tire.  Once I got the end of the hub off, I was able to remove a cotter pin, unscrew the nut that held the bearings on, reach in and take out the outer bearing.  That was made easier by pulling the wheel a little ways off the axle and then pushing it back.

After taking the wheel off the axle, it was necessary to lay the wheel flat down, over a paper towel, with the back side of it toward the floor, and drive out the inner bearing with the blunt side of a ratchet extension.  Then, it was just a matter of wiping the grease out of the inside of the hub and off the bearings, before putting the bearings into a container of gasoline for a few minutes of soaking.   Once I took the bearings out and laid them on a paper towel to air dry, I headed for the parts store to buy new grease seals that go behind the inner bearings.  I also bought a container of wheel bearing grease.

Repacking the bearings was just a matter of putting some grease in the palm of my hand and forcing it into the bearing until I couldn’t get any more to go into the bearing.  I put the inner bearing in first, which was the reverse order of removal, put more grease in behind it, then drove the grease seal in by laying it in place, then placing a block of wood over it and tapping it lightly until it was flush with the outer edge of the hub.  I then put more grease in from the front side, but not so much that it would make a mess when I put the wheel back on the axle.  Finally, I replaced the outer bearing and gently put the wheel back on the axle, followed by the washer, nut, cotter pin, and driving the bearing buddies back on using the block of wood.

I would have been okay if I hadn’t done it, but now I have the peace of mind knowing it’s okay, and I have the satisfaction of having done it myself and knowing it’s done right.


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The Big One That Tried To Get Away

They say the big one always gets away, in fishing that is.   A couple of days ago, I got a fish on my line that I thought was so small, I would just play with him before taking him off the line.  What I didn’t realize was that he was coming toward the boat, and when he got about ten feet away I saw him come up, and he was a big boy.  Well, I got real serious about getting him in, but he jumped up out of the water, shook his head, and spit out the hook.  I went on up the way, continuing to fish, blaming myself for letting the big one get away, and when I started back I threw my bait back in that same vicinity, and I hooked him again!  If it wasn’t him, it was his twin.  Either way, I was ready for him, and I got him in the boat.  He weighed 41/2 pounds, and he tasted real good.

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Amos ‘N Andy

kingfish.jpgIf you are old enough to remember the old Amos ‘n Andy series on TV, you know they were very funny.  Even as boy, Amos ‘n Andy was one of my favorite shows.  I found a website that has several full-length programs that can be viewed.  It is

I have never understood why this program was thought to be degrading to black people.  I know they spoke with a dialect of years gone by, but there was never a hint of discrimination, or the like, on their program.  It was a great show.

The website offers for sale the complete set of the TV series on DVD for $49.95.  I’m considering it.

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Without A Paddle

You’ve heard the saying, “Up the creek without a paddle?”  I’ve been there.   I took my boat out the other day, just to give it a test run after not being used all winter.  The water pump went out a goodly distance from the boat ramp, and the wind was very high in the wrong direction.  Thank the Lord for a good trolling motor and a ready cell phone.

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