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The one man show to grow

Discussion in 'Showtime!' started by Fastdirt, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. Fastdirt

    Fastdirt Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    742
    Location:
    GA
    ..or not...or maybe... Right now, I'm doing this on my own, by myself. I'm going through my third winter and have been through three hot summers so far. This year has been better than the last, and the last better than the year before that. I've steadily picked up customers and my fiancé just recently came aboard. I was about to explode trying to do it all myself. It's been worth every single drop of sweat, frustration, and dollar though.

    I started on my own in early 2011. I had quit a great job as an operating foreman after losing my parents to cancer back to back, and feeling sorry for myself. Or maybe that was my excuse, because I was getting burned out. I sat at home for a long time doing side jobs and readjusting to my life with a smaller family. and when I went back to get a real job running a dozer the pay was less than it was when I started in '94 as a kid out of high school with no direction. After two months of that I started calling old contacts looking for work, any work to go out on my own. It was my time if it ever was going to be, because the dirt industry was far from recovering from the crash at that point and good jobs weren't out there. I had nothing but a prayer. No money. No credit. No help. I'd say nothing to loose, but it's everything to me. My Dad never gave us a thing, and when he passed it all went to the Cancer Society. I think tough love pays off really, and can only thank him for that. I have friends that still receive way too much help from their parents, and 90% of the grading outfits I worked for started from land and family money or the company was passed down. Not to be bitter, but that's my experiences and it can be discouraging at times.

    So, I landed three days of work. I was actually on the dozer working at D-tt-n Grading and calling rental companies for machines. I was gonna pawn my truck title to get money. After a bunch of hassle from the corporate rental places I resorted to Nasser Heavy Equipment. They have a yard full of machines and only half actually run, but they have a can do attitude and treat people like people. I went in there all cleaned up after a few phone inquiries and pleaded for them to rent me a machine. I offered my truck title. Which to me was everything. After connecting really well with Joe the salesman we went to the big guy's office. Well long story short they saw it in my eyes and heard it in my voice. I made a promise to myself I would stick that no pay job out for 90 days and something good would come my way, because the job before that I didn't last a week because I was hired to finish grade and they had me dig probe holes by hand. So, I walked mid day. This blessing happened right at the 90 day mark of me sticking that job out.

    They gave me a hardly used Hyundai 140 for a week. After thanking them both I had to ask for transport. They hooked me up with a local lowboy guy they use and Joe told him I would be good for it. In the end the jobs kept coming and I had rented from them for an entire year for the price of what I could have bought a decent machine for. Not that that was my goal at the time.

    After a few months of maintaining business. I got this jewel from their yard that nobody had even looked at during the down economy. A 94 Ford L9000 8spd w/a L10 Cummins genuine dump truck. The repossessed L9000 belonged to an equipment leasing guy that they do business with. Joe the salesman contacted him and vouched for my history. They had a 2000 Eager Beaver 20XPT across town at another yard that really needed a good home. Joe my new friend the salesman talked to the leasing guy and vouched for me. I got approved for this work horse truck and trailer combo.

    It was a wet Saturday when I picked it up. The trailer didn't have deck boards and upon further inspections the trailer didn't even have any brake pads and was missing several vital brake parts. Didn't matter to me, it was coming home with me...even on wet streets at 30 mph.

    Phone%20pics%20642%20(512x384).jpg

    Getting home with my first piece of equipment. That was a great day. She did something funky to this picture, but it's from that day.

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    This is after I did all the brakes, bearings, seals, sanding, priming, painting ,lights, deck boards, and DOT inspection on the trailer. I had also painted the L9000 it's original color. It took a long time to get the L9000 DOT ready. You can imagine the leaks that surfaced after sitting for so long, but it had a reman. Cummins from '06 and didn't get used much after that. I had to replace the windshield, several axle seals, motor seals, and a lot of other things I can't remember but it finally passed the DOT inspection with flying colors and has been a great, dependable, hard working truck.
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    This is right after getting the L9000 the way I wanted it.

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  2. Fastdirt

    Fastdirt Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    742
    Location:
    GA
    When I was about 19 I got a page on my little beeper. I'll never forget pulling over to a pay phone and returning that page because I really didn't have direction or guidance at that point in life. It was a friend of my older brother. He asked if I wanted to come work with him at his Uncle's grading company. I started the next morning and fell in love with it. They put me on a metal tracked New Holland skid steer the first day pushing off dirt from tandems. Are you kidding, you can get paid for this. I was hooked. Of course it wasn't all pushing dirt. I became the saw guy too. His uncle took to me, and got me an F700 with a 12 ton trailer and bought me a brand new Bobcat to do final grades. The Uncle became my idol. He had a beautiful Peterbilt 379 lowboy and a pristine 955L. He was only in his 30's and had the cars, the girls, big vacations, big house, big boat, etc. His nephews ran these brand new immaculate 953 B models that I thought were the greatest things ever. The uncle let me get my Class A in that Peterbilt and then bought me an L9000. I became a loader operator after working there for a few years. The uncle who was my idol was living a double life in drugs and I had to move on and he ended up losing it all. So sad. Now he works at Werner trucking OTR.

    That's when life got fun jumping around from grading company to grading company. I went commercial grading. Then got on commercial pipe crews. Even had a spell on a clearing crew. Over all those years I learned so much from my pursuit to get to the top of the grading food chain.

    I wish I had pictures from the past but nobody cared about videos and pictures then. Just some good memories along with some bad ones. It's all what you make of it. I was always a little more anxious than most, but I was very humble and did not run my mouth or even talk much. I was just there to do the best I could do and I picked up my work ethic as an employee who never ever wanted to do anything wrong. I had somebody back me in '99 and I bought two new bobcats on his dime. We got stiffed by a builder that had a practice of doing that and in the end we had a good run and I had to go back to grading on crews.

    These are about all the pictures I have. Funny, because I take pictures daily but didn't even have a thought of taking pictures back then.
    This was the best job I ever had on a great condition 973. I would finish apartment pads and shear cut 2/3 apartment buildings. We only finished on track loaders there. We all wore Motorola headsets all day and our crew had a D9L, 631's, a 245 in perfect shape along with haul trucks and everything else. Loved that job. Should've never quit. If you wanted 30 yds. of dirt on your building pad you would push the "push to talk button" and before you could finish the sentence a monster 631 would come bouncing in with a load. By the picture that must have been a rain. Show up, 10 people look at the mud, then go back home.
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    Did a lot of time in the neighborhoods clearing, digging basements, etc. I remember when the "C" models came out and people were trying to run thicker hyd. fluid in them because the wire controls were so quick. I got so bored and tired one time digging basements that I made a bed in the dirt and had to take a nap before I fell asleep while running the loader.
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    Did a lot of time in a hoe and always loved running excavators after getting beat up on track loaders and dozers.
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    This was my first foreman job and I was responsible for a lot, including this detention pond. I stayed after hours for days trying to get it so perfect for inspection. Then at the inspection the inspector said " Ah man you ain't gotta get it perfect, you just need to get the volume right " I'll never forget that, because I had every contour just exactly like the plan.
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  3. Fastdirt

    Fastdirt Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    742
    Location:
    GA
    Dang, that's a novel. But, I'll keep it moving. I have a lot of videos from the time I started till now. If it's serious work I don't really mess with my camera on site, but when I can I try to film. I am absolutely not here to get views. I don't ask for likes, comments, subscribes, etc., if you like them, you like them, and I'll never try to make Youtube dollars. I think that's what ruins Youtube honestly. I love watching peoples videos of work that would be posted on this site. I don't have cable and never watch TV. Just this type of stuff interest(obsesses) me. I am good at visuals and hands on stuff, but can read a whole paragraph and not comprehend it unless I force myself. Guess that's why I'm not the office guy type.

    Work has let up some this last week and it's been nice to regroup and tighten up. Last year from Halloween to New years I had a lot of time off. This year has been full. Almost overwhelming. My guys are outside now and we are changing some oil and cleaning stuff up, and here I am lounging on HEF.

    This was my first demo out on my own. Soon after that I got a two story duplex to tear down and then a burned house. I was also doing in ground pools which I do a lot of too and any grading/excavating work. I had swapped back and forth with the rentals between the Hyundai 140 and a 312 B.

    Video of the first demo
    http://youtu.be/IbQ3zMyWsWc

    http://youtu.be/sFgrEMT_1Ew

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    Video tearing down the 2 story demo.
    http://youtu.be/f4c3o8JbcdA

    The 312B was really sucking in some dust and I tried to keep the radiators cleaned, but the Plastic radiator popped around 4:00. Nasser had another one out there the next morning and I helped put it in under a shade tree. I had hired dump trucks to haul off the debris on that one.
    housedemo033.jpg

    The L9000 sure stuck out with that paint job. The 312B was hot and loud but I was interested in another 312BL they had setting around that I wanted to try and buy. So, I was giving it a run even though the Hyundai was new with the dozer blade, A/C, radio, etc.
    longweek014.jpg


    Tearing down a burned out house that a squatter set fire to after the police had run him off.
    http://youtu.be/c8uF6nlAxa4

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  4. Fastdirt

    Fastdirt Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    742
    Location:
    GA
    Before I got the L9000 I had this guy move me. He was great to work with and had built a W900L day cab that was awesome. He was sad they day I got the L9000. Unfortunately he couldn't keep it going and sold the trucks. I still talk with occasionally because we were both the same age.
    http://youtu.be/gDpWGFt7SQc

    http://youtu.be/GqpZwlu3pmY

    I test drove this CH Mack before getting the L9000. The Mack's were getting shipped overseas. You had to act quit. This one wasn't in my cards.
    http://youtu.be/7LwFYiG7NCs

    I was advertising on Craigslist and was landing some jobs there too.
    http://youtu.be/TNPHfsbDunc

    Couple shots at the Nasser Heavy Equipment yard. You can tell by the yard that they are ready to do business. I love that place and can rent anything from D8's to 80 ton hoes. They have one of the best heavy equipment painters around.
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    This was last job before stepping out. I made several phone calls in that dozer trying to make it happen. Nice people at that company but they were struggling to and the money was bad.

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  5. AlldayRJ

    AlldayRJ Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Messages:
    113
    Location:
    Long island, NY
    Glad to see you doing well on your own. Just spent an hour watching some of your videos haha. How old are you now? Sorry if i missed it. I know youre a great operstor but did the business side come easy? Pricing jobs, estimating etc?
     
  6. JDOFMEMI

    JDOFMEMI Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2007
    Messages:
    3,074
    Location:
    SoCal
    I have watched your posts for some time, and you seem to be doing well. I wish you the best as you continue to grow your business.
     
  7. Fastdirt

    Fastdirt Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    742
    Location:
    GA
    Thanks, I don't claim to have made it by any means. I am still trying to build. When I first started running machines I'd never say I was an operator until I was called an operator. Those who paved the way deserve that, just like this end of it.. We are looking at a pile of receipts and paperwork on the floor right now (won't fit on the desk) and she says "man this is gonna take forever". When I applied for my S-Corp I put down "owner" and they rejected it. They wanted me to call myself "president"...of what I thought.

    I'm 38. I always said I'd do it before age 35 and just barely did it while age 35. Just got another file cabinet today for all the paperwork that stacks up. I have so much to learn. The business part is not easy at all. CPA's are so expensive and book keeper's and taxes can be overwhelming too. The hardest part is trying to pay things like excise tax on the truck tags. Pay who?? , because nobody in Gov't can tell you where to pay these type of things. I just use a third party for a fee to cut through it all.

    Pricing is changing for me as time goes by. I am valuing myself more than I did starting out. I'm not into estimating yet other than by instinct of how long and how much it will take me to do the job.



    By far of the important thing was to get an office. I had to sacrifice the hobby room, but well worth it. My good friend does remodeling and helped me out a lot. Funny the name of his company is Fast Trim. Hence the "Fast Dirt". I liked his Co. name not knowing it sounded like a diet pill at the time. He changed it eventually, and I wish I could change my usernames because it sounds arrogant and I know it does. Good thing I didn't name the company that, but I thought about it for a second. I came up with Fastdirt505 from a little of his company name and my all time favorite dirt bike was a KTM 505 SX that I used to race before this. Now I barely have time and can't risk it anymore.

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    After swapping back and forth with the Hyundai 140 and the 312B I had fell in love with the 312's, even though it was banged up and had the short stick and the short undercarriage. They had a very good condition 312BL long stick with wide tracks that I was dying to get from them. I wanted them to paint it and tighten it up, and I had the same loan guy from the truck ready to make out papers. I would go up there and check it out often. Turns out after months of pushing them to get it going, they had paperwork issues. It had sat for years, but I didn't care. It would fit nice with the L9000 being an older "B" model.

    In the meantime they had a local utility contractor trade in a 2004 312CL on a package trade. They were always doing stuff like that at Nasser. Joe the salesman pushed me to try and get the 312CL instead of the 312BL that was sitting and was telling me the B would eventually start leaking from sitting so long. So, I shifted my heart to the 312CL with little hope, because it wasn't cheap. It had the long stick instead of the short stick and the "L" long undercarriage. That was very important to me. To have the reach and the balance. I wasn't going to get a 312 with the short stick. So, I took the 312CL out for a try out before it ever hit the rental fleet thankfully. The good news was it spent it's life as utility digger on the side of the road. So, it had a little trench bucket, but it was a new heavy duty bucket. I took it out and fell in love with immediately. It had 4,000 hrs. but I figured it was digging around gas lines and fiber lines and other utilities, so it probably idled a lot.

    Here's a few pics from that week.
    IMG_20120329_192303.jpg
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  8. AlldayRJ

    AlldayRJ Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Messages:
    113
    Location:
    Long island, NY
    Thats great, keep up the updates. Its awesome to see three years of growth on one forum page. I have one on another site and its motivational to look back and see the huge jumps youve made on those days when it feels like you arent going anywhere at all
     
  9. ScottAR

    ScottAR Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    Messages:
    560
    Location:
    NE Arkansas
    Great pics and story.
     
  10. Fastdirt

    Fastdirt Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    742
    Location:
    GA
    Thanks for the best wishes Jerry, means a lot coming from you because I've read all your posts.

    Thanks, I'm trying to get up to current. I didn't want to post too early in this and jinx myself. Still hope I'm not jinxing myself, but I should have share worthy posts.

    After trying out the 312CL and knowing this was the ideal machine for what I need, I pushed to get the ball rolling. I was dead set on Caterpillar. I didn't care if it was older, but as long as I was on a Cat I'd be happy. All my past experiences with Caterpillar have been great. All the others are great too or they wouldn't be in business. You just won't see me in foreign truck or machine if I can help it.

    My conditions were that I wanted a big bucket and I wanted their paint and body guy Eddy to redo the whole machine. Eddy is a master at what he does. That included paint, decals, lights, etc. I wanted a bucket around the 40" size. They ended up slapping a Hyundai 160 bucket on it. They used the pins from the heavy duty 24" trench bucket. They cut the ears off the 160 bucket and moved them in to fit the 312 stick. The pins stick out a little because of collar differences but I was keeping the 24" bucket and now I can swap buckets. I have used that trench bucket several times in rock and jobs with 10 stumps or more and it has been a great asset. It will bury itself quick. Finally it all came together and I was re painting the L9000 black in a rush at the same time. I had to get myself out of work for at least two days in order to paint it. We had done all the body and prep work while working it. So, I finished the L9000 paint just barely before picking up the 312 on a Saturday.
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  11. Fastdirt

    Fastdirt Senior Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Location:
    GA
    Eddy the paint and body guy came from Europe a lifetime ago and is like a mad scientist. He always looks like he is on a mission and moving fast, but very steady with the bondo and paint. He pulls out the seats and recovers if needed. He gets the seat out to paint and detail the entire cab interior. All new bolts in the pedals and such. He paints any interior panel if needed. Replaces or repairs everything that's not perfect. He even polishes the intake dust bowl. He puts all new bolts in all the hood panels. He paints the radiators and all inside the body doors he details and paints. I actually went up their today to finally give my sales guy a bonus for helping me get started and filmed Eddy in action along with his work. Should make a great vid.

    It's first dig!! I was so happy and humbled. Notice the no cutting edges and I had them make the bucket straight so I could trim walls straight at angles and such.

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  12. blowerman

    blowerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2009
    Messages:
    100
    Location:
    wisconsin
    Congrats on your hard work. Nice looking 312, love to see guys succeed. Thanks for sharing.
     
  13. Fastdirt

    Fastdirt Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
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    Location:
    GA
    Thanks blowerman.

    Here is Eddy the master painter at work today and some of his work. About five machines at once is his norm. He has a sandblaster in the yard and there was a 330 getting blasted.
    Snapshot 10 (12-19-2013 10-16 PM).jpg
    Snapshot 1 (12-19-2013 10-11 PM).jpg
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    Snapshot 7 (12-19-2013 10-14 PM).jpg
     
  14. Fastdirt

    Fastdirt Senior Member

    Joined:
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    GA
    I love popping in up there. There is always lowboys coming and going and you can see some very cool stuff. Some more beautiful work.

    I just get so thrilled to see a guy take pride in what he does. He always says it's only second and third rate paint jobs because he doesn't get the resources, time, material or environment to go all out. He is so passionate about his work. They are a Hyundai dealer also and he was using Hyundai factory paint here. I have seen a few decals that aren't in factory places and the 312C does not have a "312CL" on the left but mine got one and so did the one in the pic he just finished. I changed mine to the exact factory "CAT" decal on the left behind the door but I hate when the door is open because it hides it and I don't really like that because I never shut the door...never. Nobody notices that but me probably. He can straighten hand rails and grab bars like new along with steps and such. How they run is another story LOL, but I've seen some beautiful D8R', 963's, etc. come out of there too.
    Snapshot 11 (12-19-2013 10-17 PM).jpg
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    Snapshot 15 (12-19-2013 10-19 PM).jpg
    Snapshot 16 (12-19-2013 10-20 PM).jpg
     
  15. Fastdirt

    Fastdirt Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    742
    Location:
    GA
    29' reach goes a long way. I will get up to the scales soon and off load it from the trailer and get the actual weight. I really think it's going to be close to 30,000 lbs. The reach has been great and sometimes It reaches further than I expect. I have never had trouble with the 160 bucket on the long stick. It does just fine over the side heaped full of dirt A lot more balanced than the 140 and the 345's I used to run. Am I the only one who thinks a 345 is a tipper LOl. I never work by the hour so the poor little hoe Is always heaped. I'm not sure if it will have long term effects from the extra stress, but I doubt it. I do plan on doing some shims all over it as soon as I can.

    DSC00540.jpg

    DSC00270.jpg

    Notice the light on top of the cab is broken out. That was another time where I was looking over my shoulder in a very tight spot already crowded up tight while swinging and not realizing my hands were just barely was crowding the bucket up to the cab. Luckily it was a love tap. I've actually jokingly adjusted that light with the bucket. Lot to pay attention to in those situations if your bucket will hit the cab. Bought a new light and hopefully the last one.
    DSC00461.jpg

    The welder couldn't get to me in time to tack the door to the bar where it broke a little, so I hauled about 20 loads this way. Luckily I was going down hill slightly out of there to the left to another lot about 500' away.
    DSC00449.jpg

    Took this of a 650. That's some reach.
    sunday163-1.jpg
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2013
  16. nedly05

    nedly05 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2006
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    1,801
    Location:
    Adk. Mtns, NY
    Great story and pic, keep it coming I enjoy reading about your success!
     
  17. 245dlc

    245dlc Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2010
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    1,228
    Occupation:
    Heavy Equipment Operator
    Location:
    Canada
    Yeah very good story and pictures I'm quite eager to go on my own.
     
  18. AT&SW

    AT&SW Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2011
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    60
    Occupation:
    equipment owner/operator
    Location:
    central Fl
    What a great story really enjoyed reading it. Reminded me that most of us struggle along and love/hate every minute of it.
     
  19. Fastdirt

    Fastdirt Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
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    GA
    Thank you, nedly05, 245dlc, and AT&SW!!!

    I am enjoying my time off. I really needed a break. Last year I had a lot of time off, but this year has been full long days up until around mid December. Of course I've been servicing everything. I have a lot of jobs that I can start when I want. It's all gonna hit at once and then I'll be slammed. The day after Christmas I have to demo a burned out mobile home and then get a 2 acre pond ready to fill in. I am waiting on permits to start the biggest job I've got out on my own which is 4 new lots to clear and grade. There will be a lot of dirt moving and about 15 historic oaks to clear. I'm pretty excited about that, but was hoping I could've done that job during this break instead of under pressure. I have about five pools to dig. We have 12 apartments to tear down that we have to make chainsaw cuts to separate from existing units.

    I was hoping to keep this thread on a timeline base but it's probably going to back track and jump ahead some. The one problem I have always had is, I have the worst luck in the world with computers, laptops, and cameras. I am typing from probably my 8th computer. They just die or freeze or get thrown out the back door. Now, on cameras....it's a total nightmare. I've had three GoPros... I lost one and one got scratched across the lens. I have been through at least six nice cameras. I just have bad luck with fragile things. In my 38 years on this earth I have concluded that heavy equipment and dirt bikes are the ONLY things that don't break. I used to four wheel trucks in my younger days and have probably broke a total of 10 differentials. I have destroyed every four wheeler I've ever owned. I tried my hardest to get into R/C trucks, but they would break left and right. I was thinking about a Polaris side by side UTV, but nixed that knowing it'd just break axles and A-arms. My dirt bike I can't hurt, because in order to hurt it, it's got to hurt you. They are just tough and simple and that's where I spend my free time riding/racing dirt bikes. I hope to ride till I'm 70 years old.

    Oh, my point is I have lost a lot of pictures and videos. I started keeping the hard drives but I can't get them transferred to this new computer that I hate. My tech friend claims he can recover them, but we'll see. I have lost a lot of pics/vids along the way, but I saved a lot to web host sites so I have plenty to work with, but it's very frustrating losing good pics and videos.

    Here is just some of the crashed computer hard drives. A ruined GoPro, the one is lost and still have a good one. Many cameras that are not right.

    20131223_115646.jpg

    I have had fits keeping tires on my tag a long trailer. I've probably been through at least 10 tires due to wearing out from a misaligned trailer. Not to mention the tire guys cannot get these spoke wheels straight. We'll I've hit my limit. My Christmas present to myself this year is to convert the wheels from Dayton spokes to hub pilot wheels.
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  20. nedly05

    nedly05 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2006
    Messages:
    1,801
    Location:
    Adk. Mtns, NY
    How big of a deal is it to convert to hub pilot? Any idea on the cost? I have the same trailer and I'd love to do that to it.