Pneumatic Retriever Trainer


I built this pneumatic trainer for using with canvas-covered, weighted bumpers. The bumpers are made of a piece of one inch steel pipe or tubing six inches long, wrapped in foam one-piece pipe insulation, securely zip tied, and then slid into a canvas sleeve. These are wrapped in a terry cloth wash cloth which serves as an air seal in the trainer (cloths of any colour may be used). The trainer launches these bumpers over forty yards when filled with 80 psi of air pressure. The launcher is made of ABS plastic with a four inch by two foot long air storage tank and a three inch by two and a half foot long launch tube. The bumper is launched by manually turning a standard one inch ball valve.

Remote Launcher

I began working with a club in order to learn to train retrievers in 1992.  Over a period of four years I took my first bitch from Junior to Senior to Master Hunter and finally ran her at the MNRC Master National in Butte, Montana in 1997.  I also became a hunt test judge, judging Senior level dogs.  Training retrievers to a standard changed my perspective on life in many ways.

When I am able to get people to assist I have bird boys.  But from 1996 onward I have almost exclusively trained alone due to the remoteness of the locations in which I have worked and in which I now live.  Even though they have not been titled, my last three dogs have been trained to solid Senior levels and are able to perform much of basic Master work as well.  My current dog did an outstanding 210 yard out-to-sea mark on a duck last fall.  It was spectacular.

I have been wanting to make a remote launcher for my Retriev-R-Trainer for decades.  While waiting for the lakes to thaw last week I welded this up.  I had to drape a white rag over the dummy and left some material trailing to make it more visible for the mark.  It is fired using a line which runs from a fishing pole (Dacron line has no stretch).  There are two tubes that I can load so that it can be fired from either the left or the right.  The plunger is hooked in a slot on a piece of angle iron and fired by pulling it laterally.


SPS Meduim Kit Shaft Storage


Storage of the SPS shafts require removal from the coupler housing. I own several heavy duty dishwashing plastic pans that I use for draining oil on various pieces of equipment. They are large enough to hold the prop and the skeg. One quarter of a cup of oil is poured into the top of the shaft and the shaft is stood upright in the corner of a room. The flange bushing has lands and grooves cut into it which allows water to cool the bushings as well as to lubricate the bushing and shaft. Over time the oil will drain out the bottom of the shaft preventing corrosion.

Throttle Cable Wire Lock Stop Holder Swivel

In the manuals that came with my two Honda GX390’s they each show an illustration of a remote throttle linkage, but nobody stocks these.  


I believe that I found the best design of the throttle cable wire lock stop holder swivel on the internet on…


Once installed on the throttle arm this design allows secure adjustment from the top side using two wrenches or sets of pliers. Even with expedited international shipping these were cheaper than what I found locally which were horrendous to install. Brilliant!

Cable Return Spring


Having picked up a small spring kit, I replaced the cable return spring today. It’s really just an assist to the throttle control lever and does not serve a strong function, but I like that it returns the lever fully to its idle condition as a stronger spring. #18 in the diagram below…



Winter Projects

A week ago the temperature was -63F/-52C. In spite of this the dog still needs to go outside to air. He needs boots or he will freeze his feet. Furthermore, we go for regular walks all winter except on the coldest of days. Once the temperature drops below 0F/-20C he needs boots for extended outings. The first boots I ever tried were commercially made. They were good. They had nylon socks and were attached with a 4″ wide piece of neoprene that wrapped around his shin between his feet and knee/elbow and attached with Velcro. Eventually the Velcro wore out, the nylon wore through, and the sock came detached from the wrap. At that point I decided to make my own. I now sew a single tube out of treated tarp canvas fit to come up over the knee/elbow. I attach boot laces that wrap twice around the leg and tie in a bow on the outside so that they do not rub when he walks/runs, slipping the end of one end through the opposite bow and cinching it tight so that it cannot come undone while walking but can be easily be untied when the walk is over. I sewed a new set for him yesterday as his old ones were quite worn. I make them large enough that they do not bind in any way. They last a couple of years and are only worn when it is colder than -20C.

And then there is decoy painting and rigging.  There’s no sense waiting for better weather when I could be out doing something else.  These cold weeks are perfect for preparing for duck hunting which starts here September 1. 

Getting Up Too Early…

…is a vice habitual in horned owls, stars, [and] geese… Some hunters acquire it from geese, and some coffee pots from hunters. It is strange that of all the multitude of creatures who must rise in the morning at some time, only these few should have discovered the most pleasant and least useful time for doing it.

– Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Picture 347