Thursday, October 8, 2015


I received an e-mail on my work account of a new book that's available from Industrial Press, Machining for Hobbyists. Looks interesting. If you were setting up a home shop, might be worth the investment.

And on the subject of setting up a home shop, I got the concrete poured in the back of the shop the other day. The pour went pretty well. We had to bring the concrete in through the service door so most of the concrete had to be moved by shovel and rake. My two helpers worked their asses off with the come-a-longs/rakes and I worked the scoop shovel. Took us about an hour to make the pour and screed it off. Then came the wait for it to set up to finish. I put plastic down for a vapor barrier so I expected it to slow the drying process but I didn't expect to be out there after the sun went down. Looks good now though. I'm going to start on putting things back by making a stand for the sandblaster, putting some wheels/casters under my bandsaw and splashing a coat of white paint on the walls to brighten it up a bit.  While I'm doing that the concrete will have a couple more days to set up. Going to be a big step forward.

Monday, October 5, 2015

School Days

Photo From Here
That's a cool little rig. Looks like it would be a fun one.

Did the school tours the other day. Wasn't high schoolers, it was middle school kids. Usually that would be even worse but they were all very well behaved. Other than blowing the better part of a day, mostly painless. I do have to finish the Blackboard training for the college. Blackboard is the grading system/interface with the students we use. I took the first part, which is an assessment of my learning style - why I needed to do that is beyond me - and at the end I was supposed to e-mail it to someone. The only problem is that someone didn't post the address anywhere I could find. So I have to do that over again. The other sessions have tests that have to be passed with 90% correct or you have to do it over again and you only get two chances. The training was designed for a workshop with a Power Point handout. I tried just whistling through the first session but failed miserably. I printed out the Power Point to guide me through the second attempt and that worked much better. I've still got one more session to finish up but I need to print out some more info before attempting to complete it. I've got a busy week planned but I'm going to try and finish up this week. Need to get that monkey off my back.

Got the concrete scheduled to pour this week. Be good to get that done and the back part of the shop back together again. Need to give a little thought to the organization of things as well as what to leave out. Definitely can toss a few things. Having concrete will allow me to finally have things set up the way I want. That'll be nice.

I've got a couple more things I want to finish up before the cold weather sets in. If I'm going to be teaching and taking classes next spring, I'd like to clear the docket a bit. Need to have things well in hand to keep the stress level down. I don't need to start overloading myself again. 

Have a good week. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Paddle Shifters, Baby!

Bought myself a new car. Never figured I buy a foreign car, unless it was the Jaguar of my dreams, but I've got a Hyundai Veloster. I took the Clown Car into the Ford dealer again for another software update for the transmission and when it came back it still wasn't what I'd call good. I usually buy a car and then keep them for at least ten years. I wasn't going to put up with the shuddering transmission for another 8-1/2. Just wasn't feeling the love anymore. 

I got the turbo version for a few more horses. I've been looking for something a little sportier than the Ford but I didn't want a bigger car like the Mustang. I was waiting on a phone call to test drive a Miata but after taking the Ford in again I threw in the towel and decided it was time to buy something else. I didn't want to spend too much money and have a car payment influencing my decision to keep working or not. This thing is kind of the middle path on sporty/inexpensive. What I would have liked to buy was a small pick-up like my old Dakota. Four cylinder, five speed and an eight foot bed. I drove it to Daytona a couple of times with a bike and tools in the back. You had to hit the big hills down south with a head of steam but around here on the flat, it was the perfect vehicle for me. Since no-one makes anything like that anymore, I bought a little toy sports-car instead.

It's got all the bells and whistles - electronic everything, sunroof, and cool-ass paddle shifters. If I can keep my foot out of the throttle, it should get around 30 mpg. Best warranty of any car in America - so I've got that going for me. I had a couple of uncles that fought in Korea. I figure if they went to war for South Korea, won't hurt for me to buy a car from there. Time will tell, however.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Manufacturing Day

Today is National Manufacturing Day. There are quite a few activities planned around the country. Indiana has a few planned, one of which will be groups of high schoolers touring the college. Even though the thought of bus loads of high school kids showing up gives me the heebie-jeebies, I'm taking one for the team today and acting as a tour guide in the Welding Lab. Let's face it, without welding there wouldn't be much manufacturing and since the trade is facing a shortage of talent, need to plant the seed in the upcoming generation. Not asking too much for me to give them a half day I suppose. I can always double down on the blood pressure medicine after they leave.

In related manufacturing news, Surly knocked out a couple of drawings for the exhaust collars on the 900. You'll have to take my word for the fact the drawings look good since I can't figure out how to upload a pdf file here. One of these days I'll make up a fixture and rough cut my parts. I'll see about getting them machined at the instructor's convenience or in class (see below).

I checked into signing up for a CAD class the first eight weeks of the Spring semester and a CNC machining class the second eight weeks. Those, along with my teaching schedule, will have me staying pretty busy but other than getting out of the house and a paycheck, the one real perk of the job is free tuition. After all the classes I've paid for over the years, seems kind of a shame to retire off this job without taking any free ones. I don't have any pressing need to update my CAD skills and I don't have a CNC mill at the house, so there's no real need to take these but if you're a maker of things - any things - I'm sure you understand. As long as I can wade through the labyrinth of paperwork required to get signed up, I'll be a student once again. My boss in the Weld Shop walked me around to the proper people the other day to get me started, so that was a big help. I told him as long as I'm interested in taking classes I'll keep working. I think he already had that figured out, however. He was pretty eager to help out.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Praying Mantis

I got the swing painted yesterday. One coat on the bottom but two on the top. Looks pretty good - almost like a woodworker was in charge rather than a weldor. I'll pick up some hardware this week, get that installed and then mothball it until spring. 

Pretty happy with the swing project, not only because it's done, but because I finally have my own woodshop set up and use-able. Still need to get a couple of items moved upstairs and I'd like to get a drill press, but I'm no longer dependent on having access to the high school shop in order to make/fix things at home.

While I had the paint out I figured I should put another coat on the little park bench that sits by the steps. I pulled it out and found a praying mantis underneath it where some iris had grown up. Not something I see around here too often but that's not all that surprising since they blend in with the greenery well and they don't move very quickly. Bench is painted and no praying mantis was harmed in the process. 

I've got a few things lined up for the week already but hope to get back on the 900 soon. If nothing else, at least get some parts ordered in. I'm kicking around some ideas for a small spray booth. I painted my mailbox the other day and sprayed it outside - took twice as much paint as it should have due to the wind but I don't really have a decent spot to paint without worrying about getting overspray on something or getting a lot of dust in whatever I'm painting. Wouldn't need to be much. Something big enough for a motorcycle tank or fenders. Maybe with a Lazy Susan so I could spin the parts around and a bar across the top to hang parts from. Have to see if I can come up with some type of portable/knockdown item with good lighting and an exhaust fan. It never ends.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Here's the train station out back from a previous post. The swing looked good then but not so much now. I was going to put a coat of paint on it Friday but after looking it over decided the best thing would be to make a new one. I don't know how old the one pictured is but probably close to 25 years. The guy who made it did a real nice job. It was hanging from the ceiling of my front porch before I moved to the farm and it was protected from the elements there. When I first moved down here I took it down and stored it every winter. If I had continued to do that I probably could have gotten another five years out of it. 

After deciding to make another one, I made a quick sketch of this one, a bill of materials and headed for the lumber yard. Forty-two dollars, about eight hours of labor and I've got a new swing. 

I still need to pick up some eye bolts and maybe some carriage bolts, depending on what I've got around here that I can find, and then slap a coat of paint on it. Pretty quick turn-around for me. 

The side rails and the middle piece are "L" shaped with the back of the swing leaning back at a 12 degree angle. They're held together with a lap joint I made using the router. Might have been a little faster with the table saw but it's still downstairs and everything else is upstairs. All the slats have the corners rounded over with the router, as do the arms. It's a straight forward copy of the old one with one exception. There are blocks in the front corner to give it some additional strength where the eye bolt goes through. I made the blocks longer in order to reach the uprights for the arms. I'm planning on putting some carriage bolts through the arm uprights instead of just screwing them into the "L" frame. They're glued in place right now. I don't know what a 5' swing would cost but if I paid myself $20.00/hr, I'd be a little over $200.00 with material and hardware but no finish. Not too bad a return on my time - not that I plan on making any more of these things. If it lasts as long as the old one, this is the last porch swing I'll ever make.

The 900 has these cast collars to hold the exhaust pipes in place on the cylinder head. They're heavy and kind of ugly. They made some aluminum replacements without the fins but I don't know what model or year. I talked to the machine shop professor the other day about making up some on the CNC mill and he was open to the idea. I measured up the stock part for bolt hole centers and diameters, then made up a quicky sketch. I'm planning on taking the part and the sketch to work this week and see what he thinks. If it's a go, I'll need to see about a better drawing to get accurate numbers where the arcs intersect on the profile - maybe hit Surly up for that. Since I've got all the numbers, probably only take him about ten minutes to knock out a drawing. I think you can load a DXF file directly into the one type of mill we have and it can convert it to a tool path. I'll find out more after talking to the prof. Be cool to actually make something in the lab.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Yogi Berra

As I'm sure you've heard by now, Yogi Berra passed away the other day. Like most guys growing up in the 50's and 60's, I was all about baseball. It truly was the national pastime and love 'em or hate 'em, the Yankees were always contenders back then - Maris, Mantle, Skowron, Howard, Ford, Pepitone, and Berra, my personal hero. By any measure he's probably the greatest catcher of all time - MVP three times, 15 All Star appearances and 10 World Series rings for both his playing and managing. By all accounts he was also a great man. I read the book Driving Mr. Yogi a couple of years back. If you're a baseball fan or a Yogi fan, it's a must read. Rest In Peace, Yogi.