Monday, March 2, 2015

Time To Move?

Here's a shot taken out the back window yesterday morning. March 1st and a couple more inches of snow on the ground with more to come. This follows the coldest February on record. We hit -10 on Friday night/Saturday morning. The previous record for that date was -4 set way back in 1884. 

I've been working on my taxes and computed that we put in 2200 miles taking the Missus back and forth for medical care last year. It's about 25 miles to the college and the hospital is an additional 8 miles north. Depending on her health, or mine for that matter, and how long I plan to keep teaching, it might be time for me to consider downsizing the operation and find us a little shack closer to the school and medical treatment. Or just quit teaching and sit around here and work my way through the pile of books I've got during the long cold winters. Or maybe just be thankful for what I've got and keep shoveling.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Laser Saw Guide

For good or evil, if you subscribe to do-it-yourself  type magazines, sooner or later you'll end up getting a packet of post cards for products you may or may not be interested in. Normally I just toss them unopened right into the garbage can but for some reason I opened up the last package and thumbed through them and found the miter saw laser guide from LaserUS. Price was only $9.95 including shipping when I followed the link on the card (, so I ordered one. The price on the website is $24.95. I've got no idea how well it will work or how long it will last but for less than ten bucks, why not give it a shot. 

Howz about that - it works! It runs on three little watch batteries and turns itself on automatically. Even came with three spare batteries. If it works for any length of time, well worth the ten bucks.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bicycle Trainer

I've been putting in a little time on the bike trainer of late - something I basically despise - but I really need to get some exercise on a daily basis. We made the trainer at the high school several years back from a picture I saw in a book. I don't remember the book but it either had John Howard sitting on it or it was a picture of his personal trainer. The bottom bracket sits on an adjustable support so you can control the amount of weight you put on the rear wheel. The rear wheel turns the axle to drive the squirrel cage blower and there you go. Originally it was outfitted with two blowers but even in the lowest gear it was more resistance than I needed. Like many of the contraptions the boys and I have built at the schools, this one was put together from scrapped or salvaged materials so the cost was pretty much next to nothing. If you have a really sharp eye you'll notice the color is the same as the English wheel I posted previously - didn't even have to buy a can of paint. I've got this one set up so it works pretty well now but I wouldn't recommend trying to make one. It's kind of fussy trying to get the tension right and it's a little tough getting on and off the thing due to the height.

The bike is a cheapie road bike like those that were everywhere back in the 80's. It has a Brooks saddle but in name only. Like most of the cheap saddles it's uncomfortable as hell - no wonder people who bought these bikes never rode them. I've got a new Brooks B17 that I'm going to throw on the bike so I can actually stay on the thing for more than a few minutes at a time and turn the handlebars back down like they should be. I turned them around when I was having all that trouble with my chest so I could sit up straighter. I should be able to manage spinning for awhile with my hands on the hoods or in the drops now.

Thursday, February 26, 2015



They got a pair of these in the lab the other day. Trak 2op vertical machining center from Southwestern Industries. Don't know much about their capacities and specs but I'll bet you could make some neat motorcycle parts with them given half a chance. Surly and I had a little back and forth in the comments about my dad/his grandfather in the last post. The old boy was a pro at getting things made on the company dime. Must be an inherited trait. With all the machine tools coming in, the lab could be like Shop Teacher Bob's own private maker space. I'm hoping the CNC class will be on the same days as my teaching days. Take the class, work in the lab, teach a class. About the closest thing to heaven there is if a guy has to work. Especially for a guy who likes to learn new skills and make things.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Surly dropped off a back issue of FFJournal that had an article about Midwest Aero Restorations for me to take a look at. The article is mostly about the company restoring a P-51 Mustang and what all is involved in making a plane like this not only flight worthy again but looking exactly as it did originally. Pretty interesting article. I love all that aluminum work that goes into one of those restorations. The link has lots of photos of Midwest Aero's restoration work. Midwest Aero is located in Danville, Illinois, by the way.

Just so happens I used to live just across the state line from Danville when I was a young-un. My dad worked in Danville at Bohn Aluminum for about a year. Bohn Aluminum was in Hammond, Indiana, where Pops was born and raised, and moved to Danville in 1956. We moved down that way at the same time. I never realized what exactly Bohn made, being only six years old at the time, but I remember they had a corporate softball team and Pops pitching for them.

Both photos are from The Old Motor which has two entries about the Bohn Corporation. The Indy car has cylinder heads cast from Bohn aluminum according to the site. I'm not sure what all they did at the Danville plant but Surly has a tool box Pops had made up from crinkle finish aluminum sheet when he worked there.

Since Danville is about two hours away from here, I think I might take a bike ride down that way come spring time. Check out Midwest Aero Restorations and run back across the state line and buzz through my old hometown.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

VW Door

Since the temperature got up to about 30 degrees yesterday, I grabbed the VW door from the barn and took it out to the shop and welded in the new tee nuts to hold the aluminum panel in place. Wasn't too bad out there. I fired up the new heater and it warmed things up from 35 to 50 fairly quickly. Didn't take long to weld the pieces in. It'll be a little tougher on the ones in back since they'll have to be done in the car. I'll probably just MIG weld those in instead of TIG like I did these. Maybe today I'll get the bolt holes drilled in the panel and cut out the hole for the door handle. Put a few screws in and I can see what it's going to look like, then decide what I want to do about the arm rest. Don't need an arm rest but I do need a way to pull the door shut. 

So there you go. Ain't much, but it's something.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


scrambler081:bikeexifBSA TRACKMASTER
Photo From Here
I've been looking for a couple of Whitworth wrenches for working on our BSA project. Found some on EBay but got outbid at the last minute. I'm not sure what all sizes I need but definitely need an open end the correct size to pull the carbs off. After sitting for a few years, you know they're going to need a good scrubbing.

The hardware for mounting the aluminum door panels on the VW came in - tee nuts and button head screws. The screws are metric and stainless. Hope to get back on a couple of these projects pretty soon but it's just been too cold to try and accomplish anything when I've had any free time. Looks like some sub-zero temperatures still in the forecast for the first part of next week. I'll get ramped up pretty soon.