Monday, December 11, 2017

Birthday - Ham

Photo by Surly

I've only got two days left to work - if this guy was still around we'd have to do something about that. As it is, I'll hoist one today for Johnny and one for myself on Wednesday.

Happy birthday, Bro.

Since this is my middle finger it kind of fits in with Brother John and the attitude he had towards a lot of things. In this case it's the discolored part that you should focus on. I was welding up a couple of pieces for the lab tech in the Weld Shop at the college the other day that required a small diameter stainless electrode. We have some 5/64" 309 rods that were perfect for the job at hand but for some strange reason, the small rods on the Miller machines go up in smoke once in awhile. They'll just vaporize even though the machine is set on only about 50 amps. This is an inverter type machine that has a choice of starting voltages. We keep them set on the higher voltage setting to facilitate arc starting, especially with the 7018 in the vertical and overhead positions, which may be the cause.

Anyway, I went to tack the piece on that I was working on, the rod went up in smoke and burned a hole in my glove and scorched my finger. No pain or real harm done to my finger but it pissed me off that I burned a hole in a fairly new pair of gloves. Plus I'm still not sure of the exact cause of the problem. I gave up on the Miller and moved to one of the Lincoln machines and didn't have any trouble after that. That's not the kind of thing you want to have to worry about when you're trying to weld something delicate together.

I went to the ham radio meet on Saturday. I was going by the article in the paper and apparently things weren't quite what they seemed. First of all the location had changed, but I found the group, all of whom were there to take the exam for their license, me being the only exception. Anyway, this is a new club that's forming and the vice president took a few minutes to fill me in on what's happened so far, what the group has planned for the future and some answers to specific questions I had. I'm going to start studying again after I finish everything up for the semester at the college and then take the test. If I had known they were giving the test Saturday, I would have reviewed my materials prior to that and took a shot at it. As it is, they meet once a month at a location not too far from the shack, and it looks like these are the guys to get me on my way to becoming a ham operator.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The shape I'm In

The post title might seem to indicate that things are not going well, but all things considered, not too bad. One more week of work left but I'm in negotiations with my boss to teach another course in the spring semester. The course will start in March, run eight weeks, two days per week and wrap up in the middle of May. The machining course I'm taking will be on one of the same days and it will be over right before my class would start so I'd already be there one day per week any way. I told the boss I'd let him know in January when classes start up again.

Christmas is fast approaching and I'm not ready by any means. I'm pretty jaded about all the holidays anymore. However, everyday is pretty much a holiday for me when it comes right down to it, so I don't need all the hype and bullshit that comes around earlier and earlier every year. Seems like now the Christmas stuff hits the shelves right after Halloween and Thanksgiving is just a day to rest up so we can all go crazy with shopping the next day and the week that follows. It says a lot about who we are in this country and it ain't good.

Cold weather is upon us and I can look forward to three months of winter. On the upside, I won't have to be getting up in the morning and leaving the house in the dark any longer. I've got heat in the shop so I can work on the projects and I'm making progress on the basement workshop and projects down there. See - every day's a holiday!

I was contacted by Steak 'n Shake about the lousy service we received last weekend. Apparently there was a staffing issue and they're going to tighten me up with a gift card or something. At least I know they read their e-mails.

I'm going to a meeting about a ham radio club a guy is trying to start up locally on Saturday. I've been wanting to get involved in that but isn't hasn't been working out. Hopefully, this will be what I need so I can get my license and get a little help with my radio I bought. The license test is set to change this year, so I need to start studying again and take the test before they change it.

That's all I've got.

Monday, December 4, 2017


Made a couple of items for the new lathe - chuck wrench and a tee slot nut to hold the tool post to the compound. The piece for the compound is made from two pieces of flat bar that I plug welded together. A lot easier than machining a piece to fit. Likewise on the chuck wrench. I drilled a hole in the round bar and inserted a piece of keystock in the hole and then plug welded it in. Not what you'd call great progress but a little something. But to be honest, I'm not looking to be running at much more than an idle now until I retire in two weeks.

I went down to Indy Saturday for a boxing match and saw this monster in the parking lot of Steak 'n Shake when we stopped on the way home. Probably a $100K pickup truck. I'd have to have a rope ladder I could drop out the door when I parked or I'd never be able to get back in, though.

The fights went fairly well. We took three guys down, one guy got a walkover win, one guy got a win by DQ after about a dozen low blows and the third guy lost due to running out of gas in the third round. This was his first fight and he was doing really well early on. He just forgot to breathe. It was a nice trip, at least until we got to Steak 'n Shake in Lebanon. This is a regular stop after the fights and usually the food is good for what you pay and the service is OK but that wasn't the case this time.

There were eleven of us in our group and quite a few other customers in the place but apparently there was some pissing contest going on over who was going to wait on us. It was about 10 minutes before anyone came to the table and the server said she'd get our drink orders and then who ever the server was going to be would get the food orders. We finally placed our orders but we didn't get any food on the table until we'd been there 45 minutes. I ordered a malt as my drink and it took that long before it came to the table. My salad came about 15 minutes later, so I just got a container to take it with me. An honest to goodness hour to get a salad and a malt! I noticed the sign on the wall while I was in line to pay about how Steak 'n Shake is fanatical about service so I dropped a complaint in their in-box yesterday morning. Have to see how that works out.

Supposed to get cold after today and be like actual December weather. I'm going to keep picking away at the lathe project and the family history write-up. I need to sit down one of these days and take a good look at the to-do list. Give it a bit of thought as far as prioritizing things, make a new list and then just do as the mood strikes me like I usually do.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Family Tree

I've been taking care of some things around the shack while the weather has been so nice. I even mowed the yard on Tuesday. It wasn't so much the yard needed mowing as it was to chop up the leaves but I don't think I've ever mowed this late in the season before - it'll be December starting tomorrow, after all.

I got the heat situation taken care of out in the shop. I broke down and bought another heater while it was on sale as part of the whole asinine Black Friday thing. I wasn't about to leave the shack on Friday but since it was a three day sale, I went about 10:00 AM Sunday morning and no real crowds to fight.

On those couple of chilly days when I was out in the shop working on the milling machine, I fired up the old kerosene heater. It took the chill off things but the heater wouldn't shut off when I was done. It's got a lever on it that you depress and the burner unit drops down and snuffs out the flame. Except now it won't. I had a hell of a time trying to get the fire out - one of the reasons I bought the new heater. So now I have a new heater and two old heaters, both of which need repair. I should probably just toss the propane one but I'd like to have the kerosene one as an emergency unit for the shack or to use in the barn or garage as a hand warmer since it requires no electricity.

In between all of this I've been typing up the family history. I'm not much of a typist but I'm making pretty good progress. I had most everything typed up a few years back but with the advent of there's been quite a few additions, plus I want to scan in a bunch of photos - like the one of my Pops shown above.

I had my DNA tested earlier this year and it confirmed the family connection of a cousin who popped up out of the woodwork a few years back. It also appears I've got a couple more. I made e-mail contact with one of them this week through Ancestry and he lives less than fifty miles away. The Missus said I should check to see if he's on Facebook, and sure enough, not only is he on there but he looks a lot like the guy in the photo above. Small world. I'm still waiting to hear back from the other one.

So now that I'm finally putting the finishing touches on the book of Shop Teacher Bob, it appears as if I'll have to add a couple more branches to the family tree. I was going to print out a hard copy for my brothers and the cousins that are interested but I think now I'll just print out a copy for myself and put everything on a flashdrive and give those to people who are interested. That way they can print it out if they want and update their branch of the tree as it grows.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Three More Weeks

I posted this one not too long ago but with only three weeks remaining of my teaching career, seems justifiable. I just need to make it to the middle of December. When I left the high school I never really retired. I had the heart attack and just didn't go back. This time around I have the luxury of savoring the moment, and I have to admit, I'm liking it. Just six more days and that's it. Just need to stay healthy so I can enjoy a few years of retirement.

And going along with that:

I did a 5K yesterday. There were seven of us from the boxing gym that entered the race. Three of us came home with medals. I got first place male walker and two of the other guys got first place in their age groups. I figured out the average age of our group and it came out to 41! Just not enough of those young guys willing to get out and do their roadwork. Those of us that competed had a good time, though. This was the first time for this event and it was nicely run - interesting medals as well as good weather for a race. Sunny and not too chilly. I also ran into a guy I used to teach with. Fine man and an excellent teacher. Good to know there are still guys like him in the classroom.

I finished up my milling jobs I was working on, so I can go back on the lathe restoration project.

The tool post I ordered showed up. I need to make a piece to bolt it down onto the compound and see about getting tooled up. Next up is making a chuck wrench and a piece that threads onto the compound screw. Then I'll have to decide what I'm going to do about the left handed Acme screw thread piece for the cross slide and the half nuts.

I'll just keep picking away at the easy ones for right now and tackle the tuffies after I retire. Did I mention I've only got six more days of teaching?

Thursday, November 23, 2017


Another Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. In my life, however, most every day is Thanksgiving. My health is good, as is the wife's right now. I've got family and friends that all seem to be doing well. I've got a roof over my head, don't owe anyone any money and a couple of bucks in the bank. What more could a man ask for?

Weather has gotten cold around here. It was spitting snow a couple of days ago - not really cold enough but it was snow just the same. Yesterday it was definitely cold enough for snow. I worked out in the shop finishing up a couple of milling jobs. I still don't have my gas heater repaired so I fired up the old kerosene heater. It was good enough to take the chill off things but I really need to make a decision about the other heater. If I take it somewhere, it'll be pretty close to a break even as to the cost of repair versus a new heater. If I buy another one like it, how long will it last? I've got one other thing to check out before making a decision. I'll see about that tomorrow or the next day. I'll probably spend some time out there tomorrow working on a piece for the basement lathe and a couple other machining jobs.

Hope all of you out there are doing well and remember to just be thankful for what you've got.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Fire Pit

Surly was looking to come up with a fire pit/grill for his back yard. He came up with a big truck rim and brought it down to the house. I was able to scrounge up the rest of the material - I posted a photo of the bottom recently - and was able to get it finished in time for Thanksgiving. Not that a fire pit is normally critical for Thanksgiving dinner but he said he would like to have it done by then and I was able to accomplish that. I forgot to take my camera along to work with me but Surly took a shot of it in the dark after he got home. The pipe coupling is so he can add a grill later on that will swing out of the way and adjust up and down.

As uncle Pete used to say: "It ain't much for looks but it's hell for strong."