Friday, June 5, 2020

Cool Water

I went to the hardware store to see about the gasket for my pitcher pump and they had one but it was larger than the old one I brought in to match up. Since the gasket is made from leather, I figured I'd just make my own.

I had a sheet of leather, so I traced around the old one and cut it out after making some adjustment for the distorted shape. I punched a hole for the center bolt and punched holes where the check valve hinges. When I went to install it, it looked like maybe I should have made the OD bigger. In fact the hardware store gasket might have worked. I'm going to make up another larger one for a spare before I put all the tools away. I should be set then for as long as I'm going to be living here. Never occurred to me to have a spare until this one failed. I suppose if you were going to be homesteading or living "inside the wire" you'd put a little more effort and planning into what you'd need for spares and tools than what I've done. Since I've got all kinds of tools and a hardware store is only about 5 minutes away, most of my disaster planning has been food, water and shelter. However, if it's not prudent to leave the house or transportation isn't running, things could get very bad in a very short period of time.

While continuing the clean-up campaign in the big barn, I broke down a couple of bike tires. The three small spoons/levers in the photo are store bought. They're handy enough to pack along if you were touring but they don't offer enough leverage to make it easy to get that initial bit of tire over the edge of the rim. The two longer ones are a couple I made up from 1/2" cold rolled that I hammered out on one end. Not real handy to pack along on the bike but they sure make the job easier. The length was determined by the tool box I used to carry along for my race bike. The other little gizmo in the photo is a tire tool that is used to bleed the air out, remove the valve core and hold the valve stem in place when changing a tire. Everyone should have one of these in their kit. The county usually has a recycling day when you can take in old tires but that didn't happen this year. Maybe I'll set the old tires out behind the shop and start a mosquito farm until I can recycle them. Making progress on the clean-up at least.

I had to replant a couple of the mounds for the cukes and cantaloupes. My seed was stuff left over from a couple of years ago. I didn't want to leave the shack to get new seed, also, all I really needed was about four seeds of each. It's still early enough I should be able to harvest a couple of things from these as long as they germinate. If not, a couple of the cantaloupes did come up so I should get some melons one way or the other. The tomatoes and peppers are looking good and I'll be getting some strawberries soon. Gooseberries are looking good, so there should be a pie in my future.

I did read something the other day concerning gardening that I found interesting. Even though you may have a large garden with a variety of vegetables, the caloric content in these is probably not going to be enough to support you. As a half-assed vegan, I can tell you man does not live by garden vegetables alone. If you add in some some cheese, pasta, rice, or potatoes, you can make it through the day alright but long term living off veggies is not going to sustain you very well. However, fresh garden veggies and fruit are a great way to balance out your diet and supplement your food stores.

This pandemic has been pretty interesting from a scholarly point of view. The Missus and I have been doing quite well, fortunately. However, just about every day I come across something I had never considered as far as disaster preparations are concerned. Hopefully we'll never have to go through something like this again but it has given me the opportunity to see a few weak spots in my quest for self-sufficiency. The cost of freedom is eternal vigilance, after all.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Sore Tooth

The sore tooth I mentioned the other day decided to really blow up Sunday afternoon. I went to the dentist yesterday and the offender is the last remaining wisdom tooth. He prescribed some anti-biotics that hopefully will quiet things down. If not - out it comes. It states on the package that the anti-biotic may cause diarrhea. Not just while taking it but weeks or months down the road. So now I have to deal with a pandemic, civil unrest with protest marches and riots and whether or not I'll be able to make it from my shop to the bathroom in the house. Shitting my pants may not be a big concern in the big picture with all that's going on, but it damn sure is a big thing on a personal level.

I read an editorial in the Fabricator magazine the other day concerning individual health during this time of pandemic. Since the cooties only seems to effect people if they are old, fat and sickly, the editorial stresses the importance of not being fat and sickly - not much any of us can do about growing old. The editorial offered an interesting take on why we should all take charge of our personal health from a source usually associated with the business end or specific techniques of manufacturing.

Now in an attempt to tie the two paragraphs together, a couple of observations from the quarantine. I was probably as well prepared or better prepared for the pandemic as the average guy. Not knowing what exactly I was preparing for makes it a bit difficult to be prepared for all contingencies. I don't have any anti-biotics in house, so I had to leave the house to go to the dentist. However, the dentist just recently opened back up. I don't know what if anything I can do about that.

Sunday I went to put the pitcher pump back on the stand pipe and found out the gasket between the top and bottom pieces of the pump was leaking. Since I got the generator and a new well, I should have water all the time, but if the electric pump were to quit, what then? I'm heading to the hardware store today to see if they have a replacement part. If so, I'll get two.

I usually keep a few bucks cash around the shack but my real stash is in the lock box at the bank. I don't know if I can get access to that or not. Most all of the banks have closed their lobbies and all banking is done through the drive-up windows. I'd rather not keep a lot of cash on hand but I would like to make sure I can access it during a time of emergency. Need to think about that. Ammo can buried out back with a pirate map I can give to Surly. All of you might want to consider spending more cash and less debit or credit card. The government now can follow you around by tracking your phone, vehicle and purchase records. Probably the only reason they haven't outlawed cash already is they don't allow you to buy weed with a debit card and they don't want to lose that source of revenue. Thanks dopers.

Looks like I need to make a list of spare parts and stock up on essential items - redundancy. Two is one, one is none and all that. Probably be a good idea to get one of the old bikes running that doesn't have any electronics to worry about in case of an EMP event. I also need to do a better job of rotating my back up food supply to keep it fresh. Maybe start a calendar with a list of things to do annually, semi-annually, monthly, etc. Now that there's people taking it to the streets, which is liable to get worse before the summer is over, take some action in that direction as well. I keep a bag packed in my truck all the time but the Missus needs to put something similar together.

The tooth is feeling a little better now after taking a couple of Tylenol, so I'll get busy. Just need to remember - never trust a fart! 

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Welding Cart

Surly built himself a new workbench and like most homeowners, ran out of room in the garage. Doesn't take long when you've got several motorcycles, bicycles, tools, etc. He knew I was looking to get a cart for my new welding machine, so he donated this to the cause. I picked it up Friday and turned it into a welding cart on Saturday.

Didn't take much work to get the job done. I drilled out the rivets that held the lid on, removed the front lock and cut out the side where the torch and ground cable exit the machine. I flipped the handle and moved it up to the top holes after I touched up the paint where I made the cuts. Once the college gets up and running again, I'll pick up another MIG reel and mount that on the side where the cables are so I can wrap up the TIG torch properly.

I've got a drawer in my other roll-away box that has a bunch of welding stuff and I've got some more sprinkled around the shop in a couple of other locations. I'll be able to organize things a bit better with a few extra drawers now. The photo above is one of the small drawers with the TIG accessories that came with the machine and a couple of adaptors I bought to use another set of cables I have. The ground and electrode cables that came with the machine are only ten feet long. I can use those when I'm working on the bench and then throw the longer set on if I need to do something outside or under a vehicle. Easy to change - no tools required.

As soon as I get the collets, collet bodies, gas cups, etc. organized, I'll power the machine up and get familiar with all the controls and see how it works on aluminum. Once the cootie scare recedes, I'll have the guy who wants my old one come by the house and I'll give him a lesson or two on running the old Miller. I'm assuming he still wants it. I'd like to get rid of it because, like Surly, I too am short on floor space.

Friday, May 29, 2020


I made a rack for my grinding wheels. One stick each for grinding wheels, cut-off wheels and flap wheels. Made from a scrap piece of angle and some 1/2" conduit.

I brazed the conduit onto the angle. Conduit, because of the galvanized coating, brazes real well. Also, if you were to MIG weld it, best practice is to grind the galvanize off prior to welding. Because the conduit is thin, it's also the kind of stuff that ends up looking like something Paddy shot at and missed, shit at and hit when people use the hobby welders with the flux cored wire.

Brazing is a skill that's not taught or practiced much anymore. However, for this job it's a real good choice. Because the conduit is thinner than the angle, concentrate the torch heat on the angle, when it turns red add the filler and away you go. Grind the mill scale off before brazing and remember the brass flows towards the heat. I use plain filler rods rather than the flux coated ones. On a job like this, because the angle was clean and I was welding to galvanized, very little flux was required. With the powered flux in the can you can add as much or little as required. Just heat up the end of the filler rod and dip it in the flux. By using the minimum flux required, clean up is held to a minimum and as long as you keep the lid on the can when not in use it will last just damn near forever. I don't know how old the can in the photo is but AIRCO hasn't been around for a long time.

If you're going to be a decent all around fabricator, you need to learn some torch skills. The plasma has replaced a lot of the oxy-fuel cutting, and the MIG and TIG have replaced a lot of the torch welding and brazing. That doesn't mean that it's not a viable process. I've mentioned this previously a couple of times here but it bears repeating. If you're going to set up a shop, get yourself a set of tanks with a combination torch and learn to braze and fusion weld. One very handy skill.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Photo Frame

I've been working on another picture frame. This one's from recycled material like the last one was. The outside part is from an old cast iron floor register. It had a bunch of paint on it and it was cracked through in one spot. I sandblasted the paint off and put a bit of weld on the back side. The crack was almost invisible but it allowed the frame to twist - no twist now. The inner frame is made from a piece of decking used on low-boy trailers one of my students at the college gave me. I'm not sure exactly what type of wood it is. It looks like mahogany but is harder. I had to bevel the outer edges at a 20 degree angle to match the angle of the inner edges of the cast iron frame and route a relief around the underside for the glass and the photo and then cut the miters. I think it came out pretty nice. I've got a couple of negatives of the Missus from way back I'm going to make prints from. I'll decide which one I'll use after I get them printed up. I was planning on doing that last evening but I had a tooth ache that was taking all the fun out of doing anything.

Nothing else much of interest going on around here presently. Cutting grass, some garden stuff and household chores. I'll be getting back on one project or another today, however. Not sure what yet, but I'll get moving shortly.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day

2020 will be one for the books. Seems like half the world is shut down. Unemployment figures here in America are at record levels. Businesses are failing - Hertz has filed for bankruptcy after being in business for 100 years. Soldiers and sailors are still dying and for what, I don't know.

This will be the first year in a long time that Cuzzin Ricky and I won't make the Dead Relative Tour. The Missus usually handles getting the flowers but her normal sources were dried up this year. I don't know how strict a quarantine Rick has been observing but you can't stay six feet apart in the cab of a pickup. The Missus told me they didn't put the flags out in the cemetery this year either. I'll take a solo trip in a week or two. Even if I can't come up with any flowers, I'll at least stop and pay my respects. When things quite down a bit Rick and I can make the trip.

They say the hot weather should kill the virus. It got up to 93 around here yesterday so hopefully that will accelerate the process. I just hope what with all that's been going on we still are able to remember and appreciate all those who gave their all for us.


From Here

I came across this after posting the above - actually sums up what I've been thinking rather nicely.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Rapido Update

I finished putting the Rapido back together last week. I need to put the new foot peg rubbers on, clean out the gas tank and then see about getting it running. It ran when I parked it but that was a long time ago. As long as the crank seals are good, it should run. I've already cleaned the carb and it actually didn't look too bad. That's one of the nice things about two-stroke fuel mix - it doesn't turn to varnish over night like the stuff they pass off as gasoline these days.

And in the same vein, I got the motorbike I finished last year out and running again. I should have done a walk-around like the airplane pilots do before take off, however. There were a couple of loose fasteners and the chain needed adjusting. Not all that surprising, really. When we got it running the grandson rode it quite a bit that day and then nothing until the other day. It's all good now, though, so I can use it to fetch the mail or whatever.

I was thinking about the Rebel build and while it has a passenger seat/pad I think it might be cool to get rid of the stock one and put an old school pillion pad on it. I did a quick search and found a couple online but they don't really have the same look as what I remember them looking like. I might have to brush up on my saddle stitching or find myself a leather worker. One of these days I'll take a good hard look at the bike and see which way I want to go with this thing. In the meantime, I'll keep working off the list wherever that takes me.