Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Government Jobs

When I was making the fender braces for the sidecar the other day, I needed to splice a piece of tubing. I had a fixture I made for that at the high school but I left it behind when I retired. After struggling a bit the other day, I decided I needed to make another one for home. I got lucky in that I found some short pieces of angle that was just what I was looking for at the college shop. Later in the day I was doing my lab tech gig and I was able to get on a mill and do my machine work and then weld it up later that day in the weld shop.

Two pieces of 2x2x1/4 angle 12" long with a flat milled on the points to keep the clamps from slipping off. Four pieces of 3/8 flat to separate the angles so you can get the clamps in there. After it's all welded up, cut a slot in the middle so you can weld all around your pieces while they're clamped in the fixture. Not much to it but it works pretty slick.

I finish welded TVI's golf cart dash on company time as well. Looks pretty good, he said it should work. It's his now.

Also got started on the sidecar fender. This one I'll have to do at home. I did take the sheet to work and trim cut it, however. I was going to weld the fender braces on but I got to thinking that it would be a real pain in the arse taking the wheel off if it had to come out the bottom. I'm going to make some brackets up so I can bolt the braces onto the frame and make a piece to connect the two braces at the top. 

I started shaping the fender. I'm telling you it's a real leap of faith to take a nice, shiny, flat piece of aluminum and start wacking it with with a wooden mallet over a shot bag and expect it to come out like you envisioned it. So far it's looking like I might get there but I've still got a long way to go. I need to get the braces in place so I can get an accurate measurement of the radius before I can finish the shaping but it's close. I'll draw a layout and then use the shrinker to bring it in to the line so I get a nice even curve. At least that's the plan.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Getting Closer

Beautiful day yesterday. Almost too nice to be working in the shop but I wanted to get some more progress done on the sidecar. I got the windscreen tack welded on to the main frame along with the handhold/grab handle. After I got that done I started working on the braces for the wheel housing.

I got a chance to try out the new tube bender - not so sure about it yet. It comes with a little short handle and an extension. However, even with the extension there was no way I could bend the 3/4" chrome-moly. It's only .065" wall but I had to hunt up another piece of pipe to give myself more leverage. Also, with the springback, you can't get a full 180 degree bend on the tubing. Additionally, where I have the big vise mounted, I had to unbolt the bender from the base I made and turn it 90 degrees a couple of times for the required clearance. That's no fault of the bender, however.

I'll make myself a longer handle before I try bending anything else. I did manage to bend the pieces I wanted, so I'll get those fit up and then I'll be ready to start on some sheet metal.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Shopping Trip

Busy couple of days around here of late. Friday morning Cuzzin Ricky and I went out for breakfast and then I did a little welding job on his trailer for him. After we got it fixed, we loaded up some steel scrap I needed to get rid of. Cleaned the chicken coop after that and did a few other exciting things.

Went to the gym Saturday, stopped by TVI's place to check and see if the piece I made for his golf cart was going to fit. Looks like it should, so I'll try and get that welded up this week. I came home, had a bite of lunch, and then the Missus and I set off for Blaine's Farm & Fleet. It's been a few years since I'd been over that way. I was looking for a heated water fount for the chickens and my online search turned up this one:

$29.99 at Blaine's. I saw the same thing locally for about $45.00. Not really worth driving the 45 minutes over there just for that but I did get a few other things.

Oil filter for the old Allis and some hardware. They sell the hardware by the pound for the most common things, so the 13 locknuts in the foreground only cost me $1.48. I'd be lucky to buy two at that price at the local hardware store. Likewise, all the stuff in the bag was only $1.50. Since the Missus was along we got some other things as well. But the real highlight of the trip was this:

Buffalo! Hard to tell from this picture but the dark patch just past where the water in the wheel ruts stops - those are buffalo, or bison if you prefer. A lady there was kind enough to allow us to use her binocular to get a better look. It was cool to see buffalo on the prairie like it would have been way back when. This is property of The Nature Conservancy. I've been meaning to stop in at the visitor center for a while now. I'll have to go back again and check it out in a little more detail. 

Hope to get back in the shop today and make some headway on the sidecar.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Bikes, Persimmons & Gas Welding

Probably won't see those three things grouped together very often, but let's start with the bikes.  These were in a couple of recent e-mails.

Moto GP madness from Vintage Motorsport magazine. Great magazine, by the way. I've been cutting back on the magazine subscriptions but I'll renew this one when the time comes. It's right in my wheel-house as they say, one of which I'll be starting on shortly.

BMW Rnine T Racer

Triumph Street Cup

Both of these from Cycle World. Two more to consider if I decide to pull the trigger on a new bike. Realistically, as little as I ride I should just keep the SV and get a couple of my older ones roadworthy. I do like the looks of both of these, however.  

Cuzzin Ricky and I were supposed to go to a midget race in southern Illinois yesterday. It was a rain out, so I decided to make persimmon bread instead. I had already picked the persimmons and needed to do something with them before the house was a-swarm with fruit flies. The Missus was kind enough to help out a bit to ensure the success of the project. (Me working in her kitchen is about like her working in my shop. Even if you know what you're doing, you still don't know where all the tools are.) Actually, it was all fairly straight forward other than coming up with the two cups of persimmon puree. She put her cooking genius to work so even that was pretty easy for a baking novice such as myself. It was worth the effort - this stuff rocks!

This is a piece I welded up at the college the other day for the lab tech. Oxy-acetylene welding like we used to do back when. In a place that has square wave inverter TIG machines, this is kind of an anachronism, but when the grid goes down, I'll still be able to weld, and when I take a break, I'll be able to have a cup of Joe and a slice of persimmon bread. Maybe being a bit on the anachronistic side isn't such a bad thing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


I got the mounting plate for the new tubing bender made up - 3/8" plate with another 3/8" plate facing down at a right angle. I cut three slots in the top plate and made three corresponding teeth in the bottom plate and then plug welded the two pieces together so there wouldn't be any weld along the bottom edge. Now when I clamp it in my big vise it will fit all the way down in the jaws and I won't have to hold it up a bit while working the handle on the vise. 

Even though I got the bender ready to use, I went over to the high school and used the Hossfeld. As you can see from the photo, the radius is much smaller on the tube than what I would have gotten with the new bender. The Hossfeld die is a 2" centerline radius where the new die is about 3-1/4". Now, not only do I have a bender, but I've got a couple of radii choices on a couple of the tube sizes between what I've got at home and what I have access to at the school. After I get my tool allowance built back up, I'm going to look into buying one of the small universal style benders. I'm sure it would come in handy.

After I got the tube bent, I ran some errands, swapped out the blades on the mower and mowed both the front and back, finished a few other chores, then I decided I was too tired to work on the bike. But hey, at least I got a  little something done on that project.  

Monday, October 17, 2016

Weekend Update

I didn't get much done on the sidecar rig the last few days. I'd planned on welding on the windscreen frame but decided to hold off until I see about making one of the handholds. I bought a tubing bender set that will bend 3/8" to 7/8" round tubing and 3/4" & 7/8" square tube. I'm making a plate to fasten the bender to so I can clamp it in my big vise. When I get that done, I can bend the handhold tube and then see how everything is going to work. I might run over to the high school and bend it there, however. I think the die for the Hossfeld at the school is a little smaller radius than what came in my set. Regardless, I'll get it bent and tacked on in the next few days along with the windscreen frame. I'll start on the fender after that.

A couple of the guys from the gym were fighting in Marion, IN Saturday night so I went over with the dad of one of the fighters along with my bicycling associate. The young man in the photo fought very well and came home with the win. The other fighter got stopped in the second round by a big shot to the ribs. I ended up working the corner since Jimmy was having a lot of trouble with his feet. Since having his accident he's been in a lot of pain and his mobility is not too good. It was a lot easier to just have me slide through the ropes and work with the fighters between rounds. No biggie for me, I just feel bad for Jimmy. There's another show in about three weeks. I might end up getting drafted to work that one also depending on how he's doing. 

I finished grading papers and posting the grades for the end of the first eight week session at the college. New classes start today and run until the middle of December. I'll be teaching Stick II this semester - very little classroom stuff, mostly just weld practice getting them to where they can pass a stick certification. It's a good class to teach. I stay busy but it's not really hard work. 

Surly's birthday today. Happy birthday, Sonny!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Afternoon of Life

I saw this the other day at Coyote Prime/Running 'Cause I Can't Fly. Lots of philosophy stuff there, as well as other items dealing with what's going on in this country and the world today, some of which is pretty scary like the Fukishima updates. 

I would say I'm definitely in the afternoon of my life. When I was in my late morning/early mid-day I took some psychology & philosophy classes and while I studied a bit of C.G. Jung, he never made much sense to me. Now some of it is starting to come into focus, which probably verifies what he's saying above. So now I look at life a bit differently with the Zeigernik Effect also taking on a little more relevance. I seem to be more concerned about the unfinished things than I have been in the past. In a few years it will be time to downsize so I need to start getting rid of things and, of course, it's much easier to get rid of things with wheels if they are operational or at least all together. The list of things that need finishing around the house is shrinking, however. I've gotten quite a bit done this summer. My "punch list" no longer looks like a 15 round main event but more like a prelim, so as I go into the evening of my life I might be able to ride there in/on a vehicle of my own construction.

I guess like most of us old farts I'm becoming a little more philosophical as I age, which is probably a good thing. I'm still developing my skills and looking forward to the future while appreciating what I have, just looking at things from a little bit different point of view.