Saturday, May 28, 2016

Bug Stuff

I got the couple of spots on the VW I was working on smoothed out. As long as you don't look too close it's OK. I'm planning on finishing up the floor pan on the passenger side next. I drug my big MIG welder out the other night to see about getting it fired up and running. Its been a long time since I've used it. I put the small wire from my 110V MIG on it to see how or if it's going to weld. I pulled the trigger to feed the wire through and it sounded a bit hinkey, like maybe the contactor wasn't snapping in all the way. I'm going to try and do a little welding sometime over the weekend. If it's a no-go, I'll use my little MIG to get the pan and seat mount finished up, then see what's what with the big welder.

I went through some of the parts boxes to see where I'm at on things. I'm going to need a few things yet but I've got plenty of stuff to get started with. I need to design a dash for it. The Super Beetles had a funky dash in them unlike the regular Beetles with the all metal dashboards.

I posted this one a few years back (but no link). Gorgeous metal work right there. The Super Beetle has most everything in the speedometer - all the idiot lights, high beam and turn signal indicators - so just one big gauge in the center. I'm planning on rewiring it racecar style with a push button starter and a couple of other switches for the lights and horn. I should probably make provisions for a radio someplace. Maybe hanging down below like the box in the photo. I'll keep thinking about a design while I'm working on the floor pans. I've got an idea in my mind but I'm not sure how to build it. I need to drag out my Ron Fournier books and get a little inspiration.

Photo From Here NSFW
Or find myself an Italian panel beater to show me the ropes. Them Eye-Ties had it going on.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Business as Usual

I've been pretty busy of late but not so busy I didn't have time to stop and smell the flowers, or at least pause long enough to admire their beauty, since iris aren't fragrant. The roses, on the other hand, certainly are.

Cuzzin Ricky and I went to Indy for qualifications last weekend. It's amazing to see a car go by at about 230 mph. Looks to be a fast race as long as the weather cooperates. Looking like rain on the horizon for Sunday, that'd be a shame for the 100th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Auto Racing.

Had to go to the dentist for a broken tooth. The fix was easy but the tooth next to it needs some more work so I'll be going back soon. Always something. While I was up that way I went by Harbor Freight and picked up some blades for my chop saw and a new sanding pad, then went to the welding supply and got a bottle of argon. From there it was off to the cemeteries and the Dead Relatives Tour. Usually Rick and I do it together but since I was going to be up that way, figured I could handle it solo. Since it was about 90 degrees when I got home yesterday, I got the covers off the AC units and got those up and running. All that pretty much shot the whole day in the ass. 

I've about got these two spots finished on the VW. Seems odd to have holes rusted through the body up high like this. The spot on the side was caused by water coming in from the vent. The spot up higher must have been caused by a leak around the rear window but maybe it's from the vent also. I've got everything welded up behind the bondo but I need to do a little further checking to make sure it's not going to happen again. I'm not much of a bodyman but I've got a friend of mine that I used to work with who taught the trade. He's also retired now. When and if it looks like I might be getting close to paint, I'll have him come down and give it a going over. My reason for jumping onto this project was to see if I could find all of my tools and get them all tuned up and dialed in so they'd be ready whenever I want to use them. Actually, the body work will be just about completed after I finish this up. I've got a spot on the drivers side right behind the door that needs a patch but that'll be about it for the exterior. I've still got a ways to go on the floor pans but that'll come, along with all the mechanical work that still remains.

I drug home a few chickens the other day. I had to do some more work on the pen first. A fox or something dug under the fence and got the last batch even though I had the wire buried in the dirt a few inches deep. Now I've got concrete blocks buried along the outside of the fence. I'm hoping that'll keep the varmints out and the chickens safe. I've got corrugated sheet metal around the bottom of the fence that comes up not quite 2' high. I'm thinking about adding one more sheet higher around the perimeter for some added insurance. I've got them inside the coop for the time being. Burying those blocks pointed out to me that I should start getting some more exercise as well. I was doing a bit of huffing and puffing out there.

I've still got a bit of vacation time remaining. There's a few other things I want to get done before I start summer classes at the college but pretty happy with how things have been going as of late. As always, steady by jerks.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Bunch of Education Things

Haven't been posting too much about education things of late - just don't need to get myself all worked up. However, as always, there are a lot of good things happening that never get enough press. First up:

Book shelf built by my replacement at the high school and his talented scholars. Laminated wood rather than metal. I don't know the story behind it but it sure looks good.

Surly sent me a link to a fundraiser site for Worth Motorcycle Company. Worth is taking at risk kids and involving them in motorcycle restoration. Here's the money quote:

"The kids Worth works with really struggle in the classroom — which is okay. Everyone doesn't thrive in a classroom. What is not okay is refusing to provide alternative routes to success via, for example, vocational training. This is one of the things Worth looks to achieve with this sort of experiential training: facilitate a path to success for those who struggle within more traditional learning environments."

What a concept. Maybe it'll catch on and some day all schools will offer vocational training. Please understand my sarcasm is not directed to Worth Motorcycle Company. I've just heard it too many times to wonder why there is even a question of the value of vocational training in schools. Be that as it may, it sounds like they have a great program going there and could do even more if they get a little cash flowing their way. If you can help them out a bit, great. If not, check out the link anyway. It's good to know about these things.

Cycle World had their Hand Built issue recently and in it there was an article on Evan Wilcox. I came across some of his work when I was vintage racing. He does some really nice work. In the article he mentions Fuller Moto and the sheet metal book in the above photo. I'd never heard of Bryan Fuller before but he's got a pretty impressive resume. If I watched something on television besides old movies, I probably would have come across him. After checking out his web site, I ordered up the book. Service was fast - just a couple of days and it was here. Other than the chapter on welding, I've just thumbed through it but there's something for everyone here. 

I'm certainly not in his league but I disagree with his comments on gas welding. He basically says forget about it. I say, if you are a good gas welder you could build a whole bike or car without ever striking an arc. It might put some limitations on your design and the materials you would have to work with, but it used to be done all the time. In fact, the article about Evan Wilcox has a photo of him gas welding. Also, I think learning to gas weld first makes it easier for rookies to learn to recognize the puddle and understand the dynamics of fusion welding. Admittedly, I'm nit-picking a bit here. It's his book but it's my blog.

He also talks about quenching metal after welding. He mentions only two things he can think off when it would be acceptable to quench metal. I'll toss in a third one. Say you have a frame made out of square tubing and you want to tack legs on to it. Knowing the tack weld will shrink when it cools, you normally lean it out of square a bit so it will pull in where you want it when it cools. If it doesn't look like it's going to pull in enough, quench the tack, it will shrink more and walk right into place. No extra charge for that one.

If you're into building hot rods/customs/bikes, or just damn near anything out of thin metal, this book should be in your library.

The latest issue of Practical Welding Today has an article on their 2016 Teacher of the Year, Elaine Waters. Ms. Waters is the Senior Welding Instructor at Georgia Trade School located in Kennesaw, Georgia. It's a real good article addressing not only the reasons Ms. Waters received the well deserved Teacher of the Year award, but also a bit about the school and the job it's doing to "provide alternative routes to success" as mentioned above. Congratulations to Ms. Waters. Also, Practical Welding Today is  free. It comes out every couple of months and I always get something worthwhile out of it. Might want to consider a subscription.

So there you go. There are good things going on. While the number of schools with Voc Ed programs in public education has dropped off, there are still a few remaining and they're doing good things. There are other venues such as Worth Motorcycle Company that are picking up some of the slack, there are private trade schools that are offering first class training at the post secondary level and there are some really good books to further your education.

I'll leave you with this: When I was at the Abbey of Gethsemane, I saw a plaque with this quote from Michelangelo at the age of 87: "I'm Still Learning". 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Fuel Cans

I bought an extra gas can a couple of years ago. I go through quite a bit of gas in the mower in the spring, plus it never hurts to have a little extra on hand for the generator if the power goes out. The only problem was the super safety nozzle on the can. It was spring loaded and there was no vent up high. Just a pain in the ass to try and use. I came across a replacement nozzle kit at Sportsman's Guide, so I took a chance and bought one. The nozzle itself screws right on and it comes with an extension so it could be twice as long if need be. You have to drill a hole for the vent but you end up with a gas can just like the good old days, prior to meddlesome intervention by lawyers and the government. The kit also came with another nut which fit my kerosene jug. 

The only thing I use kerosene for is the heater in the shop I used prior to buying the gas one. It was just about impossible to fill the heater with the can because it too had one of the spring loaded  nozzles on it. I figured I could do a little better than that, so I rigged up a set-up similar to a 2-1/2 gallon can I had. The aluminum bits were cut-offs from other jobs, the hose was left over from plumbing the oil tank on the Sportster and the hose barb was out of the coffee can of hose fittings. No trip to the hardware store required and no additional cost. I still need to rig up a vent but that shouldn't be too tricky.

I actually did a little bit of work on the VW after finishing up the gas and kerosene cans - did a little welding on the body. I had started a patch when I had it at the high school but just got it tacked in. I should have made the patch a little larger but I didn't find that out until I started welding it in and discovered it was really thin on one one side of it. It's welded up now, though. I'm also welding up the holes for the trim on the sides. Going for the "Cal Look", sort of. I don't know how much more I'll do on the VW for now but I'm moving forward and having some fun. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Job For The Day

I came across the plate in the bottom photo a few months back. It's 3/4" x 23" x 25", Blanchard ground and drilled and tapped in a nice rectangular grid. I finally got around to making a stand for it - I cut all the pieces on Tuesday, welded it up and painted it Wednesday. It'll be a nice surface plate for welding things together or for checking flatness of things such as clutch plates or a cylinder head. I can slide the milling machine vise on to it when I'm not using it also. I'm getting too old to be humping that heavy stuff around anymore. In fact, since the plate weighs about 120 lbs, I might just wait until someone with a little muscle shows up to give me a hand putting the plate on top of the stand.

I picked up some concrete blocks to secure the chicken pen yesterday. A student of mine is getting married in a couple of weeks and he's got four chickens he's looking to get rid of. I'm going to plant the blocks around the perimeter of the pen and hopefully that'll keep the fox, or whatever it was that got the last batch, from digging under the wire. I haven't had too much luck with the last couple of batches.  

I also swapped out the air dryer that was in the line for the sandblaster yesterday. Surly was down a while back and he was getting some moisture coming through the line in spite of the inline dryer I had in there. I don't know if he tried to bleed it down but the one I put on yesterday automatically drains itself when you release the air pressure. Have to see how this one works - only $7.00. Can't expect too much but I would like to finally have all the tools functional one of these days. I still want to buy a couple more things for doing sheet metal work before I quit working - shouldn't need too much more in the way of equipment. Only thing holding me back after that will be time and talent.

Off to work.

Monday, May 16, 2016


One of the nephews got married over the weekend. Since the wedding was in Indy and the Missus is well enough to travel, we decided to get away for a couple extra days on the front end. It's been close to three years since we've gotten away together to anyplace besides a doctor's office or some other medical facility. We headed south to the beautiful Commonwealth of Kentucky, stopping first in Shelbyville at Claudia Sander's Dinner House. Claudia was the wife of the Col. Sanders and the restaurant has some of the finest Southern style cooking you can hope for. I had the vegetable platter. I chose corn pudding, beans, mashed potatoes, and baked apples from the offerings. The Missus went with fried chicken and had creamed spinach as one of her side dishes. I tasted it and have to say it's without a doubt the best spinach I've ever had.

We then proceeded to the Bourbon Capitol of the World, Bardstown, Ky. Both of us have been to Bardstown previously, both together, and as part of different groups. Beautiful town, especially in the Spring of the year. Friday was especially nice so we visited the Abbey of Gethsemani and the Sisters of Christ of Nazareth convent.

The monks at the Abbey make fudge and fruitcake along with a few other items you can purchase at the gift shop, so we brought a little fudge and fruitcake home with us. Fruitcake often times gets a bad rap, but the monks turn out a really good one. I'm sure the Kentucky bourbon it's soaked in has something to do with it. The Abbey was home to Thomas Merton. He's probably one of the most famous of all Catholic monks, having written many books covering not only the subject of religion, but also poetry and photography. I've read a few things of his, including The Seven Storey Mountain, probably his most famous work.

After our visit to the Abbey we went to the Sisters of Christ of Nazareth. It's a stunning campus. A huge variety of trees, a couple of grottoes, and lots of Gothic style architecture. The inside of the church is beautiful. It reminded me of Notre Dame, just on a smaller scale. The gift shop was closed for lunch but we were able to visit Heritage Hall to get a better understanding of the good works the Sisters have been doing for about 200 years now. One of the more interesting things on display was a letter from Abraham Lincoln decreeing that no harm should come to the convent from anyone during the Civil War or War of Rebellion as it is also called. That actually makes more sense to me - no way war is ever civil.

Right across from where we were staying is the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral, also about 200 years old. In fact, it's the oldest cathedral west of the Alleghenies. It's a beautiful building made from all local materials. The inside has some large oil paintings but they're hard to see due to them being framed on each side by stained glass windows putting the paintings in the shadows, and the fact that the paintings themselves are extremely dark, I would assume due to needing a good cleaning.

Quite the day of religion in general and Catholicism in particular - especially for an old heathen such as myself. Doubt if I've ever been to three different churches in the same day before but lots of good history of the area and the role the church played in developing the region.

We also visited the Civil War Museum and My Old Kentucky Home Dinner Train. As an interesting side note, we were seated on the train with a couple that live only about 20 miles away from us. Small world, indeed.

All in all, great trip. It's good that the Missus' health has improved to the point that she can travel. It was also a lovely wedding - nice to be able to gather with friends and family on such a memorable occasion.

Saturday, May 14, 2016


Surly sent me the link to this one. Guzzi with a sidecar. Nice write-up if you follow the link back.