Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gettin' There


Cleared up most of the mysteries with the horn, coil and gas tank mounting yesterday. I had taken the tank off so I wouldn't get it screwed up and like a dumbass assumed the threaded holes by the neck were for the tank. That's the place most gas tanks mount but with the Sportster, maybe yes, maybe no. Because there are a couple of different tanks available for these things, some use the holes by the neck but the peanut tank uses the hole through the neck gusset. I got a large tank with this rig when I bought it and it uses the hole in the neck. That was the tank that was on the bike when the previous owner got it and that explains why there was no stock coil mount and why the coil was mounted to the top engine bracket and the ignition switch was mounted someplace other than the stock location and who in the hell knows where the horn was at or if it was even on the bike. 

Now the tank and the coil mount are where they should be. The spacers I machined up to go between the coil mount were a little long to fit between the mounting ears on the tank but it was no trouble to shave off about an 1/8" on both of them. The new horn came in the mail yesterday and I stuck that on the bike - just one bolt into the crash bar boss on the frame down tubes and that's all that took. It sticks out just a little far so I might bend an offset in the bracket to make it a little less obtrusive. It looks like it belongs there, though, and many motorcycles do in fact have the horn mounted in this location. I stuck it on a battery to hear it and it seems plenty loud enough. It's supposed to be 130 decibels but I've got some kind of infection in one ear and can't hear much of anything out of it now. Of course even on a good day I don't hear things like I used to. As long as the cars move out of my lane when they try to pinch me off, it'll be loud enough.


I stuck the clutch cover on the bike as long as most everything else was in place to get a feel for how the finished product was going to look. And as long as all the major bits were where they were supposed to be, I climbed into the saddle to get a feel for it. It's been more than twenty years since I've ridden one of these things. Saddle height is low and the pegs are up relatively high for my long legs. Likewise the handlebars are up in the air a bit but at least they are more cowhorn than buckhorn. Most everything I've owned and ridden since the 70's has been some type of cafe or drag bike set-up with a flat bar at least and a couple with rearsets. Surly installed a pair of aftermarket bars that are a little higher than stock on the SV I'm riding now but it's still a fairly "sporty" riding position. I'll definitely be "in the wind" with this thing.

I machined up the lower motor mount spacers as well. They fit like a glove but I need to get some black paint on them before I call them done. I should probably take the headlight apart and paint that as well. The rest of the sheet metal has fresh paint on it and if I don't paint the headlight bucket and this thing actually starts and runs when I get it back together, I'll wish I'd painted it. Same thing goes for the generator. Besides, I still haven't tried out the new sandblasting cabinet yet. Be a good reason to put that into operation. 

Looks like I'll be close to having it all together before vacation's over. If nothing else, I'd like to have the motor all buttoned up before Monday. Stay tuned.




Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Switch Bracket


Didn't get much done on the Sportster the last few days but I did finish the ignition switch bracket - pretty happy with how it came out. I'll pick up some stainless or chrome mounting screws and washers to use when it's time to mount it up for keeps. The stock horn normally mounts underneath the switch but I'm going with something a little different. I've got a super loud horn coming that I'm planning on mounting up front off the crash bar boss. Horn will be here in a few days, so I'll see how that all works. If I don't like it, I'll put the horn on the VW.

Made a couple of spacers for the coil mounting bracket. According to the parts book, the bracket I've got is what is called for but it's supposed to bolt on the outside of the ears on the front of the gas tank. However, the arms on the coil mount aren't long enough to clear the gusset behind the steering head/neck and bolt up to the tank mount. The coil bracket will bolt through a hole in the gusset but the gusset is only about 5/16" thick and the bracket is 2" between the arms with the mounting holes, hence the need for the spacers. I think what I've got figured will work just fine as long as it clears the bottom of the gas tank. Again, if it doesn't work, I'll try something else. I'm not looking for a 100 point restoration here. Machining up a few custom parts will "make it mine" and set it apart from the crowd. Besides, Harley always had a lot of options for anyone buying one of their machines. You could get them spec'd out pretty much anyway you wanted. No reason not to do the same thing forty years later.

I still haven't gotten around to making the spacers for the lower front motor mount. I'm planning on doing that next and then I'll go back to putting the motor together. I think I've got everything needed to put the jugs and the rest of the top end together. I'll finish up the gearcase first and then tackle that. 

Moving right along. Kind of a glacial pace but it's going together. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

New Parts


Coil mount, electrical terminal strip and ignition advance kit for the Sportster sitting on top of the parts manual. I printed out, three hole punched and loaded into a binder pert near the whole parts manual. The parts manual is worth its weight in gold when putting one of these things together, especially if you weren't the one who took it apart. Now that I've got most everything I need to put the bike together, I just need to do that. I need to get back in the swing of things so I can locate all my tools and get things functional, as well. 

I was going to buff up the heads of a couple of stainless socket head bolts and couldn't find the buffer. It's on a stand, so it takes up a bit of room but I hadn't used it since I retired from the high school. Since it's fairly large it could only be so many places and since I made the thing as a machining project in one of my college classes way back when, I knew I didn't leave it at the school. It only took a few minutes walking between buildings to find but it definitely sent the message that I need to work with the tools a little more if for no other reason than I'll know where they are. Anyway, the bolt heads are nice and shiny now and the gauges, headlight, kickstarter, and shift lever will be held on with shiny stainless Allen heads, the same as the engine case covers. 

I also started on a bracket for the ignition switch and choke cable - engine turned aluminum. Time consuming as hell but I think it will look pretty cool when it's done and installed. The top engine mount is a non-standard item, so the ignition switch and horn don't fit up like factory but I think what I've got planned will look nice, and if I wanted to go all stock, I can always do that by buying a new engine mount. I'll be able to tell when I get the switch bracket done and bolted on. If it looks good, I'll keep it. If not, shop for a mount.

Have a good weekend.



Friday, August 15, 2014

Buon Ferragasto

La Dolce Vita

Eye-Tie holiday today. Doubt seriously if I ever make it back to Italy again but I consider myself real lucky to have been there, not just once but twice. Love to do a motorcycle tour of the northern part of the country some day. However, if I want to scratch the Italy itch in the future I'll probably have to settle for watching Fellini movies. 

In the meantime, I'm living the sweet life out in the shop and around the shack. Finished up a couple of little jobs inside - one of which was accomplished with the much safer table saw - and did a bit of yard work outside. Not much done on the bike the last couple of days but all of the parts I ordered have come in. The dealer called yesterday telling me the ignition advance kit was in so the Missus, the dog and I took a pleasant little drive in the country and picked those up. I've got one more week of vacation to get things done. Should have the bike close to being together by the time school starts and have a few more things checked off the project list. The weather's been co-operating nicely with cool temperatures and just enough rain to keep the garden and the farmer's crops doing well.

La Dolce Vita indeed.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Back to School Rant



Now let me tell you about Rafael Cordero, IS 302. It was built in the 70's with a strong vocational training infrastructure. Machine shop, wood shop, cosmetic shop, and more. 
Then that damn report was released: A Nation at Risk. 
The shops were turned into classrooms and the vocational training programs gutted. You with me?

That's a little quote from a post at Clemsy's Corner. It pretty much stands on its own legs but if you check out the link it'll put it into context. While you're there, check out his post on Common Core. Well worth your time.

I suppose I don't need to concern myself with Common Core or anything else that occurs in the public schools since none of it affects me directly anymore. However, it was my lively-hood for 36 years and I've got two other really good reasons. 

Photo From Here

And those reasons would be the grandsons. I don't know what path the boys will take after high school but I hope to hell they will have a decent education that will properly prepare them for whatever path they may choose.

The local paper a week or so back reported on how the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in Indiana has basically become just a figure head with no say in anything that matters and a couple of days later it reported that the previous superintendent was fined $5,000.00 for politicking on the people's dime. Big bunch of craziness going on there in Indy. California has shot down teacher tenure, the reasoning being that tenure has prevented students from getting the education they deserve. And all the bozos on the federal gov bus are saying if they just put the good teachers in the bad schools and get rid of the bad teachers, everything will be peaches and cream. I hope they realize that this is the year 2014 and as a result of No Child Left Behind, all of the little scholars are going to be at grade level. Well no, that didn't happen. All it really did was make damn near every school corporation in the country in violation of the law, unless you were granted a waiver by the great and powerful Oz. All that pressure on the schools and the law was doomed from the start.

There was also a real good editorial in the Wall Street Journal last week about the Common Core written by Marina Ratner. Ms. Ratner has the expertise and the credentials to be taken seriously when she says replacing the current standards in California with Common Core is only going to make math education worse. But since she actually knows what's going on, the politicians won't listen to her anymore than they'll listen to me. Since Indiana is going to have their own standards, they won't be able to blame any failure that occurs on Common Core, rather, I'm sure they'll blame it on the superintendent even though they've pretty much shut her out of any decision making.

I realize no-one in a position to change things (meaning policy makers) is going to read this, but just in case they do, let me say a couple of things here. First of all, like it or not, all men are not created equal. It's like the old joke: When the Lord was handing out brains, he thought he said trains, so he's still waiting at the station. There are always going to be those that are more academically gifted than others. There are also many students in the system who are not native English speakers. Smart as a whip or dumb as a post, your at a serious disadvantage if you can't speak the language. There are also those who come from abject poverty, broken homes, the learning disabled, any number of things that put students at a disadvantage, including those students who just don't care. So plain old common sense will tell you you're going to have a pretty big spread from the top to the bottom in your class rankings. If they were all equal you would have the entire graduating class as co-valedictorians.

Because you have such a wide spread of ability and effort levels, you might as well do the best you can to accommodate all of them by offering accelerated classes, vocational classes, remedial classes and special ed classes. If you put students in a class where they're in over their head, they're not going to profit. If they can't meet the benchmark in spite of their best effort, you need to give them as much as you can to prepare them for gainful employment. Square pegs don't fit into round holes. Individualize the instruction as much as possible. Technology is making this easier all the time.

Believe it or not, teachers are people too. Which means they are not all equal either but they're not going to get better if you continue to downgrade them and hold them responsible for all the ills of society. Pay them well, give them autonomy but hold them accountable. If there are bad teachers out there, and I know there are some, at least here in the heartland it's possible to get rid of them. It takes an administrator doing his job, but it can be done. What you don't want is to pit one good teacher against another in some kind of "highly effective" pissing contest. Give the teachers the material they need to teach along with the necessary supplies and facilities to do the job properly, then step back and let them do their job. How they do it should be up to them. The Building Trades instructor is going to have a whole different approach than the History teacher. Why wouldn't he? He's got a completely different clientele with totally different expected outcomes.

Students are different, teachers are different, local needs are different. Stop trying to cram a one size fits all approach down the throats of everyone. If you've never taught in a classroom, you're certainly welcome to your opinion (but you know what they say about opinions) but you should never be making policy decisions until you know what goes on. The answers are out there. Take the time to find them - here is a good place to start. I should be able to get you plumbed up in no time. If I can't, I know a lot of people who can.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Happy Birthday to the Missus


Better than I deserved.


Happy 64th Baby!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Fiat 642

Photo From Here

That's a pretty cool transporter, yes? Should be, it's what Ferrari used in the late '50s to haul their race cars around. If you want to make a model of this thing there are several options. If you want to get in free, go here. You can download a paper model to give you something to do in the evenings when the mosquitoes are too bad to be outside. Myself, I've got plenty to keep me busy but I sure do dig the old trucks/transporters.

Took care of some things around the shack yesterday but did get out into the shop for a little bit. Dug through the bins and found a pair of gauges that had the lights I need for the Sportster. I was even able to use some of the rubber mounting hardware to replace some of the "hard as a carp" grommets that were in the Harley's gauges. Surly hooked me up with a copy of the parts manual, so I printed out some of the pages that clarify a few of my questions. He also gave me a couple of books on Sportsters to look at. I finished up the one last night that is a history of the Sportster by Allan Girdler. Nice book - all in color, shiny pages, chock full of good dope from a guy who knows his stuff. Might do a little machine work today. I've got to fix the threads in the shifter lever and generator, and I've still got to make the spacers for the front engine mount. Supposed to rain on and off all day today. Be a good day to work in the shop a bit.