Monday, September 26, 2016

World Bicycle Relief

Some of the proceeds from the bicycle ride I did Saturday will be going to World Bicycle Relief. They provide bicycles to African nations to help those in need of cheap, reliable transportation.

They're a heavy duty rig that costs $147.00. They're assembled by trained mechanics once they get to their final destination. Their website has a spot to donate if you're flush and want to do a good deed. Typing in your credit card number is easier than riding 36 miles. If not, at least get out and put a few miles in on your own bike. Do you good.  

It's interesting that both motorcycles and bicycles are rarely used as primary sources of transportation in this country. Around here, other than a few young Mexican-Americans and heavy drinkers who have lost their drivers license, rarely do you see people actually commuting on a bike/scooter and if they are it's probably not their sole source of transportation. We've got designated motorcycle parking at the college and the most I've ever seen at one time in that lot is four bikes. Usually one or two, tops. I had a student who rode a bicycle to class most days, but he carried it part way in his truck, parked at his aunt's house and rode the rest of the way on the bike, mostly for training purposes. Other than him, a bicycle on campus is a pretty rare event. I used to ride back and forth to the high school on a regular basis, but again, that was by choice not by necessity. Back in the 70's before I started teaching, I used to ride my old Elgin back and forth to work at the welding shop. For a while we only had one vehicle, so I could ride the bike to work and the wife would have the car.

 As cheap and efficient as a bicycle is, it's surprising that there aren't more of them out on the streets. Motorcycles, however, aren't much of a bargain price-wise, so at least here in the Mid-West, they'll probably remain more of a toy than a utility vehicle. It would be good to get more cars off the road and replaced with two wheeled machines. It would also be nice if the State of Indiana would put a decent berm on the state highways. We had to ride for a couple of miles on a state road the other day and the berm was unusually wide for Indiana, close to 24". Unfortunately, much of the berm was broken up which made it unrideable, so we had to ride the white stripe which made things a little dicey when one jackass couldn't wait for oncoming traffic to go by before passing us with only about 18" to spare. All done at 40 - 50 mph. That may go a long way to explain why people don't ride but the fact that many bicycles aren't very comfortable might have a lot to do with it as well.  Then throw in the fact that the majority of Americans are just too damn lazy to exercise or invest a little time in their personal well being, and you end up with a lot more autos on the road and way fewer two wheelers. 

Just something to think about.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Off To The Races

Well, not exactly the races but my saddle pal and I did a 36 mile ride yesterday. Last year she rode a hybrid/mountain bike thing and she was dying by the time we finished. After we did the race a month or so ago, I dug out my old Motobecane Mirage and gave that to her. I had given it to a guy I worked with who was starting to do triathlons. He decided he needed a better bike after using it for a bit but he had put new tires on it prior to returning it to me, so it was pretty close to being ready to go. It made a huge difference for her and we finished the 36 miles in just a tick over three hours, including three stops. 

When I got home from the ride, this was on my doorstep. Chinese knock-off of a Beverly shear. It's sized like the Beverly B-1 with a 4" throat and a 14 gauge capacity in mild steel. Eastwood had this as the deal of the day last week. It was on sale, I got an additional 10% off and the shipping was free. It was definitely time to buy it. It would have been nice to have while working on the VW but I'll be able to put it to use when making the fender for the sidecar. Didn't get much done on that project this week, by the way - a little additional work on the mounts is about all but I did get the aluminum ordered for the floor and fender. I need to decide what I'm going to use for the fender braces and get those fabbed up. 

As always, steady by jerks.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Makin' Mounts

The lights for the sidecar came in. They're LED's in an aluminum frame that's a slip fit inside the tubing - combo tail light, turn signal, brake light. I'll need to drill a hole in the tubing and then weld a nut on for a set screw to keep them in place and to give them a good ground. At least I think they need a ground. They have three wires but no instructions, one of the wires might be for a ground. Need to find out before I toast them.

I got started on making the mounts. Progress was a little slow due to getting a cortisone shot in my foot. Fortunately it only hurt if I was moving or standing still. Anyway, I got the sidecar aligned with the bike with a bit of toe-in and then made up the front mount. After getting it bolted to the frame and clamped to the sidecar frame, I started making up the rest of the pieces. Shouldn't take long to finish them and then I'll start on the floor and the fender/enclosure for the sidecar wheel. I still need to order some material for that but I'll get on it this week. 

I haven't really built anything like this in a while - it's rather enjoyable. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

More Sidecar

Made some real progress on the sidecar project. I made the gussets for the wheel and got those tacked on. While I had the TIG welder out, I put some more weld on the tubes as well. I had just the minimum of tack welds with the MIG on the frame to hold it together so I welded the bottom side of all the tubes with the TIG to prevent anything from moving around or coming apart while I was fitting up the mounts and the wheel. After welding things I finished the spacers for the wheel, so it's centered up and good to go. When I get the rest of the pieces tacked on, I'll grind the MIG tacks off and finish weld it with the TIG - just because.

I machined up a threaded plug to weld into the tube to bolt the support rod to, rather than just thru-bolting it and have it collapse the tubing when I torque it down. That would be it in the top photo along with a piece of tube for one of the mounts. I also added another piece of tube to the frame to support the floor and to give the frame some additional strength where the mounts go. I need to machine another tube for the second support rod and make up a couple of more pieces for the mounts but I don't have much left to fab up for getting it bolted on to the bike. With a little bit of luck, might be able to get that finished up this week.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Canyon Jump

Successful jump of the Snake River Canyon in a rocket built to the same plans as the one Evel used, the only modification being the system to deploy the parachute. I came across this here and I too am surprised I hadn't heard anything about this prior to the attempt, or after, as far as that goes. Mighty impressive just the same. Congratulations Eddie Braun and crew.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sidecar Parts

The rods for the sidecar rig showed up, a couple of days later than the estimated arrival date, but here just the same. I'm pretty happy with what I've got. Not only will they give me the adjustability I was looking for, they look cool and "racy". The long one has 5/8" Heim joints with 1/2" diameter bolt holes. Right hand threads on one end, left hand on the other. The shorter one has standard 1/2" Heims. Both are tubular aluminum with swedged ends. Now that I've got these I'll start working in earnest on getting the mounts made up to fasten the sidecar to the bike. 

I ordered a pair of tube insert tail lights also. In addition to these, I want to put a light on the rear of the sidecar fender and maybe a marker light on the front. I think I'm going with aluminum diamond plate for the floor surface of the rig. While that wouldn't be the best if it was going to get raced, I think it will look good for something that in use will probably be more utilitarian than racer. I'll order in some aluminum sheet for the fender/enclosure for the sidecar wheel at the same time and get started on that one of these days.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Couple of Thoughts

After meeting with the financial adviser a couple of weeks ago, I've been trying to think of a way to optimize my savings. I needed some deodorant and the dollar store had these discounted to 70 cents each. With the rate my bank is paying on a regular passbook savings account, I would have to save $7,000.00 per year to get 70 cents worth of interest. For two sticks it would be twice as much, of course, meaning $14,000.00. If I let the $14K ride all year the compounding of the interest might get me the $1.50 the bill came to with the tax included. 

Something like a third of all countries are now issuing bonds with negative rates, the theory being people will take their money out of the bank and put it into circulation rather than paying the bank to hold onto it. With all that spending, the economy picks back up and everything is ducky once again. Good in theory, maybe. Not good for old guys wanting to live off the proceeds of their savings. In Japan what they've seen is an up-tick in the sale of home safes. Rather than put their money into circulation, people are hording it at home. So much for the negative interest rate theory.

I'm not sure what the average guy can do about this other than get himself debt free so you can accumulate some cash and don't have to depend on interest income. Even if you had a $1,000,000.00 in your savings, the interest earnings wouldn't do much for you with a return of 1 or 2%. It used to be the rule of thumb was draw down 4% annually and you'd run out of retirement money about the time you ran out of heartbeats. Not anymore. Maybe buy more deodorant.

On a totally unrelated thought, I'm going to be participating in a bike ride in a few weeks so I figured I might want to do a little training. I went out yesterday morning, the 15th anniversary of 9/11. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. Blue sky, white puffy clouds, just a slight breeze and a temperature about 65 degrees. After the weather we've been having with the heat and then the rain, you couldn't ask for a better day to be out. I checked my watch as I was leaving the shack and it was 9:11 - that was a little spooky. As I was riding I didn't see any jet contrails, which isn't all that unusual, but I remembered the skies being empty and quiet after 9/11 and how eerie it felt. As I was returning home I heard something, stopped the bike, and sure enough it was the sound of a jet. I couldn't locate it in the sky but I heard it and several others later in the day along with the sound of a small plane. Funny how reassuring it was. Just like in the old movies, it's never a good thing when it's too quiet out there.