Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

Photo From Here

Cuzzin Ricky and I did The Dead Relatives Tour a little early this year. We were both off on Friday and it was a beautiful day to be out and about so Friday it was. The American Legion had already set the flags out, so after we cleaned off all the markers and planted the flowers, they all looked real nice. Our dads are both buried in the same cemetery only a short walk apart from one and other. It's an older, well kept cemetery with mature trees. It's very peaceful and quiet. Gives them and the others interred there the dignity and respect they deserve. Gone but not forgotten, as the saying goes. 

We stopped at Harbor Freight on the way home to see about a sheet metal brake. I had a coupon that was set to expire in a few days so I thought I'd check it out. After deciding to purchase, the only one in stock was in a crate that looked like it had been dropped off the truck someplace between China and here. Because of that, the lady gave me the coupon price and knocked 20% off as well. Everything was going better than expected right up to the point when we were transferring it out of Rick's truck into mine. I sliced the hell out of my finger on a sheet metal corner brace that I didn't realize was on the bottom of the crate. Fortunately, I keep a first aid kit in my truck so we cobbled up a bandage and I drove home with my finger throbbing. Didn't figure getting the brake for half price was going to cost me in blood though. 

The brake has a capacity of 16 gauge x 36" wide. That's about all a guy needs for motorcycle work and patch panels for autos. I think I can convert it into a box brake with removable fingers relatively easy. I'll get it set up and take a hard look at it one of these days and make a decision then. Maybe extend the handles on the apron also. 

The next item on the equipment purchase list is a drill press for the wood shop. I've only got a few more months of big insurance premiums to make and then Medicare kicks in. After that, I'll be looking at buying something - probably the 1/2 hp radial that Grizzly and a couple of other outfits sell. Should be pretty well set after that. A planer would be nice to have, though.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sidecovers or Tool Boxes

Photo From Here

Maybe we're going about the sidecover thing from the wrong direction. The earlier bikes like this Goldstar had the oil tank on the right and a tool box on left. They're nicely rounded and look good in a very traditional sort of way. Our BSA is the later model oil-in-frame style but a pair of tool boxes would be nice if you could come up with the right look. It'd be nice to have a spot for some tools, gloves, etc. on the bike. Might be a little trickier to fab up but I'd be willing to give it a go.

In the meantime, a couple more loose ends around the shack and back on the Sportster.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Little B & M

Photo From Here

So we've got a guy who can build an entire body for a car.

Photos From Here
And a couple of guys who can build some really kick-ass sheet metal for a motorcycle. And then there's me.

Three aluminum pieces for three different bikes. All of which are only half finished at best. I'd really like to devote more time to this sheet metal stuff but even if I get close to mastering it, why? It's not like I need to do this sort of thing. Or maybe I do. I saw a filler piece on PBS a week or so back - how to tell if you might have Attention Deficit Disorder. Managed to watch about 5 minutes before I changed the channel - that probably says something in itself.  While it's almost certain that I've got ADD according to what was on the tube, especially the last item on the list that says people with ADD will say or do stupid things for no apparent reason sometimes, much of my problem is that I normally have no interest in the finished project. I just want to make things. Not sure what's behind the need to make things or what got me going on this subject, but it might have something to do with "Challenge, Mastery and Purpose". Or it could be one of a million things. Who the hell knows?

I did knock out a quickie railing project to help the Missus navigate a step out front. It's supposed to warm up a bit today so I'll get it primed, painted and installed. I also bought a replacement air conditioner I need to install. The chemo has been kicking the Missus' ass. I need to make sure no matter what the weather, she'll be as comfortable as possible. It's a thru the wall unit and I didn't want to take the old one out while the temps were in the 40's. I'll tackle that one in the upcoming days, hopefully before it gets too hot. The new unit is also a heater which will be nice in the winter. The old farmhouse here has hot water heat but they didn't run any fin tubes on the end of the living area where we spend the majority of our time in the evenings. This should help eliminate the cold spot and in the event of a power outage, I can close off much of the rest of the house and plug the new unit in to the welder and keep us toasty. At least as long as the fuel holds out, anyway. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Three Tees

Tools, time & talent. I've got most of the tools that I need for this stuff. Realistically, I've got more time than the average guy. Talent? Still working on that one.

I've got the sidecover at roughly 90%. Still some planishing and sanding to be done if I'm going to use it but since it's probably destined to be a wall hanging, that's about all she wrote on metal finishing. I am going to drill the hole for the mounting peg and make a bracket to mount the leading edge. Maybe shrink the top edge so it will follow the line of the frame rail a bit closer and then see how it looks on the bike.

I'm only so-so on the design. I think Surly wants to have a line on the sidecover that compliments the break line on the lower part of the tank. Fairly plain to see once you throw something up there that doesn't have it. Next step is to wait and see what he comes up with. 

For a technical exercise I'm pleased. It came out looking like I planned it and it only took a couple of days start to finish. I'll never be able to call myself a panel beater at the rate I'm going but with a few more projects I should be able to make most anything I'll ever want as far as motorcycle sheet metal goes. Might even be able to make myself that Bonneville racer someday. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

BSA Sidecover

I made a sidecover for the BSA yesterday. Two reasons for it. First I wanted to make something now that I've got most of the woodworking stuff set up. Second, I wanted to try my hand a making a die for one-off/low volume parts. 

The finished part came out looking roughly like I had envisioned it. There were a couple of wavy spots - part of that as a result of my annealing the part prior to forming and partly due to the top die I made.

Here's what it looks like after some planishing to take out the waviness and to crown the boundary around the inset part. It doesn't look all that bad on the bike. It doesn't go very well with the air cleaner that's stuck on there currently but might not look too bad with a velocity stack. I'll weld the corners up, planish it a bit more and then see how it looks on the bike. It's not what Surly was looking for I'm sure, but it was surprisingly easy to make. Not easy enough to make any money trying to do this but I'm not interested in working on anyone else's projects anyway.

Anyway, I learned a few things making this one. I've done enough of this kind of stuff now that I've got a pretty good idea of what I'm doing but not good enough to be able to work quickly and confidently. All goes back to the 10,000 hour thing I suppose. I'd like to think that after Surly comes up with his final design that I can actually make it. Won't be good if I can't.

Friday, May 15, 2015

This 'N' That

Since I got the new battery in the truck I figured I ought to pick some things up while it was running, so I hit the lumber yard and the steel supplier. I picked up some 2x4's for the outfeed table on the table saw. I got the framework under the laminate piece taken care of. Next step is to get it on the saw and shim it up to the proper height and make some legs for it. I also need to measure up for the railing out front so I can get that one knocked out - that's what the steel I bought the other day is for. That shouldn't take too long to make, especially if I do a nice job of measuring it up. There's only one step, after all.

This roller stand is actually a store bought item, believe it or not. This is what Sears used to sell to support the long boards you were sending through the table saw. This was actually designed to work with my Craftsman saw. The outfeed table I'm working on will be an improvement over what I've got now but I'll still end up needing this thing for real long boards. It's amazing that there are any of these things still around.

Got a couple of peppers coming in already. I need to get myself a green house or some grow lights down the basement so I can have some peppers and tomatoes year round. The Missus bought me the book The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. The blue zones are where people live the longest. Their diet is mostly vegetarian and many of them are gardeners. I'm currently working on a couple of books by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and his prescription for longevity is basically fruits and veggies. He too encourages people to grow some of their own food. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, something like 40% of the bee colonies died over the past year. If we're going to have any vegetables, fruits or nuts in the future, we might have to start not only growing our own but pollinating them as well.

My brother the truck mechanic called the other day but I missed his call. He related a story to the Missus to pass along about a young guy who's working for him. Kind of goes along with a post I put up a few weeks back, "Welding, What's that?". Short version of the story goes like this: He gives the young guy something to take apart which involves spinning off a couple of brass nuts. The kid ends up rounding off the corners of the nuts without getting the thing apart. Brother asks him what tool he used and the kid shows him the open end wrench he used. Brother then asks why he didn't use the box end and didn't he take shop class in school? No shop class in school. Never heard of a box wrench. My brother wasn't raggin' on the kid. Said he's a hard worker and eager to learn. Just never heard of a box wrench before. My brother will get the kid straightened out, especially if the kid shows some effort. But what about all the rest of them?

In the Wall Street Journal was an editorial by John Glenn and Sandra Day O'Conner. The editorial praises the push for STEM but laments the lack of Civics. They're working on a solution, and I would say it looks like a good one, but now that everyone is fighting over the Common Core curriculum, maybe it's time to start fresh and look at everything from top to bottom. Having  more civics in the curriculum certainly wouldn't be a bad idea. God knows we could use a better informed citizenry. Probably wouldn't hurt to make sure every student knows which end of the hammer to hold and that a combination wrench has both an open end and a box end, and if you don't want to round off the corners of the nut, use the box end. Around my neck of the woods, probably better to have more civics and shop classes than all the Common Core algebra.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Power Center

I splurged on a luxury item for the new barn - a power center. It's an air compressor, trouble light and extension cord, plus it's got a couple of little halogen bulbs that light up when you pull the cord down. It's pretty slick, actually. I pumped up a couple of bicycle tires and it works just dandy for that. It will go up to 100 psi and there's a gauge built in so you can check the pressure as you inflate the tire. The thing was on sale for $29.99 @ Menard's. The bulbs weren't included so I bought a pair at the local hardware store. No bargain there, but still, total cost under $45.00. I think it'll come in handy and be worth the money. 

Surly came down over the weekend and brought a paper pattern of a sidecover design for the BSA. Mostly just a visual aid but we're getting this thing in the loop. The Missus and I have lots of medical things going on this week but I'm going to be starting back up on the Sportster. I just need to remember where I left off.

Walked out by the railroad tracks where I usually find some mushrooms every spring. Just my luck, however, the railroad sprayed everything with weed killer a couple of days before the mushrooms popped up. Mushrooms are supposed to be a super food where cancer is concerned but eating them after a fresh application of Round Up/2-4-D/ Agent Orange or whatever the hell they sprayed is not going to give the same results. There were quite a few out there but I figured one person with cancer in the household is plenty, so I took a pass on picking any.

On vacation for a month now. Shouldn't be that big of a deal when I'm only working two days per week anyway - but it sure feels like it is. I'll try not to squander it.