Monday, December 5, 2016

Sort of Related Things

"In painting as in eloquence, the greater your strength, the quieter will be your manner." I might replace the word painting with boxing in that quote from John Ruskin.

Photo From Here
A young man came into the gym Saturday who I hadn't seen for a while. He's currently home on leave from the Marines after completing his basic training. Said he'd put on about fifteen pounds since he'd last been in the gym but it appeared to be all muscle. There's another one of our boys who's also a recent enlistee who will be completing his training next month. They're both real nice young men, good athletes and plenty tough. Every time I read in the paper about some sissy boy needing a "safe space" I think about guys like these two and the rest of the young men and women who come in to the boxing gym. The only safe space for a boxer is when you're sitting on the stool in the corner between rounds - and that's only good for one minute.

In addition to the opening quote from Ruskin, I got this from the Wall Street Journal as well:

How many of our citizens could build a nuclear power station, judge a case in Chancery, read a grant of land in medieval Latin, conduct a Mozart concerto, solve an equation in aerodynamics, repair a railroad engine? We don't need to have the knowledge ourselves, provided there are others, the experts, who possess it. And the more we outsource our memory and information to our iPhones and laptops, the more those experts are needed. If that is so, then the state must ensure that education, however available and however distributed, will reproduce our store of knowledge, and if possible add to it. . . . 
The state has another and greater duty which is a duty towards us all - namely, the duty to conserve the knowledge that we need, which can be passed on only with the help of the children able to acquire it.

I stumbled across The Art of Manliness and saw they had a list of 100 things every man should know. I'm good on about 90 of them. I'll skip the one about the bear attack, I can't speak a foreign language and I can't swim a lick. Nor can I whistle with my fingers. That one I would like to be able to do. My Pops did that using his thumb and middle finger of his right hand. Always admired that. However, one of the items on the list is to read. Not just read, but read to glean information. I'm thinking I'm real solid on that one as well as number 60 on the list, being able to throw a knock-out punch - in fact, I've been on both ends of that one.

The Art of Manliness also has a list of 100 books every man should read - lots of classics as you would expect - but while I didn't actually count the number of those on the list I've already read,  I'd guess I'd be lucky to have read even half of them. I've read the ones on the list by Hemingway. In fact I've read most all of his stuff. I didn't see Robert Ruark on the list but I would definitely add The Old Man and The Boy and maybe something by Jeff Cooper, which I'm ashamed to say, I've never read. I've read some of his things that were in Guns &Ammo but never came across any of his books at the library or second hand stores. It appears that they are available for purchase at the link, so I might have to do just that. As far as the rest of the books on the list, no way I'm tackling all 1000 pages of Atlas Shrugged or making a third or fourth attempt at Zen and the Art of Motorcycling Maintenance. I'd rather spend my time learning how to whistle with my fingers. I do plan on reading a few of the others in the future, however.

So. Be a man and read a book. Learn some skills every real man should know. Take that knowledge and be sure it's passed along to the younger generation. Practice the Art of Manliness. We need more of that.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Beetle Colors

Starting to turn cold now. I guess you would expect that here in the Mid-West in December. Regardless, I've got enough things done around the shack that I can get back into the shop and work out there for a while without feeling guilty. I've still got the right side of the VW jacked up so I can finish the front brakes. I need to get that done so I can roll it outside and give myself a little more room to work on the sidecar.

I like the color but mine won't have the elephant feet lights or the ugly bumper.
I mentioned in another post some time back about paint choices for the car. While farting around on the internet of things, I found a site that had paint codes not only for the VW but just about any other vehicle as well. It looks from the chart that the green that I uncovered while sanding was Cliff Green. Nice metallic color and not too far off from the Buick Riviera that I've always liked. The more I think about the project, the more I'm leaning towards the stock green. Granted, I'm a long way off from needing paint but I'm hoping to have one of my "growth spurts" where I stay camped out in the shop for long stretches at a time. If you're going to start the heater, might as well keep after it. And if you're going to keep after it, it helps to have the vision of the finished product in your head so you don't have to stop and contemplate your next step.

I think mine, after finishing up the front brakes, will be to make another cross bar on the roll bar right behind the seats. I've got safety harnesses but the stock seats don't have slots for the straps to run through. If you put on the harness the shoulder straps have a tendency to slip off your shoulders - no bueno. I'll put another bar across close to the top of the seat with loops to run the straps through and that will take care of that. I'm not sure if I have a piece of tubing around here long enough for that or not. Even if I don't, I can start on the loops. That's the kind of thing I can do at the school. I like those kind.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Business As Usual

Photo From Here
Ain't that a pip! Nice shot of the Mercedes-Benz W196. Those older GP cars and Indy roadsters sure were a thing of beauty. And the craftsmen responsible for building them were the absolute tops in the field, as you would expect. I need to quit looking at these things or I'm going to want to drop everything else and get started on one.

Photo From Here
I got a phone call the other day from friend of mine. We go back a ways having raced motorcycles and bicycles together. He wants to build a HD Sprint this winter so he called me to see what I had laying around and for a little bit of advice. He's planning on putting together something for the street rather than a flattracker like in the above photo, but I'm curious to see what he comes up with. He's a pretty handy dude.

I'm thinking that's a Rickman frame in the photo judging by the layout and the nickle plating, by the way. Those boys have made some beautiful frames over the years.  

Here's the little part I machined up for the lab at college. Pretty simple - turn and face. I found a cut-off about the right size on the stock rack there, so that made it simple. Making it in the CNC turning center I used last semester would have made it real simple. Probably would have only taken 2-3 minutes to make as fast as that thing runs. The machine has constant cutting speed compensation, so as the part diameter gets smaller, it turns faster. Not at all like my old South Bend lathe with the step pulleys and back gear. I've made a lot of parts with it over the years, however. I would like to have something that I could metric threads on. Maybe I should ask Santa for a new lathe this year. Be kind of tough getting it down the chimney.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Making Things

I made these angle iron brackets for a power supply in the lab at school the other day. These are actually the second set. Since there were two of the power sources, I figured I'd make both of them at the same time but somebody up the chain of command wanted to see how the first one came out before committing to two of them. I find it amusing that no wants to be responsible for designing the project or providing materials but they don't want to give up control over the finished project. I'd be happy to build something from a provided sketch but it never works that way. So I had to scrounge up some more material and drag all the tools out again but I shouldn't complain. Since they hired a full time guy in the lab I haven't had much to do anyway.

They did trust me enough to make this rack to get the spools of wire up off the floor. Two little brackets made from angle and a piece of scrap conduit. I made these at home since we don't have a bandsaw suitable for notching the angle or any hole saws there.

Here's a couple photos of a job for me. It's a bracket that's going in the corner of the room where I have my HO train board. I've got a railroad lantern that's going to hang from it. One of these days I'll get back to working on the train layout but getting the lantern off the board and hanging up is at least a first step.

The cold symptoms are mostly gone after a solid two weeks of misery so I'm cranking things back up around the shack. I've got a machining job for the lab at school to do. If I knew how to run the lathes in the lab I could do it there but it's not a big deal. I figure as long as I keep making parts no one will know how little I do and they'll keep me around for another year until I retire. At least that's the plan.

Friday, November 25, 2016


Photo From Here

So if I was going to build my masterpiece, how about a Mercedes-Benz W196? This one is ex-Fangio and is worth about $30 million. Even a simplified version of this thing (straight ahead hot rod chassis or modified sprint car) would still be a stretch of my abilities but I think I could pull it off with some more practice on my sheet metal work. 

Photo From Here
This too is Fangio. It's an Offy powered Kurtis that Fangio took his rookie test in for the '58 race but decided against actually racing it. 

Photo From Here

This is a Quinn Epperly chassis. The link has several construction photos of the car while it was being put together. I believe this is a "laydown" chassis where the Offy was tilted over on it's side some to lower the profile of the car. If I was actually going to build something like this, starting with a sprint car or champ car chassis would probably be the easiest way. Stretching the frame would be a lot easier than trying to locate all of the mounting points for the suspension, engine mounts, etc. 

Photo From Here

This is a Watson car of the same era. This frame doesn't look like it would be all that tricky to build if you knew where everything was supposed to go. A guy would definitely need to make some type of fixture to hold everything square and in alignment, however.

Photo From Here

But if you did, you could end up with something that looked like this. If it's good enough for Parnelli, definitely good enough for me.

I'll keep floating ideas around in my head. Maybe start sketching something up someday. Meanwhile, I'll get back to work on a few of the things I've got going already.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


I'm part of some Hyundai owners thing where the company sends things out to get your input. The latest had several vehicles that the company partnered up with movers and shakers in the go fast auto biz to see what kind of cool vehicles they could turn the stock ones into. There was a Bonneville racer, an off road SUV, a road racing Elantra, a 1040 hp Santa Fe, and this Veloster. Mine's a fun little car to drive but this thing looks like it would be an absolute hoot. 

I really like the look of the wide wheels and the fender flares - the big wing in the back doesn't hurt either. Supposedly, it's not all show but it's got some added go as well. The frame's been stiffened up along with a roll bar and some other fun goodies. Since I'll probably never own the E-Type Jag, something like this could be the one. Nah, that's sacrilege to even think of such a thing.

Meanwhile back at the shack, things are going slow. Good, but slow. I went to the cardiologist yesterday for my annual checkup. Doc says all systems are go, see you this time next year. There's something to be thankful for, by golly! I've been slipping a bit on the diet, and now that the cold weather is upon us, I need to shift to my winter time exercise program. Or rather, come up with one I actually partake in. I've already put on my fat layer in preparation for the cold weather. There has to be some genetic/circadian/seasonal affective disorder I'm afflicted with. Maybe I need to start walking around in the weld shop with my shirt off to get some more UV rays. Or maybe just get up off my ass and go for a brisk walk. Oh yeah, it's raining. Never mind. I'll have a cookie instead.

Anyway, there's no shortage of things to be thankful for around here and believe you me, I am. Family, friends, health. I've got everything I need and mostly every thing I've ever even wanted and smart enough to know that I need to remember that every day, not just on the holiday.

Hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving Day and are as blessed as we are here. Peace and Happiness to you all.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Cool Bikes

When you follow a post about Mose Allison, you need to throw up something cool. So here we go!

Photo From Here

Ain't she a beaut! Might see this kind of rig at Peoria next year instead of the motocross bike based singles they've been running. I missed my chance back in the day. Probably should have kept my Norton as well.

Photo From Here

The plan was to turn it into something like this, with the matching sidecar of course. I didn't have the skills to do the aluminum work like this yet, however. But you have to start someplace, right? 

Photo From Here

Here's one that Surly is lusting after. Big Twin HD flat track/supermoto/all around badass sickle. It ain't cheap, but you wouldn't expect it to be either.

Photo From Here

While the HD is way cool, I'll have to go with this Guzzi. That's one fine looking motorbike.

Meanwhile back at the shack, not much to report on the bike front but the killer cold has about run it's course. I did get out and put the new plug wires on the tractor along with changing the oil and filter. Should be ready for snow plowing when the time comes - which could be any day from now until April with the crazy weather we have around here. Got the Veloster to the dealer for service and a host of other little chicken shit things done around the shack while I was hacking, coughing and wiping the snot from the end of my nose. Boy, I hate being sick! Better days are coming, though. 

Have a good weekend.