Friday, July 21, 2017

Checkin' In

From Here

I got a chuckle out of that one. They use a bunch of resistors in the lab where I work and I'm always sweeping a few of them up off the floor. I can no longer remember the color code but, fortunately, that's not a requirement for a floor sweeper. I did get a raise this week, however. 2% increase - not much but better than what a lot of folks are getting.

My older brother and his wife were in town the other day. Very nice visit even though it was only a few hours in length. Always good to see them. Hopefully, the Missus and I will be able to get away together a little more after I retire and visit the brothers on their home turf.

The Missus showed me the local paper and said I'd recognize a few names. Sure enough! Even though I've been retired from the high school for five years, there were five or six names in the police blotter this week of former students. That's my legacy. Knuckleheads still getting in trouble five, ten, fifteen years out of high school.

The weather's back in the 90's this week. I've been running the pipe beveler at the college pretty steady trying to keep up with the students. It uses a oxy-fuel torch and it's set back into a corner. It's not hard work but it is rather warm. Almost like a real job. However, I've only one more week for the summer session and then I'm off for three weeks. Teach a couple of classes in the fall and then I call it a career. I might work my way in to some welding certification but I'm going to be done teaching.

Looks to be hot, humid and rainy all weekend long. Not too pleasant to be out in but the grass and the weeds seem to thrive on it. That'll keep me busy.

Monday, July 17, 2017

More Raccoon Tales

Did the last 5K racewalk of the four race series Saturday morning. Didn't get any faster but my running buddy decided to stick with me rather than run it, so we gabbed a bit while out on the course. We were still the first walkers in by a bunch, so we're definitely the ones to beat in that group. I'm doing another 5K in August but I'll have to pick up the pace if I want to beat my buddy Jimmy for the dinner bet we've got going. 

After the racewalk I had a wedding to attend in the afternoon, so that shot the better part of the day. When I came home and opened up the garage door to park the wife's car, I was in for a big surprise. Apparently a raccoon had gotten in the there and decided it wanted out while we were gone. Chewed up the bottom of the service door and scratched a bunch of the insulation off the roll-up doors. Also managed to chew about a 10" chunk of wire from the safety switch along the bottom of the doors so I had to pull the emergency release to get the door down. It also knocked a bunch of things off the shelves and generally wreaked havoc. I cleaned up most of the mess so I could get the car in and then went back out later and there was more damage done so it was still in there. I got the shotgun, opened the big door, turned on the light and then took up a position to ambush the little bugger when he came out. I waited for about an hour thinking it would come out when it got dark, but he was a no show. I finally left the door open and the light on and gave up the vigil. It just wasn't worth any more mosquito bites. Everything looked OK in the morning so I guess it left. Everything is cleaned up and fixed now. I'll just have to be more careful about leaving a door open in the future. I think I'm going to have to start running a trap line to keep the population in check. Maybe start a raccoon skin cap business.

I did get a couple of little jobs done in the last couple of days. In the top photo are the brackets for the deck off the end of the new barn. We had some formed angle made out of stainless at the college that were just about right. The lab tech wanted some of it cut up to make slats for the burning table so I plasma cut all of his parts when I did mine. I still need to drill some holes so I'll throw them on the mill for that. I can slow the speed down on the mill which should prevent any issues drilling that stainless. It's real easy to work harden the stainless if you don't keep a chip rolling off it. Slow and steady wins the race.

The bottom photo is a right angle saw. The motor for it burned up, so the lab tech is making some Rube Goldberg rig to hook it up to a drill motor. I bored out the coupling on the right side of the photo. Nothing much to it and it keeps me in good standing in the shop at school.

Have a good week. I'll keep pecking away at things on my end.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

More Harley & Offy Plus Royal Enfield & Jaguar

When we were at the Harley Museum the other day they had an exhibit about The Race of Gentlemen. In order to participate you must have a car or bike that is from early thirties to late forties, with a few exceptions. There were a few vehicles on display, like the belly tank racer which I've always thought were just cool as all hell. More impressive to me, however, were the large black and white photographs that lined the exhibit hall. Very nicely done from both an artistic and technical standpoint.

The Museum had a wall covered with the various engines that have powered their bikes over the 100 plus years. I thought it was pretty cool that they had a two-stroke, iron head Sportster and Sprint all displayed together since until recently I had at least one of each. 

The Royal Enfield Himalayan. I like this thing. Those big-ass adventure bikes just seem like typical American overkill - if a little is good, more is better and too much is just right. It used to be a 650 Brit bike was considered big and guys would ride them everywhere. Now a 650 is barely a middleweight. I'm looking at the Himalayan as an updated version of the BSA Victor. Should be a fun bike. The sales lady said the price should be set in September and I would imagine there will be a few road tests in the bike magazines before long as well. I'd like to take one for a spin and get all the specs.

This is the Indy car I mentioned in the last post. I thought I'd taken another photo of it but guess not. When I was looking the car over I noticed the back axle had a cone welded on the end as it attached to the brake drum - TIG welded at that. Not the kind of technology that was available in the 30's. The owner of the car explained that he and a friend decided to build a car but since they couldn't agree on what exactly to build, they each built one. The craftsmanship on this car is top notch. The frame rails were tapered front to rear, so he had to weld the flanges on and then grind everything so it looked like a factory stamping - and they did. The cowling and the rear sheet metal was nice and smooth. The aluminum for the nose over the radiator was polished and I couldn't see a flaw anywhere. Very, nice. 

There was also a recreation of a roadster by Gary Babineau. If you're looking for your own Indy roadster or something similar, he'll make you one. Probably cheaper than an original Watson.

I got a chance to see what a door on a Jag like Jimmy's looks like. The owner was kind enough to let me take a look at one of the opened doors. He said the frame work is all wooden with an aluminum skin. Sounds like something I could do. I'd need to look into it a bit more before tackling that project but when I finish up a few more of the ones around here, maybe see about building a pair of doors.

Cuzzin Rick and I saw a bunch of cool stuff last weekend but now it's time to get back to work around here. I've got some more yard work to do. The weeds are starting to get away from me and I need to service the mower. Looks like I'll have lots of peaches pretty soon. Maybe make some more wine. I've got another 5K this weekend. So busy like always but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Harleys & Offys

Cuzzin Ricky and I boomed out on Friday for a trip to Wisconsin. We hit the HD Museum for openers. I'd been to a tour of the engine plant in Milwaukee many years ago as well as visited the museum in York, PA, but this was the first time for the new museum experience. Pretty impressive. Good representation of all the different types and models of bikes they've made over the years, including the race bikes. 

They had a poster on the wall that had a photo of Jim Davis on it. The poster was for him winning the Dodge City race in 1920 or some such. I recognized the face and the name right away because I met him once at the AHRMA banquet. He was quite the guy. He was around 90 years old at the time - lived to be 103. Sort of the seven degrees of Kevin Bacon thing.

A big bonus for me was the Wall of Death that was set up outside the museum. I told Rick we definitely need to see that - and we did! They used to have one of these at the county fair when I was a kid and I always checked it out. At the fair they had a set of rollers and one of the guys would fire up a little 165 Harley and run it on the rollers while he stood on the seat and other things. Being a two-stroke without a muffler, it was loud, but that was the point. Bring the suckers in. They had a 165 at the museum as well. Same deal exactly. They put on a really good show and it was free as well. 

Wasn't much free in the gift shop, however. They had a jersey hanging in there that was like one Surly used to wear. I thought it would make a nice Christmas gift but the damn thing was $155.00. They had a nice pullover sweater that was $255.00, I think it was. I left empty handed but I was still pumped from the Wall of Death, so all was good.

We left there and went to the Royal Enfield dealership. This is corporate headquarters for North America. It's a nice showroom and the young lady who filled us in on the details of the new Himalayan model was very helpful. They had one in stock and I got a chance to sit on it and check it out. She said the pricing hasn't been established yet but I like the bike. She said there's a shop in Indy that's a dealership but I was in there not too long ago and the salesman said they weren't. Have to see about that if I decide to buy a small displacement adventure bike.

Saturday we went to the Millers at Milwaukee vintage Indy car event. I've been wanting to check that out for a couple of years ever since seeing a write up at Handverker. A bunch of Offy powered roadsters running and out on a real race track. Yeah, that's the ticket. I talked to an old duffer that had a car there that was just about finished up. The engine still needed a bit of work but it was all painted and looking good. I'll finish sorting out the photos and get a shot of that in a couple of days and finish the narrative.

Sunday was spent at Sun Prairie, Wisconsin to see the Pepsi Nationals at Angell Park. 30 lap midget feature with sprint and legend cars as well. Great racing with a fireworks finale to boot. Made it home yesterday afternoon. Great trip. We're already kicking some ideas around for our travels next year. Maybe the Knoxville Nationals in Iowa with a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska for the museum Speedy Bill Smith put together. Should have a bit more freedom for the logistics when I'm no longer working and I should be able to afford a few trips as long as I stay out of the Harley gift shop!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Takin' Care of the Easy Ones

Did my 5K racewalk on the 4th. Once again I was the first walker in but that's not saying much. Not much competition this time. In fact, this time we didn't even have bib numbers. Purely for fun. I'm still trying to get my old form back but I've got a ways to go yet. My time was a little slower than I wanted but it was hot and humid. Again, just for fun though. The course was well marked, people were nice and we got nice tee shirts for only a $10.00 entry fee. Hard to beat that.

Got the pieces bent for the VW. These go on the floor, up the back wall to reinforce the area where the roll cage tubes will get welded in. The roll cage is overkill for this rig, but if you're going to do it, might as well do it up proper.

The grip strengthener broke. I bought a pair of these and this is the last side to be repaired. The plastic handle inside the rubber grip breaks off even with the bottom of the spring. I've turned a piece of wood to replace the plastic and now that I've replaced all four, I shouldn't have any more issues. While I was epoxying the new wooden handle on the exerciser, I glued the magnetic strip back into the torpedo level at the same time. 

Both of these items are just cheap Chinese crap but it wouldn't hurt them to make things a little bit more serviceable. I bought a cheap torpedo level because they get knocked around and dropped while using them, which is why I needed this one by the way. I wouldn't think it's asking too much to glue the strip in where it'll stay for more than six months, however. The hand grips were cheap enough but they were branded Gold's Gym so I expected them to last a while. I'm thinking maybe they should have tested these out a bit at the gym before putting their name on them. Fixed now. But I shouldn't have had to.

The cigar boxes in the photo are from a yard sale. The one has a few pocket screwdrivers in it but other than that, mostly junk. I bought them both to have a cigar box to make another guitar or maybe an ukulele - $1.00 for the pair. Winter time project. Speaking of which, I put the new thermocouple in my heater thinking that would fix it. No such luck. Might have to seek professional help on this one. Or just plan on staying in the house all winter. Also sharpened up a few of the kitchen knives and my pocket knife. So once again, not much to brag about here but with the rest of the chores, I'm at least staying out of the recliner most of the day.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Living In America

Doing the 3rd of the 4 race 5K series this morning. Looks to be decent weather, hoping to improve my time a bit, but who knows? Since I'm not sure how long the course was last time, I don't have much to go on. Regardless, my goal is to beat Jimmy on August 12th. I walk, he runs, loser buys dinner. 

In the meantime, it looks like I'll have to start waging war on the squirrels again. Went out to start the truck the other day so I could go to the lumber yard for supplies and it was missing and the check engine light came on. I tried to catch my neighbor the mechanic when he was out in the shop but no luck so I popped the hood and I saw right away a wire that had been chewed in half. Fortunately it was an easy fix. There was enough slack in the wire that I could skin back some insulation, twist the wires together and solder the connection. I had all kinds of trouble two years ago but nothing since then. Unfortunately, this makes about 5 - 6 times the truck has been hit. Time to start running the trap line again, I guess. Country living, hard to beat.

Enjoy the day, celebrate safely!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Indy Racing Experience

Shop Teacher Bob giving the thumbs up leaving the pits at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the start of his Indy Racing Experience ride. Wade Cunningham is behind the wheel.

The driver accelerated like it was a race when leaving the pit lane and we were rolling at a pretty good clip by the time we entered the track by turn two. The G forces in the corner are incredible. While I'm not a race car driver, I've slid more than one car around a corner fast enough to break the rear tires loose but these cars don't even twitch going around the track. We reached about 180 mph and he never lifted through the turns. The ride was very smooth with only a little wind buffeting the helmet. I was impressed, to say the least.

The whole deal was extremely professional and well run. They got people in and out of the cars in just a matter of a couple of minutes, took your photo in front of the car after the ride was over and then printed a copy out for you to take home as well as putting it up on their website so you can have a digital copy to do with as you please. Right before I went out they loaded up an old gentleman, and I say that with all due respect, who was in a wheel chair. The staff did a great job accommodating him and treating him and his family with respect. I was impressed with that as well. 

We got to the track a bit early, since you can never tell about the construction traffic on I-65. Because we had a little extra time we took in the museum. They still had the A.J. Foyt exhibit going on, which I wanted to see. Lots of A.J. cars and ephemera on display. Great day at the race track!

Thanks to the Missus for the great Christmas gift and thanks to Cuzzin Ricky for driving me down to Indy. Next up - Miller's at Milwaukee and midgets at Angel Park.