Saturday, February 25, 2017

"Tracking" Progress

I installed the hold down track in my workbench in the "new" barn. I got the track and a pair of hold-downs for Christmas. Figured since the weather was still warm, be a good time to get it done. I didn't have a 3/4" straight bit for the router so I bought one of those and some screws. Should make some of the woodworking jobs both easier and safer.

Fixed the conduit bender from the lab at school. Someone tried to bend 1/2" rigid in the bender for the 1/2" EMT and blew it apart. Actually did this one at home rather than in the shop at the college. I've got all the fixin's and they're handy here at the shack.

Finished up the tool stand, paint and all. I still need to bolt it to the bench top but that won't take long.

Surly sent me a couple of sidecover designs for the BSA. Looks like he's got something pretty close to what he'll be happy with. Glad to see that's moving forward again. 

I've got two more weeks until the session ends at the college. After a short break I'll be working again but only two days per week. That'll free up a lot of time for projects. I'm looking forward to that.

I signed up for a 5K race walk the end of April. I'll need some of that free time for training. Looking forward to that, however. It's hard for me to stay motivated to eat right and exercise unless I've got an event to train for. I want to drop a few pounds before then and maybe keep them off afterwards. My new saddle pal lives right down the road now, so we should be able to get out on the bikes fairly often, which will help. It's been almost five years since the heart attack, I'd like to avoid having another one for at least another twenty.

The crazy weather has fooled the magnolia out front into blossoming out. The cold and snow aren't going to be good for it. The other magnolias I have normally bloom later so they should be OK but who knows? 

So things are good in spite of the weather taking a turn to the normal. I'm picking away at the easy ones and having a grand time with the mundane. Enjoy your weekend and get that garden planned out. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Math Education

y = Mx + b = (delta y/delta x) x + b

Mean anything to you? Me neither. A former colleague I worked with at the high school posted on Facebook that she was helping her nephew with a homework assignment and this formula was needed. Smart lady that she is, she came up with the formula but in the comments she stated that she hadn't needed it twenty years.

I was putting some quick sketches on the board with my class recently and not a single one of them new what an extension line was. One of them got the dimension line but she's planning on becoming an engineer so I wouldn't consider her typical of the students I normally get.

By looking at these two things together, I wonder why in the hell do we stress teaching an algebraic formula that a highly educated chemistry teacher hasn't ever used in her career or since having left the classroom but omit simple drafting skills that most everyone could profit from. Most of my students are not at all familiar with 3 view orthographic projection, isometric or oblique drawings, meaning they can't interpret simple sketches or shop drawings, let alone any type of blueprint like they would encounter in a welding or machine shop.

I think it's time to go back to some of the old ways and come up with the "tracks" or whatever you want to call it like they used to do. Offer some type of shop math and business math as well as geometry, algebra and what we called Senior Math when I was in high school. Only roughly 25% of Indiana residents have a four year degree - a few years ago we were ranked 46th in the nation, in fact. I'm not sure what the number is now but that's not necessarily a bad thing. In the past if you wanted to be a machinist, welder, pipefitter, etc., you received your training on the job or through an apprenticeship program. No degree required, good job, decent benefits, live happily ever after. Granted, industry has changed but I keep reading and hearing about jobs going unfilled because employers can't find qualified help. Seems to me at least part of the equation would be change the offerings in the schools.

I learned some board drafting when I was in junior high. I remember making some simple developments and learning how to properly draw lines of different weight such as object vs center lines. Proper lettering practice was taught as well. While I had both beginning and advanced algebra in high school, most of my career I've used mostly simple arithmetic, right angle geometry and a bit of trig. Algebra, not so much. In fact it's almost the end of February and I haven't used any yet this year. I should probably keep my eyes peeled for an opportunity to use it in my day to day activities and report back when that happens. I wouldn't hold my breath, however.

If I wasn't such an old dude, I'd start my own charter school and then we would do some drafting board work, add and subtract some fractions and then make all kinds of things both beautiful and practical.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Wonderful Weather For a Weekend

Absolutely beautiful weekend. We've had record warmth and looks like it'll continue at least until Wednesday. Kind of a mixed blessing, however. It's so nice you want to get out and get things done but at the same time, it's so nice you want to blow off the honey-do list and just enjoy the weather. I compromised and did a little of both the last couple of days. I went to the gym Saturday morning, came home and worked in the shop a bit. I made the plate in the photo above to mount the shear on the new tool stand and I also fixed the "gooseneck" for one of the MIG welders at the college. 

I wanted to swap out the wire on one of the welding machines that's equipped with a push-pull arrangement. The contact tip was galled in place and it twisted off while I was trying to remove it. Never had that happen in all the years I've been working with MIG guns. Whoever put the tip in last had to notice that it was going in real hard but kept at it anyway. I drilled it out, chased the threads and installed a new tip with a bit of never-seize on it. The saving grace was the fact that the tip had a hole through it so I could run a drill down through it and it would be on center. 

About the time I was finishing up the plate and the MIG gun, a friend stopped by on her bicycle to see if I wanted to go for a ride. We put in about 11-12 miles, so with my time at the gym in the morning and the bike ride I got quite a bit of exercise on the day.

Sunday started off with Surly and one of the boys coming down for a little range session. Later I got the gutters cleaned out and did a couple of other piddly things around the shack and then dug out the parts to hook up the exhaust fan on my welding bench. My shop has a Gothic style arched roof/sides made from corrugated sheet. The box in the photo will get welded to the sheet metal on the outside with the louvered vent screwed to that. The fan is an exhaust fan like you would have in your bathroom and takes standard 4" vent pipe. I made this up years ago but never got around to hooking it up mostly because I never needed it. Now that I no longer do most of my welding at the school, the fan will come in handy to suck the welding fumes out as needed. The list of things to do to get my shop in order before I retire keeps getting shorter and shorter. I should have put my big screen in while I was out there working, however. I managed to get my first mosquito bite of the year. I don't know where the buggers were hiding but there was a bunch of them flying around out in the shop when I had the big doors opened up.

While the nice weather continues, I'll try to balance my project work with enjoying the weather. Hopefully, you'll be able to do the same.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Road Trip

I ordered in a set of clamps from the outfit I used to buy all of my welding supplies from when I was at the high school. Originally, I figured I'd just have them throw the order on the truck when they came in and I'd pick them up from there. However, I've been wanting to check out the Panhandle Pathway and France Park so I took my show on the road.

The northern end of the trail starts in Winamac at the old depot - the pathway is the old Pennsy but there's an Erie caboose. The Erie used to cross the Pennsy there.

Since it was such a beautiful day, I took a quick detour through the park while I was in Winamac. The end of the suspension bridge closest to you in the photo is where the night run I did a few years ago started. 

The Panhandle parallels U.S. Route 35 heading southwest out of Winamac. Not a whole lot to see out there in farm country unless you're looking maybe for a Rolls Royce. I stopped to snap the photo and check out the building it's sitting in front of and a guy came out from the other building asking me what I was up to. After explaining I was a car buff, he told me the story of the Rolls. Last time it was driven was by his daughter when she drove it to the prom four years ago, etc. There are a couple other vehicles inside the building as well. 

Actually, I was more interested in the truck down the road that's hiding behind the foliage. Looks like an old Ford box van. Not exactly a farm truck but could be a cool transporter for jockeying motorcycles around or making a trip to the lumber yard.

The southern trailhead is off U.S. Route 24 back to the west of the 35/24 intersection. The beautiful farm is just across the road from the trail and the church, constructed from Indiana limestone I would guess, is just up the hill about a 1/2 mile. The trains were responsible for the development of a lot of small towns along the tracks. It's a shame so many of the railroads went bust and they pulled up the tracks. It's nice when they can do something like the Panhandle with the old right of way, though.

Right down the road from the southern trailhead is France Park. I'm thinking about doing some kind of bike trip either starting in Winamac on the bike, riding to France Park and camping for the night and then do the return trip the next day, or loading up the bike and the teardrop trailer and heading down there for a couple of days and ride the trail as part of the trip. Have to see what develops on that.

After leaving the park, I picked up the box of tools from the welding supply in Logansport. The kit has a couple of clamps and some magnetic things to hold parts in alignment for welding. When you TIG weld, you always need a third hand it seems and much of what I work on are oddball configurations that don't lend themselves to clamping. These should help. The other two items in the photo I picked up at Bailey's in North Judson on the way home. The long nose "Vise Grip" might come in handy some day. I've needed something like these in the past - don't know if I ever will in the future but I was willing to gamble on them. The end wrench is a ten millimeter combination open end and ratcheting box wrench. If you work on European or Japanese bikes - motorized or not - you'll always have need for a ten millimeter. This one is made in Taiwan, so the quality perhaps won't be the greatest, but for $1.99 how can you go wrong?

Put about 150 miles on the little car and was gone for about four hours. Nice little trip on a February day that managed to get up into the 60's. If I had waited an hour or so later to leave, it would have been a nice trip on the motorcycle after it warmed up. There'll be other days. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tool Stand

I got the tool stand done or maybe not. The plate that the tubing bender is bolted to also has mounting holes for my sheet metal shear but I might make another plate on the other end to fasten it to. I don't see me using the tubing bender too often but the Hossfeld style bender in the top photo will get a lot of use, I'm sure, and the sheet metal shear will as well. It would be nice to have those use-able without having to unbolt one thing and bolt on another. However, if I'm going to try and shear a large piece, I'll have to unbolt the bender anyway. It won't take much to make up another mounting plate, so I'll probably go ahead with that anyway. 

Finished the Dzus brackets for the fender skirt on the sidecar. I'll get those bolted on in the next few days and then I'll be able to finish the fender operation up. I need to bolt them rather than weld them so I can slip the floor sheet in. I ordered in some of the proper Dzus fasteners. I checked at Auto Zone and when I asked about Dzus or 1/4 turn fasteners I got the look that I normally get when I go into those places. They had no idea what the hell I was talking about. The third person at least knew what I was talking about but said they didn't carry them. Rather than running the gamut of all the stores, I just came home and ordered them from Speedway. I needed a couple of other things anyway. 

The sidecar rig is getting pretty close to being finished. I've still got to get some brake calipers on the front of the bike and go through the motor but nothing that time and money can't cure. So it'll happen one of these days.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Fender Skirt

I got the fender skirt cut out and fit up for the sidecar rig and started on making some brackets for Dzus fasteners to hold it in place along the bottom edge. I'm going to rivet the skirt to the fender along the flanged edge around the perimeter. I've got enough brackets and springs to complete the job but I need the actual Dzus fasteners like I'm planning on running. I've got plenty of the ones with the wing type head but only a couple of the ones with the slotted heads - might be able to get those locally. I'll check and see what's available in town. 

Got the mid-term exams graded and posted over the weekend as well as stepping out Saturday night to catch Surly's band play at a bar not too far from here. Music was good but the smoke was terrible. The band didn't seem quite as loud as the jukebox that was blasting when I went in but I was glad I took some earplugs along. I don't know why anyone would continue to smoke in this day and age between the health effects and the cost. I also can't see the attraction of having to yell to your friends across the table to carry on a conversation. I've had a career of that in welding shops. I'm more inclined to go somewhere where you can have a nice quiet conversation. Loud and smoky must sell more beer. 

Going to try and get a little more done on the sidecar rig this week as well as get the rest of the tax documents sorted so I can go see the tax lady. Every day now we've got more daylight and I know we're closer to spring, regardless what the weather's doing outside. Won't be too much longer and things will be starting to green up and bud out.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Slow News Day

Photo From Here
Came across this the other day. Always have liked the Jeep trucks (and the Dodge Power Wagons, of course). Looking forward to seeing the new Jeep.

I've been working on my taxes and some other inside stuff since the weather turned cold again so not much action in the shop. I did finish the tool stand I was working on, including paint. I finished it at school and left it there over the weekend so the paint would be good and dry before I put it in the back of the car. I'll get a photo of it posted when I get it home and on the bench. Looks pretty good. More importantly, however, is the fact that I'm one step closer to having everything in the shop as I want it. Still got a few more things to do but I'll probably never have everything just as I want. Does anyone?

Planning on finishing the sidecar fender and wiring soon and then maybe get back on the VW for a bit. I need to keep chipping away at both of these. Only a few more weeks and my work schedule will ease up some. That should coincide with some warmer weather allowing me to pick up the pace. Of course, that will also coincide with getting the garden going. In fact, I need to see about getting some seeds started or just plan on buying plants. 

Lots to do. Just glad I'm able to do it.