Monday, December 29, 2008

Rumble Series

Cuzzin' Rick and I went to Fort Wayne for the midget races at the Coliseum on Saturday. This is turning into an annual tradition. The races are part of the Rumble Series and feature various classes of carts, Micromini sprints and midgets. The track is a short oval but the racing is top notch. The program is run like clockwork with very little downtime between races. The only hold up this year was when a cover plate for the utilities came loose on the floor and came shooting out at us. Fortunately, it hit the concrete barrier just below the catch fence. They were initially going to weld it in place but swapped it out for one in the infield. I was thinking the little 110 volt MIG they drug out there wasn't really going to do the job on a piece of 1/2" plate, anyway.

Many of the midgets have to be push started so they have this Hemi powered hot rod with a big wooden bumper to do the job. It's got big sprint car tires on the back to get traction on the concrete floor and the guy driving the rig really know his stuff. It's worth the price of a ticket just to watch this guy at work.

The fan favorite was Tony Stewart. He won the last two events we went to and we expected pretty much the same this year. He spun in one of the qualifiers and as a result didn't get a very good starting position in the main. He put on quite a driving exhibition just the same and finished third, I believe. It's hard to keep track of the placings on the little track. Lou Cicconi won, that much I know for sure.

Marvin the Martian didn't qualify for the show but there were little guys driving karts that were not much older out there racing. I think you can get started in kart racing when you're four. Some of the karts really fly.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Up On The Seat

I found this picture HERE at Nostalgia on Wheels. Now that picture has just the sort of daredevilish appeal that Grumpy Unk and I would have found to our liking back in the day. While most blogging is pretty much self-indulgent, this post is basically a trip down memory lane for Grumpy Unk and myself. Unk's comment about getting the old '48 Chevy up on two wheels a few posts back got me to thinking about some of the goofy crap we did to amuse ourselves. First of all, there's really no trick to getting a car with a center of gravity about 5 feet high up on two wheels. Just run 'er into the corner a little deep and turn a hard left - it'll do it every time. Likewise, it's not all that big a trick to get up on the saddle of a bike. It seems like everyone Unk and I knew did this kinda crap on a regular basis.

The guy down the street from us used to ride around no handed on his Honda Super 90. Like leave the house and then come back and hour later no handed. Unk and I used to fool around on our Harley (like the one pictured) no handed, up on the pegs no handed and at least a couple of times up on the seat no handed. We didn't think much of it at the time. We weren't exactly the Victor Mc Laglen Motor Corps - just a couple of knuckleheads havin' some fun on a little motorcycle the old man had drug home. I did manage a little bit of the sit on the tank and ride backwards routine. A small bike and a soft spot to land are definitely recommended for learning this trick.

The little Harley is still around. When the old man brought it home the deal was, if I could get it running we would be 50/50 partners. The engine was locked up and missing the seat and tank. I got it running and terrorized the neighborhood for a while until I moved up to something a little bigger. My half of the partnership went to Unk and his half was later passed down to the youngest brother. When Surly was a young'un he learned to ride on it and I eventually ended up with it as sole owner. Surly went through the motor a few years back so it's pretty much ready to roll. When his boys are big enough to ride, they can take over ownership. I'm sure that would please the old man if he were still around to see it. When the weather gets nice this spring maybe I'll drag it out and get it running and take a few pictures like the guy on the Sporty.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Not Just A Tot Rod - A Super Tot Rod

The Super Tot Rod is going to make Santa's sleigh right on schedule, which for me normally means at the last minute. I had a little weather delay due to the ice storm here in the Midwest but it's done and the paints even dry. It's nice finishing up a project. After all these years, I still can't figure out how I lose interest in something I was so fired up to start on (the projects for the grandsons being exceptions) or why I should have a dozen things going at the same time.

I think part of the problem is other jobs crop up along the way and seem to jump to the head of the line. Most of these are not my own jobs, by the way. Another part of the problem is I tend to lose interest once I have the job mastered mentally. By that I mean, if I know I can do it, why go ahead with it. If it's no longer a challenge, I might as well finish this book I'm reading. Of course, the fact that I'm constantly reading naturally cuts into my work time as well. Last, but certainly not least, I'm always spread way too thin. With the job, the gym, running, traveling, family time, doing what little maintenance I do on the shack, Mother Nature throwing the occasional curve ball like an ice storm stripping the branches off the trees and flipping the remaining section of the barn off it's foundation and throwing the roof into the middle of the driveway, plus a little blogging time, it's not always easy to find the time to get out in the shop and do a little something. The blog here should be an asset, however.

With my "legion of fans" tracking my progress, now there is a little more pressure to get things done. Usually if I set a completion date, it's just a suggestion. Carved in stone dates, like birthdays or Christmas, are something else. Likewise, involving others also rachets up the ante. If I post about a project here, theoretically at least, the whole damn world knows about it. If the whole world is watching, a guy probably ought to get up off the couch. With that in mind, the midget is now priority number one for the February 18th deadline. Cuzzin Ricky's buggy is still the official open shop night project, the 900 is looking to see daylight on April 1st, and I also have a couple of fairly big jobs cooking with the vocational class during day school. It should be a good winter for projects. Projects that get completed, that is.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cool Bike

My running buddy was cleaning out his magazine pile the other day and brought me an article from the December 2007 Popular Science magazine. It's about an infinitely geared bicycle and it's pretty darn cool. There is no derailleur but rather a rear hub that utilizes ball bearings and a couple of metal discs. It's based on an idea by Leonardo da Vinci - that was a guy who really had it going on. Anyway, the NuVinci transmission is something I'd really like to try out. You can check out "The Ride" at Ellsworth Handcrafted Bicycles. The thing is not cheap at $3,000.00 but quality and innovation rarely is. If you've got a minute, check out the link. You can read the magazine article at either the Ellsworth website or the Popular Science site. If you're in the market to build a bike or have one built for you, the hubs can be purchased at a bike parts supplier such as Alfred E. Bike. The hub might be just the ticket for a cargo bike here in the Midwest. Of course, you still have a couple of days before Christmas if you're looking for that special someone's gift.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wind Power

The weather has been, as they say, frightful the last couple of days. First we get an ice storm that wreaks havoc with the trees and the roads and then the cold air blows in sub-zero temperatures. And I mean blows in, laddies. After fixing the thermocouple in the furnace this morning (how's that for timing?), I went outside to feed and water the animals and get the Sunday paper. My lane is almost a 1/4 mile long and the walk back into the wind was just plain brutal. It was still below zero and the wind was gusting something like thirty miles per hour. I wish I could do something with the wind instead of watching the curtains blow in the old farmhouse on days like today.

There is someone doing something with the wind. These guys have built a couple of rigs to attempt to set the wind powered land speed record and the ice speed record. The land record got rained out this year but they're planning on an ice assault in January of '09 in Montana. The machines are basically composite construction ice boats built with solid type sails like an airplane wing. They sure look cool. If the high mileage team had some deeper pockets, I'd look into similar construction techniques for our project. The Ecotricity folks aren't just racers, however. They're all about green energy sources, zero carbon emissions and wind turbines for the urban dweller. I know I'd rather watch a wind turbine spin instead of my electric meter on days like today.

Friday, December 19, 2008

"We Are Proud to Participate ..."

sent me this picture. I don't know where he ran across it but it's pretty cool. The writing at the bottom says: "We are proud to participate in the industrialization of the nation". That's the kind of attitude we need more of.

The outcome of World War ll and the post war industrialization of the U.S. is pretty much the direct result of the welding game. When it came time to ramp up for the war effort, stick and submerged arc welding allowed heavy fabrications such as ships and tanks to be assembled much quicker than riveting did with less metal being used as well. The aircraft industry used gas welding for the tube frames and TIG welding or Heliarc, as it was called, was perfected to weld aluminum and magnesium. The importance of welding both during the war and after cannot be underestimated. Alloy Rods Corporation produced 14,000,000 pounds of stainless steel electrodes between 1940 and 1945. That's just one manufacturer and only one type of material.

Now there are over 200 types of welding processes. Some, such as atomic hydrogen welding, are not exactly household words but you can bet your bottom dollar that you won't go through a single day in this country without coming in contact with something that has been welded. The Welding Information Center has a brief but good history of welding at their site.

I've been welding for forty years now and I too am proud to say I participated in the industrialization of our nation. Before and during my teaching career, I've worked at a variety of welding jobs - structural steel, maintenance, job shops and construction. I've also had the great pleasure of teaching the rudiments of the trade to a very large number of people. All that those short-sighted financial geniuses who have been running the show can state is: "We are proud to have participated in the industrialization of other countries".

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

'59 Chevy

I picked up a Rod and Kulture magazine the other day while out finishing my Christmas shopping. I've been checking out the car mags the last couple of years looking for inspiration to work on the Volkswagen and maybe someday give the old Plymouth the love it deserves. I like Rod and Kulture because it always has plenty of traditional hot rods as well as old drag racers. It also throws in a cool motorcycle or two and a couple of really nice pinups. Pretty much everything an old fart like myself is interested in with a minimum of advertising.

The latest issue has a '59 Chevy custom that is really nice. The car is somewhat of a mystery as to who built it but it's a really nice example of what an early '60's custom car looked like. It's got an upholstered trunk, lots of tasteful chrome and a 348 mill. Really sweet.

We had a '59 when I was a kid and it was nothing like this one. Ours had a 235 Blue Flame six with a three on the tree. It was my Mom's driver and my older brother's farm vehicle. He was doing a little farming while still in high school, so the old stovebolt got put to use hauling seed and fertilizer out to the fields and I'm pretty sure it hauled a couple of little piglets around as well. I remember borrowing it to see my future wife when we first started dating. The throttle linkage was sticking from all the dirt thrown up around the gas pedal so I tied a piece of baling twine from the linkage to the glove box door. I'd grab it to idle down the motor when I let off the gas to shift. Don't try this at home, kids. It was soon replaced by a '62 Impala that also had the six cylinder.

Now that GM is on the ropes, it makes you wonder if maybe they should have continued to make vehicles as rough and ready as those old ones. My family and I had a variety of straight six powered cars and trucks, the earliest I remember being my '48 Chevy Fleetmaster. The long stroke gave the motor plenty of torque and the gas mileage was every bit as good as what my Dodge pickup gets. The Dodge beats the pants off them for horsepower of course, but as a high school kid with no formal training, I could fix anything that needed to be fixed.

If the big three all go out of business, maybe I'll try to find an old Chevy to fix up for my next car. I still remember the drill for winter time starting. Heat lamp and a blanket or a dipstick heater. If it's going to be below zero, you better have both. Pump the gas a few times and turn the key. Do the throttle dance 'til she's running good and then head for the house. Run back outside in a couple of minutes and drop her off the fast idle cam so she's not going to run the rods out the bottom. If it was going to be real, real cold, you would get up in the middle of the night and start it as well. We didn't have any remote starters. We just figured it only had a remote chance of starting and did whatever we could.

I did stop in the local Dodge dealership the other day to see about a new truck. The one in the showroom had a sticker of 50 grand. You could fill a whole barn with project cars for that price. Oh wait. I have a whole barn full of projects.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

No Child Left Inside

I received an e-mail from Project Learning Tree and they mentioned the No Child Left Inside Coalition. They are trying to accomplish the same type of thing that was brought up by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods and his description of "nature deficit disorder". The No Child Left Inside Coalition apparently has been able to get this point across to our politicians and there is now a No Child Left Inside Act that has passed through Congress. It doesn't seem like it should take an act of Congress to get your kids outside but in these changing times, I guess it must.

I also received my new Small Farmer's Journal this week. As always the editorials by Mr. Miller are spot on. He brings a common sense approach to the nuts and bolts of farming but also sheds light on how important the role of the small farmer is. More important, at least in my view, is his crusade to make the small farm a much bigger player in the lives of us here in America and through out the world. To clarify the definition of a small farmer, basically all you have to do is plant yourself a small garden and your in the group. Of course there is no need to stop there. You can get yourself a few acres, plant a truck patch, get a few chickens and keep working yourself into a bigger operation complete with draft animals. Basically it's any small scale operation both in size and in mindset.

With these two things in mind, it would seem only natural to combine the two. Get the kids involved in a gardening and/or small animal project. Even if you live in the city there are community gardens. Volunteer with the kids on beautification projects. Talk to the folks at the farmer's market and see if you can't arrange to visit or help out - there are farming apprenticeships available. Magazines like the Small Farmer's Journal and Small Farm Today are great resources. Get a subscription and have it available for the kids to read. I went to the Horse Progress Days in southern Indiana a few years back and it was very interesting. It's basically a trade show for those who farm with draft animals. Even if you have no intention of ever farming with horse or oxen, it's still a great thing to see. It's not often you get to see a team of horses making hay or plowing.

Of course that's all in the spring and summer. Now's the time for sledding, skiing and skating. Get outside and enjoy winter.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tubing or Not Tubing

We're bending tubes now, by golly. We got the first one done at open shop on Tuesday night with only one minor setback. The very first bend on the back hoop I managed to line up on the wrong line. I was going to bend that one first because it was the easiest. Oops! Fortunately, the piece was long enough to make the front hoop and all's well. I don't bend enough tubing to stay sharp. If a guy did this every day, it would be a whole bunch easier - especially pieces that have several bends on them.

Other than doing a little math, the next thing in the difficulty department is coping the tube ends so they fit together nicely. I bought a PipeMaster from A.E.D Motorsports Products in Indy to help with the layout. It's actually a little bit of a luxury item. I've done quite a bit of tube bending on motorcycles over the years and I can usually fit things up pretty well just on the grinder with a little file touch-up. The 1-1/2" tube I can make a wrap around pattern for the 90 degree on paper easy enough. I also learned an old trick on marking them from the auto shop teacher where I used to work. Once you've got the pipe coped just like you want it, wrap a piece of paper around it. Then go around the paper with a couple of layers of masking tape. Take a razor blade and cut the paper and tape section to the outline of the cope. Slide the newly made template off the pipe, slide it on the next one to be cut at the same angle and mark around it. It works real slick and only takes a couple of minutes. The PipeMaster should expedite things and allow the students to cut the tubes with plenty of accuracy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Das Boot

The photos are of the cradle boat I made for the grandson a couple of years ago. I mentioned it in one of my earliest posts but I didn't have any pictures at the time. I've been storing this thing for a while and when we were loading it up to move it the other day, it seemed like a good time to get a couple of pictures of it. The ropes weren't rigged properly but when you build yours you can do a nice photo shoot. The plans were obtained from Jordan Wooden Boats. It's the Baby Tender II. The plans are relatively easy to follow with full size patterns for most of the parts.

One of the hardest things about the job was finding decent lumber for the side planking. I hit a couple of the local lumber yards for some clear pine but couldn't come up with any. They carry some type of crap that's from Africa as I recall but it's not pine. When I ran it through the planer it actually pulled apart. The sides are only about 5/32" thick and bent, so you need something straight grained and workable. I ended up with cotton wood from a local guy with his own sawmill. I asked for pine, he said no problem. I went to pick it up and it was cotton wood. After my initial disappointment, both at the material I received and the price, I found it worked quite nicely and looked pretty good in the bargain. Besides, babies don't wait. When it's time, it's time. The baby came a little early but the boat was done in time for the shower, so everybody was happy.

One of these days soon, I'm going to tackle the full size boat. It will be the same type of construction with lapped side planks riveted together with copper rivets. The bottom will probably be plywood instead of individual planks but basically the same thing. I've got some big pine boards from the barn demolition that I think I might be able to use for the planking. I think it would be pretty cool to be able to recycle the old barn into a boat.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dashing, Simply Dashing

I got the dashboard for the midget pretty much done. I still need to file it up a little and drill some mounting holes but it's pretty much there.The "kit" from Eastwood for engine turning isn't much of a kit but rather a couple of abrasive sticks and a little pamphlet of instructions. Worked like a charm, however. It's very time consuming to do but it sure looks sexy when your done. I started with a rectangular piece of plate that I had welded the steering boss onto. After boring the hole through at the proper angle, I screwed the plate onto a piece of 2x6 and clamped that down on the table of the milling machine. The swirls are 1/2" in diameter, so I stepped over a 1/4" each time. Each row had a 1/4" offset as well, plus I moved the circles ahead 1/8" as I advanced from row to row. Easy to do on the milling machine. You don't really need .001" accuracy for engine turning but why not? If it wasn't for the time required, I'd engine turn everything I own.

Finally showing some progress on Cuzzin Ricky"s buggy. We should be bending roll cage tubing real soon. That will be fun. The vocational boys are looking forward to giving it a try. These are the kind of things that make welding fun. All new material and every time you work on it you have something to show for your progress. A whole lot more interesting than the rust repair I'm still facing on my own VW. We get his roll cage and steering hooked up and there won't be much more for us to do. Maybe I'll actually get a little something done on mine when his rolls out.

The Super Tot Rod is job #1 right now. I've only got about three weeks until Christmas but it's progressing along right smartly. Most everything has been sandblasted or sanded down. I need to find some plastic bushings for the axle. If Ace is the Place doesn't have them, I'll have to order them in. Not really a problem as long as I get it done real soon.

Didn't get as much done over Thanksgiving as I wanted to. I managed to catch a cold so I took it easy the last couple of days. I did run the 10K Thanksgiving morning. I've decided to try the progressive marathon that will be held locally in the spring. There's a 5K, a half marathon and a ten miler on three consecutive Saturday mornings. As long as I can fit the time for running into my schedule, it should be fun. That way I'll get four more tee shirts, besides. I think next year I'm going to start giving them away for Christmas presents.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Welding Certification

I certified my first weldor of the school year the other day. Plate certifications are not all that difficult if you are willing to spend some time in the welding booth doing repetitious work for days on end. Many of my vocational students aren't willing to do that even though they have the opportunity to become AWS certified in all position welding at little or no cost to them. Every year I get a few willing to make the effort, and it can really open some doors. You'll notice two sets of coupons in the photos. If you take a guided bend test and don't pass it on the first try, you have to pass two good ones in a row and that's what happened here. Nothing wrong with some additional practice, however. The kid stuck with it and because these were welded in the vertical position, he's certified on plate in flat, horizontal and vertical positions. To be certified overhead requires another test.

At the beginning of the school year, I was telling my vocational students that there would be all kinds of good welding jobs available in the next few years but now it looks like it might be the soup line for a lot of people. Many construction projects are coming to a halt, people every where are being laid off and it doesn't look real sunny for my soon to be graduates. So, if you have a bunch of high schoolers who have a hard time visualizing what they're going to be doing in the next few years, what impact is the economic downturn going to have on them now? Are they even aware that it might be tough out there for them? Will it mean they will actually come to school every day trying to learn as much as possible so they can have a leg up on the other guy? Do they realize that job skills learned now for free are going to be in demand in the future but will be costly to learn in the future? Is youthful bliss going to allow them to muddle through?

Even though the world seems to get crazier every day, I'm still blessed with some good people who want to be craftsmen. When all of this Fanny and Freddie and Big Three stuff settles down, it will be manufacturing and the trades that ultimately will have to do the heavy lifting. If you don't have Atlas to support the world, you need people making things to generate real wealth. As soon as we get the money changers out of the temple and get back to honest labor in the factories and small farms, things will be a lot better for my graduates and the rest of us.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Midgets and Tot Rods

The midget is progressing like most of my projects - steady by jerks. I did get the seat back done and a start on the floor. I'm currently working on the dashboard. I bought a kit from Eastwood to engine turn it but I haven't had a chance to put it into action yet. As soon as the dash is in place I can hook up the steering. Hook up the pedals and it's going to be pretty close to being done.

The other pictures show a Murray Super Tot Rod I'm working on as well. My wife drug this thing home a few years back and it has been hanging in the shop ever since. I decided it was time to be done, so I'm trying to get it finished in time for Christmas. It had been run over by a car or something. Kind of bent up in places and missing a steering wheel, the steering rod and a front wheel. I've got it pretty well straightened out, made a new steering rod and bought a few pieces from Speedway Motors. They had a steering wheel and a decal set. They have front wheels but at $22 something each, I decided to pass on the wheels. I'm figuring some type of lawn mower or utility type wheel for maybe $6.00 or $7.00 each. I'll see what I can come up with. A little sanding and painting and it should be a cool little pedal car.

Nice thing about all of this is the fact that there are two grandsons. When the older one out grows something, the little guy can take over. Grandpa can then build something else for the big guy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Boxing Update

It's been real busy around here lately. The boxing gym is bursting at the seams. We took some guys to fights on Wednesday and Saturday. Wednesday night we had one exhibition fight and one match. The exhibition had our kid up against a much more experienced fighter. The other guy held back just the right amount to give our guy some good work in front of a crowd and made it a good show for the spectators. Our other fighter won handily by a decision. It was his third fight and he's looking a lot better than when he first started. It was his opponent's first fight. The guy was a gamer but he was no match for "Bazooka Joe". I forgot to take my camera along. I could have gotten some good shots of the fighters and the card girls as well. They were a couple of cuties.

Saturday we went to Indy and things didn't go real well there. Our first fighter up was in the ring for the first time and fought really well. He lost by decision but if he had busied it up a little more in the third round, he might have been able to pull it off. He kept his composure and looked pretty sharp for his first time. A lot of guys forget everything you ever told them when they get in there. The second fighter got robbed, plain and simple. I don't usually complain about the decisions but this one was just plain wrong. Our guy easily won the first two rounds. His opponent received two standing eight counts in the second round and he was basically just getting the snot pounded out of him. The third round, our fighter eased up but the other guy didn't throw much either. I wasn't the only person who questioned the decision, either. Everyone in the crowd thought the same thing. That's how it is in the old boxing game, sometimes.

We do have some real good talent coming to the gym now. Even though the ones who've fought didn't always win, they all fought well and looked sharp doing it. We're going to be able to field some good fighters in the future. We've got a bunch of young guys coming to the gym and we're going to have a real nice facility when we finish our expansion. I think we'll be able to put on a pretty good showing at this year's Golden Gloves.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Riding in the Dark

Now that the time has changed and the days are getting shorter, it's time to switch to my winter bike. It's an old Peugeot mountain bike my brother gave to me many a year back. He bought it while stationed in Germany and Uncle Sam shipped it back for him. He wasn't in need of a bike at the time so I ended up with it. It's got to be at least twenty-five years old by now but it still goes. I put some new tires on it a few years back and oil the chain every once in a while but it's pretty much low maintenance. It's heavy like a truck but that probably contributes to the reliability factor.

For commuting in the winter darkness, I've got the thing all geeked up with lights and reflective tape. I wear a reflective vest and an ankle strap. I have a tail light on the bike and my helmet and I've got two headlights. The one small light is a cheapo bike headlight that would be OK if you were riding around in the city but out here in the sticks, it's my emergency backup. The big light is a 6 volt lantern that I bought at Wal-Mart for about six bucks. I sawed the back of it off and TIG welded up an aluminum tube and plate that's riveted into the back of the lantern. The battery is in the bottle cage with a short length of zip cord to get the power up to the light. It's nice and bright and does a nice job of allowing people to see me and me to see the road. The handlebar bracket it sits in I made to fit a Dollar General flashlight. The little flashlight was a big improvement over the bicycle light but as always, if a little bit is good, a whole lot is better. I carry the flashlight with me for a backup headlight as well as just having a light in case I need to fix something while I'm commuting. I don't know how this setup compares to a high end store bought setup but the price was right and I'd rather make things anyway.

I rode in Monday and it was 26 degrees when I left the house. Lots of rain and real busy this week, so the truck has been called into service but so far I've driven less than 20 days of the school year.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Architecture and Politics

I've always been interested in architecture and for a long time, I've been interested in labor history. In particular, how the role of guilds, craft unions and workers in general have shaped the history of the world and this country in particular. The years between 1880 and the late1930s were a time of tremendous development in industry, art and a combination of the two. It was the time of Streamline Moderne, the jazz age and all kinds of really fine designs like the Twentieth Century Limited, the S. S. Normandie and Auburn boattail speedsters. Henry Dreyfuss and Raymond Lowey were designing all kinds of cool things and Elbert Hubbard, Dard Hunter, Gustav Stickley and others were making all manner of Arts and Craft items.

Also during this time period was a strong labor movement. Mother Jones, Eugene V Debs, Samuel Gompers and a host of others were involved with the Wobblies, the Socialist Party of America, the American Federation of Labor, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, etc. Some of this was a direct result of abusive labor policies of the robber barons in the steel and railroad industries. Some was a result of the dangerous conditions in the coal mines and some was a result of the philosophies adhered to by immigrant laborers. It was as Dickens said: "the best of times and the worst of times".

Even though I'm interested in these subjects, I know a little bit about a lot of it but a lot about only a little of it. So I'm always trying to learn more, especially what was going on in other countries. So after the long lead in, I'm recommending you check out this blog if you are interested in similar topics. This was Blogger's blog of the day awhile back. The blogger is an English writer/critic/PHD candidate/and who knows what else. He writes on architecture, labor and political topics and how they all interact, especially from a historical standpoint. While much of what he writes concerns England and current issues, it applies to a greater or lesser extent to America. His October 17th post has the movie Manhatta by Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler. I'm a big fan of Sheeler and of the Russian poster art he throws up. Because I have a little background and an interest in all of this, I can understand some of what he's writing about. However, much of it is either way too deep or just too far out in left field for me. But I like getting the world view on much of what is essentially glossed over in history class. However, after reading a couple of his posts, I just had to stop and take a deep breath and wonder what the hell did I just read? So check it out and see if you can make sense of it. If it all seems perfectly clear, let me know and you can interpret for me.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Our internet spam filter at school is GWAVA, whatever that means. It does a pretty good job of taking out the inane and pornographic so it doesn't end up in the e-mail inbox. However, it also filters out the occasional one that needs to be read, which means I'm still compelled to read the subject lines on all of the junk mail. The subject lines are usually trying to entice you to buy a drug, buy a watch, buy a degree, get out of debt, or view some pornography, with some of these lines being pretty graphic.

Having spent many an hour in a college classroom, I can see why buying a degree would be a lot easier. Never mind the fact that if you get the new job as a result of it, your employer may actually expect you to have mastered the knowledge associated with said degree. I can also understand buying drugs from the internet. Let's face it, with your new degree you should be smart enough to self-medicate - especially when most of the drugs advertised are for your sexual pleasure. That being the case, might as well order the porno stuff at the same time, smart guy. And of course, you will need to buy a watch. The Rolex knockoff will be a good investment to make sure the effects of the self-prescribed drugs don't last longer than four hours and, if so, you can seek medical treatment. And last but certainly not least, be sure to keep the e-mail address of the financial genius offering to get you out of debt, because after you get canned because of the bogus degree, your only options are going to be laying around the house with your Cialis and your porn and maybe checking your watch to see when the last time one of your irate creditors called.

If the losers of the internet world would stop opening up these e-mails, maybe the spammers would find a new hobby and I wouldn't have to wade through all of that crap first thing every morning. Or maybe some genius can find a way to send them back where they came from along with the promise of a punch in the snoot if it happens again. That might make a good fund raiser for the boxing gym. I know I'd be willing to pay to see these knuckleheads get a good thumping.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hiking Stove

Surly and I were discussing some arcane things, as we are wont to do, and the subject of disaster preparedness came up. In the event of a natural disaster or some other event requiring evacuation, living without electricity, black UN helicopters, etc., a small stove would be handy to have. I made myself a plumber's backpacking stove a couple of years ago and the little thing works really well. All you need is a tuna can, some cotton balls, a piece of scrap aluminum and a little alcohol. The link has all the info you need to make one up. In fact, that's where I got the idea to make mine. I usually use Heet gas line antifreeze for my fuel. They have twist off lids now on the bottles and you can find it almost everywhere. The aluminum strip will also fit around the little Sterno fuel cans like Coghlan markets.

I've carried mine on two long distance cycle trips and a couple of backpacking trips and it does the job with very little weight to drag around. It heats up a Sierra cup full of water in about 5 minutes and cools off in even less time. I don't know how it would work at high altitudes but I did make coffee at about 5,000 ft just down the road from the Idaho/Montana border at Lolo Pass.

So in keeping with the make stuff theme of the blog, get out the tinsnips and build a stove. I took mine into school for a pattern and had a couple of students each make one. They knocked them out pretty quick with little or no instruction. One for Surly and one for a spare. You can take one camping on these late fall days or throw it in your bug out bag so you're ready when the zombies attack.

Friday, October 31, 2008

One if by Land, Two if by Sea

I've always dreamed of going to Bonneville, both as a spectator and as a competitor. If you've seen the movies On Any Sunday or The World's Fastest Indian, you know the attraction. Go as fast as you can for one mile. I remember when I was in high school reading about George Roeder, Cal Rayborn, and for many years after, Don Vesco, racing at the salt flats. George Roeder set the land speed record for a 250 cc motorcycle at over 150 miles per hour. This was with a pushrod Sprint motor back in the 60's, as I recall. As the owner of several Sprints over the years, I can tell you with some authority, that's pretty damn impressive. Vesco built several streamliners and the Vesco brothers website has a film clip that allows you to ride along on a 450 mile per hour ride. Even though Don has passed away, there will be a Vesco streamliner back at Bonneville next year. The website says they are looking for people to partner up with. Man, I wish I could get involved with that deal.

Besides Bonneville and the Southern California Timing Association, there's also an East Coast Timing Association. The East Coast Timing Association has five events scheduled for 2009. Instead of a flying mile, they run a standing start mile and because I'm hot and heavy into the building mode, I'm thinking of what it is I should tackle next. I have a Sprint/Aermacchi motor and a frame that's a little tweaked due to a get-off at Daytona. I'm thinking it wouldn't take a lot to make it a lowboy frame and maybe even add a sidecar wheel to it. Both sanctioning bodies have classes for just about anything you want to run. It's not too difficult to get to North Carolina from Indiana and if that works out, the next step could be Bonneville.

The other idea I'm kicking around is to build myself a wooden boat. I've had this idea on the back burner for many a year now. Wooden Boat magazine ran a three part series (after talking about going to North Carolina, that would be pronounced cee-rees) back in 1999, on how to build the Martin skiff. It's a nice little rowing craft that's 13' long. It's lapstrake construction with a plywood bottom. Lapstrake boats have the side planks overlapping one another and are fastened with copper nails. When I built the cradle boat for my grandson, it was that type of construction. It makes a beautiful and traditional style of boat. I was able to build the grandson's without too much difficulty, even though I make absolutely no claim as to being a woodworker. One of the nice things about being a craftsman, though, there is a lot of carry over of skills. Visualizing the finished product, sequence of operations, layout and measuring - it's all pretty much the same regardless of the medium you work in.

So all I need to do now is keep making progress on the midget and the 900. If things go smoothly, I'll build a boat or another motorcycle. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Medal of Honor

I was in Indianapolis a few years back and ended up in the War Memorial. It's an absolutely beautiful building, both inside and out. The cornerstone was laid by General Pershing in 1927. There is a museum of military history in the basement. I learned who the Tyndall Armory, where the Golden Gloves are held every year, was named after. I also strolled around the rest of the building and was very impressed by the architecture and just the fact that such a building was ever built.

Off to one side there was a display about people claiming to be Medal of Honor recipients who weren't. The exhibit included some really nice black and white photos of some of the people who actually were recipients and a little caption of what they thought about the whole deal. The exhibit was basically about one man who is trying to stop this by exposing the frauds. It really pissed me off that someone would stoop so low as to try and pad their resume by claiming to have been awarded this medal falsely. The school I used to work at was named after a young man who was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. He jumped on a grenade to save his buddies and paid the ultimate price.

In Sunday's Chicago Tribune, the lead story was about people who have claimed military medals in Who's Who and other places and they found 58% of the medals were unverified. It's really a good article and says something about the society we're living in. If you have a few minutes, I would strongly urge you to read it here. It's hard for me to imagine anything that's much lower than that. What is there to gain? Have they no shame? I just don't get it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Links and Blochs

I finally had a few minutes to figure out how to add links to the page here. The high mileage page has a couple of posts up now. I need to get the young man to do a little better job of proofreading before he posts but that's easily enough handled. The other site is for those of you who are book lovers. The Bookpuddle site is updated daily and usually has a quote from some author or a short poem, sometimes a cartoon. I read constantly and I have an interest in just about all subjects. This site fills in some of the gaps I wouldn't ordinarily take the time to pursue.

Speaking of books - I just finished reading Stand for the Best by Thomas Bloch. Thomas Bloch was the CEO of H&R Block and stepped down to teach middle school math at an inner city school. Interesting story of his development as a teacher and how that led to the founding of a charter school. He offers a very unique perspective on teaching. I thought it was important enough to read that I even paid regular bookstore price instead of buying remainder books like I normally do. If you teach or are interested in charter schools, read it. As an aside, he mentions he has done some bicycle touring on part of the Lewis and Clark trail and wants to do some more. Since he's only a couple of years younger than I, I think it would be pretty interesting if the two of us could try to hit a little more of the trail together. I'd like to eventually cover the whole thing, filling in the gap between Missouri and Montana. Plus, I'm sure I could learn quite a bit about teaching by comparing notes with Mr. Bloch.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Project Update

Tuesday night's open shop was pretty busy. Cuzzin Ricky got a little work done on his buggy seats, I got a piece cut out and tacked together for the exhaust collector on the 900 and I had several students working on various things. I usually don't get a whole lot done on my projects during open shop but that's OK. The students can work on stuff and it's nice to have a little fun type of education going on. I got one of the stub axles for the midget machined up over the weekend. I was planning on doing the other one this evening but I broke my glasses last night, so getting some new specs is the number one priority right now.

I got the midget nose pretty much put together and ordered some parts to start hooking up the brakes and throttle. I need to make some type of rear brake - I think I'm just going to go with a scrub brake - the only real question is will I rig it up on both rear wheels or just one. I don't know if the grandson's going to have enough leg to bring both wheels to a stop. I've got the dash and steering shaft mount in the works. I'm going to engine turn the dash after I weld a boss for the steering shaft on. It should look pretty cool when it's done.

The gym is taking off rather well. We've got a few regulars and we're now open three days a week. I can see this is going to take up a lot more time than I had anticipated but I'm at least going to make sure I'm working out while I'm there. A couple of good, hard workouts per week is just what this old man needs to keep moving. I do need to streamline some of the other things in my life if I'm going to be a gym rat.

The high mileage project is starting to move forward. The design has been pretty well finalized, we've got the October newsletter ready to mail and we're ready to start fabbing up the frame. We've gotten a couple of sponsors, so we've got a big enough purse to get us started. Lots of good things going on and more to come.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gatling Gun

I just finished reading the book Mr. Gatling's Terrible Marvel by Julia Keller. It's not so much a nuts and bolts about the Gatling gun but more a biography of Gatling and his place in history. Richard J. Gatling was quite the inventor and tinkerer as was not too untypical in the mid to late 1800s. He first became involved in the manufacture of farm machinery and developed his gun just in time for the Civil War. He was of the opinion that the efficiency of his gun would actually result in fewer deaths and bring about a quicker resolution to the war. Unfortunately, he neglected to factor in the reluctance of the military to adopt more efficient weapons.

The army was of the opinion that a machine gun was just not sporting. Even though artillery fire was being used, the only honorable way to kill one another was to engage the enemy mano y mano, preferably, with sabers drawn. Eventually the demand was great enough that the Gatling gun was produced by the Colt factory, thanks to the Industrial Revolution and the American System of interchangeable parts. It was offered in several calibers including those with enough giddy-up to make it effective at ranges up to two miles. The design is still being used and the military has a new version capable of firing 50 rounds per second.

The book is very well researched and an easy read. It goes into the historical importance of arms development and some interesting Indiana history. Gatling is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, by the way. If you're a gun nut you might be a little disappointed with the lack of technical details but if you're at all interested in the Industrial Revolution or military history, I suggest you give it a read.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bailout's Good for Bicyclists

The 700 billion bailout for the greedy and unscrupulous, and of course, the just plain stupid, does contain one ray of sunshine. One of the bills thrown in with the bailout is going to be of some help to bicycle commuters. Federal road building funds are going to have to recognize that bicycles and pedestrians have rights and should certainly be included if we're ever going to break our dependency on foreign oil. The bill also contains provisions to reimburse companies for the benefits they offer bicycle commuters. You can read more about it here. While you're at the site, you might want to consider joining. The League has been around for a long time and they have your best interest at heart.

I saw a short interview with T. Boone Pickens on the news Tuesday night. Ole' Boone is all about promoting wind and natural gas but never once mentioned parking some of the damn cars. He did mention $300/barrel oil and $10/gallon gas. That would definitely tend to make a few of us park some cars. If the infrastructure was in place to ride the train, take a bus, ride a bike or walk before that ten dollar gas hit, it would certainly make things much less painful.

The lack of foresight in this country just amazes me. I remember the gas crunch of the seventies and Jimmy Carter putting solar panels on the White House. Here we are thirty years later and we're still arguing about the same crap. No one in Washington wants to take the reins and come up with a long term energy plan other than drive a hybrid or drill for our last drop of oil now. Of course, it may be that even if you try and get all the smart guys together, they couldn't come up with a reasonable consensus anyway. Gerald Ford tried that with the economy. When the WIN buttons couldn't do it, he brought all the great economic minds together and all of those the geniuses couldn't do it either. I read a book earlier this year by Lee Iacocca called Where Have all the Leaders Gone? and he hits the nail right on the head. It seems in both political and corporate America, nobody wants to make the tough decisions.

So, now that we've saved Wall Street and everyone with a mortgage, except those who've acted responsibly, of course, we can focus on what's best for our country - things like infrastructure and energy policy. So relax and take the kids for a walk, ride your bike and get out and enjoy the beautiful fall weather. I'm going to see the Superintendent to find out what benefits he's offering me for riding to work come January 1st.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hunnert Car Pile-Up

Went to the car show with Surly and another guy on Saturday at the Grundy County
Fairgrounds. They've about outgrown the venue judging by all the cars that were there. The show is for pre '64 traditional hot rods, motorcycles and the occasional bicycle. Lots of early 60's Falcons and station wagons this year. Plenty of open wheel cars with small blocks, early coupes and sedans, rat rods, lead sleds as well as swap meet and vendors, pinstripers and you name it. It's all there.

Some of the rat rods are just too ratty for my tastes. Just throwing crap together and calling it a car isn't exactly my cup of tea. I'm more impressed with good craftsmanship. Some of those rust buckets I wouldn't take for a ride around the parking lot, let alone drive them seventy miles per hour on I-80 to get there. I did like the chopped International truck with the flat bed, though. In fact, the latest issue of Invention and Technology magazine has an article about Glen Curtiss and his Aerocar. The chopped International with a fifth wheel on the back would be just right for pulling some type of streamlined/Art Deco trailer. I love those old trucks and the possibilities are endless when it comes to building a trailer. If I decide to upgrade from the teardrop, I'll have to see about building some kind of rig like that.

The silver rod is Back Seat Betty and is a product of Hot Rod Chassis and Cycle. I've seen this one in a magazine. It's a testament to the highest level of the fabricator's art. They've got a nice web site with pictures of this car and other work they've done. If you're into hot rods at all, it's definitely worth a look.

It was a good day for checking out the cars and gave us some time to talk about the louver press, since the three of us included a die designer, a machinist and a fabricator. Pretty much the triumvirate of talent required to actually get the thing built. The only thing left out of the equation is the time needed. That always seems to be the limiting factor. The midget would look really good with some louvers, though.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Midget Nose

I'm back working on the midget project, at least for the time being. The scatter gun approach to projects is not always the best but I think I've come up with the best solution to get the midget and the 900 done. I've got the midget on the west end of the big table and the high mileage team is on the east end. While they're working on their car, I can be working on mine. I can keep an eye on them and hopefully get a little bit done at the same time. I can work on the 900 in the evenings and weekends. I've set a mid-February deadline on the midget and a first of April deadline for the 900.

As the pictures show, I'm putting the nose together on the midget. I'm making it out of four pieces and welding them together. After I get it welded up, I'm going to cut an oval shaped hole and make some type of stainless grill for it. The pieces are a little rough right now. I planished out the big bumps but have some more smoothing to do. After I make the fourth piece, I'll smooth them up a little better, fit and weld them, then do the final planishing. I'm feeling pretty confident now. I wasn't so sure after having to bail out on the first piece I tried to make. I'm moving a little slow this week due to a nasty cold but I think I can have the nose done by next weekend and get a little more done on the headlight mount for the 900.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Hut One Hundred

Cuzzin Ricky and I went to Terrible Haute for the Hut One Hundred midget race this past weekend. It was the first time in quite a few years and there have been some changes but the racing was as good as ever. It used to be we went to the Hoosier in Indy at the fairgrounds on Saturday and then the Hut in Terre Haute on Sunday. This year in addition to the USAC midgets on Sat., they also ran a modified show.

First of all, we had one heck of a time figuring out how to get a couple of tickets and pit passes reserved. Fortunately, my people were able to stay on it and get things squared away. When we got there to pick up the tickets the ticket office wasn't open yet, so we had to waste a little time talking to other race fans doing the same thing. No big deal, we had no place else to go and plenty of time to do it. Plus, it was a beautiful day for a little bench racing. After getting our tickets we wandered the pits and checked out the midgets, the modifieds and some of the drivers. We met a real nice young man, Justin Grosz. The kids a junior in high school and moving up from karts to midgets. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of telling him I'll be rooting for him. It's always the kiss of death when I pick someone to root for. The poor kid couldn't get the car to light off even though he got pushed all the way around the track twice for hot laps, once for time trials and once more trying to make the main. I'm always ragging on these young guys about doing something with themselves and this kid is, even if he didn't make the show.

I also ran into a former student at the races. He just graduated this past year and he's all about race cars. A real nice young man who is already working in a good construction job. He was there to cheer on another local kid who was running in the modified show. He said there were several more of my former students there as well, all rooting for their buddy. Just an entry in the small world department and a shameless plug for the tech students.

We also saw Pancho Carter, one great racer from the past. I think he's a team owner now. He should know something about midget racing. He was a USAC midget champ and he won the Hut One Hundred twice. He also had a long career in the champ cars. You can always tell a former Indy car driver by the way they limp.

The actual racing got under way a little after seven and the modifieds couldn't make more than about three or four laps without bringing out the yellow. By the time they got finished with the heat races and the main, it was about ten. The midget show started about 10:30 and, of course, had a red flag about the time they got into the second corner. They got everyone pushed off again and just about the time they took the green, Shane Cottle, who was involved in the red flag accident, took his place at the back of the pack. When the green flag dropped, it was Katie bar the door.

Midgets on a half mile dirt track are always worth the price of admission but this was one tremendous race. Cottle moved up through the pack like a man possessed. He had a couple of yellows work in his favor and was leading the race by a half lap when they red flagged it for a fuel stop. The midgets aren't really setup for running fifty miles at a time so everyone topped of their tanks and it was a twenty five lap shoot out to the finish. He wasn't near as dominate after the stop and slid as far back as fourth at one time but did finish the race in second place.

Things finished up at just about midnight, which is about the latest I've ever been out at a race track, with the exception of the old days at Broadway Speedway in Crown Point. They used to run damn near 'til the sun came up. Even though it was a late finish, it was well worth it. Midgets on the dirt - you just can't beat it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

When It Hits The Fan

After reading in the paper and hearing on the news of all the trials and tribulations of the folks in hurricane country and the massive bailout proposal, I'm really starting to wonder about the people of America. I saw the people of Houston on television and they were running out of gas, water and everything else including common sense, apparently. I realize the people of Houston don't fully represent the people of Texas but I can't imagine any self respecting Texan not having five gallons of gas and some extra water when given a weeks notice. People running out of gas because they are driving all over looking to buy gas? That's just plain silly. Have we as a nation just decided to roll over and leave everything to the government? Have we all forgotten the old joke: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help"? Where in the constitution does it say the government has to look out for people who refuse to help themselves or get caught up by their own greed, regardless whether that's an individual or a big bank. What about the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared?

As I write this it is still possible for the Cubs and the White Sox to meet in the World Series. If that happens, I'm fully convinced the end is upon us. That being the case, no amount of advanced planning will help. If however, that doesn't come to pass, maybe we should start thinking about looking out for ourselves. Maybe start putting together some emergency supplies - flashlight, radio, water - that kind of stuff. Think about what it would take to live for a week if the house gets flooded like many of them around here were recently. Just take a little responsibility for your own well being and exercise a little of the pioneer spirit. Me, I'm thinking concertina wire around the perimeter would be a good start.

The original settlers were hardy people. The majority of people 100 years ago lived under worse conditions than most people now days experience when they go camping. No phones, television, indoor plumbing, refrigeration, automobiles - all of the things we take for granted. Get some candles or a lantern, lay in some provisions and start thinking about taking care of yourself and your loved ones. Get a little exercise so you're not going to have the grabber the first time you have to walk a few blocks.

I see the habits of the parents reflected in their children every day. While many of these kids could actually hunt and fish to provide some sustenance for themselves, a whole lot of them are totally dependent on mom or grandma for everything. For many, there is no work ethic, no sense of pride and certainly no thought of self-reliance. Maybe every school should have some mandatory type of Outward Bound program? It's getting hard enough to field a football team around here. Or anything else that requires much in the way of hard work, for that matter. We need to toughen up quite a few of the little darlings both mentally and physically. So this fall, take the kids camping. Swat some skeeters, eat some burnt food that's been garnished with ashes, do a little hiking and top it off with an ice cold shower and a trip to the pit toilet. They'll thank you for it later.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

900 Parts

I got the tach mount and the chainguard pert near up to snuff. I need to make a couple of little tabs to mount the chainguard on the swingarm and that'll be ready to rock. The tach mount bolts to the top of the headlight mount. I've got the bosses machined and now I need to bend a couple pieces of tube, weld the bosses in and fab the ears for the headlight. Not too big a deal except I'm real busy this week. That's OK, though. The project's been sitting for 15 years - no real hurry now. As long as this baby gets done by spring, I'll be a happy camper.

The mosquitoes are absolutely brutal now. Can't really get anything done outside without a major bloodletting. The weather was good over the weekend but I chose to pass on the barn project. After cutting grass and picking some apples, inside work was the order of the day. I dried some apples for the first time. Came out pretty good. This is the first year I had any kind of a real crop. Next year I'd like to make some cider. I need to see about making a press and a chopper. Press should be no big deal but not sure about the chopper. I know someone in the slicing and dicing business, however. If he gets the louver press dies finished, maybe I could get him to work on designing an apple chopper-upper. And maybe, just maybe, someday I'll work on just one project at a time. Start one - finish one. I've heard that people actually do that.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bug Stuff

Working on the seat mounts for the dune buggy project. Cuzzin Ricky's been spending money on parts like there was no tomorrow, so we need to see some progress. I'm ready to start bending tubing for the roll cage and the students want to get involved as well. Since I don't have a power bender, they'll be involved. I've got a big footballer in the class who can bench 300 - just the guy you need on the handle of the Hossfeld. When we get the cage done most of our part of the project will be done. Hopefully we'll have a little something bent up next week.

I've been working with my vocational class on the required math for figuring out the bends on the roll cage. I got a whole lot of the deer in the headlights look. It's amazing that they can take math every year in school but when they are juniors and seniors in high school and you give them a practical problem to solve, they either shout out the first number that comes to them or they roll over and play dead. Either way, they still don't have the answer. I'm real glad I had Mr. O'Brien for high school geometry. He was probably the best teacher I've ever had at either the high school or college level. That class has served me very well over the years. With a good solid understanding of right triangle geometry and a little trig there isn't much math a welder, or any tradesman for that matter, can't handle. Let that be a lesson for you youngsters at home.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Boxing Club Open for Business

Busy these days - gym opened Monday. DeMotte Boxing Club is officially open for business. I still have to work on a couple of things but it's all coming together. Two of the speed bag platforms are a little too shaky. They kill the rebound, thus making them something less than speed bags. I brought one over to school and had one of my aces stiffen it up. If that works, we'll move to platform number two. The gym is going to be open two nights a week for right now. We've got a pretty good core group already but I was training them before at no charge. We'll see if they're willing to pony up a couple of bucks a month for a regular gym membership.

I got some work done on the barn, got a new front tire on the Honda and got a little done on the 900 this past weekend. Working on the tach/headlight mount and a chain guard. I should be able to get the chain guard done this week. I need to order some tubing for the headlight mount and I'll order some tubing for the midget bumper at the same time. I know the grandson's going to run into something, might as well put the bumper on before he crashes. That project needs to go into the rotation pretty soon. Now that the gym is up and running, I'm looking to get a regular work and workout schedule for myself. I'm looking to do a couple of runs in November with a 10K on Thanksgiving Day. I think this will be the 5th annual Kids Alive Turkey Trot. I've run three and volunteered one. It's for a good cause and removes all remorse when you're chowing down later in the day. If you run 6 miles in the morning, have the second piece of pie.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

High Mileage Vehicle Starting to Rock

IMSTEA posted the new rules for the high mileage car, so we can start finalizing our design and begin building. I've got a couple of people assigned to updating our marketing brochure but no one ever wants to do that type of work. It's always like the Little Red Hen."Who will help me write the brochure", said the Little Red Hen? "Not I", said all 15 members of the team. I shamed a couple of them into tackling the job, however. We've already got a couple of sponsors lined up but we need the brochure to show them what they will be getting for their investment and add a touch of professionalism to the project. Plus, the brochures and newsletters can be shown to the taxman so the kind benefactors can write the donations off. Of course, if any of you want to send us a big bag of money to help the cause, just leave a comment and I'll send you all the information.

We started a blog specifically for the team. Last year we had a website linked to the school's tech department but the students didn't have rights to get on it without another teacher overseeing them in his room. That made it a little hard for me to bird dog them. The blog, however, can be written in my room and that should work better. Starting next week we should be making a couple of posts per week as the project unfolds. As soon as I have time to figure out how to put links up on the side here, I'll do that. In the meantime, you can check it out at: KVhighmileage.

IMSTEA is also going to run an experimental class this year. Basically the same rules as the unlimited class except for the engine. We could run E-85, some type of hybrid or even a diesel. It wouldn't be too much trouble to change over to E-85 but anything else could be a major issue. This opens up the door to other engines like some of the SAE and Shell contest cars run. It also allows you to build a small streetable car. I like the idea of building something that is a real world type of project. It will be interesting to see what turns up at Indy in April.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hannigan Motorsports had some really nice sidecars on display in Indy. Most of the models are under $4,000.00 and have some really nice features. You can get radios, hard and soft tops, custom paint and other accessories. The black one connected to the Kawasaki is both the sidecar and a new suspension and steering for the bike. It's not cheap at almost $18,000 but it's a nicely engineered package. Sidecars have never really been very popular in the US but maybe with the higher gas prices that will change. You don't have to worry about about falling over on slippery pavement and you certainly increase your passenger carrying capacity.

The four wheel setup for the Gold Wing? I'm not sure what the target audience would be for that. Why not just buy the Mini and be done with it? Or, just punch the windshield out of the RV and roll down the highway. At least you can sleep in the Wal-Mart parking lot with that rig.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Speedway Trip

As mentioned earlier, we took a tour of Don Walker's bicycle shop on Friday. Photo one is the mainframe of bike in the jig after fillet brazing. Notice the streamline tubing for the down tube.

Photo two shows Surly next to the mill with the tube coping jig mounted up.

Photo three shows the man himself with a jig for building the chainstays.

In addition to building fillet brazed frames, he also builds lugged steel and he just acquired a TIG welder for titanium or aluminum frames.

It's interesting the carry over from one form of transportation to the other. Here's a guy brazing bicycle frames together, the Rickman brothers used to make some beautiful motorcycle frames the same way, a buddy of mine has a Formula Ford made the same way, and the grandson's midget is being made the same way. If you have a gas torch and some skill, you can build just about anything with wheels on it. Of course, for a long time that's just exactly what every one did. The early aircraft, hot rods, and Homer Hickham's rockets in October Sky were a result of gas welding. So even if you couldn't give a hoot about a bicycle, being able to recognize what you can do with welding and machining skills can give you one helluva start in the right direction if you want to be any kind of a fabricator. Young people seem to have a hard time picking up on this, and more so now than when I was young. Mastering the skills is the most important thing. You can build whatever you like, just how you like, later.