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.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sexy Photos

Here are some shots from the bike races in Indy on Saturday. The little Aermacchi/Sprint is an early CRS. The remote float Dellorto has been replaced by a Mikuni carb, the ignition looks like it's been swapped out for an electronic setup and the catch bottle is definitely not stock, but other than that, pretty much what they came like from HD. It's pretty incredible that anyone with a few bucks could buy a factory racer and have a go. They used to flat track, road race and scramble with these things. A lot of the greats got their start on these.

The MV Augusta was plated so it's being ridden on the street. Check out the picture of the tire sidewall. That baby's been run about to the limit!

The girls are there to show that sexism is still alive and well in the merchandising game - at least as far as motorcycles go. There aren't too many jobs left that you can get just for standing around and looking pretty. The umbrella girls were earning their money on Sunday with the crappy weather and high wind, though.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

World GP

Greetings from Indianapolis, Racing Capitol of the World. It's Saturday night and all's right with the world. I came down Friday with Surly and his Missus and we met up with Grumpy Unk at the track. The weather was pretty much crap but we got to see some really fast motorcycles run in the rain. To be on the world class level, you've got to be fast regardless of the weather. After leaving the track, we checked out Don Walker's shop in Speedway. Don makes some really nice bicycles and was kind enough to give us the 50 cent tour.

Headed to the track this morning with the weather man calling for 50% chance of rain. Didn't look real promising as we approached the track but it turned out to be a beautiful day. Nice breeze, lots of sun and almost just a little too warm, if I was inclined to complain but I'm not today. While scoping out the Ducati Island, they were setting up for an autograph session. We ended up being right at the head of the line, waited about 20 minutes and got some autographs from a few of the greats. We then saw the fastest men on two wheels qualify on a dry track, and saw lots of new motorcycles on display. Went out to eat at a real nice place in Speedway and right after I finish this, I'm going to call it a real good day.

I got some real good pictures of bikes, Don Walker's shop and a few movie clips with the little digital. I'll get some stuff posted next week. Hope the weather holds for tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Michigan Madman

While looking for a little inspiration on the 900, I found these photos at Kneeslider.com. This bike is one of E. J. Potter's bikes that he used to run. A small block Chevy powered motorcycle that he put up on the stand, revved the motor up, kicked the stand out, and then poured the power to it. There was a reason they called him the "Michigan Madman". I remember reading about him doing a run and he couldn't get the engine to shut off. The thing was running on without the ignition because it had gotten so hot. He ran out of track and run-off room, so he had to choose between stepping off the thing at some ridiculous mile per hour or smacking a tree. He wisely chose to bail but it wasn't pretty. If you click on the link, it will take you to a short bio and some cool photos - like a jet powered bike. According to the website, he's still kicking and he's got a book and a video for sale. I'm amazed that he's still around. He had to use up more lives than a cat.

There used to be all kinds of wild vehicles that ran at US 30 Dragstrip - "Where The Great Ones Run" - in Northwest, Indiana. In addition to Potter I saw Fearless Fred Goeske, The Coca Cola Cavalcade of Stars with the traveling Funny Car show, a jet powered semi tractor, No Big Thing, The Chi-town Hustler and all kinds of local talent. There used to be a guy named Brunkin who ran a couple of H-D dragbikes who was always the guy to beat. He would switch bikes and his dial-in time between rounds, just to screw with you. The two bikes were always covered in grease and oil and if you didn't know better, you just figured he was some schmuck who didn't know what he was doing. Until he cut a perfect light and ran right on his dial. The man was a racer's racer. The track has been closed now for quite awhile. Right after it closed, you could still get in. In fact, I took a run down through there for old times sake. It always amazed me that a couple of the big speed shops in the area didn't buy the track and keep it open. Van Senus and King had to lose all kinds of business after the track closed. If they had become the major investors and sold stock to all the local racers, I know I would have invested in it. The biggest problem was the encroaching development and the noise associated with the track. It's a shame though. The link above takes you to a site dedicated to the old track. Check it out.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Battery Box

I'm pretty well up to snuff on the battery box. Take it home for a final fit check before I weld up the brackets. One more thing off the punch list. I still haven't got the seat mounted and I need to make a brace for the ducktail and a license plate bracket, but there is measurable progress. The back of the bike is definitely taking shape.

I'm still working on tearing the barn down but that too is coming along nicely. Slow, but once again, measurable progress. I might actually be able to get some concrete poured for the new one before the snow flies. That would almost be too good to be true. It would be nice to have a decent place to keep the finished projects. I've been using that as an excuse for not finishing a few of these things but the reality is they just haven't been enough of a priority for me to get up off my rump and do something. I'm feeling pretty sassy now, though. There will be a few things done by the end of May 2009.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ducktail for the Kwacker

I think what I need when taking the photos is an assistant. Have the lovely Carol Merrill show us the ducktail behind door number three. Give the operation a little class. Anyway, the parts are coming together. I'm starting at the back because that's where I have to actually make things. The front end is pretty much buy and install, with the exception of a tach mount. Not sure what I want there yet. I'm ordering some brake parts and turn signals to finish up the back end and I can tackle the battery box in the mean time. I think I'm going with a Brembo caliper in the rear. I'll need to make a hanger but that's pretty much cake. I like projects like this when you see some measurable progress just by working an hour or two in the evening. This baby will be a streeter come spring.

I went to the midget races at Grundy County Fairgrounds last Saturday and unfortunately I left my little digital camera at home. They had a couple of restored vintage midgets on display and were they ever pretty. One was a 1948 Kurtis Kraft that had the same type of paint job I'm looking to put on the grandson's car. It was a classic two tone with the paint on the nose coming to a point on the hood with the number in gold leaf right above the chrome grill. It had the little Offy with a chrome exhaust running down the side. I shot a couple of photos with Cuzzin Ricky's film camera, so I'll have something for inspiration when I start cranking back up on that project.

It also had a bunch of louvers on the hood. I need to figure out how to get a louver press built in time for the February finish on this project. I want to put a few along the bottom and I'm thinking a couple on the sidecovers of the 900 as well. Maybe just roll a couple of beads in them. They're actually just flat covers like the ones in the last post. The Racecrafters bike just had them zip tied on. I'm thinking some Dzus fasteners, at least. If I leave them flat, maybe I'll have Surly pinstripe them. The more I think about the 900, the more I'm inclined to tart it up a bit. I've worked on bits and pieces for lots of bikes and lots of people but I don't really have anything of my own that's nice. The Honda's close but it's not there yet.