Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Photo Stuff

Surly gave me a Konica 35mm SLR complete with several lenses awhile back. Both of us are pretty much overloaded with camera gear but my old Mamiya SLR locked up and the camera repairman said it wasn't worth fixing. I usually carry around a small Canon rangefinder or I use one of my old folding cameras but that sets some pretty tight limits on the type of photos I can shoot. No wide angle or telephoto shots with those. The Konica needs the foam light seal around the back replaced, however. I made a little fixture to hold it out of scrap wood so I wouldn't have to risk damaging the camera while I was changing the seal. Looks like it will work pretty good.

The other photo shows one of my light reflectors mounted on the tripod I made out of thinwall conduit (kind of a lousy photo for a post about photography.) All it took was one piece each of 3/4" and 1/2". I brazed the legs on and put a 1/4" nut on the top of the 3/4". The 1/2" slides inside the 3/4" so the height is adjustable. Total cost about $10.00. The reflector in the photo has a pair of "barn doors" to give you a few more options for portrait work. The reflector came from Menard's and I riveted a pair of hinges on along with a couple of scrap pieces of aluminum for the barn doors. Once again, only about $10.00. I just need to do a little more work on the table top and I should have myself a miniature photo studio. Should be just the ticket for project photos or copy work.

I got the cart painted for the folding chairs at the gym this morning plus the little cart the boys made for the new plasma cutter. I've got a few more days of vacation left so I should be able to make a little more progress on a few of the projects and still be able to watch the hockey game on New Year's Day.

Best Wishes for the New Year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Midget Racing

The winner: Billy Wease

Cuzzin Ricky and I went to Fort Wayne yesterday for the Rumble Series midget races and a good time was had by all - they could have opened the outside doors a little bit more to get the fumes out and they had a few more go-karts than I needed -but everyone needs to start somewhere and all in all, a darn good show. Besides seeing some great racing, I got a chance to see Mel Kenyon run his last event and to get a couple of nice photos of him as well. The "King of the Midgets" made the feature and finished 6th or 7th. Not bad for a guy that's 76 years old!

The Kenyon Brothers #61

The video gives you an idea of how tight the track and the racing is.
It doesn't take long to make a lap.

The Hooter girls were absorbed in the action.

The King of the Midgets, Mr. Mel Kenyon, taking off his special driving glove. Mel doesn't have any fingers on his left hand due to a fiery crash way back when but it sure hasn't stopped him from racing:

  • More than 1000 USAC Midget feature starts - more than 500 top 5 feature finishes
  • 10 National Championships
  • 8 Indy 500 starts
Great way to close out a great year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone

Shop Teacher Bob

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


The little train is just about done. I had the wheels under it today and I sat on it. If it holds me it should do just fine for a little tyke less than two years old. The nose didn't come out quite as pretty as I would have liked but it will have to do. I still need some practice on some of that sheet metal work. It'll be ready for Friday delivery, however.

I did a little work on the Rickati tonight during open shop, as well. I TIG welded the backbone and down tube to the steering head so I could weld the sheet metal gusset in place. I'm TIG welding the whole frame together, so it should look pretty nice. I thought about either gas welding it or brazing it like the original Rickman frame was but I don't do a lot of TIG welding on steel so this way I can show the boys something they can set their sights on. I also got the holes drilled for the swingarm bosses in the two side plates. I'm going to try and make some real progress on this project while I'm on Christmas break. Once the two sideplates are tacked on I can bend the last two pieces of tubing and tack the shock mounts in place. I'll still need to make a battery box and weld some tabs on but the main frame will be pert near done. I've got a couple of jobs going at the school now for other people and I've got a couple more lined up, so I want to get my job done before things get too busy.

The train and boat should both be done tomorrow or Thursday at the latest. I'll throw up a couple of pictures of both of them before I deliver them.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Barchetta - Little Boat

I finished the book Go Like Hell by A. J. Baime the other day. It's the story of how Ford took on Ferrari with their GT40 in order to win Le Mans. While recapping the history of the event leading up to the epic battles of Ford vs Ferrari, the author mentions the first postwar Le Mans was won by a Ferrari 166 MM roadster nicknamed barchetta or little boat. Seems that I now have a name for the pond sailer - barchetta. The book's a good read, by the way.

As you can hopefully see in the photos, the boat is all done except for the sails. The Missus came up with some cloth that appears to be suitable for the job, so it shouldn't be long now.

I found myself a couple of nylon flange bushings this morning as well. There's a hardware store a few miles away from the gym and a gas station that sells kerosene over that way. I thought I might as well give the hardware store a try while I was getting some fuel for my shop heater. I'd been in the hardware store a few times before but it was always just in and out. I took a few minutes today and checked the place out a little closer. Good selection of stuff a tinkerer like me is always looking for. Socket head cap screws in both coarse and fine thread, metric, stainless and chrome bolts. I have a feeling they're going to be seeing more of me in the future.

The photos were taken with my new digital camera. They look a little darker on the computer than they did on the camera screen but there's a setting for that. In fact, there's a setting for just about everything. The camera's a Nikon Coolpix L100. It's got a 15x optical zoom and plenty of features - probably more than I'll ever use. It even has a food setting for taking close up shots of food on a plate. Food never stays on my plate long enough to photograph but it's probably worthwhile for someone. They make another model similar to the L100 that's got a little more zoom and higher resolution but it's about double the money. It's about the best you can get in a point and shoot without getting into a digital SLR. I'm thinking the L100 is going to suit me to a "T".

The one photo shows the beginning of my miniature photo studio. The base is a steel patio table with a piece of paneling I put on top. The back stop is also a piece of paneling. Both pieces were left over from the parlor remodeling job. I bought a couple of small floodlamp bulbs the other day to go in my reflectors. I'm going to braze up a couple of stands over Christmas vacation, do a little painting on the paneling and start experimenting. It should be just the thing for small project photos or eBay listings. I definitely need to start getting rid of things.

Now that I've got the bushings I can finish up the steering on the little train and everything should be ready for Santa's sleigh.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Doug Stowe at the Wisdom of the Hands blog had this posted today. You can't hardly go wrong with Zippy the Pin Head. Of course I could be insulted, I suppose. But if a guy enjoys getting burned and breathing coal smoke just for the fun of it, he probably is a pin head.

I took the day off today to attend a funeral and to take care of some other cemetery related business. The funeral mass was held in a brand new church that was built right behind the old brick church that had fallen into disrepair. I took a look around it while I was there and I'd love to get inside with a view camera and take some shots. Looks pretty rough in there from what I could see through a window but would make some great black and white photos. Bought a new digital camera today, by the way. Looking to do a little more with my photography after the first of the year. I want to do a little more with the digital and film both. It's time to get back in the darkroom.

While I was out, I once again tried to buy a couple of small flange bushings in either nylon or bronze for the steering on the little train. No luck at Menard's or the local hardware store. I really need to just buy a handful of the things and put them in inventory.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This Little Piggy -

ain't so little.

We had a fight night at the gym Friday. Since I'm officially retired from the fight game, I refereed the matches. With my uncanny sense of timing, I stepped in behind one of the heavyweights and he rocked back on my foot and pinned my big toe to the canvas at an angle it wasn't designed to bend at. Hurt a little at the time and kept getting worse as the night wore on. By the time I got home I could hardly walk - not a good sign for a guy who was supposed to do a 5K racewalk the next morning. Saturday morning it was swollen up like a kielbasa and I had to throw in the towel on the racewalk. Not that big a deal except I won the thing last year and wanted to defend my title. Instead, I picked up my tee shirt, did a little parts shopping at the farm store and then hobbled on home by way of the library. I picked up a couple of videos of old TV shows from the '50's and watched Sergeant Preston of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police along with his dog Yukon King and Kit Carson most of the day while perched in the recliner with my foot up. The toe's a lot better today but I didn't do a whole lot. I did manage to get the stand for the boat put together and moved a couple of pieces of furniture - after I put on my steel toed boots! Wasn't taking a chance on bumping the toe.

There's still plenty of time to get the train and boat done as long as I don't hurt myself anymore. I start giving finals on Friday and then finish up Mon. and Tue. of next week. Should be no problem to sneak in the little bit of work that's left to do on the train.

Unk: Thanks for the nice comment the other day and happy birthday. I planned on sending you best wishes on Friday after I got home from the fights but just stayed in the recliner all night cursing my big toe.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Train's Comin' Together

Most of the boys are scrambling to get some grades in the book now that the end of the semester is fast approaching. Since they're all busy welding on things, about all I have to do is dispense welding rods and plates, give the occasional demonstration and record their grades. That gives me a little welding time of my own. That means working on the railroad. As you can see from the photos, I've got most of the welding done on the little engine that could. As in, it could actually be ready for Christmas with paint that's dry. I need to touch up the nose a little and add some interior reinforcement and then put the wheels and steering in it. Should be able to finish it up by the end of next week easy enough.

I also managed to get some primer on the little boat. I need to get some fishing line or some type of light twine for the rigging. My fishing poles all have monofilament line but the braided line like on the old bait casters would be a lot better. I need to make a run to the hardware store for a couple other items, so I'll check and see what's available there first. I have a kid in one of my classes who fishes in a lot of bass tournaments. He might have something I could use. If nothing else, I can head to the big city and hit one of the big stores. I need to make a cemetery run for the grave blankets and I can go by Cabela's if I need to. They should have a pretty good selection of fishing line. Maybe Sunday. Looks pretty good for finishing both projects, either way.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bad Weather & Wombats

The weather turned sour so I canceled open shop tonight. I did finish machining the swingarm bosses for the Rickati project as long as I was home, though. As always, my mind is about six months ahead of my work schedule, so I'm thinking about painting or powder coating the thing. I'm thinking maybe powder coat the frame in silver and paint the gas tank blue like an old Ducati 900 SS or maybe go with a black frame and paint the gas tank like the VW in the photo ala Alice's Restaurant. The circle with the triangle in the middle might be a cool logo. Kind of like the old Hodaka logo, now that I think of it. Don't know if I could think up a model name for it as cool as some of the ones they had - Combat Wombat, Dirt Squirt, Road Toad. I don't think they hired anyone from Madison Avenue to come up with those names. The Rickman tank badge looked pretty good in it's own right. I could go with that shape and style of lettering and swap out the Rickman name with Rickati. The bike in the photo is the same model that my frame came from. Damn shame it got hacked up. Maybe make an aluminum tank and just buff the hell out of it and let it go at that. I think I'm finally at the point I could pull that off.

I got a little progress made on the train today. I'm having a little trouble forming the nose piece but I went to plan B and it should come out looking OK. I've still got a couple of weeks so the boat and the train should be done with a couple of days to spare. If I get desperate, I'll just call off a day and stay home and finish them up. I need to start burning some sick days anyway. I wouldn't want the new boss to think I'm a model employee. The way the weather's acting right now, I might have tomorrow off, anyway. If so, I'll start painting the boat and get the patterns made for the sails. That was Job 1 for tomorrow after work, anyway.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Catchin' Up

I had a pretty good weekend. I stayed after work Friday and painted, hopefully, the last of the folding chairs. All in all, I painted close to a hundred of the little darlings. They look nice but a real pain in the ass job. Worked a little on the boat that night and slept in Saturday morning. That was not only nice but needed.

Jimmy took a few of our fighters to the Silver Gloves in Terre Haute Saturday so I ran the gym by myself. It was a small crowd and I finally remembered to take a picture of the glove dryer and the medicine ball rack as you can see in the photos.

* Paragraph deleted from original post*

I did get the boat assembled. I need to make the stand and a couple of little bits for the rigging but it's pert near done. I'll make the patterns for the sails this week and the Missus can get those sewn up while I paint and varnish. Nineteen days 'til Christmas - no sweat on this one.

I need to put together a little photo studio, as well. I'd like to work on my photography a little more and rather than take photos of my small projects on top of the work bench or freezer, as is the case above, it would be nice to have a small cardtable size setup with a couple of dedicated lights and a choice of backgrounds. Something besides the calender and can goods for a background would be nice. Maybe an evening or two spent over the Christmas break would do the trick. I've got the room and the lights. It's amazing how one thing leads to another and even more amazing, I always seem to take the bait.

This week, it's work on the chair cart and the little train.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Running Late

I'm a little behind on my posting this week. I've tried to get out a post at least twice every week but just too busy this week to get time in front of the computer. The gym has been taking up a little more of my time than usual. I painted some more chairs and worked on the van a little. One of the studs that holds the back seat in was rusted to the point that the nut wouldn't come off and of course, the nut was rounded off as well. I didn't want to twist the stud off, so I farted around with it with some penetrating oil, Vise Grips, hammer, chisel and a few choice swear words until it finally came loose. I crawled around underneath it afterwords and took a good look at the rust damage. It won't be all that hard to fix - I've done a few that were worse - but it will be time consuming. No hurry on getting it done, however.

I did get a little bit done on the Rickati this week. It's a little hard to see in the photo but I've got a good start on the back section. I made up a template today for the side plates where the swingarm bosses will go. I'll see what I've got for stock to machine the bosses out of and try to get going on them pretty soon.

I worked on a handrail for the gym and made a piece for the suspension on a little radio controlled race car for one of the maintenance guys today also. It's a cute little car. It's built just like a real race car but only about 2 - 1/2 feet long.

I taught a little school this week just for a change of pace. I got the rookies started on 7014 stick electrodes. So far most of them are looking pretty good. I should turn out a pretty good crop of weldors this year if they keep it up.

The little boat is coming along. I've been retiring to the basement just about every evening for a session. I should have it pretty well completed other than paint by the end of the weekend if all goes right. I need to paint a few more chairs some time though. We've got another in house show next Friday. I'd like to have them done before the show. I put a student on building a cart for them today. It would be nice if that was done before the show as well. It'll make storing the chairs a lot easier.

That's all for now but I should have some photos to put up early next week of a couple of things.

Friday, November 27, 2009


I've put up a couple of new links on the sidebar. Still Life With Cranston Ritchie is about photography and motorcycles primarily and is posted by Surly, who happens to be my son, and A Quality Shop of Master Craftsmen will be the recounting of an HD restoration project and is posted by a guy who happens to be my cousin. Surly used to post quite a bit but then kind of dropped off the radar. He's back at it again, so you might want to check him out.

The title of the other blog, A Quality Shop of Master Craftsmen, was taken from an ad in the Yellow Pages for my uncle's welding shop. Probably doesn't carry too much weight with most of you, but to those of us who were associated with Selsor Welding years ago, it holds quite a few memories. I learned to weld in that shop 40 years ago and I think I can safely say that I'm now a master craftsman. If you've been following the blog for any length of time, you've had the opportunity to judge that for yourself. Anyway, the blog will be following the progress of my cousin as he restores the motorcycle he's had for about thirty years. I don't expect a lot of blog posts but you might want to check it out once in a while and leave him a comment. Something like: "Pull the rag out of your ass and get that thing finished, would you" would probably be appropriate.

I put the photo of the little pond sailer up there just to show you that even though I've got a couple of projects I've been tripping over for about thirty years myself, I'm at least staying busy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The student with the expansion chamber came back to school so I finished welding up his job. When I was ready to weld it, and prior to that as well, I suggested we just tack it together, he take it home, check the fit and then we'll finish it up. He assured me it would go right on there. Well, he brought it to open shop last night and it went right on alright. As the picture shows, it's not the tidiest of installations by any means. A couple of bends and it would have fit much nicer. It still would have been darn near as long as the bike but it wouldn't have looked quite so much like something you would see in a cartoon. It sounds nice, though. Loud but not obnoxious. Parking lot testing showed a little boost in power according to his seat of the pants dyno. He still needs to make a rear mounting bracket but he went home happy anyway.

The photos of the little Ford show what you can do with a bunch of rattle cans of flat black paint and a roll of masking tape. One of the boys swapped his truck for this little gem and some cash. It gets much better fuel economy and since he also races go-karts, it's just the right size. He put the spoiler on last night and finished his painting. I'm figuring he's going to come up with something for his wheels next. He already put some kind of can on his exhaust. These boys do have fun, I'll say that for 'em.

I got the keel poured for the little boat. I had to do the job twice, however. I didn't have the edge of the mold deep enough for the lead to run all the way out the first time. I cut things a little deeper and trimmed the edge of the sheet steel back a little and it worked pretty nice the second time.

I've got lots planned for the Thanksgiving weekend. A little more work on the house trim, paint some chairs for the gym, take a good look at and maybe hit a couple of licks on the gym van, grade some papers, work on the boat or train or gun project. Or maybe all three. Oh yeah, I'm running a 10K in the morning as well. Lots to be thankful for, though. We're all relatively healthy, still gainfully employed and want for nothing. Can't really ask for more than that, now can you?

Have a wonderful holiday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Projects - We Got Projects

I finally got around to painting the glove dryer and the medicine ball rack. So there's two in the finished column. I took the camera to the gym to get a picture of the finished product but, of course, I forgot it in the truck. I was totin' way too much crap around in the cab this morning and it got lost in the shuffle.

The kid with the expansion chamber has been gone all week long, so that project came to a halt. Not much more for me to do on that one anyway. We need to find a piece of tubing for the stinger and then weld everything together.

I started on a little scooter for the youngest grandson's Christmas present. I saw the red one at the Hunnert Car Pileup last year and it looked like something that would be fun to make. It's a streamlined train that the little tyke sits on and pushes himself around on. The original is probably from the 30's or 40's, I would guess. I don't do a whole lot of sheet metal stuff, so this is fun.

The little boat moved from school to the basement workshop. It too is a Christmas gift. I'm planning on cranking up that operation next week. I made the sheet metal keel and found the brass tubing I need for the rudder shaft. I'll throw a few photos up when I get a little more done. I need to get some progress on this one so the Missus will have some time to sew up the sails for me.

The Rickati project is also moving forward. I should be able to start tacking some pieces next week. I need to do a little thinking about the swingarm before too much longer but as soon as I do that, I should be able to scoot right along.

Finishing up the trim work on the parlor at home as well.

Busy as hell but things are coming together.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Honda 50

I saw this picture at The New Cafe (Racer) Society blog. I don't know where this guy comes up with all these photos but this one he found here. I used to have one of these baby's, myself. There were two other guys around who had these as well and we road the wheels off these things. I was fifteen at the time I got mine and I bought it with the money I made from my paper route and doing farm work. I had to stack a lot of hay bales and shovel a lot of cow dung but it was well worth it. A buddy of mine, Jim, had a Honda 90 with a windshield and saddlebags. Ninety cc's of touring power - no need for one of those big monsters they're passing off as motorcycles now. We rode over to his Grandpa's farm one November afternoon - it was about 30 miles and 45 degrees. Just as we walked into the kitchen his grandma was taking a grape pie out of the oven. We warmed up, ate pie, had a nice visit and headed home. Man that was a good day. After talking about that day every time the subject of pie came up for about twenty five years, the Missus now makes me a grape pie about once a year. Every bit as good and I don't have to freeze my ass off to appreciate it.

If you click on the link and go the website where the Honda photo was originally posted, scroll down the page and you'll see a Bultaco Metrella. This bike was on tour with the Guggenheim's Art of the Motorcycle. I saw it when it was in Chicago on tour and it's absolutely beautiful. The one in the photo here I snagged off the Internet and it's pretty but not as nice as the one I saw. I've got one of these but of course mine is in need of some serious work before it would even come close to looking like either of these. Mechanically, mine's pretty sound but cosmetically it leaves a lot to be desired. The Bultaco and my 750 Sport Ducati will probably have to wait until I retire before I can get around to them. That's OK though, it won't be too much longer. Maybe I'll even get around to working on the Francis Barnett. If I stay healthy and don't drag anything else home, I might actually have a nice collection of motorcycles someday.

My Francis Barnett even has the pedestrian slicer on the front fender.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Any Port in a Storm

We made a couple of these ports for a stereo set-up in a kids car. The kid's bound and determined to lose his hearing by the time he's 21 but I did warn him that good doesn't always equal loud. Since Mr. Tin Ear is not an audiophile, I wasn't sure at first what he was even talking about when he said he wanted to make a couple of these things. I guess they're usually made from plastic and since he's a little hamfisted, I did understand the part about him breaking one.

These are 18 gauge cold rolled sheet we rolled into a cylinder and then turned the flange on top with a pair of pliers and a hammerform we made up real quick from a piece of flat bar. I gas welded both pieces and rolled the flange on the one in the photo. He flanged the second one and it came out just about as nice. I was glad to see he took his time and did the filing necessary to make the job look nice. The boys are starting to figure out that they can make all kinds of things here with a little bit of effort.

We're making an expansion chamber for a little Honda scooter now as well. We've got the cones rolled up and welded. I'll post a couple of photos next week.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Starting in on the little Ducati powered motorcycle. The top photo shows a stock 250 frame I borrowed from a buddy on the frame jig. The new frame will be similar to the stock one with the exception of how the swingarm mounts. A stock swingarm pivots around the main frame tube. The new swingarm will pivot in between a couple of bosses welded to some sideplates, like most latter day frames do. The next photo shows the main frame tube, down tube, motor mount bosses, and top shock mounts. The third photo shows the top loop jigged up ready to weld on the shock mounts. The boys still have to make a couple of more pieces for the jig before we can remove the stock frame and start welding pieces together.

The bottom photo shows the motor mounts on the mill set up to engine turn them. The school bought a used mill for the program last year and I wanted to use it a little to see what it needed to get it ship shape. Come to find out, it's in need of quite a bit of TLC. The spindle brake doesn't work, the lock for the quill is cobbled together, the table feed screw has about one full turn of slack, it doesn't want to shift from high to low gear, and the power feed handle and part of the casting it goes into are missing. Something else for me to fix but it will be nice to have in the shop. When I started engine turning the motor mounts, I found out that the dials on the feed screw won't stay adjusted either. That's a real pain in the ass. Kind of defeats the whole accuracy thing when you're stepping over .250" for every little swirl. And there are lots of little swirls. I did the second one on my machine at home and it was a breeze.

I got the motor for this project in a Rickman frame that was made for a 125 Zundapp motor. Someone tried to adapt it for the Ducati in a lost cause. Basically it was a total loss for the Rickman frame. It seems that once the motor was shoehorned in, the guy figured out that it wasn't going to work and gave it up. I'm using the front end and maybe the rear wheel and swingarm - not sure about that yet. The rear wheel has a few issues. If so, it will become known as the Rickati. Sounds like some type of Italian cheese but that's a good thing. If not, it's just going to be a bitza. The accepted term for something thrown together from a bit of this and a bit of that. With the Preston Petty rear fender, the HD Sprint tank and who knows what else, it definitely will qualify.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sidecars at the Isle Of Man

From TopFoto by way of The New Cafe (racer) Society. I should build me a hack like one of these and park it in the parlor when I get it done. I could just kneel down in it and watch TV. Or better yet, me and Unk could take our show on the road. Man I dig these things.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Weekend or Weakend - Not Sure Which

Nice weekend. We had the grandsons here Friday night and Saturday morning, which of course cuts into my project time, but the boys trump everything else. I did manage to get a little machine work done Sat. afternoon and after running a four mile race Sunday morning, a little more work in the shop later in the afternoon. With the weather in the 70's, it was nice to be out in the shop with the big doors open.

I'm all over the map right now on projects, even by my standards. I'm working on the boat, the gun, two motorcycles, the house, and all kinds of things at school. The next couple of weeks are going to be even busier than usual, so no telling what, if anything, is going to get accomplished. I've got a couple of meetings for school this week, a couple of nights at the gym, Jimmy fights Friday night, and I'm going out on Sat. night. I guess that leaves Wed. night to work on things and get a few miles of training in. I'm doing a 10K Thanksgiving morning so a little bit of roadwork would definitely be a good thing. Like they say, no rest for the wicked.

I'll try to get some pictures up later in the week of the projects.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gear Gazer

I've been busy lately. I got the trim stained and one coat of varnish for the parlor project, got some work done outside and managed to do a little machine work as well.

The top photo is a gear gazer for a 250 Ducati motor. It replaces the cover on the head where the bevel gears are. It allows you to see the gears turning and watch the oil splashing around when the motor's running. When I worked at the other school we had a CNC milling machine so I learned a little programming and made up some cool motorcycle parts. I made a few of these gear gazers but I didn't cut the bore where the lens goes deep enough. I wasn't sure at the time what the thickness of the glass or plastic was going to be or how to seal it up properly. As it ends up, it uses a plastic lens and a rubber o-ring. I bored the hole a little deeper and let everything stand a little proud to give the o-ring a little crush when I bolt on the cover. One of these days, hopefully soon, I'm going to build a frame for the 250 motor I've had for about 16 - 17 years. I'm planning on a vintage trials/scrambler type of thing. I've been pulling out some of my collection of bits and pieces and trying to figure out what I still need. The idea being that if every thing is put together, I can get rid of the extra parts and maybe actually spend some time riding a couple of them.

The bottom photo shows a couple of ears for the headlight mount on the 900. I probably shouldn't have started on the *edited from the original post* project but being the eternal optimist, I figure I can get quite a bit done this winter using the little workshop setup down the basement I've got now. It's nothing special but I've got lots of files, a vise, good lighting and a radio. Throw in a cup of coffee and I'm set.

I also managed to get the little boat hollowed out and picked up the brass tubing I needed for the rudder post to slip through. The next step is to make the parts for the deck, cabin and the mast. Maybe I can get some pictures of that project for the next post.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Paul Goldsmith & Company

Knucklebuster posted a reprint from an old Popular Science magazine featuring a story on Paul Goldsmith. When I was vintage racing I used to drag my American Racer book around with me to get autographs from the great ones from the past. For a while BMW was sponsoring a "legends" race and these guys would show up plus they would have an autograph session at Daytona. I got my book signed by several world and AMA champions. Phil Read, Walter Villa, George Roeder, and Don Vesco, just to name a few. At the time I drove right by the Griffith airport just about everyday and it finally dawned on me that I should stop in there because it's run by Paul Goldsmith. Goldsmith is the only driver to win Daytona in a car and on a motorcycle. He was a USAC champion and had a couple of top five finishes at Indy.

So one day I stopped in and asked to see Mr. Goldsmith but unfortunately he wasn't in. I explained to the receptionist what I wanted and she said she would take my book, have him sign it and I could stop in the next day and pick it up. After she noticed the fear in my eyes of leaving my precious book in the hands of a total stranger, she told me not to worry, she'd lock it up in the safe. I stopped in the next day and he hadn't been in yet but just about the time I was going to head for the door, in he comes. I introduced myself and explained what I wanted. He signed the book for me but not before thumbing through it and telling me some stories about many of the racers and the what it was like to race on the beach at Daytona. The man couldn't have been nicer.

I was fortunate living where I did because Goldsmith was in partnership with Ray Nichels. Nichels is the man who was responsible for the great NASCAR Chryslers of the 70's. His wife and my wife used to bowl on the same team, so I was fortunate to have the opportunity to talk to him a few times. The man was an automotive genius. He was the only mechanic to have the pole sitter at Daytona and Indy in the same year.

Also in the area was Johnny Pawl, another racing legend. He was the last of the on board mechanics at Indy and was known not only for his work on the champ cars but also for his midget cars. In fact he was the owner of the rights to the Kurtis Kraft midgets. After he closed his shop in Merrillville, he had a little space he rented in Crown Point, just to keep his hand in. Cuzzin Ricky and I looked him up one morning so I could get him to sign my Offenhauser book. Crown Point was also the home of the #99 Belanger Special, winner of many champ car races in the 50's, including Indy.

I wish I had been more aware of all of this when I was growing up. I probably would have gone down a different career path. I talked to Johnny Pawl about a part time job one time. I didn't have the TIG skills at that time to do what he needed. I did shovel his driveway with a buddy of mine after a big snow one time back when I was in high school, though. So I've got that going for me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I started hollowing out the inside of the little yacht - technically, I think it's a sloop - with the gouge we made. Since I'm not much of a woodworker, I don't have much of a collection of carving tools, so one of my students and I made a gouge from an old file. He ground off the teeth and shortened it up. We then heated it up and shaped it, did a little grinding, heated, tempered and then sharpened it up. It does the trick right smartly. I do need some better sharpening stuff if I'm going to continue woodworking. A good Arkansas stone and a couple of slips for sharpening things like gouges would be nice. I think there will be room under the Christmas tree for a couple of those items.

You can see the saw kerfs in the photo that I made with a circular saw. I figured it would be a lot easier to remove all the wood inside the hull if I made some saw cuts first. The next thing I need is a transfer caliper. With one of those I can shape the outside of the hull and then finish carving the inside while maintaining the proper wall thickness. When I get them made I'll throw up a picture. I started on a set but the stock was a little flimsy. I'll beef them up or maybe even make them out of brass. Might as well go whole hog if I'm going to build a collection of tools. I've got a real nice brass and walnut pencil compass I made from plans in Wooden Boat magazine. The calipers would look good in the drawer of the new tool box with the compass. How's that for logic?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tool Storage & Boat Building

One half of the keel weight mold.

I've been putting together a little spot down the basement to fart around with my projects this winter. As always though, one thing leads to another. In order to build the little pond sailer and the gas powered airplane I picked up last year, I need a few more tools. Nothing serious, just a few small scale woodworking things but then I'll need a place to keep them. Plus, I need to have a spot to store some of my machinist tools when I'm working on the black powder gun. So in addition to working on finishing up the trim in the parlor, and the dozen other things I'm currently juggling, I'm going to build a small machinist type box of some sort for the basement. I should be able to knock this one out at school without too much trouble. I'm going to work on the design this week and maybe pick up some wood and a couple of the tools I need next weekend.

I did start on the mold for the lead keel weight on the little boat. I chiseled it out of a piece of scrap. The mold needs two matching sides. When it's done, I'll put the sheet iron keel down inside it and then fill it with lead. The book I got the plan out of was originally published in 1935 and was for junior high school kids. It includes the recipe for making lead based paint in addition to pouring lead for the keels of the boats. Probably not the kind of thing you'd want to teach the young'uns these days. Lead exposure isn't healthy for anyone, especially little ones. Needless to say, I won't be mixing up any lead based paint but I will make the keel weight out of lead. I'll paint it up and make sure no one eats it. It should be safe on the mantel or if it ever gets to a pond, it won't contaminate the water. It certainly won't be any worse than someone dragging a lead sinker across the bottom when they're fishing.

When we were kids we made our own lead soldiers. Melted the lead on the kitchen stove, poured them into molds and painted them up. I still have the molds and a few soldiers. And of course, we all used leaded paint and leaded gas back then as well. Fortunately, we're all a little smarter now and the little tykes aren't going to be eating paint chips with lead in them and people living next to busy expressways aren't going to be sucking in lead fumes any more, either. One of the things the home hobbyist has to remember is, you're on your own when it comes to safety. There aren't any OSHA inspections in your garage or studio. You have to be careful with your health whether it's casting lead bullets for your muzzle loader, painting with isocyanite hardeners or putting chemicals on your lawn. Keep it safe for you and yours.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Busy week as usual. The glove dryer is progressing right smartly. We've got all the tubes brazed up, the fan clamp welded on and are finishing up the base.

The medicine ball rack is all set except for the final clean up and paint.

The two guys I had working on it struggled a little bit lining everything up but I expected that with the design I worked out. We're one fourth of the way through the school year now and by the end of the year I should see some serious improvement in their welding and fabricating skills. A lot of it just depends on what comes through the shop door. I've had several aluminum car rims in lately. Not the kind of thing that a beginner can easily handle but I should have several guys capable of safely TIG welding them up by the end of the year.

I made up a cover for the new heat exchanger at the gym. We're putting in hot water heat from one of those wood burning outdoor boilers. I had to cut a hole in the plenum, make some brackets for the heat exchanger to sit on and then close up the hole. I had the vocational classes work out some missing dimensions to make the cover using some pretty simple math but it was like pulling teeth. Some of these guys are so used to rolling over whenever they run up against something that involves math, that it's almost impossible to get them interested in wanting to solve a problem. Kind of a sad comment but true none the less. You would think that it would be rather obvious that it will help them do the types of things they're interested in. Most of them love making things as long as someone else does all of the heavy thinking. They'll either learn the math or learn that they should have learned the math.

This is the start of a pond sailer. It will be a 24" long yacht with fabric sails, lead keel and brass rudder and trim. Maybe a Christmas present, maybe not. Time will tell.

I put up some more wall paper Monday, so the next thing is to get rolling on the trim. Still have a couple of things to get done outside before the weather closes in but no panic, yet. Got a chance to make a couple of little parts for the 900 headlight bracket last night. I've got a four day weekend coming up next week. I should be able to get a few things done then and with a little luck maybe go camping for a night. I love being outside in the fall.