Tuesday, June 30, 2009

End of the Line

The Chicago Tribune published their last Magazine on Sunday. The Magazine has been published in its modern form since 1953. I've been reading it on and off for almost as long. It ran a feature for a while about people and the jobs they did and a column by Bill (whose last name escapes me right now) I used to read all the time. It used to run John McCutcheon's Injun Summer drawing annually until 2000, when it was "banished by those decrying its description of Native Americans". It always had some nice photographs and typically an architecture, design or fashion story. And of course, it had the big crossword puzzle that kept me busy for a couple of hours while watching a football or baseball game. I usually couldn't fill in all the blanks but every once in a while I managed to complete it.

Some of the features are going to be included in the regular Sunday paper but I'm going to miss the Magazine. It's a shame that the newspapers are all on the ropes. This may be change but it's damn sure not progress.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I Got Spurs That Jingle, Jangle, Jingle

So why would a shop teacher who rides a bicycle need spurs, you ask? Why not?

A few years back I had some students who were doing some bull riding and we made some spurs. As long as I was involved I figured I'd make myself a pair as well. We do a dress up thing at the school every year and cowboy attire seems to be a recurring theme. Sometimes I wear the spurs and sometimes I loan them out. The original rowels that were on them were both a little rough looking and a little rough on the floor and furniture. I made these round ones the other day from a piece of 1/8" sheet brass. I have another job in the works that I'm going to be needing the spacer head for on the mill, so I used that to drill the holes in the rowels to get a nice layout. I drilled them with a lathe centering bit so I could get a nice countersink on the holes. I still need to put a chain or another leather strap on the spurs to prevent them from sliding up your boot. So technically the job isn't done but they look nice hanging on the wall.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Finishing , Fixing & StartingThings

I've been working like a madman getting things done around here.

The Angeles tricycle is ready to go. I got the everything painted, lubed and reassembled, including new hand grips. So that's finished.

The bushing is for the mower. I bought a couple of bushings for the front wheels, you may recall, but all they had were the outers. The axle was worn quite a bit so I didn't want to put the new bushing on until I could fix the axle plus I wanted to replace the inners at the same time. I made up a couple of bronze bushings instead of ordering new plastic ones. The grease fitting on the originals were plastic as well and the grease gun didn't fit real well. I welded up the axle, ground and filed it nice and round and reassembled everything yesterday. Fortunately, I only had to weld one side. The mower is six years old, so this should last me for the life of the mower.

The bicycle with the outrigger is the beginning of a railbike. I started on this a couple of years ago but as usually happens, I got into the construction phase and then got sidetracked. I put all the pieces together the other day to see where I was at and figure out the next step. The front end needs a guide to keep the bike from falling off the rail. This will have some skateboard wheels mounted on an arm in front of the bicycle front wheel. It needs to lift up so it won't fall into a gap if you have to cross a switch. I machined up the spacers for the skateboard wheels and did a little head scratching. I think I've got it figured out. While this isn't a pressing concern, I would like to get it finished just for the giggle factor. Be the first one on your block to have one, kind of thing. As long as I'm getting the rest of "to-do" list done, might as well make a couple of pieces for this outfit as well.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bicycle Jig

I made a little progress on the bicycle building jig. The jig was originally for raking and building motorcycle frames. Surly and I bought a pile of bicycle tubing and lugs a couple of years ago. I made myself a bike but he still hasn't been able to find the time to work on his. When I made mine I made a quick and dirty jig but when I got done the bike was a little out of alignment. Not enough to notice when you ride it, but I can tell. I want to build myself a really nice bike, not that I need another one mind you, but one that looks like state of the art 1968. Fleur de lis lugs, small tubes, downtube shifters, nice paint with gold trimmed lugs. A classic looking bike for riding the occasional century or a nice Sunday morning group ride. Those are the Campy dropouts I'm planning on using in the photo. The rolled up paper is a full size drawing of the frame.

With a good jig, Surly and I both can knock out our frames easily enough. Since he already has his tubeset, cost won't be an issue. In my case, might as well spend the money on a bicycle instead of investing it in the stock market. That hasn't worked out too well lately. When we finish with the bicycles, I can finally build the 250 Ducati frame for vintage trials I've been thinking about for years. Or, I might just do that one first. I'm always thinking at least two projects ahead but I swear I'm not starting anything else until a couple of others get finished!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I've been thinkin' motorcycles lately and what's better than a '70's Ducati? Maybe a '68 Spitfire.

Happy Father's Day.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Angeles Tricycle

From Tricyclefetish.com/angeles:

In 1958, Claude Tindell set out to build a tricycle which could stand up to the rough-and-tumble use of a nursery school. He opened a tiny shop in Los Angeles and sold his heavy duty trikes out of the back of his van.

Gradually, Angeles trikes became known throughout California as the trikes that would last almost forever. He developed other products and expand his product line. Some of these, such as the Wagon, became popular and are still produced. Others, such as the "Bug," never caught on and are part of history.

As the business grew, the demand exceeded Claude's resources and he sold his interest in Angeles Nursery Toys to Don Mitchell, and ultimately to Ross Sackett, a former CBS executive.

Sackett expanded Angeles into national distribution so that its products were available all across the country. It was during this period, 1978-1984, that school supply dealers began carrying Angeles trikes. (Prior to this, all sales were direct from the factory to customers)

In 1984, Ray Kelly decided to leave his position as Vice-President of Sunmark and enter the field of educational equipment. He acquired Angeles with the intention of building a higher quality company by setting new standards for product quality, service, manufacturing, marketing and innovation.

The Pacific plant was opened in 1986 with 15,000 sq. ft. and 8 employees. As the new standards began to have their effect, business grew and output was expanded. In 1988, the Los Angeles plant was too small to support the sales, and it was closed.

Angeles, now Angeles Group, has grown steadily in terms of products, facilities, people, and most importantly, in customer trust, by sticking to the basic original principles: Angeles will provide unique, high quality products which serve the user's needs better than anything else available. We will back these products with the best service in our industry.

So here's the next project in the clean 'em up or throw them out line up - the Angeles tricycle that the missus drug home last year. This baby is really cool. Built like a tank. It won't take too much to make this one a mover. Sandblast the handlebars/forklegs and paint them up. Same with the wheels. A little lube on the bearings or new ones as the case may be. New handgrips and it's a keeper. A couple of pinstripes would look right at home, also. I'll see if I can press Surly into service for that.

I'm not sure what the hell I'm going to do with all these things when they're done. It's just amazing that they're getting done.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Screamer Scooter

Here's another one of the projects the missus drug home. I got this one knocked out in short order. The brakes needed some work and the chrome was a little rusty but not much needed, really. I had a brake cable here so no trip to the bike shop necessary. It's grandson ready. Looks like it's going to be the summer of the human powered vehicle.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Here's Why -

I never complete any of my big projects. It just seems the number of little ones are constantly interrupting the flow. Last week I worked on Monday so my vacation officially started on Tuesday with a trip to the eye doctor. Wednesday it was a trip to the dentist for a crown and lots of running around. Three days at the gym, cutting some grass, spreading four tons of gravel, some odds and ends around the shack plus the items pictured.

The boxing glove was no big deal. Get out the sewing kit and do a little saddle stitching to fix the wrist band. I fixed a double end bag strap while I had the stuff out, also. About a half hour start to finish.

The jump rope had the plastic piece that keeps the rope attached break. I machined up an aluminum replacement - not too tough but a little time consuming. By the time I measured every thing up, sketched it out, found a piece of stock, faced, drilled, bored, turned, threaded, parted off, deburred and cleaned up, I had close to 1-1/2 hours in the job. That's not the type of thing a guy could take someplace to get fixed. It would just be tossed out and a new one purchased. That just kills me. However, if I were to look at it from the point of an economist and opportunity cost, my time could have been better spent. I like to look at it as a technical exercise. I do it because I can.

The little bicycle was drug home by the missus. Of course, it needed a little work. The bearings in the bottom bracket were literally torn apart but other than that it looked salvageable. I took the crank with me when I was out running around the other day knowing I would be going past a bicycle shop. Of course, they didn't have anything that would fit the Disney Little Princess. I'm never going into that place again. I've been in there a couple of times now and they're all about selling you a new bike, not repairing anything. I realize they couldn't spend much time on a little department store bike before running the bill up to what a replacement bike would be, but 0nce again, must we throw everything out? I went to see my old pals at Superior Sales and they had a kit for the bottom bracket with bearings, races, everything. Six bucks. So an hour and a half later, the little bike is once again ready to ride. That includes getting out the heat gun and peeling off all the Little Princess decals. We can't have the grandson riding around on a Little Princess, now can we?

I had a flat tire on the mower this week and while the wheel was off, I figured I would change out the plastic bushings. I just went all over two counties looking for bushings for another job, so I figured I'd bite the bullet and check the dealer. Yep, he had them at four bucks each. The other bushings I bought were thirty five cents each. These should have been fifty cents tops. So, either you can't find what you need or you pay threw the nose for it.

So there's the reason things never get finished. Because I live in the sticks there is no big industrial supplier near by, so I'm constantly chasing after some odd ball thing or another. I can't bear to throw anything away that I know I can repair. Plus, I just enjoy tinkering on all this crap. It's a curse, but at least the "to do" list shrunk a little this week.

Friday, June 12, 2009


photo by domestikdeva

Our video for the IMSTEA Super Mileage Challenge won third prize. So even though we didn't actually compete, we finally won something. That was my goal for the year - to win something. So I guess it was both the worst of times and the best of times as they say. The future still remains uncertain for the whole project but at least we've got a plaque to hang on the wall. I did notice that when I spelled plaque that it looks a lot like plague. That might explain a few things.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Life Story

I read the blog Bookpuddle on a regular basis. As a guy who loves to read, why not read a blog about reading books? Lots of the stuff Cipriano reads and reviews is exactly the stuff I don't read but that's why I read it, if that makes any sense at all. Expanding my horizons and all that.

Last Sunday, Cipriano did a post about the lady who cat sits for him when he's on vacation. It's an interesting little story about the life of the woman and it got me to thinking about life story's. We've all got them, some are interesting, as is the cat sitting lady's, and some aren't. Some are heroic and some are tragic. I wrote about my uncle Pete a few days ago and his was an interesting life story. He grew up in the Dakotas, ended up in the Midwest, went to war twice, married and had a family, and ended up owning his own welding shop. Maybe not the stuff of the great American novel but with Pete, the telling of the story was every bit as good as the story itself.

I had the great good fortune of spending quite a bit of time with my maternal grandmother. After my grandpa died, I used to take her to the grocery store and stay for dinner with her. I got to hear much of her life story. When she and Grandpa married they left the farm in Kentucky and headed north like so many others. Her mother died when Grandma was very young so she was raised by an older sister and a black woman whose parents were slaves. She might have been at one time as well, Grandma was born only about thirty-five years after the Civil War was over. When they went to church, they had to sit in the back because Grandma was with the black woman. Grandma's grandfather Henry was killed by Confederate soldiers even though the Henry's were slaveholders. The Confederates came to the Henry farm to get horses and shots were fired. The Confederates left only to return later and either shot or hung David Henry in his front yard. In retaliation for killing a prominent civilian, four Confederate prisoners were chosen at random from Louisville and taken to Meade County where they were executed.

I used to razz Grandma about taking a ride on my motorcycle and she'd always say, "One of these days". One day I asked her and she took me up on the offer. She just hiked up the old house dress and jumped on. I spun her around the block and when she got off said, "I always wanted to try one of those".

There was a woman who had a life story. I'm glad I got to hear it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

School's Out

School's finally out for the summer. We had to go an extra week to make up for all the snow days of last winter. I'm writing this at school while I take a little coffee break. I finished up all the paper work and I'm getting ready to tackle the shop clean up.

The roof is getting replaced this summer and my service door will be unlocked all day so the roofers can get in and out. Because of this, anyone and everyone can walk right in and help themselves to any thing that's not nailed down. I'm not worried about the roofers, in fact one of them is a former student. But while the roofers are up topside, no one will be watching what's going on downstairs. Last year I went through the same thing with the pipefitters and the geothermal job. It forces me to clean up and secure things which I should do anyway.

I'm starting the list of jobs for the summer. I definitely need to get some things done around the shack. Depending on the weather, I'm planning on hitting a serious lick every day on the "honey do" list, put some miles in on the bike and start training for a couple of race walks. Evenings will be spent in the shop either here or at home. I would like to see that 900 move under it's own power. I want to get out with the big camera (4x5) this summer as well. Lots of ideas and lots of unfinished projects. Should make for an interesting and fun summer.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Progress is Overrated

I got the new AARP magazine the other day - actually it comes in my wife's name - but Shop Teacher Bob is old enough to get the 10% discount at KFC. I'm not old as dirt but I remember when it was new. Any way, the magazine has an advertisement for Post Shredded Wheat with the headline "Progress is Overrated". It's a clever ad and at the bottom of the page was a web address to check out. I would suggest you take a look at the speech on progress. It's pretty damn funny. It's like Frank Drebin from Police Squad decided to make a commercial. Progress is overrated, indeed.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Film Lit Class

Several of my students took the Film Literature class this year. The final project for the class is the making of a short film. One of the boys who is in my welding class and also a fighter at the gym, made a boxing video. You can view it here. It features him and Coach Jimmy. It's a little schmaltzy but check out Jimmy when he's hitting the heavy bag. I had to work his corner at one of his fights because his main coach was out of town. I was really hoping he didn't get cut or hurt and I'd have to deal with it. As it turned out, he nailed the guy with one of those big shots to the body early and his opponent just crumpled. Man, he hits hard.

We had another exhibition at the gym Saturday night, also. When we get the DVDs burned, I'll throw something up here. Lot's of fun.