Sunday, August 30, 2009

Moto GP

Went to the Moto GP in Indy this weekend. Surly, Mrs. Surly and myself went down early Saturday morning so we missed the rain on Friday - we got more than enough last year. The weather cleared about the time we got there Saturday morning and met up with Grumpy Unk. We saw some really good practice laps, walked around and saw the vendors, and went to the flat track Indy Mile Saturday night. Sunday was great racing with a terrific 125 race and a few surprising crashes early in the GP.

More to come later - I'm bushed.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


I saw this at Knucklebuster. This baby is slicker than snot on a doorknob and there aint but one thing slicker than that!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Week Two or Weak Too

Finishing up the second week of the new school year. We've got a new boss this year and there are several changes evident already and I'm sure more are on the way. Other than some basic methods of operation, I don't foresee any big changes for me. He seems to be a go-getter/cheerleader type which has been lacking around here. However, since I'm basically a misanthrope, I might have a little trouble buying in to the rah, rah team company line. It's not just me, the rumble in the jungle seems to be mixed so far. I guess you would expect that, since no one has really been in charge the last few years.

I've got two vocational welding classes this year and two beginning classes as well. It looks like I've got a real good bunch of students this year and I'm looking forward to getting the boys started on making things. We have to finish a trailer for one of the maintenance guys and I want to do a little work on tidying things up in the shop, then it's off to the races. Work is already coming in from the school corporation. I welded a plate on the tailgate of a pickup truck today and sent a stainless drawer from one of the elementary schools with them that I TIG welded the other day. I always do quite a bit of the work myself at the beginning of the year until the boys get a little more experience. Two of the boys did weld up a couple of music stands on their own and another two cut some pieces of floor grating today. Since the new boss seems to take an interest in what actually goes on in the school, I think he'll be impressed with the amount and variety of work that goes through the shop.

The metalsmithing class looks like it's going to be a mixed blessing. You can't get a whole lot done in 30 minutes but we've got our first little project about done. I found out that some of the students didn't actually sign up for the class and others who did, didn't get in. That's typical of what's gone on in the past here. I'm planning on making a spangenhelm next. That's a helmet, for those of you who aren't into armour. If you check out the link, it's a pretty good tutorial on how to build one of those things. Should be fun and it will introduce some other skills besides the forging we've already done.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Aluminum Bits

I machined up a whole slew of aluminum crap this weekend. The top photo has a bunch of cinch-up devices for swingarms on Ducati singles. A long bolt runs through the swingarm and one of the aluminum pieces and threads into another piece on the other side of the swingarm. When the bolt is tightened up it takes the side play out of the swingarm. I made these for a buddy of mine. He had a couple of the threaded pieces, so I made three more with threads and five pieces with the through hole. I also made myself a set while I was at it. I can keep them for a sample or put them on the bike I plan to build some day.

Also in the picture is a bung for a 1/4" pipe plug. A guy from the gym has a pontoon boat with a leak so he wants to put a drain plug in. One of these days he can bring it to the school and we'll get it welded in.

The long shaft is for the high mileage car. I turned the end so it would fit inside a piece of tubing that will end up being the steering shaft.

In the top and middle picture, are two pieces used to connect a cable to a 1/4" rod. This is for the brake and throttle on the midget. They sell these things plenty cheap but the place where I usually buy my go-kart parts has a $25.00 dollar minimum order. Besides, I like engineering and making this stuff myself. Plus, and this is a big plus, this is the last thing I need to do on the midget before I finish weld and paint it. Yippy damn Skippy, another project almost done!

The bottom photo has the tie rods for the high mileage car. I just had to shorten them up. They were used on a car from a couple of years ago. I had to turn the OD and then rethread them.

Lots of little pieces and some more progress made. I've still got plenty of my own projects to work on and we're already busy working on some things at school with the vocational guys. The rookies start welding this week as well. I need to prioritize the job list and resist the temptation to start anything else until I get a couple more finished up but with everything I got done this summer, I've got myself a little breathing room.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Float Trophy

The boxing gym won the Health and Fitness category in the parade two weeks ago. We got a nice trophy out of the deal and some good press. I can't take any of the credit, this was Jimmy's baby all the way. I drove the truck but that's pretty much a no brainer. The gym is going real well and we're talking about maybe expanding in the not too distant future. We've got an exhibition scheduled for October 3rd and Jimmy is fighting in November.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Educational Advice

I got the following from the Starlet Showcase blog. It usually features really cool photos of Hollywood starlets from the old black and white days but he threw in a back to school feature.

Anyway, here's my advice: read a book, read lots of books, keep your face washed and don't worry about your complexion too much, don't give your teachers a hard time, don't be late for everything, always use condoms, get plenty of sleep but not during class, and if you go home with someone and he doesn't own any books, don't sleep with him. That's basically it. Have fun.

Couldn't have said it any better myself.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dustbin Ducati

I'm sure this was one of those things that was done "because I can" but it sure is pretty looking. Whoever made this thing damn sure knew what they were doing. From The New Cafe (Racer) Society.

School starts next week and I'm going to be teaching a metalsmithing class for 30 minutes every day. It's an enrichment thing rather than for credit. I think we're going to rotate everyone out after nine weeks so we won't be able to get too intensive with anything, like making dustbin fairings, but I think it will be a lot of fun - which is the whole idea behind it anyway.

We've been making some changes the last few years and even though this Student Resource Time has been met with some resistance, I think it's a good idea. If your grades are failing they assign you to a help room, if things are good you can get an enrichment room, if everything is Jake and you're a Senior, you can go home 30 minutes early. The only real problem is not enough teachers have volunteered to have enrichment rooms that the students are interested in. To make an enrichment room work, it becomes another class that the teacher has to prepare for and a lot of the slugs we have around here don't want to do anything extra. Some of them don't even want to do what they're paid to do, as far as that goes. With the new boss this year, I'm thinking that's liable to change a little.

So the metalsmithing group will be doing some blacksmithing and some sheet metal work. I want to keep it as open ended as possible and kind of take it where their interests are. There's a guy not too far from us who is a crackerjack metal worker, it might be nice to have him come in one day and talk to the group. He does aircraft and hot rod restoration work. Maybe have the guy where I buy my steel from come in also. He's got a high definition plasma cutter, press brakes, saws, shears - the whole works. Just try to expose the little darlin's to what's out there and let them try their hand at a few things.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Drill Press Repair

I threw this one in here just to reinforce the need for craftsmen. Even though the economy is in the tank, broken things still need fixing. In fact, unless you're on the receiving end of the stimulus money, you're probably thinking fix or make do rather than buy new anyway. And of course, we'll get our stimulus package later when it's time to pay for all this buffoonery.

The pictures show an old drill press that had been dropped, I would guess. It's made to have another section that slips inside the pipe (shown on the far right of the bottom photo and in the detail photo). That pipe was partially broken off and the broken piece was missing. The drill's owner cut the broken part completely off and I machined up a replacement from heavy wall pipe. After boring the pipe to size and drilling and tapping for a setscrew, I clamped everything down to a piece of channel to get things aligned. Since I was welding cast iron to carbon steel, I used a 309 stainless electrode. I tacked welded the pipe in about four places then welded it all around. I had put a vee groove on the pipe when I had it in the lathe, so I welded the root pass, ground it down a little and then capped it off with another pass of weld. Easy when you know how.

I'm getting ready to start another school year and even though I've been doing this for a long time, I've never been more passionate about the importance of vocational education than I am now. Maybe the future of the nation is not dependent on finding someone who can repair old drill presses but I'm pretty sure it does depend on having qualified craftspeople to keep the wheels of production turning. The reason WW II turned out the way it did was because the US had the means of production, the natural resources and the skilled labor necessary to turn out the needed planes, tanks and weapons. If we were to go into a similar situation now, it would probably take a whole lot longer to convert factories to war production. For one thing, all technical questions would have to be answered by tech support in India. Besides, making things and repairing things is good for the soul and just plain fun. This year, make sure the young 'uns are getting their homework done, reading some books and getting some exercise. When the time comes, get them in a shop class.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Busy Morning

Today was the 5K walk and local craft fair/parade so I got up early and met Jimmy at the gym to pick up our float the gym entered in the parade and got that staged. Then it was time for the race.

We had several people from the gym run and I race walked. I got second overall - about three minutes behind first. Actually I was quite pleased with my time. I was about 30 seconds quicker than I was two years ago when I walked this event. I do need to start closer to the front. Race etiquette dictates that the slower runners and walkers should start in the back, which I did. I never did see the first place guy at all and it took me a mile before I could catch up to the second and third place walkers. Even though the race is chip timed, your time starts when the gun goes off rather than when you cross the starting line. My second mile was a minute and twenty seconds faster than my first. I normally start out a little slow but I know I gave away at least thirty to forty seconds to those other walkers. I slowed a little after pulling away from the other two guys but I felt good and could have pushed it a little if I needed. After the race I stuck around for the awards and Jimmy took off to get the trailer all set up so I walked/ran another two or three miles to the parking lot where the trailer was staged.

The parade went well. Jimmy had the trailer all decorated up like a miniature boxing ring and we had a couple of guys sparring the whole route. I looked in the rearview mirror a few times and they weren't just pattycaking, they were slapping some leather. They only fought one round but it was almost an hour long! The heavy bag costumes were a hit. The poor girls inside them were sweating, though. It was a long walk to be inside a black vinyl bag. The float seemed to be a real crowd pleaser and we had a bunch of the little fighters walking along handing out candy and flyers. We'll probably be innundated with calls now and we're pretty close to capacity as it is.

It all went well. I've now got a pair of wooden shoes and I got lucky enough to win a $15.00 gift certificate for a local restaurant in the race raffle. Not a bad morning.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Quick Trip

I took the teardrop trailer out yesterday for a quick camping and hiking trip. I really haven't gone anywhere this summer - the price you pay for letting things pile up. Spent a couple hours hiking on Wednesday, including climbing the old fire tower, then cooked myself supper over the campfire, and finished my book about Teddy Roosevelt. That boy was something. Became something of an egomaniac after leaving office but a Medal of Honor and Nobel recipient. Pretty rare company there, by golly.

Got up this morning and hiked another hour, then stopped by the gun range on the way home to try out the new shooting rest. Works like a charm. A guy showed up with a fancy Sharps replica and his buddy had some kind of custom made bench rest rifle. Both of these guys shoot at 1000 yards! I was on the 100 yard range and was lucky to hit the paper. I can't imagine shooting at a distance ten times that. I guess I can imagine shooting at that range, I just can't imagine hitting anything. I didn't want to burn up the whole day or I would have stuck around to see these guys in action. They both had chronographs and the benchrest gun had a rest under it that put mine to shame. It was a big slab of steel with a bubble level built into it. The wheel for raising the elevation looked like it came off a yacht. The handles were all polished or chrome. So was the receiver and the barrel on the gun. The guy had a little holster he put the bolt into. I'm thinking I should just stick with trying to get a little better with my 22. I know it's a lot cheaper.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Shooting Rest - Part 2

I finished the shooting rest Sunday night. I welded up the legs and the top plate, ground and filed things up a little and then painted it with wrinkle finish black paint. The bottom photo shows my "fixture" for welding. Just a piece of OSB with a circle drawn on it with holes at 120 degrees. I machined up a pipe spacer to get the body up to the right height and to hold everything in place, then tightened it all up with a piece of 1/2" all-thread. I bolted the feet plates down with 3/8" bolts and that was pretty much all there was to welding it together. I welded the nuts on to the plates to be used for adjusting purposes later on. The top photos show the aluminum jam nuts sitting on top of the 3/8" nuts. I welded them on the top side because I wanted the bottom to be flat. If I get real ambitious, I might make something in the future that bolts to the rest that will hold the rear of the gun as well. I'm going to buy the adjusting knobs for the feet rather than make them. I've got to order a couple of other things and since I had everything else, I'll still have less than five bucks invested in the thing.