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.