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.