Thursday, December 30, 2010

Footpegs Are Done

Flex Rod is Almost

Clutch Hub is Done

Not Even Close
to Done

I spent all day Tuesday at the gym. Jimmy and I painted from 9:00 in the morning until about 7:30 that night. Jimmy put the second coat on the bottom part of the walls Wednesday morning and we both went back that evening to finish things up. Looks good - I'll post a couple of photos at the DeMotte Boxing Club site after we get everything cleaned up.

I spent the better part of Wednesday at school. The kid with the speeder came in and worked on it a little. He's changing motors in the thing and the new motor has a larger output shaft than the original. I brought some tooling in from home and got him lined up on the lathe. He bored the clutch hub out from 1" to 1-1/8". He farted around on a couple other little things as well, mostly getting himself lined up on the game plan.

I fixed a piece for one of the double end bags at the gym, finished filing the footpegs for the Rickati, filed out the holes to fit the flex rod for the steam engine, cut some trim for a job at the shack, and did a couple of little maintenance chores around the shop. Lots of time to think about my New Year's Resolutions while I was tinkering around. I think I need more of a revolution as opposed to resolution. Or maybe, more resolution instead of making resolutions. However it goes, I just need to keep on the path to finishing things. I've been doing pretty good lately - just can't fall off the wagon.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Walter Russell

I received the book The Man Who Tapped the Secrets of the Universe by Glenn Clark for Christmas. It's a short little book first published in 1946 describing the life of Walter Russell, who with his wife Lao, founded the University of Science and Philosophy. I breezed threw the book pretty quickly and was pretty impressed with the late Walter Russell. He was an accomplished musician, sculptor, painter, philosopher, teacher, architect, and figure skater. Quite the resume.

While I have only a minimal understanding of Russell's theories and philosophy, in a nutshell, he thought the whole world was basically run on electrical energy - you, me, the whole universe. If you take the gift of God's electrical energy and work with it rather than oppose it, you can accomplish all kinds of things. I don't know for sure but I would guess that the whole New Age thing started with the Russell's. Because his philosophy is of the New Agey sort, statements like: "Very often, sexual repression will reverse ones polarity" might be a little difficult to make sense of but the following quotes give you something to think about:

I believe sincerely that every man has the consummate genius within him. Some appear to have it more than others only because they are more aware of it than others are, and the awareness or unawareness of it is what makes each of them into masters or holds them down to mediocrity. I believe that mediocrity is self-inflicted and that genius is self bestowed. Every successful man I have ever known, and I have known a great many, carries with him the key which unlocks that awareness and lets in the universal power that has made him into a master.

Every successful man or great genius has three particular qualities in common. The most conspicuous of these is that they all produce a prodigious amount of work. The second is that they never fatigue, and the third is that their minds grow more brilliant as they grow older, instead of less brilliant. Great men's lives begin at forty, where the mediocre man's life ends. The genius remains an ever-flowing fountain of creative achievement until the last breath he draws.

Since genius is self bestowed and they all produce a prodigious amount of work, I think I'll hold off on bestowing myself with the title of genius, 'cuz then I'd have to produce. But on the other hand, if mediocrity is self-inflicted, I need to do something. I'm pretty sure this isn't what the Buddha had in mind for the middle path ,though. Maybe I need to sign up for the Russell home study course. Seriously though, some interesting ideas presented by the Russell's. Worth a deeper look.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Harley Cafe Racer

Photo from here:

How sweet is this? My kind of Sportster right there, by golly.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Machine Work

Brake Rod

Steam Engine Piston

Footpeg Mount Before Machining

After Machining

Completed Tailstock

I've been busy the last few days doing machine work. It hasn't been too cold so I've been able to go out in the shop and work. My little kerosene heater gets it up to about 40 degrees before my feet get cold, so I can stand in front of the lathe and mill and make chips. The brake rod and the footpeg parts are for the Rickati. I've got a little grinding/filing to do in order to get the pegs to pivot but I'll have them ready to weld onto the bike this week.

The piston is for the steam engine project. I've got both of them done but the cylinder bores are not quite true. The cylinders are copper tubing caps and they're a little smaller in diameter on the bottom. I'll chuck them up in the lathe and "tickle" them a little bit with some emery to see if I can even the bore up from top to bottom. I'm a little behind on the steam engine project but that's nothing new. I need to machine the valve and a block that changes the linear motion into rotary but there's nothing too tricky involved on the block. The valve as shown in the print is something else, though. There doesn't seem to be any seal on the thing to keep steam from leaking out. I'm going to try and rig up a couple of O-rings to cure that. The plans definitely leave a little to be desired.

I finished the tailstock. If you look on the right side you can see the groove turned in the rod and the bolt with the washer used to tension the rod in the end of a part when in use. I need to put a tack weld on the washer to keep it from unscrewing but no biggy there.

I've still got a weeks worth of vacation left, so I should be able to make some more progress on things. A former student bought himself a little Fairmont motor car/speeder and brought it over to school last week. He wants to work on it a couple of days so I'll be at the school working on some things and we're going to paint the gym this week as well. As always, lots to do but as the pictures show, I'm making progress.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone.

I hope you all have a lovely holiday and get a chance to spend time with family and loved ones. There are a lot of people hurting this year, so if you get a chance, drop a couple of bucks in the bucket for the Salvation Army or make a donation to your local food pantry. I'm extremely fortunate to be living such a good life. I'm warm, fed and loved. I wish the same for all of you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fireplace Tools

I finished the fireplace tools that I made at the Blacksmith Shop during the fair. Actually, I made the tools two years ago and made the pieces for the stand this year. I need to put some linseed oil on everything still as I write this but that might have to wait a couple days as I seem to have caught something of a sore throat, runny nose kind of thing. No surprise, however. Happens every year at either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Whatever goes through the school, I manage to get to a greater or lesser degree. I do especially like it when it happens while I'm on vacation. If I'm going to be miserable, I'd prefer having the opportunity share that with the little SOB's at work who passed it around in the first place. It is after all the season of giving.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Big Picture Learning

I was talking to Surly the other night at the fights about his photography work (he shot Jimmy's fight and several others) and his new camera. With any new tool there is always a learning curve and trying to master a skill like low light action photography will of course take some time. He mentioned how non-professional photographers have been known to say "I could take that same picture" but of course, they didn't. The old photographers had the saying "f8 and be there", meaning have your camera ready and show up where the action is. I found a similar thing at the Big Picture Learning blog.

In order to learn you needed to hang around the other musicians. You needed to persist. You had to be in the right places and keep your eyes wide open. And you had to develop your ownstyle that translates to personalizing standards. - Jay McShann

If you want to be good at something, you have to devote the time and effort. You have to learn the basics of the trade before you learn the tricks of the trade. If you stroll down on the above link to the entry dated October 30th, you'll see a graph of the attendance rate of New York City schools. It's absolutely pathetic. How are you going to learn if you're not there?

The answers to the problems America is facing with its educational system are out there. Unfortunately, the politicians keep looking in the wrong place. You can't mandate performance. If my pay rate is going to be determined by student test scores, the little darlings had better be showing up on a regular basis with a good breakfast in their little tummies and a good night's sleep under their belt. To find what works, you need to take a page out of the Jay McShann book. Hang out with the other musicians or in this case, check out the Big Picture schools or the one started by Thomas Bloch of H&R Block fame, or look to Finland. Find what works and give the schools and the staff the freedom to implement change.

Indiana public schools are short on money to begin with and, if State Superintendent Tony Bennett has his way, will be looking at some changes that will not improve the situation regardless of how much money they receive. I've seen the proposal for teacher evaluations and no one will be able to be rated at the highest level. There aren't enough hours in the day to do everything that will be required. Schools will also be given a letter grade evaluation now, just like students receive on a quiz. Inter-city schools will still receive poor ratings and places like Munster or Brownsburg will still be at the top. The only way to make things better is to change the culture of the school and the community. Parents need to place a higher value on getting little Johnny to school everyday and the the schools need to be a little less torture chamber and a little more interesting. It could be done.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lunar Eclipse +

I added a gadget showing the phases of the moon. It also gives the correct time (I'm not sure how it does that in the State of Indiana. We've only got two different time zones but there is no geographic boundary or even any rhyme or reason as to how it was determined what time it is where).

After my brief digression and shot at My Man Mitch, the point is that you, meaning me, will be able to stay on top of the moon phases. This should make it much easier when it comes to planting your garden, sailing your yacht, or planning for the embarrassing moment when once a month you notice your canine teeth growing rapidly and male pattern baldness is no longer a problem. If the latter applies to you, I would stay in this evening, by the way.

Tonight there will be a lunar eclipse and since I don't have to work in the morning, I was planning on setting up the telescope and checking it out. Unfortunately, it's supposed to be cloudy and start snowing, which will pretty well take care of that. I bought a telescope a couple of years ago and really haven't gotten around to doing much with it. I need a little more knowledge about what I'm actually looking at. I can pick out the North Star and the Big and Little Dippers but I could do that when I was about six. When I bought the telescope I figured I'd be able to take it with me when I went camping in the little trailer and give me something to do once the sun went down besides swatting mosquitoes and drinking. The problem is most all of my camping the last two years has been by bicycle. I have used it to check out the Space Station and I've learned a few more of the planets and constellations but I want to know some more. It's a big world out there. In fact, it's an infinite world out there, which I'm still trying to get a grip on.

A Quality Shop Of Master Craftsman posted a nice little diatribe about education the other day. This comes from the viewpoint of a craftsman who has a son who is in school. The Wisdom of the Hands also posted a video of how education works in Finland. You might want to check them out. One guy asks the questions, the other guy answers the questions. The only ones not doing anything about it are the ones who have the power to change it. If I get a little more proficient with the telescope, I might be able to find out where the policy makers come from. Some of the stuff they come up with has to come from outer space.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tailstock - Part Two

I got the tailstock welded up this past week. It came out looking pretty sexy with the silver hammertone paint. It's got about an inch of vertical travel and maybe 10 degrees of swing, both left and right. To be honest I never even measured the amount of swing, I just figured it might come in handy sometime. I still have to cut a groove in the rod that runs through the middle and make a screw with a big washer on it that will fit in the groove on the rod. That will allow me to snug the rod up tight in the end of a shaft I'm going to machine. I'm going to try and get that done while I'm on Christmas vacation. I've been knockin' 'em dead when it comes to finishing things lately. I'm going to try and keep that streak going.

I picked up the flex rod and "O" rings for the steam engine. That project is also a priority for the vacation. They still haven't got the painting done in my shop at school so I'm not going to try and tackle anything big in there yet. A school board member came in to see me about it, though. He's a new board member and is trying to make some positive changes. Let's all hope that's the way it turns out. We've got lots of room for improvement.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Paul Revere

I was here a couple of years ago. The North Bridge in Concord, Mass. The birth of a nation right where I was standing.

When I attended the Appleseed shoot, they recommended reading the book Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer. Since my curiosity was aroused and it was in the school library and it didn't violate my self-imposed 500 page limit on any book that I read, I read it. It's a well written account of the events leading up to the famous ride of Paul Revere and the immediate after effects that precipitated the Revolutionary War.

I've been interested in Paul Revere as a craftsman having seen some of his silver work, but was fairly ignorant of his role in bringing about our independence from England. Paul was a major player in the events leading up to April 19, 1775 when the British marched on Concord and Lexington. In addition to his silversmithing, he also was an accomplished engraver. In fact, the Library of Congress traveling exhibit had a copy of one of his engravings in it.

The events leading up to the Revolutionary War seem to be happening to some extent again in this country. The emergence of the Tea Party in the last election had to be prompted by something, right? Depending on your point of view, there are lots of attacks on your personal freedoms going on. People wanting to take away firearms and if they can't do that then outlaw all lead ammunition. Force you to buy health insurance or else. Tax the poor and give to the rich - oh wait, that's Robin Hood. Here we tax the middle class and give it to the poor corporations who are too big to fail. Any way you look at it, there are parallels that can be drawn.

In addition to detailing the events of Revere's ride, the book also sums up what happened to the major players in the story later in life but I need to find another good book to pick up where this one left off. It's a shame that in all the twelve years you spend in public education, so little of that time is spent on history. The founders of our country were true patriots. Their vision and sacrifices should not be forgotten.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow Day

Photo from here:

I had the day off today due to the blowing and drifting snow. Since it rained and froze up good before the snow started, the snow just kept blowing across the driveway for most of the length. The part around the barn and where we park was a different story. I shoveled some drifts that were a couple of feet deep to get the snow away from the vehicles and shoveled about 6"-8" off the sidewalk. The old Allis Chalmers took care of the rest. I started it up about two weeks ago, put a little fresh gas in it and charged the battery up and I ran it a little yesterday. It fired right up this morning and I got everything plowed and shoveled in about 1-1/2 hours. The wind has been blowing, so it'll need another pass tomorrow.

Spent the majority of the rest of the day down the basement. I'm working on a couple of little projects that are mostly an antidote to television. When it's too cold to work in the shop or I don't want to go back to school, I can grab a cup of Joe and head downstairs. As much as I enjoy reading, I still need to be making things. I got an e-mail from my partner on the steam engine project and he's got some parts we've been waiting on. I should be able to get back on that pretty quick. I'm going to try and get a little bit done on the Rickati project this week as well. We've got final exams this week which always leads to a lot of dead time in the schedule. I should be able to accomplish something while waiting for the next final to roll around.

Speaking of accomplishing something, if your looking for a duck or goose call, check out 2 Rivers Calls. I just found out today that my old pal Shawn McDowell and his brother Casey have gone world wide with his duck calls. Shawn used to run the woodshop and was the head football coach when I started my current teaching position about 17 years ago. He was farting around making them and all kinds of other things then and looks like he still is. He's a real good craftsman, especially in the woodshop. I wish he would have stuck around a few more years so I could have gotten some turning lessons from him. I know my way around a metal lathe pretty well but Shawn could have really improved my wood lathe skills. He's a helluva nice guy with a wonderful family. Buy yourself a handmade duck call. If nothing else you can use it for a noise maker on New Year's Eve.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress had a semi-trailer set up at the Merrillville Reference Library this past weekend. I was a little disappointed in what they had inside but if you've got 145 million things, something has to be left at home. The exhibit was primarily an advertisement for the Library of Congress and it was quite effective in that regard. I've already checked out the website and have kicked myself in the ass for not at least going in the building while I was there this summer. The building is remarkable from the outside and from the pictures of the interior I've seen, the interior is even more remarkable.

The Library is also a founding partner in the World Digital Library where you can find cool pictures like Elvis and Tricky Dick Nixon.

The online gift shop has all kinds of things available for purchase. Might be a little too late for Christmas this year but next year I'm going to ask Santa for one of the photographs by Edward Curtis or Arthur Rothstein. An 8x10 photo is $28.00. I'll never be able to afford an original Curtis but I have seen a couple. Shame I wasn't born rich instead of good looking - I'd have myself an art collection.

The Library of Congress has 745 miles of bookshelves in three buildings and as Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Adams on 6/10/1815: "I cannot live without books".

Friday, December 10, 2010


"Pie and Coffee is approximately the third best social interaction a man can hope to have with a woman." I'm not sure what's in second place but I'm not going to argue the point.

In addition to the Hoosier Mama Pie Company, I saw a short blurb in Esquire about The Red Truck Bakery making mince meat pies. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought it looked good. They're sold out of them at $26.00 a piece. If you hit the link, you'll see why. The list of ingredients should be enough for the Missus to make something similar. She made me mince meat pie a few years back with real minced meat. Grandma Miller used to make one every Thanksgiving along with her jam cake but she used the mince meat stuff out of the box. It was still darn good. Must have been the buttery flavor Fluffo in the crust.

And this just in (Wednesday at 5:00) - the Missus made a mince meat and a grape pie for the Christmas get together with her crochet group and there was about half the grape and the whole mince meat pie left over. Yippy - Skippy. Home made pie and I'm taking Friday off. Life is good, but it's always better with pie.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I'm finally getting around to making the tailstock to go with the spacer head for my mill. Enco sells one thats a plain Jane for $164.95 and a fancy adjustable one for $362.29. Both of them are too short for my spacer head however, so I'd have to make a block to put underneath it to raise it up an 1-1/2" anyway. Instead of parting with my "hard earned" dollars to buy one, I'm fabbing my own on company time - the American free enterprise system at it's best, though I must confess I did quite a bit of it last night during Open Shop. I'll need to cut a slit in the top for the pinch bolt at home as soon as the weather warms up a little but everything else I can do at work. I need the tailstock to finish one of my non bloggable projects I'm working on and I could have used one several times in the past for other projects. I want to get all my tooling in order for retirement so I'll be able to tinker on whatever, whenever.

I ordered some bearings and Heim joints for the Rickati project and a couple of pieces for the steam engine that should be in today so I can continue working on them as well. Everything is progressing right smartly.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lookin' Like a Sickle

Starting to look like a bike

Muffler with heat shield


Bike's starting to come together finally. I got the exhaust finished up yesterday. The nut holding the pipe into the cylinder head is kind of rough, though. The nuts were all made from brass with fins ringing the top and unless you had a wrench made for them the standard practice was to tighten them up with a screwdriver and a hammer so you could break the fins off. This one's missing about a third of them so I'll see if I can find a better one. When I worked at the other school we had a CNC mill and I made a couple of them up out of steel. I first turned the OD, built it up with brass, turned and threaded it, then put it in the CNC mill and cut the fins in it. They looked real nice and I machined a wrench up to match the slots and everything. Unfortunately, I didn't save one for myself and I don't have access to a CNC mill anymore. I also don't have a lathe currently that will cut metric threads either so I need to address that issue one of these days soon.

I threw the gear gazer on the engine to see how that looked (that's the shiny thing on top of the motor just under the gas tank.) I made a couple of those up when I had the mill at my disposal and at least I kept one of those for myself. They're really not good for anything other than you can watch the oil splashing around on the bevel gears but they look real cool.

I made up a footpeg mount last weekend to use the original Rickman footpegs and it came out pretty nice but unfortunately, I took one of the pegs off awhile back and now I can't find the darn thing. I made a couple of the aluminum pegs like in the photo a long time back so I think I'll use those and make two new mounts to fit them.

I still need a chain guard, brake stay and some type of piece for the rear brake cable to fit into and, of course, a brake pedal to actuate it. I still need a seat and a couple little brackets but it's moving ahead. I was even eyeballing the Volkswagen the other day. I'd like to hit a couple of licks on that over Christmas vacation. I need to get some rust repair done on the heater channel in order to finish the floor on the one side and I can't do that when the boys are around. Every time I crawl under a vehicle I hear something I can't identify or sounds like mischief and out I come. Oh well, it's not like I never work on my own stuff on company time. Probably wouldn't hurt me to do a little of it on my time.

The construction guys are back in the shop again. I had to move somethings around today so a guy could check out the new heater. Apparently the pulley is the wrong size on the fan and it's running about 50% faster than it's supposed to. It sounds like a jet taking off and it'll damn near knock your hat off in the tool room with the amount of air it puts out. So they'll be back to fix that and they are coming in to paint the trusses they reinforced to hang the platforms on that they didn't hang. The one is right over the top of all the benches and the TIG welder we just moved back about a week ago. I wish they would have kept me in the loop when they were planning all this crap. I would have made a couple of big moves before school was out last year and everything would have been Jake. It is nice and warm in there now though and as Martha says, that's a good thing.

Monday, November 29, 2010


I got the shock mounting studs tacked on the swingarm. I need to move the ones on the frame tube to give me the right length for the shocks so I figured I'd get the bottom ones welded on and then I can get an accurate measurement plus I wanted to make sure the back wheel is going to fit up right. I got a rough measurement on the axle spacers but I really need to make the axle and the adjusters before I can get an exact length. I also need to weld a tab on the swingarm for the brake stay. I'm going to make that out of 1/2" dia. aluminum that gets turned to 3/8" on the ends. One end gets right hand threads, the other left hand. A 3/8" Heim joint on each end, plus I'll machine a flat on it for a wrench so I can adjust the length. Sounds tougher than it is. At the rate I'm going, I might actually have everything ready to send out by the first of the year. That's a big ten - four.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fast Reading

With a big can of this,

Photo from here:

I could build this.

Photo from here:

The holiday dinner and get together got pushed back so I've been catching up on my reading, among other things. I've been reading Kurtis-Kraft by Gordon Eliot White. I've had the book for a couple of years and have looked at the photographs and read all the captions several times but I'm finally getting around to actually reading the thing. It's a real interesting look at Frank Kurtis, the man who defined midget and championship car racing after the war up into the '60's. I've got a couple other books by White and the guy really knows his stuff. His Offenhauser book is a dandy and mine is autographed by Johnny Pawl, who bought out Frank Kurtis' midget business, by the way.

Even though I'm knee deep in projects and the honey-do list has several loooong overdue items on it and I already have two unfinished car projects, I've been thinking about a car build. This one's actually been floating around in the dark recesses of my mind for a long while. It involves a 225 CID Slant-Six and torsion bar suspension - like they used on the old Darts and coincidently on Indy cars. Probably a mistake to read the Kurtis book.

I managed to do a little work on the Rickati swingarm yesterday. I got everything figured out for the shocks, put the swingarm back on the jig and made a couple of pieces. The original Rickman wheel actually fits in the swingarm pretty close to being on center when the chain is lined up. I just need to machine up a couple of spacer bushings and make a brake stay and the rear wheel could be done. I'd still like to have an aluminum rim but I think I'll utilize what I have for now and if everything works as planned, I can always lace up a new rim later. If it doesn't work, I'm not really out anything other than time. I also got a chance to look at the footpeg situation and I'm going to machine up a piece for the side with the kickstarter and see how it works. If all goes well, I'll make the one for the other side.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Mr Fix-It

Lots of progress on things this week even though I only had to work three days. That's reason enough to give thanks. The muffler parts are for the Rickati project. I've got that pretty well wrapped up. After I get the footpegs on the bike I'll figure out what I need for a heat shield and get that on there. The shocks I want are going to take 3-5 weeks to come in. I'm looking for an alternative but I'll probably order them in. I should be able to have pretty much everything else taken care of by the time the shocks come in, so that's not really much of a setback. They are pretty much what I want - a little expensive but a lot less than buying the Greeves in the previous post.

The lathe tool is for the woodshop instructor. The chisels were loose in the handle so we put a little TIG weld on the tangs of four of them to tighten them up. I did the first one and a student finished them up. It was the first time he had TIG welded steel - good starter project. The shelf bracket is for Surly. He needed it a little stronger out on the end than what it was designed for. I also fixed a fondue pot that belongs to the boss's wife. The handles broke, so I got her fixed up. I didn't have any Bakelite in stock, so I made a couple out of oak. Plus, the parts photos were taken on top of one of the five desks the boys and I repaired this week. We also got the bench tops in the welding booths ground down, everything cleaned up real well, did a little maintenance on a couple of the machines and I got the holes in the walls patched that the little hooligans took the slag hammers to. The little hooligans who are no longer in the class, I might add.

The steam engine project is progressing. I need to do a little engineering on the valve assembly before I can do much more. I should be able to order in what I need and start machining that next week, however. I hope the thing works as planned. If not, I'm not sure where to go from here. We'll just have to wait and see on that.

I should be able to get some work done on the 900 pretty soon as well. I've got to work on the circular stair for the new barn one of these days too. It needs one more step added and the railing needs to be straightened out some. That shouldn't be too tough though.

Like always, lots of activity.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I'm heading out today to spectate at the race I usually run on Thanksgiving Day. My chest still won't allow me to run or even walk fast without pain. Regardless, I've got a lot to be thankful for. I've got mostly good health, a job with good benefits, and I'm going to spend the day with loved ones. Not too bad, all things considered. And I can be thankful I don't have a young one between the ages of 17 -24.

According to this article, "75 percent of young Americans, between the ages of 17 to 24, are unable to enlist in the military today because they have failed to graduate from high school, have a criminal record, or are physically unfit." Three out of four of these mopes aren't capable of enlisting! Good Lord, what's happened to us? The article's main focus is on recruiting better teachers rather than recruiting soldiers but you should read the article - it's short, follow the link and read it. H/T to Kevin

Surly has some real good photos posted of the action at the Demotte Boxing Club's last fundraiser. You can check them out HERE. On page 15 there is a real good black and white shot of Bazooka Joe. He's a guy who could have gone into the military and they would have been glad to have him. Tough guy and you could say the same about his opponent, Roberto.

Happy Thanksgiving! Eat some turkey, watch some football and tell the cook thanks for the good food.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Can Cars

I saw an article on Sandy Sanderson in Rod & Kulture magazine while thumbing threw some back issues. The guy makes 1/10 scale car models out of beer and soda cans. They're just phenomenal. If you've got a lot of time on your hands, you can order plans here and build one yourself. Or he'll sell you a completed one. The prices aren't cheap but why should they be? He's also a Technology Teacher according to the article, so you know Shop Teacher Bob has to give him a thumbs up.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Greeves Anglian

While wasting some of my obviously not so precious time on the internet, I came across the Greeves Anglian. These were some of the best trials machines back in the mid-sixties. Imagine my surprise to find they are still being made. I didn't have to build a vintage trials bike, I could have just bought one. They're 6,500 pounds - that would be the monetary amount, not the weight. I don't know what the exchange rate is but even if it's one to one, I can't see me parting with that much money to buy one. I do realize that most people don't have the skills to do what I'm doing with the Rickati project and you can easily experience some serious setbacks to the bank account when you have to start farming most of your work out on one of these old dogs. So maybe the smart money is to just start with a new "old" bike and spend your time riding rather than scouring the countryside for parts and waiting for your turn in line with the local Greeves, Ossa, Bultaco, etc. trials guru to get the thing fixed. Greeves is also selling a new trials bike, if you fancy a new "new" bike. It's pretty interesting to see the two of them side by side on their website.

I started on the muffler for my project and I e-mailed the guy with the shocks. I got the outside of the muffler formed up and need to make the end caps next. Not totally sure how I'm going to baffle it but when I'm done being baffled, it will be. The guy with the shocks said no go on my original specs, their trials shocks don't come in that length. I can make the shorter version work easily enough by moving the top mounts down a little and changing the gussets. I was waiting to weld on the bottom mounts anyway, so no problem there. I e-mailed him back but haven't yet received a reply. I'm hoping to get them ordered next week at the latest. I'll have the long weekend coming up next week due to the holiday, so I'm wanting to spend at least one good day taking my usual shotgun approach towards my projects. Doesn't really matter which one it is as long as I'm seeing some progress on one of them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rickati Progress

The bike's coming together. I got the swingarm tacked together, machined the backing plate and stuck the thing under the bike to see how it looked. It looked good. The static height of the bike is just about perfect - plenty of ground clearance and nice stance. I need to check and see about the length of the shocks before I weld on the bosses for them but I'll get on that pretty much pronto. Now that I know where the shocks are going to be I can finish up the exhaust. I'm thinking just a little short muffler with a right angle bend on the outlet just ahead of the shocks should work and look good. I can also start working on the footpegs and the levers. I'm liking it. It'll be a runner this spring.

They're finally done with the construction in the shop so I can start catching up on some other projects. The shenanigans in my one class has come to a halt, finally. One guy got expelled and three more were removed. The boys underestimated the old man. They didn't realize that in addition to my welding skills, I can run a video camera. That's going to allow me to bring jobs in for the boys to work on again. When you have a class that gives you the opportunity to work on real jobs and get valuable experience, you'd think they would want to protect that. Should be business as usual now.

We got a couple pieces made for the steam engine today. Should be right on schedule to have it running on air by Christmas break. I'm having breakfast with my buddy and Cuzzin Ricky Saturday morning to talk a little steam. We'll see what comes out of that. I need to get Cuzzin Ricky's buggy back in the shop one of these days as well. I'm in the project mode now and I want to make a little hay. I've got lots of jobs to start on and a bunch to be finished but good things are happening now.


Fabbing Up The Swingarm

Layout of Fixture

Rickman Backing Plate
Inside View

Outside View With
Rickman Logo

I'm working on the rear swingarm for the Rickati project. It's pretty straight forward. The fixture is just a flat plate with the layout drawn on it. I drilled and reamed the threads out of a couple of 3/4" nuts and placed one on each side of the pivot tube, shimmed them up a little and then clamped them down to the plate. The axle plates are bolted to a steel spacer to hold the width and alignment. I clamped the parts on both ends down to the layout marks, double checked the alignment and dimensions, then filled in the blanks with the tubing. With something as simple as this one, I don't need any elaborate fixture. I'll just have to watch it when I'm welding it up to keep everything straight.

I'm still weighing my options on the back wheel. The Rickman wheel needs a little TLC and to make the sprocket line up, the hub will have to be relaced a with a little offset in it. That means I might as well spring for an aluminum rim and new spokes. Plus the wheel has the brake and sprocket on the same side which means the sprocket has to have a large hole to fit over the hub. It has a 56 tooth on it now and I could probably get away with a 50 tooth but no smaller. I would also have to machine up a sprocket to fit it. I checked my go-kart parts catalog and they have 40 series sprockets I could make work but I'm not sure what kind of gearing I need. I'm checking in to that.

The bottom two photos show the backing plate fitted with a quickie mandrel I made up to machine the inside boss square. The surface was screwed up so I TIG welded a little material on it. I'll chuck that in the lathe and it'll be good as new. The back wheel is going to be both a little work and a little money if I use the Rickman but I like the look of those style of hubs, plus the Rickman logo on the backing plate looks cool. Even if I can't resolve the issues with this wheel, I made the swingarm the same dimensions as a stock Ducati arm, so I'll have room to throw something else in there if need be.

Monday, November 15, 2010


HD Sprint

A couple of posts back I talked about my HD Sprint. Here's a real nice looking one. Mine was a '67 "H" model and had the same type of tank. The '67 & '68 engines had a finned cover over the valves and rockers so this one is probably a year or so older. Different seat as well, of course.

I need a job building this kind of stuff. Or I just need health insurance and then I can fix up my shop, walk out the back door and keep pounding sheets of aluminum until I can build this kind of stuff. What was it Surly posted not too long ago? Devote 10,000 hours to your craft. I better get after it if I want to master it by the time I'm 70.

Honda Bicycle?

This is the kind of crazy stuff everyone should make at least once in their life. When guys my age were little they would make push cars and coasters - whatever they could put together that had wheels under it. When you got older and developed a little skill, you made other things. This looks like one of those things. Put something together that's just plain fun. That's the real hot rod spirit right there. You can buy the Chinese knock-off version of the Honda 50/70 pretty cheap. If Surly wasn't so busy, I'd like to pair up with him and build us a little Bonneville racer with one of them.

All photos taken from here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Issues #2

The steam engine is progressing nicely and I've been able to do all the machining at school on the lathe I picked up last year. The lathe has some issues that need to be dealt with but that will happen.

I changed the color for the links that were embedded in the text. I didn't have any trouble seeing them when I was writing things up but after they were posted they were easy to miss. So there's another issue dealt with.

I had to stay home from the gym's fundraising show due to another attack of whateveritisIgotitis but the Missus managed to get the Dr. on the hotline and phone in the order for the big guns. Last time I had this, I could actually feel myself getting better after taking the first pill. Hopefully this issue is dealt with.

I tried walking the other day to see if I could make the Thanksgiving Day 5k but had to throw in the towel on that one. Even walking briskly - not racewalking, mind you - had my chest hurting after about a 1/4 mile. However, I built the Missus a recumbent bike a couple of years ago and I might just be able to ride that puppy without the chest pain. Even if I can't run or race walk, if I can get out on a bike and get a little taste of the beautiful weather we've been having, I know my spirits will improve. As soon as the big pill kicks in, I'm going to give it a try. It might not be the complete solution but if I can do something while my chest is healing up, issue solved.

The heat is hooked up and running in the shop at school finally. That means I'll be able to bring something into the shop to work on and put all the work benches back in place. That probably has been the biggest issue I've been dealing with for the last six months.


Seems like ever since coming home from the bicycle trip, I've been dealing with some kind of issue or another. First I come down with some kind of strange disease, then I screw up my chest muscles and now I've got some kind of kidney infection. All I want to do is be left alone and do some running and cycling and I'll be happy. Really. That's about all it takes to keep me happy because everything else seems like it's always pretty good. Good marriage - we have a cross word every five years or so, just enough to keep us on our toes but really a good marriage - good family, good friends. The job sure isn't what it used to be or could be, but the insurance is great and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm healthy enough to tinker on my projects and I still go to the gym and get a little workout but I just like cycling and running especially in the Fall. So compared to a lot of people, I'm pretty well blessed. No doubt about it.

So that's the set-up for this: Matt Long, firefighter, Ironman, businessman. Gets run over by a bus. Writes a book. I read the book. I feel like such a pansy ass to even think about complaining.

Read it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Thanks to all who have served.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I don't usually get too actively involved in politics. I try to make informed decisions when it's time to vote and I always vote, as we all should have, a week ago. My politics tend to be along the lines of let's follow the example of the framers of the Constitution and the Tenth Amendment. Going along with that, I received the Hillsdale College Imprimis today and the featured article is The Presidency and the Constitution by Mike Pence, U. S. Representative from Indiana's 6th Congressional District. If you have a few minutes, I urge you to read it regardless of your politics.

You can also check out the Imprimis archives and if you are interested, sign up for a free subscription.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Aermacchi Racer

H-D Sprint/Aermacchi road racer.

Whenever airplane factories start making motorcycles, you can expect to see some pretty nice machinery - Aermacchi, Moto Guzzi - or maybe it's just an Italian thing. For a little pushrod single, these things were competitive for quite a while and affordable. A lot of big name racers competed on the Sprints in this country, both on dirt and pavement. Cal Rayborn, Bart Markel, Mert Lawwill, George Roeder - Roeder even set a land speed record with a 250cc streamliner of 176 mph, if memory serves. Bronson even rode one when the off road going got too rough for his Sportster in the old TV show. They'd show him doing some big jump and if you looked close you could see it was a Sprint that was painted to match his Sporty. I bought one April 1st, 1968. It was my pride and joy. I liked to froze to death riding it home but I wasn't going to let 30 degree temperatures stand between me and my new motorcycle. I had it almost one year exactly until some SOB stole it. Probably changed the whole course of my life. Oh well, one door closes and another door opens.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Motorbikes and Steam Engines

Cylinder and connecting
rod for steam engine.

Honda Superhawk

'65 Monza

I got a few more things machined up for the steam engine project. The cylinders need the intake pipes, pistons and "U" bolts to hold the guides in place but that should be done next week. I need to make a trip to the hardware store but I'm not sure what I need exactly. The plans are a little unclear. The included photos in the plans are from a couple of different engines so the detail shots don't necessarily jibe with the assembly shot. I'll get it figured out and then it will be on to the valve mechanism. That looks to be the only real machining challenge. It starts with a 4 way 3/8" pipe junction and then has the center bored out and bushed with a stainless bar in the center with some reliefs cut in it to divert the steam from one cylinder to the next. I'm sure you have a hard time visualizing that but I'll post photos as it happens. First I have to find one. I don't recall ever seeing a brass 4 way at the hardware store in that size. I'll probably have to see the guy I got the copper cylinders from. I'm building him a speed bag platform, so we're swapping a little parts for labor deal. I'll have him throw in the 4 way and we'll both be happy.

The Superhawk photo is the one I welded up the sidecover for the other night for my buddy Bob and the Ducati Monza is another bike he's just finished. He does nice work, yes? Both bikes are from about the same year and it's interesting to see the differences in design. Lots of rounded shapes with the Italians and lots of straight lines with the Japanese. Single cylinder versus twin. However, a few years later, Laverda produced a bike that looked like the Superhawk on steroids and Ducati was pretty much out of business just like the British motorcycle industry. "You meet the nicest people on a Honda" was the old marketing slogan. True, only if you weren't trying to compete against them.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Steam Engine's Under Way

Got started on the steam engine. Lots of machine work to be done but nothing very difficult. Lots of lathe work - drilling and threading mostly. The two copper cups are going to be the cylinders, the rods with the nuts on one end are the connecting rods which will fasten to the piece in between them in the photo. I ordered up some rod ends today to connect them together plus a couple of other little things we'll need. I want to start machining the pistons this week and the guides that the connecting rods run through. The engine was conceived by a guy who is obviously not a machinist nor a draftsman but there are plenty of photos of the individual parts. I'm changing a few things as I go to correct a couple of obvious points that may cause trouble during operation . I want to have this baby running on compressed air by Christmas break. Looks to be doable.

I welded up a couple little items for my cousin and scoped out his Harley frame. He's finally getting around to putting his sidecar rig together and the frame is going to need some work before going much farther on the project. That's where I'll come in. You'll be able to follow along at his blog A Quality Shop of Master Craftsmen. The link is on the left. I also welded up a hole in a sidecover for an old Honda Superhawk for a buddy of mine. The welding was pretty much a snap for both guy's projects and had a nice visit. Nice way to work, actually.

My buddy brought the shifter piece for the Rickati project I needed so I can figure out where to put my foot pegs. The swing arm tubing should be in today or tomorrow and I've already got the axle plates machined. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about a back wheel yet. The original Rickman wheel has some issues and it's got a small 15mm axle, most 250's run at least a 17mm. I need to make a decision real soon. I'd like to find a drum brake wheel with an aluminum rim and just be done with it. That would be easier than fixing the Rickman wheel and lacing up a new wheel - cheaper too. I'll come up with something.

Monday, November 1, 2010


The trusses for the barn arrived this week. We went with trusses for two reasons - it's a lot easier to get a decent job on a gambrel roof when they're jig built by pro's as opposed to high school kids trying to put rafters together, and they are going to be hell for strong. I'll have a clear space roughly 16' wide by 32' long with an 8' ceiling height. The bottom chord is a 2"x10" and I'm planning on 3/4" plywood flooring, so I'll have a real nice upstairs that will support my woodworking tools and it will be easy to drywall if I so desire. I'm not sure when they're scheduled to be set. He must be planning on getting them put up pretty soon or he wouldn't have ordered them.

I've got today off for Fall Break. The weather's supposed to be nice so I can finish up my last little painting job and get the one last storm window up. I did the last mowing of the year Saturday and did my running around Sunday. Hit all the big spots - Harbor Freight and Menard's. Stopped for a late lunch at the Longhorn Steakhouse with the Missus - Thanks Dave. The food was great. Came home, did a couple of quick chores and promptly fell asleep in the big chair. There's a lot to be said for a good nap.

The tubing for the Rickati project should be here this week and we're starting to machine up some parts for the steam engine. I wan't to see that running on compressed air by the end of the year. Looks like I'm not going to Brazil for Jimmy's fight. That's a pisser. He's going to be fighting locally in December instead. We've got a guy fighting next Wednesday and we're putting on a show in-house the twelfth of this month followed up by the Silver Gloves in December. As always, never a dull moment.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Motorcycle Parts

I got the brackets welded onto the Rickati tank yesterday and I welded on a couple of bosses for a heat shield on the 900 exhaust pipe. In the photo there's also a couple of shock mounts I got machined up for the Rickati as well. Things are coming together on the project front again. I e-mailed the guy I buy my chrome-moly tubing from to get a price quote for the swing arm tubing and another piece I need for another project the other day. He's got the swing arm tube in stock but didn't have the other piece I was looking for. After a couple of e-mails back and forth he said he could get me a chunk within a couple of days. I was going to call him yesterday and place the order but I left my phone at home on the charger, so I'm planning on calling him today and get that going.

I changed the saying at the top of the page right under the Shop Teacher Bob header. I got the quote out of a pamphlet put out by the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers about their apprenticeship training program. That Ben Franklin was one wise man. The insulators were working in the shop and I told them to get me a little info and I would tell my students about another trade option open to them. I'm sure none of them know about the insulating trade. There are lots of skilled trades out there and they've never heard of most of them or the great opportunities they afford to a young man or woman.

The construction is just about finished up in my shop, finally. The electrician was running some conduit yesterday to hook up a roof vent that is tied into the heating system. As soon as the actuator for the vent is connected up they should be done in there. We had to move some work benches and the TIG welder to give him access for his scissor lift again, so hopefully they'll hook up the actuator in the next couple of days so we'll be done moving all the furniture around. Plus I'll be able to quit worrying about one of the knuckleheads walking underneath the lift and getting something dropped on their heads. Sometimes I wonder what it will take to get those guys to wake up. It seems like you have to retrain them every day - sometimes just the lunch break is enough to make them forget.

I got a couple of pieces made for the log splitter during Open Shop last night. I wanted to have that a little farther along by now but with the contractors coming in and some shenanigans going on in the shop I had to bird dog, that project slowed to a crawl. I think the problem with the students has been resolved and, as I mentioned, the contractors are about finished, so I should be off and running on the log splitter and bike projects real soon. With the cold weather and short days fast approaching, I'm going to go into hunker down mode pretty soon. I need at least one more good day to finish some outside work around the shack and I should be pretty well tightened up for winter.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Moto Guzzi

That's what a motorcycle should look like.