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.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Appleseed Shoot

Surly and I attended an Appleseed shoot over the weekend. The Appleseed Project combines Revolutionary War history and rifle marksmanship training. Kind of an odd combination but the extremely short version of the Revolutionary War Veterans Association is that our country's founders decided to break free from the tyranny of English rule and the ensuing War of Independence required good marksmen. Their mission is to remember the sacrifices of our founders and to teach the average citizen to be a decent rifleman.

I was at the bridge where the "shot heard round the world" was fired a couple of years ago and got a chance to see the statue of the Minute Man. At that time I figured I could use some brushing up on my American history and since I would like to be able to call myself a rifleman, why not give it a go. I did have some reservations about the whole affair, however. I didn't want to show up at some deal where it was a bunch of militia types or some similar group of nut jobs. I'm not good with any group that seems to be at all fanatical whether it's guns, trains, cars, or needlework.

It turns out that everyone there were real nice people. The folks running the show were helpful and very knowledgeable with their history and the marksmanship techniques. Firearm safety was stressed and the show was run smoothly. I went through almost 500 rounds of .22lr over the course of the two days, so you'll get lots of shooting if you attend one. The participants seemed to be a bunch of "Regular Joes". Several people brought their kids and I met some nice folks. The meets are relatively cheap to attend. Not much to sign up and if you shoot a .22, not much for ammo.

As for the shooting, I didn't realize to qualify for Rifleman, you had to shoot a timed test. The bolt action rifle I started with is a little bit of a handicap. If you were a real good shooter, you could do it, in fact, a guy did. He was a real good shooter. I switched over to a semi-auto later on Sunday. I had a few equipment issues and a few duds but the real handicap was me. I'm a little too shaky still. I think if I practice a little, adjust a few things with the equipment and with the training I received, I should be able to qualify with both guns in the future. Surly fell just short of qualifying with a score of 200 and you need 210. So he's right there. If the wind hadn't have been blowing so hard, he might have made it this time. Now we both know what to expect and if we do it again, we should have a couple of Riflemen in the family.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Alternative Power Initiative

My buddy, whose going to partner up with me on the Alternative Power Initiative build, received the plans for the steam engine. He's coming down this evening for a planning session - when we talk motorcycle stuff we call it talking squish band. I'll have to come up with some steamy kind of name for these sessions. If I can't think of anything catchy, we can always fall back on the old standard of a scratch and spit session, I suppose.

So the deal is, were planning on building a steam powered vehicle, either three or four wheeled depending on the size of the boiler and the steam engine. I'm a big fan of steam anything, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what we can come up with. I've got some students who want to come on board with the project so we're going to run it under the school name. I've already run the idea past the boss, so he's on board with the thing. I need to write up a little description of what we have in mind and what it's for but that's no biggie. The biggest thing will be the time factor as we move into the unknown. Who knows what we're going to run up against building this thing. I'm figuring some good old Yankee ingenuity and hard work should put us in the running, though.

Stay tuned, as construction should begin soon.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I wish I had the talent to make an aluminum body like this!

I stumbled across a pretty cool photoblog the other night while wasting some time on the computer. It's got a rather interesting mix of motorcycles, cars, architecture, just plain cool photos of a variety of things, including some scantily attired young women, so I wouldn't recommend checking this one out at work. The photos of the cars and bikes are a nice selection of cafe racers, one-offs, sports cars and hot rods. I went back through a few of the pages and it looks like it's updated on a regular basis.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Busy in a Good Way

Allen Wrench

Outboard Motor Throttle Handle

Auditorium Seat

Log Splitter

I've been keeping real busy at school these last few days. The maintenance guys needed a real long metric Allen wrench, so I made them one with a tee handle that's about 15" long. I bored a hole in a piece of 3/8" round stock and slipped the Allen wrench inside after cutting off the short end. It's held in place with a couple of 6-32 set screws so they can replace it later on if it wears out.

A student brought in an outboard motor to fix. The throttle handle is broken and somebody gobbed it up with an aluminum MIG once before with no effort made to straighten the thing out first. He couldn't get in to weld much of it, which in retrospect, is probably a good thing - not much to grind off that way. I'm going to try and get to that today if I can.

The seat with the broken ears is from the auditorium. We've run quite a few of these through the shop. Not too tough a fix. Grind a weld groove in one side, clamp them on straight, then tack them on real well. Turn the piece over, grind a weld groove, weld that side up, flip it over and finish the other side. I've got some really good cast iron welding rod that makes it pretty easy to do.

The bicycle guys showed up during Open Shop Tuesday night. They had a little engineering error and didn't have quite enough clearance on the chainstay for the sprocket. They took a little slice off the tube and I welded in a plate to cover the hole and get the strength back.

I started back to work on the log splitter this week as well. We had most of the pieces made up last year but it didn't get finished. I had planned on finishing it up over the summer but since I couldn't get in the shop, I'm working on it now. I should have most of the remaining pieces fabbed up by the end of next week unless something else comes in that's more pressing. And as I write this, one of the contractors just came in to use the sheet metal brake and pick up the caster I fixed for his toolbox Wednesday. Always lots to do and a huge variety of jobs.

At the beginning of the school year the students don't have the skills yet to do a lot of the work that comes in, so that leaves yours truly to do most of the work. I don't mind doing it and it's good for the boys to see the variety of things that can be done if you have some welding skills. As their skills develop, they start doing the work and get the experience. I started a couple of guys on the TIG welder yesterday, so I'll have a couple of guys who can do some aluminum welding pretty soon.

I got an e-mail from the Big Cheese with the Alternative Transportation Initiative this week. He was wondering why I hadn't filled out the application yet and if I was still planning on competing. Another high school has already come on board and he thinks it would be good for us to square off with one another. I'm always up for a challenge and my buddy has already ordered the plans for the steam engine so I need to fill out the application and make it official. You read that right - steam engine.

When the log splitter is finished up the only thing in house will be my projects (I'm sure that won't last), so I can devote some time to finishing up the Rickati and working on the steam engine. The 900 Kaw needs to get done this winter and I need to hit at least a couple of licks on the VW as well. I quit worrying about what goes on at the school. It doesn't look like anything is going to change here for a while, so I'll just be Mr. Project Man and enjoy myself as much as possible. I really enjoy building things, so that's what I'm going to do.

I went to another doctor Wednesday after school and I think he figured out what the trouble is with my chest. It's going to take a little while yet to get back to 100%, but I'm going to shoot for the 10K run on Thanksgiving day. I might have to walk some but I'm looking forward to getting out running and back on the bike. Just my luck all the knuckleheads in the county will be burning their leaves for the next month. The idiot across from the school has already started burning his. That's a boy who needs a different hobby or a mulching mower and maybe a compost pile.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tandem's Done

Rear Triangle on Jig

Rear Triangle

Finished Frame

I finished welding up the tandem bicycle frame this morning. I would have had it done yesterday but they forgot to send the little bosses for the bottle cages with the frame. They're putting four cages on the frame so I needed eight bosses. I had three leftover from a bike I made in the past and they had one stuck in the frame so I welded the last four while the guy waited.

The frame is really nice. It can't weigh more than 5-6 pounds. The welds look OK - if I had been in on the project a little earlier we could have used smaller filler as I noted in the previous post and I would have gotten some smaller collets and tungstens for the TIG torch. If I was going to do this on a regular basis, I'd buy a smaller torch. They make a couple of real tiny ones for just this type of work. They're only good for about 100 amps but on jobs like this one, I probably never used more than 50. Mine is just too clumsy for real fine work where you have to travel rapidly while constantly changing direction.

He's going to bring it by after it's all put together so I can see the finished product. I'll post a couple of photos then.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Tandem Job

The tandem bicycle job came through and it's a rush job, of course. It wouldn't have been so bad if I could have started on it last week but I was Kentucky bound. I also had to get the gym van back together Monday after school so the electricians could get in to hook up the furnace. Tuesday evening we put a little boxing demonstration on as part of the local Police Night Out. The turnout was a little thin but we had a good time and got a little publicity for the gym.

So, back to the bicycle job. The customer brought the bits and pieces in Monday after he got off work. He had the rear triangle (seat tube, bottom bracket, chainstays, seatstays, dropouts) jigged up already and all the pieces were coped and ready for welding. The guy did a beautiful job of prepping the parts and he has a first class fixture for holding everything. I got everything I could welded up Tuesday and he came Wednesday afternoon to fixture up the front section section (steer tube, top tube, down tube, seat tube, bottom bracket). I got the parts tacked together so they wouldn't move and he took the whole works with him, fixture and all, so he could connect the front and rear sections. He brought everything back to school later that evening and I got most everything welded up yesterday. He picked the frame up after work and he's going to have it dropped off this morning so I can finish putting a couple of gussets and cable brackets and then he picks it up Saturday morning.

It looks pretty good so far. Even though I'm TIG welding it, the welding is tough. The tubing is paper thin. He brought the filler rod to use and even though it's only .045" dia., it's still twice as thick as the tubing. You can only cut the amperage so much and still have enough to melt the filler rod. All you have to do is breathe wrong and you've got a hole. It's just a good thing everything fit as well as it did. There's no way you're going to bridge any big gaps and not have it look like crap. I'm glad I welded the big ass stainless bowl the other day. It was a good tune-up for this job. It's hard to stay sharp unless you practice and I don't get much of this type of practice.

I'll post some photos when I get it done.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Train Weekend

My Old Kentucky
Dinner Train

The Abbey of Gethsemani

Monon BL2 at
Ky Railway Museum

Small Whiskey Still at
Oscar Getz Musuem

Everything is Old
Kentucky Something
or Other

Cuzzin Ricky and I headed South Friday morning for the great Commonwealth of Kentucky to attend the Monon Railroad Historical Technical Society Annual Convention. After breezing into Bardstown that afternoon we stopped for a cup of coffee and a piece of pie at Pat's Place. No luck on the pie but they did have cake. Pretty darn tasty cake at that. We also had dinner there later on that evening - great Beef Manhattan and they had pie with dinner.

After we got checked into the motel we went to the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. Lots of distillation history here. I guess that would be only fitting since Bardstown is the bourbon capitol of the universe. I didn't check the itinerary of the Monon group prior to leaving or I would have seen that they were going on a tour of one the distillers. I've been on a few of these before, but I wouldn't have minded going through another one, especially one I hadn't gone to before. As it was, the museum covered not only whiskey distillation and all things thereof, it also covered local Bardstown history as well. Not a bad trade-off.

Saturday morning we headed south to New Haven to the Kentucky Railway Museum. It was a beautiful day for a train ride through the countryside of Kentucky. The train was pushed along by an old steam locomotive and heading the train was the ex Monon BL2. They didn't make too many Bl2s in the first place and the one here is one of only seven left. When I worked for Uncle Pete at the weld shop in South Hammond, I used to see these all the time. It never occurred to me to take pictures of all that stuff while I was there. The Monon was taken over by the L&N just a couple of years later. I could have had a lot of great photos or probably more like it, a lot of crappy ones taken with a little Kodak Instamatic. Regardless, the train ride was a lot of fun and you can't beat the sound of a steam whistle blowing for a crossing.

Saturday afternoon we road the Old Kentucky Dinner Train. The Missus and I took the dinner train a couple of years back. The service and food was great then and still is now. The ride is a relaxing two hours of eating, conversation and sightseeing. The dining car we were in was top shelf all the way. If I win the lottery and have millions at my disposal, I think I might get me a car like this to travel around on.

In between the two train rides, we took a little side trip to the Abbey of Gethsemani which was the former home of Trappist Monk Thomas Merton. We didn't have much time to look around but it was kind of a bonus, just the same. I didn't realize it was as close to the Railway Museum as it was, of course after giving Ricky a couple of wrong directions, it was a little farther away than it should have been. I've read some of Merton's writings and it was nice to experience a place where the people don't talk. The world could use a little more of that. The monks support the Abbey with the sale of cheese, fruitcake and a few other things made there. I bought myself a little fruitcake - made with real Kentucky bourbon, of course. Fruitcake really has an undeserved bad reputation. Real fruitcake is worth searching out. I haven't tapped into mine yet but I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday morning we checked out the swap meet and headed for home. We made a stop in Linden to check out a boxcar belonging to the Monon Society that's in need of some repair. Something else for me to fix and might make for an interesting blog post some time. There's a little bit of personal history involved.

And a good time was had by all!