Friday, December 30, 2011

Year in Review

Siding's progressing better than I anticipated

New door all painted up
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Well, not really. Other than the barn crashing down, it was a pretty damn good year. I managed to take the trip of a lifetime when I went to Italy, health is good enough that I can work on the barn, I've got a job, friends and family. All things considered, doing A-Okay.
The barn obviously has taken up a lot of my time and kept me from getting other things done, but I almost made my goal of reading 50 books. I've got 47 - maybe 48- by midnight. Total pages a little over 12,000. That  plus a daily newspaper and a host of magazines adds up to a whole lot of reading. The book list was mostly fiction stuff. I read a dozen by Robert Parker, a couple of John Grisham and a couple classics like The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. I also skimmed a few woodworking and technical books but didn't add them to the list. So even if I didn't get a lot done, I'm a well read slug anyway.

So the year was full of projects, I'm another year older and closing in on retirement. What's on the agenda for 2012, you ask? Probably more of the same. It's about all I know. Try to get a few more things done, as in finished. I've got quite a few projects I'd like to start but I'm going to try and exercise a little willpower and put them off. The official list of big projects looks like this, however:

Finish the barn
Finish the Rickati
Finish the Kaw 900
Finish the boat

Everything else will be by fits and starts, whatever interests me and whatever I can't postpone. The only resolutions I'm making: drink more water and not eat so much junk in the evenings. It's not that I couldn't come up with a few more or, perhaps, more important ones, but might as well be realistic. I'll close out the year with a quote from book 48 on the list, Stuntman by Hall Needham. Seems custom tailored for a guy like me.
When a job is once begun,
Never leave it 'til it's done.
Be it great
or be it small,
Do it well
Or not at all.
Wishing you all the best for the New Year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

"Gimme a Brake"

Pile O' Trim

Sheet metal brake, that is.

I got quite a bit of the barn trim bent up today. The weather was breezy but warm - close to 50 this afternoon. Great day to be out working. I got all the pieces made to cover the fly rafters and I made a couple of pieces to trim out the big doors. I used up the 50' roll and since it said not to use the aluminum over the top of treated lumber, it seemed like a good time to quit. The headers over the doors aren't treated so I got those both made and installed. Not sure about covering the treated stuff now, though. The sides of the big door openings have treated lumber to keep them from rotting where they come in contact with the block and floor. I'll check with one of my "sources" and see what they recommend. Other than the man door, I'm hoping I won't have anything to paint once this job is done. Speaking of which, I've got the door primed and one side painted with the top coat. I'll get the other side painted tomorrow and weld the hinge pins in and it'll be ready to hang back up.

Talking decent temperatures again tomorrow but some rain coming in tonight.  Supposed to by windy after that. Not really conducive to hanging sheet metal but I'll just take it a day at a time and what gets done, gets done. I've got a couple of other jobs I want to get a little progress on while I'm off, so I might work on one of those if the wind prevents me from hanging sheeting. I've got a machining job I've been wanting to tackle for quite a while. I got it all set up in the mill - just need to get after it.

I've also got rolls of film that need to be developed. I haven't done any darkroom work in a while. It'd be nice to have a chance to get a little bit of that taken care of too. The Missus came across a couple of old negatives she wants prints made from plus I've got a couple of my own I want to print up. Maybe more, depending on how the rolls of film turn out.

Probably should make my list of resolutions for next year. Should be pretty simple - finish the barn, don't start anything else, finish what you do have started. 'Bout the same as last year, except for the barn. Actually was doing pretty good until the barn blew down. Nothing big got finished but if you read this thing on a regular basis, you know I haven't been napping all year. Maybe the next post I'll do the year in review or make my predictions for 2012.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Wish I Would A"

Hope everyone had a nice Christmas. Can't really complain about mine. A few nice gifts, family at the shack and pecan pie. How you going to complain about that?

Went out to tackle the sheeting on the barn yesterday. Wish I would have given it a little more thought while it was on the ground. I want as little painting to do as possible on the finished product, especially the stuff up high. I could have covered the fly rafters and installed the trim and just had to work off a step ladder. I've made a serious mistake here. Going to be much more difficult than I planned. I farted around and stared at it awhile yesterday morning and then threw in the towel. I'm going with plan B now - actually should be a little easier than what I originally planned and look nicer to boot.

I got the man door installed the other day. I got the hinges mortised and the lockset all taken care of. I wanted to get it fit up in the hole before priming and painting. I figured I'd have to do a little trimming but a couple of swipes with the plane and she fits like a glove. After lunch yesterday I hauled it back to school and primed one side. I'll get the other side primed today and work on the folding wall table a little bit as well. I'd like to get both of those done as well as the sheeting done while I'm vacation. The weather's supposed to be a little crappy this morning - snowing right now - so it'll be a good day for working in the shop and running some errands. Supposed to have some rain at the end of the week as well - maybe start on the trolley beam then. I need to get the big pipe/spreader bar out of the way and tidy up in front a little more before everything is covered with snow and frozen to the ground.

I did park both vehicles in the barn last night. There's progress at least.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Boys and Their Toys

Beam Bracket

Pool Platform

Barn Door



Busy week but the right kind of busy - always lots of dead time in between final exams. I managed to get the bracket made for hanging the trolley beam in the barn and got the barn door assembled. The bracket is made from leftover parts of the lifting cradle which explains the splice you can see about three inches from the one end. I need to fit the lock set and the hinges to the door and then I can get it primed, painted and installed. Once I get it hung up I'll saw the two halves apart. Hopefully, I can get that done sometime in the next week or so.

Yesterday the maintenance guys brought in a platform the swimmers use to jump into the pool. The nut in the bottom piece had stripped so the thing wouldn't tighten up in the base. It's made out of stainless steel so I had to use the air carbon arc torch to cut the plate out of the bottom tube and then cut the stripped nut off the plate. After grinding things up a bit, I welded the nut back to the plate and the plate back inside the tube. I put some anti-seize on the threads and there it was. Nothing too tricky as long as you know how to use the Arc-Air and weld stainless. Not the kind of thing the superintendent of schools would normally do. Maybe that's why the lady laughed out loud when I asked for an application for the job yesterday.

Even when she realized I wasn't kidding she was still chuckling. By that time everyone else in the office was laughing too, though. It's good to be able to bring a smile to someone's face. Glad I could help. I did see on the application that I have to include a copy of my superintendent's license or a letter of eligibility. Since I don't have a license, I need to contact the Dept. of Ed. and see what's involved. Since they changed the requirements for the job, I'm not sure what the eligibility requirements will be but a regular license is no longer required, that much I do know. This could be the end of my quest to get an interview. But even if that's the way it works out, at least I made the secretary's day.

The truck and the uke are the grandson's Christmas presents. Both are done and the paint's dry. I know nothing about tuning a ukelele but it doesn't sound too bad even out of tune. I might have to sand the bridge for the strings down a little. The strings are a little high off the frets toward the body. We didn't check the electrics but I'm hoping they work - not that he'll need to make it any louder to irritate Mom and Dad.

We're pretty much set for Christmas here - we meaning me. We've got Surly and his family coming on Christmas day which means the Missus will be real busy cooking and I'll be in charge of eating cookies and fetching and cleaning for her. Pretty good work, actually. The house will be filled with great aromas, the food will be great  and I'll spend a little quality time with the Old Girl. Since our parents have passed away, and the families have scattered to the four winds, Christmas is much more relaxed. I miss the people but I don't miss the hustle and bustle that always accompanied it. Seems like it allows you to better remember what this time of the year is all about.

Best wishes to all of you on this Christmas. "May all your days be merry and bright."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ducati Racer

Saw this the other day at Vespamore. It's a blog and photo site for Vespa scooters and photography mostly, but not exclusively, obviously (there's a sentence that'll make an English teacher cringe). This was one of the best Ducati offered back in the 70's. Desmo 750 with the clear stripe in the fiberglass tank to check fuel level while on the race course. This one looks to have been autographed by Paul Smart. Smart won the Imola 200 with just such a machine - maybe this one, didn't really give any details on the blog. If I ever get caught up, which is highly unlikely, I'm going to start hitting the motorcycle work pretty hard.

Didn't get much accomplished this past week. I managed to come down with a pretty good dose of the stomach flu early in the week. Hard to get any work done when you can't be more than about ten seconds away from a bathroom. I did manage to get some work done on the barn this weekend. I was supposed to go to Canada with Jimmy but the other fighter came down sick. I hung some more OSB inside, did some prep work for the beam I'm going to put in to lift things like my welder in and out of the truck. I also got some scaffolding put up to start on the remaining siding. It looks like that's going to be slow going. All the sheets will have to be cut at an angle, some on two different angles, and most of them will have to have some notches in them for the pieces that hold the fly rafters on. It's going to require some help and a thousand trips up and down the scaffold. It'll be a lot easier now that's it cold and snowy, though.

I've got final exams this week. Review Monday and exams, Tuesday - Thursday with Friday off. I need to put the finishing touches on the Christmas presents for the grandsons but I've got until Sunday - paint should be dry. I hope! There's usually lots of free time in between finals since they drag them out over three days. I hope to get the service door for the barn put together this week as well. Maybe even get a coat of paint on it. I'd like to hang it over the break.

Have a good week.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Not Now Cato"

Thursday was Bill of Rights day and, coincidentally, the day I watched the Green Hornet on TV. The movie was basically a turd but Cato was the builder of some cool stuff and they used a Dillon/Henrob torch to cut the head off a statue, for whatever that's worth. I'd like to try one of those torches. They're supposed to be the ticket for gas welding thin stuff/aluminum. With the advent of cheap MIG welders, not too many people gas weld anymore but there are certain things where gas welding is better than MIG or TIG. I usually gas weld the exhaust pipes on motorcycles. Unlike MIG welding, you can add just the right amount of filler metal to get things put together without a lot of build-up to grind off later. TIG will give you the same benefit but TIG doesn't give you the annealing effect that gas welding does. The tacks will stretch more with gas welding if you have to fine tune the shape and if you run the pipes long enough, there's less chance of a stress crack forming.

What you ask does this have to do with Bill of Rights day? Not really a damn thing other than the full page ad published in the Wall Street Journal by the CATO Institute that I saw while watching Cato in the movie. The ad lists the ten amendments to the Constitution making up the Bill of Rights, describing them and how they have been subverted from the original intent of the framers of the Constitution. For example:

"THE FOURTH AMENDMENT says that people have the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. Government officials, however, insist they can conduct commando style raids on our homes and treat airline travelers like prison inmates by conducting virtual strip searches."

And this is the one that bothers me the most:

"THE TENTH AMENDMENT says that the powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states, or to the people. Government officials, however, insist that they will decide for themselves what powers they possess, and have extended federal control over health care, crime, education, and other matters the Constitution reserves to the states and the people."

The farther away the forces of government are, the less responsive they are. You can go to a city council meeting or a local school board meeting and your voice will be heard. It's not easy being heard at the state level and nigh on impossible at the federal level. Our country is in some very serious financial trouble right now and the government keeps spending more and more money that they don't have. Ultimately, somebody will have to pay the piper. And that will be you and I, or more likely, our children and grandchildren. And it will probably be ugly when it happens. If the politicians would have adhered to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights a little more closely, we wouldn't be in this fix.

With my Libertarian leaning politics, it seems to me we'd all be a whole lot better off with less government in our lives. More government hasn't been working out real well. It's pretty obvious these days that the knuckleheads in Washington can't set their politics aside long enough to do what's right by the country. Might be worth your time and your money to check out the CATO  Institute.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Drag Bike

Here's the old drag bike. I built this in the late 70's when US 30 Dragstrip was still running strong. I used to do a lot of welding work for a guy who sold bike parts and swapped my labor for most of the components. It had a lot of good stuff on it - Ceriani forks, Grimeca brakes, Kosman rear wheel. The frame is all 4130 tubing patterned from a Kosman frame. The motor was a stock 900 Kawasaki but I ran 11:70's first day out. It needed to have the gearing lowered a little but it was real consistent, so I didn't change it.

I built it when I was still teaching at Washington High School and the shop was pretty small, so I assembled it in the basement at my old house. When I got it put together I called my brother up and he came over and gave me a hand dragging it up the stairs. About 5 minutes later it was running and I hit the street to check it out. I ran it down a couple of blocks, did a brake check, turned it around and little it go - took off like a scalded cat. I got it up to about 70 in a 30, then quick pulled it into the garage - I was only 6 blocks from the police station. I'm sure the neighbors used to love me.

I sold it a couple of years after that. The guy who bought it ran it for a couple of years and then put another bike together. He passed away two or three years ago. I'm not sure what happened to the bike but it was fun while I had it. Before I sold it, I took all the components off it and threw them in another frame with a sidecar I built and Surly and I took a trip to Kentucky with that one. I had a picture of that one around here somewhere. If I come across it or the negative, I'll post a photo of that one too.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Parking in The Barn

I parked in the barn for the first time the other night. Nice being able to jump in and go without scraping off the windows. Now that it's really cold - about 20 Friday night - I have to water the animals in the morning before work, so I'll just start the truck on the way out to the other barn to let it warm up a bit, do my chores and then just drive off to work. Even though I had a big garage at my last house, it was usually full of some project or another so my truck was always outside. I'm going to try and keep this one sacred - just parking for the car, truck and finished motorcycles. We'll have to see how long that lasts.

I didn't get much accomplished on the barn this weekend but a little something is better than nothing. I cut up a couple of pieces of OSB to put up on the inside walls around the man door Friday when I got home from work. I did manage to get those tacked up on Sat. afternoon. I took the scrap from school to the yard and hit the gym in the morning and then we watched the grandkids in the afternoon and over night. Surly gave me a hand putting the floor sheets I had to remove for the lift back on top when he came down to pick up the kids. I wanted to get those back up there before I stepped back and fell through. When I get those screwed back down I can start putting up the side walls on top. I'm going to put a sheet of OSB on the vertical members of the trusses to keep me from dropping anything onto a vehicle parked underneath and breaking the windshield out of the wife's car or something. Plus I won't have to worry about one of the grandkids falling through. I'm going to put a 2x4 handrail along the top edge on a 45 degree angle - that'll keep me from putting anything on top of it. Anything with a flat surface always gets something laid down on it, it seems.

I'll keep picking away at it and I should have most everything done by the end of Christmas vacation. I'll need to get it wired up but no hurry on that. I've got electric on a pole close by but I'll probably wait until the ground thaws to dig a little trench to bury the line. I can put in the panel and run the wiring after I get the inside sheeted. I've got a couple of little windows to put in the back wall if I can figure out how to get those mounted up. They don't have a nailing flange on them, so I'll have to see what I can do. I'm screwing the OSB onto the walls, so it only takes a couple of minutes to pull them down when it's time to tackle the windows. All in good time.

Have a good week and Happy Birthday to Grumpy Unk.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Boat Building

Water Let-er Outers

Transom Brace



I've been experiencing a little difficulty with wood warpage of late. The 2x6's for the barn door warped every which way. Just about every one of them cupped but a couple of them twisted a bunch as well. So I scrapped that and went to plan B. The top photo shows a couple of test boards for bottom planking on the boat. I cut a 2x6 in half on the table saw, then planed the pieces down to 1/2". I put a lap joint on one side to see how things would look and they looked pretty good until about three days later. As you can see from the photo, they cupped up a bunch. Not sure what to do about all of this. I have no idea what the moisture level is in the wood. My supply of wood is either from the local lumber yard or Menard's. The local yard stores the construction lumber outside under a tarp, so the moisture level is probably higher than Menard's.

I can put plywood on the bottom instead of the traditional planking but the lumber yards don't have any type of marine lumber, just treated. That stuff is pretty ugly and heavy. There's a lumber place east of here a ways that advertises in Wooden Boat that I might call. I can run over and get some decent plywood for the bottom but I'm still in a pickle with the sides. There are a couple of outfits that advertise white cedar planking in the magazine as well but I don't have any idea what it would cost to get it here. And would it be any more dimensionally stable? I need to find someone who knows a little more about this stuff than I do. I might call the guy who used to teach the Woodshop here when I first started. He's a guy who knows his woodworking. I'm sure if I start poking around on the Internet there's probably some kind of forum for wooden boat builders that I could post a question on. I'm anxious to get going on this project and would like to have things on hand to start planking after Christmas vacation. The transom came out looking nice, though. It's made from some hardwood that has been sitting in my back room for about ten years. I'll figure it out.

The top two photos are from an aluminum Jon boat a kid in class is working on. He's replacing the transom and making the boat a little more user friendly for himself. I welded up the cracked transom brace for him as well as some rivet holes that are no longer necessary. When it comes to boat building, that's more in my line of work.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dragster & Stuff

(Not Always Safe For Work)

I saw this at Auto Culture. It's an old school chassis from Rex Rod & Chassis. I used to work with a guy who wrenched on a dragster just about like this one. With that short wheelbase, he said they used to carry the front wheels quite a ways down the track. This is an all new car that a guy could probably get into for a reasonable amount of money. Don't know what the chassis and components would set you back but it could be a real fun toy. I'd like to do a little drag racing again some day. I ran a laydown bike for a couple of years at the old US 30 Dragstrip - "Where the Great Ones Run". If you click on the link, it'll take you to a photo of No Big Thing launching. I remember it leaving so hard one day I was there, all four wheels came off the ground. I think the car is still around and all restored. If you type in a search for US 30 Dragstrip, all kinds of stuff comes up. I need to scan in a picture of my old bike one of these days. It was a pretty nice rig. If I ever get the 900 running, maybe I'll take it out to the strip for old times sake.

I'm working on the rear brake for the Rickati project but won't get much done this week. Lots of other little things going on - worked on my buddy's truck during Open Shop, been doing a little school teaching as well. I did get the transom for the boat cut out last night after school. It's looking pretty good. I threw in the towel on the door for the barn. The wood kept warping beyond what I could tolerate. I've got a new plan, so I'm heading to the lumber yard after school. Hopefully this will work out better.

I do have everything all cleaned up inside the barn now. I swept up after cutting the plates from the lifting cradle apart and felt a little warm and fuzzy about the whole affair. That seems to be the best time after a big job. Put the tools away, get out the broom and take a couple minutes to appreciate what you accomplished. If you're a builder of things, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. I've still got some work to do but getting it to the point I could park a vehicle inside was a big step. I've got to put up a couple of trim pieces before I can start hanging the top sheets, so that and replacing the floor I had to remove to lift it up is next on the agenda.

So as usual I'm taking the scatter gun approach to the projects, but everything is moving in the right direction at least.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Silver Gloves Weekend

We took four fighters down to the Silver Gloves this past weekend. All the fighters fought really well and we came home with two wins. I usually stay home on these trips and run the gym but there was a mandatory coaches clinic I needed to attend. It was nice getting an opportunity to watch the boys fight for a change and just get away for a couple of days. Of course, it's all waiting for me when I get home but it was worth it.

I did manage to finish getting the lifting cradle taken apart. I just need to load up the steel plates and the concrete blocks and the inside of the barn will be usable. I should be able to get that done this afternoon. It would be a little more usable with some sheetmetal on the ends but that's coming real soon. I stripped the forms from the concrete and got a little more clean up done as well. It's looking like snow coming in tonight so maybe I'll park inside!

Jimmy signed his contract for the fight in Canada so I'll be heading up there before long - looks like I'm going to be real busy 'til the end of the year. That, of course, means some of the things I planned on getting done, won't get done but nothing new there. This week it's just keep pluggin' and try to get something a little closer to completion. Don't really even care what it is and long as I'm closing in on something.

Have a good week and "Say Hey" for Ron Santo making it into the Hall of Fame.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday, Finally

Frame Lug

Exhaust Pipe

"New" Computer

It's been kind of a slow week. Still in recovery mode from the nasty cold - feeling much better, voice is back but not 100%. I did manage to weld up the frame lug on the motorcycle frame for the guy from the gym. Nothing too special here. Just weld a few minutes, let it cool for a while, then come back and build it up some more. Good job for a guy who's not feeling too chipper. Work 5 minutes and then go sit down for 10. Drill and tap after it's cleaned up a little.

The pipe photo is from a dirt bike. I welded the other end of it last year where it mounts to the bike. They slit the end I welded the other day in 4 spots with a hacksaw to make it fit on something, then decided that wasn't going to work so I welded it up. I didn't even ask what they were trying to do or what they were thinking. It's just better not to know sometimes.

The bottom photo is my "new" computer in the shop at school. Previously I had some kind of gizmo connected to the classroom computer so I could have a remote monitor and keyboard in the shop. Since the majority of my time is spent out there, it was real handy to be able to take attendance, receive e-mails, "pop-ups", etc., without leaving the hooligans with power tools alone in the shop while I went into the classroom to check the computer. It hasn't worked all year but the new guy in the IT department said he'd come up with something for me and now I have a new IBM in the shop. I don't know where he drug this old timer up from, but it works and that's all that matters to me. I do like all the dust and junk in the cooling ports that came pre-installed. Fits right in.

I've got some boxing stuff going on this weekend. We're taking four fighters to the Silver Gloves and I have to attend a coaching clinic. Looks like Jimmy will be fighting in Quebec in a couple of weeks, so I'll be traveling to Canada. I've been wanting to go there, so I'll get my chance. Lots going on but I'm still pecking away at the barn job. Next week, it's scaffolding for sure. I did manage to work on dismantling the lifting cradle a little this week. Not much but something.

Have a good weekend.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lost Weekend

Apparently I misjudged the cold I came down with. It continued to get worse as the weekend progressed culminating with a fever, laryngitis, hacking cough, headache and every other symptom commonly associated with a severe cold/flu. Other than about an hours worth of work on the barn on Friday, it was pretty much ride the recliner the rest of the long weekend. That's going to set the schedule back a little but something always does, right? Still better than Ron Lyle, though.

Ron Lyle, another of the talented heavyweights from the 70s, passed away the other day. Besides Ali, Lyle was the only man to put big George Foreman on the canvas. In fact, George said Lyle was the toughest guy he ever fought. Probably one of the hardest hitting heavyweights of all time. Ernie Shavers will probably second that. That was a great time for the heavy weight division and he was a great contender. RIP.

Going to try and take it easy for a couple of more days. I've got a little welding job for one of the guys from the gym to do but nothing else really pressing except my own stuff and it's waited this long, what's a couple more days?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Rickati Project

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I came down with a cold the other day but the worst had passed by yesterday morning, so I walked the Turkey Trot 5K. I was just going to kind of amble along and then I heard the time for the first mile split was right at 17 minutes. I picked up the pace and shaved two minutes off the next mile - it was just fast enough that my chest and back started hurting but still manageable. Not sure of my finish time but it will be the slowest race I've ever done. I am, however, thankful that I'm still ambulatory. I'm much more fortunate than many either by planning or providence. Congratulations go out to Surly for his Turkey Trot finish. I'm sure he'll have a recap on his fitness blog.

Started working on the Rickati project during Open Shop the other night. I hooked up the front brake. Doesn't sound like much but I had to machine a bushing for the adjuster to fit into the backing plate properly and make a collar for the end of the cable to solder on. So yeah, not much, but progress. I also got the steering stops taken care of, tacked on a bracket to hold the back of the gas tank down and cut out the seat base on Wednesday. The next big step is the rear brake pedal. I also need to order in a couple of things - throttle, cable, hand grips, rear sprocket and chain. My goal is to have everything on the frame done by the end of the year. I can then send the engine out and have my buddy take care of that and I can be working on the 900. When the engine comes back, stick it together, test a little and then send the frame out for powder coating. If I send the frame out before the engine's done, I know I'll have to make some little change and screw up the powder coating.

Still plugging away on the barn. My goal on the barn is the same as the bike - closed in and useable by the end of the year. Doesn't give me a lot of time but it shouldn't take too much.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Here's The Scoop

The scoop is for the sidewalk salt at the gym. With my Depression era approach to things, I made it out of an old coffee can and a piece I turned in the Woodshop. I suppose I could have gone across the street to the Dollar General and found one, but injected molded plastic things just don't do it for me. Nothing like $50.oo worth of labor for a 99 cent part. I also got a 5 gallon pickle bucket from the cafeteria to put the salt in. I'm going to miss making all this crap on company time when I retire.

Since I finished up the north side of the barn over the weekend, the only thing left to have it closed in is the sheeting on top and make the man door. I don't think it will take too long to hang the sheeting on the top section. It'll be a little tricky cutting the sheets around the bracing for the fly rafters but as long as I'm careful with my measurements, I should be good.

We're still gluing up the door. We had a little trouble with that yesterday. Apparently they didn't quite understand "Move everything out of the way and get all your clamps ready before you start gluing" even though I told them at least four times. I'm hoping to get the second go-round on that today and I'll come in over Thanksgiving break and put the two halves together. Depending on the weather, I might make the crossbucks and bracing. I'm going to rout a vee shaped groove on all the glue joints of the individual pieces so any water that hits the bracing will run through plus it will add a little decorative touch. The cross bucks would be better on the inside from a functional standpoint but will look better on the outside from a decorative standpoint. I'll also weld the hinge pins in since the hinges will be exposed on the outside. I'm going to make some faux straps to match the big doors, paint the door white and the straps black so all the doors will be the same style.

Have a great Thanksgiving. I know I've got plenty to be thankful for.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Photo From Here

It's true. Horizontal stripes do make you look thinner!

Surly sent me this quote the other day: Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials. -Lin Yutang, writer and translator (1895-1976)

I've pretty well mastered the noble art of leaving things undone, only as in unfinished. What I have trouble with is the elimination of nonessentials. I've always bounced from one thing to another as my mood or interest has changed. Certain things, like my race bikes, I've tackled and stuck with like a bulldog, sometimes working long hours completely absorbed in the job. Other things I start and once I know I can do it, I lose interest in. I'm at the point now where I have too many things that need my attention and my possessions have become somewhat of a burden. I have been working to get that under control this year and have made some progress even with the barn falling down. One nice thing about this blog is the fact that even though I don't always get as much done as I plan to, I can look back and see all that I have done. Now that the time has changed and the cold weather is here, it's time to start hitting the basement workshop and tackle a few things, plus get busy putting a street bike together for next year.

I did manage to finish up the siding on the North end of the barn around the entry door. I also got the trim put on the corners on that end and a few other chores accomplished. I was going to try and squeeze in a little walk, since I'm doing a 5K on Thanksgiving day, but came in and watched the Bears game instead. It was 3:00 and I hadn't eaten lunch yet, so I left the walk undone. Obviously I'm still having a little trouble sorting out what's essential.

It'll be a short week but I have to pay for it by doing bus duty. With a little luck, I'll be able to stand out there in the cold rain.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Concrete & Boat

The Building Trades class got my concrete poured Thursday and I moved the pile of rubble away from the front of the building. Looks good out there in front now. I've still got a lot of cleaning up to do but it's good to see the front basically done.

I finally got around to painting the box the boys made for my saw. They're not exactly cabinet makers yet but the box is functional and looks good. So there's another project to put in the finished column.

We got a few pieces cut for the boat building project this week. It's starting to turn into a boat now. The transom is rough cut to shape, the inner stem is made and we got one chine log in place. We're going to soak the chine log with some wet rags over the weekend while it's clamped in place to release some of the pressure on it. We'll do the same thing for the other side on Monday.

We're also ready to glue up the door for the barn. Hopefully most of the warp in the boards will disappear after we get it glued up. We're doing it half and half to make the process a little more manageable. As long as it's fairly flat after we glue it, I think the crossbucks and stiffeners will take care if the rest of it. Plus we're going to cut it in half later on to make a Dutch/stable door out of it, so that might help.

The fleet of trucks are Christmas presents (the wrecker isn't quite done yet). One will be for the grandson, not sure about the others. We might make a few more and give those away to some little tykes in need. It's always tough at Christmas for many families but this year is probably going to be worse than normal.

This weekend I'm planning on finishing up the door jamb, trim and siding around the door opening. The only siding left then will be on the ends on top. I'll get the scaffold and tackle that soon. I still need to get the lifting cradle out of there but I started taking that apart the other night. That'll take a little time but nothing too difficult - just get it all unbolted and then take the torch and cut the 1/4" plates into 10' sections so I can handle them by myself. We can cut those up into practice material for the boys in the Weld Shop.

We're knocking them dead now, by golly.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I machined up a couple of parts for the Rickati project the other night at Open Shop. The two larger pieces are for the swingarm pivot bolt, the smaller are for holding the gas tank in place. Basically just big washers but sexy looking. There really isn't too much more to fab up on that project: make the rear brake pedal, mount the skid plate and fix the back wheel, which might take a little doing, but if I get busy I should be able to get it ready for powder coating before too much longer.

While I'm waiting for the frame and engine to get finished up on the Rickati, I can be working on my 900. That too wouldn't take much to finish up, of course, neither would my Honda. The Honda needs a valve job and a couple little things but the 900 needs some fab work, an engine overhaul and the purchasing of some expensive parts. The Honda would be the easier of the two to get on the street but it's all put together. In my quest to finish projects, I'd like to have the 900 all put together instead of having parts in boxes and strewn about the shop. I'm thinking this is the one that I'll be riding in the spring. Pretty bold prediction from a guy who bounces from one job to the next and has basically no free time, but I've got to get things done and I want to ride. Simple as that.

I finished up the prep for the concrete apron on the barn last night. The Building Trades boys should be pouring the concrete today. That'll be good to have checked off the list. I got a light put up inside the barn and got a couple pieces of wood for the service door cut for that job as well. We've got a fight at the gym on Friday, so I won't get much else done until the weekend but it's coming together. The barn has turned out to be a pretty big project for basically a one man band but the end of that project is coming closer and closer.

We knocked out some little projects at the school this week, as always, but my little digital camera quit working - so I might not have too many of the blurry pictures to post for a while. Even though the photo quality is often crap, they do add some value. Have to see what I can work out in the way of a new camera.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Looking Sexy

I was going to work on the lifting cradle yesterday but an extra pair of hands showed up, so I got the track for the overhead door squared up. I finished installing the rest of the pieces and it goes up and down now. I still have to put the handles on it but the spring I repaired works just fine. I think the next step is to get some temporary lighting in and the lifting cradle out. It needs to go and I can't replace the flooring upstairs until it does. I've got a couple of big halogen lights I can mount up and then I can work a little later in the evening.

I got a couple other little jobs knocked out also, so it was a pretty good day in spite of the 40 mph winds.

Have a good week.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bike Stuff

Photo From Here

Which means I really need to get busy on a couple of mine.

Photo From Here

Moto Guzzi has updated their 750 motor. More horsepower and torque. Maybe that lottery ticket will hit and I'll go to Italy and pick one up.

Busy day yesterday. Finished busting up the concrete in front of the barn and mowed the backyard before going to the gym. Came home and got the rest of the front covered in sheet metal. I would have posted a photo but it was getting dark about the time I finished up. You'll just have to take my word for the fact that it's looking pretty sexy.

It's supposed to be windy and rainy today but I'm going to try and get some work done on taking the lifting cradle apart. I need one of the 2"x12"s for the boat project and it needs to get it apart sometime. It takes up just about the whole floor area inside. I'm going to see about hanging some temporary lights inside there as well. We started on the man door in the Woodshop the other day. The boards wanted to warp up a little so have to see how that works when it's time to glue everything together. As long as the boards cooperate, it shouldn't take long to finish.

Progress, brothers and sisters, progress.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Again

Bolt Repair

Uke Knob

Deck Bracket

Spoiler Bits

Been a busy week for projects at school - not so much at home.

I was gone much of last weekend and the weather has been crap the rest of the time, so not much done on the barn. I've still got a section of the old concrete to remove before the apron can be poured. I drilled a bunch of holes no more than an 1-1/2" apart along the cut line thinking I could whack it with the sledge and it would break off. No such luck. Might take me a little while longer but just like the Mounties, I always get my man.

School jobs have been going well. The volume knob for the uke has a 1/4" hole and the potentiometer it slips onto is about 5/32" so I had to machine up a bushing. Actually two, we're putting together another one. I also finished up machining the tool rests for the wood lathes. I'm still waiting for a grinder that's been back ordered before I start grinding up all of the tools for the lathes. We've got plenty going down there right now anyway. I did sharpen up all the small drill bits in the Weld Shop the other day.

The photo of the bolt in the fixture is from the new hand grinder. One of the little darlings knocked the grinder off the table and broke the handle. The new handle has a large metric bolt inside it and the old ones had a small standard thread. I had a couple of the old ones around so I welded the bottom of the new one to the top of the old one and was back in business.

I finished up a couple of brackets for hanging plants on the deck at home. I made the hook part this summer at the blacksmith shop and finally got around to picking up a couple of thumbscrews to finish the job.

The spoiler parts will get TIG welded today. A former student brought those in and they were covered in JB Weld. I really hate that crap. It never seems to hold what's intended but it always is a pain to get clean enough to weld.

We managed to repair another couple of desks this week. We might be on record pace for desk repair this year. They might be better off putting carpet down and getting rid of all the desks. Just let the teacher sit on the floor in the middle of all the hooligans like a campfire circle. It gives my guys something to do though.

I need to make a move at getting a couple of long term projects done. The VW didn't get touched all of last year and the Rickati project needs to get finished up. I'm also tired of waltzing around the big log splitter that's in the shop. I'm going to start staying after school a few extra minutes every day. If I do a little something every day, I'll start to see some progress. It's amazing how much a few minutes here and a few minutes there adds up after awhile. That VW will look good parked in the superintendent's spot next year.

Busy weekend lined up - got a few chores around the house and the barn job. Looks like the weather will allow for a little outside work. It was snowing today, so I need to get after it.

And last but not least, it's Veteran's Day. Thanks to all that served and have given so much.

Enjoy the weekend everyone.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bolt/Stud Removal

Click to Enlarge

I took this out of a serpentine belt tensioner the other day. A former student brought it in and asked if I had any left handed drill bits to see if he could drill the broken bolt out. Instead of drilling it out, I welded a piece of rod to it and it backed right out. Most of the time they come out pretty easy. The tough ones are when someone has over-tightened a bolt that is too long into a blind hole or one that has rusted badly. Here's the procedure:

Grind a taper on a piece of round stock that's about the same diameter as the broken bolt. Make the rod long enough to serve as a handle.

Put the tapered end right next to the bolt and MIG weld the rod to the bolt. I usually start up on the rod and run down onto the bolt. An auto-darkening helmet helps to keep the rod from moving while tacking but I always keep my helmet adjusted so all I have to do is just nod my head and the helmet swings down into position easily. Either way, you have to use two hands. One for holding and one for welding. Most welding machines have a capacitor that keeps a little juice in the wire so I usually pull the trigger and feed out a little wire then snip it off. This helps get a nice start without the wire popping when you tack. Because I start the weld on the rod. I usually hook my ground clamp directly to the rod.

Spray some penetrating oil on the weld while it's still hot. This shrinks the metal and allows the oil to penetrate better. It also makes a lot of smoke so keep your head back.

Give the top of the weld a couple of cracks with a hammer. This also allows the oil to work it's way down in.

Twist the rod to back it out. Usually you have to wiggle it both counter-clockwise and clockwise. If you move it back and forth a few times, that too gets the oil down in the threads. Once it starts to move, it will usually come right out. If it feels a little rough, give it some more oil and a few more wiggles. Patience is the key.

In the worst case scenario, the rod will break off and you have to repeat the process a couple of times. The one I took out the other day was in an aluminum housing. They usually come out fairly easily because the aluminum will expand with the heat and the weld won't stick to it. Really rusty bolts like in an exhaust manifold may require some heat around the outside of the bolt to get the expansion necessary to break the rust bond. You can usually get anything from 1/4" diameter and up out this way. 3/8" and larger you can often weld a nut on top of the bolt rather than a rod as long as it's broken off flush or slightly above. Use plain steel nuts rather than galvanized, if possible. For the real tuffies, weld the rod on it, spray it, whack it and then wait for the oil to soak in. Repeat the spray and whack steps, even letting it sit over night if time allows. Patience is the key, don't forget. It took me about five minutes to get the one in the photo out. That includes dragging all the tools out and rummaging around under the bench for a piece of scrap rod.

When they come out easy like this one did you look like a genius and you don't have to worry about a hole drilled off center or breaking a tap off getting the rest of the metal out. Or worse yet, getting the easy-out out of the hole after you manage to break that off in a hole that's been drilled off center.

There you go. A shop tip from Shop Teacher Bob.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Smokin' Joe

One of my favorite fighters of all time passed away - Joe Frazier. He had one of the best left hooks in the business and was heavyweight champion at a time when there were a lot of great fighters in that division, including Ali. I was in a restaurant a couple of years ago and they had the television tuned to ESPN Classics. They were showing the third Ali - Frazier fight. I had forgotten what a war that was. I watched all of those fights back in the 70's. There were some great ones. Frazier was small in stature for a heavyweight, but he had the heart of a giant.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Breaking Rocks

I came home from work Friday and the Building Trades instructor was pounding away on the concrete in front of the barn with a hammer and chisel. He had rented a saw to put some control cuts in his concrete and then stopped by my place to cut a line to layout for the approach to the barn. I sent him on home and took over the job. After about four hours I got most of the old concrete removed up to the line. There's still a chunk in the middle and one corner that needs to be finished but the middle is about 8" deep and reinforced with wire. I'm going to have to cut it deeper or drill a series of holes along the line before I start beating on that anymore. As soon as I get that taken care of he can get my concrete poured.

I'm going to try and get the rest of the sheets hung on the front today and then I'll pick up a masonry blade for the circular saw to finish up the concrete. I need to get on it. It was a little frosty yesterday out there.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Don't Fret The Small Stuff

Ukulele Neck

Blade Wrench

Slide Show

Saw Box

We've been hitting things in all directions lately. The top photo shows the neck of the cigar box ukulele with the fret wire installed. Next step is installing the tuning pegs. I've got a couple guys designing another one. They decided to make the body octagon shaped. It should look cool but they're having a little trouble getting the pieces cut equally all around. It's early though. They're using 1/4" lauan plywood, so it's cheap enough to make some mistakes with and it should resonate well when it's done.

The blade wrench is for the new mower. I needed to get the blades off to sharpen them up but the blades are only 16" long so I couldn't hold them to get the bolt out. I had a similar wrench I made up for my old Cub Cadet about ten years ago to hold those to tighten them (I could block them with a piece of wood to get them off) so I drug that out of the corner of the shop and told a couple of the guys to duplicate it but put the tabs on the opposite sides so it would hold it to take the blades off. It's just made out of junk but it works slick as hell. Just slip it over the blade, get the blades in the slots, hold on tight and crank on the breaker bar. To re-install them, reverse the process with the other wrench. I don't have to lift the mower way up in the air to get an impact wrench on the bolts - just slide the floor jack under the mower and lift it up about 6" and bingo. Taking the three blades off takes less than 5 minutes now.

The slide show is from my newly installed projector. I received a set of welding CD's from Lincoln Electric a few years back but I couldn't show them due to a lack of an LCD projector. I requested one 3-1/2 years ago and it finally got installed and operational last week. Our crack IT department is such a blessing.

The saw box is for my new saw. I keep most of my power tools in a cabinet and it's always a tangle of cords and the one I'm looking for is always on the bottom of the pile. I figured a new saw deserved a box and since the cabinet is already over flowing, might as well put a couple of the Woodshop boys on the job. It's about ready for a coat of paint. It's already too late for the plastic handle that goes on the blade guard, however. I managed to break that off about a month ago. Maybe this winter I'll make one out of aluminum. Of course I managed to break it right after I ordered a couple of parts from Sears for the router at school. Seems like that's always the way.

I should be picking up my barn sheeting and trim pieces tonight. I started taking the lifting cradle apart last night and I've got my scaffolding lined up, so it's still on track. If the weather's decent Friday, I should be able to finish the sheets across the front. That'll make me happy.

It looks like we've got a job putting in a new floor on a dump truck lined up. Plus we keep fixing broken desks. Maybe when I retire I should open a desk fixing shop.

That's it for now.

Monday, October 31, 2011

More of the Same

Busy Weekend.

I worked on a little drywall project in the house along with a few other odd jobs, and the barn, of course. As you can see, I got some sheets on the front. A couple hours more and the front should be closed in. I got a few purlins put up on top and I worked on the track for the second bay door. I got the braces clamped for the rear of the track - just need to square it up and put some lag screws in then I can see if the repaired spring is going to work. A couple more hours and that too will be done.

I checked out the big doors on top while I was hanging the purlins. I need to pull the jamb, brickmold and the studs on one side back in about 3/8" on the top. If I cut the nails holding the studs loose from the header, I might be able to either clamp it or bang it back together. I can re-nail and put a gusset on it later. I need to get that squared away before I can start hanging purlins on that end. That's going to be about all I'll be able to do on top until I get some scaffolding and line up some help. The Building Trades class is using their scaffolding now. I'll have to check to see when I can borrow it.

I still need to dismantle the lifting cradle. I might get started on that this week. I don't usually have much time after school with the gym and other chores going on but I need it out of there and I think I can cut down one of the long boards to use for my chine logs on the boat project.

I still haven't decided what I'm going to do about the man door. I'm thinking more and more about making one. The photo above is the door on my shop. It's a little overkill for the old building it's in but I wanted to make something cool, so with the help of the old Woodshop teacher, I did. The new one would be more in keeping with the style of traditional barn. I'm thinking a Dutch door with crossbucks for bracing. Make up some strap hinges to match the fake ones on the big doors, paint it white and there I'll be. I need to get started pretty soon because it's going to get cold and I can't finish the siding on that end until I get a door. I just need a little "think time".

Have a good week.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

School Work

Marathon Girl

Tool Rest Fixture


Cigar Box Ukelele

Pencil Box

I've been working on fixing up the tool rests in the Woodshop. They're pretty worn in the middle, which means you can't hardly turn a straight piece. As the gouge follows along the tool rest, it drops down into the belly on the tool rest and changes the diameter of the part. Plus, there are some rough spots which causes the gouge to hang up. To remedy this, I made a fixture for the milling machine to hold them in place so I can machine them up after I build them up with braze welding. I've got a couple of them done and they look pretty good. I'm not sure how well the brass will hold up compared to the cast iron but they'll be easy to build back up and remachine in the future. I still need to sharpen all the tools for the lathes and then we'll be able to start using them.

I fixed up a tripod for the big video camera the other day. They broke off the handle by dropping the thing, I would guess. I got lucky and the threaded part came out easily (you can see it still stuck in the slot in the photo), then I turned the OD on the handle and rethreaded it. They're going to miss me when I'm gone.

We're building a couple of cigar box ukeleles in the Woodshop along with a variety of other projects. I'm thinking one will be a Christmas present for the older grandson. We're also building a little truck for the younger one. The parts came in for both projects on Thursday, so those should be finished next week. The uke will be electric, by the way.

The little pencil box was put together out of some scrap wood. The design came from a book I bought about making things from scrap wood, coincidentally. I figured we'd make a couple of different items just to see what the boys were capable of and to get the feel for the tools. It's a little rough but the kid cut some dovetails, made some slots, used the planer, table and miter saws. I think he surprised himself a little by actually making the thing. Mission accomplished there.

The boss came in and took a look around yesterday. He's a sailor and he wanted to check out the boat. It's nice being able to talk a little shop with the boss - something besides educational mumbo-jumbo, that is. I'm sure he'll be stopping in and checking on our progress on a regular basis.

This will once again be a weekend of working on the barn plus some work on the shack. I'll get some purlins up and maybe a few sheets across the front of the building. I need to start taking the lifting cradle apart to get that out of there. That won't be fun but I can get the plates on the trailer and bring them to school when I bring the spiral staircase in. I'm just going to chop up the 1/4" plates into 10' sections to make them easy to handle and we can cut them up later at school for practice material.

Congratulations to Annie from Belfast - she's the young lady who ran with Jimmy when we were out there. She finished her first marathon last weekend.