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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Josh & Justin

Welding Contestants

Barn Under Roof

Boat Framing

Harbor Freight Trailer
With New Sides

KIA Ready For

The boys did fairly well at the welding contest Saturday morning. All contestants received a tee shirt, certificate and their choice of welding caps or gloves. There were 40 competitors total. This was the first year so I would look for a much bigger group in the future. The Training Center has 114 welding booths, so they definitely have room. The facility is just amazing. All of us were given a guided tour of the place and the guide did more than just show us around. He gave a lot of good advice to the young men and women that were there. You hear a lot of this:

We are always looking for young men/women that want to work and can weld a little. Teaching welding is the easy part, good work ethics and attitude is the hard part."

That's a quote from the guy who was in charge of the contest. It always comes down to hard work and attitude. Thanks to Pipefitter's Local 597 - it was a real good experience for the boys and myself.

I had a good weekend for working on the barn. I got the sheets on the roof replaced that I had to take off to lift it up so I'm done up there now. The Missus was a little concerned so she called Surly and he came down to keep an eye on me. I had myself tied off with a real deal safety harness so it was about as safe as it could be. Good to have a safety man just the same. I put the rest of the roof sheets on the lower part even though they were bent up a little. I got all of the new metal ordered so when that comes in I'll swap them out, but at least the building is all under roof except for the gable ends. I put some OSB up on the inside around the front doors as well. I worked on getting the front wall straightened up after work yesterday. That's pretty well set now so I can put the last purlins up and start hanging the sheeting.

The boat's coming along. We've still got a couple of the station molds to add but with the battens on you can see the shape it will be. I need to figure out where to get some lumber that I'll need. The local lumber yard isn't exactly the best place for boat building lumber but there is a place close by that sells rough lumber. I think he can order in whatever I need. I found a place that advertises in Wooden Boat magazine that probably has what I need but it's a ways from here. If worst comes to worst, I'll take a day off and run over there and get it.

All in all we're making progress on all fronts. The Woodshop boys are all working on things. It's one step forward and two steps back most of the time but they're learning something anyway.

Looks like rain the next couple of days so I might not get much done on the barn. I bought the lumber for the rest of the purlins up on top so I should be able to work on that this weekend. I'll need to set up some scaffolding to hang the sheeting but I can get most of the purlins done without it as long as I'm careful. It should be closed in before the winter weather gets here.

The little KIA and trailer belong to the art teacher. He made the brush guard in the welding class he took this summer. The boys helped him install it and put the trailer frame together for him. I need a student teacher like he has now so I can work on some of my projects. It'd be nice to have a couple of weeks to work on things and get a check for it. Probably shouldn't complain though. I do plenty of my stuff on company time.

Roger and out.

Monday, October 24, 2011

More Guzzi

I saw this at Moto Art Journal by way of Italian Motor. It's the only hard tail Guzzi I've ever seen. It's also one of the nicest bobbers I've seen lately. I'm not so sure that a hard tail is the way to go, especially with that seat, but you have to admire the craftsmanship and the design. If you click on the link you can see a few more photos and they're a little larger as well. I'd like to get a copy of the Italian Motor magazine to check out but I get almost too many to keep up with as it is. Looks like a real nice mag for those of us into Italian bikes.

This is more my cup of tea. Clip-on's, rearsets, solo saddle, plus those look like Conti's on the exhaust. That's what's on my old Ducati. No baffles in them. They just have the end of the pipe folded back in on itself to restrict things a little. Loud in a good way. This was at Rocket Garage. Always lots of nice bikes there. As soon as the barn's closed in, I need to be working on a bike!

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young." - Henry Ford

I saw that quote at Ross Training. Surly put up a link at his new fitness blog. This guy's an absolute monster when it comes to working out. He's got some real good boxing stuff as well as general fitness info. He's also got a link on the sidebar titled Age Related for all of us old geezers. I'm probably in as good or better shape than most guys my age but I look like a real piker compared to some of these people. If you're looking for a little inspiration to get up off the couch, regardless of your age, check it out.

The above quote addresses the mental aspect more than the physical but you really need to do both. Keep exercising your body and your mind and you'll function better on all fronts.

Enough preaching. I'm going to try and get the last couple of sheets of siding hung on the back wall this afternoon and then start on the front. I'm taking a couple of guys to a welding contest in the morning at the Pipefitters' Local 597 Training Center. It's a little early in the year for them to be at their best but it should be a good experience for them and I've been wanting to get over there and check the place out anyway. If the weather's decent when we get back home I'll try to get a little more siding on or hang some OSB on the inside walls. Eventually, I'll have the whole thing closed in both inside and out, at least on the bottom. The Missus had a good idea about building a couple of tables into the walls. I've seen the same thing before with model train layouts where you just fold out the board and some legs drop down. I'm going to build one and see how it works. Shouldn't cost too much more - just a couple of hinges and some extra 2x4's. I can probably even have the Woodshop boys fab it up at school and then just bring it home and throw it in the hole.

Enjoy the weekend.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Hitch

New Siding

The long weekend about did me in - have to go back to work to rest up!

I got the spring for the overhead door put back together. It looks like it will work OK. If not, Menard's has them in stock for $43.00. They also had the track bolts I was short and I also bought a lock. In fact they had just about everything for those doors except the bracket I'm missing. I'll see if the Building Trades guy knows anything about it. If not, Menard's can order one, I would assume.

I started hanging the siding on the back wall yesterday. I had to take about a 1/4" off the bottom chord of the trusses in order for things to line up but the old Sawz-All made short work of that. While I had it out I also cut off the anchor bolts from the old barn foundation. If I'm going to fall off the roof, I'd rather not impale myself. Some of the anchors were railroad spikes set in the concrete with about 4" of pointed steel showing. I've been meaning to get around to that anyway. Plus I cleaned some of the crap up out there. Been meaning to get around to that as well.

Picked up my welding machine on Monday while I was out and about. Haven't had a chance to see if it works, but I'm assuming it does or they wouldn't have called me. I was going to check it out at Open Shop last night but I wanted to finish my aunt's car and then some former students showed up, so I just shot the breeze for an hour instead. They're all doing well, so there must be something to that vocational education stuff.

Put the hitch on my new mower the other day that one of the "little darlins" made for me. I've got a small trailer I made from the last junk lawnmower I had that I need to measure up. If it looks like it will fit, I'll put the welder on the trailer and I can tow it around the place or pull it up close to the house when the power goes out to keep the pump and the heater running. It's got a 4500 watt generator besides the 150 amp welder. It'll live in the new barn once that's completely under roof and secure.

Surly dropped off a little job the other night so we'll tackle that today. I've got to finish my grades for the nine weeks but that won't take long. Other than that, not much happening in the Ye Olde Weld Shoppe right now. Looks like it's time to finish a couple of things or pull the spiral staircase in and finish that up.

Only three days and another weekend. I don't know how people with real jobs get anything done.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Doors, Saws and the Wall Street Journal

New Doors

Saw After

Saw Before

I got out yesterday morning even though it was raining a little to work on the barn doors. The door on the left side of the photo is finished. It goes up and down and everything. The one on the right still has some work to do on it. I did manage to get the torsion spring apart and straighten out the plastic tube inside it. I took the heat gun to it and it came back pretty close to being right. It's not perfect but it spins on the pipe it goes over, so that should work. I need to cut the spring off a little, however. The piece that fits inside and couples to the spring winder was a little hard to get off and I sprung the spring, so to speak. I can cut off a couple of coils and shorten the plastic tube a like amount and I should be all set to finish the door, as long as I can find the bracket I'm missing. I'll check with the Building Trades instructor Wednesday, maybe he's got it in his trailer or tool box.

The saw in the photos came from school. We teach a traditional woodshop type of class and a construction class. Usually the same guy teaches both so the tools migrate from one shop to another. This year that's not the case. I've been sorting out the woodshop tools from the construction tools so I can keep track of my stuff and the tools won't get boogered up. As you can see from the photo, the cross cut saw was in pretty bad shape. We tried to cut something the other day and it was like rubbing two sticks together. I cleaned it up and sharpened it up a little while I was waiting for the Bear's game to come on last night. It looks a whole lot better and it's a lot sharper. I just filed it by hand but I've done a few of them over the years and I can usually get them so they at least cut. I don't have a saw set to reset the teeth but it'll cut the little bit we'll need it for.

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal there was an article by Rupert Murdch about the Steve Jobs' educational model. In the article he describes the lousy job that schools have been doing and what the role of technology - meaning electronic stuff - should be in schools. It's worth a look but I still believe that traditional shop classes would help the situation tremendously. Colleges continue to turn out technology/engineering educators or whatever they call it and most of them wouldn't know a cross cut saw if they got swatted on the ass with one. Granted, not many people earn their living with a hand saw anymore, but the importance of putting tools in the hands of the students can't be over emphasized. While I'm not a big fan of all the latest and greatest electronic gizmos, I'm not a complete Luddite, either. There's a place for some of the stuff but there needs to be a place where you can learn to use hand tools properly and to have the proper respect for them. Of course if the instructor lets all of the saws rust up and allows the students to cut into nails and who knows what else, how will a kid know any better.

I wish I could somehow prove what I know instinctively to be true about all of this. Whether it was Sloyd, Manual Training, Industrial Arts - you pick a version - there is just so much more to be learned than just the craft skills in "shop class". If you've got 7,000 people per day dropping out of high school, you're doing something wrong. They throw more money and more computers at the problem but the kids aren't any smarter and they still quit school. We started a new committee at school addressing some of this but I doubt seriously if much will come out of it. The committees never have the authority to make the necessary changes so even if we come up with the cure for all the educational woes known to man, someone in authority will say no. The reasons they say no are varied but they always say no. Buddy, when I get to be king, there's going to be some changes made.

Surly's birthday today, by the way. Happy birthday, Sonny.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

B & B

Barn and Boat, that is.

We got a little done on the boat this week - starting to put some of the station molds on the strongback. We need to modify the strong back a little before we can finish putting the rest of the station molds in place but you can tell we're building a boat now. We've got a short week next week due to having Monday and Tuesday off but we should be able to finish that part up by Friday.

The barn is progressing nicely. I assembled the one bay door that was in the hole before the barn fell down and stuck it in the opening. It was damaged slightly so I wanted to see if I could fix things or if I needed to order some parts. The bottom panel has a dent in it but it's not real noticeable. Both tracks had some wrinkles in them but they straightened out nicely so I'm good there. I am missing a couple of the track bolts, one bracket and the torsion spring inner liner is bent. I can probably make do on the bolts and the bracket but I might have to get a new spring. As long as I've got the door in the hole, I'll keep going on getting the rest of the track hooked up. I'll borrow the parts from the other door for right now and finish the one door up. I'm going to put an opener on the side the Missus will be using but I'll worry about that later when I get some electricity run.

I still need to order the replacement sheets but I need to get the remaining purlins put up and straighten up the doors on top. I was fortunate not to have the doors on top break but the frame shifted some. You can see a big gap on the top corner of the brickmold on one side. I also need to finish aligning the front wall and trim the ends of the trusses a little. All of that should keep me busy while I'm waiting for the remaining sheet metal stuff to come in. A student brought me a safety harness to wear while I'm replacing the roof sheets so I feel a little better about tackling that job. As long as the weather stays decent, I should get quite a bit done over the next few days.

As soon as I finish the aunt's car I'm going to try and start on the VW or one of the motorcycle projects. I need to get the staircase for the barn back into the shop and finish that but it's already on the trailer and ready to transport. It won't take long to fix that. The Building Trades boys should be able to help me set it back in the hole. So now things are pretty well back to normal. A million things to do but I'm making headway.

Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Getting Things Done


Busy week again, as always. One of the art teachers took a welding course at IVY Tech this summer and made himself a brush guard and a trailer hitch for his little KIA. He's got a student teacher so he came down and we gave him a hand installing those. Some girl backed into something with her car so a couple of the boys popped the dent out. It's plastic, so they pushed it out and threw a little heat on it so it would stay. I pulled the aunt's car in the shop Tuesday during Open Shop. I was just going to check it out but it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be so I started working on it. The frame rusted by the front mount for the lower control arm. I got the job about 80% finished. I need to finish weld the patch pieces and add one more little piece and that'll be done. We also modified some cutting blades for the snowplows here at the school. The normal ones wear out real quickly, so they brought in some that are about twice as thick. We cut them to length and drilled the mounting holes. I also brazed up a gas tank for a pickup truck. It was a brand new tank but the cab settled down on top of it and put a couple of cracks in it. Also fixed a couple of desks - hardly a week goes by without a desk in the shop.

I gave a little presentation Wednesday after school along with one of the English teachers and the Building Trades instructor about the Lilly grants we've received. The Eli Lilly foundation gives monetary grants to teachers for the purpose of "personal renewal and intellectual growth". It's a sweet deal - $8,000 to do something that you ordinarily wouldn't be able to do. God bless 'em for that.

In the Woodshop we made a couple of wooden boxes up out of scrap. One's for the bag gloves at the gym and the other is for the welding gloves here at school. I think I'm finally starting to make some progress in the Woodshop. The boys are to the point that they realize they actually need to know how to do fractions and that just slapping things together isn't the best approach. We had a tool identification quiz, so now they at least know the difference between a combination square and a wooden mallet. We've still got a long way to go but I've got all year. We're making a little progress on the stations for the wooden boat. If it takes a couple of months just to get the strongback and the station molds together, it might be a little bit before we have a boat but I've got time.

I've been making some progress on the barn but I need to order in some things before I can finish the sheeting. The south side on the bottom is covered and all of the north side except for around the service door. I need to get a door before that will happen but I'm pleased with how things are looking. They're calling for rain the next few days so I'll get my order put together and called in. If I can get it ordered this week it should be here next week.

As my old pal Joey B. used to say, things are progressing steady by jerks. The barn should be closed in by the time cold weather gets here and the Woodshop boys will be able to do some fractions this year. It could be worse.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

One Way or the Other

Photo From Here:

Photo From Here:

The weather has been great this last week. I love this time of year. I'd really like to take off and just go. Nowhere in particular, just take off and know you're there when you get there kind of trip. Any of the above means of transportation would do - bike, bus or vardo - wouldn't really matter. I know I don't have anything to belly ache about. I've been on trips to Virginia, Italy, Oklahoma, and New York this year but I still got the itch. I always do when the weather starts to turn. Like the birds, I guess. I need to finish up the barn and then me and the Missus will maybe do a little road trippin'.

I did manage to get a little work done on the barn this weekend. I got the south wall straitened out - top plates aligned, more screws installed and some hurricane clips installed for added insurance - and that wall has most of the sheeting on it. I also got the trim pieces put up around one of the bay doors. Between the gym, grandkids and some visitors, I didn't spend much time out there but visible progress was made. That's always the best kind. It's nice when you can see you accomplished something.

The sparring matches/fund raiser at the gym went well. We had a nice crowd and some really good bouts. We'll be taking some fighters to the Silver Gloves in December, so we need to get a few dollars in the coffer to pay for the trip. The old Dodge "Shaggin' Wagon" is not the most economical vehicle on the road plus it's an over-nighter. Have to pay for a couple of hotel rooms as well.

My cousin stopped by Saturday morning and dropped off his mom's car for me to check out. It's got some frame rust that needs to be repaired. I need to crawl under that in the next few days to see if I can do anything with it. I didn't really need another project but as long as I've got the car, she's not driving it. I've you live around here, you should thank me.

Busy week ahead but only three days next week. I'll keep plugging away at the barn and enjoying the weather while it lasts. Looks like rain coming in about Tuesday or Wednesday but we could use a little. It won't be too much longer and it'll be snowing. That means I should probably see about fixing the snowblower pretty soon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ford Tri-Motor

1929 Ford

450 hp.
Pratt & Whitney

Cabin & Corrugated
Aluminum Sheet

Casts a Nice Shadow

Siding At Last

Man what a great day! I took a half day off today to go check out the 1929 Ford Tri-Motor at the Valparaiso airport. Sure glad I did. It was a beautiful day for a plane ride and I took advantage of it. The ride was about 15-20 minutes long. Not a long time in the air but enough to get the feel for flying in the oldest commercial passenger plane still flying. It was an Eastern Airlines plane long ago and while it's a far cry from any commercial plane of today, it was state of the art 80 years ago.

The engines sound like they should be in a pro stock dragster at idle. As soon as they throttle up they smooth out and sound really cool. It didn't take much runway to get airborne, either. With about 1300 horsepower, I don't suppose it should. We flew at about 90 miles per hour, I think. It was loud and your feet could feel the vibration the whole time but man was it a gas. The inside is all nicely done, everyone had a window seat - mine was right next to the engine on the left side of the plane - and everyone left with a smile on their face.

I hit Menard's for some supplies while I was up that way and then came home and went to work on the barn. As you can see from the photo, I got some siding hung. It goes pretty quick. I should be able to get everything on the bottom without any extra hands but I'll need some scaffolding and a helper when it's time for the second story. That shouldn't be too bad other than the height and all the angles and trimming. As long as I take my time I should be able to get it looking good without too many mistakes.

I need to see if my long extension ladder will get me up on the roof to replace the panels I took off for the lift. I need to practice my knots before I get up there, though. I'm going to tie myself off for that job. Park the truck or the tractor on one side and throw the rope over the top, do one side then the other. Not taking any chances.

Don't know how much I'll be able to get done in the next few days. I think the Missus and I are going to be watching the grandkids over the weekend. Plus, we've got an in-house show at the gym Saturday night. I'd like to hit the barn project pretty hard while the weather's nice but the grandkids trump everything else.

Back to normal tomorrow. Ain't it a shame.

Monday, October 3, 2011

3,2,1, Lift-Off

Photos by the Missus

Got the lid put on this afternoon! The weather the last few days has been exceptionally windy but today it was just about perfect. It was a little breezy but things calmed down just about the time we got everything hooked up. The job went smooth as silk. It took a little while to rig the job but when he took the slack out of the straps it came right up without even so much as a groan. Once he got it in the air he backed up a little and let it down right in place. I had tag lines on the corners already and some blocks with a taper cut on them fastened to the walls so it just slipped right into place. They changed the rigging and then I cut the lifting cradle loose and they lowered that down onto some blocks. After they left I ran some screws into the holes I had pre-drilled into the top plate and there it was. Just like I had planned it!

The job took about two hours which was what I had figured. They were here at 2:00 and the big truck pulled out a little before 4:00. So even with travel time, I'm in under three hours. I'm not sure what the bill's going to be but I'm sure they'll treat me right. They said stop in in the next few days to square up so I'll swing by tomorrow after work and take care of that.

I'm going to start putting the base piece for the outside sheets on tomorrow and get the last purlin on the side facing the house. I'm thinking about taking a half day on Wednesday so I can get a good run at the sheeting and finish nailing the top plate down before we have any more big winds. The back wall needs a little adjustment but I think I can put a big clamp on it and get the plates to line up that way. If not I can rig something up and dog it in. I'm going to put a few more sheets of OSB inside as well. Eventually I want the inside on the bottom all closed in. Don't know if I want to insulate the whole thing but if I screw the sheets of OSB on, it'll be easy enough to take them off later on. With sheets of OSB on the inside and the sheet metal on the outside, it'll be hell for strong. I can paint the inside white later on and it'll be nice and bright in there. I do have a couple little windows I might put in the back wall. I can frame those out later.

So now it's back to work. Winters coming and I want it all closed in before it gets too cold. We've got a long weekend coming up. I wanted to get away with the Missus for a couple of days but if the weathers good, I'd like to get some progress made on the barn. She told me today she's planning on flying to Houston to see a friend next month, so she's going to get a little vacation. The Building Trades instructor can get my concrete poured now, so as soon as I get some sheet metal on and the lifting cradle dismantled, she'll be able to park out of the weather. There was frost on the truck windows the other morning so the cold weather's not too far off.

All in all, it was a very good day.