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.