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.