Thursday, January 31, 2013

For Noses Only

I walked into the tool room at the college the other day, looked up and saw a box of tissue on the shelf. Someone had marked it "For Noses Only, Dispose of Properly". Made me wonder what prompted that. But not enough to ask. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ladies Wanted

The current issue of the Welding Journal has an editorial by Ms. Nancy Cole, the new president of the American Welding Society. Ms. Cole presents the case for more welders being needed in the foreseeable future and that women are an underutilized resource in the welding field. Occupying only 6% of welding related jobs and only 2% of actual welding jobs, I would agree that is certainly underutilized. The AWS' This Week In Welding also had an article promoting women welders and Lincoln Electric has come out with a line of work gear specifically for women. It carries the Jessi Combs' name on the gear. Apparently Ms. Combs does some television work but since I don't normally watch  any type of reality TV, with the exception of the crazy cajuns making duck calls, I haven't run across her. I do have a few women in my classes this semester. Not much of a stretch here, but I would predict that the 2% figure will be steadily increasing in the next few years. If they can go into combat, no reason they can't go into welding.

And for the Traveling Pirate, the editorial that prompted this post mentioned Rosie the Riveter, which everyone has heard of, but also Barbara the Brazer. Figuring that would be a good photo to post, I ran a search and found nothing. That may make it two for Shop Teacher Bob versus the internet.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Messin' With the Kid

Surly and I loaded up the pickup with bicycles and parts and headed to Lebanon for a bicycle show and swap meet put on by the Hoosier Antique & Classic Bicycle Club yesterday. We didn't get a space reserved ahead of time but lucked out by splitting one with another guy. We ended up with a 5'x10' spot that was just big enough to get three bicycles and some of Surly's parts spread out where people could see them. We sold the bikes and a bunch of parts, so it was a pretty good trip. Plus we got a chance to eyeball a bunch of cool old bicycles.  Mostly old balloon tired things but a couple of real nice racers from the '70's.

There was a  Murray Super Tot Rod that had seen some rough service over the years. The guy was asking $175.00 for it. We didn't stay 'til the end but I imagine he took it back home with him at that price.

Here's what one looks like after a little loving care by Shop Teacher Bob. The Missus found this one for ten bucks and drug it home. Not a 10 point restoration but it made a nice Christmas present for the grandson in '08. 

They had an Evil Knievel model if you wanted to try your hand at jumping buses or fountains. This one wasn't exactly a bargain from my point of view but I'm not real hip to the vintage bicycle market. 

Elvis, on the other hand, was takin' care of business. It's good to be king.

All in all a pretty good day. I got rid of a couple of old bicycles. Saw some neat old stuff and most importantly, I got to spend some time with Surly.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Rocket Man

I was talking to one of my students in one of the Intro classes the other day. He's a little older, so I figured him for a "career changer" or a hobbyist. He's actually sort of both. He's been working with computers for twenty years and now he wants to make rockets like the one in the photo. The one that went up 121,000 feet into the air! How friggin' cool is that. There's a cut-away view here of how the whole thing went together. There doesn't seem to be that much to this one. An eight inch aluminum tube with some fins welded on the bottom, a nose cone that pops off to uncork the parachute, solid fuel and an igniter. This one has GPS tracking and video cameras along for the ride as well.

F-1 engine assembly

I'm gonna have to be careful here. I can see me getting involved in this stuff real easily. I've grown up with the space program. I remember seeing Sputnik in the night sky while standing in my grandmother's back yard when I was seven years old. All of the early US space shots were televised, so I saw all of those. I've been to Cape Canaveral, Houston and Huntsville. And I read October Sky in one sitting.

Space, Shop Teacher Bob's last frontier.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stan The Man

Stan The Man
Stan "The Man" Musial died last weekend at the ripe old age of 92. Anyone my age or older knows who Stan Musial was - one of the greatest ballplayers of his time. He played for The St. Louis Cardinals his whole 22 year long career. Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had a nice little piece in the Op-Ed pages about  him. I was thirteen when Musial retired but like every other kid in America at that time, my formative years were the era of Stan Musial. The Cards and the Cubs had a fairly strong rivalry back then, as they still do today, so when the Cards came to town, you were going to hear about Stan Musial in the papers, on the radio and on television. I even had a copy of Stan Musial's hit record. - pretty sure I've still got it around here somewhere, in fact. Like many others, I was a fan even it did mean the home team was in trouble when the Cards came to town.

When my wife and I took our first big vacation after getting married when went to St. Louis. Not sure why now. It was summer and hot and humid. Miserable hot, but we went to Stan & Biggies restaurant while we were there. At that time it was the nicest restaurant I'd ever been in. Valet parking, waiter with the towel over the arm - the whole enchilada. Actually, more like lasagna but you get the point. Stan The Man and his pal Biggie ran a nice joint.

I'm not sure how, but apparently my respect and admiration of Musial must have rubbed off on my son, Surly. One year I got a framed photograph of Musial for Christmas from him. It's a classic baseball photo. Black and white, of course. Musial kneeling in the on deck circle with the bat over his shoulder. I also ended up with a Cardinal jersey recently with Musial's name and number on the back from Surly. He said it was too big for him and I'm sure he knew that I'd wear it with pride.

Coincidentally, or maybe not so, The Wall Street Journal yesterday also had another Op-Ed piece titled "Lance Armstrong and Our Unheroic Age" by Warren Kozak. I'm assuming from the article that Mr. Kozak and I are about the same age and he mentions growing up in the Midwest, as did I, so I'd be willing to bet that he too is a Stan Musial fan. But those days are gone:

Consider the past two weeks in sports. Lance Armstrong has gone from cancer-stricken superman on two wheels to performance-enhancing confessor on Oprah. And for the first time in 40 years, voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame elected not a single player. The steroid scandals apparently did in the likes of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemons.

Forget about athletes as role models. It would just be nice if there were more fathers in the house.

Today, out-of-wedlock births in America surpass 40%. In some quarters, this fact is not even lamented. But when the father is missing because he has left or was never there in the first place, a boy will fill that vacuum with whomever his young mind can latch on to. The hero possibilities these days give boys - and girls, for that matter - some pretty bleak choices to fill the void.
My Old Man
I was extremely fortunate in that I did grow up with decent role models, the guy in the above photo being the primary one. That's my Pop. Another member of the Greatest Generation, like several of my neighbors and uncles. Guys that came home from the war and went about their business of finding jobs, raising families and doing what life demanded of them. They were all leading by example but I'm sure they didn't even think about that. Just doing what a man was expected to do.

Having seen all kinds come and go during my 36 years in the high school classroom, I'm now starting to see certain patterns at the college level that are most certainly a direct result of the parenting skills, or lack there of, at this higher level. Not much of a surprise, high school kids get older, after all.

I keep tossing around the idea of writing something a little more in depth than just this blog and there are only two things that I would consider myself an authority on, welding and education. So if I were to decide to write some big-ass tome on education, would it all ultimately boil down to the fact there just aren't any more Stan Musials out there? That everything would be Jake if every kid had a kind and loving mom and pop to come home to every day after school? Could it really be that simple? If that's the answer, then is the solution impossible? Damn.

Rest in Peace, Stan. You too Pop.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Zeigarnik Effect

Photo From Here - NSFW
Not so sure about the connection here between the jet, the car and a magazine about breaking wind - probably why you don't see it on the newsstand these days. So how about some other arcane crap like the Zeigarnik Effect to dwell on.

The Zeigarnik Effect refers to the dissonance caused by moving on to a new job before finishing one that's already started. Man, that explains a lot. It probably even contributed to my heart attack. Too much dissonance. Mostly self-inflicted as well. Interesting concept.

Speaking of heart attacks, I went to the cardiologist yesterday. Other than the fact that they couldn't find the results from my blood test I had taken two weeks ago, everything is good. I had been told previously to keep my heart rate down some. He said I'm free to do what I want now. There's a 5K trail run coming up in March I'm thinking about running. I've got about six weeks to train. Another 5K in April - I did that one last year about three days before the heart attack. That one has a race walk that gives awards to those closest to their estimated finishing time. For some reason I didn't get a finish time last year but I know I was close to my estimated time. What I need to remember in all of this race planning is the Zeigarnik Effect. If I tackle too many things, too much dissonance. Too much dissonance, too much stress. Too much stress, restenosis. And as I now know, restenosis equals grabber. I do miss running, however. If I run them like the couple I did last year, I should be fine. Just do enough walk/run to get the exercise benefit and call it quits.

Too cold to work out in the shop for a few days. It was about 10 degrees this morning. Should be a little warmer the next few days but still the daytime high only in the low twenties. Dissonance or not, unless it's an emergency, whatever needs to get done can just wait. I've about got things cleaned up and organized. I got a few more of the TIG filler rod holders made along with another bracket for hanging up a few more of the plastic storage boxes. Took a couple loads to the dumpster and a load from the house to Goodwill. It's amazing how much stuff one man can accumulate.

Stay warm.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hockey's Back!

If you grew up like I did watching television beamed into your black and white set from the "Great City of Chicago", then you'll remember Alex Dreier and his "Bock is Back" pitch every Spring for Meister Brau Bock beer. Well tonight, hockey's back! I watched the Hawks spank the Kings this afternoon while I was in and out of the house and then I sat down for dinner and saw the Bruins vs. Rangers game later on. It's supposed to be colder than a well digger's ass in the Klondike starting tomorrow, so it's fitting that there's finally some hockey on the tube. It's going to be a short season and I won't be able to see too many games due to my work schedule, but at least there's a season, regardless of the number of games.

As long as we're talking Meister Brau, might as well throw in a shot of the Meister Brau Scarab while we're at it. Tube chassis, small block Chevy, drum brakes, and a hand formed aluminum body covered in beautiful American Racing (Imperial) Blue paint. Running with the big boys and winning.

As a footnote, Meister Brau Bock was pretty good beer. It was a product of the Peter Hand Brewery, which was bought out by Miller. It became a really cheap beer then and a Meister Brau product eventually became that swill called Miller Lite. That in turn has lead to the downfall of America. I'm serious, that's when it all started. Even though it was promoted by tough guys like Ray Nitschke and Smokin' Joe Frazier, the beer wasn't. Joe was a heavyweight, he didn't have to worry about counting calories. And Nitschke? You think  he cared if his beer was less filling? They should have stuck with the bock.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bit's & Pieces

One of my favorite photos of Marilyn Monroe. Not sure why but why probably isn't important. Technically, it's kind of a tough shot with the backlighting. You couldn't fill in the shadows with a flash, so there's probably a reflector of some kind just out of view. The beads, the outfit and the whole gypsy palm reading thing all work. OK, that's why.

I'm hoping to take my own photograph of the Eiffel Tower soon. I've about got my calender for the year  planned out. Not sure if my traveling companions from my previous trip are going to be able to do this but I've got a serious Jones for this trip. Paris this spring isn't going to happen, but I'd take December. Never really associated Paris with snow, but I can see me strolling along the Seine with big soft snowflakes falling, ducking into a little cafe to warm up. Beats strolling down my lane to get the mail looking at the big grain elevator, that's for sure. 

Turning Around America has a new project underway called Sanctuary. I first heard of Turning Around America from Doug Stowe at Wisdom of the Hands. The short version of Turning Around America is a van equipped for woodturning that has traveled around the USA spreading the gospel of hands-on education by showing kids what can be done with a wood lathe. Sanctuary is expanding this idea. Of course this takes a little cash. Check it out and see if you can't help out a little. Even if you can't, check it out. It's a great idea.

I'm teaching an Introduction To Welding course at the college this semester. Because it's an intro course we'll be covering a lot of material. Oxy-acetylene cutting and welding, stick, and MIG welding. That means yoou need equipment for all of that - goggles, safety glasses, welding helmet, gloves, etc. And you need a book. If you are planning on going into the field to make a career out of it, you would expect to spend some money on tools and a decent reference book. However, not everyone taking this course is in that position. It's required for just about everyone taking any type of Industrial Technology course, so this could be the only welding course they come across. That's where the old scab gets picked at again.

I attended night school classes for years and years. I bought books for those classes and then sold them back to the bookstore at a dime on the dollar. Sometimes I got lucky and was able to buy a used book. Sometimes I bought the book and the instructor never even used the thing. And of course, I always had to pay sales tax on the books. The politicians are always bitchin' that they want more college graduates in the state but not enoough to cut a guy a little slack with the sales tax on his book purchases. Since nothing seems to have changed over the years, the overpriced college textbook thing is still chapping my ass and I'm sure a lot of others as well.

Specifically for my Intro class, if you buy all of the recommended equipment at the bookstore, you can easily top $200.00. If you need to buy a pair of boots, that could be $100.00. Then you throw another $125.00 for the textbook that is only used for the Intro course and you end up with a pretty sizeable investment for what could be a one time deal. What's the alternative? If you wanted to know about oxy-acetylene cutting and welding, it used to be you bought The Oxy-Acetylene Handbook published by the Linde division of Union Carbide. They started printing the thing in 1943 and came out with a second edition in 1960. There's a third edition but I've never seen a copy. However, ESAB, who ended up with a lot of the Union Carbide welding equipment, has the handbook on their web site. Just click there and it's your's. If you want a CD of the handbook or some of the other material like their TIG handbook, click here. If you want a hardcopy, like a real old-fashioned book,  Amazon has a few paperback versions starting at less than four bucks. If you want to see some other old info about gas welding, Knucklebuster has a PDF file of a gas welding book right here.

If it's electric arc welding books you're looking for, check out the James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation. Their Procedure Handbook has been in print since 1933 and has sold something like 2 million copies. 750 pages of electric arc welding information for only $25.00. So if you're looking to learn a little something about welding and don't want to spend a ton of cash, here's a way - one free book and one cheap book that cover just about everything you need to know about oxy-acetylene, stick and MIG.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Streamlining The Operation

Photo From Here
The photo above is from the Speedboys blog. It's one of many sketches of vehicles of the future as drawn in 1944 - got a nice drawing of a transporter like a few posts back, by the way. Seems as if all the future vehicles were all going to embody elements from space travel. Didn't quite happen but we did get Dan Gurney's Alligator as seen below. Put some swoopy body work on it and Lawson would look pretty much like the guy above.

And then you could park it out in front of your Streamline Moderne house. Like this one:

And furnish it with a cabinet like this one: 

Surly sent this one to me. Obviously utilized aircraft construction techniques and design elements. If you want to see more about this project, check here. I followed the links all the way back and the pictures of the shop where this was made were a disaster. Crap and clutter everywhere. Obviously didn't impede their artistic design but I'll bet it slowed down the production some whether they realized it or not. Which is a cheap way for me to sneak in a "atta boy" for my own self since I got both the shop and the new barn cleaned up the last few days. The warm weather was a real blessing - especially since I was in and out, running between three different buildings. I've still got things to accomplish but things are better. I need to trade a little ADD for some OCD to keep things from getting out of hand again. "Think Middle Path, Grasshopper."

It looks like the cold weather will be settling in for a while now. Had to happen, though. It's the middle of January in northwest Indiana. Typically the next three weeks are about the coldest part of the year so it won't be too much longer and it'll be a legitimate 50 degrees around here again.  In the meantime, I've got kerosene for the heater and a clean shop to work in. I'm going to finish the job in the mill and maybe do a little lathe work for a piece on the VW. I haven't done any machining to speak of for awhile. It's time. I start back to work later today - got to go find my good shoes so my feet won't get sore while I'm stamping out ignorance.

Keep on a rockin'.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Photo Op

I managed to get into the darkroom the other night and print up some old negatives. This is brother John hanging off the 1938 Elgin that I used to ride back and forth to work at the welding shop. I'm not sure when this was taken but judging from the baby seat, early 70's.  I got a couple of other prints knocked out as well - all from old negatives. I'm going to try and get another night of printing under my belt before I have to start back to work next week. I want to pick a couple from my Italy trip, suitable for framing, as they say.

I received a question about the book that prompted the last post. Well, here it is. It's a reprint from 1906 and if you look closely, the frame is not too far off of that of the Elgin above. The book calls for 28" wheels with balloon tires mounted in a frame predominately made from 1-1/8" tubing. The plans call for castings at the frame intersections, similar to how Harley made their frames for years but nice fillet brazed joints would look good and would be plenty strong. That's how Rickman made their motorcycle frames, Reynard made their Formula Ford chassis and Elgin made their bicycles. Frame construction takes up the first 46 pages of the book - everything is completely detailed. The remainder of the book is dedicated to making the engine, including the carb and the magneto. A guy with a welder, lathe and a milling machine could do this. What the hell? The book is from 100 years ago. If they did it then, no reason it can't be done now. And there in lies the problem, at least for me. Just think how much fun it would be to have one of these rigs that you built yourself. I'll continue to just say no. My copy of the book came from Lindsay but Lindsay is not taking any more orders. Apparently he was swamped at Christmas and just put the lid on everything. So even though you can't order one through him I did a search on eBay and a couple of the books popped up. I saw a couple of paperbacks for less than ten bucks if you want to try your hand at building a motor bicycle. And I wish you would. I'd like to see one of these finished up and running. (Edit #2: book can be found for free here)

Photo From Here
What you'd end up with would be a single cylinder version of this. (I snuck this in after the original post)

The weather's been unseasonably warm the last few days so I've been hitting it pretty hard out in the shop and the barn. It's a good thing because I got a phone call from my boss at the college and he added another class to my schedule. With that and the lab tech gig, I'm going to be dangerously close to working full time this semester. That's not exactly how I pictured retirement but it's not like I'm working hard at that place. That's just going to make it a little harder to get my projects finished in a timely fashion. Nothing new with that, however.

I'm hoping the time I'm spending now on my cleaning and organizing will pay dividends in time and frustration saved later on down the road. Since I'm working on the VW in the new barn and the 900 in my shop, I've been spending a lot of time chasing tools from one place to the other. I bought another set of Metric end wrenches to leave with the VW and I put together a tool box with a few screwdrivers, a hammer, etc. so I would have most everything I needed handy. 

I still need to make a few more holders for TIG/gas welding filler rods. I've got a couple grades of both carbon and stainless steel, a couple types of aluminum, and magnesium and brass. Another three should do me nicely. I moved all of my body and fender tools so they'd be close at hand and while I was at it, polished and oiled them. I still haven't got the trolley beam installed in the new barn yet but I did get the wall mount for the one end put up yesterday. So not much to show on the blog but take my word for it, lots of forward movement these days. 

Looks like one or two more warm days on tap before it turns cold. I'll try to make the best of it. You do the same.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Just Say No

I saw this one at Wrench Monkees. It's a Guzzi Falcone. Looks a lot like the little Sprints/Aermacchis. Probably no reason for it not to. There's only so many ways you can poke a single cylinder out of the crankcase. The closer it is to horizontal, the lower the center of gravity.

On the other hand, if you move it more to the vertical, the shorter the wheelbase can be. This example also being a Guzzi. This one at Le Container.

Or you can add another cylinder and turn everything sideways. This one from Rocket Garage.

What prompted this, you ask? I've got a reprint from way back when I got from Lindsay on how to make your own motorcycle that I was thumbing through. It shows you how to build a single cylinder bike from scratch, including the carburetor.  Nothing fancy here but it's within the realm of reality for someone with both welding and machining ability, along with plenty of time on their hands. Other than the time on my hands part of it, I'd say I fall into the category of those capable of building said motorcycle. And if you have the ability and machinery to build said motorcycle, would you want to settle for simple design that's nearly 100 years old? Why not something a little more current?

How about something like a Linto? Basically a pair of 250 Aermacchi motors hooked together to make a 500. Like TV Tommy Ivo, Russ Collins and many others, If you want to go faster couple up another powerplant. If two's good, three's even better. This photo's from here. Lot's of cool stuff at the site but it's in Italian. 

Obviously if you were going to build something, you couldn't hope to out do any of the modern manufacturers. The only guy I can think of who managed that was John Britten. However, in the earlier days of both car and bike racing, there were a lot of specials built by "average" guys. 

Guys like Smokey Yunick for example. Photo from here. However, there aren't too many racing venues for guys who want to start from scratch and build themselves a world beater. Even Porsche didn't have much luck cracking the Indy nut when they showed up. Land speed records are still probably the most available to a homebuilder who wants to try his hand against the best or play beat the clock. That and drag racing. Drag racing is still open to experimental designs. They've always been a run-what-you-brung haven. I had a lot of fun and some success with both my drag racer and my vintage road racer. I'm no Smokey Yunick, but I did have a bike on the front row at Daytona, so I've got that going for me. Plus I had the pleasure to meet Smokey one time. There was a guy you could learn things from.

Now-days a guy could build himself one of these. It's a HAMB dragster. Go as fast as your wallet will allow. Compete against other guys racing on the cheap within a short list of rules. Get me a 235 Blue Flame Six and a pile of tubing and I'd have a dragster in no time, he says to himself with a wry smile.

See how my mind works? I've got a million and one projects to finish, about a half-million more I need to start on when I get those done, and I'm still thinking of something else to play with down the line. It's a friggin' curse. Someday, however, I'll come up with the masterpiece/capstone project for my career. And you'll be able to buy it cheap because it'll be in a half finished state when I go belly up like a bunch of other projects the Missus will be cursing me over. 

Enough already. Warm again today. Off to do a little hand to hand combat with the 900.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Books, Books, & More Books

As mentioned in my year in review post, I managed to reach my goal of 50 books for the year. Well, I'm off to a roaring start this year. I've already got four under my belt and we're only a week into 2013. I've still got a weeks vacation so with a little luck I can knock out a couple of more. I realize reading isn't meant to be a competitive event, but one book per week doesn't seem like too lofty a goal, especially since I have my no book longer than 500 pages rule that I follow.

I got a couple of books for Christmas that were a pleasant surprise. The How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive by John Muir has been around since 1969 with a few updates along the way. I'm sure it's going to come in handy when I finally move beyond sheet metal repair and start actually turning some wrenches on mine. The Your Guide to National Parks should be a good one to feed my travel dreams. According to the cover, it's supposed to be "The Complete Guide to all 58 National Parks". That would be the number I should plan on traveling to if I wanted to make that my next quest after completing my all 50 States quest. Of course, I could incorporate the two. Hit a couple of National Parks while touring my last few states. Surprisingly enough, in all my travels over the years, I've only been to a handful of the parks - probably would have been to a lot more if they raced motorcycles in them.

My buddy Kevin dropped off a few books for me to read, The Genius in The Design being one of them. He too reads like a fiend. I don't know how he finds the time to read as much as he does but he out did me on the page count this year again. I had 13,642 pages to his 17,323. The Missus brought a few home from the library booksale for me as well. That would explain Joe Bob Briggs being in the house.

I also received a small booklet, There Are No Grades In The Real World, from Mr. Don Tocco. I heard of Mr. Tocco through a Hillsdale College publication that mentioned the booklet and the reading list it contained. After doing a little research on Mr. Tocco's background, I was more than a little interested in what he was recommending to college students to help them along the path to success. Jumping to the bottom line, he was kind enough to send me a few copies of his booklet that contains the reading list as well as an inspirational DVD prepared by him as well.

A couple of the books on the list I've already read - The Prophet, The Power of Positive Thinking, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Several of the books I've never heard of. A couple I've heard of but never pursued. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill being one example. I've come across the name of Napoleon Hill a couple times over the years but never pursued looking into it. According to Wikipedia, by the time of his death in 1970, 20 million copies of his book had been sold. That being the case, it shouldn't be hard to locate at least one copy I can add to my 2013 book list.

Mr. Tocco's book list, as you probably surmised from the few titles I've listed, are all inspirational, motivational, or spiritual - come up with a plan, work your plan, optimize your talents, seek a higher power. However, the thing that I was most impressed with was not so much the list, but rather, that a man of Mr. Tocco's position was kind enough to respond to my e-mail on the same day and then send along the booklets in a later mailing. Here's a man heading a firm that has over $4 billion in sales since he started the company, taking the time to personally answer my query about his reading list, send me a few copies to share with my boxers and students and enclose a short, hand written note. I never realized millionaire CEO's actually did that. Impressive.

As we start the new year, might not be a bad idea for all of us to read a few of his recommended books. We could all use a little inspiration from time to time. Not a bad idea to just remind yourself to take the time to read a book, period. I'm planning on knocking out a couple more who-dunnits before my vacation's over and then tackle a few of a more serious nature. Even if you're not a reader yourself, take the kids or grand kids to the library and get a book in their hands. I was fortunate to grow up in a house chock full of readers. It can open up a whole new world to the young-uns. It did for me.

Have a good week.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

He's Working Now

Time to get things rollin'. I decided to put up a few more pieces of OSB in the top of the new barn so that I can hang a few more things on the wall and make it easier to heat some time down the road. I got that put up New Years Day instead of sitting around eating and watching football all day like I've traditionally done.

Tubing for the 900 exhaust & new TIG torch head
The swingarm tubing, exhaust tubing and a dust collector "cyclone" all showed up on the same truck on Wednesday. In addition, I've got a new torch head for my TIG welder. The postflow timer on my old Miller Goldstar gave up the ghost. A new one is close to three hundred bucks. That's a pretty sizable investment for a welding machine that's about 50 years old. The new torch head was less than forty. As long as I remember to turn the gas on before welding and off again afterwards, I should be in good shape. It'll be nice to have that thing up and running again. I still need to get the shop in a little better shape before I start doing too much fabricating in there. I'd hate to burn the place to the ground.

The dust collector "cyclone" is for the woodshop. It fits on top of a 5 gallon bucket and is supposed to remove most of the sawdust before it goes into the shop vacuum, keeping the filter from plugging up as quickly. I'm either going to make a base with some casters that I can mount the vacuum and the bucket on so  I can roll them around together, or I'm going to get another length of suction hose that will allow me to reach all of the machines without moving the vac. I'm leaning in the direction of buying another piece of hose. I can mount the vac under a bench and everything will be out of the way. And from the nothing's ever easy file, I just bought a bunch of nuts and bolts to replenish my stock. Sure enough, I was still short what I need to bolt up the cyclone to the bucket lid. I made a backer for the inside of the lid from a left over piece of 5/4 decking so I needed six 2" bolts and I only had two. And this was right after coming back from Menards so I could stock up on things with their 20% off fill up the bag sale. It's no wonder everything I do takes as long as it does.

I did pick up some more PVC parts to make a few more TIG filler rod holders. I still need to make a rack for these but that won't be too tough. Just one more thing on the list. You'd think the list would be getting shorter but that doesn't seem to be the case. Especially when I checked the hole saw collection and found out I didn't have a 2-3/8" that the filler rod rack requires. One thing keeps leading to another. Or more properly, another trip to Menards. I do have another 20% off sale bag. Might be worth my time to do a little inventory and head back. I have to be up that way on Monday but the sale ends on Sunday, naturally enough.

Enjoy your weekend and try to stay with the resolutions for at least another week.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Service With a Smile

I've bitched for the last twenty years or so that ever since this country went to a "service economy" about the only thing we don't have is service. However, I've noticed a change in the last year or so. The worst offenders in the past were always the license branch and the unemployment office. The unemployment office was without a doubt the best/worst. Fortunately, the last time I had dealings with them was close to twenty years ago. I went to sign up figuring it would only take an hour or so. Seven hours and much humiliation later, I was all set to go. At least for two weeks. Then I had to go back in and put up with some more humiliation while waiting my turn in line. It struck me odd that you had to come in to sign up in person which required a 20 mile drive one way. If you are unemployed, I can see them making you waste a day. And God forbid it's your turn at the window when the clock strikes 10:00 because it's break time no matter if you're in the middle of a sentence. Of course, what else have you got going on. You're unemployed after all. But the expense of driving? They should have been slapped for that.

The license branch was basically the same thing when I first started driving. It's much better now. Of course you can't actually renew your driver's license or license plates there now. You have to do all of that online. It's pretty easy but I sure miss the old days of taking a number and waiting four hours only to be told that you needed to have a police check on the VIN number before they could do anything else. So you got that done and then repeated the stand in line thing on your next day off. I always liked the fact that they wouldn't take a personal check, as well. What, they figure you're giving them a phony address on your driver's license? If the check bounces, send the cops to the house and take the driver's license back and the plates off the car. 

But now? Service with a smile is making a comeback. I lost my pedometer they gave me in rehab (nice people there, by the way). I was pretty sure it fell out of the truck along the driveway but I walked up and down it a few times and never did locate the thing. I bought a new one and it worked for about three months and then started losing steps. I went online to the ACCUSplit website and contacted them. They sent me out a couple of new batteries free of charge but it still wouldn't work. I contacted them again and they said send it in and they'll fix/replace with a 48 hour maximum turn around time. I sent it out yesterday, so I should be seeing it some time at the beginning of next week. Mr. Pedometer is all about service or so it would seem. As a side note, Surly and I were walking down the driveway Christmas Eve and he found the one I had lost. Sharp eyes on that boy.

As long as I'm handing out the compliments, I should mention the Indiana State Teachers Retirement Fund. When I started going through the motions signing up for my pension, I figured this would be like dealing with the license branch or unemployment office - same state after all. Not at all like that, I'm quite happy to report. Very friendly, efficient and their phone system only has you tied up for a little while. Whenever you finish your business, they always ask if there is anything else they can do for you. Always a pleasant experience.

And just one more. Lazy Boy replaced the guts on my recliner at no charge. Not even an installation charge. This was on a chair that was about 12 years old. 

So there you go. Another satisfied customer.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mo' Transporter

Photo From Here
Just happened to run into another one of these in my never ending quest to waste time on the computer. Actually, I have about ten blogs I check daily just because, and several others I check every couple of days as the mood strikes me. Most sites I check are someway or another associated with motorcycles, old cars or nice B&W photographs and as all of you know, it's easy to spend hours jumping from one link to another. That's how I stumbled upon the photo above - Volkswagen to transporter. Call it fate, kismet, serendipity, or what you will, but maybe 2013 is destined to be the year of the transporter. God, I hope not. I've got too many projects as it is.

Photo From Here
I had some help finding this one. Traveling Pirate did a photo search of the van/transporter/truck in the last post in an attempt to identify said van/transporter/truck. Didn't find out anything about that one but she did come across this one. Every bit as cool. I like the streamlined contour of the roof line - must be about the same time period as the Chrysler Airflow - mid '30's, I'm guessing.

Chrysler Airflow From Here
If you shrunk the length of the hood and put the engine in the rear, you'd have a vehicle that bears a striking resemblance to a Volkswagen, also a vehicle designed in the thirties.

Photo From Here
And second only to the Volkswagen for the length of production without a body style change, the DIVCO milk truck. Back when I had my little sideline welding business, I wanted to get one of these to put my welder and tools in. I had a little trailer I put my tools on but it was open and I had to either lock it up or unload it right after using it. One of these baby's would have been the "cat's pajamas" (You can talk like that when you're discussing 1930's cars and trucks). Even though I no longer do the welding thing on the side, I'd still like to have the milk truck. 

Photo From Here
And as long as we're, meaning me, doing the Truck Dream Team, might as well add the B61 Mack to the list. This one's a 1961 but it still has the rounded profile of the earlier rigs from the 1930's. A single axle like this one would be just perfect. I'm not sure how much longer the farmer who rents my big barn is going to stay farming, but if he wasn't filling it up with farm equipment, I'd probably be filling it up with cars, trucks and motorcycles. Right after I moved out to the country here, a local farmer was selling an old Chevy farm truck. 1950 with a grain bed. Not big enough for a real farm operation but just the thing for a guy like me to haul a little straw or gravel around in. I made him an offer but another guy was already on the way to look at it and the farmer didn't wan't to sell it out from under the other guy. Fair enough. But it was cool though. Same as the old pickup that I fixed up way back when.

So if I live about thirty more years and the farmer retires soon and I quit farting around on the computer and get to work, I might be able to get myself a DIVCO and a B61. And I might actually get them restored. While not much chance of this happening, a guy can always dream. The truck is for sale, by the way.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Here

Photo From Here

You need to click on that picture to do it justice. I'm not sure what this rig is, it says Renault in the background, but it's one cool Art-Deco rig. I still maintain I was born about 100 years too late. If I was born  in 1898 like my grandmother was, I'd have been in my late 20's or early thirties when this thing was buzzing around. As it is, when I hit thirty, it was 1980, not an era known for cool vehicles. After the gas crunch and escalating gas prices of the 70's, it was really lousy V6 engines choked down with pollution controls. 

I had a 1978 Pontiac Safari wagon that I bought for next to nothing, which was about what it was worth, for a work car. It was pretty clapped out when I got it but it wasn't like it was past it's glory days. It never had any from the get-go, in spite of what the advertising would have you believe. Who would have designed a station wagon with rear windows that wouldn't roll down? Mine had a Buick V6 in it and like all of the Buick V6 engines, the stock oil pump wasn't up to the task. Plus, you had to pull the alternator out of the way to change a thermostat, and it was the first of the GM's that I had where you had to throw the rear axle away when the wheel bearing went bad because they didn't think enough of the car they were selling to bother with a bearing race on the axle. And as if all that wasn't enough, that's when they were thinking about converting to metric so the easy things to change like the wheel studs were metric but the engine bolts were still fractional sizes. That cool ass Art-Deco rig would've trumped the Safari wagon hands down. 

Anyway, it's a new year and instead of quacking about the lousy cars from the late 70's - early 80's, one needs to remember it was a good time for motorcyclists. In spite of a jump in gas prices, once Honda came out with the 750/4, it was Katy bar the door for the motorcycle arms race. The big Japanese companies were constantly coming up with the new and improved version and they usually were. Kawasaki's answer to the Honda was the KZ/Z1 900/1000. Great bikes that you could flog the living daylights out of. The handling wasn't the greatest but the lessons learned in Superbike racing went a long way towards curing that and just about every year there were improvements made in all aspects of performance.

It's been a little chilly here the last few days but there'll be some movement on my 900 pretty soon. Swingarm tubing should be here today or tomorrow. Exhaust tubing and rod ends have been shipped, so they should be showing up real soon as well. I've still got a couple of other projects I'm working on like I always am, but the bike will happen. 

The new year is here and the Missus made Hoppin' John yesterday. Let's hope it brings a prosperous and healthy year to us all.