Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Education News

The big story today in the NWI Times is about Indiana's former Supt. of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett, manipulating the grading scale used to rank Indiana's schools. Seems when a charter school run by a political donor came up a little bit short on the grading scale, Mr. Bennett's solution was to change the scale. Live Long and Prosper has a good take on the situation here.

In unrelated but never the less scary news, the Wall Street Journal had an op-ed piece the other day about day to day policing becoming more militaristic. Every police force and agency regardless of size it seems, now has a Swat team and military style weapons. According to the article, even the United States Department of Education now has a Swat team. Say what? Why in the hell would that be necessary?

So they create an education system that builds in "accountability" with big tests and then are surprised when people cheat or manipulate the data. As my dear old Pappy used to say: "Figures don't lie, but liars can figure." That explains Tony Bennett and all the rest of the cheaters that have come to light so far, but a Swat team? I don't think there can be a good explanation for that.

Monday, July 29, 2013


Got an e-mail from my buddy with the Camaro. The paint work is all finished and he got his new tires and front wheels. Says he still has a little bit to do on the tuning but it's one sweet car. I stopped by his house the other day to check it out. It was still missing a little trim and the final buffing but looked real good. He said he might stop by this weekend. I don't know if he's planning on driving this one down or not. Be nice to go for a ride and see how those dual quads work on the big block.

The Missus' garage sale went well. She sold a bunch of crap, I sold a little and now it's put all the leftovers away and return the borrowed tables, etc. She had beautiful weather for the sale. The temperatures have been fantastic for mid to late July. I've been out already this morning and it's another beautiful one out there. One of those days when it's perfect for working but because it's so nice, who wants to spoil it by working.

My nephew and his sweetie stopped by on Saturday. They're planning a big bicycle trip come next spring so I loaned them my bicycle trailer and panniers. I'm excited for them. I was planning a big motorcycle trip when I was young and about the time I was ready to go, some SOB stole my motorcycle. Couldn't afford a new bike and the trip so that was that. Bought a car and went to work and school, got married, kept working, retired and still haven't taken the trip. Do it while you're young, my friends. However, depending on their route, schedules, weather, etc., maybe I can catch up to them while they're on the road and ride along one day. That'd be cool. 

I've got a few things going this week - doctor and dental appointments, final exams and posting grades. Probably won't get much done other than that but that's OK. There's a little vacation time coming after that. Couple of weeks off and then back to the "grind" of working two days a week. Who ever would have thought that a heart attack would have been such a blessing. I got a call from a friend of mine yesterday. She's looking to do a road run so I need to start training for a 4 miler. It's one of the few local races I've never run. It's kind of funny that a vegan and a vegetarian will be running in the Pork Fest, though. Hope the weather stays cool. 

You all have a good week.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Chair Repair - Haven't Really Been Missing It

The Missus' big garage sale starts today so I was going through the barn trying to pare down some of my junk and decided my little trailer could go in the sale. This is one of the first things I made when I learned how to weld. I made this to pull behind my dad's riding mower for moving things around. If I'm not mistaken it hauled a couple of small block Chevy short blocks on it way back when. Just like most everything else that came out of my uncle's weld shop - ain't much for looks but hell for strong. Somebody will get a bargain at five bucks.

In between mowing and moving yesterday, I welded up three folding chairs for the gym. Haven't done much welding at home for a while - need to invest in a new welding helmet. I've got one that fits my hard hat with a small lens, one that has a big window but needs a new headgear and an auto-darkening one that needs batteries. I took my good one to the college. Maybe I'll bring that one home and buy a new auto-darkening one for there. I'm not all that crazy about the auto-darkening hoods, mostly because the viewing area is usually pretty small and I have trouble seeing with my bi-focals. 

When I TIG weld little jobs like the chairs, I usually just take my glasses off and stick my nose right down in there. Not really a good idea with the stinky paint on the chairs. Being able to see is a definite plus when welding this thin stuff up, however. I don't miss the high school but I do miss being able to call the welding salesman whenever I needed anything and he'd get it on the truck for me or stop by. I need to do an inventory and then go shopping at a real welding supply to get myself that new helmet and whatever else I need.

As it worked out, about five minutes after I welded up the chairs the Missus was looking for some to accommodate her helpers for the sale today, so that worked out well. After the sale is over, I can put my stuff back in the barn and start working on making my shop a little more user friendly as well as get back to work on the projects. At least I had something to post today that was like the "good old days" at the high school - chair repair. 


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Comment Reply

Two-tone green from the late forties - make a nice color combination for a teardrop trailer of the same vintage. Especially if you used to own a '48 Chevy. Put the light green on top to reflect the sun, dark green on the sides to blend in at the park. Hubcaps would be a nice touch. Have to get around to that some day.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Old Tools

Italian Motors posted this photo of a valve spring compressor he just bought. He picked it up from an old timer who made it right after the big war when he was a teenager. Looks pretty good for a hand made item that's roughly seventy years old.

Here's one I made probably close to twenty years ago, I would guess. It's adjustable in reach but a little springy in use. Don't know if it'll get peddled off to someone who'll appreciate and use it or just get tossed in the scrap bin when I'm gone but I do find some comfort knowing that I was doing the same thing that some unknown gentlemen from England was doing a generation before me. I would opine that most of us tinkerers have a lot in common with the craftsmen that came before us. While there is a huge spectrum of tool makers and users out there today, I really don't think you can be a good craftsman without some respect and interest in those who were practicing their crafts back in their day. How else would you explain "old school" hot rods or woodworkers making Shaker furniture? Even if we're trying to duplicate an item from years earlier, we all put our own little spin on things. And every mechanic, regardless of his medium, always ends up with a bunch of little specialty tools and fixtures for making the job go faster.

I did a little lumberjacking over the weekend. My little chainsaw quit working as it was designed so I thought maybe using the old rusty Champion pattern crosscut saw might be the way to go. After I got it cleaned up and spent about two hours sharpening it and still had a ways to go, I realized that it was going to be more trouble than it was worth and borrowed a chainsaw. It ran, but the blade on it was as least as dull as the crosscut so I sprung for a new chain and got things knocked out PDQ. However, I would like to sharpen up the old saw so it's a user again. Since Surly has been farting around with saws, I've gotten interested in them a little more as well. Unfortunately, this old saw has not only been neglected but it was sharpened all wrong in the past.

Surly did send me a saw set to help that part of the job along. Probably what I need more than anything is the tool for jointing the saw. That would make things easier but a new Stihl chainsaw is $180.00 and would be, if not easier, certainly quicker. Just not the same sense of satisfaction as you get from dickin' with old tools, however. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Miller Time

Frankie Flood at Handverker posted a bunch of photos from the Millers at Milwaukee event. He did the same last year and I had forgotten about it or I would have made the trip up there myself this year. I really dig those old cars, especially the roadsters from the late 50's until the rear engined cars came in. I remember listening to the Indy 500 for the first time in 1956 when I was six years old. I lived in Covington, Indiana at that time and the race was on Memorial Day. The actual Memorial Day before they changed the holiday celebration to Monday and the race day to Sunday. So Memorial Day was a day to remember the war dead early in the day and then the focus shifted to racing. Like the World Series in those days, the race was a big event and all radios were tuned to the Indy 500 coverage. I don't remember much about the race but I've been a fan of Indy Car Racing ever since. 

One of the things that has always impressed me about Indy cars was the craftsmanship and the really talented fabricators who turned out those beautiful cars in those years. In 1956 the field at Indy included cars built by Kurtis, Kuzma, Watson, and Lesovsky. That's pretty much the Who's Who of open wheel race car builders right there.  And with the notable exception of the V-8 Novi, all were Offenhauser/Miller powered. If you click on the Novi link, you can hear the sound of that car - easy to figure how a six year old kid could get hooked on race cars after listening to that.

So I guess the point of this post, if there is one, is that old race cars are cool. If you get a chance to see and hear them run, do it. These were cars driven by some of the greatest drivers, tuned by the greatest mechanics, and built by the greatest of the fabricators. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Got an Extra 100 Grand?

My old dream car - 1962 Jaguar E type


The new dream car - 2014 Jaguar F Type

I've always wanted an E Type Jaguar. Maybe British Racing Green or that beautiful silver blue they used to have. Convertible, of course. Abarth exhaust, tonneau cover for the passenger seat, open back driving gloves, silk scarve - you get the picture. Not the type of car you saw school teachers driving around in too often but if I ever had a dream car that was it. Now I think it's time to update the dream - Jaguar F Type. I saw a road test in the Wall Street Journal the other day on this thing and damn, I want one. 495 horsepower and it gets 23 mpg on the highway. As hard as it is to believe, I'd actually save money on gas driving it back and forth to work instead of the pick-up truck.

I did a web search and found several E Types available for around 10 large. Several were cars that had been in a flood. I don't know about British cars but the electrics on their motorcyles were suspect right from the factory - "Why do the British drink warm beer? They have Lucas refrigeration." I supposer a fixer upper Jag would be in the financial ballpark but that's why I bought the Suzuki. I don't need another fixer upper. 100K for a new F Type. I don't see that happening anymore than the E Type did for me back in the '60's but a man can always dream.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Airin' It Out

Cute little thing, now ain't it. I had to move the teardrop trailer out of the big barn to gain access to some furniture that was stored behind it that will hopefully be sold during the garage sale. As long as I had it out I gave it a good washing and aired it out for awhile. I haven't been camping in it for a couple of years now. That just seems wrong. Now that it's starting to be hot and sticky, might not be the best time to start back up again either. It looks like I'll be teaching just two classes this fall. That's the way things should be. Work two days a week and off five. Especially if I've got five in a row like it's looking right now. Plenty of time for camping when the weather cools down that way.

In the meantime, I'm working on my family history and doing the fetch and carry for the Missus and her garage sale. I really need to contribute some of my junk to the sale but haven't gotten around to much yet.

The family history project has been an on going project for years. When I visited my brothers recently the subject came up so I want to up-date things and then print out some copies for everyone that's interested. Like a lot of other people, I got interested in genealogy when Roots came on television many years ago. I'm glad I started on it when I did before a lot of my older relatives passed away. Probably the best part of all of it was talking to the elders and hearing their stories and the traveling around locating cemeteries. Cuzzin Ricky and I spent a few hours together chasing dead relatives. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning. Not much more to do to finish updating the thing and then I can put another project to bed.

Surly shot me an e-mail with several BSA photos (Sorry, can't give photo credit). The top one has some custom made sidecovers that look really nice. Nothing fancy but look real good with the rest of the bike. The bottom photo is primarily just for the paint scheme. The green with the gray/grey frame looks pretty nice. Unk was thinking either British Racing Green or a dark blue. After seeing the green with the gray frame, I could see that working. Especially with the white along the bottom of the tank.

I haven't made any specific plans for the week. Don't know why I should - never follow through on them anyway. I can plan on cutting more grass sometime in the next few days. Since it's been dry the last few days the grass has slowed down a little but it's looking maybe rain today. All part of part of owning an estate or is that a manor? As long as I've got a British motorcycle on the property, might as well start thinking like the British gentry even though I didn't come across any lords or ladies in the family tree. Maybe some bubble and squeak for dinner then.

Have a good week.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Surly Sportster

Surly now has a project bike of his own, as well as half ownership of the BSA, and there's a Sprint in my barn that belongs to him, if I remember correctly. Too bad the boy grew up surrounded by half finished motorcycle projects. Guess I'll have to take the blame for that. He got a good deal on this Sportster, though. If I didn't have so many projects, I would have pursued this one myself. A man needs to know his limits, however. Maybe I'll learn mine someday. 

Photo From Here
But right here? Some of the nicest looking sidecovers ever installed on a motorcycle. Since the BSA needs some, maybe something like on this 750 Sport would be in order. Might be hard for the average Joe to get excited about sidecovers but the next photo should help.

The  covers on the 750 GT bump out rather than in and both Ducatis feature a real sexy seat - the Sport on the bike, the GT on the lovely model. While this might not be the best picture to showcase the sidecovers, it does show the relationship between motorcycles and sexy looking girls before the world went all politically correct. At the risk of being pegged a chauvinist pig, as they used to say, I prefer the old days. When we were young guys hoping to someday afford one of these bikes, about the only other thing we were interested in was a little cutie to ride along. Well, maybe hot cars too but to get back to the business at hand, Ducati did have both "innies" and "outies" on the 750 sidecovers to choose from and I'm voting "innie". There are fiberglass sidecovers available to fit the oil in frame BSA's. These have the look of the earlier Triumph's. While these would be a substantial improvement over the stock BSA items, I'm leaning toward making my own. 

Both the GT and the Sport are of about the same vintage as the BSA and both companies were about at the end of their rope. It seems odd that both Ducati and BSA ended up with some rather weird styling on their bikes at this time. I suppose if you're about to go under because you've fallen behind technically, adding a futuristic styling touch might seem reasonable. At least Ducati didn't put a "ray gun" muffler on the GT like BSA did their Rocket 3.

Anyway, I need to decide what I'm going to do. I didn't need another project but I need to do right by my brother with the BSA. Making some spiffy sidecovers would be a fun project. I like doing that kind of thing and it would be a chance to improve my sheet metal skills. It's also what he had mentioned prior to his passing. Give me something to think about while I'm cutting the grass next time.

Friday, July 12, 2013


Boy Howdy. People who aren't involved in education have no idea how true this is. I understand the need to have communication between the staff and the administration but ultimately it always ends up going one of two ways. It's either a new plan to cure whatever seems to be the latest issue. - this will, of course, involve more work for the teachers who know that the last fifty attempts didn't do diddly squat to make things better.  Or there will be someone from the outside brought in who is an authority/specialist/gun for hire who has the answer. He too will unveil a program to make everything all better but the load will still be on the teacher's shoulders and when things don't actually improve he'll be long gone so the cycle will repeat itself. Again.

Now I need to decide if I should go to the meeting at the college this morning. Attendance for adjunct faculty is optional. It's going to be a nice day and will give me a good excuse to ride my bike and there's sure to be material for a blog post if I go. Be a really good day to cut the grass and work on a motorcycle if I decide to stay home. You can probably guess which way I'm leaning.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Awash With Squash

I came across a link to an article by Wendell Berry while perusing the Bless Our Hearts blog. The Wendell Berry article is about food and gardening and the relationship we have or should have with our food. Since I'm now awash with squash, seems like a timely article for me. If you don't garden, he gives you a couple of real good reasons to produce some of your own food. We'd all be a lot healthier if we had a better relationship with our food.

Now that the Square Foot Garden is producing, I need to remember to change a few things for next year. As you can see from the photo, the squash is crowding out the peppers. Since I value peppers much more than squash, that has to change. Also, the tomatoes are doing the same thing even though I left an empty row in front of them.

I made a really good brown rice dish the other day that included fresh peas from the garden and the Missus made me a gooseberry pie Tuesday. The red raspberries are coming in now and I'll soon have peaches that are ripe. The problem with the garden abundance is that everything comes in all at once, so either you preserve it some how or it goes to waste. The Missus knows how to can but when the air conditioner is running overtime in the July heat, do you really want to set a huge pot of water to boil in the kitchen? I was thinking about making some peach wine as a way of using some of the fruit, but having never made wine before, do I really need to get into all that? I do have the Whiz Bang apple grinder and cider press I made a couple of  years ago for when the apples come in. Some apple wine or hard cider might be pretty tasty this winter.

While all the rain we've been having has been keeping my arse planted on the mower seat much more than I'd like, it has been nurturing the garden, the fruit trees and the bramble fruits. I'll easily recoup my 200 dollar investment on the SFG this year alone. Next up on the gardening front is figuring out how to extend the growing season. Peppers from May to November would be nice. Read the article. Plant some food.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Grumpy Unk's Beezer Project

I did a little search on my deceased brother's blog to see what I could uncover as to his ideas for the BSA and came up with this:

Beezer Update .......... 

OK, Things have been a bit quiet on the BritBike front as of late. The good news is that progress is being made. Hey, I heard it run this morning. Started up real nice and even idled by its' own self. 
My fragile male ego was originally weeping and gnashing about having to admit I needed some help with getting this thing sorted out. 

I've gotten over it. 

Roger the Brit Guy, has been a huge help in schoolin' me about this bike. He knows these things inside and out and has taught me a BUNCH of stuff I wouldn't have found out about till it broke. I wish he lived a little closer so I could get over there a bit more frequently and hang around while he works. He's a natural teacher and seems to enjoy enlightening me. Not in a "Look how smart I am" way either. Nice guy. He pointed out many little things that were not right and explained how he's corrected them. He's a bit slow, as far as what he's gotten done for the time it's been there, but that's all right. Mine ain't the only bike he's been working on. He has been going over it from one end to the other and tweaking here and there. This bike, like most BritBikes, has been passed around and dicked with by a bunch of folks over the last 35 years. Subsequently, there's a lot of little flaws and things to be fixed. Shit I wouldn't have seen either.

So far - New electronic ignition, coils and Podtronics. Real spark, all the time! Steering dampener. Fork springs, seals and wipers. Carbs rebuilt. Several rounded off, broken off and stripped bolts/fasteners replaced or repaired. Kick start and shift lever fixed and/or setup properly. Chain adjusters fixed. Speedo housing and cable setup right. Brakes & bearings, front and rear, setup or replaced. Handlebar switches put in the proper place and wired correctly. Sump on the frame cleaned out. Footpegs mounted correctly, rear motormount bolt ... Oh shit, there's a bunch more too. 
I ordered all new cables from Rabers the other day and I'll replace them all when it gets back here also.

I found a guy right here in town that had a set of gauges. Proper type and like new. So I'll get those put on later too.

I've got a new tank too. Expensive as hell, but it's what I wanted. My tank has a leak (2 actually) and getting it fixed is gonna require some time and repainting, so I figured I may as well get a tank that I like. Here's what I bought:

This style tank was only for non-export bikes. All the US Bikes had little bitty ass 2.2 gallon tanks like this:

That's what my bike looked like 1 paint job ago. You can see the bars have also been changed from when this was taken, along with the addition of an oil cooler.
Surly is gonna help me design and make a different set of sidecovers. I just don't like the ugly ass ones that are on it now. I've got a set of velocity stacks, so the airbox and filters can be replaced.
I'm still thinking of a paint scheme for it. I'm leaning towards British Racing Green or Dark Blue with a similar white panel and striping like what's on the new tank. Not sure about any design on the sidecovers. We'll see.
The pipes are pretty beat up and will have to be replaced eventually. I don't know whether to go with a 2 into 1 setup, stock or maybe some upswept or backswept pipes. Not a priority right now anyway.
Trying to decide if I should try to make a fiberglass, Boat tail seat myself or buy a Corbin like this one:
Again, not a priority anytime soon. The Corbin is not all that much though .... Jebus! A guy can spend a fortune on these damn bikes. Even with the purchase price and all I put into it last year, shocks, tires and tubes, tail light, wiring, switches, headlight loom, etc. I'll still have less than I do in the Big Blue, Plastic Kawasaki. And I'm never gonna get rid of it anyway, so who gives a shit?

That pretty well sums up what has been done and where he was planning to go with the project. That makes things a whole helluva lot easier for Surly and I to continue on in the same vein as "Grumpy Unk", especially when you look at this additional post:

Maybe Something along These Lines..........

Saw this picture over at Yep, that's right in line with what I have in mind. It's '72 OIF Triumph. Other than the engine, same bike I have. Sweeeeeeeeeeeeet. 

Get out that wallet, Boy!

Looks like we might have the blueprint now. I'm in the middle of helping the Missus set up for a garage sale and Surly picked up a Sportster project, so there won't be much going on for a while, but at least I'm seeing the vision.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


I cleaned up the BSA a little bit over the course of the last few evenings. The bike doesn't look too bad with all the chrome shined up. It's kind of interesting to have the two bikes parked next to each other. They're both 650's but 35 years different in age. The BSA is physically a small bike but was considered a large bike back in the day. Especially when most of the bikes you saw on the street were Japanese 305/350 cc. The "big" Brit bikes were mostly 650 or 750 cc displacement and were the hot items. Norton did come out with an 850 but other than the Harley's, the 650/750 BSA, Triumph or Enfield was as big as they came. As such, these were the bikes that were ridden for long distance touring, commuting, as well as raced and turned into choppers. That's why it's rather rare to find one that is still in the stock condition. That then brings us to what to do with the newly acquired Lightning.

Photo From Here
Here's what the stock 1971 Lightning is supposed to look like. I personally was never all that crazy about the looks of this model. Not that it looked all that bad, it just didn't look like this:

Photo From Here
I really liked the look of the Spitfire. They had the round air cleaners and the much bigger sidecovers, as well as the fiberglass tank. The chrome disk on the front wheel was a little cheap looking when you got up close to one but the bike sure looked good in the magazine advertisements from the late 60's.

Photo From Here
Photo From Here
Here's a pair of what I would consider the classic Lightning. The one in the top photo is, of course, from a James Bond movie. While a guy wouldn't need a full fairing like that one unless he was planning on riding coast to coast, or be that heavily armed, having a good looking chick all dressed in leather on the saddle behind you was certainly part of the appeal of a motorcycle. With a BSA Lightning a guy could be as cool as Bronson or Brando - especially if it looked like the one in the bottom photo. As far as I'm concerned this is probably the best looking BSA they ever made. If you put this one next to the later model, it might look older but it's definitely sexier.
Photo From Here

But if you want to talk sexy, here's the one. Late model forks and brakes, a little custom sheet metal on the side covers, nice looking pipes and mufflers, and the classic chrome on the side of the gas tank.

My brother had asked me about making him some sidecovers for his bike but the conversation didn't go very far. Like me, I don't think he cared much for the style of the late model ones, especially with the new tank. I preferred the look of the round air cleaners also - more classic British, less Honda 350. Since my brother was heading in the direction of new tank and sidecovers, I'm thinking that's the way I need to go. I do have all the stock parts if I want to weld up the gas tank and get the sheet metal repainted. I need to talk it over with Surly and see what he says.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lightning Strike

1971 BSA Lightning
I headed south Sunday morning for a rendezvous at my sister-in-laws place. There was a doin's down that way on Saturday night but for a couple of reasons, I skipped that and made it in the next morning. I dropped off the pieces I machined up for my youngest brother, who rolled in a little after I did, and then a few of us loaded up the BSA that belonged to my brother that passed away. He wanted Surly and I to have it, so it's now in our possession.

It's a 650 Lightning that's all there and was running when he parked it. The last year it was plated was 2005 so it's been sitting for a while. The gas tank was leaking on it, so he bought the one that you see in the photo as a replacement.  Not sure yet what we're going to do with it but it's definitely going to get done and nicely.

When I got home and checked my e-mail, I found these. My "brother from a different mother" got the cross ram set-up on his Camaro  installed and the painter finished up the ghost flames on the fenders and the new hood. This is one sweet car. The engine has all fresh internals - crank, rods, pistons - and he went through the body a couple of years back with the same attention to detail. I need to swing by his place and check it out up close.

It's raining again this morning. It rained yesterday afternoon. It rained while I was gone. It rained before I left. Getting pretty damned tired of the rain. The Missus says it's my fault. I shouldn't have bought the new motorcycle. She might be right. I got rained on Friday morning coming home from work. Oh well. It'll dry out, turn hot and then I can bitch about that.

Have a good week.