Monday, March 31, 2014

Odds and Ends

Today's the 125th anniversary of the dedication of the Eiffel Tower. Truly a beautiful structure. 

The weather yesterday was actually like Spring. Not quite as warm as they had forecast but if you were out of the wind all you needed was a sweatshirt to be quite comfortable. Hallelujah, and pass the ammunition. It's about damn time. Supposed to be warm again today as well.

Started the chore list by hanging the harness brackets on the front of the barn. I installed a pair of  backer boards prior to sheeting the barn so all it really took was to get out the tools and have at it. I still need to close in around the door openings. That's going to require getting some more aluminum and renting the brake again but that will just about finish up the barn. That and replacing one of the roof sheets that got damaged when it blew down.  

Drug out the old Peugeot mountain bike and my one road bike and aired up the tires. The mountain bike was my winter commuter when I was at the high school. It's all geeked out so I could take the back roads and ride home in the dark. 

The big headlight is a cheap Wal-Mart light designed for a big six volt battery. I chopped the back end off the thing and made up an aluminum adapter to fit the bracket I had made for a regular flashlight. I've a similar bracket on the road bike that holds a small flashlight in place with a couple of "O" rings. It puts out about as much light as a cheap bicycle headlight but is handy if you need a flashlight for a breakdown or as a back up light around camp at night. The mountain bike has a cheap bicycle headlight as the back up that you can sort of see in the photo. Anyway, I took a little spin and both of them seem to be road ready. I'll give them a closer look before venturing out too far but it's time to ride.

Did a bunch of other little chores yesterday, as well. I sewed up a boxing glove for the gym in the morning while waiting for it to warm up a little, put a new sparkplug and changed the oil in the snowblower, put a screen in the bedroom window before "Little Miss Hot Flash" goes into meltdown, and took the fork brace in the photo off the old race bike so I could pass it along to Surly for his Sportster project. I measured up for the dog fence in the backyard and did a little piddlin' around the barn and yard. All in all, both a productive and enjoyable day. 

Man it felt good to be outside with out a snow shovel in my hands. I know we've got a few chilly days left yet but I needed the one yesterday. It's amazing how much a little warmth and sunshine can improve the mental health. 

Have a good week. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Handy Man

I got the job of restringing the french fry slicer for one of the ladies in the crochet group with the Missus. At least I'm keeping busy, right? 

The tomato seeds I started are all up. Most of the other seeds have sprouted as well. The high school Weld Shoppe boys are making me another six tomato stakes, so I'll have plenty now. I ordered a couple of blueberry bushes and they arrived  here the other day. Not exactly sure what to do with them, as it's too cold to stick them in the ground. According to the instructions, it's the old store them in a cool, dark place routine - down the basement or in an unheated garage, just don't let them freeze.

I called the dentist this morning. Seems that the implant has loosened up. I'm sure this will require another three or four trips to get it straightened out. Not looking forward to this monkey business, at all.

Better days are coming, however. Supposed to be close to sixty on Sunday and it's been at least three days since it's last snowed. I got a flyer in the mail for a bike ride I've done in the past. It's a 30 or 62 mile ride the middle of May. I should be able to get out and ride one of these days soon. Don't know if I need to do the 62 miler but 30 is conceivable. Regardless, the weather will improve and we'll all be able to get out and get some sunshine. 

Enjoy the weekend.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pump She Said

and pump, I did. And I don't work there anymore. (Thanks Pop. I've been throwing that one around  for must be fifty years now.)

I bought a pitcher pump the other day to complete my back-up well system. We had a power outage that lasted four days a few years back and I was just about ready to tap the water heater when the power came back on. I new the storm was coming so I filled up the bath tub and I always keep a couple of days worth of drinking water on hand but there's a limit to the number of gallon jugs I want to keep on the basement shelves. I bought the pipe and well point to put down a well shortly after the storm, but like many other things around here, didn't quite get around to finishing the job up. 

I'm not too paranoid but I was a Boy Scout just long enough to learn the Be Prepared motto. I read in the paper about a power station in California being shot up. Seems you could shut down the whole grid for a year or more if you took out nine or ten strategic locations around the country. Rather a scary thought but my concern is still more with Mother Nature. Plus, one of these days I'll have to change the well point on the primary system and that'll leave me without water for a few days. Soon as things warm up, I'll be driving a well.

I also bought myself a new speed bag and double end bag. I'm no longer able to get to the boxing gym like I used to due to the work schedule, so I'm going to hang these out in the new barn. The double end bag will require nothing more than a screw eye on top and a lead anchor in the floor. I bought the type of anchor that will allow me to remove the screw eye so there won't be a tripping hazard when it's not in use. I'll have to make a platform for the speed bag but that's easy enough. Need to stay in shape to fight off the zombies just in case the grid does go down. Or at least stay in good enough shape to pump water.

And just a little bit more of "I Used to Work in Chicago" for your listening pleasure. Enjoy

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Since the weather is starting to improve, even though it did snow just a bit last night and it may the next couple of days, it's about time to start working on things again. Since the 900 is apart, that's going to be the one I start on.

I've got my sidecovers made and they are basically the same as on this one, sans the holes. I've been thinking about dressing them up a bit and was thinking of rolling a design in them with the bead roller but I kind of like the holes. I made a bell mouth tool for 1" holes years back. It'd be nice to bell mouth all the holes but since there are about four different sizes pictured, that'd be at least three more bell mouth tools I'd have to make. Not that I couldn't do that but just one more thing. 

I like the cut-outs in the countershaft cover as well. I've got a Kosman style cover on the 900 so that's taken care of but the cover looks good - works well with the sidecover.  I'd like to see the rest of the bike.

This Kaw has the exhaust pipe on the left rather than the right side. I was planning on putting mine on the right side since the header already has the collector offset to that side but If I ever put a sidecar back on it the noise would be reverberating off the hack and the bike making things a little unpleasant for all concerned. Additionally, it was going to be a little tricky to route the pipe without getting it too close to the rear master cylinder. As soon as I get the swingarm welded up, that'll be next on the list.

I've got several pressing concerns that need to override the motorcycle job but I'll be able to sneak in a little work on the rainy days. Need to scratch the itch. Both photos from here, by the way.

Have a good week.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

American Welding Society

I received an e-mail the other day from the American Welding Society that had this video embedded in it. The AWS is increasing their role in education by partnering up with schools, the big problem being that working with the AWS is rather expensive, especially since welding programs are expensive to run and most don't have enough money to begin with. My boss and I were talking about that very issue the other day. Company membership dues, required materials, testing site certification - lots of money up front and on an annual basis. Individual dues are up to $80.00 per year now. The Society is offering online training programs but these too are pretty salty - the one for welding symbols is $300.00. 

The video mentions certifications, "stackable" credentials and education programs but, unfortunately, I see all of this limited by the cost involved, at least for high schools and junior colleges. The State of Indiana was moving towards the AWS SENSE program for vocational classes my last year at the high school but I think they've gone away from that because of the money issue. It's a shame, but most high schools are not going to be able to buy stainless, aluminum and all the carbon steel required for the program or have all the equipment to perform the required welds with MIG, TIG, stick, flux core, oxy-fuel and air arc cutting. Just changing from carbon steel to stainless and aluminum with the MIG requires different liners and three different shielding gases. 

If you watch the video, and I suggest you do, you'll be impressed with what the AWS is planning for the future of the Society. However, in society at large, it's going to be tough to accomplish without an influx of cash to the public schools. At least it'll provide school administrators another opportunity to use their fall back mantra: "I'd like to help you, but there's just no money". Much as it pains me to say it, in this case, I'm sure that's true.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I bottled up my homemade wine over the weekend. The apple is really good, the peach not so much. I started with four one gallon jugs, two gallons of each. You lose some due to the settling of the dregs on the bottom of the gallon jug - probably close to a 1/2 quart out of each gallon. The book said to bottle it twice. The first time from the gallon jug to another gallon jug, make up the air space with sugar water, allow it to finish and then decant it into the smaller bottles. By the time I remembered to do that, it had already pretty much stopped fermenting, so I said the hell with it, I'll just take my chances and see what I get. In the case of the apple, good stuff. In the case of the peach, that probably would have helped it. Probably the best thing for it would be to distill it to save the alcohol and make an octane booster out of it. I'll definitely make some more apple cider and wine this year if I get apples. Maybe stick to just eating the peaches.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


I found both of these at Harley Davidson Factory Photos by way of Gibs Art. The top photo was captioned Willie G. and his brother. I'm not an authority on Harley-Fergusons but I'm guessing those are something like '56 "K" models that the boys modified to their own tastes with some definitely non-standard parts.  The solo saddle and "P" pad,  the single pipe per cylinder with shorty mufflers. That's pretty much the look Surly is shooting for. And what the hell, if it's good enough for Willie G., should be good enough for anybody. 

The bottom photo as you can tell is a '63 Pacer, the second motorcycle I ever owned. The first was a Honda Sport 50 of the same vintage. The Honda's long gone but the little Harley is still here. It'll end up with one of the grandsons one of these days. Obviously the design department incorporated the Sportster styling in the little bikes as well. It's a fun little thing as long as you're not interested in going fast. 

I think I might have told this story before but the Pacer's been in the family since about 1967. My Old Man drug it home. It was locked up and missing the seat and tank. He told me if I could get it running we'd be partners on the deal. After getting the engine unstuck, putting some new rings and clutch plates in it and locating a seat and tank for it, it was all systems go. After moving up to a bigger bike, my brother John took over my half, with my youngest brother Jim doing the same later on. Surly learned to ride on the thing and I learned how to ride while standing on the saddle no handed, as well as sitting on it backwards. Floyd Clymer I wasn't. Never really mastered that trick but the bike had a chrome crash bar that stuck out on the sides so you could lay the bike down without hurting it. Which is a good thing because it's not that hard to ride while facing backward but it is hard to stop without falling off.

Good thing the weather is starting to warm up a little. I'm starting to get pretty far back down Memory Lane. Don't want to get stuck back there. The late '60's/early 70's wouldn't be a bad spot to be stuck. Unless you ended up in Vietnam, however, or weren't a fan of bell bottom pants and the whole Super Fly look. Me? I was digging the scene, brother. 

Peace Out!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Train Wreck

Here's why you're supposed to stop, look and listen when coming to railroad tracks. This one happened on the tracks by my house that are in the photos from the previous post. The lady driving the pickup ran into the lead locomotive and it tossed her into the ditch. I heard the train coming - normally everything gets put on hold when we hear a train coming so we can wave and watch it go by - but either she didn't or figured she could beat it. Guess not.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Mo' Snow

Here's the view looking north this morning. The color balance is obviously skewed to the blue side by the early morning sun and the snow itself, but the train looks pretty cool framed between the trees. This is actually the end of the train rather than the front, so it's leaving the frame rather than entering.

Here's the view looking south. I just stuck my head out the door and snapped the picture. Again the snow's affected the light balance but you can see all the beautiful snow covering everything with a 4-5 inch blanket that was mostly all bare yesterday and that I'll have to go shovel again today and will drift with the 30 mph wind gusts and the roads will be terrible and it'll be all gone again on Friday anyway meaning that all the shoveling will be mostly for nothing and 

it really is lovely, however, and looking at the bright side I've got no place I need to go and it will all be gone in a couple of days and I'm going to start some seeds and light the fireplace and enjoy my time off with the Missus on our anniversary.


As the old joke goes: 43 years with the same woman. I hope my wife never finds out.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Warm Enough To Work!

Went over to the school yesterday and judged the welding plates. There were three contestants but only two can go, so I got to make the decision. All three of them looked pretty fair. They'll be heading to Indy on Thursday for the contest. It'll be interesting to see how they do. I snapped a photo of the stairs with the rope handrail installed while I was there. Seems like every time I stop in there's always something going on and it always looks good. Nice to see the program prospering. 

After I came home I moved the light for the wood lathe. Didn't take long since I had all the parts and it was warm enough to work without gloves on. My old hands don't take too kindly to the cold anymore. It's supposed to be fairly warm today again but sleet and snow moving in tonight. They're talking a couple of inches of snow or more. As long as it's not a damn ice storm with power outages and all that. 

I've been looking into getting a transfer switch and a plug hooked up for back-up power. Now that my portable welder is running again it makes enough power to run the furnace and the well pump. I haven't decided the best way to make it handy to get to, however. I made the trolley beam for the new barn which would make it easy to load up into the pickup and bring it up close to the house if needed. Maybe a little trailer. Harbor Freight sells a little cheapie that would be about right. Something else to think about. Not ready to add it to the list yet, but I am willing to think about it.

Off to do something outside before it snows again.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Odds & Ends

Surly and I had breakfast together yesterday morning so we could get caught up on some things and maybe come up with a plan to help each other out with our projects. He's been collecting parts for his Sportster project and he's about got everything needed to build a motorcycle. I like what I've seen so far. We don't always see eye to eye on projects but I think this one is going to hit the bulls-eye. I don't know if he'll have a picture up yet with the new tank but definitely check it out. I'll be helping him build some pipes and whatever else he needs welded. Should end up being a real nice scooter.

Dorkpunch has an account now with Donors Choose. He's a middle school teacher in rural Idaho who, like most shop teachers, is doing an awful lot with an "awful lot". That is, the budget's real slim and he's teaching a variety of subjects. And from what I've seen through his blog and his comments here, he's most deserving of a little bit of your help. It's really easy to make a donation. All it takes is a couple of minutes and a credit card or a Paypal account. You'll receive a receipt so you can deduct it from your taxes and you'll be helping out the kind of teacher we need more of. Doesn't need to be a lot of money. Believe me, every little bit helps.

A couple of quick facts as seen in an article in the Wall Street Journal last Thursday:

The median net worth of American adults is less than $45,000.
Almost a third of American adults have a net worth of less than $10,000.

Other than college kids & monks, it's hard to imagine being an adult and not having a net worth greater than the value of a decent used car. I suppose if you drop out of school and have zero skills, having nothing wouldn't, or shouldn't, come as too big a surprise. Likewise, the headline story in the NWI Times was about heroin addiction in the region. Probably not your best investment choice when it comes to building assets. But a third of all adults with a net worth of $10K or less? Makes you wonder what's going on there and what's going to happen to them when they are my age.

As always, I'm pitchin' education as the solution but eventually personal responsibility has to come into play. In spite of all the money that's been thrown at poverty over the years since Johnson's Great Society and the War on Poverty, doesn't seem like much progress has been made. In fact, it seems that we've regressed quite a bit. Just food for thought.

Heading over to the high school in a little bit to judge some welding plates. My replacement is taking a couple of students to a welding contest and he had the contenders weld some plates. The top two of my picks will be going to the contest. I'd be willing to bet they'll also have a net worth of more than $10K only a couple of years after graduation.

Have a good week and enjoy the roller coaster weather we'll be having.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Up To Speed, Once Again

Photo From Here - NSFW

Things are back up to speed on the computer once again. It took the IT guy about an hour to straighten everything out and take a few steps to insure it wouldn't happen again. Someone hacked in and was able to buy a ticket to Caracas with our credit card and that's about when the computer started having issues, so I assume the two are related. The credit card company noticed the charge on the card before any damage was done but we did have to close out the account and get new cards. It would be nice if they voided the ticket out in time so the thief would be left standing at the boarding gate watching the plane taxi away while the cops were putting the cuffs on him. You'd think buying airplane tickets with a hacked credit card would be rather risky. However, this was about the time the demonstrations in Caracas were making front page news. Someone must have had a pretty strong desire to join in if they were willing to take the risk. My idea of risk taking is more like the guys in the photo. 

I'm on spring break next week, so I'm hoping to get a little something done around here. Not so sure the weather's going to co-operate, however. I was out early yesterday and shoveled off the little bit of snow that was on the sidewalk and driveway by where we park so the sun could get everything dried off. Everything was dry like a popcorn fart about noon but it's snow covered again this morning. This is definitely starting to get old but better days are coming.

That's it for now. Have a good weekend and don't forget to set the clocks ahead.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Need Some DDT

A BSA 650 combo, yesterday...

Just a quick note to let you know the computer has a bug - repair scheduled for Thursday. I'll be back.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Memory Lane

Took a little trip down Memory Lane the other day. My buddy with the Camaro asked me a while back, quite a while back actually, if I could find the photos I took of his car at my parents place long time back. He was pretty sure they were slides rather than prints but it had been so long I had no recollection. Since it's been so damn cold I figured it would be a good time to spend an afternoon looking for his slides/prints and see if I could find a picture of my old sidecar rig. Come to find out it was slides and they were dated July '78. I didn't find the picture of my sidecar rig but I did find a slide of it when Surly and I took a trip to Kentucky on it in '83. I'm not sure what the best way is to convert slides to prints these days but I need to get a few made. When I do, I'll scan a couple of them in. 

While digging through the big plastic tub of slides, prints and negatives I came across several B&W 5x7's taken at my old house. The top photo above is of a Honda 350 I made the two into one high pipe and megaphone for. I think I also mounted the seat and made some footpegs for it. The bottom photo is my '94 Ducati 750 SS. Hard to believe that was 20 years ago. Time does indeed fly but it's nice to have some photos to remember things by. Especially for a guy who can't remember what he had for breakfast, let alone things that went on 20 years or more ago.