Friday, May 30, 2014

English Wheel - Again

In response to the comment I received about my English wheel in the previous post, here's a rough sketch of the dimensions. The main frame is made from 3" square tubing as are the gussets in the corners. The frame is trussed with a piece of 3/16' x 1-1/2" flat around the top and side. The two legs you can see in the photo are 2"x3" tubing and there is a lug on the opposite side so the frame can be bolted down in three spots. The throat width is 18" inside the wheeling surface and is 30" inside the frame in the vertical direction. 

The top wheel is 9" OD x 2-1/4" wide and spins on a couple of common metric bearings (6203 for top wheel, 6202 bottom wheel if I remember correctly). The "U" shaped bracket holding the wheel is made from 3/8" flat bar that is welded to a piece of 2" sch 80 pipe that I turned to 2-1/4" OD and cut a 3/16" keyway the length of it to prevent the assembly from rotating when cranking on the handle. The 2" pipe slides inside a 3" sch 80 pipe (maybe even sch 160) that was bored for a bronze bushing. I also whittled down the OD to 3-1/4". The outer pipe is welded to a 3/8" flat plate that bolts to an identical plate on the end of the tube frame. The outer pipe has a slot milled in it that receives a key to match up with the keyway in the inner pipe. Basically, the whole assembly works like a Wilton machinist vise - key, slot, acme screw thread, couple of thrust washers, handle.

The bottom wheel support is a little tricky. There are two pieces of brass that support the lower wheel that ride in slots in 1/2" flat bar and sit on a 1" round bar. The bar has a flat machined on each end so you can spin the bar around and when the flats align with the brass pieces, it relieves the pressure on the wheel so you can take your part out and check it. When you put it back in, you turn the handle on the round stock and you go right back to the same pressure setting you had.

A clever guy who is a decent machinist could probably build this thing off of what's here. I made mine after looking at some plans and from my notes at the school I attended. The only real cost that was involved for me was buying the bearings and the acme screw thread to run the top wheel up and down. I didn't have a piece thick enough to make the wheel so I welded three pieces of 3/4" thick material together and then machined everything up true. Neither the top or bottom wheel have been heat treated but I figured I was going to be working primarily with aluminum, so that wasn't going to be an issue. I don't have a CAD program anymore or I would measure everything up and whoever wanted the plans could get them with a click. If someone wants some more detailed measurements, I could probably get those in a somewhat timely fashion and post them here.

The machine work requires a lathe and a mill. It's nothing a decent machinist couldn't handle but it is time consuming. If you had to farm it out, you might be better off buying one. Cheap ones can be had for as little as $300.00 - good ones run between $2,000.00 to $3,000.00 depending on bench model or floor model and you can buy the machined pieces and build the frame yourself for less money. Or you can shop around and buy a vintage one with a cast frame for slightly less than an arm and a leg.

If I ever get half-assed caught up and decide I need to build anything else, it will be a louver press. There's been more than a couple of things I've built over the years that would have profited from a couple of strategically placed louvers. In fact, I'm sure I could find  a couple of spots on the VW that could use a few. In the meantime, I'll try to figure out where to put my stake plate.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

English Wheel

The Blastolene Indy Special from here. If you want to know more about the builder of this machine, check out Randy Grubb. If you go to that page there's a short video of him making a helmet. If you're into metal working at all it's a must see. And then, if you decide to jump in with both feet, this is for sale:

A genuine made in England, English wheel. The asking price ain't cheap but quality rarely comes cheap. And if you decide to buy it, you can start building things like this:

Both photos from here, by the way. I wish I had the time to do more sheet metal work. I do have most of the necessary tools, including my own homemade English wheel.

A long time back I took a class on building NASCAR stockers in the heart of stock car country at the Motorsports Training Center in Mooresville, NC. I got a chance to play with the English wheel and the instructor was kind enough to let me measure up a few things and make a few patterns of the lower wheels. I finally got around to making one several years back. It's not as sexy as the one above but it's mine, it works, and it didn't cost me $9,000.00. The frame's a little small if you were going to be a full time panel beater, but it's just about right for motorcycle work. I've been working on getting the back part of my shop in order and in few more days I should have a spot for both the English wheel and my planishing hammer where they'll be readily accessible. I've been wanting to get started on making the sidecovers for the BSA but I really need a place where I can have all my tools laid out and handy. Should be there soon.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

He's Back

Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend. Cuzzin Ricky and I did the annual Dead Relative Tour on Sunday and then stopped and picked up the Sportster on our way home.

I really didn't need another project or another motorcycle but as I mentioned in a previous post I've always wanted one, so why not? The sheet metal has been repainted and looks real nice. The engine is in pieces but everything is ready to go back together. The valves have been touched up, the cylinders honed and it came with a new set of rings and a gasket set. The front master cylinder was all "jellied up" from old brake fluid but a repair kit came with it. I cleaned up the master cylinder and installed the new parts today. I swapped out the handlebars that are in the photo for a flat-track bend that also came with the bike. Next up will be completing the front brakes. I saw a set of new pads and a steel braided line in the box of parts, so hopefully it won't take too much to finish that up.

I finished up the skid for hauling my welder around on while I've been MIA.

I'm rather pleased with the way it came out. With the 3-point hitch it's easy on/easy off. The only trouble I had finishing it up was my cheapie Chinese spray gun broke. I bought a small trim gun a few years ago from Harbor Freight. I haven't really used it much but it broke just the same. There's a trigger rod with a piece of plastic bonded to it that allows the air to flow when you pull the trigger and doesn't allow it to flow when the plastic piece cracks in two. Fortunately, I was almost done when it broke. After I figured out what happened, I just left the piece out and sprayed like a mad dog since I couldn't shut the air off. I don't know if I can get the part or not. I can probably figure out some kind of way to machine up a replacement but I think I paid only twenty something for the gun to begin with. Probably not worth fooling with - especially since I've got a Sportster to get running. 

I've got a couple of other things done while the computer was down. I'll save those for another day, however.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Photo From Here

Actually, maybe not. Other than the computer at home quitting, things are going pretty smooth right now. If I went to Paris, I'd just get farther behind. I'm typing this at the library, might be a few more days before my computer is fixed - don't expect much, as if, in the meantime.  Until then, get outside, enjoy the weather and get some vegetables in the ground.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Common Core

I've commented several times in the past about my dislike for Common Core. My complaints are founded on my understanding of the content, especially the math, and how it would affect the type of students I typically had when I was at the high school. The internet is full of unflattering comments on Common Core because folks think it will lead to a national curriculum controlled by the feds, and we all know what happens when they get put in charge. Obviously from that statement you can see that I'm inclined to agree with a lot of what's being said but since many of the comments are from people without any education credentials (which may actually be a good thing), I've refrained from commenting on what could easily become a one size fits all but none well education system here in America. However, since George Will is a pretty smart cookie, you might want to take a couple of minutes and check out the video to get his take on the subject. He sums it all up rather well, I think.

I quoted an article from the Hillsdale College Imprimus a couple years ago:

 "The Department of Education spends about $200 million a year on research intended to improve educational practice. No evidence exists that these expenditures have done any significant good."

Probably not much chance of things improving any with Common Core either as long as the feds are in charge.

In other education news, the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed piece Monday on Mayor De Blasio of New York City signing off on a new contract with the teacher's union. The "deal includes an 8% retroactive raise plus a 10% cumulative bump through 2018". Starting pay will now be $54,411 and maximum will top out at $119,565 plus $1,000 signing bonus for approving the contract. The contract also includes provisions for extra money for teachers at 'hard-to-staff' schools and mentoring teachers. Additionally, the teachers don't have to give any of the money back to pay for health insurance premiums.

When I retired I was at the top of the scale, both with years of service and education. I was making roughly half what the top teachers in NYC will be making in 2018. In the next county over, the maximum pay is pretty close to what will be the starting pay for NYC teachers in 2018.

When New York once again goes broke, the teachers and public employees will be called upon to shoulder the blame. Before that happens, I would like to point out that the union was just doing its job and the politicians were not. I wish my union could have gotten me a similar contract. Maybe with Common Core will come Common Contracts and all teachers will be making $100K every year. Since that's not likely to happen, maybe, just maybe, it's time for the feds to just back away from public education completely. Close down the DOE, send Arne Duncan home and give the states block grants to spend on educating their citizens the way they seem fit. That's not likely to happen either but as long as the President is concerned about income equality, might as well start by throwing a bone to the teachers out in the small communities of America. Judging from NYC, the teachers in most of the big cities seem to be doing alright on their own.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I'm pumping water out of the ground - pretty happy about that. When I got ready to put the pump on the stand pipe I looked at the bottom of the pump and something didn't look right. I checked out the exploded view in the instructions and it seemed as if the bolt that holds the weight to the bottom diaphragm was missing. I took the pump apart and the bolt was inside but the nut and washer were missing. Fortunately I had a 6mm nut in stock, so it was bolt everything back together and screw the pump onto the stand pipe. Primed it, waited five minutes like it said to in the directions, and bingo, I had water. The water was still a little cloudy but it started to rain before I could pump much. The well water was starting to clear up, however, before I ran for cover. It comes out better than the little drizzle that you see in the picture but it's tough to take a decent photo while working a pump handle, especially when it's starting to rain.

Now I need to finish the platform for the welder. We've had some serious storms the last few days and we've been lucky that the power hasn't gone out. I'm not sure how I would've kept the little chicks warm down the basement if the power went out. Now that the pump job is finished, the welder platform is next on the agenda. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Workin' The Plan

I brought my welder platform home the other day. Unfortunately, there was a slight miscalculation on my part so I need to move the pins out a little farther in the front. No big deal but I figured all I had left was to make two brackets for the top pin, weld them on and splash some paint on the thing. Depending on the weather, I hope to get it finished this week anyhow.

Started driving the well over the weekend. That's a five foot piece of pipe sticking out of the ground with the driver slid over it. There's already ten feet of pipe plus the three foot of well point stuck down in the ground. I drive it down another two foot and I should be good on water and it will be at a convenient height when I screw the pitcher pump on. This operation is something real close to work. Also, depending on the weather, I'd like to have this done this week also.

You need to look close but there's a baby hazel nut tree in there. It made it through the winter OK and is greening up nicely. I've got two of the little ones, one that's a couple of years old and another about five years old. I planted a couple of blueberry bushes already this spring and the Missus just ordered a few things, so I told her to throw in a couple of Goji berry plants as long as she was ordering. They're supposed to be real good anti-oxidants but other than you can buy them at Menards covered in dark chocolate, I don't know a whole lot about them. 

I wish my grandmother was still around. In my quest to become self sufficient, she'd be a great source of advice - both grandmothers as far as that goes. One was born in 1898 and the other 1906. Their normal way of living when they were young is the back-up plan I'm aspiring to. Don't know that I need to go off the grid or anything like that, but being food secure and having heat and water during a power outage is always good. 

The vacation officially has started and I'm off to a running start. Looking forward to a very productive summer. Hope it's the same for all of you.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

1973 XLCH


1973 XLCH Sportster. This one is from an e-Bay listing courtesy of Surly. I'll soon be the proud owner of one similar to this. This one in the photo is obviously all together. It's running and looking good. Mine won't be, of course. In fact, I haven't even seen it yet, but I do know the motor's apart and it needs some TLC. As much as I've always wanted a Sportster, I damn sure don't need another project bike. The only reason I'm taking on this one is to help a guy out who is currently dealing with some medical issues. It will, however, scratch a 45 year old itch.

When I was a senior in high school in 1968, the Sportster was the hottest thing going. I wanted the '68 XLCH bad but just couldn't afford it. I bought a Sprint instead. I had the Sprint for almost a year exactly and then some SOB stole it. I had my eye on a Triumph 500 Daytona to replace it with but "The Old Man" said it was about time I bought a car of my own. So I bought a car and then another car, and trucks, and motorcycles but never a Sportster, or a Triumph Daytona for that matter. Looks like now I'll finally have the Sportster and I've got my brother's BSA, so I'm hooked up in the English bike department as well.

I'll be taking possession some time in the next couple of weeks. I'll let you know when it gets here.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Walking the Dog

I started my vacation last evening by participating in a one mile dog walk to help support a local police K-9 group. The young lady I normally do the run/walks with brought her dog and we had a great time walking the mutts on a beautiful evening through a lovely part of town. I came across another 5K in June that will be an 80's themed event. After the run there will be a band, food, fireworks and a beer garden. I was never too big on the whole decade but a 5K on a Saturday night with all the trimmings could be fun, so that looks like our next outing. I'll have to see if I can dig up a leisure suit some place.

The weather today is supposed to be lovely, so I need to get out and get busy. Calling for cool temps and rain most every day next week. Won't be able to get much done outside that way but that'll give me a real good excuse to pick back up on a couple of the projects in the shop.

Enjoy the weekend.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Welding Projects

I've been making a skid/platform to hang off the back of my tractor to haul my welder around with. It's made from 4" angle from a table they cut up at the college. I still need to cut the holes for the three point hitch pins on the bottom and the brackets for the top but it'll be done right soon. The power went out again about a week ago - only for about an hour - but long enough to remind me that the project needs to be finished. The Missus has trouble breathing when it's hot and humid, so now that the weather's warming up, I want to make sure I've got back up power to at least run a window air conditioner for her. One of these days I need to wire in a transfer switch also. Then I can just back the tractor up close to the house, plug the welder in, flip a switch and run the furnace or AC, well pump, etc., without a bunch of monkey business.

Here's a photo of the Battle Chute the Weld Shoppe boys made for the high school football team. I'm not exactly sure how the thing is supposed to work, but it looks good anyway.

Here's the crew responsible. I had a few of them in class before I retired, a couple of them in the boxing gym, and at least one of them in both. Fine young men. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Little Ducati

Here's the photos I promised of my buddy's Ducati that he's taking to Italy for the Giro:

Good looking motorcycle, I'd have to say. He always does a great job of getting them running and cleaned up but he got a little professional help with the paint on this one, so it's just a touch nicer than usual. He says he's got just a few more details to take care of but it runs great. Good thing he knows a good TIG welder, Shop Teacher Bob says shamelessly. 

He'll be off to Italy soon and I wish I were going along, of course. What cyclist wouldn't want to see the 100th anniversary of the Giro d'Italia? Best wishes to Bob, have fun and ride safe.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Glenn Curtiss

The Wall Street Journal had a review of the book Birdmen by Lawrence Goldstone over the weekend. The book is about the early days of flight and the battle between the Wright brothers and Glenn Curtiss. While the Wright brothers may have been the first to make a manned flight, they were extremely secretive and wanted to control all things aero to guarantee their fame and fortune. Curtiss, on the other hand, was an extremely talented engineer and athlete and proceeded to move forward openly and on several fronts in spite of being sued by the Wright brothers for patent infringement of their wing warping design. Of course Curtiss wasn't alone - the Wright brothers sued everyone who built a plane in the early years.

I had the good fortune of making it out to Hammondsport, NY to the Glenn Curtiss Museum a few years ago - definitely well worth the trip. As one of my personal heroes, I've read quite a bit about Curtiss and I've come to the conclusion that the Wright brothers couldn't carry Glenn Curtiss' lunch bucket, in spite of all the press they've received over the years. At one time Curtiss was the fastest man in the air and on land. He set both records with machines of his own design. He also is the man who invented the "fifth wheel" for pulling trailers and the motorcycle twist-grip throttle.  Coincidentally, Motorcyclist magazine has a "wright" up on Curtiss in the current issue. It's a nice little article hitting the highlights of his career. If you're at all into motorcycles or airplanes, you should definitely be familiar with Glenn Curtiss. I'm looking forward to getting a copy of Birdmen and reading more.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Peeps and a Personal Trainer

Stumbled across a site with nothing but bikes and sports cars - especially good for those of us who fancy the bright red Italian jobs like the Maserati pictured above. 

Speaking of Italian jobs, I welded up a piston the other night for my buddy who's heading to Italy for the Motogiro d'Italia. He's got the bike pretty much done but the cylinder/piston combination was smoking a little. The only new piston he could find was $350 bucks and it was coming from England, so after digging through his boxes of parts he came up with one that was exceptionally nice except for a few dents on the top of the intake side from something that got swallowed at one time. I touched them up and he should have it together and running this weekend. He said he'd send me a couple of pictures when he's got it done.

Went in on my day off the other day to work on a couple of things of my own and for a boxing demo that was being presented. The man in charge was Norrence Smith.

He's a body builder and personal trainer. He taught me how to do some martial arts style leg kicks. My thoughts in the past were always size the dude up and if it looked like I couldn't out box him, use my legs to out run him. Now I'm at the age I'd probably do like they tell you when you're getting attacked by a bear - roll up into a ball and put your hands behind your neck. He had another guy with him (Coach Zeke?) who was holding the mitts and explaining the boxing basics to people. I took a turn on the mitts and at least looked better than all the rookies. I hung around for about an hour and really enjoyed the time. Both of the trainers seemed to be both personable and knowledgeable. It's nice that the college brings people in like that. I've been to several of the different presentations and they've all been interesting and worth taking the time to check out.

I got a few more baby chicks this week. They were supposed to show up today but came in a couple of days early. No biggie since I already had things set up, but a real plus was there was a meeting scheduled at the college I had to ditch to go pick up the chicks - sweet. Any excuse to skip meetings is a good one but day old chicks? Hard to top that one without someone being really ill or dead. Anyway, the newly arrived Golden Comets seem to be adjusting to life in the basement quite well. They were all eating and drinking shortly after I put them in the box and of course that was followed shortly thereafter with the other thing they do, and I don't mean sleep. 

It's amazing that they can hatch out baby chicks, box them up and mail them damn near any place in the country and the little darlings will arrive just fine without having any food or water on the trip. Just one more of life's little miracles.

Have a good weekend - I'll see if I can't finish planting the garden.