Friday, October 31, 2014

Divco & Heat

I received a Christmas catalog from Grizzly Industrial the other day and while thumbing through it I came across plans for making a wooden Divco delivery truck. If you've read this blog for any length of time you know I've got a soft spot for old delivery trucks/vans. I must not be the only one if they're selling plans for these things. Plans are $14.95 and the parts kit is $9.95. Might have to put this on my Christmas list. I've already got a couple of model kits that need assembly but if I was still teaching woodshop at the high school, I'd be all over this thing.

In the Christmas came early department, I bought myself a heater for the shop. Menards with their 11% off sale had this one for about the same price as the one from Tractor Supply. This one is supposed to be about 50% quieter than other similar heaters and won't take up much space being that it's only about 16" long x 13" high. I can plug it into the 20 lb. tank from the gas grill but I'm thinking about buying a bigger tank. I rode my bicycle over to the Co-Op where we get our propane for the house to see what they've got for tanks and the fill-up procedure but the route driver wasn't there. The secretary said I should talk to him and gave me a phone number to call, so that's on the to-do list. 

Looks like I can put the heater in the back part of the shop and shoot the heat into the front easily enough. I'd prefer having the tank outside the shop if I end up with something larger than a 20 lb tank. The heater has a 10' hose on it which would give me enough length to do that with the spot I have in mind. Might not be a bad idea to get a carbon monoxide detector for the shop just to be on the safe side. If I'm heating the air from the back part of the shop and blowing into the insulated part, I wouldn't think there would be a problem - not like reheating the same air over and over in a closed space - but I don't need to kill any more brain cells than I already have. 

It'll be nice to work in a heated area - I'm getting to be a big sissy in my old age.

Happy Halloween! 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Last Glad Standing

Even though we've had a couple of frosts lately, this gladiola is still blooming. I need to dig up the bulbs before we get a hard freeze so I can replant them next year. This one came from the batch I planted last year and dug up. I'm not real good and remembering to do these sorts of things but since I've cut back on the work load seems like it's a lot easier. Funny how that works now, isn't it?

Came across this fungi/saprophyte thing growing in the back yard while mowing. Seem to get a lot of different types that pop up. I was kind of surprised to see this one so late in the year. It's a bit bigger than a baseball. Enough of the flora and fauna tour of the back yard. Now to the important stuff. 

I'm starting to like the two days per week thing with work. Yesterday I ran some errands, cut both the front and the back yards, got a haircut, pulled the mower blades off so I could sharpen them, did an oil change on the truck, topped off the washer fluid in the truck and the car all before four in the afternoon, and I've got four more days before I've got to go back to work. Which means if I'm going to keep on this pace this winter, I'm definitely going to need some better heat in the shop or get something set up down the basement. 

When I was in Noblesville last week I went to a Tractor Supply Store and they had a nice forced air propane heater. 60,000 BTU output for $99 bucks. My work area in the shop is only 20' x 20' but with a couple of big chunks of cast iron in there, it takes a while to warm it up with my little kerosene heater. The heater doesn't have a fan on it so if you're not moving around the heat just goes up rather than out, plus kerosene stinks.  I don't know how loud the forced air heater would be but I think I could rig it up in the back part of the shop and pipe the warm air up front. I read in the paper the other day that if you're 65 years old, the average life expectancy is 84.6 years of age. If that means I've got another 20 years left, no reason to spend them shivering in the cold or holed up in the house all winter - especially if you pro-rate the cost of the heater over the twenty years. Five bucks a year? I can do that. There's a TSC only about a 5 minute drive from school. I'll stop in and give it a closer look. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Update

Saw this in the window of the car parked next to us at the hotel the other day - new one on me.

My new shop radio was waiting for me when we got home from the trip. It's from C. Crane, model CEP. It's just a radio. Plays AM & FM and does it well. I was thinking that someone had to make a radio that got decent reception and I think this is the one. I bought the external antenna for it, plus the telescoping one that's on the radio is a big-un and seems to work pretty well all by itself. The radio comes with an AC adaptor or it can be run on four "D" cells. Its got a light for the tuning dial and an input for an MP3 player. 

There's a station that's fairly close by that plays a variety of music I like to listen to as well as the Bears' games. On any other radio I've tried in the shop, the signal would fade in and out, either on its own or when I walked by and disturbed the incoming signal. I had it on yesterday during the Bears game and the signal came in loud and clear the whole time. Didn't help the Bears performance any but it's just a radio, not God.

Since the weather was so great over the weekend, I spent most of it doing odds & ends around the shack including putting the labels on the TIG filler rods. I figured I was done painting for the season but since it was so nice I decided to paint the trim on the shop. I had planned on getting the whole thing painted this year but with all the rain and working on the bike, no such luck, but the windows are now painted and washed - give me a little head start for next year. Actually, one more good day and I could have the siding on the ends of the building painted as well.

Also harvested some persimmons. We've had a couple of frosts, so it was time to get those picked. The fruit is not nearly as astringent after a frost. The Missus is going to turn these into persimmon bread. Yum, yum. This is the only fruit I got this year. No apples, no peaches. Good thing I wasn't counting on the trees to keep me fed. Last year I had apples and peaches out the wazoo but no persimmons. This year there was so much fruit on the persimmon the top broke off in the big rain because the weight of the fruit and the water was more than the tree could hold. Funny how Mother Nature works some times.

Going to try and get some more done of the Sportster this week. I've still got a few other things I'd like to get done before it gets too cold but I'll just take it a day at a time. I just don't want to lose my momentum of the bike. 

Have a good week.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Jaguar Lightweight E-Type

Photo From Here
The Missus and I took off for an over-nighter so she could attend a meeting in Noblesville. Since I had some time to kill I wandered around a Tractor Supply and a Barnes & Noble. While in Barnes & Noble I stumbled across an Octane magazine. I don't recall ever seeing this magazine before and I probably wouldn't have paid any attention to it this time if it hadn't been for the cover touting Jaguar's new E-Type.  I immediately opened up the magazine to the cover story and low and behold, they're making six new lightweight E-Types like the ones they made in the '60's. Long story short, they originally had planned on making 18 of these things but only 12 were ever constructed. Since they had six serial numbers left over, why not build the cars to go with them? The article estimated the selling price at 2 million English pound sterling - not sure what the exchange rate is these days but you could be safe figuring over 3 million American.

The article goes into some depth on the making of the cars and the fact that Jaguar is strongly promoting its heritage. You'll now be able to take your vintage Jag to their facility and have factory employees work it over. They also just bought out a huge collection of cars, including 130 Jaguars. If I ever make it back to London, I'll definitely have to check out the Heritage workshop at Browns Lane. And sticking to the theme, we got passed on I-65 by a Maserati on the way home - not exactly sure of the model, not knowing my Maseratis very well, but since it was a two door, I believe it was a Gran Turismo. An E-Type or a Maserati Mistral, those were the cars I wanted back then. Who knows, I got the Sportster. Maybe a Jaguar or a Maserati will come my way some day.

On a final note, while looking at the photos in the story about the E-Type, I was thinking it would be nice to have the skills to be a part of a project like that. And then while looking through the adverts I came across J. D. Classics. It just so happens they have an apprentice programme of 24 months duration that would get you those skills. " Training will be provided by the JD Classics team of Sixty Craftsmen, Technicians and Engineers who have a combined experience in excess of 600 years over 150 nut and bolt restorations to date." Email to: Just that simple.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Live The Life I Love

Should have posted this yesterday to keep with the theme but any time's a good time for Mose.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Listen To Your Elders

From an interview with George Foreman in the AARP Bulletin:
Q: What was the best thing about turning 65 earlier this year?
A: It's strange. I was in the hospital with a back operation. What's that thing - Medicare? Man, I didn't have to pay for anything! [But] you have to live to see it. Sixty-five? It's like gold sprinkling from the sky. 
Q: How did you celebrate? 
A: I only had to blow out one little candle. Deep breath - boom! There it went. All of the kids came over. I have 10 grandkids, including two great-grandkids. Make that 11 - they snuck one in on me. You watch them crawl around the floor, tryin' to talk, behavin' and misbehavin'. Then I realized I only could have seen this had I made 65.

From an interview with Neil Young (68) in The Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Young says that he plans to spend the rest of his life trying to fight climate change - and having a good time. "I'm enjoying life and trying to emulate the joy I see in the animals - the frolicking birds and dogs running around playing," he says. "I think why we were put here on Earth is to have a good time and to love one another." 
To do that, Mr. Young says he is going to spend more time with people whom he makes happy and who in turn make him happy. "I just made up my mind that that's what I'm going to do because it works," he says. "Happiness is the valuable commodity, and that's what makes life good."

Take care of yourself so you too can have gold sprinkling down on you from the sky in your later years and surround yourself with people who make you happy. Damn solid advice. So let's get out there and frolic!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ain't She a Beaut!

My brother from a different mother came down to the shack on Saturday night to check out the bike. In honor of the occasion I threw the tank on and swept the floor a little. The wiring is still a mess but other wise it looks pretty good. It'll look better when I get the back wheel plumbed up with the backing plate bead blasted and the chrome brake lever and actuating rod. If you look closely at the photos of the engine, you can see the new chrome nuts on the rocker shafts - I like the looks of those. After I get done with the rest of the mechanical stuff I'll touch up the paint on the motor and the bike should look pretty sexy. 

My buddy was both impressed and happy for me. We've known each other for close to 50 years now and he knows that for about 48 of those years I've wanted a Sportster. Not a new one but one like I've now got. A '68 would have been perfect but this one's close enough.  

Of course when you're talking perfect and '68, his Camaro fits the bill. He's been waiting for a couple of months to get some brake parts in. He said they finally showed up the other day, so he'll be cruising again come springtime. 

I start working just two days per week as of today. That'll be the schedule for the next eight weeks and it looks right now that will be the case for the first eight weeks of the Spring semester.That's going to be nice. I should be able to get a bunch of bike work done now. I should have the Sportster all set to go for Spring and be able to make some progress on the 900 and the BSA. I've got some inside work to attend to on the shack but with two days on and five days off, no reason I can't get to most of it - other than the most deadliest of the seven sins, sloth that is. I've never really been one to sit around, just a little lax when it comes to finishing things. Unfortunately, often times the end result might just as well be the same. I'll be turnin' and burnin' this winter though.

That's all I've got for now.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

What a Rack!

While that's certainly true, I was actually referring to this one:

TIG filler rods all arranged nice and tidy. Rods for chrome-moly, aluminum, magnesium, stainless, and plain carbon steel. There's still one empty hole yet so I should probably buy another length of PVC, caps and couplings and make a couple more - still need a couple for my brazing rods. I'll get the label maker out and put some ID tags on the top caps so I can tell at a glance what's what. 

Got the center stand bolted up to the Sportster, cut the grass, ran some errands and cooked myself some pasta e fagioli for lunch (goes well with Sophia, who turned 80 a month ago by the way). Planning on some more work in the shop today and tomorrow. Finish up the clutch and maybe start on the back wheel now that the wheel has some air between it and the work stand.

Might as well stay with the Italian theme. Get a little closer to the finish line on the Harley and I'll switch to some Steppenwolf.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Shiny Bits

The new parts for the Harley arrived the other day. Other than whatever I may need for the wiring, I think I should be about done buying parts. I've kept all the receipts but I haven't totaled everything up. I don't think I went in too deep but maybe it's better if I don't know. 

I need to pick up the back of the bike a bit so I can bolt on the center stand. I figured I'd just lift it up a bit and slide a short piece of 2x4 under the rear tire which would give me the clearance I needed on the stand to get the bolt in. No go Joe. I used to do dumb stuff like that but not anymore. I'll get a jack under it next time I'm out there rather than throwing the back out. Again.

I might need to call a short time out on the bike and do a little more cleaning and organizing out there. Maybe take a day before I pull the back wheel off and put the tools away and finish the rack for the TIG rods, etc. Plus the grass needs mowing again - should be about the end of that, however.

Steady by jerks, as my old pal Joey used to say.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dance a Little Jig, Weld a Little TIG

Finished the last window on Sunday and patched up a couple of bad shingles. That's about it for the house exterior for a while (can I have an amen, Brothers and Sisters?). Watched the marathon and the Bears and a little Sunday Night Football as well. Can't do much more of that, however. There's only so many commercials for beer, cars, phones and politicians one man can take. Before I moved to the country my garage had cable and I could work with the little black and white set tuned to football or hockey and was happy as a clam. With instant replay you never really had to watch the game too closely - just look up when the crowd roared.

Now-days since I am out in the country, my shop radio only picks up a couple of stations clearly and I'm getting real tired of the same songs and commercials they play all the time. Maybe it's time for me to Stop Believin' and start listening to the MP3 player or something else that will provide a little entertainment and background noise to drown out my tinnitus. I need to spend some time this winter converting some of my vinyl or change my schedule and work late nights on the projects. There's a public radio station that I can pick up that plays a lot of good music in the evening/night hours. It's a damn shame the only time you can hear jazz, world or blues music is after the sun goes down.

I welded this up for one of my former welding and boxing students. If he had access to a TIG welder he could have easily welded it himself but I was glad to do it for him. I welded it at the house rather than at the college mostly so I would have a reason to finish getting my TIG welder in order. Since the postflow timer quit working on the machine and I didn't want to invest $400 in a new one for a 50 year old machine that's seen a lot of service, I bought a torch with a gas valve built in for $40. I had already installed that but I still needed to change the argon supply hose and the power cable around. I made some tubes for storing my filler rods previously but I think next up I should make a rack for them. I'll then have everything pretty much in order to switch back and forth from TIG to stick easily and efficiently. Plus, I'll be much more inclined to actually get something done if I don't have to spend 10 minutes fiddle-fartin' around every time I need to tack something together.

The new bike parts are due today so I'll be back on that project. Looks like more rain on the way - might as well spend some time in the shop - after I set up the MP3 speakers, that is.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Centerstand and brackets all painted and what's more, so's the house. Well almost. One more window to trim out and I'll be able to call it done. I should have finished it yesterday but the shadows were getting long and the sash brush was in the freezer so I called it a day. But not Farmer Zach.

He showed up about the time I was climbing down off the big extension ladder and went to work picking corn. I've only got a few acres so it doesn't take very long to pick it. I like the privacy when the fields are in corn plus the corn blocks a lot of the road noise - I imagine the neighbors will all wish they had a front yard full of corn when I fire up that Harley with those drag pipes. Probably won't be any worse than the neighbor kid with the Jap bike. Every time he starts it up it's a race between the tachometer and the oil pressure gauge and then he's off to the races. Four into one with an open header, bless his heart.

I've got one more week and then I start working only two days per week at the college. That should allow me to get a few things done. Looks like I'll only be teaching one class the first eight weeks of the Spring semester. That'll almost be like full time retirement. I was going to sign up for the CNC machining course but they cancelled it for now. Looks like the equipment won't be in place by then. I've decided to get my ham radio license in the meantime. Use to be you had to learn Morse code - not the case anymore. The beginning or Technician license is a 35 question written test and there are study guides available. I should be able to handle that without too much difficulty. After all those years in college I'm pretty good at studying for tests.

Now it's time to watch the Chicago Marathon, then paint a window, maybe weld up some aluminum, maybe put the centerstand under the Sportster, maybe watch the Bears. As long as the painting gets done - not too concerned about anything else today. 

Keep on a rockin'.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Center Stand

Thursday I put the newly welded and repaired clutch release lever inside the case and hooked up the new clutch cable to it. The manual calls for centering up the release lever on the mating part in the case and then taking all the slack out of the cable, which means the other end of the cable has to be connected to the lever on the handle bar. OK, I can do that. Except the hole on the lever where it pivots is pretty sloppy as is the hole where the little gizmo the inner cable connects to goes. Since I'm in this deep, might as well spring for a new lever and be done with it. And as long as I'm ordering parts, might as well get the chrome rocker shaft nuts too. What the hell, get a new chrome rear brake rod and lever also. Since I'm going to be working on the rear brake and I can't finish up the clutch, might as well check out the center stand, right?

That's it in the photo. Simplicity itself. The stand is cast aluminum and it pivots on the two brackets. On the right side of the bike the same two bolts that hold the exhaust pipe bracket also hold one of the center stand brackets. The other side is a straight up bolt on but I had to run to the hardware store again for a couple of 3/8" fine thread bolts and lock nuts. I painted the brackets and the stand so it's ready to bolt on. When I get that on I can pull the rear wheel and bead blast the backing plate. That'll actually be the trial run for the blast cabinet. It'll be good to know how well the vacuum set-up I put together works. 

I'm hoping to finish up the house painting today. I've just got a bit of trim to scrape and paint. That'll be another one off the list. And before the snow flies too!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Clutch Release - V2.0

Photo From Here
I welded up the clutch release lever the other night and took care of the other bolt that holds the exhaust pipe up. The threads were good on that one but the rectangular head was not long enough in the one direction to prevent it from spinning around in the bracket on the pipe when tightening. Since it's damn near impossible to get a wrench on it, the logical thing is to have the head long enough in one direction that it won't spin inside the bracket. I put some brass on both of them, chucked them up in the lathe and cleaned them up and they're good to go now. Picked up the remaining few bits of hardware I needed to have everything nice and shiny for the exhaust.

Going to try and finish hooking up the clutch either today or tomorrow. That shouldn't take long - maybe see about setting the timing as well.

Talked to my buddy last night who did the Moto Giro earlier this summer. He had some pictures of the bikes and the people taking part in the event. Looks like it would be a blast to give it a try. Hard to think of anything cooler than riding around Italy on a little vintage Ducati or something similar.

Managed to get out of bed for a few minutes to check out the lunar eclipse the other night. Beautiful night to see it well. I really need to get the veranda/deck off the end of the new barn so I can set up my telescope for just such occasions. Be a nice spot to watch the fireworks in the summer time as well. I've got a couple other things around the shack that need to get done first but I'd like to get some concrete pads poured to set the posts on before it gets too cold. Wouldn't take long to build the veranda - two/three days even at the pace I do things.

Things are happening and that's what counts.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Clutch Release

I got the bolt for the pipes taken care of so I thought I'd see about hooking up the clutch release and cable so I could finish that all up. If you look at the left side of the photo you can see a crack running across the release mechanism. There's also a couple of other spider cracks that aren't really visible in the photo. Don't know why it would crack there other than the big crack is on the bend line and the part is perhaps made from some steel with a little carbon in it. I'll weld it up and see how it looks. There isn't any stress there. It's just to make sure the clutch cable doesn't get into the clutch assembly. Just glad I noticed it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Photo From Here

Something to think about there. I haven't spent much time riding this summer but I've been enjoying working on the Sportster. 

Speaking of which:  

I got a little something done on the bike the last few days. I was busy doing a bunch of other stuff but I did get a carb stuck on it. After wiggling the manifold on I re-torqued the cylinder to case nuts and adjusted the valve lash. I need to pick up a couple more bits of hardware and modify the bolt for the exhaust pipe and then that'll be ready to go. Still plenty left to do but at least the top end is all buttoned up now.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Lathe Work

Turned a pestle? for the Missus the other day. She was working on making a grape pie and needed to strain the grapes through a metal strainer - found the strainer but couldn't find the wooden gizmo that goes with it. No problem. I went out back and cut a chunk off the persimmon log that had broken off the tree earlier this summer, chucked it up in the new wood lathe and made something serviceable. I had to refine the shape a bit from what's in the picture and it would have been nicer to have a larger piece of wood to start with but it was enough to get the job done. Don't want anything to stand in the way of a grape pie.

These are the spacers for the bracket that holds the drag pipes up. More lathe work only on the metal lathe this time. I still need to fix something up with the little bolt that has both fine and coarse threads - I bought a new fine thread bolt the other day but put it somewhere it'd be safe. So until I come across it, I know it's safe. It's just not where I can modify it to finish up the pipes.

I also need to tighten up the countershaft sprocket before bolting up the pipes but I need to look at a couple of other things as well. The bike came with a center stand but I'm not sure how that's supposed to go on. I assume it has to bolt up to the inside of the frame where the pipe bracket bolts but the stand is about 1" narrower than the distance between the frame rails. I don't know that I necessarily need a center stand but as long as I've got one, now's a good time to figure it out. Especially since I need to take the rear wheel off. The forward bolt on the chain guard threads into the swingarm and is screwed up. It'll require a Heli-Coil or retapping. Probably be a lot easier if the wheel is out of the way. Plus I want to bead blast the backing plate and check the rear brakes shoes.

Slow but sure.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Get Out The Tin Foil

I finished reading Electric Armageddon the other day and the first thing I did was make myself an aluminum foil deflector beanie. There's some scary stuff in this book. It's a discussion on the subject of the United States being hit by an Electromagnetic Pulse and the expectant results. Whether the result of a solar flare, terrorism or a nuclear event, if the grid goes down we're in big trouble. If the big transformers go down it could take months to replace them since they come from either Germany or South Korea. Looking at perhaps 200 million people dying, but don't worry, the feds say as long as you've got food and water for 72 hours you'll be OK since FEMA and Homeland Security will be coming to the rescue. Uh huh. As if.

Remember kids, shiny side out.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Harley & Shop Class

I found an article at Bayou Renaissance Man  about the end of shop class - cites a Forbes article that's a couple of years old but worth a couple of minutes of your time if you haven't already read it. Also, if you go to the Bayou Renaissance Man blog, scroll down and read the article "Never Trust a Man Who Hasn't Been Punched in the Face". Something worth thinking about there.

Meanwhile on the home front:

I got the heads torqued down on the Sportster, did a rough adjustment on the valve lash, then hung the pipes on to see what was required, if anything, to finish those up. Came up with this:

This is the bracket and hardware to support the pipes. One bolt is coarse thread, one bolt is fine thread and one bolt is both. If you look close at the little shorty in the bottom right of the photo, you'll notice the top half is coarse thread and the bottom half is fine thread. This is the result of not taking shop class (or just plain ham-fistedness), in case anyone needed any further proof. You'll also notice that the spacer on one of the longer bolts is actually a couple of short spacers and some washers, rather than what is actually required. Just gotta love it.

However, sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. The rear cylinder head bolts are directly under the top frame tube so there's no straight shot with a wrench to torque them down. And as if that's not bad enough, the rocker box sticks out into the path a bit so you can't get a deep well socket on there, or a short one nicely either. I bought a cheapie 9/16" socket, chucked it up in the lathe, shortened it a bit and put a taper on it. Worked pretty good after that but I don't recommend trying to get accurate torque readings using a universal joint.

I still need to finish some work around the shack but I'll get the correct hardware gathered up for mounting the pipes and keep plugging away on the bike.

Today's World Vegetarian Day, so do like mom told you and eat your veggies today.