Saturday, November 29, 2014

Photo From Here

Computer problems - back in a few days.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ooh La La

Got the brake drum painted so I can start reassembling the rear wheel and get that all buttoned up. Looks about as good as a rough sand casting is going to.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. I'll be celebrating with what has become a tradition for me: 5K early, listen to Arlo Guthrie, eat and spend time with family while the TV is turned down low to a football game. Lots to be thankful for again this year. Hope you can say the same.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Decisions, Decisions

I've been thinking about the BSA lately. I don't have a lot of work left on the Sportster, so I've been trying to prioritize the bike projects. The 900 has the back wheel off, and I bought some new fork legs so I could put dual discs on the front. I should at least do what it takes to get the wheels back under it so I can roll it around. The BSA doesn't require near the work, just a small pile of money. Since I've only got a few more weeks to work this semester, maybe buy a couple of things for it and then work on the finishing the Sportster and doing all the labor intensive stuff on the 900 while I'm off from the college between semesters while I have no paycheck coming in. That way I'll be getting things done and I can get the rest of the parts when I go back to work next semester. Wouldn't take long to finish the BSA if I had all the parts in house. I'll see how the tool-n-toy budget is looking and decide how much I can get away with but with Christmas coming and a few other things, I'll probably be looking at more time than money. Not a bad thing, though. As long as I stay busy it'll be all good.

Speaking of which, I helped set up for the boxing fundraiser Saturday morning and then I refereed the show Saturday night. Out of curiosity, I wore my pedometer while in the ring and put in close to three miles while never traveling farther than 20 feet from my starting point, for whatever that's worth.

You may remember seeing this photo a couple of posts back. This is "Bazooka Joe" at one of the previous fundraisers. He fought again Saturday night and I had to stop the fight in the second round after he whacked his opponent with a big right hand. Also, I neglected to credit Surly with the photo when I posted it previously. Oops. 

Since it warmed up a bit over the weekend I was able to finish bead blasting the brake drum for the Sportster. I had a little water come through the line but at least it wasn't freezing up like last weekend. Looks like I need to install a dryer next to the bead blaster. Like the federal government, I'm a little behind on some infrastructure work. 

However, the drum looks pretty good all blasted clean. I'll get some paint on it today. Also did an aluminum welding job for one of the students at the college. 

I'm pretty selective any more about taking any outside work but not only is he one of my students, he's also a shop teacher. He hasn't been teaching too long - big career change from engineering to teaching. He's learning to weld but hasn't got to TIG yet. The job didn't take long since I've now got my welder in order. He said he'd take care of any clean up so there's another one off the short list.

Have a good week.

Friday, November 21, 2014

New High Mileage Team

My replacement at the high school called the house the other day while I was at work and told the Missus he wanted me to stop by. So I did. And this is what I found:

Apparently the Weld Shoppe boys are back in the high mileage contest business. He bought the car from another school that decided to stop participating in the contest. The car frame needs some serious work but it came with lots of parts and will be a good way for them to get their feet wet. I always enjoyed the contest. It was a lot of work for me and trying to get the car done on time and the headaches of taking a couple of guys down to Indy for an over-nighter was probably a contributing factor to my heart attack but it was worth it. I don't know what my work schedule will be in April, but if I can, I'll head down and root for the home team. The link to my old blog when I was running the show is still over there on the sidebar if you want to learn more about the contest and what the class did in the past, by the way.

They also built a Texas style BBQ cooker. There's a fire pot on the left side, the smoke then goes along the bottom of the cooker, comes up into the chamber where the meat is and then goes out the stack. The only way to cook brisket.

He figured out how to get some grant money, so will be getting some new tools and equipment soon. It's good to see the program in such capable hands. The average person has no idea how valuable these shop classes are. Remember the $100K wage earnings from the last post? This is where it starts. You need qualified people for your manufacturing business? This is where it starts. Who knows, with the shortage of skilled people, maybe one of these days they'll go back to having technical high schools like Chicago Vocational or Hammond Tech used to be. 

I'll keep you posted on the progress of the little car. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Weld Cert

I gave myself a welding test the other day. The college changed the format of the class I'm teaching and a welding cert is included as part of the class instead of a separate certification class as it has been in the past. Now the completed plates will be sent out to another campus that is an Accredited Testing Facility. I gave my students a similar test to help prepare them and during the critiquing of the plates, a couple of the students said I should do one. The above photo is the result. There's one little spot on the root bend coupon - probably where I changed rods - but it's a keeper just the same.When I was at the high school I used to do an open butt in the vertical position every year, just to keep my hand in. No practice, just tack the plates together and go. Passed everyone of them for at least the last twenty years. This one was in the flat position (1G) with a back-up strip - the easiest stick certification there is.

I think I'm going to try the open butt vertical (that's a 3G, to be precise) next. Since it's been a couple of years since I left the high school, I might do a practice one. The inverter power sources run a little bit differently than the old rectifiers I'm used to. The voltage is a bit lower and the rod has more of a tendency to stick when you hold a short arc like I tend to do when welding vertical. I've been working on changing my technique a bit but since I passed my first welding test 44 years ago, the habits are pretty much ingrained. If I decide to follow through and take the test, I'll post the results either way. We're on break most all of next week, so may take me a little while.

On a related subject, the American Welding Society weekly e-mail had an article dealing with the skilled trades shortage. Here's an excerpt:

"Houston suffers from a severe shortage of so-called middle-skill workers, people like welders and machinists doing jobs that don't require college degrees but nonetheless pay good salaries and benefits. For example, petrochemical workers in their 20's fresh out of two-year programs are routinely taking home more than $100,000 a year.

Employers face such serious recruiting problems, business leaders earlier this year launched a program called UpSkill Houston designed to drive more workers into those middle-skill jobs. JPMorgan Chase, which has committed $5-million to workforce training Houston, just issued a Houston Skills Gap Report estimating the area already has roughly 1.4-million middle-skill jobs and predicting it will add 74,000 new middle-skill jobs a year between now and 2017.

Driving much of the demand is a projected explosion of construction in the petrochemical industry. An estimated $80-billion is expected to be spent on more than 120 petrochemical facilities around the Houston Ship Channel in the next few years, leaving industry leaders worried about where they'll find enough qualified workers."

The article mentions the fact that Houston has many people without even a high school diploma or a GED but that shouldn't stand in the way of getting the skills training to get one of the middle-skill jobs. I've been to Houston a few times and I never saw it as a place paying exceptionally high wages, so if you're knocking down $100K, I'm thinking you're putting in a lot of hours and Houston weather can be miserable in the summer time.  But $100K is $100K. That's not the kind of money I made as a school teacher but they gave me the job I asked for, so no complaints.

If, however, you're looking to make the big money, the jobs are out there but they require a real good command of the trade - pipe welder/fitter, pressure vessel experience, etc., so get yourself into a trade school or an apprenticeship program. To get an idea of what's out there and what they're paying, check here

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Baby It's Cold Outside

Photo From Here

Not much going on around here for the next couple of days. According to the Weather Channel it's currently 13 degrees with a windchill of -5 and the forecast is for continued cold until the weekend. Somehow or another the TV remote came up missing on Sunday, so it looks like it's time to catch up on some reading and maybe get around to cleaning up the basement workbench. While I'm down there I should blow the cobwebs off the bike and spend a little time on the trainer. I don't mind exercising - in fact, I enjoy it - but treadmills and bike trainers just don't do it for me. I should put my speed bag platform down the basement and hang up a heavy bag down there. Those I'd use. I need to start doing a little strength training again, as well. Sarcopenia, don't you know.

I saw where the entire US is having below freezing temperatures, even Hawaii. Stay warm, look after your pets and look for the uptick in the birth rate next August.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pic Dump

Sorry, no photo credits available for any of the above

Too cold to work outside and since I had some work to do on the computer, thought I'd clean up the hard drive a bit. So here are a few of my favorite things before I hit the delete button: motorcycles, black & white photos of girls, girls on motorcycles (whether color or B&W), metalworking, boxing, and travel. Good to be somewhat multi-dimensional I suppose.

I received an e-mail from Cosmos (the outfit I went to Europe with last year) containing some new travel trips for 2015. I just might have to work a little longer so I can do this one. There was an article about money buying happiness in the Wall Street Journal the other day. They compared the purchase of a thing such as a fancy car versus an experience such as a trip to Europe. You would think because a thing is a tangible item you can see and touch it would buy more happiness. Not necessarily so, according to the article. I'd have to agree. Nothing I own can compare with my travel adventures. So I guess money can buy happiness. Time to start a new travel jar.

Took the brake drum/sprocket assembly off the rear wheel the other day. I started sandblasting it but was having an issue with condensation in the air line plugging up the gun due to running the line into the non-heated part of the shop. Looks like that will have to wait a bit until it warms up. Maybe next weekend.  

My buddy Jimmy is now promoting wrestling. I took the grandsons to check out the show last night. Like all professional wrestling, pure cornpone. Pretty much had all the bases covered though - garbage cans, folding chairs, smack talk and Chuckles the Clown, but you would expect that from an outfit calling itself Acme Championship Wrestling. He's putting on a boxing show next weekend. I'll be working that one.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Odds & Sods

Photo From Here

That's a thing of beauty, yes? I really dig those curved and tapered exhaust pipes. Those Italians make such pretty things. This one even prettier than most.

The American Welding Society's weekly newsletter had a nice little write up on apprenticeship programs in South Carolina. Several German companies have set up shop there and they've brought their apprenticeship programs with them. Other companies are now following their lead and starting their own programs as well. A young man or woman can start in the program when a Junior in high school and start receiving checks right away. You can read all the particulars here.

I got the backing plate for the Sportster painted - shiny like a mirror. Now I need to fix the threads on the swingarm where the chainguard bolts on, do a little clean and lube on the brake parts, and then I can put things back together. I should really take a look at the rear brake drum/sprocket assembly and figure out how to get some fresh paint on that as well. 

Ricky Noot has an interesting post up about reading obituaries and then judging how the people have spent their lives. I rarely read the obits, other than the ones in Time magazine, but I do tend to judge people on how they spent their time on this earth. He uses the "shot from a cannon" or "squeezed from a tube" scale based on a quote from Evel Kneivel. Interesting perspective. My own personal philosophy is, given the opportunity to reflect on my life while on my death bed, I'd like to have all of my regrets for things I did do in my life, rather than those I didn't. That being said, I think I'm much closer to the shot out of the cannon end of the spectrum than the squeezed from a tube end. However, I learned last week within an hour of each other of the unfortunate passing of two of my former students. Both nice young men, both right around the age of thirty, and both of them, unfortunately, never able to be shot from the cannon. About an hour after I heard of their passing, the Missus informed me of a another former student who had managed to get himself arrested. While that lifestyle may get him classified as shot from the cannon some day, I would think there's an unstated but understood idea that you will be for the most part judged on the positive accomplishments, unless you go all in that is. Bonnie and Clyde? Definitely shot from the cannon. Being a common crook? Just one in a million.

Hearing of the passing of the two young men certainly put a damper on my day, but nothing, nothing at all like what their families and friends have to deal with. Life is just so precious. Damn shame to be cut down in your prime. Rest in peace, boys.


We only get one chance at this life. There are no practice runs or do-overs. Make yours a life well lived.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Indy War Memorial

Photo From Here

Photo From Here
I've been to many of the Civil War battle sites, and the many statues commemorating the soldiers and their sacrifices are really amazing. I've been to Arlington National Cemetery. Cuzzin Ricky and I visited the WW II Museum in New Orleans when we went down there on our train ride a few years back. It too is quite the place, but as far as I'm concerned, nothing compares to the War Memorial in Indianapolis. Not quite sure what it is about the place but it touches me deeply. The memorial building is an absolute stunner - the corner stone was laid by General Pershing. It's one of those buildings that you know there will never be another one like it. Sort of the building to end all buildings to remember those who served in the war to end all wars.

On the other end of the campus is the national headquarters of the American Legion. Another beautiful building which just happens to be across the street from the Tyndall Armory, host site of the Indiana Golden Gloves, a place I've been more times than I can remember. The armory is named after Major General Robert Tyndall, a highly decorated WW I veteran and, later, mayor of Indianapolis.

If you're ever in the Circle City, here in Indiana, do yourself a favor and check out the War Memorial area. It keeps the memory of those who served and the sacrifices they made alive. Today, and everyday, let's remember all of those veterans and their families.    

Monday, November 10, 2014


It's never good when your chimney is surrounded by scaffolding. The masons have it torn down to the roof line now, plus they've cut a corner out to repair some water damage. Looks like all the flue liners are bad, so that's going to cost a bit more than I bargained for. There goes the down payment on the Jag.

The news this weekend wasn't all bad. I got the backing plate pulled off the Sportster. Here's the before photo above.

And here's the after. First time I used the blast cabinet. I filled it up with glass bead, turned on the vacuum and away I went. The vacuum worked well, as did the lights I added. Pretty happy with that. Now I have a bit of a quandary, however.  I stuck the newly blasted backing plate back on the rear wheel to see how it looks and, while it looks better than before, I'm not so sure I like the plain aluminum look. I could polish it up but I think I'm going to repaint it gloss black to match the swingarm and sheet metal. I've got a new chrome lever and actuating rod for it. I think the black will set off the chrome nicely. If I don't like it, I can always blast the paint off again. 

Since I had the bead blaster up and running, I figured I'd also blast the paint back away from the weld zone of an aluminum piece I need to repair for a guy and then I'd prep and weld it. The first part of the operation went well but not the grinding of a weld bevel around the break. When I retired I think I left my die grinding bits at the school. I had a couple for grinding aluminum but I don't have any at the house here. Or if I did bring them home, I can't find them now. Either way the end result is the same. No go on the aluminum bits. I do have a few other bits so I made a organizer out of a piece of one - by and a plastic baby wipe box. I'll order in a few more bits and I'll be all set.

I managed to catch up with the gas man Saturday. He hooked me up with a tank for the new heater. When I told him what I was working on, he was already aware of it. Apparently, someone in the office pulled up the blog and showed him. Thanks John and best wishes on your retirement.

I've got the tank outside of the shop, so I think it would be best to pipe the gas into a shut off valve that's inside the shop. I also need to make a bracket or something to hold the tank upright. Nothing too tricky on either of those but I want to get it done sooner, rather than later. Cold weather's on the way. 

Have a good week.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Equipment Wish List

Surly and I were e-mailing back and forth a bit and I mentioned I need/want a couple more pieces of equipment, specifically a sheet metal brake and a drill press for woodworking. The Boss 16 box and pan brake would be just the ticket for anything I would ever do, sheet metal wise. 48" wide and 16 gauge capacity. Plenty big enough to finish the tin work on the VW and the old Plymouth coupe that's been sitting around here for decades. Woodward Fab and Dagger Tools both carry the brake for $1200.00 plus shipping. Be a nice addition to any cycle or hot rod shop, or more specifically, my shop.

Grizzly radial arm drill press - just the thing for a wood butcher like myself. With the radial arm feature the head can be rotated and extended out to a 17" swing. Price is about the same as the set of tires I priced the other day for the little clown car. As I told Surly, if I was going to stay home I'd just order the drill press. However, in addition to the new skins for the car, the masons are currently at work on the fireplace chimney and I'm pretty sure they're going to want to get paid. For what that's costing me I could have bought both pieces of equipment and had money left over. Not a big deal. It's only money and the college will give me more. Unfortunately, just not all at once. And that's why I have to buy tires. Always somethin' now, ain't it?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lever - Shanker

Sounds like some type of venereal disease - lever chancre - but fortunately it's nothing like that. 

Made it to the HD dealer Monday and picked up the bushings for the clutch lever. They were a rather princely $4.00 each but the dealer had them and now the clutch installation is complete. Next up is working on the rear wheel. Looks like we're going to be having some crappy weather the remainder of the week - good time to get in the shop and do some things.

On the education front, the weekend Wall Street Journal had an essay by Joel Klein: A Lesson Plan For A+ Teachers. It's adapted from Klein's new book Lessons of Hope: How to Fix Our Schools. He presents some excellent ideas but what I found striking was the credit he gave to Albert Shanker for many of the ideas. 

Shanker was the president of the American Federation of Teachers during the first half of my high school teaching career. He showed up to make a presentation for some program that as far as I know never came to fruition, but from what I remember it was the school administration that dropped the ball on that. Anyway, he was an excellent speaker and I was very impressed with his presentation. He was also a prolific writer and an early champion of charter schools, as unlikely as that seems. I always preferred being in the AFT rather than the NEA. I'm sure a lot of that had to do with Shanker's leadership.

I'll have to seek out a copy of Klein's book. For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Klein, he was the schools chancellor in New York City, so he's been around education. I'm always interested in what anyone has to say when they have a prescription to fix the schools. Some of them, like Diane Ravich, Doug Stowe and Ken Robinson actually do have good ideas and workable solutions. Looks like Mr. Klein with a little help from Albert Shanker does also.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Wooden Boat

Photo From Here

I should be putting a little time in on mine - at least get a couple of boards glued up before it gets too cold. I haven't hit a lick on the thing since I quit the high school. That's getting to be quite a bit of elapsed time, even by my standards. Mine is a flat bottom skiff unlike the one in the photo. If I wasn't farting around with the Sportster and 100 other things, I could get it knocked out fairly quickly. I need to modify the cheapie clamps I bought first, however. I'll get there one of these days.

It was cold Saturday night around here. I'm guessing it got down to about 24 - 25 degrees. The chicken water had a nice layer of ice on it Sunday morning but the sun warmed things up nicely as the day progressed. I had a list of chores to tackle around the shack but also wanted to hit a couple of licks on the Sportster. I got everything done but that.

I took the clutch cover off so I could finally get the cable adjusted with the new lever but ran into a snag right away. The doohickey that goes into the clutch lever to hold the cable is too small for the hole in the lever. It wobbled around in the old lever as well but I just figured the lever was worn out. The hole in the lever holding it on to the perch certainly was. Actually, I think there might be a couple of nylon bushings that are supposed to be in the hole to take up the slack and reduce the friction when pulling in the clutch. Anyway, I'll see if I can make it over to the dealer today and pick up a new doohickey or bushings or whatever it takes to make it right and get back on that project. I still need to pull off the back wheel and beadblast the backing plate and check the brakes - should be able to get that done this week. Hopefully that won't require any more parts.

Have a good week.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Went north yesterday morning to do a few things and ran into some snow while driving - wasn't really bad just enough to let you know that winter is just around the corner. However, after I got home it started snowing for real and the wind was gusting a bit as well. Enough in fact to knock the power out for a bit. It turned to rain a little before I took the above photo, so there was a little more snow on the car and the ground prior to that. Apparently winter isn't just around the corner. It's here.

I got the new furnace hooked up out in the shop yesterday after I got home. I just hooked it up to the tank from the grill to see how it works. It works good. I had it on the lowest setting but it raised the temperature from forty-five degrees to fifty degrees in about ten minutes. It's in the back part of the shop and blows into the front like I wanted. Not too loud or too stinky but does make a little static in the new radio. Small price to pay, I suppose. Cleaned and organized a few more things while I was out there. Still got a long way to go with that but crawl before you walk, baby steps - pick your cliche of choice - it's progress all the same. It won't be too much longer and I'll at least have the front part of the building where I want it. I'm about where I was twenty years ago at my other house but no complaints. I make the decisions. 

Enjoy the weekend regardless of the weather.