Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Felice Anno Nuovo

Short look back at 2014:

No big trips this past year. In fact, I don't think I got farther than 200 miles from home all year. Not so bad, really - got a bunch accomplished around the shack. House is painted, fireplace repaired and lots of little piddly things accomplished. Still have a few big jobs to tackle but it's not like I'm behind the eight ball like I was before retiring.

Got the Sportster this year and it's just about ready to ride. That's probably the highlight of the year. While working on the bike I managed to improve the working conditions also. New lights, radio, decent heat, tool organization, sandblasting cabinet on line. Again, I've got a few more things around the shop to take care of before I'll have it right where I want it, but I'm definitely closing in on it.

Didn't come close to getting my 50 books read this year. Only made 36 but with everything else I accomplished, I don't feel too bad about that.

Health wise I'm still in good shape. Other than the recent bout with the flu, I'm fine as frog's hair. The Missus has been having some issues of late, however. I've been spending some time taking her back and forth to the doctor/hospital as well as picking up some of the slack around the shack. Hopefully, this will get sorted out soon and she'll be back up to snuff.

Looking ahead, hoping for more of the same for 2015. Keep working on the bikes/cars/boat/tools/equipment/etc. Get a regular exercise routine going again. Maybe lose a few pounds. Get the Missus healed up. Keep the stress level in check and remember this:

Wishing you a happy & healthy 2015

Monday, December 29, 2014

Rumble Series

Cuzzin Rickie and I went to the Rumble Series in Fort Wayne over the weekend. While the racing was good, it wasn't the best way to spend an evening for one guy who was just getting over the flu and for the other guy who was coming down with it. The fumes got to be too much for Rick so he bailed out during the midget feature and waited in the truck. The fumes didn't do me much good either - should probably just strike that event off our list.

One a side note, one of the movers and shakers with the high mileage contest, Mr. Greg Steele, had a car entered in the event. It finished eighth in the main. Mr. Steele puts a lot of time in on the high mileage contest with no financial reward. He and Mr. Thompson do a lot of good with that contest. I'm glad to see my old school is going to be involved again - might have to make a trip to Indy in April and check it out.

In news around the home front, I got my conduit installed for the light in the new barn the other day - need to pull the wires and that job will be done. Supposed to get cold in a couple of days, I'd like to get a couple of more little jobs done before then. We'll see.

Have a good week.  

Friday, December 26, 2014

Boxing Day

Photo From Here

Maybe something like this to practice my sheet metal work on. Actually, Surly's come up with a preliminary design for the BSA sidecovers so we can decide how we're going to proceed from here.

Looks like it would be relatively easy to make up. We didn't get a chance to get together for Christmas since most everyone has been sick but we're definitely getting the project under way. I've pretty well blown off the first week of my vacation due to illness and some holiday things but at least I've had the luxury of being able to get some R&R without having to worry about draggin' my ass out of the recliner and in to work - always a silver lining, I suppose. That and the time to think about want I want to get accomplished this winter.

I want to hang a couple of lights in/on the new barn. The back corner where the circular stair is located is rather poorly lit. Likewise, an additional light outside over the service door would be a welcome addition. I'll put one with a motion sensor there. 

The one bathroom in the shack needs a re-do. That's an easy one. I'm going to start on that next week. Master bedroom needs new paint and carpet and I still need to finish some trim work around the "new" window in the dining area. Lots to do but actually looking forward to it.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Have a safe and happy New Year as well.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Buon Natale

Merry Christmas Everyone

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fanny B

While shopping for Christmas presents I came across a book on Francis-Barnetts. The price was right so I bought it. Why would I want a book on the history of the long defunct marque, you might be asking? Because I've got one, naturally enough.

Here's a photo of the little diamond in the rough languishing in the back of the barn. It's mostly all there except for the exhaust from what I remember. This one is probably in the worst shape of any project bike that I've ever brought home that I was planning on restoring. I've got paper work on it but it's in the lock box so until I make a trip to the bank, I couldn't even tell you what year it is but from what I've gleaned from the book, I'm pretty sure it's a Model 78 Plover made between 1957-1959. Most of these things had Villiers two-stroke motors in them. There's a Francis-Barnett owners club and forum, so there should be some help out there with technical information and part sourcing. And, believe it or not, it's possible to buy a new one! There's a company in England that's producing two models using a Suzuki 125 motor. Street or trials, your choice.

The new francis-barnett

How sweet is that? The Francis-Barnett company actually had a pretty successful record in trials competition. I can see mine getting moved up the list of projects to be worked on. Especially now that it looks like I can find the engine parts I need to get it running again.

Here's what we're shooting for except in Azure Blue rather than Arden Green:

Photo From Here

Long live the Fanny-B!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Got the Ague

I woke up Friday morning hacking and coughing a bit and even though I got my flu shot earlier in the season, I figured I was coming down with something more than just a common cold. After checking the medicine cabinet I headed out to lay in some Thera-Flu and some other provisions. Sure glad I did. By Saturday I was sicker than a dog. Coughing, fever, chills, headache, pain in my joints, even my skin hurt.  Didn't feel like eating, so I just kept pushing the fluids. Other than I feel like I've been beat with a ball bat from head to toe, I feel fine this morning. Cough is gone, lungs are clear and the appetite is returning. I don't know what this is but it's something else. I've never been this sick that it came on so fast and then cleared up just as fast. Might be the flu shot did help out.

The Missus came down with the same thing, naturally enough, about 24 hours behind me. She's feeling much better this morning but still achy and coughing some.

My health has been pretty much perfect ever since I retired from the high school. The reduction in stress probably has had much to do with it and the fact that I'm no longer surrounded by hundreds of teenage "Typhoid Marys" all day long. It's a good sign when all the medicines in the cabinet are past their expiration date because you haven't needed them. But let me warn you. This stuff is serious. If you think you're coming down with it make sure you have something to relieve your symptoms and help suppress your cough on hand. You're not going to want to go out later. Get your affairs in order so you can hole up for a couple of days under the covers or in the recliner.

Hopefully you'll all stay well.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Prettiest Harley Ever Made?

Harley-Davidson RR350
Photo From Here

That's one fine looking motorcycle. Nice write-up at the link under the photo. Molenaar's HD in Hammond used to have a 250 RR in their place. I used to drool over it every time I went in there. I was fortunate to add Walter Villa's autograph to my American Racer book. According to the Wiki article, he passed away in 2002, which wouldn't have been too long after I met him at Daytona. He won both the 250 and 350 World Championship on the Harley road racers in 1976.

There used to be an auction house I drove by on my way to work that had a Harley 250 DT two-stroke flat tracker that they must have picked up at an estate sale or something. It had a nickel plated frame, maybe a C&J or a Trackmaster? Spool on the front wheel, disc brake on the back, both brake and shift lever on the right side so you could work them both when you were sliding. Way cool. The price was good but what the hell was I going to do with a flat tracker? I was already drag racing a bike. I sure didn't need to try my hand at flat tracking but I have kind of regretted it from time to time. I'm sure it would have been fun. Or more probably painful. In retrospect, I should have bought it and just sat on it - probably would have gotten a pretty good buck for it when the vintage racing craze hit. "Too soon old, too late wise."

I handed in my time sheet the other day for my lab tech job and I was informed that was going to be it - they hired someone full time to take over. Looks like I'm going to have a little more time on my hands to work on the projects. Speaking of which, Surly has made a little progress on the sidecover design for the BSA. I need to grade a few exams and get the grades posted but other than that and the holidays, I don't have much else in the pipeline except what I want to do. Like hammer out sidecovers and wire up a Sportster. That feels pretty good.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Tin Cans

Tin cans don't hold the same place of value they did when I was a kid. Between tin cans and baby food jars, there probably wasn't a basement, garage or workshop anywhere that didn't have a few being used for storage of screws, nuts and bolts, and let's not forget the can required to bail out the wooden row boat. I've even got a book laying around here somewhere of things you can make from tin cans. Now days many of the cans, even coffee and paint, are made from plastic or spiral wound cardboard. Now with the K - Cups, my coffee can supply has dwindled down to nothing. Which brings us to the above photo. 

I needed a scoop for the cat food in the barn. I've made several over the years from coffee cans but all I really needed this time was a can. No handle, no tools involved. Just rinse out the bean can and done. However, if you look at the black olive can in the photo you can see that the lid is on it but the can has been opened. The Missus bought a Kuhn Rikon can opener a couple of years back and that thing is the berries - takes the lid off with out any burrs and you can stick the lid back on the can and it looks like it was never even opened. I rinsed out the one above and I'm planning on saving up a few more of them and then making a rack to keep them in. I've got a bunch of rivets that need to be sorted and the small cans should be just the right size for them. As tight as the lids fit, you could also rinse out a larger can and stash your roll of "C notes" in there along side the rest of the cans on the pantry shelf - be better than a safe unless the thief was hungry for spinach or whatever when he was robbing the joint.

Looking for a last minute Christmas gift? Here you go. Works slicker than snot on a doorknob and only twenty bucks.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

That's the Brakes

I got the lower die for my press brake altered. I'm thinking I might need a little more reinforcement in the middle, however. There's roughly a 5/16" gap between the base plate of the die on both sides and the channel iron it's sitting on. I'm going to weld a tab of some sort in the middle, probably more for peace of mind than for anything else. The real weak link in the chain are the rods that support the whole works. There is a 3/4" round pin on each side that allows you to move things up or down as needed. The press has a 12 ton jack and it's managed to bend the rods a bit. If I'm going to put a big load on it I may need to beef up the lower support. Maybe make something that uses two rods per side rather than just the one. While I'm contemplating that, I'll work on getting the top die taken care of. 

I'm planning on using the pipe laying in the vee of the die to attach the top die to the press. The press has a 2" stub sticking down. If I bore out the pipe to slip over it I should have something I can then weld to the top die. The only problem with that pipe is the wall will be a little thin after I bore it out. If I wrap a piece of 1/8" flat around it to beef it up it'll have a 5/16" wall around it then. Add a couple of brackets to the ends of the die and I should be in business. Maybe wire brush it all down and then get a coat of paint on it next Spring.

I put the rear wheel back under the Sportster - looks pretty good with the chrome lever and rod. As always I ran into a couple of snags along the way. I had to Heli-Coil the hole for the forward mount on the chain guard but I new that. I also had to chase the threads on the axle and nut. I'm not sure how one vehicle could have so many damaged threads but this one sure does. Or did. I should have most of them fixed now. The gizmo that clamps on the brake rod to actuate the brake light switch doesn't want to clamp down tight enough. Looks like I'll have to weld in a little shim to make it grip a little tighter. The brake shoes looked good but I had to use most of the adjustment to get them to make contact with the drum. I'll get the chain on it and adjusted and then see where I'm at with the brakes. 

I checked the school calender and my vacation's not as long as I thought but I've got a good 3-1/2 weeks. I'm planning on finishing up all the mechanical things on the Sportster while I'm off and with a bit of luck, the wiring as well. With the new lights, heater and radio, it's pretty nice working out in the shop now. As long as it doesn't get super cold, might be able to get a couple of things done on the 900 as well.

Marching right along. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

National Bill of Rights Day

From Here

National Bill of Rights Day today. In light of what's happening in this country, we all should take a good, hard look at these amendments and be a little more demanding of our politicians to prevent any further erosion of them and the rest of the constitution. In November's election, here in Indiana we had the distinction of the lowest voter turnout in the nation - 28% There's something to be proud of. However, in spite of the lack of interest, we Hoosiers have the third lowest debt per resident at $5,726 according to the 12/10 Wall Street Journal. The same Op-Ed goes on to say the federal debt is $17 trillion and increasing by $4 billion a day, making each citizen's share $58,604. The unfunded liabilities, however, are around $115 trillion. That's $1.1 million per taxpayer. I hope they're not waiting on me to send in a check for my share. 

Our freedoms are eroding and the debt keeps rising. Apparently the politicians believe in unicorns and fairy dust because they obviously don't believe in the laws of economics. Or the Constitution.  It's not going to be pretty when it's time to pay the piper. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas List

Photo From Here
This might be asking a lot from Old Santa, another trip to Paris and an E-Type Jaguar.

This is a little more reasonable, Lewis Leathers Universal Racer jacket like Steve McQueen wore. Price listed on the website close to $1000.00 US dollars. It'd be just the thing for riding around on the BSA on those beautiful Fall days. I could pick one up next time I'm in London if Santa doesn't come through for me.

And while I'm there, pick up a Belstaff waxed cotton jacket for the rainy Spring mornings - either on the bike or while walking around Paris. Good enough for Sammy Miller, good enough for me.

And to complete the motorbiking ensemble, a pair of Gasolina boots. Gasolina also sells leather jackets. Both the boots and the jacket prices are pretty reasonable, actually. With shipping, about $300.00 for the boots, $500.00 for the jacket.

Last but not least, a Gerstner machinist box. I've wanted one of these ever since I started collecting machinist's tools. This one is about $1,400.00. Gerstner now has their International line with cheaper prices but I'd have to hold out for an American made one. They do have a kit for their Journeyman box if you want to build your own. That'd be you, not me. I've got enough sh*t to do.

If I low-ball the prices, trip to Paris $4,000, Jaguar $30,000, jacket $500, boots $300, machinist chest $1,400. Hell, that's less than $40,000. Not like I'm asking for much. Throw out the Jag and the list starts looking reasonable - not necessarily for my circle of friends and family - but for the high rollers out there, chump change. 

The truth of the matter is that all I really want this year is a couple of tools, a couple of books, continued good health for me and mine, "and on earth peace, and good will toward men". And if I could get the latter, I'd gladly give up the former. I don't need to see any more riots and young men and women getting killed, whether at war or in the streets. This Christmas season how about we think about others? While you're out shopping, drop a couple of bucks into the bell ringer's bucket or maybe help out the Toys for Tots if you can afford it. Maybe a donation to the local food pantry or soup kitchen. Kindness is contagious.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Inside Joke Part III

"And put it on my bill!"

And then we laughed 'til our faces cramped.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Genius at Work

From Here

Surly has been thinking about the BSA and has posted a couple of things about the upcoming build. Check out the link and see where he's coming from on the design process.

PS. I've got no idea what Wiley Coyote is thinking up there but since Surly was tossing around the names of Italian motorcycle designers, it seemed to fit. And you should check out The Panelbeater video at Handverker. Also, here's a link to the Brandoli Workshop. Signor Brandoli says it takes a lifetime to learn the skills. Me thinks I should have started a little earlier. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Catch Up Time

Just a quick update on a little of what I've been doing while the computer was down:

Taking them from the top, jobs finished include the water trap installed on the blast cabinet, hillbilly storm window made and installed, and (sticking with the theme) the hillbilly cover for the regulator on the propane tank feeding the shop heater. The last photo is of the dies for a press brake that is next in line for my shop equipment. 

Obviously the window and the bucket were expedient solutions. When I went to the lumber yard to pick up the screen molding to keep the plastic film in place on the window, I told the guy what I was doing and he said the window might be under warranty. If so, Anderson will replace the sash or the complete window. He gave me an 800 number to call, so I'll do that as soon as school is out. In the meantime, the window is protected and I won't have the bottom falling out and the wind blowing in.

The regulator on the heater says it should be covered if used outside and with the big tank I've got, I definitely want it outside. The tank is strapped securely so it can't fall over and the plastic bucket covers the regulator and the tank valve. Not the sexiest solution but I've got heat. I also installed a shut-off valve on the back of the heater so I can turn off the gas without having to go outside to the tank. I had it running a bit yesterday and it warms the shop up quick. I should swap out the cheapie fluorescent light fixtures with something a little better so I can have good light while I'm waiting for the shop to warm up. They're not a ton of money and there's only four of them. I'm putting in some effort to get things nice but winter takes up a good one third of the year. Might as well be comfortable. 

I've got the press brake thing figured out - just a matter of making some parts and welding them together. I'll start making parts for that this week. I don't need it right now but I'd like to have it done when I do.

If you look at the bottom photo with the press brake dies in it, you can see the rear wheel for the Harley. I was going to put that back together but I've been hemming and hawing about buying a new rim. Mine's pretty rusty. A new deep center steel rim is going to run about $200.00 without spokes. If I'm going to re-lace the wheel, I'd prefer having an aluminum one like a Borrani or an Akront. They're substantially more money and if I went with aluminum on the rear, I'd have to change the front also. With stainless spokes, probably a grand for the pair, at least. For something I've never even heard run, I think I'll wait on that and put it back together as is. Maybe this week or next weekend.

Saturday, December 6, 2014


I've been thinking about what I need to complete my shop with metalworking tools and equipment. I've mentioned here before that I'd like to have a louver press. Another way of making louvers is with special dies on a bead rolling machine. Just so happens I have one of those. I just don't have the dies, which means if I'm planning on taking the bead rolling machine route I need to either make or buy some dies. I came across the above photo on the Motorsports books web site while shopping for Christmas presents. The dies themselves are from Williams Low Buck Tools - $115.00. Very reasonable for what you're getting. The only problem I see is the fact that you're going to be limited to flat panels. No way you're going to be able to reach out to the center of a hood or deck lid. However, Williams has a Metal Machine that has a big "C" frame with a plate on the end of it that will accommodate louver dies and a variety of other items such as a planishing hammer. Depending on if you would buy the frame and the dies or make the frame yourself to use his dies, the cheapest you'll be able to buy in is about $500.00.   Maybe I'll hold off on the louvers for awhile, save my money and put it toward concrete in the back of the shop or a brake. However, I'm thinking it would be nice to at least save room for one or make a stand that will hold the louver press and something else as well.

Maybe a set up like the Fournier QuickShaper:

QuickShaper English wheel. Click for larger image.

Since I've already got my English wheel taken care of, maybe the big throat for a louver press and then add the shrinker/stretcher and the spots for the shot bag and stakes. I've got a stake plate. Put that on one side and the shot bag on the other. Bolt on the louver dies or the planishing hammer as needed and I'd be in business.

If I ever get all this stuff built and done, there's going to be one hell of an auction when I'm gone.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Makin' The Plan

Shot of the stock BSA sidecover and air cleaner cover. This bike looks good in yellow - not so sure how it would look with the gray frame, however.  I got an e-mail from Surly and he's been working on a big home-owner project but he's about to put it on hold for a bit to get things ready for Christmas. Said he'd have some time to think about the Beezer a bit more, though. Likewise, I've got plenty of irons in the fire but I definitely want to get this show on the road - literately.

Looks like I'll only be teaching one class for the first eight weeks of the spring semester. As far as I know I'll still be working the lab tech gig as well. That'll be good. I'll be working two days per week but they'll be shorter days than I'm working now. The second eight I'll be working like I am this semester. Long days but only two. That's the main reason I've been thinking about the BSA - now that I know my schedule I'm making plans. Not that I normally stick to them but it's good to at least start with a plan, I suppose. If I do, I could conceivably have the Sportster, the BSA and the 900 all three done next year. I'll admit it's a stretch but stranger things have happened.

I need to go out to the new barn and stare at the VW one of these days as well. Since I don't have a decent sheet metal brake but the college does, I need to finalize my design for the dash and get that bent up before I leave there. I'm working on a set of bending dies for my hydraulic press that should be able to bend 1/4" x 8". That'll be good, but I'm still going to be coming up short on bending sheet metal. Definitely going to have to work on a solution for that problem if I'm going to continue to work on automobile projects or build myself another sidecar. Maybe like the Cubs - wait until next year. Probably with the same amount of success. I shouldn't say that. I figure I at least finished better than .500 this year and I'm fairly optimistic for next year. Time will tell, however.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Computer Blues

Photo From Here

The fan in the computer quit the other day, so rather than burn it up, I decided to follow the directions on the screen, hit F2 and log off. It should be fixed by the middle of the week or so and things will be back to normal (I'm writing this while busily engaged at my lab tech position).

Meanwhile back at the ranch:

Did the 5K on Thanksgiving Day - my time was lousy but the Tee shirts were nice.

Made a cheapo storm window to cover up a vinyl clad window sash that somehow managed to rot out. The plastic should keep things protected until spring when I can replace the sash or the entire window.

Was going to bolt the brake drum back on the Harley and put the back wheel together but Menards only had six locknuts and I needed eight. I'll pick up a couple more and get that back together.

I picked up an inline air dryer for the sandblasting cabinet. That should take care of the water issue I was having.

I had a talk with Surly about the BSA. He's pretty much in favor of keeping things stock. One of the reasons my brother was going to change things around was the fact that the stock gas tank had developed a leak. Keeping things stock would make the job go both cheaper and faster. As long as I can fix the tank, the rest of the job would be just some straight forward mechanical things and then some new paint on the tank and sidecovers. If you look at the photo above you can see one of the stock paint jobs that were available back then. It also came in a red & white tank, a green & white tank, as well as the solid color light blue metallic that ours currently is. Additionally, some had black frames, others light dove gray - or whatever you want to call it. Ours is the gray, which I've  taken a fancy to for some strange reason. From our conversation the other day, I think Surly would vote for the green and white tank on the gray frame. I could live with that. Looks like the next step is to see about repairing the tank.