Friday, January 30, 2015

Aloha Friday

Since I only work two days per week now, this is for you working stiffs out there:

I'm still logging my workout time at the President's Challenge. A group of us from the high school plus a couple others started using this to keep track of our workouts. I started in November of 2006 and I'm the only one of the original group still using it. Each point scored for your physical exertion is roughly equivalent to a calorie burned and you can earn awards at various levels. I made my bronze, silver and gold awards (500,000 for the gold)  relatively quickly but I did a little math and if I continue to progress at my current rate, it'll be six years until I make the million point mark.

Most of my points now are scored by keeping track of my pedometer, a weekly visit to the boxing gym and training for the occasional race walk. A 5000 step day on the pedometer is only worth 110 points, which is a fairly typical day for me - about 2-1/2 to 3 miles. All that translates into a typical week being about 1,000 points. Before the heart attack when I was doing all the running, cycling and boxing, I was probably averaging 4,000 points per week, without keeping track of my steps. With my long bicycle rides I would often ring up 2,000 - 3,000 points in a single day. Mr. Type A has decided he needs to increase the output to not only score a few more points but to shed a few pounds and get the heart rate up a bit. The trick now is to find the middle path. Get the exercise benefit to my health without over doing it. Now that I'm locked in on working only two days per week for a while, I need to get a good workout schedule for three days per week with strength training and some cardio. I'm finding out if I don't have anything planned, I'm starting to gravitate towards doing nothing, especially with the cold weather. That's got to stop. I got on the "talking scale" the other day to check my weight and it said "One at a time please". Definitely time to make a move.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Door Panels

I remembered seeing an article in Hot VWs about a Pro-Street interior project how-to, so I dug out a couple of the plastic tubs and found the article (August '05). The tin work was done by Ric Campbell of Big Wig Race Cars. He did a beautiful job, as you would expect, since it ended up in the magazine.

These are all examples of door panels from his web site. I've been looking for some ideas so I can get going on my project. In addition to door panels, he offers a complete kit for the back of the car for $1,400.00. Not really a bad price considering the price of aluminum and it's custom made to your car. I've got a plan for the back of mine already, it's the front part that's the hold up. 

I need to decide on a couple of details before I start on my door panels, like whether or not to put the finger cups behind the door latch and if I want to put a door pull/arm rest back on, and if so, what type. Mid America Motorworks has replacements for the Super Beetle but they were pretty cheesy from the factory and they're fifty bucks for a pair. Speedway Motors has some sexy looking ones but nothing that really grabbed me. I think I'm going to get the panel cut to shape and lay it down on the door and see if I can't come up with something that hits the spot for both the arm rest and any design I want to put in the panel.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Car Stuff

Went by the high school the other day to check out the progress on the high mileage car. Dave mentioned brakes on the car and it just so happens I had a rear wheel equipped with a drum brake left over from when I was fooling around with that stuff. I dropped it off along with my Bicycling Science book - great book, by the way. Chock full of good stuff that applies to much more than just bicycles.

Here's the new frame they've built. The body shell is probably going to be scrapped. This stage of the construction was usually about the time I was both pleased and nervous. Good to see progress but not near enough knowing that the car had to be ready to roll come the end of April and all the help would turn stupid after spring break. Fortunately, when I was involved I had a couple of the other teachers I could rely on to help out with drawings, formulas, editing, etc. That eased the burden a bit.

Watched some of the Detroit Auto Show Sunday. Might have to go when it comes to Chicago - it's been a long, long time since I've been there.  It's about time I start thinking seriously about buying myself that sports car. It'd be nice to see them all under one roof for comparison sake. I went to check out a Subaru WRX and no one locally had one on the floor and the salesman said if I was to want one, it was going to take six months to get it. The closest Nissan dealer didn't have a 370Z in stock. Says they never keep one on the floor. The other car I've been thinking about is a new Mustang. The GT with the V8, 3.55 rear gear and the Recaro seats is about $36K. Not bad for what you're getting. Cheaper than most pickups and comparable to the Nissan and the Subaru. Plus there's a dealer within bicycling distance of the shack. That alone might be the tie breaker. I won't be able to do anything for at least eight months - need to get out from under the health insurance payments first. Medicare might be the only good thing about growing old. Have to wait and see about that, however. 

In the meantime, howz about a car tune by an old rocker who just made Medicare age?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Being Evel, Being Prepared

The movie Being Evel had it's debut yesterday at the Sundance Film Festival. Coincidentally, I recently read the biography of Evel Kneivel by Leigh Montville.

I remember watching a lot of Evel's stunts on the Wide World of Sports and reading some things about him while he was at the top of his game, but I had no idea how screwed up his personal life was. He was a thief, a liar, womanizer, went through his money like salts through a goose but, yet, there was still something about him you had to admire. Don't know about the movie, but the book's a pretty good read. 

And as a bonus for all of you as paranoid concerned as I am about where the world is headed, the University of Pittsburgh is offering a free on-line course in disaster preparedness. Isn't the internet amazing? Might be a little late for those folks on the east coast that are looking at 24" of snow heading their way but for the rest of us, might be a worthwhile investment. I found it here.

Have a good week.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

I Need to Get Out More

I was scrolling up the channels to see if there was a movie worth watching or maybe something interesting going on with the NHL All Star Weekend last evening and came across the 24 hour race at Daytona. Just as I was tuning in they were talking about the DeltaWing car that retired earlier due to some mechanical malfunction. I'd never heard of the DeltaWing before. I guess it's been around for a couple of years but I rarely watch car racing on TV anymore nor do I buy car magazines like Road & Track or Car & Driver.

Going along with that, I've got a guy in my welding class that has a really nice '69 Camaro that he showed me a couple of pictures of. He said he's got it set up for autocross. It's got the leaf springs under the rear now but he's planning on putting a four link system under it. I thought that set up was only for drag racing. In fact, I put several Camaros together with those set ups under them years ago. I was talking to my buddy with the '68 Camaro about it and he said there's all kinds of new and improved suspension stuff now for those old cars. Man, I need to get into the 21st century.

Or maybe not.

I got my new Motorcyclist magazine in the mail yesterday and they had an article about a BMW sidecar outfit. When I went to their website and typed in a search for sidecars hoping to link to the article, I found the above photo and a short blurb about vintage sidecar racing and how it has grown. When I was in AHRMA there weren't but a couple of rigs. Apparently that's not the case anymore. If I'm going to be stuck in the '70's, maybe I should head to Mid-Ohio for Vintage Days this year. Looks like I don't even know what's new with the old. Definitely need to get out more.

Today, however, we play two in honor of Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks.

Friday, January 23, 2015


Photo From Here
Now, ain't that sweet! One fine looking Triton.

Photo From Here
And sweeter still, something to haul it in. A 1956 DKW something or other.

But sweetest of all, I actually got a little something done on the project front lately. The piece in the forground is part of the fixture for sharpening the wood lathe tools. It needs to be long so you can drop a gouge in there and get the right angle with the grinding wheel. However, there's also another attachment used when putting a "fingernail" grind on a tool. For that you need to push the long red gizmo most all the way in. In my case that would mean having to poke a hole in the wall, cut the long red gizmo off or make a short one. I choose the latter. I think I'm pretty well set now for lathe work. I imagine there'll be a few other things as I start to use it more - there's always something else you need.

The two pieces of angle in the rear of the photo are for my table saw to mount up a bigger table top. That will give me more work support on the sides and the out-feed area. I need to find a 4' x 4' piece of particle board or MDF, maybe 1" thick. Something with a laminate on top would be perfect. I'll need to cut a couple of grooves in it for the miter gauge, plus I'm planning on making a couple of sleds for the saw. They'll need grooves on the out-feed side as well. Getting the woodshop set up this year is fairly high on my list of priorities for the year. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

More Sidecar!

Photo From Here

Photo From Here

Bottom Photos From Here

The bottom photo is Frankie Flood's new outfit. It's a Ural, for those of you unfamiliar with factory sidecar rigs. I think Harley quit making sidecars in 2010, but don't quote me on that.

You used to be able to buy a BMW equipped with a Steib sidecar. But Steib is long gone. There are several sidecar manufactures around, however. Sidecars are a breed unto themselves. Originally they were purely functional - add room for another passenger or cargo. Since motorcycles got better mileage than most cars, they were more economical.

More like this here
Put a lid over them and you could drag the family around rain or shine, as in this Watsonian. Notice that this rig is from England, so the chair is on the left. Note also that Watsonian is still making outfits if you're in the market. Also, in spite of the fact that the handling characteristics are very different when turning left or right, before the advent of the snowmobiles nothing was faster on icy roads than a sidecar rig. If you're a brave laddie and want to ride a bike year round, this is the way to go.

I found a couple of slides of my old rig but I don't have a way to scan them. I did have a couple of photographs that were hanging on the wall of my garage before I moved to the country but they're long gone. I've got the negatives still. The slides are dated August '83 so that might help me narrow the search for the negatives. My 900 Kaw is the same frame as back then, so it still has the lugs on it. Someplace down the road, I'd like to build another sidecar for it. What I need is an engineer. I've got an idea for a torsion bar suspension that I think would work rather well but I'll never get around to getting that figured out. My old rig used an airshock suspension which worked pretty well. The heavier the load, the more air in the shock. Many of the older outfits had no suspension on the sidecar frame but suspended the chair on the frame instead. Some, no suspension at all.

I did a lot of research before building mine - relationship of the sidecar wheel fore and aft to the cycle wheels, toe-in, camber angle, etc. It was a fun project and Surly and I had a great time when we headed out on our big adventure. I never had the chance to ride mine when the roads were snow covered but it would slide nicely turning left on dusty pavement. It was also pretty cool when you banged second gear hard. The front wheel would come up off the pavement a little and the rig would veer right slightly, then straighten itself out after the front wheel came back down.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Places to Go

Photo From Here

Here's something I should mark down on the calender. Pretty much a straight shot down I-65 from my place. Surly and I were there for a bicycle swap meet a couple of years ago. We both unloaded some treasures and neither one of us drug anything much back home - mission accomplished. I'm not so sure that would happen with the motorcycle swap meet but it might be a fun way to kill a few hours.

I didn't realize when I joined the Amateur Radio Relay League in order to learn more about ham radio that there are things called "hamfests". There's a couple of those coming up on the calender as well. One in LaPorte and one in Brazil - that would be Brazil as in Indiana, not South America. The one in LaPorte is not too far away, plus there's a museum there I've never been to. There was an auto museum but apparently it has closed down but over thirty of the cars are now in the county museum which I believe took over the building. Even if the hamfest is a bust, I could salvage the day by stopping at the museum later. If gas stays below $2.00/gallon, the cost of driving over there and the admission fees together would still be under $20.00. Other than the library, hard to spend a whole day anywhere for less than a double sawbuck. 

And when I get the Sportster running later this year, I'm going to take a ride over to North Judson and check out Kersting's HD and museum. I've been there a couple of times but it's been a while. I can check out the Hoosier Valley Railroad while I'm there. I've been there lots of times but as long as I'm close, be a shame not to check out the trains. 

There's a nice bike path at the far end of the rail yard. The Traveling Pirate and I rode it a couple of years ago. It's nine miles long now but there are plans to extend it. Looking forward to getting out on the bicycle more this year. I was going to sign up for a 5K walk this spring that I've done several times but they've raised the price to $33.00. I can't see paying $11.00/mile to walk. Maybe sign up for the Tour de Max bike ride instead. It's been a few years since I rode that one. Don't know if I need to ride the 62 mile version like I used to but they've got a 25 mile route, if I remember correctly.

Enough of that. Time to get busy. The Missus has been in the hospital for the last few days so I need to do the laundry.

Have a good week.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Let's Hope So

Photo From Here

I got a chance to see the layout for the new machines that are going to be coming in to the lab at the college. Looks like there's going to be both manual and CNC lathes and milling machines along with a grinder, saw, etc. Much of the equipment that's currently in place is going to have to be shuffled around and the one resource room is going to become the office for the new full time lab czar and maybe the tool crib for the precision tools. Lots of work to do in the next couple of months. They're hoping to offer classes starting in March - probably why they kept me on. Some extra muscle as well as someone to keep up with the regular maintenance chores while the machining program is getting set up. The new guy seems to be pretty cool, by the way. Looks like he and I will be able to work together well.

Don't have anything to report on the project front. Between the weather and chauffeuring the Missus back and forth to the doctor/hospital, I haven't been able to get going on anything. It's supposed to be a bit warmer for the weekend. Hopefully I can get out a do a little something.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Craftsman's Legacy

My wife turned me on to A Craftsman's Legacy on one of the PBS channels. It comes on after a couple of the cooking shows she watches on Saturday afternoons. I've only seen a couple of shows but it's definitely worth checking out, especially since it's so damn cold outside. I went to the web site and it looks like you can watch previews of the shows right from there. That's pretty cool. The show's host, Eric Gorges, is a custom bike builder and he's already done shows on saddle making, blacksmithing, woodworking, boatbuilding, gun and knife making, guitar making, as well as a couple of others. This struck me as kind of funny because, while I'm certainly not an expert at any of those things, I've managed to try my hand at many of them.

Boat building?

I made a tiny one.

And a little bigger one. And I've got a bigger one still under construction. (Read that either way you'd like. Bigger still or still under construction. With me - still under construction is probably more appropriate.)


Done a little bit of that. And if you look closely at the left side of the photo of the pond sailer, you'll see some gouges I hammered out from old files I made expressly for that project.


I made myself a door.

Saddle making?

Not hardly. But I can do a half-ass decent saddle stitch as seen on the holster and the sheath. The knife I made from scratch using my blacksmithing skills, the black powder revolver from a kit which covers the blade and gunsmithing. 

Guitar making? 

I'm no luthier, but I did make a hammered dulcimer. For a cheap home-made instrument it actually has a pretty decent sound. (I drilled the holes for the tuning pegs on the milling machine, by the way. That way I could have the spacing exactly correct and I could put them in at an angle.) I wouldn't call myself a musician but after I made it I did learn to play The Wabash Cannonball for whatever that's worth.

The point here is not to blow my own horn. If I was going to do that, I'd have to make one first. In fact, I remember seeing a black & white documentary about Illinois Jacquet and him visiting a factory where they made saxophones and thinking at the time you'd have to be quite the craftsman to make a saxophone and I wouldn't mind trying my hand at it. However, the point here is that we should all be making things. In addition to the TechShop/maker spaces I mentioned recently, there are lots and lots of other ways to learn skills and pursue your passion. I attended the Marc Adams School of Woodworking a few years ago when I found out I was going to be teaching Woodshop. I learned enough in one weekend to be able to bluff my way through when it was time to teach the wood lathe. I've been to several blacksmithing conventions as a member of ABANA and IBA. and was fortunate to have learned a few things from some of the best smiths in the world. There are schools and workshops out there for just damn near anything you want to learn. Want to learn how to drive a team of oxen? Tillers International. Blacksmithing, boatbuilding, fibers, or sustainable living? North House Folk School. I attended a class on building NASCAR stockers years ago and Surly and I attended a workshop on aluminum forming with Ron Covell. It's out there if you look for it.

Do yourself a favor this year and learn a new skill. Take a class, attend a workshop, watch a DVD, read a book, whatever it takes, and then try your hand. Put down the phone and pick up the hammer, saw, knitting needle, crochet hook, shovel or rake. Feed your mind and exercise your hands. Those opposable thumbs are there to make and hold tools. Don't let them go to waste.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Anita Ekberg

Photo From Here
Anita Ekberg, the star of the Fellini film La Dolce Vita passed away.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Couple Mo' Things

I got this in the Rivendell Bicycle newsletter:

"You should always pay attention to quality. A coffin, for instance, should last a lifetime."
- Kurt Tucholsky

I've often wondered about the whole coffin/casket thing. They embalm you, put you in the coffin and then seal you up in a vault and put you six feet under. Lot of effort to preserve your remains for no real good reason. Other than contaminating the ground water, seems to me the old pine box would serve just fine. Dust to dust and all that.

Photo From Here
The caption from the other site says it's a flat tracker but I say put the lights back on and run it on the street. I'm going to have to get me a Guzzi one of these days.

Even though it's been colder than a well digger's ass the last few days, I'm itching to get back out and work on something. And in the spirit of gearing up and being ready when it warms up a bit, I ordered some aluminum for the door panels on the VW. As you can tell from the photo, I ordered it from Online Metals. I placed my order early Wednesday morning and it showed up here on Thursday - quite pleased with that. Most of the VW suppliers sell the panels but I wasn't sure if they would fit the Super Beetle for one, and the sheets were about half the price of the store bought. When it warms up (it was only 15 degrees in the shop yesterday at noon, zero outside)  I'll get my lay-out, take them to school and cut them on the shear, then put some type of pattern on them with the bead roller. I'm still not sure what I'm looking for with the dash on the car. Hopefully something will hit me while I'm working on the door panels and finishing up the floor pans.

Time to see if I can get the car out of the auto-shed and down the lane. Need to do something other than laying around snacking.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Couple O' Things

Too cold to do much of anything today. The wind started blowing last evening so we're looking at -25 windchills and maybe actual temperatures of -10 below tonight. Fortunately we didn't get much snow Monday night - three, maybe four inches is all but it's enough to cause some drifts. I think I'm going to spend most of the day either reading or down the basement cleaning up the bench and starting back on a little metal working project I started a couple of years ago.

I need to go into the college some time this week for about an hour - need to get my syllabus posted and a couple other things to be ready for next week when classes start. Looks like I'm still employed as a lab tech even though they hired a full time guy. Not sure why they would need me and him but they must have a plan. The boss said to keep on keepin' on, so that I will. It'll pay for my commuting expenses and help with the toy/tool budget so I'm not complaining. Especially since I wrote another check for my health insurance yesterday.

I talked to a young guy who's attending Purdue. Told me what he's paying for a year. He'll probably have close to $100,000 invested in a four year degree by the time he's done. He said they've shortened up the requirements, however. His program used to require 136 hours, now it's 120. Apparently they're trying to keep the cost down and get people to graduate within the four year time slot. That's a step in the right direction. The Maker Movement book mentioned people relocating to be close to a TechShop. For the price of a university education, I can see that as being an attractive alternative. Find cheap housing, take the classes you want, work in a well equipped shop and pursue your particular passion. Wouldn't work if you want to be a concert pianist, but if you want to make things might be the right way to go.

Alcoa has come up with a new process for making aluminum sheets. They can make them faster and 30% stronger with the new process. I saw it here.

I saw this in a comment here a while back. It's been a long time since I've heard anything by Country Joe McDonald and got me to thinking during this annual time of reflection. This one was from 1971, the year I got married and I turned 21.  Lots of time has past but we still haven't learned anything. Once again we've got riots in the streets, protesters carrying signs, and unrest throughout the world. I wish everything was going to be all roses and sunshine for 2015 but there's another war coming - there always is, God help us.

So here's my somewhat melancholy advice for 2015: Pay down your debt, stockpile some groceries, learn new skills, make beautiful things, plant a garden, lend a hand when you can, and hug your babies. And if you can't do that, just don't be a dumb-ass.

Stay warm.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Maker Movement Manifesto

I just finished reading The Maker Movement Manifesto by Mark Hatch (thanks Kevin). In addition to being the CEO of TechShop, he's got quite the resume. MBA for starters, former director of global technology at Avery Dennison, former director of computer services at Kinko, and a former Green Beret. With a background like that, I figured what he had to say would be definitely worth reading and I wasn't disappointed. But I've been a fan of the maker movement ever since I became aware of it several years back, so I was pretty much hooked going in.

The Maker Movement Manifesto is broken down into these parts: Make, Share, Give, Learn, Tool Up, Play, Participate, Support, Change.

Several of these really struck a chord with me:

"Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create, and express ourselves to feel whole." As a shop teacher I spent my whole career training people to have the skills so they could make things. A big part of my teaching philosophy was to have the students make projects. Nothing really unique to me, standard old school shop practice going way back to Sloyd and Manual Training. What's interesting is, while the Maker Movement was coming into being, shop classes were being closed. Rather than incorporating the new high tech computer driven machinery into existing programs, they shut the traditional programs down and decided we all needed to go to college and become engineers or scientists. In the Maker Movement innovation is not driven by the engineers and scientists. It's folks like you and me. The kinds of people who like to use their brains and work with their hands. They just never had an outlet for their creativity before.

"You must learn to make. You must always seek to learn more about your making. You may become a journeyman or master craftsman, but you will still learn, want to learn, and push yourself to learn new techniques, materials, and processes. Building a lifelong learning path ensures a rich and rewarding making life and, importantly, enables one to share." That's me right there. I consider myself a master craftsman but I still want to learn new techniques, materials, and processes. It's just hard to do without access to the tools and the community.

"You must have access to the right tools for the project at hand. Invest in and develop local access to the tools you need to do the making you want to do. The tools of making have never been cheaper, easier to use, or more powerful." Not just me - having access to the tools is part of the Manifesto. I've definitely invested in tools over the years. If you've been reading here for any length of time, you know I've got a pretty well equipped maker space. However, it's all old school equipment. The only thing I have in the shop with a transistor or a chip is my radio. Not that that's all bad. It just limits my ability to work with new processes and materials.

They are going to be adding machining to the course offerings at the college soon. They will be getting both manual and CNC equipment of some sort but I'm not sure what. I don't know what the politics are in a state community college system but if I were in charge I'd be looking into converting the lab where I work into some type of maker space right about now. I've mentioned before that nothing is made at the college. Not only is there the community college but there is also a private university, several high tech manufacturing businesses and a progressive vibe around much of the area. Seems like the area could support a TechShop/maker space of some sort while fulfilling the traditional role of the community college. Seems also like the people in charge of education are always behind the curve rather than taking a leadership role and being out in front. If you accept that we all must learn and make, then the decision to fund areas to do just that should be a foregone conclusion. The question then becomes how to best meet the needs of the students and the community.

The Maker Movement Manifesto is a good overview on the Maker Movement - where it started, where it is now and where it's headed. For a guy like me, it's good to see all the exciting things that are occurring. From my viewpoint, this is what education should look like rather than the traditional path. Go to the work space, take classes, pursue your ideas/dreams. If you fail, you fail fast and the cost of failure is merely part of your education, not a major setback. You're surrounded with a bunch of like minded individuals opening the way for cross-pollination of ideas and a support group of experts if needed. I just wish there was one close by.