Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bicycle Trainer

I've been putting in a little time on the bike trainer of late - something I basically despise - but I really need to get some exercise on a daily basis. We made the trainer at the high school several years back from a picture I saw in a book. I don't remember the book but it either had John Howard sitting on it or it was a picture of his personal trainer. The bottom bracket sits on an adjustable support so you can control the amount of weight you put on the rear wheel. The rear wheel turns the axle to drive the squirrel cage blower and there you go. Originally it was outfitted with two blowers but even in the lowest gear it was more resistance than I needed. Like many of the contraptions the boys and I have built at the schools, this one was put together from scrapped or salvaged materials so the cost was pretty much next to nothing. If you have a really sharp eye you'll notice the color is the same as the English wheel I posted previously - didn't even have to buy a can of paint. I've got this one set up so it works pretty well now but I wouldn't recommend trying to make one. It's kind of fussy trying to get the tension right and it's a little tough getting on and off the thing due to the height.

The bike is a cheapie road bike like those that were everywhere back in the 80's. It has a Brooks saddle but in name only. Like most of the cheap saddles it's uncomfortable as hell - no wonder people who bought these bikes never rode them. I've got a new Brooks B17 that I'm going to throw on the bike so I can actually stay on the thing for more than a few minutes at a time and turn the handlebars back down like they should be. I turned them around when I was having all that trouble with my chest so I could sit up straighter. I should be able to manage spinning for awhile with my hands on the hoods or in the drops now.

Thursday, February 26, 2015



They got a pair of these in the lab the other day. Trak 2op vertical machining center from Southwestern Industries. Don't know much about their capacities and specs but I'll bet you could make some neat motorcycle parts with them given half a chance. Surly and I had a little back and forth in the comments about my dad/his grandfather in the last post. The old boy was a pro at getting things made on the company dime. Must be an inherited trait. With all the machine tools coming in, the lab could be like Shop Teacher Bob's own private maker space. I'm hoping the CNC class will be on the same days as my teaching days. Take the class, work in the lab, teach a class. About the closest thing to heaven there is if a guy has to work. Especially for a guy who likes to learn new skills and make things.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Surly dropped off a back issue of FFJournal that had an article about Midwest Aero Restorations for me to take a look at. The article is mostly about the company restoring a P-51 Mustang and what all is involved in making a plane like this not only flight worthy again but looking exactly as it did originally. Pretty interesting article. I love all that aluminum work that goes into one of those restorations. The link has lots of photos of Midwest Aero's restoration work. Midwest Aero is located in Danville, Illinois, by the way.

Just so happens I used to live just across the state line from Danville when I was a young-un. My dad worked in Danville at Bohn Aluminum for about a year. Bohn Aluminum was in Hammond, Indiana, where Pops was born and raised, and moved to Danville in 1956. We moved down that way at the same time. I never realized what exactly Bohn made, being only six years old at the time, but I remember they had a corporate softball team and Pops pitching for them.

Both photos are from The Old Motor which has two entries about the Bohn Corporation. The Indy car has cylinder heads cast from Bohn aluminum according to the site. I'm not sure what all they did at the Danville plant but Surly has a tool box Pops had made up from crinkle finish aluminum sheet when he worked there.

Since Danville is about two hours away from here, I think I might take a bike ride down that way come spring time. Check out Midwest Aero Restorations and run back across the state line and buzz through my old hometown.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

VW Door

Since the temperature got up to about 30 degrees yesterday, I grabbed the VW door from the barn and took it out to the shop and welded in the new tee nuts to hold the aluminum panel in place. Wasn't too bad out there. I fired up the new heater and it warmed things up from 35 to 50 fairly quickly. Didn't take long to weld the pieces in. It'll be a little tougher on the ones in back since they'll have to be done in the car. I'll probably just MIG weld those in instead of TIG like I did these. Maybe today I'll get the bolt holes drilled in the panel and cut out the hole for the door handle. Put a few screws in and I can see what it's going to look like, then decide what I want to do about the arm rest. Don't need an arm rest but I do need a way to pull the door shut. 

So there you go. Ain't much, but it's something.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


scrambler081:bikeexifBSA TRACKMASTER
Photo From Here
I've been looking for a couple of Whitworth wrenches for working on our BSA project. Found some on EBay but got outbid at the last minute. I'm not sure what all sizes I need but definitely need an open end the correct size to pull the carbs off. After sitting for a few years, you know they're going to need a good scrubbing.

The hardware for mounting the aluminum door panels on the VW came in - tee nuts and button head screws. The screws are metric and stainless. Hope to get back on a couple of these projects pretty soon but it's just been too cold to try and accomplish anything when I've had any free time. Looks like some sub-zero temperatures still in the forecast for the first part of next week. I'll get ramped up pretty soon. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Photo From Here
I'm thinking this is exactly what I need.

I got tired of looking at seed catalogs and decided to check out a Nissan dealer the other day that had several 370Z's in stock. I was thinking the 370Z Sport when I went in but the Nismo isn't all that much more money, especially when you consider it's got all the goodies on it to begin with so you wouldn't need to spend anything on additional accessories or go-faster parts. Color choices are limited on the Nismo, so red it is. The 370Z comes in a black cherry and a metallic gray, both of which I like the looks of, but the red Nismo speaks to me. When the weather warms up I'll take another run up that way and take one for a test drive.

These are the new manual milling machines that just came in to the lab at the college. They're a Taiwan made Bridgeport knock-off but they look pretty spiffy in there - much better than the crappy cell phone picture would lead you to believe. I'm anxious to see what the rest of the equipment is going to look like. If I'm going to buy a fancy-ass sports car, I'm going to have to work a bit longer. With all the new machine tools coming in, I just might want to keep working whether I buy a car or not. 

Biggest issue today, however, is going to be keeping warm. Looks like a record breaking day with the cold temperatures being forecast. If it's got to be cold, might as well break the record. Normal average for this time of the year is mid-thirties - far cry from these negative numbers. Just glad I don't have to work outside in this.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Photo From Here

I should probably quit wasting my time looking at the motorbikes and work on one instead. Or, if I'm going to sit in front of the computer looking at motor vehicles, maybe check out some Volkswagens for a little inspiration.

Photo From Here

That's a dandy. If I was to attempt to chop the top like that, that would pretty much guarantee I'd never get it done, however. I did order some hardware to install the aluminum door panels I made up for mine. What I've got in mind will be a little time consuming but I think I'll like the look. I still need to decide what I'm going to do about the armrests. Maybe something will hit me before the weather warms up. Won't be today - it's about zero out right now - but a couple more weeks and it'll be warm enough to get out in the shop and do a little something. I'm hoping to get back on some type of schedule here soon.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Mama Tried

Saw at the Zen of Neato that there's going to be a motorcycle show in Milwaukee coming up on the 21st & 22nd. Been a while since I've been to a bike show and even longer since I've been to Milwaukee. Doesn't look like that's going to change anytime soon for me, but if you're looking for something to do here in the mid-west besides shovel snow, here it is.

I bent up another water tray the other day. I still need to solder the ends but that's not too tricky. I've got hot water heat in the shack and even though there's no furnace blower like there is with forced air, the humidity level still gets low. I set these trays on top of the baseboard units, fill them with water and they help humidify the house. I solder a couple of tabs on the back side of the trays to prevent them from falling off. I made a couple these a few years back and they seem to help quite a bit. 

Here's a photo of the previous ones I made - better photo at least.

Weather's turning cold again so I won't be getting much done outside, plus I've made two trips to the hospital this week with the Missus - another surgery yesterday. They've poked about a dozen holes in the poor old girl the last couple of months and that's not counting the IV's and the blood draws. She's a trooper, though. Holding up well.

I've stayed with my commitment to post at least twice a week since I started this blog. When I was at the high school that wasn't tough because the boys were always building things and there was always something to bitch about with the school corporation or education in general. Not sure what I'm going to be able to put up here in the next few months as far as projects go, however. Let's face it, a new hammer handle and a seventh grade sheet metal project aren't really worth tuning in for but that's all I've got right now. Might be that way for a while. 

In the meantime, stay warm, stay busy and stay healthy.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


Photo From Here
Almost looks like a Norman Rockwell painting at first glance. Beautiful work regardless.

Photo From Here
Pops Yoshimura with Wes Cooley's Suzuki behind him. The photo came from a Tumblr photo blog I came across the other night. Lots of cool bike and car photos - new stuff, old stuff, racers, and the occasional other photo of interest. 

'Bout all I've gotten done on the project front lately. Between the super cold, shoveling snow, the trips to the hospital, and covering the household chores, haven't been able to do much around here. Since it warmed up yesterday, I did get out and put a new handle on the claw hammer. This one's actually for the lab at the college. Been staying pretty busy there. Lots of stuff to move and other chores to do to get ready for the arrival of the new machine tools. I'm anxious to see what they're going to be bringing in. I know there will be lathes and mills, both manual and CNC, but I don't know what size or brand. I might have to keep working in the lab just to have access to them.

Need to start thinking garden and get some seeds ordered. It won't be long and it'll be time to get some things started indoors. Supposed to be fairly warm again today - maybe get out and do a little something again.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Sidecar Jones

Frankie Flood @ Handverker has been posting some photos of his new Ural sidecar rig and it's got me thinking about putting another one together. While poking around on the internet I came across this:

Here's a sidecar frame that's available from DMC Sidecars for $1595.00. That's basically the same type of set up I used when I built mine way back when, only I used an air shock for the suspension. DMC has several different bodies to go on the frame and other makes of sidecar to choose from as well. 

Looking at the round tube on the front of the frame above, it looks like you could come up with a torsion bar that would slip inside the tube and rig something up that way. A torsion bar was what I had in mind if I was ever going to build another one. Make a suspension like on a midget racer - adjustable static height, easily changed spring rates and nothing sticking up in the air next to the chair. Frame above is pretty simple, however. Wouldn't take much to work that out. Especially since I've already got mounts welded to the frame of the 900. Be a lot of fun sliding around on the icy roads we've got now. Maybe Prof. Flood will post a little clip of him sliding around the college parking lot - can't tell me he hasn't tried it yet.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Couple O' Quotes Plus

I don't normally discuss much in the way of politics here, school superintendents being an exception, but this was too good to pass up:

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
-- H.L. Mencken, the Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920
Found it here.

I've read quite a few of the Robert B. Parker mystery novels - the ones featuring Spenser, Sunny Randall and Jesse Stone - and while not great literature, they're entertaining and easy to read. I was in a different library branch the other day and came across a couple of Parker's cowboy novels and decided to give them a try. Here's a little philosophy from the half-breed character, Pony, taken from Blue-Eyed Devil:

"In land of Blue-Eyed Devil, not so simple," he said. "Man can't always be a warrior. Man get to be cowboy and store man and saloon man. And man who sit in office. Not warrior. I just man who saddle horse. Pitch hay. Pick up horse shit. But I go with you and Virgil, I warrior."
     "Not everyone wants to be a warrior," I said.
     "No. But nobody want to be pick-up-horse-shit man, either," Pony said.

As someone who has shoveled a bit of many different kinds over the years, both literally and figuratively, I can certainly agree with that. I think that might be why farm kids usually made pretty good students in my shop classes. With some skills and education they weren't going to have to be the pick-up-horse-shit man all their life.

Since I mentioned superintendents, might as well throw this out. The NWI Times had a couple of opinion pieces on whether the state superintendent of instruction should be an elected position or an appointed position here in Indiana. On the local level, I've worked under both systems with an elected and an appointed school board and saw advantages and disadvantages with both. At the state level now, even though the superintendent was elected with overwhelming popular support, the governor and the representatives have done their absolute best to freeze her out. If it was an appointed position, the superintendent and the governor would be in harmony but it could easily end up like what we had just previously with Daniels and Bennett. Either way, elected or appointed, it would be nice if those involved would try to put their personal politics aside and do what's best for the students and the teachers.

And since I mentioned shoveling, it's still snowing here this morning. I'm not sure how much snow has fallen but it's been a bunch. It was a heavy, wet snow yesterday when I was out on the tractor getting the lane opened up. It's now the big, pretty flakes that are falling. We didn't get the 45 mph wind gusts they were forecasting, thank goodness, so it should be fairly easy to get the paths out to the barn and chicken coop opened up again. Likewise, the lane should be easy enough to do since I peeled the heavy stuff out of the way yesterday. The Missus was supposed to go back to the hospital for another round of invasive testing early this morning but she cancelled that out. I'm supposed to go to the doctor today myself but that's later in the afternoon and just uptown. So today, in addition to being my usual kitty litter and pick-up-chicken-shit man, I'll get a chance to be a warrior with my snow shovel as well.

Have a good week!

Sunday, February 1, 2015


The nice thing about having a dozen irons in the fire, always got one that's hot enough to work on. In this case, VW door panels.

One for the back.

And one for the front. 

I need to file the corners a bit on the one for the front and cut the hole for the handle but it fits pretty nice. The one for the rear needs the edges filed as well. Both of them will need to be drilled for fasteners. However, I'm not quite sure yet what I'm going to use. I've been thumbing through the McMaster-Carr catalog and I've narrowed it down to a couple of ideas. I'll get on that pretty soon and get the two pieces cut for the other side of the car. I'll figure out what I want to do about rolling some beads in them and adding armrests also. The sheets are a little shinier than what they appear in the photos due to the protective plastic film by the way.

I got a magazine with a Harbor Freight ad in it that had a coupon for a 36" sheet metal brake. The coupon price is as low as it's probably ever going to be. I've been looking at the photos and I think I might be able to convert it to a box brake fairly easily and cheaply. The coupon is good until June, so no hurry, but I need a brake for a few of the projects. One of these days when I'm up that way I'll check it out and see if it'll do what I need.

In the meantime, I'll concentrate my efforts on snow removal. The weatherman's talking up to 10" and wind gusts to 30 mph. Always a fun time out here in the country.