Saturday, May 30, 2015

Getting a Handle On Things

I turned a replacement handle for my little garden cultivator I made a few years back at the blacksmith shop. I trimmed up a peach tree and made the handle from a dead branch. It was kind of nice to just cut a chunk of dead limb and 15 minutes later I had a handle made and installed. I should locate a chunk of copper tubing for ferrules and then make a few extra handles of various sizes to keep on hand.

I noticed when mowing the other day that something had been digging in the dirt by the corner of the big barn. Whatever it was spent a lot of time working all around the corner rather than just burrowing under the bottom of the door that already had about 4 inches of clearance. I was a little hesitant to open the door, not knowing what I might find on the other side. What I found was the garbage can I kept the cat food in was laying on its side with the lid off. I'm assuming it was a raccoon that had chewed the tarp strap in two that was holding the lid on and then finished off the cat food. No telling what could have been in there, though. I went out to the old barn before it came down to take care of the dog one morning and on the other side of the dog pen was a coyote sleeping on a bale of straw no more than 4 feet away from the dog, who was also sleeping. Old Gracie never was much of a watch dog.

This was a busy week. I went to both the doctor and the dentist for check ups and then back to the dentist with the Missus for an extraction for what remained of a broken tooth. At least I made it out of the dentist office without a cavity for a change. Lots of phone calls for medical things and Medicare. Once you get close to Medicare age the phone rings pretty much non stop with offers to sign you up for a supplement policy. I didn't realize there were that many insurance companies out there. 

My cycling companion from the high school came by the house yesterday afternoon. We made five long distance trips together on the bikes: The Katy Trail, The Bran Ride, Portland to Missoula, The Natchez Trace, and Pittsburgh to D.C. We've also done some riding together on both organized and training rides. He started at the high school the year before I did, so we've got roughly a twenty year span of working and riding together, plus we roomed together on my first trip to Italy. He's decided that he's had enough of the teaching game and is calling it quits. 

Best wishes on the retirement, Kevin. You've earned it. Hopefully we can get out and ride together again.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Workin' It

Photo From Here

I love this picture. Look at the metal work on the engine cowling and those wheel pants. The lady in the photo's no slouch either. Besides being quite lovely, she flew coast to coast solo and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

I got the little railing installed and the new air conditioner. The railing didn't require much more than a shovel, a level and a bag of concrete mix. The AC unit was a little more involved. The instructions showed something like nine different scenarios depending on the type of unit the wall sleeve was originally designed for. Mine, of course, fell into the category of none of the above. I needed to raise the unit up in the sleeve in order for the trim piece to fit properly and the AC unit is supposed to slope to the rear for drainage of the condensate. I cut some tapered shims from a treated 2x4 and bolted those in. I also cut some pieces from an old bicycle inner tube and set the AC unit on them as a way to absorb any vibration that might be transferred to the metal wall sleeve. I sealed up the gap between the sleeve and the AC unit with the furnished foam gasket and packed everything tight with fiberglass insulation to insure no drafts this winter. Plugged it in and everything seems to work as advertised. Should be ready to go when the hot weather hits. I'm interested to see how the heating element works this winter.

Should be a beautiful day today according to the forecast. A couple hours of mowing, weed whacking and gardening on tap, then it's on to the projects. Cuzzin Ricky sent some angle home with me the other day to make ramps for his trailer. They're already cut to length and mitered. Maybe do those today. Definitely going to pull the cover off the Sportster and see where I left off on that.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

Photo From Here

Cuzzin Ricky and I did The Dead Relatives Tour a little early this year. We were both off on Friday and it was a beautiful day to be out and about so Friday it was. The American Legion had already set the flags out, so after we cleaned off all the markers and planted the flowers, they all looked real nice. Our dads are both buried in the same cemetery only a short walk apart from one and other. It's an older, well kept cemetery with mature trees. It's very peaceful and quiet. Gives them and the others interred there the dignity and respect they deserve. Gone but not forgotten, as the saying goes. 

We stopped at Harbor Freight on the way home to see about a sheet metal brake. I had a coupon that was set to expire in a few days so I thought I'd check it out. After deciding to purchase, the only one in stock was in a crate that looked like it had been dropped off the truck someplace between China and here. Because of that, the lady gave me the coupon price and knocked 20% off as well. Everything was going better than expected right up to the point when we were transferring it out of Rick's truck into mine. I sliced the hell out of my finger on a sheet metal corner brace that I didn't realize was on the bottom of the crate. Fortunately, I keep a first aid kit in my truck so we cobbled up a bandage and I drove home with my finger throbbing. Didn't figure getting the brake for half price was going to cost me in blood though. 

The brake has a capacity of 16 gauge x 36" wide. That's about all a guy needs for motorcycle work and patch panels for autos. I think I can convert it into a box brake with removable fingers relatively easy. I'll get it set up and take a hard look at it one of these days and make a decision then. Maybe extend the handles on the apron also. 

The next item on the equipment purchase list is a drill press for the wood shop. I've only got a few more months of big insurance premiums to make and then Medicare kicks in. After that, I'll be looking at buying something - probably the 1/2 hp radial that Grizzly and a couple of other outfits sell. Should be pretty well set after that. A planer would be nice to have, though.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sidecovers or Tool Boxes

Photo From Here

Maybe we're going about the sidecover thing from the wrong direction. The earlier bikes like this Goldstar had the oil tank on the right and a tool box on left. They're nicely rounded and look good in a very traditional sort of way. Our BSA is the later model oil-in-frame style but a pair of tool boxes would be nice if you could come up with the right look. It'd be nice to have a spot for some tools, gloves, etc. on the bike. Might be a little trickier to fab up but I'd be willing to give it a go.

In the meantime, a couple more loose ends around the shack and back on the Sportster.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Little B & M

Photo From Here

So we've got a guy who can build an entire body for a car.

Photos From Here
And a couple of guys who can build some really kick-ass sheet metal for a motorcycle. And then there's me.

Three aluminum pieces for three different bikes. All of which are only half finished at best. I'd really like to devote more time to this sheet metal stuff but even if I get close to mastering it, why? It's not like I need to do this sort of thing. Or maybe I do. I saw a filler piece on PBS a week or so back - how to tell if you might have Attention Deficit Disorder. Managed to watch about 5 minutes before I changed the channel - that probably says something in itself.  While it's almost certain that I've got ADD according to what was on the tube, especially the last item on the list that says people with ADD will say or do stupid things for no apparent reason sometimes, much of my problem is that I normally have no interest in the finished project. I just want to make things. Not sure what's behind the need to make things or what got me going on this subject, but it might have something to do with "Challenge, Mastery and Purpose". Or it could be one of a million things. Who the hell knows?

I did knock out a quickie railing project to help the Missus navigate a step out front. It's supposed to warm up a bit today so I'll get it primed, painted and installed. I also bought a replacement air conditioner I need to install. The chemo has been kicking the Missus' ass. I need to make sure no matter what the weather, she'll be as comfortable as possible. It's a thru the wall unit and I didn't want to take the old one out while the temps were in the 40's. I'll tackle that one in the upcoming days, hopefully before it gets too hot. The new unit is also a heater which will be nice in the winter. The old farmhouse here has hot water heat but they didn't run any fin tubes on the end of the living area where we spend the majority of our time in the evenings. This should help eliminate the cold spot and in the event of a power outage, I can close off much of the rest of the house and plug the new unit in to the welder and keep us toasty. At least as long as the fuel holds out, anyway. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Three Tees

Tools, time & talent. I've got most of the tools that I need for this stuff. Realistically, I've got more time than the average guy. Talent? Still working on that one.

I've got the sidecover at roughly 90%. Still some planishing and sanding to be done if I'm going to use it but since it's probably destined to be a wall hanging, that's about all she wrote on metal finishing. I am going to drill the hole for the mounting peg and make a bracket to mount the leading edge. Maybe shrink the top edge so it will follow the line of the frame rail a bit closer and then see how it looks on the bike.

I'm only so-so on the design. I think Surly wants to have a line on the sidecover that compliments the break line on the lower part of the tank. Fairly plain to see once you throw something up there that doesn't have it. Next step is to wait and see what he comes up with. 

For a technical exercise I'm pleased. It came out looking like I planned it and it only took a couple of days start to finish. I'll never be able to call myself a panel beater at the rate I'm going but with a few more projects I should be able to make most anything I'll ever want as far as motorcycle sheet metal goes. Might even be able to make myself that Bonneville racer someday. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

BSA Sidecover

I made a sidecover for the BSA yesterday. Two reasons for it. First I wanted to make something now that I've got most of the woodworking stuff set up. Second, I wanted to try my hand a making a die for one-off/low volume parts. 

The finished part came out looking roughly like I had envisioned it. There were a couple of wavy spots - part of that as a result of my annealing the part prior to forming and partly due to the top die I made.

Here's what it looks like after some planishing to take out the waviness and to crown the boundary around the inset part. It doesn't look all that bad on the bike. It doesn't go very well with the air cleaner that's stuck on there currently but might not look too bad with a velocity stack. I'll weld the corners up, planish it a bit more and then see how it looks on the bike. It's not what Surly was looking for I'm sure, but it was surprisingly easy to make. Not easy enough to make any money trying to do this but I'm not interested in working on anyone else's projects anyway.

Anyway, I learned a few things making this one. I've done enough of this kind of stuff now that I've got a pretty good idea of what I'm doing but not good enough to be able to work quickly and confidently. All goes back to the 10,000 hour thing I suppose. I'd like to think that after Surly comes up with his final design that I can actually make it. Won't be good if I can't.

Friday, May 15, 2015

This 'N' That

Since I got the new battery in the truck I figured I ought to pick some things up while it was running, so I hit the lumber yard and the steel supplier. I picked up some 2x4's for the outfeed table on the table saw. I got the framework under the laminate piece taken care of. Next step is to get it on the saw and shim it up to the proper height and make some legs for it. I also need to measure up for the railing out front so I can get that one knocked out - that's what the steel I bought the other day is for. That shouldn't take too long to make, especially if I do a nice job of measuring it up. There's only one step, after all.

This roller stand is actually a store bought item, believe it or not. This is what Sears used to sell to support the long boards you were sending through the table saw. This was actually designed to work with my Craftsman saw. The outfeed table I'm working on will be an improvement over what I've got now but I'll still end up needing this thing for real long boards. It's amazing that there are any of these things still around.

Got a couple of peppers coming in already. I need to get myself a green house or some grow lights down the basement so I can have some peppers and tomatoes year round. The Missus bought me the book The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. The blue zones are where people live the longest. Their diet is mostly vegetarian and many of them are gardeners. I'm currently working on a couple of books by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and his prescription for longevity is basically fruits and veggies. He too encourages people to grow some of their own food. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, something like 40% of the bee colonies died over the past year. If we're going to have any vegetables, fruits or nuts in the future, we might have to start not only growing our own but pollinating them as well.

My brother the truck mechanic called the other day but I missed his call. He related a story to the Missus to pass along about a young guy who's working for him. Kind of goes along with a post I put up a few weeks back, "Welding, What's that?". Short version of the story goes like this: He gives the young guy something to take apart which involves spinning off a couple of brass nuts. The kid ends up rounding off the corners of the nuts without getting the thing apart. Brother asks him what tool he used and the kid shows him the open end wrench he used. Brother then asks why he didn't use the box end and didn't he take shop class in school? No shop class in school. Never heard of a box wrench. My brother wasn't raggin' on the kid. Said he's a hard worker and eager to learn. Just never heard of a box wrench before. My brother will get the kid straightened out, especially if the kid shows some effort. But what about all the rest of them?

In the Wall Street Journal was an editorial by John Glenn and Sandra Day O'Conner. The editorial praises the push for STEM but laments the lack of Civics. They're working on a solution, and I would say it looks like a good one, but now that everyone is fighting over the Common Core curriculum, maybe it's time to start fresh and look at everything from top to bottom. Having  more civics in the curriculum certainly wouldn't be a bad idea. God knows we could use a better informed citizenry. Probably wouldn't hurt to make sure every student knows which end of the hammer to hold and that a combination wrench has both an open end and a box end, and if you don't want to round off the corners of the nut, use the box end. Around my neck of the woods, probably better to have more civics and shop classes than all the Common Core algebra.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Power Center

I splurged on a luxury item for the new barn - a power center. It's an air compressor, trouble light and extension cord, plus it's got a couple of little halogen bulbs that light up when you pull the cord down. It's pretty slick, actually. I pumped up a couple of bicycle tires and it works just dandy for that. It will go up to 100 psi and there's a gauge built in so you can check the pressure as you inflate the tire. The thing was on sale for $29.99 @ Menard's. The bulbs weren't included so I bought a pair at the local hardware store. No bargain there, but still, total cost under $45.00. I think it'll come in handy and be worth the money. 

Surly came down over the weekend and brought a paper pattern of a sidecover design for the BSA. Mostly just a visual aid but we're getting this thing in the loop. The Missus and I have lots of medical things going on this week but I'm going to be starting back up on the Sportster. I just need to remember where I left off.

Walked out by the railroad tracks where I usually find some mushrooms every spring. Just my luck, however, the railroad sprayed everything with weed killer a couple of days before the mushrooms popped up. Mushrooms are supposed to be a super food where cancer is concerned but eating them after a fresh application of Round Up/2-4-D/ Agent Orange or whatever the hell they sprayed is not going to give the same results. There were quite a few out there but I figured one person with cancer in the household is plenty, so I took a pass on picking any.

On vacation for a month now. Shouldn't be that big of a deal when I'm only working two days per week anyway - but it sure feels like it is. I'll try not to squander it.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


I got this in an e-mail from Cycle World promoting the upcoming race at Road America the last weekend of May. It's been quite a while since I've been there. The first time was in '72 for the Can-Am races. The Missus and I drove up there in our brand new Cutlass. Surly and I were there a few times for Superbikes and the GTP cars. I'd love to get up there and watch some racing again.

I finish up at the college tonight and then I'm off for a month. Looking forward to getting back on some of the fun stuff. The Sportster for sure. BSA also. Maybe even the 900. Also time to get back out on the bicycle. 

Lost the link

Should be posting some progress soon. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Trouble With My Ho'

Looks like it's going to be a good year for fruit again if the blossoms on the apple & crab apple are any indication. If you get close to the crab apple, it's just a hummin' with all the bees doing what they do. You don't have to worry about getting stung. They're in ecstasy.

I got the garden planted. Started on Saturday after a breakfast get together with a few of my colleagues from the high school. Everyone is still bitchin' about the same things. Always does my heart good to hear it though. It was definitely time for me to move on. Speaking of which, I ran across one of my former superintendents the other day. She was working the cash register at one of the hardware stores I trade with. I did a double take when I came in. Wasn't what I expected but more power to her. She was an improvement over several of those other bozos that were sitting in the big chair.

Had a couple of casualties working the garden - broke the trowel on Saturday and then the hoe on Sunday. Most people would have gone scampering to the closest lawn & garden supply but I sanded/filed a taper on the old handle for the hoe and reused it. The trowel I'll take to work with me this week and weld it back together. All the garden tools are looking a little ragged. I should plan on replacing them or at least put some linseed oil on the handles to help preserve them. If I bought a new hoe, rake and shovel they would out last me at this point and probably bring a buck a piece at the auction. Something to consider.

Anyway, the gardens in. I've got about $25.00 in seeds and plants and about eight hours of labor. I wouldn't have had as much labor had I done a bit of work last fall but I was concentrating my energies on getting the house painted. I should get a fairly good return on my investment with the rising food prices and if California doesn't get some water pretty soon, the situation is going to get real serious. Think Victory Garden folks.

On an unrelated note, I ran into a former student at breakfast Saturday morning. He was wearing his belt buckle that he had made in class. I remembered posting about making them and it's been five years ago. Looked like it has held up nicely. I wonder how much stuff shop teachers are responsible for having made, either directly or indirectly. 

And on another unrelated note, I got the SV650 out yesterday for the first ride of the season. I didn't go far but I had taken it off the battery tender about two weeks ago and wanted to get it fired up. The battery has died in my pickup and the mower battery isn't far behind. No problem with the bike, though. Felt good to be out. 

Have a good week and don't forget your garden!

Friday, May 1, 2015

More Brit Bikes

BSA 1967 1 

The 520 Chain Cafe blog has put up quite a few old motorcycle adverts. The one above is something like I would have seen when reading Cycle or Cycle World when I was a senior in high school. I thought the Lightning was cool, but the Spitfire? Pure lust.

Photo From Here
After my HD Sprint was stolen in '69, I was going to step up in style and get myself something a little bigger. I had my eye on a new Triumph Daytona but I just didn't have the cash to swing the deal. I talked to my pops and the conversation went something like this:

Me: I want to get a new bike to replace my Sprint that got stolen but I need a co-signer for the loan.
Pops: You need to get a car.
Me: I can keep driving Mom's for awhile.
Pops: NO. You need to get a car.

End of conversation.

Photo From Here
So that was how the Triumph got away and I became the proud owner of a succession of used cars and pick up trucks. Hoping to finally have a couple of the old bikes running this year. Would have liked to have had that Triumph, though.

PS: Hooray, Hooray, the first of May!

PSS: Happy birthday Dave!