Monday, September 28, 2015

Praying Mantis

I got the swing painted yesterday. One coat on the bottom but two on the top. Looks pretty good - almost like a woodworker was in charge rather than a weldor. I'll pick up some hardware this week, get that installed and then mothball it until spring. 

Pretty happy with the swing project, not only because it's done, but because I finally have my own woodshop set up and use-able. Still need to get a couple of items moved upstairs and I'd like to get a drill press, but I'm no longer dependent on having access to the high school shop in order to make/fix things at home.

While I had the paint out I figured I should put another coat on the little park bench that sits by the steps. I pulled it out and found a praying mantis underneath it where some iris had grown up. Not something I see around here too often but that's not all that surprising since they blend in with the greenery well and they don't move very quickly. Bench is painted and no praying mantis was harmed in the process. 

I've got a few things lined up for the week already but hope to get back on the 900 soon. If nothing else, at least get some parts ordered in. I'm kicking around some ideas for a small spray booth. I painted my mailbox the other day and sprayed it outside - took twice as much paint as it should have due to the wind but I don't really have a decent spot to paint without worrying about getting overspray on something or getting a lot of dust in whatever I'm painting. Wouldn't need to be much. Something big enough for a motorcycle tank or fenders. Maybe with a Lazy Susan so I could spin the parts around and a bar across the top to hang parts from. Have to see if I can come up with some type of portable/knockdown item with good lighting and an exhaust fan. It never ends.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Here's the train station out back from a previous post. The swing looked good then but not so much now. I was going to put a coat of paint on it Friday but after looking it over decided the best thing would be to make a new one. I don't know how old the one pictured is but probably close to 25 years. The guy who made it did a real nice job. It was hanging from the ceiling of my front porch before I moved to the farm and it was protected from the elements there. When I first moved down here I took it down and stored it every winter. If I had continued to do that I probably could have gotten another five years out of it. 

After deciding to make another one, I made a quick sketch of this one, a bill of materials and headed for the lumber yard. Forty-two dollars, about eight hours of labor and I've got a new swing. 

I still need to pick up some eye bolts and maybe some carriage bolts, depending on what I've got around here that I can find, and then slap a coat of paint on it. Pretty quick turn-around for me. 

The side rails and the middle piece are "L" shaped with the back of the swing leaning back at a 12 degree angle. They're held together with a lap joint I made using the router. Might have been a little faster with the table saw but it's still downstairs and everything else is upstairs. All the slats have the corners rounded over with the router, as do the arms. It's a straight forward copy of the old one with one exception. There are blocks in the front corner to give it some additional strength where the eye bolt goes through. I made the blocks longer in order to reach the uprights for the arms. I'm planning on putting some carriage bolts through the arm uprights instead of just screwing them into the "L" frame. They're glued in place right now. I don't know what a 5' swing would cost but if I paid myself $20.00/hr, I'd be a little over $200.00 with material and hardware but no finish. Not too bad a return on my time - not that I plan on making any more of these things. If it lasts as long as the old one, this is the last porch swing I'll ever make.

The 900 has these cast collars to hold the exhaust pipes in place on the cylinder head. They're heavy and kind of ugly. They made some aluminum replacements without the fins but I don't know what model or year. I talked to the machine shop professor the other day about making up some on the CNC mill and he was open to the idea. I measured up the stock part for bolt hole centers and diameters, then made up a quicky sketch. I'm planning on taking the part and the sketch to work this week and see what he thinks. If it's a go, I'll need to see about a better drawing to get accurate numbers where the arcs intersect on the profile - maybe hit Surly up for that. Since I've got all the numbers, probably only take him about ten minutes to knock out a drawing. I think you can load a DXF file directly into the one type of mill we have and it can convert it to a tool path. I'll find out more after talking to the prof. Be cool to actually make something in the lab.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Yogi Berra

As I'm sure you've heard by now, Yogi Berra passed away the other day. Like most guys growing up in the 50's and 60's, I was all about baseball. It truly was the national pastime and love 'em or hate 'em, the Yankees were always contenders back then - Maris, Mantle, Skowron, Howard, Ford, Pepitone, and Berra, my personal hero. By any measure he's probably the greatest catcher of all time - MVP three times, 15 All Star appearances and 10 World Series rings for both his playing and managing. By all accounts he was also a great man. I read the book Driving Mr. Yogi a couple of years back. If you're a baseball fan or a Yogi fan, it's a must read. Rest In Peace, Yogi.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Sidecars with steering wheels. That's something you don't see everyday Chauncey. If you check out the link, beware. There's some cool bikes, cars and photography but there's some things not safe for "sensitive viewers" - like your boss for instance.

This came in as part of  Cycle World's weekly e-mail. New engine designed by Dan Gurney and friends. Large bore, short stroke, variable valve timing, counter rotating crankshafts that cancel out the rocking motion of the firing pulses. Pretty clever design. They're looking to have one running later in the year. 

I hope Dan Gurney has better luck with his gear teeth than I do with my mouth teeth. That's half the crown portion of the dental implant I got put in not quite two years ago. The damn thing split pert near right down the middle Sunday morning while eating breakfast. Not real happy about that, nor am I happy about the root canal I had done this week on a tooth that already had a crown and a root canal procedure. Two trips to the dentist this week. The one nice thing about the implant is you can break 'em down the middle and it doesn't hurt a lick. 

And to try and keep the positive spin going, I had to go right by the welding supply while I was out.  I only needed a couple of little items but there's no place close to me or in the town where the college is located that has a regular full service welding supply. There used to be one about five minutes away from the college but they folded up a few years ago. As far as I know no one has moved in to fill the void. When I was at the high school I just ordered what I wanted from our supplier on a cash ticket and paid the driver when he made the rounds. It would seem I'm a trifle spoiled.

I was supposed to meet with the concrete guy but the dentist visit will fill that time slot. That's going to push the concrete back a bit again but there's still no freezing temperatures being forecast.

I did a 36 mile bike ride Saturday. The weather was crappy when we set off - spitting rain and wind in our faces but it cleared up nicely and we finished with a nice tail wind. Surprisingly enough, the legs weren't sore after the ride, either that day or the next. The longest I had ridden at a stretch was 15 miles prior to that. Not too shabby for a guy who just turned 65, even if I do say so myself.

Need to get back on the 900 project but also need to get a few things done around the shack before the weather turns cold. It is the autumnal equinox today, after all. Shame to waste all the beautiful weather we're having at the dentist office.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Under the Covers

I started working on the 900 motor in earnest. Took the alternator cover off and got it cleaned up first. I've got a cover that's been chromed but 70's Superbikes weren't known for their show chrome finish. These things were working horses not show ponies. The Scotch-Brite finish looks plenty shiny enough. I had a kit of Allen head screws that I bought a while back so I've been sticking those back in the proper holes as I take things apart and reinstall them.

Cleaned up the sandcast clutch cover after that so it would be ready to bolt on when I took the stock cover off. Shined up the points cover and the piece behind it a bit first, however.  When I took the clutch cover off I discovered a chunk of a broken friction plate. Upon further inspection, there are a couple of broken plates.

The little piece was laying inside the clutch cover. The larger missing piece is not rattling around in the motor, it fell into the drain pan. The steel plates look like they could be salvageable with a little sanding. I'll see what's available and break out the credit card. I knew the time was coming when I was going to have to start spending some money. Looks like it's arrived.  

Edit: I went to Bike Bandit to see about the clutch discs and just for curiosity sake I checked out the price of the above covers. The alternator cover is roughly $350, the points cover $100 and the clutch cover $150. Holy Horseshit, Batman! Three covers are $600.00. I'd better keep my spares under lock and key.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Post Holes

I got the holes dug and the concrete forms taken care of for the veranda off the new barn. They're square to the building, plumb, level and on center. That's about all I can do other than pour them full of concrete. Didn't take too long. The digging was easy other than a chunk of concrete I hit in one of the holes. The forms are 48" long so the holes are deep but that's a good thing. I still need to tamp the floor in the shop before I pour - planning on getting that done over the weekend. I think I've got enough hose to reach out there. I want to wet it down a couple of times to settle the sand and then tamp it. Things are coming along. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Rest of the Story

I posted a photo of the front of this bike recently and mentioned I'd like to see the rest of it. Well, here it is. Surly found it and has a few more photos of it and the links at his place. There's an outfit that specializes in books on all forms of transportation. I should check them out one of these days and see what's available on these racers from the 70's and 80's. Put that on my Christmas list if they've got something good. 

Meanwhile, I had a busy day yesterday. Put in 10 miles on the bicycle, cut the grass in the back yard, and worked on a couple of projects.

I stretched a clutch arm for a Ducati narrow case motor. Not all that tough to do other than trying to keep everything in line. No two pieces are the same diameter and the top is supposed to have a little backward lean to it. Little tough to fixture.

I also turned the O.D. and squared up the ends on this piece of pipe. It started as a piece of 2" extra heavy wall. 2" pipe is actually 2-3/8" O.D. but I need 2" on the money for a weld tester I'm putting together at the college. This will be the bottom of the ram for the guided bend tests on 6" Sch. 80 pipe. I'll weld in a piece of 3/8" on the inside of the pipe to stiffen it up and then weld it to a piece of tubing or pipe. Then it will get welded on to a piece that slips over the ram on the big hydraulic press in the shop. I'll post some photos of the job after completion. 

I laid out the holes for the piers for the veranda/deck off the top of the new barn. I need to get those dug so I can pour them the same time I do the shop floor. While I was out there I checked on my hazelnut tree. It was loaded with nuts when I looked about a week ago but they weren't quite ready to pick. Something cleaned them all off the tree. I'm guessing it was a deer. Not a single nut left on the tree. 

Supposed to continue with the warm weather the next few days. I'll have to get up early to get the holes dug but then I can retire to the shop and get back on the 900 project. The wife is slowly getting her strength back. She's talking about a little get-away trip coming up soon. Good to have her back among the living.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Flat Track Saturday

I went to the flat track races at Frankfort, IN on Saturday. Instead of taking I-65 south, I ambled down US 421 out through the country - nice day for a drive. I hadn't been that way in a while but I had a lot of relatives down that way when I was growing up and we used to go through Monon, Reynolds and Monticello on a regular basis. Brought back some good memories. Also pointed out that summer is pert near over when I saw a couple of fields where the corn has already been picked. And that I should probably be home working on projects rather than going to the races.

There weren't a lot of people or bikes there but that actually made it pretty nice. They had several classes of the flat trackers running plus speedway bikes and four wheelers. Admission was twenty bucks but that included a pit pass. 

Most of the bikes were of a motocross origin but there were a few purpose built Rotax powered machines, a couple powered by Yamaha 4 stoke singles and a couple of "old timers" like the Bultaco pictured above.

I could have brought this one home for $3200.00. Honda powered, Knight frame and a plastic bin full of gearing, etc. I've mentioned before I've had a hankering to try flat tracking but I've worn enough plaster in my time and don't walk with a limp. Best to leave it at that.

Not very often you get a chance to see Speedway bikes in action. I had a nice chat with two of the racers. I didn't realize that they had a couple of different configurations of these things. Short track bikes are rigid framed, single speed but for longer tracks they use a sprung rear, longer wheelbase and a two speed. 168 pounds, single cylinder engine making 58 horsepower, running on methanol. The one guy I talked to said he used to run flat track with the big boys but he does this because it's fun. Says it's nothing like riding a flatracker. There's a big footpeg on the right side of the bike and you stand on that more than you ride sitting down. I've seen these things run and I'm not so sure fun would be how I'd describe it. Long tracks like this one maybe. But those little bull rings, have to be a handful. Especially with no brakes.

I came across this one as I was walking into the pit area and recognized it right away as belonging to the guy who writes the 520 Chain cafe blog. As I passed by later I saw a few guys gathered around the bike and figured one of them had to be the owner - sure enough. I introduced myself and we chatted for a bit. He was kind enough to ask about my wife and we talked a little shop. Seems like a real  nice young man - he does nice work too, judging by the Sportster. He's got a bunch of nice photos of the event at his blog, by the way.

I also met a guy who does pinstriping. He's not too far away from me. He had a few things on display that he had done while there as well as a book of his work. I want to get a couple of things done on the 900. Some type of design on top of the tank and on the leading edge of the front fender. I'll see about getting things painted before it gets cold and then hook up with him for the striping.

It was possible to walk around the back part of the track and take pictures without any fence to obstruct your view. A 1/2 mile track is just about perfect for the 250's and 500's. For an amateur event there were some guys there who could really ride. Need to see if the promoter has a website or what needs to be done to stay informed about these events. Be nice if Surly and I could get out and ride to a couple of these. 

Glad I went. I needed to get out.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Aircraft Hand Forming

Birthday present from Surly. Right up my alley. It's a good little book - just thumbed through it but picked up a couple of tips already. If I get a little better at sheet metal work, maybe I can make one of these for the 900:

Photo From here

The bike looks familiar but I can't place it. I'm assuming, however, that it's an endurance racer judging by the headlights. Something built for the Bol d' Or perhaps? I like to see a picture of the complete bike. Maybe stick with the plan, such as it is on the 900, and build a fairing for the black & orange Sprint. Hopefully, when I get the concrete poured in the back of the shop I'll be a little better equipped to do that kind of work. I've got most of the necessary tools but haven't had the room to set them all up. Like most things, however, if it became a high enough priority it would happen. I'll get in touch with my buddy and see what his schedule is and get the concrete done soon enough.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Good News!

The wife had her appointment to see the doctor about the outcome of her chemo treatments yesterday. I planned on going along but we got a call from the school where the grandson goes that he wasn't feeling well and they hadn't been able to reach mom. So we grabbed him and I watched him while the Missus was gone. While waiting for her to get home the mailman came and dropped off my new book:

I ordered this thing as soon as I heard about it - well over a year ago - but it's here now and signed by the man his-self. I've just leafed through it so far but it looks to be extremely well done. I'm looking forward to reading it.

But more importantly, while leafing through the book, the wife called home and gave me the news from the doctor. The doc says she's 99% clean. One little spot showed up on the PET scan but it's shrunken from what it was. Because her type of lymphoma is a slow grower, the doc says just keep an eye on things and not to worry. 

Thanks be to heaven and to all those who've sent along wishes and prayers. I can't begin to tell you the relief I felt when she called. Took me all evening to finally settle down. I was so wound up, I baked a couple loaves of apple nut bread to keep busy. Just didn't know what to do with myself. 

Oh Happy Day!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Inner Countershaft Cover Repair

I got the inner piece for the countershaft cleaned up and repaired. Wasn't too tricky. After I welded in the new pieces, I clamped it down on the milling table and then took a skin cut off the top. Things always warp when you weld them, plus, this piece was hit hard enough to knock a fair size chunk out of it which usually leads to distortion. Anyway, done deal. I do need some new screws that bolt the part to the engine cases. I'll see what I've got for Allen heads in 6mm. Those Phillips head screws just don't get it.

Starting to look like a motorcycle. I need to get the seat mounted. I cut the stock mounts off the frame when I was running the sidecar with the homemade sheet metal. Originally I was thinking of buying a Corbin seat but since I'm leaning more Superbike/Streetfighter rather than cafe, I think I'm going to stick with the stock seat. It doesn't have to swing open like a stocker, it just needs to stay on. Not too much fabrication work left to do. I need to order a new rear caliper and then I can finish up the rear brake and the exhaust pipe. Right now I can roll it around, so might be a good place to pause until I get my concrete finished.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sunday Superbike Stuff

Photo From Here

Graeme Crosby's Suzuki Superbike from the early days. Man I love these old things. They'd go like stink but they were really cobbled together. Check out the muffler! Guys like Pops Yoshimura could get 140 horse out of them but making them handle well enough to run with the lighter and more nimble BMW's, Ducati's and Moto Guzzi's was a real trick. I'm going to have to get an oil cooler for my 900 if I'm going to go Superbike replica. My original idea was more cafe than Superbike but I'm leaning more towards a Superbike/hooligan mash-up now. We'll see how it progresses.

Photo From Here
Here's the point's cover off the Vetter Kawasaki ridden by Reggie Pridmore. You can see how they shortened the inner piece to gain additional cornering clearance. This would require moving the condensers outside the cover or as they did later, cut the bottom of the cover completely off and go to an electronic ignition. 

Here's a couple of beat up points covers I had laying around. Both of them have hit the ground as you can tell from the bottom photo. One of the covers is much heavier, as can be seen from the inside view in the top photo. They are both Kawasaki parts but I have no idea when they made the switch or if the heavier one was a special duty part number. They did make a different one for the police model. The height was a little shorter over all but it had a bump out in the center of the cover to clear the bolt holding the points cam on. If I decide to make a race type cover, I can alter one of these or use them to practice/prototype with.

If I wanted to run without an alternator I could use the cover on the left. When I was drag racing I used a total loss ignition system and just ran it off the battery. That's what this one was for. Probably not the best thing for a street bike, however. The sandcast clutch cover is going to go on the bike. It's a little dirty now from laying around but it'll fit right in with the look of the early Superbikes.

This is the part that goes behind the countershaft sprocket. You can see the missing piece on the left hand side. This won't be too hard to fix. In addition to the missing piece, one of the threaded holes is stripped so I'll need to Heli-Coil that too. I'm going to try and get this piece done today.

Here's the right rear view of the bike. I got the swingarm bridge tacked on and I've got the exhaust mostly done. I made a bracket to hold the rear of the header in place and got that tacked on. It bolts to a frame bracket I added when I was running the sidecar. It has a 1/2" hole in it so I made a bushing to put in the hole for a 6mm bolt.  After I finish up the rear brake I'll finish the exhaust pipe. I want to shorten up the pipe right behind where it's bell mouthed to fit over the collector but I don't know how much room I need for the brake line and fittings coming off the master cylinder. I'll probably be able to take an 1-1/2" out but I'll wait on that so I don't screw it up. I might take a little off the back as well. As it is it clears the axle nut and the shock bolt so it'll work as is, but it'll look a little more tucked in and tidy if I shorten things up a bit. After I get that done I'll make another bracket and a hanger to support the back end of the pipe a little bit better. Regardless of what I do, it already looks better than the pipe on the Suzuki up there.

Got a lot more done than I figured I'd be able to the past two days. If I get the countershaft situation taken care of today, that means that the clutch release plate will be good to go also. Things are taking shape here. I get this one done it will probably be my regular ride and I'll sell the SV650. Need to thin the herd. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Superbike In The Making

I've been trying to limit my work for other people to a pretty select group but one of the security guards asked me to fix this key for a wind-up clock. I don't know what if anything they've got for solder at the college, so I brought it home and took care of it. No biggie - just another thing.

The spools I ordered for the 900 swingarm came in. I could easily have made these but by the time I farted around picking up the bolts and machined the spools, it wasn't going to be worth it. I machined the bosses they thread in to last evening. I hope to have the swingarm finished up in the next few days but there's a lot going on. The wife's PET scan and the follow up visit with the doctor for her lymphoma are on tap the next few days, so it'll be hard to get much done with my fingers crossed. I'm feeling pretty good about things but I'll feel better when the doctor confirms it.

Surly sent me a link to the Cycle World archives about a Yoshimura Suzuki superbike from back in the 70's. I haven't read all the article yet but it looks like it's got a lot of good info on what was going on with the bikes back then.  Since that's sort of the look I'm going after with my 900, the article should prove helpful. Surly also posted some pics of points covers on his blog. The early superbikes had clearance issues with both the points covers and the alternator covers. They came up with some pretty creative, but often times crude, ways of dealing with the problem. I've got a sand cast clutch cover I'm planning on using on my bike. When I'm a little farther along I'll see about making up some kind of modified points cover to go with it. Surly tells me Moriwaki is still offering their points cover for sale. They're nice looking but I'm usually in favor of making my own stuff. That was one of the things that attracted me to Superbikes. Lots of smart guys tackling the same problem but coming at it from different angles depending on time, engineering talent, money, etc. Of course I did buy the spools.

Shop Teacher Bob hit 65 today. As you can tell from the blog, I'm still makin' and fixin'. And to steal a line from my old department head at the high school, my feet are still sore from stamping out ignorance. Not doing too bad though for a guy who's on Social Security and Medicare. Looking forward to at least twenty more birthdays - should be able to finish all the bike and car projects by then.

Have a good weekend and holiday.