Friday, October 30, 2015

Peaks and Valleys

Things have been going pretty good on the home front lately. Made a clutch tool for the 900:

Surly set the extra Sportster seat I have on the back of the Sprint and I like the look. I think I'm going to run with it. I've got the stock seat but it needs to be recovered but even if that wasn't the case, I think I like the Sporty seat a bit better. I'm planning on swapping out the handlebars as well. The stock bars on the SS are rubber mounted and a little higher than I prefer. Even when things were new the give from the rubber mounting was a little disconcerting. Might have kept the vibration down but I prefer a little more of a direct connection to the bike. Looks like this Sprint got pushed up a little closer to the front of the project line but that's OK. As long as the line isn't getting any longer I'm good.

I bought a couple of taillights for my old Plymouth. I'm planning on frenching those in so I need some buckets for them to set into. I made a little pattern of the bottom of the bucket the other day thinking these would be something I could work on when I had a little down time in the shop or the lab at school. Realistically, I should have just bought a pair of buckets at the same time I bought the lights but once a maker, always a maker.

So there's a little progress on three different projects. That's the high point. The low point is my buddy Jimmy from the boxing gym had a terrible fall the other day. He's banged up pretty bad. Had one surgery already and more on the way. I haven't talked to him yet but I'll see whatever I can do to help out. I can help run the gym a couple of days per week until he gets back on his feet. Might cut into my project time a bit but this is why a guy has friends. Nobody needs help on the sunny days. You need to be there when it's raining.

Photo by Surly
Get well Pal.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Those Who Wait

Lost the Link
I'm still puttzin' around on doing a little bit of this and a whole lot of that. I sat down the other evening and made a list of all the jobs/projects I have or need to do. Holy Smokes! The list is about a mile long and I didn't even get to half the motorcycles. Plus I've got some ideas that are spinning around in my mind I'd like to tackle some day that didn't make the list either. Some of the things on the list are little items that won't take long but some of them are big. And every time I think I can knock a job off the list, something else comes along to take it's place. For example, I fixed the hobby horse the other day so it can go to a new home. I needed to drill some holes in a wooden dowel, both through holes and pilot holes in the end. I took it out to the shop and drilled the holes in the end with the lathe so they would be on center and drilled the through holes in a vee block on the drill press. Not a big deal except I was using a nice brad point bit and I didn't want to drill into the steel vee block so I stopped short of coming all the way through. If I had a wooden vee block, no problem. So one of those got added to the project list. Not much of a project, just a couple of passes through the table saw but it's one more thing to do.

My sister-in-law's husband passed away a few years back and she's finally cleaning out the rest of his stuff. She sent me a big box of books and back issues of Home Shop Machinist along with a model airplane. Didn't really need all of it but I did find a couple of projects in the magazines I'm planning on making. (See how that works? That's why the list never gets any shorter.) I also need to pick up a current copy of the magazine and see what's available in the table top CNC milling department. I'd like to have a CNC machine but I'm not interested in spending big bucks. If I did I'd have to find work for it and then I'd be working all the time for other people and the list would never get any shorter. At least I've learned my lesson there.

I got a bunch done outside over the weekend. I've still got a little more to do in the garden and a couple of house things but pretty much set for winter. Since I've got most of the shop back in shape I'll be back on the 900 and the VW this week. Looking forward to that. I want to make a muffler for the Sprint like the Conti on my Ducati. I was thinking of making a hammer form but I might try my hand at spinning the end cone. I've never done any metal spinning before but I've wanted to try it for a long time. Now's as good a time as any I suppose, but now I'm back to having to learn a trade, get tooled up and practice just to make one part. What the hell. I'll never get all those jobs done any how. Might as well have some fun. 

Dorkpunch is looking for a little help with his program out there in Idaho. If you want to make a difference in this world, it all starts with education. Turn loose of a couple of bucks and help a fellow shop teacher out. He does good work. Here's the link:

Thanks and have a good week.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Computer Issues

The computer's making noises like the hard drive is about to seize up. Might be a little sparse here in the next few days.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Lead Soldiers

There was a post at Handverker a couple of weeks ago featuring a metal casting kit that you used to be able to buy back when I was a youngster. He made a few sage comments about things then and now but the point here is that not only did we use to do this, but I've still got the molds for pouring lead soldiers. I believe the kit was a Christmas present my older brother received one year (Be happy to ship them back if you read this). The handles and the clip that holds the molds together have been lost over the years. I have a ladle around here somewhere, though. 

It's funny that you used to be able to buy a kit to pour lead items in your house and a couple of years ago the high school was throwing books out because the ink in them might have had some lead in it and you couldn't buy a motorcycle because there was lead in the valve stems. While running a lead foundry in your kitchen or basement might not have been a great idea, federal overreach has never been a great idea either. 

I don't play with army men any more but it's cool from a historical perspective to see what we once played with. After pouring them, you would cut the flashing and risers off, requiring a kid to use a sharp knife, and then you could paint them up. Probably with a lead based paint as well. So yeah, might not have been the smartest toy to play with but it was a lot of fun. I haven't offered to make any up with the grandsons. At Handverker they cast some parts out of silver. Silver army men would be cool. Lead? Not so much.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Aermacchi Non Funzione

It's about the same color as the Aermacchi TV a couple of posts back but it's not a runner. Yet. While Surly was organizing the parts I figured I'd roll this one up on the stand and see what was needed to finish it. Actually not a lot. We found most of the parts and what remains to be repaired doesn't seem like a lot. I've already had the head gone over. New valve guides and valves. The piston is a high compression type that could probably use a new set of rings as long as the top end is apart. The front wheel is off the first incarnation of the racer. It's an 18" wheel, like the H model had, rather than a 19" like the SS model calls for. However, everything works and it's got stainless spokes and a new aluminum rim, so it's going to stay. The rear wheel needs some love, however. Might swap some parts around from the various Sprints to get a decent rear wheel for this one and get Surly set up with the proper rear wheel for a bike as well.

I got most everything moved back in the shop and transferred things from barn to barn that I wanted to do. Still need to build my porch/veranda off the end of the new barn. I did get the remaining concrete post taken care of.  I need to finalize my design for the veranda and get that done so I can move the last of the woodworking items up there. All in good time. I've still got a few outside things to take care of before the cold weather sets in but pretty happy with the progress of late.

I need to decide what I want to do about taking classes at the college. I'm going to apply this week and get my paper work in order. At least that way if I decide to take a class it will be a simple matter and I won't have to be jumping through the hoops at the last minute.

Looks like the weather is going to be decent this week. Ideal Indian Summer days around 70 and nights in the 50's. Good weather to get things done outside or in the shop with the big doors open. Maybe get a motorcycle ride in on the Suzuki before I put it to bed for the year. 

Have a good week.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Work Colleges

I got my long overdue issue of Small Farmers Journal the other day and in it was a small blurb about Sterling College in Vermont. It seems that Sterling College is one of only seven federally recognized Work Colleges in the Nation. Berea College in Kentucky is also a work college. I've been to Berea and was aware of the students working for the college to help pay for their tuition but never really thought about it much except for thinking while I was there what a good idea that was. Now with all the massive debt young people are accumulating to pay for college, coupled with the fact that many of them have no work ethic at all, attending a work college makes all the sense in the world.  Must be why there are only seven of them.

In the latest issue of Motorcyclist magazine, James Parker mentions in his monthly column that the unemployment rate for youth under 25 years of age in Spain is 49.9%. Italy isn't far behind at 42.7%. Parker is looking at the problem as it concerns the motorcycling industry, but big picture, that just can't be good, for now, or for the future of the country. I don't know what the real unemployment rate for those under 25 in this country is but that's not because I'm too lazy to look it up, I just don't believe any of the governments figures. For the sake of argument, however, let's assume it's about 33%. Certainly nothing to brag about. One third of able bodied young men and women living in their parent's basement or standing on the street corner all day instead of doing something constructive with their lives and contributing to the well being of society. If the issue is lack of money for a college education, then a work college would seem to be the perfect solution. It would certainly make more sense than trying to give everyone a free community college education as is currently being bantered about. Free college will only serve to devalue a community college education. I saw a Tee shirt design the other day stating: Community College - just like real college only easier. It'll really be a joke if no-one has to work to get in. And if they're not willing to work to get in now, which may partly explain the huge numbers of student loans, when and how are they going to learn the skills required to get and keep a job?

It's interesting that the seven work colleges are all located in the Eastern United States, and with the exception of Sterling, they are all located just about on a center line north to south. Not sure what would've brought that about, but it's something to think about.

As a side note, one of the schools is located in Carlinville, Illinois. There was an article in the Chicago Tribune years ago about Taylor's Chili in Carlinville, so the Missus and I stopped there once on a trip south. Carlinville is a lovely little town with a population of about 5700. We got a bowl of chili and a couple of cans to go. They've been making chili for over 100 years. If you're ever in the neighborhood, stop by and get a bowl.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Gettin' It Done

That's pretty much been my way of thinking for a long time. The trouble is funding and finding the time to work it all in. Not really a complaint, mind you, just stating the obvious. There are no dress rehearsals in this life. One shot is all you get at it and I'm at the point in life when later is now. About the only big thing left on the bucket list, however, is to see all 50 states. I've still got four more to go. I was going to knock two out this summer but with the wife's illness that got put on hold. Maybe between semesters I'll take the red-eye to Vegas and I can tick Nevada off the list. I'd like to take that bike trip to California some day too. The one that I was going to take back in '68 until some SOB stole my Sprint. Not that I'm bitter or anything!

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I made great strides putting the back of the shop together the other day. Put the big school shop table back in, got the forge and heater installed, moved some motorcycles around, put the cabinets back and moved the bike stand in. I was using my ramp for loading bikes into the back of the truck with the stand but it's longer than needed for the workstand, plus the angle of the metal lip for the tailgate is wrong. I had a leftover 2x10 that's the right length so I made a metal lip with the proper angle, so that's taken care of. Now I can roll my Sprint up on there. Since Surly's been talking Sprints, I'm getting the itch to work on mine. It doesn't really need much but like every other old bike that's been sitting around, the frame needs a fresh coat of paint which means I'll need to pursue a paint booth of some sort or farm the painting out - something to think about on the long winter nights. Main thing is I'm moving forward.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Aermacchi Turismo Veloce
Photo From Here

Surly sent me a couple of photos of Aermacchi street machines that neither one of us were aware of. Apparently these were European bikes and while they had the same 350 engine as the American made Sprints, they were a lot sexier looking. This is a 1971 - the 72's were even prettier. A search for Aermacchi TV will turn up quite a few photos and some detail info if you're interested.

Surly sold off his Sprint and we've been sorting parts so he can get the proper parts to the new owner and we can sort what we've got in order for us to get a couple of Sprints of our own together. He's leaning towards putting something together that looks like the above photo. I'm thinking finish my Black and Orange one with my homemade frame and put together my SS model as well. Now that the back of the shop is coming together I'll roll my SS out in the open and stick the tank and fenders back on it and put a box next to it to make sure I have the parts I need for it when I get around to working on it. Hopefully that won't be too far off in the future.

For the present I'm going to keep plugging away at getting the back of the shop like I want it. Probably only another week or so and I'll have the majority of things moved and functional. I might have to move things around a couple times to get the layout I want but I'll find out soon enough when I start working back there. Pretty excited about finally having a nice place for sheet metal work and blacksmithing if I so desire.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

All The King's Men

I started putting the shop back together - did a little painting on the walls and then made a stand for the sandblaster. It was sitting on the big wooden "school shop" table but that wasn't a very efficient use of the table. 

I'm working on changing the base around a bit on the big table. I previously had the two base units back to back under the table but now the bases will be side by side with the openings to the front. They're wider than the table in that configuration so I shortened up one of them by eight inches. A cutting  disc on the small grinder made pretty quick work of it. I still need to weld the end back on it - maybe do that today. Either drag it up front and TIG weld it or leave it where it sits and gas weld it. When I get that done I'll put a ledger board on the wall to support the back of the table top. Plan on putting some shelves inside the bases at a later date.

When I get that job finished I'll tackle putting wheels and casters under the band saw. I picked up a piece of shafting for the wheels yesterday. I'll get the holes drilled for the Cotter pins, cut the pieces to length and then weld them into a piece of square tubing. That will get welded to one end of the saw. I'll put a couple of plates under the other end for the swivel casters. Shouldn't take too long for that . I've already got the woodburner and forge back in place. I should be up and running just in time for the cold weather to close in. I think I'm going to roll a couple of the cycles into the back and put the VW up front with the 900. Don't know how much progress I'll make on the VW but I want the 900 to be pretty close to being finished by spring time. Also, by moving the Bug I'll be able to park the new car inside the barn. That'll be a good thing. Don't want my Ironman Silver paint to fade.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


I received an e-mail on my work account of a new book that's available from Industrial Press, Machining for Hobbyists. Looks interesting. If you were setting up a home shop, might be worth the investment.

And on the subject of setting up a home shop, I got the concrete poured in the back of the shop the other day. The pour went pretty well. We had to bring the concrete in through the service door so most of the concrete had to be moved by shovel and rake. My two helpers worked their asses off with the come-a-longs/rakes and I worked the scoop shovel. Took us about an hour to make the pour and screed it off. Then came the wait for it to set up to finish. I put plastic down for a vapor barrier so I expected it to slow the drying process but I didn't expect to be out there after the sun went down. Looks good now though. I'm going to start on putting things back by making a stand for the sandblaster, putting some wheels/casters under my bandsaw and splashing a coat of white paint on the walls to brighten it up a bit.  While I'm doing that the concrete will have a couple more days to set up. Going to be a big step forward.

Monday, October 5, 2015

School Days

Photo From Here
That's a cool little rig. Looks like it would be a fun one.

Did the school tours the other day. Wasn't high schoolers, it was middle school kids. Usually that would be even worse but they were all very well behaved. Other than blowing the better part of a day, mostly painless. I do have to finish the Blackboard training for the college. Blackboard is the grading system/interface with the students we use. I took the first part, which is an assessment of my learning style - why I needed to do that is beyond me - and at the end I was supposed to e-mail it to someone. The only problem is that someone didn't post the address anywhere I could find. So I have to do that over again. The other sessions have tests that have to be passed with 90% correct or you have to do it over again and you only get two chances. The training was designed for a workshop with a Power Point handout. I tried just whistling through the first session but failed miserably. I printed out the Power Point to guide me through the second attempt and that worked much better. I've still got one more session to finish up but I need to print out some more info before attempting to complete it. I've got a busy week planned but I'm going to try and finish up this week. Need to get that monkey off my back.

Got the concrete scheduled to pour this week. Be good to get that done and the back part of the shop back together again. Need to give a little thought to the organization of things as well as what to leave out. Definitely can toss a few things. Having concrete will allow me to finally have things set up the way I want. That'll be nice.

I've got a couple more things I want to finish up before the cold weather sets in. If I'm going to be teaching and taking classes next spring, I'd like to clear the docket a bit. Need to have things well in hand to keep the stress level down. I don't need to start overloading myself again. 

Have a good week. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Paddle Shifters, Baby!

Bought myself a new car. Never figured I buy a foreign car, unless it was the Jaguar of my dreams, but I've got a Hyundai Veloster. I took the Clown Car into the Ford dealer again for another software update for the transmission and when it came back it still wasn't what I'd call good. I usually buy a car and then keep them for at least ten years. I wasn't going to put up with the shuddering transmission for another 8-1/2. Just wasn't feeling the love anymore. 

I got the turbo version for a few more horses. I've been looking for something a little sportier than the Ford but I didn't want a bigger car like the Mustang. I was waiting on a phone call to test drive a Miata but after taking the Ford in again I threw in the towel and decided it was time to buy something else. I didn't want to spend too much money and have a car payment influencing my decision to keep working or not. This thing is kind of the middle path on sporty/inexpensive. What I would have liked to buy was a small pick-up like my old Dakota. Four cylinder, five speed and an eight foot bed. I drove it to Daytona a couple of times with a bike and tools in the back. You had to hit the big hills down south with a head of steam but around here on the flat, it was the perfect vehicle for me. Since no-one makes anything like that anymore, I bought a little toy sports-car instead.

It's got all the bells and whistles - electronic everything, sunroof, and cool-ass paddle shifters. If I can keep my foot out of the throttle, it should get around 30 mpg. Best warranty of any car in America - so I've got that going for me. I had a couple of uncles that fought in Korea. I figure if they went to war for South Korea, won't hurt for me to buy a car from there. Time will tell, however.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Manufacturing Day

Today is National Manufacturing Day. There are quite a few activities planned around the country. Indiana has a few planned, one of which will be groups of high schoolers touring the college. Even though the thought of bus loads of high school kids showing up gives me the heebie-jeebies, I'm taking one for the team today and acting as a tour guide in the Welding Lab. Let's face it, without welding there wouldn't be much manufacturing and since the trade is facing a shortage of talent, need to plant the seed in the upcoming generation. Not asking too much for me to give them a half day I suppose. I can always double down on the blood pressure medicine after they leave.

In related manufacturing news, Surly knocked out a couple of drawings for the exhaust collars on the 900. You'll have to take my word for the fact the drawings look good since I can't figure out how to upload a pdf file here. One of these days I'll make up a fixture and rough cut my parts. I'll see about getting them machined at the instructor's convenience or in class (see below).

I checked into signing up for a CAD class the first eight weeks of the Spring semester and a CNC machining class the second eight weeks. Those, along with my teaching schedule, will have me staying pretty busy but other than getting out of the house and a paycheck, the one real perk of the job is free tuition. After all the classes I've paid for over the years, seems kind of a shame to retire off this job without taking any free ones. I don't have any pressing need to update my CAD skills and I don't have a CNC mill at the house, so there's no real need to take these but if you're a maker of things - any things - I'm sure you understand. As long as I can wade through the labyrinth of paperwork required to get signed up, I'll be a student once again. My boss in the Weld Shop walked me around to the proper people the other day to get me started, so that was a big help. I told him as long as I'm interested in taking classes I'll keep working. I think he already had that figured out, however. He was pretty eager to help out.