Sunday, January 31, 2016

Oh Poop!

Now this is enough to piss off the Pope:

The clamping screw on my little tool maker's vise broke the other day. If you look closely at the photo you can see that first, it was extremely brittle judging by the grain structure, and second, that it broke in two places at the same time. Not what I expected. I use a little lathe wrench on it that's only about 4" long and just hand tighten it - no slapping it with the lead hammer or anything. At least it broke on the last set-up for my top secret basement job I've been working on.

It was made by the Skinner Chuck Co. I did a quickie search and came up with some info on the company but they're long gone, so I'll have to come up with the fix on my own. It's 2-1/2" wide so it's just right for holding small parts by popping it into the big vise on the Bridgeport or to use on the small drill press in the basement. It has been repaired once before. There's some brazing on it that I don't remember doing but that doesn't mean I didn't do it. If I did it prior to falling on my head, it might come back to me one of these days - not that it matters. As Roseanne Rosannadanna used to say: "It's always something".

I did get the brake hanger for the 900 finished. I'm drilling the bolts for the caliper so I can safety wire them instead of using the little clips that have the ears that get bent up to keep them from backing out. If I'm going with the Superbike replica look, gotta have some safety wire I can stick into my fingers.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Metalworking Book

As I'm sure all of you who visit here on more than just an occasional basis realize, I'm a voracious reader - even more so now that I'm semi-retired. I reside just about half way between two of the three branches of the county library system and I drive by on my way to work a branch of another county's library. I've got library cards for both counties, so I've got access to a lot of books locally and there's always inter-library loan for those that aren't available from the two county systems. I also have access to the college library but it's kind of a stinker - not much of a selection there. Pretty small collection. I'm not sure why that is but nothing much I'm interested in, which is saying a lot, because I'm interested in most everything.

Anyway, I knocked out a couple of easy who-dunnits and thought I'd look for something a little more enlightening. I stopped by the little branch library I go by on the way to work, perused the stacks and came across this one:

This is one kick-ass book. It's written by an older guy who obviously has been around for awhile and pretty much done it all. There's info on welding, sheet metal, machining (both manual & CNC), abrasives, shop math, drafting, rigging - you name it, it's probably in there. If you're above the absolute beginner level, this is a must read book. Lots and lots of really good information, not just the "how-to" on doing stuff, but also a lot of solid advice on attitudes and problem solving.

The first chapter should be required reading for everyone contemplating going into a trade. A lot of it is the same type of thing I've said a million times over the years, and probably every other shop teacher has as well, but he took the time to put it in writing and he did a very good job of it. I would think every high school counselor should read it as well. If they read between the lines a bit, they'd realize that most tradesmen are every bit as smart as the average Joe who goes to college. Formal education just misses the mark with a lot of these young men and women. Now that I think about it, probably should have the principals and the legislators read it as well.

One of the really interesting things I came across is the concept of the Open Shop night. I used to host those on a weekly basis for the boys. I picked up the idea from Surly's machine shop instructor when he was in high school. In the book, he makes the case for doing this at your place of employment. Only a few simple rules but rather than guys trying to sneak a job in on their lunch break or something, just come back to work one night a week and use the tools and equipment out in the open. Pretty nifty idea. Especially for the creative types that machinists and welders typically are.

The book is published by Industrial Press @ $29.99. I didn't check anywhere else for a better price. At thirty bucks it's a bargain. The author has a blog: HERE. He doesn't post on a regular basis it seems but there's a link at the blog to his You Tube channel. I haven't checked any of the videos out yet, mainly because I've been absorbed in the book.

Shopteacher Bob gives Metalworking: Doing It Better a five star rating! Read it - you won't regret it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


We got the holes drilled for the studs and the bore and counterbore put into the exhaust collars. They're looking pretty sexy. I bolted one down to my little fixture I made just to make sure everything is as it should be. I'm going to take a look at the Haas book and see if I can't write the program to profile the outside of the part on my own. I've taken up a bunch of the instructor's time already on this. I think with a little time I can figure most of it out. There are extra controllers in the class room so it's possible to work on one of those without tying up a machine. I want to learn a bit of this stuff and it might get me headed in the right direction for when I take the class later this Spring. 

The brake parts showed up. I need to machine a little clearance on the hanger for the brake pad before putting it back together but making progress on the bike and the basement project both. Also picked up some tubing for another project in the shop. I had a sketch made up but managed to misplace it. As soon as I draw it up again, I'll commence to commencin' on that one also.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cars & Books, In The Singular

Photo From Here
Is that pretty or what? Jaguar C-Type. What smooth lines.

I needed a tap drill chart for down the basement. I've got several little plastic pocket cards out in the shop but I thought I'd check my library and see what I had.  Glad I did. I had forgotten about this one. Besides the de rigueur tap drill chart and decimal equivalents, lots of tips and kinks for machinists. It's a 1924 printing and still in excellent condition for a discard from the Fall River, Massachusetts library

Fall River library
Don't know how the book got here to the Mid-West or even where I picked it up from anymore. Probably too nice to leave down the basement, however. Maybe make it a bedtime reader and leave it on the nightstand. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Brake Hanger

It warmed up to a balmy 20 degrees the other day so I cranked up the heater in the shop and finished up the brake hanger bracket for the 900. The photo shows the rough part before I took it to work and sanded the edges or did any other clean up. It pivots off the axle bushing in the top of the photo. There's a bracket on the swingarm to bolt the stay rod but I'm thinking of welding a bracket to the frame instead, the idea being the braking force won't effect the suspension or something to that effect. At least that's what it says in the manual.

I've still got a bit of clean up to do but it looks like it's going to work. I've got the pads for the caliper ordered along with a couple of fittings for the brake line. I've been waiting to finish the exhaust until I had the brake done. Shouldn't be long now.

I was talking to the machine shop professor at the college about the 900 exhaust collars, so he said bring in the drawing, he wanted to take a look at it. We went back and forth a bit with my idea and he said since you've got a blank, why not write a program for the Haas mill and see what happens? He wrote a quickie program, I watched. I did learn a little something along the way, however. Even though I've made a few things on a CNC, I was never that good at programming and it's been over twenty years ago now so I'm pretty much clueless on all the G codes. 

Anyway, we (meaning him) partially knocked out a part. Holes are drilled for the studs on the engine and the center hole and counterbore are programmed. Made a little oopsie on the counterbore by neglecting the tool offset but that's why I cut five pieces instead of four. Next step is to profile the outside. Might need to talk to Surly and get the exact locations of the intersecting arcs on the print he drew up but no hurry on any of this. I figured I could run the part during the class I'm going to take in March but the instructor figured it would be a good way for him to get a little more familiar with the mill. He's got four different CNC machines in the shop now that he's trying to get comfortable with, three different types of mills and the new lathes. He's got his hands full trying to figure everything out and prepare for the classes he's teaching. Not easy starting a new program from scratch when you're an army of one. I appreciate him taking some time for me, though. I love fiddling with this stuff.

As a sidenote, the Missus saw a photo on Facebook of one of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers performing his duties during the current blizzard raging on the East coast. I used to grumble when I had bus duty in the winter but the weather was never all that bad or they would have canceled school. I have nothing but the utmost respect for those young men and women performing that duty. It's my understanding that they are allowed to leave their post if the weather gets too bad but no one has ever done so. 24 -7 every day since 1937. God bless each and every one of them. 

Friday, January 22, 2016


I saw these at Noot's blog.

Baby Bridgeport style milling machine. All handmade. There's some really talented people out there working out of small shops on cars, bikes, farm machinery, industrial stuff, etc. They don't always get the glory but they're always busy - making & fixing whatever needs done and in their spare time turning out beautiful things like this mill. There are a couple more photos at the link, by the way.

This is my little horizontal mill from the basement shop I've been working on. It's hiding behind the furnace right now but I've got plans for it. I've never done much with it other than get a motor under it. I had it in the back room of the high school and I used it a couple times for some little things. I want to get it out and accessible and I've been thinking about buying a little bench top lathe for down there also. 

Sherline makes one that has all kinds of accessories. Baileigh makes one that appears to be a bit more industrial. Something like the old Atlas lathes that were around for years and years would be fine, except I need something that will do metric threads. My old South Bend is still serviceable for most of my work but it won't cut metric threads. If I'm going to get an additional lathe or upgrade what I've got, metric thread cutting is a must. I like the idea of a small one for the basement, however, I'd like to have enough distance between centers to thread a motorcycle axle or have the spindle bore large enough so I could chuck the part close to the headstock.

With the miniature machine shop I could go down there after supper and tinker for an hour or two and be happy as a clam. Much better alternative to sitting in front of the television and falling asleep in the recliner when the weather's cold, the days are short and the nights are long. Hell, might even be able to take it with me to the old folks home in a few years!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Two Below, Honey

Sub-zero night time temps to open up the week - just too cold to work in the shop. However, took the Missus to the oncologist on Monday. Real good report there. The doc said come back in three months or so for a CAT scan and a check up. There was one little spot that didn't clean up with the chemo. She wants to keep an eye on that but that's the kind of thing that'll warm you up regardless of the temps.

Because it's been so cold and the wind has been blowing pretty steady, it's tough to keep the old farm house warm. We've got hot water heat and unless we're up and moving around, the warmth from the fin tubes doesn't circulate well. The area where we sit to watch TV/read has no fin tubes, so it always gets chilly. I put the new AC unit in last summer and it has a built in heater - Monday seemed like a good time to try it out and it made a huge difference. I don't know how many watts the heater puts out, but letting it run for about a half hour was all it really took to warm the central area of the house up quite a bit. I'm sure the meter was spinning at a decent clip but our electric rates are relatively cheap. And if you only need the heat when the temperatures approach zero, well worth the money.

I started on the Aermacchi book. I didn't realize they were as successful as they were in the aircraft field. They were extremely competitive in the Schneider Trophy races and the Macchi MC72 held the absolute speed record for landplanes for five years. (I probably should have thrown a picture of an airplane in above but I came across the photo of this beautiful Sprint @ Motobilia and decided to toss it in instead.) 

Besides airplanes and motorcycles, Aermacchi made these cute little utility trucks in various configurations. They're similar to the Piaggio Ape but I'd prefer having the Aermacchi version if I was going to have something else with wheels under it to trip over around here. If I'd have won the big Power Ball  prize, I could have gone to Italy on a search and seizure mission and come home with who knows how much motorized junk. Or just set up shop there.

The temperatures are supposed to be a little warmer for a few days. I should be able to get out in the shop and get a little more progress made on the 900. I've got the rear brake caliper bracket almost done. I'll get the back wheel underneath it again and then I'll swap out the forks and get the dual disc brakes sorted. There really isn't that much left to do on the bike. Just need to devote some time on a regular basis towards getting it done.

Monday, January 18, 2016


This scholarship offer was in the latest AWS weekly e-mail:

Jackson Safety* proudly supports welding instructors who passionately build skills in, and instill the importance of safety in welding students entering the workforce. Welding instructors are in the unique position to influence the long-term safety values of their students. This grant rewards exceptional instructors who make a difference in the safety behaviors of welders training under them. 
These funds are for an employed welding instructor who wants to further his/her education.  The applicant must be employed at a school that has at least 50 students certified annually through their welding program in the US or Canada.  The school must be a trade/technical school or college, and may be public or private. 
The award is $2,500 and may be used for professional development courses such as AWS Certification or AWS online course; or for pursuit of an AAS or BS degree in Education related to welding instruction.

It might be a stretch to call me an exceptional instructor but we certify 50 people a year at the college, so I guess I would qualify for the scholarship. I'm not really interested in getting another degree, though.

I did see the commercial for the Live Mas scholarships while watching one of the bowl games. This one is for young adults, so I wouldn't qualify here, but I think the idea is just fabulous. As mentioned in the commercial, scholarships are usually given only for academics or athletics. This leaves out a huge swath of people - the kind of people who take shop & art classes, for example. The type of young people I've been rubbing elbows with my entire teaching career. The website says they're looking to give away a million bucks to help these creative youngsters. If you read my blog with any regularity, I'm sure you are or know someone who could benefit from this. Spread the word and thank Taco Bell.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Books, Books, & More Books

I'm going to shoot for fifty books again this year. Fortunately, the Missus' health has improved so I won't be killing a lot of time at the hospital or the doctor's office, which means I'll have to work my reading time in someplace else in the daily schedule. Certainly not a complaint, mind you. I'd trade most anything for her to have continued good health.

My buddy Kevin and I started keeping track of our books five years ago. I've been doing pretty good keeping up. Kevin doesn't have the self-imposed 500 page limit like I do, so his page count normally is higher than mine but still, I read a lot and they're not comic books or graphic novels - some, however, are a bit graphic. I'm still amazed at some of the things the local library lends out. I don't think there was a single page with the "F" bomb on it when I was a kid. Not the case anymore. Anyway, here's the tally for the last five years.

2011: 48
2012: 52
2013: 58
2014: 37
2015: 53

A bit off the pace in 2014 but lots of other things accomplished that year - got the house painted, brought the Sportster home, etc. I've got four read this year so far. Two were who-dunnits that I breezed through, the other two were technical books that I had started last year but finished up this past week. This one's next on the list:

I've got several of the HD Italian made lightweights, so this is right up my alley. Maybe more like in my "power band". The guy I bought my Sportster from bought a bike from me and tossed this in. Awfully kind of him. After the Aermacchi book I think I'll tackle either the Malcolm Smith autobiography or the story of the Rough Riders by Teddy Roosevelt. I've read a bit on Teddy before but he and Winston Churchill are the two politicians that I find most interesting. I need to find a good biography on Robert E. Lee also (probably ought to hurry up with that one before anything connected to the Civil War gets banned). If I keep reading on all of these diverse subjects, maybe someone will be able to work the word polymath into my obituary.

I read an editorial the other day in the WSJ by a librarian - someone with an actual degree in library science - on the changing role of libraries and librarians. Some colleges are dropping their library science programs. I can understand that. If you need to find out about something now days, no need to ask a librarian, just Google it. Also you can get most new books as a download and more and more older books are becoming available in a digital format. Technology is great but I've got a lot of books in my personal library that are reference books that aren't easily obtainable. I've got lots of welding and metal working books - I was a regular customer of Lindsay when he was in business - along with a bunch of railroad and motorcycle books. I've also got a bunch of books that I bought from the local libraries when they had their book sales. Those are a one and done. As I finish reading them, I've been dropping them off in the Goodwill drop box at the college.

Whether it's hardback, paperback or digital, read! Read to your little ones so they'll get into the habit of reading. And from the long dormant Starlet Showcase blog, I'll leave you with his advice to high schoolers. I've posted it before but it's worth repeating.

Anyway, here's my advice: read a book, read lots of books, keep your face washed and don't worry about your complexion too much, don't give your teachers a hard time, don't be late for everything, always use condoms, get plenty of sleep but not during class, and if you go home with someone and he doesn't own any books, don't sleep with him. That's basically it. Have fun.

I've got to go now - I've got some reading to catch up on.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Man, it's been chilly the last couple of nights - like single digits, close to zero chilly. Since it's been so cold, hasn't been much happening out in the shop. I've been getting a few things done however - a bit more paperwork, peddled off one of my motorcycles, a little productive time in the basement workshop.

I did get a couple of little welding jobs done:

A bit of TIG on Surly's wrench for his Honda. Just had to weld the little piece on the end to double the thickness for the hex.

Extension on the leg for my bandsaw. An extra 4" to compensate for the extra height after putting the saw on wheels. So the bandsaw is officially operational now.

School's back in session. Now that most of the equipment is in place in the lab, I'm going to try and take a little more active role with the machine shop stuff. The instructor is looking to get an assistant but until that happens, I'll be happy to play that role. I don't have much to do as a tech any longer since they hired the other guy full time. Should be able to learn a few things, have access to the equipment and still be able to keep the floor swept. At least until I quit. I've been giving that some more thought of late. Especially when I have to go out and scrape the windows on the truck when it's 10 degrees, it's snowing and the roads are slick - like yesterday. In the meantime, maybe take advantage of the warm-up forecast for the next couple of days and try and get something done before the bottom drops back out on Sunday.

Nota bene:  520 Chain Cafe posted a calender of events and links for those of us in Indiana interested in motorcycles, etc. It was dated 1/3/16, so you'll have to scroll back through a bit. But not a bad thing - you'll see how he's progressing on his 650 Enduro project.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Going in Circles

I finally broke down and bought a circle template for out in the shop - no more using flat washers, pocket change or chew cans to draw arcs and circles for me. The only thing is, the little Chinese guys didn't get the circles aligned with the witness marks on the template. I drew the first circle after lining up the marks on the template with my layout lines and something didn't look quite right. It's hard to see in the photo but if you make it bigger you can see four circles. There should be only two but after drawing a circle I turned the template 90 degrees and drew a second one just to see how much it was off. I drew a second one from a different row on the template and it was the same way. Thanks Mao.

It did work well enough for me to lay out the brake hanger bracket for the rear brake on the 900. Again, might be hard to see but the top two circles are not concentric due to the witness marks on the template being off. I'll just adjust things a bit when I cut the part out.

I went to an advisory committee meeting at the high school last week. It's good to see that the program is doing well. He's gotten some new equipment since I've left. The co-op director retired and the new guy is actually doling out the money allotted to the school like it should have been all along. One of the other committee members owns a local fab shop and steel supply. Once again, the biggest complaint is guys looking for a job but can't read a tape measure or set their own machines properly. Apparently, wherever they're learning to weld at hasn't bothered to show them how to set up a machine with the proper gas, voltage and wire speed settings. Some of the ones I get at the college, still can't read a tape. Of course, if you never learned it before leaving high school, when would you have learned it? We stress welding skills and just gloss over the academic side of welding. I'd like to see a little more blueprint reading, welding symbols, metallurgy, etc., but there's not enough time to embed it into the classes as things are now. I don't think I'm going to be there long enough to worry about it anyway.

One other thing that came out of the committee meeting was the fact that the school now allows the students to graduate early. It used to be extremely difficult to get out early, this being just one of the things that used to really piss me off. Now it appears that not only will they allow it, they encourage it to some extent. I was glad to hear that.

Winter weather has finally arrived. Cold & snow just like you would expect here in January and I start back to work tomorrow. I put some new tires on the pickup. Even though it's only 2WD, I got some tires with a more aggressive pattern. I rarely drive it anymore unless the weather is bad. I'll get a chance to see how the new tires work in the snow.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Paper Work

I got the VIN check done on the bike I need titled and the officer, without coming out and saying so, didn't think a court order should be necessary. I checked with the State Police and they gave me the same impression. The lady at the county clerk's office said if I needed to get a court order it would be best to contact an attorney. I checked with an attorney and she's done that before but gave me a suggestion of something to try. She said if that doesn't work, then she can do the court order thing. So I'm making a little progress there. I'm lucky that I've got the time to run around chasing after all this stuff. The average Joe would have a miserable time if he worked the day shift.

The attorney got started on the will, power of attorney and medical directive. Pretty simple, relatively inexpensive, so no reason to have put it off this long, other than the fact that's just how I roll. Fortunately, none of it has been necessary but I've probably used up at least five or six of my nine lives. Can't always be lucky. She said the paperwork will be done in about a week. I'll have one of my big goals for 2016 knocked out before the first month is over. Feel pretty good about that. For the rest of you slugs out there, I'd strongly suggest you make this a priority for the year as well, says Mr. Smug.

I wasn't going to renew my boxing license this year but with Jimmy's accident, figured I better - can't work a corner without a license. In order to renew, however, you now need to take the SafeSport training. That takes about two hours to wade through the enrollment procedure, watch the videos, take the quizzes, and print out the completion certificate. So now I can recognize the signs of abuse and I know how pedophiles use the grooming process on their victims. Having been a school teacher for 36 years, not much in the videos I wasn't already aware of. At least the videos were done well - wasn't too painful sitting through them.

My replacement at the high school found the saw table/platform for my bandsaw. He got a new saw for the shop but fortunately hadn't thrown out the table yet. I picked that up after the attorney visit, put a new blade on the saw and I'm ready to do some cutting. Since I put the saw on wheels I need to get a longer piece of tubing or splice a piece onto the support leg that's used when the saw is in the vertical position. One of these days I'll be able to quit getting ready to work and actually be able to do just that. Things are at least getting off to a promising start this year.

I like that.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Drill Press & Pressing Business

I bought a drill press from my sister-in-law. She's still getting rid of a few things that belonged to her late husband. I was originally planning on getting a small radial arm drill for the woodshop but this one came along at the right price so I snagged it. In addition to the drill and box of bits, there was some TIG filler rod and short pieces of stock she threw in. Surly gave me a hand picking it up Sunday. He also helped me get my English wheel moved into the shop. In the old days I would have moved both of those items by myself. I'd have paid for it with a sore back for a week but I'm getting a little bit smarter in my old age.

I got the wheel and the planishing hammer bolted down to the table next to the sheet metal brake yesterday. I bought wing nuts for the bolts, so I can bolt/unbolt them quickly and then slide the tools to the back of the table when they're not being used.

While we were moving things around on Sunday, Surly spotted this tree branch that had blown down and was rubbing against the roof of the shop. Fortunately, it didn't hurt the sheet metal any. I cut most of it up so it wouldn't rub against the roof and I could safely walk along the edge of the building without worrying about getting skulled by a big oak limb.

In addition to the lumber jacking and millwright work, I made a trip to the BMV yesterday. I got another title for one of the project bikes transferred over to my name and got the low down on getting a title for another one taken care of. One of the bikes has never been titled. Apparently they now have a new system in place that requires a court order to get a title, along with a few other hoops you have to jump through. I'll make a trip to the court house and see what the procedure is to get an officer out to the house for the VIN check and to get on the docket to see the judge. Never had any occasion to see a judge before. Hope it goes smoothly. Looks like it's the price I'll have to pay in order to get my affairs in order.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Tool, Machines and Year

Vise Grip came out with a new multi-purpose pliers. They added a knife and a screwdriver to one of the small curved jaw pliers with the wire cutters. I bought them with the intention of using them at the college. I'll be teaching MIG and stick welding this semester and most of the tools you normally need for maintenance and repair during class time are all right here. I always carry a pocket knife anyway but we'll see how these work. If I don't like them I'll throw them in the emergency kit I keep in my car.

The six new lathes came in the other day in the lab. I'm going in one day next week to get things ready for classes, so I'll swing in there and check them out. I think there's supposed to be a couple of surface grinders still to show up but other than that, that should be about all the equipment for the machine shop area.

Since it's gotten cold, I'm trying to pick up where I left off on a couple little metalworking projects on my bench down the basement. Instead of sitting on my ass in the recliner all night, I've been heading down to the basement to do a bit of tinkering every evening. Since I didn't do anything with those projects last year, it took me a bit to get organized and started again but I hope to have one of them done by Spring, plus I've got the airplane models my sister-in-law gave me to toy with if I run out of things to do - like that'll ever happen. 

The brake caliper for the 900 project came in but I didn't realize I had to order the pads separately. I need to get those but I can start working on the bracket in the meantime. Additionally, I need to get some fittings as well, so I'll get those ordered at the same time. 

Getting 2016 off to a good start - went to the gym and did a bit of maintenance work there. I'm working on the platform for the bandsaw so I can use it in the vertical position. I'm at the point I really need that for making parts for the projects so that's job one right now. I have no specific goals for the year other than finishing up at least a couple of the larger projects and as many of the little ones that I can squeeze in comfortably. I still need to finish a few things to have my "affairs in order" - medical directive and a few of those types of things. I made quite a bit of progress on that last year but need to see an attorney and get the rest of it taken care of. Hopefully I won't need it for at least another 20 years, but the way I let things go, probably best if I make that a bit of a priority.

Let's hope 2016 brings peace and prosperity to all of us. Just remember though, if the SHTF, don't get on the bus. Keep On Rockin'!