Monday, February 29, 2016

Tractor Time

Beautiful day yesterday. Since it was so warm and sunny I figured it would be a good time to tune up the old Allis.

I bought the distributor cap and the points, condenser and rotor kit years ago. Since the tractor always started and ran fine, I figured I'd wait until it seemed like it needed it before I installed the parts. Since the time had arrived, I swapped out the spark plugs and then took the distributor cap off. Didn't quite match up with the new one. I then took a look at the rotor and the same thing there. Ruh, Ro, George. On the back of the new parts it says it fits everything from 1948 up with the Delco-Remy distributor. Apparently mine isn't one. I ran over to the auto parts store around the corner only to find they're no longer open on Sundays, so had to abandon that job. I'll check with the parts store up town that's run by the two old guys. They always come through for me. If that doesn't work, I'll check with my older brother. He's got one of these things. Maybe he'll know what I need. He's a real Ag guy, not a "gentleman farmer" like I am.

After abandoning the tractor job, I finished making up the pieces for Surly's shock spring compressor.

This one's a tag team project. His drawing and plate. I cut the plate to size, he bored the hole. I'll do the rest. Should be able to finish this one up this week at work. 

After I finished the machine work on the compressor parts, I worked on the forks for the 900 a bit. I removed the old seals and cleaned the lowers up. I need to look around in my pile of seal drivers to see if I've got something that will work to install the new seals. If not, I'll turn a piece of aluminum to do the job. I've got a handle I made that has 3/4" threads on it I use for driving seals as well as a few other oddball uses. It won't take long to machine up a round plate and thread the center hole. Then I can throw it in with the rest of the one-off tools I've got that I'll probably never use again. I would have done that yesterday but I had several other little jobs I wanted to get done while the weather was nice.

Have a good week.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Shoveling and Two Wheeled Things

Saw this one over at The 520 Chain Cafe. He's got quite a few pictures posted of the Indiana Motorcycle Expo that was held this past weekend. Looks like I should have gone. I could use a dose of inspiration and a day out. 

I spent some time on the business end of the snow shovel yesterday. I did enough to get out with the truck and allow the mailman to get to the box, plus cleared a path so the Missus can get her car out if need be. The snow was pretty heavy so I took it easy. I didn't figure having another heart attack would be a good idea, especially when most of the county roads were still closed. The weatherman is forecasting temperatures in the 60's on Sunday. Lot of trouble for a lot of people for something that will be all gone in just a couple of days anyway. 

I've got Spring Break coming up soon. Looking forward to getting some things done then. There's motorcycle projects to work on, taxes to finish, gardening/yard work, and, with a little bit of luck, some decent weather to get out on my bicycle a bit. Won't be too much longer and it'll be time to fire up the Sportster also.

I received an e-mail from Chesapeake Light Craft about a teardrop trailer kit they're putting together. It uses the same building technique that's employed on some of their boat kits. It's a cute little thing. If you're interested, you can check it out here. With the gas prices down, might be a good time to take your show on the road.

Think Spring, my friends. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mo' Snow

Pretty serious snowfall yesterday and last night. I'm guessing about 8" here. The wind gusts were 30-40 mph. The whole county and a couple of the surrounding counties were declared a snow emergency. Most all the county roads were shut down. Looks rather pretty outside this morning unless you're contemplating having to go out and shovel. 

I ran the tractor down the lane yesterday afternoon but the old girl wasn't running too good. Sounded like a spark plug was firing intermittently. I've got a set of plugs here at the house plus a new set of points, distributor cap and rotor. I'll throw the plugs in it before I try to start it up today and see if that helps. The rest can wait until a later date when the temps are a little bit warmer. It's supposed to be close to 50 on Saturday. No sense in going overboard on the snow removal. I'll let Mother Nature clean up after herself. As long as I can get in and out, that's good enough. I've got no place I need to go today anyway.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Snow Day

Woke up this morning about 6:00 and the power went out shortly thereafter. Since they were calling for snow and winds, I went into emergency mode. I got a fire started in the fireplace, dug out my little catalytic heater, lit a kerosene lamp and put the kettle on. I had never used the heater before so it smelled a bit when it first started up but it seems to put out a nice even heat. I bought it for camping more than emergency use but figured if the power was going to be out for any length of time, better see what I could do before it got real cold in the house. Fortunately the power came back on about 1-1/2 hours later, so we're all good there. It is, however, snowing like a bastich right now. The wind's blowing a bit as well. So I'll be staying in, tending the fire and the Missus. She had four teeth pulled yesterday. She was pretty miserable last night as you would expect and still in some considerable discomfort this morning.

The brake and fork parts for the 900 project came in. Depending on the weather, maybe I'll get back on that project tomorrow. I'll have to see how the snow removal goes. Talking 6"- 8" and gusting winds. Might be all I get done for the day.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Tin Knockin'

I've been cleaning up my workbench/welding booth the last few days. There have been some things around the sides of the booth for quite some time but things continued to move inward until there wasn't a lot of room left on the top of the bench. Since I need to do more of my welding at home now, I figured I should get things cleaned up before I burn the shop to the ground. I've still got a ways to go but I made the little sheet metal shelf in the photo to fasten on the outside wall of the booth to get some of the common things I use all the time out of the booth and off the bench next to it as well. Not much of a project, really. Just some scrap galvanized sheet bent up and riveted together. I did use my new brake to bend up the parts. I'm planning on doing some modification on the brake some day to make it more user friendly but it'll probably be like the tool rack that's on the other side of the new shelf. I made the rack years ago. Put it up yesterday while I was hanging the shelf.

While working on the shelf it occurred to me that if I was still at the high school, I would have made this on company time, in effect getting paid tp make it. But then I asked myself, when was the last time I welded up a student desk? It's been years! I'm thinking I got the best of that trade.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Voc Ed

I saw this at The Lonely Libertarian:

Support Voc Ed in your local public schools
 If you're forced to pay school taxes, then you should have a voice in what programs are offered. My old high school started phasing out vocational programs in the mid-90s and was very proud of being named one of Texas' premier college prep schools. The problem was, in the following decade, they saw a rapid increase in drop-outs. They were shocked, SHOCKED, and immediately launched a committee to study the issue. One of my classmates, Gary Crabtree owner and master mechanic of Crabtree Automotive, was included as he was considered a successful businessman and graduate. Nothing was mentioned about the fact that he spends his time, under hoods and on creepers, covered in grease fixing the cars of bankers, doctors and lawyers. He was a "businessman".
In their first committee meeting, Gary brought up the issue that not all students were cut out for college, their interests and aptitudes were in the vocational arts which the school district decided to ax due to "budget" and "lack of interest". He pointed out that forcing a teenager who wanted to work on HVAC unit to study Shakespeare and calculus was like making a fish climb a tree because that's evolution.  Around 2009, vocational programs started making a comeback in the local schools. Programs were designed in partnership with local community college to offer dual enrollment for not only academic classes, but also vocational programs. Now you can graduate high school with most of the work done for a CNA, paramedic/EMT, plumber's apprentice, automotive, diesel, etc. Enrollment and matriculation is back up. Success is about more than GPAs and how many students get accepted to tier 1 colleges. It's about preparing ALL students for life, regardless of the path they choose.

It's better than OK. It's getting to the point it had better be mandatory even if you want to be a doctor or lawyer. There was just an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal discussing the current and forecast shortage of doctors. It's a long haul from high school to practicing physician. Starting salary is somewhere in the range of $75,000 but most are saddled with big college loan debt. Being a pipefitter or boilermaker is looking better all the time.

Progress Report

Photo From Here

Maybe I should consider making an Earles type fork if I'm going to go "full Monty" on the sidecar rig. That could be a project for next winter, I suppose.

I painted up the front fender to see how I liked the color. I'm pretty happy with it. Hard to tell the true color under the fluorescent lighting, however. I had a '71 Olds Cutlass that was a metallic brown - Burnt Sienna I believe was the color. Always liked the looks of it. If I decide to get the wheels powder coated gold, should look nothing short of regal. Or garish. My mother's saying about all of your taste being in your mouth may apply here. The fender paint isn't as glossy as I expected it to be. I could clear coat it. That would make it shinier and a little more durable as well. 

I'm starting to work on the front end. Shouldn't take too long there. Of course I thought taking the forks in the photo apart would be easy. The procedure is relatively simple. Clamp the fork tube in the vise using soft jaws, pull back on the lower leg, then zap the bolt in the bottom with the impact wrench. Except when I went to use the impact, the trigger was frozen in the on position. At first I thought it was literally frozen due to some condensation that froze up. After warming it up, still no go. So I had to take the wrench apart and fix it before I could take the forks apart. I probably haven't used the impact in a three or four years which in all actuality is probably a good thing. Impact wrenches and hard work normally go hand in hand. I don't know how old the thing is. I got it used from someplace. Auction, garage sale or the used tool place that I used to frequent before they closed up. It's been so long I don't remember. It sure doesn't owe me anything, though. 

I thought I had a pair of new dust seals for the top of the fork lowers but didn't see them in the box of parts. Surly got most all of the bike parts organized, so if I had them, I should be able to find them. Since I didn't, I ordered them. I also ordered some parts to rebuild the calipers while I was ordering things. I'll have to jerk the engine out at some point and get the frame blasted and powder coated but there really isn't that much left to do. I'm pretty well convinced I need to build a sidecar for it, however. That'll add a bit to the completion date but this thing's been on the back burner for at least 25 years. What's another month or so at this point? 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Alvin York

The other night a student comes into the classroom wearing a cap promoting Dale Hollow Lake. We got to chit-chatting a bit and I mentioned that when my wife and I were down there a few years back we went to the grave site of Alvin York. He gave me the blank look and I knew he had no idea who Alvin York was. This young man seems to be pretty sharp, so I assumed he would have heard of the famous World War I hero at some point in his education. I then asked every other student in the lab that night, both in my class and the other class that was out there. Not a one of them could tell me who Alvin York was. Granted, it was a pretty small group to be basing any conclusions about today's young people and/or the educational system, but it seems a shame that the name Alvin York didn't register with any of them.

I'm not much of a flag waver, but how are we going to have any national pride if we don't honor the sacrifices made by those who've come before us and those currently doing just that. Not just military heroes, either. Policemen, firemen, teachers and all the working stiffs that get up every morning to provide for themselves and their families. It's not the responsibility of the young people to know who Alvin York is. It's our job as parents and educators to see to it that they learn about what's important and what made this country what it is. It's our job to teach them to respect others and to instill in them the values necessary to live in harmony among our fellow citizens.

Should have listened to Merle back in the 70's. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday Morning Break Down

This picture came from the URAL e-mail I receive periodically. This time it featured a guy who has been circling the globe on his outfit and how you need to be adaptable for this sort of travel. Using your headlight grill to cook your dinner would certainly qualify I would think.

Here's a photo of the gizmo I bought to safety wire nuts and bolts. I should have bought one of these when I was racing - I probably could have paid for it with the money I spent on broken drill bits. I'm planning on putting it to good use on the 900 front end parts. Just needs to warm up a bit to get back in the shop. When it's as cold as it's been, about the time the shop warms up, I'm ready to call it quits. I did get the front fender cut down and sanded. I want to get some paint on it to see if I like the color. I've got a rattle can of metallic brown I'm going to try out. When I get the bike all done I'm planning on having a bit of pinstriping put on - nothing too wild. Maybe a little on the front fender and a design on the tank. 

I bought the tool from an aircraft supply outfit along with a couple of pieces of chrome-moly tubing. They sent a little sale flyer along in the box that has some good prices on various sizes of tubing. I'm going to see about a rough design for a sidecar and if they've got something close to what I need on sale, I'll get it ordered. I've been giving it a lot of thought lately and I'm pretty sure of the direction I want to go. 

Frankie Flood posted up a bunch of sidecars the other day including a couple of different looks of the BMW rig I posted last week. You'll have scroll back a bit but that's OK, you'll get a chance to see the motorcycle project he's got himself involved in now. It's rough. More than I'd want to tackle.

It's supposed to warm up a bit this week. I should be able to get back out in the shop and get a little bit more accomplished. I tended to some household chores while I was holed up during the cold days and got some reading and "think time" put in, so it wasn't a total loss. Plus, I'm finally learning to relax a bit, which is good, but I've got the itch to build now. "Middle path, Grasshopper."

Time for all of us to start thinking about the garden. The way things look in the financial markets and the banking industry, a garden could literally be a life saver. I read a little about Venezuela and things are getting pretty desperate down there. They're running out of food, medicine, etc. What was it Margret Thatcher said about Socialism? - works good until you run out of other people's money. Additionally, the Bank of Japan has now gone to a negative interest rate and there has been talk of the same thing occurring here, plus a move toward a cashless society. Might want to be thinking about getting debt free and becoming a little more self-sufficient. I've still got some work to do in that regard, but I'm probably much better off than the average Joe since I've been working towards a subsistence lifestyle as part of my retirement plan for several years. The banking thing has me a little worried, however. Not sure what's the best approach there.  

Get your seeds ordered.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Oddball Stuff

That's a cute rig. Lots of other oddball stuff here as well.

Now for something really oddball, this one is parked in the front yard of a farm I go by on my way to work. Looks like a tube frame with a Volkswagen front end bolted on. Small block Chevy for power. The cowl looks as if it might have actually come off of the assembly line at one time. This thing has been sitting out by the road for a while now. I'm assuming it's for sale but I haven't seen a sign on it. I didn't walk around it to get a close look at it but it looks like it could be fun. Or dangerous. Or both.

Depending on your point of view, maybe oddball, maybe not. Since I'm the constructor of this rig, I say not but we'll have to see how it turns out. I painted up the exhaust pipe. Looks pretty sexy with the aluminum insert installed. If you look at the clutch cover you can see the sheet metal piece I made to keep my toe from catching on the fins when applying the brake. It needs a bit of trimming and sanding yet but it'll work. I need to find a couple of button head screws to hold it on and that'll be done. 

It's been pretty cold here the last few days. That, coupled with my super tight back and chest muscles, hasn't been real conducive to working in the shop so progress has slowed a little on the bike but I did pull the front fender off. The forks are from a Suzuki 1000 and the fender is from a Suzuki 750. It's not a bad looking fender but it's a little too "touring" for this rig. It matched up with the fender and seat in the original build fairly well but I'm going to trim it down a little. I'm planning on about one inch in the front, maybe two on the rear. 

I need to put the new fork seals in the lowers so I can get the forks mounted up. It'll be installing and sorting the brakes after that. I should probably buy a new master cylinder for the front and then decide if I want to run two lines direct to the calipers or plug in the Tee fitting I have that allows a pressure switch for a brake light. I've got a switch wired in for the rear brake. That's all they used to have. When I get the forks dialed in I'll get all the parts out and see what I've got that will work with what. I should probably do that sooner rather than later so I won't be waiting on parts but that's one of the nice things about having a dozen projects going at the same time - always something to do in the meantime. This one's definitely getting closer, however.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Another Idea

Photo From Here
Maybe go full blown custom. I used to enjoy going to the World of Wheels and seeing all the custom cars and bikes. I was never all that enamored with the "billet" craze or with the rat rod look that's popular now but the full-on customs still do it for me. Probably ought to save this idea for another build and finish what I've got started on the 900 for now.

I'm liking the vintage racer look like in the last post, however. I can see that happening.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sidecar Idea

Surly shot me an e-mail after the last post about the sidecar design offering up some suggestions from mild to wild. The one that stuck was a racing sidecar from that era. Duh! Why didn't I think of that. Something like this one would work.

Photo From Here
Nothing too complicated, but yet, a little bit of a challenge in the construction. The kind of thing that makes it interesting and worthwhile. In addition to the hand-holds incorporate some D rings in the floor to tie things down with. Just the thing for a quick run to the grocery or hardware store. Nice looking rig.

The Missus and I went to a motorcycle race on the streets of Terre Haute back when. There was a sidecar class running and I'm pretty sure one of them was a conventional outfit powered by a 900 along with the later kneeler styles. I shot some slides of the sidecars as well as the solo rigs while I was there. I'll have to dig them out and do a little research. The wheels are turning now.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Way Back Machine

Photo From Here
TVI and I saw her with Ask Rufus at Indiana Beach way back in the 70's. At least I think so - long time ago and it was the 70's after all. For you young 'uns, that's Chaka Khan by the way. 

I've had the dials on the Way Back Machine set to the early-seventies lately since I've been working on bikes from that era - both the 900 Kaw and the BSA are that vintage. Surly came down the other day and worked on his designs for the BSA, so maybe that project will pick up a little momentum one of these days soon. I'm still forging ahead on the 900. 

The back end is pretty well sewn up. I machined the wrench flats on the brake stay and cleaned up the welds on the exhaust pipe. I also drilled and tapped the aluminum insert in the pipe for a small screw so it wouldn't fall out of the pipe while riding down the road. I'll get some high heat paint on it this week. I might wrap some header tape around the pipe where it's close to the master cylinder. If I add a sidecar later on it would keep some of the heat off my foot as well. 

I noticed that the fins on the clutch cover will be grabbing my toe when applying the brake so I'm working on a little piece of sheet metal to cure that. Should have that done this week plus I'm planning on making some bits for Surly's shock spring compressor. Nothing too tough with either job, just making parts.

Surly and I have been exchanging some e-mails about designs and the design process. I've never really given it much thought other than what's required to make a specific part. When it's time to make the next part, I design that one. Not really the best way to arrive at a cohesive design. However, since most of the pieces I make are a result of the same influences and inputs, usually things work out to a level I can accept. And since I no longer do things for outside customers, I don't have to please anyone but myself. So that helps.

Since my skill level has improved over the years, that has opened up new design possibilities but it hasn't changed the way I look at making a part. Now that I'm starting to feel the pressure of the clock ticking, I'd sometimes just as soon build things from someone else's print or sketch so I don't have to spend a lot of time working up a solution. That was partly the idea behind the BSA project. I build it to Surly's design. Play to our strengths and have some father - son time working on the kind of thing we both like to do. He's just been swamped with other work and family time so that hasn't achieved lift-off yet, but as I mentioned, he's working it back into the loop. 

All of this brings us around to a design for the 900 sidecar. I know I can build one, I already have. I've got a couple of ideas I'd like to try out for the suspension but I don't want to fart around with a bunch of R&D for a one off project when there's a line of things waiting to be finished. And if I did manage to get things on the frame and suspension spot on, what about the chair? What kind of design goes well with a 70's Superbike/Hooligan project? It would be nice if the bike and sidecar looked like, if not married, at least as if they were engaged. I'm not even sure right now what the intended purpose would be. Use it as a utility vehicle? Maybe something that looks like a small pick-up bed? Maybe something that could be used as a camper? Maybe a miniature tear drop design. I don't know that I need to be dragging a person around with me. I know the Missus isn't interested in touring the country in a hack. 

I'm going to keep kicking ideas around in my head. Maybe the brilliant solution fairy will pay me a visit some night. In the meantime, I'm sticking with the goal of at least two more wheeled vehicles completed this year. Three'd be even better.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Road Racing

Photo from Here
Joey Dunlop at the Isle of Man TT.

Photo From Here
Hailwood. Also at the Isle of Man.

Photo From Here
Benelli 4 cyclinder. Surly and I got a chance to see this one run at Daytona. Makes some serious noise.

I want to go back to Europe again. Maybe I should look into a trip to the Isle of Man. I told my boss he could schedule me until the end of the year. Maybe take some of the money and get myself over there to watch the last of the world's great road races.

Meanwhile, I've been hitting it a bit in the shop.

Vise is done. Never really a concern about fixing it but the amazing thing is I didn't have to make a trip to the hardware store to get it done

Here's the bracket that gets welded on to the exhaust pipe. I usually make them out of two thin pieces welded back to back. Adds up to about an 1/8" thick bracket but by bending the flanges outward, it spreads the load over a wider area without adding any weight. Lot less chance of the bracket cracking around the weld due to vibration. I've got the exhaust pipe welded up and the brake parts came in. I'll post a couple of photos after I get everything installed. Getting closer all the time.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Seam Welding

Here's a photo from the Ural factory seam welding a gas tank together. When I used to teach welding symbols to the high schoolers, I always used motorcycle and car gas tanks as a perfect application of seam welding. I know that went over the head of a few of them simply because they'd never seen a car or pickup truck gas tank or ever noticed the underside of a motorcycle tank, sad as that is to say. With the Ural, it's pretty obvious where the seam is - right there in plain sight. 

It's a pretty neat process, actually. Run the mating flanges of the two parts between the rollers and a series of overlapping spot welds joins the parts with a leak-proof seam. The steam in the photo is from water cooling to prevent the part and the rollers from getting too hot. Next to zero distortion of the parts. Same thing with the required clean-up.  

With all the air time "prepping" is receiving, I'm surprised more people aren't considering sidecar rigs. They used to be pretty popular for a utility rig on the cheap. The Ural has a two wheel drive option that will go thru most anything, rain, snow or sleet. Besides that, sidecars are fun. I'm still thinking about a design for the 900. Now that it's getting closer to completion, might want to start designing something in earnest.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Bike & Vise

The weather was unseasonably warm over the weekend. Saturday had temperatures in the 50's and some nice sunshine midday. In fact, it was so nice I opened up the big doors in the shop while I was working. It felt like springtime. Sunday was still warm but overcast/drizzly. Not a bad day to be in the shop working on things, however. I turned the heater on to drive a little of the dampness out of the air but could have easily gotten along without it.

I put the back wheel under the bike again and took a couple of measurements. One of them was for the brake stay. I machined this up from a piece of 1/2" aluminum rod. Left hand 3/8-24 threads on one end, right hand threads on the other. If you look closely you can see a larger diameter next to the left hand Heim joint. I'll put that in the mill and cut a flat on there for a wrench. I need jam nuts on there to maintain the adjustment once it's installed but those are ordered. So's the brake line. 

I also started on a hanger for the exhaust pipe. I got all the holes drilled in it. Now I need to cut it out and clean it up. I get that done I can bolt it on to the bike and make the corresponding bracket on the exhaust pipe.

I was going to fix the vise while I was out in the shop and when I started taking the rest of the bolt out, I discovered it was broken in another place as well. On the right of the parts are two pieces, a short piece is still stuck inside the part in the middle of the photo, and there's a little bit of a piece in between the two parts. Pretty crazy. It went snap! and then there were four pieces. The one little piece still inside doesn't have enough sticking out to grab, so I'm going to weld a nut over the top of it and then it should twist right out. At least that's the theory. I already have the new bolt machined and ready to go back in. I used an Allen head rather than farting around trying to make something up with a square head.

Other than mounting up the seat, I've now got most of the fabricating done on the back of the bike. Still not sure what I'm going to do about paint. I plan on taking the frame and having it soda blasted and then maybe powder coated. That would eliminate my paint worry on that part of it but that still leaves the tank and sheet metal. I just don't have a decent spot to paint anymore. I either need to find someone who does good work cheap, or invest in something so I can do it here. Still another bridge to cross but they seem to be getting farther apart at least.