Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Eight Degrees of Separation

One of my students sent me a link to a write up on this car/trike. Seems it was built and designed by his girlfriend's uncle. There are quite a few pictures at the link as well as a short history of the car and builder. I like this photo because you can see the low profile and clean lines of the car, plus, it's got the chick on the Norton in the background for scale. Interesting story. Thanks for the heads up James.

There is a designer who offered plans for a similar vehicle years ago. It was powered by a 900 Kaw motor and if I remember correctly, it had a VW pan and front suspension. I sent away for some info on it. After reading about the car in the top photo, I thought it might have been the same guy. After thinking about it a bit, I finally remembered enough to find the website of the designer I was thinking about. He's still selling plans, not just three wheeled cars, but lots of things. If you're looking for something to make, might find something to your liking. Me? I'll be lucky to live long enough to finish what I've got started now.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Spending My Allowance

Haven't done much on the project front lately due to a combination of a bad cold and nice weather. I spent one whole day riding the recliner due to the cold and the rest of the time the last few days trying to get some things done outside. My neighbor has already mowed his yard and I'll be doing the same shortly. Since I'm going to be busy with school work, I don't want to fall behind on the mowing. I've still got a bit of work to do getting the garden ready but there should be plenty of time for that yet.

I did order up some Vise-Grip clamps:

Five piece set and a Tee shirt for $52.00 from ENCO. Not a bad price - the big clamps are usually at least $18.00 each. Besides, who doesn't want a Vise-Grip Tee shirt?

I also ordered in a few things for the Sprint & Sportster project. The Sprint is certainly not a pressing concern, but it's not like they're going to go bad and I'll have them when I need them. Might give me a little incentive to get busy, as well.

Have a good week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Part One Done

I finished my first CNC project in the class I'm taking. The program was already in the machine but all of us had to set the work and tool offsets plus write a couple lines of simple code for a tool change. The parts were inspected using a micrometer and the surface gauge. It's a small class, so not a lot of stand-around time waiting to get on a machine. I wish there was some kind of Maker Space/Tech Shop around here. I like making parts. Still, kind of nice being able to go to school just for the fun of it.

This showed up on a farm I drive by on the way to the college about a week ago. Don't know what they're planning on doing with it but if a "for sale" sign shows up on it, I'll have to check it out. 

Surly came down and finished machining  his handlebar mount the other day. He's got a write up on it at his blog. It's good to see him having the time to make some progress on his Sportster. He's got a good eye and talent. Should be a nice scooter when he gets it done. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Git-tar Monsters

While I'm real happy with my new Veloster, one of the things I most enjoy about it is listening to the satellite radio on my way home from work. I usually listen to one of five stations - Outlaw Country, B.B. King's Bluesville, The Bridge, Bluegrass and one of the jazz stations. On the way home from work the other night I heard a Robin Trower song and for some reason it triggered a memory of another guitar player from that era. Rory Gallagher? Nope, that's not it. Great guitar player but that's not the guy. About a day later it came to me. Roy Buchanan - yes! I can't remember the last time I heard anything from either of those two guys played on commercial radio. I still haven't heard either of them on satellite either. Maybe I need to check a few more of the channels. I'm sure there must be a channel dedicated to "monster" guitar players. It's not the kind of music I would listen to on a regular basis but every once in a while, a guy just needs to crank it up a bit.

The production quality of both of these is not very good but it'll give you an idea of what these guys could do. Tragically, both of them died young. Gallagher at age 47, Buchanan at 48. Probably should have posted some Gallagher last week for St. Paddy's Day.

As for the rest of us? Keep on rockin'

Monday, March 21, 2016

Bike Stuff

I welded up the handlebar clamp for Surly's Sportster over the weekend. Not much to it. He machined the bosses and grooved the clamp where they were supposed to go. He'll slit the side where I welded on the bosses and then he'll have a Jim Dandy handlebar clamp.

I do need to buy a few more clamps. I've only got two of the large 11" C clamp style that I used. Menards no longer sells the regular Vise Grip brand apparently. I bought one of their house brand clamps in the 4" size recently and I had to file the slot in the handle to get it to open up all the way. It'll probably work OK now but I've always bought the Vise Grip brand rather than any of the Chinese crap. I needed another small clamp for a job I was working on and it was only $3.99, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Should have known better. There's a Home Depot in the same area as the school and the Menards. I'll swing in there and see what they've got. I got an ENCO sale flyer in the mail recently, they've usually got the Vise Grip pliers of some sort on sale. You'd think by now I'd be fixed for tools.

I took one of the brake calipers for the 900 apart. The internal seals I bought aren't the right size but the dust seals on the outside of the piston are. The piston itself has a little bit of rust on it. I don't know if I should pursue getting new pads now or just see about getting some aftermarket calipers and calling it good. I think I'll take the other caliper apart and see how it looks before making a decision.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Beer Run

Met with the tax lady yesterday. Boy that was fun. Should be much easier next year, though.

Since Shop Teacher Bob has a wee bit of Irish blood coursing through his partially blocked arteries, and it was St. Paddy's Day, and I just spent two hours dealing with the taxes, I figured this one was appropriate.

Feel free to sing along.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

More Ideas

Surly sent me a link to this one:

That's what I'm talking about! While this appears to have been made specifically to haul the dirt bike around, no reason it couldn't have a seat mounted on to it or a cargo box. Hell, if you really wanted to gild the lily, you could make a dump bed for it. I'm thinking of something a little more racy looking, however.

Something more along these lines. Make the platform like the "Taco Truck" in the top photos but add a bump-out on the front for a windscreen and lower the whole thing down a little. This photo showed up on the Otto Nero site also after I did a search for sidecar. There are several other interesting rigs that showed up as well. Definitely going to have to make one.

Started my CNC class this week. The instructor gave us a calendar with the assignments, quizzes, etc. on it. Looks like a bit of reading but I don't think the class will require a lot of tough study time outside of class. We'll be making three projects on the machines - looks like one of them may be an exhaust collar for a 900 Kawasaki! That's pretty cool. The only problem I see for me is the time factor. I'll be commuting back and forth to the college almost like a full time job for the next eight weeks. That's going to cut into my free time but I think it'll be worth it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

I finished reading the book on Streamlined Trains by Brian Solomon the other day. Really good book if you're interested in trains but I didn't realize that the interplay between the automotive, aircraft and railroad designers and manufacturers went as deep as it did. In addition, I had never heard of boxpok wheels before or shot welding, I'm ashamed to say.

Photo From Here
The boxpok wheel was easier to balance on high speed locomotives than were the regular spoked driving wheels. Shot welding is a type of spot welding developed by Earl Ragdale of the Budd Company used to join stainless steel sheets that didn't leave the indentation of the weld nugget and didn't affect the metallurgical properties of the steel like normal spot welding does. 

Photo From Here
The Burlington Zephyr shot welded together by the Budd Company. America's first high speed diesel streamliner.

In addition to Edward Budd and Earl Ragdale, Albert Dean also figured prominently in the development of the Zephyr. Dean was a Mit grad who did post graduate work in metallurgy and aerodynamics. Sounds like just the kind of guy you'd want working for you if you were working on a groundbreaking design for a streamliner made from stainless steel. 

William Stout was an automotive designer who worked briefly for the Pullman Company and was responsible for some of the other well known streamliners, such as the UP M10000 and the Railplane.


In addition to his railroad work, Stout also designed the Stout Scarab automobile and the Ford Tri-Motor airplane was a refinement of his design. I'd have to say this guy was a design genius. 

I was lucky enough to go for a ride in the Ford Tri-Motor a few years back - had no idea it was designed by Stout. He wrote an autobiography called So Away I Went published in 1951. I'm going to have to put in an inter-library loan request for that one.

The book also featured a few of the steam streamliners, including what I think is the greatest of them all, The 20th Century Limited designed by Henry Dreyfuss.

Photo From Here

Not only a great looking locomotive but a great looking photograph. Dreyfuss was another guy who designed all types of products. From John Deere tractors to Honeywell thermostats to Polaroid SX-70 cameras.

Whenever I come across this kind of fascinating stuff, I wonder why schools never teach any of it. I'm sure if you took a design course at the college level, you would know the names Henry Dreyfuss and Raymond Loewy but when I get to be king some of this is going to be required at the high school level. I'll bet every kid who ever took a shop class is interested in planes, trains and cars. They should know about some of the designers who made them possible. I taught an Intro to Tech class for a few years and I covered a little bit of design that went along with a couple of the projects they built but nothing too in depth. For me, I'll keep reading.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Back To Work

The week's vacation has drawn to a close and as usual I got about half of the things done I had planned. Besides our anniversary, I had a couple of days spent with the Missus taking her to the dentist and the hospital. Nothing serious on either of those two and we had a nice lunch afterwards both days. Time well spent.

I did make a little progress on the 900. I got the forks reassembled and installed along with the second brake disc. I'll get the calipers cleaned up and taken apart and see what I need for new pads. I'm going to buy a new master cylinder and braided lines. Should be able to stop on a dime after that.

The top photo shows a layout for the sidecar I'm contemplating. I've got most everything figured out. As soon as I finish a couple of other things I'll pick up some tubing and get after it. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016


My anniversary today. Forty-five years of wedded bliss. This one's for her.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Streamline Moderne

I was wasting some time doing research on a chain guard for my old Elgin and came across this. Wow! That's neat-o, mosquito. It was on a Pinterest page along with a bunch of other cool bikes. I might have to sign up for an account. Like I need that. However, most of the bikes I found that are similar to mine are all missing their chain guards as well. I think I'll just wing it and see what I can come up with. A lot of them had fender mounted headlights. That might make for an interesting project. Maybe more running light than headlight. And this is where it always starts to snowball. With 100 unfinished projects, let's start another one.

The Missus sent me this one. Maybe I should make some wheel pants for my old push mower  - be a good way to improve my metal shaping skills. Just kidding on that one. 

I'm currently reading Streamliners: Locomotives and Trains in the Age of Speed and Style by Brian Solomon. I've just gotten started on the book but have leafed through it a bit. Lots of photographs of the great streamlined locomotives primarily from the 1930's, which, I would assume, was the same time frame the bike and mower were manufactured. This was the heyday of Streamline Moderne. The streamline design principles were applied to everything from buildings to toasters, and, of course, the cool trucks and vans I occasionally post a photo of. It's remarkable that so many futuristic designs came out of the Depression era and how they were enabled with the development of improved manufacturing techniques. I'm fairly well versed in the Industrial Revolution but I'd like to know more about the period between the great wars. How was it possible to suffer through the Great Depression but still ramp up production literally overnight after the attack on Pearl Harbor? Just might have to read another book or two.

On an unrelated note, I received an e-mail from my old high school the other day. Seems the boys in the Weld Shoppe participated in a welding contest and had eight of the top ten finishers. That's talent that goes pretty deep. Congratulations to Dave and the boys on their outstanding performance.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Sports Cars

Frankie Flood at Handverker posted a short metal shaping video the other day. I don't usually watch too many videos but since I'm a panel beater junkie, I figured he wouldn't have posted it if it wasn't good, so let's give it a shot. Damn! That guy is good. Made a quarter panel from one piece of steel. That's impressive. At the end of the video there's a link address to find out more about who he is and what he does. He's selling a collection of three videos that I'd like to see. One of them covers making a door skin. I told Jimmy about the videos and he said order them and he'll pay for them. I didn't have the heart to tell him that they would be more than $300.00.  I think it's going to take more than a video before I'm ready to make a pair of doors for a Jaguar XK120, so we'll hold off on those.

Photo From Here

They're pretty cars. Jimmy's is pretty rough. I haven't looked at it real close but the body doesn't seem to be too rusty. I don't know what happened to the doors. but I'd like to tackle making them one of these days. However, before I try making doors for the Jag, I figured I should try and fix the fender for the other English sports car project, my buddy's Triumph TR3. And since the weather yesterday was warm enough I could hold the tools bare-handed. I figured I should give it a try.

Bingo! Nothing to this sheet metal stuff. In the top photo you can see how the fender rusted behind the stone guard as well as the shape being a compound curve. In the middle photo you can see that it also needs to have a flange on three sides. Bottom photo shows the finished part. Other than drilling a few holes to mount it to the body, my part of the process should be done. My buddy's a pretty handy dude so he should be able to finish it up from here. I could weld it together but there's a joggle near the top of the patch and I'd want to be able to fit it up to the car. If need be, I can do it at his house. He's got tools and a welder. 

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. It took me less time than I thought it would but part of that is the fact that I've got a dedicated place to do this kind of work now. Plus, I'm getting a little better. Not ready for prime-time yet but I am getting better. Scratch another job off the list.

I also got the fork lowers for the 900 cleaned up and the new seals installed. I'm planning on getting the forks finished up this week. Sidecovers are primed and painted as well. As soon as I get the seat mounted up I'll paint the ducktail and fender. Coming right along. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Plasma Cutting Grant - Scholarships - Silliness

Hypertherm is offering educational grants with the recipients getting one of their plasma cutters and their cutting and gouging curriculum to go with it. I checked out the link and you can get the curriculum free even without going through the grant process. If you're teaching plasma cutting, might be worth your time to scope it out here.

If you're enrolled in a college program and are planning to become a teacher, the Indiana Retired Teacher's Association has scholarships available. Look into it here.

The American Welding Society is offering scholarships to students attending a trade school or two year college program. Info here. They also are promoting the AWS Classroom contest. You can get the info on that one here.

Now that we've covered the scholarships, here comes the silliness. I checked in at the Live Long and Prosper site to see what's going on in education and, as usual, more of the same. I really should just quit looking at these things because, first of all, there's very little I can do about it, and second of all, it just pisses me off. In spite of that, I like staying informed. If you're at all curious about the state of educational affairs here in Indiana, check out the link. If you're like me, this will be the first thing that comes to mind:

From Here

Myself, I need  to figure out how much longer I want to be involved in education. Between the high school career and the college, I've been teaching 40 years. I still enjoy it - in fact the last couple of years at the college have been very pleasant and rewarding. The problem is my tolerance level for all the silly crap that goes along with education is just about nil. For example, I'm signed up to take a class the next eight week session. Since I'm now a student as well as an instructor, someone decided that when I sign in to the college's site, I should now have the student page come up, rather than the instructor page. This means that I no longer have access to my e-mail account but I have a g-mail account instead. Since I'm now one of the cool kids, I've got icons to take me to Twitter and Facebook but I no longer receive all the reminders/instructions needed to take care of all the required monkey business like reporting if the student shows up for the first class session, continued attendance, mid-term grades, correspondence with colleagues, etc. In an attempt to get it straightened out I went into the office and the nice young lady made a phone call on my behalf which didn't yield much but she called me a day later and gave me a number to call. I called the number and got a "If it's not fixed in a week, call back". This isn't that big of a deal, but add it to the rest of the stupid crap of the last 40 years and I'm at a point where I have to ask myself if it's really worth the aggravation. Right now I'm planning on working until the end of the calendar year but I'll have to see after that. I do have an escape plan besides just quitting. Have to wait and see on that one, though.

Friday, March 4, 2016

John Henry Was a Seal Drivin' Man

Or maybe he was part of Seal Team Six. Anyway, the seal driver is completed. Looking at the handle, I should chuck it up in the lathe and bevel the top a bit. I still need to finish cleaning the fork legs before I drive the new seals in but I've got the tool at least.

I got the sidecovers welded up but they still need paint. I took them to work to weld them but I had a bunch of other things to do so I wasn't able to prep or paint them. It was the end of the semester for the eight week classes and in addition to my own stuff, I had several certification plates from another class I needed to evaluate. 

On vacation next week. Looking forward to that. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Chain Guard


I posted this one about a year and a half ago. It came from Monsieur Velo. My '38 Elgin needs a chain guard so I'm going to add something similar to this one to the project list. Since I've got most of the sheet metal tools handy, might as well see what I can come up with. The bike has a big leather saddle that's seen better days. I've got a nice piece of leather that would work good for a replacement top. I'm not much of a leather worker but I wouldn't mind trying my hand at making a new cover. I haven't looked at it closely to see what's involved but one of these days I'll check it out. I used to ride that bike to work daily before I started teaching.It's been hanging from the top of three different buildings for about 40 years now. It deserves better.

 I've got to finish patching the TR3 fender for my buddy as soon as it warms up a bit. He'll be returning from Mexico when the weather warms up. I should probably do that one before I start farting around with the bicycle but, as always, I seem to gravitate to whatever project looks the most interesting or enjoyable on any given day. I'll see if I can't keep my focus and at least finish his job.

I did finish welding up the shock spring compressor for Surly. Looks pretty good. He's hoping to get started on his Sportster soon and he'll need this.

I machined up a driver for the fork seals. I still have to cut it off but I'll do that on the band saw rather than parting it off on the lathe. I worked on the sidecovers also. I had fit-up the Dzus fasteners already but I didn't have them riveted in. Got that done. I've got a couple of corners to weld up and file down on one of them but they're about ready for paint now. Might not get them painted this week but I'll have them ready at least. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Read Across America Day

From Here

It's Read Across America Day with the day chosen to coincide with Dr. Seuss' birthday. So take a little time for yourself today and read something. Read to the little ones as well - Dr. Seuss always being a good choice.

I recently read When Books Went to War by Molly Guptile Manning. It's the story of supplying books to the Armed Forces during WWII. I didn't realize the extent of that. The Nazis destroyed over 100 million books before the war was over. Librarians in this country decided to send books to the soldiers and sailors to both show support for the troops and to counteract/demoralize the Nazis. Originally, it was a book drive but the donated books were mostly hardcovers and many of them were not the type of thing a soldier in a combat area would want to read. Eventually they came up with new printings of books in two sizes. One to fit the front pocket of their blouse and the other sized to fit in a back pants pocket. 

The back of the book lists all the books that were printed as part of the Armed Services Editions. I perused the list to see what, if any, were things that I've read out of the 140 million that were printed. My favorite, The Razor's Edge, made the cut (pun intended). There are quite a few others I've read as well - Jack London, Hemingway, Twain. Lots of cowboy stuff on the list that I'd like to tackle one of these days. There are several by Louis Bromfield. I've read a couple of his and I've also visited his Malabar Farm in Ohio. Interesting man. Several of his books were made into movies and Hollywood stars used to come and stay at his farm. He put everyone to work who stayed there. Bogart and McCall were married at the farm. The farm is an Ohio park now and is located close to Mid-Ohio race course, so if you go to the races might want to check out the farm as well. If you're looking for one of his books to sample, I'd recommend Pleasant Valley.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Old Guys Rule!

Went to the parts store yesterday morning to see what I could do about getting the correct parts for the old Allis. Took the old parts and the incorrect new ones with me to get the proper match-up. The first thing the parts guru came up with were just like the ones from TSC I had bought. No bueno. He then took another approach and bingo, muy bueno. The parts have an IH number on them, which I'm assuming means they fit a Farmall/International Harvester application but they fit the Allis so I'm happy. The beautiful thing about this is the guy pulled the parts off the shelf to match them up. Parts in stock and he knew how to cross reference them. There's a lot to be said for experience. Because I was so happy, I had him throw in a set of plug wires also. As little as I use the tractor, this should be the last tune-up I'll have to worry about on the old girl but I'll keep the end of the boxes with the manual just in case.