Friday, April 29, 2016

When You Need a Rack ....

You can grow one

or you can build one.

We needed a rack for conduit and pipe at the college so I put this thing together out of scrap Uni-Strut. The brackets for the conduit came with the new trainers but sticking them on there wasn't going to work out so well for our application. It's not near as sexy as the rack on Sophia but sexy enough that they want me to make one more for another campus. They're going to miss me when I'm gone.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Machining Parts

I've finished the first two CNC lathe exercises. Actually, it's not a CNC lathe but a slant bed horizontal turning center. In theory it's similar to a manual engine lathe but in practice, not so much. The tooling all comes in from the back of the part rather than the front so the cutting bits are all upside down. Also, the tools are all mounted in a turret. The clearances are pretty tight between the tooling and the chuck. It would be pretty easy to crash a long drill bit into the chuck or the back of the machine if you weren't careful. Once the part is up and running the coolant prevents you from seeing what's going on, so it's pretty much an act of faith at that point. There's a graphic mode to dry run the part to give you a basic idea of tool paths and you can run it in single block, meaning you run one line of code at a time, to slow things down and he has us all keep all rapid machine movements at 5% of what the machine is capable of doing. There's still plenty of ways to screw up, however. 

I don't know if I'll ever run a CNC machine again but I'd like to be able to. I've really been enjoying myself in the class. Need one of those Maker Spaces or Tech Shops around here. That'd be big time fun.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cal Rayborn

Photo From Here

One of the greatest of all time. Never got a chance to see him race in person, unfortunately. He died in 1973 in a crash aboard a Suzuki after leaving Harley Davidson. When I bought my little Sprint in '68, Rayborn was the man to beat when it came to roadracing - lapped the field at Daytona on an XR. Good write-up here if you want to know more. 

Spent some time working in the garden over the weekend. Hoping to get the balance of it planted next weekend. I'm thinking I should get some strawberries planted as well. I've got a spot that would be just right for that. 

Got a little seat time in on the bicycle this weekend. Need to start getting out on a regular basis but I'm going to be pretty busy with things at school the next two weeks. Four weeks off after that, however. Should be able to make some progress on the projects and get the Sportster lit off. It's looking like rain for the next few days. Not the best for two-wheeling but should give the garden a good start.

Have a good week.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tax Freedom Day

Photo From Here

Today is national tax freedom day - the day we all start working for ourselves instead of the government. Here in Indiana it was a little better, occurring coincidentally on the 18th, the day when both state and federal taxes were due. Seems every year it grows by a day or so, however. There's been a lot of talk lately by a couple of the Presidential candidates about income inequality - strikes me as a little less than genuine coming from someone who makes $250,000.00 per speech, as does one of the candidates, but no-one seems to be too interested in taking less money from all of us working stiffs. I don't know about you, but I'd be much better off if the various taxing agencies only took a fourth of my money rather than a third. I really don't care how much money the very wealthy have. Good for them. Just quit diggin' so deep in my pocket.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Silver & Gold

I'm finished with the exhaust collars. I've got two sets now. The finish on the outside of one of them isn't what  it could be but it's salvageable. We ran a long end mill initially due to some clearance concerns and got some chatter. After a little tweaking, the program spits out good looking parts now. We're finishing out the class with CNC lathe work. Won't be making any more motorcycle parts but I'm learning new skills, which is always a good thing.

Went to the Golden Gloves in Indy last night. There were four guys scheduled to fight, unfortunately, two of them had to square off against each other in the championship round - probably one of the best fights of the night, however. One of the fighters opponent didn't show, so he got a walk-over. He fights next week for the championship. Since he's in the Open division, if he wins he'll go to the Nationals in Salt Lake City in a few weeks. I watched the guy he'll be fighting and I think he has a real good chance of beating him. The last of our fighters lost a tough decision. He was coming on strong at the end but it wasn't quite enough to take it.

I haven't been too involved with the gym due to my wife's illness and my school/work schedule but since Jimmy was going to need some help working a corner, figured it wouldn't hurt me any to go down. I had a good time and I enjoy coaching and working out at the gym but I'm starting to find myself doing too much again. I need to remember the lessons from cardiac rehab about stress and get back into a steady rhythm of work/projects/play/relaxation. Should be a lot easier now that the Missus is doing better and with the lighter schedule I'll have at the school for the summer. You wouldn't think it would be that hard to just relax.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Patriot's Day

Patriot's Day today. The country was founded with a revolution. Might just be another one coming one of these days the way things are going. I read Paul Revere's Ride by David Hackett Fischer a few years back. Excellent book. I need to find another good one about our county's founding. What I should do is sign up for one of the courses offered by Hillsdale College, The Constitution 101 would be a good place to start. It would probably be more productive it the legislators in Washington took the course. Someone needs to remind them about the Tenth Amendment.

I stuck the header back on the bike with one of the new collars. Looks pretty sexy - at least that part does. The scratched up frame and the dirty cylinder head, not so much. I'm likin' it, though.

I made a rack for the Vise-Grips so I can keep them on the welding bench where they'll be handy - should save me a few steps.

It's not the best photo but this is a sample I welded up the other night at work while demonstrating gas welding to one of my students. I chose this particular joint type because it doesn't require any filler metal other than the tacks and it gives me a chance to show off a bit. It's hard to get a good photo with my cheap digital. The weld seam washes out and you can no longer see the ripple pattern. I set the camera to the macro setting to get the bead in focus but it's a lousy photo just the same. 

It's about time I start back on some photography anyway. I plan on shooting some B&W this summer with my twin lens and the 4x5. It's been a couple of years since I've done any darkroom work. I made a couple of albumen prints a few years back. I'd like to try that again as well as wet plate photography. I've got a 4x5 box camera that was designed for glass plate negatives. Might be fun to try using that. 

Since the end of the semester is fast approaching, I'm going to be busy. I've got to schedule another NIMS test for the CNC lathe, I've got a recommendation letter to type up, plates to certify, finals to give and all the rest of that jazz at school, plus chores and projects on the home front. Sure is nice to be able to get outside in the sunshine, however. Even the chores were enjoyable this weekend. Absolutely ideal weather. Spring has definitely sprung.

Have a good week.

Friday, April 15, 2016


I passed my NIMS certification test the other day, so I'm now officially certified as a CNC milling machine operator. The test wasn't too difficult. They give you 90 minutes to take it online. It took me about 35 minutes to answer all the questions, even though I wasn't sure about several of the answers. Since I had plenty of time left I went back through all the questions and looked up what I wasn't sure of in the Machinery Handbook you're allowed to take in with you to the testing center and double checked all the rest of the answers. On completion of the class I'll take a similar test for CNC lathe operator. Since I no longer have any need for a resume, I'll be able to list the credentials in my obituary. Make it look like I actually accomplished something during my time on this earth.

I didn't get my exhaust collars machined the other day. We've only got one machine running that part and everyone needs to set the tool length offsets and the work offsets, so it takes a while. I went in early for my lab tech gig to get on the machine during open lab time but the professor was busy helping another student with a lathe project, so I didn't get anything done. I'll get them finished up next week. However, as you can see from the photo above, I did get the header cleaned up and painted. Bottom line, should all look good when it goes together.

I made this extension plate for the bandsaw outfeed in the lab at the college a while back. The idea was that the plate would catch the parts and they wouldn't be dinging up the floor. It worked fine for that but the coolant runs out on it and then on to the floor. I brought it home and cut a couple of grooves in it with a ball end mill to channel the coolant back into the saw. I held the piece at a slight angle thinking it would help channel the coolant towards the hole in the saw base that feeds the pump. We'll see.

Saving the best for last, I took the Missus to the oncologist yesterday. The doc says she's officially in remission. Yippy - skippy! That's a relief.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

William B. Stout

Photo From Here
I mentioned a few posts back I wanted to get William Stout's autobiography. It came in the other day from inter-library loan. Man, what a fascinating individual! At various times he was a school teacher, reporter and a columnist, but he was primarily a designer/engineer. He's mostly known for his contributions to automobile and airplane design but he also designed motorcycles, buses, prefabricated housing and a host of other things.

He was looking for capitol to finance his design laboratory and hit up most of the movers and shakers of the day with the pitch give me $1,000.00 and I can promise you zero return on your money. The surprising thing is, it worked. The back of the book has a list of his contributors and it's a veritable who's who of the automobile and aircraft industry - Fred Fisher of Fisher Body, Charles Bohn of Bohn Aluminum,Charles Kettering, George Holley of Holley Carburetor, Walter Chrysler, Edsel Ford, Ransom E. Olds, Garfield  A. Wood of Gar Wood Industries, and a host of others. Eventually he sold the company and his investors quadrupled their money.

In addition to all the industrialists he knew and was involved with, he personally had dealings with Octave Chanute, the Wright brothers, Charles Lindbergh, and most all of the aviation pioneers such as Boeing, Beech and Stinson. He was also the president of the Society of Automotive Engineers for one term.

He also toured Europe on his honeymoon astride a motorcycle, even though his bride had never been on one before. My kind of woman right there.

The book is a great read. While looking for a photo of his Victor motorcycle, I ran across a site that has a very good biography of Stout. Lots of info and photos plus some links to other articles and videos. Check it out.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Livin' The Dream

Photo From Here

Here's a bit of inspiration for me. That's one trick pony right there - the high dollar version of what I'm trying to put together. I really need to get back to work on mine. 

I don't have anything exciting to post about but I've been keeping busy. I did a little welding job for my buddy the specialist on the Ducati singles. I got the battery in the mower and cut the grass after it had warmed up enough to melt most of the snow off Saturday afternoon. I don't remember ever cutting the grass when it was that cold out but the weather is supposed to be crappy for the next few days with rain and temperatures below average. I only mowed the front, hopefully I'll be able to get to the back before it gets away from me. I still need to do some prep work on the garden also. This crazy weather isn't doing me any favors at all.

I've been doing some studying for my NIMS certification I'm scheduled for this week. I should be OK. I've kept up with my assignments but I'll do some more studying before the test just to be on the safe side. There aren't any CNC classes scheduled for the summer. I'm going to check what else is available and maybe work something else in. I'll be teaching two days a week. I might consider a CAD class if I could get one on the same days I'm teaching. I've been going in five days a week and I don't want to do that over the summer or maybe ever again. 

I got the paperwork for renewing my CWI in the mail last week so I need to get started on that. They require a passport type photo now - must mean there'll be a photo ID on the new card. There's also the required eye exam and paperwork requiring a notary. All that, plus the check of course. I've got quite a bit of time to get it done, but if you don't get it done on time you basically have to start over from scratch. No way I'm going through that.

Hope to have a set of exhaust collars by the next post.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Food For Thought

Here's a couple of things from the race at Terre Haute last weekend I found interesting.

Here's a way to locate the rear end under your old race car - or under an old boat trailer. Surly's got an old trailer that needs some work. He's planning on converting it to some kind of bike/utility trailer but the axle is located by a rod that runs from the top of one frame rail to the bottom of the axle on the other side. When the suspension compresses it swings the axle through an arc and ended up cracking some things. We might be able to incorporate something like this into the design. I was thinking Watts linkage or go with a 4 bar set-up and a track locator bar dragster style. Just kicking ideas around for now.

There were several different kinds of front suspensions on the cars.

A few different types of torsion bar set-ups. The top photo is like the old Indy cars - torsion bars with shocks. The lower photo has a similar type of suspension but uses coil-overs.

This one uses a straight axle, 4 bar and coil-overs. Pretty much identical to the type of set-up you would see on the rear end of a drag car/hot rod. Again, just making some mental notes. 

I came across a couple of other things I found interesting lately not automobile related, both from the Wall Street Journal. The first one is from an editorial concerning an elementary school in Mississippi. 

"Disappointing results with other approaches, such as hiring reading coaches or setting up model classrooms, convinced the Barkdales that you couldn't change a school without changing its leadership."

No kidding. Never would have guessed that, says the man who has witnessed that first hand more than once.

The other item is an editorial about a "documentary" dealing with the subject of autism and vaccinations. I have no idea if there is any link between the two but according to the article, "The frequency with which autism is diagnosed in the U.S. increased from 1 in 2500 in 1985 to 1 in 68 in 2010". Regardless of the cause, that's a big time scary increase that's going to cause a lot of problems in the schools, as well as for everyone else involved, of course. If it's not a result of vaccinations, somebody needs to figure out what's causing it.

All for now.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Interesting few days around here of late.

This is the view looking out the patio doors Saturday afternoon. Temperature about 37 degrees but snowing like hell wouldn't have it. The railroad tracks behind the tree on the left are only about 200 feet away. It would snow sideways to darn near whiteout conditions, clear up and be sunny and then snow again. Interesting day.

Surly came down Saturday to use my mill and bandsaw. He made a couple of parts and I welded a couple of things for him.

Here's a shot of the seat bracket taken from his blog. The shiny piece on top is going to get sawed off. He's got the details.

Cuzzin Ricky and I went to Terre Haute for the Silver Crown opener at the Action Track on Sunday.

Great racing - 100 lap feature. There were only a few yellows, the cars were fast and loud, and there was an exciting finish. The weather was warm and sunny, plus, we had lunch and a piece of pie at the Grand Traverse Pie Company and a cup of Rex coffee at the Clabber Girl Bake Shop and Museum the next morning as we hit the road. Just a down and back trip but time well spent. There's a race in Kokomo this weekend I'd like to go to but it looks like it might be a bit too cold from what I saw on the weather last night. Have to wait and see.

I finished up my second CNC project. Looks pretty sexy for a chunk of aluminum that doesn't do anything. I'm learning some things about part inspection that I didn't know previously. Also, even though I'm a pretty fair hand at reading prints, I've got a lot to learn about geometric dimensioning and tolerances. Looks like I'm in the right place for that, however. 

I took the Missus to the hospital yesterday for a CAT scan. Just a check up thing before she sees the doctor next time. Should be all good.

Next up a new battery in the mower and get back on the projects.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Parts With a Warning

Finally making things at the college. Ever since I started working there I was amazed by the fact that no one was making anything. You would think a community college would know its clientele well enough to realize that many of them are going to be just like the high schoolers I used to get, just older. Not always the best scholars but more than capable of becoming  good craftsmen as long as they don't have to sit in a regular classroom setting all the time. Seems that that is changing finally, at least at our campus.

A couple of faculty members from another department have been coming into the Weld Shop and playing with the CNC plasma we have. I asked them about making a couple of parts for the tail light buckets I want for my hot rod project. I gave them a pattern I made from tracing around the gasket and when I went in the other day, the professor gave me a 3D printed version of the part to check out before cutting it out of steel. While it looks good, it needs to be a bit larger all the way around. Currently, it fits in the gasket but it needs to be large enough that the gasket will fit inside the bucket after I weld the sides together.

Also, when I reported for duty in the lab the other day, the professor there was working on a program to cut the exhaust collars for the 900. He ran into a couple of roadblocks with his fixturing and tooling but as you can see, we've got a part. It looks like next week the whole class will be making exhaust collars for 900 Kawasakis. How cool is that?

I welded this cover up for my buddy who's the Ducati singles specialist. No big deal here except for one very important item. He said he degreased it with brake cleaner. That's a big NO-NO. When you weld over any chlorinated solvent, phosgene gas can be formed. Extremely hazardous to your health! In fact, if you get more than a little of it in your lungs, it can be fatal. If you're working on your own parts or welding things that people bring to you from the outside, be sure to ascertain how it was cleaned before heating or welding the item. That includes chlorine from swimming pools as well. I remember hearing some horror story about guys working in the pump room for a big swimming pool that ended very badly. 

Keep making things but be careful out there.