Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Photo From Here

Surly left a comment about the tail end of the Yamaha Scrambler a couple of posts back. Get rid of the dorky looking piece below the fender and mount the license plate right below the taillight. What he suggested has already been done apparently. 

Photo From Here

They fixed the exhaust also. Not a high pipe per se but looks like it belongs there. The story of the build is at the link on the lower photo if you're interested. That bike looks proper. I could definitely live with that. 

Surly worked a little of his computer magic to show me how the new Scrambler would like sans the crap hanging off the rear fender. That's more like it.

He also shot me a photo with a tank more in keeping with the look. I was thinking of something along the line of the Harley XR750 myself. I was thinking Vee Twin, Surly must have been thinking classic Yamaha dirt bike. - both are lower and longer and would have a cleaner looking profile than the Bolt tank.

If the new Scrambler looked like the yellow one above, I'd be plunkin' down some cash this week. Don't know if I want to buy a new bike and then start making alterations to get it to look like that one, however. Wouldn't take much, though. Something else to think about.  

Monday, August 29, 2016


Surly and I did a late night bicycle ride Saturday night - started at 11:00 which is just about or a little after my normal bedtime. 15 miles on a warm and humid night. A good time was had by all but I didn't get home until around 2:30 and then another big storm rolled through. I had left my bike in the back of the truck but when the thunder and lightning woke me up about 5:30, I ran outside and grabbed the bike and brought it into the the laundry room.  I had a hard time going back to sleep after that, so I didn't feel like doing much Sunday. I did manage to cut the grass out front, even though it looked threatening all day, cleaned the intake screen on the hot water side of the washing machine so it doesn't take forever to fill and a couple of other piddly things.

What I didn't get done was finish the axle for the sidecar, however. I've got it turned to the proper OD and ready to thread but just didn't feel like finishing it up. I had to decide between cutting the threads or taking a nap. The nap won.

Even though the shaft is only about ten inches long, on my old South Bend it's tough to hold the size from end to end. The ways are worn to the point that there's about two thousands difference in diameter from one end to the other so you have to sneak up on the size and do some judicious filing to blend things. It's a nice sliding fit on the bearing now, however. One of the other disadvantages with the lathe is that I can't do metric threads. (Maybe I should think about buying a new lathe instead of a motorcycle - be more practical.) I could cut them with a die but I'm going to go with 5/8 fine threads. On one end I'll thread it for a nut and then weld the nut in place. The other end threads to hold it all together when assembled - making a long bolt basically.

After I get the axle finished I should be able to get the frame tack welded together. I can put the wheel under it and see how it's going to look next to the bike. I'll have to make some decisions at that point about mounts and making some handholds for the "monkey".

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Bike Stuff

Photo From Here
One of my students sent me a link to this thing - Moto Guzzi V8 re-creation (sort of). While the engine is a standard Guzzi Vee-Twin, The bike certainly captures the spirit of the original. If you follow the link back there are quite a few photos of the bike both during construction and on the road. There are also other stories there of things auto and cycle that are interesting - Bonneville report, classic cars at Monterey, and Dougie Lampkin's plan to ride a wheelie around the Isle of Man TT course.

Yamaha"s new SCR950 Scrambler model. I like it except for the tail end. I would have put the tail light and turn signals down lower, and if you're going to brag about having steel fenders, why not have the fender extend all the way down instead of stopping short and then adding another piece? And of course, all self-respecting scramblers from back in the day had high pipes even if they weren't capable of much off-road work. 

But if you did that, then it would look like a Triumph Scrambler or one of the versions of the Ducati Scrambler. I priced a 2017 Triumph Bonneville the other day. It was just a tick over $12K with tax and fees. The Yamaha lists out at $8,700, add in $600.00 for the sales tax and any fees, and you'd be saving yourself $2500 or so but at that money the 2015 Versys is looking better all the time. 

The list price is about the same but Kawasaki is knocking off $1K on the 2015 and this model has a two year warranty rather than a one year as on the other models. The bags would be nice for carrying my lunch and other crap back and forth to work, and if I ever decided to take a little trip, it would probably be a bit more comfortable than some of the other bikes I've been looking at. When I get the SV back from Surly I'll see what I can get on trade.

I definitely don't need another motorcycle but if I'm going to buy myself a new one, I should get it and have it paid for while I'm still working. I don't want to owe anyone a nickel when I finally decide to call it quits. In the meantime, I'll keep working on the fleet.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Machine Work

I've got the sidecar axle mounts just about finished. I just tacked the bosses to the plate so I have to finish weld them but that won't take long. I put them on the mill for the machining - pilot drill, 21/32" drill and then bore to finish diameter of 17mm. Would have been a little quicker if I had a 17mm reamer but it didn't take long. The same procedure for the aluminum spacer between the plates in the photo only on the lathe instead of the mill.

I need to make an axle yet - have to see what I've got around here for material. Eventually the space between the plates will be 7" wide instead of the 3-1/2" or 4" as in the photo. I could move them in closer but I might add a disc brake at a later date and I'll need the room if I do that. When I get the axle machined I'll make a pipe spacer to hold the 7" inside width, snug it together and then tack weld it to the sidecar frame tubing. I'm about ready to tack the frame together, by the way. 

Moving right along!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Blow Up The TV

The song seems to fit my mood and the weather of late. Both have been good and I've been eating a few peaches from the tree in the front yard - hard to beat that. 

School started this week. I'm teaching two classes this eight weeks - beginning stick welding - nothing too tough there. I've been getting out on the bicycle a bit in the evening but I'm going to have to start a little earlier. The days are starting to get noticeably shorter now. I stopped last evening about two miles from the house to turn on the taillight even though I was home by 7:30.

I got a little work done on the sidecar axle mounts. Coincidentally, while out on the bike ride I stopped to take a look at a Harley factory sidecar rig that was parked down the road from me. I was eyeballing the lead and toe-in on the sidecar wheel and if I could see if the bike was leaning in or out noticeably. I couldn't really tell much but I'm pretty sure I've got mine figured out as soon as I solve a little right triangle geometry problem. I need to get a couple of new bearings for the sidecar wheel and I'm going to order a couple of lights that slip-fit into the tubing for extra tail and brake lights. It's bad enough dealing with all the drunks in the county but when you throw in all the fools that are texting while driving, definitely the more lights the better.

Turn off the TV, get outside and enjoy the weather. Winter will be here before you know it.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Bike Shopping

Photo From Here

I went to Indy yesterday to check with a financial guy about a couple of my retirement things, so I made a point of going to the Stutz building to see the Stutz Black Hawk Special replica. Unfortunately, the car room is only open by appointment or on the first Friday of the Month in the evenings.  There were some other cars on display in the building like the Auburn here:

Pretty neat old building as well.Looks like I'm going to have to plan another trip down that way if I'm ever going to see the Stutz racer.

I stopped at several motorcycle dealerships along the way. A place close to home has a Kaw Versys with bags that looks like it would be a nice bike to commute or take a day trip on. I looked at some Triumphs - a Thruxton would be real cool but I'd be happy with the new 2017 Bonnie. Both of those are more money than I want to spend, however. The KTM dealer had mostly dirt bikes but no 690. The BMW shop in Indy didn't have the model I was considering, so no luck there either. 

The Kawasaki dealer had two Versys on the floor, both were 2015 models. The one with the bags was in white, which wouldn't be my first choice. The 2016 comes in an orange that looks pretty nice from what I could tell from the photos on the Kawasaki website. I've got my SV 650 on loan to Surly right now. When he brings it back I'll ride down and see what kind of a deal I can strike on the Kawasaki. I should probably check and see what Honda has and see if the local Harley shop has one of the 750 Street models in stock. Or, as little as I ride, just keep working on the rolling stock I've already got.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I'm Coping

Pretty productive day yesterday by my standards - some household chores, cut some grass, picked up a prescription for the Missus, got a haircut, and then cut and coped the tubing for the sidecar. It's ready to tack weld now. The windscreen is off my old vintage racer. It's an EMGO that's still available. I'll bend up a piece of tube or flat to fit inside it and then get some tabs or holes drilled to fasten it depending on what I make the supporting structure out of. I think I've got a piece of wood cut to fit the screen that I used when I was making the racer fairing that I can use as a pattern once again. 

I need to design the mounts for the wheel. The wheel needs to have some toe-in. If I get real creative, I can weld the axle bosses on a plate and then set them up on the mill and bore them at an angle. I was thinking about making things real complicated by building in a bunch of adjustment but maybe a little more thinking on the front end and I won't have to engineer in a bunch of adjustability. When I get the wheel mounted up I'll be able to get the height set so I can make the mounts to fasten it to the 900 frame. 

So far, so good.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sidecar Start

Been a busy couple of days with not much to show for it - seems to be more and more common around here - but I got a lot accomplished just the same. It rained all day Monday and rained a bunch. Too wet to go out and do anything so I tackled a clean-up job inside. Made a pretty big dent in it but I've got a long way to go yet. One of these days I'm going to have to downsize. I'm trying to get a little bit ahead of the game. 

Took the Veloster in yesterday for an oil change and my spare tire kit. I didn't realize the car came with no spare tire until I saw something on the news about it. It came with a 12v air pump and a can of Slime. I suppose that's OK if you run over a nail but any big road hazard and you're going to be in trouble. The kit fits in the well in the trunk and it has a jack, handle, lug wrench, and a small combination wrench - should be everything necessary to fix a flat. When I come home from night school, I'd rather not be farting around along the side of either the state highway or one of the country roads any longer than necessary. I've got a flashlight in the car but it wouldn't hurt to get an extra light and a reflector also. It gets real dark out there at night.

I got some tubing for the sidecar project as you can see in the photo. It wasn't really a priority but I was going by the guy's shop and he wasn't busy, so the time was right. I'll get everything cut to length and coped, then run it up to school with me one of these days and weld it together. I've been moving right along on the VW but I want to get some more headway on the 900 as well. Besides, I'd rather fabricate than turn wrenches.

I need to get my syllabus posted, cut some more grass and tackle a couple more of the little piddly things around here before school starts next week. Only working two days per week again this semester - as it should be! Not really looking forward to going back to work but I do have a couple more things I want to buy before I quit. I'll see what the financial guy has to say when I meet with him later this week. He might have a different opinion.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Peoria TT

I finally made it to the Peoria TT. It was looking a bit dicey on Friday with all the rain they were having but they posted an update on Saturday that was promising so Surly and I headed west - about a three hour trip across corn country. 

We wandered around a bit to check the place out and see what the vendors were selling and came across this Triumph. Surly noticed his generator had a sticker on it from a once local bike shop, so we walked around to see what the guy was selling. Turns out it was Dan Schmitt from Team Chicago. He used to do a motorcycle show on the local PBS station that I watched every week. As soon as the guy found out I was a fan he autographed  a flyer and gave Surly and I each a dvd of his past shows. When I was looking for the link, I found a schedule and apparently, he's still going strong and his show is available on Saturday mornings. I'll have to look for that this weekend. Don't know what the show is like now but it used to be a real low buck production of motorcycle racing coverage as well as things of general interest to bikers. The best thing about it was it was coming from a guy who was a racer himself so he had some decent insights and he knew what he was talking about.

The show opened up with a couple of laps by the Motor Maids of Illinois. I didn't realize the Motor Maids were still around. Good for them.

And, of course, the thing that makes it a Tourist Trophy instead of just a flat track race, the jump. The Peoria TT is the longest consecutively running motorcycle dirt race, or some such nonsense. This was the 68th running, so they've been doing it a long time. And they do it well. The grounds were well cared for, plenty of porta-pots and reasonable prices on concessions. The races all went off close to the scheduled times and the racing was good. 

The bikes are all motocross based machines of about 450cc displacement. Not my favorites, but nobody's fault but my own that I missed the days of the Triumph, BSA, Matchless and Norton twins or the 600cc Rotax powered machines. However, I heard over the loudspeaker that the AMA will be adding a twin class next year as well as another TT to the schedule. That sounds pretty exciting. 

The races were all good. In addition to the GNC1 and GNC2 classes, they had a couple of pee-wee events. The little guys are always fun to watch. The winner of the GNC2 class is from Philpot, Ky which is not too far from where my grandmother was born and raised. She had an older sister that married a Philpot so Hayden Gillam and I have a connection in an eight degrees of Kevin Bacon separation kind of way. GNC1 was won by Henry Wiles for the 12th consecutive year! And he made it look easy. I watched Jared Mees chasing him down the straightaway on one of the restarts and Wiles bike didn't seem any faster but he sure went around the corners faster. He was gaining a second or two on the field with every lap. If it wasn't for a couple of stoppages due to crashes, he probably would have lapped the entire field.

So there's another one off the bucket list. They have a trials event there in October that I wouldn't mind seeing and if there is going to be a twins class next year, I definitely want to go back for that.  

Saturday, August 13, 2016


Here's a couple of more shots from the bomber flight. I'm not exactly sure where we were when I took this picture but the pattern of the trees is kind of neat. Of course, it's even neater when you have the wing of a B-17 included in the photograph.

I didn't have anything to show for scale in the photo of the tire and wheel but I'm guessing it's about 42" tall. Just a single tire up front on each side and a single one in the rear as well.There's nothing in the rear of the plane other than a canvas tarp to close the off the wheel while the plane is in flight. The tail gunner would have had to crawl around the wheel and landing gear to get into position. Rather primitive to say the least.

Speaking of primitive, I finished up the patch panel on the VW. I couldn't find my sanding block when I was working the Bondo, so I'll have to put the finishing touch on it at a later date. Of course, when I was putting the tools away and cleaning up I came across it. Like always. I've got a few trim holes to weld up yet and I'll probably ding it up a bit while finishing the mechanicals, so I'll go over the whole car and try to get everything as straight as I can just prior to painting. It's not looking too shabby as it is, however. 

I'm not planning on installing the running boards so I put a piece of aluminum flat stock in the channel where the running board would normally mount. I got that fit up but I need to buy/make some 6mm studs to fasten it on. It's bolted now but I have some metric acorn nuts I'm planning on using for the finish job. Should look good with the shiny aluminum along the bottom edge of the car.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Kevin's Hat Trick

My buddy Kevin completed the hat trick of Cleopatra's Needles by visiting the third one in Central Park.We saw the other two in Paris and London. The one above has just undergone a thorough cleaning, so he got there at a good time. You can't really tell from this photo but at the base of the obelisk are lobster claws sticking out. I'm not sure of the significance of that but I'm sure Kevin will be able to tell me.

I read Washington's Monument by John Steele Gordon earlier this year that describes the building of the Washington Monument but also covers a general history of obelisks, including Cleopatra's Needles. I didn't realize the significance of the one's in Paris and London at the time of our visit or I would have paid a little more attention. But like Kevin, now that I've seen the other two, I'd like to visit NYC for the third along with the Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Station and a few other spots.

In the meantime, I'll keep plugging away around the shack. I finished up the trim on the fly rafters and I replaced the one roof sheet that had been damaged when the barn came down during construction. Obviously it would have been easier to replace when the roof was down low as in the photo, but I didn't have the replacement sheet at that time. I've got one little piece of trim around one of the roll up doors that still needs installation. It'll only take about five minutes to install it but I need to go buy a piece for that to happen - but it will & soon. They want me to come in a do a little work in the lab at the college. Not sure how long that will take but I'll be on the clock, and if nothing else, I can use the money to start a travel fund for a trip to NYC.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

News, Big and Small

Small news:

Looking for a job teaching welding? The college is looking for a full time instructor at the Lafayette campus. All the details are here. Saw the ad in The Welding Journal. One of the part-timers at my campus is looking for a full time gig. Maybe he'll take it. Actually, my boss is looking for a part-time instructor to teach a class or two now. If the part-timer moves on, he'll be looking for someone close to full time. Won't be me, however. I'm looking to call it done real soon.

I tacked welded all the pieces together for the golf cart dash I posted a couple of weeks ago. I need to see if it's going to fit before I finish weld it. It's a tricky shape but it looks like it's real close to what it needs to be. I'll have to run down to TVI's place and test fit it one of these days.

I stopped by the body shop the other day. He didn't want to commit to any kind of price without seeing the car but what he was saying led me to believe I'll be looking for an alternative. I checked on some prices for paint and rough numbers from the auto parts store was $300.00. That's paint, primer, reducer, etc. Upon further research I found out that Rust-Oleum makes automotive paint. Color selection is limited but they've got primer, color and clear at very reasonable prices. The paint is under $25.00 per quart unless you're looking at the Sublime Green - it's about $10.00 more per quart. It's lacquer paint, so I could shoot that myself as long as I had a reasonably dust free environment. Even if I were to get a few blemishes in the paint, after wet sanding and buffing the clear coat, most of the flaws should be taken care of.  I don't know if Menards carries the automotive paint in quarts, but Summit Racing does. I found a couple of other places on the Web that sell paint at reasonable prices and with a much larger color selection. A larger selection of paint types as well. Now I need to come up with a area suitable for painting. That'll give me something else to think about. By the time I have the car ready for paint I should have a solution.

Now here's the big news:

I went up in a B-17 yesterday! Totally bitchin'.

This is the one. In addition to the B-17, rides were also available on a B-24 and a P-51. The rides were part of The Wings of Freedom Tour sponsored by the Collings Foundation. As you can see from the photos, the weather was ideal for a flight.

You just have to love those big radial engines - especially when there's four of them.

I went on the flight with my brother from a different mother. Actually, different fathers as well. His dad flew in one of these things during the big war. Thirty-three missions as a navigator and a co-pilot. Here's where his dad would have been seated during the missions. Even though his dad passed away several years ago, the pilot of the crew is still alive - something like 93 years old. 

The hatch cover was off on the top of the plane making for a nice view out to the rear. We flew over the steel mills and Lake Michigan, as well as some farm country. The flight was scheduled for thirty minutes, including take-off and landing. I think it might have been a full thirty minutes in the air, however. 

The inside of these things are really spartan. Nothing but the absolute essentials. The B-17 only flew at about 150 mph, so they were a pretty big target when they were on a mission over Europe. The plane itself didn't offer much protection to the crew - that aluminum skin wasn't going to do much to keep bullets or flak from coming in. It was up to the on board gunners and fighter escorts  to keep them safe. My buddy's dad was only 22 when he started flying combat missions. Brave young men, all of them. 

After seeing these things up close, it really hit home how incredible it was that the US was able to mobilize all the labor force to design and build these planes, as well as all the tanks, trucks, jeeps, ships, and small arms, and be able to carry on the fighting on several fronts thousands of miles from home in such a short time. To be able to convert most all of the manufacturing in the country to war production and train a whole new work force while simultaneously training all the armed forces that were deployed is just amazing. 

Great flight. If you ever get the chance to go, take it. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Dream Car - Continued

When I was poking around on the Gary Bridge and Iron site, I missed this one the first time through. A super-modified might not be the best thing to base a street car off of since you'll have to turn right as well as left but this one sure is a dandy. These roadster style cars just do it for me.

If I had deep pockets I could bid on this one at the upcoming auction rather than dreaming about building one. I subscribed to Vintage Motorsport magazine and this was in the latest e-mail - should have been born rich instead of good looking!

I talked recently to the guy I used to work with who taught auto body. Told him what I was doing with the VW project. He said when I get close to paint ready he'd come out and give me some advice on the body work and fill me in on the new paints. The last time I painted a car the choices were synthetic enamel, acrylic enamel or lacquer. No urethane or basecoat/clearcoat stuff. There's a body shop within bicycling distance of me. Maybe I'll stop in there and see about a rough price for him to shoot it if I bring in the parts.

Man, where's Earl Scheib when you need him? I used to see his ads all the time on Chicago TV when I was a kid growing up. Now it's MAACO for the cheap paint jobs. They're running a $299 special now - which is about all the VW is worth. I'm still a long way from paint but never hurts to start budgeting for it. Especially since the VW will probably end up being the dream car.

Friday, August 5, 2016

That Rafter is Fly, Bro

One of the odds and ends I've been tackling is the trim on the fly rafters of the new barn. When I wrapped the rafters in aluminum, I made the pieces the same length as the rafter but the roof sheeting extended down about eight more inches. If you look closely at the right side of the photo, you can see what I'm talking about. The left side is finished so you can see the difference. Since you can see this end of the barn from the kitchen window, it was a near constant bother ever since I finished up the barn - just didn't look right to me. Since it's only been about five years now, obviously it didn't bother me enough to jump all over it but I had used up all the aluminum flashing material and didn't want to spring for a new roll for four little pieces. A guy at work gave me what I needed from some scrap he had, so no cost involved and I'll be able to check another one off the list. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Prepping Like a Colonist

I stumbled across a couple of recipes for vegetarian desserts here that originally came from here. The unusual thing about these recipes is that they come from the 1700's. They're also the kind of thing you could cook up on a camping trip while sitting around the fire in the evening or do like I did and adapt the rice and apple Carolina Snowball recipe and make it for dinner. I cooked the rice in the electric steamer with some raisins and while that was going sauteed some mushrooms, apple and pineapple slices in butter with some cinnamon and then combined everything and let it simmer a bit. Pretty tasty, easy to make and I didn't have to boil it for 1-1/2 hours.

If things ever go bad, being able to cook over an open fire and with a dutch oven are going to be very valuable skills. The video was prepared by the James Townsend company. The Missus did a little business with them way back when she was working for the park department doing the living history thing and she'd get their catalogs in the mail. I used to enjoy looking through them. If you want to dress up and live like it's 1776, they can fix you up. Even if you're not interested in "prepping", it's good to know how our forefathers lived and pick up on some of those skills. I'm pretty much a cowboy style cook myself. Not much for baking but I won't go hungry if I've got a frying pan.

Photo From Here

The Silicon Graybeard noticed the increased visits from our friends in Russia also. He has a post speculating why that may be. As Arte Johnson used to say, very interesting. He also posted some thoughts about exercise that I found extremely interesting. Might be worth a look.

Spending my time these days catching up on odds and ends around the shack. The weather has turned hot and humid again so I'm taking it a bit easy and doing some inside things during the heat of the day. Making some headway and enjoying the relaxed pace.

Monday, August 1, 2016

No Medal

I did the bike race yesterday. No medal or awards this time but pretty pleased with my performance. 17.3 mph average for the eight miles. Not too shabby for not training much. My partner in crime gave up on it being a race and decided to just take in the scenery. Her bike is definitely not the hot set up for racing, however, I have an old one in the barn that might fit her. 10 speed Motobecane. Nowhere close to a top of the line bike but it's got new tires and needs nothing. I had loaned it out to a guy I used to work with at the high school and he used it when he started training for triathlons. After he upgraded he brought the bike back. I give it away this time I'm going to call no give-backs. Surly came down and used the milling machine and he was looking for a couple of bicycle wheels for a guy he works with. I sent a pair home with him, so there's a couple more things that are gone. 

So all in all a pretty good day. Got some exercise, got caught up on the news from my training partner, mowed some grass, got rid of some junk, and played a little catch with the grandson while Surly was working on his projects. And I'm on vacation - that's always enough to make it a good day. Now I'll shoot for a good week.