Friday, September 30, 2016


I finished making all the bits for the knee braces on the sidecar project. I'm just about ready to unbolt the sidecar frame from the bike, finish installing the bosses that go through the frame tubes and then finish weld the frame. I've still got to make the framework for the windscreen and the handles for the "monkey", but I'm moving forward. 

I'm not quite sure what I want to do about the sidecar fender yet. I've seen some rigs with grab handles over the top of the wheel. Some designs incorporate the gas tank behind the sidecar wheel. If I was going full blown racer, I would probably go that route but I don't think that's necessary. I've got a couple of designs I've been kicking around in my mind - maybe draw up a few sketches and see how they look on paper. I've got the material in house now to do most anything I decide on. I ordered the jam nuts for the Heim joints and picked up the proper hardware for the mounts and a stainless nut for the axle, also. 

While I was cleaning up in the lab at the college the other day, I saw these in the scrap box - more pipe gizmos to fit the 900. I'll have to keep my eyes open for one more or maybe see about getting on the machine and running one more myself. Might be nice to have an extra set in stock.

The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder. I need to pick up the pace a bit to get my fab work done on the sidecar before winter sets in. I'd like to have it all completed, including paint before it gets too cold. I can finish the rest of it over the winter and be ready to go come spring. It'll be October starting tomorrow. I wanted to complete two vehicles this year. Doesn't look like that's going to happen, but I have gotten quite a bit done around here.

Monday, September 26, 2016

World Bicycle Relief

Some of the proceeds from the bicycle ride I did Saturday will be going to World Bicycle Relief. They provide bicycles to African nations to help those in need of cheap, reliable transportation.

They're a heavy duty rig that costs $147.00. They're assembled by trained mechanics once they get to their final destination. Their website has a spot to donate if you're flush and want to do a good deed. Typing in your credit card number is easier than riding 36 miles. If not, at least get out and put a few miles in on your own bike. Do you good.  

It's interesting that both motorcycles and bicycles are rarely used as primary sources of transportation in this country. Around here, other than a few young Mexican-Americans and heavy drinkers who have lost their drivers license, rarely do you see people actually commuting on a bike/scooter and if they are it's probably not their sole source of transportation. We've got designated motorcycle parking at the college and the most I've ever seen at one time in that lot is four bikes. Usually one or two, tops. I had a student who rode a bicycle to class most days, but he carried it part way in his truck, parked at his aunt's house and rode the rest of the way on the bike, mostly for training purposes. Other than him, a bicycle on campus is a pretty rare event. I used to ride back and forth to the high school on a regular basis, but again, that was by choice not by necessity. Back in the 70's before I started teaching, I used to ride my old Elgin back and forth to work at the welding shop. For a while we only had one vehicle, so I could ride the bike to work and the wife would have the car.

 As cheap and efficient as a bicycle is, it's surprising that there aren't more of them out on the streets. Motorcycles, however, aren't much of a bargain price-wise, so at least here in the Mid-West, they'll probably remain more of a toy than a utility vehicle. It would be good to get more cars off the road and replaced with two wheeled machines. It would also be nice if the State of Indiana would put a decent berm on the state highways. We had to ride for a couple of miles on a state road the other day and the berm was unusually wide for Indiana, close to 24". Unfortunately, much of the berm was broken up which made it unrideable, so we had to ride the white stripe which made things a little dicey when one jackass couldn't wait for oncoming traffic to go by before passing us with only about 18" to spare. All done at 40 - 50 mph. That may go a long way to explain why people don't ride but the fact that many bicycles aren't very comfortable might have a lot to do with it as well.  Then throw in the fact that the majority of Americans are just too damn lazy to exercise or invest a little time in their personal well being, and you end up with a lot more autos on the road and way fewer two wheelers. 

Just something to think about.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Off To The Races

Well, not exactly the races but my saddle pal and I did a 36 mile ride yesterday. Last year she rode a hybrid/mountain bike thing and she was dying by the time we finished. After we did the race a month or so ago, I dug out my old Motobecane Mirage and gave that to her. I had given it to a guy I worked with who was starting to do triathlons. He decided he needed a better bike after using it for a bit but he had put new tires on it prior to returning it to me, so it was pretty close to being ready to go. It made a huge difference for her and we finished the 36 miles in just a tick over three hours, including three stops. 

When I got home from the ride, this was on my doorstep. Chinese knock-off of a Beverly shear. It's sized like the Beverly B-1 with a 4" throat and a 14 gauge capacity in mild steel. Eastwood had this as the deal of the day last week. It was on sale, I got an additional 10% off and the shipping was free. It was definitely time to buy it. It would have been nice to have while working on the VW but I'll be able to put it to use when making the fender for the sidecar. Didn't get much done on that project this week, by the way - a little additional work on the mounts is about all but I did get the aluminum ordered for the floor and fender. I need to decide what I'm going to use for the fender braces and get those fabbed up. 

As always, steady by jerks.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Makin' Mounts

The lights for the sidecar came in. They're LED's in an aluminum frame that's a slip fit inside the tubing - combo tail light, turn signal, brake light. I'll need to drill a hole in the tubing and then weld a nut on for a set screw to keep them in place and to give them a good ground. At least I think they need a ground. They have three wires but no instructions, one of the wires might be for a ground. Need to find out before I toast them.

I got started on making the mounts. Progress was a little slow due to getting a cortisone shot in my foot. Fortunately it only hurt if I was moving or standing still. Anyway, I got the sidecar aligned with the bike with a bit of toe-in and then made up the front mount. After getting it bolted to the frame and clamped to the sidecar frame, I started making up the rest of the pieces. Shouldn't take long to finish them and then I'll start on the floor and the fender/enclosure for the sidecar wheel. I still need to order some material for that but I'll get on it this week. 

I haven't really built anything like this in a while - it's rather enjoyable. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

More Sidecar

Made some real progress on the sidecar project. I made the gussets for the wheel and got those tacked on. While I had the TIG welder out, I put some more weld on the tubes as well. I had just the minimum of tack welds with the MIG on the frame to hold it together so I welded the bottom side of all the tubes with the TIG to prevent anything from moving around or coming apart while I was fitting up the mounts and the wheel. After welding things I finished the spacers for the wheel, so it's centered up and good to go. When I get the rest of the pieces tacked on, I'll grind the MIG tacks off and finish weld it with the TIG - just because.

I machined up a threaded plug to weld into the tube to bolt the support rod to, rather than just thru-bolting it and have it collapse the tubing when I torque it down. That would be it in the top photo along with a piece of tube for one of the mounts. I also added another piece of tube to the frame to support the floor and to give the frame some additional strength where the mounts go. I need to machine another tube for the second support rod and make up a couple of more pieces for the mounts but I don't have much left to fab up for getting it bolted on to the bike. With a little bit of luck, might be able to get that finished up this week.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Canyon Jump

Successful jump of the Snake River Canyon in a rocket built to the same plans as the one Evel used, the only modification being the system to deploy the parachute. I came across this here and I too am surprised I hadn't heard anything about this prior to the attempt, or after, as far as that goes. Mighty impressive just the same. Congratulations Eddie Braun and crew.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sidecar Parts

The rods for the sidecar rig showed up, a couple of days later than the estimated arrival date, but here just the same. I'm pretty happy with what I've got. Not only will they give me the adjustability I was looking for, they look cool and "racy". The long one has 5/8" Heim joints with 1/2" diameter bolt holes. Right hand threads on one end, left hand on the other. The shorter one has standard 1/2" Heims. Both are tubular aluminum with swedged ends. Now that I've got these I'll start working in earnest on getting the mounts made up to fasten the sidecar to the bike. 

I ordered a pair of tube insert tail lights also. In addition to these, I want to put a light on the rear of the sidecar fender and maybe a marker light on the front. I think I'm going with aluminum diamond plate for the floor surface of the rig. While that wouldn't be the best if it was going to get raced, I think it will look good for something that in use will probably be more utilitarian than racer. I'll order in some aluminum sheet for the fender/enclosure for the sidecar wheel at the same time and get started on that one of these days.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Couple of Thoughts

After meeting with the financial adviser a couple of weeks ago, I've been trying to think of a way to optimize my savings. I needed some deodorant and the dollar store had these discounted to 70 cents each. With the rate my bank is paying on a regular passbook savings account, I would have to save $7,000.00 per year to get 70 cents worth of interest. For two sticks it would be twice as much, of course, meaning $14,000.00. If I let the $14K ride all year the compounding of the interest might get me the $1.50 the bill came to with the tax included. 

Something like a third of all countries are now issuing bonds with negative rates, the theory being people will take their money out of the bank and put it into circulation rather than paying the bank to hold onto it. With all that spending, the economy picks back up and everything is ducky once again. Good in theory, maybe. Not good for old guys wanting to live off the proceeds of their savings. In Japan what they've seen is an up-tick in the sale of home safes. Rather than put their money into circulation, people are hording it at home. So much for the negative interest rate theory.

I'm not sure what the average guy can do about this other than get himself debt free so you can accumulate some cash and don't have to depend on interest income. Even if you had a $1,000,000.00 in your savings, the interest earnings wouldn't do much for you with a return of 1 or 2%. It used to be the rule of thumb was draw down 4% annually and you'd run out of retirement money about the time you ran out of heartbeats. Not anymore. Maybe buy more deodorant.

On a totally unrelated thought, I'm going to be participating in a bike ride in a few weeks so I figured I might want to do a little training. I went out yesterday morning, the 15th anniversary of 9/11. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. Blue sky, white puffy clouds, just a slight breeze and a temperature about 65 degrees. After the weather we've been having with the heat and then the rain, you couldn't ask for a better day to be out. I checked my watch as I was leaving the shack and it was 9:11 - that was a little spooky. As I was riding I didn't see any jet contrails, which isn't all that unusual, but I remembered the skies being empty and quiet after 9/11 and how eerie it felt. As I was returning home I heard something, stopped the bike, and sure enough it was the sound of a jet. I couldn't locate it in the sky but I heard it and several others later in the day along with the sound of a small plane. Funny how reassuring it was. Just like in the old movies, it's never a good thing when it's too quiet out there. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

White Trash

My neighbor and I each have a big blue garbage container that are just about identical except mine says trash in white letters. I get a chuckle every week when I take the garbage down.

I got a new storage cabinet for cheap. It was damaged during shipping so instead of sending it back, it got sent to me. It doesn't look too bad from the front but the sides are dented up a bit. I took the rubber mallet to them and got most of the worst of it taken care of. I also had to weld the top corner where the spot welds had come apart. It's still sprung a bit but the doors open and close, so good enough. Not sure where I'm going to put it yet but the price was right. 

I got a piece welded up for Cuzzin Ricky. The little Chinese guy must have been having a bad day when he welded the part together. He missed putting the shaft for the wheels on a little cart in the middle by about 1/2". That's about all the welding I've done of late. Productivity slipped when the temperatures climbed back into the 90's. The parts for the sidecar should be here either today or Monday, so that should see some production again soon. I stopped back at the bike shop to see what the guy would give me on trade on the Versys. Next to nothing. I also stopped at the Honda shop to see about a NC700X.

They make a couple of versions of this thing. The dealer had one that looked like this one, a 2014, but it was a 2013. It was the dual clutch model and had a sticker of $8,500 but Honda is discounting it $1,500. The same model but a 2016 with conventional trans starts at $7,500. The gas tank is under the seat. What looks like the gas tank is actually a big storage area. It gets the best mileage of any bike in its class. I'd like to ride one and see how it feels. Probably the closest to what I would need if there was any practicality going into the decision making process but practicality has never been associated too closely with motorcycles in this country.

About the only local bike shop I haven't gone into recently is Harley.

I like the looks of the 1200 Custom. It's a little more than I want to spend but we all know how that goes.

I like the 750 Street but if I was to buy a Harley, might have to go "whole Hog", pun intended. Might just stick with what I've got, however. Save some money and use it to finish a couple of the projects. I sho-nuff have the itch for a new one, however. I'd like to take a decent trip one of these days before I get much older. That 1200 Custom would be nice for that. If there was a Moto Guzzi dealer close by I'd look into one of those. Same for Aprilia.

750 Shiver. Buy one of these bad boys just for the cool factor. Windy City Triumph is also a Guzzi and Aprilia dealer and St. Charles isn't that far from the shack. Maybe give them a call and see what they have in stock.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Cuzzin Ricky and I went to the races over the weekend. Saturday at DuQuoin for the Champ/Silver Crown cars.

The grandstand at the fairgrounds is a beautiful building. Art Deco styling with impressive ironwork not only on the railings but as accent elements in the design. In addition to the lights in the lobby, if you look close in the photo with the ironwork you can see the neon tubes that light up the front of the building at night.

General Tire had a clone of Petty's '71 Road Runner on display. Long Live the King!

There was a restored A.J. Foyt champ car that took the field out prior to the start of the race. I'd love to be able to turn a couple of laps in that thing. Great night for racing. 100 lap main on a one mile track. Hard to beat.

This one came close, however. We stopped at Springfield for the bike races at the other Illinois State Fair track. Again, good racing and one helluva finish. Brian Smith led the entire race with Kenny Coolbeth right on his rear wheel. Coolbeth slides underneath him in the third turn of the last lap and just managed to hold him off at the finish line. We were sitting in the grandstands just about at the start finish line and it was too close to call from where we were at. 

And if you go to motorcycle races, you're sure to see motorcycles - like this XR1200. First one of these that I've seen. Lots of Harleys of all descriptions, of course, but lots of other interesting bikes as well. Sidecars, trailers, motorbikes, lots of interesting things. 

This was the first time I've been to Springfield and Cuzzin Rick's first time to a motorcycle race. Reason enough to go right there. We've got one more race on the list for the season, maybe two. I've got a schedule conflict on one of them. Have to see about that but this past weekend was a dandy, that's for sure.

Sunday, September 4, 2016


I've decided to alter my view on the upcoming election a bit. While I still believe the giant meteor is probably the best solution, I'm throwing in with Kinky Friedman. I like his definition of politics (poly means many, ticks are blood suckers) as well as his philosophy of life: "Find what you like and let it kill you." If you go to his website and scroll down a bit there's a video of him singing the Ballad of Ira Hayes and at the end of the song there's a short interview with him. Pretty good stuff.

Y'all have fun and enjoy the Working Man's holiday.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Sidecar Frame

I got the sidecar axle threaded the other day. The axle is stainless but I couldn't come up with a stainless nut so I need to see if I can find one and then I'll weld it on the one end. That's a piece of 3/4" thinwall between the plates to hold the proper spacing for when I weld things together. I've got most of the frame tacked but I need to fine tune the tube that runs along the outside of the wheel.

It has a 45 degree bend in it on the front end. When I made the cope I didn't have a real exact layout or the rest of the tubes tacked together so I was trying to fit it up to a moving target. Now that the other tubes are tacked into the position where they need to be, I can get my length dialed in properly. The cope fits real well but it's a bit too long. Because it does fit so well, I decided to use a trick I picked up from the Auto Shop teacher way back when. Wrap the coped tube with a heavy paper and then wrap that with a couple of turns of masking tape, then slice around the tube with a razor blade and you've got a real nice pattern. In my case I'll slide it back the proper amount, mark it and then grind/file to the line. If I was going to make a bunch of these, I would slide the pattern off and then use it to mark any other tubes I might have to make at the same angle. Pretty slick, actually. If you ever use this trick, the props go to Skip.

Obviously it worked. The frame is tack welded together and the wheel appears to be about at the height I was looking for. I've got the bike supported by a couple of pipe stands under the handlebars so it's nice and stabile but the stand on the side where the sidecar is going to be is in the way of getting things lined up. I think I'm going to make a stiff leg that bolts to the front motor mount on that side. I'll make it adjustable in height and then I can work on making the mounts. I need to order some Heim joints also. As you can see from the photo, I've got the bike boxed in on the sidecar side. I've got the VW jacked up right now so I'll finish the front brake, take it down off the jack and when I get the support leg made and the Heims in house, I'll roll the VW out side, move the bike close to the welder and spend a day making all the mounts and getting them tacked on. 

Pretty happy with what I've got so far.