Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Making Things

I made these angle iron brackets for a power supply in the lab at school the other day. These are actually the second set. Since there were two of the power sources, I figured I'd make both of them at the same time but somebody up the chain of command wanted to see how the first one came out before committing to two of them. I find it amusing that no wants to be responsible for designing the project or providing materials but they don't want to give up control over the finished project. I'd be happy to build something from a provided sketch but it never works that way. So I had to scrounge up some more material and drag all the tools out again but I shouldn't complain. Since they hired a full time guy in the lab I haven't had much to do anyway.

They did trust me enough to make this rack to get the spools of wire up off the floor. Two little brackets made from angle and a piece of scrap conduit. I made these at home since we don't have a bandsaw suitable for notching the angle or any hole saws there.

Here's a couple photos of a job for me. It's a bracket that's going in the corner of the room where I have my HO train board. I've got a railroad lantern that's going to hang from it. One of these days I'll get back to working on the train layout but getting the lantern off the board and hanging up is at least a first step.

The cold symptoms are mostly gone after a solid two weeks of misery so I'm cranking things back up around the shack. I've got a machining job for the lab at school to do. If I knew how to run the lathes in the lab I could do it there but it's not a big deal. I figure as long as I keep making parts no one will know how little I do and they'll keep me around for another year until I retire. At least that's the plan.

Friday, November 25, 2016


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So if I was going to build my masterpiece, how about a Mercedes-Benz W196? This one is ex-Fangio and is worth about $30 million. Even a simplified version of this thing (straight ahead hot rod chassis or modified sprint car) would still be a stretch of my abilities but I think I could pull it off with some more practice on my sheet metal work. 

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This too is Fangio. It's an Offy powered Kurtis that Fangio took his rookie test in for the '58 race but decided against actually racing it. 

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This is a Quinn Epperly chassis. The link has several construction photos of the car while it was being put together. I believe this is a "laydown" chassis where the Offy was tilted over on it's side some to lower the profile of the car. If I was actually going to build something like this, starting with a sprint car or champ car chassis would probably be the easiest way. Stretching the frame would be a lot easier than trying to locate all of the mounting points for the suspension, engine mounts, etc. 

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This is a Watson car of the same era. This frame doesn't look like it would be all that tricky to build if you knew where everything was supposed to go. A guy would definitely need to make some type of fixture to hold everything square and in alignment, however.

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But if you did, you could end up with something that looked like this. If it's good enough for Parnelli, definitely good enough for me.

I'll keep floating ideas around in my head. Maybe start sketching something up someday. Meanwhile, I'll get back to work on a few of the things I've got going already.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


I'm part of some Hyundai owners thing where the company sends things out to get your input. The latest had several vehicles that the company partnered up with movers and shakers in the go fast auto biz to see what kind of cool vehicles they could turn the stock ones into. There was a Bonneville racer, an off road SUV, a road racing Elantra, a 1040 hp Santa Fe, and this Veloster. Mine's a fun little car to drive but this thing looks like it would be an absolute hoot. 

I really like the look of the wide wheels and the fender flares - the big wing in the back doesn't hurt either. Supposedly, it's not all show but it's got some added go as well. The frame's been stiffened up along with a roll bar and some other fun goodies. Since I'll probably never own the E-Type Jag, something like this could be the one. Nah, that's sacrilege to even think of such a thing.

Meanwhile back at the shack, things are going slow. Good, but slow. I went to the cardiologist yesterday for my annual checkup. Doc says all systems are go, see you this time next year. There's something to be thankful for, by golly! I've been slipping a bit on the diet, and now that the cold weather is upon us, I need to shift to my winter time exercise program. Or rather, come up with one I actually partake in. I've already put on my fat layer in preparation for the cold weather. There has to be some genetic/circadian/seasonal affective disorder I'm afflicted with. Maybe I need to start walking around in the weld shop with my shirt off to get some more UV rays. Or maybe just get up off my ass and go for a brisk walk. Oh yeah, it's raining. Never mind. I'll have a cookie instead.

Anyway, there's no shortage of things to be thankful for around here and believe you me, I am. Family, friends, health. I've got everything I need and mostly every thing I've ever even wanted and smart enough to know that I need to remember that every day, not just on the holiday.

Hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving Day and are as blessed as we are here. Peace and Happiness to you all.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Cool Bikes

When you follow a post about Mose Allison, you need to throw up something cool. So here we go!

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Ain't she a beaut! Might see this kind of rig at Peoria next year instead of the motocross bike based singles they've been running. I missed my chance back in the day. Probably should have kept my Norton as well.

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The plan was to turn it into something like this, with the matching sidecar of course. I didn't have the skills to do the aluminum work like this yet, however. But you have to start someplace, right? 

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Here's one that Surly is lusting after. Big Twin HD flat track/supermoto/all around badass sickle. It ain't cheap, but you wouldn't expect it to be either.

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While the HD is way cool, I'll have to go with this Guzzi. That's one fine looking motorbike.

Meanwhile back at the shack, not much to report on the bike front but the killer cold has about run it's course. I did get out and put the new plug wires on the tractor along with changing the oil and filter. Should be ready for snow plowing when the time comes - which could be any day from now until April with the crazy weather we have around here. Got the Veloster to the dealer for service and a host of other little chicken shit things done around the shack while I was hacking, coughing and wiping the snot from the end of my nose. Boy, I hate being sick! Better days are coming, though. 

Have a good weekend.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Mose Allison

Mose Allison passed away the other day at the age of eighty-nine. That's a long time on this earth, especially for someone in the music business. While not a household name, he was very influential with jazz, rock and blues artists. He was a favorite of mine. Surly and I were fortunate to see him at a club in Chicago a few years back. I took his Best Of CD along with me and he was kind enough to sign it for me. 

This is one of my favorites - still relevant today. Likewise, his CD The Earth Wants You, especially as I'm getting older.

RIP Mose.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Sidecars & Jaguars

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Bottom Two From Here

Should have known I was going to come down with something, with it being only about a week until Thanksgiving. It's only a cold but it's a doozie. By the timing, I think I must have gotten this one from the gym rather than the school. Should be better in time for the cold weather to hit this weekend, however. In the meantime, I've got E-Types and kneelers to look at.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Beagles and Other Canines

I read the novel Is Fat Bob Dead Yet? by Stephen Dobyns recently. I knew nothing about the author prior to reading Is Fat Bob Dead Yet? but I was looking for a who-dunnit that I could breeze through on my quest to read 50 books again this year. I don't know if this one is representative of most of his work or not, but it's certainly a different type of murder mystery than I'm used to. Not that that's a bad thing. It's an entertaining book but certainly nothing like the Robert B. Parker novels I've read. Maybe more like Carl Hiaasen. But this isn't a review of Is Fat Bob Dead Yet?, it's just the set-up for the following paragraph:

Beagles don't care if you're no longer beautiful. They don't care if the great expectations you had as an eighteen-year-old knockout have become spilled jam pots on the dusty roads of life. That's why we like beagles and other canines: love and loyalty are more important to them than truth. You tell your dog you can walk on water and it will lick your hand. Its only fear is of being left behind, locked up, shut in the doghouse when you go to a fancy-dress ball or simply go shopping. Otherwise you're gravy.

Explains it rather well, don't you think? Also, I just finished book number 47. It feels like I'm coming down with something so I might spend more time in the big chair reading rather than working in the shop the next few days. I would like to finish up the sidecar fender before it gets too cold, however. I've got most of the planishing done and it looks pretty nice. I was going to give it a once over with the DA sander but I'm out of sandpaper for it. I'll either order some in or see what they've got at one of the auto parts stores around here if I feel like venturing out.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Welding Stuff

One of the students at the college brought one of these in for us to play with - battery powered stick/TIG welding power source.

Here's a couple of beads run by the students with a 7018 electrode. According to the website, you can weld with up to six or seven 1/8" electrodes before needing a recharge. You can weld with it while it's hooked up to the charger. In fact, several of the students were playing around with it for quite a while while it was on the charger and it never ran out of stored energy. I tried it with both 6010 and 7018 electrodes and it ran nice and smooth. Usually you equate small welding machines with lousy welding characteristics. Not with this one. This new technology can be a wonderful thing. The student who brought the welder in has offered me a tour of the Fronius lab. I'm going to have to take him up on that one of these days soon.

We had a practical for the mid-term this past week. Open butt Vee groove with 6010 electrodes. Since they've already had a couple of classes before they take this one, this should be relatively easy for them with the exception of the root pass. After I tell them about a thousand times how important it is to prep the plates exactly the same each and every time in order to eliminate all the variables, they start to show improvement, if they listen to me that is. 

The photo above is the root pass I ran as a demo for one of the students. He prepped the plates and tacked them together. They weren't exactly to my liking but not a bad looking root pass. One of the nice things about this class is I do quite a bit of welding running demonstrations. Always good to keep your hand in. Who knows, I might want to get a job working with the tools again someday. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

It's Finally Over

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Now that the election is over I'd like to personally thank both presidential candidates for forcing me to stop watching television and looking at political crap on the internet. I'm not aware of who won the election as I write this, but regardless, as Brother Johnny used to say, "We're boned". That being the case, it's time to stop worrying about things I can't control and head back into the shop for those things I can control, mostly, and from which I derive much pleasure. Motorcycles and vintage cars and using the skills I've developed over the past 50 or so years and, hopefully, further develop in the years yet to come. I don't know how many more I'll be blessed with but I'd like to have the opportunity to create my "masterpiece", whatever that is I decide on. In the meantime, I'll keep hammering away, both literally and figuratively, while trying to channel the spirit of one of these guys.

Rock on!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Coach Building School

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Ain't that a cute little thing - and I do mean little. 

The new Vintage Motorsport magazine came in the mail the other day. While looking through it I came across some info on a Master Series in Coach Building. It's a two year program that will teach you the ins and outs of coach building. It's not cheap but ignorance isn't either. $84,000 for the two years and you'll receive a degree certifying you as a coach builder. $42K per year isn't out of line for many universities these days. I don't know many of the details but I'd love to give it a go. Two years of learning from a pro I could be a real panel beater instead of just a duffer. Classes start in January.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Work, Work, Work

I've been busy the last couple of days. Went to Indy for fights on Thursday night. We had two of our guys scheduled to fight. The first guy up fought really well but got a bad decision. I normally don't complain much about the decisions but this one was bad. I had the first round scored to the opponent, the second round was close but I gave it to our guy and the third round our guy was beating the stuffin's out of the guy, but no win. The second fight was a walkover so we got a win on that one without working up a sweat. Long way to go for only six minutes of action but it was a nice night out just the same.

I made a couple of brackets to hang my bead roller off the side of the sheet metal working bench - that would be them on the right in the above photo. Not much to it but it will help with the organization of the shop and that's a big plus. The other piece in the photo is a head for the motorcycle engine stand. This one is made specifically to fit the 900/1000 Kawasaki. It was a little rusty from sitting around out in the big barn so I cleaned it up and shot a bit of primer on it while I was painting. I'll be needing it this winter when I tackle the engine on the sidecar rig.

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My buddy who's the Ducati single specialist stopped by the school this past week with a project for me. He's working on a '70 250 MK3 that someone bobbed the rear fender on. He's been looking for a stock one for a while but to no avail - don't know if he couldn't actually find one or couldn't find one that wasn't exorbitantly over priced. Either way, looks like it's going to be up to me to make it longer again. It would be nice if I could find another fender close to the right size/shape where all I'd have to do would be cut it off the donor and weld it on the Ducati one. I told him it might be a while before I get around to his project. I'm going to finish my fender project before tackling his. Hope to get a little more of that done this weekend, by the way.

Still working on a few projects around the shack as long as the weather is cooperating. I got the trim pieces from a couple of posts back finished up. Seems like every time I finish one, there's a two more waiting. One of these days I'll get it down to just routine maintenance - I hope!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


The weather yesterday got up to around 80 degrees. I took off in the morning on the SV650 and headed south to run a couple of errands and to run some fuel through it so I could top off the tank and add some fuel stabilizer for winter storage.

I've been trying to address the issue of ethanol in the gasoline for all of my old motor vehicles. I always add Sta-Bil to the 5 gallon cans of gas for the tractor, mower, etc., but it doesn't seem like that's enough anymore. I put Sta-Bil 360 in the bike this time. I hope it works as advertised.

I also bought a bottle of this stuff. I don't know if it's better or worse than the Sta-Bil 360 Performance, but I'm going to add an ounce or so to the tractor and snow-blower every time I add fuel. I might try to find the BelRay product mentioned in the e-mail I received from Cycle World the other day. It had a really good article about the effects of ethanol, mostly dealing with bikes, as you would expect, but applicable to all small engine/powersports vehicles. It's my understanding that marine gas does not have the ethanol in it. It might be worth checking into that. There are a few marinas not too far from me at a couple of the lakes. The government is planning on upping the percentage of ethanol from 10% to 15%. The pump at the corner station already has it.

Here's what you get when you run the 10% thru a high performance big-block Chevy. Piston with 870 miles on it. It's not carbon build up but rather a sooty, gooey kind of deposit. Besides gumming up the inside of the engine, it fouls the spark plugs as well. 

Besides lousing up the gas formulations for those of us with old cars and bikes, your friends at the EPA have mandated changes in the oil formulations as well. Unless you have a roller cam in your old beastie, you're going to have problems with the new oil.

I bought some of this and some of this:

I need to do a little bit more research yet but I think one or the other of these should take care of all my old bikes, cars, small engines, and tractor. Seems like all the Preppers are stocking up on canned goods and ammo. I'm thinking I should be stocking up on oil that still contains the ZDDP.