Saturday, December 30, 2017


One of the nice things about the blog is there's a record of what I've accomplished over the course of the year. I like looking back at the end of the year and seeing what transpired more than setting goals at the beginning of the year. Me setting goals is like most people joining a gym in January - good intentions but no follow through. Looking back on 2017, however,  not a bad year at all.

On the project front, didn't finish any of the big jobs but I knocked out a ton of little ones, both for myself and for a few others. Did some welding on Cuzzin Ricky's trailer, Surly's firepit, a few motorcycle parts for my buddy with the little Ducatis and quite a few more that didn't make the blog.

I did make a little progress on the VW early in the year but not much to speak of. The sidecar project moved forward and there's really not a lot to be done for that one to be finished. Likewise the motorbike project. It's pert near done also. I got a good start on the veranda for the new barn. I wish I would have gotten that up in the air before the cold weather hit. I've got the platform stored where it'll be easy to finish up the legs but it's a rather inconvenient spot for me to trip over all winter. I didn't do a lot of riding this year but I got all the bicycles up to snuff with new tires, seat, handlebars, etc. as needed or wanted.

Traveled down to Indy a few times - boxing matches, bike shops, Speedway Museum and one of the big events of the year, my ride in an Indy car. That was a fun one. Took Bazooka Joe to Louisiana for the Golden Glove Nationals. That was a fun one as well. Cuzzin Ricky and I finally made it to the Studebaker Museum this year. That was a good day out. I was talking to a guy the other day and he said there's a Hudson Museum over that way. Might have to head over there this year coming up. It's been a long time since I've been to the Auburn Museum. Maybe take a couple days to hit the museums and squeeze a race in at Baer Field. That's one I've never been to. Did the Janus Motorcycle Exploration Day or whatever it's called. Got to ride a couple of their little bikes, have a good lunch at the brew pub and talk a little "squish band" with guys pursuing their dream. Hard to beat that - but the ride in the B-24 Bomber just might have.

Cuzzin Ricky and I hit a few open wheel races. DuQuoin for the Silver Crown cars was a good trip as was the trip to Wisconsin - midget races, Millers at Milwaukee, Harley Museum, Royal Enfield HQ. Also a couple other races. Not as many as last year but we've got some big plans for 2018.

Got some exercise throughout  the year. I think I did six race walk 5K events. I was the first male finisher in all six of them, I believe. Sounds really good but not much competition. Doesn't matter, really. I'm just trying to stay healthy and have some fun. Mission accomplished and I got my 50 books read for the year. Nice blend of healthy outdoor activity and sitting on my ass reading.

The wife's cancer is still in remission, so you know that's a definite high point on the year and I got together with my brothers and some of the extended family a few times this past year, always good but something that should happen a little more often. Hopefully the wife will be able to tolerate travel  better in 2018 so we both can get away a little more often. As it is, I'm still one lucky SOB.

So goodbye 2017, hello 2018. This year was another nasty one on the political front but I've mostly quit watching all of that. I think we're in the final throes of the Republic and there's not much I can do to stop the death spiral, so I'll just enjoy what I've got for the time I've got left. There were a lot of people hurt in the weather related events and the wildfires this past year. We all need to remember their suffering when looking back on the year. There's still a lot of people needing help, as there always is. Probably more this year, though. Hopefully 2018 will be a good year for all of us.

Best wishes, Shop Teacher Bob

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Deer Mount

Taking my normal shotgun approach to projects, I got my deer skull mounted up finally. I found the dead deer a few years back, cleaned up the skull and it's been sitting on top of my TIG welder ever since. It's now going to be hanging in the top of the new barn along with some other art work and photographs including this other skull I hung up a few years back.

I'm thinking this one's a raccoon. I found it out along the railroad tracks - probably hit by a train. Mother Earth News had an article a couple of issues back on how to tan hides, followed by an article on how to make a coon skin cap. As many coons we've got around here, might be fun to learn how to tan hides. I don't think I would have too much trouble sewing up the hat once the dirty work was done. Not like I need another hobby or something else to do. In fact, I've got a turtle shell I want to hang up as well. I'm not sure how I want to go about it yet.

The coon skull is on a sheet of copper inside a wrought iron frame I forged. It looks better hanging on the wall than it does in the photo. The deer skull looks fine on the wood but what do you do with a turtle shell? Hang it from a wire and make a mobile out of it? Maybe carve a head for it, drill the eyes out, put a small light inside it and set it on a shelf. I'll think of something and when it hits me I'll get it done. Might be five years, of course, but I'll get there.

I need to dig out my orange vest and start tramping around in the woods again. I used to run the old dog across the tracks in the woods and fields and we'd come across all kinds of things. Since the old girl died, I haven't done much of that. Of course now we've got snow on the ground, so I wouldn't be able to find much in the way of treasures but I've always enjoyed hiking around in the woods. Good for the soul and the body. I'd like to find some antler sheds some day. There was a real big buck around here a couple of years ago. Be cool to hang some antlers in the peak of the barn over the big doors.

It's going to have to warm up a bit before I do much of anything outside, however. It was 0.0 degrees when I checked the temp yesterday morning about 7:30 and -3.2 at 9:30 last evening. Not worth trying to heat up the shop, even with the new heater. Looks like the temps will remain frigid until next week. I've got some things going on in the basement shop, plus some general messing about around the shack to keep me busy until it warms up a bit.

2017 is just about over, so I should maybe make some plans for next year that I won't follow through on. I'll have my year in review post up in a couple of days, though. Easy enough to look back, not so much for the future.

Monday, December 25, 2017

BSA Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I'm hoping to get to work on my brother's old BSA fairly soon. Surly came up with a design for the side covers that looks workable. If I can get most of the mechanical things done, I'll just turn it over to someone else to fettle the carbs and get it tuned up. The photo comes from Just Beezas on Facebook, by the way.

Usually I'm fed up with Christmas music by the time Christmas rolls around. This year, for whatever the reason, I've been able to avoid most of it. I do have a few favorites - Elvis doing Blue Christmas and I'll Be Home For Christmas - and Merry Christmas Baby. Lots of people have covered it but I like this version by Charles Brown the best.

We've got a white Christmas here this year. I woke up yesterday to the snow coming down and it just kept coming  'til we got a pretty decent amount. The temperatures are supposed to be down right cold the next week so the snow will be here for a while. I've got a get together to attend this week but the next place I need to be is in the middle of January - so let it snow, blow, get cold, or what ever Mother Nature wants. I can light the fireplace and catch up on my reading.

Today though, it's Christmas. A day to spend with your loved ones, both friends and family. So
best wishes to you and yours, steer clear of the mistletoe and go easy on the egg nog.

Peace - Shop Teacher Bob

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Loaf Pan Layout & Loafer Lay-a-bout

I read an editorial the other day and this song was mentioned. I've been humming & whistling it ever since - figured I'd pass it along.  You're welcome.

What I really wanted to post about, however, was making a liner for a pair of loaf pans so the Missus could make fruitcake.

She tells me the recipe calls for a liner out of brown paper, you grease it up and then you put a layer of wax paper on top of that one and grease it as well. "Think you can take care of that for me?" No problem I say. I grab a ruler and scissors and go to work on my layout. I get the pattern laid out and ask her if she wants rivet/soldering flanges on it and she tells me: "Just get it done, Hot Shot. I've got the oven warming up." The point here is that I've done enough sheet metal layout over the years that making a pattern for a rectangular box isn't much of a brain teaser, even if it does have tapered sides. Besides, this is something I learned in drafting class back in eighth grade.

Now the question is, how many high school kids of today could make this thing using only a ruler and a pencil with no instructions? I'd like to think that 90 percent of them could. The answer is probably closer to 10 percent. I taught drafting at the high school level one year and we did these types of things, so it's not like they can't master it. The problem is where are they going to learn it? If you look at the typical high school curriculum, I'm thinking you'd be hard pressed to find anything about sheet metal layouts and developments even though this is a skill used a lot more often than you might think. Boilermakers, pipefitters, sheet metal men, people working in auto and motorcycle repair work, carpenters doing flashing around windows and eaves, as well as those doing general metal fabrication work. There's a lot of cut and fold work out there. Ask any boat builder about lofting or a seamstress about putting a couple of darts in a blouse.  Even if you never make any type of development after high school, developing the skill to be able to see how the flat pattern will appear when folded together or vice-versa, is definitely worth having.

Here's another education thing - and just one more reason why it's time for me to get out of teaching. I had a kid last semester that for whatever reason had trouble getting to school in the morning at 8:00. He was working but I think it was mostly he's just unclear on the whole concept of promptness and responsibility. Anyway, I teach the morning class and another guy teaches the same class in the evening. The other instructor doesn't mind this kid coming in to make up class time - all of us do the same thing to help students get their time in. So Monday morning of the last week the kid shows up, late of course, but he's there. I tell him to make sure he shows up on Wednesday for the final exam. Wednesday, no show. I leave a copy of the test for the night guy in case the kid shows up. No show there either. Thursday I get a e-mail from a counselor that the little darling needs to get his test taken. I tell the counselor to have him contact me and we'll schedule a date but it has to be soon because the grades are due the following Tuesday. The kid tells me he'll be there at 9:00 on Monday morning. I show up, stick around for an hour and head back out. He's a no show. I didn't have to come in but I had some other things to do so I'll be a nice guy and this will be my last official act of kindness at the college. I get home and I've got a friend request from the little darling on Facebook! So he can't make it the final exam but we should be Facebook buddies. Definitely time for me to just stay home and make liners for loaf pans. And people say I'll be bored sitting around the house.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Lathe Update

I've been hitting things left and right of late. Not too much worth posting about but happy with my progress just the same.

The top photo shows the basement lathe bathed in light from the newly installed halogens. They are three small lights designed for under cabinet use. Looks like I might need a little supplemental light to prevent me from working in my own shadow but that's no biggie. I've got a work light on the neighboring workbench with a post that drops into a hole. I've got brackets on both ends of the bench to best utilize it. I can make up a couple more on each end of the lathe bench if need be. Seems as I age, I need more light when working. In fact, I just bought another penlight to carry around with me. They come in handy, especially this time of year when the days are short.

The lower photo shows the compound that I milled a bit off of. The machined surface wasn't quite deep enough to allow the tool post to rotate properly. So that's taken care of. I'm thinking some sort of shelf on the back of the lathe bench for the tooling would be nice. I'll have to give that some thought.

I've made a lot of progress on typing up the family history project. Other than scanning in some documents and photos, my side of the family is done. I'm typing up the stuff for the Missus' side of the family now. What I need is something like the old Family Tree Maker to make up a tree for the different branches of the various family names. It would make following the lineage much easier. I'm sure there's something out there I can find - just have to do it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Year in Books

I finished up my 50th book of the year - Denis Leary's Why We Suck - an extremely irreverent look at life - as you would expect from Denis Leary. I checked this out of the local library and have marveled over the last few years at some of the books that libraries have on the shelves. It takes a lot to offend my sensibilities and Leary's language is certainly not going to do it. In all honesty, that's pretty much how I talk as well. However, I can't imagine this book and many others that I've gotten from the library in recent years even being on the shelves years ago. Times have certainly changed. I'll let you decide if that's for the better or worse.

I read a variety of things last year, some who-dunnits/mysteries, history stuff, biographies, and a little more of this and that. Two of the best in the biography department was the one about Emile Zatopek and the Louis Zamperini one about his life after the war years. I also enjoyed Lost Horizon that I was lucky enough to find in one of the free book stands in downtown Indy. Re-reading Blue Highways was a pleasure as well.

I'm trying to decide now if I want to continue on my quest to again read fifty books in 2018. I haven't had much difficulty the last few years achieving the goal. Actually, since I started keeping track in 2011 there's only been one year, 2014, that I didn't read at least 50. Adding the totals of the past seven years, I've read 352, so I've averaged 50 per year. I don't pay much attention to page count normally. As long as a book is less than 500 pages, I'm game. However, I'm thinking that for 2018 rather than trying to knock out a book per week, maybe relax a bit and change my approach.

I do have a big fat biography on Henry Ford I'd like to dive into. No way I could finish that in a week - or maybe ever. Lots and lots of pages in that one. I also want to read and re-read some things in particular: Jack London, Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle and Melville's Moby Dick. If I remember correctly, that one's a good 500+ pages. I'm thinking also re-reading The Razor's Edge would be time well spent. That's probably my favorite book. Maybe see if I can find the movie version of the book starring Bill Murray, rather than the older version with Tyrone Power. It's not a typical role that you would associate with Bill Murray but I watched the movie years ago and would like to see it again - especially if I'm going to be reading the book again. Maybe try something else by W. Somerset Maugham also.

I'm also going to be taking a class or two at the college which will cut into my reading time and getting my ham radio license is a high priority for the upcoming year, which will require some study time. So even though I should have more free time coming up this year, maybe put the 50 book thing on hiatus and just take it as it comes. It's not like I'm going to stop reading. That'll never happen.

To all of you out there, read. Read to your kids and get them reading on their own. Go to Dover and buy yourself a few of the cheap classics to stockpile for when the electricity quits flowing, along with a few candles or a decent lantern. Moveable type - it's one of the greatest, if not the greatest invention of all time. Even greater than indoor plumbing and the cordless drill. And, once again, some of the greatest advice ever to young people from the now defunct Starlet Showcase blog:

Anyway, here's my advice: read a book, read lots of books, keep your face washed and don't worry about your complexion too much, don't give your teachers a hard time, don't be late for everything, always use condoms, get plenty of sleep but not during class, and if you go home with someone and he doesn't own any books, don't sleep with him. That's basically it. Have fun.

Monday, December 18, 2017


I was down the basement the other day looking for a box of Christmas dishes for the Missus and while down there I figured it would be a good time to take inventory and maybe throw a few things out. I donated all my hockey gear to Goodwill a couple of years back and figured it might be a wise idea to get rid of my roller blades as well. I really don't need to break a wrist or a collarbone, that's already been done. Imagine my surprise when I found the lower platform of the skates laying on the floor and the boot parts still hanging by the laces from the floor joist above. Don't know what happened, just came apart. I'm going to save the wheels - maybe use them for an outfeed table on the table saw, but the rest is gone already.

I did get out and go ice skating Saturday night. One of my skates has a couple of the rivets holding the boot to the blade that has come loose. I think I can drill out the rivets and re-rivet them or even put a couple of brass or stainless machine screws in there. If I can find a couple of pan head screws, that'd be the easiest fix. I'd be able to tighten things up without leaving a bump under my heel. As little as I go skating, I can't see investing in a new pair of skates. It was a beautiful night to be out skating with friends, though.

I got the old Allis out yesterday, ran it up and down the lane and put the shoes underneath the scraper blade so I'll be ready to plow snow. I haven't got the snowblower out yet this season. I should probably do that real soon as well. We need to get a pretty deep snow before I ever use it, but around here you never know what winter will bring. Since I don't have to go to work this week, probably a good time to get that done, especially since the weatherman's calling for warm temperatures for a few more days.

Have a good week.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Underwater Welding Demo

I went to an underwater welding presentation at the old high school this morning. Pretty interesting and informative. The man with the rig is looking to put these presentations on at high schools and colleges. If you're interested and in the Mid-West contact information is in the one photo.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

That's All Folks!

And that's all she wrote for the teaching career - at least for now. Might make an encore appearance in March but for all intents and purposes, it's a wrap.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Birthday - Ham

Photo by Surly

I've only got two days left to work - if this guy was still around we'd have to do something about that. As it is, I'll hoist one today for Johnny and one for myself on Wednesday.

Happy birthday, Bro.

Since this is my middle finger it kind of fits in with Brother John and the attitude he had towards a lot of things. In this case it's the discolored part that you should focus on. I was welding up a couple of pieces for the lab tech in the Weld Shop at the college the other day that required a small diameter stainless electrode. We have some 5/64" 309 rods that were perfect for the job at hand but for some strange reason, the small rods on the Miller machines go up in smoke once in awhile. They'll just vaporize even though the machine is set on only about 50 amps. This is an inverter type machine that has a choice of starting voltages. We keep them set on the higher voltage setting to facilitate arc starting, especially with the 7018 in the vertical and overhead positions, which may be the cause.

Anyway, I went to tack the piece on that I was working on, the rod went up in smoke and burned a hole in my glove and scorched my finger. No pain or real harm done to my finger but it pissed me off that I burned a hole in a fairly new pair of gloves. Plus I'm still not sure of the exact cause of the problem. I gave up on the Miller and moved to one of the Lincoln machines and didn't have any trouble after that. That's not the kind of thing you want to have to worry about when you're trying to weld something delicate together.

I went to the ham radio meet on Saturday. I was going by the article in the paper and apparently things weren't quite what they seemed. First of all the location had changed, but I found the group, all of whom were there to take the exam for their license, me being the only exception. Anyway, this is a new club that's forming and the vice president took a few minutes to fill me in on what's happened so far, what the group has planned for the future and some answers to specific questions I had. I'm going to start studying again after I finish everything up for the semester at the college and then take the test. If I had known they were giving the test Saturday, I would have reviewed my materials prior to that and took a shot at it. As it is, they meet once a month at a location not too far from the shack, and it looks like these are the guys to get me on my way to becoming a ham operator.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The shape I'm In

The post title might seem to indicate that things are not going well, but all things considered, not too bad. One more week of work left but I'm in negotiations with my boss to teach another course in the spring semester. The course will start in March, run eight weeks, two days per week and wrap up in the middle of May. The machining course I'm taking will be on one of the same days and it will be over right before my class would start so I'd already be there one day per week any way. I told the boss I'd let him know in January when classes start up again.

Christmas is fast approaching and I'm not ready by any means. I'm pretty jaded about all the holidays anymore. However, everyday is pretty much a holiday for me when it comes right down to it, so I don't need all the hype and bullshit that comes around earlier and earlier every year. Seems like now the Christmas stuff hits the shelves right after Halloween and Thanksgiving is just a day to rest up so we can all go crazy with shopping the next day and the week that follows. It says a lot about who we are in this country and it ain't good.

Cold weather is upon us and I can look forward to three months of winter. On the upside, I won't have to be getting up in the morning and leaving the house in the dark any longer. I've got heat in the shop so I can work on the projects and I'm making progress on the basement workshop and projects down there. See - every day's a holiday!

I was contacted by Steak 'n Shake about the lousy service we received last weekend. Apparently there was a staffing issue and they're going to tighten me up with a gift card or something. At least I know they read their e-mails.

I'm going to a meeting about a ham radio club a guy is trying to start up locally on Saturday. I've been wanting to get involved in that but isn't hasn't been working out. Hopefully, this will be what I need so I can get my license and get a little help with my radio I bought. The license test is set to change this year, so I need to start studying again and take the test before they change it.

That's all I've got.

Monday, December 4, 2017


Made a couple of items for the new lathe - chuck wrench and a tee slot nut to hold the tool post to the compound. The piece for the compound is made from two pieces of flat bar that I plug welded together. A lot easier than machining a piece to fit. Likewise on the chuck wrench. I drilled a hole in the round bar and inserted a piece of keystock in the hole and then plug welded it in. Not what you'd call great progress but a little something. But to be honest, I'm not looking to be running at much more than an idle now until I retire in two weeks.

I went down to Indy Saturday for a boxing match and saw this monster in the parking lot of Steak 'n Shake when we stopped on the way home. Probably a $100K pickup truck. I'd have to have a rope ladder I could drop out the door when I parked or I'd never be able to get back in, though.

The fights went fairly well. We took three guys down, one guy got a walkover win, one guy got a win by DQ after about a dozen low blows and the third guy lost due to running out of gas in the third round. This was his first fight and he was doing really well early on. He just forgot to breathe. It was a nice trip, at least until we got to Steak 'n Shake in Lebanon. This is a regular stop after the fights and usually the food is good for what you pay and the service is OK but that wasn't the case this time.

There were eleven of us in our group and quite a few other customers in the place but apparently there was some pissing contest going on over who was going to wait on us. It was about 10 minutes before anyone came to the table and the server said she'd get our drink orders and then who ever the server was going to be would get the food orders. We finally placed our orders but we didn't get any food on the table until we'd been there 45 minutes. I ordered a malt as my drink and it took that long before it came to the table. My salad came about 15 minutes later, so I just got a container to take it with me. An honest to goodness hour to get a salad and a malt! I noticed the sign on the wall while I was in line to pay about how Steak 'n Shake is fanatical about service so I dropped a complaint in their in-box yesterday morning. Have to see how that works out.

Supposed to get cold after today and be like actual December weather. I'm going to keep picking away at the lathe project and the family history write-up. I need to sit down one of these days and take a good look at the to-do list. Give it a bit of thought as far as prioritizing things, make a new list and then just do as the mood strikes me like I usually do.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Family Tree

I've been taking care of some things around the shack while the weather has been so nice. I even mowed the yard on Tuesday. It wasn't so much the yard needed mowing as it was to chop up the leaves but I don't think I've ever mowed this late in the season before - it'll be December starting tomorrow, after all.

I got the heat situation taken care of out in the shop. I broke down and bought another heater while it was on sale as part of the whole asinine Black Friday thing. I wasn't about to leave the shack on Friday but since it was a three day sale, I went about 10:00 AM Sunday morning and no real crowds to fight.

On those couple of chilly days when I was out in the shop working on the milling machine, I fired up the old kerosene heater. It took the chill off things but the heater wouldn't shut off when I was done. It's got a lever on it that you depress and the burner unit drops down and snuffs out the flame. Except now it won't. I had a hell of a time trying to get the fire out - one of the reasons I bought the new heater. So now I have a new heater and two old heaters, both of which need repair. I should probably just toss the propane one but I'd like to have the kerosene one as an emergency unit for the shack or to use in the barn or garage as a hand warmer since it requires no electricity.

In between all of this I've been typing up the family history. I'm not much of a typist but I'm making pretty good progress. I had most everything typed up a few years back but with the advent of there's been quite a few additions, plus I want to scan in a bunch of photos - like the one of my Pops shown above.

I had my DNA tested earlier this year and it confirmed the family connection of a cousin who popped up out of the woodwork a few years back. It also appears I've got a couple more. I made e-mail contact with one of them this week through Ancestry and he lives less than fifty miles away. The Missus said I should check to see if he's on Facebook, and sure enough, not only is he on there but he looks a lot like the guy in the photo above. Small world. I'm still waiting to hear back from the other one.

So now that I'm finally putting the finishing touches on the book of Shop Teacher Bob, it appears as if I'll have to add a couple more branches to the family tree. I was going to print out a hard copy for my brothers and the cousins that are interested but I think now I'll just print out a copy for myself and put everything on a flashdrive and give those to people who are interested. That way they can print it out if they want and update their branch of the tree as it grows.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Three More Weeks

I posted this one not too long ago but with only three weeks remaining of my teaching career, seems justifiable. I just need to make it to the middle of December. When I left the high school I never really retired. I had the heart attack and just didn't go back. This time around I have the luxury of savoring the moment, and I have to admit, I'm liking it. Just six more days and that's it. Just need to stay healthy so I can enjoy a few years of retirement.

And going along with that:

I did a 5K yesterday. There were seven of us from the boxing gym that entered the race. Three of us came home with medals. I got first place male walker and two of the other guys got first place in their age groups. I figured out the average age of our group and it came out to 41! Just not enough of those young guys willing to get out and do their roadwork. Those of us that competed had a good time, though. This was the first time for this event and it was nicely run - interesting medals as well as good weather for a race. Sunny and not too chilly. I also ran into a guy I used to teach with. Fine man and an excellent teacher. Good to know there are still guys like him in the classroom.

I finished up my milling jobs I was working on, so I can go back on the lathe restoration project.

The tool post I ordered showed up. I need to make a piece to bolt it down onto the compound and see about getting tooled up. Next up is making a chuck wrench and a piece that threads onto the compound screw. Then I'll have to decide what I'm going to do about the left handed Acme screw thread piece for the cross slide and the half nuts.

I'll just keep picking away at the easy ones for right now and tackle the tuffies after I retire. Did I mention I've only got six more days of teaching?

Thursday, November 23, 2017


Another Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. In my life, however, most every day is Thanksgiving. My health is good, as is the wife's right now. I've got family and friends that all seem to be doing well. I've got a roof over my head, don't owe anyone any money and a couple of bucks in the bank. What more could a man ask for?

Weather has gotten cold around here. It was spitting snow a couple of days ago - not really cold enough but it was snow just the same. Yesterday it was definitely cold enough for snow. I worked out in the shop finishing up a couple of milling jobs. I still don't have my gas heater repaired so I fired up the old kerosene heater. It was good enough to take the chill off things but I really need to make a decision about the other heater. If I take it somewhere, it'll be pretty close to a break even as to the cost of repair versus a new heater. If I buy another one like it, how long will it last? I've got one other thing to check out before making a decision. I'll see about that tomorrow or the next day. I'll probably spend some time out there tomorrow working on a piece for the basement lathe and a couple other machining jobs.

Hope all of you out there are doing well and remember to just be thankful for what you've got.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Fire Pit

Surly was looking to come up with a fire pit/grill for his back yard. He came up with a big truck rim and brought it down to the house. I was able to scrounge up the rest of the material - I posted a photo of the bottom recently - and was able to get it finished in time for Thanksgiving. Not that a fire pit is normally critical for Thanksgiving dinner but he said he would like to have it done by then and I was able to accomplish that. I forgot to take my camera along to work with me but Surly took a shot of it in the dark after he got home. The pipe coupling is so he can add a grill later on that will swing out of the way and adjust up and down.

As uncle Pete used to say: "It ain't much for looks but it's hell for strong."

Monday, November 20, 2017

Lathe Progress

Makin' a little headway around here of late. In the photo above is the new drill chuck and arbor. I bought it off EBay for a song. Maybe not the same quality as a Jacobs but I'm sure it'll do fine for what I'm planning on working on and as often as that'll happen. The pieces for the compound and cross slide both had some pieces missing to hold the gibs in place.

The lock nuts for the setscrews are smaller than standard machine screw nuts. The one on the compound is for an 8-32 screw but the nut size is as if it were a #4 screw. I had one in house so I drilled and tapped it for the larger size screw to match what was on there. Likewise the cross slide - 8-32 nuts drilled and tapped for 10-32 screws. I was missing one of the setscrews but I had one of those as well. The new one has a hex head instead of a screwdriver slot and the other end needs to be machined down a bit still, but it's coming along.

The micrometer in the photo is one that I've had for years and years. It's a mechanical digital, if there is such a thing. It reads to the thousandth with the numbers coming up visible in the three little windows. It also has a Vernier scale to read out to the ten-thousandths. It was packed in its foam lined little plastic box and when I opened it up I found that most of the foam had disintegrated, some of which had stuck to the mic like glue. I got it cleaned up and by coincidence, the Missus was tossing a glasses case that is just the right size for the mic to fit in. I learned that trick from an old millwright. Put the mic in the glasses case and it'll fit nice and handy in the top pocket of your bibs. If it happens to fall out, it'll be protected and it'll stay clean.

I ordered a quick change tool holder for the lathe that should be here any day also. It comes with the tool post and a few different tool holders. I probably won't need to buy much else for tooling. Won't matter if I don't get the rest of the lathe repaired but I plan to spend a couple of days out in the shop during Thanksgiving break working on lathe parts as well as a couple of other machining jobs I've got going.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Professional Dabbler

Traveling Pirate left a comment in the last post about how me dabbling in the cowbell business didn't really come as a surprise since I've dabbled in many a thing over the years. After reading the comment, I thought for a few minutes about what all I've worked on over the course of my career, and yes, I've done a lot of dabbling. I've worked on most anything with wheels underneath it - cars, trucks, motorcycles, tractors, bicycles. Much of it repair work, some of it fabrication. Garbage trucks to race cars. I've worked on ocean going freighters and jon boats and a few things in between. I've built and repaired trailers from small utility trailers to steel hauling semi-trailers and the hitches to haul them with. Made and repaired a few musical instruments. Welded quite a bit of structural steel, including work on overhead cranes, and a few pieces for the mining industry. A little bit of gunsmithing and blacksmithing. And, of course, fixed chairs and desks literally by the hundreds. So yeah, I've dabbled. Pretty much everything except military vehicles and helicopters.

Now I'm back into machinery repair. While finishing up my class in the welding lab the other day, the man in charge of the Machine Tool program popped his head in and wanted me to check out one of his Bridgeport clones. Simple fix - about five minutes was all - but now I'm starting on my little Craftsman lathe and it won't be quite so easy to fix.

After taking off the compound and the cross feed, I looked everything over and decided it was going to take more than a little adjusting. I went on-line and much to my amazement found that Sears actually has parts available for this thing. The down side is that the parts aren't cheap. The screw for the cross feed is available for $188.00 and the nut it threads into is $71.19. The nut doesn't really look like a seventy dollar item, especially since it's only about 1/2"x5/8" x13/16". The screw looks to be a left hand 3/8 -10 Acme thread. I looked at MSC for Acme threaded rod and they carry 3/8" rod but 12 threads per inch. Likewise, no dice on a tap of the required size. I think I can make the cross feed screw easily enough but the nut is going to be a stretch of my ability. It might be worth my while to buy the nut and then I can machine the screw to match the nut.

The lathe is going to need some new half nuts to engage the feed rod for threading. Those are no longer available from Sears, so even if I wanted to buy them at what was probably an un-godly amount, I'm going to have to come up with the fix on my own. The guy who ran the machine shop when I first started teaching used to fix the ones on the South Bend lathes he had in the shop. I'd build up the threaded surface, he would then fasten the two halves together and bore and thread them back to size. I suppose if he could do it, I can do it. The only difference between him and me is the fact that he was a really good machinist and I'm not. If I get in a bind I can always call in Surly for a consultation. In fact, that might be the first place to start.

So now I'll be dabbling in machine repair for a bit. This one's going to be a bit of a challenge but it's the kind of work I like to do - just like when I worked as a millwright except that was on a very much larger scale. I would guess that I'm somewhat of an exception as far as my work experience goes, even for people of my generation. I learned to weld from a guy who could do pert near anything and there were always a bunch of people hanging around his shop that were of a like mind. I was definitely lucky there. I don't know if there are many young people coming along that will be able to do the variety of work that I and others like me can do. I hope so. I know there are a lot of talented young men and women out there. We're going to need them more than ever now that us old farts are starting to hang up the tools.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Completing New & Old Projects

Working on another job for Surly - this one's a little bigger than the cowbell, which is completed, including sandblasting by the way. This one's certainly going to be a lot heavier than the cowbell. We're making a grill out of a large truck wheel. This is the bottom plate I cut out of a piece of scrap metal. He wants a grill of some sort across the top for a cooking surface that will swing out of the way and maybe a hook of some sort to hang a pot of beans or a coffee pot from. I've got a couple of ideas as does he. We're both going to sketch something up and see what we can come up with utilizing as much of the scrap material I've got as we can.

Grandma Hazel?
I've been doing a little research on my family history lately. I've worked on it off and on for years. I recently joined Ancestry to help with the research and to get my DNA tested. I was a little surprised by the Scandinavian blood line showing up and I haven't found any Vikings in the genealogy research but I don't think there's any downside to it. Not like I could change it even if I wanted to. I think I'm about at the point where I'm going to call it quits on any further research, however. I want to get everything organized, scan in some old photos and then get everything I've got printed up and copies distributed to the family members.

I ordered some cheap Chinese tooling for the new metal lathe. I'll be starting on the refurbishing real soon. Looking forward to having some machining capability in the basement shop for the long cold winter. I'm thinking we're about due for a tough winter. I just hope it holds off until after the middle of December when I no longer have to drive to work. I'm under ten on the number of days left to work now. Looking forward to being done.

Monday, November 13, 2017

More Cowbell!

One of my old cowbells come back to haunt me. Years ago when I worked at the career center, a musician came in wanting to know if I could make him a cowbell. Sure, why not? He was involved in overdubbing television commercials from English to Spanish and whoever was in charge wanted Latin rhythms to go along with the Spanish voice track. Anyway, this guy was looking for a specific sound and he gave me some dimensions and I made him a cowbell. And then I made him about ten more, including one out of brass. Since I was in the cowbell business and my son was a drummer, I made him one also. And a couple of the students wanted one as well. And when I changed jobs a couple of the students decided they wanted to ride bulls, so I made a couple more to hang from their bull ropes. I did get a chance to hear one of my cowbells on an Old Style beer commercial on one of the Chicago Spanish channels - that was pretty cool. Didn't understand a word they were saying but I knew a cowbell when I heard it.

The one in the photo is the one I made for Surly. It's probably 25 plus years old now. Still sounds good if you tap on it. According to Surly it's a little too loud, actually. Since I'm a welder rather than a musician, I'll stick to the you can never have too much cowbell and if a little bit's good, a whole lot is better still. All I need to do on this one is change the mounting for it. He's thinking sandblasting and a fresh coat of paint as well. No reason not to. Clean it up and bang away for another 25 years.

One of the reasons I went to FABTECH the other day was to pick up my 25 year award from the American Welding Society. If you pay your dues for 35 years you get a lifetime membership and you no longer have to pay dues. I need to maintain my membership at least two more years to keep my CWI active. I'll have to decide then if I want to renew the CWI or my membership. At age 67 if I pay dues for 10 more years I might not get much of a return on the lifetime membership. If I had joined the AWS when I first started welding, however, I would have gotten my 50 year award. There were several people there who received them. Fifty years is a long time to be involved in the industry - any industry as far as that goes. Lots of good, dedicated people in the welding field. It was an honor to be seated with them the other day.

While I was at FABTECH I talked to a welding salesman about a plasma cutter and the conversation went to Jeeps. Seems he used to work for an outfit that makes radiators and he said they are supposed to start shipping them to Jeep August of next year. Said they look good, as well.

Put my aunt to rest the other day. She made it to 95. The last years haven't been good but she was a sweet old gal. Rest in peace, "Bets".

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Craftsman Lathe

Picked up an old Craftsman metal lathe yesterday. Haven't looked at it too closely but I managed to get it down the basement without throwing my back out, so that's a good thing. Since the weather has gotten cold - temps in the teens the last couple of nights - it's about time for me to start working on a couple of my projects down in the basement shop. The little lathe should come in handy for not only the projects I started last year but also for a couple of steam engine projects I want to make.

I started on a live steam locomotive years ago but put it on hold when I changed jobs. I was working on plans from Live Steam magazine for an A-3 Pennsylvania switcher. I've got a box of parts, the plans and now with the addition of the lathe, most of the tools necessary to build it down in the basement shop. Since I've about given up on television, other than reading my paper every day, not much going on in the evenings. Might as well use the time to make something.

The lathe didn't come with any tooling, so I need a chuck key, tool post, drill chuck, etc. I'll start getting it set up next week starting with a good cleaning and adjusting, leveling it up and getting a light over the top of it. Take inventory of what I might need and if I don't have something, maybe put it on the Christmas list.

I'm really starting to fit the profile of the old retired guy who tinkers around with things down the basement/garage/shop. In my case, however, it's pretty much what I've been doing since I was a kid. Not a bad thing at all. And I'm looking forward to making a lot more things in the future - might even get a few of them finished.

Friday, November 10, 2017


Went to FABTECH on Wednesday. The show was great but driving up to the city wasn't all that pleasant. Big accident on I-94 so traffic was backed up on I-65 before I even got on I-94. I worked my way around that and then hit a couple more spots where things slowed down due to construction, including right where you get off the Stephenson to pull into the parking lot at McCormick place. Fortunately, it was a nice day and I was in no hurry but I think maybe I've lived out in the country a bit too long.

However, I did get a chance to see the Paley and James sculptures. They would have looked better in the photos if they were in front of a plain background of some sort but I was lucky to get photos that didn't have people in front of them. There's obviously a lot of work in these things but they aren't really my cup of tea. I don't think I'd commission anything like these even if I could afford one but that's how it is in the old art game. Glad I had a chance to see them, however.

The show is huge. I saw a good part of it but didn't really spend a lot of time talking to too many of the vendors. However, I did talk to a representative from the Ironworkers and the Sheet Metal trade. Pretty interesting conversations but, unfortunately, a lot of it was the same old thing of showing up to work, being on time, keep your phone in your pocket and all that. The rep from the sheet metal trades went into it a little deeper and noted that a lot of young people think these construction jobs are no big deal - like you can find them anywhere so don't put the effort in that they should to keep a job that will pay good money, have a pension and health benefits, and pay for your education. No student loans here. You start out making a decent wage and get a raise every six months during the apprenticeship program. If you like the work, you can't really ask for more from a job.

He also mentioned that the sheet metal trades merged with another union about six years ago so now they are sheet metal, air, rail and transportation. Had no idea about that. Also, I had no idea Hyundai was as big as they are in the production of electrodes. In fact I had no idea at all they were in that business. The salesman said they were the world's largest supplier of electrodes - even bigger than Lincoln. How 'bout that?

The thing I was most impressed with of everything I saw was the tactical welder. It's a battery powered MIG welder that's small enough to fit in a back pack. It weighs only 27 pounds, a little more if you run solid wire due to the weight of the bottle of shielding gas. It uses a spool gun, which means you could switch from carbon steel to aluminum easily. Pretty clever.

I came home with a bag of brochures, catalogs and stuff to wade through. When I get a chance to look through it, I'll post a wrap-up.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Royal Enfield

Royal Enfield is coming out with a 650cc twin. It was unveiled yesterday at the big bike show in Milan. It appears there will be two models, the Interceptor and the Continental GT. Enfield also must be about ready to put the Himalayan on sale here in the US. They have some updated info on their website including a video about how the bike came about and the testing it underwent.

When I talked to the owner of the shop in Indy earlier this year, he seemed to think it wouldn't be too much longer before it would be ready for sale with all the proper EPA approval and all that. He also said he had several used Moto Guzzis. Maybe a deal where I swap off my Suzuki and a wad of cash and get a Guzzi and an Enfield to bring home. Maybe I should run down there one of these days soon. Check on the bike situation and go to Trader Joe's to replenish my stock of peanut butter.

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Bit of Motorbike Progress

Not much exciting around here lately. I've just been working off the list. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to get any shorter, though. I have gotten a lot of homeowner type stuff done. There's still lot's more to do but now if I see even the littlest thing that needs some attention, I jot it down in the little notebook and try to get to it in a reasonable time frame. It does seem to be paying off. So that's a good thing.

I did make it out to the shop and hit a little lick on the motorbike project. The top photo has the pieces for the pedal chain tensioner plus a piece of threaded rod to fix my cheap paper towel dispenser in the wood shop - that's the kind of thing I've been doing. Instead of struggling with things or thinking I'll get to that one of these days, I've been trying to just knock them out as I come across them.

The bottom photo shows the tensioner clamped in place. I'm finding the little magnetic clamps to be pretty handy, especially if I'm TIG welding parts. With the MIG or stick I can hold a piece with one hand and tack it with the other. Not so with the TIG. One hand for the torch, one hand for the filler rod, means no hands left for holding. Next up will be tacking a few of the parts in place and then I need to install a small tube through the top frame tube for the throttle cable to pass through and a chain guard for the pedal chain. Shouldn't be much in the way of fabricating after that.

After I get that done I need to decide if I should try to get it running and make sure everything works as designed or just trust that it will and tear it apart and get it painted. The paint job will just be rattle can Regal Red from the hardware store. Nothing fancy, so if I need to fix something after it's assembled, I should be able to touch up the paint without making it look too trashy.

Have a good week. Write if you find work.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Mr. Versatility

Made a zipper pull for a leather jacket I bought years ago. Maybe the fact that I had gained some weight could have had something to do with the zipper pull breaking. I was going through the closet the other day and pulled it out thinking that either it fits, since I've lost some weight, or I'll toss it on the pile going to Goodwill. Tried it on and it fit like it was supposed to. That being the case, I made a pull for the zipper out of a piece of stainless sheet I had laying around. Back in business - still need to lose at least another five pounds, however.

And this might help - finished the brackets for the speed bag platform. They seem to help dampen the vibrations and give the bag better rebound. These bags aren't real fast, anyway. I bought three of them when I bought them, one for home and two for the gym. They do seem to quicken up a bit after a bit of a break in period. The one I use at the gym is a Ringside bag and I really like it. Anyway, I've got a bag at the house I can use whenever I feel like it along with a  double end bag set up out there. I bought a rubber exercise band that I use in the house. I might put a hook in the wall so I can use it along with the bags. I'm not much on weight lifting, but the exercise band helps prevent sarcopenia.

So there's a couple of things done. Got some trees taken down last weekend and I've still got a bit of cleanup from that. I need to mow the yard at least one more time this season. I'll tackle the gutters today and a couple of other things, then get back on the motorbike project. Not much left on that one.

Progress - it's a beautiful thing.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Albert Paley & Jesse James

FABTECH 2017 will be coming to Chicago in a little over a week. There will be two sculptures on display that will be a result of a collaboration between Jesse James and Albert Paley. As I understand it, each will start a sculpture and then the other will finish it. I saw a teaser by Jesse James on Facebook about this awhile back but didn't find any details anywhere. I finally came across some more info in an e-mail I received from FMA explaining what was going on. They also have a series of short videos with James and Paley with a couple more to come. Most of the videos are two minutes or under in length - definitely worth watching.

I'm sure most everyone is familiar with Jesse James but Albert Paley is not exactly a household name - he should be, though. He's a tremendous craftsman/artist. I'll be attending FABTECH so I'll get a chance to see the finished sculptures before they're auctioned off. There's supposed to be a one hour documentary on the project later on. I'm looking forward to seeing that. James himself said it'll focus on the making without any of the drama that you normally see on the television shows. That's the type of thing that there should be more of.

Got the headlight bracket thing figured out - at least for now. After I get the motorbike mobile, I'll see how well it works like it is. If I like it - done. If not, back to the drawing board. I also got going on the pedal chain tensioner. So still moving forward on that project, which is a good thing.

School house bell is out in front of the house. The Missus and I had a little miscommunication as to where this thing was going to reside, so I'll have to move it but only a few feet. Actually, that's probably better because I'm going to have to do some landscaping work to get everything like she wants it. Depending on the weather, that might have to wait until springtime.

Went to the fights Saturday night. Jimmy was out of town so my running buddy, who's also a boxing coach, and I worked the corner for a couple of fighters from the gym. One guy fought pretty well but got clobbered with about 15 seconds left in the fight and went down. He got back up and his opponent tore into him again. I was just about ready to throw in the towel but the ring doctor got up to do the same thing. Both of us and the ref were all going to stop it about the time the bell rang, so technically, he lost a decision. Five seconds longer and it would have been a referee stop contest - RSC.

The other fighter of ours just stunk the place up. I'd never seen the kid fight before. If I had, I wouldn't have gotten him a fight until he got in better shape. He could easily have won the fight if he had a little stamina. Hell, he was damn near out of gas when I was warming him up. The kid's got talent, just needs to make the commitment.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Bike Jerseys & Headlight

I dig these old jerseys. I'm a big fan of wool rather than polyester like most of the new jerseys are made of. I like these with the collar and the pocket on the front - the Bianchi looks to have pockets on the back as well judging from the bump seen in the photo.

What got me started on cycling jerseys, you may ask? I just finished reading the Road to Valor about Gino Bartali on Surly's recommendation. Good read. Bicycle story but also a good look at what was going on in Italy leading up to, during, and after WWII. If you're at all interested in cycle racing, the history of the sport and the things people do when their country is involved in a war, this one is a must read.  (All photos from Pinterest, BTW)

Meanwhile back at the shack, the headlight came in for the motorbike. The included bracket won't allow the head light to clear the tubes on the springer front end, of course, so I need to come up with something else for a mount. I could use the hole in the bottom of the steerer tube if I made the bracket that came with the light an inch or so longer. It might be better if I mounted it off the pinch bolt for the handlebars on the goose neck. I've got some mounting brackets that would fit on the handlebars that I could adapt also. I'm kind of liking the pinch bolt mounting right now, though. I could make a short mount to cut down on vibration and the light would be centered. I'll give it a bit more thought and then get to gettin'.

The light is nice and bright, though. Before I mount it up on the motorbike, I'm going to take a look at what it would take to put one on the touring bike. I rode the night ride this year and was thinking I could use more light but since I rarely ride at night, I don't want to spend a ton of money on a good light. Adapting one of the clamp-on brackets I've got might be the way to go here. Make something up I could swap between the touring bike and the city bike. Now that I've got the city bike dialed in, it would be a nice one to take on the night ride if I decide to do that next year again.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Motorbike Progress.

Got some parts for the motorbike - drive chain and extra master links, tail lights, and I got the bolt for the tensioner made up. I also ordered a headlight but it hasn't come in yet.

Tail lights are done already. I made a bracket that bolts to the bottom of the seat springs out of a piece of aluminum angle. I'm really impressed with these little lights. A pair of them off EBay for $6.00 including shipping and batteries. They've got three modes, constant, slow and fast flash, and waterproof to boot. I bought a pair of them once before - one of them went on my bike trailer after I put a fender on it, the other one is on my touring bike as an extra. The light that hangs off the saddle bag isn't much, and when it comes to being seen, you can't really do too much. In fact, I'm going to put a strip of reflective tape between the lights as a little extra insurance.

I hung a speed bag in the upstairs of the new barn a couple of years ago but it didn't work out as I expected. The platform is hung from the roof trusses and the whole thing vibrates and kills the action of the speed bag. The pieces above are to brace the platform into the wall. The wall is covered in OSB and all screwed together. I'm hoping this will kill the bad vibes and allow me to use the bag. I'm trying to get things useable so when I retire full time, I can work out at home if I don't feel like going to the gym. I've got a double-end bag out there as well so as long as it isn't too cold, I can put in a few rounds on each whenever the mood strikes me.

I bought a couple of these the other day. TSC had them in the bargain bin. I don't normally buy anything but Vise Grip brand clamps but these were cheap enough and they might come in handy. I was thinking I had a couple more of the regular "C" type jaw clamps and I finally found those the other day. They were in the back of the shop holding the forge hood to the forge itself - been there since I put everything back after pouring the concrete. I drilled some holes and bolted things together yesterday. So now I've got four more clamps and a job done that didn't even make it to the list. I should give myself an "atta boy" for that one.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Black & White

I managed to get into the "darkroom" the other evening - actually that's the 1/2 bath off the laundry room - and printed some things. The photo above is from the roll I shot with the Franke Jr. a couple of weeks back. All eight exposures came out good. There were a couple of compositional errors on my part but no cut-off heads, nothing out of focus and all the exposures were right on the money. All the negatives were shot within an hour of each other so the lighting conditions were all the same which made it easy to guess my exposures and easier still when it came time to print.

The shot above was printed on a warmer tone paper than the rest of the shots and I toned it a bit with some black coffee. The thinking being since my running buddy was standing in front of a log house, a little brown tone would look better than stark black and white. The effect is pretty subtle but I like it. The remainder of the shots were printed on heavy weight fiber based paper unlike this one printed on resin coated paper. Those are currently drying under some weights so they'll remain flat when dry.

I printed a couple of shots from my European vacation but they could use some help. It was getting late, so I just made straight prints to see how they would look. Next time I print, I'll do a bit of experimenting and see if I can improve on them. I think I can get a real good one of the Eiffel Tower.

Next up I want to get out the 4x5 field camera and shoot a couple of sheets of film with it. I've got some film holders already loaded with film but I'm not sure what the film type is and which of the holders are loaded and which aren't, it's been so long since I've messed with the big cameras. I'll wait 'til the sun goes down one of these days and take the dark slides out, see what I've got, mark them properly and go in search of a non-moving target. I'm sure it'll take me awhile to get comfortable using a camera that you have to focus on an upside down image with a black cloth over your head.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Scatter Shield

My brother from a different mother came down last week so he, Cuzzin Ricky and I could do breakfast. He brought this scatter shield and a few other parts he had laying around that he thought I might be able to use if I ever get around to working on my hot rod project. No telling when that will happen but I definitely want to have something wrapped around the clutch and flywheel that will contain anything that goes boom. I replaced the diaphragm style clutch with a big "three finger" in my old '62 Chevy thinking that would take care of my clutch woes. It did until two of the three fingers came apart. Fortunately nothing else came apart and all the pieces stayed inside the aluminum bell housing. Kind of scary, though. If things get out of balance and start flying apart, neither the bell housing or the floor board is going to stop the pieces from the clutch or flywheel from chewing your feet off. So that's a problem solved.

I saw this the other day while looking for something else. Might be kind of handy. I've got jacks and stands but more than once I've put a bottle jack next to a stand. If I did more automotive work I might consider getting one or two.

What I need to get are a few more parts for the motorbike project. I definitely need to get some more drive chain. Since I'm planning on taking this rig out on the road once it's completed, a headlight and taillight might be a good idea. Maybe a horn as well. Garrett Wade has a set of three bike horns made from brass with the squeeze bulb. That might be an option. I could always put that on my Christmas list. I'm going to need a chain guard for the pedal chain also. I could buy one but I'll probably end up making one. I'd have to modify whatever I bought anyway - might as well start from scratch.

I'm making up a special bolt for the chain tensioner. It came with an 8mm bolt that goes through the bearing on the roller but it's a real sloppy fit and a10mm won't quite go through it. I'm going to braze up a shoulder on an 8mm and turn it for a sliding fit on the bearing. When I get that done, I'll make the bracket and I should be golden on the pedal chain.

I developed the roll of film I ran through the Vollenda. I've got a couple of shots that are keepers. A couple of the shots I took were the kind of things a tripod and an exposure meter would have helped. I'll see how the negatives look when I put them in the enlarger. I'm planning on printing a few shots this week as long as the chemicals are still good. Maybe make a rack for the motorbike to throw some camera gear aboard when I get it done so I can go off in pursuit of things photogenic.

Looks like the temps are going to be more seasonable this week. Had to happen sometime. I'm just about ready for winter. Regardless, I'll keep pluggin' away at things. 

Have a good week.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Little Bit Of Progress & Some Real Good News

Photo From Here
Don't know who that is in the photo or what he's riding - British twin, no doubt - but Indian has sewn up the flat track championship for this year in a big way - 1st, 2nd and 3rd place with riders Mees, Smith and Baker respectively.

I've been busy of late. Had to get the final exams graded and the grades posted but got the new class off to a flying start. It's a small group and I had most of them last semester, so the remaining seven weeks should go smoothly. I have to do some more touchy-feely training on the computer for the college in the next few weeks still but that shouldn't be too tough. I'm liking getting home during the daylight hours, by the way. I was leaving the house at seven in the morning and getting home a little after ten in the evening the last eight weeks. Getting home six hours earlier makes a big difference in my energy level.

I made this throwing knife the other day. I don't know jack about throwing knives but I've got several old mower blades that I was wondering what to do with besides tossing them in the scrap bin. Only took me about an hour to make. I tried throwing it at an old dead tree out back and never did get it to stick with an overhand delivery. I didn't do too bad with an underhand style of toss, however. I've got a few more old blades still. Need to come up with something else to make that could profit from some good carbon steel.

Got a little more done on the motorbike. Bottom photo are tabs to bolt the chainguard for the engine drive chain to. I wanted to see what I was going to need for the other side before I welded them on. As you can tell from the other photo, this side is going to take a bit of finagling to make the pedal chain work. If I put a roller right behind the engine, that'll keep the chain down low enough to clear it. I'll still need to install a tensioner on one chain or the other. One of them I can adjust by sliding the wheel back in the dropouts but I'll need a tensioner for the other side. I was planning on putting the tensioner on the pedal side initially but I'm going to take a good hard look at it before I go any further. I might be able to make the roller on the top of the pedal chain work for that. I think there's enough adjustment to keep the chain under the engine and clear of the frame tube. I'm not planning on doing much pedaling anyway - just enough to start the motor. 

The weather has been fantastic around here of late - temps in the 70's with lots of sunshine. 45 years ago Wednesday I remember it snowed after a couple of similar sunny, warm days. The only reason I remember is that was when my son was born. Hard to believe he's 45 now. Time marches on, as they say.

Took the Missus back to the doctor to get the test results from last week. Good news there! She's still cancer free. That's a load off of both of us. Hard to concentrate on things while you're holding your breath.

Count your blessings people.