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.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Vollenda 620

Getting ready to shoot another roll of 120 film. This time in an old Kodak folder that was designed for 620 film. The actual film size of 620 is the same as 120 but the reels are a little narrower and the ends are a little smaller in diameter. In the photo you can see the roll of 120 on the mandrel just prior to me machining it down to size. Actually, this is one of the first things I wrote about when I started the blog back in '08.

The camera is a Vollenda model made around 1930 - so it's roughly 85 - 90 years old. Not the latest or greatest in cameras but it's still functioning well, at least it appears to be. I'll find out after I shoot the roll of film through it. Not the kind of camera you would shoot sporting events with but good for snapshots at family outings, portraits or landscapes. There's no connection for a flash but there is a bulb and time setting on the shutter. There are two spots to mount the camera on a tripod but they take a 3/8 thread rather than the more common 1/4 - 20. I've seen adaptors but I don't have one. I doubt seriously this is going to be my go-to camera so I won't worry about buying or machining an adaptor. 

What I'm trying to do currently is just get back in the swing of all things black & white. I've got a 4x5 box camera that was designed for glass plate negatives and I've got a couple of other 4x5 cameras. I want to shoot a few sheets of film with those for a couple of reasons. When you use the big cameras, they force you to slow down and think about what you're doing. Other than the box camera, both of the 4x5s have some adjustments that I'm only vaguely familiar with. Be good to understand the effects of the tilts, swings, etc. Also, you can go out and shoot just a couple of sheets of film and then come home and develop them with out having to go through a whole roll of 8-12 exposures on the 120 film or 24-36 on 35mm. If I'm going somewhere that I would shoot 36 exposures, I'd probably go digital and a film camera on a vacation trip or something.

I hope to start printing a few things soon. I might wait until I burn through the roll in this camera. The lens will focus down to about 18" according to the markings on the lens, so I might try and see if I can get something decent at close range. I want to make a developing tank for the 4x5 film also. I've got one that will allow daylight developing for up to eight sheets at a time but it uses a lot of chemistry. Something that holds just one or two sheets would be ideal. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

People Get Ready

One more from Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions - People Get Ready. It's more of a civil rights movement song than a prepper song but the way things are going, it seems to still be relevant, regardless of how you look at it.

This seems to be the year of natural disasters. Huge fires earlier in the year in Texas and Oklahoma, then Montana, and now California. Hurricanes in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Puerto Rico. We don't have to contend with forest fires or hurricanes here in the Mid-West but we do get tornadoes and snow storms. It's been pretty quiet as far as tornadoes this season but who knows what the winter will bring. With the way things are going, could end up raining frogs come December.

Or we could be hit by an EMP attack. I read the other day once again about just such an item. Now that North Korea has their ICBMs functional, those supposedly in the know say that up to 90% of the US population could perish if the grid goes down. That's scary. 100 years ago there was still a large percentage of the population living in the country, growing their own food and being mostly self-sufficient. It's not like that now. Hardly anyone is self-sufficient, and even if they are, will they be able to maintain that lifestyle when the grid goes down? If you were going to take the grid down, now would be an excellent time, what with FEMA and other emergency services already dealing with all the other natural disasters and with winter approaching. My garden is about done for the season and the fruit trees are likewise about finished for the season. The earliest I could expect new crops of any sort would be about eight months from now. No way I could go for eight months without resupply. Makes you wonder how the pioneers made it through their first winter. Lots of them didn't, I suppose.

There was an article about the mess in Puerto Rico in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal. Those people are in really sad shape due to a combination of factors. The island was in sad shape financially before the hurricane, the devastation was horrible and because it's an island, it's not easy getting supplies and equipment to them. No Cajun Navy to help those poor souls. If we here on the mainland had our power go down for a month, what would we do. People in a high rise apartment or the "rough" parts of the cities will be in a very, very bad way after only a few days, let alone a few weeks. After a couple of weeks I'm guessing it'll be like Lord of the Flies and they'll be looking at carving up the fat kids.

It looks like the government has done a fairly good job dealing with the disasters so far this year but I don't know if I want to count on them coming to the rescue if things go really sideways. I'm going to revisit my emergency plan and see what I can do to fill in a few of the blanks. You might be wise to do the same.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Keep On Pushing

Spent the majority of the day yesterday chauffeuring the Missus around. First stop was the scan, then a stop to get her something to eat, then to the hospital for blood work. We get the results when we see the doctor next week. Hopefully see's still cancer free. I feel bad for the old girl - not easy waiting to see if the other shoe is going to drop.

I've got a list of things to do today - like most days - but I should be able to get back on the motorbike project for a bit since I'm stalled out on the school house bell. I need to finish the motor chainguard and then work on the pedal drive chain and another chainguard. There won't be too much more to do after that. 

Finished up my last night-school class the other night. That feels good. Sixteen more days and then I'm done teaching. That should feel even better. I was talking to my cousin the other day at the reunion and I asked him how much longer he's planning on working. He said that ever since he was six years old, he's had to get up and go somewhere. I hadn't thought much of the school years, just my working years, but if you look at it like that, then 12 + 50 = 62. Holy Horseshit, Batman! I've had to get up and go someplace for almost 93% of my life. If I ever have second thoughts about retiring, (as if), I'll just remind myself of that percentage.

Keep on pushing y'all and I'll just imagine myself in that red Jaguar while you do.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Doors

I've been both giving some serious thought as well as actually preparing for what I'm going to do when I'm fully retired. Obviously, the first things I should concentrate on are the projects that I've already started like the 900 and the VW. However, I definitely want to get back to some film photography, both black & white and maybe some alternative process stuff. I also want to get my little smithy up and running.

I've got the forge in place and I've got some coal. I've got most of the hand tools required - might need a few more pairs of tongs. Those could be one of the first projects, I suppose. I'll have to move a few things around to make sure everything is safe from flying sparks but most of those things are on wheels, so no real problem with that. Other than where to put them, that is.

Looking at the photos above, I don't need a door anywhere but I love the Art Nouveau style in general and the beautiful mix of ironwork and wood in particular. I've got a couple of books on the Art Nouveau style. Maybe take a look at those over the winter and start getting some ideas for some ironwork that would get me started on the path back to doing some blacksmithing again.

I painted the pieces I had primed for the school bell project. The Missus is still not sure about the color of the bell itself. I bought some paint thinking I'd be done in a couple of days but now I'm on hold. I told her just take the can of paint back to the hardware store and find one you like. Eastwood has some paint that I think would work well and would look good but this is her bell. Whatever Momma wants, Momma gets.

Painted the little bracket I made for the transportation room and got it installed. Managed to do a little thinning of the piles while I was up there. I've still got a ways to go on that, however. I've got a bunch of stuff left over from my teaching days and from workshops I've attended, plus a bunch of other crap from trade shows or just interesting things I've picked up over the years. I'll head back in there on another rainy day, garbage bag in hand, and toss some more of it out.

Milestone today, though. My last night class tonight! Just a morning class for the next eight weeks and that'll be it. I did sign up for the 5 axis machining class the other day. It meets only one day per week in the lab where I work now. I can keep my lab tech job open and that'll give me access to the tools in the building, at least until May. I'll decide then what comes next.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Hard Work

Photo From Here

Ain't that the truth. One thing about it, however, if you are willing to work hard, follow directions and show up every day, it's not hard to stand out from the crowd. I should probably add pull your pants up and put your phone away as well.

I didn't do much in the way of hard work over the weekend. I went to the gym and a wedding later in the day on Saturday, and a small scale family reunion on Sunday. Both the wedding and the reception were nice as was the reunion. Got a chance to see some people I rarely see, at least what's left of them now. Lot's of good memories flowing yesterday. That in itself is pretty amazing, seeing as how most of us can't remember what we had for breakfast at this stage of the game.

I did manage to get some primer on a couple more pieces for the school house bell project. Should be able to finish that project up this week as long as I can find some muscle to move things around.

I made another little corner bracket to hang a lantern in my "transportation room", library, man cave or whatever you want to call it. I need to get some brown paint and then I can hang it up. Be one more off the list. Of course, one of these days I'm going to run out of the easy ones and I'll have to get back on the big projects. I just needed to see the list shrink a bit - and should by week's end.