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.

Friday, October 6, 2017

If I Make It To December

I was discussing something with the lab tech at the college the other day and my response to his statement was I just need to make it to December and immediately thought of Merle Haggard's classic:

Looks like that's going to be my new theme song. I'm down to under twenty working days left in my teaching career. I've got a great part-time job at the college but I'm ready to call it quits. Come December I can throw away the alarm clock and all my shirts with collars. Live in sweat pants and bib overalls, come and go as I please. Pick up the last four states on my quest to have been in all 50. Travel the Avenue of the Giants, see the Golden Gate bridge, sprint car races in Knoxville, Iowa, Museum of American Speed  in Lincoln, Nebraska and who knows where else.

In the meantime, however, knocking the hell out of the project list.

Got the bell base painted and finished making the chainguard for the motor bike. I still have to make the mounts to bolt it on, but soon. I made the front piece and rounded the bottom right corner off. It looked OK before I made the back piece. Now that I look at it, I should have had it follow the shape of the tubing so the two pieces look like one. Looks like I might have to splice a Dutchman in there.

I found time to finish another running book - The Inner Runner by Jason Karp. As the title suggests, not a "how-to book" but one that deals more with the spiritual/mental/physical aspects and how they affect your well being. I especially liked the last chapter Becoming a Better Runner and a Better You. Much of what he says would apply to most any sport but you can't really participate in any sport without running, either. If you're a runner now, the book will help explain the appeal of running and the emotional boost it gives you. If you're not a runner, read the book and you might become one. Running, whether you're world class or just a duffer like I am, is good for what ails you.

Hit the streets, my friends. You owe it to yourselves.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Bell Base

I got the base for the school house bell all welded up and ground down. I've got the cradles for the trunnions bolted on in the photo to check the hole placement and the spacing to make sure everything will work as designed before painting. I got it primed right after the photo. I'll get it painted black in the next couple of days. The Missus still hasn't decided on the color for the bell itself. I told her to come up with the color scheme in the next couple of days and I'll have this one wrapped up.

I saw both of these at the Daily Timewaster. I'm really starting to lust after a Jeep truck - especially those old ones. And as a man with way more tools than the average Joe, I don't need another screwdriver at the moment, but that's a spiffy set right there, by golly! I've got a couple of 3/8" drive bits like that now. One of them is for big clutch head screws that I needed for working on one of my old Chevys years ago. I'd be nice to have a wooden handle like that and then maybe get a couple more various types of drive bits for it. I doubt that Snap-On sells a set like that anymore. But if they did - I'd put it on my Christmas list.

I made a little progress on the motorbike again. I've got the chainguard pert near done. I made it out of two pieces to accommodate the frame tube. I've got a bit of welding to do on the guard itself and then make a couple of tabs to weld onto the frame to bolt it on. Should be able to get that taken care in the next few days along with a couple of other little jobs I've got going.

All in all, making good progress lately. I'm almost due for an "Atta Boy".

Monday, October 2, 2017

Pile O' Tubing

Tubing for the schoolhouse bell project all loaded up for transport to school. I'll weld everything together and grind it down there. We've got a big layout table to work on - that'll make it a bit easier.

If you look under the pile of tubing, you'll see an aluminum sheet. That's one of the pieces I picked up from my sister in law the other day. Just right for making a chainguard for a motorbike. We've got a 4' shear in the shop that'll give me a nice square cut. I can bend it in my brake at home. I would have sheared it here at the shack but as long as I was going to drive the truck to work, figured I might as well take it along. I've got another little job in the cab to make up also. It's a little bracket for hanging a railroad lantern in the corner of the room where I've got my train board. It's nothing fancy - but I took one down to use a pattern so they'll all match.

Shot a roll of black and white film Saturday morning using the old Franka Rolfix Jr. Jimmy's dad gave me an old folding camera a couple of weeks ago so I thought I might clean it up and try it out. As it ended up, however, it looks like the camera has been dropped while it was open and from a pretty good height. One of the rivets for the folding mechanism is gone and the lens is sitting askew when you fold it out. Since I had gotten a roll of film out, however, I loaded it up in the old Rolfix Jr.

That's the Rolfix Jr. on the left, along with the more sophisticated Franka Rolfix on the right. The Jr. is my mother's old camera that she used when us boys were all young pups. My older brother was born in '48, so I'm guessing that's about the vintage of the camera - something close to 70 years old. I shot some informal "snapshot" type portraits of my running buddy while we were scoping out the trail for our next outdoor boxing workout day. I mixed up a fresh batch of developer and processed the film that evening. The negatives look real good. Because it was sunny out, I was able to use a fast shutter speed and a small aperture which makes for a sharp focus on the negatives. This is the first time I've shot a roll of film in a few years. I'm planning on getting back into the photo hobby again once I retire. I've got an idea for a 4x5 box camera design I'd like to try and make someday. Might start sketching out ideas in earnest so I'll have something to do in the basement workshop this winter.

Not sure when I'll get around to printing any of Saturday's negatives - I've still got some from my trip to Europe I never got around to printing. The time change is just around the corner and I'm swearing off most television, so I should be able to spend time in the darkroom just about any evening I care to. Be good to do something non digital.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Muffler's Done

Made a little more progress on the motorbike yesterday. I got the muffler welded up and the support bracket made - looks pretty good. I put the chain on and sure enough it's about three links short. However, I was able to check the alignment of the motor and the rear wheel and it looks pretty good. There's not much clearance between the tire and the chain but if need be, I can use the threads on the axle to move the wheel over a bit off center. When I tackle the chain from the crankset to the rear wheel, I'll see then what if anything needs to be done. Chains that run through derailleurs are rarely in alignment and they last a long time. As long a run as I'm going to have from front to back, I'm sure it'll tolerate some misalignment.

The chainguard is about eight inches too short. I think I'm going to duplicate the original design with the proper length and out of aluminum. I would have liked to have gotten that done yesterday as well but I had some running to do. Picked up some scrap metal from my sister in law, went to Cabelas, the steel supply and the county park to scope it out for a training day with the boxers. Pretty full day, actually, with today being more of the same. Might get a little more done on the motorbike tomorrow.

Beautiful weather around here. Temps much more to my liking, sunshine and blue skies. Get out and enjoy yourself some of it but be careful on the roads - harvest time around here.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Still Nibblin' Away

The weld tester we made at the high school. My replacement got a new one, so I drug mine home finally. Might be doing some weld testing at the shack after I retire in December - going to need something for those guided bend tests.

A little more progress on the motorbike as well. I made a new head pipe and flange for the exhaust. It just so happens the diameter of the stock pipe and 3/4" thinwall conduit are real close to the same size. Next step is to whack the muffler off the stock pipe and weld it to the new head pipe. The muffler has a removable end cap to facilitate decoking, as they say in Britain, so I can make a support bracket that will mount to the frame off of the bolt holding the end cap on.

No luck from my buddy on the chain. The little Ducati motors take a #428, rather than a #415. However, there's no shortage of #415 on the internet at dirt cheap prices. I'll get that ordered in soon. In the meantime I need to hook up the chain from the crankset to the rear wheel and see about a chain guard on both sets of chain.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Type 304

Lousy picture taken with my old flip phone but six pieces of 1-1/2" square tube capped off on one end with 3/16 flat, other end capped off with 16 gauge sheet. Everything 304 stainless joined with the TIG process. Job for the lab tech in the Weld Shop at the college. They're going to miss me when I'm gone.

Pretty hot yesterday again. Up over 90 for another record. That's six days in a row. I didn't notice it being too hot in the shop at school but everyone in the evening class blew out early. It definitely is hot if you have to be out in the sun. Fortunately, the temps have been at least below 98. Once the ambient temp gets to your body temperature or above, it just becomes brutal after that. Dangerous if you're required to do anything at all physical in nature. Or even if you're doing nothing as was the case in Chicago in 1995. There were over 700 deaths attributed to the heat with temperatures well above 100 degrees for about a week. Many of the deaths were the elderly who didn't have AC and were afraid to open their windows or sleep outside due to a fear of becoming a crime victim. Unfortunate, but probably a well founded fear.

In spite of the heat, I managed to get a few more things done around the shack and nibbled away at the motorbike project - that's the lower motor mount in the photo. I picked up some chain for the bicycle cranks. It's a long way back so I bought two chains to link together. It appears the motor is going to be in the way of the chain, so I'll use the tensioner that came with the kit to run the chain from the crankset under the motor and use it to actually set the tension. The chain tension on the motor side can be set by sliding the rear wheel back in the dropouts. Looks like the chain that came with the kit is going to be a couple of links short. I think it's a #415. That might be the same as what the old Ducati singles ran, in which case I might be able to get a short chunk from my buddy. 

Supposed to cool down starting today. That'll make things a bit more pleasant but I'm pretty happy with what I'm getting done regardless.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Coming To Life

Looking like a motorbike now. Still have a ways to go but made decent progress yesterday. The muffler is going to be the biggest stumbling block. I'm thinking as long as I'm going to have to chop it up, maybe start from scratch and make an expansion chamber. I still need to make a bottom motor mount but I've got that figured out already. I needed to cut the grass and I'd been out in the shop long enough that I figured I was at a good place to quit so I'll knock out the motor mount next time. The kit came with a chain guard but it's too short, so I need to fab up a new one of those or add a piece to one end of it. I think I've got a kickstand around here, have to go through the tub with the bike parts and see if I can find it. If not, maybe make one of those that swings down under the rear tire and holds the bike straight up. Or not.

Pretty happy with the progress. If I was putting the motor on a regular bike frame I'd be done by now. The kit is pretty easy to put together, it's just not designed for an oddball frame like what I've got. Nevertheless,  I'm having a good time working on it. Even with the record heat. Actually, it wasn't too uncomfortable working in the shop. The weatherman last evening said that Sunday's heat broke the record from way back in 1891 - the first year they started keeping records in Chicago. Supposed to be hot for another couple of days then get back to normal.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Started working on the motorbike in earnest in spite of the record setting heat. As long as it's going to be hot, might as well be record hot - 94 again on Friday.

I got the sprocket mounted up to the back wheel. It would probably be a little easier on any thing other than the wheels I'm working with. With the number of spokes on mine, the distance between them near the flange is very narrow so the bolts wouldn't go through. The sprocket has slotted holes so it would bolt up if the bolts were in the outer most end of the slots. However, there are two pieces of rubber that get sandwiched together on both sides of the spokes that aren't slotted. Likewise the metal back-up pieces that go inside the wheel.

The rubber pieces are heavy-duty cord reinforced like a tire. Rather than trying to slot those I just cut into the holes from the outer edge so the slots extended all the way out. I took the die grinder to the back up strips and slotted those to fit as well. It was still kind of tough getting everything bolted together with the narrow spoke spacing. I couldn't get my fingers in there to put the washers and nuts on the bolts very easily while trying to keep the bolts from falling out. Made it though. I put the wheel back in the frame and spun it around to get the sprocket trued up. It's got a little bit of hop to it but it runs real true side to side. I think it's going to line up well with the sprocket on the engine as it sits but I'll have to finish the engine installation to be sure. I'm going to have to modify the coaster brake lever to clear the bolt heads on the rear sprocket also. I'll wait on that until I've got the chain alignment dialed in.

I had to modify the rear of the frame a bit to get the rear wheel mounted properly. It was wedged in the frame pretty tightly. I warmed up the rear frame rails on both sides and set the clearance as it should be. I also cleaned up some of the chrome.

Next up is the engine mounting. That shouldn't be too much of a hassle. I get that in there and then I can see where to mount the chain tensioner and chain guard. The coil has a couple of clamps to fasten it to the frame. When I get the motor in there I can see where the best place for that is and then maybe weld a couple of studs to the frame or tap some threads to eliminate the clamps.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Book Reviews

I just finished reading a couple more books - puts the total to 43 for the year so far. I picked up this book by Louis Zamperini at the bookstore in Terre Haute when we were there last weekend - bought it Saturday morning and had it finished Sunday afternoon on the way home. Louis Zamperini is the guy from the book and movie Unbroken. I haven't seen the movie but the book is dynamite. This one I just finished is a collection of stories and advice on how to live your life from Zamperini. He's got some great stories and advice as you would expect from a man who went through what he did in the war and later in life as well. One of the things I found most interesting is his recommending schools requiring a survival course for everyone. In light of what's been happening with the hurricanes and earthquakes, sounds like a real good idea.

The Whole Foods Diet is by the owner of the Whole Foods grocery chain along with a couple of others in the know about what to eat. This one is from the library but if I could find a cheap copy, I'd buy it. It lays out a diet plan, not so much to lose weight, but to eat in a way that is good for your health and longevity. Basically, the plan in a nutshell is eat at least 90% whole foods that are plant based. Pretty simple. The thing I like most about the book is that the authors draw from experts in heart health and other fields and bring them all together in one spot. After I had my heart attack, I had to look all over to find a lot of the information and then sort out the good from the bad on my own. Here, all you have to do is read and practice it. There is a collection of recipes and a 28 day plan that will ease the decision making process if you decide to give it a try.

There's one chapter towards the end of the book that deals with the ethical aspects of a vegan diet. I became a half-assed vegan after the heart attack, not from any ethical or philosophical reason, but to optimize my odds of avoiding another heart attack. However, I have to agree with much of what was said about the ethical reasons to avoid eating meat and my thinking is becoming more in line with avoiding meat for the sake of the animals with the health benefits as a tremendous bonus. I'll still grab a breaded tenderloin when at the racetrack, however. I don't think I've ever seen a salad on the menu at the race track snack bar.

My diet now is pretty damn good compared to the majority of Americans. I exercise regularly, and I've removed much of the stress in my life. Blood pressure is good, resting pulse is down in the mid-fifties, A1-C number for the blood sugar is a bit high still but I'm making some changes that should help bring that down. Most importantly, I feel good. I'm starting to slow down a little but what the hell, I'm closing in on seventy. Not like I didn't know it was coming.

If you want to make some changes to improve your health, the Whole Foods Diet would be a good place to start. If you're not ready for a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, remember that the authors are looking at a 90/10 plant based diet. That remaining 10% will allow for some bacon or a big juicy hamburger. Or in my case, that breaded pork tenderloin once in a while.

Shop Teacher Bob recommends reading both of these and then incorporating some of the advice into your lifestyle. You could become a tough, yet compassionate guy like Zamperini while subsisting on whole, plant based foods contributing to a healthier you and planet. Worth a try.

Friday, September 22, 2017


The kit for putting together the chopper motorbike came in. Cute little thing. With the oddball frame design looks like I'm going to have to modify the exhaust pipe/muffler to keep it from dragging the ground and I need to figure out a lower motor mount. Also the throttle cable doesn't have much room on the top frame tube. I think I can just drill a hole in the tube and then weld a short piece of smaller tube in the frame to create a tunnel for the cable to run through. There's some extra parts to solve the motor mount issue that came with the kit. I don't know if I can use any of that - I haven't gotten too far into the project yet. Mostly all I've done is what you see in the photo and looked through the instruction manual.

We've had record setting heat here. 94 degrees yesterday according to the official Chicago temp. I looked at my thermometer at 4:00 in the afternoon and it was 93.9. So it was definitely hot. I was out running errands earlier in the day and noticed the gloves on the front seat of the car. I needed them about two weeks ago because it was in the 40's when I left for work in the morning. This global weirding keeps getting more and more interesting. Supposed to be hot for a few more days. About the time I get used to the hot temps again, it'll cool off. Regardless, I'm planning on forging ahead on the motorbike job. I bought the kit to finish the bike, not to prolong the project.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Vintage racers on display before the Terre Haute event - they ran them on the track also.

Cuzzin Ricky and I went to the sprint car races last weekend. Terre Haute on Friday night and Haubstadt on Saturday. Great racing as always. Those sprint and champ cars on the dirt are definitely my favorite. That was supposed to be the last event of the season for us but Terre Haute is having another race in October as a rain date for a May event. I've already got something in the works for that but I'm waiting to here back from someone else before deciding. I should probably cancel out both events and just stay home. I've still got plenty to do around here. Like drag home a farm truck.

We took the long way home to check out the truck. There was no-one around when we got there since it was Sunday, but I like it. It's pretty much just what I've been looking for. The cab is in good shape. Just a quick glance but I didn't see any rust. It's got a V-8 with a 4 speed trans and a 2 speed axle. I need to call the place and see about a few details - maybe take another run down there and see about making a deal. Then see about getting it home. Cuzzin Rick says he'll haul it for me on his car hauler. Might have to get a few measurements to make sure it'll clear the fenders on his trailer.

I don't really need another project at the present time, but the truck's what I've been wanting and the price is reasonable. I get out from under the teaching job and get back into a regular routine again and I'll be OK.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Jeep Truck

Photo From Here
Howz-a-bout this for a Jeep truck? If you got rid of the back seats, this thing would be perfect. Don't know that I need the big bead lock rims and the lift kit, but this is way cool. With a snow plow and a trailer hitch, this would be it. From what I've been able to glean from the internet, the release date of the new Jeep truck is late 2019.

Photo From Here
Something like the old Jeepster would do me fine, however. A little longer bed would be nice, but not necessarily as long as the old Commando pickup. With a rig like this I could just buy/build a small trailer for trips to the lumber yard or hauling a motorcycle around. The short wheelbase like on this one makes backing a trailer up a breeze. And the more I look at it, the more I'm liking it. Ford's supposed to be bringing back the Bronco for a similar rig but that will be an even longer wait. I'm just in love with a Jeepster.

Looking at a farm truck right now. Saw one advertised that just might make the cut. It's located a pretty good drive from the shack, but I think I'll take a run down and see about it this week.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Doing The Bicycle Thing Still

When I soldered the reflector bracket back on the rack on the city bike, I didn't notice that there were a couple of other spots that were also cracked. Surly pointed that out to me the other day when he was down. I took the rack off and got those taken care of and re-did the reflector bracket. I had soldered it while it was on the bike and didn't do the very best job. Everything looks pretty good now.

My new cork handgrips came in for the bike. They're exactly like the ones that were on there before, so I'm pleased with that. I do need to glue them on. They're just a bit loose. I need to decide if I want to shellac them. As dirty as my hands usually are, it would probably keep the grips looking nicer. I think I have some around here. If not, Surly will have some I can mooch.

This is a photo of the chopper bicycle we started making at the high school years ago. It was on the agenda to get finished before I retired along with my little boat but that didn't happen. I'm thinking it should get done and with a motor on it. I'm planning on putting one of the cheap Chinese two-stroke bike motors on it. Shouldn't take too much to knock it out. If I get this thing done, I'll have all the bicycle projects done except a little bit I have left on the rail bike. I should probably have thrown both of them on Cuzzin Ricky's scrap trailer when he was here the other day but I'm thinking the grandkids will like the motor bike. I'm thinking it could be a lot of fun for me as well. It'd be just the thing to ride down to the tavern down the road and park it out front with all the big Harleys, but the tavern went out of business a couple of weeks ago.  That's what happens when you're a world class procrastinator.

Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


I fixed up the handshield on the right so the Missus could watch the eclipse last month. I put some fresh electrical tape over the cracks but I was thinking at the time that this old dog had pretty much run it's course. I'm thinking I inherited that thing when I first started teaching back in '76. The guy who I replaced had been around a while - in fact he was training welders for the war effort back in the 40's. That would make it about 75 years old. It's marked Air Reduction Sales Company - Patented.

Airco used to make all types of welding equipment - torches, regulators, power sources, etc. I've got a set of regulators and an Airco MIG machine with an Airco spool gun on it. I don't know what's up with the company now. I did a search and I saw a couple of new things with the Air Reduction Sales Company name but as far as I know they aren't making welding equipment any longer. I came across an outfit selling a copy of the spool gun at a welding show a few years back, which is nice since I can still get parts for mine that way.

Regardless of what, if anything is going on with Airco these days, the old handshield is no more. It went out with the trash this week and has been replaced with the one on the left in the photo. I had a junk helmet that someone gave me because they lost the pieces for the headgear. I cut a piece of PVC pipe, warmed it up with the heat gun to squeeze it flat and put an angle bend on it, riveted it to the helmet and then gave it a quick coat of flat black. I'm thinking I might wrap the handle with hockey tape. Not necessary, but I've got a roll of it, so why not?

I got a phone call from the local library the other day. They said I won a prize in the drawing they had to promote summer reading or some such. I went over to pick it up and I had my choice of several items. I picked the bag chair. Nice prize and it's got a little advertisement on the seat back, which is good. Everyone needs to read and take advantage of their local lending library. Now that fall is here, maybe I'll set the chair up under a tree somewhere and settle in with a book for a couple of hours. After I get a few more chores done, of course.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Boxing, Welding & Scrapping

Photo By Surly
Nice weekend - beautiful weather - not at all like those poor souls dealing with the current hurricane, the aftermath of the last one, or the next one in line.

The outdoor meet with the boxing crew went well Saturday morning. We had a great turnout and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves in spite of having to run a 1-1/2, do a 300 meter sprint, as many push-ups as possible and as many sit-ups as possible in one minute. We finished up with about 30 minutes of Jimmy and I holding mitts for everyone. We're going to try and do some more outdoor things before it gets too cold. There's a 5K in town right after Thanksgiving. We'll have to see how many of the guys we can get to sign up for that one. I'm looking into a fitness trail at one of the local parks for October.

Couple of jobs that were in the project box in the last post. Top photo is a Ducati 250 head that someone goobered up with a screwdriver when removing the cam cover. If you look close you can see a bit of weld in the center of the mating surface and another spot on the left where the rocker shaft goes in. Nothing to the welding. I'll let him file the welds down.

The bottom photo has some tee pieces I screwed together for one of the instructors in the lab. He had a box of the plastic parts and he wanted to join them together so he could have one of the little robots pick them up. It was going to be a lot easier to do the job at home than in the lab at school, so I brought them home.

In the bottom photo is a TIG torch for the welding lab. The threads where the water hose attaches were boogered up so I brought it home and chased the threads. I just bought a kit of thread chasing dies and taps recently - came in handy. I've been trying to get everything I might need to work in my home shop while I'm still drawing a paycheck, glad I thought of that one.

I also welded up a little job for Surly. TIG welded a little stainless bracket. That's me on the job in the top photo. Nothing to it. It took longer to jig it up than to weld it.

While Surly and the boys were here they helped my lift up the little potting shed so I could slide another course of bricks under it. The dirt has built up around the perimeter and is rotting the trim boards away. Now that it's up a bit higher, I can replace the trim boards and get them painted before the cold weather sets in.

Cuzzin Ricky came by Saturday afternoon with a couple of his helpers and we got the old freezer out of the basement. I had a couple of other things to throw on the trailer as well. So there's a bit of progress around the shack and just an all around great weekend of doing things.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Project Box

Box of small projects to do - of course these aren't for me. A couple of them for school and one for my buddy. Nothing too tough or time consuming. I'll have them knocked out by Monday.

Traveler for measuring out a 300 meter long track. We're going to put the boxers that are going to compete through the police department physical fitness test to establish a baseline fitness level. Quite a few of the fighters are obviously not in condition when they get in the ring. We'll be tracking fitness level and weight. Hopefully, this will help.

Figuring out how many revolutions the wheel needs to travel would have been a good math problem to throw out to the boys when I was teaching high school. Several ways to approach the problem. I could have measured the radius while the wheel was upright, doubled it, multiplied it by pi and got a fairly accurate circumference. Instead, I rolled it out five revolutions and then divided by five to get the circumference. I figured doing it that way would be a little more accurate than just rolling it out one revolution. I would have gone ten revolutions but I don't have any concrete at the house long enough for that. One revolution worked out to 84.84". Pretty straight forward after that to convert to meters and divide out. Ends up that 139 revolutions equals 300 meters. Feel free to check my arithmetic.

Here's the group from the boxing club taken earlier in the week. One of the biggest crowds we've had in a while. Some new faces and some old faces and some "new" old faces. No doubt they're tough. We'll find out today if they're in any kind of shape.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Cuzzin Ricky and I went to DuQuoin for the Silver Crown races again this past weekend. Great race at a great venue. 100 laps on a one mile dirt track. I saw a video of one of the cars qualifying. The telemetry said he was hitting 150 down both of the main straights! Put 34 of those out on the track at the same time and you're going to have some racing.

Photo From a Facebook Post 

Kenny Schrader raced an open wheel car as well as his modified car. He looked pretty tentative during practice and qualifying but it's been something like thirty years since he's driven on open wheel car. I figured he'd pick up the pace once he got a few laps in during the race. He may have but he kept moving backwards until he was just about last. Good to see him out there, however. Jeff Swindell led most of the race but two cars got past with only a few laps to go so he had to settle for a third place finish. Swindell is 56 and Schrader is 62 - me, I turned 67 on the day after the race, so you know I was rooting for both of the old guys.

I saw where Walter Becker of Steely Dan passed away - same age as me. That's a little too close to home. I've been listening to their music since the beginning - probably got most of their stuff on vinyl. This one has always been one of my favorites:

That's the trouble with getting old - so's everyone else you grew up with.

Looks like another big hurricane is coming towards the US. The path hasn't been forecast definitively yet but looks like Florida is in for it. With the way the weather patterns have been running, might be wise to stock up on supplies regardless where you live if you haven't already. I was checking my stuff over the other day because I want to go camping one of these days and couldn't find my camp stoves, which is really bad since I have three of the things. Surprisingly enough, I found them where I left them and I've got fuel for them, so I'm set there. I charged the battery on the welder/generator and the tractor since I don't run those very often. I don't need those for a camping trip but that's just part of the normal routine. I've got a couple of gallons of fuel for them or the lawn mower or truck as need be.

It takes a lot of water for drinking, cooking and sanitation. More so if you have pets. Same with the food. The dogs and cats are still going to want to be fed when the power goes out. Be a good idea to stock up on a little extra food for them as well. Don't forget that the credit/debit cards don't work when the power is out. Might want to keep a little cash on hand too. Fresh batteries for the flashlights and the transistor radio. I still haven't gotten my ham radio license. I've been studying the book on and off. I think they are going to change the test next year, so I need to get that done soon. I've got no idea if that will be of any real use to me during an emergency but I've wanted to do that for a long time. No reason not too other than my being a slug. But don't you be. Remember the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day

Happy Labor Day to all you working stiffs out there - especially those who have to work today. Let's hope it's double time at least! Saw a piece the other day that said the average working man pays more in taxes than what food and shelter costs him, or her, as the case may be. Definitely something wrong there.

Cleaning out the basement - going to give the triceps' bar away. I made this thing years ago. Actually used it too! We used to make all kinds of exercise equipment at the first school corporation I worked for. I do most of my workouts at the boxing gym now. If I do anything at home it's with exercise bands, dumbbells or body weight. 

I posted a short time back about maybe buying a mustache bar for the city bike. The machining instructor at the college had this bar and stem he said I could have. While not a mustache bar per se, it's a nice aluminum bar and stem set that are a little lighter and much nicer than what were on the bike - thanks Don!

I had to sacrifice the handgrips to put the new bars on. He had put a comment on the blog but I think it was after I re-glued the grips back on. At least I know the glue works well. I got the last grips from Rivendell but they don't carry that particular kind any more. The new style grips are a few bucks more, which is OK, but I'm not so sure I'd like the style. I was pretty happy with the ones I had. Those are still available from several sources, so I'll probably just order a pair like what I had on the bike. Should be all set after that. I also silver soldered the bracket for the reflector back on.

When I put the new tires on the touring bike I noticed the spokes on the back wheel could use some attention. I think I'm going to start riding the city bike more around here and work on getting the touring bike up to snuff. I'm hoping to take another trip next summer. I should take everything apart on the touring bike and get it lubed, true the wheels and put a new chain on it so I'll be ready to go if the opportunity arises. I fixed up the trailer a year or so ago with a new back wheel, fender and light, so it's ready to go. I even bought a guide book for the trail I want to do. I've talked to my buddy I did several other trips with about it. When I finish reading the guide book, I'll drop it off with him and see if we can put something together.