Monday, August 21, 2017


Surly came down yesterday to swap out some bicycle parts and to get a welding lens for watching the eclipse. When we went out to the shop for the lens we heard a critter noise. I went up the ladder to the "attic" and sure enough a raccoon has been in there again. I don't know how he's getting in there, I thought for sure I had things sealed up tight now. I'm going to get a live trap and start running a trap line in both my shop and the big barn on a regular basis from now on. Maybe catch a big one this winter so I can make me a 'coon skin cap. Be just the thing when I'm out plowing snow.

And for a bit more excitement, there was a bat circling the bedroom about 4:45 Sunday morning. The dog was barking Saturday afternoon at the laundry room. For some reason he rarely goes into the kitchen or the laundry room so it was odd that he was barking in that direction. Neither the wife nor I could figure out what he was barking about, but it might have been the bat. We've had bats in the house several times in the past, and like the raccoons in the shop, I've got no idea how they get in. The wife says it's because I hold the door open too long at night when I let the dog in or out but there's no way one could fly by me without knowing it. In fact I'm sure I'd scream like a little girl if it happened. Their wings make some noise. At least I got lucky this time and got it taken care of fairly quickly. It's kind of spooky when one wakes you up by flying around your bed in the pitch black, however.

Plenty hot and humid yesterday so I didn't do much. I cleaned up some more of the yard waste from the volunteer trees and bamboo I cut down recently then I went into the shop and finally got around to drilling the brackets for the deck on the new barn. I drilled them on the mill so I could slow the speed down since the brackets are stainless. Took me a bit but those are done. I'll get some carriage bolts this week and get those installed. I've about decided on the railing design for the deck. Just a bit more think time and I'll get my material so I can finish that job up.

Photo From Here

First day of the semester and a solar eclipse. As good a way as any to kick off the last go-round.
Hope the sky is clear enough to see it. The timing is right for my schedule to get outside and check it out. If you're lucky enough to see it, just remember to protect your eyes. Flash burns aren't fun.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Heavy Bags

Heavy bag hangers for the gym. I dropped them off the other night, so my part is done. I got the new tires and tubes installed on the touring bicycle and got the grips re-glued on the city bike as well. Moving on to other partially completed projects like the deck off the end of the barn and maybe hit a few licks on the VW. No shortage of things to do.

If you've got a few minutes to kill and you have even a passing interest in Industrial Design, you should check out the film about Raymond Loewy at Silodrome. It's an old piece that was shown on 60 Minutes. It's about 15 minutes in length but it will be time well spent. Also stumbled across a video of the new Jeep truck. Of course it's a 4 door and it looks like it's set for a 2019 release. Looks nice from what you can see, though.

I start school tomorrow, finish in December. Really looking forward to full time retirement. I'm sure it won't make much difference in what I get accomplished but I'm sure I'll be a lot happier. I've been working for 50 years - that's enough. My boss did mention the other day that he had to cancel a few classes for the spring semester. I think he was trying to make me feel a little guilty - not much chance of that, however. Starting tomorrow I'm counting down from 31!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Bicycle News

Since I'm waiting on my new tires for my touring bike, I drug the old "city bike" out, washed it off and aired up the tires so I can get some miles in before the ride I'm planning in a couple of weeks. I've got my "racer" I could ride but I wanted to get this one out and ride it a bit anyway.

Surly and I bought a box of tubing with enough pieces to make two bikes quite a few years back. This is what I ended up with my half of the parts. A bike with dimensions that fit me well, 7 speed shifter on the bars and 700 x 37 tires good for both paved and gravel roads. I used this as my commuter for a couple of years before retiring from the high school. The rack on the back is stainless hydraulic tubing from cut-offs Surly got for me from where he used to work. Everything is silver brazed together. The handlebar is from a cheap department store bike that is turned upside down in the photo but is now right side up as it should be. If I was going to ride this thing more often I'd invest in a nice aluminum mustache bar. It's got cork handgrips, which are pretty nice. Unfortunately, one of them has come loose so I need to get some contact cement and fix that. Also, the seat's pretty hard. It too is a cheapie but I ordered a similar style one off of eBay that's leather and sprung. Don't know how good it will be for $15.00 but at that price I'm willing to gamble.

I'd like to build myself a new mountain bike. The one I've got is one of the first they came out with way back when. It's a Peugeot my brother gave me after he got out of the Army. He's a bit shorter than I am, so the bike's a bit small for me. Hasn't stopped me from riding it the last 25 years or so but I'd like one that fits me, is a bit lighter and has a sprung fork. And I'd like to build another bike just because I really enjoyed building the one above. Maybe consider it if I get a couple of motorbike and car projects finished up. Of course by the time I get caught up on those I'll probably be too old to ride a bike.

As for the rest of you - get out on your bike/walk/run - get yourself some exercise. Best thing you can do for yourself.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Typical Days

Been an interesting few days lately. Sunday was the wife's birthday and she decided it would be nice to cook some stuff on the grill for us and the rest of the family. She mentioned the night before there would probably be a wasp nest under the grill cover, so look out. Sure enough. Only I didn't even get the cover off before I got stung on the knuckle. It's always amazed me that a wasp doesn't even have to land on you to sting you - they can zap you on the way by and give you enough venom to cause a good amount of swelling. And pain, of course.

Later she needed some butter from the freezer downstairs, so off I went only to discover the freezer had quit working. Fortunately, it must have happened not too long before I opened it up because the stuff on the top was soft but the stuff on the bottom was still frozen solid. Lot better than the last time that happened and everything had melted and the meat had all gone bad. The wife's sister had a freezer that she no longer used and was wanting to sell so Surly met me at her house and we brought it home and I got everything transferred or tossed as needed. After all that the Missus gave up on grilling and we went out for dinner instead. Came back to the house and had birthday cake, so it was all good.

Going along with the theme of old equipment giving up the ghost, I jumped on the bicycle the other night and didn't get too far before feeling something wrong with the front tire. Looks like the belts broke and put a bend in it. The tire has a lot of miles on it but I hadn't planned on changing it this year. I ordered a pair of Schwalbe Marathons to put on the bike. They seem to be the gold standard of touring tires. I talked to my old "saddle pal" a week or so ago and we might be doing the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska next year and these new tires should be just the ticket for road or trail.

I talked to a salesman from the Ducati shop I visited the other day. I was about to pull the trigger on the Icon Scrambler but we couldn't make a deal. I wanted to trade off the SV650 but he said they had a house rule of no trades on bikes over ten years old - mine's eleven. He said he'd knock off $1K on a cash deal but by the time he added in the sales tax and all the rest of the fees, he added back $1.5K. I understand there's no way around the $560 on the sales tax, but another $1000 for prep and title fees? Seems a bit excessive to me, plus I still would have to do something with the SV. Maybe I can make a deal on an Enfield. I might go check out the big dual-purpose singles that Suzuki and Kawasaki both sell. I've got a trip or two I'd like to take and one of those could be fun.

I did make some progress out in the shop. These are parts for heavy bag hangers for the boxing gym. All set to start welding them together. I'll get those finished up this week and move on to a couple of other jobs that have been stalled. I did get most of my yard work completed. The old place looks much better after some weed/brush control and a little judicious landscaping. Still could use a little more TLC but I'm planning on taking care of some of that later this Fall.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Racewalking Champ!

Did well at the 5K on Saturday. I was the first male walker in and the second over all. I started out near the back of the pack to stay clear of the runners but the lady who came in ahead of me must have started pretty close to the front. I closed the gap and was doing OK until about the 2-1/2 mile mark and I threw in the towel. I might have been able to catch her but I didn't want to risk running out of gas and have someone else pass me if I faded. 

Beautiful day for the race. My running/cycling buddy paced me to keep me going. We usually chat while we're out there but not today. In addition to trying to get another shoe, I had a side bet with my buddy Jimmy - he with the bum feet. The bet was I could walk it faster than he could run it. I didn't make it so I owe him a dinner and a beer. If it wasn't for the bet, however, I probably wouldn't have won the shoe. All in good fun plus I got a sweatshirt. Hard to beat that.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Drop The Big One

"Boom goes London, Boom Paree - Japanese kimono for you babe, Italian shoes for me." 

So here we go again. If you're my age you grew up with the nuclear threat. Of course, I was born only a few years after the Hiroshima & Nagasaki bombs were dropped and the world saw what atomic bombs were capable of, and no one wanted that to happen again. Especially on us here in the U.S. Ended up that Khrushchev didn't bury us and the Soviet Union fell apart and, for at least a little while, we were sort of safe from the threat of communism and nuclear annihilation. Now we're back at it again with North Korea launching missiles and all the rest of the craziness going on in the world.

I'm guessing all the preppers are going to be changing their focus to nuclear warfare and bugging out isn't going to be a very good option unless you've got a place like this to go to.

Photo From Here

And you're going to have to have plenty of advance warning if you want to get there before you're consumed in the fireball or taken out by the fallout. I don't live too far from Chicago and the news folks say N. Korea could hit it with one of there missiles. I might be OK if the wife and I could live in the basement for a couple of weeks with the dog and cats. Liable to get pretty stinky down there after a few days, however. I need one of those outside air intakes with the filter like in the picture.

I've about done all I'm going to as far as preparing for a disaster. We had the hurricane force winds come through a few years back that knocked the new barn down but we weren't without power for any length of time. We did have an ice storm that left us without power for 4-5 days about 15 years ago. Since the weather was cold, that was a little uncomfortable, but we managed. I was about to start tapping the water heater for our drinking water when help arrived and the power came back on about the same time.

I've since taken further precautions but you can only do so much. My time is running out and I'm not going to waste a lot of it worrying on what ifs. However, if you haven't seen the movie Hiroshima Mon Amour, you might want to seek it out. It was made in 1959 which was just about at the peak of the Cold War. It's a pretty artsy-fartsy love story with the devastation of an atomic bomb thrown in, but you would expect that considering the time period and an avant garde film maker. 

And there's still no good answer to the question of why can't we live together.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Indy Trip

I went to Indy yesterday to get some advice from the financial guy and hit a couple of bike shops and Trader Joe's as I'm wont to do. I went to Speed City Cycle first off. They handle Royal Enfield, Ural and a couple brands of scooters. This is the first time I've been there. It's a small place but lots of bikes inside. I had a nice chat with the owner. He said Royal Enfield is currently selling 65,000 bikes per month world wide. That's quite the sales figure. He updated me on the progress of the Himalayan model - it's completing all the testing required for EPA and CARB requirements. Said it won't be too much longer and he should have a couple of them in.

I also stopped at the Ducati shop on the way home. First time I've been there as well. There's a 2016 Icon scrambler model on the showroom floor the owner said he'd cut me a decent deal on. I'd really like to get a new bike but I don't really know what I want. The Ducati is about the limit as far as price goes. It's also about as big a displacement as I want. The Enfield would be a cool little toy and I think it would be just the ticket for one of my "bucket list" items but the I'd get a lot more motorcycle for not much more money if I went with the Ducati. I'll keep thinking it over. Probably end up just keeping the SV650. As little as I ride, it does just fine but I'd really like to get a new bike.

I'm planning on finally getting back in the shop today. I've still got a few things to do around the yard but it's time to do a bit of fabricating. I've got a 5K Saturday and that should be about it for the race walking for a while. I'll be back on the bicycle trying to get some miles in to shape up for a couple of upcoming events. 

Have a good weekend - supposed to be really nice here the next few days. Get out and enjoy it.

Monday, August 7, 2017


Smokestack from the Oliver Chilled Iron Plow works in South Bend. It's just down the road from the Studebaker Museum. It's a little tough to see in the photo but the name Oliver is spelled out up top. This one would have been good in black & white - sort of a Rodchenko style. I've had the itch lately to shoot a roll or two of the medium format or maybe drag out the 4x5 and shoot a few with that. A lot of the stuff I work on or travel to see lends itself to B&W. I know the digital stuff can be converted to B&W easy enough but I'd like to get back in the dark room and fool around a bit, plus, I'd like to try a few portraits like Rodchenko and some of the others of that era did.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Pulled off the hat-trick of Planes, Trains and Automobiles Friday and Saturday. I scheduled the last post a couple days in advance, and after writing it up I called Cuzzin Rick to see about us getting over to the Studebaker and New York Central museums in the next couple of weeks. He said let's go Friday, I've got nothing much else shakin' this week, so off we went.

The top three photos are from the Studebaker Museum. Photo 1 is the car Ab Jenkins drove from coast to coast in a little more than 77 hours. If you're familiar with hot rodding or Bonneville speed records, you'll recognize the name of Ab Jenkins.

Photo 2 is a Bendix. It's a one-off special made for the Bendix Company to promote their line of automotive parts. It's a beautiful car. 

Photo 3 is a '55 Commander model, I believe. Love that two-tone paint job and all the chrome. The Commanders and the Hawks were nice looking cars. Long and low with the cool fins but the Larks were butt ugly. Basically just a box with headlights on the front and taillights on the rear. The museum has some prototype cars and sketches of design ideas of new models but they just didn't seem to be heading in the right direction. I forget what year it was but one of the info boards said they sold 400,000 cars and trucks that year and they employed 24,000 people. They were a major player at one time.

Photo 4 is an EMD E-8 on display at the NYC Museum in Elkhart, IN. Those E and F units are my favorites of all the diesel units. My favorite among the steam locomotives would have to be the streamlined 20th Century Limited that used to run over the tracks there. Coincidentally, two of the most famous industrial designers were involved with Studebaker and the NYC - Henry Dreyfuss on the 20th Century Limited and Raymond Loewy with the Studebaker Avanti.

Photos 4&5 are from my flight aboard the B-24 Saturday morning with my brother from a different mother. Just like last year when we did the B-17, the weather was ideal and the flight itself was fantastic. Again, I can't imagine flying combat missions over Europe in one of these things. Brave men they were. This one is the only remaining flight worthy B-24 of the thousands that were produced during the war. Next year we're planning on going for a ride in the B-25. The Collings Foundation also has a P-51 you can go up in. I'll have to pass on that one. A ride in that one would be the same as a nice down payment on a new motorcycle or pay for a flight to Europe.

I posted a photo on my Facebook page about my trip over to South Bend/Elkhart and one of my former students asked if I had ever been to the Auburn-Cord museum as well as a couple of other places. I've been to the Auburn-Cord museum but it was a long time ago. Looks like I'm going to have to take a trip over that way one of these days. Maybe stop by the Bell Aircraft museum in Mentone on the way. So much to see. I'm extremely fortunate to be able to do these things. 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Train Rides +

The Missus came across a railroad excursion in Michigan that looks like fun: The Coopersville & Marne Railroad. It's located about 20 miles north of Grand Rapids. Kind of a long way to go for a short train ride, however, coming up on the 12th, they have the Del Shannon car show and train ride. According to the website, they have 500-600 cars lined up as well as a decent helping of motorcycles on display. That'd be worth the drive. Kind of short notice for me, though. I'm scheduled for a 5K that morning - not that I couldn't bail out of that with very little remorse. It would cost me my entry fee as well as my dinner bet with Jimmy. Hate to lose that bet without a fight, though.

Cuzzin Ricky and I considered hitting the Illinois Railway Museum on our way back from Milwaukee a couple of weeks ago. We had talked earlier about a trip to there as well as the car museum in Volo. That'd make for a nice 2-3 day trip. I've never been to the Volo Museum and it's been a long time since I was at the Railway Museum. Need to check both of those out one of these days.

Locally we've got the Hoosier Valley Railroad. I've been on there stuff quite a few times but that's been a while now as well. Last time was when the steam train came through. I should ride the motorbike over one of these nice Saturdays and go for a ride. They go out of business if you don't support them. It's only $12.00 and I've been wanting to shoot a roll or two of B&W.

There's also the New York Central Railroad Museum in Elkhart, IN. I've been there before but Cuzzin Ricky hasn't. We're planning on checking that one out when we go to the Studebaker Museum in South Bend. I told Rick I'm going to the Studebaker museum this year come hell or high water. Absolutely no reason not to go see things that are within a couple of hours of drive time.

I've got a birthday fast approaching. I'm going to be 67. Looking at it realistically, I've got maybe 10 - 15 years left. I've got a lot I want to do and see yet. No sense in wasting any of those precious years laying around the shack. Need to get out and ride the rails!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Nothing Much To Report

I've spent the first few days of the vacation doing chores and taking care of little things. I renewed my driver's license, picked up some more supplies for the landscaping work, posted my grades, got a haircut, etc. While at the barbershop I came across a small item in a year old magazine about McPherson college building an aluminum body for an old Indy car. I've heard of McPherson and their automotive restoration program before but looked up the school anyway. While shopping around on their website I came across summer offerings not only in automotive work but also classes of interest to teachers that are offered in the Milwaukee area. I'm not interested in the teaching classes but if any of you are in need of credits for license renewal or degree completion, you might want to keep them in mind. Myself, I'm interested in maybe taking one of the summer workshop courses dealing with auto restoration. They've got a sheet metal fabrication course that could be right up my alley. I'll try to keep it in mind for next summer even though I've already got a few things in mind.

I stopped in the county courthouse while I was out running around. There was a new security guard on duty that is a former student of mine. It now seems that everyone working security there is a former student of mine. Seems like the odds of that happening are pretty slim but there it is.

Planning on going on another airplane ride soon. I did the B-17 last summer, B-24 coming up. Should be exciting.

More landscaping on the agenda, weather permitting. I also need to get some painting done outside. While I'm pretty happy with the progress on the work around the shack, I need to get back on the car and bike projects soon. It'd be nice to finish at least one of them this year.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Plumbing/ESL Issue

"You may have sensed an odor this morning in the common areas. Please be informed that there was a plumbing issue, and our maintenance department reported that it is fixated now. I apologize for any incontinence that it may have caused."

I got this in an e-mail at work the other day. The potential for disaster is high from someone who's always in a hurry and is not a native English speaker. As long as the incontinence has been fixated, it's all good, though.

I watched the flat track race on the NBC Sports Channel Thursday night. 1,2,3 finish for Indian again. Pretty decent TV coverage as well. Everything was condensed down to one hour with decent coverage of the singles as well as the whole feature event for the twins. Nice to see some motorcycle racing besides Supercross on television. It would be even nicer if there was some type of a regular motorcycle variety show - maybe they do and I just don't know about it.  A one hour format that covered the different types of racing, touring, camping, restoration, etc. Interviews with people involved in the industry, plant tours, museums, rallies - there's no shortage of topics. And if you could keep the commercials to a minimum, that would be even better. I'd be willing to travel to Europe to report on a few of the events and museums from over there. The Moto Guzzi and Sammy Miller museums for example.

I started my vacation yesterday and it was a beautiful day for it. A little rain early but then it cleared up and was a beautiful summer day. It looks like it's going to be nice for about five more as well. I took advantage of the day and did a little bit of landscaping and hung some work clothes on the line to dry after going out to breakfast with Cuzzin Ricky. I didn't do much else but that's OK, being that it was the first day of the vacation. I'm working the boxing gym this morning because Jimmy took some fighters to the Ringside tourney. Not sure what I'm going to do after that. I don't really have any specific plan for the next three weeks but I'm really starting to like it that way.

Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

More Hard-Drive Clearance

More hard-drive clearance. Again, one of the photos are mine, and I think Surly shot the Bazooka Joe knock out photo, but everything else - no links.

Cars, bikes, travel, pretty girls and boxing. If I had thrown up a couple of machining or fabricating photos, that would have pretty much covered most of all of my main interests. Actually, I have at least a passing interest in most everything, as I'm sure you would have surmised if you've been reading this blog for any length of time.

I got my new computer and I'm learning how to navigate the new operating system. Windows 10 isn't too big a leap for the little that I do on a computer. We just recently had Windows 10 installed on the school computers, so at least things will be the same at both locations. I bought the computer and a new printer from Best Buy so I had the Geek Squad transfer over everything from the old computer to the new one. I managed to get the new printer speaking the same language as the wife's laptop all on my own, however. Rather proud of myself there. I haven't tried printing anything from the new computer yet but it's supposed to be ready to roll.

I've been able to access everything I could think of that's password protected, so I'm up and running on all of those. I try to avoid putting much sensitive information on line, so there aren't too many passwords to remember in the first place. A couple of businesses I've dealt with have been hacked and my credit card info was stolen once, so I try to limit my internet business to a few "must haves".

I do have one problem, however. Most of the photos that I shot with my camera were saved on Kodak Easy Share software and that's obsolete. The Geek Squad didn't transfer any of those so I'm not sure what the best way to handle that is. I'm going to stop back in and see what they can do for me as the first step. I may end up having to set up the old computer and down load the photos to CDs or a thumb drive. Most of them aren't really worth saving but I've got a few I'd like to keep.

On vacation next week. Very much looking forward to that. I've been real busy the last few days with weld certifications, not only my class but a couple others as well. Only 32 more working days until December when I can put a cork in the teaching career. It's been a good one but I've had enough.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Clearing the Deck

Had to take my old computer out of service. It would no longer load up pages like it was supposed to. sometimes you could help it along by stopping the loading process and then hit the reload button. Sometimes no matter what you did nothing would help. So I cleaned off a bunch of things on the hard drive and took the old computer in to get things swapped out onto the new one. I should be back in business in a few days.

(I don't have any links to the photos, but I doubt anyone's going to complain.)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Checkin' In

From Here

I got a chuckle out of that one. They use a bunch of resistors in the lab where I work and I'm always sweeping a few of them up off the floor. I can no longer remember the color code but, fortunately, that's not a requirement for a floor sweeper. I did get a raise this week, however. 2% increase - not much but better than what a lot of folks are getting.

My older brother and his wife were in town the other day. Very nice visit even though it was only a few hours in length. Always good to see them. Hopefully, the Missus and I will be able to get away together a little more after I retire and visit the brothers on their home turf.

The Missus showed me the local paper and said I'd recognize a few names. Sure enough! Even though I've been retired from the high school for five years, there were five or six names in the police blotter this week of former students. That's my legacy. Knuckleheads still getting in trouble five, ten, fifteen years out of high school.

The weather's back in the 90's this week. I've been running the pipe beveler at the college pretty steady trying to keep up with the students. It uses a oxy-fuel torch and it's set back into a corner. It's not hard work but it is rather warm. Almost like a real job. However, I've only one more week for the summer session and then I'm off for three weeks. Teach a couple of classes in the fall and then I call it a career. I might work my way in to some welding certification but I'm going to be done teaching.

Looks to be hot, humid and rainy all weekend long. Not too pleasant to be out in but the grass and the weeds seem to thrive on it. That'll keep me busy.

Monday, July 17, 2017

More Raccoon Tales

Did the last 5K racewalk of the four race series Saturday morning. Didn't get any faster but my running buddy decided to stick with me rather than run it, so we gabbed a bit while out on the course. We were still the first walkers in by a bunch, so we're definitely the ones to beat in that group. I'm doing another 5K in August but I'll have to pick up the pace if I want to beat my buddy Jimmy for the dinner bet we've got going. 

After the racewalk I had a wedding to attend in the afternoon, so that shot the better part of the day. When I came home and opened up the garage door to park the wife's car, I was in for a big surprise. Apparently a raccoon had gotten in the there and decided it wanted out while we were gone. Chewed up the bottom of the service door and scratched a bunch of the insulation off the roll-up doors. Also managed to chew about a 10" chunk of wire from the safety switch along the bottom of the doors so I had to pull the emergency release to get the door down. It also knocked a bunch of things off the shelves and generally wreaked havoc. I cleaned up most of the mess so I could get the car in and then went back out later and there was more damage done so it was still in there. I got the shotgun, opened the big door, turned on the light and then took up a position to ambush the little bugger when he came out. I waited for about an hour thinking it would come out when it got dark, but he was a no show. I finally left the door open and the light on and gave up the vigil. It just wasn't worth any more mosquito bites. Everything looked OK in the morning so I guess it left. Everything is cleaned up and fixed now. I'll just have to be more careful about leaving a door open in the future. I think I'm going to have to start running a trap line to keep the population in check. Maybe start a raccoon skin cap business.

I did get a couple of little jobs done in the last couple of days. In the top photo are the brackets for the deck off the end of the new barn. We had some formed angle made out of stainless at the college that were just about right. The lab tech wanted some of it cut up to make slats for the burning table so I plasma cut all of his parts when I did mine. I still need to drill some holes so I'll throw them on the mill for that. I can slow the speed down on the mill which should prevent any issues drilling that stainless. It's real easy to work harden the stainless if you don't keep a chip rolling off it. Slow and steady wins the race.

The bottom photo is a right angle saw. The motor for it burned up, so the lab tech is making some Rube Goldberg rig to hook it up to a drill motor. I bored out the coupling on the right side of the photo. Nothing much to it and it keeps me in good standing in the shop at school.

Have a good week. I'll keep pecking away at things on my end.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

More Harley & Offy Plus Royal Enfield & Jaguar

When we were at the Harley Museum the other day they had an exhibit about The Race of Gentlemen. In order to participate you must have a car or bike that is from early thirties to late forties, with a few exceptions. There were a few vehicles on display, like the belly tank racer which I've always thought were just cool as all hell. More impressive to me, however, were the large black and white photographs that lined the exhibit hall. Very nicely done from both an artistic and technical standpoint.

The Museum had a wall covered with the various engines that have powered their bikes over the 100 plus years. I thought it was pretty cool that they had a two-stroke, iron head Sportster and Sprint all displayed together since until recently I had at least one of each. 

The Royal Enfield Himalayan. I like this thing. Those big-ass adventure bikes just seem like typical American overkill - if a little is good, more is better and too much is just right. It used to be a 650 Brit bike was considered big and guys would ride them everywhere. Now a 650 is barely a middleweight. I'm looking at the Himalayan as an updated version of the BSA Victor. Should be a fun bike. The sales lady said the price should be set in September and I would imagine there will be a few road tests in the bike magazines before long as well. I'd like to take one for a spin and get all the specs.

This is the Indy car I mentioned in the last post. I thought I'd taken another photo of it but guess not. When I was looking the car over I noticed the back axle had a cone welded on the end as it attached to the brake drum - TIG welded at that. Not the kind of technology that was available in the 30's. The owner of the car explained that he and a friend decided to build a car but since they couldn't agree on what exactly to build, they each built one. The craftsmanship on this car is top notch. The frame rails were tapered front to rear, so he had to weld the flanges on and then grind everything so it looked like a factory stamping - and they did. The cowling and the rear sheet metal was nice and smooth. The aluminum for the nose over the radiator was polished and I couldn't see a flaw anywhere. Very, nice. 

There was also a recreation of a roadster by Gary Babineau. If you're looking for your own Indy roadster or something similar, he'll make you one. Probably cheaper than an original Watson.

I got a chance to see what a door on a Jag like Jimmy's looks like. The owner was kind enough to let me take a look at one of the opened doors. He said the frame work is all wooden with an aluminum skin. Sounds like something I could do. I'd need to look into it a bit more before tackling that project but when I finish up a few more of the ones around here, maybe see about building a pair of doors.

Cuzzin Rick and I saw a bunch of cool stuff last weekend but now it's time to get back to work around here. I've got some more yard work to do. The weeds are starting to get away from me and I need to service the mower. Looks like I'll have lots of peaches pretty soon. Maybe make some more wine. I've got another 5K this weekend. So busy like always but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Harleys & Offys

Cuzzin Ricky and I boomed out on Friday for a trip to Wisconsin. We hit the HD Museum for openers. I'd been to a tour of the engine plant in Milwaukee many years ago as well as visited the museum in York, PA, but this was the first time for the new museum experience. Pretty impressive. Good representation of all the different types and models of bikes they've made over the years, including the race bikes. 

They had a poster on the wall that had a photo of Jim Davis on it. The poster was for him winning the Dodge City race in 1920 or some such. I recognized the face and the name right away because I met him once at the AHRMA banquet. He was quite the guy. He was around 90 years old at the time - lived to be 103. Sort of the seven degrees of Kevin Bacon thing.

A big bonus for me was the Wall of Death that was set up outside the museum. I told Rick we definitely need to see that - and we did! They used to have one of these at the county fair when I was a kid and I always checked it out. At the fair they had a set of rollers and one of the guys would fire up a little 165 Harley and run it on the rollers while he stood on the seat and other things. Being a two-stroke without a muffler, it was loud, but that was the point. Bring the suckers in. They had a 165 at the museum as well. Same deal exactly. They put on a really good show and it was free as well. 

Wasn't much free in the gift shop, however. They had a jersey hanging in there that was like one Surly used to wear. I thought it would make a nice Christmas gift but the damn thing was $155.00. They had a nice pullover sweater that was $255.00, I think it was. I left empty handed but I was still pumped from the Wall of Death, so all was good.

We left there and went to the Royal Enfield dealership. This is corporate headquarters for North America. It's a nice showroom and the young lady who filled us in on the details of the new Himalayan model was very helpful. They had one in stock and I got a chance to sit on it and check it out. She said the pricing hasn't been established yet but I like the bike. She said there's a shop in Indy that's a dealership but I was in there not too long ago and the salesman said they weren't. Have to see about that if I decide to buy a small displacement adventure bike.

Saturday we went to the Millers at Milwaukee vintage Indy car event. I've been wanting to check that out for a couple of years ever since seeing a write up at Handverker. A bunch of Offy powered roadsters running and out on a real race track. Yeah, that's the ticket. I talked to an old duffer that had a car there that was just about finished up. The engine still needed a bit of work but it was all painted and looking good. I'll finish sorting out the photos and get a shot of that in a couple of days and finish the narrative.

Sunday was spent at Sun Prairie, Wisconsin to see the Pepsi Nationals at Angell Park. 30 lap midget feature with sprint and legend cars as well. Great racing with a fireworks finale to boot. Made it home yesterday afternoon. Great trip. We're already kicking some ideas around for our travels next year. Maybe the Knoxville Nationals in Iowa with a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska for the museum Speedy Bill Smith put together. Should have a bit more freedom for the logistics when I'm no longer working and I should be able to afford a few trips as long as I stay out of the Harley gift shop!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Takin' Care of the Easy Ones

Did my 5K racewalk on the 4th. Once again I was the first walker in but that's not saying much. Not much competition this time. In fact, this time we didn't even have bib numbers. Purely for fun. I'm still trying to get my old form back but I've got a ways to go yet. My time was a little slower than I wanted but it was hot and humid. Again, just for fun though. The course was well marked, people were nice and we got nice tee shirts for only a $10.00 entry fee. Hard to beat that.

Got the pieces bent for the VW. These go on the floor, up the back wall to reinforce the area where the roll cage tubes will get welded in. The roll cage is overkill for this rig, but if you're going to do it, might as well do it up proper.

The grip strengthener broke. I bought a pair of these and this is the last side to be repaired. The plastic handle inside the rubber grip breaks off even with the bottom of the spring. I've turned a piece of wood to replace the plastic and now that I've replaced all four, I shouldn't have any more issues. While I was epoxying the new wooden handle on the exerciser, I glued the magnetic strip back into the torpedo level at the same time. 

Both of these items are just cheap Chinese crap but it wouldn't hurt them to make things a little bit more serviceable. I bought a cheap torpedo level because they get knocked around and dropped while using them, which is why I needed this one by the way. I wouldn't think it's asking too much to glue the strip in where it'll stay for more than six months, however. The hand grips were cheap enough but they were branded Gold's Gym so I expected them to last a while. I'm thinking maybe they should have tested these out a bit at the gym before putting their name on them. Fixed now. But I shouldn't have had to.

The cigar boxes in the photo are from a yard sale. The one has a few pocket screwdrivers in it but other than that, mostly junk. I bought them both to have a cigar box to make another guitar or maybe an ukulele - $1.00 for the pair. Winter time project. Speaking of which, I put the new thermocouple in my heater thinking that would fix it. No such luck. Might have to seek professional help on this one. Or just plan on staying in the house all winter. Also sharpened up a few of the kitchen knives and my pocket knife. So once again, not much to brag about here but with the rest of the chores, I'm at least staying out of the recliner most of the day.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Living In America

Doing the 3rd of the 4 race 5K series this morning. Looks to be decent weather, hoping to improve my time a bit, but who knows? Since I'm not sure how long the course was last time, I don't have much to go on. Regardless, my goal is to beat Jimmy on August 12th. I walk, he runs, loser buys dinner. 

In the meantime, it looks like I'll have to start waging war on the squirrels again. Went out to start the truck the other day so I could go to the lumber yard for supplies and it was missing and the check engine light came on. I tried to catch my neighbor the mechanic when he was out in the shop but no luck so I popped the hood and I saw right away a wire that had been chewed in half. Fortunately it was an easy fix. There was enough slack in the wire that I could skin back some insulation, twist the wires together and solder the connection. I had all kinds of trouble two years ago but nothing since then. Unfortunately, this makes about 5 - 6 times the truck has been hit. Time to start running the trap line again, I guess. Country living, hard to beat.

Enjoy the day, celebrate safely!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Indy Racing Experience

Shop Teacher Bob giving the thumbs up leaving the pits at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the start of his Indy Racing Experience ride. Wade Cunningham is behind the wheel.

The driver accelerated like it was a race when leaving the pit lane and we were rolling at a pretty good clip by the time we entered the track by turn two. The G forces in the corner are incredible. While I'm not a race car driver, I've slid more than one car around a corner fast enough to break the rear tires loose but these cars don't even twitch going around the track. We reached about 180 mph and he never lifted through the turns. The ride was very smooth with only a little wind buffeting the helmet. I was impressed, to say the least.

The whole deal was extremely professional and well run. They got people in and out of the cars in just a matter of a couple of minutes, took your photo in front of the car after the ride was over and then printed a copy out for you to take home as well as putting it up on their website so you can have a digital copy to do with as you please. Right before I went out they loaded up an old gentleman, and I say that with all due respect, who was in a wheel chair. The staff did a great job accommodating him and treating him and his family with respect. I was impressed with that as well. 

We got to the track a bit early, since you can never tell about the construction traffic on I-65. Because we had a little extra time we took in the museum. They still had the A.J. Foyt exhibit going on, which I wanted to see. Lots of A.J. cars and ephemera on display. Great day at the race track!

Thanks to the Missus for the great Christmas gift and thanks to Cuzzin Ricky for driving me down to Indy. Next up - Miller's at Milwaukee and midgets at Angel Park.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Weekend Update

Saw something interesting in the newsletter I get from AWS. Welding program that prepares you to be a fabricator on a NASCAR team. This is a sixteen week program. Info HERE. I took a short course on building stock cars many years ago in Mooresville. I knew I was facing a job loss at the school I was working at, so I decided to look into racecar work. As it ended up, I found another teaching position and the rest, as they say, is history. Not sure what I would do if I had the chance to do it over again. Anyway, the opportunity is there if you want to enroll.

I took the grandsons to Fair Oaks Farms Pig Adventure while they were here. That was an interesting outing. Fair Oaks is a working farm and tourist destination. Originally they had just the Dairy Adventure but now they've added the Pig and Crop Adventure. The Pig adventure starts with a short bus ride and then you do a self-guided tour that consists of looking down on the operation from behind glass windows. Insemination, birthing, raising replacement sows and weaning the remaining piglets off to be raised at another location.

I've got to hand to the guys who thought this up. It's an operational dairy and hog farm that has been sanitized enough that they can charge an adult $20.00 to see either pigs or cows in a modern operation. $29.95 if you wish to do both Adventures. After my heart attack I became a vegan but I've been known to cheat a bit on the meat - usually pork. My decision to forego meat was a medical one, not a philosophical one, but when looking down on the sows, I felt sorry for them. Their whole life is nothing more than living in a pen, giving birth to one litter after another until they get sent off to the slaughter house so we can all eat bacon or have a tenderloin sandwich at the fair. There would probably be a lot more vegetarians and vegans if people had a better understanding of commercial animal operations.

After the Pig Tour we went back to the Pork building on the main campus and the boys did the rope course, for another 5 bucks a piece, of course. The rope course was money well spent. The boys had a blast and then we finished off the trip with ice cream cones. They make the ice cream and a variety of cheeses on the premises. Everything is top quality but having grown up around farms, I couldn't help but think about P.T. Barnum saying there was a sucker born every minute. On the other hand, it's hard to knock Capitalism. Take the big risk and hopefully reap the reward. They seem to have found the perfect formula.

I'm heading to Indy today with Cuzzin Ricky for my Indy Racing Experience. Couple laps around the track in an Indy car built for two, weather permitting. Pretty pumped. I'll let you know had it turned out.

Thursday, June 29, 2017


Towing hubs for my buddy's Camaro. He used to flat tow the car to the dragstrip, unbolt the tow bar and rear wheels, bolt on the slicks and go racing. I made these at least 40 years ago. He got some spindles and hubs from a '69 Chevelle at the junkyard and I cut the spindles out from the uprights, made a backing plate and machined everything up true. I was pretty proud of my self when I got them finished. I wouldn't even remotely have called myself a machinist at the time but they came out nice and they still work as designed. Lakewood sold a similar item at the time but I think he only had twenty bucks in these, and they actually were a little better. I did a search for towing hubs and the only ones I could find were on EBay. A guy is making custom ones for $980.00. These appear to be quite the bargain now. 

My buddy just put new axles in his car and they have longer studs. He wanted to dig the towing hubs out to see if they would work as is or if a spacer was required. I've made a bunch of similar things over the years using Camaro spindles because the spindles were pressed in, rather than being part of a forging. Made it a lot easier to get the spindles out and use them for a trailer axle or whatever. Something to keep in mind.

On an unrelated note, Harbor Freight has a prize/award program going for high school tech teachers and their programs. Part of the money goes to the individual and part of it goes to the school program. Info HERE. Looking at some real money here. Nominate a worthy teacher or pass the word along.