Monday, February 27, 2017

Sickle Stuff

Found the top two here - bottom one here. Top two just cuz. Bottom one because I find myself attracted to it both in concept and execution. However, not having seen or ridden one, might be that it doesn't measure up at all. 

My wife and I both drive small cars with small engines. Both cars will get up and go when called upon. Nothing at all like the small cars of the sixties we both were familiar with back then. If a new small car is night and day different than the old one, wouldn't the same hold true for a motorcycle? The Royal Enfield Himalayan is a 411cc single adventure style bike. Seems like it would be a nice practical size for an all weather commuter or a bike you really wanted to take on an adventure. Stay off the four lanes and see the country. I've never undertaken a long distance motorbike tour. The longest was with the sidecar rig from northwest Indiana to eastern Kentucky years ago. I've done several 500 mile bicycle tours. Seems like chugging along on a small motorcycle would be substantially easier but every bit as much fun. I could get everything I need strapped on and keep the weight under 50 lbs. Been giving that a lot of thought of late. I need to scratch that travel itch. 

Also, I got my Motorcyclist magazine the other day. They said they were going to make some changes and boy did they ever. Motorcyclist and Cycle World are both owned by the same company and it became real obvious that was the case if you subscribe to both magazines like I do. Motorcyclist has gone to six issues per year, rather than monthly and the layout as well as the type of content has changed dramatically as well. I haven't read all the way through it yet but I'm liking what I've seen just leafing through it. It's a lot more than just road tests and feature columns - more motorcycle lifestyle, and I mean that in a good way. Like for guys who have been involved with motorcycles their whole life and have wide ranging interests in the sport. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out. You'll be surprised. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

"Tracking" Progress

I installed the hold down track in my workbench in the "new" barn. I got the track and a pair of hold-downs for Christmas. Figured since the weather was still warm, be a good time to get it done. I didn't have a 3/4" straight bit for the router so I bought one of those and some screws. Should make some of the woodworking jobs both easier and safer.

Fixed the conduit bender from the lab at school. Someone tried to bend 1/2" rigid in the bender for the 1/2" EMT and blew it apart. Actually did this one at home rather than in the shop at the college. I've got all the fixin's and they're handy here at the shack.

Finished up the tool stand, paint and all. I still need to bolt it to the bench top but that won't take long.

Surly sent me a couple of sidecover designs for the BSA. Looks like he's got something pretty close to what he'll be happy with. Glad to see that's moving forward again. 

I've got two more weeks until the session ends at the college. After a short break I'll be working again but only two days per week. That'll free up a lot of time for projects. I'm looking forward to that.

I signed up for a 5K race walk the end of April. I'll need some of that free time for training. Looking forward to that, however. It's hard for me to stay motivated to eat right and exercise unless I've got an event to train for. I want to drop a few pounds before then and maybe keep them off afterwards. My new saddle pal lives right down the road now, so we should be able to get out on the bikes fairly often, which will help. It's been almost five years since the heart attack, I'd like to avoid having another one for at least another twenty.

The crazy weather has fooled the magnolia out front into blossoming out. The cold and snow aren't going to be good for it. The other magnolias I have normally bloom later so they should be OK but who knows? 

So things are good in spite of the weather taking a turn to the normal. I'm picking away at the easy ones and having a grand time with the mundane. Enjoy your weekend and get that garden planned out. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Math Education

y = Mx + b = (delta y/delta x) x + b

Mean anything to you? Me neither. A former colleague I worked with at the high school posted on Facebook that she was helping her nephew with a homework assignment and this formula was needed. Smart lady that she is, she came up with the formula but in the comments she stated that she hadn't needed it twenty years.

I was putting some quick sketches on the board with my class recently and not a single one of them new what an extension line was. One of them got the dimension line but she's planning on becoming an engineer so I wouldn't consider her typical of the students I normally get.

By looking at these two things together, I wonder why in the hell do we stress teaching an algebraic formula that a highly educated chemistry teacher hasn't ever used in her career or since having left the classroom but omit simple drafting skills that most everyone could profit from. Most of my students are not at all familiar with 3 view orthographic projection, isometric or oblique drawings, meaning they can't interpret simple sketches or shop drawings, let alone any type of blueprint like they would encounter in a welding or machine shop.

I think it's time to go back to some of the old ways and come up with the "tracks" or whatever you want to call it like they used to do. Offer some type of shop math and business math as well as geometry, algebra and what we called Senior Math when I was in high school. Only roughly 25% of Indiana residents have a four year degree - a few years ago we were ranked 46th in the nation, in fact. I'm not sure what the number is now but that's not necessarily a bad thing. In the past if you wanted to be a machinist, welder, pipefitter, etc., you received your training on the job or through an apprenticeship program. No degree required, good job, decent benefits, live happily ever after. Granted, industry has changed but I keep reading and hearing about jobs going unfilled because employers can't find qualified help. Seems to me at least part of the equation would be change the offerings in the schools.

I learned some board drafting when I was in junior high. I remember making some simple developments and learning how to properly draw lines of different weight such as object vs center lines. Proper lettering practice was taught as well. While I had both beginning and advanced algebra in high school, most of my career I've used mostly simple arithmetic, right angle geometry and a bit of trig. Algebra, not so much. In fact it's almost the end of February and I haven't used any yet this year. I should probably keep my eyes peeled for an opportunity to use it in my day to day activities and report back when that happens. I wouldn't hold my breath, however.

If I wasn't such an old dude, I'd start my own charter school and then we would do some drafting board work, add and subtract some fractions and then make all kinds of things both beautiful and practical.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Wonderful Weather For a Weekend

Absolutely beautiful weekend. We've had record warmth and looks like it'll continue at least until Wednesday. Kind of a mixed blessing, however. It's so nice you want to get out and get things done but at the same time, it's so nice you want to blow off the honey-do list and just enjoy the weather. I compromised and did a little of both the last couple of days. I went to the gym Saturday morning, came home and worked in the shop a bit. I made the plate in the photo above to mount the shear on the new tool stand and I also fixed the "gooseneck" for one of the MIG welders at the college. 

I wanted to swap out the wire on one of the welding machines that's equipped with a push-pull arrangement. The contact tip was galled in place and it twisted off while I was trying to remove it. Never had that happen in all the years I've been working with MIG guns. Whoever put the tip in last had to notice that it was going in real hard but kept at it anyway. I drilled it out, chased the threads and installed a new tip with a bit of never-seize on it. The saving grace was the fact that the tip had a hole through it so I could run a drill down through it and it would be on center. 

About the time I was finishing up the plate and the MIG gun, a friend stopped by on her bicycle to see if I wanted to go for a ride. We put in about 11-12 miles, so with my time at the gym in the morning and the bike ride I got quite a bit of exercise on the day.

Sunday started off with Surly and one of the boys coming down for a little range session. Later I got the gutters cleaned out and did a couple of other piddly things around the shack and then dug out the parts to hook up the exhaust fan on my welding bench. My shop has a Gothic style arched roof/sides made from corrugated sheet. The box in the photo will get welded to the sheet metal on the outside with the louvered vent screwed to that. The fan is an exhaust fan like you would have in your bathroom and takes standard 4" vent pipe. I made this up years ago but never got around to hooking it up mostly because I never needed it. Now that I no longer do most of my welding at the school, the fan will come in handy to suck the welding fumes out as needed. The list of things to do to get my shop in order before I retire keeps getting shorter and shorter. I should have put my big screen in while I was out there working, however. I managed to get my first mosquito bite of the year. I don't know where the buggers were hiding but there was a bunch of them flying around out in the shop when I had the big doors opened up.

While the nice weather continues, I'll try to balance my project work with enjoying the weather. Hopefully, you'll be able to do the same.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Road Trip

I ordered in a set of clamps from the outfit I used to buy all of my welding supplies from when I was at the high school. Originally, I figured I'd just have them throw the order on the truck when they came in and I'd pick them up from there. However, I've been wanting to check out the Panhandle Pathway and France Park so I took my show on the road.

The northern end of the trail starts in Winamac at the old depot - the pathway is the old Pennsy but there's an Erie caboose. The Erie used to cross the Pennsy there.

Since it was such a beautiful day, I took a quick detour through the park while I was in Winamac. The end of the suspension bridge closest to you in the photo is where the night run I did a few years ago started. 

The Panhandle parallels U.S. Route 35 heading southwest out of Winamac. Not a whole lot to see out there in farm country unless you're looking maybe for a Rolls Royce. I stopped to snap the photo and check out the building it's sitting in front of and a guy came out from the other building asking me what I was up to. After explaining I was a car buff, he told me the story of the Rolls. Last time it was driven was by his daughter when she drove it to the prom four years ago, etc. There are a couple other vehicles inside the building as well. 

Actually, I was more interested in the truck down the road that's hiding behind the foliage. Looks like an old Ford box van. Not exactly a farm truck but could be a cool transporter for jockeying motorcycles around or making a trip to the lumber yard.

The southern trailhead is off U.S. Route 24 back to the west of the 35/24 intersection. The beautiful farm is just across the road from the trail and the church, constructed from Indiana limestone I would guess, is just up the hill about a 1/2 mile. The trains were responsible for the development of a lot of small towns along the tracks. It's a shame so many of the railroads went bust and they pulled up the tracks. It's nice when they can do something like the Panhandle with the old right of way, though.

Right down the road from the southern trailhead is France Park. I'm thinking about doing some kind of bike trip either starting in Winamac on the bike, riding to France Park and camping for the night and then do the return trip the next day, or loading up the bike and the teardrop trailer and heading down there for a couple of days and ride the trail as part of the trip. Have to see what develops on that.

After leaving the park, I picked up the box of tools from the welding supply in Logansport. The kit has a couple of clamps and some magnetic things to hold parts in alignment for welding. When you TIG weld, you always need a third hand it seems and much of what I work on are oddball configurations that don't lend themselves to clamping. These should help. The other two items in the photo I picked up at Bailey's in North Judson on the way home. The long nose "Vise Grip" might come in handy some day. I've needed something like these in the past - don't know if I ever will in the future but I was willing to gamble on them. The end wrench is a ten millimeter combination open end and ratcheting box wrench. If you work on European or Japanese bikes - motorized or not - you'll always have need for a ten millimeter. This one is made in Taiwan, so the quality perhaps won't be the greatest, but for $1.99 how can you go wrong?

Put about 150 miles on the little car and was gone for about four hours. Nice little trip on a February day that managed to get up into the 60's. If I had waited an hour or so later to leave, it would have been a nice trip on the motorcycle after it warmed up. There'll be other days. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tool Stand

I got the tool stand done or maybe not. The plate that the tubing bender is bolted to also has mounting holes for my sheet metal shear but I might make another plate on the other end to fasten it to. I don't see me using the tubing bender too often but the Hossfeld style bender in the top photo will get a lot of use, I'm sure, and the sheet metal shear will as well. It would be nice to have those use-able without having to unbolt one thing and bolt on another. However, if I'm going to try and shear a large piece, I'll have to unbolt the bender anyway. It won't take much to make up another mounting plate, so I'll probably go ahead with that anyway. 

Finished the Dzus brackets for the fender skirt on the sidecar. I'll get those bolted on in the next few days and then I'll be able to finish the fender operation up. I need to bolt them rather than weld them so I can slip the floor sheet in. I ordered in some of the proper Dzus fasteners. I checked at Auto Zone and when I asked about Dzus or 1/4 turn fasteners I got the look that I normally get when I go into those places. They had no idea what the hell I was talking about. The third person at least knew what I was talking about but said they didn't carry them. Rather than running the gamut of all the stores, I just came home and ordered them from Speedway. I needed a couple of other things anyway. 

The sidecar rig is getting pretty close to being finished. I've still got to get some brake calipers on the front of the bike and go through the motor but nothing that time and money can't cure. So it'll happen one of these days.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Fender Skirt

I got the fender skirt cut out and fit up for the sidecar rig and started on making some brackets for Dzus fasteners to hold it in place along the bottom edge. I'm going to rivet the skirt to the fender along the flanged edge around the perimeter. I've got enough brackets and springs to complete the job but I need the actual Dzus fasteners like I'm planning on running. I've got plenty of the ones with the wing type head but only a couple of the ones with the slotted heads - might be able to get those locally. I'll check and see what's available in town. 

Got the mid-term exams graded and posted over the weekend as well as stepping out Saturday night to catch Surly's band play at a bar not too far from here. Music was good but the smoke was terrible. The band didn't seem quite as loud as the jukebox that was blasting when I went in but I was glad I took some earplugs along. I don't know why anyone would continue to smoke in this day and age between the health effects and the cost. I also can't see the attraction of having to yell to your friends across the table to carry on a conversation. I've had a career of that in welding shops. I'm more inclined to go somewhere where you can have a nice quiet conversation. Loud and smoky must sell more beer. 

Going to try and get a little more done on the sidecar rig this week as well as get the rest of the tax documents sorted so I can go see the tax lady. Every day now we've got more daylight and I know we're closer to spring, regardless what the weather's doing outside. Won't be too much longer and things will be starting to green up and bud out.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Slow News Day

Photo From Here
Came across this the other day. Always have liked the Jeep trucks (and the Dodge Power Wagons, of course). Looking forward to seeing the new Jeep.

I've been working on my taxes and some other inside stuff since the weather turned cold again so not much action in the shop. I did finish the tool stand I was working on, including paint. I finished it at school and left it there over the weekend so the paint would be good and dry before I put it in the back of the car. I'll get a photo of it posted when I get it home and on the bench. Looks pretty good. More importantly, however, is the fact that I'm one step closer to having everything in the shop as I want it. Still got a few more things to do but I'll probably never have everything just as I want. Does anyone?

Planning on finishing the sidecar fender and wiring soon and then maybe get back on the VW for a bit. I need to keep chipping away at both of these. Only a few more weeks and my work schedule will ease up some. That should coincide with some warmer weather allowing me to pick up the pace. Of course, that will also coincide with getting the garden going. In fact, I need to see about getting some seeds started or just plan on buying plants. 

Lots to do. Just glad I'm able to do it. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

It's a Beautiful Thing

Troy Custom Roadster 12

Saw this at Silodrome - custom built in '59, recently restored, going on the auction block in April. Lots of pictures at the link. Beautiful one-off machine. Only two things keeping me from building something very similar - talent and money. I could probably scrape together the money, might have to peddle a few things off, but the talent? Just takes a long time to learn all the necessary skills.

If you wanted to go old school hot rod underpinnings, you can get everything for the frame and components from any number of sources. Actually, building the frame would be a piece of cake for me, it's the rest of it that would be tough. Making the sheet metal and getting that hung on would be the real ball buster. Farm out the paint and upholstery and there you go - one bitchin' roadster.

I sure do admire the skills of the builders of these sorts of projects. I know there are quite a few young guys getting involved in auto and bike custom projects, so there's talent out there. I wonder what would happen if schools started incorporating more of this type of work into the curriculum?

I just gave a mid-term test at the college and, again, I'm amazed at how poorly educated some of these people are. Not stupid, mind you, but ignorant. I think with many of them it's a reading issue. Some it's a focus issue - they just tune you out as soon as you start talking while in the classroom, however, if you tell them the same thing while in the welding booth, it sinks in. Some haven't a clue on how to study or take tests. While ultimately the students are responsible for their performance at the college level, the public schools and the parents are also to blame for not properly preparing them earlier.

It will be interesting to see what happens with education now that Ms. DeVos will be seated in the big chair. Since she's a huge proponent of charter schools and school choice, maybe it's time to look at vocational charter schools. Indiana currently has vocational offerings but if we turn back the clock and look at some of the things offered way back when, maybe that should be the blueprint for the future. Instead of taking a class such as welding at a career center or in one of the few comprehensive high schools still offering such classes, go back to the concept of a true vocational high school. Math, science, English, everything taught in house to prepare students with job skills and life skills. The trades are all using digital technology of some sort, so it's not like you're going to condemn the students to low paying jobs. Rather, if done properly, you would have them mastering arithmetic and geometry, rather than having them graduating without being able to multiply common fractions.

One of the biggest complaints against Ms. DeVos is that she isn't an educator. Having been involved in education for forty years, I'm thinking that's not really a liability. You need people looking at the outcome of the system and determining if what you're getting is the product you want. And it's not now for a large percentage of the students in public education. While the large teacher's unions are doing a lot of squawking, if I was them I'd be starting a few charter schools of my own and then tell the politicians: See what can be done if you leave us alone and get rid of all the dumb-ass rules!

I hope there will be some noticeable improvement in education in the next few years. Even if there is, it will take a long time to see the true results. More probably, there will a lot of time wasted and hand wringing over the charter school vs traditional school roles and nothing much will change. However, if we go back to the vocational school concept, every kid will at least know something about the 3,4,5 rule, the value of knowing the number 1.414 in right triangle geometry, how to scale up the recipe for a cake and convert cups to fluid ounces. Depending on their specialization, they'll also know that low hydrogen electrodes are designed to weld high carbon and high sulfur steels, figure out board feet calculations or the cutting speed for a high speed tool bit.

I might have to get busy on that manifesto when I retire.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Rail Bike Again

Photo From Here
Surly sent me an item on a rail tractor. Pretty cool, so I followed the link back and found this. Penny farthing rail bike? That's something you don't see every day, Chauncey. I've still got a couple of things to finish up on mine. Probably wouldn't take too much effort. I need to make a lever on the handlebars that will raise up the front guide wheel to prevent it from falling in the hole at a switch or crossover. Then just clean it up and get some paint on it.

There's a set of tracks that are run by a railroad museum not too far from me. I could run it on those without getting in too much trouble, I would think. A rail bike search here on the blog will get you a video clip of my maiden voyage, in case you've never seen it before, along with some other interesting rail bike things. Rail bike - yet another reason I should quit working, stay home and play with the toys.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Getting Tired of It

From Here
I'm not quite to that point yet but I can see it coming. I've been working full time pert near 50 years now. That should be enough. I was planning on going to the end of the calendar year but I might call it quits after the summer session. I'm working close to full time again and I find it rather inconvenient, to say the least. However, I saw my boss the other day and he said he's working on getting our campus certified as an AWS testing facility which would require a CWI on staff, which I just happen to be. That would open up some different options for me. Right now I've got no complaints with the job, and unlike the guy in the funny, I still enjoy it, but I think I'd rather have the freedom to do as I please, whenever I please. Which reminds me of this by Tom Waits:

I certainly wouldn't be better off without a wife, but I sure like the idea of "sleeping 'til the crack of noon, midnight howling at the moon, going out when I want to, and coming home when I please". The fact that I'm even thinking about it might mean it's time to go. 

I have managed to get a few things done of late. Worked on the tool stand a bit over the weekend. Made some progress on a couple of things in the basement laboratory. Started working on the taxes. Finished the Least-Heat-Moon book and started on Blue Highways by the same author. Might be able to get a little more done if I wasn't going to work. Or I could just sit on my ass when I felt like it. I think that's the Siren call I keep hearing. Yep, just might be time.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Vehicles - The Bane of My Existence

Photo From Here

Surly sent me this as a design idea for my hot rod project. The link will carry you back to a spot where there are quite a few design ideas based on "Commie" cars. Cool stuff. I don't know when I'll ever get around to working on my car but I'm hoping it's relatively soon. Lots of  started but not finished projects in line ahead of it, however. Those being the only reason I haven't brought this thing home:

Wait! Now it's gone!

I was looking on craigslist for farm trucks and found one that was just exactly like I was looking for. The seller had a couple of pictures that were taken with the engine running, including one of the dash gauges - indicating good oil pressure and charging system. The price was right and it was close to home. Perfect. However, when I went back to grab the photo to post here it was gone. The same seller also had two other trucks listed and those didn't show up either. Now that's a pisser. I was real tempted to take a run over there and check the one I liked out. Probably a sign.

And if we're going to talk buying and selling, I used to have one of these. Should never have sold it.

Never had one of these, but I should get one. Maybe throw in Moto Guzzi along with farm truck as search words when I'm on craigslist. Both photos from Motobilia by the way. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Tool Stand

Bits and pieces for a tool stand. I'm making a rectangular frame that my stake plate will drop into and that I'll also be able to mount my shear, tube bender and my Hossfeld style bender on. I made up a 3/8" plate that will bolt to the rectangular frame and the various other tools will bolt to that. 

I was going to cut out the inner piece for the sidecar fender with the new shear but decided making the stand first was a better idea. I've been tossing around an idea for the stand ever since I bought the new tools. I'm still on my quest to get all the tools/equipment I need or think I'll need before I quit working as well as having them actually use-able. They don't do you much good if all they are doing is cluttering up the workbench. I also need to make a roller stand to support pieces in the band saw while cutting long lengths. The bucket with wooden blocks on top works but it's none too convenient nor professional. I don't know if Harbor Freight sells one or not. Something like that usually sells for less than I can make it for.

I'm hoping to get the tool stand welded up in the next couple of days and then I can get all the mounting holes drilled in it and the top plate. Then it's back onto the sidecar project.