Friday, March 31, 2017

April - The Month of Things

I got an e-mail from Title Boxing plugging Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month. If you buy certain merchandise, Title will make a donation to Rock Steady Boxing. As soon as I saw the name it rang a bell with me. I remembered a lady boxer from the area who was involved in fighting Parkinson's using boxing at a gym in Indy. After checking into it a bit, sure enough same young lady, Kristy Follmar. She was on the same card as my buddy Jimmy at least a couple of times that I remember. That's her on the left in the photo above fighting Mary McGee on one of the One In A Million cards that Octavius James used to promote.

April is also National Welding Month. Anyone who reads this blog is certainly going to be aware of welding as a means of joining metals but most people don't realize there are over two hundred different types of welding with more being developed all the time. If you go to the Jobs In Welding site the American Welding Society hosts, you'll see the variety of welding jobs that are out there. If you have someone who is looking for a career path, you can see what's typically available and the type of compensation they can expect. There is definitely a lot more electronics/computers in the industry now than when I was learning the trade. This has opened up a lot of opportunities for technicians capable of programming robotic applications as well as those interested in trouble-shooting and repairing the equipment. We've got a couple of machines at the college that are in need of some work and there's not a one of us old farts that are capable of fixing them - analog guys living in a digital world I'm afraid. However, that does create work for sharp young men and women who wish to tackle these sorts of problems. Also, the number of robots being purchased in manufacturing has gone up substantially the past year or two. Manufacturers not being able to find enough skilled help are turning more and more to automation. There is still going to be a need for plenty of skilled craftspeople in the foreseeable future, however. No reason to worry about being replaced by a machine - yet, at least.

I don't know if April is going to be National Indian Motorcycle Month but March certainly was. Indian kicked off the flat tracking season with a real bang. They finished 1-2 at the Daytona TT and then swept the top three spots at the Atlanta short track race. When I was in Indy last week I stopped at the Indian dealer and talked to the salesman about what if anything Indian had in store as far as a street machine to capitalize on their racing success. He said he hadn't heard anything definitively but said they'd have some trouble using the Scout engine due to the footpeg layout.No reason they couldn't use that Victory motor in a purpose built frame, however. There's still plenty of truth in the old adage, race on Sunday, sell on Monday. There's another short track race this weekend followed by a couple of races on mile tracks. Everyone will see then if they have the horsepower. They definitely have the talent in the saddle. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how things go this year in American Flat Track Racing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Tough Guys

Nothing much going on here - managed to catch a cold. Only about a 5 out of 10 on the misery scale but enough to keep me in the recliner catching up on my reading for a couple of days and the tissue manufacturers working overtime. I always like it when one nostril runs like a fountain and the other one is plugged up almost solid. It did let just enough air through that if I sniffed real hard it honked like a goose. The dog seemed to find that interesting. So there's the silver lining, I guess.

However, I did have a thought after watching a rerun of Walker, Texas Ranger dealing with the homeless and after seeing a few street people the other day in Indy.

There's been all kinds of press and buzz about prepping for some type of disaster coming our way - even a television series about it. People have cellars stocked with food, maybe a remote bug-out location, guns and ammo but how tough do you have to be to live on the streets? How will the grid going down affect you if you're living in a cardboard box already? Especially with the weather we have here in the Mid-West. Think you could get along if everything you owned was in a shopping cart you pushed around while dumpster diving or looking for a free meal? If/when the SHTF scenario comes to pass, we all might want to take a good hard look at how the street people manage to get by. Obviously they have problems, but they also have to be pretty damn resilient to keep it going day after day. Grid down or economic collapse will probably just be another day to them.

Just a little something to think about. And while you're thinking about it, maybe toss a couple of bucks into the shaker cup next time you walk by one of them or support a church or mission that's helping them out. Circumstances change. That could be any one of us some day - if we're tough enough.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


I went to Indy on Thursday. The Speedway Museum had a special exhibit on cars made in Indiana that I wanted to see. The car in the top photo is a replica of the Stutz Black Hawk that Frank Lockhart was killed in while attempting to set a land speed record. The car usually resides in the Stutz building downtown, in fact you might remember me previously posting about it. There was a good collection of various manufacturers on display: Studebaker, Auburn, Cord, Marmon, Apperson, etc. There were a couple of homegrown race cars on display along with the production models as well.

The bottom photo is the Watson roadster driven to victory at the 500 by A. J. Foyt. Beautiful car, exhibited just as it was when it finished racing. I bought a book on this car while I was there. I haven't had a chance to look through it yet but from looking at the inspection copy in the gift shop, should be right up my alley.

After leaving the Speedway Museum I headed downtown to the Armory where the Golden Gloves are held. I stopped by the bike shop on 16th Street as long as I was going by there. I got a chance to look over the Triumph Street Cup and the new Bonneville. I like the looks of both of them. Quite different in looks, but they both speak to me.

After parking at the Armory, I walked back to the Circle and strolled around a bit. I did a bit of race walking the day before and I was a little stiff, so I figured some regular walking would loosen me up. Plus, it was a really nice day to be out. Downtown Indy's a nice looking city. The photo above is the Scottish Rite Cathedral. It's quite the impressive building. It's even more magnificent at night when it's all lit up. We always go right by it when the fights are over. I'd like to get a decent photo of it some night.

The book is from the free library project downtown. They have a couple of spots where you can pick and take a book or drop one off for others to read. The book is Lost Horizon. I've seen the 1937 movie starring Ronald Colman on TCM. The book must have been quite popular when it came out because the copy I picked up was the 17th printing, also from 1937, the 1st being in 1934. I started reading it and so far, so good.

We had two fighters scheduled to compete that evening. One guy got a walkover when his opponent didn't show up and the other guy got a decision. So not a bad day. Cars, motorcycles, architecture, literature, boxing and some really good sweet potato casserole at a BBQ joint downtown. 

Yesterday was a dandy as well. Temperatures were a record high 82. I worked in the shop a bit, drilling the holes in Cuzzin Ricky's plate for his trailer and a couple of other little things. The weather's supposed to go in the toilet again for a couple of days with cooler temps and rain but nothing below freezing at least. Warm enough to work in the shop. That's all I need.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Keeping Busy

Painted, assembled and installed - and it works, too! Had a comment on the last post from Rich saying he had seen one of the store bought ones in the wild. Said it looked a little flimsy. I can believe that. You have to build 'em to sell 'em. However, around here we try to adhere to the Uncle Pete philosophy of "Ain't much for looks, but hell for strong.

Ducati single case repair. Broken fin and a couple of cracks in one of the bosses for the footpeg. In on Monday, out on Tuesday.

Plate for Cuzzin Ricky's new trailer. About the time I was starting to work on the Ducati case he showed up with this. 

I need to drill some holes in the plate to mount this winch and then weld it to the tongue of the trailer. The winch is designed to have the mounting bolts come up through the plate into holes in the winch base. There are slots to put the nuts into so you don't need to have a wrench on them. However, I measured the holes and they're not quite 7/16" in diameter. If you use 3/8" bolts, the nuts will spin in the slot. I'm going to check the hardware store and see if they have any square or heavy duty nuts that might work. If not, I'll make some up that will fit the slot and not spin so they can be tightened up and come off without a lot of grief at a later date if need be. Once I figure out what I need Rick can get some Grade 8 bolts to fasten the winch down.

Surly picked up a couple of parts for my old Honda. He wants to get that thing gone and I'm in total agreement. I don't need it and even if it was running, I wouldn't ride it anyway. It just takes too much work to maintain  a fleet of any type of gas powered rigs running as they should. Peddle it off, use the money to buy parts for another project and gain a little room in the bargain. Not a bad thing, I suppose.

Not a bad looking rig. It's a shame they laced up the "chopper" rim on the back. Needs a valve job and a battery and a little TLC from sitting around but that's about all. I had it running a few years back. Every thing checked out fine except for one cylinder with low compression. 

It's Spring and the weather will be warming up, I'm back to two days per week on the job so I should be able to get a few things done. I've been thinking about a couple of things that I'd like to investigate, however. Maybe get in touch with Frankie Flood at Handverker and get some advice about doing some anodizing. I remember him doing a workshop on the process when he was in Milwaukee. I wish we had a Maker Space around here.  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Can Carrier

I finished engineering the can carrier. When I originally looked at the video, I wasn't quite sure how the action worked and I over-thunk it a bit. When I got down to the nitty-gritty of making it, it became pretty obvious as to how the whole thing worked. And work it does. It's just tacked together right now but I'll take it to work this coming week, finish weld it, clean it up and paint it. So that'll be one I can chalk up in the finished column. 

I also finished one of my "top secret" basement projects this past week. Hate to think I had a week off and didn't get anything done. Would have gotten some more done but the weather's been bad and my heater quit in the shop. I'm not sure if I ran out of gas last time or if something else went haywire. There's a thermocouple sticking out in the combustion chamber along with the igniter. Might be the thermocouple quit. I need to dig out the manual and see what I can come up with. I shouldn't need it much more this winter but now's the time to get it fixed.

Back to work this week but only two days per. Counting down from 60 now. Knowing that I'm about finished will make things go easier, as will the warmer weather that should be coming along. I need to get out and start doing some serious walking to prepare for the upcoming race. It's been a while since I've trained in earnest and it seems to be a bit harder to get the old body moving like it needs to. I've still got six weeks but it's going to take every bit of that it I want to get my old form back. Might be it's not coming back no matter what I do, though. Regardless, I'm planning on doing what I can and having a good time with it.

I meet with the tax lady this week. I get that out of the way and it'll be back on the big projects soon there after. Need to finish the sidecar fender and wiring, get some brake calipers for the bike and jerk the motor out and go through it. Need to get the veranda for the barn done and some other outdoor things. All in good time. At least I'll be able to take the garbage down in style!

Thursday, March 16, 2017


John Surtees passed away last week. I just happened to stumble upon the news while looking at one of the bike sites I check out occasionally The only man to win world titles at the highest level on both two wheels and four. The link takes you to his site where they announce his passing. The home page gives an excellent bio of his storied life - I didn't realize he started his racing career as the monkey in his father's sidecar rig. 

While we all have to go sometime, it's still a sad day when a true legend passes.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sidecar Racers Association

Found this at Silodrome. Husband and wife team who raced at the Isle of Man with their outfit. Great story - mentions the Sidecar Racers Association. I was a member for a few years when I was planning on building my Norton powered outfit. Sidecar racing at that time wasn't real popular. Usually only a half-dozen or so rigs at a race but nice people and competitors. 

I found this on Facebook - restoration of the above rig only now it will have Norton power. There are several pictures at the link as well as a short article. Interesting.

I've been doing a whole lot of nothing the last few days. Spring Break is turning out to be not even close to spring like.  Snow, cold - temps in the teens last night - so not much getting done outside or in the shop. I'm getting caught up on some of the magazines in the pile as well as working on the book list. I decided I was going to try and read fifty books again this year after all. I'm on pace so far. I'll see how it goes if/when the weather decides to improve. Staying inside except for chores for a few days isn't all that bad, I suppose. Lots of people do it all the time. At least that's what I've heard. Don't know how they do it though.

After I had this post scheduled to go I started hitting some of my regular spots on the Internet and came across some info about big wildfires out west. Not the forest fires that you usually hear about but prairie fires. Three young adults and who knows how much livestock and wildlife gone. I didn't hear anything about this on the news. These truly are some troubling times we're living in.

Take care, be safe and don't take life for granted. It can change in a heartbeat.

Sunday, March 12, 2017


Forty-six years and counting. As long as we can stay alive, fifty is a cinch. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Test Post

For some unknown reason, the last post didn't come in normally. It came up solo rather than leading the list of previous posts. I'm putting this one up to see what happens.

Update: looks like we're back to normal.

Street Rod


Saw this in the Cycle World weekly e-mail - new HD 750 Street Rod. Looks cool, priced at $8,699.00. It's got a few more ponies than the regular Street, as well as lots of other chassis improvements. I like it. Now that the Sportster has left the building, I've got room.