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.

Saturday, September 2, 2017


I just finished reading this one. The story of Emil Zatopek, the greatest distance runner of all time. Since I'm a "runner" and an old guy, I was aware of Zatopek even though he was a bit before my time. When he had his greatest triumph as a runner I was only two years old but his story continued for quite a few years after, including the 1968 Olympics when Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their Black Power salute from the podium while George Foreman chose to wave the American flag. It was also the year I graduated from high school, there were riots in Detroit and Chicago here in the mid-west and Zatopek was confronting the Russians as they marched into Prague. Interesting times to say the least.

Zatopek was born in Czechoslovakia and competed during the time of Communism, secret police, political imprisonment and all that. Tough times certainly, and it probably helps to understand his story if you are of a certain age as I am and remember the Cold War era. During those years they even tossed the entire Czech hockey team into prison due to fear they were going to defect.

The book does a nice job of covering Zatopek's life as a runner, along with weaving in details about his wife, who also won gold at the Olympics, and many of his contemporaries, including Roger Bannister and the quest for the sub-four minute mile. While Zatopek set many world running records, his greatest accomplishment was undoubtedly winning gold in the 5000m, 10,000m and marathon at the 1952 Olympics. The only man to ever manage that, and probably the only man who ever will.

Good book. Incredible man.