Saturday, December 30, 2017


One of the nice things about the blog is there's a record of what I've accomplished over the course of the year. I like looking back at the end of the year and seeing what transpired more than setting goals at the beginning of the year. Me setting goals is like most people joining a gym in January - good intentions but no follow through. Looking back on 2017, however,  not a bad year at all.

On the project front, didn't finish any of the big jobs but I knocked out a ton of little ones, both for myself and for a few others. Did some welding on Cuzzin Ricky's trailer, Surly's firepit, a few motorcycle parts for my buddy with the little Ducatis and quite a few more that didn't make the blog.

I did make a little progress on the VW early in the year but not much to speak of. The sidecar project moved forward and there's really not a lot to be done for that one to be finished. Likewise the motorbike project. It's pert near done also. I got a good start on the veranda for the new barn. I wish I would have gotten that up in the air before the cold weather hit. I've got the platform stored where it'll be easy to finish up the legs but it's a rather inconvenient spot for me to trip over all winter. I didn't do a lot of riding this year but I got all the bicycles up to snuff with new tires, seat, handlebars, etc. as needed or wanted.

Traveled down to Indy a few times - boxing matches, bike shops, Speedway Museum and one of the big events of the year, my ride in an Indy car. That was a fun one. Took Bazooka Joe to Louisiana for the Golden Glove Nationals. That was a fun one as well. Cuzzin Ricky and I finally made it to the Studebaker Museum this year. That was a good day out. I was talking to a guy the other day and he said there's a Hudson Museum over that way. Might have to head over there this year coming up. It's been a long time since I've been to the Auburn Museum. Maybe take a couple days to hit the museums and squeeze a race in at Baer Field. That's one I've never been to. Did the Janus Motorcycle Exploration Day or whatever it's called. Got to ride a couple of their little bikes, have a good lunch at the brew pub and talk a little "squish band" with guys pursuing their dream. Hard to beat that - but the ride in the B-24 Bomber just might have.

Cuzzin Ricky and I hit a few open wheel races. DuQuoin for the Silver Crown cars was a good trip as was the trip to Wisconsin - midget races, Millers at Milwaukee, Harley Museum, Royal Enfield HQ. Also a couple other races. Not as many as last year but we've got some big plans for 2018.

Got some exercise throughout  the year. I think I did six race walk 5K events. I was the first male finisher in all six of them, I believe. Sounds really good but not much competition. Doesn't matter, really. I'm just trying to stay healthy and have some fun. Mission accomplished and I got my 50 books read for the year. Nice blend of healthy outdoor activity and sitting on my ass reading.

The wife's cancer is still in remission, so you know that's a definite high point on the year and I got together with my brothers and some of the extended family a few times this past year, always good but something that should happen a little more often. Hopefully the wife will be able to tolerate travel  better in 2018 so we both can get away a little more often. As it is, I'm still one lucky SOB.

So goodbye 2017, hello 2018. This year was another nasty one on the political front but I've mostly quit watching all of that. I think we're in the final throes of the Republic and there's not much I can do to stop the death spiral, so I'll just enjoy what I've got for the time I've got left. There were a lot of people hurt in the weather related events and the wildfires this past year. We all need to remember their suffering when looking back on the year. There's still a lot of people needing help, as there always is. Probably more this year, though. Hopefully 2018 will be a good year for all of us.

Best wishes, Shop Teacher Bob

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Deer Mount

Taking my normal shotgun approach to projects, I got my deer skull mounted up finally. I found the dead deer a few years back, cleaned up the skull and it's been sitting on top of my TIG welder ever since. It's now going to be hanging in the top of the new barn along with some other art work and photographs including this other skull I hung up a few years back.

I'm thinking this one's a raccoon. I found it out along the railroad tracks - probably hit by a train. Mother Earth News had an article a couple of issues back on how to tan hides, followed by an article on how to make a coon skin cap. As many coons we've got around here, might be fun to learn how to tan hides. I don't think I would have too much trouble sewing up the hat once the dirty work was done. Not like I need another hobby or something else to do. In fact, I've got a turtle shell I want to hang up as well. I'm not sure how I want to go about it yet.

The coon skull is on a sheet of copper inside a wrought iron frame I forged. It looks better hanging on the wall than it does in the photo. The deer skull looks fine on the wood but what do you do with a turtle shell? Hang it from a wire and make a mobile out of it? Maybe carve a head for it, drill the eyes out, put a small light inside it and set it on a shelf. I'll think of something and when it hits me I'll get it done. Might be five years, of course, but I'll get there.

I need to dig out my orange vest and start tramping around in the woods again. I used to run the old dog across the tracks in the woods and fields and we'd come across all kinds of things. Since the old girl died, I haven't done much of that. Of course now we've got snow on the ground, so I wouldn't be able to find much in the way of treasures but I've always enjoyed hiking around in the woods. Good for the soul and the body. I'd like to find some antler sheds some day. There was a real big buck around here a couple of years ago. Be cool to hang some antlers in the peak of the barn over the big doors.

It's going to have to warm up a bit before I do much of anything outside, however. It was 0.0 degrees when I checked the temp yesterday morning about 7:30 and -3.2 at 9:30 last evening. Not worth trying to heat up the shop, even with the new heater. Looks like the temps will remain frigid until next week. I've got some things going on in the basement shop, plus some general messing about around the shack to keep me busy until it warms up a bit.

2017 is just about over, so I should maybe make some plans for next year that I won't follow through on. I'll have my year in review post up in a couple of days, though. Easy enough to look back, not so much for the future.

Monday, December 25, 2017

BSA Christmas

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I'm hoping to get to work on my brother's old BSA fairly soon. Surly came up with a design for the side covers that looks workable. If I can get most of the mechanical things done, I'll just turn it over to someone else to fettle the carbs and get it tuned up. The photo comes from Just Beezas on Facebook, by the way.

Usually I'm fed up with Christmas music by the time Christmas rolls around. This year, for whatever the reason, I've been able to avoid most of it. I do have a few favorites - Elvis doing Blue Christmas and I'll Be Home For Christmas - and Merry Christmas Baby. Lots of people have covered it but I like this version by Charles Brown the best.

We've got a white Christmas here this year. I woke up yesterday to the snow coming down and it just kept coming  'til we got a pretty decent amount. The temperatures are supposed to be down right cold the next week so the snow will be here for a while. I've got a get together to attend this week but the next place I need to be is in the middle of January - so let it snow, blow, get cold, or what ever Mother Nature wants. I can light the fireplace and catch up on my reading.

Today though, it's Christmas. A day to spend with your loved ones, both friends and family. So
best wishes to you and yours, steer clear of the mistletoe and go easy on the egg nog.

Peace - Shop Teacher Bob

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Loaf Pan Layout & Loafer Lay-a-bout

I read an editorial the other day and this song was mentioned. I've been humming & whistling it ever since - figured I'd pass it along.  You're welcome.

What I really wanted to post about, however, was making a liner for a pair of loaf pans so the Missus could make fruitcake.

She tells me the recipe calls for a liner out of brown paper, you grease it up and then you put a layer of wax paper on top of that one and grease it as well. "Think you can take care of that for me?" No problem I say. I grab a ruler and scissors and go to work on my layout. I get the pattern laid out and ask her if she wants rivet/soldering flanges on it and she tells me: "Just get it done, Hot Shot. I've got the oven warming up." The point here is that I've done enough sheet metal layout over the years that making a pattern for a rectangular box isn't much of a brain teaser, even if it does have tapered sides. Besides, this is something I learned in drafting class back in eighth grade.

Now the question is, how many high school kids of today could make this thing using only a ruler and a pencil with no instructions? I'd like to think that 90 percent of them could. The answer is probably closer to 10 percent. I taught drafting at the high school level one year and we did these types of things, so it's not like they can't master it. The problem is where are they going to learn it? If you look at the typical high school curriculum, I'm thinking you'd be hard pressed to find anything about sheet metal layouts and developments even though this is a skill used a lot more often than you might think. Boilermakers, pipefitters, sheet metal men, people working in auto and motorcycle repair work, carpenters doing flashing around windows and eaves, as well as those doing general metal fabrication work. There's a lot of cut and fold work out there. Ask any boat builder about lofting or a seamstress about putting a couple of darts in a blouse.  Even if you never make any type of development after high school, developing the skill to be able to see how the flat pattern will appear when folded together or vice-versa, is definitely worth having.

Here's another education thing - and just one more reason why it's time for me to get out of teaching. I had a kid last semester that for whatever reason had trouble getting to school in the morning at 8:00. He was working but I think it was mostly he's just unclear on the whole concept of promptness and responsibility. Anyway, I teach the morning class and another guy teaches the same class in the evening. The other instructor doesn't mind this kid coming in to make up class time - all of us do the same thing to help students get their time in. So Monday morning of the last week the kid shows up, late of course, but he's there. I tell him to make sure he shows up on Wednesday for the final exam. Wednesday, no show. I leave a copy of the test for the night guy in case the kid shows up. No show there either. Thursday I get a e-mail from a counselor that the little darling needs to get his test taken. I tell the counselor to have him contact me and we'll schedule a date but it has to be soon because the grades are due the following Tuesday. The kid tells me he'll be there at 9:00 on Monday morning. I show up, stick around for an hour and head back out. He's a no show. I didn't have to come in but I had some other things to do so I'll be a nice guy and this will be my last official act of kindness at the college. I get home and I've got a friend request from the little darling on Facebook! So he can't make it the final exam but we should be Facebook buddies. Definitely time for me to just stay home and make liners for loaf pans. And people say I'll be bored sitting around the house.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Lathe Update

I've been hitting things left and right of late. Not too much worth posting about but happy with my progress just the same.

The top photo shows the basement lathe bathed in light from the newly installed halogens. They are three small lights designed for under cabinet use. Looks like I might need a little supplemental light to prevent me from working in my own shadow but that's no biggie. I've got a work light on the neighboring workbench with a post that drops into a hole. I've got brackets on both ends of the bench to best utilize it. I can make up a couple more on each end of the lathe bench if need be. Seems as I age, I need more light when working. In fact, I just bought another penlight to carry around with me. They come in handy, especially this time of year when the days are short.

The lower photo shows the compound that I milled a bit off of. The machined surface wasn't quite deep enough to allow the tool post to rotate properly. So that's taken care of. I'm thinking some sort of shelf on the back of the lathe bench for the tooling would be nice. I'll have to give that some thought.

I've made a lot of progress on typing up the family history project. Other than scanning in some documents and photos, my side of the family is done. I'm typing up the stuff for the Missus' side of the family now. What I need is something like the old Family Tree Maker to make up a tree for the different branches of the various family names. It would make following the lineage much easier. I'm sure there's something out there I can find - just have to do it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Year in Books

I finished up my 50th book of the year - Denis Leary's Why We Suck - an extremely irreverent look at life - as you would expect from Denis Leary. I checked this out of the local library and have marveled over the last few years at some of the books that libraries have on the shelves. It takes a lot to offend my sensibilities and Leary's language is certainly not going to do it. In all honesty, that's pretty much how I talk as well. However, I can't imagine this book and many others that I've gotten from the library in recent years even being on the shelves years ago. Times have certainly changed. I'll let you decide if that's for the better or worse.

I read a variety of things last year, some who-dunnits/mysteries, history stuff, biographies, and a little more of this and that. Two of the best in the biography department was the one about Emile Zatopek and the Louis Zamperini one about his life after the war years. I also enjoyed Lost Horizon that I was lucky enough to find in one of the free book stands in downtown Indy. Re-reading Blue Highways was a pleasure as well.

I'm trying to decide now if I want to continue on my quest to again read fifty books in 2018. I haven't had much difficulty the last few years achieving the goal. Actually, since I started keeping track in 2011 there's only been one year, 2014, that I didn't read at least 50. Adding the totals of the past seven years, I've read 352, so I've averaged 50 per year. I don't pay much attention to page count normally. As long as a book is less than 500 pages, I'm game. However, I'm thinking that for 2018 rather than trying to knock out a book per week, maybe relax a bit and change my approach.

I do have a big fat biography on Henry Ford I'd like to dive into. No way I could finish that in a week - or maybe ever. Lots and lots of pages in that one. I also want to read and re-read some things in particular: Jack London, Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle and Melville's Moby Dick. If I remember correctly, that one's a good 500+ pages. I'm thinking also re-reading The Razor's Edge would be time well spent. That's probably my favorite book. Maybe see if I can find the movie version of the book starring Bill Murray, rather than the older version with Tyrone Power. It's not a typical role that you would associate with Bill Murray but I watched the movie years ago and would like to see it again - especially if I'm going to be reading the book again. Maybe try something else by W. Somerset Maugham also.

I'm also going to be taking a class or two at the college which will cut into my reading time and getting my ham radio license is a high priority for the upcoming year, which will require some study time. So even though I should have more free time coming up this year, maybe put the 50 book thing on hiatus and just take it as it comes. It's not like I'm going to stop reading. That'll never happen.

To all of you out there, read. Read to your kids and get them reading on their own. Go to Dover and buy yourself a few of the cheap classics to stockpile for when the electricity quits flowing, along with a few candles or a decent lantern. Moveable type - it's one of the greatest, if not the greatest invention of all time. Even greater than indoor plumbing and the cordless drill. And, once again, some of the greatest advice ever to young people from the now defunct Starlet Showcase blog:

Anyway, here's my advice: read a book, read lots of books, keep your face washed and don't worry about your complexion too much, don't give your teachers a hard time, don't be late for everything, always use condoms, get plenty of sleep but not during class, and if you go home with someone and he doesn't own any books, don't sleep with him. That's basically it. Have fun.

Monday, December 18, 2017


I was down the basement the other day looking for a box of Christmas dishes for the Missus and while down there I figured it would be a good time to take inventory and maybe throw a few things out. I donated all my hockey gear to Goodwill a couple of years back and figured it might be a wise idea to get rid of my roller blades as well. I really don't need to break a wrist or a collarbone, that's already been done. Imagine my surprise when I found the lower platform of the skates laying on the floor and the boot parts still hanging by the laces from the floor joist above. Don't know what happened, just came apart. I'm going to save the wheels - maybe use them for an outfeed table on the table saw, but the rest is gone already.

I did get out and go ice skating Saturday night. One of my skates has a couple of the rivets holding the boot to the blade that has come loose. I think I can drill out the rivets and re-rivet them or even put a couple of brass or stainless machine screws in there. If I can find a couple of pan head screws, that'd be the easiest fix. I'd be able to tighten things up without leaving a bump under my heel. As little as I go skating, I can't see investing in a new pair of skates. It was a beautiful night to be out skating with friends, though.

I got the old Allis out yesterday, ran it up and down the lane and put the shoes underneath the scraper blade so I'll be ready to plow snow. I haven't got the snowblower out yet this season. I should probably do that real soon as well. We need to get a pretty deep snow before I ever use it, but around here you never know what winter will bring. Since I don't have to go to work this week, probably a good time to get that done, especially since the weatherman's calling for warm temperatures for a few more days.

Have a good week.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Underwater Welding Demo

I went to an underwater welding presentation at the old high school this morning. Pretty interesting and informative. The man with the rig is looking to put these presentations on at high schools and colleges. If you're interested and in the Mid-West contact information is in the one photo.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

That's All Folks!

And that's all she wrote for the teaching career - at least for now. Might make an encore appearance in March but for all intents and purposes, it's a wrap.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Birthday - Ham

Photo by Surly

I've only got two days left to work - if this guy was still around we'd have to do something about that. As it is, I'll hoist one today for Johnny and one for myself on Wednesday.

Happy birthday, Bro.

Since this is my middle finger it kind of fits in with Brother John and the attitude he had towards a lot of things. In this case it's the discolored part that you should focus on. I was welding up a couple of pieces for the lab tech in the Weld Shop at the college the other day that required a small diameter stainless electrode. We have some 5/64" 309 rods that were perfect for the job at hand but for some strange reason, the small rods on the Miller machines go up in smoke once in awhile. They'll just vaporize even though the machine is set on only about 50 amps. This is an inverter type machine that has a choice of starting voltages. We keep them set on the higher voltage setting to facilitate arc starting, especially with the 7018 in the vertical and overhead positions, which may be the cause.

Anyway, I went to tack the piece on that I was working on, the rod went up in smoke and burned a hole in my glove and scorched my finger. No pain or real harm done to my finger but it pissed me off that I burned a hole in a fairly new pair of gloves. Plus I'm still not sure of the exact cause of the problem. I gave up on the Miller and moved to one of the Lincoln machines and didn't have any trouble after that. That's not the kind of thing you want to have to worry about when you're trying to weld something delicate together.

I went to the ham radio meet on Saturday. I was going by the article in the paper and apparently things weren't quite what they seemed. First of all the location had changed, but I found the group, all of whom were there to take the exam for their license, me being the only exception. Anyway, this is a new club that's forming and the vice president took a few minutes to fill me in on what's happened so far, what the group has planned for the future and some answers to specific questions I had. I'm going to start studying again after I finish everything up for the semester at the college and then take the test. If I had known they were giving the test Saturday, I would have reviewed my materials prior to that and took a shot at it. As it is, they meet once a month at a location not too far from the shack, and it looks like these are the guys to get me on my way to becoming a ham operator.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The shape I'm In

The post title might seem to indicate that things are not going well, but all things considered, not too bad. One more week of work left but I'm in negotiations with my boss to teach another course in the spring semester. The course will start in March, run eight weeks, two days per week and wrap up in the middle of May. The machining course I'm taking will be on one of the same days and it will be over right before my class would start so I'd already be there one day per week any way. I told the boss I'd let him know in January when classes start up again.

Christmas is fast approaching and I'm not ready by any means. I'm pretty jaded about all the holidays anymore. However, everyday is pretty much a holiday for me when it comes right down to it, so I don't need all the hype and bullshit that comes around earlier and earlier every year. Seems like now the Christmas stuff hits the shelves right after Halloween and Thanksgiving is just a day to rest up so we can all go crazy with shopping the next day and the week that follows. It says a lot about who we are in this country and it ain't good.

Cold weather is upon us and I can look forward to three months of winter. On the upside, I won't have to be getting up in the morning and leaving the house in the dark any longer. I've got heat in the shop so I can work on the projects and I'm making progress on the basement workshop and projects down there. See - every day's a holiday!

I was contacted by Steak 'n Shake about the lousy service we received last weekend. Apparently there was a staffing issue and they're going to tighten me up with a gift card or something. At least I know they read their e-mails.

I'm going to a meeting about a ham radio club a guy is trying to start up locally on Saturday. I've been wanting to get involved in that but isn't hasn't been working out. Hopefully, this will be what I need so I can get my license and get a little help with my radio I bought. The license test is set to change this year, so I need to start studying again and take the test before they change it.

That's all I've got.

Monday, December 4, 2017


Made a couple of items for the new lathe - chuck wrench and a tee slot nut to hold the tool post to the compound. The piece for the compound is made from two pieces of flat bar that I plug welded together. A lot easier than machining a piece to fit. Likewise on the chuck wrench. I drilled a hole in the round bar and inserted a piece of keystock in the hole and then plug welded it in. Not what you'd call great progress but a little something. But to be honest, I'm not looking to be running at much more than an idle now until I retire in two weeks.

I went down to Indy Saturday for a boxing match and saw this monster in the parking lot of Steak 'n Shake when we stopped on the way home. Probably a $100K pickup truck. I'd have to have a rope ladder I could drop out the door when I parked or I'd never be able to get back in, though.

The fights went fairly well. We took three guys down, one guy got a walkover win, one guy got a win by DQ after about a dozen low blows and the third guy lost due to running out of gas in the third round. This was his first fight and he was doing really well early on. He just forgot to breathe. It was a nice trip, at least until we got to Steak 'n Shake in Lebanon. This is a regular stop after the fights and usually the food is good for what you pay and the service is OK but that wasn't the case this time.

There were eleven of us in our group and quite a few other customers in the place but apparently there was some pissing contest going on over who was going to wait on us. It was about 10 minutes before anyone came to the table and the server said she'd get our drink orders and then who ever the server was going to be would get the food orders. We finally placed our orders but we didn't get any food on the table until we'd been there 45 minutes. I ordered a malt as my drink and it took that long before it came to the table. My salad came about 15 minutes later, so I just got a container to take it with me. An honest to goodness hour to get a salad and a malt! I noticed the sign on the wall while I was in line to pay about how Steak 'n Shake is fanatical about service so I dropped a complaint in their in-box yesterday morning. Have to see how that works out.

Supposed to get cold after today and be like actual December weather. I'm going to keep picking away at the lathe project and the family history write-up. I need to sit down one of these days and take a good look at the to-do list. Give it a bit of thought as far as prioritizing things, make a new list and then just do as the mood strikes me like I usually do.