Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wrong Way Corrigan

Went to the county fair yesterday - not much to see if you go early in the day but that's why I usually go early in the day. The chickens and the rabbits and all the rest of the animals are all there but the commercial buildings and the rest of it is pretty much buttoned down until the evening. I checked out the 4H building, the photography displays, all the animal barns and the Retired Iron Club display of old tractors and farm equipment. The blacksmith shop where I used to work was closed up, however. The club this year had some old farm trucks on display along with the tractors. 

The old Ford in the top photo is exactly the type of rig I'd like to have. The Dodge in the middle photo looks like it would be more at home in a lumber camp than on a farm out here on the prairie, but it's pretty cool, though. The bottom photo is a Minneapolis Moline that runs on LPG. Minneapolis Molines are something of a rarity around this neck of the woods but especially one that's powered by propane rather than gasoline. This one is owned by a former student of mine. He also has a Farmall M that was on display. I saw his son driving the M in the tractor parade a couple of years ago but didn't realize he had the Moline. 

While listening to the local radio station on the ride home I heard that it was Wrong Way Corrigan Day. Interesting story about how he got his name as well as what his life was all about at the link. I like his quote saying he never had any aims, that's why he never got anywhere. I would think flying solo across the Atlantic Ocean to Ireland in 1938 was going somewhere.

I ordered a couple of parts for the Rickati project - gas cap, throttle, cable and grips. I'm going to need a battery and a kill switch for sure. I'm not sure what those little Ducatis used for a voltage regulator. I do have a tail light on the old Preston Petty rear fender but I don't think it would be worth it to hook it up. The bike's supposed to be built as a vintage trials bike, so no lights required. I've got an ignition coil mounted up under the gas tank and I think I've got a new plug wire I can use. The front brake is hooked up and operational and I've got a new clutch cable already. Looks like I need to line up the rear wheel and make some spacers for the axle and weld up the foot peg mounts but that's basically it. I'm going to work on it while I'm fiddling with the 900. I can leapfrog from one job to another so if I need to wait on parts or something, I can keep going on at least one of them. Maybe sneak in a little work on the Sprint or the VW as well.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


I really don't need most of the fancy electronics that come with new cars and trucks, which is a good thing since my new truck is a bare bones model. No back up camera or lane departure warning, no GPS to tell me where I'm going, just the basic radio with a CD player, which is step up from the old Dodge with the tape player, however. I do like my Sirius radio, though. I've got a wide ranging taste in music and the new radio accommodates that nicely. It took me a bit to get the installation completed but I've got the presets all programmed and I'm back in business. Where else are you going to be able to hear all three Hanks, jazz, blues, bluegrass, and classic rock without commercials? It's a luxury I'm willing to pay for - especially since I'm going back to work and will be spending more time in the saddle again.

Cuzzin Ricky and I went out for breakfast the other morning and we got the sidecar off the horses afterwards. I got the shop cleaned up a bit and rolled the Rickati into the shop. My back's about healed up, so I'll take a good hard look at the bike and try to remember where I left off six years ago and finish whatever  needs to be done while I've got the motor in it and then send it out to my buddy. Hard to believe it's been that long since I brought it home from the high school but other than my wife's health issues, it's been a great six years. Even going back to work at the college has been great, in spite of working more hours than I had planned on for a few of the semesters.

The weather's been unusually hot lately. The weatherman says Chicago averages 17 days per year of 90 degree or warmer days and we've already had 15. Typically the hottest time of summer is the end of July and the first of August, so we're going to be looking at some more heat yet this season. That really slows down my productivity on the outside projects but I am going to try and get my three projects with wheels underneath them finished this year. I got the motorbike done, so only two more to go, but the year's already about half over. It'd be nice to have some decent progress to report here on the blog and be nicer still to actually have a couple of the bike projects to ride and enjoy. By now the road to Hell should be paved like an Interstate highway with all my good intentions.

Stay cool and save your money. Hard times are coming.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Mo' Bikes

Saw this one on Facebook - kind of timely for me. I finally made it out to the shop to get a line-up on what I'm planning on next and I was standing next to my Francis-Barnett while looking over the Sprint project. I've been working on the Sprint a little here and a little there to the point that it's pretty close to being done. I need to figure out what I'm going to do for a back wheel and get a set of piston rings for it, but not much else to do other than some piddly things. I get that one done and I think I'll start doing the same thing with the Francis-Barnett. It's going to take some serious parts chasing to locate a few missing things. 

In the meantime, I'm going to jerk the Rickati out as soon as I can get a little help moving the sidecar off the saw horses. I need to finish up a few things on that so I can farm the engine out to my buddy the Ducati specialist. He called the other day and he's planning on heading back to Italy next year for the Moto Giro. He's taking the same bike he took a couple of years ago but he wants to improve the front brake. I had an arbor for those little Ducati front hubs so I could turn the brake drum at one time. I don't know if I've got it laying around still, if I gave it to my buddy or if it got tossed out. Regardless, I should be able to fix him up with what ever he needs and can't do himself, which isn't much.

I took the Missus in for another procedure on her back yesterday. It doesn't take long to do it but by the time it's done and I get her taken care of at the house, the day's shot. My back is still a little tender but not bad. I sent my entry in for the bike race but it doesn't look like I'll be able to train much. My handlebar tape came in and I've got that installed, so the old Raleigh touring bike is all set to go again. While Cuzzin Ricky and I were out the other day, we stopped at a rest area and I picked up a flyer about things to do in Southern Illinois. Seems they have the Tunnel Hill State Trail that is an old rail bed. Looks like it could be a fun one in the fall. I haven't had my little camper out for a long time now. I can hook that up to the new truck and head south. The trail is about 45 miles in length, so ride one way, camp, then return the next day, camp and then mosey on home. 

I got a call from my boss the other day. He's desperate for someone who can teach morning classes at the college. I told him I've already booked a trip to Alaska about the time the semester starts. If I would be willing to show up after I get back from my trip, he thinks he can get someone to sub for the time I'm gone. Looks like I'm going back to work, at least for the first eight week session. Probably the second eight weeks as well. I'll be teaching the beginning stick welding class the first eight and advanced stick if I do the second eight. I don't mind the job. In fact, I rather enjoy it. I just don't want it to interfere with my travel plans. I got the Sirius radio hooked up in my truck and they paved a section of the back road I take going to work. Looks like my commute will be pretty smooth at least.

And speaking of travel plans, I got an e-mail from the outfit that I used last time I went to Europe and they got a special deal on a trip to Ireland - $999.00 and that includes airfare. I haven't checked into the details but it's an offseason thing that I might be able to work in right after the first of the year. Have to see about that. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Chiropractor Again


The Missus and I were supposed to go to our 50th high school class reunion Saturday evening. I've been ambivalent about going right from the start but I figured if she wanted to go, I'd be happy to escort her. She's been having trouble with her back and I managed to throw mine out on Friday - not too terribly bad this time but enough to make it a bit uncomfortable. I moved a bunch of bags of concrete mix Thursday to repair the sidewalk and I'm pretty sure that was the set up. Anyway, I was all dressed to go Saturday but the Missus decided to abort the mission. In addition to our health issues, she had also learned of the passing of a young relative and just didn't feel like going out. I'll be making a trip to the chiropractor today which should fix me up. At least until I have to deal with all the bags of concrete mix and repair the sidewalk..

I did get a bit of yard work done and I welded up the floor on my bicycle trailer where some of the welds holding the expanded metal floor on had broken. The trailer tubing is Inconel and the floor is plain carbon steel. I welded them together with 309 stainless filler which should have done it but the trailer's seen a lot of rough service. Only thing left on the touring rig is the new handlebar tape and I'll be ready to go again. I'm hoping the tape comes in the mail today. I'd like to have that finished.

The missing link to hook up my Sirius radio in the new truck came in Saturday. I should have that done in the next couple of days. As soon as I can bend over without fearing a lock-up on the back, I'll be hitting the bike projects once more.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Bike Training

The old Raleigh came equipped with Suntour Power Shifters. They worked really well until the spring broke inside the one for the rear derailleur while on tour. They've got a ratchet mechanism inside that makes them work better than pure friction shifters. I've got Campy friction shifters on my other Raleigh and they work well enough but I like the feel of these. I ordered a used set off of eBay that came in yesterday I replaced the broken one after dinner and took it for a short test ride to run it through the gears. Seems to be good as new. Waiting on the handlebar tape now and I should be back up to snuff.

I took the other Raleigh out for a spin yesterday morning to do some "speed" work. I was planning on going back out after going to the gym in the evening but the gym was cancelled and we had storms rolling through. I was lucky just to get the test ride in on the other bike. I doubt seriously that I'll be able to go very fast in the upcoming race but that's just fine by me. If nothing else it'll help get me in shape for the stress test I've got coming up this fall.

The weather is supposed to be decent the next few days and then back in the 90's. I need to start getting out earlier in the morning. After doing my bike ride yesterday morning I picked a big bowlful of red raspberries. The sweat was pouring off me by the time I was done. I need to pick some gooseberries today or tomorrow. Time for a pie. You can tell I take my training seriously.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Bicycling Bennies

The local library does health screenings once a month. You can get your blood pressure and glucose tested for free and your total cholesterol number for $5.00. I was curious as to what my numbers were going to be after the bike trip, what with the four days of heavy exertion and the change in diet. Blood pressure was the winner for the morning at 112/68 and the total cholesterol was an excellent 122. The nurse was very surprised by both numbers. I was a little surprised by the cholesterol number myself after some of what I'd eaten both before and during the trip. I weighed yesterday morning and I'm only a pound away from my weight goal that I wanted to hit by Saturday. I should revise it downwards another five pounds judging by my waistline, but I'm now only ten pounds over what I was when I graduated high school and when I got married. Lot to be said for proper diet and exercise. It takes some work but you don't have to go to extremes like riding the Cowboy Trail. Just keep an eye on your waistline, blood pressure and resting pulse rate and then adjust your caloric intake and exercise routine accordingly. Yeah right - easier said than done, I know.

There's a bicycle race locally at the end of the month. Now that the legs are in pretty good shape, I'm considering entering it. My cardio could be a bit better but I've got a good three weeks to train. I've done the race a couple of times in the past and it's a fun event. I think my saddle pal is good for it. I should see her at the gym this week and see what she wants to do. She's getting married soon and wants to lose a couple of pounds yet so she'll probably go for a bit of biking.

A couple of unrelated things:

They're working on the highway by me, so the road that goes by my house has had a lot of traffic of late. I was down by the mailbox and saw a Tesla go by. Might be the first for the old county road. Those are nice looking cars.

While stopping in one of the small towns in Nebraska recently, we went to a gas station/mini-mart and there was a sign on the door that credit cards weren't accepted. I always carry a few bucks in my shoe wallet along with my ID and a couple in my first aid kit just to be on the safe side. Lots of folks no longer carry cash at all. Might want to rethink that and keep a few dollars in the car or on your bike.

Hope you all had a good Independence Day. I didn't do much due to the heat and the threat of rain but I did pick off a few of the household chores on the list and made a serious dent in the pile of mail and magazines. It's supposed to be hot again today but cool down a bit after that. Need to get the sidewalk repaired and the yard reseeded from the well job as well as getting something done out in the shop. I've got a bit of fire in the belly after looking at all the cool stuff out in Nebraska.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

End of The Trail

We finished up on the trail about noon on Friday and then headed for Lincoln. After checking into the hotel we went out for a burger. The hotel clerk recommended Honest Abe's so off we went. They had a veggie burger but I broke training and went for the Classic. Might be the first time I've had bacon since I had the heart attack six years ago. It's tough to be a vegan when traveling. More so if you don't want to be a pain in the ass with the group you're traveling with. Since my concern is mainly my heart health rather than a philosophical issue, a little meat now and again shouldn't kill me. It was a good burger.

Saturday morning we headed to Speedway Motors and the American Museum of Speed. We checked out the retail store first. Much to our surprise, if you buy anything at all in the store you can use your receipt to get two free entries to the museum. Hard to beat that. The counter-men were both cool with us gawking while we waited for the museum to open. I was going to buy a couple sets of stickers and the guy grabbed a pair of them from under the counter and just tossed them my way. Service. Not at all like the Geek Squad.

The museum is out of this world. If you're any type of gearhead at all, this place is a definite must see. We hustled through it at a pretty good clip so we could get home at a decent hour, but if you go, I'd plan on about four hours if you really want to soak it all in. There's cars of all types, engines, pedal cars, guitars, lunch boxes, model/miniature cars, record albums, and who knows what all. Everything on display is in good shape and if you have questions, there are knowledgeable people around to answer your questions.

Photos from the top:

1. Really cool trailer to haul a midget racer around in. If I ever build a utility trailer, I think it'll be    something like this one.

2. A Super Modified. I've never seen these things run except on television. Cuzzin Ricky and I should pursue a race in the future. These things boogie.

3. A Frank Kurtis sports car. I've never seen one of these in the flesh before even though I've seen quite a few Kurtis midgets and champ cars. I've got a book on Kurtis and the sports and custom cars he did were mentioned but it's nice to have actually seen one.

4. Hedy Lamarr's '58 Cadillac. Hedy was something. In addition to being beautiful and a talented actress, she was pretty damn smart coming up with a electronic method used to prevent the bad guys from jamming the radio signals guiding the torpedoes during WWII. One of the best looking years for Cadillac in my book. This one is a primo example.

5. E.J. Potter's Chevy powered drag bike. They didn't call him the Michigan Madman for nothing. Rev it up, kick it off the stand and away he'd go. No transmission or clutch. Just wheelspin.

6. Aluminum body in the white. That's how they all used to be before they started making things out of fiberglass. Beautiful craftsmanship. The museum is chock full of beautiful craftsmanship. Lots of engines on display with a huge variety of things people came up with to make more horsepower or reliability.

By all accounts the Nebraska trip was a definite success. I left the trail wondering where we can go next. The one guy had to buy quite a bit of equipment to make the trek, so he'll want to do another trip or two. Might be another trip in my future. I got the seat adjuster on my saddle figured out - the threads on the adjuster bolt were boogered up where they go through the seat bracket which is why I couldn't get the adjuster nut to tighten things up on the trail. Probably best that I quit trying rather than doing something I would have regretted, like twisting the bolt in half. After filing the threads and putting some anti-seize on the bolt, I took up some of the slack and the seat is much better now. I'll ride it around a bit and then give it a couple of more turns if need be. As soon as the new shifter comes in I'll swap that out and rewrap the handle bars and I should be ready for the next trip.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Cowboy Trail Part II

Top photo was taken in Johnstown as we stopped for a late lunch. According to the proprietor of the L Bow Room, the town was named for John Berry who passed through the area while participating in the Chadron to Chicago horse race, liked the area and came back and settled in.

The middle photo is of the pool hall in another of the little towns we passed through. There was supposed to be a restaurant there but it had closed down, along with most everything else in town. The pool hall is just big enough to have a table and a bit of room to walk around it. The door is open and there are snacks available. It's strictly on the honor system. Pay for what you use and keep the place clean. Amazing, actually, but good to see.

The bottom photo is in O'Neill, the Irish Capitol of Nebraska. Those are my two saddle pals sitting next to the Blarney Stone. If you were to contemplate riding the Cowboy Trail, a bike like the one pictured would be a decent choice. The fat tire bike seemed to float over all the loose gravel without much difficulty. If I had known the condition of the trail prior to starting, I'd have considered riding my mountain bike, or maybe even buying a new one. The two of us who have toured together quite a bit both were running the same tires on our bikes - Schwalbe Marathons in 700 x 32. We did ride quite a bit of the distance on the road due to the conditions and the time constraints and on the road we had an advantage over the fat bike, but the other guy is a stud and he handled it like a boss.

The idea was to average 50 miles a day. Even with the late start on our first day we got in 46 miles, but we did have to put in some road miles. We hit right around 50 the second day and we knocked out a metric century plus on the third day. A metric century being 62 miles/100 kilometers. The last day was about 35 +/-. The wind was an issue on a couple of the days and the heat was also a concern, getting up into the nineties. The prevailing winds are west to east but we never had a tail wind. We did get lucky and dodged some serious rain clouds. The sky was thundering and there was lighting off in the distance on the third day but we stayed ahead of it and the clouds kept the temperature down for us.

I had some trouble with my bike. The old Raleigh has Suntour Power Shifters on the downtube. The one for the back derailleur broke the spring inside it for the ratchet mechanism but we got it rigged as a friction shifter and it worked just fine. A little nerve wracking initially, however. But that's how bicycle touring goes. I did learn that my cycling specific multi-tool doesn't have a Phillips head screwdriver on it. The straight blade isn't much to brag about either. Menard's sells a screwdriver with both straight and Phillips that is pretty compact. I think I might have a small one that takes 1/4" hex bits out in the shop that would work well also. I'll have to see about that. I also need to adjust the tension on the saddle. The top has sagged down and created a pressure point that is most uncomfortable. I'll oil up the leather and tighten up the adjustment screw a little at a time and see what I end up with. I already bought a replacement shifter off eBay that should be here by the end of the week. I need to pick up a roll of handle bar tape as well. I put a leather wrap on the bars a couple of years ago but the leather has shrunken badly and the stitching came apart while on the trail. The leather looked really good when it was new but I'll go back to regular cork tape.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Cowboy Trail

I got in late Saturday from the Nebraska trip. We started in Norfolk at the trailhead in TaHaZouka Park where we met Tony from North Fork Outfitting. He got us all loaded up at 8:00 and we headed for Valentine. We got there and got headed out a little before noon. The trail is rough and it's an uphill climb out of Valentine for a good ways. In order to make our first stop we jumped on to the highway after about 17-18 miles. The second day, one of the other guys took a tumble and banged up both knees. One bruised up immediately and the other one was bleeding and he was picking gravel out of it after his front wheel got sucked in by the loose gravel. There were several times I had to fight it pretty hard to keep from going down myself.

I expected the trail to be in better shape than what it was. There were lots of spots that were really soft, lots of holes 6 - 10 inches in diameter, and some of the trail had quite a few weeds growing up in the trail. Because of that, you really couldn't look around at the scenery while you were pedaling. You just had to stay focused on the trail immediately ahead of you. We passed three badgers that were together on one section of the trail. They made it quite clear that they owned that section and we should keep moving on. The badgers might have been what was digging all the holes in the trail. 

On the way out to Valentine I read in the paper about the mountain lions that have been spotted in Western Nebraska. When we crossed under an overpass, I spotted what looked like a big paw print. When we had breakfast a couple of days later the waitress told us a story about a big cat treeing her house cat, so I'm pretty sure it was a mountain lion print I saw.

More to come after I get unpacked and get the dirty laundry taken care of.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Shop Teacher Bob's Latest Adventure

 Our bike trip on the Cowboy Trail will be starting in Norfolk, Nebraska. We'll get shuttled to Valentine and then start the 200 mile ride back to Norfolk. We're looking at four days on the trail plus a couple of days out and back. The weather looks dry but hot. As long as we travel at an easy pace and stay hydrated, should be OK. I've got a fresh tube of SPF 50 sunscreen. Depending on how things work out we might stop at the Museum of American Speed on the return trip. It's not too far out of the way but it'll depend on the timing of things more than anything else.

I weighed my duffle bag after packing and it was only 19 pounds. Since that's all the weight I'll have in the trailer, I put my self-inflating mattress back in and took the little pad I use for back packing out. All told with my food, cooking gear and clothing I've got right at 30 pounds total for the trailer and the panniers. That's about as low as I can comfortably go. I've got some additional weight in my saddle bag with tools, first aid kit and spare tube and patch kit but those are a necessity.

Happy Trails, Y'all!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Saturday Nights Are For Fighting

Took three fighters to an event Saturday night. We couldn't make a match for one of them, one of them got his ass handed to him and the third one fought to a decision that went his way. The kid that got beat should have gotten an academy award for his performance when he went down. I won't say he took a dive but he sure as hell didn't want to get back up. This is the second time I've worked this guy's corner while filling in for Jimmy and it looked like we were on some reality TV show both times. That's it for me. I'm quits with that guy. Our winning fighter fought real well, getting better every round. He needs to work on his breathing but for a guy who has only had seven fights, he looks real good. He has a classic style - throws well with both hands, puts the shoulder behind the right hand, keeps his feet under him and he's all business in the gym and in competition. Night and day difference between the two fighters.

A couple of real positive things from the night: Our losing fighter was actually crying after the fight. His opponent's mother came over to him and gave him a nice consolation/pep talk and when she finished she told him. "now give me a hug". Classy lady. The referee for the evening was one of the best I've ever been around. He called all the fighters together before the bouts began and gave them his instructions. He repeated his instructions to all the fighters prior to the bouts starting, checked on the fighters between rounds and did a fine job of controlling the action, protecting the fighters but still allowing them to fight. When our winning fighter came back to the corner after the bout, he was hanging on the ropes huffing and puffing while I pulled the gloves and his headgear off him. The decision hadn't been announced but the referee came over and told him to stand up straight and look like a champion. And you could tell he meant it in the nicest possible way. Also he told my guy before the fight started while checking his equipment and repeating his instructions, while looking at me, to pay attention to the old crusty guy, he's been around long enough to know something about boxing. I got a chuckle out of that.

I'm about down to my fighting weight now. I used to be a middle weight - 165 lbs. That's what I weighed when I graduated from high school and when I got married. While I'm a ways off from being a middle weight, I could make weight as a light heavy now. I'm floating around 177-178. My goal is to make 175 by July 7th. Shouldn't have any trouble making that after the bike trip. I've still got a bit of a belly, probably have to get down under 170 for most of that to disappear since I'm not carrying the muscle I used to. Regardless, I'm in pretty good shape for a guy who'll be attending his 50 year high school reunion soon. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the old dudes held up.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

What's Been Going On

The well drilling outfit. It cost a pretty penny to drill the well but when you look at the equipment being used, there's a bit of overhead. There were two guys with two trucks and about a half day of time invested putting the well in.

Another two guys came back to connect everything from the well to the pump in the basement. The little excavator made pretty quick work of the trenching operation but he did have a little trouble with the sides of the trench collapsing in the soft sand. Fortunately it worked out OK without collapsing on anyone but he had to cut the sides back more than he wanted to. 

They showed up about 9:00 and left about 1:30 and I didn't see them stop working the whole time. They were all business and did a pretty nice job of filling in the trench and cleaning up when they were done. They ran a conduit for an electric line at the same time so when my pump fails, it will be relatively easy to swap out with a new submersible pump. I'm hoping that'll be something the next owner can worry about.

The top photo is a heavy bag from the gym. Nothing exciting about this, just put new chain on it. But that's one of the many reasons I need a truck. Seems I'm always hauling something around. Bottom photo is the sidecar wheel with the new tire fitted. It's mounted up on the sidecar now, so everything on that is finished except trimming the windscreen for clearance on the brace. I'm starting back on the bike itself now. 

I bought a Sirius radio tuner for the truck but ran into a snag there - why doesn't that surprise me? The manual says there's an auxiliary jack and a USB port to connect things but there is no auxiliary jack and the Sirius radio kit doesn't have anything that'll connect to the USB port. I need to get an adaptor and then I can finish that up. I found one on eBay for $1.60, shipping included but it won't be here for four to six weeks. Maybe try Radio Shack instead.

I've about got everything ready for the bike trip. I still need to pack my clothes but the bike is ready and the panniers are packed with food and cooking gear. The laundry's all done so it's just a matter of deciding what I'm taking along and packing in into the duffel bag. I checked the weather out there and as of now, it looks promising. No rain and temps in the mid to high eighties. We'll be doing roughly fifty miles per day, so it shouldn't be too tough on an old man.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Cycle Camping

We did the shake-down cruise to see what condition are conditions were in. About 25 miles each way. The trail is very nice but you have to use the highway for about 1-1/2 miles to get to the park. It's a busy road but most of it has a wide berm so it's not too dangerous. My only problems were my old sandals fell apart and leaving the park on the return trip you have to make a couple of steep climbs without any real warm up. At my age and with my medical history, I prefer easing my heart rate up. We got rained on both down and back but the timing worked out so we missed the big storms that came through before we hit the trail. When we got to the park the man in charge was kind enough to put us in a spot right next to a pavilion and close to the bath house so we could stay dry and had shelter if it got real bad. Fortunately, it didn't. My legs held up well with no soreness pulling the trailer around.

When we were getting ready to leave an old dude was cutting grass and we got to talking to him. Come to find out he used to race motorcycles and knew a couple of the same people my buddy and I know. He said he was 80 years old, gave his street bike to his son last year. Cool old dude. That's the kind of conversations you have when traveling on two wheels.

I'm typing this on the newly repaired computer, by the way. The local shop got me fixed up in a timely fashion and at a very reasonable cost. The Geek Squad was going to take three weeks to replace the hard drive and they wouldn't transfer my files unless I ended up paying something in the neighborhood of $150.00. The computer is supposed to be under warranty but apparently the hard drive is under warranty but the programs and the files are software and the warranty doesn't cover that. I'm thinking that's a load of crap. I doubt seriously that I'll be buying another Dell computer nor will I be taking any of my business to Best Buy.

Things are now pretty much back to normal around here. I've got a computer and water, so that's good. Still got a huge list of things that need done around the shack and on the projects but that'll probably always be that way .Looking forward to the upcoming bike trip now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

We Have Water

The well guy showed up and made the hook up. The pump cycle time is much shorter and you can tell when it's running that it's pumping water rather than sucking air. Glad that's over with. I've got quite a bit of work to do to repair the damage done to the yard and the sidewalk but I knew that was coming.

Doing a shake-down cruise on the bike. Going to ride the Panhandle Pathway, camp for the night and then come back the following day. It's been awhile since I did any bike touring but I think I've got everything packed up that I'll need, not only on the shake-down cruise but also for the Cowboy Trail, except for additional clothing and provisions.

I should get my other computer back in another day or two, when that happens I'll post a few pictures of what's been going on around here.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Been having a bit of trouble in the computer department. I've got the big one out for a hardrive exchange and the laptop is still plagued by a lack of memory. Some am I, truth be told, but there's probably not much I can do about that.

The well guy finally showed up and got the new well drilled last week. He was supposed to come back the following day for the hook-up but there was an emergency at one of the dairy farms that took precedence. Hopefully he'll be here on Monday so I can get that job wrapped up.

I got the new tire on the sidecar wheel, so that job is just about finished. Time to start on the bike.

Due to the computer issues, I went into the college the other day to write up a recommendation letter and to take care of a few other things while I was in the neighborhood. I ran into my boss while typing up the letter. One of the instructors has taken a new position and the boss was not too subtlety feeling me out about coming back and teaching a few classes again. He said he was really pleased with how I handled the Fab class and he'd really like for me to teach it again. Have to see about that.

Happy Father's Day to all you Daddy-O's out there. Stay cool.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Service Economy, My Ass

I called Sirius radio yesterday. Since I'm paid up until February, I went ahead and bought one of their portable radios to put in the truck. I wish I could have talked to a native English speaker, however. Working in weld shops and around hot rods and race cars all these years, my hearing is not all that it was, and when you toss in someone from a service center located in India it's a bit tough for both of us. It got worse when I called Dell.

The little laptop I bought in March ran low on memory about the time I took it out of the package. Windows has a couple of updates which basically brought the thing to the point is was barely useable. After being on the phone with their service rep for about 45 minutes he fixed it up so it no longer works at all. He was very nice but I had even more trouble understanding him. After he gave up on the fix he transferred me to someone else who said since it wasn't a hardware problem, he could fix me up but I would be charged for the service. Again, he was hard to understand but I understood enough to know I'm not going to pay to upgrade something that's only three months old. I think I'll scrap it first. Or mail it back to Dell and tell them what they can do with it. I did fill out the online form for problem resolution. Maybe I'll get somewhere with that. In the meantime my big computer was getting a message about the hard drive going bad. I filled out the form and they're sending me a new hard drive. Since it too is a Dell and less than a year old, I'm not too happy with them. 

I hate talking on the phone. By the time I was done talking with the "service" people, I was about as frustrated as a cardiac patient needs to be, so I had a bite of lunch and then headed to the shop. Did some cleaning and putzin' around, including sharpening some drill bits. Good therapy there. As was going to the gym working the heavy bag and the mitts last evening. Still waiting for the well guy to show up also. Be nice if service economy actually offered some decent service. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Bicycle Rack

Bike rack modified, painted and ready to install.

Finished product. You have to look close to even tell that it's in there but there's nothing wrong with that. My touring bike won't fit on the rack with the pannier racks on the fork, so I need to get the "racing" bike out if I'm going to be taking the bikes anywhere like I did the other day. Wouldn't hurt to ride that one a bit anyway. I might enter that bike race I've done a couple of times in the past again this year. I should be in pretty good shape after the Cowboy Trail and I'll have a few weeks to do some "speed" work. The race is eight or nine miles in  length. It'd be nice if I could do about a 19 mph pace. A few years ago I averaged about 21. Two years ago I started out at about 19 but faded about a mile from the end. If I had remembered the course better and knew I was that close to the end I could have pushed myself a bit more but it wouldn't have made any difference in the placings. Mostly it's like the 5Ks I do - a reason to exercise, have some fun and add to the Tee shirt collection.

Anyway, the bike rack is finished and it's on to other things. I need to do a bit of cleaning out in the shop first. Get everything tidied up and then tackle the 900, make a couple of little things on the Sprint project and start making some sidecovers for the BSA.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

New Truck

Goodbye Veloster, hello F150. I'm going to miss the little car. It was a fun little thing to drive.

I picked up the new truck yesterday. Think it'll be something I can live with for a while. In fact, might be the last new four wheeled vehicle I ever buy. I got 15 years out of the old Dodge. If I get 15 years out of this one, I'll be in my eighties if I live that long.

I loaded up my saddle pal and our bikes in the back of it and went a couple of towns over to ride the trail as my first outing. It sure rides and drives a lot nicer than the Dodge. The new one is a 2016 but it only had 4400 miles on it when I got it. The dealer said an old guy bought it but then found out his wife couldn't get in it with her bad hip, so he traded it in on something that sat lower. I'm going to have a similar problem with the Missus, so I need to get a step or some running boards to make it easier for her to get in and out as well. Seems like most of our trips together are trips to medical facilities and we always take her car anyway. I did a little online search and found some tubular chrome running boards that should do the trick and will dress the truck up at the same time.

I modified the bike rack that was in the Dodge to fit the Ford already. I need to take it back out, clean it up and then prime and paint it. I'll get that done in the next couple of days and then I'll be about set. The new rig doesn't have the provision for satellite radio. I'll have to see what I want to do about that - cancel the service or get a plug in tuner for it. I like the satellite radio both for the selection of music that's available but also because it's commercial free. Actually that's probably the biggest part of it. I did figure out how to program the presets on the radio already so I've got the radio dialed in at least.

I'll get the bike rack finished up and then back on the other projects.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

New Wheels

I bought a new rig - wasn't an XKE - but rather a Ford pickup. My old Dodge pickup is in need of some serious work or a new home. I chose the latter. I traded in the Veloster on the truck. Had mixed feelings about that. I really liked that little car and they're coming out with an even sportier version but getting a newer truck and getting rid of the car and the old pickup is really the best plan. License plates, taxes and insurance costs add up pretty quick, plus I buy plates for a couple of trailers and a motorcycle. And in Indiana, you never stop paying excise taxes on your vehicles. It goes down every year until you hit the minimum but it never goes away. And you have to pay the sales tax on your original purchase. Taxes - curse of the working man.

I'll post a couple of photos of the new rig after I pick it up tomorrow.

I checked with the bike shop about the sidecar tire. Seems that size is a little hard to come by. He's going to cancel the order and get me a similar size that's more common. Other than cutting the windscreen for the strut clearance, I've got everything else done on it. I'll be starting on the bike itself now. There's not a whole lot to finish up but I'm sure it'll take me twice as long as it should. I've been spending quite a bit of time on the bicycle training for the Nebraska trip, which doesn't help getting the projects completed, but I'm looking forward to the bike trip.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Mr Anachronism

A few items gleaned from the news of late:

Secretary of Defense Mattis says that 70% of those in the age group 18 - 24 are unfit for military service due to obesity, drug use - either licit or illicit - education or something else. While the 70% number is a shocker, if you've been a classroom teacher lately, you wouldn't find that all that surprising. God forbid if something happens that we need to count on our young people, hopefully they'll rise to the occasion.

Maybe not though. I also came across a little ditty about Portland, Oregon. Seems now that smoking weed is legal, they're having a hard time filling job openings because people can't pass the drug test. Now there's a big surprise.

From the Wall Street Journal last week an article about student loans. Says there are now over 100 people who have student loan debt of over $1,000,000. Yep, over one million dollars in student loans. The one example cited was accruing $130 per day in interest debt.

As part of my Alaska trip I'll be riding on the Alaska Railroad. Seems there are no cash transactions on the train. If you wish to buy something in the café or dining car it must be purchased with a credit/debit card. As much as I dislike the idea, it won't be long and it'll be that way everywhere. With my borderline? paranoia, I just don't like the idea of every purchase I make being recorded. Plus, how many people have gotten into big trouble with credit card debt? If you don't have the cash in your pocket for a purchase, hard to get in trouble by over extending. Of course, it is possible to get in real debt with borrowing. Just see the example above.

I developed a roll of film earlier today. That'll be another thing of the past real soon. For the most part it is already I guess. I saw where Canon no longer makes a film camera. Everything is digital and I understand the why of it. Makes perfect sense. However, I still like the mystery of taking the shot and developing the film to see how the negatives came out and the later magic in the darkroom when your image appears in the tray. Plus, altering a print in the darkroom is a much different process than altering digital images and I prefer the former to the latter. I'm not a total Luddite, mind you. This is the guy that just finished taking a multi-axis CNC machining course. Just a different skill set but also a reminder that it's never a bad idea to have some old school skills as a back up.

I'm not quite ready for the aluminum foil protective beanie yet, but I see some potentially dark days on the horizon. I've witnessed a few "digital" failures already. Most were no more than an annoyance but as we become more dependent upon the technology, the opportunity for major disasters grows. I'm not losing any sleep over these things but by looking at the big picture it's pretty obvious that young people not fit enough for the military, huge debt loads, no cash reserves or way to spend cash, and total dependency on technology could cause the perfect storm shutting down the whole country with a lot of people dying as a result. Not a pleasant thought, certainly, but one worth considering. At least in my case I'll be able to make a photographic record of the end of the world as we know it.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Portraits & Road Junk

One more Merle Oberon. Three different photos, three different looks. I like looking at these to see if I can figure out how they were lit. This one is a little tougher than the other two because it's hard to see her eyes. Obviously there was an overhead light in front and to the left - maybe two looking at how bright her left arm is and the lack of shadow on the background. The lack of a background shadow could've been the result of a background light as well. Probably two lights on her face judging by the lack of shadows under the nose. While I prefer both of the previous photos I've posted to this one, this is a great photograph just the same. Most of these were taken with an 8x10 view camera with retouching on both the negative and on the print if called for. Truly an art form from start to finish.

No art on this one. Just one more item I've found over the years while out running or cycling. I started running in earnest in 1976 when I was boxing and my coach told me we should enter the 10.5 mile run the town was planning as part of the bi-centennial celebration they were having. I've been running, racewalking or cycling ever since. I've covered a lot of both town and country miles and I've seen all kinds of flotsam and jetsam while out on the roads. Liquor bottles and beer cans of course, pornographic books and tapes, cassette tapes with about fifty feet of the guts unspooled, road kill, tools, car parts, trucker bombs, and I even picked up a Richard Petty Matchbox car while on my bike trip out west a few years back. About the only thing I haven't come across is money. I've found the occasional nickel, dime or penny, but never any real money. Probably the greatest value I've gotten has been the health benefit and the time spent with my running buddies and saddle pals.

Looks like the ninety degree temps are gone for a while. That'll make the cycling a bit more enjoyable. However, I'm sure it'll be hot in Nebraska when we're out there, so I need to get out in the heat a bit to get acclimated. I should have the sidecar finished this upcoming week and, hopefully, have a good start on getting the bike itself finished. Be nice if the well guy showed up too.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

More Randomness

Getting ready for the Cowboy Trail the last couple of days. I've got the shuttle service booked - still need to call out there to see about a room but everything's progressing nicely. I did some shopping for food items to pack along. I should be just about set on that. I need to go through the rest of my gear and see where I'm at there. I've lost some weight so I might need to get another pair of bike shorts. Other than that, I think I've got everything I'll need. I'm hoping to take a shake down cruise before leaving to make sure all systems are go. I might just load everything up and then camp out in the backyard. We'll see. I've still got a while yet.

I dropped off my sidecar wheel at the bike shop yesterday. He should have that for me next week sometime. I'm in no hurry - I've got plenty of other irons in the fire as always.

I got everything finalized for the Alaska trip. Looking forward to that one. Only three more states to go after I mark my territory up there. Should be a fun trip. Fly to Anchorage and then take the Alaska Railroad to Denali and return. We'll have a couple of extra days to look around Anchorage or take a side trip. Whatever we decide, I'll be good with it.

The heat is supposed to let up and it appears that it'll be dry with more seasonal temps next week. That'll be good for my bike training as well as working in the shop. The well guy hasn't shown up yet, so I'm still farting around with little things I can drop at a moments notice when he shows up, plus the Missus has some things going on that require my assistance. So I'm getting some things done, just not much worth posting here.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Random Things

Another Merle Oberon photo. Beautiful woman, beautiful photograph. It's going to have to cool off some before I attempt any "studio" work. I've got the lights set up and ready to go in the top of the new barn but yesterday it hit 97 and tied the record with similar temps being forecast for today. Needless to say, a bit warm to be working in the top of the barn with photofloods. I did get out on the bicycle and put some miles in, however. 16 yesterday and 20 this morning. I got in about 9:00 today and it was already pretty hot in the sun. I watered all the plants before I came in and got cleaned up and that might be the last I set foot outside today. Good day to sit around in the AC in my boxer shorts and catch up on my reading.

I did get the sidecar wheel painted the other day. It came out looking pretty sexy in gold. I found a tire on e-Bay for a decent price but I think I'll take the wheel to the local bike shop. Last time I bought one from them they installed it for free. Probably worth a couple extra bucks to have them do it and then it'll be balanced as well.

From a former student on Facebook the other day:

I havent welded aluminum in 14 years
I havent welded in flip flops since Mr M. threatened to revoke my scholarship if I didn't quote "put some damn shoes on before you have a flipper where your toes used to be"
And here I am walking like a idiot at work all day because of burns between my toes from welding aluminum in flip flops last night

It's nice to see they remember what you told them, even if they don't always do it. He'll probably be more careful next time, though.

And last, but certainly not least, this quote from General Eisenhower found here:


"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. Is this, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking? This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. Is there no other way the world may live?"

“When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity. After my experience, I have come to hate war. War settles nothing.”

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Remembering the War Dead

“In the time of your life, live- so that in good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding-place and let it be free and unashamed. Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world. Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart. Be the inferior of no man, nor of any man be the superior. Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. No man’s guilt is not yours, nor is any man’s innocence a thing apart. Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand. Have no shame in being kindly and gentle… and have no regret. In the time of your life, live- so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it. - William Saroyan, ”The Time of Your Life” (1939) (From Here)

Some words to live by on this Memorial Day Weekend.

And a little mood music.

Cuzzin Ricky and I made the rounds to the cemeteries the other day. And in keeping with the somber spirit of remembering those that paid the ultimate price for our freedom, I paid $75.00 for a tankful of gas in the old truck because the price-gougers decided to raise the price 30 cents per gallon over night. Nice way to remember the war dead, especially the recent dead and injured. Because you know damn well much of what's been going on over in the Middle East is about a cheap supply of petroleum.

 You need to think about the real cost of that gas when you're filling up the tank. In fact, when you're making travel plans you might want to include one of the national cemeteries. I've been to several of them, along with many of the Civil War battlefield sites, rather somber. I didn't realize there is a Confederate section at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. I've been there on several occasions. I'll have to check out the Confederate section next time I'm there. It's a shame that they are trying to eliminate all the monuments recognizing the sacrifices made by the Confederate soldiers. Lot of brave men died and wounded on both sides, and of course, it's never just the men who suffer. Crown Hill is actually a beautiful place to visit and if you have time you can check out the art museum next door. 

Please take a moment this weekend and remember the war dead and the sacrifices made by so many so we can still have our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Photos and Flowers

Lovely photograph of Merle Oberon - think this is a George Hurrell photo. He was one of the greats in Hollywood glamor photography. 

I've got my photo set-up pretty well ready to go. This isn't exactly the type of photo I'm planning on taking of the Missus but I've got a couple of ideas that I think would be suitable for someone a bit more mature. She's having a bit of trouble getting around these days, so I'll have to hold off on her photos but I would like to shoot a couple of practice shots to check light placement, exposure, etc. I've got a roll of film in one of the twin lens cameras with a couple of shots left on it - maybe get a couple of the daughter in law or who ever happens to show up around here first. 

I machined up a little piece for the photo lighting and welded up a leveling jack for a camping trailer the other day but that's about it for working in the shop. Made a couple of trips to the doctor with the Missus and made it to the travel agent to see about going to Alaska - looks like that's a go. Need to complete a bit of detail work with my soon to be traveling companions and it'll be booked. I'm also meeting with a couple of my "saddle pals" later in the week to finalize plans for riding The Cowboy Trail this summer. I've been getting out on the bike but I need to increase my mileage to get the old legs in touring shape. We're finally getting some good weather for outdoor activities. I like being out on the bike but it does take up a lot of time.

Cuzzin Ricky and I are also set for the dead relatives tour again. I've got a flat of geraniums we'll be planting on the graves this weekend. Planting flowers on the graves is a really a small thing, but yet it's a big thing. You never want to forget those who brought you up and kept you safe, whether that's an immediate family member or just one of many who have gone to war for you over the years. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018


The local radio station I listen to all the time out in the shop plays this one every so often. I usually sing along with it - nice thing about living out in the country, you can sing without annoying anyone. I didn't realize Frank Ifield was quite the accomplished yodeler.

I'm a big fan of cowboy music, especially the yodeling cowboys - Slim Whitman, Roy Rogers, Eddy Arnold, and, of course, Ranger Doug.

I think I'm going to have to teach myself how to yodel. As long as the dog doesn't howl too loud when I practice, I should be good. Beth Williams has lessons available in case you're interested in giving it a try.

Old Lady Who!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Race Weekend Recap, Pt. II

Here's a couple for Surly - the top one because he digs that kind of architecture, the bottom one because he used to own a Falcon for a short time.

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum is a must see for any automotive enthusiast. I was there once long ago, glad I made the return visit. Interesting fact: Duesenberg never made any of the bodies on their automobiles. They were farmed out to various coach building companies and they were made of 14 gauge aluminum. That would take a serious level of craftsmanship to build one of those. When you get the opportunity to look at the body work up close and personal, it's flawless. I did wonder when looking over the cars about the paint jobs. I'm assuming the original paint would have been an enamel. I wonder what they use when restoring these rigs. Whatever it is, it's done properly, that I can tell you.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Well, Well

I'm going to get a new well here at the shack. It'll be across the driveway and the supply line will run into the basement under the windows in the center of the photo. This necessitated moving all the stones for the retaining wall which was not much of thing. But I also had some concrete to contend with.

This is the piece I needed to move. There was a row of tulips and another bush on the right corner. I was able to get a pry bar under it and lift it up a bit.

The Egyptians moved heavy stones with slaves, I use old Allis. 

Easy enough to move it out of the way, probably not so much to put it back. Plus, there still needs to be a piece cut out next to the house. The well guy says he'll bring the saw and take care of that when he gets here.

The original plan was to come in through the back corner of the house into the crawl space and then zig-zag around to the pump. I called the guy back and told him I'd take care of the concrete repair. Just take the straight line into the basement where it runs right into the pump. That'll save him some work and me some money. Moving the concrete was actually pretty easy. It took longer to transplant the tulips and the bush. Not sure when the well guy will be here. That sort of thing depends on the weather but I'm ready on my end anyway.

It was a good day to be working outside, by the way. Nice sunny day in May. Because it was so nice, I did a couple other outside chores including putting the pitcher pump back on the standpipe. I filled the pump with water and then went for a little bike ride while the leather was soaking. When I came home I went to prime the pump and heard something inside the shop. When I went inside, sure enough, there was another raccoon in there. Fortunately for me, he got himself caught in the trap up top side. However, the trap was sitting on some wood boards straddling the rafters and he managed to wiggle off the boards onto the insulating board that makes up the ceiling. And of course, he had clawed a hole through it and made a mess on the floor below. At least the sidecar wasn't underneath it this time. If I hadn't had gone back to work on the pump he probably would have crashed through the ceiling in a short time. I don't know how that would have ended up.

Looks like I'm going to have to keep the doors closed during the day if I'm not going to be working in there. That'll be a pain in the ass during the nice weather but less aggravation than having a raccoon in there.

I've got a bit of gardening on tap this morning and then back on the projects. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Little Background

about the background.

Both the Missus and I graduated from high school fifty years ago. In those days your senior picture was taken in black and white with the standard package consisting of some wallet size, a couple of 4x5's and an 8x10. The 8x10 was hand colored and it typically looked very nice. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of our graduation, I want to take a nice black and white photo of both of us and then hand color them like the old days. Senior pictures of a couple of real seniors, as it were. I doubt if there is a professional studio anywhere left that could do this type of work now that everything has gone digital. I've done a bit of hand coloring and I've got the stuff, so how 'bout I give it a try.

I made the background out of a piece of luan plywood mounted to a frame made from 1x4's. The top of the frame is a 2x4 to give it a bit more strength where it will be hanging from the rafter in the new barn. The plan is the background will hang down when in use and then fold up against the rafters when not being used. I need to get some hardware to fasten it to the rafter when in the up position but other wise it's a done deal.

I still need to drag out the old lights and see what I've got to work with. I'm pretty sure I've got everything I need, but I need to try a couple of sample shots first. The old photoflood lights were super bright and hot. A couple of LED flood lights might work as well or better. They come in a daylight color balance but I'm not sure if they would be bright enough to work with without having to have too slow a shutter speed or an aperture opening too wide. The new light I just put up over the barn door has LED floods in it. I might set up a typical portrait lighting arrangement, install the LED bulbs and then take a meter reading and see what I've got. I've got some 100 ISO for the 4x5 camera and the twin lens both. Actually, I've got several different types of film for the twin lens but normally, slower speed equals finer grain which is better for portrait work. Of course, maybe old folks should be a bit more soft focus anyway. I don't want to end up with something that looks like my last drivers license photo.

So far I've only got $25-30 invested in the background and if all works well, I can use it for other photographic pursuits. I've been looking into doing some alternative process stuff - I made a couple of albumen prints a few years back. I'd like to try making my own glass plate negatives. I've got an old box camera that used those originally.  I shot a roll of film a couple of months back and I had a lot of fun both taking the shots and doing the darkroom work. Time to get back to doing a little more of it.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Final Final?

This was the final exam in the Fab class. They had to make the development, then cut out the parts using their resultant patterns and then weld the three pieces together. It took quite a bit of coaching to get the development made. I gave them their choice on cutting the tubing, plasma cutter or oxy-acetylene. They all chose the plasma as I suspected they would, even those who had never used one before. Grinding the cuts to get a good fit and have the elbow come out at 90 degrees was a little tough for a few of them. The real surprise was the quality of the welds. I gave them their choice here as well - MIG or TIG. My job wasn't to teach them how to weld but it looked like no one had on a couple of the pieces turned in - rough! Regardless, they all learned something, no one got hurt and I'm finished teaching once again.

My new windscreen for the sidecar arrived yesterday from Dime City Cycles. Sure looks better than the old one - even if the old one did have the cool AMA inspection sticker on it. I need to trim the top a bit for clearance of the support rod that runs up to the bike but I've got the old one for a pattern. I'll just have to be real careful not to scratch it.

I used the plasma at school to cut out a couple of pieces for the hot rod project before I drug up. These are the bases for the buckets so I can French in the taillights. I've got plenty of projects currently underway but I figured I'd buy the taillights while I was still drawing a check and since I had the lights, might as well avail myself of the college's tools while I was at it.

Pretty productive week. I've been able to post something every day and there was some project progress on a couple of the days. I need to get a tire now for the sidecar and I'll have everything to finish it up. I'm a little behind on my garden, mostly due to the weather. I should be able to have that in this coming week. They are forecasting a bunch of rain, however. Have to play that one as it comes but no shortage of indoor things to work on.

Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Wheel's Turning to Gold

I tried a couple of different colors on my sample wheel. One was more copper than gold but I do like the way it looks. Matches up with the color of the sheet metal nicely. The metallic gold isn't bad. If it had just a bit more yellow to it, it would be close to a perfect match. It's a one shot primer and color paint that supposed to work on aluminum. I'm going to shoot a second coat on it and see if it looks any better. The photo was taken early afternoon in bright sunlight, so there's that to be taken into consideration also.

I finished up the little stool. Looking at it after it's all done, I could have either bought one or just made the whole thing out of wood and tossed the aluminum section in the scrap pile. I didn't really save anything, but I did get it finished and I have a pending use for it. So there's that.

I finished up at the college yesterday. I took my final exam in the Multi-axis CNC class and gave the final in the Fab class. Now I'm done again - don't know if I should call it retired or on sabbatical. I won't be teaching in the summer or the first eight weeks in the fall. Not sure after that. One of the current instructors is looking at a full time job at a local high school. I'm sure the boss would love to have me back, especially if the other guy drags up. He seemed to be pleased with the way I handled the Fab class. I was pretty happy myself - don't know if I'm happy enough to want to do it again, however.

I'm going to keep picking away at the sidecar project and some of the work around the shack. I'm pretty much back in a groove now. Feels good to be getting things finished and having plenty of free time as well.