Monday, April 30, 2018

School Projects

Here's one of the projects we've been making in the Fab class I've been teaching. I tried to come up with a couple of projects that would involve a variety of skills that would end up with something useful to them. They all seem to be pretty happy with this one. All of them weren't happy with their results - after they got it done they wished they would have done a little bit better job. That's a good sign, though. While we were making them, I made another one for myself and then the lab tech collared me and asked about making an extra one for the school shop and maybe one for himself, so with the help of one of my students we knocked out two more. If I get a can of that gold paint I mentioned in the last post, I can try it out on the roll-a-round and see how I like the looks of the color. Even if I don't like the look for the wheels, at least the paint won't go to waste.

Here's another piece for the trophy shelf I put up last week. This is a technical exercise but it looks pretty cool. It's made by making a linear move while making a plunge move while rotating the part. The professor  was waiting for a couple of the students to finish up their parts, so while there was a pause in the action we worked on writing a program for this project. I wasn't much help but I was able to follow along with most of the logic at least. We've only got two more sessions and then that's it for the machining class. I am going to sign up for another class in the fall. Might have to add another shelf for the parts I make in that class. I'm looking into getting my machinist certificate or maybe even the associates degree. My professor is also the big cheese of the program, so I'll make an appointment to see him about all that over the summer. Most all of his classes run just one day per week, so if I decide to take one class per semester, I should have my degree when I'm about eighty.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Pure Gold

Here's what I need for the 900 - genuine Campy mag wheels. Nice little magazine copy here about how they used to make their car wheels. The article states they would anodize the wheels and then paint them. So that answered a question I had about the finish. Next question would be how can I come up with a similar finish? Maybe gold paint with a matte or semi-gloss clear over the top?

They've got this in the pure gold as well as a couple of bronze colors. It's never good to have the colorblind guy pick out the colors, though. Since Surly says the gold is mandatory, maybe I should leave the color choice up to him.

Speaking of which, he responded to my last post with some links about Superbike wheels. The first link shows quite a few Kawasakis in various states of trim - definitely worth a look if you're at all into go-fast bikes from the mid to late 70's. The other links are concerned specifically with the wheels.

When I started on this thing way, way back with the original sidecar, I was doing quite a bit of frame modification on the big Kaws, mostly for dragstrip use but a couple of things for road racers. The frame I have was wrecked, so some of the modifications were a direct result of the hand I was dealt but the rest was what I had learned from my experience working on race  bikes and what ever I came across in the magazines, specifically, the November, 1978 issue of Cycle that had an in-depth look at the Kawasaki powered Vetter bike that was prepared by Pierre Des Roche and ridden by Reggie Pridmore. I'm not trying to build a replica  bike but something that would be like an amateur road racer of the day would campaign on the WERA circuit or maybe a guy who wanted a better performing street bike. Actually that was the whole premise of the Superbike class, at least initially. Run what you brung class for the big street bikes. Loose rule format, leading to lots of experimentation and competitive racing.

Back to the wheels. The Vetter bike ran Morris mags - 19" front with a treaded tire, 18" rear with a slick, both Dunlops. Goodyear came out with a 19" slick that year but the Vetter bike stuck with what they were using, 'cause it worked for them. They had enough trouble with cornering clearance as it was with the 19", no way would they run a 16" like on Harley's Lucifer's Hammer. The BMWs from that era ran on wire wheels, by the way. My bike has a 19" front and an 18" rear. The rear is not the gigantic, for the time period at least, WM7 that they were running. I plan on running the stock mag on the front but widening the rear wheel some time down the road. I've got the Kosman clutch release on the bike so I can run an offset sprocket if necessary to give me the required tire clearance. So there we go. The wheel choices have been made. Color is the only decision and I think I'll have to defer to Surly on the gold. Campy, Morris, Lester - they all had gold wheels for the superbikes. I just need to figure out the proper finish to get mine to look like they did back then.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Hubcap's Done

Surly commented that the wheels on the sidecar rig need to be gold - like the Moriwaki superbike above. I'm not necessarily against that, but I'm wondering what type of paint would give the proper look without looking cheesy. I don't know what the finish was on the ones from back in the seventies - paint, powder coat, anodize. Paint would be the easiest option. I'm considering widening the rear wheel. If I'm going to do that, it would be best to get that done first if I'm going the powder coat route. As it stands, the sidecar is just about done, so while I'm tearing the bike apart I'll give that some thought.

Hubcap is done and looks like it belongs there. I found some stainless screws that fit the bill. I need to take a skin cut off one of the  axle spacers, however. It was a pretty tight fit getting the wheel back in - must of gotten a bit of distortion when I finish welded everything. I also need to pick up a SAE type flat washer to put behind the axle nut and rivet in the Dzus fasteners. I need to decide if I'm going to paint the fender or leave it as it is. It's not really smooth enough to polish, or paint, as far as that goes. If it was a real racing sidecar, the paint would get rubbed off and scratched in short order, so leaving like it is probably is my best option. I can always planish it a bit more at a later date.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sidecar Hubcap

Inside of the hubcap after I finished facing it off. It's got a 9 degree taper that I computed using a little trig. I left my scientific calculator at work so I did it the old fashioned way - did the math for a tangent function and then looked up the angle in one of my old  books.  The outside has a 5 degree taper on it. Likewise on the math. It's amazing what a guy can do with a bar napkin and an old machinist book.

It fits inside the hub just like it was made for it. I still need to drill some holes to fasten it to the wheel but that'll happen soon - maybe today. I can't clamp the hubcap into the three jaw chuck on my dividing head so I made a quickie mandrel to hold it while I drill and spotface the bolt holes. The holes are going to end up right about where the taper and the flat surface meet, hence the requirement to spotface for the bolt heads.

As soon as I get that finished up and I weld the nut on the one end of the axle, I can install the wheel. I should probably paint the parts of the wheel that are in the as cast condition before assembly. Everything else looks pretty nice - no point in half-assing it now. The main thing is - it's fast nearing completion. As soon as the sidecar is done I'll get started on jerking the motor out of the 900 and get busy on the bike itself.  

Feeling pretty good about all the progress of late. Just need to keep the fire burnin'.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Thinking Hot Rod

As is my usual modus operandi, while working on one project my mind is thinking about several others. I've got a hot rod project that's been on the back burner for years. I've been thinking about making a move in that direction this year, hence this Mooneyes photo above. Back when I was growing up, Moon and Honest Charley were big names in speed equipment. My goal for the year is to finish at least three wheeled projects. The motorbike is done, sidecar rig's progressing nicely and I'm moving forward by fits and starts on a couple other things. It'd be nice to see some progress on the old hot rod as well.

Since Surly mentioned the Rickati project recently, I should drag it out, jerk the motor out of it and send it off to my buddy. When that one comes up in the rotation, the motor will be ready to run at least. Actually, of all of my partially finished projects, that one is probably the closest to being finished. The photo was taken at the high school in 2010. As you can see, there's really not a lot left to be done on it. It could easily be one of the three that gets completed this year. Something to think about.

In the meantime, I've got a little forward motion to report.

I got the sidecar lights all wired up and I'm working on the hubcap.

Made a little shelf out in the woodshop for my "trophies" from the CNC classes I've taken. I figured displaying them was a better option than tossing them in the aluminum scrap pile or taking up space in the house.

I'm working on a little step stool for out there. I've been tripping over the aluminum section for quite awhile but I didn't have the heart to scrap it. Finally getting around to doing something with it. I need to pick up another 2 x4 to finish the job and maybe a couple of hinges. I need to check and see what if anything I've got around here before the trip to the lumber yard.

I got the SV out and went for a little ride since we finally had a nice spring-like day. I rarely go for a ride just because, but it was nice and it hadn't been started all winter. I keep it on the battery tender and covered so it doesn't take much more than putting the key in it and starting it up. One of the nice things about the fuel injection is the fact that the fuel system is sealed so the gas doesn't get funky. I always top off the tank with some Sta-Bil added just in case.

It's should be warm enough now until the fall comes to keep busy on things without having to run the heater in the shop. I'm just grabbing things off the to-do list in no particular order now and working on them. As long as I keep busy, something's going to get done. At this point, I'm not too fussy as to what. It's been a long winter - need to get out in the shop, ride my bikes and enjoy myself tinkering with the projects.

The rhubarb's up and the magnolias are starting to bloom meaning it's just about garden time as well. That's always a chore, but one that I enjoy. I'm going to try and do a little better job with it this year. I've got a lot of plans for the year, so it'll probably suffer from some neglect again but as long as I get some tomatoes and peppers, I'll be happy.

Have a good week. Spring is finally here!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Doggie Post

Our boy Larry. He's where the sun rises and sets around here. That's OK, though. He brings us a lot of joy. He was of tremendous comfort to the Missus when she was going through chemo. Which brings me to this:

I heard this on the way home from work the other night. Cute little diddie. It's short, give it a listen.

And as Surly mentioned in a comment on the last post, tomorrow is Record Store Day. Maybe pick up a copy of the above or something else to your liking. It's going to be a sad day when there are no more record or book stores left. Do your part to keep them alive.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Almost There

Another photo of the sidecar frame - mostly just because I really like how it looks.

I found a piece of stock to make the hub cap. I'm already getting started on that. I spent a little bit of time cleaning up the wheel. As soon as I take the frame down I'll get the lights wired up and I'll have it all set to go real soon.

While I was cleaning and polishing, I deburred and polished up my latest CNC projects. The big piece is just a threading exercise made on the multi-axis machine instead of a lathe. The smaller part is a weight that sits on top of an LP while it's spinning on a turntable. I didn't realize it but vinyl is apparently still a thing with a lot of music connoisseurs. I've got a turntable I bought a few years back to convert my records to digital, so now I've got solution to a problem I didn't even know I had. I'm still contemplating signing up for another machining class this fall. Doesn't look like I'll be teaching but I like hanging out in the lab and doing the machine tool stuff.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Say It Loud, It's Black and I'm Proud.

Sidecar frame is painted. You can't really tell in the photo but it looks very professional hanging there with the fresh, shiny black paint job. Rather proud of what I've made so far.

I figured I'd just stick a couple of things in the end of the tubing to hang the frame up with but after giving it some thought I figured I'd better have it fairly secure, just in case, so I took a couple of anchor bolts I had in the "shorts" bucket and made a quick wooden piece to fill up the space inside the tube and then bolted them on using the nut that was welded to the bottom of the frame to secure the lights. I didn't want to take a chance on dropping the thing after I got it painted and booger it up. The hooks I put in the ceiling to paint the motorbike frame came in handy.

After I finished painting I took a look at the wheel and I think I've got a plan for a hubcap to blank off the brake drum that will look decent. I should have looked at it a bit earlier and added it to the list of material I bought the other day - would have saved me some money on shipping charges, plus I had a 20% discount code. I thought I had a piece of stock about right for my design laying around here but I didn't find it. I'll take a better look and maybe I can find something in house. 

I'll start cleaning up the wheel while the paint is setting up. It's turned cold again, so I'm going to let the frame hang a couple of days to make sure it's good and set before I take it down. I still need to decide on what I'm going to do about the seat on the bike. I'll get that figured out and that should about do it for any welding on the frame. I can then strip it down, go through the motor and get the bike itself painted and re-assembled. Making some decent progress on things now.

Tax Freedom Day here in Indiana, by the way. From this day forward you get to start working for yourself, having theoretically met your federal and state income tax obligations for the year. I'm inclined to think you never get out from under the tax burden, however. Buy gas, pay tax; most any type of merchandise, either locally or on the internet, pay tax; renew your license plates, pay tax. In fact, you'll pay excise tax as long as you own the vehicle. So when I put the 900 on the road, in addition to dealing with the lousy gasoline and all the potholes, I'll have to pay my tribute to the state. At least it will be the minimum due to the bike's advanced age. It is nice that Tax Freedom Day coincides with tax due day - might ease the pain a bit.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Watching the Paint Dry

I got the sidecar frame all finished up and managed to put some primer on it while the weather was warm. I'm going to hang it from the ceiling to put the color coat on so I can paint the top and bottom without having to flip it over by myself and scratch it all up or get a hand print or two in the fresh paint. I need to clean up the wheel that goes with this thing and make a hub cap for it while I've got it apart. I should get a new tire for it also. Depending on the weather, I'll get it painted soon - talking snow on Monday around here. Not the best weather for painting but I'll get it done. I might just wait until I've got the wheel finished up and then paint it. Regardless, I'm a big step closer to it being done.

I got some new panniers for the touring rig. I gave my old ones away a couple of years ago thinking I was done with the bike touring. Kind of wish I would have kept them now - would have saved me a few bucks. They're on now and I'm ready to travel. I need to get out and start putting in the miles to get the legs in shape. Maybe a couple of short trips pulling my complete kit to make sure I've got everything I need if I get the chance to ride the Cowboy Trail. It's been quite awhile since I've been out on tour. Need to remember what to take, how to pack it all and how to set up camp in short order if it's raining.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


It's been six years now since I had the heart attack. Health wise I'm doing real well - but I thought I was prior to having the grabber also. I had my cholesterol checked recently and it came in at 124. That's about 100 points lower than it used to be and that's with me adding some cheese and some occasional meat back into the diet. Actually that's a good way to get some vitamin B12 into the diet. That's about the only thing you can't get as a vegan but I'd classify myself as a vegetarian rather than a vegan now.

My weight is pretty good but I'm still planning on losing a few more pounds. I exercise on a regular basis both with a little bit of strength training and cardio. I need to pick up the cardio some more. I'm operating on the assumption there's a bicycle tour in my future as well as a few more race walks this season. The weather hasn't been co-operating much but I'll be out on the bike soon and I've been putting in more and harder rounds when I go to the boxing gym.

One of the hardest things for me has been to keep my life in balance. I want to spend more time on the projects out in the shop, do all the rest of the things I like to do, as well as the things that need to get done, without overdoing it. I need to remind myself of that. I had a painful reminder recently when the last principal I worked for at the high school had a fatal heart attack. He was two years younger than me. Good man and a decent boss. I'm enjoying life and would like to avoid a similar fate. If I can stay on the middle path I think I'll be able to achieve that.

For the rest of you, do what you can to keep yourself healthy. You can get away with a lot when you are young but it's liable to come back and bite you in the ass later in life. The Missus and I are planning on going to our 50th high school reunion this summer. Last one I went to there were quite a few canes and a couple of oxygen tanks and that was ten years ago. I don't suppose that anyone found the fountain of youth in the last ten years and will be looking any better. Just remember you're in it for the long haul. Keep the weight in check, eat whole foods, get some exercise on a regular basis and be nice one another.

Live long and prosper.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Motorbike Monday

Here's the latest part from my CNC class - pencil holder that looks like a revolver cylinder. The OD was turned on the CNC turning center then chucked into the three jaw chuck on the auxiliary axis attachment of the CNC milling center. The holes are drilled by rotating the part rather than the machine moving to the proper location. It could be done either way but since we're supposed to be learning multi-axis machining, might as well spin the part. After the holes are drilled and countersunk, the part rotates 90 degrees from the upright position to the horizontal and the flutes are milled with the machine rotating the part so everything is done in one chucking. Pretty slick actually.

The next project is going to be a "threading" exercise. A milling cutter will come into the part while the machine rotates it. It looks like an Acme thread. I should be able to get mine done this week.

We got some new welding machines where I teach.

They are set up to Stick, MIG and scratch start TIG. For those of you with limited welding knowledge, scratch start means no high frequency so you are limited to welding steel - no aluminum or magnesium. That won't be an issue at the school because they have several other ones that will do that. The nice thing for us will be the additional MIG capabilities. I went through a short training session last week and there's all kinds of things you can set on the machine for different materials and the various processes, including a pulse function. I tried a little bit of stick welding with both a 6010 and a 7018 rod in the flat and the vertical position. It welded really nice. More like the old transformer-rectifier machines instead of the crappy first or second generation inverters.

I should look into buying myself a new machine. My old Miller Goldstar still welds OK but the timer for the TIG post flow quit working and it takes up a lot of room. I don't know if I can justify buying a new machine with the little bit of welding I do now days. I'll probably just keep using what I've got until it quits. It's seen a lot of service since Uncle Pete purchased it back in the 60's, so that could come most anytime.

I've got the motorbike done but I've got a bit of an issue with the pedal chain. I put a tensioner on the bike but even with that the chain is either too long or if I take another link out it will be too short. I'm going to try it out and see how it works once it warms up - it was 19 degrees at 6:30 yesterday morning and it was snowing last night/this morning. As long as the motor starts easily enough, I shouldn't have to pedal it much anyway.

My buddy who hooked me up with the recent bike repair job called me the other day. He's retired now and wants to do a bike tour - might end up doing the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska this summer. I'm going to get my touring rig and trailer out and he can come down and check it out before he starts buying any gear. I haven't been camping or bike touring in several years now and he never has. I'd like to do another ride. Hopefully we can get something put together.

I'm back working on the sidecar. With any luck at all, I should have that completed this week. Additionally, I took a look at the sidecover drawing for the BSA to see what's the best way to approach that job. Might see about making one as son as I finish up the sidecar.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Slight Pause In The Action

I'm going to see if we can make a few of these in my fab class.

I just love these old technical illustrations. Both of these were taken from Facebook.

Not much productive going on - nothing worth posting about anyway. Taxes are finished, got some stuff done around the shack, school, both the class I'm teaching and the one I'm taking, is going well. Should have some project stuff to post again soon.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Lovely Weather We're Having

Went to Indy yesterday to take care of some biz, so as long as I was in the area I stopped at the Royal Enfield dealer. He says the response to the new Himalayan has been pretty much over whelming. He's taken several orders already and he's hoping to get a demo in for the shop. They should start shipping soon but he's not sure exactly when he'll be getting his orders filled. Also the bike is going to be available with racks and aluminum panniers but he doesn't have any details on those yet. Excluding sales tax, should be right at $5K with delivery and set-up fees. $500.00 down payment will put you on the list, by the way.

The cables came in for the Sprint so I can piddle with the that project a bit as time and desire allows. I dug the old struts out for the 900 but at a quick glance they appear to be a bit short. Even if they're the right length, I don't like the look of them. They're not anything I made - I got them from someone else's bike I had worked on if I remember correctly. As soon as the motorbike is done I'll drag the bike out, unhook the sidecar so I can get that finished up and I'll check out the length of the struts I'll need, make a pair up and measure up for some wheelie bars. Been a while since I did any drag racing but I've got the itch to give it a shot again.

Still cold around here. It was snowing a bit in Indy in the morning and it was spitting snow just about all the way home. I've got a bunch of stuff cookin' right now anyway but I want to get out to the shop and put a couple of hours in on the projects every day. Not really worth running the heater if I'm only going to be out there a short time but it's usually mid-fifties this time of the year, not mid-thirties. I'm going to be busy all day today but maybe tomorrow I can get out into the shop and finish up the motorbike.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Sprint Progress & The Chicken Tax

I got the levers machined down to the right thickness and I made a couple of bushings to press in the pivot holes. The Sprint handlebars have brackets that use 6mm bolts to hold the levers in place. The bottom flange is threaded and after snugging up the bolt on the lever, you put a lock nut on it. It'd be nice to find a couple of chrome plated bolts to use. I'll try to keep that in mind when I'm rounding up parts for the various projects.

I ordered some cables for both the front and rear brakes, as well as a clutch cable. The cables I ordered are Sportster parts but the Sprint used the same large diameter cables. The front brake is a cut to length item. The rear brake cable crosses over from the pedal on the left side of the bike to the drum on the right side. That one might take a bit of fettling to make right but I've done tougher. The clutch cable will probably require me making a boss and sweating it on the cable - again, nothing I can't handle there.

I shouldn't have much more of a cash outlay on this one to finish it up other than some gaskets and deciding what I'm going to do with the rear wheel. I've swapped around a couple of wheels on various bikes in the past. The one I've got for this one looks pretty rough. I'd like to have an aluminum rim with stainless spokes but that would cost more than everything else I've spent on the bike plus. Probably would be money well spent, however. Have to wait and see when I get there. I'm just working on this one a bit here and there. Not too much left on it, however.

Got a little bit more done on the motorbike. Hooked up the drive chain and got most of the wiring taken care of - I still need to hook up the ground wire for the kill switch. Install the pedal chain and the fuel line and it should be done. Won't be long now.

The new Royal Enfield Himalayans are supposed to be arriving in the dealerships soon. I'm making a trip to Indy this week and am planning on stopping at the dealership and see when he'll have one in.

I came across an interesting op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal the other day. There's a thing called the "chicken tax" dealing with the importing of pickup trucks. Rather an absurd tax thing but it explains why there are only about six brands of trucks available even though there are about 30 brands of cars here in the US. According to the WSJ, South Korea just re-signed the deal through 2040, which means no Hyundai pickups coming to America.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Motorbikes

Hyundai is coming out with a new high performance version of the Veloster. I've been real happy with mine, which is the turbo version. The new one will have about 75 more horsepower which should make it an absolute blast to drive. It'll also have some improvements in handling and braking. I'm planning on my next four wheel vehicle being a truck to replace the old Dodge but I'd like to try one of the new Velosters just for the heck of it.

The Veloster is definitely cool but so is the fact that I've about got the motorbike finished up. I still need to install the chains and chainguard, fuel line, double check the wiring and clean up the whitewalls, but it's about there. A couple more hours of work and it'll be finished up.

When Surly was here a few days ago we talked over a bit on the BSA. He's going to order in some parts we need and I'm going to see about the sidecovers. After the motorbike is finished I'm going to finish the sidecar on the 900. Get that wired, painted and the decking fastened down then get a little bit of muscle helping me get the motor out of the frame and I can go through it. Get some new brake calipers for the front wheel and that one would be real close to finished also. I've been thinking about going drag racing again. I've got some struts for the bike some place around here. Get myself some 4130, make up some wheelie bars and make a few passes at the strip this summer. It's the first of April and I'm not working this summer. If I get up on it, I can have the 900 and the BSA done this year as well as some progress on a couple of the other things - like the Rickati project.

Surly was asking about that one the other day as well. I don't think I need to do much more in the way of fabricating. I should look it over one of these days and if I don't need to do much else on the frame, jerk the motor out and send it to my buddy the Ducati specialist and have him put together a nice little trials type motor. Even if he takes all summer to get the motor back, I'd could finish it up over the winter. Give me a good head start on finishing up a couple of projects for next year.

Happy Easter Everyone!