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.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

One Of My Many Vises

Another of the Fab class projects - welding vise. I had posted the plans for this way back when after seeing it someplace on the internet and it looked like something that would fit in well for the class. The bottom frame is made from 1x1 angle and the moveable jaw is made from 2x2. I do a lot of TIG welding on the bike projects and it's not unusual to need three hands to pull the job off. One for the TIG torch, one for the filler metal and one to hold the parts in alignment. I've got a variety of clamps and magnetic gizmos but much of the stuff is aluminum, so non-magnetic, and most of it seems to be some oddball shape that's not easily clamped. Because of that, I made an additional jaw with a piece of the 1x1 angle welded to it for clamping round parts, and I drilled and countersunk a couple of holes in the piece of flatstock in the foreground to bolt up to the moveable jaw so I can weld something on for a support if need be while trying to position something up.

My side yard just prior to planting. There's something about a newly prepared field in the spring of the year that always makes me smile. Maybe it's the promise of renewal after the long winter, maybe is just the smell of the freshly plowed dirt - I don't know. Regardless, you just don't get it living in town. Of course you don't get the dust blowing in the house and across the roads, or the farm machinery holding up traffic out on those roads either. Small price to pay, though. Hard to beat country living.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Museum Tours

Cuzzin Ricky and I stopped in Auburn, Indiana on our way from one race track to the other. We went to the Auburn Cord Museum as well as the National Auto and Truck Museum which was right next door. The above photo is a detail of a winch/wrecker mounted on the back of a 1935 Ford truck. It has Holmes cast into the gear. I'm assuming this would have been one of the original Holmes wrecker designs. Nothing at all like the Holmes 440 that used to be on just about every wrecker.

The museum had a good collection of cars and trucks - there was a little bit of everything in there. In addition to the full size cars and trucks, they had something like 3,000 small cars and trucks on display. I'm not sure what scale they were but the cars were all roughly four inches long. We were fortunate to get a tour of the workshop and basement storage area as well.
To be continued.....

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Boxing Marine

One of our former boxers, Kreed Gentz, shown competing against one of Britain's Royal Marines last week. The Royal Marine team beat the US Marines team but this guy above won in a split decision. Myself and all of us at the gym are real proud of this young man. The full story is here.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Weekend Update

Gold is apparently the color of choice for vintage sprint car wheels also.

Cuzzin Ricky and I went to Toledo for a champ car race Friday and they had a few vintage cars on display.

Old midget racer. This one has the dashboard autographed by none other than Mel Kenyon. They allowed the vintage cars some track time and this little thing was stepping pretty lively.

Toledo is a paved track. While I prefer my open wheel racing on the dirt, these guys did some serious racing. The newer style cars are not as pretty as the older cars with the rounded front ends and grills but the cars are much safer and still put on a great show whether on dirt or pavement. 

The temperature was much better than the previous weekend but it still seemed cold to me once the sun went down - jacket, hat and gloves required for me. We hit the sprint car race at Plymouth, Ind. on Saturday night and it was down-right delightful there. I commented to Rick that at eight o'clock I was still in a tee shirt and quite comfortable. That's more like it. Good racing at Plymouth also. My guy, Kevin Thomas, Jr., won the race. That boy's a real racer but anyone who even makes the show in the champ cars or the sprint cars has to be.

We don't have any more races on our schedule for a bit. That will give me time to get some work done around the shack and on the projects. This is my last week at the college, so that'll free up even more time. Better still. I need to get busy on the garden, keep up with the mowing and lots of other household things. And, of course, I need to get my own gold wheel finished up in order to complete the sidecar.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Prospecting For Gold

Went to the local Ace hardware store in search of some gold paint for the sidecar project but they didn't have anything to my liking. Since I had no gold, I went ahead and painted the mechanic's stool with some machine gray I had laying around. I added a seat from a leftover piece of 5/4" and a piece of luan plywood for the bottom and it's ready to rock.

I'm going to check Menard's and True Value for paint and see what I can come up with in a rattle can. If I can't find anything, I'll send Surly to the auto parts store for a quart  and I'll break out the spray gun. I've got a little touch-up gun that works well for that sort of thing. I've been thinking about buying a pressure washer. Harbor Freight has one on sale that would probably work for as little as I'd use it. That'd be just the ticket for cleaning up the wheels prior to cleaning along with several other jobs I can think of.

We're going to be getting a new well soon so I've got to move some things down the basement and trim some tree branches before they show up. Time to get the garden going as well. I've been getting out on the bicycle a bit and now I'll be mowing every couple of days, so time on the sidecar project will be limited but I'll be done with school/work next week so that'll help.

Have a good weekend! Get outside and get some sunshine and a bit of exercise - it's good for you.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Season Opener

First one of the year. Cuzzin Ricky and I went to the races over the weekend. Haubstadt on Saturday for sprint cars and Terre Haute on Sunday for the Silver Crown or champ cars as I prefer. Pork tenderloin was from The Action Track at Terre Haute. Even after me nibbling  around the edges a bit before I took the photo, it's still big as your head.

Rick was looking for an item from Harbor Freight, so we went there before hitting the track on Sunday. I had seen in the sale flyers that they had a new brand of "vise grip" pliers and wanted to check them out. I bought a pair for $6.99 and they seem to be well made - much better than their Pittsburgh branded ones. Having used some of the cheap brands over the years, I always bought the original Petersen brand. They were bought out by Irwin a few years back and still seem to be alright but the ones pictured are about four bucks cheaper. If you are trying to put a tool kit together for yourself or a soon to be graduate, might want to consider these.

Nice looking hot rod in the parking lot at Haubstadt.

Nice looking champ car in the pits at Terre Haute

We had pit passes at Terre Haute so we walked around and gawked a bit. This one above led for quite a bit of the race but faded towards the end. I think he finished fifth. Most all of the champ cars looked real nice - paint jobs were all top notch and the racing was too. Both nights, in fact. Exciting finishes with Kevin Thomas Jr. winning the sprint car race Saturday night. I've become a fan of his - even bought a Kevin Thomas tee shirt. He'll be racing close by this weekend. Depending on the weather, might make it out to one of the shows. Justin Grant won the champ car event.

I got the mower out after I got home from the races and mowed both front and back. So in addition to the season opener at the race track, it's mowing season is officially underway as well. Going to try and keep pecking away at the various projects. Only a few more days to work, only two more days as a student. I don't have any definite travel plans until June, so hope to keep moving forward on the 900 as well as trying to catch up on jobs around the shack. At least the weather is finally nice. The weatherman said it was the fourth coldest April on record - last time it was this cold was 1907 or something like that. We also had more than three inches of snow, when the average is one inch. It's nice now and that's good enough for me.