Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Big Boys

Cuzzin Ricky and I went to see the Union Pacific "Big Boy" Monday while it was on display in West Chicago, Illinois. That's about a 2-1/2 hour drive away from us but worth it for a couple of old rail fans. It's not often you get a chance to see any operating steam locomotive anymore, especially the biggest ever. They had some kind of "railroad experience" going on in a couple of the cars but the line for that was pretty long and it was starting to rain, so we passed on that. It was enough to see the locomotive and tender - over a million pounds worth. I forgot to put the memory card back in my little camera, so I got a few photos of my own but I'm not sure how to down load them to the computer so the photo above is one I glommed off the internet.

I did get a photo taken with my flip phone during the private welding lessons I've been giving. The photo came out surprising well considering the subject matter. It's hard to get a decent shot of the welding arc without everything else in the shot being too dark to see. The lessons are going well. Both of the boys are showing interest and progressing, even though we only spend two hours per week and the two boys have to share a machine.

I had to get my thumb x-rayed Monday. I ran into a couple of guys I know at breakfast Sunday morning and I invited them to ride over after breakfast to check out the Himalayan. The one guy wanted to sit on it and when he got off I explained that the side stand was a little long and you had to be careful how you park the bike so it wouldn't tip over. A couple minutes later a gust of wind hit the bike and over it went. I lunged for it and got my thumb tangled up in the brake lever and something else while it was falling. I was able to slow down the fall of the bike and it hit the case guard I installed, so no harm to the bike. I'm going to shorten up the kickstand one of these days before it happens again. If I take a cut-off wheel and slice it right above the foot and then dress the cut just a bit, that should be enough. The bike has a center stand so it won't be hard to remove the side stand. Thumb isn't broken, by the way. It's still swollen and bruised, however.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Travel Air

I was supposed to work a fight yesterday evening. About an hour before I was to leave I got a call from my running buddy, who is also a boxing coach, and she told me the fight was cancelled due to the opponents pulling out. Since I didn't have anything else planned, I went to the local airport to get a ride in a bi-plane that a friend had kindly made me aware of (thanks Barb). There were two planes there, one a 1928 the other a 1931, if I remember correctly. They both were returning from the EAA show in Osh Kosh, and in the true barnstorming tradition, set up shop across the road from the county fair for a couple of days giving rides.

It was a beautiful day to be flying. The air was a little choppy but the pilot handled everything well, including the landing on the grass strip. I showed up by myself and neither plane wanted to take a single up, so I said I'd wait until they had another single and go up then. I was all set to go up right after the pilot took a quick lunch break when my cousin's wife showed up. We traded partners around and her and I went up together. We both enjoyed the flight immensely, probably even more so because we both were able to share the flight with someone we knew.

I've now flown in quite a variety of aircraft: B17, B24, B25, Ford Tri-Motor, glider, helicopter, small planes and large commercial airliners. I've thought of becoming a pilot myself but I've got no sense of direction - I can get lost in a phone booth. Two of the pilots there yesterday flew from Virginia to Wisconsin before stopping in Indiana on their return barnstorming trip. I realize the technology has improved greatly since when these planes were built with modern radios, noise cancelling headsets and GPS, but flying in an open cockpit plane half way across the country still has to be quite the adventure.

Saturday, July 27, 2019


The Rapido is progressing nicely. I blasted and painted the end caps on the air cleaner, re-installed the front fender and shined up the handlebars and the headlight rim. The grandson attacked the rust on the front rim with steel wool. He made quite a bit of progress but it'll never be new again. The rim on the rear wheel has been painted, I think that's what we're going to do on the front one as well. The boys have about three more weeks before they have to go back to school. I'm hoping we can have it running by then as well as having the rear fender and taillight blasted and painted. The muffler is rusted pretty badly and the rest of the bike could use a re-paint but as long as we get the bike running, I'm sure the grandson will be happy. We can always decide how much further we want to go with the restoration process later.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Welding Jobs

Top photo is the front fender for the Rapido. When I cut the bolts off, I nicked the fender braces a wee bit so I welded them up and filed them flat again. Also, one of the factory washers on the outside of the brace had come loose. It was originally resistance welded. I TIG welded a couple of spots along the sides of the washer. Once I got that squared away, sprayed some paint on it and it's ready for the grandson to re-install.

Bottom photo is Surly's hatchet. He said it was pretty soft, so it wouldn't hold an edge. I dressed it down some prior to hardfacing it and a mill smooth file didn't have any trouble removing metal. However, when I went to weld up the crack where the nail hook used to be, the first carbon steel rod I used cracked right away. I ground out the weld and tried some 309 and it cracked also. It became pretty obvious at that point that this thing had some carbon in it. They recommended a minimum 400 degrees preheat for the hardfacing rod, so I preheated the cutting edge and the area where the crack was and tried it again. The preheat did the trick for both the crack and the hardfacing. I'm thinking the problem with holding an edge was more a heat treating issue as opposed to crappy material. I'll be interested to see how it comes out after Surly grinds the welds down and sharpens it up.

Did some more welding at work yesterday. I put up 24' of trolley rail to hang some tool boards. Looked good when I got it finished. Boss is pretty happy with the quality of my welding work - as well he should be - especially with what he's paying me. I'm definitely a bargain but I'm enjoying the welding/fabricating work.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

5K & More

Did the 5K yesterday morning. The skies were pretty cloudy when the race started, so temps were about 80 and there was a little breeze. After I hit about the half-way mark, the sun came out and it started heating up pretty quick. From what I could tell from my vantage point, I had passed all the rest of the walkers - it was hard to tell since some people were alternately walking and running. Since it was going to be hot and I hadn't trained much, I was going to take it a bit easier but when it looked like I might be the "fast" guy, I kept up the pace. However, when the race was over there wasn't any awards ceremony and the online results didn't differentiate between the walkers and runners. Out of 238 total entrants I finished 92nd overall walking it while my running buddy came in 31st. Not too shabby for either one of us. Nice run for a first-time event in a small town. The proceeds will be going to the building trades program. That too is a good thing.

I was looking for a little music on my way to the race and popped in my Best of Merle Haggard CD and this one came into the rotation. Rather timely with what's been going on in the news of late, I would think. I've never really been a love it or leave it kind of guy and I know the loudest voices aren't going to leave or they would've already moved to Canada like they promised after the last election. In addition to the unrest here at home, seems the whole world has gone a little looney tunes as well. One might  be wise to start making some plans if you haven't already.

I got a quote for a whole house generator last week - not really to be prepared for the zombies or some such - but primarily to make sure the Missus can breathe in the heat. However, it would have been nice last winter when the power went out when it was -24 below. The guy figured I would need a 16KW generator to run everything but I think I could get by nicely with an 11KW. We don't need to run everything in the house all at once if the power goes out. This would be for emergencies only, after all.  The fuel requirements between the two are just about double for the larger one. I did a bit of simple arithmetic (as opposed to algebra) and figured out that even if my propane tank out back was half full, I could run the generator continuously for six days. I have a tank I run the heater in my shop with that would give me a couple of more days if it was close to being full. The guy quoting me the generator said he could put a tee fitting in the line during the install to make that happen. Only thing left now is to decide if I'm going to pull the trigger.

The weather is supposed to cool down today and for the next week or so - hit 96 in the shade here at the shack yesterday. Going to try and finish a little landscaping job and then get out to the shop later.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Hot One Today

Healthy breakfast - granola with raspberries from the patch out back and almond milk. The Missus made a gooseberry pie last week with berries from my bushes. Not as healthy as the breakfast but damn sure tasty. I'm going to have a ton of grapes this year too. I might try making a little wine this year - just need to have enough grapes for a pie as well.

Surly commented on my last post I should go with a kettlebell so I did an online search for some exercise routines. Not surprisingly, there's a ton of them. I've got weights that I rarely use, and an exercise band that I do use somewhat on a regular basis, so buying more exercise equipment probably wouldn't be a good investment if I wasn't going to actually put it to use. However, after watching some videos on kettlebell routines, I can see how they could be beneficial not only from the stand point of building muscle but also helping maintain or increase range of motion. It would also be easy for me to get one and take it to the boxing gym and leave it there. I'm pretty regular with my gym attendance and it would be easy to add some exercises with the kettlebell to my normal boxing type workout. Not sure what size I should get. I'll have to check with my running buddy. She does some personal training at a local gym that might have some for me to check out.

Supposed to be blistering hot today and Saturday. Supposed to do the 5K Sat. morning. Looks like I'll just go for a nice leisurely walk rather than doing much "race" walking. I've been making pretty good progress on things around the shack as well as the Rapido but when the heat hits high nineties, time for this old guy to throttle back and take it easy. I'd suggest all the rest of you do the same. Stay hydrated and adjust your output as necessary.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Wishin' & Hopin'

I saw one of these the other day. The back of it was in primer but it looked pretty solid. A day or so later I stopped by the Jeep dealer to check out one of the new trucks that was on display - $52,000. According to the sticker about $12,000 of that was options. It had a delivery charge of $1,400 - that's a lot of money to get from Toledo to NW Indiana. No way I would spend that kind of money on a pickup truck, especially one that has four doors and the inside looks like it belongs on an upscale sedan. I realize metal dashboards are a thing of the past, but a "new" thing of the past was what I was hoping for.

In the same vein, or maybe in vain, there's an article at Busted Knuckles about the new Bronco. I was thinking the Bronco might be an option for me, however, if it's going to be on the same platform as the 4 door Ranger, maybe not. Have to wait and see what they bring out but Phil's take on the subject is entertaining even if you're not in the market for one.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Tough Guys - At least Two Out of Three

That's definitely not me. I'm not a fan of treadmills, exercise bikes or trainers. I've got a 5K coming up this weekend and between the rain, heat and lack of motivation, I've hardly trained at all. I have gotten my weight in pretty good shape. I'm down under 180 which isn't too far off my "fighting weight." I weighed 165 pounds when I graduated from high school and 165 as well when I got married a few years later. At one time I was up over 200, so the belly has gotten smaller but I've lost some muscle mass over the years, as most of us old guys have due to sarcopenia. I'd like to lose a few more pounds and get some of the muscle back. I get a good work out at the boxing gym and riding my bike but I still need to do some weight training for the upper body. It's not like I don't have the time.

I saw Charles Bronson in an episode of the Roy Rogers Show last week. He was 32 years old at the time and still going by the name of Buchinsky. He was playing a boxer and he looked like a real, deal tough guy.

I'm thinking I need to channel this guy and start lifting some heavy things on a regular basis.

Sunday, July 14, 2019


I had to modify some shelves for the new gig. The boss bought a couple of used cabinets, ordered some shelves and they didn't fit. Called back to see why and was told they didn't make shelves for that cabinet any longer but he could have them for half price if he wanted to figure out how to make them work. That's where I came in. I had to shorten them up 3/8" and then weld the end back on. I also had to cut the flange off the back side that ran the full 48" length of the shelf. The fix worked well - just had to study things a bit before coming up with a plan of action. I TIG welded the end caps back on. Looks good, works good.

I painted up the air cleaner parts for the Rapido after TIG welding the brackets back on to the center section - I've been doing a lot with the TIG. The brackets were originally projection welded to a backer in side the air box that were spot welded in. The whole air cleaner set-up is rather involved when you consider it's just a little 125cc single. The twin "turbo" look added some sex appeal but quite a bit of tooling expense. Two strokes always make some intake noise but I doubt that was much of a consideration back in '68.

I used some Rust-Oleum silver metallic paint. It seems to be a fairly close color match but even if it isn't, it looks a lot better than it was. We're not looking for a primo restoration here, just something that looks half-way decent for an eleven year old kid learning to ride. I've got two small Harleys and two grandsons. They can each have one to ride now when they come to Grandpa's house and I'll have a couple of projects in the win column. Plus, I'm scoring big points with the boys.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Visible Progress

The grandsons made their weekly pilgrimage down to my house. I had some errands to run so we spent most of the morning on the road, had a bite of lunch and then out to the shop to continue work on the Rapido and other things.

The top photo shows the air cleaner parts grandson the younger sand blasted. Also in the photo are some new parts for the job and a new 4-1/2" angle grinder. My Milwaukee grinder had a switch failure - stuck on - creating a bit of a problem. I looked for a replacement switch at the local hardware store but no luck. They had a bunch of them but not the one I needed. I did an internet search and found that that switch is no longer available. I found a switch kit with the paddle lever on eBay for something like $46.00 plus shipping. As old as the grinder is, can't see putting that kind of money into it. A new DeWalt at the hardware store was selling for $56.00.

The one in the photo is from Menards. It was $20.00, tax included. I ordered it online for store pickup. It was listed as a display model meaning that some of the original packaging might not be with it. However, when I went to pick it up there was a note attached to it saying there was  something missing, so they gave me a new in the box unit. It's listed as 6.5 amps and the Milwaukee was 5.5 amps. Even if it doesn't last like the Milwaukee did, for the price I probably didn't get hurt any. I've had good luck with Milwaukee tools. They work well and have a good service life but when they break whatever part I need is never available.

The bottom photo shows the fork legs on the Rapido and all the tools required to remove the fender. It seems the fork legs have a caged nut spot welded to them that the fender bolts to. In our case the nut was spinning inside the cage. I initially thought the threads were stripped on the bolt or the fork leg, not realizing it was a caged nut. I cut the head off the bolts and when I got a good look at things I figured out what the story was. I used the hammers to tighten up the cage around the nuts - one hammer to put pressure on one side of the cage and another to hit the other side to close it up. I squirted the bolts with PB Blaster and tapped on them a bit to set up a vibration that helps work the Blaster down into the threads. I did that several times and then put a vise grip on the bolts and wiggled them back and forth until they broke loose and came out. Chased the threads and done.

I need to weld the brackets back on the air cleaner and then I can paint and reassemble it. Now that the fender is off the front I'll get it sand blasted and painted or I'll have the grandson do it next time he comes down. The boy's a trooper. Hottest day of the year so far and he kept right after the sand blasting 'til he got it finished.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Air Compressor & Dragstrip

I took a look at the air compressor over the weekend. It's normally covered up in a wooden box I made for it to keep the chips from the milling machine getting into it. After pulling the compressor out and pulling the cover off, I found that the motor overload had tripped. I hit the reset button and all was well again. However, I found a big mouse nest in there made from insulation out of the wall. That's probably what caused the motor to over heat by blocking the vents in the box. I decided to jettison the box, so I re-installed the belt guard. I touched up the paint on a couple of the parts on top of the compressor pump that the mice had "compromised" and changed the oil.

I could hear it leaking air while using it before it quit and I thought it was the piping that ran into the regulator. Come to find out it was a small crack along the bottom of the tank. I brazed it up and primed it and then pushed it back into the hole.

I rode the Himalayan to the dragstrip yesterday. They were holding a special vintage, three-day event. There weren't a lot of cars but they had some interesting ones like the old school Comet. I used to have a '48 Chevy similar to the "convertible" in the top photo. I also owned a '62 like the one in the bottom photo. Mine was an Impala SS with a 327. This one had a 409. I didn't get a chance to hear it run, though - would have liked to have heard it.

Nice day to be out and about - especially on your new motorcycle. Didn't see a single drag bike there, though. Should really get the 900 going and make a few runs. Maybe after the grandson and I get the Rapido running. I found my box of parts and picked some new fuel line for it, by the way.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Motorbike Clip

Short clip of Shop Teacher Bob heading down the lane on the new motorbike. Won't be too many more years and these type of things will probably be outlawed. I put Amsoil 100 to 1 two stroke oil in it, so no smoke to speak of even though I mixed it 40 to 1 for the break in. I should probably build myself a small Faraday cage and get spare ignition parts for the motorbike and a couple of the motorcycles. If we get hit with an EMF thingy, I'll still have motive power. The 900 sidecar rig would make a great utility vehicle

I was going to get started on making the rear struts for the 900 the other day. I had a bag with some pieces for the wheelie bars hanging on a nail in the back of the shop for the longest while but couldn't find them. I need to find them and the Rapido parts, so I'll have to do a good look around. I really thought I was better organized than that. The problem is I moved things around to clean up and once that happened, who the hell knows where things ended up.

Soul Brother #1 and homemade vehicles - what a great country!

Goin' Through Them Chainses

The grandsons came down again for the day and we got the motorbike running. We had to sort a few things and there was a bit of a learning curve with the oldest boy on how to coordinate the clutch and the throttle but I'm pretty happy with how the bike performs. The one boy shot a couple of videos of the maiden voyages but they wouldn't load for some reason. I'll try and get something up in the future.

The drive chain broke after just a couple of laps around the barn. It appeared to just be a chain failure rather than anything wrong with the bike itself. I saw it break and I think one of the pins pulled out of the side plates. As an old cyclist, this immediately brought to mind Buddy Miles and "going through them chainses" - Brother Johnny would have approved. After searching around the shop for much, much longer than should have been necessary, I found the spare parts for the bike and repaired the chain and we were back in business.

Grandson the younger wasn't able reach the pedals safely so he didn't get to ride. We pulled out the Rapido and he commenced to start on the clean up process. I've got some parts for that thing around here that I need to find. I pulled the air cleaner housing off so I can weld it. Someone had attempted to solder it so that needs to be cleaned off first. However, the air compressor wouldn't kick on so we couldn't use the sand blaster. Worked fine last week, so who knows. Definitely could use it for working on the Rapido.

Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Learn Something New Every Day

I had to replace the fan motor on the exhaust fan in the bathroom. I couldn't find a direct replacement but found one that I figured I could make work. After modifying it to work on my application I found out that it ran in the wrong direction. Since there's only the two of us in the house and we've been married 48 years, I didn't figure leaving the door ajar while showering was going to be much of an issue. Not the best solution, certainly, but since I couldn't find the correct fan I figured that would have to do for a while. However, while talking to one of the guys at work on our lunch break, he said those shaded pole motors could usually be reversed easily and told me to bring it in. Sure enough, he flipped part of the motor over and had it spinning the correct direction in less than five minutes.

Always more to learn.