Wednesday, October 30, 2019

This & That

I think this thing is just the coolest wrecker ever. I wouldn't think this was an "off the shelf" rig but where would one have gone to get something like this done? There were more than a few coach builders back in the day but even back then, this kind of work would have been somewhat costly I would think. Might be Cuzzin Ricky and I need to take a road trip to Chattanooga and visit the museum down there. If anyone would know about old wreckers, they'd be the ones.

I suggested to my boss that he should consider welding on a few of the broken plastic parts they use. He gave me the look indicating he didn't know if he should take me seriously or not. He did a bit of investigating and decided it was worth giving it a try, so he bought a plastic welder from Harbor Freight. I farted around with it a bit on a scrap part and things welded nicely. I'll need to practice some but it looks like it will do the job - save him a bunch of money and once again makes me look like a hero. Pays to have a skilled craftsman on hand when you go outside your area of expertise.

I finished up making all the parts for the motorcycle carrier but I'm not happy with it. I need to raise it up a couple of inches. I wanted to keep it as low as possible to make loading it as easy and safe as possible but I over did it a bit. I can't imagine it snagging on something but if it did it would be a catastrophe. The extra braces really stiffened things up. In fact, I think you could probably hook a crane to the carrier and pick the whole truck up with it. It's going to be a bit of a hassle to raise it up a couple of inches but I'll sleep better with it lifted up.

I haven't decided what to do about the animal burrow out in the barn. It's dark now when I get home from work and since I don't know what's living in there now, nor do I have electricity in there, I'm a little uneasy about going in there in the dark. Last night the coyotes were howling across the tracks while I was getting some chicken feed adding to the spook factor. It'd be just my luck to go out there in the dark and trip over whatever is living out there, fall and hit my head, and then have whatever it is eat my face while I'm lying there unconscious. I am considering putting on a sidearm while I'm doing my chores in the future.

It looks to be winter now for all practical purposes. There's snow in the forecast and it'll be November in a couple of days. I ordered a pair of insulated bibs to keep in my locker at work. Much of what I normally do is in the unheated part of the building. What I should have done was typed up a letter of resignation rather than an order for warm clothes. Since I'm damn near 70, have to wonder why I keep working. We'll see what the winter brings. Might make up my mind for me.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Wild Kingdom

I caught another raccoon in the ceiling of the shop again. I'm fairly certain I know how they are getting in but was waiting for the frost to hit because I've got raspberries growing along the edge of the building. I figured I would cut the berries back to give me some working room and then I could get up under the overhang of the metal roof and close in the spot where I think they are getting in. It's amazing that big fat coons can get into such small spaces.

I've got a pair of two buckle rubber boots I was going to dig out figuring I could take them to work to keep my feet warm and dry when I need to shovel snow this winter. I'm required to wear steel toed boots, so a pair of two buckles work well. I keep them on a shelf in the stairwell going to the basement and when I went to grab them I saw something fall. I keep a pair of muck boots at the bottom of the stairs, so I stuck my hand inside one of the boots and felt something try to bite or grab my finger. I jerked my hand out, turned the boot over and a bat fell out. Must have decided to hibernate in the stairwell. Seems we get a bat in the house at the rate of about one per year. I've got no idea how they get in but get in they do.

I went out to the big barn after dealing with the bat and found a burrow under the old manure spreader. It's a big hole and the dirt's been thrown a long way from the opening. I'm guessing it's from a woodchuck but with my luck it could be a badger or even a Chupacabra for all I know. I'll have to see what I can do about filling in the hole and getting whatever it is out of the barn.

Later that evening while I was washing up I felt something on the back of my arm like a loose flap of skin or something. I looked in the mirror and found a tick hanging off. I jerked it loose but there was a red spot about the size of a quarter with a dark spot in the middle. It didn't look like the normal wood ticks we have around here, so now I'm on a two week course of antibiotics to prevent me getting Lyme disease.

As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say - It's always something.

Friday, October 25, 2019

I'm Liking It So Far

I started welding the motorcycle carrier together yesterday. Since everything was already cut to length and had the weld bevels ground, it didn't take too long. The photo above is the part that goes into the receiver hitch and the end pieces of the frame with the 3/8" nuts welded to the inside.

Detail view of one of the welds on the hitch. I'm TIG welding everything primarily because TIG welding doesn't produce a bunch of sparks making it less likely that I'll burn the shop down. Also, I'm in no particular hurry and I'll have less grinding to do when I'm finished. I put a root pass around all sides of the hitch part. After I get everything else tacked on I'll put the whole thing up on some horses and finish weld it. I'm also planning on welding on some fish plates or gussets over the weld joints.

Looks pretty good hanging off the back of the truck. All my measurements came out like I figured as far as the height and the distance sticking out from the truck. The bike is pretty narrow but with the bags and the wide bars, I need about 18" to the center of the carrier. Measured from the hitch I'm right on 18". The tailgate sets back a couple of inches from the hitch so I should have plenty of clearance for the handlebars. The square tube is rather a loose fit in the receiver so the carrier does rock a lot more than I'd feel comfortable with, so the braces to the underside of the bumper are going to be a must.

I worked on a couple of things for work while I was out in the shop. I think I've got one of the prototype parts I've been working on ready for "production". I don't know how many of these are going to be needed in the future but they'll be fairly easy to make and the same goes for the installation by the technicians in the field.

Been a productive couple of days. A couple more like that and I'll have the bike carrier ready for paint.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Ramping Up

The mailman came early yesterday. He usually hits our house around 2:30 but I got a knock on the door about 9:30 and he dropped off the ramp I ordered for the bike carrier and new flannel sheets the Missus ordered. He had asked about getting some of the scrap corrugated roof sheeting I had out back once before and he asked if I was still willing to get rid of a few pieces. He came by after work and we loaded up a few sheets after cutting them in half so they would fit in his truck.

After he dropped the ramp off I had an exact measurement to make the frame it will bolt to. I got the pieces all cut to length and the corners mitered. I need to drill the hole for the hitch pin and then I can start welding the frame together. I'm going to drill some holes in the end pieces and weld a couple of 3/8" nuts on the inside so I can bolt on pieces to fasten the hold-down straps to. With the nuts welded on I'll be able to fasten the parts on easily without having to have a wrench on the inside of the frame - easy two handed job instead of wanting a third hand as so often happens when trying to bolt a part on. Those parts will also serve as a place to fasten a taillight to and a side marker light. I'll probably buy a light kit from Harbor Freight, so I need to do that to see what it will take to mount the lights and make the wiring where I can easily unbolt the side pieces without messing with the wiring at all - just pull the plug from truck bumper and call it done.

There will also be a couple of pieces that will come off the backside of the ramp frame and fasten to the truck frame. Those might be a bit of overkill but I don't want to take a chance on having the carrier collapse with the bike loaded up after hitting a big bump on the interstate. As Uncle Pete used to say: "It ain't much for looks but it's hell for strong."

Also got a bit of work done on the winch mount, a bit of general tidying up in the shop and got the new flannel sheets washed and installed on the bed. 'Fraid it's that time of the year but I should be set for the arrival of winter with the completion of just a few more things.

Last but not least, happy birthday to my running buddy. I'm blessed to have her and several others that are true friends.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Picking Them Off The List

Spent some time in the shop picking some of the easy ones off the list. Photo above is a pair of soft jaws for the bench vise at work. Nothing fancy, just some scrap aluminum but the vise is new and it's got some sharp teeth on the jaws. These will do the trick for what I need.

Brackets to support the nail cabinet out in the woodshop. The cabinet was something my dad put together from scrap parts from a place he and I worked at many a year ago. The back of the cabinet is made from some type of cheap Masonite paneling - fairly thick, though, but not thick enough to hold the cabinet up after I loaded it up with nails. The brackets are going to be fastened to the wall studs and then bolted through the top of the cabinet to hold it up. The one bracket has a piece welded on that will allow me to screw the bracket into the top of the left side. That should hold things up for a while.

Rack for a couple of the common tools I use at the workbench in the woodshop. This is made from the same piece of aluminum scrap that the soft jaws were made from. I just got the wooden mallet from Garrett Wade along with a saw for trimming large tree branches. I'll probably put the wooden mallet in with my metal shaping tools and hang the deadblow hammer on the rack instead. Garrett Wade has the mallets in three different sizes. I'm thinking about getting at least one more and rounding the end to use with my shot bag.

Got a start on the winch mount for work and the motorcycle carrier for my truck. I also put in 4 miles with the backpack to get myself in shape for the 10 mile ruck. It was a beautiful afternoon yesterday to be out walking around. Really nice weekend all the way around as far as that goes. Got some exercise, made some progress on the projects, did breakfast with the cousins. Good couple of days.

Saturday, October 19, 2019


They just don't write 'em like this anymore. Of course, that might be a good thing, but I like the old blues and soul stuff. In fact, how about giving me some of that old soul clapping.

I did a "zombie" run/walk yesterday morning. The local schools were out on break and someone decided it would be a good idea to host a run. No tee shirts or prizes and entry was a new toy.  I'm thinking about doing a 10 mile ruck in a few weeks, so I put on my bug-out pack and walked the course - twice in fact. I figured it was going to be a 5K but it was only 1-1/2 miles. I added a bit to it on the second lap, so I got in a good three miles plus. The course had some trails through a wooded area and had a few small hills. I thought the course just ran around the perimeter of the school grounds. It's close enough for me to walk or ride my bike to, so I think I'll be hitting that to train for the 10 mile hike. I've been looking for something to get me motivated to work out again - this should do it.

I need to see if I can find my old poncho in case it rains the day of the ruck. I had one that fit over my backpack years back but I haven't seen it since the last time I went hiking. I'd really like to do some hiking and camping again. It's hard for me to find anyone to go with, however. It's tough to find anyone that's into that sort of thing that has the time but especially tough to find someone my own age who's even ambulatory. My running buddy would be up for it but I'm not so sure the Missus would want me camping with a lovely young lady about 30 years my junior. One of the guys I did The Cowboy Trail with last year might be interested, however. He's retired and is in great shape. Maybe head down state to the Knobstone Trail. I did part of that with a couple of guys from work years ago. Actually, we could ride our motorcycles to Tippecanoe River State Park. They've got some nice hiking trails and the park isn't too crowded this time of year and later. I tent camped there once when it got down to about 4 degrees - had the whole park to myself, believe it or not.

I've got a list of things to get accomplished over the next few days. Picked off a few of them yesterday and I hope to make a little more progress today. Steady by jerks as my old buddy Joey used to say.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Bits & Pieces

Prototype parts for work. There are two different pieces - I zip-tied the little piece to the larger one to keep from losing it. The big piece was made utilizing TIG welding. However, there was some concern about relying on an employee with TIG welding skills to make this thing in the future. After making the prototype I made a pattern that could fabricate the same part out of a flat sheet, no welding required.

Pieces for the Himalayan saddlebags. The bags are held on with pieces of flat bar with a stud threaded in them. They pivot out of the way when taking the bags off but one of them was a snug fit with the tubing frame making it a pain in the ass to take on and off. I ground a taper on the offending item but that took the plating off, meaning it will rust since they are steel. I decided to make some aluminum replacements at the beginning of the year but never got around to finishing up the job until a couple of days ago. I milled a taper on all the pieces and took a skin cut off the thickness to match up with whatever metric size the original pieces were. All that's left is to swap out the studs and I'll be set.

I was going to start on making some parts for the motorcycle carrier but couldn't find my sketch. I had a sketch for a couple of brackets to hang a cabinet in the woodshop and couldn't find that either. I started over on the cabinet job since it's a simple one. I found some material, so that'll get done in the next day or so. If I can't find the sketch for the bike carrier, I'll make a new one and get started on that project in the next few days also. I'm kind of excited about making this. It'll be a bit of a challenge but more importantly, I should be able to load the bike up and transport it safely by myself.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Sandblaster Works

Cast iron floor register frame I'm planning on making a picture frame out of. I had sandblasted the flip side before I worked on the sandblast cabinet which is what prompted me to finally get around to modifying the cabinet. The back side of the frame cleaned up in no time with the new set-up. I should have modified it right after I bought it.

Made a couple of little brackets for work. These are prototypes/proof of concept things for repairing some of the plastic parts in the machines. They've got some other parts that break that they haven't been able to glue successfully. I'm going to look into welding them. I don't know too much about the plastic welding process but I did have a motorcycle part repaired that way a while back. If it works I'm going to look like a hero and the company will save a bunch of money. With a little bit of luck, some of that might find its way onto my check.

Bought some material to build my motorcycle carrier for the back of the truck. I should be able to bring the cost in under $200.00 including a set of lights. I'm working on a winch mount for work that will fit in a receiver type hitch, so I'll drill both of the square tube inserts at the same time. I'm trying to get a few other odds and ends finished up before it gets too cold as well. We had a light frost the other night so it won't be long and it'll be winter. Hate to see that happen but time waits for no man and all that. I didn't get all that much done on the projects this summer but I did have a pretty good summer.

Happy birthday to Surly. Proud to call him my son!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Wrap Up

A few shots from the recent train trip out west. Top three from the museum in Ogden - great collections in four different museums.

Next one is a cylinder head and piston from a radial engine powering a B-29 as seen in Wendover. These things are pretty cool. The head and cylinder are cast as one piece with a thin iron liner. Lots of thin cooling fins. Radial engines rock!

While we were gone I heard about the crash of the B-17 my brother from a different mother and I took a flight on. Seems they had trouble with one of the radial engines and crashed while making an emergency landing. Terrible tragedy. I received an e-mail from the Collings Foundation who owned the bomber that crashed and the others I've flown in. They of course were horrified by what had occurred but also concerned about the future. It would be a shame if the remaining fleet were grounded.

Bottom photo taken out the window of the train during one of the "fresh air" stops. Interesting mix of people who travel by train. Some take the train because it's cheaper than air travel or goes to a destination not served by a bus or an airport. Others, such as Rick and I are rail fans and just want to ride the train. Others seem to have some money, get a sleeper car and enjoy their journey at a nice leisurely pace. So you get hippies and freaks, regular Joes and a more upper class clientele all mixed together. It seems to work for the most part and everyone co-exists nicely. The food is on the expensive side, so like myself, many folks bring snacks along. Rick and I ate breakfast in the dining car and we got the cheapest things on the menu and it was about $11.00 each. Dinners were more. They do offer vegan items - rigatoni was $19.00 plus your drink. Food wasn't bad but it's like airplane food now. They no longer have cooks fixing meals to order. Service on the train was good. Quiet time from 10:00 pm until 7:00 am, so you can sleep. The attendants kept the car clean throughout the trip - an improvement over a trip I made a few years back where the only clean up was as we were pulling into Chicago at the end of the trip.

It's a nice way to travel if you're not in any particular hurry. Coach seating is comfortable and a definite upgrade from riding the bus long distance. If I do a long distance ride in the future I'll look into a roomette. I don't need or want to pay for a sleeper but I'm not sure I'd want to spend 38 hours riding in that coach again. Actually, that wouldn't have been so bad if we had gotten in at 11:00 pm rather than 4:00 am. Likewise we left at 3:30 am on our return trip. Not the best for the sleep cycle. However, riding along reading a book or listening to music and looking out the window is very relaxing. The scenery going through the Rockies was just spectacular and we were fortunate to go through there at a good time of the day both coming and going.

All in all, a great trip. I've now been to 49 states and saw another region of the country that is nothing like what I normally see. Mountains, salt flats, sage brush and tumble weed. Nothing like corn and soybean fields that make up most of the landscape around here. Depending on how things go, I might take another trip out that way some day. Lots more to see.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Part Three

The Hotel Nevada. This is my hand held photo from my good digital camera. It actually has a setting for shooting this type of photo. In addition to the sleeping rooms at the hotel there was a casino and a bar. The bar top had poker machines lining the top which left little room for a drink. I didn't do any gambling and I didn't want to sit in there for any length of time due to the cigarette smoke. Without the smoke, it would have been a cool place to hang out and people watch. The hotel's been around for a while. They had a sign in the bathroom of our third floor room warning about how the water temperature fluctuates while in the shower. Pretty much like the old house I used to live in but there I only had to contend with a couple of others using the facilities. Many of the rooms were named for celebrities and big politicians. The room next to ours was the Wayne Newton room. I figured ours was more like the fig newton room.

There was also a Denny's restaurant in the hotel. A lot of people value going to chain restaurants because they know what they'll get. Not me. I'd much rather take a chance on a local place. We had dinner after our train ride at a place that actually had a couple of vegan choices on the menu. I had a veggie burger that was pretty decent with a side of Piccadilly potatoes. I didn't know what those were but they're a kind of tater tot without the breading on the outside. Not bad at all.

That right there is what an atomic bomb looks like. This is on display at the airfield in West Wendover. I didn't know anything about the airfield and the role it played in bringing WWII to an end until I came across a blurb in the tourism book. This airfield is where all the preparations were made to drop the "big ones" on Japan. They outfitted the B-29 bombers and trained the crews for the flights to Japan. The building housing the bomb in the photo above is nicely maintained but many of the other buildings associated with the war effort are in bad shape. They showed a short film on the history of the place and what needs to be done to protect the remaining structures. It's a shame to see a place with this much history slowly fade away, but again, the location is not really working in its favor.

There were a lot of nice photographs and some display cabinets. The bracelets were made from the aluminum skin of the airplanes. Nicely done. I especially like the one to the right of the watch.

We drove around the facility a bit. It looks like some of the buildings were rented out, if not currently, sometime in the not too distant past. Some of the buildings are on their last legs. Most of the buildings are behind a chain link fence. I screwed up and should have shot a couple of pics with the film camera I had along. I shot a roll at Promontory Point and reloaded a roll at Ely but I still had three shots left. I didn't even think about getting the camera out of my grip while I was driving around there. With the beautiful lighting from the sun at the higher elevation and the blue sky, I should have taken a yellow, or even a red, filter along as well. I didn't really put much thought into taking pictures while I was out that way other than taking my good digital rather than the cheapie one I normally drag around for my everyday shots for the blog. With the good camera I can convert the images to sepia toned or black & white. Not exactly the same as film, of course, but a lot easier than darkroom work. However, I like the dark room work.

Next post I'll wrap it up. I'm heading out in a few to an auction. There's a vehicle there that I've got a hankerin' for. I'll have to see what kind of shape it's in and what kind of money it goes for. I might have to call Cuzzin Rick and cash in my coupon for a free trailer ride.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Trip, Part Two

After our visit to Ogden and Promontory Point, we headed out the next day for Ely, Nevada. Once you get outside of Salt Lake City as you head west, There's not much of anything out there. The two photos above are typical of the scenery. One is on the way to Wendover, which is on the Utah - Nevada state line. The other is on the trip from Wendover to Ely. The was a road sign warning of open range, as well as signs warning of deer and antelope along the way. We saw a few of each but not much wildlife of any kind. When leaving Salt Lake you skirt the Great Salt Lake and much of the area was under water that's too salty to support wildlife.

Unfortunately, that high water included the Bonneville Salt Flats. I was all set to take the rental truck out for a run but no go. Breedlove, Arfons, Vesco, Thompson, and Shop Teacher Bob. I've been wanting to go to Bonneville for a long time both as a spectator and as a competitor. Probably just as well I couldn't see the track. I don't need to be thinking about that.

The little Nissan was a mostly bare bones rig but drove nice. Those two lanes in the top photos had a speed limit of 70 mph. The interstate had a speed limit of 80. Salt Lake City to Ely is about 240 miles. Not too tough a trip traveling on nice, smooth roads with very little traffic at those speeds. The little Nissan was a gas guzzling machine, though. Seems like every time we arrived at one of our destinations we needed a half tank of fuel. I imagine traveling at 80 had something to do with it as well as the fact that we were in some high altitudes. Ely is above 6,000 ft.

Here's my number one reason to come to Nevada, besides marking my territory, that is. Live steam. Cuzzin Ricky and I got into town with plenty of time to spare, so we checked into the hotel, I made a wee-wee so I could officially claim Nevada as number 49 and then we checked out the town a bit. The two largest employers are a copper mine and the state prison. It was hunting season, and Ely looked to be the jumping off point for the hunters. It would make sense, seeing that Ely is the only town around for miles. I think I could learn to like Ely without much trouble. In fact, I saw in the local paper the railroad was looking for a guy like me. If I was willing to relocate 1000 miles from home and was about ten years younger, might be a perfect fit for me. And I'd be only about 130 miles away from Bonneville. Win-win there, amigos.

We saw lots of old cars and trucks while out in the country. These two were actually young pups compared to many we saw. The Ford single axle dump had a bed that was manufactured by Gar-Wood. I was aware of Gar-Wood from reading Wooden Boat magazine for many years but didn't know they made truck beds. Rick knew about that end of the biz but that was the game he used to play.

The train ride was great fun, It lasted about 90 minutes and went through some cool scenery. There was a running narration during the trip that gave a good history of the area and the history of the rail line. For rail fans like Rick and I, couldn't ask for anything better.

One more stop and a few comments about rail travel yet to come.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Vacation Recap Part One

We caught the Amtrak at 2:00 in the afternoon in Chicago and were supposed to arrive in Salt Lake City at 11:00 PM the following day. Everything was going smoothly until the train went through a detector and found a brake that was hanging up on the last car of the train. There was a siding not too far up the track they limped up to and dropped the car. They then had to add a car back on in Denver. Altogether we arrived about five hours late. Didn't exactly get our money's worth out of the hotel room, but didn't bother myself or Cuzzin Ricky much. We just were happy to get off the train after 38 hours in the saddle. I think both of us are a bit too old for riding coach on a long distance run.

After we got up and rolling a few hours later, we headed to Promontory Point. They do a re-enactment of the two trains meeting up, which we were lucky enough to see. The site is a national park, so it's all nicely done. It's nice that people get a chance to see steam trains under power. My folks took me to see the last scheduled steam train on the C&O when it ran through Griffith, Indiana in '56 when I was six years old. There were some steam trains running for a couple of years after that, but for all practical purposes, steam was done by 1960. Which means, there has been a couple generations of folks who may have never seen a steam loco in operation. The two at Promontory Point put on a good show but the place is not really close to anything. You have to want to go there to end up there. Worth the trouble, though.

We stopped off in Ogden, Utah on the way back to Salt Lake to see the museums at the old Union Station. There's the train, cowboy, car, and John Browning museum under roof, as well as trains on display outside. The top photo shows the safe were the Golden Spike is kept - it's not the real one, however. That one's in the Smithsonian. The middle photo is from the John Browning museum. That museum is impressive if you are at all interested in firearms. Browning was a genius, no doubt about it. He was also a Mormon with three wives. I'm not sure if that helped or hindered him but he was a prolific inventor and husband. Bottom photo is the UP turbine. I'd seen photos of this monster and it's definitely big when you get a chance to stand next to it. It's nice that there's a place where these things are displayed where you get a chance to see them, even if its just a static display.

After Ogden it was back to Salt Lake for the next leg of the adventure after a full night's sleep.

Monday, October 7, 2019

One To Go

Number 49 is in the books! Only state I haven't been to is Hawaii. I'm thinking when I get that one I'll get myself a tattoo on my bicep of an American flag with the words "All 50" under the flag. And when I flex my muscles the flag should look like it is blowing in the breeze.

Trip review upcoming shortly.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Hotel Accommodations

Cuzzin Ricky booked our ride on the railroad and our accommodations in Ely. He forwarded me an e-mail of some tourist thing about what to see and do in Ely. I'm thinking we maybe should have planned on spending a couple more days there. Maybe do another trip back there when we come back to the salt flats.  Maybe hit the NRA facility in New Mexico as long as we'd be out west. We went out for breakfast the other day to discuss this trip and toss around some ideas for others, and the general consensus was we'd better git to gittin' if we want to see some of these places. No telling how much longer we'll be ambulatory, le alone be able to traipse around the country.