Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Parts is Parts

I ordered some parts from Speedway for the track racer and a little something for my hot rod. I've got a bunch of parts for various projects that I've been collecting. Surly hooked me up with some containers a couple of years ago to organize most of the bike parts. I need to do the same for the car projects. Also in the photo is the extension cord I made for the plasma cutter. It's about 15 feet long, which will give me a total of 20 when it's plugged in. That should be plenty.

I added another MIG spool to the side of the plasma cart to wrap the extension and power cord onto. I had to put an elbow on the air fitting but I was lucky to have one in my coffee can of brass fittings. I strapped the cutter down to the cart the other day to keep it from falling off, so it should be all systems go now.

I got the ramp finished for the motorcycle carrier yesterday, sharpened some knives, changed a light bulb and piddled around with a couple of other things - kept me occupied most of the day. Doesn't look like the weather is going to cooperate for the trip to Indy this week. I did drive around Monday with the carrier attached to the truck. Everything stayed together and the lights worked. It's supposed to be decent Sunday so I'll load the bike up and run it around town a bit to see how it goes before heading to Indy.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Motorcycle Carrier

Nice weather this weekend - 55 and sunny yesterday. Perfect weather to put the finishing touches on the motorcycle carrier. The lights work and since I used a fill-in flash you can see the reflector in the middle of it. Once I got it all buttoned up on the back of the truck, I took a look at what I need for a ramp. I've got one for loading a bike into the back of the truck, which is what prompted this to begin with since that didn't exactly work like I had planned. I'll keep that one just in case and make a new one for the carrier. The aluminum ramp I used for the top of the carrier had a steel piece riveted to it since it was designed to be a ramp. I'll use that and bolt it to a 2x8 and I should be set. In fact, I can even park the truck in the garage with the carrier attached. I love it when a plan comes together.

I'm going to watch the weather this week and if it looks decent towards the end of the week run down to Indy and get the Himalayan serviced. Cuzzin Ricky and I can visit the Speedway Museum and get a bite while the work is being done and then head on home.

Because the weather was so nice, I pumped the tires up on the bicycle and took it out for a short ride. Legs felt like rubber by the time I got home and my cardio is not what it should be either. My crazy chest problem came back about three weeks ago so I've avoided the gym hoping my chest would respond favorably to a bit of rest. It hasn't helped much but I've been doing more lifting, tugging and pulling than I should. Didn't seem to bother me on the bicycle so it's about the same as it was years ago when it started.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Transition Piece

I'm making a transition piece to fit on a big blower. It's 12" in diameter and the boss wants to change it from round to rectangular to make the stream more "directional" for lack of a better word. I used to have a computer program for doing these transition pieces. Pick your shape, feed in the dimensions and it would spit out the dimensions for the layout or you could print out a full size pattern if you had a printer or plotter large enough. Since I no longer have that software program, I had to do it the old fashioned way. Took me a few minutes to remember how to lay it out to get my true length lines but I tried the half-pattern on the blower and it fit nicely. The little calculator in the photo is the one I carry in my lunch bucket. I rarely need to use any trig functions these days, so the simple one I carry all the time is adequate. More importantly, it's handy.

I'm going to make the final product from 16 gauge sheet. I'll overlap the two halves and spot weld the seams or plug weld them with the MIG. I'm planning on fastening the transition piece to the blower with a strip of 1/8" x 1-1/2" rolled into a circle. Depending on what else is on the agenda this week, might be able to get started on this one. I never know what I'll be doing when I show up at work one day to the next. Keeps it interesting.

Thursday, February 20, 2020


That's my father with the ever present pipe in his mouth. The pipe that surely contributed to his getting lung cancer and having two open heart surgeries. He made it to 74 just the same. Tough old bird. Today would have been his 100th birthday. I'm having a bit of a problem wrapping my head around that. Hard to believe I'm old enough to have a father who would have been 100 and I'm only thirty years away from that myself.

Pops was a "regular guy" like most of his generation. He was a WWII veteran, enjoyed hunting and fishing, and was a good parent to myself and my three brothers. He was a good athlete. Had a successful amateur boxing career and a couple of pro fights. He also played a bit of softball. He was a pretty decent piano player as well. He couldn't read music but played by ear. He used to jam with a couple of my guitar playing uncles at our family reunions back in the day and he played in a couple of combos later in life.

His choice of music was as would be expected from someone of his generation - big band standards and ballads from back when, Hoagy Carmichael's Stardust being one of his favorites. He was a fan of Benny Goodman and often played Moonglow in the evenings when he sat down at the piano to relax - not as well as Teddy Wilson but nothing to be ashamed of, that's for sure.

He also was a fan of Dixieland music and Pete Fountain.

That was for you Pops.

Thanks for everything you did for us boys. We all owe you plenty. For just a "regular guy" you did all right. I love you, miss you and will never forget you.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Track Racer

Was doing a little cipherin' on the work bench the other day. I've decided to go with my original plan for the single seat track racer. I want to start gathering up material and parts while I'm still working the side hustle. Also, start fabricating some parts, mostly to get a clear view in my mind how things are going to go together and make sure I can actually find all the parts I'm going to need. Speedway motors has most of the front end parts I'll need. I've got an original Ford beam axle with the wishbone attached. Speedway has spindles, disc brakes and the steering linkage to fit. I got a steering box when I got the axle but I'm not real sure what I've got or the best way to hook things all up.

The original wishbone setup had a single mounting point under the center of the car. The hot rodders would split the wishbone and then later they went to hair pins and four links. I like the looks of the hairpins but the split wishbone would work and be keeping with the period. I'm not going to try and build something "authentic", but back then there was a lot of experimentation and variety so I can deviate from the plan a bit and still have something that will look mostly period. Obviously, making a bunch of "billet" parts would not fit the scheme but I don't have an aluminum foundry at my disposal either. Since there was no TIG welding back then, custom aluminum parts had to be cast rather than fabricated. Those old guys were cracker-jack gas welders, though. If you look at some of the 4 into 1 or 6 into 1 exhausts, you'll see some nice work fitting and welding. Likewise, the cowling on my plans calls for it to be made from four pieces that need to be welded together. Welding that aluminum sheet is not too difficult with TIG, but it's not the easiest thing to gas weld. I've gotten fairly good at it but if I try to gas weld this thing, I'll definitely have to brush up on my skills.

In the photo is the bending die for 3/4" square tubing that I want to use to make the front of the cowling frame out of. The back will be taller and have a rounded profile all the way around on the top instead of just rounded corners. I'll have to think about how to get a nice smooth bend - probably make a form and bend it around that. But that's why I like to sleep on it before jumping in. My problem is always that when I sleep on it I turn into Rip Van Winkle.

Also in the photo is a piece for the exercise bike at the gym. The little guys get on the bike and take the seat adjuster bolt out. Rather than putting it back in the lowest position, they'll lay it down somewhere and then I have to go search for it. I couldn't find it at all last time I wanted to use the bike, so I just made a quickie one up. I turned down a piece of all thread on one end. I'll take it to the gym and see how much thread I need to screw it into the bike, then weld the nut in the proper location, weld a bar on the end to make it easy to turn, and then keep it in my gym bag. If no one has found the original by the time I get in there next time, I'll make another one to keep with the bike.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Not Enough Gray Matter, My Ass!

Going along with my last post, I saw this at the AWS Jobs In Welding site:

Military Sealift Command Norfolk, Virginia, United States
1 day ago


"The Deck Engineer Machinist is a Civil Service Mariner (CIVMAR) employed by the Navy to serve the Military Sealift Command (MSC) onboard naval auxiliaries and hybrid-manned warships worldwide, in peace and war. MSC exists to support the joint warfighter across the full spectrum of military operations. MSC provides on-time logistics, strategic sealift, as well as specialized missions anywhere in the world, contested or uncontested environments.

The Deck Engineer Machinist is responsible for maintaining, repairing, and operating deck machinery, Underway Replenishment (UNREP) machinery, and material handling equipment. This includes but is not limited to the hydraulic systems, cargo fluid systems (piping and pneumatic systems), internal combustion engines, material handling equipment (fork trucks, pallet jacks, etc.), cargo handling equipment (cranes, booms, winches, etc.), ship’s boats including engines, associated machinery, davits and winches, hull structure (bulkheads, decks, bulwarks, railings), mooring machinery and UNREP machinery. The Deck Engineer Machinist must also be proficient in the use of machine shop equipment (lathes, milling machines, drill presses, arbor presses, etc.), hand tools, hand held power tools, burning, brazing, and welding procedures (Oxy-Acetylene cutting and brazing systems, carbon arc, stick welding) and welding systems. The incumbent will assist, observe and perform “Quality Assurance” on work done by shipyard or other shore side repair personnel, as directed. The incumbent must be proficient in the performance of fire, boat, and damage control drills, taking initiative to perform emergency drills as required. The Deck Engineer Machinist is directly responsible to the First Assistant Engineer and works under the supervision of the Second Assistant Engineer (Cargo).

Everything in this Position Description is considered to be an essential function of this position. Perform other duties as assigned."

Not enough gray matter, Mr. Bloomberg? You might want to check out the Jobs in Welding site and see what else is listed and how "easy" it is to learn the required skills. And for those of you who aren't billionaires, looking down your nose at us little people, the AWS also has a nice site for those seeking information on the careers available in the welding field and the education required to qualify.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Spacer Cadet

I screwed up on the Rapido project. When the grandson and I started working on it we found that the speedo drive wasn't working. It had locked up and bent the tab that fits into the hole on the front wheel. I looked on eBay and there was a pair of them on there so I figured they weren't in high demand. I wanted to see if I could fix ours before buying a new one but by the time I got around to deciding I need a new one, I could no longer find one for sale. I wanted to get the front wheel back on so I machined up a bushing and just wrote the speedo drive off for now. I'll keep looking for a replacement though.

I'm sure most of you have seen the Bloomberg interview where he insults farmers and machinists saying they don't have enough gray matter to be a computer whiz. He said to be a machinist all you have to do is put the part in the lathe and then just turn the handle in the direction of the arrow.

I've known and been around machinists and farmers most all of my life, so I've got a pretty good idea what's necessary to be successful in both of those fields. While I consider myself a welder rather than a machinist, I do quite a bit of machine work. In order to make the simple bushing above I first had to measure the original part and add the proper dimension to the length to make up for the lack of the speedo drive, measure the outside of the part and the axle diameter to arrive at the proper bore size.

Once I had things measured up, I cut a piece of stock, put it in a collet, faced it, turned the OD, center drilled, drilled the bore and parted it off to length. Then reassembled the front end of the bike. Not all that difficult but a little more than turning the handle in the direction of the arrow. Especially when holding tolerances of .001".

President Trump said in the State of the Union he was going to get vocational/technical education back in every high school in the nation. Bloomberg essentially calls everyone taking those classes a doofus. We've really have got to stop voting for people who insult us. If we do, it just proves their point that we're not real bright. Or deplorable. Or a bitter clinger.


Allison Hayes - quite the looker. I've been watching Tombstone Territory and Bat Masterson on Saturday mornings and Miss Hayes appeared in both of those shows. Mostly I just keep the TV on for background noise to drown out the ringing in my ears from the tinnitus while I'm doing my chores but the publicity photos and the movie stills of these actresses are often good examples of photographic posing and lighting. The television shows weren't always the best, it was the fifties after all, but they're still some of the best programming available, sad as that is.

The place where I buy my photographic supplies sent me an e-mail about some new film they're carrying. I might buy a couple of rolls of 120. I need to see what my paper supply looks like as well. I want to get something to do some hand coloring. I should have got on this a little earlier in the winter. Since my darkroom isn't really dark until after the sun goes down, I can get in there and work for a couple hours and still be done by bed time. I need to get on that.

I also need to make some type of daylight film developing can for 4x5 that I can develop one or two sheets at a time. I've got a big tank but it uses a lot of chemicals. I normally tray develop but sitting in the total darkness for 20 minutes agitating the film and transferring it from developer, to stop bath, to fixer isn't all that much fun. Designing and building a tank would be, however. It would make using my view camera a lot more fun as well - and the camera I hope to build one of these days.

Saturday, February 15, 2020


Had a couple of days like real winter lately. It started snowing on Wednesday and continued into Thursday. We probably got about 4 inches. Not a big deal as far as our winters usually go but the temperatures started dropping Thursday morning from about 30 degrees to negative numbers. It was -5 Friday morning at 6:30 and stayed cold all day with a high about 15. Friday was a beautiful sunny day with nary a breeze, so it wasn't too bad to be out. At least for the little time I was out taking care of the chickens and then walking down the lane to get the mail.

I went into work Thursday morning for a bit to shovel snow and check to see if anything pressing was on the agenda. Since nothing much was up I told them I'd see them next week. I did pick up a little work to do at home so I could have something on my check. One of the nice things about this gig is I can pick and choose my days. Also, the boss hired another guy to help out with the maintenance and custodial chores so he can cover if I don't make it in. And if it's going to be below zero, I'm going to take a "snow day" just like I used to get at the high school. And I'll probably spend it about like I did yesterday - a little cooking and cleaning and curlin' up in the recliner with a good book. It's supposed to be above freezing the next few days, so I'll be back into the shop. A little for them and a little for me.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Reader's Digest and Old Movies

When you get to be an old guy you start receiving offers for magazines for super low prices. I've subscribed to a couple but I want to cut back on the magazines and start reading more books again - maybe not the 50 per year I did for a while but there's no reason I couldn't do one every couple of weeks if I wasn't reading magazines in much of my free time.

I was surprised to get a sample Reader's Digest in the mail the other day. I didn't know they were even still in business. My mother used to get the magazine and the condensed books when I was living at home many years ago. Seemed like every doctor's office used to have an old copy in the waiting room as well. I read through the sample issue and it was pretty much as I remembered it and I could subscribe for $15.00 for two years. I'm going to take a pass but I did like the following quote I saw from T Boone Pickens:

"Work eight hours and sleep eight hours, and make sure they are not the same eight hours."

Lili Damita. Saw her in an old movie the other day. I need to get busy and mix up some fresh chemicals to both develop a couple rolls of B&W film and print a couple of negatives from a roll I shot last year. I've got an idea for making myself a camera I'd like to pursue one of these days as well. I don't need another project, or another camera as far as that goes, but that's never stopped me from starting a project in the past.

Seems like a good time to throw in some John Prine. It'd be nice if all the wars ended but that'll never happen. Might actually see a second civil war in my time the way things are going. 

What is so funny about peace, love and understanding?

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Side Job and a Sandwich

The beginnings of a little frame I knocked out yesterday for the side hustle. I cleaned up the shop a bit prior to starting - concrete floor looks nice and clean in the photo. I've still got a bit more clean-up to do but a big improvement. Safer too with out all the tripping hazards. I raised up the legs on the horses to a better height. They're easy enough to adjust - one screw on each leg and then slide them up or down as needed. They adjust in about three inch increments. They're supposed to hold 1500 pounds each but I wouldn't trust them enough to crawl under them with that kind of weight on them, especially if the legs are at full extension. However, they're just the ticket for what I need.

I did a couple of other pieces for work yesterday as well. A little welding and drilled a few holes and tapped a couple 10-24 holes. That was a bit dangerous - last thing I needed to do before quitting and it was getting past my supper time. Real easy to get in a hurry and break the tap that way, especially in 304 stainless. As it turned out, the job came out well but not so much the dinner.

After closing up the shop I loaded up the Missus and went to the grocery and to pick up a couple of sandwiches. Simple enough order - one steak sandwich for the Missus and two veggie guacamole for me. One for dinner and one for lunch today. Instead I got two steak sandwiches and one veggie guacamole without the guacamole. By the time I got home and opened up the sandwiches it was after 7:00, I was really hungry and I didn't want to go through the hassle of taking them back. I'm not a strict vegan anymore but it's rare that I eat meat. (Other than a pork tenderloin sandwich at the racetrack, that is. That's my Kryptonite). The steak sandwich was pretty tasty, though. The veggie guacamole, not so much.

We've got snow on the way and cold temps forecast for Friday. The tax lady called me and said the IRS is ready to go, so she moved my appointment up. With the weather and the taxes, progress might slow down a little. Plus, I do have one more little job for work yet. Probably more by the time the weekend rolls around. That's OK. I've got more parts to buy.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Carrier's Finished

Motorcycle carrier is ready to go. I'll check the weather and get it under the truck one of these days soon. Make sure the lights work, load the bike up and take it for a shake-down cruise. If everything looks good I'll call the shop in Indy and make an appointment to take it down there. The bike shop is only a couple of blocks from the Speedway Museum and the museum has an exhibit going on now of vehicles from the "basement collection" - things that aren't normally on display. I can gather up the bike and Cuzzin Ricky, drop the bike off, and he and I can check out the museum and get us a bite to eat while the service is being done on the bike and then head back home. It'd be nice if the dealership had one of the new Enfield twins to check out while I'm down there.

Now that the carrier is done, I'm going to spend a little time cleaning the shop - it's pretty cluttered as seen in the top photo. Now that I've got the metal horses, I think I'll toss the wooden ones on the burn pile. The one's about ready to fall apart and I definitely need some more room.

The welding supplies I ordered came yesterday. I'm still not use to getting deliveries on a Sunday. I got a 1# package of silicon bronze rod for repairing the Ducati gas tank for my buddy Bob, a 1# package of 308 stainless to keep on hand due to the type of work I've been doing for my side hustle, and some TIG tungstens. I ordered a sample pack of some new type of tungsten electrodes. The 2% thoriated I've been using for years is radioactive. It doesn't pose much of a health threat. You don't want to be inhaling the dust from grinding it but this new stuff is supposed to be safer and give you better results as well. Surly is putting together a TIG outfit, so I'll give him a couple of sticks when he's ready.

I've got a couple of jobs for work to knock out before I go back in this week. Nothing too tough but needs to be done. I want to get back on some of my motorcycle work but  the side hustle's been paying for parts, materials and tools. I've got a weekly budget for that stuff and I hope to have enough parts and material stockpiled to keep me going for quite a while after I quit that gig in September. I'll have to be a bit more frugal after that. With the coronavirus going on, I might just quarantine myself and hole up in the shop. Need to do that anyway if I'm ever going to get all these projects finished.

Friday, February 7, 2020


Fuzzy photo from the cheapie flip phone of one of my fixes for a machine at my side hustle. There is supposed to be an angle bent on the galvanized sheet on the side of the machine that fastens it down to the base. However, the sheet rusted away allowing the front of the machine to separate from both the base and the back section. I made up a new piece by welding a piece of 1/8 x 1 x1 angle to some 1/8" sheet. I was able to utilize a couple of the existing mounting holes as well as adding a few more. I made a couple of studs on the right side of the bracket by drilling and countersinking holes for 10-24 flat head screws on the backside and then welding the heads in place. The piece bolted onto the studs is 1/8 x 2 flat with bends on each end. The end opposite the studs is held in place with a couple of self-tapping screws. This piece is to add some additional strength to keep everything together during transportation and installation.

The parts look pretty simple now that they're in place, and they are, but they did require a bit of thinking to design and make. My resources for fabricating at work are pretty limited, so I made up a carboard pattern and made the parts at home. Fortunately, everything fit well and the holes all lined up. Now that I've got my part done, one of the technicians will take the machine apart, clean it up and get it ready to go back into service. The parts I made will get painted or cold galvanized while the machine is apart to prevent further rusting.

And for something completely different, I've noticed a big jump in my page counts as of late. Not sure why, but welcome to all the new visitors and thanks to all of you regulars out there. I've been doing this for quite a while now and have been able to keep to my original goal of at least two posts per week. I enjoy writing this thing, I'm glad others get something from it as well.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

State of the Shop

The New Year's resolution of getting out to the shop every day for a couple of hours has been paying off. The motorcycle carrier is all wired up. I'll get the aluminum ramp section and the hoop for the front wheel bolted on and it should be ready to go. I soldered all the splices on the wiring and used heat shrink tubing to insulate the splices so I shouldn't have any problems with the wiring down the road. I do need to make a trip to the hardware store. I want to get some brass screws for the ground connections so they won't rust and some hard bolts to hold the angles on the ends. However, I had everything I needed for the wiring on hand - that doesn't happen too often. I'm a welder not an electrician after all.

Much of my shop time has been spent working on bits and pieces for my side hustle. Some of the pieces are of a repetitive nature now but I'm still making one-off things. I like these. Some are a bit of a challenge, which is good for me. I need to keep using the old noggin. If you don't use it you lose it and all that. Plus, it's the kind of work I enjoy and when I'm working on those things I don't have to do some of the other more unpleasant tasks. Win-win.

I was typing this up while watching the State of the Union address last evening. For a conservative guy like myself from the mid-west he was hitting all the right notes. While I'm still not a big fan of the President's lack of decorum on many occasions and his use of facts that he occasionally pulls out of his ass, I do believe he's sincere in his love for the country and his mission. And just like last year, I found the behavior of some of the Democrats to be very disrespectful of the office of  the President. My dad taught me even if you don't like the man, respect the office.

Of all the things contained in his address last night, I was surprised to hear him state he was bringing back technical and vocational education to every high school in the country. Shop Teacher Bob says now you're talking! If you bring back shop classes, you just might make America great again.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Headache With a Side of Swastika

Cuzzin Rickie picked up a headache rack for his work truck. The tubes to mount it into the stake pockets on the truck were of the wrong size and in the wrong location so I cut them off yesterday since it was such a nice day out.

If you closely at the photo you can see the outline of the old tube. It looks like I gouged into the plate a bit but it looks worse than it actually is - only maybe 1/32" deep on the lower right corner after grinding down the remnant of the old weld. However, the real issue here is that along the shadow line the weld never stuck to the plate at all. The tube was welded on with a MIG welder and on both sides of the rack the side closest to the flange had a cold lap along that side of the tube. Makes it real easy to scarf off but not real comforting to know that even though the weld looked OK, it wasn't holding a thing on that spot. This is fairly common with the MIG process if the operator isn't aware of the  machine parameters and his angle of attack. Often it's possible to judge how the weld is penetrating by watching the color of the weld as it cools. If the weld is an even color of red on both parts, you probably have good penetration. If, however, one side of the weld is red and the other is black, the weld is just laying on the metal rather than having penetrated. You always need to be aware of this with the MIG short arc process.

Cuzzin Ricky is going to get some tubing of the proper size and then I'll weld it on so the headache rack can be mounted . He also is planning a light bar on top of it which will require a mounting plate and maybe some reinforcement or gusseting. As soon as he gathers his material and we get another nice day we can get this taken care of. He also has a little job on a trailer that needs a bit of attention. Maybe get them both on the same day.

Inspection mark on my oxygen cylinder. First time was October, 1923, so it's almost 100 years old. The swastika is a nice touch, don't you think? Many of the cylinders were German made but it's rare that you see one this old anymore or one with the swastika still intact. Many of the swastikas had the sides connected so they ended up looking like four small boxes inside a larger box. The last inspection date on the cylinder is from 1990, so this one will have to be tested before going back into service when I send it in, but more probably it will be taken out of service due to its age. I may just get a new smaller "S" cylinder. I don't use the torch much and now that I bought myself a plasma I'll probably use it even less. An S cylinder is much easier to handle for an old guy than a K or T cylinder also.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Third World Country?

So we've got a thinly disguised coup attempt going on, a $23 trillion debt load and another trillion on tap for this year. They want to take the guns away from all of us and stifle freedom of speech. And now this!

I called the tax lady to set up an appointment to finish up my taxes. I don't believe I've ever made such a call in January - usually it's in mid March. Since I usually owe money, no point in hurrying to pay when the "gov" will just piss it away anyway. Once the tax lady had gotten over her initial surprise of me calling when I did, she explained to me the IRS didn't have the software up and running to do the taxes yet. It's supposed to be ready on the 20th of February. What a joke! And things will only get worse for the working man when the government gets the printing presses in high gear to cover the interest on the debt load.

What the hell has happened to this country? As Brother Johnny used to say, "we're just boned". He got that right.