Friday, February 26, 2021



I think I have the solution to hooking up the computer out in the shop. The Powerline 1200 is supposed to do it. According to the instructions and what the salesman told me, you plug one of the units into a wall outlet and then run the ethernet cable to the wi-fi gizmo. Plug in the second unit to a wall outlet where ever you want to hook up your computer or smart TV, connect with the ethernet cable and you're in business. 

I haven't tried it yet due to the plug configuration on the power strip that runs my main computer, printer, etc. It has a right angle plug and I'm not able to plug in the new sending unit and the power strip unless the power strip cord has a straight plug as you can see from the photo. So I need another power strip or a short extension cord with a straight plug that I can plug the power strip into.

I also need to clean off a spot or hang a shelf off the wall to accommodate the laptop near an outlet. I've got a pair of speakers that I plugged my mp3 player into that I can use but I need to make provisions for that set-up as well. Nothing too difficult here but everything needs to be protected from flying sparks and all that. Maybe make a framework above the computer and amplifier that I can hang a tarp from like a miniature shower curtain or make a wooden cabinet I can hang on the outside of my welding booth where things will be protected and hang the speakers on the inside of the doors. Open the doors, turn on the power and I'll be set. Close the doors and the electronics will be safe and relatively spark and dust free. 

I think I'll get an extension cord for the computer power strip in the house, plug both units in and see if it works as planned before I get carried away making things, however. It'll be sweet if it works. Music of all types, no commercials, how-to videos if need be. Just what the doctor ordered.  

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

More Yamaha


That's a beauty of an SR right there. The only problem that I see is that it's too pretty for what I'm planning on doing even though I'm not real sure yet what it is I'm planning on doing. The combination seat & tail section looks good on there but that item is pretty commonplace on "real" flat trackers like the HD 750s. 

Airtech sells several fiberglass seats in addition to the XR model. They've got a couple designs that have number plates built into them. I can't see me needing that but the XR seat is $114.00. I couldn't make one for that price out of aluminum by the time I bought material and had it upholstered. However, I'm into making rather than buying as I'm sure you've surmised by now.

I like the looks of this one a bunch. Not a tracker or an SR500, but a pretty scrambler like they used to run. Putting something together like either one of these would be a fairly straight forward project. I just need to decide on what I want to do with it after I'm done. I looked at the SR seat the other day and I could shorten it up and wrap the sides in to form a back  and then have it re-upholstered. There's a guy within walking distance of me who does upholstery work. Using the stock seat pan would mean it would be a straight up bolt on after it was upholstered. That's not a bad thing. And white piping is always in style.

I like the high pipe on this one also. If I decided to take the bike to ride on public lands, I assume I would need a muffler with a spark arrestor. I can make a muffler and buy a Forest Service approved spark arrestor for only about twenty bucks or buy something like this one:

Going that route I'm definitely falling more into the scrambler camp than the flat tracker but I could end up with a bike that's capable of most any type of off road riding I'd want to do. My first thought was go with a low pipe and use SuperTrapp inserts.
The nice thing about these is they are tunable by adding or subtracting discs, and they are suitable for off-road.

I've got a long way to go before I get serious about this project but I haven't been spending all my parts allowance lately, so it wouldn't hurt to buy a few parts that I know I'll need sometime down the road. 

I went through the boxes at the storage space yesterday. I found a couple of bolts for the engine stand but no cylinder head - a couple of bottom ends and transmissions, a barrel, and a bushel and a peck of brake parts but no head. That obviously will be a problem for a low buck build. 

I did a bunch of running around yesterday. It warmed up to 45 degrees and was nice and sunny Went to the college for some business, the grocery store, Menards, bank, and ran the truck through the car wash. I also stopped at Best Buy - might have found the solution to getting the computer on line out in the shop. So I didn't get much else done but a great day to be out after all the cold and snow we've been having. Great day to be alive. And it's supposed to be above freezing for the remainder of the week.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Sidecar Hero


Chris Vincent passed away last week. If you're a fan of sidecar racing, especially if you're my age or there-abouts, you'll recognize that name. Pretty accomplished solo rider as well. RIP Mr. Vincent.

Didn't do much over the weekend. It did warm up some but I wanted to watch the outdoor hockey game on Saturday and on Sunday I got a chance to talk to Surly for a bit and I got out and did walkies with my running buddy and her husband. Actually, it was more like hiking since the walking trail was snow covered. We did 3-1/2 miles or so. Good to be out among the unwashed for a change. No hugs or handshakes but good to be able to get caught up a bit with friends and family. 

I need to run the tractor down the lane again today due to some drifting and fresh snow but I'm planning on getting back out in the shop after that. It's looking like it will be above freezing this week. That'll be warm enough to get me back on the projects. 

Have a good week. Spring is just a short month away!

Saturday, February 20, 2021



Lovely voice - in itself enough to make you smile. But as they say in the commercials: "Wait there's more!"

The oldest grandson turned 16 the other day. Of course we didn't get to visit with him but the Missus and I did have a phone visit.

I went to the eye doctor Thursday. Had a check-up on the new bionic eyeballs and got fitted for some glasses. My vision is just damn near 20/20 but the new glasses will have a bit of correction as well as the proper bifocal power. Medicare pays up to $74.00 towards bifocals with UV lenses, so I got away with a new pair of specs with my share being only $70.00. I've got insurance that pays for new frames once every two years but I can't cash in on that until July - maybe get some prescription sunglasses then.

The seat for the jitney showed up on Thursday. With my plowing job on the lane being a little less than stellar, the FedEx guy left it at the mailbox not quite a quarter of a mile away. When I went down to grab the seat there was another package that I thought was going to be more car parts but instead was a box of live plants. The box was clearly marked live plants, do not freeze and it had an arrow pointing which way was up. Of course the box was upside down and sitting on top of a snow bank. Needless to say the plants were all dead. I'm assuming they were riding around in the back of the unheated van for quite a while before they got to my place because I retrieved them less than ten minutes after they were dropped off.

I'll have to wait until I get a trans to determine where the floor pan will be and then I can determine the seat height. It's sitting a bit higher than the frame rail in the photo but I think it will eventually be even with the bottom of the rail which will drop it down three inches. That being the case, I'll have to cut holes in the back sheet metal for the harness and run a cross tube on the roll cage to anchor the top straps.

The car parts I was waiting on showed up Friday. Alternator, trans mount and a couple of radiator hoses. Same scenario - FedEx dropped them off by the mailbox but nothing that could be harmed by the cold temperatures. I'm going to make sure I get the weather forecast before ordering anything in the future. I don't like the idea of my packages sitting out by the road where they could be stolen easily or frozen as with the plants. I think part of the problem is the FedEx drivers come out of the city and aren't used to driving out in the country or down farm lanes. A few years ago they tossed a package out half way down the lane. In the summer, during daylight hours. FedEx doesn't make me smile. 

Lastly, nothing puts a smile on your face like a big pot of bean soup when it's cold and there's two feet of snow on the ground.

Stay warm and safe.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Stove Building


I have a nephew living in Portland who commented on social media the other day that he'd really like a cup of coffee. Apparently since the power was out, no coffee maker. Several people responded on various ways to make a cup all of which required a heat source, naturally enough. I think he has a gas stove but many of the folks who have lost power recently have all electric appliances. If that's the case, a small plumber's backpacking stove should definitely be part of their preps. The photo shows most everything needed to make one other than a tuna can, some cotton balls and alcohol. Step by step directions can be found here.

I made mine years ago and it's been all over the country on my bicycling trips. I use gas line anti-freeze for my fuel source. It comes in screw on lids now, so it's possible to close it up without it leaking. I've currently got my fuel in a long neck aluminum beer can with a wine cork for a stopper - improvise, adapt, overcome. 

The stove will heat up a Sierra cup full of water in about 5 minutes. When cycle camping, I typically heat water for my oatmeal and then heat a second cup for my tea or coffee. My buddy and I then normally break camp, ride for a couple of hours and then stop some place for our second breakfast at a cafe or restaurant depending on what is available. When we did the trip on the Cowboy Trail my buddy didn't want to mess with cooking breakfast so we had a real meal at a restaurant every morning and then hit the road. The little stove did come out a couple of evenings, however.

So even if you're not a camper, make yourself a stove, buy a metal cup and store it with the rest of your preps. When the power goes out you can have a hot cup of coffee or tea, warm up the baby's bottle or fix a simple meal. Make two and keep one in your vehicle for peace of mind if you're caught out in a storm like we've been having. Just be careful with the alcohol. It burns with an invisible flame.

Also, on the related topic of staying warm during a power outage, I bought myself a catalytic heater to use in my teardrop trailer for winter use. I've never used it for the intended purpose but I did use it a few years ago when the power went out during a weather event like we've been having. While the heater is no where big enough to heat the old farm house, it kicks out 1,500 BTUs and has a shut-off if the oxygen level falls below a safe level. At that time I also put the kettle on the stove and lit a kerosene lamp, giving me light and a bit of heat. With the fireplace going it wasn't enough to heat the whole house but it did slow the cooling of the house quite a bit until the power came back on. I've also got a Coleman lantern I could have lit. They put out a nice bright light as well as a lot of heat. In fact, ice fisherman will put them inside a box they sit in that has holes punched in it to warm their fannies and feet.

The conclusion you could draw from this is, even if you're not a camper, camping equipment is prepping equipment. With an investment of maybe $200.00 you can equip yourself for most any emergency that results from a power outage. And don't forget to drain your pipes if you're in an area like Texas that normally doesn't get extended periods of freezing temps. Drain the water into a bucket or pot and transfer it to the bath tub so you'll have a water source for flushing the toilet. 

Stay warm and remember the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Common Thread

I'm currently reading this one. I paid $5.00 for the book according to the price marked inside the cover. I don't remember where I got it or how long ago it's been but I figured since I'm working on the jitney project, the time was right to finally get around to reading it. Decent book with lots of good info on the cars and the more well known builders. I also finished a couple of books about Glenn Curtiss recently - one a biography, the other documenting the difficulty Curtiss had with the Wright Brothers. 

Here comes the common thread of the title. Glenn Curtiss not only was one of the pioneers of aviation but he was also an accomplished bicycle racer. Additionally, he set a land speed record on a motorcycle of his own design and construction. He's also credited with inventing the twist grip throttle used on most every motorcycle for the last 100 plus years.

In The American Racing Car book one of the biographies is of Louis Chevrolet. Chevrolet started out building, racing and marketing his own bicycles under the name Frontenac. Later he was in partnership with Will Durant of General Motors fame with the Chevrolet Motor Company. Chevrolet had a falling out with Durant and lost the rights to the Chevrolet name. He then started building cars under the Frontenac name, the financing of which came from Albert Champion, who I mentioned in a post recently, himself a champion bicycle racer. It's interesting to note that Champion did Chevrolet a major wrong and Chevrolet beat him almost to death. Champion later was involved in another altercation and died as a result of a punch to the chest.

Another of the biographies is of Harry Miller. Miller was famous for manufacturing carburetors and racing engines - most notably the Offenhauser. Miller left home in 1895, headed west and got a job in a bicycle shop. He then started his own part time business making parts to convert ordinary bicycles into racers. "To get to and from work he designed and built a bicycle on which he mounted a small one-cylinder engine. It has often been claimed that this was the first motorcycle in the United States."

Fred Duesenberg of race and luxury car fame got his start with bicycles as well. "the bicycle was the great, revolutionary form of personalized mechanical transport of the day, and Fred gravitated to it as a rider, then as mechanic, then as a racer, and then as a builder of his own fast machines. At age twenty-one he had his own small manufacturing business, continued racing and, in 1898 was credited with having established the worlds records for two and three miles."

It's interesting that the bicycle craze attracted some of the greatest names in automobile racing and development both as builders and racers. If you look just at the history of the Indy 500, you see the names Chevrolet, Miller and Duesenberg, and of course many of the cars were powered by AC or Champion spark plugs, just as many of the cars still are today. The late 1800's - early 1900s were pretty exciting times. It would have been a great time to be involved in the automobile industry. Indiana was a big player back then. There would have been plenty of opportunities for young guys to be involved as mechanics, machinists, coach builders, etc. It would have been great to apprentice under some of those guys.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Snow Day - Again

 The old tractor started right up yesterday. A fresh 12 volt battery spinning a 6 volt starter motor on an engine with low compression is just the ticket to get things turning over even when it's 10 degrees. The weather man was right on the money when he was forecasting 8" of new snow. In fact, we may have gotten a bit more with what came down in the morning. The blade on the tractor does a great job when the snow is 4-5 inches or less, not so much when it's trying to push 10-12 inches when you add up the new snow and what was already there.

I got it opened up but not quite wide enough I discovered when I tried to drive the truck down the lane later in the day. I managed to get stuck 4 or 5 times which required a bunch of shoveling to get me moving again. I noticed when trying to rock the truck back and forth it wouldn't spin the wheels at a high rpm when I had it in reverse. I don't know if there is some type of electronic governor or what but I could have used a few more revolutions a couple of times.

When I got down to the end and turned around I hit the throttle and tried to keep it going without having to lift. I was really "chopping wood" as the sprint car guys would say, sawing back and forth on the wheel. I made it though. I'll run the tractor down the lane again today to widen it out a bit and scrape it down more.

I'm certainly not alone in battling the snow and ice. We didn't lose power like much of the country has these past few days. I saw that Texas had blackouts due to the extra demand put on the grid from to the cold temps. I've got a nephew who lives out by Portland who was without power due to the ice storms and, of course, California has blackouts as a regular occurrence. President Biden has just decreed that all the government vehicles are going to be "E" rigs in the future. It'll be real interesting when all those vehicles won't be able to move due to the grid shutting down for whatever reason may come around. I think if I was going to buy an electric vehicle I'd make sure I'd be able to charge it back up if there was a power outage and always have enough charge to make the return trip.