Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Workshop Wednesday-Broom Tech

 We have a system at the shop for fixin crap. When a unit comes in for repair we fill out a card with the customer info, equipment type and customer complaint. The cards go in a rack and the mechanics pull them in the order they came in. A while back I pull a card and I thought it was a joke. It was for a power broom. For those of you that don't speak fluent OPE (outdoor power equipment), a power broom looks like a string trimmer but has a nylon bristle brush rather than a trimmer head.
 The card reads "straighten bristles so broom doesn't bounce". Are you kidding me? There's like 18 kajillion bristles. And how do you straighten a nylon bristle? I look at the machine and they must have stored the unit standing up on the broom. Sure enough there was a section that consisted of bristles rolled over from the weight of the machine. This made the broom bounce and almost impossible to use.
 So a lot of ideas went through my head. The first one was "how much is a new one cuz this is gonna suck". I finally decide to try to add some heat and see if they got soft enough to be straightened. When I hit them with the heat gun something amazing happened.


 They all just stood up as straight as new! I didn't know nylon bristles had a memory. At least these do. OK so some of you more edumacated readers out there may have had a clue. I didn't. I gave the broom a test run and it's smooth as silk.
 So there you have it. I guess even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Top Ten List-Rat Bikes

Top ten reasons to build a rat bike.

#10...You don't need painting skills to paint a rat. Hell, you don't even need
          paint! Undercoating or bedliner will do just fine.
#9...Bad welds are ok on a rat.
#8...Mistakes can be left unfixed.
#7...You'll clean up the garage of all those mixed spare parts laying around.
#6...It takes too long for a normal bike to become a rat on its own.
#5...No need to spend money on soap, wax or polish.
#4...Chicks dig rats (or is that tats?)
#3...If you dump it, that will only make it more of a rat.
#2...You can express yourself in ways unacceptable on a "clean" road bike.

And the #1 reason to build a rat bike...Rats rule!

In other news...
I'm not a big fan of "crust". Pie, pizza, bread and even pancakes. What?

 Ok before you call the looney bin to have me committed I need to explain. The night before I ate a calzone the size of a large pizza folded in half plus two fist sized meatballs. During this breakfast at the Pancake House in Milwaukee, I had just polished off a sausage and cheese omelette the size of my head plus some red skin potatoes. I was just picking at the pancakes and when I got to the point where I couldn't eat another bite, this is what was left. I got a few funny looks but so what.
 It's funny the things I think are picture worthy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Workshop Wednesday-Snowblower Tweak

 Faithful readers are aware of a project I did adapting a hydraulic broom to a john deere tractor. When the snow is deep we run a blower on the front of that tractor. One of the operators managed to catch a large crack in a sidewalk and bend the blower housing and cutting edge to the point that the auger would no longer turn.
 With a reputation of building things with overkill, I was the perfect guy to handle this repair.

 I should have taken better "before" pics. These don't really express the extent of the damage. The blower is pictured face down. The cutting edge is twisted and the mount is pushed forward. Not only does this wedge the auger from turning but it changes the relationship between the two gears in the chain drive pto.

 After removing the old scraper edge it was easy to see how twisted the housing was. The old scraper was 2" deep and 3/8" thick. Greasy Shop Rag specs called for something much bigger. I plan on using a 1/2" thick hardened cutting edge that's 6" deep. Ignore that piece of black shiny steel in the above pic. I changed plans mid swing and went another direction.

 With the new scraper edge in place it was time to straighten the sheet metal. I made this little fixture to adapt to a porta power ram. You can see everything to the left is nice and straight and everything to the right still needs tweaking.

 The blower is upside down in this pic and you see the new scraper bolted in place. I added the black piece of angle iron across the bottom and back of the housing. This will help prevent the housing from bowing like it did before. The black diamond plate pieces on the ends are something I made a few years ago. John deere offers something like this as an upgrade. I don't understand why they make this shit so weak, charge a fortune for it and then ask for more money to make it as strong as it should have been from the start.

 And one final pic to put it all into perspective. You can see the black angle iron along the back bottom edge. It ties into the center mount plates and the black end plates. If they hit something now they will probably break the windshield with their face as the tractor comes to a screeching halt.
 Now all we need is snow. It's been a slow winter.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Where Do They Get This Stuff?

 Yesterday I drove to Team Winnebagoland in Oshkosh to pick up some oil seals for the Rat Turd. Ya I could have ordered the stuff online and had it mailed to my door but these are a great bunch of guys and I enjoy doing business with them.
 I didn't have any plans for the day so when I left I decided to check out some trailers at a place called M. Schettl Sales. I've always heard they have a lot of bizarre crap there like life size statues and oddities you just can't find anywhere else. When I walked in the door I knew right away I was gonna like this place. In one aisle were a few mini bikes and a pocket rocket. The end cap had Jake and Elwood life size statues. The walls were lined with other statues of critters, creatures, pop icons and historical figures. I walked out the side door to the next building and found everything from whiskey barrels to hang gliders. Want to decorate a room in an ancient Egyptian theme? They got it.
 As I was leaving I mentioned to an employee how cool I thought the store was. He gave me a map to the MAIN store. Hell, I didn't know. A short drive out of town led me to what appeared to be more of a museum or amusement park than a store. Here is some of what I saw.

 I'm not sure what this is all about. It was one of the first things I saw and meant to come back to it but never did.

 There is a ladder coming out of the ass of this dino. I climbed up and found a bunch of chairs inside. I sat there a few minutes thinking how cool it would be to build something like this. My wife is so lucky we live in the city limits or this whole place is exactly how my yard would look.

 The inside of this "camper" was full of treasures. I looked at every one of those containers thinking about a gas tank for the Rat Turd.

 Rusty Metal can be cool.

Way cool.

There are a lot of glass gazebos and other types of glass enclosures.

 This one might be my favorite. What it needs is something to pull it. How about a blown v8 drag sled?

 I'll be back. Not just to look at the cool stuff outside but the store is filled with unique gift ideas. Check it out if you're in the area.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Workshop Wednesday-Scum

 Sometimes when fixing saws I like to make a guess what the problem is then investigate. When I'm right it saves a lot of time. If I'm wrong then I go back and diagnose it one step at a time.
 This carb wasn't supplying fuel to the engine and I had a good idea why. After opening up the carb I found this:

 If you're not sure what is wrong with this carb then I'll zoom in a bit for you.

 It's not unusual to find this screen plugged up with debris. Usually it's dirt or broke down fuel line. In this case I'm not sure what got into the fuel supply to create this scum that plugged the micro screen in this carb. It looks like a mix of oil and water.

 I take these pics because a lot of times customers just don't believe what I'm telling them. It's just the world we live in now. Everyone thinks they are getting ripped off or someone else is to blame. The customer claims to have used a clean fuel supply and quality oil so they can't believe this would be the problem. We talked about ethanol and I advised him to check his fuel can for evidence of water. I never heard back. You can make your own conclusions as to what that means.
 So, what have we learned here? First we learned chainsaws won't run on white scum. Second, we learned I get paid to make a few guesses what the problem with your saw might be and paid more to take pics and see if I was right. That's right, livin the dream.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Thinking Cap

 Saturday was a lazy day. I spent the morning dinking around in the shop waiting for football playoffs to start.
 I've been working out some ideas for the Rat Turd. A few things are brewing but I really need to get this exhaust issue worked out.

 Even if I kept it all stock there are some cracks in the pipes that would need to be welded. I could make some type of 4 into one adapter. It would be sort of a manifold under the bike and probably be a bit restrictive but that really wouldn't matter on the little 550. I prefer not to go this route if possible. I am in the market for a used header that I can adapt a more "tractor like" exhaust to.

 I bought a 4" rain flapper for the top of the muffler. Just gotta work out exactly where to mount the can so as not to suck too many fumes or get burnt. I'm really diggin the looks of the muffler in this spot next to the seat. From a practical standpoint it may make swingin my leg a bit of a chore but really not any worse than a bike with a sissy bar or back rest.
 It's time to start searching craigslist and ebay.

Go Pack!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Workshop Wednesday-What's in the Pantry?

  As a little birdy, a storage shed must seem like a big apartment complex. In one corner we have some flimsy cardboard boxes that would be adequate shelter. There is also that big four wheeled condo unit but you prefer your privacy. Over in the other corner is a nice shiny snow blower that hasn't been disturbed all summer. It's a multi level unit with lots of storage. The engine seems like a nice place to take up residence. It's dark, cozy and out of the wind. The air box makes a nice pantry for all that bird seed sitting in the other corner of the shed.

  Then there's the lower level. More storage for bird seed.

 Behind that we have a large walk in closet. This is a perfect spot for your prized possession, bird seed. But here's the real selling point of this unit. It has a secret storage area hidden behind a narrow passage in the carb.  Lots of extra room for storing, you guessed it, bird seed!

 Ok, now before I start getting a bunch of comments about how this mess was created by a rodent, not a bird, I realize that. I'm not sure everyone at the shop that we showed this to was as wise. We like to play mind games sometimes.
 I also realize that it's highly unlikely a mouse squeaked through a narrow carb body. It's even less likely that one snuck past an open intake valve.
 What we have here is a case of a home owner leaving seed available to rodents. The mice filled the air box with the bird seed. When the owner tried to start the machine they never knew the problems they would be facing.  I don't know if the machine started for a second or if they just pulled the cord enough times to draw all this seed into the combustion chamber. There was even seed pushed past the exhaust valve into the muffler.
 Parts and labor will cost a quarter of the price of a new machine. Let this be a lesson. Take a moment to look over your motorcycle before cranking it up in the spring. A mouse nest in a muffler makes an interesting show upon startup but smells terrible. Been there.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


 My little workshop has one lift and enough room to work all the way around it. Because I stripped the BSA down to nothing but a bare frame, it was easy to make the decision to remove it from the lift and put the Rat Turd up there. This in no way halts the very slow but present progress on the BSA.

 The Rat Turd (Doesn't it seem weird that I'm capitalizing rat turd?) is a fun bike to work on because anything goes. More details can be found here. If I want to try something new I'll just weld it on. If I hate it I'll cut and grind it off. It's not like I'm gonna wreck the bike!
 I noticed a small spot of oil under the bike and decided to investigate. When I pulled the left engine side cover I immediately noticed the answer to an unrelated problem I was having. Do you see it?

 Unless you are able to zoom in and study the pic you may not be able to see it. I'll zoom in for you.

 It seems last time I replaced this cover there was a gremlin hiding in here and he must have pushed that green wire to a spot where it would get pinched. This explains the intermittent side stand switch problems.
 Following the wire harness led to another discovery...

 I heard an odd sound coming from behind the side cover.

 When opened, I realized I needed more power to get the 1.21 gigawatts needed to move forward on this project!
 Yes I know this is lame so just r-e-l-a-x.  I was in the phone app store and saw this flux capacitor and loaded it on an old phone.  I've been in a funk lately with the bikes and am having a hard time turning ideas into hard results. On the plus side I did come up with an idea for a hand shifter that will allow me to keep my left foot on the highway peg when I just need to grab a gear or two. I have some lawn mower parts that will be just right for the job.

 We finally got some precipitation and I am about to go to work and relocate some snow. Have a great new year!