Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-Fertilizer Spreader

 So I had mentioned in an earlier post that I was going to build a ride on fertilizer spreader. The boss gave me a zero turn mower to start my project.

 I started tearing it down to see what I had. The wheel motors needed to be braced up better and I found that the parking brake needs a little work.

 I plan to shorten this up a bit and add a leaf blower where the mower deck used to be. The motor will get mounted backwards to put more weight over the rear wheels and make room for the platform at the rear where the operator will stand. I also have an idea for locking the front casters when on a side slope.
 Other thoughts include giving this machine spraying capabilities for doing small yards.
 That was the plan anyway. The other day the boss came walking into the shop with a brochure of a new one. He's willing to drop the 6-8k for it.
 I'm just thinking out loud here. New engine and exhaust- $800. Blower housing, impeller, bearings and belt- $550. Steel, linkage, hardware- $500. Tank, pump, spray boom, shield assorted plumbing- $500. Paint, labor, assorted BS I am forgetting? The $700 we gave on trade for this unit. Well that doesn't count because its already gone do to the fact that I'm not putting this mower back together.
 If I thought I could do it for half the cost of a new one then I would fight for it but in this case I'm not sure because there will be a lot of labor designing some things.
 Huh, We need to sit down and decide exactly what we want to do.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sportster Rear Fender Redo

 So I had my feet up and was chewing on some ideas for mounting the license plate on the back of my Sportster. Nothing I had previously considered was sounding like a good idea. Check out the last pic in this post. I was also worrying about how short I cut the fender. Rain water off the tire was going to spray my back or soak my luggage.
 So it came to me. I'd just re-attach most of that piece of fender back on without the tail light mount. This would give me a shorter than stock fender, a place for the plate and practical water protection.
 Thats the nice thing about not having a solid plan when doing a project like this. If I feel like changing it then thats fine.
 The first step was to remove the factory tail light mount.

 Then I made a template of the license plate bracket that would cover up the hole.

 I cut it out with my favorite tool, the Milwaukee 18 volt grinder with a cut-off wheel. That piece of steel is a heavy metal shelf I rescued from the dumpster at work.

 Cut, pound, weld, sand and paint. I left that pointy flare on it. I figured it would be easier to make it look halfway decent if I wasn't trying to blend a seam together.

 Its just mocked up for the pic. I have two other parts I want to make yet but I haven't seen the right pieces in the dumpster yet. Also not shown are the LED tag bolts that will illuminate the plate.
 I can live with this. Its not as long as the stock fender but plenty long to keep me and my gear dry. The plate location works with the rack folded down and should keep Johnny Law off my back.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-Squirt Squirt!

 When people ask me what I do its easy to tell them where I work but what I do can't be summed up in one sentence. Ya there's wrenching and snow plowing but a big part of my job is landscaping. I do a lot of fertilizing and broad leaf weed control applications. Over the years my employers have given me a lot of freedom to build the equipment I need for these apps. I don't have pics of all the rigs I've put together but I do have a few.

 The Toro tractor is a 5200 fairway mower. Plenty of diesel power and a nice heavy platform for all the weight I was gonna hang on it in the form of tanks full of water.

 The two rear 20 gallon tanks could each hold a different product and be switched to flow through the 300' hose reel.

The sprayer is a Pro Lawn Spray Shield. Mother nature doesn't always cooperate and spraying under a hood prevents spray drift. The 30 gallon tank will cover 50,000 square feet. The bars on the roof are "limb lifters" and make going under branches easier.

Wide wheel stance allows for good traction on slopes.

 This will be a three point sprayer. I had to build this frame kinda heavy to handle the 50 gallon capacity of the tank.

 I use the three point sprayer for Round-up type applications. I can spray from the hose or the 12 foot folding boom in back. Just the other day the boss told me I have to build one this winter for a customer that really likes the design. I'm in the process of gathering parts. Thats kinda what got me thinking about making this post even though its -1 degree outside right now.

 This is the rig I have been using the last few years. Every year I tweak it a bit to suit my needs. This year I wanted to add another tank on the back to spray another products out of the hose reel but I've recently changed gears. The boss offered me a donor zero-turn mower that I will bastardize and change into a dedicated fertilizer spreader. Oh boy...the gears are turning. Ya, I get excited about this kind of stuff. Stay tuned for a full write up.

 I like doing fert and weed control apps. I have always done outside work but this type of work can only be done in nice weather. When the weather sucks I can come into the shop and work on equipment. Win-win.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Packing Ultra Light

 If you follow this blog then you know there have been a few posts about packing. The following is an article my daughter Squag* wrote about how she packs for hiking. As a parent I'm glad to see she has put so much thought into this particular journey and she's not just diving in without some preparation. Some applies to motorcycles and some doesn't. Enjoy.
 *squag is a nic name one of her sisters assigned her many years ago based on a pre-historic squigward that played the saxaphone. SpongeBob fans know what I'm talking about.

 There’s been a lot of talk around our house about how we pack for voyages and why we lug things around the way we do. Dad has mentioned that he’s always packed pretty heavily on his moo-sucker, and according to his blog he’s got a friend teaching him the ways of packing light on the bike. Lightweight and ultralight packing aren’t specific to motorcycle trips, though. Dad brought me into the conversation because I’ll be going on a mega trip starting in late March that will require some creative thinking about the way I carry around the necessities. I’ll be thru-hiking the 2,180 mile Appalachian Trail and will be in the woods for about five months. I’ll be relying on what I haul on my back, what I can pick up from trail towns and whatever I beg people to mail me along the way. For the most part, I’ll need to stuff my pack so I can survive the wilds and be somewhat comfortable while doing it.
  Dad’s buddy JT mentioned that if you ask ten different people how to pack for a motorcycle trip, you’ll get ten different answers. The same goes for long distance hiking. Everyone has their favorite gear, everyone has their favorite shortcuts, and no two packs are quite the same. As a new long distance hiker, I’ve had to seek advice from a lot of experienced outdoorsmen to get a grip on which brands might best suit my needs and what style of packing would work for me. If you’ve never done this, you should know that it sort of feels like hanging a sign on your door that says, “Yes, please, solicit!” and having everyone and their brother come knocking with their handy solution. I mention this so that y’all understand that my style of packing doesn’t work for everyone and that there are thousands of other ways to lose your mind and hike around the woods for a while with all your survival supplies strapped to you like a mule.
  A lot of folks say that thru-hikers can pack to hike or pack to camp. That is to say that we can either be really comfortable hiking or really comfortable at night; if we pack a bunch of trinkets and luxury items to be cozy in our tents, hiking might be hell because of a heavy haul. If we pack lightly, we may not have the toys necessary to have a ball while we relax at night. This isn’t always true, but it offers an explanation for the kind of balancing act thru-hikers have to pull on our journeys. I’d say I have a healthy combination of packing lightly and comfortably. With the luxury of buying most of my gear fresh, I could specifically choose the most lightweight options that don’t break the bank. And, like most travelers, I try to find gear or supplies that will pull double duty. I think JT talks about this with motorcycles as well: find the smallest thing you can that does more than one job. Whether you’re motorcycling or hiking, having a soap that washes everything is like carrying unicorn tears in a bottle—you’re invincible. On the other side of the coin, carrying the Lord of the Rings trilogy to stay entertained at night is out of the question.

  Here’s most of what’s in my pack, minus a couple of lady things that no motorcycle dude wants to hear about (although my solutions for that are seriously awesome, trust me). I’m listing most of my gear, because it’s important to think about details when scheming for strategic packing. The details are what make packing complicated and what can be the difference between a hike to Katahdin or an emergency flight off the mountain range:

-A comfortable internal frame pack (not too big: the more ya fill it, the heavier it gets. I tested mine out on my trip to India last February. Things to look for: weight distribution between hips, chest and shoulders; ways to strap stuff on; preference amongst frame type; ease of gear access)

-Appropriate footwear (lightweight, snug ankle and heel support, waterproof, durable, one size too big for swollen clob hoppers, no sentimental attachment because they will assuredly get chewed up by the Appalachian Gods of dirt, rubble and mud.)

-Map and compass (taking an AT guide and ripping out pages as I pass through areas to cut down on weight in pack; I’ll carry a compass because I’m not an idiot.)

-Water and a way to clean it (Two water bottles, MSR Aquatabs/Iodine or Chlorine Dioxide tablets to clear bacteria and viruses from streams—no one wants to get a digestion problem without a loo around—and a quarter of a bandana to filter sediment from water. This is way lighter than a pump filter and less finicky than a UV light to clean water.)

-Clothes and rain gear (Avoid cotton. Two polypro shirts that dry quickly: one for camp and one for hiking; one mid-layer fleece; one rain coat with pit vents; one ultralight down jacket for colder regions; running pants for base layer; adjustable water resistant pant-shorts; survival undies; hat; waterproof gloves; two pairs of wool socks with silk liners to prevent chafing. Trust me, I’m fabulously stylish in my swishy pit-vented rain coat. It took me over two years to decide on specific articles of clothing, but the wait was worth it because I feel confident that they’ll get me through comfortably and safely.)

-Food and a way to cook it (Imagine a feast of Ramen noodles, bulk couscous, trail mix, beef jerky, peanut butter, dried fruit, repeat, repeat, repeat in freezer bags and a sealed dry bag. I made a camp stove out of an aluminum can that runs on alcohol (that can also be used in my med kit). I have one pot that I will eat out of and one other cup so I can also drink coffee or tea while eating on cold days. A spork for eating. The stove and cup fit inside the pot and the weight for cooking contraptions altogether without fuel is about 10 oz. This isn’t as light as all titanium, but my meager budget couldn’t afford that.)

-Shelter and sleeping bag (ultralight single person tent with footprint, lightweight mummy-style sleeping bag in a small stuff sack, four foot sleeping mat to protect torso from cold ground. Tent and pad are packed on outside of pack, not inside, as are water bottles. I chose a short sleeping pad because mats get bulky and it’s not as important for my feet to be protected from the ground as it is for my back. The mat is aluminized for extra warmth.)

-First aid kit (snake bite kit, band aids, gauze, blister treatment, ibuprofen, antihistamine, tweezers, antiseptic ointment, ace wrap, survival cord, needle and thread, glucose and electrolyte tablets, tiger balm, emergency blanket and/or garbage bag, safety pins, sun screen, etc)

-Dad’s old Buck knife (for all the reasons)

-Other crap (identification and moolah, safety whistle, headlamp, fire starters, duct tape, baking soda, transition glasses, junky phone for emergencies or while in towns, camp suds, small Rite in the Rain notebook and pencil, ultralight camp towel, watch, camp sandals (maybe), rain cover for pack, trekking poles, trowel, chapstick, toothbrush, a few sanitizing wipes, TP for #2, extra bandana cut in half for a pot holder and going #1--it’s genius, really.)

Now, this all may seem like a laundry list of obvious gear that needs to accompany a human on any journey through the woods. In reality, this is a carefully crafted inventory that’s still under revision, with every piece of gear thought out and all foreseeable needs accounted for. Two bandanas offer me a way to stay clean, filter water, and cook without burning myself. Baking soda can be used as an antacid, toothpaste, face wash, de-stinkifier for shoes and pits, insect bite treatment, clean the bottom of my cook pot, fire extinguisher, and whatever else I come up with along the way. (Camp suds are really just an additional luxury so I can smell like something other than baking soda. The suds also have citronella as a bug repellent.) My trekking poles help save my knees and back from all the walking, but can also be used as a clothes line for drying gear or back-up tent poles if one of mine breaks. Duct tape is another World Wonder and goes without explaining.
  There are some things I’m not taking that some folks might. I’m not taking gaiters, because as my hiking buddy James Claiborne would say, “If you’re gonna get wet, you’re gonna get wet.” This is the same logic for rain pants. They are overkill. And with a steady supply of rain waiting for me, I’m also not taking a fancy phone or camera. There aren’t any pictures that I could take that thousands of other hikers haven’t already taken on the trail, unless a bear is after me, in which case I shouldn’t be messing around with a point-and-shoot. I’m also not taking hand sanitizer—I’ll have some wipes if I feel like I really need it. I’m not taking separate shorts. I’ll use my convertible pants until I crack and buy myself shorts along the way. Some people take camp chairs, but that seems downright excessive to me. I’m also not taking a bear bell, because I tend to be goofy and sing obnoxiously while I hike anyway. Other hikers have that to look forward to during what they thought would be quiet, introspective journeys.
 There are a few differences between how I pack for a hike and how a motorcycle trip might unfold. I can certainly rely on money to get me through when I stop in trail towns to reload, and I’ll probably have my sister sending me my pre-sorted food, batteries and back-up gear to post offices along the way. For the most part I can’t “rely on plastic” if I’m hiking in the woods and run out of food. I need to eat (and therefore pack) enough to account for hiking between 8 and 23 miles in a day while rationing so that I don’t run out of gorp before the next stock up of food every 3-7 days or so.
 And as for Leave No Trace, I also can’t just throw things away if I decide I don’t want or need them. Any garbage that I produce on trail (like granola bar wrappers, empty Nutella jars, etc) will be stored in a Ziploc bag until I can pack it into town. This means that I have to pick supplies that have the least amount of waste. For example, as a coffee drinker, I can’t take a bunch of teabag style coffee pods with me; instead, I’ll drink sacrilegious instant coffee that dissolves in hot water.
  Another difference is actually quite similar to motorcycle packing: hikers and bikers get rained on. Where we part is whether or not we have a chance to dry off and clean up. Hikers certainly don’t have a chance to take their wet clothes to a hotel or home to dry out unless they have the luxury of being in town and have the money to hide away in a motel regularly. Camping bikers might understand this. To combat this, all hiking clothes need to be breathable (panting hiker gets sticky) and quick drying (hiker gets rained on and sweaty) while being warm (hypothermia sucks) and stuffed in a sack while not being used (because preventing wet gear is the best way to fight wet gear depression).
  General gear deterioration is another nemesis of thru-hiking. I’ve taken a few precautions to help me out when my gear starts to crumble. My shoes came from REI and can be replaced if/when they totally die from so much daily trekking—to pack lightly, I’m not carrying spare boots with me. My camp stove is easily made from any found aluminum can and my knife, so if the tiny stove gets accidentally crushed I can make a new one the next time I’m around a beer or soda drinker. I’m hiking with a buddy, so we can back each other up in emergency situations. Again, magical duct tape can help keep things in one piece until I can get new gear.
  I think my propensity for closely scrutinizing gear choices comes from my dad, but I’ve gotta say . . . I’m excited to just get started with this thing already. Whether or not I made the right gear choices, I’m ready to get on the trail and limp my way from Georgia to Maine. Like a mule. Or a crazy twenty-something looking for adventure.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-Kubota Tractor

 We did another plow install on a utility tractor. This Kubota is getting a Blizzard Power Plow. It is eight feet wide but has power wings that extend to ten feet or continue to extend till it becomes a scoop blade. Each wing can be controlled independently for a variety of plow configurations.

 This mount was designed with the same overkill I use in most projects. The large plate and angular supports are 3/4" thick steel plate.

Shown here is the front mount and a support arm running back to a mid tractor support. We've tested this mount and it doesn't move. It doesn't even flex.

With fluid filled tires, a 200 lb weight bolted to each rear tire rim, and a snowblower on the back, this little 4wd tractor pushes pretty good.

My Back Yard

 Its been so freaking cold lately I decided to post some pics with a little green in them. 
 Here in rural wisconsin we have all the same things other rural areas have. The thing is that sometimes you need to stop and look to appreciate whats there. Sometimes you twist your neck back wondering if your mind is playing tricks. If you just fly by facing forward you will miss all the good stuff. These are a few pics taken while out riding. None of them were taken more than fifty miles from home.

No one is going to steal it when its parked like this.

I thought this would be a more interesting pic with the hard work of the amish in the foreground and the wind turbines in the background.

These guys were dining on a carcass in the road before I disturbed them.

I didn't notice it when I drove over, but when I walked this wooden bridge I discovered a lot of loose creeking boards.

I was surprised when I came around the corner and saw this guy. This pic is a few years old and I don't know if he is still there. This was taken less than ten miles from my house. Another example of not knowing until you go out and look.

Covered bridge near Saxeville.

If you don't ride on gravel then you're missing a big chunk of what nature has to offer. Plus its kinda fun to mess around on gravel twisties!


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-Dumpster Diving

 I build a lot of projects with whats available to me. Sometimes I find something and turn it into a project.

 Look at all the goodies in this dumpster. This is crack for gearheads. I see so many ideas in here, unforunately I don't have the time , money or space to do anything about it. I look in this dumpster at work all the time. So often I'll be working on a project and need a certain piece or bracket or gadget and I'll remember seeing something in this dumpster. Sometimes its already been dumped or maybe everything is covered in snow but if I dive in I always come out with something, even if it's not related to the project at hand.
 Look, I see a pallet jack, engines for turning things, wheels for rolling things...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A New Year

 Things have been pretty busy for me over the holidays so I haven't done much on the bikes lately. Mother Nature slammed us with a lot of little snow events in December. For a while my schedule was plow, eat, sleep, repeat. No time for bike projects. Also,  Greg, the small engine mechanic at work had an accident and I've had to fill in for him for a few weeks now. My need to fix stuff has been fulfilled with other peoples problems.

 The forecast doesn't have any snow in it and I've got a handle on my role change at work so now I can think about bikes again. I need to rewire the Sportster because the original harness has been chopped up so many times over the bikes life. This means I have to decide what features the bike will have so I can make a harness that works. I'm not set on what I want to do with the front end but I have a pretty good idea what needs to happen out back. Besides the '59 Caddy tail lights and the converter needed to run them, I need license plate illumination and I want to add a plug for heated gear. I've also decided to move the horn from its stock location on the left side of the engine. My leg was always bumping against it so I decided it had to be moved. It's a Wolo air horn and it seems to fit nicely below the seat just behind the battery box.

 An air horn is usually a little bulky to fit on a bike but this one isn't too bad. It kinda tucks into the spot that used to hold the ignition module that I didn't need for this 5 speed motor.  Ya I know its big and ugly but I've had loud horns on bikes and they have saved my butt more than once. Besides, big and ugly kind of fits the theme of this Sportster.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-Are You Kidding Me?

 Sometimes life happens in strange ways. Sometimes people make mistakes. Sometimes you just see something and wonder what the heck were they thinking when they did that. This is a small collection I am calling "Really?"

Someone unhooked a trailer from a truck and used whatever they could find to support the jack stand.

Really? I can't even believe this trailer jack is actually balancing on those rocks. Whoever did this could probably find a job in the circus balancing crap on their head.

One of my crew called me and said he had a little issue with the tractor snowblower.  Really?  (No snowmen were harmed in the filming of this event.)

You thought you could beat me at Monopoly? Really?

It said weed killer on the label. The offender claimed they only sprayed the decorative stones. Really? Are you sure you didn't wander into the yard?