Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Woodshop Wednesday-Swan Carving

  I posted in the past that my father likes to do wood carvings. An example and some links can be found here. Here are a few more.

 Excuse me if I posted these before, I just don't remember.

 Earlier this year he showed me this project he was working on.

 It's just an old stump he thought had some interesting grain patterns. He always has an eye out for chunks of wood with special grain and tries to incorporate that into the finished project. I found out he even has people dropping off odd pieces of wood for his carvings.
 Now half a year later I got to see the swan again. It's still not done but it's coming along nicely.

 It may look rough in the pictures but it is quite smooth. I think he said it was sanded down to 400 grit and he still wanted to go to 600. I've done a few wood carvings when I was young. They were nothing as detailed as what Dad creates and I know how much work it took to do them. I'm very impressed with his carvings.
 It kinda makes me wanna whip out my jack knife and whittle something.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Year End Wrap Up

 You're not going to find any life changing words written in this blog. You won't even find anything inspirational. What you will find is an update on what I've been up to, some motorcycle content, a little technical jargon and my sad attempt at humor. Whatever, I enjoy writing it.
 Every so often I talk to people about what's written here. The following are excerpts from posts that seem to have left the biggest impression.

From Used Car posted June 8, 2014
 The other day I arrived at a property and the lady saw me coming. She saw the truck and knew why I was there and also knew I was going to ask her to keep the dog off the lawn. She wisely took the dog out to do its business before I got started. The problem was the dog was a beast twice her size and was tugging her around the yard. When the dog finally stopped it dropped this huge mashed potato deuce. She attempted to pick it up with a small bag over her hand. That wasn't working and the dog was on the move again. When I finally got close enough to talk to her she had shit all over both hands, up her arm and all over the leash. "I'm dog-sitting, I'll keep him inside".
Yes Ma'am, have a nice day.

From Been Busy May 18, 2014
 ...She comes to the door wearing a motorcycle type vest with a pin of a bike on it. She is also holding a motorcycle helmet. We talk about he lawn and bash on the Trugreen fella that she fired. I finally ask her what she rides. She replies "a john deere 318".
 A lot of things went through my head in a short period of time. Maybe she wears the helmet when she's cutting grass? Hey I don't know, I just met the old gal. Obviously her lawn is important to her to have answered the question that way while holding a helmet.
 Ya ya, JD 318. Nice little mower. No I meant what do you ride when you are wearing the helmet? (please don't say the lawn mower. please don't say the lawn mower. please don't say the lawn mower.) She replies "honda silverwing".
 I was relieved to hear that...

From Shitty Tools April 2, 2014
  ...I'm thinking "Really Bill. We were just outside but you decide to drop ass in the truck?!" Hey, maybe it wasn't Bill. Maybe it was the tool jockey. I don't know but its getting thick in here.
 I didn't know it at the time but Bill was thinking that I was the one to foul the air in those close quarters.
 We turn around and started looking at the tools on that side of the truck. One of those sweet puppies was just wandering away and then I noticed it. There was a fresh dog log neatly laid out on top of an air hammer...

From Excess baggage November 6, 2013
  As far as size goes, I think I'll like it. From this point forward the side extensions will be referred as "pizza extensions". Thanks Frank!

Dumpster Diving  January 8, 2014
 It seems a lot of people feel the same way I do about scrap.

From The Cold September 14, 2014
 Well as far as rides go, this one was ok. There was no destination or goal, just me and the bike going nowhere. By the time I was ready to head toward home the sun was dropping below the tree line. Crap. I had an hour ride in front of me but only a few minutes of the suns warming rays.

From Man and Machine September 7, 2014
 ... Movement on the right! A deer enters my lane from that side. I react fast. Same reaction as last time. Squealing tire! Too heavy on the rear binder and locked the tire. The rear steps out a bit. Countersteering now. Slowing down fast. Ease off the pedal and steer left. The deer is next to me now as the bike straightens up. I can hear his hoof beat on the asphalt.  I notice now there are two deer in the road on my right. A dozen more just off the shoulder.

 And finally from March 26, 2014 The stages of shop rags. It seems I'm not the only one with stupid guidelines about jeans and shop rags. I still hear guys yelling across the shop "Hey, what stage shop rag are you using on that?" Oddly I don't hear about as many people using shop rags as napkins. Oh well.

 So there you have it. It's funny to me that a blog I thought was going to be mostly about fixing bikes gets the most feedback on work related topics or rides. Enjoy...or don't. I'll continue writing for another year whether anyone reads it or not.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

It's Official...

 Christmas is cancelled, or at least dialed back a bit here at home. Some stomach flu kind of bug will keep us from hosting our annual get-together.
 We've got enough supplies to feed an army and plenty to drink. I think we will just lock the door, hunker down and ride this one out. As long as our plumbing holds up we should be ok.
 Actually only one of us is sick right now but the rest of us are nervous. No point in spreading it around beyond our doors.

 I want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas. May you and yours enjoy a safe holiday season!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Progress Report

 This should be a short post. Not much progress on the BSA but I suppose after sitting a few decades any progress should seem Speedy Gonzales quick. I did a little polishing on some aluminum pieces and am happy with the way they turned out.

 This front drum brake cover was showing its age. There are some deep nicks in it so it will never be perfect.

 It looks much better and gets the Greasy Shop Rag stamp of approval.

 I talked about making a spray booth for winter painting projects. I haven't given up on the idea...just put it on hold. I have a lot of other pieces I can work on without actually painting them yet. If I don't squirt anything until spring well then I guess thats gonna have to be ok.

 Besides, as I turn around in my desk chair and look back at the little workshop, I realize I have a lot of organizing to do. I've just been grabbing pieces and cleaning, polishing or sanding them without any game plan. Well actually I have an idea what the end result will look like, I just don't have a set plan for getting there.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-Lore of the Rings

 Piston rings. Boring stuff if you work behind a desk but for a small engine mechanic they are very important. They seal the piston to the cylinder wall allowing compression to build in the combustion chamber.  The rings separate the combustion chamber from the crankcase, preventing blowby and keeping oil consumption down. They are also partially responsible for transferring heat from the piston to the cylinder where cooling fins or a water jacket carry the heat away. Thats a lot to ask of a couple of thin strips of metal.
 In a two stroke engine the ring grooves in the piston have pins to prevent the rings from spinning. This is because a two stroke cylinder has ports and a ring end would catch in a port if lined up with it.

 In this pic you can see the lower ring ends line up on each side of the pin in the groove. This is the intake side of the piston. Those ring ends never uncover the intake port, the piston skirt does. Look at the upper ring. Somehow the ring is able to pass under the pin, allowing it to spin in the groove. Spin in the Groove. Wasn't that a hit from the 70's?

 This is the exhaust side. That upper ring spun around until the end got caught in the exhaust port. It scratched away at the port opening. Bits of piston and cylinder started grinding away at each other and at some point the ring just hooked so hard it broke off that chunk of piston.

 Here you see the damage around the exhaust port.
 So what? Well the owner is gonna want to know what happened to his thousand dollar concrete saw. This was Als project so he got to make the phone call. What would you tell the owner the cause of the failure was?
 I never asked Al what he told the guy. All I know is the guy told him to scrap it.
 It would be easy to just claim lack of oil but I don't think we have an oil issue here. First, I know this contractor has a lot of equipment and this is the only two stroke with a problem. Second, that scuffing on the intake side of the piston skirt is most likely from dirt, not lack of oil. This is a concrete saw and they work in extremely dusty environments. I don't think the dirt was the cause because the lower ring is closer to the dirt and that ring is fine.
 There is no evidence of blow-by. 
 The locating pin in the top groove is loose. How did the hole the pin is pressed into get worn? A couple things I think. An aluminum piston and a steel pin. I'm guessing these expand and contract at different rates. A lean condition or dirty cooling fins could raise the temp in the cylinder. As the ring passes the exhaust port it bulges out just a hair. As it moves back out of the port into the cylinder it gets compressed again. This tiny movement is realized at the ring ends and works on the pin. This happens thousands of times a minute and just might be cause.
 It's rare that we see something like this so I doubt it's a manufacturers defect. If this would have happened early in the life of the saw then maybe I would suspect a defect but this saw has been in service for many years. I think this saw just wore out. I mean shit don't last forever. It had a hard life and died. (a country music hit from the 90's)
 There. Now you know what bounces around in my head during the day when I don't get any riding time in.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


 There really isn't much motorcycle news to talk about today. I messed around with a few bits on the BSA but that's about it. I've spent a lot of time trying to decide what to do about the blue dodge winter beater. The plan was for me to pick up a decent vehicle next year but the old Isuzu didn't make it that long. The deal came up with the dodge and I had to act because I needed wheels to get to work this winter.
 Now I have to decide if I want to keep the dodge or buy something different. It seems to be holding up pretty decent for a fifteen year old vehicle. My wife pointed out that I like to "tinker" so maybe I'll keep it around and fix it up. Stay tuned for posts about rust repair, lift kits, tires, 20's and tunes.

 I made a trip to the big city of Berlin yesterday. I say its a big city only because they have one of those super duper sized Walmart stores. On the ride home I took the scenic route through the 12,000 acre White River Marsh State Wildlife Area.

 I was kinda bummed out. The closest I got to wild life was the Ted Nugent I had playing in the background.

 My motivation for taking this route was to see how well the four wheel drive worked on this truck. Except for a marsh deep enough to swallow the whole truck, all I could find was ice.

 I suppose I could have tried a river crossing but this river is just a bit too deep. Oh sure there was a day when I had trucks I thought were invincible. I would drive them anywhere and when I got stuck there was always a buddy within cb radio range that would come pull me out. That was in the days before cell phones.
 I wonder if todays young folk act any stupider than I did when I was younger knowing serious help is just a phone call away?


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-Tanked

 Because my boss almost never says no to a customer request, we end up doing a lot of different things in the shop. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I enjoy the variety. Besides, thats the best way to learn new skills.
 This project isn't new to me. I've sealed fuel tanks in the past.
 It's best to start with a dry tank. If it has a lot of heavy rust, not just surface rust, you'll want to loosen that up and remove it before moving on. Put some nuts and bolts or maybe blasting media in the tank and shake it up. Try to get as much of the loose flaky rust out of the tank as you can.

 I used this air powered vacuum because it has a small diameter suction hose that worked good for getting through the filler neck while seeing what I was doing.

 Next step is to rinse the tank. I'm using Kreem brand tank liner. I've had good luck with it. Add the recommended amount of acid/water for the size tank you are working with. On lightly rusted tanks you may see immediate results. Most tanks that get to the point of needing to be sealed have more than just light rust. Overnight or longer has worked well for me.
 I'm getting bored writing this and I can only imagine how bored you must be. Follow the manufactures instructions and you'll be fine. Now, wouldn't that tank look awesome on my rat turd? Thats right, I thought about it. I could do an entire 1000 mile Iron Butt ride without stopping for fuel!  I'm looking for a small version of this or maybe a piece of tractor grill that I can add to that bike to continue the tractor theme.

Item image

 I saw one of these for sale earlier this year. The guy didn't answer my call and by the next day it was gone. Bummer. That hood would have been a perfect starting point.
 I want to modify the exhaust to continue the tractor theme. I've got a few ideas including something like this:

 I'm thinking four into one exhaust dumping into this muffler. I'd put a rain flapper on it to give it more of a tractor feel. If you think thats the stupidest thing you've ever seen then I don't recommend you modify your bike this way.
 I have been following the chopper scene lately. There are a lot of young guys out there with talent making custom parts. They are bringing old bikes back to life and thats cool. I'm not knockin these guys. There are some serious mad skills going into very original parts. The problem I have is that many of those bikes all look the same to me after they are done. I'd like to see some of these guys use their talent to build something we haven't seen yet. Anyway, my point is I guess I'm not afraid to try something different even if it seems odd.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Other Stuff

 Another cold week has passed with very little motorcycle activity happening in my life. I've had a lot of "other stuff" going on. I did do some wet sanding on the BSA frame after my initial paint job just wasn't doing it for me. I'll try to finish that up today.

 I have been struggling with the idea of creating a paint booth here at home. Its just such a pain in the ass to haul parts 20 miles to work and basically waste a whole afternoon fiddle fartin around just to paint a few pieces. There is also the problem of them taking up space in the shop while others are working. Another thing that bothers me about leaving wet pieces at the shop is the occasional nosey bastard that feels the need to touch them to see if they are still wet. It reminds me of a guy I used to work with that would dig through the fridge, open containers, and ask "hey, whos casserole is this?". He knows its not his so why not just leave it alone?

 Another problem I've been thinking about is how to keep my crap in the bed of my truck protected. I looked at tonneau covers and thought I wanted a soft roll up version. While cruising craigslist I found this color matched cap. Its in good shape, everything works and it came with the keys for the back window. I thought it was a fair buy at $200.
 Now if I put these two ideas together I can leave the truck parked outside and build a small heated paint booth in my stall of the garage. I still haven't worked out any details yet like heat, ventilation and lighting but the space is there if I decide to move forward.
 The Packers don't play until monday night so maybe I'll get something done in the shop today.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-Workin Late

 My wife has had a crush on Donny Osmond since forever. The other day she and a friend flew off to our nations capitol where Donny is performing this week. The goal is to try to get him to sing her a song while rubbing her feet. Anyway, that means I have access to her car for a few days and a chance to fix her leaky tire issue.

 Even with decent equipment, I don't really care for changing tires. The problem with her tires was a bunch of powdery oxidation on the wheels. The beads were leaking. Three of the four would leak down far enough in two days to set off the low tire light in the dash.

 A little wire wheel cleanup and then some bead sealer and we should be good to go. As I was working on the tires I received a text message from my wife. It read something like this: "OMG, I shit you not, Donny just gave me a big hug and let me kiss him on the cheek!"

 No word on the foot rub.