Sunday, March 31, 2019

Honey Done List

 Done. Another suck ass job in the books. My wife asked if I was happy with the outcome. I'm happy its over and that one more project is off our list. Thats all I'm gonna say about that.

 Whats really gonna suck is if I need to take the steps apart to get pieces for the bathroom remodel upstairs. I think the choice of bathroom vanity will be dictated by my lack of desire to disassemble this spiral staircase. The toilet, shower panels and flooring should all make the twist without too much fuss.

 You may notice a couple wires running along the walls. One is ethernet and the other is antenna coax. Both still need an alternate route but thats another project. If you're wondering why I'm not posting about spring motorcycle riding you may notice in the first pic that two of the bikes are still in the living room.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Sour Grapes

  This week I'm reliving a personal hell that I endured about twenty years ago when I decided to paint and carpet our spiral staircase. Its all part of our grand plan to remodel this dump one room at a time. I remember what a pain in the ass it was to get a smooth coat of paint on such a pieced together metal structure so this time around I cheated a bit and went with a copper color that dries with a hammered effect.

 The color actually goes well with the other walls it runs against.

  So far I've stretched this paint job out three days and it will for sure need a fourth day because of a separate support structure that stands next to the staircase. I'm planning on putting that off for now because it doesn't need to be done before the carpeting happens. That job will be its own nightmare. Right now I'm just getting along by tipping back a few cool ones and catching a paint fume buzz.

 The carpet gets cut into funny shapes then stapled to plywood that lays on each metal step. The one advantage we found during this paint job was that the cats won't climb the metal steps. If I would have known this before there would have been times I'd have pulled the plywood steps to keep the cats out. It may happen when I start remodeling the bathroom up there.

 In other news, I have made a new personal policy regarding eating grapes that I need to stick to. No eating grapes in the dark. Especially gas station grapes. I bought a cup of grapes for breakfast the other day. A much healthier decision than a cafe mocha and breakfast burrito, or so I thought. It was a dark ride to work and I just popped open the cup, set it in the cup holder and started eating as I drove. Some of those grapes had the consistency of a puss sack and I'm sure that if I had seen what they looked like they would have never gone in my mouth. Part of me said "man up and eat" another part of me spit a few out the window.
 All that morning I had a buzz going. Was it the grapes? Was it the large black coffee? I'm thinking somehow it was the grapes because the next day I bought another large coffee that was labeled as having more caffeine and there was no all morning buzz like before.
 Tomorrow I'm having orange juice and a banana. That seems safe.


Sunday, March 24, 2019

First Ride?

 Yesterday my wife decided we should do some couch shopping. I'm not opposed to replacing our worn out davenport, it looks like ass. My job is to say "yes dear" and work out the logistics of hauling a sofa. That meant walking out into the back yard and seeing if the ground was firm enough to support the big ass station wagon. I determined it was and the next step was to re-strap the Ultra in the trailer so I could pull it up into the driveway. I opened the door of the trailer and what I found disturbed me.

 Lots of moisture on the bike. I know it wasn't wet all winter but not sure how long it suffered this spring. I pulled the trailer onto the drive and rolled the bike out. It had been on a tender all winter so the big v-twin roared to life after just a few revolutions. Some of you know that I have an air ride suspension on this bike and unfortunately it ran a few seconds then shut off. That means the bike is not road worthy until fixed. We were in a hurry so I pulled the bike in the garage and we took off couch shopping. We didn't find anything we wanted but did manage to find a couple of big slabs of meat and some brandy old fashioneds.

 Today I'll have a little time to at least investigate the air ride problem. Maybe, just maybe I'll be able to go for a first ride of the season.


Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Computer Drawer

 Followers will remember when I built a hutch for the top of a tool chest I use at work. The hutch has been working great but it has started to look "a bit messy" and there really isn't good space for a laptop like I had planned from the beginning of the build. Thats bothered me for, well about a year now, so I decided to do something about it.
 The original plan was to make something out of sheet metal but when I got to thinking about it the amount of space savings would have been minimal over using 3/4 inch wood. I'm not a wood worker at all but this project really doesn't need to be kitchen cabinet quality. Its more like tree fort quality and I'm ok with that.

 This turned out to be one of those "build it as you go" projects. I took some rough measurements of the hutch at work but built this drawer at home. Many of my thoughts were around the concern that I wasn't sure if it would fit.

 The basic idea was that if a laptop lives in the hutch then it wastes 1/3 of the storage space. Nothing can be stored on top of it and nothing can hang from the side wall or back wall because it would interfere with the screen of the laptop. This meant a drawer was needed so I could slide the computer out and then lift the lid, while still being able to stack shit on top, or maybe put a mobile printer on top. Its sometimes nice to give customers a print out of diagnostics done on their equipment.

 At this point I'm still shooting from the hip. Basically the project started when I saw a pair of drawer slides for sale at Menards.

 The idea with the open side is to allow for power cords and usb cables to freely move with the drawer. I also wanted to be able to quickly remove the computer without dickin around with snaking cables through holes and whatnot.

 The open side also allows extra room for thumb drives. Note the lack of routing, sanding or giving a shit. This is how it looked before I slapped a coat of paint on it.

 I held back the top shelf so the laptop lid could be tilted back quite a bit. I remember needing to do this to get the right viewing angle when I had a laptop in the hutch earlier. 

 The rubber mat should help with sliding and also helped raise the computer so thumb drives clear the side and rail better. At this point I think I'm done and can only wait two days to take it to work and give it a try. I'm aware that something has to be done to keep the whole drawer from tipping forward due to the weight when fully opened up. At first I was gonna put a big metal weight along the back, bottom edge. I then discovered that with the drawer open I could easily store paperwork under the drawer. There is a big opening due to the recessed top cover and about an inch and a half depth for schtuff. 

 Heres where it will live in the hutch.

 And finally an action shot of the finished project!

 I've been using it for a few days now and it really is ideal. All the goals were met and everything works as planned. Now all I need to do is some cleaning and I'll be ready for the spring rush.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Bad Customer Service?

 Friday night my wife and I found ourselves out of town and looking for a place to eat. I had fish fry on my mind and I think she was thinking more upscale than that. I parked the big ass station wagon on the main drag in Port Washington because we noticed a bunch of places to eat. We decided on Twisted Willow because my wife had heard some good things about it. We walked in and noticed right away the place was busy. Turns out they had some seating available on the third floor in their Treehouse Lounge so we started the climb. It was kinda weird like an upstairs apartment just converted to a bar with seating in each room. No complaints, just a different atmosphere.
 We ordered drinks and then our meals. It took a while to get the drinks but I didn't think much of it. My wife got her salad and I watched her eat the whole thing as I waited for my french onion soup. When the soup arrived my wife watched me eat it as we were waiting for our meals. I finished the soup and we waited longer. Finally our waitress walked up to the table apologizing about the delay claiming some mix up in the kitchen. Initially she had planned on holding the salad till the soup was ready but someone else brought the salad up without her knowing. Apparently she saw the soup sitting there and was waiting for the salad. Whatever, shit happens. The fact is that my wife claimed it was a great tasting caesar salad because of the use of bleu cheese. My french onion soup was delicious. Without any feed back from us the waitress announced the meal would be comped. Sweet! It wasn't like we were complaining or in a hurry. We had been engaged in conversation and while we were aware a lot of time had passed it wasn't a big deal. 
 The main course arrived and while it was palatable it should have been hotter. No big deal for me because I don't mind food thats just warm. Again, the taste and presentation were top notch. I ordered cheesecake to go and enjoyed it later that evening. 
 So initially you may think this is about bad customer service because of the delays and not-so-hot (but tasty) food. The waitress is the only person we had any interaction with and she did everything right. I assume she was caught in a situation she couldn't control and we didn't blame her for it. I don't know what actually happened but we are looking forward to giving them a second chance. The fact that we walked out only paying for a round of drinks and a tip probably has something to do with that attitude. I asked my wife if she would have rather paid full price and got a timely hot meal or have it the way it played out. We both agreed the scenario that we just experienced was fine. Let me know what your experience has been with this restaurant.


Wednesday, March 13, 2019


 Turns out 40 degree temps are enough to get me thinking about riding again. I'm not talking about actually pulling a bike out of the living room and fighting the crappy roads and cold weather but I am thinking I ought to start piecing that sportster back together. It will serve before the roads are clear enough of salt residue to break out the Ultra.

 Its not a great pic but it clearly shows that the bike is missing a headlight and turn signals. I'm gonna need that to be legal. The headlight vibrated and cracked its metal shell into an unserviceable piece of scrap. The bike didn't see much if any road time last year so a carb cleaning is also in order. And lets not forget that I still haven't painted the fuel tank. Now that I'm writing this stuff down I think I also need a clutch cable.
 So there you have it. I'm thinking about fixing a bike. Not really news, is it?


Saturday, March 9, 2019

Tent Stake Puller Continued

 I don't feel like doing a lot of thinking so mostly pics today. Last time I showed you a pic of a tractor and a log splitter. Today we'll focus on turning the log splitter into a stake puller and attaching it to the tractor. The forked piece below the ram is the part that lifts a tent stake. I welded it to a plate that slides along the I-beam as the ram moves in and out.

Cutting that 1" thick fork from a plate was a lot easier today with a better tip in the torch. I'm still mad at the plasma cutter from the last time I tried to use it so it took a time-out in the corner.

 To attach the fork to the ram I wanted to use a plate on each side and just slide a pin through the ram. Sometimes its the simplest things that take the most effort. First I needed the two plates. They were easily cut to size in the band saw. Hint, hint. A lot of the pieces and shapes of this project look the way they do because of the size of the raw materials I'm working with and lack of desire to make any extra cuts. Besides, bigger is better, Right?

I don't have a way to drill a clean 1 1/8" hole so I had to get creative with what I could find lying around the shop.

 This bushing and pin will do the trick but I need two bushings so...

...into the lathe it goes to create two bushings. Next I cut a crude hole in each plate and welded my new bushings in.

 So here we are before the side plates...

...and after. Now the fork that lifts the stakes is attached to the ram. The bottom plate is shaped in a wedge so when they back the tractor to the stake it will be guided into place. 

 This unit needs to attach to a quick-attach three point system so I needed to make some mounts. That meant I got to use my favorite tool in the shop, the magnetic base drill with a 1" cutter. This piece will be one of the side plates for the pin in the top link.

 And here it is welded to the beam.

 I guess I didn't take any other pics except this one from the end of the day. You can see the lower cross beam as well. 

 So thats where the unit sits for now. Hopefully the hydraulic parts arrive soon so we can demo the beast.


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Next Project

 For quite a few years now the tent crew at work has been asking for a tent stake puller. They have a selection of manual type pullers including one I built from a hi-lift jack but now they want more power. The boss has agreed to us building something that will fit as a three point tractor attachment on a small John Deere we have.

I knew we had an old log splitter out back buried under the snow and agreed to start the project if they gathered up all the pieces and put them in my bay. I guess they're in a hurry for some progress because it didn't take long for parts to start appearing.

 I had a plan and discussed it with others in the shop and we all agreed it could work but after taking a closer look at what I have to work with I'm thinking about a design change. So basically this blog is just a teaser as no real progress has been made at all. I'll keep you posted.


Sunday, March 3, 2019

Going Backwards

 It looks like the end of December was the last time I reported to you about practicing painting flames. It had been so long that I had to go back in the blog and look it up. A couple weekends ago I took a few moments to give it another shot and the results make me think I'm going backwards with this project. I have a few ideas floating around upstairs but they seem to look like ass when applied to a tank. This time I wanted to add blue and green to the mix just to see how it would look.

 I don't even know what I was thinking here but I know it didn't work.

 This blend of red, orange and yellow starting from the bottom of the pic and working up may be useful later on. I guess I just wanted to see if it would work.

 Creating layers is easy enough but I need to work on some 3d depth where a lower layer comes forward through the upper layers. To be honest I haven't thought much about how to do that. I think the problem is that I don't start with much of a plan and actually at this early stage thats fine because I really need to learn what can be done before trying to tie it all together. What I really need is to start practicing more regularly. We'll see.