Motorcycles, tools, and garages! A little bit of everything mechanical and technical.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


This year has been pretty rough as far as reserving the computer lab goes...  There were a lot of changes this year and as a result all of the available computer labs got booked over the periods that I was supposed to have access to them.  Makes it really hard when the only one I have access to is the Library, and half the teachers in the school are fighting for it too!

In the last 3 years, I've managed to go from 1 1/2 working computers in my classroom to 14.  This was plenty for Lego Robotics because we work in pairs.  When I do my CAD unit or if we need to do any individual computer time, I would have to schedule a lab.  I was out of space to add more computers, and then I had a *ligghhhttt bullllbb!* moment.  I call it the CompuStow.


Still have a lot of things I want to do with it, but it's useable!  Need to do something with the cords and put some handles on it to make it easier to get in and out. 

Storing the computers like this will give me more computers without taking away any of my shop workspace.  Plan on trying out these two for awhile to see how it works, then if I can scrounge up a few more flat screen monitors, I'd like to do the 4 computers I already have taking up one full table and maybe 2 more after that, bringing my total to 19 computers.

Some work in progress pics:

Photobucket And what it was SUPPOSED to look like... I was hoping to get the smaller flat screen monitors that have the computer mounted to the back of them, but that didnt work out. Photobucket
Just for fun, the rest of the computer lab.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Grinding Wheat

Not really, but it sure feels like the grinding wheel of life has been busy the last few months. Between school, kids, family, food, work, and all the other responsibilities it seems like there is hardly time to take a breath. I have been meaning to write here more frequently, so now seems like as good a time as any to try it again...

Education has been on my mind a lot recently. As a teacher with a whopping 3 years of experience under my belt, and with a wife who is almost finished with her degree in education, I guess that would be normal. I really feel that Idaho's students are at great risk if Propositions 1, 2, and 3 are passed. What it amounts to for me, is that the grand poo-bah mucky-muck of education (who has never set foot in a classroom as an educator) really doesn't care what educators have done and are doing for their students- nor does he care what we think might help our students succeed.

Enough politics. Can't stand 'em. Becoming and educator was a real eye opener for me- really can't avoid politics when you're a teacher, but that's a different story for another day. How about something more intersting!?

Progress update on a few current projects. Milly the $200 F150 has come a teeensy little ways- got a bit more painting done over the summer and just scored some sweet brand new tires and rims for it. Traded off a different project bike for them, so it's win win for me. One less project to fuss over and more parts for another!

 POJ, the '67 Yamaha Trailmaster Cafe is still dormant. Trying to find a non-existant rubber plug for the oil injection pump. Got rid of a fixxer upper car, made it possible to move the truck and for the first time since we've lived here (really, the first time ever) we can park a car in the garage!

Finished and road the ST1100 all over the place this summer. Did Glacier / Going to the Sun Hwy, and a bunch of other roads too. Managed to put just over 2000 miles on it in under a month, visiting 4 states and 2 provinces. It was a BLAST.

Managed to drag home another project- this one with some sentimental value and a whole lot of history.  Its a '48 Dodge 1 ton pickup- that my great grandpa bought brand new in '48.  Hoping to get it back on the road.

Stayed busy fixing things for people too, that was a much needed blessing. Anxious for next summer- hoping to have more time to work AND play. Hopefully, I can keep the blog going a bit more. Got a few things dealing with education I'd like to get off my chest and hopefully glean some ideas from y'all (yeah, the two people that might check the blog once a month..) Pics from the summer. Photobucket Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Friday, February 24, 2012

The "Document Camera"

I was talking to our art teacher the other day and he told me about a cool little device called a document camera. I thought it would be real useful to be able to project things I was trying to demonstrate up on the screen rather than have a gaggle of students trying to crowd around to see what I was doing. Did some research and came up with this!

Its a cheapo 5 megapixel webcam ziptied to a fancy arm light. I can point it in any direction I want, its plugged into my computer so I can project it on the screen, and I can also record things to use in step by steps or how-to's! Oh yeah, I can also use it to keep an eye on the students who always think they can get away with things behind my back.

You can see the webcam here pointing down at the table, displaying the images on my computer screen. The cables that go up from the computer go to the projector. Desk is a mess- last day of the tri and we were cleaning shop.

And today's test... How fast can I take an entire Briggs and Stratton engine apart? 5 minutes and 40 seconds.

Camera cost $7.00, light was about $80.00, and I needed a USB extension. The software was free!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Popcan engines

So my Dad emailed me a link to a video showing a stirling engine made out of popcans. Stirling engines are pretty slick- basically operates on a temperature difference. Warm air expands, cold air contracts. One side of the engine is warm(er than the other side) and the other side is cold(er than the other side). I say it like that because theoretically, you could run one of these on ice instead of fire!

Heres a link to the instructable I followed: http://www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-Coke-Can-Stirling-Engine

Basically, you take two popcans, cut the lid off both of them and the bottom off of one of them. The one that still has the bottom on it becomes the "cylinder". It has a displacer inside made out of steel wool. Its only job is to circulate air from the top to the bottom. When the displacer is UP, there is a pocket of air at the bottom, or hot end of the engine. The air in this pocket get hot, expands, and causes the crank to spin, which drops the displacer and pushes all the hot air in the pocket up to the top or cold side of the engine. Now the pocket of air at the bottom is gone, because the displacer is in it, but it created a pocket of air at the top. That air cools, which means it shrinks, spinning the crank and moving the displacer UP, pushing the cold air back down and starting the process over.

Gads... Thats about as clear as mud. Dont take my word for it- look here: http://www.animatedengines.com/stirling.html

Pics of mine:

First attempt amid the rubble:

It didnt work. I think it was because the steel wool displacer was too loose and it didnt move the air around enough. That or my crankshaft throws were to big. Either way, I got it too hot trying to get it to work and ended up melting the bottom can.


Second attempt worked GREAT!

Next step was to build a base for it so I didnt have to hold it up. Even built a cooling jacket for the cold side out of a tuna fish can.

For heat, I'm using one of my popcan stoves...

Which, as it turns out, also puts out too much heat, cause I melted the bottom popcan AGAIN...

I got a lot better at makin these things... First one took me about 4 hours. Second one took about an hour, but I re-used a few parts. The "third" one took about 15 minutes to cut out a new can and transfer all the parts over.

Even have a video clip of it running! Sorry that its the wrong way and really poor quality... Gotta work with the tools I have.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Keepin busy.

Well, I made it through the first Trimester. Sure flew by- adapting my courses from a semester to a trimester was tough- we didnt get to cover nearly as much as I had hoped, but we did turn out some pretty nifty projects. New tri starts on Monday, so I will be going in tomorrow to get things ready and digest a little more turkey.

Here are a few of the projects my metals classes turned out. Keep in mind, these are 7th and 8th graders.

Lock boxes. Turned out several of these- really simple (well, relatively compared to some of the other projects) and most of them turned out great. A few "useable" and 2 or 3 "DNF'S".


A fin for a go cart. He was quite proud of this, with good reason. It turned out great. Easily the biggest thing we've made yet with my little 24" brake and shears.

Shields. Several different designs, pretty simple project.

I even had one student make SHEET METAL HIGH HEELS. Yes, you read that right! Under construction:

And her finished product:

She designed them completely by herself.

Monday I get to start all over again from scratch with a mostly fresh batch of kids. I've been talking to a few people about the possibility of changing my schedule and doing all of the Tech classes one tri, the metals in another, and including a "new" Metals & Engines 2 class in the last tri. Thinkin it would be fun to try and build a high-mileage go cart. Dont think they do this on the High school level anymore, let alone a middle school, but it would be fun to give them the rules / regulations and see what they come up with. Anyways, hope y'all enjoyed your Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Do something dangerous.

Here's an interesting video related to kids and learning.

Have to say I agree with a lot of that... Reminds me of a time when I was in the Philippines watching a couple of 5 year-olds using a rusty knife with no handle to cut up green mangoes.

Also like the part about anything sharper than a golf ball needing a safety warning. Still pretty annoyed that my totally awesome truck that theoretically can get 50 mpg is not "street legal" because the gov't says it aint. Thank goodness for loopholes.

As for doing dangerous things- In my 2 1/3 years as a teacher, the worst injury I've had in my shop (knock on wood) was a concussion. Course, the kid had already had two concussions the week before at football practices, which caused him to faint in my shop, fall over backwards, and whack his head AGAIN on the concrete. Lots of little cuts, some smashed fingers, and a burn or two, but so far thats it. (again... knock on wood.)

Set some simple rule, explain the consequences, and they do a pretty good job of governing themselves. If they dont, the learn the consequences firsthand and are extremely unlikely to make the same mistake again. Like the fellow in the video said, they're young, they heal fast. (hopefully, he was being a little sarcastic!!!)

Friday, August 19, 2011

And so it begins.

Back to school. First two days have come and gone, have two more days to work around the shop and get things set up before, in the words of the immortal Jerry Heath, I "pound facts like nails into their ivory skulls".

Looking forward to this year. There are a bunch of changes- new principal AGAIN (so far I'm 3 for 3- 3 new principles in 3 years), switching to a trimester, new grading and attendance software, list goes on and on. Thats okay. The only thing that never changes is the fact that change is inevitable.

Only one regret- I dont think summer should be over because I havent finished my summer projects! Summer was good though, made lots of progress on my truck and even made my business "official". Watch for a few posts to come about what kept me busy this summer, and of course, keep an eye on my website to see what the kids are working on this year!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Just one of those things.

Sometimes someone says something just to be funny, but it sticks in your head. Someone made a remark about flood irrigating and snowmobiles, and it kinda stuck. Well, today was irrigating day... and the sleds were sitting right there... and, well...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Well shoot.

Havent gotten around to introducing my BIG project yet... but here's an update anyways. I'm working on a '76 Ford F150, the idea being that it will be my "office" (see the "My Office" post a few weeks ago). I've got the motor out, completely torn apart, and at the engine rebuilders for cleaning and inspection.

I also have the truck halfway sanded and primered. The problems here are twofold: One, I'm having trouble find a good, CHEAP, useable bed. Two, the engine rebuilders called and told me my block is wasted. SO... anyone got an early Ford 300 inline six (ford 4.9) engine block or engine they want me to either haul off or sell? As one fellow put it, Pandora's box is opened... Hey, I'm having fun. Right?!

I can only dream of a 300 with the dual carb intake...

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Thinking can be hazardous to your health.

Was sittin there in the shop thinking (I know, dangerous thing to do...) and I realized something I thought I'd share.

When I was 14 or so, I had a motorcycle. This was a pretty big deal, since my parents had specifically forbidden any motorized two-wheeled vehicles for anyone who lived under their roof. Long story on how this all came to pass, but I had a motorcycle! It was a fairly decent looking '76 KE175 that someone had grafted a suzuki DR front end to and painted it white and some terrible shade of light blue (you can see pics of it a few posts back under "Blast from the past"). It had major engine issues, mostly stemming from my attempts to patch a broken piston land with JB weld. Ah, the joys of being young and stupid. It actually worked for about 40 feet, at which point the jb weld burnt up and chunks of it tore up the cylinder even worse, finally filtering down and destroying the rod bearing...

I'd worked on a few bikes by that point in my life, but I'd never split the cases on one. Decided to give it a go. Beg/borrowed tools from a nieghbor, took me forever, but I finally got all of the stinkin bolts found and out, the flywheel and clutch basket off, and the cases split! Felt like I was king of the world, having accomplished that impossible task!

I did NOT have the know how or tools, however, to press the pin out of the crank and install the new bearing, press the pin back in, and then true the crank. The crank was also stuck in one side of the crank case and wouldnt come out. I figured it was best to leave this job to the professionals, so I called around and discovered that the local Kawasaki shop could press the crank out of the crank case, seperate the crankshaft, and put the new bearing back in for me, all for $50. That was a fair bit of money to me at the time, but I had no other option, so I took the two crankcase halves in and dropped them off.

About 2 weeks later they FINALLY called back and told me it was done. We headed in to pick it up, and they bring out my crankcase, FULLY ASSEMBLED. What the heck? I didnt tell them to do that, and I didnt even leave all of the nuts/bolts/parts to put it back together!?!

"That'll be $375".

"Um,... WHAT?!"

"$375. Cost a little more 'cuze you didnt bring in all your parts."

"Your kidding me, right? I didnt bring in the parts because you werent supposed to put it back together!"

He was pretty upset, and I told him to just go ahead and take it back apart, because alls I had was $50 and it even said on the work order what I had requested and how much it was going to cost. He finally threw up his hands and said just take it the way it is, and give me my $50.

Thought I made the deal of a lifetime, right!? Wrong. That mechanic cause me more headaches than you could POSSIBLY believe. Generally, each headache involved removing the engine from the bike, COMPLETELY stripping it back down, splitting the cases, and fixing something else he either screwed up or forgot to do. I could literally have the engine out and dismantled in under 30 minutes. I think I took it apart 7 times before we got all of the broken / stripped bolts, MUSHROOMED CRANKSHAFT END (why bother pressing the crank out of the crankcase when you can beat it out with a sledgehammer...) improperly installed countersunk screws, the list goes on and on....

Finally did get to ride it some, wasnt a bad bike, but I could never trust it. Sold it a year later for less than the amount I had paid in parts and don't miss it one bit.

Moral of the story? The life lesson I learned from it? If you want something done right, do it yourself. Buy the tools if you have to. I think this experience has had a great effect on making me who I am today, so I guess it was a good thing... Right?

Anyways, I'm dreading the call from the motor shop, saying that my truck engine is done, its complete, rebuilt, all put together, and ready to drop in your truck. Oh and the totall comes to $3,589. Aint going to happen, right? RIGHT?!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

It has come to my attention...

That people actually read my blog. Sorry for the lack of anything new and for the haphazard posting of oversize pictures. I have been busy with lots of little projects and a few big ones. Most of these are being recorded in other various locations on the interwebs, so I will do a few brief write-ups and post links to the "rest" of the story (man, Paul Harvey was great, eh?)

Out for now, stay tuned for new posts of projects that have been going on in and around the dorkPunch garage!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rescue mission part 2

The other lucky survivors. Might not look like much, but I dumped gas in the little blue one and it ran. The three wheeler is a different story- Hoping I can use parts off of the motor in my '78 CR250 to make it street legal. For some reason lights seem to be a requirement. Other than that, if it has a motor and makes noise, the loverly State of Idaho is happy to take your money in exchange for a plate.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rescue Mission

Rescued two homeless bikes today. One that I'll sell to cover the cost of the other, and the other to... I guess I dont know yet. Hopefully fix and ride, maybe part out.

As Found:


I'll post pics of the others later.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Featured Photos.

A while back I read in Dirt Rider magazine that they were going to have a reader-submitted photo contest. I have lots of pics I really enjoy so I sent in a few. Guess what? Not one, but TWO of my pics made it in! Ironically, one on the first page and one on the last. I think the one on the first page might have been nominated for another award, but I lost the original BIG file. Who knows. The other funny part is the picture of POJ that one an award was nominated for "Best cell phone pic". It was taken with a Canon 5D. ??? I aint going to complain!

First pic- lower left hand corner. The GREEN (?) picture. Taken on Big Southern Butte oustide of Blackfoot, Idaho.


Second pic- lower left hand again. ITS POJ!


Sunday, April 17, 2011

My "Office"

This is what I'm thinking for my mobile "office". I like it... But it might be a little over the top? Yes? No? Probably be pretty spendy to get all these logos made too...

Monday, April 11, 2011



My website is up. If you read my blog... which I'm pretty sure you dont, please comment! I'd like to know what I can do to make the site better.