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

Sunday, May 18, 2014


2 weeks of school to go. Been working on what was supposed to be (story of my life) a quick refresh so I could use this mower and sell one of the others.  Pics from the seller:

Been phising for parts and implements for my 314 and this little gem popped up. Owner's sister gave it to him about 3 years ago. He planned on restoring it but was tired of it sitting in his shop. Dickered a bit, oggled his awesome collection of Deere junk, and loaded it up.

Drug it in the shop with the 314 and got busy.

Some "before" and during shots to help me remember where everything goes.

Pulled the motor down today. Oh look! Rod Soup!

To make a long story short, this:

Eventually became this:


The motor is ready to bench test.  Complete rebuilt.  Well, mostly.  Brand new standard size piston, rings, and rod, newer block, new gaskets, seals, plug, points, belts, and of course a ton of John Deere green paint and some expensive stickers.  I have quite a bit more info in my thread on the mytractor forum here:  http://www.mytractorforum.com/showthread.php?t=528857

I'm also making really good progress with the rest of the tractor.  Its torn down to almost the bare frame and ready for sanding / paint.  Apparently, I've been bitten my the green bug pretty hard, but in all honesty I came by it naturally-

Sunday, May 11, 2014


My neighbor at school ordered a Shop Bot CNC router several weeks ago- it FINALLY showed up.  I don't know who's more excited about it- him or me. 

Now if only I could find enough donors for my CNC plasma cutter!

Friday, April 04, 2014


Work In Progress...  Been playing around with Sketchup and have managed to learn myself a few new tricks.  Gotta love Sketchucation and all of the cool rubys and plugins you add on to Sketchup.  A few months ago I downloaded and printed this engine from Thingiverse.

It works great, but I've wanted to design my own engine for a while now so here's where its at.  I thought it would be cool to make them "stackable" so this is my expandable air engine.  The idea being you print one, and it runs off of compressed air like the one above.  If you wanted, you could then print another long block that could be plugged in behind the first, but with the piston and valving running at a different timing- 180 degrees out, 90 degrees out, whatever.

Little hard to understand, but heres a shot of the rotary valve.

Still working on getting tolerances figured out but its close to actually running.

Getting closer.  At the rate I work on projects I might be done by June!  Of 2018...

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

That time of year.

Yup-  Mother Nature messes with our heads and the rumor mill starts churning 'em out.  Seems like every year about this time whispers of  "change" start trickling out from somewhere.  REALLY hoping the changes made work out for the best.  We learned today that almost every single administrator in our district has been moved around.  I honestly have nothing to say on the matter-  I don't see the big picture and don't have any idea what the plans are for the future. 

Really going to miss some of the ones that are leaving.  In addition to the administrative musical chairs, we are loosing a few good teachers to a well deserved retirement, which is good.  Just sad to see them go, especially the ones who weren't invited back.

On a more interesting note- the district also announced that they are planning on creating a "Vocational High School" in the next year or two.  Whatever that means.  I'm definitely interested in seeing where that goes and being a part of it, albeit from my position in the middle school as a feeder program.  Have I mentioned that I *love* my job?

Also had a chance to talk to our superintendant about the possibility of an option to getting a masters degree.  Had an idea, or maybe someone gave it to me in my search (man, my memory is getting as bad as my Dads!) that maybe I could take classes at a technical college or the like and get certified as a journeyman in some specific trade.  He (the super) seemed intrigued by the idea of petitioning somehow to get the journeyman's certificate to count AS a Masters degree!  I would still love to take additional education related classes- can always learn how to be a better teacher- but I think the experience and skills I would learn would be a WAY bigger benefit to my students than a degree in Educational Technology.  We'll see how that pans out.

Now, if we could just GET RID OF THE STINKIN SNOW...  Finally managed to get the new tires on the ST- just in time to have it sit in the garage and wait.  Had beautiful weather 2 weeks ago, spring break last week was decent enough that I got all the trees pruned, the tiller on the tractor, and the garden spot rotovated.  Then Sunday we wake up to 5" of the white gunk.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Good Tools-

Good tools are hard to find.  Well, not really, but good tools are reeealllly expensive.  About 12 years ago, when my wife and I were first married, I found a set of Crescent brand tools at Sams club on the clearance rack.  Keep in mind, we were both poor starving students, one about to start student teaching and the other about to have a baby (can you figure out which was me?!). We talked about it and ended up "investing" in the set, which had your basic 3 ratchets, matching metric and standard sockets, a couple of wrenches, some allen wrenches, smaller bits and accompanying driver, and 4 screw drivers.

Fast forward 12 years.  They've been used and abused, and it shows.  This poor screwdriver couldn't take it anymore, and today gave its life while tightening a stunt peg on my son's new bicycle.  You can tell just by looking at the handle what kind of life its had.  I don't even remember when it lost part of its "tooth"- think it was maybe 3 years ago.  Still worked great 

I can't tell you how many things this screwdriver has fixed over the years.  Maybe I should cut into the handle and see if I cant weld it back together.  Course, that would void the warranty.  Wonder how I go about collecting on that!?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Big bucks for our Library

So last year our school librarian and a few other teachers organized a big shindig to compete for a LARGE chunk of money. Check it out here:


and be sure to VOTE!!! You can vote once a day PER email address...

The Follet Challenge awards $200,000 to participating schools. I think the grand prize is something like $60,000- I can't tell you what we could do in our library with that money- considering I think she gets a lot less than a grand a year.  
The project involved every single student in the building.  Our ESL (English as a Second Language) Teacher and students were studying the book Treasure Island.  They involved the entire school in research about various islands, the foods classes cooked a "pirate" themed meal complete with hard tack, the woods classes build treasure chests, my classes built Rain Gutter Regatta's  , and everyone had a grand old time.  Check out the video, and help us out by VOTING!  Every day, every email you've got!

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Speedy Delivery!

Wow, that was FAST.  My Donor's Choose project was funded just a few days ago, and the vices showed up yesterday.  So glad I can get the old ones out of the way.  We have still been using them as anvils, and I've been worried that the one would just fall off the table.  Could do some damage to a foot if that were to happen.  Don't have to worry about that anymore!

They're a little smaller than the old ones because I basically just picked the cheapest ones I could find.  If I'd known that I would have so much support, I would have tried to get some fancier ones.  These'll do great though, glad we got 'em!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Reading List.

So I've been adding to my metal working library over the last couple of months.  Here's the latest editions.

The Backyard Blacksmith has a great wealth of information for a total idiot like myself.  I recently inherited a sorta rough hand crank blower / forge, and have been wanting to try blacksmithing for quite some time.  This summer I'm hoping to get a few new legs on the forge, figure out the blower, and try pounding some metal.  Still looking for a post vice and a big anvil though.

Metalworking, Doing it Better seems like it'll be a GREAT book.  Only made it through the first couple of pages but wow, lots of cool stuff.  Can't wait to get into that one!

The practical fab book is kinda lame... More of a reference but not a lot of "metal working" in it.  Looks like some guy was building a race car, decided to take pics along the way, and sorta slapped some information in there.  I probably didn't give it a real fair shake, and it does have some good info so it'll stay.  Honestly, having any book with real information in it is like having a good tool-  if you use it once, it's paid for itself.

Really liked the Sheet Metal Fab book too.  Lots of cool projects and info on how to get started with different process.

The Home Machinist looks more geared to much smaller hobby type stuff, but haven't really looked through that one yet.

Machiners Handbook makes me feel like an idiot.  Wonder if our math teacher could make any sense of it- almost looks like its written in a different language, but again TONS of great info that I will surely refer to in the shop.

Now if I just had not only the time to READ them, but to DO all the fun stuff in them!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


My first Donor's Choose project has been FUNDED!  Donors have bought me 2 new vices to replace the 2 that literally fell to pieces at the beginning of the year.  They put up a great fight, and like Atlas have held the weight of the world (okay, the weight of several million hammer strikes) for probably the last 40 years.  Time for some new ones.

And just for fun, a picture.  Apparently, John Deere Green is a pretty bad drug...

1967 John Deere 110 "RF" (round fender).  Came with a snowblower.  Been sitting in a garage for the last 28 years.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Daddy Derby?

Well, it ain't for kids, thats for sure.

Y'all thought we were done 'till next year, didn't you!?

Getting together with some other locals for an "adult" derby / chili cook-off.


Few coats of vintage Honda touch up paint and I think I'm good to go in that department.

Remember the hammer forming I posted about last time?  THIS is what it was for.  Got the weight polished and cut down a bit.

Drilled a hole and screwed it down.

Yes, that was on purpose.

Less than a week!

Open shop at school tonight. So far we have a stock car, a Russian sub, an alligator, a snake, a hot dog, and an ice cream wagon.

Pretty darn detailed!

Can't wait to see the rest of them, sounds like we are going to have a great turnout!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hammer Forming and Sandbagging.

Playing around with something new here.  I've been reading about metal forming processes, and this one has intrigued me.  Finally found an excuse to try it out, even though I don't have a stump with bowls cut in it to form with or a fancy sandbag.  I did, however, have a zip log bag full of brass shavings I'd been saving- just in case.  Yeah, I'm that bad.  Used it as a sandbag, found a scrap of aluminum, and went at it.

First attempt.

Blasted some old solder with the blowtorch, and dumped it in.

Only took a few seconds for it to cool.  Turned out okay.

Tried it again with a softer piece of aluminum and a custom built planishing hammer for the job and got much better results.

The final product after some polishing:

Its a custom cast weight for MY pinewood derby car.  Going to see if I can beat my boys- we have an "adult" pinewood derby coming up this weekend.  Pics to follow, of course!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Donors Choose.

So a week ago I posted this tool box one of my students made in a forum I frequent.  If you ever have a few hours to kill, you should check out the "Show us something you made" thread here:  http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=523072  Be prepared to see some cool stuff and spend some time- there are 256 pages worth of great stuff there.

This was made by one of my 8th grade students in my Metals & Engines 2 class. Turned out pretty darn good. At the beginning of the tri, I asked them what they wanted to make / do. Most of them wanted to do a sheet metal project and the majority of them settled on a tool box. We designed it on the fly as we went- they have had a little exposure to this in my Metals 1 class.

The main reason the box is this size / shape is due to my bench tools. Our max bend or cut is 24". Wish I could get a 36" shear and brake.

He made some modifications to the tray, and if you look close you might see a few of his mistakes but it all worked out pretty well in the end. Hoping to get about 10 more finished in the next couple of days.

Anyways, someone on the forum asked why we used rivets instead of spot welds.  I've got a decent spot welder, but the timer is toast.  It costs over $400 to replace, so we've been using it without.  That means lots of burnt holes and not pretty welds.  A few guys offered to put up some money, which led to Donors Choose.  Teachers can post projects they need money for, and donors can choose where they want the money to go.

Got a Donors Choose account set up. Unfortunately I have to get a few complete projects using their "vendors" first before I can set up a project to buy a spot weld timer so if anyone want's to help me fix THIS:

Then go to my donor page here: http://www.donorschoose.org/dorkpunch

and donate!