Saturday, December 31, 2005
I've been trying to wrap up some of the finishing details on the house this week, and actually doing some bike work in the shop. On the house front, I finished up the bathroom fixtures, they're all in place and plumbed. I sure hope that's the last pedestal sink I ever have to plumb though. My inspector had warned me that they're a pain, but you never really realize how bad they are until you do one. All the plumbing lined have to hide in the pedestal, which is only open on the backside. That means you get to try and make all the connections without being able to see them, and with them inside a 5" diameter cylinder where you hands really weren't meant to go. Hooking up the supply lines weren't too bad, but the drain line was tough, it barely fit, which meant my hands don't fit! But after a couple hours I managed to get it.
I've got one crucial step left though before it can be fully functional. The main drain stack for the bathroom still has the plug in it for pressure testing. That means going up on the roof to cut off the cap them glue in a new mesh cover. And while I love snow, we just got about 6" this week, and it's wet and slippery, so trips up on the roof are out for a few days.
I finished up a few more odds and ends today as well. I put the last finishing cut on the breakfast bar countertop, which meant I could finally install that cabinet and counter permanently. While I was at it, I finally put the last mounting screws in the remaining kitchen countertops and screwed the dishwasher in place (I never quite got around to that back in March when we did the kitchen!).
To everyone who's been over to our garage since we installed the garage door, you've seen my high-tech garage door opener control system: Touching two bare wires together on the opener... Well, I finally fixed that today too, put in a real opener switch mounted to the wall and everything! I also put in a sensor that tells us if the door is open or closed when we're upstairs. I never even though about the fact that we have to go downstairs and through the shop just to know if the door is closed, it's kinda a big hassle when you're as lazy as me. So now we have a little indicator upstairs and a door control, so no more trips downstairs before going to bed!
Thursday I managed to get two repairs done in the shop for a couple of customers that had unique circumstances and needed these repairs done while they waited. One was a customer driving up from Rochester for a singlespeed conversion, the other was a guy leaving the country on bike tour in 5 days and he needed some canti bosses moved before he left.
I've been working on getting my new tube mitering machine up and running too. I got all the electrical controls mounted and wired up. After quite a few phone calls to my brother it does work, but I figured out that the auxiliary contactor isn't working right so it won't stay running. I think I just need to get a new one and everything will be running. The plus side is I finally really learned and understand how the starter and contactor system works. I spec these out at work fairly often but I hadn't actually wired one or known how the internals work.
well, it's about time to head out for some new years partying, so adios folks, talk at you next year!
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Maybe I'll start there, with Little Rock since it's kind of a funny story. I wasn't going for any noble reasons, really just one of those required political statements to show them that I care...
For those who don't know, Little Rock is pretty much a hole. It's tiny, not very nice, and full of some rather unusual folks as far as I can tell. The plant I service is actually in College Station, which is far worse. This is true poverty, people living in shacks that are half fallen over with a dozen rusted out cars rotting in the yard (this one isn't hyperbole, that's sadly what you will literally see driving into the plant). In the winter months you usually pass a group of guys huddled around a 55 gallon drum with a fire burning inside, warming up their fingers, and their throats if you know what I mean (think drinking out of paper bags at 6 am). The three liquor stores I pass on my way in (I think those are the only stores I pass) all have 6" steel pipes filled with concrete all along the front side of the store, along with steel welded grating over the windows. Otherwise people drive their cars through the front of the store to get the booze (seriously).
Here's a short synopsis of my trip down to the plant, this seems pretty typical when I travel down there:
I fly into Memphis, with a connection to Little Rock from there (the Little Rock Airport isn't big enough to have direct flights, it's a 40 seater from Memphis to Little Rock). The connecting plane is late, as usual, so I opt to just drive to Little Rock. It's only about a 2 hour drive and really the flight takes about the same amount of time once you get through sitting on the runway for 20 minutes, etc... I'm about 50% on making that flight from Memphis to Little Rock, it seems to get cancelled a lot.
So I get a rental car, one way to Little Rock, and head out. It's all interstate to Little Rock, I-40 all the way, should be flowing free and smooth, or so I think.
About 20 miles in, traffic slows to a crawl for a few minutes, until I get to the source of the problem: a Honda Civic on the side of the road. Now if it were just a broke-down Civic I wouldn't think anything of it, but it was actually a Civic that was being towed. Now don't read that last line as if it was actually in the act of being towed. It had BEEN towed by the front bumper until the bumper came off! Yes, the bumper was laying there, along with the chains they were using to tow it. No sign of the actual tow vehicle, they were probably on their way to the Honda dealer to complain about how crappy that car was, the bumper just flew right off!
So traffic moves again after that, for about 50 miles. Then it slows up again, and I see a road construction sign. I'm in the left lane and there are semi trucks in the right lane, so I can't see much over there. There's a sign on the left shoulder though that says "left lane ends, merge right". Seems pretty simple, going to single lane, so I better get over to the right. Well, when I merge right, I notice there's a sign on the right shoulder at the exact same point that says " right lane ends merge left"! So some genius at the Arkansas hiway department couldn't decide which lane ended, so they marked both! as you might guess, they didn't actually both end (that would have been something!), the left land ended, but it completely screwed up traffic for a while.
Finally about 5 miles out of Little Rock, I seen something unusual on the side of the road (even more unusual than the previous things). There's a full size pick-up truck that appears to be on fire! I thought it was an engine fire, but the flames were really high. As I got closer, I realized it was the contents of the pickup bed that were on fire! looked like someone was moving, it was mostly cardboard boxes full of who knows what, all going up in a blaze of glory. Really, how does the contents of the bed of your truck start on fire? I could see an engine fire if something went wrong, but most people pickup beds don't spontaneously combust.
But I eventually made it to town, got my work done, then got the hell outta there. I'll write more about Little Rock some other day when I have more time.
On the the house. I finally have some pictures. I found the batteries for the camera and snapped off a few shots:
Here's how things look from the kitchen looking out to the new room. Note the cabinet at the end of the kitchen is finally in place along with the countertop on it.
The flooring is al new and runs out into the new room and the hallway. It's solid 3/4" maple. I love how it came out.
Try to ignore all the junk on the countertop, there's just clutter everywhere right now, but we're working on that.
Here's the hallway, you can get a glimpse of the wall color in the main room, and the hall.
And, here's the shower in the bathroom. It's about all I have done in there other than the floor, but it looks good. We love the wall color/floor combo. I'm hoping to finish this room up next.
Well, that's about all for right now, I gotta run.
Have a great holiday season, whatever holiday you celebrate.
Monday, December 19, 2005
So much has happened since my last entry that I don't know where to start. I won't be starting with pictures of what I've been working on though since I just found the battery charger for the digital camera this morning. Hopefully that'll be up and running this afternoon and I can get some pictures up here.
So I'll try to fill you in using my literary photo album, and since a picture is worth a thousand words, you're in for a long, painful read!
Last week I wrapped up the end of the hardwood flooring install, and my knees have been rejoicing ever since. It looks fantastic and has lots of good character. Looks much better than the cheap laminate fake wood floor we had in the kitchen. We saved that though, and will probably use it in one of the less-used spare bedrooms in the future.
And with having the floor down, I was finally able to install the last kitchen cabinet and the final countertop in the kitchen (the peninsula cabinet and breakfast bar). It looks really nice, and it was so nice to finally install that. It's been sitting in our basement for the better part of 2005 just waiting for this moment.
Beth is almost done with the painting out in the new area, which is great. Once that's done, we can put all the electrical coverplates on and get the final electrical inspection.
The bathroom floor is also done, I installed a tile-like product in there called Adura. They're glue-down laminate tiles 16" x 16" but without grout between them, they butt up against each other and the seams nearly disappear. It's supposed to be really tough, so it should hold up well in the laundry room. The shower is also installed, I got that up last week, just have to do a little finish caulking around the doors.
I passed the last drainline pressure-test this week too, so I've got the greenlight to proceed with installing the bath fixtures and then get the final inspection on the plumbing. I really can't wait for that since our dining room is currently full of boxed plumbing fixtures (toilet, pedestal sink etc...). So we might even be able to see the floor in the dining room again soon!
The final tie-in joint on the drain line continues to plague me. The inspector didn't like the reducing fitting I used, said it had to be reinforced with a stainless mesh since I'm installing it above ground, then proceeded to inform me that he had never seen a pipe like the one I'm trying to connect to, so he didn't even know how I should do it. Big help there.
Well... The only fittings approved for above ground connections between cast-iron and PVC are straight couplings (4" to 4", 3" to 3" and so-on). Well, that means I have to chip out about 4 more inches of concrete around the pipe (in addition to the 2" I already chipped out) then somehow cut off the cast-iron pipe in an area where I can't get a chain cutter in and connect my PVC to that cut end. Piece of cake right??? I'll keep fighting with this one this week, hopefully get it done soon. Thankfully I have my grandfather's electric hammer, what a cool tool! It's literally a mini jack-hammer that runs off electricity instead of air. It's been really handy for chipping out the concrete.
I decided I needed a break from the usual home project work last weekend, so I tackled a side-project: optimizing storage space in the basement. I've had this idea for a while but never made the time to implement it.
The band rehearsal area in the basement has been slowly getting more and more crowded with non-band related stuff, so I had a great idea. I built a big drum-riser with storage for large items underneath it. I'm always sitting when I play my drums, so I had spare headroom, so I went up 14"! Wish I had a picture to put in here, but if you recall from paragraph 2, no pictures right now... It's so rock-n-roll. It's like playing in a seedy bar with a rickety old stage, but right in my own basement, plus it stores all kinds of crap under it completely out of site.
Between that, and my selling off of misc stuff from the basement, I was able to get rid of a large chunck of shelving and open up the band area quite a bit. Makes the whole basement feel bigger.
Thursday last week I managed to get out for my first ski of the season, went over to Como with a friend of mine after work. It was great due to the fresh 6" of snow we got last week. I can honestly say this year was the first time I've ever been able to go out on my first ski of the year and have good snow. I'm usually so excited to get out that I ski on the first 1/2" we get with grass and rocks sticking out everywhere. Well I've been so busy this year I wasn't able to get out on the bad snow, and fortunately we got some good snow early.
Went out again Sat to Lake Elmo, which was good classic, but the skating sucked. They don't really know how to groom well out there and most of the trails are classic only, so the skate lane tends to suffer. I'll stick to classic out there I think. Just need to get some classic ski's waxed up. I did set-up a wax bench in the basement though, thanks to all the new free-space I was able to make down there.
Alright, enough rambling for now, I'll write more when have some pictures to go with it.
Friday, December 09, 2005
I don't usually talk about my day job here, but it's hard not to today. We moved our offices for the second time in 2 months today, moved back into our permanent space. We were moved out for the purposes of remodeling the wing of the building, new carpet, paint and furniture. Seemed like a worthwhile effort, 2 weeks of living out of boxes in a temporary area, then move back to all new digs.
Yeah right. One week into the temporary living, we were informed it would be at least 4 more weeks because the found asbestos tile in the old area. I want to know what genius didn't figure out that there was a good shot at the original tile being asbestos in an 80 year old building! So we hang out in the temporary area for more weeks, and finally moved back today. Should have stayed in the temporary area, it was better. We're now forced into half the area we occupied prior to the move. Our new furniture has about half the storage space that we had before, and we now don't have any real dividers between our cubes. In short, it sucks.
But what can you do...
I'll tell ya what, you can go out to the Kenwood Cash-sandwich tonight. A re-inactment of the now famed Jackass sandwich of several years ago where a group of gentlemen started at early happy hour at Lyles, then rode to Jackass the movie, then back to Lyles afterwards for late happy hour. Throw in some derbies and bicycle throwing in the middle and you got an event.
Tonight should be just what I need.
Well, more hardwood flooring tonight, maybe work on the bathroom this weekend if I get the hardwood in. Soon we'll have some use-able space again.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Had a quick jaunt out to sunny CA this week for work. What a shock getting back out to my car though today. It was 70 and sunny when I left, and about 12 degrees when I got to the car. Shoulda packed a bigger jacket! It was a pretty normal trip, too much to do, too many people around and too much traffic. Man I really can't imagine living out there. Maybe it's just the part of town I go to, but it seems like endless sprawl (way worse than Minneapolis). I don't mind the crowdedness so much as the lifestyle. NY is crowded and I don't mind that, but the people there seem more real, more down to earth than LA. Whatever it is, I'm always glad to leave. I think I'll stick to the midwest for now.
As the title of this post somewhat infers, I want to touch on the theory of a blog, once again.... It seems every time I write anything with any passion at all, it gets lots of good comments and a few maybe deserved bad ones. This is a Blog folks, that's short for "web-log" i.e. a log or record of things I do or come across which I care to pass along. This is not a newspaper, and to prove that I'll reference what has become my favorite quote of all time referring to my writing:
it is " a long-winded tirade lacking a clear point" and " his lack of structure and hyperbole"
My tirad-ness (is that a word?) and bad hyperbole are exactly what makes this blog a blog and not a New York Times Editorial (that and my really bad grammar, spelling, punctuation and all those other things I never grasped in English class). It's one of those ironies in life that I get the most off-list positive comments from people to my rants, and I also get the most flack, but I guess that's the nature of holding personal opinions. So to be brief, my last rant was not a personal attack directed at anyone other than Chris Hawkey, and any other idiot who consciously chooses to try and run cyclists off the road. Period.
I've debated just not writing about anything other than the mundane work of building bikes. But that seems boring, so I guess I'll continue to write about whatever crosses my tiny mind. Really there's only so much I can say about cutting steel tubing and brazing lugs. So if you don't see eye to eye with me all the time, please just accept that we're different people. That's a good thing, otherwise we'd all be Bob Brown clones running around building bikes and complaining about the world, then I'd be out of a job.
Maybe it's all my own fault that people sometimes get upset. I've always assumed that there are about 4 of you out there that actually read my ramblings, and I often write it that way. I'm continually shocked at how many people actually check this site and read the entries. Do you all have that little to do at work? anyways, I'm glad you're here. I'll try me best to keep you entertained.
I've got a wood floor to install, so that's it for today. I'm hoping to make it out skiing this week before the snow is gone again, so see you out on the trails!
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
this one is quick, but very important. There is a final meeting of the Minneapolis Park Board committee on determining the fate of the mountain biking experiment in Wirth park. If you like to ride there please try to go, more bodies = more support.
Here are the details:
Wednesday December 7, 2005
Minneapolis Park and Rec HQ's 5 - 7 PM
Board Room Suite 255
2117 West River Road, Minneapolis
Regretably I have a work commitment that night, so I can't make it, please someone take my place, or better yet, 10 people take my place!
Thorny was kind enough to share a story of what was said over the airwaves on KFAN radio last week. As you can imagine, most people I know wouldn't have anything to do with KFAN, we have brains. However lots of redneck idiots in this town do listen to the Clear-Channel spew, I know, I work with a bunch of them.
Apparently Chris Hawkey (the morning idiot) last week told a tale about how he intentionally tried to run a cyclist off the road on his commute in simply because he though it was stupid that anyone would ride a bike in the winter. How can someone still be legally allowed to drive after doing something like that, then bragging about it on the radio? How can Clear Channel still be employing this idiot? (well, that's rhetorical, I think being an idiot is a prereq. to working at KFAN).
In MN it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle within 3' of a cyclist on a public roadway (even if there's no shoulder), so no matter what, he deliberately broke the law. He admitted on the radio that he did it to teach the cyclist a lesson, that seems more like assault to me, or attempted vehicular manslaughter, but I'm certainly no lawyer, and I'm sure I'm just dreaming here, but if I were that particular cyclist, I'd be down at the police pressing charges against this asshole, any charge I could.
This is Minneapolis, the city with the highest percentage of bicycle commuters in the US. There also happens to be a real winter here, with snow and everything (if we're lucky). If you put those two things together, that means there will be many people riding bikes in the snow, on your roadways. Mr. Hawkey, get used to it or leave. We've got just as much right to be there as you do.
Then, as if having these local idiots around wasn't bad enough, I was emailed a story about a cyclist in Colorado who was hit and killed by a teenager who was attempting to send a text message while driving. That's so sad you'd think I was making it up, but unfortunately I'm not. The kid is a minor, so they won't release his identity, and get this, he's being charged with Careless Driving Causing Death, which carries a maximum one year sentence. So this 17 year old was so stupid that he took the life of another person, yet he'll get off with only serving one year. Way to teach him a lesson. I sincerely hope he's riddled with guilt the rest of his life for what he did.
There is simply no accountability for driving these days. Period. Watch out.
Well, after that I don't even feel like writing about the weekend. I spent too much time working on flooring and it's not done. enough said.
We got some fresh snow though, which is exciting (not just because it means it's open season to run cyclists off the road either!) for skiing. I hear there was some decent skiing at Wirth this weekend, I wouldn't know I was inside all weekend. Maybe next weekend I can get out for a ski. More than likely this will be the first winter with real snow in years simply because I have too much work to do on my house to go out and ski...
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
I was really hoping to kick butt this weekend on working on the house, I feel like it was more the other way around, the house kicked my butt. I took Wednesday off to work on the yard before the impending snow of Thursday. I spent the day moving dirt, lots of dirt. I shoveled and raked about 10 yards of it around until I was satisfied with the grade of the yard. Then it snowed.
Got about 3-4" of it here, but it melted off about 2 days later, so no real big deal. However our prospects for laying sod this fall vanished with that cold snap. So now were stuck with a yard full of black dirt for the winter. We got another warm spell yesterday, so I took the afternoon off and spread straw over the dirt to prevent erosion, and then installed a silt fence along the road. That may sound easy enough, but lemme tell ya, digging a trench and pounding in silt fencing in the rain at night in a complete mud bog isn't much fun. The dirt was completely saturated from the snowmelt, so with every step I sunk in about 6". yuk.
Hopefully the dirt will stay in our yard now though once spring comes and we get real snow melt. We'll definelty have some re-grading to do though as the dirt will undoubtedly slump down to the bottom of the hill.
Thursday was turkey day, and my Brother's in-laws were kind enough to invite us over for dinner. That was great, Mike (Katherine's Dad) is one heck of a chef. Thanks for the invite Tharps! At that point our kitchen was still covered in plastic since we were still painting the ceiling, so cooking was out for us.
Friday was the first time I can remember spending the entire day shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Sadly enough that was not our plan, I had hoped to starting laying the subflooring. But we needed some supplies and once we had shot the whole morning/early afternoon getting the sink base cabinet and light fixtures for the bathroom, we decided to just get the flooring, paint and a few other items and kill the rest of the day shopping. It sucked. I hate shopping, always have. I used to not mind shopping for home improvement stuff, but this year has pretty much jaded me to that too.
Saturday I finally got to do some work, but we didn't really get into our stride until the afternoon. Beth worked on painting while I worked on subflooring. By Sunday, I had all 18 sheets of subfloor installed. That part actually went far better than I expected, the hardest part was carrying each sheet upstairs once I cut it in the garage. After that was down I started on the bathroom, installing what I could before the flooring goes in.
Here's the laundry sink base installed, with the sink just sitting on top. The washer water connections are inside the sink base, so I had to do some plumbing once I got the base installed. Just have to cut the countertop to length and install the sink in it, then this part will be good to go.
As I mentioned, I installed the light fixtures too. Those don't lend themselves to good photos with the lights on, guess I should have just taken the picture with the light off... As with most of this project, nothing went smooth. I check the electrical prior to wiring up the ceiling light to make sure the wires weren't live. To my surprise, they were, and the switch didn't work. Well, after about 2 hours of bangin' my head against the wall trying to find the problem I finally used a different tester and it worked fine. Turns out my meter had broken and was giving false readings. sigh. Then the exhaust fan wouldn't work. This one wasn't a bad meter, it was a bad motor in the fan. That really pissed me off since I know it worked before the sheet rock was installed, I tested it. I had to go back up in the attic and remove it, bench tested it and sure enough, the motor was bad. Back to Menards for a new one, then back up in the attic to re-install it. again, sigh....
The one light that worked with no glitches was the hall light. Looks nice too. This one is a fine Ikea product. I find it amazing that they can offer products even cheaper than the cheap crap at Menards, and amazingly enough it's actually slightly (just slightly) better construction. I mean really, all this stuff at every home-improvement store is made-in-China-crap, but Ikea's crap is slightly less crappy (how many times can you say crap in one sentence?). You can see some of Beth's paint work too, the hall is a nice taupe (I have no idea if I'm spelling that right) color, the bath is a blue-violet-gray kinda thing that looks swell, and the main room will be a rusty-dark-orangish color.
You can tell a woman now lives in the house which I once lived in alone. There are colors on the walls. If you've ever been in our house, you might find it humorous that the old part is basically all beige, and the new part is basically all colors. Guess it's that venus-mars thing, but I don't mind, the colors are definitely more interesting. I was just too cheap and lazy to repaint the all-beige color scheme the house had when I bought it. Slowly but surly the old part of the house is getting more colors too.
And finally, here's the main room. Hasn't been painted yet, but I'm sure it's next up. The color swatch on the wall is the main suspect in hunt for colors. The ceiling is finally painted to a respectable finish after three tries (don't ask, it just didn't work out). The recessed lighting looks good, and the subfloor is all down in here. We actually just ordered the hardwood that will extend from the kitchen into part of this room last night. We'll probably be getting the carpet on order as soon as the painting is done (and once we figure out how to pay for it!). I'm pretty excited at how much it is coming together, but to be honest, I had hoped to have all the flooring in by now and the bathroom put together. Oh well, I guess schedules exist to be missed (at least in my case).
I'll try to get a picture of the finished retaining wall if I'm ever home during daylight hours and not swamped with work (doubtful).
Not much shop progress to report. I've got a handful of frames ready for painting, so I guess I better get a paint set-up together soon so I can spray again. I did get my phase converter wired up for the horizontal mill, so the motor works now. But I'm waiting for the drive belt to come before I can try it out. Did some other machining work on the vertical mill, it's great. A world of difference from the table-top in terms of stability. I do still miss the geared head on my old one, as speed changes were quicker, but I'll live.
I guess I did slip in a couple of quick repairs on stuff, and I'm putting the finishing touches on that nature bike, but that's about it. No riding whatso ever, that sucks, but the weather hasn't been great for that either. The good news is, I'm starting to see the light at the end of the remodeling project. Once the interior is livable, I shouldn't have to work on this every night and every weekend, I might even have a life again. Maybe.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
This weekend we were out east. I had to travel for work last week, so I finally convinced Beth to come out to New York for the weekend (she had never been there). She had been quite resistant at first, as she had lots of pre-concieved notions of what it would be like, but I think once she got there she had a good time.
And she got to meet the one and only Large Fella on a bike, and his family, what more could you ask for! We spent Friday night at the Cutshall residence, staying up waaaaay too late chatting. And Scott, I did actually enjoy the food, that cold stuff you got was something new to me, and I loved it. The chicken was all good, the only thing I was unsure of was whatever that deep-fried thing was (the stuff Chloe loves).
We were hoping to see the Ryan Adams / Willie Nelson concert Thursday night, but ended up just seeing the Willie part thanks to the shopping season traffic heading into Manhattan. We arrived just in time to hear Ryan's last song as we were making out way to the auditorium. bummer. Willie was good to see, but we really were there for Ryan. The Willie freaks in attendance were annoying as hell. The guy next to me began our conversation with " your timing couldn't be better" as we sat down just as the roadies packed up Ryan's gear. He couldn't understand that we really came for the opener, Willie was a sideshow. The couple in front of us refused to sit still and must have found every possible way to block our view. Oh well, Willie was good, and impressive for a 72 year old performer.
Got back to town Sunday, just in time to spend the day painting the ceiling of the new space. Primed just about everything, and last night we put the second coat on the ceilings. It's starting to look like a real room out there. I'll try to get some pictures today.
I also spent the last two afternoons modifying the steps I had made out on the retaining wall. I figured out a better way to shape the exposed ends, so I rebuilt the main set. Unfortunately the modification invoves adding a split block each end, so I spent quite a few hours this week already splitting concrete blocks with a hammer and chisel. Talk about feeling like Fred Flintstone, try sitting in your front yard beating on chunks-o-concrete with a big hammer. But they're nearly done now and looking fantastic, sometimes it's good to be anal.
I'm off for the rest of the week, staying home to work on the house over the holiday. With a little luck, I hope to get in some flooring and start making the bathroom into a bathroom.
Somewhere amid hauling waaaay too much concrete block with it, my trailer started making some pretty bad noises lately. So since I only spent the last two nights working on retaining wall and painting the interior, I decided to sneak in repacking the bearings on the trailer last night too. By then I was on a roll so I also wired up the new front lights outside the garage and installed the lights inside the garage. Whew, it's been a busy week and it's only Wednesday morning!
Well, I've got lots to do, so I better get crackin'
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
I decided to move over to blogger after Fortune City decided to shut down it's blog service. I'm really not that upset since their software was pretty bad and they tended to fill my blog with ads. Hopefully the registration function will now work for you all as well. It seemed that about 5% of the people who tried to register with my old blog (to leave comments and be notified of new postings) actually were successful.
If you tried to register on the old one but didn't have any luck, I urge you to try it here, I think you'll have better results. I'm going to leave this pretty open, so anyone will be able to leave comments. I will be moderating though should any spam type stuff show up. If that doesn't work out, then I'll switch it over to only registered members being able to comment. Once nice thing, comments should show up right on the main page with the blog entry, no more clicking hyperlinks to see comments.
Blogger doesn't seem to have the photo album features that Fortune city had, but I didn't use that too much. I'll stick to posting pictures right on the blog rather than in an album. Not too much of a loss there.
Unfortunately due to Fortune City's sucky-ness, their software doesn't export the date from my old blog in a very user friendly format. Basicaly it's un-importable into any other blog software. However all is not lost. I've taken the HTML coding from the old blog entries and imported them into large postings here as an archive. So You will see in the recent postings link on the lower right that there are postings titled "August 2005 archive" and such. That post contains all the postings from the entire month of August. Most of the pictures survived, but not all. It's a little bit of an akward archive, but it's much better than nothing.
Well, I think I'll just start off with that. If you had a shortcut to the old blog, I recommend updating it to this address, as the old service will be shut off at the end of November.
So once again, welcome,
Saturday, October 22, 2005
What a whirlwind it’s been lately. I’ve been traveling again the last few weeks between having fun and work. Basically right after I got in town from California last week, we had to leave to head down to Red-Wing for a wedding, then the day I got back from there, I jumped back on a plane out east.
Before I bore you to tears with my whining about travel, I’ll whine about something else: this whole wedding thing. When I was younger, I used to hate weddings, I mean really hate weddings. I’d avoid them like the plague, most likely due to my hatred of dancing (seriously, I can’t stand having to dance, ask anyone who’s gone to a wedding with me!). I don’t even know if hatred is the right word, maybe ineptitude ( I thought I was making that word up, but amazingly enough my spell checker says it’s a real word!) at it. You’d think being a drummer and being really quite well coordinated, not clumsy type of guy that it would just come naturally. Keeping the beat of a song comes naturally, getting up in front of a big group of people and acting like I’m having some sort of full-body muscle contraction to the beat of a song (although that can be how it looks) doesn’t. It’s not like I haven’t tried, I’ve been through dance lessons 3 different times, at three different top-notch studios. I’m the guy that makes the dance instructors bald, they don’t have any hair left after they tear it all out trying to teach me. Anyways, the main means for passing time at a wedding is usually dancing, hence my dislike of weddings…
Complete side note: The best thing from a wedding attending standpoint that’s happened to me has been meeting Jeff Greenwood. He’s amazing in that he not only knows just about everyone I know, but he loves to dance with anyone. So as long as I know Jeff’s going to the wedding, I can at least count on him taking some heat off me by dancing with my wife for a few songs. He should get some kind of Nobel prize that, really.
Where was I? Oh yeah, weddings… So we went to the wedding of Beth’s old housemate Doug this weekend (I feel I must put in a comment here that I don’t hate marriage, or the wonderful things we’re celebrating at a wedding, it’s really just the dancing!). It was a spectacular wedding, about as good as they get. We drove down Friday afternoon for the actual ceremony, which took place on a small farm outside of town. It was a nice small ceremony, about 30 people I’d guess, and the evening was absolutely perfect. Everything went off without a hitch (well, except for them getting hitched, I guess that’s a bad expression to use for a wedding…) and we all headed over to the St. James hotel in Red Wing for a fantastic dinner. After dinner we basically drank and chatted all night until the bar kicked us out (which was a good thing based off how some of the group was looking). We were all set at tables of six people (three couples), and we were randomly placed with two other wonderful couples. After some conversation, we discovered we all knew mutual friends through absolutely unique connections, proving once again how small the world really is. One couple knew quite a few folks I knew through a running group she trains with. We all instantly hit it off, and I think Beth and I came away with a few new friends.
The next day (Saturday) was the real “reception”. The gathering of the many, many people Doug and Christy knew and wanted to share their marriage with. They held it at a city park in Red-Wing, right on the river. No formalities, shorts and t-shirts were the attire, catering by Famous Dave’s and great music all day long. One of the highlights was finding out that Doug happened to know Dave Boquist (Guitarist for Sunvolt and Uncle Tupelo) and that Dave was playing along with another friend of his and his son.
So between them, and Doug’s friend JR who flew in from California we had incredible music pretty much the whole day (and no dancing! Woo-hoo). The weather was as perfect as you could ask for, sunny and 80 pretty much all day. A good time was had by all.
We came back Saturday night, then celebrated our one year wedding anniversary on Sunday. We celebrated in pretty much the only way we seem to know how these days, by working on our house… Yup, that’s the kind of natural born romantic I am. Well not really, but we had some stuff that we absolutely had to get done before I left town again that night so that Pat could pour concrete this week. So while Beth did some painting, I tamped the dirt in my garage down and layed the insulation and re-mesh down. Once that was in place, we layed the pex tubing for the radiant heat in and tied it to the re-mesh. We worked at a mad pace trying to get it all done, I soldered up an air header to pressure test it and had to leave for the airport before I could get it hooked up. Beth finished up the rest while I was out of town though, and I think we’ll be able to get some concrete down this week if the endless rain ever lets up. Yes, once again it’s been raining since I left, and it’s washing all kinds of dirt back into the garage, this time on top of my insulation though. What can you do…
Well that’s about it for now.
Thank God we put up gutters and laid down plastic to do some stormwater control before I left town Sunday. I didn't realize until I got home that we got 5" of rain here Tuesday night! This one trumps all the measly 2"+ storms we've been having this year. This was the largest rain I've seen since moving back to MN.
Amazingly enough, all the water controls seemed to have worked great. We had almost no water in the garage and only a small amount of dirt fill. I can only imagine what kind of hurt I'd be feeling right now if we hadn't got the gutters and plastic up!
Hopefully we're almost done worrying about this as Pat is planning on pouring the garage floor at noon today. And once that's in we can get the driveway guy out here to pour that, then get the retaining wall in place and be done worrying about erosion and run-off in the yard.
Had another first this morning, I had to scrape the windows on the Miata. Since we don't have a garage, all the cars are living in the street, and I've never had the miata out in weather as cold as it was this morning. Not that 32 degrees is really that cold, but it's cold for Oct 7th! Heck, it took two tried to turn it over this morning (it's really a summer car, the battery is tiny).
Another first, and the one I'm the most excited about is the arrival of the first batch of Bob Brown Cycles / Kenwood Racing waterbottles. I've been wanting to make something like this up for a while, but it all takes $$$$. But just in time for the 'cross season, they arrived. I don't have a picture right now, but here's the artwork on each side of the bottles (don't worry, they look much better than the bad resolution that Jpgs seem to take on this blog site):
I've got 2 sizes and 2 colors in each size, all super-schweet! let me know if you want any, I'll try to get the up on the web-site sometime soon. I'm actually working on a new page with items for sale on my web-site. So keep checking back.
This weekend should entail lots of bike work. I'm hoping to get most of a frame built this weekend, and still find time to do the 'cross race at Lake Rebecca sunday. I may be dreaming though...
Before the real ranting begins, some good stuff happened this weekend. Pat finished up the concrete in the garage, and hauled off the last of the excess dirt from our yard. In fact, he regraded the front yard and it actually looks like front yard again!
Saturday he hauled off 12 truckloads of dirt, which brought the grand total to 41 truckloads which were hauled off during this project, those are 16 cubic yard trucks, but they weren't totally full, so figure about 12-14 yards per truck, that's over 500 cubic yards of dirt! I'm glad I didn't take the advice of a few friends and just rent a bobcat and a trailer for a weekend! I'd still be digging.
I also got in some good shop time this weekend. Got the main triangle of the next frame all brazed up and I'm working on the rear. No pictures yet, but soon.
Sunday I did my first cx race for the year. It was a perfect day, sunny and about 55 at the start. I knew going in that I wasn't in racing shape, but man did I discover that even more during the race. I decided to do the B race since I'm so out of shape, but I soon learned there may be some benefit to just sucking it up and doing the A race.
The B race was huge, 62 people in it, racing on a course that was big enough for about 30. Apparently 'cross really took off this year, the field has gotten huge, which seems like a good thing, but it's really starting to resemble a sport mtb race: a heard of people who have no idea what they're doing, but all confident that they're going to win the race on the first lap. The start sucked, just people everywhere. It seemed like things were improving in the first narrow section until we got to the first dismount. It became very obvious I was surrounded by people who had no idea how to properly dismount and remount in a crowd, it was a wreck, not even close to fun.
Within about 200' of the remount, something happened, I'm not sure what, either I hit something really hard, or someone hit my back wheel, causing it to come out of the dropouts. No crash, but I had to stop and fix it, which took about a minute, and promptly put me in dead last place on the first lap. Oh well, what can you do but hit it and hit it hard. I hammered the rest of the laps as hard as I could, with way too much adrenalin from my anger at being last. I thought maybe I was hitting it a little too hard when I felt the cramps starting in my quads, but luckily it was the bell lap, so I knew I just had to make it around one more time. I thought I could hold'em off, but no such luck, at the last remount my left quad cramped pretty hard. Thankfully it was all downhill to the finish and I was able to coast in.
I ride singlespeed in these races, which seems to be pretty rare now. Never used to be a disadvantage, but if the courses are going to be a crappy as this one was, I don't know... I'd like to publicly state to that these are supposed to be cyclocross races, not road races run on grass. There were a grand total of 2 individual barriers on this entire course, both simply put at the bottom of a gradual hill, which most people were able to ride up. That's lame. I mean LAME!!!
The new USCF rules pretty well killed the sport of 'cross last year by specifying all the limitations on course design, but this weekend's course took that to a whole new low by getting rid of basically all the barriers. It was literally a road race with some grass and gravel thrown in.
here's hoping next weeks course is better... at least I know the last race of the year will be good.
Speaking of crappy things, I tried to use my printer at home again this weekend. It sucks. It's an Epson, and it really sucks. It's not that it prints poorly or anything, but Epson apparently has decided it has too much market share, so they're going to try and reduce that by pissing off customers.
The damn thing takes 4 ink cartridges, when I bought it, the idiot sales guy claimed this was a "feature". Well they put a chip in each cartridge that knows the date the cartridge is installed and it has a pre-programmed life in it. So even if you never print anything with cyan in it, in like 90 days your printer will tell you it's out of cyan in and it will not allow you to print ANYTHING until you replace said cartridge. Well, if you print a lot of only black ink, you're forced to buy not only a new black ink cartridge when it runs out, but you'll have to buy 3 new color cartridges at the same time or the printer will refuse to print anything. Did I mention the cartridges are like $17 a pop? This is absolutely nothing other than a scam. A quick google search even showed that there was a whole host of consumer action lawsuits against Epson for this practice. Bastards.
I know I for one will never buy another Epson product as long as I live, infact I went out yesterday and bought an HP printer since I didn't feel like spending $75 in ink to make my damn Epson work (incidentally the printer cost less than that to buy).
I hate scams...
Oh boy - here we go again... ;) The business about the "smart" printer carts is totally insane bogus. When you were describing it I was thinking "Boy, that would be nice to only have to replace the one ink you're out of at a time." But, $75 four times per year? Insane.
Well, Monday night was the end of a short era. Pat finished up the last of the final touches, packed up his stuff and moved on. It's actually kind of odd not having him around. He's been coming over every night after work for so long, we just kind of got used to him.
Sad to see him go 'cause he's a nice guy, but we're really happy to have the work done. Now we have to focus on the work we have to do. Next step is finding someone good to do the drywall taping and mudding (anyone got a good recommendation in St. Paul?). I need to get the garage door up, Beth's hitting the exterior painting with both barrels this weekend. Next week we'll get a driveway, then we have to do the retaining wall after that. We're both hoping our budget holds up enough to be able to hire out the wall.
It's been really hard to hire out a lot of this stuff at the end. You see, I actually really enjoy working on my house, and I'd like to do as much of this as possible (except sanding drywall, I hate that!), but the simple reality is I don't have the time. I was extraordinarily busy before we started all this, now it's out of control and I just want to go back to being extraordinarily busy! So I'm hiring out as much of the time intensive work that I can. After all, I have bikes that need building.
I have been sneaking in progress on the nature bike this week. The main triangle is all brazed up, and after much fine tuning of angles and tweaking of points, I'm quite happy with the results. I've been so busy working that I haven't taken any time to shoot photos yet though, so nothing to see, but soon... I have the chainstays all set to go, those are a big job all by themselves on wide-tired touring frames like this. I have to make my own s-bend chainstays to fit the huge tires the customer wants and still get the chainrings to clear the stay. Fortunately it's a heavy touring bike, so the chainstays are very thick walled, that makes bending a bit easier.
Ok, so I promise pictures of the house and some framework soon.
I thought for a change I'd talk about bike stuff this today. This past weekend was just incredible weather-wise, so I was excited about racing Sunday. I was also a little down about how bad the previous week's race was, both in layout and in my performance, so I wanted to prove to myself I can still ride 'cross.
If you'll recall, I basically went in to last week's race completely unprepared. Hadn't really ridden much in the previous month, and I really paid for it during the race. Well, I got back on the training this week (and hope to keep it up for a few more!) and rode just about every day. I changed my focus from practicing dismounts to just riding hard and running hard. My dismounts and remounts are not even close to my weakest link, it's my leg strength and lower back that always seem to give out first. So I ran lots of hill repeats and tried to get in a couple harder rides without all the dismounts.
It seemed to help Sunday. I went out hot, maybe a little too hot. Thorny led the pack out in the start and I somehow ended up about 5 people back from him (not sure how that happens riding a singlespeed in a race with a long flat start). Thorny led for a while, longer than I expected, and dropped back a couple places. After a few laps I caught him and he grabbed onto my wheel, I could tell we were both starting to hurt. We rode that way for like 3 laps in 9th & 10th places. I was feeling ok when he came around to take the pull, but right after he came around, I botched up a barrier (didn't get my foot out fast enough) and he lost me. Being the good guy he is, he waited up a bit, but I knew I'd only be slowing him down at this point, so I told him to go on (not sure if he ever heard me though). I kept him in site for the next few laps, and basically I rode the mid portion of the race along. I was about 40' off the back of the lead pack and Thorny, but there was nobody behind me, so I just focused on trying to keep the leaders in sight.
With 2 laps to go I really started to pop. My back was cramping and I could feel my quads on the verge, but thankfully the lap counter let me know I was almost done, which makes it much easier to push through the pain. Last lap, I could see a group of four closing in on me, one of which was Fride. I really didn't want him to catch me, so I gave it all I had, amazingly the cramps seemed to subside in the last half lap. I finished just in front of Fride and probably about 30 seconds back from Thorny. All in all a good race.
One low point, about halfway through the race, I took a GU in the straight section before the feed zone, knowing I'd get a water handup to wash down the GU (for those that have had them, you know you really NEED water after eating one). Well, I was coming in fast behind a slower rider into the feed zone. I was going to pass him, but then saw Beth was on the right and I'd have to cut him off really bad to get over to her for my handup. So I slowed down and tucking in behind him. Beth had my hand-up ready to go, reaching out with the bottle, and this guy tried to grab it! I panicked, and screamed at him that it was MY handup, not his. I think I scared the crap out of him, and about 20 feet later down the course I felt really bad. There was no need for me to yell at him like that, but when I turned around to apologize, he wasn't behind me. I have no idea where he went. So whomever you are, please accept my apologies. Poor form on my part.
One note on the course, after all my complaining last week. This week was a whole different story, the course was awesome. 6 barriers and it was a short lap, so there was essentially nowhere to recover. The only long flat section was full of rocks and roots, so it wasn't very restful. Well designed if you ask me, it required some 'cross skills to do it fast.
Backing up a day, Saturday was another really nice weather day. Beth took advantage of that and had a few folks come over to help her paint the outside of the house. They made good progress, but didn't quite finish up. Hopefully the weather will hold this week and we can wrap most of that up. While they were outside, I was inside with my Dad. We took out the last wall that needed to be demoed, then I patched in the drywall and made a new section of ceiling. Dad put in a new box for a light and a switch for it.
I hired a guy to hang my garage door for me, as I'm running pretty short on time these days. I think this may have been my biggest mistake so far. He sent his bother to install it, which seemed alright until I found out he hadn't installed this type of door before. He put it up pretty quick, but it didn't fit right and wouldn't clear my opener. I had bought the low-headroom track kit for it because I knew if wouldn't clear the opener otherwise, but this guy insisted that he didn't need that low-headroom kit. So he came back yesterday and made some changes so it would clear the track. I got home and tested it, and while it did just barely clear the track, the door hit the limit switch on the opener, so no-go. I think he'll be back again today, which will be his 3rd or 4th trip out to re-do it. Thank God I didn't pay him anything in advance. I really should have just installed it myself...
Ok, as promised, here are a few pictures of the nature lugs all brazed up too. I'm closing in on this one.
Once again, I'm already starting to dread the paintjob! It's going to tough masking all these guys, but it's gonna be one heck of a looker when it's done.
Glad to hear you're getting in some riding... this is the time of year for it for sure. Hmmmm, those pics sure do look nice!! ;-) -Me
Those pics sure do look nice! 'Specially that froggy! :)
It's been tough to actually get pictures of the house lately, it's pitch black when I leave for work in the morning, and I usually work until it's dark at night and don't think about taking pictures until it's too late.
But.... I finally shot some today.
here's how things are looking outside:
We took advantage of the warm weather last night and painted until dark. It's getting close now, just have to prime and paint that fascia board on the front side, then finish up the trim. We should probably get the gutters ordered up too so I can get those up before spring.
Here's our new front deck:
We decided to go this route instead of a concrete step. It's much easier for getting stuff into and out of the door, and it's a nice look. Probably have to wait until next year to stain it since we've got plenty to do before the snow flies already, and the green treated wood will be fine until we get to it.
The big excitement is the driveway, it's half in:
Now this is real progress. I suspect he'll pour the other side tomorrow. He needs to let this set-up so he can remove the center form before pouring the other half. This one should be less likely to crack since he's pouring it in many more sections than my old one (which was full of cracks). And of course the best part is, this one is almost flat!
As you can see from the picture, we have some serious retaining wall work to do yet. The first bid we got on that was sky high, so we're looking at all our options right now. I'm still getting a couple more bids, which I suspect will be lower, but there's a chance I may revert to the original plan of doing it myself.
We've had 2 drywall contractors out to give us bids on taping and mudding the drywall, and those seem to be pretty much in line with what I'd expect to pay. I hope to have that done in the next week or so. That should mark the end of the really messy work inside.
At this point I think we just need to focus on outdoor work. This warm weather can't hold out much longer. So I want to get that retaining wall up and a sidewalk and stairs in as soon as possible. And I need to install the new front door before too long or that will be a cold job as well!
So it's been what, a couple weeks since I got this nice new big door into my shop? As luck would have it, I already found a way to take advantage of it. I came across a knee mill that I really want, but I need to make some room in the shop first, so if anyone reading this needs a mill, I need to sell my old one:
I thought I had it sold this weekend, but the guy hasn't called back, and since he said he wanted to pick it up this past weekend, that seems like a good sign that he's out.
On to better topics. I attempted to race my CX bike this weekend. Didn't go so well, don't worry no broken bones or anything like that, really just stupidity on my part. I headed up to Ham Lake Saturday for the race and completely forgot how long it takes to get up there. I got there about 10 minutes before the start of the B race, so I decided to just do the A race (I had been on the fence about moving back up, but this made the decision easy). I had an hour to warm up and spectate at the B race, so I did. I was finishing up my warm-up and rode to the start expecting to find my place at the back of the pack, but instead found no pack. Somehow I missed the start. Thorny told me they went off like a minute before I got there, I just figured he was pullin' my leg as usual. Nope, I missed it. So I went up and told the officials I'd just jump in behind the pack when they came around, so mark me as down one lap on the field. No problem I figured, it wasn't like I was going to be competitive with this group anyways, what's one less lap?
So I jumped in after everyone came through, went down the long straight road section, took the first sharp turn into the barriers and felt my rear tire slide out from under me and promptly plowed right through the first barrier. Nice move... I got up and fixed the barrier, but found that I had torn the bead out of my back tire. Never had that happen before, I mean the Kevlar was hanging out, and the tire was almost brand new! Turns out Thorny had done the same thing to the same tire last year, guess I won't be buying those again.
Of course I was at the farthest point out on the course and my rear wheel is completely flat, so I start the walk back. I think they did three laps in the time it took me to walk back. Wasn't hardly worth riding anymore, so I packed it up. What a waste of my time even heading out there. I rode a nice warm-up, then about 1/3 of one lap and that's it.
The good news was I felt pretty fresh when I got home, so I dug out the footing for the retaining wall on half the driveway.
Sunday I was thinking about doing the Powderhorn CX race but ended up working all day digging the rest of the retaining wall trench, or at least most of it. I didn't quite finish it up because we hit a big area of clay filled with rock. I spent 2 hours digging about 5' of trench in this stuff. Guess I'm going to have to hit it with a pick-axe tonight to finish it up. That is, if my back holds up, yesterday worked it over pretty bad.
The good news is Pat will be back on site for a little bit. He's going to be helping me put in the retaining wall. I'm trying to do as much myself as possible since we're rapidly running out of money, but I just don't have the time to do it all. So this works well, he'll get the materials and help me out on an hourly rate basis. Have I told you how highly I recommend Pat?
The really big news over the weekend is that we actually parked our cars in the garage! This is a huge deal for us, after 3 months of partially blocking the street. I need to finish up the garage door seal and wiring, but it works for now and we're inside!
Are you pouring a wall or are you using interlocking blocks?
Chester said my frame is on the way, and he thinks I'll be stoked. We'll have to wait and see.
That title basically summarizes the last few weeks of my life. I feel like I've done nothing but dig and haul dirt for the last 2 weeks since I've been working on this retaining wall. I estimate I've now dug and wheelbarrow-ed away about 15 yards of sand, then refilled the trench for 3 yards of class V material, then a couple more inches of sand on that. Top it off with running a power compactor over it Saturday and you've got one nice recipe for a sore back.
So I thought I'd take a break from all that work Friday and just move some really heavy machinery instead!
I sold my mill to a nice guy who I think is going to get really good use out of it. I'm happy that he bought it, and he's happy to have it, good deal all around. And of course that means I was able to finally get the real knee mill I've always wanted.
I had run across this mill a couple weeks ago by accident. I wasn't really looking for one, but this one caught my eye. It's a Millrite unit from the early 70's (which is pretty darn new by machine tool standards). It's a really nice size for my shop, that was the main feature, it's about 75% of a full size Bridgeport J-head in terms of size. It was also in impeccable condition and had power table feed and power quill feed, a nice upgrade from what I had. After I saw it initially, I decided to do some research and see what i could learn about that machine, and see what was locally available in similar machines to see if the price was fair. In that process, I can across Harvey Machinery, a local used machine tool dealer who was retiring and going out of business. He had a huge inventory and had prices marked about 1/3 of retail. He didn't have any good comparable vertical mills, but he had a couple Nichols horizontals, including one forlorn machine in the corner which had been scavenged for parts. I'd been looking for something like this too, for my tube mitering machine. It wasn't complete as a mill, but it had all the components I would need, so I asked about it. I was buying a few other things from him as well, so he basically gave me the thing in a package deal with everything else I bought.
So now I have two mills to move... So Friday I hitched up my Dad's trailer and made the rounds to the dealers. I ended up moving 2 mills, a reasonably large drill press, and a really heavy rotary table. Then I had to move my old mill out to make room for the new ones....
Thank God for engine lifts. I have a 2 ton'er, which works wonders in equipment like this. I got the old one out, it's pretty light (only 700 lbs). Then started moving the Millrite in. Naturally, it's bigger than the old one, so I decided it needed to go in a corner. That meant I had to move my jig as well (which is about 300 lbs). So I moved that, re-attached it to the wall, then placed the mill. Did a little more re-arranging of other stuff too, and I think I'm going to end up with a more-open feeling shop despite the bigger machines.
So here's the Millrite:
Like I said, it' s a really nice machine. Most of these had B & S #9 tapers, but this one came with an R-8 (which is a huge bonus). The table is full-size, 36" wide, the ways are perfect and it has very little backlash. As with all things this big, it's a 3 phase motor, so I'll have to deal with that, but a phase converter isn't too bad. Or I may replace the motor with a singlephase unit, it's a good design which makes that pretty easy.
Here's the Nichols:
This one is neat. It's more machine than I needed for tube cutting, but the price was right and it'll be really stable. Again, 3 phase motor, but this one is even easier to swap out for a singlephase. I'll probably be removing most of the control panel as I don't need most of that, as well as the air cylinder for the head adjustment. Anyone need some Nichols parts let me know I got a box of spare parts too! This one is surprisingly heavy for it's size, about 2000 lbs and it takes up about 2' x 4' of floor space!
I picked up a drill press too, an older Enco with 2 stage speed reduction, so it will run much slower than my old one. The old one was a little small for some of my uses anyways, so I'm happy to move up in size. the table is a little beat up, but I think I can re-machine it and make it like new.
It was funny, in the process of buying these and selling my old mill, I came across at least 4 people who saw my little Atlas lathe and wanted to buy it off me as well. I really like that one, but wish it were bigger. Good to know there's a strong demand should I decide to move up in the future.
I did some shop cleaning this weekend as well since I need space. I'm going to be starting a sale on misc stuff around the shop, lots of bike parts and some tools, so check out the same page I listed my mill on for updated sale items :
I'll try to keep it up to date as much as possible.
That title may seem like an obvious statement, but you never really get a feel for just how heavy it is until you move about 40,000 lbs of it. And yes, that's how much I've moved with this retaining wall so far (yes so far, meaning I've still got 1/3 of it to go!).
I knew building this wall wouldn't be easy, and I shouldn't complain, it's going much faster than I imagined it would. Not to mention, the results so far look fabulous:
Pat has been back the last 2 nights to help me out with it. As you may recall, I did all the prepwork last week to get ready. We laid down the base layer on this side of the driveway first, then I started building the wall while he cut the blocks to form the corner at the garage end. This random looking pattern in the block is really pretty tricky to do. It's not really random, but composed of 24" x 10" sections which vary in orientation and composition. So you really need to keep track of where you are as you go. We ended up taking out more than one section of block after realizing it was in wrong...
The good news is, I feel like I've pushed through the part of this kind of work that really hurts. You know where you wake up unable to even get out of bed the next morning. I now feel like it's a good workout, I wake up fairly refreshed in the morning. Sure my muscles are a little sore, but it's that good kind of sore like after a hard bike ride. I think that means I'm doing too much of this, my body is adapting to it! I guess I have spent almost 3 weeks now just digging, pick-axing and wheelbarrowing dirt and gravel. I haven't really ridden at all in the last 2 weeks, and I feel like I'm getting in better shape. weird.
We had 18 pallets of blocks delivered and each pallet weighs about 2250lbs. Then I got 6 yards of fill material to make the base layer and the back fill (and I'm going to be short on that). Plus I estimate I've dug out about 10 yards of dirt and hauled it off by hand in order to make the trenches. By my math, that equates to approximately 80,000 lbs of material. All of which I will have moved via manual labor when this is said and done! That's one heavy wall.
Not much new in the shop, I haven't really had a lick of time to spend in there aside from moving the new mills in. I did get a single phase motor for the vertical mill and mounted it, but I need to figure out how to wire it next. The thing has a nice Allen Bradly started and switch relay set-up on it, I'd like to see if I can use that with the single phase power, but I really don't know anything about how it works. But fortunately I have a brother that does! So I'm hoping he can spare a few minutes sometime to take a look and see if we can make it work. Otherwise I'll just rewire it all for single phase and get new switches.
I'm really excited to get that Nichols mill together though. The more I clean it up, the more I'm impressed with it. I went through the box of parts they included with it, and it appears that the machine was simply dis-assembled at one time and never put back together. The only thing that is actually missing from it is the hand-crank mechanism for the knee height adjustment. The head is set up with an automatic rise and fall though, so I don't really even need to move the knee for my purposes. However I might try to find that part just so the machine is complete.
well, that's about it for now. Check out my for-sale listing, things keep getting updated and I'm still adding items:
Many things are claimed already, but don't worry there's plenty to be unearthed yet!
Yeah, it's been one of those weeks. I'm definitely not running at 100%. I think I may have pushed a little too hard Sunday trying to get the north wall finished up. I did get it finished, but don't have any pics right now, it's always dark when I have time to take pictures....
Progress on anything has been slow this week due to my lethargy. As I said, the one wall is done and it looks great. The other wall is part-way up, but needs a bit more work. I probably won't get to it until the weekend though. Pat's going to get rid of the extra fill that's covering the area where the stairs need to go, so I think we should be able to finish things up this weekend with the wall and stairs.
There has been indoor progress, but no thanks to me. Our sheetrock taper has stared and has most of the initial layers done. He's just adding one final coat today, then spraying the ceilings Monday. It's really nice to see the walls taking shape, and the ceiling looking all smooth and finished.
I did get a little bit done in the shop this week too, pretty well finished up a frame and a couple other odd jobs. I think I've got everything ordered that I'll need to get my mills running and cutting tubes. Just waiting for those parts to arrive. Pretty soon I'll be back to spraying paint, which has been on hold for about 3 months now since I lost my spraying area. I'm pretty excited about that, since it means I'll get 3-4 frames out of the shop once they're painted.
Probably the biggest going-on is the State CX championships this weekend. Kenwood has always put this race on, and we're going all -out this year. We did some course cleanup work last weekend and laid out a few new sections. The last team meeting is tonight to plan out finishing touches. It's gonna be big, tents, red-bull arches, stairs, beer, chili, brats, and superfans everywhere. If you've never been to a CX race, this will likely be your best opportunity to check one out.
Even the local news got into it, the sports color guy at Kare11 did a segment on the upcoming race. It's pretty funny and features many local Kenwood greats:
There's Kenwoodies all over the footage, and some shaggy-haired yahoo in some other team kit commentating.
I'll be out there all day Sunday, so come on out, you might even get some BBC schwag stuff. Don't know if I'll race due to the recent sickness, but we'll see, I've probably done dumbing things before.
It's been a long week, thankfully it's nearing the weekend. We had the last official team meeting last night in preparation for the state CX race Sunday (you are coming, right?). It's gonna be big, huge, killer, the best ever. I'm pretty pumped just to be there, hopefully I'll even ride a little. I might even have a couple frames out there to display, so if you want to see a few in person, this is your big chance.
Since I was slacking this morning and didn't get into work as early I was finally able to get some pictures of the retaining walls in the daylight. So you can finally see what I've been whining about all this time. They're not totally done yet, but this weekend should fix most of that.
Here's the north wall:
This one is mostly done and backfilled. We still have to put the caps on the wall (which will cover the grooves you see on top of each block). I've also got to finish burying the second drainage line all the way to the street, but there's a big pile of dirt in the way right now.
Here's the south side wall:
This one still needs some more backfill, but it's mostly done. The stairs will be at the end of this wall, but once again there's a huge pile of dirt in the way of making them right now. Hopefully Pat will be taking care of that detail for me tomorrow.
Here's a closer shot of the wall, showing the pattern, or seemingly lack of pattern:
It's really a pretty neat idea they have going. The segments are a set of 4 smaller blocks, then you repeat those in an alternating pattern, which gives the impression of random stones.
I can definitely say that this has been the most labor intensive part of the project so far. I think when all is said and done, I will have moved about 80,000 lbs of concrete, rock and dirt! On the plus side I'm feeling really strong these days, and my back has been feeling much better, I think it's helped doing all this lifting. I weighed myself for the first time in a few months yesterday and I'm down to my normal racing weight, which is a good thing. Now if only I had my aerobic fitness back....
See you Sunday at the big race!
BB- Wow, beautiful work!! I love that wall... really pretty. See you both next week! -Me
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Ok, yesterday was rough, today is going better.
I was up until 11pm last night working on the wiring in the house, in hopes of getting an inspector out today. It seemed to pay off, I was able to get a hold of my inspector first thing this morning and schedule an inspection this morning.
I really didn't know what to expect, I had done lots of wiring before, but none that was inspected and I've only heard horror stories of how picky the inspectors are and to expect lots of criticism. I was prepared for the worse, but I was hoping the items I needed to correct would be small enough that I could finish them up tonight and have him recheck tomorrow before I leave town.
I met him at the house, and he seemed friendly enough, kind of odd, but friendly. He looked around the main area and said it looked pretty good. Just asked if the bathroom would be on it's own circuit and that the outlets would be gfi's. Didn't check any of the wiring really, took my word for it.
We went into the garage, which is uglier, and again he looked around a bit, told me I had done more work than I needed to, but that everything was fine. He didn't question any of the things I suspected he would. This was pretty easy.
Went inside, I showed him the breaker box, looked fine. The only thing he mentioned was that the ground wire for the new box should not have been run in conduit, but that was minor and he wasn't too concerned. He also said I might want to add one more outlet in the living room, but again a minor detail. He signed off and left. I'm free to close in the room. Man that was easy. I can only hope the plumbing goes as well, but somehow I think I used up my luck on electrical.
Cell Phones. yes, again.
I'm still frustrated with all the crappy info I got yesterday from the kids at Best-buy and on the phone with Verizon. I read the Large-fella's advice on phones, but I had a hard time just forking over $350 to Verizon just to end the contract, so I decided to give them one more shot. Time to play hardball, go straight to the Verizon store so I didn't have to deal with people over the phone or some high-school kid working best-buy just to get an employee discount on x-box games.
To my surprise and glee, they actually have adults working at the Verizon store, and they can access all the details of your account right there in the store. They even (dare I say) seemed to have a clue. A nice woman came up to me and asked if she could help me, so I explained my dilemma from yesterday. I wanted to know why when I am forced to sign a new agreement, why can't I get the new agreement price on a phone? After some discussing and mild (really I didn't have to say much) negotiating, she informed me that I do qualify for the new customer price on a phone as long as I sign a new 2 year agreement. That's all I wanted in the first place, turns out it is a Verizon policy, but the idiots at best buy and on the Verizon call center don't know that. To make matters even better, she was able to simply renew my existing agreement, which was a 3M corporate price, so no price increase at all. The topper was that there was also a $50 rebate on the phone and they would throw in the accessory kit for free (which was an additional $40 at best buy). I'd also like to point out that in their retail store, they don't display a misleading super-low price with fine print below it telling you the real price. They display the real price, with fine print below it stating what other discounts may apply.
When all was said and done, I walked out of the store with a new phone that was much nicer than what I was going to buy at Best-buy or through Verizon direct, and the exact same calling plan I had, which is exactly what I wanted. Guess that just shows me that I just needed to talk to the right people.
alright, enough for today.
I think I'm losing it. I'm not sure what "it" is, but whatever it is, it's gone. I'm really hoping to be able to find it this weekend. This week has really gotten to me, and it takes a lot to get to me.
It's pretty much been raining daily here for the better part of the last week. That doesn't help things, I'm trudging through mud constantly, even if I'm not working on the house, I have to walk through a mud-pit just to get to the front door. It's getting old. Mother nature simply has not been kind. I'm still without a land-line phone (sorry to any customers who have been trying to call) because the hole/trench with the phone lines in it has been submerged all week. It won't even stop raining long enough for me to fix that, and I've gotten enough 90v shocks off the line that I don't want to work on it in a submerged pit.
Beth's parents were in town this past weekend, and we all headed up to my folks cabin in northern MN. It should have been a nice break from the house, relaxing around the lake and having a good time. But it rained and was cold most of the time and I was pretty much reduced to sitting around thinking about my house. It's sad, but I've gotten to that point where I have a hard time enjoying anything because I have this damn house looming over me. I really just need to wrap up the plumbing and ventilation, then I think I'll be able to relax again. Then I can let Pat finish things up for me.
I did get my first crack at the plumbing complete this week, but after the first inspection, I've got a pretty good list of things to correct. Some minor, some pretty big, all pretty annoying. I think the most annoying to me is the fact that the shower faucet that I installed is apparently not up to code because it wasn't an anti-scald type mixer. Now come on. The plumbing code now feels they have to protect me from my own stupidity by installing a shower that's incapable of providing hot water? Gimme a break. I already pulled that out and went an bought a new one that is anti-scald, but it pisses me off that I even need to do this crap.
Anyhow, it's all adding up to a crappy week. I just want it to be done. I can't even remember the last time I rode my bike now, and we've got Chequomegon coming up next weekend. I can almost feel the cramps forming already. I really thought last year was as bad as that race could get for us, having not trained much due to planning our wedding, but I really think we may have outdone ourselves this year. Could be the worst showing yet!
I'm really getting down on how far behind I am in the shop. I've had very little free time to put in there, and when I am down there, it's in a state of chaos due to the remodeling. I've got tools everywhere, equipment all over and a bunch of junk that should be in a garage crowded into my shop right now. I really can't wait to have my space back. I know I've got at least two or three folks reading this with frames on order, don't worry, I will get to it, it's just been slow. I'm going to attempt to get some time in there this weekend if I can wrap up the plumbing. we'll see.....
Well, that's enough complaining for now, time to get some work done.
Everything's cool Bob. Sit, relax and take a deep snort of air... in a month or so, all of this will be a fading memory. As far as the shop work goes... we all know what's going on... it's cool, don't sweat it. I know I understand and I'm sure Nat is cool with it too... Just make sure Amy's ride is beautiful, send me pics of the lugs, did you get the other lugs carved yet, where's the mock up, I want to talk about that lowered top tube to make sure it isn't going to look cheesy, have you done the tests on metalugy you promised, when are you coming out next time, did you get my last email, what about the headbadge idea-can you do it, did you get me an estimate on Amy's components, why haven't you returned my last 5 calls, did you get those 7 emails I sent you yesterday and the day before yesterday?? COME ON MAN!! ;-) Inhale, deep calming inhalations of harmonious goodness... enjoy the gentle, calming purity that is Twin City Air. -Me
Well, here it is, Monday. That means another weekend has come and gone. It's funny, it really didn't seem like a weekend to me, I guess that's what happens when you work all weekend.
Before I bore you to tears with my tales of personal misery and hardship, I need to say a big (no make that huge) thanks to my Dad. He joined me in the misery that is my house remodel project all weekend, helping me finish up the plumbing and venting in 90 degree heat. I couldn't have gotten half as much done without him, so thanks Dad.
Friday started well, I only had a little plumbing work to tidy up then I thought I might slap some canti-bosses on an old road frame for 'cross season and go for a spin. Nice thinking, but my plans just never seem to work out for me. I spent pretty much all day Friday working on plumbing, making what seemed like a continuous run to various home-improvement stores all day long (they really ought to just put up a Menard's in my front yard, it would save me a ton of gas, either that or I'll just build my next addition in the Menard's parking lot then truck it back to my house). No ride. I did give up early enough to sneak in a little run, it's not a ride, but in a pinch it's better than no exercise.
Saturday more of the same, but not even time for a run! Finished up the plumbing, then moved onto ventilation. I really thought it would just be a matter of a few hours to put up 2 ducts and a return line, and it probably should have been, but it was like 90 degrees, and we're constantly running up and down between floors of the house and climbing ladders. I think the heat got to me, 'cause I kept noting having the right duct fittings on hand, so more trips to Menard's or the Despot.
About 6 Saturday evening, we needed another run for parts, so we decided to grab dinner on the way. We stopped by Andy's Garage in St. Paul, which is usually a great place to grab a burger, and it's a block from the best Menard's in town (that's how you know you're spending too much time at Menard's, I can rank which Menard's location has the highest probability of having a certain item in stock). So we find a table at Andy's and get our drinks. About two glasses of root beer later, the waitress finally takes our order. About the same time another couple sits down at the table next to us, and a family comes in as well. We note that they both place their orders shortly after we did. 45 minutes later, we still don't have our food. The couple at the table next to us is finished eating and paying the bill. I guess those Cheeseburgers are harder to cook than regular hamburgers. At about one hour, the other family is done eating, we still don't have food. Finally it comes out. We scarf it down, and Beth orders a malt to go as I'm still finishing (thinking that by the time I'm done eating her malt will be ready). Well, after another ten minutes we give up on waiting at the table for the malt and go up to the counter to pay. I pay for dinner and ask for the malt, only to be told they're a little backed up right now! So we wait for another small eternity and finally a chocolate malt is produced, so we leave unimpressed and really late. It's about 8:50 at this point, so we rush to Menard's hoping it's open till 10, not 9 and we luck out. We go in, make another yacht payment for Mr. Menard's, then go home.
Sunday I take a slower start. Didn't really get going till about 11. I started by taking afresh look at all the stuff we bought late the night before at Menard's, only to realize I missed several key ingredients. Basically I couldn't get any part of the project started without something. Like I said earlier, the heat was really getting to me Saturday, I think I just wasn't thinking right when I made my shopping list.
So we started Sunday with another trip to the store, the first of many. Fortunately Beth was able to do most of the running for us while Dad and I pressed on in the heat. We worked all day and finally got all the ducting up. I put a few finishing touches on stuff, then collapsed into bed.
This morning I called to set up a couple inspections, but the ventilation guy can't come till tomorrow. So I'll have to wait till then to see how much I screwed up and what I'll have to fix. I had one plumbing inspection today, which was ok, but I couldn't get my pressure test of the drain line to work right today, so I need to have him see that tomorrow. I need to come up with a low pressure -pressure guage quick, like 0-15 psi. My 0-100 psi guages are useless for a 5 psi test.
Still absolutely no riding time for me. I hope to get out this week once the inspections are done. I should have more time then. I also hope to get in some quality shop time soon too. If I can get past these two inspections this week, that will buy me some time away from house-related projects. I can't wait.
In other news, I highly suspect Beth and I will be bailing out of the Chequomegon fat-tire fest this weekend. That really bums me out in the big-picture sense, but I think it's the smart move since we haven't had any time to train in the last few weeks. We proved last year that it's pretty painful to do the race on no training, and neither one of us feels like repeating that experience right now. Not to mention she seemed to be coming down with a little cold or something yesterday, and I think I'm on the verge of a complete physical breakdown from the house. So if anyone needs a room up there for the weekend, let me know asap, otherwise I'm canceling my hotel reservation pretty soon.
Well I won't say for sure, but last night went better than any night in recent times.
I had a snafu on the plumbing inspection yesterday, I couldn't get my pressure Gauge to work right for the pressure test of the drain lines. So I searched high and low in the shop till I found an old 0-30psi regulator and Gauge. Once I got that connected up, everything was fine. I charged up the system and it's been holding since last night, so I think I'll be good to go with calling the inspector again today and finally wrapping this up.
My plumbing inspector must hate me, I've had him out to the house every day for the last 4 days (not always for inspections, he told me to just call with any questions, so he's made a few trips to advise me of things). What really gets me is that nothing I've had to change from my original plumbing has or will make any kind of functional difference. It's changing for the sake of appeasing a generic, very broad code. But I guess that's part of this process. In hindsight, the biggest mistake I have made on this project was not hiring out the plumbing. It's not that I can't do it, but it's been a huge time-sink. I've now wasted a whole week on plumbing for one bathroom, a project which should have taken a day.
I was finally able to do some cleaning and prep work in my shop last night. It's really nice to be able to pick up and make it look like a work-able bike shop again, not a home improvement disaster. I even got a few repairs together and ready to ship out. Woo-hoo, bike progress, even if it's small it's good!
This afternoon is a new adventure, the ventilation inspection. I'm not sure what to expect there, I'm only adding three ducts for air-conditioning purposes, so it's pretty straightforward, but at one point I thought the plumbing was pretty straightforward!
We had some rough weather roll through last night again. Another 2" of rain fell in St. Paul, but we were lucky, there was a pretty big area west of town that got 6"! We must be near stabilization on the erosion in the front yard because it didn't look like all that much ran off into the driveway this time. I guess that's good, maybe. But now it needs to dry out again before Pat can dig (which he was planning on doing tonight).
well, here's hoping for good inspections today, then maybe I'll be able to do some honest-to-goodness bicycle framework this week and have something more interesting to write about!
Yes that's right, at long last we are free from the shackles and chains of city inspectors (at least for a little while). I think I'm finally going to be able to take a little rest, I passed the ventilation and framing inspections yesterday.
After sticking up 300 yards of foil tape to duct work, and installing 150' of refletix insulation, the inspector was impressed and my hands were really sore and cut-up. Once he left and the framing inspector gave Pat the thumbs-up on proceeding with insulation, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. So to celebrate I did something I've been wanting to do for a long time. I rode my bike.
It had been 20 days since the last time I rode a bike, and well it felt like it had been about 20 days since i had been on a bike. Who cares though, it was beautiful out, and I wasn't working on my house! how much better could it get. I bought a nice new set of road shoes and pedals back in July, I installed them right after I bought them. I realized yesterday that I was taking the third ride on them. That's really sad, but what can you do. Road riding takes large blocks of available time, which I haven't had.
I hope to get out for a couple more rides this weekend, maybe start my 'cross training program. Unfortunately we won't be heading north to Cable for the Chequomegon. I cancelled our hotel reservation today. Beth is still pretty sick, and based on how much my 250-30 mile ride hurt yesterday, I think we made the right move bagging the race. Besides now I can clean up the shop and maybe even do some bike-work this weekend.
I have actually started working in the shop a little again. I did a little paint prep on a frame, and put together the tubing for next frame. Even did a little filing on the wife-of-the-large-fella's bike, hope to finish those lugs up very soon and get the frame together.
Aside from finishing up the permits on the house, there was one other exciting development. Pat got ambitious Wednesday night and decided to cut the hole in my basement wall for the new doorway into the shop. I wasn't prepared for this, so things got a little messy. You see, he had to cut 8" of solid concrete with his saw to make the opening, and saw-cutting concrete is a messy operation. But we managed and got the two vertical cuts in, then he put in two horizontal cuts so that he could remove it in sections. Here's how things looked with removing the middle section:
That part went pretty smooth, they just knocked the chunk out with the sledge and hauled it off in the bobcat. Once that was out, the bottom part wasn't too bad to remove. With four of us, we just pushed it over right into the bucket of the bobcat.
That left us with a big slab-o-concrete hanging from the sill plate (shown here from the inside of the basement):
It was really not moving though. The top bolts were still in the sill plate, but there were no nuts on them. It was just a tight fit. We could move it, and Pat could swing it a little with the bobcat, but unfortunately the opening wasn't big enough for him to fit his bucket inside and directly under it. All I could envision was it swinging in when it fell and taking out the temporary bracing they installed to hold up the floor joists. What to do?
Pat decided to jack-hammer out a little more concrete on the sides where it was binding, then we'd try to pull it out into the garage with the corner of the bucket. Well, he got it to swing outward with the bucket:
Then Matt and I got pry-bars in between the concrete and the sill plate, and with far more luck than skill:
It fell right into his bucket. Truly unbelievable. There was no way you could have convinced me it would fall there, and there was no way it was a function of any of our skill (despite what Pat might tell ya). As Matt said, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.
So now we have a big hole in the basement, I think he'll be framing in the header and door tonight. In the meantime, I have one hell of a mess to clean up. There's concrete dust everywhere, and water all over. I think I'm just going to have to hose out the shop (literally). yuck.
well, that's it for today, hopefully there'll be more bike-talk here after the weekend.
Oh, and just a tease, the first order of Bob Brown Cycles/ Kenwood Racing team waterbottles is placed and should be here in time for 'cross season. So look for the Kenwoodies to have the most stylin' hand-ups around at the 'cross races!
Dude! I'm happy for you; and, I'm happy for me. Great weather we're having for you to really enjoy having some time for biking again, too, eh?
Bx2- Ignore Nat, he's just trying to get bumped up in your queue. You oughta see the email he sent me a couple weeks back just slamming you, saying the house renovations were a sham... that he'd ridden by your house and there wasn't any construction going on... that these photos were, " ...just the result of one very bored SOB that had a quick hand with Photoshop". ;-) Hi Nat! Yes, it is indeed good news!! -Me
It's about time I had some bike stuff to talk about, this is after all a bicycle framebuilder's blog.
I've been on a slight break with the house stuff, which I'm sure won't last long, but I'm taking advantage of it. I rode my bike three times in three days, that got to be some kind of record.
Last weekend, I slapped some canti bosses on my old fixed gear frame and did a couple other tweaks, then gave her a team paint job. Hello makeshift cyclocross bike! I have a full tubeset and lugs to build myself a new 'cross bike since I never replaced my old 'cross bike after getting rid of it due to emotional detachment from my accident. So I decided that old fixie wasn't seeing much action since I set my rb-1 up as a fixie, so why not use it for something else. It's close to cx geometry, a little tight on mud-clearance around the tires, but adequate for MN 'cross. Just needed some brakes and a little paint.
I had a few repairs that needed small amounts of paint, so Saturday I sprayed some paint and did some finish work. It felt great to actually finish up a few projects in the shop. After painting, I went through my parts bins and gathered enough stuff to build up the CX bike right (side note, I really should have a part's sale, things are starting to pile up). It came out pretty nice, good build up for spare parts: Ritchey 'cross cranks, Ritchey post, old XTR canti's (anyone got any more of those for sale let me know, I love 'em), diacompe canti-drop bar brake levers, Salsa bell-lap bars, some nice Mavic SS wheels. You get the idea. here's a really bad pic:
You can see I went all out on the photography, setting up my best back-drop and getting a good angle of the bike on the shot! Ok, I was in a hurry.... It's a pretty fun ride. I'm going to switch out the bars to a wider set that I have laying around, but otherwise not bad. Should serve me very well this year. The Kenwood gold team paint will be a bit over the top with my gold skinsuit, but who cares. Incidentally, this frame is the first frame I ever built. It's been going strong for a long time and I'm pretty excited to be riding it again. It's certainly not a work of art, but I think it's great to still be riding it.
So all that work on my own personal bike put some guilt in me about getting to work on other people's frames, so I did something about that too. I'm nearly done with the next set of super-fancy lugs (which are going on the next framebuild). All I have left to carve are two small hearts, then I can start cutting tubes (I ran out of blades for my jeweler's saw, otherwise those two hearts would be done too! I'll finish them up this week). I'll have some pictures here soon. In the meantime, here's one showing how I make enough room for some of the artwork I carve out:
This is the underside of a Pacenti upper headlug. It didn't have quite enough real-estate for me to make the points match the other three lugs, so I added on some more metal. Basically I just cut a section of tubing and braze it onto the tang of the lug. Then I'll go in and smooth it to a seamless blend with the lug surface, then carve the shape I need. This one will have long side-points, then a large center tang with a heart cut into it.
This is going to be one heck of a nice bike when it's done, can't wait to see the finished product.
Ok, you knew you couldn't' read this without a little update on the house, right? Pat's been insulating, he's nearly done and hopes to have his inspection for that tomorrow. The outside is now wrapped in housewrap, and the siding will come next. Here's the outside view:
He also got the stub roof over the front shingled, which looks much more finished than the OSB that was there. He graded out the garage floor for me as well, so I can put down the insulation and radiant heat tubing in the floor before he pours it. At least that shouldn't take long to do, but I'll have to sneak it in between the three trips I'm taking in the next 2 weeks (yeah, work is getting busy again).
Inside the insulation is nearly done as well. He's just got part of the interior ceiling left to do. I suspect he'll have that done today.
It's really taking the shape of a house. I suspect he'll get most of the drywall up this weekend while we're gone, so hopefully we'll come back to a drywalled room.
That's the news for now
Great stuff Bob!! I'm getting XXcited to see the lugs... I just know Amy's going to be blown away by this one! The house is looking wonderful... you folks have GOT to be happy to be this far along. What's up with the advertisements on the blog? My Firefox blocked some but not all... whoever provides your blogware is spamming hard. -Me
WOW! Now that I submitted that post above... I see what's going on. Fortune City must own your blogware... THE worst. They are a big pile of steaming dogpoo when it comes to SPAM, ad's, pop-up's and spyware. My suggestion... if you wanna keep things free: grab all of your entries and pics and head over to Blogger and start a free account. They don't spam you. If you wanna pay and get more than Blogger... use what I use... TypePad. Either way... it's looking like you have enough hits here that ol' Fortune City sees your blog as fodder for advertising. Not only am I now getting pop-up's here Bob but they are underling & highlighting keywords in posts for advertising links. -Me
I've been thinking of moving the blog somewhere else for a while, this may be the final thing to make me do it. I've been really frustrated at how nearly nobody can actually get the thing to register them, now the spam is getting bad. Look for a move very soon. Scott, your email address has been bouncing for me, are you having issues? I've got some pictures for you. Bob
Alright, let's start off with the exciting part. I have pretty much (except for some finish sanding) finished up the next set of nature lugs. I've uploaded 4 more pictures of them to the Amy C. gallery, these will go along with the froggie lug to make one heck of a neat frame.
The Butterfly is a bit different than the last nature bike, the customer requested it that way, and I'm really pleased with how it looks, here's a thumbnail, check the gallery for full-size pics:
The little tails are a nice touch, I had to add a bit more material to make it work, but I like the overall look. This is the lower headtube lug, so the butterfly will be sitting on top of the downtube. I carved out the side points as well to match the froggie theme lug. I really like the way the side points came out on all the lugs, it's unique and very sharp looking.
There's almost no way to describe the dragonfly except "delicate".
Again, take a look in the gallery for the big pictures. This lug has a lot going on. I began by carving out the musical notes in each side of the headtube portion, then I carved out the side points, followed by the hearts (which can't be seen here) in the front and under the top-tube. Finally I carved the dragonfly out of a separate piece of tubing, then welded it to the lug and filed the whole thing down smooth. The dragonfly itself is very thin, about .7mm thick, so the lug tapers down to that thickness to keep things looking smooth. I can't wait to see it brazed up!
You might be wondering about the mixture of themes on the lugs, music, hearts, insects, frogs, etc... Well it's a special frame, a surprize for the wife of a great customer, he wanted it to reflect all the things she loves most. So he provieds the ideas, and I execute them, hopefully together we can make her something really special.
We had some pretty bad storms roll through the area last night. We fared alright, the usual torrents of rain which cause erosion of dirt into our newly graded garage. So much for being graded, half of it was under water this morning. We got 3" of rain here, but some parts of the city got 5"!
I got a call this morning from my Dad asking if I could give them a hand with sawing some trees. All the Boulevard trees on their street (and many more) were taken out by straight line winds. So I packed up my chainsaw, extra gas, and the trailer and headed over. I couldn't believe what I saw when I got there. It was like a huge storm pinpointed their street. I couldn't drive down the street, it was completely blocked by all the downed trees, so I went around the block and came in from the other side. This neighborhood was built in the mid 70's so all the trees were about 30 years old, mostly ash, so they were big. My parents were lucky, as it was only their boulevard tree, and it didn't hit anything other than the driveway. Many folks had trees on houses and cars. The city showed up about the same time I did with a big work crew and a boom-arm truck. They began clearing the street and hauling off branches, so the work went pretty fast.
Once that was taken care of, my Brother asked if I could swing by his in-laws and help with a limb that landed on their roof, so we headed there next. I was expecting a 3-4" diameter limb that we could just saw off and clean up, what I found was a 14" diameter limb of an Oak tree. It had put a hole in the roof, and took out part of their chimney. It was dangling from behind the chimney. So we went to work, cutting all the loose stuff off and slowly getting it to a point we felt more comfortable dropping it from the roof without hitting the neighbor's house, or hitting either of us.
Alright, I'm tired out now, so that's it. talk at you later.
Bob- First off... again glad that everyone out there survived the winds and falling trees. Next... WOW. Killin', absolutely killing! Man, the butterfly and dragonfly are absolutely perfect. So delicate and detailed... I really have to say, I think Amy is going to flip over this completely. She's going to be so happy when she sees this. You HAVE to be happy with the results because I know I am! Beautiful work!! Nature Porn! I don't know Bob... after paint, I think you're gonna want to take this beauty to a studio somewhere out there and have it photographed professionally for the website, magazines, etc. Of course, all this beautiful work is killing me with pressure to come up with the best color scheme I can think of... now having seen these newest lugs I have about 10 new ideas for paint. Curse You! Thank You Brother... -Me
Geeze big fella, I almost forgot, I hope those pic's are a good birthday present for ya! What are you again? like 23? Happy b-day. I'm glad you're happy with them, I know I'm pretty pleased with how they came out. Oh, and for those wondering, Yes, this thing where the ad banner on the right hand site get's huge sometimes is a known problem with this site right now, they're working on it, and I'm working on moving the blog to a good site.... bbbb
I needed a little rest this weekend after the hectic week last week, so our weekend plans of heading up north to the Boundary waters sounded perfect. We had planned to go up Thursday night, but the storms caused some delay, so we left Friday morning with 4 folks.
We made it up to Ely fine and got some lunch, then headed to the outfitter to pick up our boats and permit. After some good banter with the locals in the outfitter (things must slow down in Sept, they seemed pretty eager to chit-chat a lot). we headed up to our launch site. Team leader Blake had put together the route for this paddling trip, which would start with a couple lakes then wind along a river for most of the return. It was a nice weekend loop, but chock full of long portages. Doing river routes in the BWCA tends to be pretty portage-filled since there are lots of rapids around, this one didn't disappoint.
The first one was easy, it was a roller-portage for motorized boats, meaning there's a series or rollers mounted in the ground that you can just roll the fully loaded boat along to the other side. The next one was close to 200 rods (which is just under 3/4 mile). It doesn't sound that long, but when you're carrying a boat and a 50lb pack for that long, your shoulders start to rebel. Beth and I are both pretty experienced paddlers, but we hadn't done much canoe camping together, so we could have optimized our packing methods a bit. We have a nice canoe pack with holds most of our cooking and sleeping gear, but we choose poorly on carrying the remaining food in a large single strap Bailey Bag. Seemed like a good idea at midnight Thursday when we were both still packing, but my sleep deprivation must have been showing. It was a terrible idea. There was no way to comfortably carry that bag with anything else it seemed, it just cut off your shoulder no matter what. Oh well, live and learn, we won't repeat that mistake.
Friday night was great, we had a nice camp site, a good first day of paddling and good dinner. But the trip was just beginning. Saturday we woke up to rain, several times. In fact each time Beth and I thought about getting out of the tent it seemed the rain would start up again. So we got a late start. Made breakfast in between clouds, packed up and headed out into the wet. It rained pretty much all morning, but at least it was a little warmer than the previous day, probably in the 50's. Eventually the rain let up and we paddled further to find the next campsite and conquer a few more killer portages. We set-up camp on a nice site about 3/4 of the way through the route and began trying to dry out gear. Things don't dry so well in a drizzle, so really we just set our wet-gear out and let it stay wet....
Just before sunset, one fellow camper realized that she didn't have her hiking boots, they were left at one of the portages. Not good timing as it was nearly dusk and her best recollection of having them was at least 2 portages back. So being the chivalrous gentlemen we are, Mark and I headed out, back to find the boots, at dusk in the wilderness, in a canoe on a very cloudy night with no moonlight. Probably not the best conditions to paddle in, but what the heck.
It was actually a really nice paddle. The water was like glass the whole way, and we had a reasonable amount of ambient light until the second portage (which was a really long one). Fortunately we were able to find the boots right where she thought they were left. We turned around to make the return trip in nearly complete darkness, which was interesting! I had made good mental notes of how to find our way back and Mark was up front navigating as best one can do in darkness. The trickiest part ended up being the long portage back in the dark, the ground was really rooted and slippery and we were a little tired I think, but we made it. Got back into section of river we were camping on and knew all we had to do was follow the shore back to the site. All was good with the exception of about halfway back to the site, we completely t-boned a large rock sticking up out of the water. We simply never even saw the thing coming. Did I mention we were in a Kevlar boat? thankfully, a Kevlar RENTAL boat! No permanent damage, but man was it a bit hit.
Sunday was nice when we got up, but we could see rain wouldn't be far off, so we got out as quick as we could. Did the last two killer portages (210 rods, 190 rods, both really uphill) and made it out. The weather held off and we loaded things up before the rains came.
We decided to take the long way home through Isabella, Mark and Amy thought that might be nice, so they joined us. Beth used to work in Isabella for the Forest Service and they're currently selling off the land and cabins she lived in, so she wanted to see the area one last time before it was redeveloped. Nice drive, but the rains started coming about halfway to Beaver Bay, then only got heavier. We stopped in Two Harbors for some dinner then pressed onward to home. Good weekend.
I applaud you if you've gotten his far and are still awake (which I presume since it's hard to read while dozing off). But we did come home to some exciting progress on the house. While we were gone, Pat finished hanging all the drywall, and he took out the wall between the kitchen and the new room, so it really feels like a bon-a-fide room now! here's the view:
It's hard to see in a picture, but it really looks much bigger now with the drywall. I love how open it all is, especially between the kitchen and this room. Now I can't wait to finish it up and actually use it.
The garage ceiling was also drywalled, but the floor shows signs of more rain while we were gone:
That's kind of a bummer since I was hoping to put down the insulation and tubing for the in-floor heat here before I leave town again tomorrow. Doesn't look like it's too suitable for foam insulation yet, needs to dry out a bit. Pat was hoping to pour concrete in here this week, but unless things dry up, I don't think we can.
Quick bike update: I did get in a couple 'cross training rides on the "new" bike last week, and it's pretty darn good. I did splurge on new tires for it and picked up some panaracer crossblaster tires. Don't be put off the really poor choice of name on these things, they rock. They're a really nice round casing, 31c width, which measures out at about most manufacturers 35c size. Even tread, and they seem really happy and comfy at 50 psi. I highly recommend them so far. Durability is unknown since I only have 2 rides on them.
I just got home from a quick trip out to so-cal for work. It wasn't a bad trip actually, the weather was very nice, and the flights went fairly ok, which these days is pretty good for Northwest Airlines.
The flight out was late, but I managed, got to Orange County and found my rental car. We just switched to National instead of the long-time standard of Hertz for corporate rentals. So far it seems like a change for the better.
I made my way through the chaos which is the LA area to my Hotel and was fairly amazed at the amount of traffic for 10pm on a Tuesday night. Lots of cars, but it flowed well. Made my trip to the plant the next day, took a turn onto the wrong direction of Freeway and ended up seeing a bit more of the southern California landscape than I planned. One side rant, what's the deal with CA not putting any navigational directions on their interstate signs? Is North, South, East, and West too difficult for people to figure out? All the interstate ramps have such highly helpful wording as "FWY 91 Beach Cities", or "71 Pomona or Ontario". Um is that north or south? These signs have a prerequisite of knowing geographically where every suburb of LA is so you know which direction to go. I saw one single highway sign with a direction on it, it was for hwy 55 south.
Ok enough side-tracking, let's get onto the real deal, traveling via air... So where else do you end up packing into an aluminum can like sardines with 150 other people who have absolutely nothing in common with you? I travel by air a lot and I'm always amazed at the slice of humanity you see on a plane, the business travelers in their Armani digs who seem to get some thrill by talking on their cell phones as loud as possibly about inconsequential business details right until the plane door shuts, trying their best to make you realize how important they are. Or the really pissed off guy, you know the one, there's one on every flight, the airline screwed him over and he's out to make sure everyone on that planes knows it. Take a Friday 5pm flight and you'll see more than one of these.
My flight today was one of the more interesting ones I've been on. It wasn't bad or anything, just interesting. I left my hotel room at 4:15 am to head to the airport (the time change makes it palatable since that's only 6:15 central time). Got there nice and early to find that my usual window seat had somehow been given away and I was stuck in a middle seat. No exit row left, no first class left. Oh well, It's not the first time. So I board the plane with pretty much the rest of the passengers when they call the Northwest Elite class (I'm one of the unfortunate ones who flys enough to get into these programs free). It's funny, but literally half the plane pre-boards these days and I can guarantee you it's not because they all need extra time getting down the jetway! I actually had a flight once where the gate agent enforced the policy of only letting those on who she had called, and she turned back about 75% of the people that tried to board. What's wrong with people? where was I going with this? oh yeah, humanity.....
So I find my middle seat and stow my bag above. A friendly looking lady of about 55 (I'd guess) takes the isle seat next to me, then about ten minutes later a frustrated looking woman probably in her mid 40's takes the window seat. None of us really say much to each other, which is fine by me, I just assume sleep. Turns out I nailed the frustrated description of the woman to my left. She never really talked to me, but she mumbled profanities under her breath about nearly every passenger around us for the first 15 minutes. There were three small children (I'd say under 1 year) surrounding us, which is never fun with the unfamiliar air-pressure pain they get in the ears which always makes them cry. I like to think I'm a fairly intelligent person though and I realize they're not crying to piss me off, but rather they simply don't like what's happening to them and most sub-one-year-olds lack the ability to say; Mommy, I don't care for the unequal pressurization occurring between the confined atmosphere of the plane interior and my head. My eardrums are moving in an unusual manner causing me discomfort. So every time one of these three peeped, she'd mumble something new, or mumble to herself about forgetting her book, or how the airlines are a conspiracy... I put on my headphones and ignored her.
The woman to my right was pleasant enough, kept to herself. She had brought along her own method to pass the time, she colored. At first I thought she was the grandmother of the little girl across the isle, and was coloring a picture for her, but no. She had a whole folder full of children's pictures from a coloring book, and she had a set of 64 crayola colored pencils, all neatly sharpened and all perfectly arranged. I have to say she was very good, never went outside the lines, rivaled that of any top-notch 6 year old. I enjoyed watching her color. It reminded me of my friend Kate who likes to color sometimes (really who doesn't like to color, I know I do, I just don't usually do it for 3.5 hours straight on an airplane).
Behind us was a man and a woman who were working on crossword puzzles the whole time. Between the two of them, I'd say they were clueless. I kept wanting to tell them the answer to the questions they would ask, but I knew if I did it would kill my feigned sleeping and might cause the pissed off woman next to me to want to "share" her thoughts with me. I'd hear things like " this clue says the top-story and the word is A-T-(blank) - I - C. And they honestly couldn't figure out the answer. My favorite was when he asked her is "bocce" was spelled "botchy" or just "bochy", or when she had to spend almost 5 minutes trying to explain what seersucker cloth looked like. He had never heard the word before. Folks like this ought to just not do cross words you'd think.
Oh well, the flight ended fine, and I made my hasty departure from the plane. It was an entertaining flight at least.
Gotta run so I can get back to bike work.