March 2018

sun mar 4
Allow me to start off this month’s post with a vividly heartfelt sentiment:
“Fucking cheapo imported chinese crap!!”
Five of the doors next door are mounted in ‘sliding barn door’ fashion. Mary found some hardware she liked on Amazon, and we bought 5 sets. I’ll say this much for it: It’s not ugly and it’s not expensive. After I finished making the doors, I took a few days off to work on the motorcycle, and then mounted some pieces of oak to the walls, on which to mount the sliding hardware. Following the directions carefully, I drilled 5 holes over each of 5 doors — perfectly level and perfectly spaced — and then started mounting the hardware. The directions had said to use a 5/16″ bit, but it turns out the lag bolts are also 5/16″, so the bolts spin freely in their holes.
Shittagoddam! That’s the (first and) last time I’ll ever follow the directions.

On a more positive note, Mary got the go-ahead to begin walking with a cane and, after some start-up qualms, she’s doing quite well. After all this time, it’s a little startling to be reading in my chair and see, out of the corner of my eye, someone walk out of the bedroom.

tue mar 6
Here’s how I stay humble:
I put the valve cover on the Kawasaki and was about to put the carburetor back on, and it occurred to me that this was a good time to check the compression. Most of the work I’d been doing had been an effort to improve the compression values in the first place, and it had mostly gone well, so, as a formality, I really ought to measure it, right? So I dragged out my tester, screwed it in, cranked it over, and it read … zero.
Not low: Zero.
There must be something wrong. I unscrewed it, shook it up good, tapped the glass, banged it on my leg, screwed it back in, and cranked it over again. Zero. WTF??
Long story short: when you put the cam shafts back in and adjust the timing chain, you’re supposed to use the TDC mark for cylinders 1,4, and I had aligned to the mark for cylinders 2,3, so my valve timing was (exactly!) half a revolution off. That’s sort of like trying to cut a piece of wood exactly a foot long, but cutting the wrong end of the board. Which I’ve done more than once. I fixed it, but it was amusing and demoralizing at the same time.
The compression, by the way, was pretty good, but not great, and I decided to back off on the valve shims by another 2 mils.

sat mar 10
I’ve been installing the barn-board doors next door and it’s been no end of frustration.
Standard door hardware is made to fit doors up to 1 3/4″ thick and – this being weathered barn wood – the doors are not all the same thickness, and all of them are extra thick, so the installation bolts tend to be too short. Plus, the sliding kit is a mix of metric bolts and English lag screws. It’s nothing that a recessed head won’t fix, but suddenly a 20 minute install takes 2 hours and an extra trip to the hardware store. Of course, this being the remodel from Hell, nothing is quite square, so the hinged doors take a lot of trial fitting too.

The good news is that, once they're mounted, they look great.

The good news is that, once they’re mounted, they look great.

sun mar 11
The Kawasaki, for all my moaning and groaning, has been a pretty straightforward project. I put the carbs back on (twice, because the choke was stuck) and rummaged thru my box-o’-parts for my air box, only to find that the air box innards were missing! Broken is one thing, but missing means I should have been on the lookout for a replacement months ago.
Ebay to the rescue! Turns out the world is full of people who buy busted bikes, break them down, and sell them, piece by piece, to schmucks like me, and I found exactly the part I need to get the bike running, for the low, low price of $9.99.
Plus $34.92 in shipping.

thu mar 15
For March, there’s an awfully lot of snow on the ground. If you’ve been watching the news, you know that, after a warm spell that raised a lot of false hopes, the East coast has been hit by a big Nor’easter every week for 3 weeks and there’s another one due next week. I happen to like an occasional storm, but enough is enough.

the slope of the roof is such that snow neither accumulates nor slides right off. Instead, it forms a little glacier and creeps over the edge.  At the corner, 2 flows collide and constipate the flow. I poke it with a pitchfork once in awhile, and a ton of snow comes crashing down.

The slope of the roof is such that snow neither accumulates nor slides right off. Instead, it forms a little glacier and creeps over the edge. At the corner, 2 flows collide and constipate the flow. I poke it with a pitchfork once in awhile, and a ton of snow comes crashing down.

Next door, however, the pitched roof sheds onto the shed roof addition, where it goes nowhere. About once a year, I get a workout shoveling it off.

Next door, however, the pitched roof sheds onto the flat shed roof addition, where it goes nowhere. About once a year, I get a workout shoveling it off. Right now, I hurt all over.

sat mar 17
The Kawasaki is down to $12 worth of back-ordered parts and aesthetics.
On the Suzuki, I didn’t know what I was doing, and I cleaned up the rust on the exhaust pipes with a wire brush on an angle grinder. It worked, but it left a lot of scratches and, I suspect, removed most of the chrome along with the rust. According to Google, the easy way to do it is to rub it with Coca-Cola and aluminum foil. It sounded like an old wife’s tale to me, but I tried it and … it’s a miracle!! They say that the coke catalyzes a transfer of the oxygen from the rust to the aluminum, and gives you an aluminum oxide polishing slurry on a foil backing pad.
Truly amazing!

Before

Before

After

After

sun mar 18
I’m making railings for the stairs and overlooks at the green house, using copper pipe that came out of the old plumbing in the basement. This pipe has been exposed to the elements for a long time, and its patina consists of everything from oxidation to paint, dirt, cobwebs, and mouse turds. To sweat it, I had to strip it down to bare metal, using sandpaper, and the dust got everywhere. It’s one thing to get your hands dirty, but it turns out that when it gets in your nose, it itches, but it’s a snot suppressor, so you can’t blow it out.
Just thought you’d want to know.

Back in the 80's, I attended a conference in Manhattan and took a side trip to visit the Museum of Modern Art. It featured an 'artist' who built monstrosities out of copper fittings.  Maybe this'll be my claim to fame.

Back in the 80’s, I attended a conference in Manhattan and took a side trip to visit the Museum of Modern Art. It featured an ‘artist’ who built monstrosities out of copper fittings.
Maybe this’ll be my claim to fame.

mon mar 19

The shaft for c3pr's shoulder joint was coming out good  until I cut the acme threads at 9 TPI. They were supposed to be 8.

The shaft for c3pr’s shoulder joint was coming out good until I cut the acme threads at 9 TPI.
They were supposed to be 8.

sun mar 25

LOTs of sweating and sanding and cleaning and fitting later.... Frank Lloyd Wright couldn't have done it better.

LOTs of sweating and sanding and cleaning and fitting later….
Frank Lloyd Wright couldn’t have done it better.

When Mary first started walking again, she bought some sneakers that were comfortable on her aching feet. They were a muted powder blue, and she hated that the color seemed (to her) to ‘call attention’ to her feet. So when her physical therapist recommended a pair with a stiffer sole, we headed to the shoe store.

Nothing says 'barely there' like glow-in-the-dark purple.

Nothing says ‘barely there’ like glow-in-the-dark purple, with lime green soles.

wed mar 28
There was a nice day coming up, and I resolved to get the Kawasaki ready to run.
I installed the air box, mounted the pipes, bled the brakes, rolled it outside, hooked up a gas line, crossed my fingers, pressed Start, and ……
It roared to life!! It needs a couple adjustments and the usual tuning, but it sounded really healthy. Share the excitement with this “You Are There” video:

 

 

One Response to March 2018

  1. Ole Dad says:

    I thought that by the grand old age of 90 (well close only a month & half away) I would have stopped learning and started applying all that learnin & started applyin ; such is not the case. Following instructions does not always work. I’ve been fartin around with filigree carving on leather. Instructions from the old time carvers say to cut thru the leather with a swivel knife & remove the waste. Turns out that when removing a very small piece of waste from a work piece a swivel knife will simply not work. I found that Xacto blades #11 & 16 are the right tool to use. Further more you need to back up the piece with 1/4 inch foam board. The directions are useless. Ya gotta think out of the box. In your case I think the directions are correct. Drilling a 5/16 hole for a 5/16th lag screw just doesn’t tell the whole story. What’s left out is that go thru the oak finish piece, thru the sheet rock, & into the header. Any way I’m finding that a lot is left out of instructions. Another shining example is the problem I had with the instructions for stretching and shrinking of patterns that you were able to set me strait.

    It seems to me I read about the use of coke & aluminum foil on rust removal in “Helpful Hints Fro Helowese” a long time ago. Look at how much you learned about motor cycles that weren’t in any instructions. I hope you’re keeping a journal.

    I haven’t been in the workshop in months. I moved some stuff from the old larger storage facility to a smaller one just before Xmas. Amongst the stuff was an Electric chain saw. I’ll never use it any more. You may find it in your mail some day soon. Keep up the good work, keep in touch. Ole Dasd

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