New entry in my Kilt blog 9/21/2011

Monday, August 31, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Night Light

This is my new night light. I know I'm a woose for needing a night light but I don't seem to be as steady on my feet as I use to be. When I get up numerous times during the night a little light helps.

This is a dual power source light, 110 volt and fire. The candle holder is a 25 cent thrift store item and the led night lite is a one dollar item from the Family Dollar.

I epoxied a wine cork (I have a collection of those) to the bottom of the night light, added a power cord, stuck it in the candle holder and there you have it an electric candle.

When the power goes off (it does that here) pull out the electric candle, stick in a paraffin candle and strike a match.

I can feel the earth shaking because of the trembling fire insurance companies now.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Thrift Store Show and Tell

This lamp may not be Steampunk to you but it has to be at least industrial.

The end of this last week saw me running errands of necessity so I stopped at my favorite thrift store. I went there specifically to deliver clothes and shoes we had gathered that other people would throw away. Some were brand new or nearly so. It never ceases to amaze me what people throw away. Before I even entered the store I saw this lamp and I knew it had to be mine.
It has "Gears and Couterweights" what more could a boy ask for? I've never had a lamp with gears before.Before I even got it home I was modifying it. The knife switch is just a thought.

It weighs 6 pounds and uses a 50 watt 12 volt halogen bulb so I knew that it had at least a 4 amp 12 volt power supply in it. The base houses a large transformer and gets hot enough to require venting. I put in a lower wattage incandescent bulb left over from my Mercedes days and it works. I don't like halogen bulbs because like all small high wattage bulbs they get dangerously hot. I will probably convert this to led.

This lamp, because of it's design, could easily be converted (He said tongue in cheek) to dual 110volt/12volt. The "easily" part is always the snag. The 12 volt of course for the next hurricane if it doesn't blow us away and just leaves us in the dark.

Total cost so far 50 cents.

The lamp shade/socket may have to go as I would like something a little more industrial. I thought of this but it doesn't thrill me. Its scaled right and it's brass but I don't know. Oh well I'll see what turns up. Other items include some solid brass hinges for future projects, this little box of hearts for my Princess (She already has mine and she can keep it in there too), a couple of jars (one because it's very old and the other with lots of color for my brandied peaches or maybe citrus wine).
Total cost for everything less than two bucks. Visit your local thrift store today.

Finally in the words of Ry Cooder "I wish somebody would tell me what diddy wa diddy means".

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Voting Day or It's A Nice Day For A Bike Ride

Even though thunderstorms were predicted I manage to get my butt on my bike and down the road by mid-morning. The bike needs some adjustments but by not shifting to the small sprocket on the cassette and not needing any brakes I should be OK. Voting is that important and I was off to vote against, again. I pretty much vote against the politico that annoys me most. The people that I have to chose between to govern are not as smart as I am and if you knew me you would know how scary that is.
If God had wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates.
Jay Leno
I voted for the one that sent me the least objectionable junk mail and they sent plenty. The one that sent stuff that I found personally insulting and fear mongering I voted against.

It was a nice ride, overcast and cool, and by not using the a fore mentioned sprocket and brakes did not spend anytime on the side of the road fixing things like I did day before yesterday. On that day the bike decided to shift itself into the invisible smaller sprocket next to my 14 tooth and jammed between the frame and the cassette.A little patch of shade and some tools and I was soon back on the road. Oh yeah, I've been down this road before so I had a rag to clean up with.

On my way out of "Troll land" I captured this picture of our local high class "lounge". I especially like their duel purpose close/open sign. Not a lot of style here just bare bones. I've not been inside yet.
Notice the embedded iron parking bars to keep the patrons from entering the bar in their cars. Most everybody is already drunk when they arrive at a bar around here.
Ah yes on to voting. The little white sign over the trash can on this architectural wonder says vote here.

The rest of the day was much better. I picked up the milk, had a nice nap and spent several hours in the shop adjusting the bike. I believe that I will never stop my shifter from occasionally jumping over the last sprocket so I added a washer and by increasing the space at least the chain now does not jam.

The brakes are adjusted and tomorrow is a new day. Maybe I'll go for a ride.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Nobody's Perfect


This is not going to work.

Sometimes your fallibility hits you like a pie in the face.
I made this little error whilst repairing the 75 cent item from the thrift store this last week. (pictured below)









It is to keep our dog "Shit" out of my shop without having to close the door. The dog is very civilized and only likes to poop on hard surfaces such as floors, chairs and gravel paths.


If anyone knows what the item below is for please tell me, either in comments or at the contact email address in the sidebar. I bought it for 50 cents because it is 1.5 pounds of bronze. When I find bronze or brass this cheap I buy it for future projects. Scrap bronze sells for around 2 dollars a pound so this is an economical way for a mistake prone "mad tinkerer" to have material on which to make mistakes (see top of page).

What is it?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Friends?

This is my friend Susy. She doesn't care if I don't shave, have peanut butter on my breath, wear funny clothes or anything else.

I have few friends, a condition that happens if you live longer than your friends, and no enemies, a condition that depends on fate and a determination to not make them I think. My grandchildren have what I had as a child, that is, friends and enemies. They also have a new class of relationship called "frenemies". I wonder just how the hell that works. I have thought about it a great deal and I just can't seem to wrap my mind around that. I have visions of someone that kisses you on the cheek and sinks a knife into your back at the same time. They seem to fall in the area that use to be persons "to which you were indifferent" or is it a new class? Maybe I need to watch more TV for enlightenment.

I don't think I want any "frenemies".

Old Fools Journal: Sometimes I Feel as if I'm Going in Circles

Nothing like disemboweling your computer in the early morning.

I awoke this morning to a broken computer but broken in a subtle way sort of like the "lawnmower" in yesterdays post. I'm not sure this is not a part of that conspiracy. The machine would boot (although a little slow) and appear to connect to the internet. It gave every indication ( falsely) that everything was alright except that it would not connect to any server. It also said that the the drive was full. I thought "maybe I have a hard drive failing" so whipping out my copy of Spinrite I found that it was indeed alright except for one thing. It was really hot. Uh oh thought I, this hard drive is on its last legs even if "Spinrite" does say it's OK. No worries, I'll just use the other hard drive but while I've got the case open maybe I'll do a little house cleaning. Hmmm, much dust. The fact that every orifice is plugged tight couldn't be the problem. That would be too simple. So I dusted everything off including the chunks of goo on the vent holes (how did that booger get in there?) and tried it again with the same results. Trusting that "Spinrite" was correct and that the drive was indeed OK I decided to reload PCLOS which took about 30 minutes. Now everything is peachy keen again thanks to Steve Gibson's Spinrite and the development team at PClinuxOS. No thanks to my slovenly maintenance. It seems I will never learn that preventative maintenance is much better than rescue missions.

It is running nice and cool now and that burning smell is gone.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Mystery's or Where the Hell Did I Put That Key?

The is no such thing as an inanimate object just objects that live in another time scale. I believe machines conspire, makes plans and plot evil among themselves otherwise how could everything go wrong at the same time. It's a conspiracy I tell you.

For instance this last week I had a lawn mower quit. It quit in the usual way, it was working when it was parked and then would almost work the next day. I took it to my crap tech shop and the fan in the shop would not work. It worked yesterday but not today. It's 90 degrees and 94 percent humidity no fan no work. I turned on the light so I could work on the fan. The light would not come on. Are you starting to see a pattern here?

So I half fixed the light. It's a four foot florescent but now it only works on one side. I took the fan apart and put it back together and it works fine. Apparently there was nothing wrong with it. Perhaps it was just kidding. I futs with the lawnmower for 2 hours before referring to the manual (typical American male non-genius). The manual said that " if the oil is overfilled there will be a loss of power". In my "that's too simple mode" I went to get tools to remove the carburetor then on second thought decided to remove some oil first. It's too simple but that's all I really had time to do before my nap. I would take the carburetor off later. Removing one ounce of oil was so easy. A little piece of 1/4 inch hose and suction and it's done. Far too simple. I gave it a try and it worked perfectly. Well there went my nap. I cut the backyard disturbing a few million ants.

Notice that the action process here was not spurred by thought but by what was easiest. Pity. It's a wonder I've lived this long.

I have no idea why one ounce of oil would make this little engine run poorly but it does. It probably has to do with it being a horizontal cylinder and a very small(20 oz) oil capacity.
While I'm ranting about the mysteries of life I might as well get the issue of locks and keys off my chest. I always seem to have a bunch of locks and a bunch of keys (see picture). None of those keys fit any of those locks. That is not even all the keys. I have more and they don't fit either. So where are the keys? I have a brand new key lock that came with two keys. I have never used the lock and one of the keys is missing. Did I separate the keys then hide one from myself to make my life more frustrating? I know about some of the keys pictured. Some are to doors I know longer have and some are to vehicles I no longer have but I haven't a clue about the rest. I don't even remember them.

While I'm at it; Where is my new 10mm socket?
Thank the God of Mystery's it's cocktail hour.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Clean Your Tool

Once in a while in the midst of building stuff you have to stop and clean your tool. While using this brace and bit(s) building my new shed I became embarrassed at it's condition. It didn't look all that bad with a thin film of rust and it was performing perfectly. Remembering the previous owner and how I had acquired his tools that were so clean and tidy I became ashamed. What if he saw me?

It is a Samson but the model number is pretty near gone. It appears to be 802 something. It is a fine tool for boring holes. With a 14inch sweep it makes short work of hard oak. Those bits in the oiled pockets are sharp as razors. The handle and end pad are wood and in excellent shape. I believe it is from the early 1900's. I bought it in worn condition (cosmetically) from two women selling an old mans tools on the side of Pearblossom Highway in the Mojave Desert in the late 1970's. Seems that the old man had passed away and his wife and daughter, knowing nothing of what he did, were selling his stuff. I don't think he cared. I bought this brace and roll of bits for 10 bucks I think. I bought a number of things from them that day. I didn't have a lot of money with me but I spent what I had and have been richer for it.

Some of the items are the brace and bits of course, a military auger for drilling post holes, a pristine 22 revolver, a small home built drill press (I am going to clean it up and tell you about it) and several other things that slip my mind at the moment. I have used this brace and bit the most. I never use these tools that I don't think of that old man. I wish that I had known him but I didn't. Still, I feel connected to him through his tools. I guess he will not die as long as I live.

Cleaning and polishing up old hand tools is very therapeutic. I wish I could remember that when I need to calm the unrest in my soul. I have to rediscover it each time after becoming unraveled over having to do such a menial chore, fretting over the time lost that could be used building something. Today was just such a day. I went to get my bar clamps and they were nasty. For the first time I realized that I had a mean spirit that needed to be exorcised so I took the clamps in hand and went at them with relish actually seeking the calming effect and it worked. The look and feel of polished wood and shiny warm steel soothed away those faint nagging feelings of unhappiness. The job I needed them for then went perfectly. Now if I can just remember that. Not likely.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Death of a Thousand Cuts or working with tin roofing

This could be titled "suicide of a thousand cuts". I don't mean to cut myself it just that when I get near anything sharp............

It's not that I suffered any serious cuts or very many (today at least) it's that I bleed easily and for a long time so unless I want everything the color of blood I have to stop. I get very impatient. The gloves pictured above are essential without them my hands would be sliced.

Thanks to Pop for the metal shears. They cut through that heavy gauge galvanized metal roofing like it was butter. This metal roofing cuts through me like I am butter.
It was 90 degrees and 84 percent humidity. I have a hand towel that is soaked but I am in the shade, a breeze has come up and it's nearly time for lunch.The generator/bike shelter is coming along. Most all materials are re-purposed, found, scavenged or leftover from other projects. The exceptions are some of the fastenings, cement mix(bought on sale) and 5 joist hangers. This is to be a shelter not an enclosed space.

The red bags on the bike seats are to keep the cats off. They otherwise like to claw the seats. Destructive animals.

The kilt is of my own design and made by me of a very light weight polyester. It's what some call the American tartan (camo) and is truly wash and wear. Perfect for this climate.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Squeak, Squeak, Squeak

My faithful 1976 Schwinn made in that city of political correctness Chicago in the USA.

Squeak, squeak?? What the hell is that. Oh it's just the right pedal. What's up with that? I just oiled it.
It turns out that I had just oiled it when that picture was taken and that was a year ago. Time flies.
Oh well, time for the annual pedal maintenance. At least it's not squeak squeak click click.
These are the original pedals and I hate them. My foot never slips off but I can't stand them if I'm barefooted and they will take the hide right off your shin if you make a mistake. On the other hand I love them because all I ever have to do is clean them and with a few drops of oil they are good for another year.

I'm going to wrap them in an old inner tubes one of these days, right after a lot of things I'm going to do one of these days. When I lived at the beach in Southern California there was a girl that put her skiing mittens on hers. Her bike then had more clothing than she did. Well the same number of pieces but more fabric.







I had these fake hard rubber pedals until I wore one of them out. (See above under squeak squeak click click) They are not as well made as the Schwinn pedals of the '70's.

Some of the ball bearings went somewhere and I know not where.

I know that real bicycle riders use pedals that require shoes you can't walk in. They are efficient but I am not. I sit straight up in comfortable clothes preferably with my toes hanging out in the breeze. My shoes vary from flip flops to lace up moccasins (winter).

The time has come for a serious tear down and paint but I have other things to do first. The main reason for putting it off is I need a little drier weather. Right now it would be like painting under water. I should have more suitable weather in another month of so. I painted this bike with 94 cent Walmart rattle cans in 2004 and it is starting to need a little(a lot) touch up. I think I'll use the two dollar rattle cans this time and in Fire truck RED.

I's thunder storming again this afternoon so here I sit indoors snacking on chili Frito's and pimento cheese. Yum. Seems the homemade beef rib vegetable soup I had for lunch didn't stick with me. Damn, I wonder how you get pimento cheese spread out of a keyboard.

This stuff makes me thirsty but the tap water now taste and smells like mildew. Oh well there is always beer. I guess I'm going to have to start hauling drinking water. I would catch and drink rainwater but there is so much crap in the air here lately that anything you catch almost instantly develops critters. Paradise indeed.
Picture is of the city Marina downtown Houma, La

Monday, August 10, 2009

Old Fools Journal: A Look into the Past

This is a reprint from The Bike Forums - Post your utility bikes - 8-11-07. If you want to read it straight from the forum go here and scroll about half way down the page. There is a lot of good stuff in the Bike Forums.

Here is my dedicated grocery getter a 1976 Schwinn. This bike started out to be a restoration project but after I cleaned it up and rode it a few times I realized that this was really a sweet bike and suitable for an old man.The rack is made from a discarded skate board trimmed to fit. The stay for it is the seat stay from a frame I had taken other parts from for another project. Strong, wide and flat it makes a good seat for a passenger or to tie down a case of beer.The half-buckets are held on by industrial zip ties. I had planned to do something more sophisticated but zip ties are so cheap and quick I have continued to use them. Since the bicycle is used for cargo I leave the buckets installed. I can get more in them than I really want to carry.The front basket is a Bell off the shelf item easily detached and really convenient with a carrying handle.

The original running gear has all been replaced with heavier stuff. The original wheels were light weight 1 3/8's replaced with 1.95's on steel wheels. The original gearing was a 10 speed but is now a 15 speed. The crank set is a 3 piece and has 3 chain rings (28-38-48) and the rear is 14 through 28. I don't have any hills here (unless you count the bridges) so you'd think I wouldn't need that kind of gearing but there are no bike paths, side walks or smooth shoulders either. Sometimes I need the gearing to get through the tall grass, gravel and in and out of pot holes.I retained the stem shifting levers for the chain ring shifting (nostalgia) and have an index shifter for the rear. Mostly I stay on the center ring (38t).
The brakes have been replaced with heavier duty rim brakes and would be inadequate for hilly country but that is not here.
The bike is stable and rock solid e
mpty or under load. It weighs 45lbs.
I haven't needed more capacity yet but I think I will add an extension like the extracycle only home made. I'll post pictures when I do.
It ain't real pretty but it works and I have become emotionally involved. I get offended when it is insulted. Maybe I need professional psychiatric help.

The buckets came from the Family Dollar Store. Cheap.

That was two years ago and I have since converted it back to stock only "dutchified" it by moving the seat back 3 inches and adding handle bars that reach back further to give me a more natural upright posture. The over sized tires were a pain on this frame. I have a more comfortable seat now. The chrome fenders have been replaced with painted fenders. I now have folding racks. There was nothing wrong with the buckets and if the bike was dedicated to just hauling stuff that would be my choice but it is my all purpose ride and sometimes I just don't want the buckets in the way.

If I have a heavy load I have this but I need to convert it to haul long pieces of scrap lumber.
This bike was one of 7 bikes that a friend gave when he cleaned out his barn. Beside the 1976 Schwinn there was a 1979 girls 24"Schwinn that my granddaughter rides, a 20 inch trick bike that my grandson rode and that is now a backup/guest bike, a Chinese road bike that was junk but had a good seat and several others that I salvaged parts from. I haven't bought parts in a long time. The two Schwinn's are the jewels in that gift.


Here you see those buckets summer job. Dump the dirt, clean them up and they will be ready to go again. They did not grow tomatoes worth a damn.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Prescription for Happy


I don't know how others do it but I make friends for life. I may not see that friend for a very long time and maybe never again but I am still their friend. I don't require them to be my friend or to change in anyway. My friends have qualities that make them my friends without any conditions.

Over the years I have noticed that friendship is not always a two way street. I have friends that apparently want nothing to do with me and I fully understand that. Sometimes I want nothing to do with myself. In their rejection of my company I am forced to reflect on what it is that caused their rejection and try to correct it. Many times corrections are not possible but every effort makes me a better person making those that do chose to be around me more comfortable.

What brought these reflections on is a new connection with an old friend. A friend that I haven't seen in 25 years. Our friendship started out the best way, I think, as we started as lovers and became friends from that. Being intimate has a way of quickly revealing what you like and don't like about a person. I don't know if we ever stopped being lovers but we certainly went inactive. What I do know is we haven't stopped being friends.

After 25 years I got off my procrastination couch and made an effort to find this old friend. I was compelled. I tracked down several prospects through the electric intertubepipesnet. Finally I hit on one that set off alarms, sirens, lights, bells and whistles. I gave it a try.

Next was the actual attempt at contact. It took several days of contemplation as I steeled myself for rejection but I did it and I got a reply. It was another week until contact was established. After two and a half hours of conversation over nearly 4000 miles of telephone wire we did not even begin to catch up 25 years but for me it was like an injection of happy straight into a vein and with no hangover.

This may seem silly to some of you gear heads but give it a try. I may be an Old Fool when it comes to matters of the heart but I'm not a Stupid Old Fool. I know what feels good. Call an old friend today.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Bubba Jerks

Yes, yes I know. This bike is not locked properly and that has already been pointed out by my old friend Dave. Let me explain that there is nothing to lock to in front of the grocery store, that it is in plain sight from inside the store and that as far as theft goes I don't need to lock it at all. This half assed locking job is to keep bubba jerks from pushing the bike over out of spite. It works too. It hasn't been pushed over again since I started doing this.

It also keeps the little snot nose descendant from a long line of thieves from joy riding it home where 5 siblings and 22 cousins will swear that he/she has always had that bike. This is a strange land in which I live. Everyone seems to be related to everyone else except for SWMBO and myself.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Old Fools Journal: New Kilt

This post falls under the rule of "Say what you'll do then do what you say" because I can't really see why anyone would be interested in yet another homemade kilt. There is only so much you can say about them but I said I would so here it is.

This one is woven flannel because I really like the feel of woven flannel against my skin summer or winter. I don't care much for the cheaper printed flannel. This is called shirting flannel. I got it on sale so there is about $2.50 USD here. The apron and under apron are 1/3 my waist measurement and there are fifteen 2 1/4 inch knife pleats and one reverse pleat. It is considered a casual contemporary kilt as opposed to what is considered a traditional kilt however what is traditional is anybody's guess. There is 4 yards of material in this one and 10 inches of that is in the pocket. This stuff is easy to cut and sew except that when putting on the waist band it has a tendency to creep when machine sewing. If I were making it for someone else I would have to learn to control that but since I'm not I think I'll leave that frustration for another time.

It is held closed with Velcro so it is easy on and off as a lounging kilt should be. I have it folded here to show the pleats and the single cargo pocket. The pocket is held on with safety pins temporarily until I decide exact placement.

Flannel is not a good material for a kilt because the softness that I like about it also makes it not hold a pleat well. I don't really care as it will be used around the house and yard. When it is freshly pressed I would not be ashamed to be seen in it anywhere.

I have enough material left to make a shirt but I have a lifetime supply of shirts. I could make some shorts but I have a lifetime supply of them as well. I think in a temperate climate that a well dressed man needs only one kilt, one pair of shorts, one pair of long pants, one jacket, one cap or hat, two shirts, two pair of socks ( Ideally one should live where socks are unnecessary) and one towel. The shorts and long pants are really just a luxury as the kilt can take the place of both. The only real reason for more is because it's cold. All else is vanity.

When I was living on my boat further south I limited my self most of the year to one pair of shorts, one shirt and one towel. Made laundry easy.

If more detail is desired just ask.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Old Fools Journal: Basic Tools

Pop put this together and painted it nearly 60 years ago. I wore it out.

I was thinking (unfamiliar territory) the other day about my basic tools. I have for many years thought that my most basic tool was my pocket knife. I have carried one since I was about eight years old (1947) except for when I was in US Navy boot camp but while cleaning cooked egg off a spatula I realized the my most basic tools are my finger nails and after that my teeth. Every one picks their nose, squeezes black heads, digs in there ear and squashes the occasional flea but few appreciate that they are using the very basic of tools that humans have used since they climbed out of the mud. I use my fingernails as a scraper, putty knife, screw driver, toothpick, anvil and probably other things I can't think of now. Use as an anvil is usually connected with carpentry or blacksmithing and is undesirable. I don't use my teeth for anything but eating anymore as unlike fingernails they don't grow back. More on teeth in another post.

For scraping delicates such as Teflon or paint nothing is better than finger nails. Not only do they hold up well and get the job done but there is plenty of feed back so you don't over do it. I have tried every manner of tool including sharp knives and bronze wool to clean the a fore mentioned eggs from a spatula and nothing comes close to fingernails. I use them for cleaning dried bread dough from my mixing bowl. They are the best for taking those glued labels off fruit. I find that when I use a knife I end up just cutting that piece of fruit away. I try never to buy fruit with glued on labels now as I think I have reached the limit of how many you can eat.

Fingernails make a lousy toothpick but if it's all you got it will serve. My step dad grew his pinky finger nail a little long and filed it to shape as a tool. I never discussed it with him and thought it a little strange but he was a model maker and craftsman. Watching him work one day I saw why as he deftly used it while using an Exacto knife between his thumb and forefinger to position and hold his work. I watched him use it to shape and remove excess glue. He could apply pressure to a piece of balsa with minimum contact. I thought that was clever. It would have worked as a toothpick but he didn't have any teeth left at that time.

Toenails are another thing all together but they have their tool uses. I use mine mainly as a target for things I drop. Seems like everything I drop lands on my toes and these last few years they have become very sensitive. I can drop a tool or part at arms length and it will curve in to contact my toes and I have small feet (9) Just one of those things I guess. They are handy for scratching the mosquito bites on my ankles and the backs of my calves. I love it when they curl from extreme pleasure.