Saturday, June 19, 2010

Who's Your Daddy?

Happy Father's Day to me! I got presents! A bicycle repair stand and a set of bike tools. Woo Hoo!!!!

So, for 52 Projects I gave my bike the once over!!!

Ok, not just for 52 Projects. I've wanted to break down, clean & lube my bike for quite some time but didn't have the proper tools. Now I do!!!!!!!

I set up the stand and clamped my bike in

I took off the chain and soaked it in degreaser

I pulled both cranks and cleaned them up real well.

I then pulled the bottom bracket. Bottom bracket was a pain in the ass, and in the hand. Also, the camera ran out of batteries so I have no pics of the BB out but here's one of it still in with the crank off, and one of my hand after the wrench slipped. That bottom bracket was in there tight!

Then I pulled the cassette and cleaned it

And I pulled the rear axle and cleaned and regreased the bearings. Again no pic other than the "after" once I got it reassembled. I have to remember to take more pictures but it's hard to stop when I'm on a roll, plus my hands were just a tad greasy.

Here's a cool shot of the bottom bracket and drive side crank after they were reinstalled

Here's one of the cassette and rear derailleur

Here's my baby all back together and ready to ride

Here's a run down of all the work;

Pull, clean, lube, reinstall chain
Pull & clean both cranks
Pull & clean bottom bracket
Pull & clean cassette
Remove dork disc
Clean & re grease rear axle
Replace brake pads
Tighten spokes

Sunday, June 13, 2010


This week I decided to break out the arc welder we picked up at Sears Hardware a few weeks ago. I've wanted to learn how to weld for years and 52 Projects is just the thing to get me moving. I've seen it done on TV and in auto repair shops, and it never looked too hard. I knew I would have to learn sooner or later because I have metal sculpture in me waiting to come out and that requires welding. Besides, if that chick from Flashdance can weld, how hard could it be? Well, I found out how hard it could be.

I decided to practice on an old beat up scooter that was in need of repair (or a trash heap). The handle was loose so it seemed like a perfect job for welding.

Arc welding is basically an electric circuit that creates an arc between the surface to be welded and an electrode rod. The arc create by the electric circuit melts the electrode rod and the melted material creates the bond. In theory anyway. The arc is very bright and the welding kit comes with all manner of safety warnings and eye damage hazards. It even comes with a very dark protective mask. Not the cool kind like you see on Monster Garage (you know, the ones that have a head band and flip down over the face when the welder knods his head) but one that requires the user to hold it in one hand. So already I'm working with only one hand. Maybe that's just as well. I wouldn't want to weld my hand to something.

Here's how it looks:

Did I mention it is dark? Very, very dark. Like this-is-what-I-see-when-I-look-through-it dark:

How the hell am I supposed to work blind and with one hand??? The instructions tell me right off that it takes a lot of practice to become proficient at welding so I figure I should be good in about 10 minutes. Well, that was before I became a one handed blind man. The trick is... well, there are a lot of tricks; the right amperage on the welder, the right size and material rod for the application, the right distance of the rod to the material, the right angle, the right motion with the arc, the right speed... What. The. Fuck? I was completely lost.

Maybe if I hold the mask real close....

Maybe if I stand up....

Maybe if I lean over and peak around the mask...

Maybe if I ask a neighbor for help....

He was actually pretty helpful and suggested I try a few things like testing it out on a small piece of metal in case the size or composition of the scooter was part of the problem......

That worked a little better but still not very good. It really is a tricky thing; you have to get the rod close enough to the object to be welded so that the arc is created and the rod melts onto the object. If you get too close the rod sticks to the object. Too far away and no arc. But if you can't see a damn thing it's pretty tough to get that right balance. I eventually traded the blackout mask for dark sunglasses and managed a better arc but could not maintain it long enough to get a good bead on the mating surfaces of metal.

I decided to pack it in when storm clouds rolled in. It had poured down rain earlier on my bike ride and was threatening again. And it did. Not too long after we got everything cleaned up the skies opened and drenched the neighborhood.

I have not given up though. I am going to do some more research on welding techniques and maybe find a class (like I really have time for that). I am also going to look into a better/different mask. I think the ability to see the actual weld would be helpful. Welding will indeed make a return visit to 52 Projects.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Macrame, Take Two

I went back to the well, kids. I decided to make another macrame plant hanger for 52 Projects. At first I thought it was cheating but it' s my project and I'll do what the hell I want, and I really wanted to make another hanger. I enjoyed making the first one and learned a lot about how to do it "the next time." Then I dyed all that hemp for another project and really wanted to use it. So, I did. I figure it's ok to apply some of the same skills, tools, and materials from previous projects and incorporate them into a new project. What good is learning something if you don't use it again? I plan to continue this trend going forward. I won't duplicate the exact same project twice but I will do second (and third) passes of things, trying out new skills and new tools.

For this one I really paid attention to the direction of the knots, the pairings of the strands, and the overall symmetry of the work. I think this one is way better than the first one. So here it is, the red & black self dyed hemp macrame plant hanger.

Knotting the strands

You gotta keep 'em separated!!

It's almost as tall as me.

Knots and beads...

Beads and knots

Arranging the foliage

There she is, Miss Macramerica...