March 21, 2011

Beyond Motorcycles

Greetings fellow folk.  Today I wish to make a departure from my usual fare.  Today we will not speak of tools, or motor-driven conveyances, or the innate awesomeness of fire.  Today I wish to spend a moment in the fast paced, razzle-dazzle world of fashion accessories.  Particularly, useless, out-dated fashion accessories.  To be precise, The Watch.

With the advent of cellular phones and their fantastic timekeeping ability, you see less and less wrists adorned with a watch.  It would seem that the watch has been made over as a phone and (ironically?) moved back into the pocket, where it first started its journey through human culture.

And while Tag Heuer must be pulling some sort of profit to have His Coolness, Brad Pitt model their watches for the unworthy world to see, most of us don’t spend more than $100 on timekeeping per fiscal year.  I know I didn’t.  I spent a little over twenty bucks, and got this:

Fig. 32: A watch on a Royal typewriter

To say I simply 'got' the watch for a little over twenty dollars is false.  I got the watch face (a cheap Mossimo wrist watch with a fake leather band) for $20.  I made the watch band over the course of two days during my recent period of internet silence known as 'vacation'.  I'll get into the materials and methods of construction later, but needless to say, the watch cost me more Time than it did Money, which is perhaps appropriate.

Detail 1

I made the main wrist strap out of two layers of leather.  The top is black suede, about 1 millimeter thick.  It looks pretty, but has a lot of stretch in it, so would be unsuitable for the band.  I fixed this issue by making the watch out of two layers.  The bottom is good, strong leather, about 2 millimeters thick, but ugly tan in color.  I punched small holes around the pereimeter of both pieces and stitched it together with synthetic sinew.  I like synthetic sinew because it's much easier to work with, plus, you can melt your knots with a match to keep them from ever coming undone.  The down side is that synthetic sinew will eventually lose it's leathery pigment and turn nylon white (because it's really white nylon, folks!).
Having two layers of leather meant I could do some pretty cool effects when attaching the face straps.  As you can see in Detail 1, the strap dives under the leather and is stitched through all the layers using a leather-workers awl.  I tried doing as much of this project as I could on my old Sears Kenmore sewing machine, but at around three ply of leather, the old girl gives a groan and refuses to go any further.

Detail 2

Eventually I decided to stop being creative and become simply ridiculous.  The second face strap is asymmetrical to it's brother, who I mentioned earlier.  It starts wide and tapers down to a chamfered end.  I then adorned it with the back end of two handgun cartridges (9mm and .38 Special, both +P so I could have them in silver).  I cut both of the cartridges off in my vice and filed them down smooth.  I had previously removed the primers and so simply threaded them on as beads through the primer pocket.  The face strap was punched with holes corresponding the the cartidge size, so they would be countersunk into the leather.

Detail 3

Finding a suitable buckle for a watch like this is nigh impossible, so I went super-unconventional and secured it to my wrist using a knurled nut I found in my grandpa's collection.  In order to mate the metal to the leather, I had to fire up my brain and, shortly thereafter, the MIG welder.

Detail 4

Detail four doesn't show you what's going on between the leather layers, but essentially, there is a 1.25" long strip of 18 gauge steel, about 0.375" wide, and rounded on all corners so it won't slice through.  I drilled five equally spaced holes in this piece of metal, and welded a section of threaded metal (fancy talk for a cut off bolt) flush into the center hole from the back.  I punched corresponding holes into the leather as needed and then sewed the metal between the leather strap layers with the bolt protruding as shown.  You can see the knurled nut in the upper, left-hand corner.  It really is a very nice looking piece of hardware.

Detail 5

In the end, I got myself a post-apocalyptic timepiece that I am proud to wear.  If I could change anything, I'd put a nicer face on it, waterproof, with an automatic movement so I'd never need batteries.  But honestly, who has that much to spend on a watch?

Demoto would like to thank his dad for inspiring him in this undertaking with tales of the massive Russian submarine watch.  You may not have brought one back from the Ukraine, but I might have made one to rival it's coolness.

March 1, 2011

Engine In

As I hinted at in my previous post, the Steel Steed has come back home.  I took a few minutes and slapped the frame together from it's disassembled state.  Looking at it's lines and angles, I was once again reminded of how far I had come, how much road I still had to travel, and how much I liked this bike. 

Fig. 13: The artistic grace of the minimal.  Plus, check out my new (to me) tool box!

For me, it's usually not a good practice to let such moments of emotional commitment go by the wayside, so I rode the wave of elation and dropped the engine into the frame.  Believe me when I say that it took every drop of that wave to get the job done.

 Fig. 14: Intimidation

For those of you fortunate enough to have avoided putting a four cylinder in-line back into a double downtube frame, congratulations.  For those of you who have performed this task, then you know that it only goes in one way, and then only when you have removed, say, the breather box cover, and maybe the oil filter casing too.  And you know what, better drop the points cover too, for good measure.

Fig. 15: Halfway there (maybe)

My engine was no exception, and I was doing this by myself, with no buddys, jacks, or lift assists.  When I had at last finished, I knew there were only two remedies for the pain I was in.  The first were near fatal doses of ibuprofin, the second was to put the tank and seat on the bike and....just....look at it.

Fig. 16: Agony

Fig. 17: Potential

Fig. 18: Ecstasy
(not the drug, kids)

To say I am happy with where this bike is going would be an understatement.

The job did bring a few things to the table however.  For one, make sure you label all of your bolts and what-not very well.  There is no telling when you will put things back, and digging through the rubble of three seperate bikes with only a vague notion of what you're looking for can be un-nerving.

Fig. 19: One of these bolts is the right one for the job...

For two, I will be using the passenger peg mounts as my rearset location on the frame, so the current pegs are not needed.  However, those unwanted pegs are attached to the frame via the lower engine stud bolt.  Once the pegs are removed, that bolt is going to be a good two inches too long.  I am going to have to shorten that stud and re-thread it for the engine mount nut.  Not a big job, but fine thread metric dies can be hard to come by, so I'll either have to do it with an Standard die and swap the nut, or do some searching.  We'll see.  Enjoy the pictures lads and jennys.

Fig. 20: The Steel Steed

Fig. 21: Cannon

Fig. 22: The Steel Steed AND Cannon
(It was cold out that day)