Thursday, April 21, 2016

Building a Proper Stable

I finally convinced Beth to let me buy another motorcycle.  It was surprisingly easy actually.  I waited patiently several years and decided I didn't need anything *new*.  That helped tremendously.  Ive had my eye on a BMW of some type for a while and came across a deal on Craig's List that I had to check out.  A 2004 K1200GT with less than 12k miles!  The owner of this one bought a newer version of the same bike (2008) and pretty much relegated this one to collect dust.

I was always eyeing the RT1200RT since it pretty much is the quintessential sport-touring machine. Never really gave the K's any thought, especially the older 1200's or 1300's.  All it took was a short time with this K for me to totally change my mind on them.  For starters, this bike is immaculate.  garage kept, hardly ridden, and equipped with several key upgrades that make it even better (bar back kit, peg lowering kit, PIAA aux lights, and Givi Top Box).  Not to mention what comes stock on these machines (electronic cruise control, heated grips and seat, side cases, power windscreen adjustment, and a monster inline 4-cyl engine with 130 bhp and LOTS of torque).

Have had it for ~6 weeks now and love it more an more every day.  Have done (2) 150 mile rides so far, including a recent trip to Lowman and back.  This bike is a miles eater and is a great mix of power and comfort.  Looking forward to putting another 50k miles on it!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Looking back on another year gone by...

I have the same feelings every year about this time.  I can't believe how quickly another year has gone by. But then again, memories tend to have a much shorter half-life than actual events.  For example, I recall sitting on my patio in mid July when we were having the umpteenth 100-degree day in a row thinking "when will this damn scorching summer ever end??"  I need to remind myself of days like today when I'm failing to appreciate how quickly the years really do go by.

2013 was a pretty good year for me in many ways.  Here's the highlights:
  • I realized a career milestone by being promoted to Vice President at my company.  This is just one more piece of evidence that moving to Boise was one of the best decisions I've ever made. 
    View from top of the
    Space Needle in Seattle 
    Hofburg Palace in Vienna
  • Got 2 sets of stamps on my passport (Victoria, British Columbia and Amsterdam, Netherlands).  The latter as a EU layover on my to Vienna, Austria.  The former was part of a week-long graduation trip for our amazing niece Jordan.  We had a great time exploring Seattle and Victoria quacking like a duck, climbing Space Needles, and managing to hold down our cookies on the 'Vomit Comet.' 
  • I decided to go to grad school after 19+ years to work on an Executive MBA at Boise State. Hopefully graduating in May 2015.  It took a great program like BSU's to tempt me enough to take the plunge and make the commitment.  I'm one semester into the program and already feel I've gotten a tremendous amount out of it.  My friends joke that I'm working on Joe ver 2.0.  The funny part is there's a lot of truth to that. 
    Fenway from on top of the 'Monstah'
  • I flew more miles than I ever have in one year, yet it felt like I spent less time traveling than usual.  Try & figure that one out...
  • Added 2 new baseball parks to my list of ones visited.  Fenway Park in Boston and Safeco Field in Seattle. Both were amazing in their own ways.  Perhaps the best examples of how great 'old' and 'new' parks can be.  Even better was the decision to buy tickets on top of the Green Monster in Left Field.  The experience is nothing short of magical for a real Red Sox fan.
    Safeco Field
  • The Red Sox won the World Series again with perhaps the best TEAM they've ever had.  Definitely not the most talented group, but one that exemplified team in every way. One of the most deserving team wins ever.
  • Continued to love riding and customizing the V-Strom.  My season was cut short by early snow but hope to get back in the saddle as soon as possible. 
I lead a blessed life in many ways and try to appreciate everyday all the things I have or have been given. Here's hoping that 2014 leaves as much of a mark on me as 2013 did.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Yep...that's a student ID alright...

After much consideration, I decided to go through with the Executive MBA program at BSU.  Went to the new student orientation, met some of my classmates, and received my first assignments.  Its all good so far but then again, the fun hasn't really started yet.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Back in The Shop

After a long hiatus, I got back in the shop recently to help some friends make a few adirondack chairs and footrests.  I've made a few of these chairs before so I was confident that we could knock them out without too much trouble.  Most plans call for use of templates made beforehand so the actual pieces can be easily replicated

Our friends D&D wanted chairs with a curved back pattern, so we decided to go with Norm Abram's design from the New Yankee Workshop.  I have one of Norm's books that provides the plan and layout for templates, so that made getting started pretty easy.  The wood we choose we reclaimed redwood from my old deck, which was replaced last year with Trex.  I am glad I saved the old 2x6 redwood boards since a project like this is perfect for them.  It took quite a bit of time jointing, re-sawing, and planing the old deck boards into usable 4x stock, but it was worth the effort.  We ended up with ~200 bf of usable boards with really nice character. The photo below shows the stack of redwood after the considerable milling was done.

The process included sorting the boards for the best stock, tracing the outlines of the templates, rough cutting the shapes on the band saw, then trimming the stock to the template using a pattern cutting bit on the router table.  After a little finish sanding, the chairs were ready to be assembled.  Each chair took about 8 hours from start to finish.  We also decided to make a couple of footrests after chairs were done.  These weren't included in the original plan but they were pretty easy to adapt to match.  Each footrest took about an hour.  Below are photos of the finished chairs and footrests.  The first is in my garage right after assembly.  The last two show them in their final resting place, on D&D's beautiful new patio. They're planning to apply a simple clear finish to let the color and grain pattern of the redwood to come through.  These should provide years of comfortable backyard seating around the fire pit.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Latest Project

An early teaser photo of the latest shop project.  One more of these on the way along with some foot rests to match.  Should make a nice addition to D&D's new patio!  Stay tuned for more.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Oufitting the V-Strom Part 2

Since the last V-Strom post, I decided to add a few circuits to the fus.e block that I could use for electronics and heated accessories.  Following several posts on VSRI and Stromtroopers, I ordered a custom dashboard shelf specifically designed and fabricated for V-Strom motorcycles.  It's designed to receive panel mount power plugs and other accessories that you want to install and use on a motorcycle.

I decided to install a standard 12-V power socket and a specialty 12-V Powerlet socket used a lot on BMW motorcycles.  Powerlet makes great heated gear for cold weather riding and I wanted the ability to upgrade to heated gloves, grips, or even a vest in the future. Below are some photos of the completed install.  The shelf bolts perfectly to the top of the front fork mount using existing bolt holes.  It was installed in less than 15 minutes. Easy! 

I ran the lead wires under the fairing and gas tank back to the fuse block, keeping everything hidden.  Both were added to the switched power circuits on the block, helping to prevent draining the battery if I forget to unplug something.  Both plugs get 12V supplied as soon as the key is turned on.

The first application for the 12-V plug was a RAM phone/ipod mount for navigation, music, whatever.  The Ram mount bolted into the mirror extenders I installed last year.  The phone sits securely in a spring-loaded mount and is ultimately adjustable.  Below is a photo of the phone installed with the mobile charger plugged in.

I also had a center stand installed by Carl's Cycles over the Christmas holidays.  A center stand is great since it takes weight off of the tires and makes working on the bike much easier.   It installs behind the factory kick-stand so I can use either one independently.

Now that the weather is getting warmer, I'm looking forward to some longer rides where I can take advantage of these new upgrades. 

Monday, December 31, 2012

Miter Saw Station Upgrades

My NY shop wasn't perfect but over the 9 years I was there, I had enough time to get it outfitted to the point where it was very efficient.  My Boise shop is still a work in progress to that point.  One area that needed particular attention was the miter saw station.  I built a nice station in NY with a stationary saw position, 5' outfeed table, and a movable stop for repeatable cuts.  Unfortunately, I left that bench with the house when we moved.  The miter saw area in the new shop has been essentially temporary for the last 2 years (saw not secured to the table, no outfeed table, you get the picture...  Well, that all changed over this Christmas break.

I decided to follow a design I saw in Fine Woodworking magazine, where the saw sits in the middle and has infeed and outfeed tables on both sides.  Also on the agenda was a dust collection shroud in the back for a dedicated 4" run to my new Delta 50-760 dust collector.

The bench the saw currently sits on is only 5' wide, so that made designing of the infeed/outfeed tables a challenge.  I knew a portion of each would be cantilevered, and kept that in mind when choosing a size.  Each extension is 3' in length and hangs off the table ~18" as shown in the photo below.  I built them as hollow boxes out of plywood using rabbit joints.  Each box is designed to be removable with the top surface screwed down with no glue.  Removing the top allows access to 4 screws that attach each extension table to the underlying bench.  Having worked in enough shops and knowing that a woodworker will often change his mind about things, I thought it best to have a backup plan!

I added a custom stop to the fence by attaching 2 pieces of 36" t-track from Woodcraft to the top and fabricating a custom glide that straddles the top of the fence.  A plastic knob with an attached bolt connects to a sliding t-bolt that rides in the track.  I can now move the stop to any position on the fence in a matter of seconds for repeatable cuts. 

Below are photos of the completed station with the dust shroud installed.  It does a great job of collecting just about every dust particle that shoots out the back of the saw.  The shroud also allows a 4" hose connection which maximizes the suction velocity from the dust collector.  The installed fitting on the back of my Dewalt DW705 is 1-1/2", which is essentially worthless.  My miter station will now be one of the cleanest areas of the shop, instead of one of the dustiest.

I also took this opportunity to fix a nagging problem with the workbench drawers.  I accidentally built them too long for the frame, so they extended beyond the back by about an inch.  Normally, this isn't a big deal.  However, when there's dust flying out the back of a miter saw above, the drawers will tend to be filled with sawdust!  Yeah, it really sucks when you open the drawer to get a tool and have to go digging around to find it.  The fix was relatively simple and involved cutting the back off the drawer to the correct dimension and reattaching it.  I unfortunately had to cut off some half-blind dovetails but oh well.  It is only a shop cabinet after all.   Below are before and after photos of the drawers.
and after...

Now that this project is done, I can focus once again on making jewelry boxes for my last 2 nieces.  I'm WAY overdue on getting these done.  Happy New Year everyone.