Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Getting Back On The Bike / Working On Bikes

I haven't been riding the bikes a lot, lately. When I have, I have mostly ridden the 1985 Bridgestone MB-1 (above). It requires wearing a backpack, on the commute or errands, but the rear brake on the Funk was giving me problems, and I just hadn't felt like dealing with it.

Today, though, I figured it was time to get the Funk back into good repair. I need to get back on the bike, more, anyway, but Bike To Work Day is this Wednesday (for Colorado). I figure that's a good excuse to get back into the bicycle commute. Plus, the band doesn't have a show coming up, for awhile, so I don't need to hurry home for practice.

The rear disc brake on the Funk had become largely useless, and I figured that the pads were worn down. But, when I pulled them out to look at them, they were fine. I tried adjusting the caliper, but the adjusting nut was frozen, and it was inpossible to get the pads in the right position.

Luckily, I had another matching caliper in my brakes parts box, so I just replaced the whole thing. Once I got it and the front brake adjusted, everything was good. (This is the problem with me and commuter bikes; I tend to do maintenance by replacement, only servicing the bike when something breaks....)

Once the Funk was good to go, I turned to a bike that I was working on for someone else. This old red Peugeot was originally sold in a bike shop in the Alsace region of France, according to the bike shop sticker on the seat tube. How it ended up in Denver is anybody's guess.

The rear wheel was pretty toasty, and I had to work on it for a good solid 45 minutes in order to render it useable, again. It is a replacement alloy wheel, from the mid-1990s. If it had been the original steel wheel, I wouldn't have bothered.  The front wheel was missing a spoke, so I replaced it, and trued that wheel, as well.

The brake levers needed a spacer between them and the add-on adjusters someone had installed in the past, to avoid the lever bottoming on the bar just as the pads hit the rim, no matter how I adjusted the brake. Once I added the spacers, the brakes worked great.

Then, it was on to the modifications that the new owner wanted: cruiser bars and a big cruiser seat. Once I got all of that done, the old road bike had a new persona as a pub-crawler.

  Corey, at Kaladi Bos. Coffee, bought this Miyata road bike from me, a while back. I fixed a flat on it, and gave it a quick tune-up, today. Such a nice bike...

 I bought these Wilderness Trail Bikes Trailblazer tires for the old 29er bike, a while back. I had installed 26" wheels, with 3-inch cross section tires on it, as an experiment, and I didn't like how they fit in the frame. Since I had some 27.5" (650b) disc wheels lying about, I sourced these tires in order to see how they would fit.
The WTB tires fit a lot better, both in the suspension fork and between the chainstays. So, I figure I will leave them on this bike.

Here, you can see that the WTB Trailblazer is taller, and slightly less fat than the 26x3 tire. It's still fat enough to provide good float in sandy stuff, and grip in the loose gravel we have on so many of our trails.

Frame clearance with the 26x3 was minimal, on the rear. Just a little knock out of true would result in frame rub. And, forget about riding in mud!

 As you can see, the WTB tire fits in the frame a lot better, both because of the slightly smaller cross-section, and also because the increase in diameter pushes the tire past the inward bend of the chainstays.

It makes a nice-looking bike, with the big meats on it. The suspension fork may have to go, though. The damping cartridge seems to be largely ineffective, so I might just put my VooDoo cromo fork on it and roll rigid.

My next big bike-work weekend will probably involve the motorbike. I have a long trip coming up, and I need to get it prepared. As for today, I am done working. Time for a shower and a cold beer!


Friday, June 05, 2015

Rain, Rain, Such a Pain

I moved to Colorado primarily for the weather. After growing up in the South, then living in the Midwest for 4 years, I was thoroughly sick of rainy Springtime weather and summer humidity. Three hundred days of sunshine a year! is a mantra for Denverites.

Well, it ain't happening this year! I honestly don't know if we have had a day of full sunshine, much less without rain, since April, and I am sick of the weather!

 My front yard, this morning, after I rode the bicycle back from the coffee shop, in the rain...

Everything is plenty green around here, but it's also soggy and out of control. I haven't been able to mow the back yard in a month, and the grass is taller than my dogs! It's going to be an unpleasant chore, once I can finally mow.

I did, at least, ride the bike to work a couple of times, this week. I have really not felt much like pedaling, lately, so it was nice to actually get on the bike for a bit.

 The wall above the work surface in my lab, at work, with all of our posters...

We have a couple of shows coming up, this month; one at 10:00 PM, this Saturday, and one at 6:30 PM, on the 19th.  I'm looking forward to taking the stage. I have a couple of new songs I am anxious to try out in front of an audience.

Outside of our building, adjacent to the outside eating area, is a railroad siding where tanker cars often sit for a few days (or weeks, on occasion). There was some interesting graffitti  on one of the cars, this week.

I was particularly amused by this one.

I have an Alternate Holiday I have to take before the end of our fiscal year (June 30), and I think I am going to take it on a Monday, so that I have a 4 day weekend. Then, I might just load up and go to Moab, for a long weekend. I haven't been in so long that I can't really even believe it. It would be nice to hit the desert (even if it rains).

Or, maybe, I'll just sit around and eat everything in the house, like I've been doing for the past 6 weeks...

Sorry about the rambling post.


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bike Build From This Weekend

 Tony G asked me to build a city bike for Leanne, recently, and I suggested that we base it on Brad's old MB-5 frameset. I traded another Bridgestone frame for it, last year, so that Brad could build up his vintage mtb. He wanted to strip the frame, and clear coat it (and it came out really awesome, btw), but the paint on this frame was just too good to strip off.

So, I had this frame hanging in the shop building when Tony made his request.

It built up nicely, with commuter tires, and old LX rear derailleur, V-brakes, Noah's Arc bars and various other parts from the archives.

I love building bikes like this, bringing old frames back to life with a minimum of new parts. All I had to purchase for the build were tires, tubes, rim strips, grips and a used stem. Now, a 20+ year old bike is back on the road, and Leanne has a nice little curb-jumper to ride around on.

I have another girlfriend bike to build, now. I just have to gather up the parts...


Thursday, May 14, 2015

What's That Lassie? Timmy Fell In The What?

I went out into the back yard, today, for the first time this week, and got a little surprise...

There was a bit of a hole in the yard...

A nice, big, round brick-lined hole. I can't imagine it being a manhole, so I am assuming it is an abandoned well or cistern.

How big is it?

This big.

It's about 4 feet deep, 3 feet to the top of the bricks. My guess is that it was capped, years ago, and covered over. Our recent rains saturated the soil to the point that the weight caused it to collapse.

Now, I have to come up with about 2 cubic yards of material to fill the void. 

What next?


Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Been A While

It's been a busy month, around here. Steve and I played two shows, on back to back weekends, last month at Bushwacker's and The Pit Stop. Then, I went to the western slope, for business, and was gone for 5 days. I got back in time for my birthday weekend (a Water Tower show at Herman's on Friday, and dinner out Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, along with plenty of adult beverages). And, I will hit 40 hours, at work, just after lunch, tomorrow ... but I am in the middle of something which will take the rest of the day, plus Friday, to finish.

I am a bit worn out.

While I was in Grand Junction, I picked up this 1959 Gibson ES-125 TC. I had seen it, back on our lab inspection tour, the first week of April. It took me two weeks to decided to go for it (and figure out the financing - I am selling my ti fat bike), and then I had to wait another week and a half to get there and pick it up. But, it was worth it. I'll be playing slide on it, at Lost Lake, this Saturday (8:30 PM).

We stayed at the Doubletree, in Durango, right on the riverside. This was the view from the lounge balcony, as we ate dinner on Wednesday.

 Later, after the sun was down, the lava-rock in the fire pit, along with the bits of blue glass, led us to play a little "Fire Jenga". Piling up the rock seemed to concentrate the flame, too.

Two amps ... both newly acquired. The little wooden amp in the background came with the ES-125, and was built circa 1947. It is purported to be a Kay.

The Vox is a replacement for my Roland, which died an inglorious death as I played the 125 through it, after I got home on Friday. I went to GC, Saturday morning, and test drove about 10 amps, at performance volume, in one of their lesson rooms. I loved the tone of this little 15 watt combo, so it is now part of my stage rig.

Saturday evening, Danny Mc came by and we went out to dinner. It was magically delicious!


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Modified Svord Mini Peasant No.2

 You may recall that I built up a customized Svord mini-peasant for Brad, a while back. I made the handle of his knife from Cherry wood, and I think it came out pretty nice.

 The stock version of the knife. 
(Photo from Urban Conquest)

Since then, I have been carrying a stock mini-peasant, and I really like the knife. So, Last week, I decided to start on a modified version for myself.

While I left the blade in its stock form, on Brad's knife, I decided to reshape the blade on mine. I prefer the spear-point style, and I wanted to clean up the somewhat crude cutout at the handle end of the blade. I also slightly reshaped the tang, around the lanyard hole, to make it sit nicer against my hand, during use.

The handle, itself, is made of Wenge, and has been rubbed with a dark walnut Swedish Oil finish. I had to put two stop pins in the handle (one for the open position and one for closed), due to the modification I made at the pivot end of the cutting edge.

It sits nicely in the hand, and has a pleasing texture. But, the Wenge was a bear to work with. The hardness of the wood, along with the the open grain, made it pretty hard to shape and smooth with the hand tools I prefer to use. It came out perfect, for my use, but it certainly isn't "presentation grade". To produce the nice mirror-finish polish that you often see on this wood would definitely require a belt sander and my buffing wheel. But, I don't think that would be an appropriate finish for a knife with this blade in it, anyway...

I sharpened it up to a shaving edge, when I was done, and added a leather lanyard. I did cut my finger on it, but not with the cutting edge. While I was filing the point down to shape, I let the file slip and gashed open my right index finger on the back of the blade!

I put a bandage on it, and it continued seeping blood for about two hours. According to tradition, drawing my own blood with it makes the knife officially mine.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Stuff and Things

Just a few unrelated things that have been bouncing around in my photo file:

 A while back, the good folks at Tin Cup Whiskey sent me nice cup, as a thank-you for giving them a shout-out on the blog post I did about riding bicycles to the top of Webster's Pass.

It's a nice, double-wall stainless steel camp cup, with a carabiner handle. Apparently, you can't buy these from Tin Cup, they are a promotional item, only. I am happy and proud to have it!

Wednesday, I rode the Scrambler to work. At about 10:00 AM, I happened to walk past the door to the parking lot, and noticed that it was snowing to beat the band. I snapped this picture from the landing, outside the door, of the top of the Scrambler. I posted it up on Facebook, with the caption, "Perhaps I should have ridden the bicycle to work, today..."

By the time I rode home, the sun was out, the roads were dry, and the temps were in the mid-40s. Springtime in Denver.

I pulled into the driveway, and looked down at my odometer, as I parked in front of the shop building. I thought that seeing 123456 was pretty cool, even though that's not the actual mileage on the bike. I had somewhere around 2475 miles on the bike, when I broke the stock speedometer.

Steve and I had a good practice, this afternoon, and we wrote a song while we were at it. The first verse popped fully-formed into my head, and we just started playing it, like it was a song we had been practicing for weeks.  I love it when that happens.

It's called "Playin' In a Rock and Roll Band". I look forward to playing it live, but that probably won't be until May. We already have our set list mapped out for the show at The Pit Stop Tavern, in April.

We are also working on Summertime Blues, incorporating elements from the original Eddie Cochran version, the Who's cover and Blue Cheer's live version, all mixed up with how we hear it. It's pretty fun, and the Bigsby gets a workout!

Blue Cheer was a 1960s proto-punk/psychedelic rock band, along the same lines as The MC5. Check out the video for some groovalicious hairstyles!

Until next time!