Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Blast those kids that think they own the road."

For the last couple of years, my wife Rosanna has been riding the first moped I ever built. It's still a pretty speedy bike considering that the only features that are not stock are the estoril pipe and the 15mm bing carb. Sadly though, it has been looking a little shabby as of late. The paint is chipping, the brakes are bad, and the taillight has fallen off.
Now that my fellow UMMU brother has started up his powdercoating operation, I think that a restoration of this bike will soon be in order. In the meantime though, I've been working on some projects that will hopefully make this bike, as well as all mopedkind less death-trappy.
Today Rosanna and I are in Long Beach, California visiting her Grandparents. You may have heard about Long Beach in some of those rhythm and blues albums all the kids are listening to. In the couple of weeks prior to our departure from Seattle, Rosanna had almost been run over by inattentive drivers a handful of times, so I have been thinking that a REALLY loud horn might do just the trick. So we happened to be at Harbor Freight today, and I was able to score an air horn for $9.99. As I was standing in the aisle in HF, a guy next me said, "Yeah, get that and blast those kids in the cross walk that think they own the road." I looked at him and replied, "I was thinking of the cars that think they own the road."
When we got home I hooked it up using a trickle charger and a dumbbell as a ground.

Now the trick will be to find a good way to conceal the horns and compressor in such a way that it won't detract from the small moped aesthetic. The compressor itself is slightly bigger than a coke can, more like a Fosters can. I may be able to fit it within the body of a moped.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gitter dun.

Let's stop for a moment and agree that "gitter done" is the worst, most inane phrase ever invented by a redneck comedian. It's not funny. IT'S NOT FUNNY!!! People of the world! Put down your KFC bucket and decide to be smarter and more discerning in your comedy choices.

Anyway, rants aside, Phil and I finished the bulk of the moped shed on Monday.

It was during one of the hardest continuous downpours in recent memory, but I was determined to see it through. See the determination on my face?

We put a gutter on the roof so that we wouldn't undermine my neighbors already dilapidated and rotting fence.

The only thing left to do is put a door on one end, wire in some lights and a switch, and put the mopeds back in.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Everybody's working for the weekend.

When I was in art school, (if Sallie Mae calls for me, the last you heard was that I'm dead), I once did a photo project in which I re-enacted the time that my dad almost cut off his own leg with a skilsaw. During the class critique, my nemesis said, "It's great because you are obviously in a 'construction' costume. Because nobody would ever mistake you for a construction worker." DAMNATION!!! Apparently my good looks and charming nature have outshone my blue-collar roots.

Well, regardless, those winter winds are blowing and if I want to avoid another snow-induced moped shed collapse, I must rebuild it; stronger, larger, and better in every way.

I mentioned in a previous post the UMMU, the unemployed moped mechanics union. Well, again my brother in the union offered to help me with this project and we have been working really hard.

Here is what the old shed looked like:

And here we are on day one of "project shed".

Phil decided to dress as if he were sneaking into a janitors office.

At the end of day one we had accomplished a lot. We had deconstructed the old shed, leveled and set a new floor in, rebuilt much of the rafters, and painted the wall panels.

Today, day two, we continued in earnest. We framed up and installed all the walls:

...and we installed the rafters.

At the end of the day I really had to force myself to stop. We are so close to being done but if I continued I would have burnt myself out. Soon though, my moped shed will be done, beautiful and keep little mopeds away from the rust devil.

In the next couple of weeks, Rosanna and I will be leaving for Palm Springs to work at PSIFF. I just got word from a little bird that there might be a moped trip in Joshua Tree. I'm so excited!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Breaking it down for you:

So My friend Lailey recently moved to New York and asked me to breakdown her moped so that it could be shipped over there. I thought, "Hey! I could timelapse the entire process and then there would be a video of a moped being completely stripped online. I don't think I've ever seen that before."

So I went to all the effort of setting up my camera and hooking it directly to my computer so I wouldn't have to record onto tape media, etc.

Everything was going great... and then my computer crashed in the middle of it and I lost all but the first 42 seconds.

Oh well, at least I have a short video of the first time I used my workbench and some video of Rosanna printing some business cards.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Building in buildings can be fun!

Times are tough, babies.
Unemployment up, cold winter coming, and nothing to do but start fights on the internet. Also, my friend Ian Templeton has left our fair city for Manchester for two years. TWO YEARS! I didn't have the heart to tell him that despite the name, that city will not be the capitol of sizzling hot man chests.

Anyway, last year Rosanna and I moved into Kastle Kvernmo and were delighted to find that with a little bit of effort we could convert the backyard shop into a workable space. Last winter the shop was very cold. It was certainly drier than being outside, but it was not much of an upgrade over the days of yore working on the floor of my very packed garage.
Notice the green tape? That's the "don't put anything other than mopeds here" zone.

Months ago, we started preparing the current shop for the long hard cold. You might recall this short essay on shelves. Well, a couple of weeks ago I insulated the ceiling, had an electrician improve the shop circuit breaker so we wouldn't be blowing fuses, wired in actual light fixtures (no more cheesy clamp-on shop lights!) and changed over from halogen lights to CFLs for efficiency. Phew! (Did I mention that unemployment leaves you with a lot of time on your hands?) But wait that's not all!!!

My fellow brother in the Unemployed Moped Mechanics Union, suggested that I build a work bench in my recently polished work space.

So I spent a while mulling it over and staring at the area that I thought would best accommodate a work bench. I came up with these criteria:
1. It would have to be removable somehow because sometimes large things need to be stored in our small shop.
2. It must be integrated into the handbuilt aesthetic because Rosanna has Iron Curtain Press clients visit the shop frequently.
3. I must be able to brace the bike without a kickstand so that I can drop puch engines.

I thought about how other people make use of small spaces and large furniture elements and I thought, "Good Lord! I'll build a Murphy bed work bench... a 'Murphy Bench'!"
Here is a photo of the plans that my dad and I drew up:

And here is the result:

My favorite part is the outlet that I wired in right under the bench for dremel-or-air compressor-or-sawzall-a-moped-in-half delights. Also, I built in some pretty beefy hooks on either side of the front tire area to accommodate tiedowns, sweet. Responsible Jon claims that my Murphy Bench idea will be the toast of the mid-west. I don't believe that the mid-west has internet.

Tune in next time for "how to make a lean-to into a legitimate garage", and "I'M BRETT WALKER! THAT KIT IS SLOW! YOU'LL NEVER GET IT TO RUN FAST!" Au contraire.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mophoto Fleet

A couple weeks ago Rosanna organized a Mosquito Fleet Family Portrait. It had been a long time coming mostly because I was a very hesitant participant. My hesitation was due in part to the amount of work involved- lighting, procuring a backdrop of adequate size, organizing people, etc- but also due to some of my own insecurities. I just didn't want to be responsible for taking my friends photos and then if they sucked have only myself to blame. Like I said, insecurities.
So the day approached and Rosanna and I worked hard to gather all the necessary things; remote flashes, a giant white backdrop, an armature for hanging the backdrop, tripods, tether cable... the day before the big shoot I thought, "Hey the new Mac OS just came out, maybe that would help!"

It didn't.

It made my copy of Aperture stop working thus requiring me to spend another couple of hundred dollars regain the ability to edit photos. But I digress.

The day arrived and the so did the rain clouds. Ian and I sat in my house, playing wii, watching the weather channel and hoping for a break in the weather as my nervousness steadily grew. As people arrived the pressure to get shooting reached the tipping point so we began setting up and breaking down the equipment between rain showers, the expensive deposit I had put down on the rental equipment looming foremost on my mind.

Eventually we moved over to the school across the street where there was an awning of adequate size. We moved through everyone that showed up, getting some really great pictures, some not so great pictures and some happy accidents.

In the end despite my nervousness, people were really kind and complimentary and that means a lot to me. The members of the Mosquito Fleet can disagree with each other and have personality conflicts but when it comes down to it the positive experiences far outnumber the negative ones. Of course I know that there is room for improvement in the photos but that's life.

So that was fun. Speaking of fun, those Barrans sure are goofy. Here is a couple of gif's that I made from photos of the red-headed duo:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fly safe Latebirds!

I had a fantastic weekend. FANTASTIC!
My favorite part you ask?
These two:

I spent some time with the Latebirds last winter and Charlie and Shirley are so generous, gracious, and all around cool. I'm so glad that they came and stayed with us this weekend.

We also had a fix-it day!
Natalie got a Moby!
Brendan kept putting flowers in his hair like a sissy.
Scooby gave us a clutch tuning clinic! More about that here.
This is my flash battery. Recognize.
Everyone was working hard.
Except Brendan.

Ian and Allison rock the Hillbilly.
Dishes is leaving us soon.
Natalie on her maiden voyage.
Arianna looked very nice.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How to spend a day less than efficiently.

Recently Rosanna's engine has been making odd noises and running poorly.
So a couple of days ago, nice guy Phil helped me swap out motors on Rosanna's bike so that I could investigate the noises and fix this engine.

I packed up the engine, threw it on my back, and rode over to 'ol ADD Motorworks and Pinball Amusements. As it turns out, one of the clutch shims was just a little too thick. The circlip that holds the clutch bell tight popped loose and was causing the clutch to rub on the inside of the clutch bell. Here is a picture of the culprit:

Notice the scrape marks that go around the inside of the clutch bell.

Travis told me that he had a selection of clutch shims at his house on Capitol Hill but for some reason I couldn't bring myself to repacking the motor and carrying it another 5 miles on my rigid bike through the rough streets of Seattle. So instead I thought, "Why not just sand down this shim to fit. It's pretty close already, right? right? right? right?" I didn't actually repeat "right" but my memory of that statement echoes ominously.

I filed and sanded that thing for 3 hours. Every time I'd check it, the shim would be a little bit closer but not quite thin enough. Eventually, I decided it was good enough (by which I mean I had had enough) and slapped the clutch assembly back together.

In an attempt to maximize the usable space in our shop, I built shelves so that Rosanna and I can organize all of the things that were on the floor.

The shop last spring:

The shop today:

I realize that these two photos don't show exactly the same area of the shed but just absorb these images on the level that one is oppressive and dark and the other is light and soothing. At least that's how I feel when I look at them.

Anywho, the point of all this is that while organizing my newly built shelves I found a clutch shim that I must have squirreled away at some point in history. I popped the shim in and voila! It worked much better than the painstakingy sanded one.

The moral of this story?

Don't be lazy/stupid. Even if modifying the part you have seems like less work than finding the correct component, it'll get you in the end.

Now enjoy this amazing scene from The Shining:

Monday, July 13, 2009

This here is seat country... we don't take kindly to crouchers.

So as I'm sure you've read in other blogs, the mojito fleet went on a little camping trip last week. It was great. There was a little bit of this,

some of this,

a smidge of:

and whatever this was

In the meantime since then, I recovered my seat.

I'm pretty happy with it, I'll do a better job next time when I recover Rosanna's seat, but for a quick crack at upholstery it isn't half bad.

More later. Off to Moped Monday!