Friday, March 30, 2012

Brass Valve Stems! {Attack of the Killer Mutante Skateboarding Vampire Valve Stem People}

I promise this is the last post of the Valve Stems.  I did some work slotting the tops, chamfering the threads at the O-ring seat so they don't eat up the threads and polishing the whole valve stems to get a superior product that won't leak!

I will post the pics, they are mostly self explanatory. It turned out really well and we are both pretty happy with it! 

In the morning that stained glass window that I hung looks pretty cool!  The pic doesn't do it justice!
 Starting the slot cut.
 Part way through the cut.
 All the way through the cut
Adding a 45 degree chamfer to the top of the threads so that the threads do not tear up the O-ring.
Some of the Stems deburred and polished by my Uncle Rich.

We actually are thinking of building a tumbler to tumble the parts to deburr and polish them because it's pretty tough doing it all by hand.  If there is a need, it might be a good idea.  I'd like to sell these and am going to put an advertisement in Woodenboat Magazine as well as Surfer Mag.  Who knows, right?  Hey, have a great weekend!  Philly weather looks pretty good for fiberglassing on Sunday, so I will most likely have a post then about fiberglassing the canoe!  See Ya!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tired of Brass Valve Stem posts?

Yeah, well I have another!  A couple of goofs were made but nothing major and are, hopefully, easily corrected. One was a seat that we cut at the top of the threads (base of the head) for the O-ring to sit in.  Hopefully a heavier O-ring of the same o.d. will fix that or I will be making new ones altogether.  This valve can't leak, if it does it spells disaster for a hollow wooden board!  The other was we just cut the head size too big.  Easily fixed.

First my dad made a seat that is held by the jaws of the lathe for the screws to screw into and be held while the head is cut.  Then

I cut the head to 5/16" (312/1000's) when they actually needed to be 1/4" (250/1000's) so after they were all cut, I just cut them again.  Not a problem.  So cutting the head down to size you cut bits off at a time and measure with Verneer Calipers in various ways.  Below I am using the depth gauge end of these really nice verneers that have a dial on them.  Quite easy to read!  My first reading is 44/1000's too big and the second is spot on at 312/1000's which is equal to 5/16's of an inch.  Of course, after all was done, I had to bring them down to 250/1000's -or- 1/4".

Here is the fatal flaw that we can hopefully remedy, the O-ring seat that was never meant to be!
And finally here is my dad setting up to put the slot in the threads, but I didn't get any pics of that as I didn't think about it while I was running the lathe. 

I'm promise that there will be another post about the valve stems!  Stay tuned!  Don't miss it!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Brass Air Valve Stems

Today my pop set me up on making the brass air vent stem part.  It's basically a screw with a slot running up the threads with an O-ring at its base so that when it is loosened on the surfboard or paddleboard it will release the air pressure inside of the board.

Starting with 1/2 inch (500/1000's) stock brass we cut the pieces at 7/8's of an inch as the final product will be 3/4".  This give some margin for error and chucking the pieces in the lathe easier.  The part is then put on the lathe set on high speed and the threaded part needs to be 3/8" (375/1000's) wide and 1/2" long.  So that is cut on the piece before it is threaded.

Then the part is threaded with the lathe set on slow speed and shut off so it stops spinning just as the threading die reaches the head of screw. 

And there you have it!

A bunch of these were made by me today.  Fun stuff with dad!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Leash Plugs, Sanding, and World Class Bullhead Catfish

I started the day off today getting up in the wee hours of the morning to go fishing on the Delaware on my brothers boat.  We thought that since the water temperature was rising so fast and is at the magic number while the tide was perfect AND it was the New Moon (mammas lay egg time) that the Striped Bass would be jumping in the boat!  Nope!  It is one New Moon too early even though the rest is right.  We hope that the water isn't already 80 degrees by the next one!  We landed channel catties, but the prize of the day goes to the 3lb. Bullhead that I pulled in.  The Delaware record is something like 4lbs. Keith says, so we felt good about that.  It gave a nice fight!  Gorgeous fish with lots of colour.

We got back in time enough to where I could get a full days of work in as well, so that is cool.  I got the leash plugs set up on the mill and drilled the pin holes in them.  Setting up is the toughest, but my dad is my coach and it is good to learn more from him.  He walks me through the set ups and sends me on my way.  It only took a short while so I had enough time to sand out the varnish job that I did yesterday spraying.  I'm going to go back to brushing as it is faster for me and I do a much better job now without leaving any brush strokes.  Spraying looks nicer, when my uncle does it!  He's not around because he's playing in the nice weather and I have to get the varnishing done as it is such a long process and the varnish once open in the can starts to skin up and that is another variable to deal with.  The lid actually popped off my can in the heat yesterday as well so I have to get another can at the Home Despot because the lid won't go back on proper.

Here is a pic of the drilling process.  Have a great weekend everyone!  I think I will enjoy a nice cold homebrew ESB tonight!  Just one (26 ouncer).  ha ha

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More Varnishing

I did another coat on "the Rainstick" today.  It wasn't easy and I made some errors.  My Uncle wasn't with me today, but that is good because I actually did it all myself and learned a lot.  I used to do a little airbrushing when it first became popular in the mid 80's so I kind of know my way around the tools a little bit, but an airbrush and a paint gun are  like comparing a die and a Rubiks Cube in complexity.  I've used rattle cans about a million times and am really good at that so in an hour when the mist settles I will go see what havoc I have wrought to my "Rainstick". 

I first got the varnish ready with my mixing, heating and placing in the gun.  I learned some tricks here and there and if you are interested in learning spray varnishing send me a note, there are lots of little tidbits to it.  The most important:  SAFETY GEAR!  If you notice in the next pic I'm not wearing gloves, that is because I was taking a picture with my phone, my camera battery died.  I had intended on a pic in full gear.  All this gear is totally essential because the job is NASTY even with low VOC varnish like I was using.

My first mistake was very silly.  I had sprayed my first pass with the gun over top the board (very novice-like) and the lid wasn't sealed all the way leaving drips along my path on the board!  I wiped them as best I could, but in the meantime all the extra moving around may have kicked up dust.  We will see.  I feel that I did a half decent job for going blind once my goggles were misted up with varnish!  I don't want to look at it yet as there is still a fog in there and it sticks to my glasses lenses and is really tough to remove.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Brass Leash Plugs

I Milled more brass leash plugs again today.  Tomorrow I drill holes and put in the stainless leash posts and they are DONE!  Looking good!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Weather is Here, Wish You Were Nice!

Thank you Jimmy for those lovely words! I'm not a parrot head, and I think Jimmy Buffets voice is as bad as Bob Dylans' harmonica, but I gotta respect the guy for doing what he does and doing it so well!

Today was a party at the shoppe!  The whole gang was here including my buddy Mike Visman who helped me back in the day on "the Wormhole".  I started the day off making a painting room with my uncle upstairs in the shoppe.  We hung plastic sheeting all around my shaping area to try and keep the dust out while we tried spraying varnish onto the board instead of brushing it on.  We accomplished our mission and soon took to spraying on the varnish.  We heated up a quart of Epiphanes Clear Varnish and sprayed the "Rainstick".  Yes, the "Rainstick", the first board I shaped.  It is an unending process, this varnishing, of learning and making mistakes and learning and above all, waiting for varnish to dry before one can polish out the previous mistakes.  I have been varnishing this board for 4 years now!  Finally I have a way to get it done much faster and nicer looking!  It was a  long slow road, but still varnishing indoors proves to be dusty no matter what, but we cut the dust way down in our little spray booth by about 90%.

Both the "wormhole" and the "rainstick" are going to be on display for purchase at Greenlight Surf Supply ( now residing in Manasquan, NJ.  I will tour the boat shows with them if they do not sell so I have examples of varnished and non-varnished boards.  I really want to keep the "wormhole" as my own because I'm really attracted to its shape, but alas, I need funding for my present projects.  So goes the world.

While we were spraying, my father was downstairs cleaning the Clausing 8520 and getting me set up for some milling to do in the afternoon.  He wasn't feeling hot, so we skipped our daily hike in Pennypack.  Drats!

If anyone is interested in brass leashplugs or airvents, let me know.  You can tell how awesome they are from this most excellent picture that I took with my 1megapixel Blackberry!

OK, have a great day, it's time I enjoyed that ESB that I have in my fridge.  My first Keg turned out pretty damn decent.  Slainte!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Homebrew Club March Meeting with Jeremy Meyers

As you may know, a group of us started a homebrewers club in NE Philly last fall as we felt there was a need for such a group in this area as it was lacking one. With the help of Scoats, the owner of The Grey Lodge (, we got a small group of brewing minded individuals together and created the Lucky 13 Homebrew Club ( named as such because our first meeting was on September 13, 2011.

It's been an informal atmosphere where we get together and talk about the beer we brew, what methods we use, swap recipes and ideas so that we can brew beers that our friends and others will enjoy. Scoats lets us use the top floor of his "oasis" of a bar, that's what I call it, every second Tuesday of the month and we enjoy his full line of beers on tap as well as the excellent cuisine that he offers. I say this because it is not bar food that he serves there, sure you can get a cheesesteak or a flipping excellent pork sandwich, but it really is a diverse menu and the daily dinner specials will knock you off your feet. I had a plate of clams and mussels in white wine last Tuesday that is still making my mouth water. So I'd like to say thanks to Scoats!

So we've been having these gatherings in a really nice place in NE Philly and have also been lucky enough to be getting a multitude of support from the local beer community in the form of guest speakers!  I have been lacking in blogging about them! So this is really my first attempt in blogging about our guests and unfortunately it doesn't do our many past speakers much justice. I also missed a few key meetings so if any readers remember who I left out, please let me know! I know I left one guest Speaker out from the fall/winter crew, for the life of me I can't remember his name! He even made some excellent reference recommendations that I made notes of, but I never made a note of his name! I have tried mining all my emails and communications about meetings and no luck. Scoats, help me out here!

First, I feel inclined to write a bit about our host at the Grey Lodge, Scoats. The man has been a mystery to me as I have lived in Portland, OR from the mid 90's to late 2000's. In fact, the Philly beer scene is not one that I know so that is why I am like a newbie.  I am finding out that Scoats is well known and respected in the Philly beer scene or more like the underground beer scene. Each meeting I learn more about the man behind what I call "Northeast Philly's Beer Oasis" and my respect for him grows. He is a cool character who is laid back but very attentive to his surroundings. Those are the makings of a perfect Publican and a supporter of the community, not only the beer community, but of everything in general. It is very generous of him to let us gather at his pub and we all, not only Lucky 13 I'm sure, appreciate what he does for us. I'm sure his honesty and generosity stems from a compassion for his fellow peeps and that is admirable in my book. Thanks Scoats!

Our first guest was Steve Hawk co-founder of Aleians Homebrew Club and 2010 Philly Beer Geek winner! He is a very personable guy with great beer knowledge and gave us some excellent advice on how to maintain our homebrew club! It was quite some time ago so specifics are a bit vague much to my chagrin but I would like to thank Steve for coming out! I think we may be seeing Steve again for this April 10th meeting as he, "The Beer Fox" Carolyn Smagalski, and Jason Harris the owner of Keystone Homebrew Suppy may be out to meet us and talk about this years Philly Beer Geek competition.

Nick Less, the man at Barry's Homebrew was also a guest last fall and he brought some of his posse with him as well! This was one of the meetings that I missed and I can't really comment on it, but I did manage to meet Nick soon afterward as I have found Barry's Homebrew to be the store for me! Sorry George, Barry's is just too darn convienent AND he gives you beer!  George and Nancy at Home Sweet Homebrew were my mentors. George and Nancy taught me everything and truly are great people. I will pick their brains to see if they would like to join us for a meeting. Nick came out to last Tuesdays' meeting with two growlers full of Nick's ESB ( I could session this beer easy) and he brought his partner in crime Jimmy who brought a truly fabulous English Ale if I remember correctly. By the time we got to the brews of the "two beards", I was already buzzing, I could still taste beer, but am fuzzy on what I actually drank of Jimmy's creation. I am fairly positive that it was and English Ale, but 100% positive that it was flawless!

In January Ben Potts now with Dogfish Head Brewery came to visit us. I believe he was transitioning from Nodding Head Brewery to Dogfish Head Brewery at the time and had nothing but great praise for both! It was really cool to meet Ben! I had read some local articles in the past in Philly Beer Scene and such and knew of Ben but never realized that he was so laid back and cool! This dude is like a 50 degree English Ale, cool and as he got warmed up got even better!  I don't know, I was just trying a metaphor. Forgive me! I really respect Ben. He was down to earth, completely knowledgeable as a practical homebrewer and as a commercial brewer, as well as exceptionally generous with his own cellar stored creations! We didn't get to all of them and when we departed he wanted to give me four huge bottles of what he had left over, I settled for one, and imperial stout that knocked me out! It was so smooth and rounded with no overpowering flavors. I'm not good at judging beer yet and don't know many of the terms involved but I when I think of that Imperial Stout a description of complex yet not overpowering comes to mind.  Maybe it wasn't overpowering because the bitterness was on the lower end of the scale. Just how I like it. Ben if you read this, thanks my man! I enjoyed that beer and I hope we get to see you again soon!

This leads me to Tuesdays meeting March 13th. Jeremy Meyers co-owner and head brewer of soon to open Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company joined us for some good timey revelry. Jeremy came to us full of knowledge and vigor. He's a down to earth guy with a full love of homebrewing and an energy that is unsurpassed! Jeremy is a BJCP beer judge and will be teaching a course in that this spring at the Hulmeville INN as well (contact him or I if you are interested in becoming a judge yourself). He brought to us true judging of our homebrews and even helped our members try to recreate some of those lost beloved beer recipes that they had been looking for. I found our meeting with Jeremy not only illuminating for me in so many different topics but helpful the whole group as well. The meeting went on longer than usual and personally, I thought it should have gone on longer as talking with someone so stoked about the project he is taking on and the style of the project that it is as well as what it means to him was like a Tesla Coil going off! He's that stoked about Neshaminy Creek! From his description of the direction that the brewery is taking is that of one of a true beer lover and I found that refreshing. NCBC will be up and running soon and I can't wait to be able to sample some of the beer that we had talked about! Jeremy, thanks for coming out! We look forward to seeing you!

Unfortunately I don't get out to the bigger gatherings where some of the new craft brews have been already sampled like that of Neshaminy Creeks line of craft beer, but I'd like that to be something that I can work on in my own life. Maybe Lucky 13 can open up some doors for me in that respect and for the other members! We have a good core group of eager members just itching at the beer scene and I feel lucky to be a part of what we have to offer the community. If you feel so inclined, come out to the Grey Lodge on the second Tuesday of the month around 7:30 and introduce yourself, it's way relaxed.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Custom Candle Holder for stained glass window

I thought it would be a neat idea to have soft candle light illuminate that Stained glass window so today I made a candle holder for the one side of it at the base so it can hold a decent sized candle in the middle and two votives.

I layed out the pattern on some sheet aluminum using rulers for making guide lines, a compass for the center curve and a french curve for the two end curves then cut out the tabs that I would be riveting to the face of the holder.  They go on the inside so it doesn't really matter what they look like as it will be above eye level.  I could have just cut straight tabs as they didn't overlap when bent over.  I cut the sharp edges off too.  Then riveted it all together and sealed with some caulk which is drying now.  I will put it on later tonight and take another picture!
I'll add another pic later!