Saturday, November 15, 2014

A New Project

The other day Chelsea and I were talking about hobbies, projects, and the sort. She said if she had as much going on as I do it would drive her crazy.

That being said, I'm here to tell you about one of my newer projects.

As you may know, this summer I took ownership of a mill and lathe for metal working. I've actually had dibbs on them for more than a year before that, but it took me a while to get them from Utah to Washington. Not only that, but once I got them to Washington, it took me four more months just to unload them from the trailer. The trailer is happy to have them out. They were heavy. Now, all I have to do is get some garbage out of the garage from the kitchen project, and the car will fit again.

So here are the machines:

The Mill:

The Lathe:


They are both made by Jet which is a great brand, but they are kind of old and need a little rehabilitation.

Now doesn't a machine rehab/rebuild sound like a great time? I thought so.

These machines belonged to my grandpa. He mentioned them to me several times before he died. I know that towards the end of his life he wanted to spend time using them but age was catching up with him. I know they were important to him and I know he hoped they would have a good home. Well, they do. Fortunately, I have many friends that I can rely on for help and advice.

That's it for the back story, so unless you're interested in the machines themselves, you'd better stop reading now. I'm going to go into some detail on the condition and plan for each machine.

Mill:
Table: 9.5" x 23.5"
Quill Travel: 5"
Column Travel: 12"
Spindle: R8
Available tooling: 1/2" shank end mill holder, some hold downs,
Current Condition: Rusty on unpainted surfaces, grimy, some homegrown motor tensioning,
Rehabs: General cleaning, liberal scotch-brite, basic lubrication
Upgrade Wish List: Keyless R8 drill chuck, center drills, basic R8 collet assortment, assorted end mills, 4" swivel milling vice, Android Digital Readout, Stepper Motor X-axis Power Feed, X-Y Feed Ball Screws,

Lathe:
Swing: 12"
Center Distance: 36"
Spindle Bore: 1-3/8"
Type: Gearhead, Benchtop
Available tooling: Quick change tool post, MT3 drill chuck (for tailstock), 3-Jaw chuck, 4-Jaw chuck, steady rest
Current Condition: Rusty on unpainted surfaces, ways are in rough shape, grimy, needs new belts, motor wiring is pretty messed up, bent gear selector pin
Rehabs: General cleaning, liberal scotch-brite, basic lubrication, new belts, new gear selector pin, Quick change tool post cleanup, disassemble & clean apron
Upgrade Wish List: Android Digital Readout

Both machines mount to the tables in the pictures. The lathe table is much larger than the lathe. It was centered on the table, but I want to shift it towards the front to make it a little more ergonomic. I plan to use the open space on the back of the table to mount a bench grinder for making lathe tools (and maybe prepping the crazy hard ball screw).

It's going to be a great project. Thanks Grandpa!

Saturday, November 08, 2014

(Apparently) Award Winning Chili

This week I was surprised to win my office chili cook off. I've climbed the ranks over the last three years winning third, second, and finally first. So many people liked it that it was also People's Choice. I even got two fun trophies. It's especially surprising because I wasn't planning on entering this year. I felt like I had too much going on outside work, but last week the office administrator came and begged me to enter given my past success.


Now I wish I could say that this was an old family recipe and that it's been handed down through the generations. That it has morphed and perfected over the decades and now is finally ready to be a champion chili.

But that's not true.

A few years ago we were planning a church chili cook off with the scout troop. I had to participate so I got on the Google Machine and clicked a few times. Pretty soon I came up with this one:

Emily's Chipotle Chile

Now, I'm always a fan of chipotle flavored foods so I thought it was a good candidate to start with. I made a couple of small modifications, too, so I'll put down my modified recipe. The biggest change comes from the fact that kidney beans suck, while black beans are delicious. Black beans also fit the chipotle theme better in my opinion. (Of course, all this discussion on beans is purely academic anyway, seeing that real chili should be bean free.)

Anyway, here we go.

Tom's Chipotle Chili

  • 1 lb Ground Hot Italian Sausage
  • 2 lbs Ground Beef
  • 1/2 lb Thick Cut Pepper Bacon, Diced
  • 5 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Coriander
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Large Onion, Diced
  • 1 (28 oz) Can Diced Tomatoes (Not Drained)
  • 1 (15 oz) Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 (14 oz) Can Black Beans
  • 2 Tbsp Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, Minced
  • Salt/Pepper to taste


  1. Cook sausage, bacon, and ground beef in a large pot over medium-high heat until lightly browned and crumbly. 
  2. When the meat has released its grease, and has begun to brown, drain off accumulated grease, and season with chili powder, cumin, and coriander. 
  3. Cook and stir for 1 minute until fragrant.
  4.  Stir in the garlic and onion. Cook until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 4 minutes.
  5. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, chipotle peppers, salt, and pepper. 
  6. Bring to a simmer and cook on low for 30-60 minutes.
  7. Find some sour cream and shredded cheese QUICK!
  8. At this point, the original recipe says to put it in a slow cooker and cook for 8-10 hours. I think it's good right away. To be fair, though, the chili in the contest had spent about 4 hours slow cooking in the crock pot.

    In my recipe I also upped the chipotle peppers from 2 Tsp to 2 Tbsp. This is not a mistake.

    I hope you like it.

    Saturday, September 06, 2014

    The Age Index

    Disclaimer: Today I'd like to explain an idea I had. It involves math and used cars. If that combination doesn't intrigue you, then feel free to pass on this one. On the other hand, if you'd like to hear what I think is an easier way to evaluate used cars, then read on.

    On to business.

    First, a confession. I spend way too much time looking at Autotrader.com. I'm kind of like a space-aged version of Joe Dirt in that respect. (Fortunately minus the mullet.) I'm not aimless in my search, though. Sometime next year I'd like to buy a newer truck. When shopping for a new car it can be difficult to compare vehicles when you have so many factors that play into the price. Is it better to have an older car with lower miles or a newer car with higher miles? If you ask five different people that question you are likely to get six or seven different answers. So I wanted to find a way to "normalize" the age and mileage factors to make it easier to understand equivalency.

    When you're looking for cars the main info that's displayed is the price, the mileage, and the year. Using the year and the mileage, you can calculate this Age Index and it gives you a score that you can use for comparison. This is kind of on the same level saying to yourself, "Here's a 2010 with 56,000 miles. That's 14,000 a year." The Age Index gives you a tighter score. So here it is:



    Where the age is in years (single or double digits), and only the thousands are used for the mileage. For example, my Landcruiser is a 1994 with 220K miles:


    So in that case the Age Index is 90.9. You will find out that that's pretty good. My CR-V only scored only 58.8 which in my opinion is just under what I would take to be the minimum (more on that later). So even though my CR-V is nicer and newer than the Landcruiser, it's got a much worse Age Index. Notice that this only works for used cars. If you apply it to a new car, the whole thing goes to zero because the age is zero.

    So what's a good Age Index? Well, this idea is still in it's infancy and I've only compared about 50 vehicles, but I fee like a good Age Index minimum is 60. What about maximum? Well, in my limited search I came up with only one or two that were above 150. For a five year old car to have an Age Index above 150, it would have to have less than 33,000 miles. Very low and very rare. Realistically you should be able to find them under 100. So, seeking an Age Index between 60 and 100 will put you in a good situation.

    Interesting patterns

    So as I've been looking at this, I've looked a lots of different sets of trucks. I made up tables of Toytota Tundras, Ford F150s and Dodge Ram trucks. I also compared these numbers for the Puget Sound area and Salt Lake Valley. I did this because I wondered if trucks were cheaper in one place or the other. For now I'll only talk about the Toyota Tundra comparison. Here are the two most interesting patterns I've noticed.

    1. Trucks are slightly cheaper in the Salt Lake Valley. They're not enough cheaper to justify a trip out there, especially considering...
    2. The Age Indexes are MUCH lower down there. Puget Sound numbers were pretty consistently above 60 with a few below. But, in Salt Lake, only a couple were even above 50. (Salt Lake is also a much harsher environment for vehicles considering road salting and much greater temperature variations.)

    So there you go. The Age Index. Like I said, this idea is in its infancy. Next time you are looking for a car, maybe you could use this and maybe it will even help. Please leave some feedback in the comments.
    Thanks for reading!

    Saturday, June 07, 2014

    First Camping Trip

    This weekend we had the kiddo's first camping trip. It was short, kind of impulsive, and we all survived.


    I say impulsive because we only decided Thursday night that we were going. At the last minute we were able to get reservations at Twanoh State Park. I've been here a few times before but only to hike on their little trail. This time we camped and even went to the little beach they have.

    It was a great time, but it wasn't without it's pains. Fortunately, Little Man was unsuccessful in his numerous attempts at falling into the fire. He made up for it by falling off the bench a few times, though. When we finally started heading for bed I was surprised to find that it was almost 10pm. The kid seemed to have a limitless supply of energy. He was constantly egged on by Jake, who is always skiddish during the first night of a camping trip.

    That supply of energy kicked in again at about 5:30am. This time, though, we couldn't get him to calm down. We were in a walk-in camp site so there was about six tents within a hundred feet. Not wanting to be on the receiving end of mob violence, we decided to head out on a drive until a more reasonable hour. From Twanoh we drove to Lake Cushman and explored a little. We tried to find the yurt we stayed in a couple of years ago on New Year's Eve but couldn't. Guess who fell asleep.



    Around 8:00am we got back to camp, made breakfast, and packed up. Then it was down to the beach. Twanoh State Park is supposed to have the warmest saltwater beach in the state. Of course, that's not saying much here in Washington. The beach was packed with kayaks. It looked like there was some kind of kayak event or classes going on. Everyone in the campsite also had kayaks. We felt a little out of place. The water was nice, though. Last year at scout camp I learned that Hood Canal water was actually pretty nice.


    This was also Little Man's first experience in more water than the tub. He seemed to like it. Now we just have to get him into some swimming lessons.



    This time I forgot more stuff than I have in a long time. And not just foofy extra stuff that you don't really need. I forgot flashlights, pillows, and paper towels. Well, the pillows are foofy stuff you don't need (Chelsea disagrees), but flashlights are too basic. I didn't even realize it until it was starting to get dark. Duh. 

    We were back at the house by 1:00pm Saturday. Since we had to leave after work yesterday, it was less than a 20 hour camping trip. Still worth it, though.

    Saturday, May 10, 2014

    Stottlemeier 30

    This was a great weekend. I've never entered a bike race before and this one was a great one to start out on. Unfortunately, it wasn't a great weekend to start my illustrious mountain bike racing career.

    Another thing I've never done is ride a 30 mile stretch on a bike. Mountain or otherwise. Now, as I've trained for this race I've done some pretty good rides. A couple of months ago I did 17, then two weeks ago I did 18. Last Saturday I set a goal to do 20 in Banner Forest, which I did. The 18 mile ride was in the same trail system that the race was held in.

    So last year I was finally able to get the full suspension mountain bike that I've wanted for years. I rode (and still ride) the crap out of it. Amid this new excitement of biking again I became aware of an annual race held in my area, the Stottlemeier 30/60. It's part of the NW Epic Race Series (nwepicseries.com). It's called "30/60" because you can either ride 30 miles or 60 miles (in case 30 miles on a mountain bike isn't enough for you).

    Well, I did it. I was aiming for finishing in some other place than last, and I did. So all in all, it was a success. It took me about 5-1/2 hours to finish, about an hour longer than I thought it would. But man, it was a soup sandwich. The last few days have been pretty rainy, even for here. While it wasn't actually raining during the race, the trail was something that would leave someone with discerning taste for mud a little misty eyed.

    There were many sections where I struggled for balance and continually felt my rear wheel slip with each pedal stroke. There was this one time where there was a log laying longwise in the trail. My front tire went on one side and my back tire went on the other. It only worked because my back tire kept slipping along it while finding a little traction in the mud. After about 5 miles I let some air out of my tires, and that helped a lot.

    In terms of mileage, the muddy sections were probably only about 25%, but they easily took 60% of the time. And what time wasn't sucked up in the mud was sucked up in the 2500 feet of climbing. The really great thing, though, is that lots of the muddy sections were also stiff climbs. You got the best of both worlds. I think an accurate description would be "thankless toil". I have never done anything so physically demanding as this. The mud resisted your every effort.

    But, at last I reached the finish line where Chelsea and the kiddo came to meet me. I kept them waiting, because as I said, it took me much longer to finish than I thought it would. Afterwards we headed out for some dinner. You would think that I would be famished after burning 1922 calories (as estimated by Strava). The truth is that I didn't really feel that good. I still don't. This week I've had an upset stomach and luckily I got to bring that with me to the race. Also, I've never had so much cramping on a single day. Good times.

    So, I should really be in bed right now, so I think that's all for tonight.


    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    Family History

    At long last I finally logged in to Familysearch.org. I've been thinking about doing it for some time now. Of course, as you know, the road to perdition is paved with good intentions. You only get credit for action, not intention.

    Until recently I was operating under the assumption that there is little work to do in my genealogy. Many years ago my Grandpa Cornwall (my mom's family) gave me a family tree chart that he had made. After his retirement he repurposed his drafting table for this work instead of the building plans that had covered it for decades. The chart he gave me was on a huge architectural sheet. It went back well into the 1700s and stretched across many current families. Of course, I never appreciated the amount of effort that went into that chart.

    Like I said, that great chart gave me the impression that genealogical work in my ancestry was essentially complete. It is true that I am very much the beneficiary of generations of faithful people. But it's just like they say, if it looks simple you're probably not looking close enough.

    Today I have been introduced to genealogical fan charts. Byron told me about them so I decided to look mine up. Here's what mine looks like:


    Unless you click on it, you can't really read it. But, even when you're not zoomed in, you can see that there are no empty slots. Empty slots mean incomplete work.

    See, it's all done. Nothing more to do. At all.

    Now lets look closer. In this fan chart I'm at the center. What if I place my great grandfather at the center? I Remember the funeal of Julius Edmund Kruger (my dad's family). He died in March of 1985, which means I had just turned five. That is the first funeral to which I can attach actual memories. I remember discussing it with my brother at bedtime. We shared a basement bedroom at the time. I don't remember which brother it was. It's a vague memory.

    Anyway, I'm getting off track. Here's his fan chart:

    It looks more like a wheel of swiss cheese. Suddenly my complacent argument that all my family's work had been done is full of holes...so to speak. His wife, Lina Martha Otto, is even worse off.

    The work is cut out for us. I'm happy I have started looking into familysearch.org.

    Sunday, March 30, 2014

    Painting

    So about two years ago I discovered I was bad a painting. Well, painting cabinets.I feel like I can do walls OK, but not cabinets. I suck at cabinets. See for yourself.


    Well, I scraped that one off and tried it again. the saving grace is that the bathroom doesn't have any windows so the light's not that good. Anyway, we pressed on through adversity and got the job done.

    Then, when some time had passed and allowed me to forget how bad I was at painting, I talked myself into thinking I could do it again. It's one of those things where you get better at it the farther back into history it is. 

    I had an ace in the hole though. I was going to use Rustoleum's Cabinet Transformations. Just look at the box! The finish is perfect! Piece of cake! 

    See how my mind works? Just like a sixth grader looking at the fantastic ads in the back of Boy's Life magazine. A hovercraft for $5 you say? How can I live without it?

    Actually, I don't think that's fair. Cabinet Transformations is not on the same level as a cool hovercraft. It's pretty good system, but the finish isn't really what we had in mind. It's a four part system. Check it out.


    1. Deglosser
    2. Bond Coat
    3. Decorative Glaze
    4. Clear Topcoat

    (Pro tip: Keep plenty of bath toys around for good luck.)

    So that third step, the decorative glaze is kind of the rub. Your skill (or not) with that is a big determining factor about how the finished product turns out. The picture below shows one of the finished doors. So far I've finished 2 out of 19. I already finished it once, didn't like it, repainted it, and tried again. All I'm getting is a big....'meh'. It's not what I had in mind. In the pictures you can't really see the imperfections. I have to admit, the glaze gives it that weathered look that many people are looking for these days. Also, the glaze combines with the prevalent brushstrokes to give it a nice look. The bottom line, however, remains that it's not what I thought it was going to be. 


    It's not often that I find myself at a complete loss as to what to do, but with this project I'm there. Chelsea and I discussed it this afternoon. I remembered that I had bought some paint for the closet door in the kiddo's room. Five months later, I have yet to crack open that paint. So we thought, we might as well try painting one of the other cabinets with it and see which we like best.


    Well, I got two coats on with a foam roller. So far it looks OK. Of course, the real test is what the doors look like with the paint. I haven't tried those yet. It will probably take three coats all around.


    Hopefully, if nothing else, this post will serve as a reminder to me. A reminder that I shall not paint cabinets. Let me say it one more time: "I SHALL NOT paint cabinets!" I'm have more experience doing carpentry. It will be less time and pain to simply replace the cabinets.