Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Michigan Madman...

The other night we were sitting out on the deck and a couple of my neighbors stopped by for some beers. We got to telling stories, as is often the case, and I talked about growing up in the Midwest. There was a guy named EJ Potter, aka the Michigan Madman, who did drag racing exhibitions, first on a series of V-8 engined motorcycles, then put a V-12 in a '57 Plymouth. It was the latter machine I saw when I went with my older brother to the locally world famous US 30 drag strip, "Drag Racing Capital of Chicagoland". I almost never went anywhere with him and it turned out the only reason he invited me along was that he was broke, so I wound paying for everything. There's nothing quite like growing up as the kid brother. Anyway, my brother's buddy was so excited seeing the hot rod Plymouth smoke it's tires all the way down the track, he kept jumping up and down, yelling "didya see that? didya see that!" Incredible.
Starting off with a small block Chevy, Potter built increasingly bigger-engined drag bikes. Eventually he graduated to a V-12 Allison airplane engine in a '57 Plymouth.

After he retired from drag racing, Potter put the V-12 engine in a tractor and entered it into tractor pulling contests. That led to a double engined tractor with 3400 HP!

Bert, one of my neighbors who had raced a Harley engined dragster himself, was quite impressed by the V-12 power plants. "Yeah those Allison engines, they sound like nothing you hear today, the sweetest sounding engine ever."  And the conversation moved on to old airplanes.

So never did get to the point of the story; that this self styled madman spent most of his life riding crazy fast motorcycles, never was seriously hurt, and built some pretty fantastic machines by himself, with no sponsorship or engineering help. Amazing. EJ Potter died in 2012 at 71. He supposedly was planning a comeback on the V-8 motorcycle just before he died.

Monday, July 24, 2017

All carted up...

When I was getting the walking tractor and attachments ready to sell (Walking tractor...7/1/17)l, it was obvious the cart was in pretty rough shape. Unlike the other parts that were stored in the shed, the cart spent the last twenty years or so leaning against a big spruce tree. The tires were flat, wheels and body rusted; it was pretty shabby. The guy who bought the tractor took one look and said he wasn't interested in it. Andy thought it should go to the metal recycling. But to me, well it was a challenge, it looked fixable.

The cart looked a lot worse than the picture shows. This photo was taken for the ad, so kind of hid the cart with the flat tires behind the tiller.

Started off by removing the wheels, they were rusted fast to the axle. While I couldn't get the tubeless tires to hold air, figured if they could be removed without damaging the bead, might be able to insert tubes. So after removing them, sand blasted and painted the rims, then ordered a pair of tubes on ebay. After the tires and tubes were on the rims, figured it was worth it to work on the cart. So spent the next several days sand blasting the rusty areas and sanding the faded paint, then primered the cart. The steel tube that they used for the tongue had split where it was flattened to meet the axle. Not sure if it came that way, but wound up welding it anyway. Three cans of Rust-Oleum blue later, it looked good as new.

The cart now looks great, almost don't want to sell it. But given that it hadn't moved in over twenty years, well maybe it's not needed so much anymore.
Update:  Sold the cart. It's always a little amazing when someone buys something that others consider junk. It just goes to show the value of a little spray paint.

Monday, July 17, 2017

June weather...

Here.s the June weather summary from the Alaska Climate Research Center:

June 2017 marks 18 months out of the last 20 months with mean statewide temperatures at or above normal. The mean monthly temperature for June was 53.5°F, 1.8°F above the normal. This is 0.6°F below the June 2016 mean of 54.1°F. The first eleven days of the month were above normal, followed by ten days of below normal temperatures, then the month ended with nine more days above normal. The greatest positive deviation occurred on the 8th with 7.5°F above normal, and the greatest negative deviation occurred on the 13th at -2.0°F. 

The highest daily maximum temperature for June was 90°F reported at Fairbanks on the 9th, a new daily record, breaking the 1957 record of 87°F. This was the second earliest 90°F daily high on record, after the 90°F high on May 28, 1947, as well as the first 90°F in Fairbanks since June 2013. Fairbanks also held the spot for the highest mean temperature for the month at 62.8°F.

June's precipitation was notably below normal, with the overall precipitation calculated as 17% below the average;  24 days of the month reported below normal values. This is drier than June 2016, which reported a precipitation surplus of 21% A limited number of daily precipitation records were set this June. Fairbanks on the 11th broke a record set only the pervious year with 1.09", topping the 2016 record of 0.95".

Fire activity was moderate with the somewhat drier weather. Smoke from the South Fork Salcha fire, north of the Pogo Mine, reached Fairbanks on the 9th. It ended the month at over 8,000 acres. A small wildfire temporarily closed the Richardson Highway near Fairbanks at mile 308 on the 9th.  By the end of June there had been 165 human caused fires that burned about 6,000 acres and 90 lightning caused fires that had burned over 183,600 acres.

And here's the stupid cat picture for the month. Ruty's apparently decided to become a lap cat after ten years of mostly ignoring us.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Ridin' the 650...

So after finishing the work on the 650 MoGu (technically it's a V65 Spada, or sword in English, but seriously, who rides a sword?), took it for a ride to see how the new tires worked, Well to be honest, there seemed no difference. But the speedometer was working now, so the worm drive mechanism was fixed. I was happy there were no problems, since I wasn't sure if the axles were assembled with all the spacers in the correct order. At least I was until I came to the junction with the Steese Hwy and the motor died. Didn't think I was out of gas, since I'd added what was left in the poly gas can, maybe half a gallon. Then I remembered last fall running out of gas (Last Ride #3....). and never did fill it up again. So then switched to reserve and it fired right up. Decided I better get to the nearest gas station and opted for one that carried premium, not all of them up here sell it. Since it was more than a few miles, there was some angst before getting there. But made it to station and filled'er up. The rest of the ride was anti climactic, sometimes it's the little things that'll make it interesting.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Walking tractors....

Back in the day when we were building our cabin, we didn't have time for a garden. But when we were finished, at least with the first part before the additions, we decided to get a "walking tractor" that could be put to multiple use, roto-tilling a garden, snow plowing the driveway, and hauling firewood. After we got one, found it was fine for  roto-tilling, but not so much for everything else.
So eventually we got a real tractor (Retired...2/22/16). After years of not using the walking tractor, figured maybe it was time to sell it. Surprisingly, it fired right up after a few pulls with some new gas. The impeller on the snowblower was cracked and bent in a few places from ingesting rocks on the gravel driveway, so had to sand blast, straighten, weld, and repaint it. Otherwise it just needed some clean up, then put an ad in Craigslist. Go figure, it sold the next day. Maybe I should of asked for more? Well it's gone now so at least there's one less thing in the tool shed to trip over or worry about what to do with it.