Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More Music (and medical news)

I've been pretty much under the weather for the past week, or so, due to an on-going problem which decided to flare up, last Wednesday.  I went to the doctor yesterday, and she referred me to an ear, nose and throat specialist, whom I saw today.

Nothing serious.  I've been having some pretty severe nosebleeds and pain in my sinus.  It turns out that I have an infected area on the wall of my sinus cavity, which scabs over then bursts open and bleeds all over the place, before scabbing over and doing it all, again.

Sorry if that was a little graphic.  It was just the simplest way to put it.

So, now I have a bottle of antibiotics, antibiotic cream, nose sprays, a vaporizer. etc. to try and get the spot to heal up.  Hopefully, that will take care of it.

Being off work, this afternoon, I worked up another slide guitar song.  Check it here, if you are interested.  And, again, please leave a comment, if it's not too much trouble.


Monday, September 27, 2010

My Music

I posted up another demo video for a song on HRJG.  It's not the happiest little tune in the world, but I am pretty happy with how it's coming out.

Check it out and, for goodness sakes, leave a comment or two!  Good or bad, I'd like to hear what you think.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Live Music

I recently decided to try and take in some live music, at least once a month.  Last night, I figured I'd better get out and do it, since September is almost over and I had not seen any shows, all month.

I jumped on the Honda, and headed out with no particular destination in mind.  I ended up at Herman's Hideaway, and had a blast.  The full story is on HRJG, but here's a teaser:

The jacket seems very popular, lately...


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Earwig Horror

This is a cut-and-paste of an email I received from my sister:

I have one of those indoor / outdoor thermometers like I sent to 
you.  My outdoor transmitter was hanging in a tree just outside the 
dining room window and had been out there for a year and working fine 
until Friday, when we noticed we weren't getting a signal from 
it.  We thought it was probably the battery and finally, yesterday 
morning around 7:15 while the kids were eating breakfast, I brought 
it into the kitchen to change the battery.  I couldn't get the 
battery cover off at first, probably, I thought, because there was 
some dirt in the crack around the cover and it was jammed.  So I used 
a knife to go around the cover and tried again.  When the cover came 
off a bunch of earwigs fell out of the transmitter onto my kitchen 
counter.  I yelled and smashed around at them until I had killed all 
of them (8 earwigs, as it turned out), then two more crawled out.  I 
killed them too, then took the battery out.  I could see antennae 
poking through into the battery area from the inside of the 
transmitter, then two more crawled out of that hole.  I killed them, 
then watched for a minute or two and no more came out, so I picked 
the transmitter up and walked across the kitchen, got a battery from 
the closet, put it in, and three more earwigs crawled out onto my 
hands.  I screamed that time and threw the transmitter down (narrowly 
missing the cats' water dish), shook the earwigs off of me and 
stomped them.  By this time I had the attention of both kids and both 
cats, so I had to explain what was happening.  While I was 
explaining, another earwig crawled out of the transmitter - that 
makes 16 earwigs so far, if you've lost count.  I killed that one 
and, as Steve came in the back door, having missed the whole thing, I 
was sealing the transmitter in a ziplock bag so that I could throw it 
away.  I had him take it all the way to the outdoor trash can because 
I figured that if earwigs could get inside that transmitter they 
could probably get out of a sealed zip lock bag.  I spent the rest of 
the morning shuddering every time I would think about the bugs - I 
don't mind bugs outside, but I was pretty creeped out to have them 
boiling out into my kitchen.  By the time the bus came at 7:30 Kyle 
was referring to the whole incident as "The Earwig Horror."
 "The Earwig Horror"...H.P. Lovecraft would be proud.

Vintage Singer 301

I picked this up at a yardsale, recently, as part of a $15.00 package deal:

 It's straight-stitch-only, gear-driven and (according to every website I've checked) "a favorite of quilters".

I love the brass accents...

...and the deco number font.

It seems to work, just fine.  Now, I need to download a manual for it and make note of how to thread it so that I can use it with some thread other than what is already in it!

(This post is dedicated to Myles, at Rat Trap Press.)


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Eight-Legged Freaks

The spiders are on the move, here in the casa.

Big ones...

And medium...

I saw both of these guys within about one minute.  I didn't get a picture of the apparent tarantula on my couch, a few minutes earlier.

It's a creepshow, some days.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

My New Vintage-Style Fixed Gear

 I just finished building this up, a few minutes ago, and took it for a test ride around the block.  Yesterday, I painted it, and pretty much put it together.  Today, I cabled the brakes and installed tubes in the tires.

It started life as a red 1988 or '89 red RockHopper, that I built up into one of my favorite fixed gear commuter bikes, a couple of years ago.  Then, I modified the frame, and painted it Army Green and turned it into a 26" flip-flop fixie-singlespeed  for Brad.

He, in turn, artificially aged it to resemble a "barn find".  Then, after acquiring a couple more bikes, Brad decided that he had too many, and the "barn find" came back to me.

It's been back for quite a while, now.  A couple of weeks ago, I pulled it out of the storage shed and put it in the shop building, and waited for inspiration.  Yesterday, I felt the need to build up a bike.

I really like the look and concept of the Pashley Guvnor, but $1400 for a singlespeed bike seems a bit steep to me.  So, I decided to go with 700c wheels and white tires to emulate the feel of the Brit Bike.

I used a 700c cross fork that I had lying about, so that the cantilever brakes would line up with the rim.

For a rear brake, I had to drill the bridge (these old RockHoppers had a threaded insert on the bottom of the bridge, rather than a hole through the tube) and then installed a Superbe caliper which was in the parts stash.

The handlebars are inverted Huffy 3-speed bars (Wald Tourist Bars), with the grips that Brad made for it.

I used my extra pair of 29er wheels, with a bolt-on Tomi Cog.  This gives me the option of running the bike as a singlespeed, with the addition of a cog on the freehub side, and I'm hoping the rims will hold up better than some have for me.  It's currently geared 45/18, which seems to work for me.

Now, I have to decide if I want to put a rack and fenders on it, and commute with it, or just use it as a "fun bike" (for which I already have the Orange Peugeot).  Decisions...decisions...


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Crappy Cell Phone Motorbike Picture of the Day

I spotted this Honda CB750 cafe racer sitting on the street, on my way home.  I never have my camera, when I need it.

If you haven't noticed, I'm kinda into the old motorbikes...


Monday, September 06, 2010


I put the "porch" swing up, today.  (Since I don't have a porch, I'm not sure what the correct nomenclature would be.)

 My front yard is becoming more like an outdoor living-room.

The chains are wrapped around a limb, 17 feet up in the tree.  I put plastic plumbing tubing around the chain, to protect the bark on the tree.

I'm really a lot happier with it than I look, in this picture.


A Bike For Kyle (Part Deux)

If you've been following along, you know that I picked up this 1970 CL450 Honda with the intention of giving it to my older nephew, Kyle, next year (when he turns 16).

As I've worked on it and ridden it around, I have begun to wonder if this bike is a real good choice as a first bike for someone who mostly wants transportation; not a hobby.  This was driven home to me, the other night, as I was starting it up so that Brad and Randy could ride it around  before we went to see Machete, at the theater.  It took me about 20 kicks and 5 different tries on the choke lever position to get it going, and I've had 35+ years experience with bikes.

So, I decided to see if I could find something newer, something which was built after the watershed years of the mid-80s when motorcycles became much easier to deal with.  What I was looking for was something classic, but not vintage...beginner friendly but not boring.

I found this:

It's a 1995 Suzuki GS-500 E.  It has a vertical twin engine, displacing 487cc and producing right around 50 hp, and weighing about 450 pounds with a full tank of gas.  That's a good enough power-to-weight ratio to allow it to get out of its own way, and hold its own in traffic.  At over 55 mpg, the 5.3 gallon fuel tank should allow for some good, long, cruises between refills.

If you look closely, you can see a bit of damage to the tank, from a spill, sometime in the past.

Here"s a close-up.  I will either find a new tank, or fix this one and paint it.  I plan on talking to Kyle before making a decision on that.

It has disc brakes, front and rear;  cast wheels and tubeless tires...In other words, this is a modern motorbike.  I feel better about this, as a first bike for a 16-year-old than I do the vintage Honda.

It's a good-looking bike, similar to this:

The Trident is a 1996 model...the Suzuki is from 1995.
Side-by-side, the two bikes are obviously contemporaries.  I really want to repaint the Suzuki, mount the Buell windscreen I have propped up on it in this picture, and turn it into a smaller version of the Trident.  They are so similar, to start with, that it would be pretty easy to make them a matched pair.

It's a fun bike to ride, and good-sized chassis for a middle-weight bike. 

My first road bike was a 1977 GS400, the first 4-stroke twin Suzuki ever built.  This bike is the direct descendant of that bike.  That may be one reason I like it so much.  I have a bit of a soft spot for these.

I hope Kyle likes it, too.


Sunday, September 05, 2010

Thrifty Jon

I scored a couple of things at the thrift store, today:

A Pair of like-new Vans snowboard boots, for my nephew Kyle.  He and I are going snowboarding, when he comes out, at Christmas.  It makes more sense, to me, to just buy some used boots, rather than renting a pair.  This way, he can take them home and use them as snow boots, and for snowboarding back East, as well.

And this...

I kind of like the graphics job.

It's done up in a fairly artistic way.  I like how the big graphic below the sound hole emulates the shape of a traditional pick guard, for instance.

The back and sides are sprayed with faux-stone.  I guess that means it a rock guitar!  Har, har, har!

I don't know if the previous owner purposefully reduced to three strings for some reason, or if it was accidental.  I tuned it to E,A,D, and to E,A,B and played around with it.  It's possible to, at least, lay down a decent blues accompaniment for yourself, that way, in a very minimalist style.  So, perhaps that was part of the artistic expression, like David Bowie and his one-string guitar that he played on tour in the 70s.

I have no idea what make guitar it is.  It seems to be pretty decently put together, though.

I thought about scraping the stuff off of the headstock to find out, but I like the crow (which is right where I would expect to see a logo).  I think I'll just leave the finish, as-is, and maybe replace the tuners and string it normally.

Or, maybe not.  Maybe I'll string it with 3 heavy-gauge strings and make a "campfire bass" out of it.


I couldn't help myself:  I pulled the crow off of the headstock (and stuck him on another guitar).  The, with some careful scraping and application of brush-cleaner, I was able to uncover the name of the guitar.

Franciscan was one of those obscure Japanese brands back in the 1970s and 80s, which eventually moved production to Korea.  This one appears to have a solid top, and the older-style screen-printed logo which indicates it's probably of Japanese origin.

Like the proverbial cat, I just had to know.


Saturday, September 04, 2010

Saturday Productivi-day

After starting my day out the right way (coffee, scone, more coffee), I got moving and actually managed to get some stuff done.

I finally lucked up on a decent porch swing, at a garage sale, and bought it.  While I don't have a porch to hang it on, I have a conveniently situated limb on one of the front-yard trees.  I'll post pictures after it's actually swinging.

 Then, I sold this little vintage Kay tube amp, through craigslist.  I liked the fellow who got it, and I feel like it went to a good home.  It really seemed like he would enjoy it.

Then, Carol brought her mixte, which she has named "Little Blue", over and I attached the rear carriers.

They are baskets, hand-woven by my sister.  I had originally intended to put them on my Hercules 3-Speed, but that project never got off the ground.

I'll eventually varnish them, so they will match the front basket a bit better as well as being more weather-resistant.

I'll probably get some brown leather straps to replace the toe-straps I used today.  I used the bottle holders from a wine crate, cut in half, to reinforce it, and attached the bottom to prevent swaying.  carol just wanted them on, and usable, since she's been using the bike lately (and needed more gocery-room).

I put fenders on the RockCombo commuter bike.  I'm tired of dodging the drops coming up off of my front wheel when I run through the sprinkler overflow on the roads, every morning.  Plus, we are approaching that time of year when we get the occasional; rainy day.  I can't believe I went this long without fenders on my commuter, actually.

I also installed a nicer rack, and forgot to take pictures of it before I put the bags back on.  Suffice it to say that it is heavy-duty, and has a design which should keep the bags out of the rear spokes a little better than the old rack did.  I pulled it from the carcass of a parts bike I picked up from Mark, a year ago.

Now, I am getting ready to go see Robert Rodriguez's "Machete" with Brad and Randy.  Should be a fun "bachelor night".


Friday, September 03, 2010

Do It

 I've been meaning to post this detail picture from the CL-450 since I noticed it, the second day I owned the bike.  Even if I didn't like the paint, I don't think I could paint over this.

Man, I had a tough week at work, this week.  I had a backlog of past-due testing, equipment problems, more material arriving every day...

I worked overtime every day, and pretty much got home exhausted, every night.  Supper, play with dogs, shower, bed, up again at 4:30.

So, not a lot to post about.  But, I'm still around and I've got a long weekend ahead.

I did sell a couple of bikes (a 62 Novarra Strada and the old cruiser with the wine-crate rack) and a guitar on Craigslist, today.  Oddly, all three guys showed up, looked at the item, said, "It's just what I wanted," and handed me my asking price without trying to talk me down.

It was pretty pleasant, and unusal, for CR deals.

I've got more stuff for sale.  Hope it all goes just as smoothly.