Two Wheels - Six Strings

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

Monday, July 28, 2014

Why Is This So Amusing, To Me?

Go here.

You're welcome.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bikes, Bikes, Bikes!

Today, I decided to get some bike projects done. I started the day with 7 unfinished projects, and ended with five. I would have liked to get another one, or two, done. But, two is better than none, I suppose.

 First, I built up my 1985 Schwinn Sierra as a townie/commuter bike for a gal who works at CDOT.

 I had built this as a 650b conversion fixed-gear, but I wasn't riding it. So, when Nicole asked about building up a bike for getting around town, I suggested the Sierra. She liked the look of it, and gave me a list of features that she was looking for, including fat, semi-slick tires. (I might have influenced that choice of rubber, a little bit.)

 One of the things she didn't necessarily want was a triple crank, so I installed a 38/50 crankset. Oddly enough, the Sierra was originally spec'd with a double (the High Sierra had a triple crank), and was sold as a city bike. Circle of life...

I'll take it to work with me, tomorrow, and make sure it suits.

 Once the Sierra was complete, I moved on to this little number. This is a late-80s Specialized RockHopper that I had converted to 700c, a few years ago. It ended up donating its parts to another build, and languished on the back porch for quite a while.

I decided to build it up as a 26" wheel, fixed-gear mountain bike. Some of the parts are left over from the RockCombo, the frameset of which I sold, last year. Some were just sitting around the shop, looking to be used.

The rear wheel is set up as a flip/flop, so that I can freewheel, if need be. I have another set of wheels, in the shop, shod with studded tires. Icy days should be no problem, this winter...

 This On-One Mungo handlebar has been in the quiver for quite a while. I think this might be the 5th or 6th bike I've had it on. I just got those red pedals from the Returns/Clearance table down at Performance, yesterday.

Nothing looks quite as purposeful as a single-speed bike; Especially one with 2.2-inch tires!


The Whole Shebang

Here's the entire show, from July 19th, at Herman's Hideaway (one song at a time),


Friday, July 18, 2014

Odd Friday

 The Scrambler in its native environment...

I sat at the coffee shop for quite a while, today. The temperature, outside, was really pleasant as i sat there and drank my two large coffees. I spent some time texting folks to remind them of our show, tomorrow night (Skull Full Of Blues at Herman's Hideaway, 6:30-7:30).

Brad and Noella showed up, and I went inside to sit with them, for a spell. Eventually, we all went back to my house (Brad and Noella were on Brad's scooter, with the sidecar), so that Brad could check out a bicycle and some wheels he may need.

I was wearing my thrift store leather jacket. I just got it back from an airbrush artist, who painted the design I had decided on, earlier in the summer. I think it looks pretty good. Investment, so far, $55.00.
I need to put snaps, or zippers, on the cuffs. Then, I think, it will be done.

Later, I went out to run some errands, and check out a Cinelli frame that Brent had, and ended up standing around in the alley behind Brent's house, shooting the bull for about 3 hours. No errands got run.

I came home and did a little practicing for tomorrow's show, and restrung the Gibson BFG. I never did any of the bicycle building I meant to do, or anything.

Just realized that kayak is a palindrome.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Miyata 310 Yardsale Find

I got a text from Brad, to the effect of, "Do you need a 22" Miyata 110, with Shimano Arabesque, for anyone? The handlebars are bent, but it's in good shape, otherwise."

He was at a yard sale, near his house. I told him to hang tight, and I would come get it. The price was good, and I have been looking for some old Japanese road bikes, for people, lately. So, I figured I'd take a chance on it.

When I got there, it turned out to be a Miyata 310. It looked to be in pretty good shape, for the most part. The freewheel was frozen, but the wheels looked to be in good shape.

The handlebars were, indeed, quite bent, as was the stem. Not a big deal, since the frame and fork were unaffected.

I took the bike home, and dripped some lube into the freewheel. It loosened right up, and was soon working like new. After a bit of a sweaty struggle, I managed to get the seat post out, and cleaned the inside of the seat tube, before lubing the post and reinserting it. I aired the tires up, and adjusted the brakes, then test rode it. Everything worked fine (other than the weird feeling of steering with those messed up bars, that is.)

I had an old Superbe stem, and an SR handlebar in the shop building. So, I swapped the bar and stem, and wrapped the bar with some old, used, tape I had in the parts bin. It's not the best wrap job I have ever done, as you can see the bar on the inside of the handlebar curve, at the brake lever. The Shimano gum hoods are pretty crispy, and I couldn't roll them back, in order to get a perfect wrap.

The bike steers a lot better, now. And, it looks quite a bit better, too, in my opinion.

I have some virtually new Bontrager 27" tires, which I may put on the Miyata. New brake pads will be a good addition, as well. Then ... well, I'm not sure.

The frame is a 56cm, with a 56 top tube, which is precisely my size. I should just put it on craigslist and flip it, or find someone I know who is looking for this size.  But I don't even own a road bike, right now, and this is a sweet frame. I have some 700c wheels, and a modern drivetrain that I could hang on it, if i wanted to keep it.

The problem is, I would probably never ride it. I just like these old frames, and I'd like to have one. That might well be the root of any financial problems that I have.

It would make a sweet fixed gear, too...

Yes, I have a problem.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Even Better

You may have seen my previous post, where I discussed electrifying my little Truetone/Kay. I really like it, and I plan on playing it at Herman's Hideaway, on the the 19th of this month.  But, I didn't think that the pickup I put in it really fit the vintage vibe:

So, I pulled a vintage (1960s) DeArmond out of the parts stash, this afternoon, and replaced the Strat-style pickup.

It not only looks better, but it sounds awesome, as well.

I don't much care for the strings, though. I am going to restring it with my normal gauges and go from there. Other than that, the guitar is just about perfect!


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

One Less Car

{I know that the title is grammatically incorrect, by the way.)

I bought this little GL, the hatchback version of the Brat, a year ago. I had plans to fix it up a bit, in a rally-style way, and use it to haul the mountain bike around.

I used it a bit, and actually hauled the WalGoose fatbike on it, a couple of times.

 The bike looks bigger than the car!

A year after buying the car, though, I had made very little progress on fixing up the car.It's amazing how much less spare time I have for this kind of project than what I thought I had.

 So, after hemming and hawing for a couple of months, I posted it for sale on craigslist at 1:00 on Sunday. At 5:30, this evening, the car was sold.

I happened to post it on the very weekend that a gal moved to Denver, and started looking for an old Subaru like the one her dad drove for years. She came by, drove it, looked it over, and bought it.

I hope that it serves her well.


Sunday, July 06, 2014

Comedy, Tonight!

Emily was out of town, this weekend, so I hosted the Homegrown Comedy night, at the Mercury Cafe, tonight. I did a few minutes of comedy, to start things off. Then I did a little bit of improv between comedians, as I introduced the next act. I had a great time, and the other people in the room seemed to enjoy themselves, as well.

Emily has set the bar high, as the regular host. I hope that I measured up, tonight, and I am grateful for the opportunity!


Saturday, July 05, 2014

I Love This Guitar, Now

A while back (maybe a couple of years ago?), my friend Tony G was looking for a 3-speed bike, and I had an early-60s Hercules hanging in the shop building. I told him he could have it, and he asked if i would take a guitar in trade. I was really planning on just giving Tony the bike, but i told him to bring the guitar over, and I'd take a look at it. This is what he brought.

I immediately tod Tony that I'd love to make the trade. I had a vague notion that I could do something with the guitar, at some point.

TrueTone was the house brand for Western Auto, back in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Various Chicago instrument makers produced guitars for W/A, including Harmony and Kay.

The painted on 16th-note "pickguard" identifies this particular guitar as a Kay. You can find quite a few examples of this motif on Kay and Old Kraftsman branded instruments on the interwebs.

Yesterday, I spent about 9 hours cleaning up in my shop building. During that time, I also took the time to start hanging parts on some project bikes. As I moved some boxes, I unearthed this guitar, leaned up against the wall of the shop. For some reason, I immediately realized what I wanted to do to it.

This is what I saw, in my head...

First, I made a new bridge saddle, from a bicycle spoke, for the home-made wooden bridge, and threw some spar varnish on the wood which was exposed when the veneer peeled off.
Then, I drilled the body for a cord jack, and volume and tone controls. I put those all into place, then screwed the mounting plate for a Strat-style single coil pickup into the top, with the pickup spanning the sound hole.

Then, I strung it up with some 13-65 DR DDT electric guitar strings.

It's a screaming Blues Machine, on the dirty channel, and sounds great on the clean channel, or acoustic, as well.

Here's a video...


New Shocks, and A Wee Little Problem With the Scrambler, On Thursday

The stock shock absorbers on the Scramblers are deficient from Day 1, as far as I'm concerned, and my bike has nearly 12,000 miles on it (most on the stock shocks, some on an undersprung pair of Progressives). The damping is so light, that the shocks act more like pogo sticks than anything else. But, quality replacements are way too expensive, for the most part. Ohlins reservoir shocks start at $750, and things ge more expensive, from there. So, when I saw these no-name (probably Chinese) reservoir shocks on eBay, at an affordable price, I pulled the trigger.

Of course, due to the fact that I am running the stock muffler shells (though modified, internally), there was no clearance for the nitrogen reservoir, on the drive side, unless I turned the reservoirs to the front. I don't like the look of it, but it doesn't affect the performance of the shock, and I can live with it until I figure out some way to run them in the racier, reservoir-to-the-back, position.

I think that they would work with my D&D cans, but the straight-flow exhaust is just too loud to suit me. Maybe I can come up with some way to baffle them...

After I installed the shocks, I lowered the bike and took the lift out from under it. After adjusting the spring preload, I took a spin around the block to check the ride out. The shocks felt fine. But, this greeted me, in my driveway, when I returned:

I had left a trail of motor oil from my driveway, all the way around the block, and back to my driveway. Oops!

 All I can figure is that the lift must have contacted the nut on the K&N oil filter, and broke the seal on the welded cap. I have had a small drip from the filter, for a while, and was planning on replacing it, soon, anyway. But, at 4:00 pm on the day before a holiday, I went into Emergency Mode, and hightailed it to Performance Motorcycle.

I got to Performance in plenty of time, and bought a gallon of oil, and a filter ($120.00, by the way!), and came home to change the oil and replace the filter.

While I was at it, I broke out the soy-based solvent and cleaned the rear tire, including the spaces inside the tread. What a PITA...

I had the bike fixed before band practice, and rode it around yesterday, with no further problems. I can tell a big difference in how the bike rides and handles, with the new boingers on the back. The shocks are rebuildable, so I am hoping that I can make them last a while. I just can't really come up with three-quarters of  thousand dollars for the Ohlins...


Thursday, July 03, 2014

A Manifesto, Of Sorts, and Some Catching Up

I rode the Scrambler down to Kaladi Brothers, this morning, only to be greeted by this Mayan column on the sidewalk. There is a Mayan exhibit on the way to the Museum Of Nature and Science, and this is some pretty good advertisement, in my opinion.

I took today off because, for the first time in 6 months, I am caught up, at work and I have tomorrow through Monday off, due to the Fourth of July falling on a scheduled day off. As I rode to the coffee shop, I was thinking about the state of blogging, in general, and the state of my blogs, in particular.

I have posted here, in the past, about the scourge that is FaceBook. I use FB, primarily, to promote the band, because the audience is there. There is something to be said about putting your info out on a platform with a billion potential sets of eyes trained upon it. But, that is about all I like it for.

I am a self-confessed gabby bastard, and I like to share my thoughts and experiences with people, in a way that conveys more than "OMG this is so cool!" or "Frowny Face". Likewise, I prefer to get some details about not only what is going on in your life, but, maybe, how you feel about it, as well.

I started blogging in 1996, as a way to keep my sister informed on what I was doing, without having to email Word documents to her, complete with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one. In the course of the next few years, through commenting on other people's blogs, and having other people discover my blog and comment on it, I began to feel like part of a dynamic online community. 

I met some people I consider friends, some of whom (Michael, Sarah, Bill, Tim, Noah...) I actually met in person, along the way. These were people with interests similar to mine (obviously, since they checked out my blog), and outlooks which meshed with mine, once they read my posts. Total strangers, who happened upon my blog...

And, I happened upon many other people who I have yet to meet, but with whom I feel a kinship. Along the way, I even experienced an unexpected heartbreak when one of my "blog buddies" had a stroke and passed away. I lost a little piece of my heart, that day.

I don't have that same experience on FB, and you are not supposed to. The only people you connect to on FaceBook are either people you know, or people who know people that you know. The audience is much smaller than the "billion sets of eyes" would lead you to believe. And, that might be how some people like it, never having to deal with unknown individuals, but I find it limiting.

Plus, the incessant ads and political posts just turn my stomach. I can't escape them, if I want to check out the posts of people I care about.

So, I am streamlining my online presence. To make it simple to keep up with what I am doing (if you are interested), as of today, I am shutting down all of my other blogs (although I'll leave them online, in case anyone wants to check something out), and I will post everything on Two Wheels. Maybe I'll change the name to Two Wheels and Six Strings, to indicate that all of my blogging interests will show up here. (Just thinking out loud...)

I will post a link on FB, when I upload a blogpost. If you are interested in what's going on with me, follow those links. I won't be putting a great lot of non-band material up on the Book. I'll scan it, every now and then (as I do now) to see what up with all of the ex-bloggers, friends and family.

And, I hope that some of you ex-bloggers might come back into the fold. I know it's a lot of work, but you and I both know that the rewards are there, for the effort.

If you've made it this far, relax. The Manifesto is complete. Now, for the catching up:

This stack of empty buckets tells the tale of how busy I have been, since returning from Pennsylvania. My samples take four to five buckets apiece, depending on which lab submits them. There are 84 newly-cleaned buckets in that stack, and more in the sink...

This has been the busiest year I have ever had, so far, at CDOT. It's a challenge, but I'm actually feeling a little sense of accomplishment. I like that.


I took the photo, above, on the 17th of June. It was my second day back from vacation, and I was looking forward to not having to take the detour, which had been in place since early April. Obviously, I was out of luck. I had taken the detour on the 16th, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt, since the day wasn't over, yet. On the 17th, thought, they were late on their deadline...

They put up a new sign, a couple of days later, which promised that the path would open on June 30. It did, thankfully. Unfortunately, the project which kept the path closed for 6 or 8 weeks didn't include resurfacing. They did a bit of half-assed patching, here and there, but it's still the worst surface I ride on a regular basis. Oh well, at least it's short.

I have a bunch of bikes that I want to sell. If you are interested, keep your eyes open, and I will post them here (or links to my craigslist ads, as I put them up).

I hope that you will stay tuned. I promise many posts, in the near future, and I hope that you can spare the time to read them!

As always, I remain, yours, respectfully,