Saturday, April 14, 2018


Micarta is a composite material typically made up of fabric or paper , bound together with two part resin like polyester or epoxy . The material was invented around 1910 and is used  mostly as electrical insulators and aircraft or marine pulleys . I have been tempted to experiment with it for a while .
Not half bad for a first try .
Started with a cheap three dollar knife from Wallyworld . The scales are cheap hollow plastic though the rest of it is not half bad . It could be improved by replacing the scales .
 So, some cheap burlap from an Indian rice sack .
Once layered up in epoxy  . . .
. . . and cured it results in something like this .
The basic idea is to lay up some pieces of the fabric on plastic or wax paper . . . .
. . . and using some polyester resin  . . .
. . . mixed to the right proportions of ten drops of catalyst to one ounce of polyester resin . . .
. . . you layer up the fabric with the resin . 
Once you have as many layers as you figure you want for your finished thickness , you wrap it up in your plastic sheet, and clamp it together for a couple hours between a couple pieces of wood .
And a couple hours later the results once trimmed on the table saw .
Experimented with a few other pieces of fabric remnants we had . . .
and even just some resin mixed with some of that paint flake used for finishing cement floors .
The possibilities are endless .
Final results here require a bit more sanding but it all makes for a much more solid and comfortable grip .

Monday, March 26, 2018

Quasimodo came to live with us

Mom called last Thursday to notify me that she had gotten a quote from a bunch of gypsies to take down some more trees on her property and they were coming on Saturday morning to do the job . No contract, no insurance , you know the drill . Same bunch of dregs that run around offering to seal coat your driveway on a Sunday afternoon cause they have some left over from the job next door . They quoted seven hundred dollars a pop and they were not even going to clean up and chip the brush . Guess who gets to do that part ? . . . . Yes and I am not even done with the crap from last October's storm .
I tried my best to talk her in to delaying it a couple weeks until I could get a couple other quotes but she would not hear of it , no amount of reasoning and no matter how much I pleaded .
One of the trees in question was an 80 foot tall pine that stands about 8 feet away from the plastic boat barn where dad kept Quasimodo , the 1962 Volvo PV544 he left me when he passed in November. Mom had not even taken that fact in consideration . It left me no other option than to run out and buy a new battery and see if I could get the thing started before some knuckle dragging mooks with needle marks up and down their arms dropped a tree on it . We ran up to Freeport on Saturday morning and had to shovel it out from behind a four foot snow bank . After about forty five minutes of work and several false starts, I was able to coax it to life and make the thirty mile run to bring it home with me .
It now gets to live inside a real garage , and the daily drivers are out in the weather .
Original paint is a little rough in spots but has no rust .
Not what you call the prettiest girl on the block , but it is different enough it draws a good bit of attention .
Dad swapped the original B18 engine for the larger two liter B20

He also changed the original four speed  M40 transmission for the M41 with the Laycock de Normanville overdrive . It has been a couple years since we have able to get the overdrive to engage, limiting speeds to about sixty mph . So after I got it home I rolled the thing up on the ramps and put power directly to the solenoid that engages the overdrive and heard the telltale clicking indicating at least that part of the equation is operational . As the relays on the firewall are clicking when I move the switch I suspect the faulty part is the fourth gear cutout switch on the gearbox , which of course is completely inaccessible under the transmission tunnel . So I ran a couple new wires (the red ones running across the battery in the photo above) directly to the overdrive solenoid bypassing the cutout switch and the relays . . . .
. . . . . and tied them to a new toggle switch temporarily mounted under the dash , and took it out for a run on the highway . Hit the switch once in fourth gear and it shifts in to overdrive cutting rpm and decibels by a thousand allowing us to reach about seventy five mph and purr along at 2800 rpm . At which point things get a bit squirrelly as the bias ply tires are really not meant for those speeds .

If you are inclined you can read dad's lengthy account  about how he shoehorned the overdrive transmission in the PV here:

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Best mouse trap

Seems every fall we have an issue with field mice in the barn where we store dad's old 1962 Volvo . They find a way to get in and chew the small wires and the interior upholstery . They do a lot of damage . The overdrive is now non operative as they chewed the wire to the solenoid that engages it . To repair it I will need to disconnect the drive shaft and lower the transmission in order to access the top of the transmission where the wire was chewed . We have tried just about every deterrent in the book but nothing seems to stop the mice . So more aggressive methods were in order .
 Remove the wire handle on a five gallon plastic bucket and straighten it . Drill two holes near the edge on opposite sides of the bucket . With an ice-pick punch holes though the center of the ends of a beer can and thread it on the wire . Center it and add some small rubber O-rings to keep it centered on the wire . Slip the wire in to the holes you drilled in the bucket and bend the ends over to secure in place . Fill the bucket with about three inches of water . If you have below freezing temps use radiator antifreeze . Using a drywall screw and a two foot piece of wood add a ramp for the mice to climb up . And finally smear a thin ribbon of peanut butter around the middle of the can.
About one week's haul last November . They climb onto the can , it spins , they loose their balance and go for a swim . It is a simple system that keeps catching mice without need to be reset so you can leave it unattended for a few days and it keeps working . Works real well and seems to put a dent in the population that the local foxes don't seem to care to go after . So far it is the first year I have not found any mice inside the Volvo .

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dad is gone

Dad took his last breath today .
  Sailing the boat he built .
1957 western Venezuela
2015 Freeport, Maine
Happier times
Today after a two and a half year gut wrenching struggle with cancer he is now back with his dog BJ again .

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Bucking up one gigantic pine tree

 This week I have been working on cutting up some of the big pine trees Sunday's wind storm took down at my parents' place . Saturday I had Annie with me so she got some pictures of me cutting up the one that fell across the raspberry patch up by the road .
Those pines have a very shallow root system and the root ball just pulled out of the ground . It has to be twelve feet tall and sixteen feet across . Humongous when you stand next to it but not much when you consider the tree has to be about one hundred and twenty feet tall . The log has to be a good thirty six inches across at the stump where I am cutting .
The bar on my old Stihl W028 was not nearly long enough and I had to work it from both sides . Drove some wedges in the cut so it would not pinch the bar .
After a good bit of work I got through it and the stump starts to pull away from the log as the root ball springs back in to place .
Here is the next shot just as the stump is almost all the way upright . Note the dust cloud .
And with  a big dust cloud and a thump it went right back to where it has lived for the last two hundred years .
That is one big log .
Stump sitting back upright . That bit above ground is about five feet tall .  I'll cut a hole in the top and mom can plant flowers in it .
Limbing it out .
And bucking it up into lengths I can move .
A nice afternoon shot of the recently restored neighbor's place , our family connection to Maine . Used to belong to the family that took dad in during his college days back in the nineteen fifties . The old farm dates back to the mid seventeen hundreds .

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Sunday night we had a massive windstorm . 80 mph winds. Over three hundred fifty thousand homes without power in the whole state . We lost it at six am when a big willow down the street shorted out the main lines . Just happened to open the blinds in time to witness the fireworks .
 Ran the generator on and off for several hours during the day to keep the fridges and furnace going . By eight pm CMP had got us back on line and I was able to shut off the generator . 
Had a big limb off my back neighbor's tree take down a section of my fence .
Nothing major . 
I limbed it out all in about 20 minutes with a small pruning handsaw . I stepped aside and let my crack junkie neighbor clean up the rest with her chainsaw .
Today I ran up to my parents in Freeport and there were trees down everywhere requiring some detours . This is one on their road I had to drive under to get to them . Someone had cleared the branches enough for us to get under .
Good thing I installed a nice auto start 11k watt Generack for them last year.
A massive hundred foot white pine almost took out the back corner of their house. Just kissed the back deck. Ten degrees to the right and it would have been much more consequential.
Couple of hundred twenty footers came down in the front yard just barely missing dad's tool shed. The base of that one is about thirty inches across .
Couple more tall pines came down behind the vegetable garden .
This one is the Siamese one to the one that is hung up .
Spent the afternoon cutting up just one of the ones in the front yard..
About thirty inches across
Thirty six feet of straight knot free lumber there . I'll be milling some nice clear planks out of that one .
The next section , from the leftmost saw cut , is about sixteen feet , and the one just beyond that is another fourteen feet .
A spectacular mess .
Had to replace some shingles that blew off the ridge cap on the roof , so I got some shots from up there . This one is the big pine that landed on the back corner of the deck .
The big one in the front yard after some clean up .
The big log is thirty inches in diameter and thirty sex feet long .
I bucked out the other one in the front yard too and the stump sprang most of the way back in place . Usually the first thing to tip over in any kind of wind is dad's smoker, the green box on top of the barrel. This time it did not even wiggle .