Monday, February 24, 2014

Enter The Machine Era

Adventures in Craigslist volume 4.9.6:

The ad went something to the effect of "Pop's hobby shop for sale..." and was fairly non-descript.  The listings of its contents, however, were thorough and included the magic word that was triggered on the search engine....."lathe."  I have been looking for one for quite some time and apart from one occasionally popping up in Phoenix or Cottonwood for well upwards of $2000, it looked at that moment that the nearest lathes were in Texas or California....the closest one that looked like a good buy was in Tennessee.  Yeah, that's not exactly feasible.  I decided to do the Craigslist search and turned up the ad from Sedona.  A lathe in Sedona?!?  The next day I was on my down the canyon way for a look figuring that at worst I'd at least get in a good ride.  

Here I met Gary, an older gentleman who had reached the time in his life to disband his workshop.  His work revolved around saw repair of all types and the tooling associated included many sorts of precision grinders, cutting, and welding implements.  In the lightest corner of the low ceiling basement shop set the lathe, a Grizzly branded Taiwanese unit from the mid-late 1980s.....of (not knowing too terribly much about machines) adequate size for most things bike......and.....calibrated metric.  It appeared to have seen little use in its life with Gary being its sole owner.  With all chucks, a variety of tooling, taper drill bits, regular drill bits, live center, steady rest, and a plethora of geek literature.....SOLD.  Now for the new to get 1400 pounds of import steel out of Gary's basement and up canyon to Moustache World Headquarters.  I left a deposit and my word to extract it the following weekend. 

Now this, folks, is reason number 367 why it is good to have redneck for any task.  I called The Viking and his father, The Graydog, and let them know the task at hand, and bribed them accordingly for their muscles and equipment.  Just so happened that The Viking had a machine dolly sitting along side his garage, and his pop has a rock extracting dump trailer with a 10,000 pound winch and a rig to pull it that just needed the miles put on.  How cool is that?!?  Two full carpentry sets were also in tow, as was one lovely set of extra hands and associated muscle.  It would have bummed me out to see old Gary move a muscle in moving this thing, so we came equipped to best improvise upon our rough plan once we got on site.

First up was to rearrange the shop to allow for the hoist onsite to access the machine.  Then to rearrange the structure of the machine car to fit the constraints of the space and allow its casters to be positioned 1). for maximum function within our small amount of accessible basement floor space; 2). for maximum stability during the transport up canyon.  Cart and machine would be strapped as one unit in the trailer for the trip to Flagstaff. 

Careful rigging of the machine to Gary's hoist allowed us to float it effortlessly, with near perfect balance, though with tight clearances in the small shop, and position the machine on our newly modified car.  Now:  up the stairs and outside.  We rigged a snatch block (pulley system) to the dump trailer to make the first winch pull up the 16" of stairs and tugged the car up ramps and onto a plywood covering of an otherwise gravel landing.  An automotive jack on wheels helped do the fine positioning and get the casters over the bumps of our ramp.  

Our plywood insta-floor allowed us to turn the machine and car in place using the jack without having to deal with a more difficult surface.  This eliminated the need for overly complicated trailer backing.  With a simple backing and a tilt of the trailer hydraulics, we matched the ramp's grade to the edge of the trailer and a second pull had our carted lathe on board.  Rigging was carefully devised to protect the more fragile parts of the machine, and three hours after our arrival, with a minimal amount of hiccups, we were on our way back north. 

The trip would give this machine a glimpse of the varied and rugged terrain its products would soon see.  I doubt many other machines have made this trip up Oak Creek Canyon.....why would they?  Machines don't really exist in Northern Arizona unless they're associated with the railroad or timber cutting.

(insert your favorite too cool for school, Men in Black, Matrix, Mission Impossible references here)

We dumped the trailer car assembly easily in the garage of Moustache World Headquarters and left it for another day...or maybe three or four of positioning, repositioning, setting, aligning, and overhaul.  I figured my first foray into machine life should be involving myself intricately into all of its parts, moving and otherwise.  She was disassembled in a late night, and reassembled in the coming days.  Somewhere in the meantime, the shop was prepped with wiring and rearrangement.  Despite what I normally post here, the whole real reason I keep the shop alive is so I can rearrange whenever the whim strikes to acquire something new or do something different.  This time I've maxed out my electrical sub panel.  Everything acquired from here on needing 240v will need to share a circuit with either this machine or the compressor.....otherwise a new circuit and wiring off the main breaker will be required at the cost of.....??  That should be fun.

The lathe is up and running now though.  Nothing like throwing yourself right into machine work.  It is fascinating for sure.  I'm looking forward to some bike projects on this thing and seeing how it can be setup in the frame shop!  Stay tuned folks!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Garage Sale

I'm trying to fund some new projects so a little garage clean out is in order.  I'll be adding to this list as long as there is stuff to sell.  If you want anything here please email me at the address listed in the contact section of this site.  Click the tab at the top of the page to see the goods...

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Arizona Trail Ride - Picketpost to Kelvin

I got a chance to get out and ride with some great regional trail stewards and advocates for a ball-bustin' day on the AZT.  The group of eight assembled at the Picketpost trailhead under overcast skies for a morning departure on a 37-ish mile ride that promised some 5000 feet of climbing and ended up 1000 feet lower than we started.  Riders representing four mountain areas of Arizona including Flagstaff, Prescott, Sedona, and Tucson were present, many of whom had never met before.  Throughout the day conversations tended to focus on advocacy and interests within mountain biking with the hope that through our varied interests we could see all preserved and accommodated by management agencies.  In an interesting time where cities have begun to recognize the value of recreation tourism to their areas,  it seems that the interest of urban accessibility lies at the forefront of recreation managers within federal lands.

Our ride was anything but urban accessible.  Most of us drove in excess of three hours to arrive here, and unless you live in Superior, Arizona and ride a mountain bike, this one can be reached in one of about two ways:  (1). You drive here and ride this as a shuttle or an out and back; (2). You ride here via the rest of the Arizona Trail.

As we were southbound from our start the land covered in this expanse of trail included the southernmost of the Tonto National Forest, some BLM land, and finally land formerly held in State Trust but recently purchased by Asarco mining company.  This is one of six major mining outfits that the Arizona Trail currently passes through and at this point mine expansion is planned to remove and relocate the section south of where our ride ended.  We encountered a pair of hikers out to observe and chart the aesthetic impact of what would result from that expansion.  Specifically, this expansion would see the tailings of the Ray Mine dumped in the Ripsey Wash feeding the Gila river valley pictured toward the end of this article. Counterpoint to this statement:  These are copper mines.  Arizona is the Copper State.  The products of this undoubtedly destructive process are used by nearly EVERYBODY who uses electricity or plumbing.  The Arizona Trail Association works with these mining outfits to ensure passage, often through land trade, though the process is not always amicable.

Personally, my interest in this section started nearly seven years ago to the day while leading a crew for the conservation corps known as Pluto is a Planet.  We were sent to the south side of Picketpost Mountain for an unprecedented (in our world) 14 day trail work hitch.  At that time the AZT was more of a route and a concept than the ribbon through unforgiving lands it has since become.  We were there to help realize the vision.  Our days included much digging and filling, hiking and hauling, and of course the occasional cactus through the glove.  Great conversations of that day centered around how the world would be different upon returning from our two week absence.  I emerged to find my sister got married to a man I had never before met.  Our work on that section of trail was to me the capstone of our time and work together as Pluto.  It was something that would have lasting impacts into generations current and yet to come.  Below rider Lee Blackwell pilots through Pluto's hand built section seven years after construction, and nine years after he helped pioneer the AZT mountain bike route.

The lands beyond our old spike camp were as foreign to me as the trail that now navigated through them.  This country is remote and inhospitable.  We meandered back and forth through flowing drainages with ominous lands around us that hinted at major topographic relief.  We seemed to climb without reward.  It came into sight around a corner and that sight revealed what we all had come for.  The Alamo Canyon traverse was accompanied by breathtaking eeriness.  We were met with a drizzling winter rain that cleared the dust from my eyes and brought the true smell of the desert.  Looking down into the canyon conjured images of the lost, and a hike through its bottom would surely tell that story through the remains of whatever had not survived.  The group of eight pedaled on without error.

We met our reward for the day as we popped out of the canyon traverse to a cold and windy saddle that revealed the Gila River Valley below.  We were bound for it, though not even halfway through our day.  The descent was riveting, and a welcome warm to the cold drizzle we had faced through the canyon.

The Gila Valley brought new terrain to the ride.  The sandy side washes poured across the trail route nearly as often as the trail took a curve, and made fresh winter legs work hard for distance earned.  The sight of water in the desert, however, is always a welcome one, even if its too cold for a swim.  By this point it was a free-for-all for all eight.  Grind it out.  Remember those days you have suffered the hardest and know that this does not compare.  The trail ribbon provided frequent changes keeping my brain focused on where I was going, and fortunately not on how badly I was suffering.

 A loose, challenging climb from the river valley brought signs of civilization into view, and though the last downhill was punctuated with climbs, our vehicles, and the snacks within were a very welcome sight.