Thursday, May 28, 2009

(click to enlarge)
Curiosity is a human trait.

The number of people who are actually ON the cutting edge of a profession, a sales position, a social studies job, or whatever are very few.

I asked in an open forum a few months ago "Why should I train my competition?" That being a question which can be applied to almost any business or profession. Though I felt it was a rhetorical question, I was a little curious about what was going on in people's minds when they wanted to come to me and "be my apprentice". (It happens every every single person on that blacksmithing forum.)

The answers were quite illuminating, and I am glad I asked it. Generally speaking, the blacksmiths were united in their answers which were a variation on "I'll do it if I get paid/praised/laid." The students however seemed to be of three camps....

1) So that the skills don't get lost to perpetuity forever,

2) so that they could massage an arts and crafts bump to do a hobby, and

3) to learn enough that that they could do this as a living instead of working at the fast food franchise.

Answer 2 and 3 were expected and are totally praiseworthy of course, but I was a little surprised at the large number who answered with number one.Its kind of funny that none of the professional blacksmiths actually said "I want to teach this because otherwise the information will be lost forever." I don't think any blacksmith, metal worker, or pretty much any professional is actually on the "cutting edge" of even re-discovered information. Perhaps people on the outside of the trade feel that that continually developing a new skill set is analagous to being on the "cutting edge", that if there are no new discoveries in the world, there are at least new discoveries in their own life.

It is really not too hard to imagine a black smith or a metalworker who does such stunning work that it stands out like Paul Anka writing and singing "My Way" . We all want to experience that flash of genius. I fear most of us will simply have to accept the metalworking equivalent of singing in the shower. The important thing, of course, is just roll up your sleeves and get out there and DO IT. Even a shower song is better than no song at all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Briggs and freakin' Stratton

Honestly, I mean, how many mechanics will do more with a spark plug than to gap it, and to check that there is spark going to it! Yup, judging by the jolt through my fingers, there was plenty of spark, so the magneto, points and everything electrical is working. Maybe its air. Clean the air cleaner. Okay, so all I did was blow it out...and maybe order a replacement on line, hopefully this will do for now. But it was working last week, so I can't think that the air cleaner would have packed up suddenly! Its not something air cleaners DO! Maybe its gas. Well, its all new gas, and judging by how nicely it is blowing through and creating a nice petrochemical fog in the air there is nothing gummed up or sticking in the carb. Maybe its getting too much fuel! A sunken float comes to mind. And it might still be a problem. But the excess fuel doesn't seem to be there all the time...or else the carb would be swimming in it, the float in a carb does the same thing as the float in a toilet. if it fills up and stops "floating", the toilet runs. And in a carburated engine, the fuel just keeps on running in. Sunken carb floats...possible but unlikely.
The delicate balance of the counter loaded springs of the governor. Hey, that could be it! Oh wait, that broken spring...its a red herring...its only there to keep the linkages nice and tight. They don't have them on ALL Briggs and Stratton engines, and nobody seemed to know why it was there. Well, I re-attached it on and it made no difference. Of course, it took me an hour to track down "where" to re-attach it, and to find out what the blessed thing is actually there for!
Changed the oil AGAIN, all that fuel collects on the walls of the cylinders, and trickles down into the oil pan. Dangerous at worst, annoying at best, always a source of excessive and needless wear.
So, we have air, spark, and fuel. How about timing? Oh wait, the only thing that will throw a B and S engine's timing off is to get a flywheel to shear the key on its shaft. And this has not happened. Took me an hour to discover that little tid bit of info!
Well, after a full day of tweaking, checking on line, perusing forums with amazing amounts of non-applicable information, perhaps just go back to the beginning.
Spark plugs. Gapped and clean. disengage the thing from the wrench where it was sitting happily. No cracks in the ceramic, lets see what the spark looks like. Ow Ow Ow Ow Ow (repeat as necessary as the voltage jolts through my hand in quarter second intervals) and observe that there is "something funny" about that spark. Turns out, the spark is there, but is being shorted backwards through some defect in the spark plug.
Replace spark plug with spare from the snow blower. Works fine.

funny, I don't feel fulfilled.....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

wotta week!

What a crazy week! It started with a trip to Potsdam NY to participate in a demo involving armour making. Then the news that my licence to make armour based on that made by a famous artist came through, and I'll have to develop new and interesting pieces to justify his faith in me. The lawn tractor needed its blades sharpened, and that means flipping it on its back to get at them. The result of THAT exercise goes much more smoothly if you drain the fuel, oil, and remove the battery. None of these jobs went well...the oil drain plug was jammed, the battery cable needed to be cut off with clippers because there was no shifting the bolts! Which means of course I had to fabricate new cables AND new eyeletted ends out of scrap brass. And the fuel lines are all dried and cracked. Tires were flat. ARRRRGGGH.
Got some time in the shop...not as much as I would have liked...and made a pretty piece of armour. Hope it is what the customer wants. Its kind of neat and I never made anything quite like it before. Got one (count em, ONE) measely ride on the bike in.
A few school demonstrations will help to cover the mortgage, and we are getting ready for the big show this summer....the Upper Canada Renaissance Festival. Shayne Adams and his jousters will be there, (Yes Jennifer, they are the ones you know from the Ohio show) and this show will be kind of weird because there are two major components to it...the first two days will be all about putting little kids into armour and giving sword demonstrations, and the second two days will be all about selling swords like crazy.
The weekend was full of visitors. I had seven visitors on Saturday, and I was training some of them in the rain. Andrea came back to the forge after class Sunday, and did some fantastic work, much needed labour intensive stuff like grinding spun tops and cleaning the demo armour. We found a couple of broken straps which will need to be repaired before I can put it back into service, but nothing I can't handle.
Today was pleasant...we saw the new Star Trek movie on IMAX. Went to the early show, and I am glad I did....there was quite a line up to get into the later shows. Don't these kids have to go to school? A lunch at Wild Wings, and another convert to the joys of fancy chicken wings. An hour at that warehouse for guys "Princess Auto", made my day off worth while.
So tomorrow, I'll clean out the gunk which is causing my lawn tractor to sputter, and finally get those dandelions under control. Maybe go for a bike ride. Lay out a nice helmet, and get started on that sexy armour. is unfolding as it should.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Where is my Flocki?

click on image to enlarge.

Its spring, and...

a young man's fancy turns to.....

Cars, actually.
I rather like the horse and carriage above. Very nice sculpture. Unlike the chia pet below.

I said this car was fly, and sure enough....

Cheese cake in the cupcakes. About a hundred comments come to mind, none of them printable but all sidesplittinglly funny.
I know how long it takes to cut out all those scales. My hat is off to the fella who probably spent a year of lonely weekends to fabricate his dream car.