Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Workshop Activity

Here's a few shots taken around the shop over the last few days. Finally we have a three day January thaw that has allowed me to get some work done. Yesterday I used paint stripper to clean the old layers of paint from this cold air return grill and  restore it to bare metal.  I used a wire brush, a scotchbrite pad and a bit of elbow grease to remove the slimy residue from between the louvers. Yuck!

After looking at grills at the local big box I noticed my 60 year old cover was stamped from thicker steel and was overall better quality than what was available at the store.  Ultimately I decided to restore my original grill because I was not finding the correct width grill either retail or online in my initial searches. I've done a couple other ones in the house and they look fine.

Here's the grill after a couple coats of spray primer.  I'm getting anxious to put it back in its spot covering the big ugly hole in the living room wall.

Next I got out the table saw to cut up some oak lumber. Pictured below is the new window sill for in my kitchen above the sink.

Today I have to pick up a new blade for my band saw and I will finish the notch cut out on each end of the sill where it fits around the wall.  I was able to purchase window casing which I was working on earlier but I was not able to find the smaller foot pieces that fit up tight against the edge of the window frame so I ripped down some oak to make my own. Those are the four long strips on the right below.  I'll have to machine them down using the planer then round off the corner on the router table.

I love the smell of fresh sawn oak.
More to come!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Township Hall

On a recumbent ride last spring I came across this well preserved and still used example of Ohio's early architecture.  The Tully Township Hall is located in the village of Martel just down the road from the schoolhouse I documented last year. While it was never intended for use as a schoolhouse it shares all the structural attributes so I reckoned that it deserved a spot in the series.

At some point an addition was added on to the rear of the 133 year old building and is visible in the opening picture.  I can't wait for the weather to break so I can continue my search for more of Ohio's first schools.  I know there has got to be many more around the region waiting to be discovered.

Click the "One-Room School Houses" tag below to group all my schoolhouse posts together and take a virtual tour.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Domestic Update!

The recent lack of posts on the blog is because I have been busy planning, gathering materials and working on various small projects here around the headquarters.  I'm set to begin major renovations of both my kitchen and bathroom both of which are stressful and time consuming endeavors to say the least.  

I've finally got around to replacing the old three plug outlets with new ones and installing some attractive outlet covers and switch plates.

My house is a 1950's ranch style.  It was built in a time when building materials and workmanship was  still very high in quality yet building codes were pretty much standardized and close to what we have today making upgrades with modern components easy and simple.

Also by the 50's the wood trim used in finish carpentry had also been standardized to smaller dimensions and Yellow Pine seemed to become the wood of choice for trim probably due to its availability and low cost.  The shellacked pine trim in my house is structurally fine but it is old and dated.  I was recently browsing at the local home improvement store I an noticed that they now offered solid oak trim with the same profile cut as the original pine in my house.  I bought enough baseboard and foot to finish out the kitchen and bathroom once new flooring is installed.  I also got some casing to redo a window above the sink.

I'm using clear polyurethane to seal the wood.  Oak is one of my favorite hardwoods and it is my goal to one day replace all of the pine in my house with this wood.  Oak looks fairly plain when raw but once the clear finish hits it I love how it turns a peachy orange color and the grain pops.

Here's an extra pretty piece. Its got some tiger stripe like curly maple that's not often seen in oak.

I re-trimmed the kitchen and bath about 15 years ago when I installed vinyl flooring but at that time I couldn't find the matching profile in oak so I just used what was available.  I like the simple, spartan look of the original trim and I'm glad I've now found that same pattern but in oak.  

When I'm trimming out I use this miter saw to cut the pieces to fit.  It is a bit slower than a power chop saw but it does cut very accurate angles.  Since I do my own work I'm not under any kind of time constraint and I just enjoy the human powered element.

Over the years I've done electrical, plumbing, drywall and plenty of painting but one thing I never got around to was tile.  I figured the back splash between the counter top and the cupboards in the kitchen would be a good opportunity to learn a new skill.  

I wanted a lighter more neutral shade for the tile work since my counter top will be a darker gray color.  Looking around in the tile section I found this Turkish marble in a close out sale.  I like it because it is a natural stone cut to tile shape and not man made like the ceramic and glass tiles on the market.  These tiles have little pits and flaws but just like wood its a natural material and therein lies the beauty.

Here's a macro shot of the back of one of the tiles held up to a halogen light source.  The marble is semi translucent and has a pretty fiery orange color when back lit.

Another close up shot shows the crystalline growth of the minerals in voids exposed when the saw cut the slice. It looks like pita chips or some kind of cookie! 

I'll update more as I move along through the process. Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Recumbent Ride -- B & O Trail

Today it got up to 60 degrees F so I went for a recumbent ride.  All the snow has melted away the last couple days and only a few places along the trail had any left over ice so it was an excellent day to get outside and spin.  In the off season I do ride my titanium general purpose bike to work and back but that is just a quick fifteen minute commute each way so it doesn't do much in the way of keeping me conditioned to the standard bike seat. I can hop on the recumbent and do a three hour ride in perfect comfort. One of the many reasons why recumbents are great.

North Lake Park lies at the northern terminus of the B & O Trail.  The creek that feeds the pond was frozen over and I'm glad I took the time to roll down by the water and take a few photos.

By nature of design the HP Velotechnik keeps the rider dry when the road surface is wet.  The hard shell seat and the boom in the front block off all wheel spray but it does leave a mess on the frame.  I'm just about to the point where I am ready to put fenders on the bike just to keep it cleaner during the winter months.

At the other end of the trail in Butler, Ohio I spied this old barn with the ubiquitous Mail Pouch hand painted advertisement.  This barn art can be seen all around Ohio and other Midwestern states. There's many pictures of these old timey tobacco adds on the web and an interesting back story on wikipedia

Beside the tobacco barn was this old 1800's log cabin. Very cool!

Richland County B & O Trail
Ride Time:  2:48
Distance:  37.13 Miles
Average Speed:  13.26 mph

Friday, January 11, 2013


I'm into my fourth month of winter cross training which concentrates for the most part on weight training  followed by short sessions of cardio on the elliptical machine.  I generally keep my weights moderate and the rep count up to 10-12 my purpose being to tone and maintain bone health and strength.  The other day I decided to ramp up and max out my bench press to see where I was for the year and managed to push up 170 pounds; ten more than my body weight.

I've felt good these past few months and have been sticking to my routine to a greater degree than ever before and it has been paying off. My joints are feeling fine and my recovery periods are short as ever.  For a while I have wanted to hit 200 pounds on the bench press.  Last year I got to 185 and never tried to push any further.  I've decided to make it a goal and will aim to reach the mark by spring.  To do so I will have to shift the emphasis of my lifting routines to fewer reps and greater weights to try to build strength.  

Tailoring my workout in this way does present some additional hazards and potential for injury.  I'll be taking it slow and steady as I do with any of my endeavors and I am confident that success can be met or at most I'll have given it my best effort.  Thinking about it only amounts to another 15 pounds on each side of the bar which doesn't sound that bad but when you are near your max it may as well be three people jumping in the back seat of the car your trying to push off your chest.

The picture is my basement gym that I have built over the years.  I'm just a little guy so I don't need a ton of plates or Olympic size bars so that's allowed me to assemble a decent set-up for a well rounded routine.  My latest piece of gear is back in the corner beside the rollers resting against the wall.  It's a calf machine I got about four years ago and I love using it.  Now that winter is in full swing I put more effort into my leg workout and by the time the early riding season gets here I'll feel super when I get back on the bike.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cool Bicycle Art

My mom gave me a gift certificate for Christmas from a shop uptown.  While browsing around I found this wall hanger made from steel wire and rod.  There just happened to be a nail centered up on a bare wall of my kitchen and the penny farthing fits perfect.  It is quite large; the big wheel is about 20 inches in diameter. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Senator Dianne Feinstein,

I will not register my weapons should this bill be passed, as I do not believe it is the government’s right to know what I own. Nor do I think it prudent to tell you what I own so that it may be taken from me by a group of people who enjoy armed protection yet decry me having the same a crime. You ma’am have overstepped a line that is not your domain. I am a Marine Corps Veteran of 8 years, and I will not have some woman who proclaims the evil of an inanimate object, yet carries one, tell me I may not have one.

I am not your subject. I am the man who keeps you free. I am not your servant. I am the person whom you serve. I am not your peasant. I am the flesh and blood of America.

I am the man who fought for my country. I am the man who learned. I am an American. You will not tell me that I must register my semi-automatic AR-15 because of the actions of some evil man.

I will not be disarmed to suit the fear that has been established by the media and your misinformation campaign against the American public.

We, the people, deserve better than you.

Respectfully Submitted,

Joshua Boston
Cpl, United States Marine Corps

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Years Weekend Recap

I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday season.  The break was nice but there was not much sitting around for me.  Visiting with family, starting some projects around the house and of course snow shoeing; my new favorite winter time fitness activity.
Sunday I took my son Wyatt out for his first time snowshoe hike.  We got out just as the sun was setting and watched the stars come out. 
We visited a city park just 5 minutes from home proving one of the big benefits of snowshoes; Anywhere there is a bunch of snow is a good place to go.
  Wyatt is slightly tall and lanky for his eleven years and this build makes him perfect for snow shoes.  He took right off with it and said he thought the experience was pretty cool.  He liked seeing all the animal tracks in the snow and we had fun trying to identify the critters who left the various trails.
I love playing by myself in the great outdoors but taking my son out and introducing him to new experiences is most rewarding.  It's probably my favorite part of being a parent.
Monday was New Year's Eve and by this time I had been out snowshoeing three days in a row and I was beginning to feel it in my legs so I spent the day inside.  I did head down to my basement gym and got in a solid shoulder workout.
New Year's day I was ready for more so I drove out to hike the Stoller Road Trail. Stretching along two miles of the north shore of Clear Fork Reservoir this trail system is about ten miles from my house so even though it is a short trail it's close to home and a fun place for a hike or bike.

The entire north shore is wooded so only in the winter when the leaves are down is the shoreline visible for any distance.
Whitetail Deer are plentiful in the area.  While I was hoping to see some on my hike the elusive big game stayed out of sight.  Their sign was everywhere though. I call this picture the whitetail highway.  All of these tracks were made from hoofs.

My goal on this outing was to spend less time on established trails and more time breaking trail.  On my previous hikes I noticed that while moving the back of the shoe kicks up some snow and I found that after a while the back of my pants above my boots was getting wet.  I wore my gaiters and that solved that problem.
It is super easy to walk on trails that are already beat in by booted feet but I think that's kind of missing the point with snowshoes.  They truly excel where there is no trail and that I think is what makes them so much fun.  I spent much of the day honing my off trail bushwhacking skills.  The picture below shows where I descended a ten foot bank crossing a ravine.  The angle was so steep I had to go sideways and "stair step" down the hill.  Basically it's the same technique I use while on skis
Log hopping is a breeze with snow shoes on.  I've gone over logs and tree branches on my cross country skis but its a much trickier affair usually accompanied by much falling down.  On this trek I crossed numerous gullies, ravines and downed logs and only lost my balance once and had to brush off the white stuff.
The only thing I have to remember is to make a good strong jump off the top of the log so that the tails of the snowshoes clear.  The landing is always nice and soft because of the large footprint of the snowshoe absorbs the momentum as I land in the deep snow.  It's actually a lot of fun!
Another curious thing I noticed that took some getting used to was coming across smaller logs laying on the forest floor.  As the ten inches of snow continued to fall it piled up on top of the log as well as the surrounding ground marking the position of the wood beneath in a long ridge.  As I approached I stepped down squarely on the ridge always expecting to feel the teeter-toter effect as my foot came in contact with the log.  Instead what happens is the snowshoe squashes down the snow ridge and then  the large surface area of the shoe comes to rest on the snow on each side of the log and in most cases I couldn't even feel the wood underneath.  If the log's diameter was bigger than the amount of snowfall then I would bottom out and rock on top of the log.  It's a cool effect of the snowshoe that I had no idea of and another example of how they work so well for off trail maneuvering.

In a few short days I've managed to cover about 12 miles with these funny looking things strapped to my feet.  And honestly I can't remember ever having so much fun getting around under my own steam without a bicycle between my legs.  Now I have walked in a variety of snow conditions from fresh powder to three day old crust.  At Mohican early in the day the snow was wet and I experienced it packing up under my heel like a big hockey puck stuck in the lattice of the shoe.  Later in the afternoon the temperature dropped and snow quit packing up.  For $40 dollars I've had a huge amount of fun trying out a traditional shaped snowshoe and now I have some practical experience to guide me in a potential search for a pair of modern shoes.  I'm smitten with the winter sport of snowshoeing and definitely see more of it in my future.

The winter landscape is beautiful.