Tuesday, May 30, 2017

5th Annual Smith Mill British Motorcycle Rally

A friend of mine invited me to a gathering of vintage British motorcycle enthusiasts that meet once a year at the site of the historic Smith Mill located in North East Ohio.

The day dawned cool and rainy.  I had to ride about twenty five miles to get to my friend's place where we planned to load up the bikes on a trailer and travel another fifty miles to the mill.  The rain did taper off and quit but after three miles I was soaked from the knees down from road spray. I seriously considered turning around and going home.  With some encouragement from my friend I persevered. After all what is a British motorcycle rally without some British style weather to go with it. 

The mill has a long and interesting history behind it.  An original mill was built on the site in 1820 by Daniel Slaker which operated as the first sawmill in Jackson township. Later the mill functioned as a gristmill and flourmill up through the mid 1800's.  The facility certainly played an important role in the area's commerce as it was just across the road from the Ohio & Erie Canal.

By the late 1800's the mill was converted to a brewery which supplied the nearby town of Massillon, Ohio until about 1910 when the brewery moved closer to town.  Shortly after that the original mill was destroyed by fire. 

In 1925 R.W. Smith constructed the present building using the old stone blocks from the original mill to build the foundation then completing the structure using post and beam construction under a brick exterior.  This is what gives the building a two-tone look with sandstone on the bottom and red brick for the upper stories. From 1925 to 1973 this new and improved Smith Mill produced apple cider with output sometimes reaching up to 200 gallons of cider a day.

The current owner of the property who also happened to be our gracious host for the day's event acquired the mill in the 1980's and has done an outstanding job preserving this unique piece of Ohio history.

After coffee and donuts and much mutual admiration of our fine British machines we saddled up for a relaxed 60 miles round trip tour through the countryside of north east Ohio.  Here's a sampling of a few of the bikes in attendance:

While not British this Moto Guzzi is a fine example of Italian engineering.

A cool Triumph done up in flat tracker style.

Another non-english bike: BMW

I was so busy immersing myself in the sights, sounds and smells of these vintage machines I almost forgot to take a photo of the Scrambler.  In the background an old iron bridge crossing the Tuscarawas River near the village of Zoar where we stopped for lunch.

In all we had 25 bikes in the group.  For me it was a new experience. I have never participated in a large group ride so I settled in near the back of the group so I could watch the column spread out as we took to the roads. Also from the rear I could best savor the mechanical music of those vintage twins.

Mill history:   http://oldmills.scificincinnati.com/index.html


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Recumbent Trikes with The RoadQueen

The RoadQueen's hot pink ICE Sprint 26"

 We finally took a break from farm chores and projects and spent a day on our recumbent trikes.  It has been a long time since we ventured out on our three wheelers so we thoroughly enjoyed a lazy Saturday on the B & O Trail in Richland County, Ohio. 

Temperatures were ideal at about 70 degrees and other than a late afternoon passing shower conditions were great along the greenways.

With the stability of three wheels camera work while underway is safe and easy.

Spring is one of my favorite times to be outside on a bike. The air smells clean and fresh and blossoming trees and wildflowers along the trail provide fragrance as well as great views.

Since owning and riding a recumbent trike I've discovered an attribute of this type of cycle that really makes the platform shine.  If I'm feeling like racing the clock or hammering out an intense workout my Catrike 700 is up to the task.  On the other hand if I want to spend the day at a relaxing 10 mph the trike does that with aplomb.

There are racks available to transport a pair of trikes on a car but since I have a pickup truck portaging to the trail is easy as pie.

B & O Trail
Ride Time:    2:59
Distance:    30.54 Miles
Average Speed:    10.22 mph

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Composting System for Small Horsefarms

This is one of the first projects the RoadQueen and I took on last year when we were getting our horse farm up and running.  While she is the equine expert I simply enjoy building things and being a gardener I can appreciate a system that yields wagons full of cured compost for my garden.

We found plans and theory of operation for this system from the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension and the Oklahoma State University. Here is the pdf. 

Some of the materials we already had on hand. These were panels of heavy stock fencing, T-posts and a pile of pea gravel to make a raised base to keep the manure pile up off the ground. To cover the gravel we laid heavy one inch thick rubber stall mats to make forking and shoveling easier.  I fabricated corner brackets to connect and stiffen the 2 x 12 frame from 1/16" aluminum.

We started adding to the bin right away from stall clean outs and paddock area.  The key is to continue to add to the pile mixing in fresh manure to the older stuff working towards the open end of the bin.  After 11 months we had the bin about three quarters full.

Over time microorganisms and bacteria worked their magic and now I am forking out beautiful black gold to fortify my garden soil.

Unfortunately we don't have a tractor with a front end loader yet so all the lifting is done by hand and I use a small garden tractor and cart to transport the compost to my garden.  While shoveling shit is not the least bit glamorous or fun I'll still take it over the boring repetition of lifting weights in a gym.