What is a Greasy Gringo?

I thought it would be easy to describe. And I guess if we were to be perfectly literal, it would be. But there’s something more. An underlying ethos so inseparable from identity as to be defining in itself. So pervasive as to be woven into the fabric of every fold of existence. The red thread in the dark wool suit only evident under close examination. Look closely and it’s everywhere. Pay no attention and it doesn’t exist.

Ever gone to dinner with your wife or girlfriend whilst your mind was a million miles away analyzing and solving a mechanical issue you’ve been working on?

Lain awake nights making step-by-step plans for what you’ll do next time you’re at the workshop until the alarm goes off?

Learned to participate in casual conversation while simultaneously working on something else in your mind, giving not a clue?

Attended a business meeting in a suit and tie with grease in your fingerprints that could not be scrubbed out?

Made detailed sketches of parts and specialty tools that you’d like to make in notebooks, napkins and scrap paper. Saved them in your wallet interminably until you improve the idea and eventually create them?

Taken calls from friends Saturday nights asking you to come out and you’re in the shop and tell them you can’t make it?

Stopped to help a broke down motorist on your way to an important event and taken the time to explain troubleshooting methodology to the barely interested as you fixed their car intuitively? While the rest of the people in your car roll their eyes, not understanding the sickness?

You get the idea.

This is no flash in the pan.

I’ve been suffering or benefiting, depending on one’s perspective, from this mindset since I was six years old and disassembled completely the first bicycle I’d ever gotten by 2pm on Christmas day. My parents, not being able to find me, finally made their way out to the garage to discover me elbow deep in parts and my dad’s tools. They threatened “You’d best have that back together by bedtime or you’ll never get another bike from us again”. I was dismissive, and confident that I’d have it done in time, even then. Of course a few unnecessary parts remained when I was done. That’s no cutesy cover-up. They added nothing to the function of the machine. A few years later I figured out that a hacksaw could cut metal and whole new world opened up to me. I cut some sections out of a couple aluminum lawn chairs we had and made two foot long fork extensions to that same bike. I jammed them on the forks of the bright yellow Huffy and used existing holes in the tubes to bolt on the wheel. Sketchy as hell. And fun! The first couple ramp jumps (if you could see the dodgy crap we assembled as ramps in the neighborhood) proved that modification to be, let’s say, temporary at best. But it didn’t stop me.

Obsession. Useful if you can harness it. At the same time a detriment that can haunt you. Its kissing cousin, perfectionism, amplifies the effects. Perfection paralysis. I also call it Magnum Opus Syndrome. Know what it is? Ever have it? Only perfect is good enough. You can guess where that one might lead. Mostly towards more thinking than doing. But these same traits can also bring meaningful innovation and gainful employment. Everyone’s got something reckon with. I consider myself lucky to have been saddled with these.

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Removing A broken bolt

If you turn a wrench on an old bike for more than 5 min you bound to find a broken bolt, stripped threads, or rounded fasteners. We’ll be removing a broken spark plug from a head. A few of the things working against us here are: Dissimiler metal corrosion with the plug being steel and the head aluminum,the fact that this head hasn’t been on a running bike since 81′ ¬†and was sitting in upstate ny it’s whole life.

As you know my cases and heads are out in Oregon getting vapor blasted. Guy sent me some pics and they look great. Bad thing is the $6.50/hr truck unloader at fedex doesn’t give a shit about my parts and they arrived In Oregon with a broken fin. I had an extra head but it still had this broken plug in it and I had tried simpler methods of removing it weeks before to no avail.

Theres lots of ways to remove a broken bolt, but my favorite is to weld a new bolt to it to allow use of a socket and the bonus of this method is the added heat cycling from the welding itself. First I drilled the old plug out to the same size as a junk bolt I had, this case it was 3/8. This allowed me to put the bolt in and get a good weld on the freshly drilled metal.

Underside of head with bolt welded to offending plug

Top of new "spark plug remover tool"

At This point I heat cycled the head a few more times with a propane torch for extra piece of mind and went ahead with the removing. As you can see It came right out first try.

Plug remover with the threads of the old plug visible on the end

I was ¬†pretty pleased that it came out easily without damaging the threads badly. Since my tap and die selection is pretty weak right now and I didn’t have the correct plug thread tap I did the next best thing. This works especially well for the CEI and WHITWORTH fasteners because I don’t have ANY of those taps. I found an old spark plug and coated the threads with valve lapping compound. Slowly I threaded the plug in by hand working it in and out. Removing all the crud and corrosion out of the threads from 30 years of sitting. Plug now goes in and out freely.

All that's needed for the trick

If you are ever in going to get some Vapor Blasting done. I HIGHLY recommend Jeff. First class dude

We’ve Come A Long Way . . .

It had been my dream for over ten years to own a workshop. After years of building out rented spaces and being subject to sometimes insane landlords, always worrying about having to move on quickly, I finally did it. It was scary plunking down more cash than I’ve ever handed to anyone in my life. With a baby on the way I did plenty of wondering whether it wasn’t a stupid idea.

Then I remembered that I’ve only ever regretted the things I hadn’t done. It’s more than just a platitude. Paid my money and signed on the dotted line (three thousand times it seems).

Casey, Dan, Vinny, Chris, Erik and I transformed it completely over the last year and a half. I’m proud of what we built and honored to have such friends as these. Thank you.

I look forward to our future accomplishments and good times.

Jason

Casey working the chainsaw to rid us of some big ass weed trees.

Many trips to the dump were required.

Moving day: our shuttle.


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