Sunday, October 22, 2017

Kezurou-Kai USA

I had heard of Kezurou-Kai USA November last year after they published photos of their event and signed up immediately for this years event.  I think Kezourou-Kai translates to “let’s plane wood” and is an annual festival of temple builders.  Apart from planing we had workshops on how to make Japanese mallets and sharpening stone holders. We also had demonstrations on how to make shoji screens, how to layout fan rafters on your bell tower roof and how to construct temple column brackets.  Hiroshi Sakaguchi showed us how to fit the base of your bell tower post to its round foundation stone with a yari ganna spear plane and presumably the more modern technique of using all thread to tie your post to its concrete foundation pad.  All useful stuff if you building a temple.  
We watched demonstrations on how to tap out and sharpen the thick Japanese blade.  How under cut the plane sole.  How to set the blade and use the plane.  Apart from learning heaps I also had the opportunity to plane some American timber.  The timber of choice for the competition was Port Orford Cedar which an incredibly clear and finely grained soft wood.  The tuned Japanese planes were producing close to mirror smooth finishes on the timber.

The Japanese plane iron is a very thick piece of soft steel with a thin layer of hard steel forge welded on the front face.  Tapping out or ura dashi involves peening the soft part of the edge to bend the hard layer so that you can lap the edge without grinding away all the hard steel.  If you’re planing wide beams you need a wide plane and if you’re trying to keep it sharp tapping out will speed up the process.

No glue, nails, screws or bolts.  The column brackets simply stack together like lego held together by the weight of the roof.  In an earthquake the post flexes and the bracket blocks separate whilst the weight of the roof provides constant clamping pressure without overloading the components.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sierra Boat Company

On recent trip through Lake Tahoe I drove past the Sierra Boat Company by sheer fluke and immediately slammed on the brakes, did a U turn, and knocked on the workshop door just before they were closing.  I was kindly invited in to have a look around and am very grateful for the opportunity.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Holt Manufacturing

I drove out to the Haggin Museum in Stockton CA on the weekend to take a look at the Holt Manufacturing Company caterpillar tractor produced at the turn of the century and used in Europe during the Great War.  Worth the drive.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hiller Aviation Museum

I happened to be driving through San Carlos yesterday where I saw the Hiller Aviation Museum and decided to stop in to have a look.  I wasn't expecting to find much but I was very surprised to see a collection of Hiller coaxial helicopters.  I had previously not known anything about Stanley Hiller and was amazed to discover that at the age of 15, he designed the world's first successful coaxial helicopter, and produced a working model. At 17, he presented his design for the XH-44 "Hiller-Copter" to the U.S. Army in Washington D.C., winning not only their approval, but also a draft deferment during World War II. Immediately thereafter, he established the first helicopter factory on the West Coast at 1930-50 Addison Street in Berkeley, California.[1] On July 4, 1944, he tested the XH-44 at the Memorial Stadium at the University of California in Berkeley where he had been admitted as student at age 15. This initial test was followed by a successful public demonstration on the Marina Green in San Francisco adjacent to the U.S. Army's Crissy Field a few months later.

I am also always happy to see rubber band powered models recognized for their role in the development of aviation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sensational Sacramento

My fascination with bascule bridges started with a chance encounter in Auckland Harbour with a Scherzer rolling lift bridge, then a coincidental sighting of the same type in Constitution Dock, Hobart.  California seems to be the home of the vertical lift bridge so the plan for this week’s Sunday drive was to take the four hour round trip to Sacramento and Rio Vista to see their bascule bridges.
Wow! What a revelation.  Sacramento is the capital of California and its port is located at the navigable limit of the Sacramento river.  The old port area is the historic centre of the city and houses the history museum, the railway museum a massive paddle steamer converted to a hotel as well as my vertical lift Tower Bridge built in 1894.  I started my photographic survey of the bridge on the city side and worked my way towards Raley Field baseball park on the other side.  Half way across the bridge I looked down the river and saw another bascule bridge!  Ten minutes walk downstream is the historic metal truss “I” Street swing bridge built in 1911.  I haven’t been this excited since I don’t know when.  
Tower Bridge Vertical Lift Bridge
Tower Bridge
“I” Street Swing Bridge
“I” Street Bridge swinging open
Rio Vista Vertical Lift Bridge
I should be able to survey the Three Mile Slough Bridge, the Mokelumne Bridge and the Alameda County bridges before I leave California.  I’ve also started planning for my bascule bridge world tour when I retire and found that there are almost 40 bascule bridges over the Chicago river.  Can’t wait to tell Mrs Tinkerer!
On the way out of town I stopped in on the California Automobile Museum and met yet another happy retiree who volunteers at the museum chatting to people and looking after the car collection.  

Friday, April 22, 2016

The only constant is change

Slowly starting to get my head above water after relocating from Port Phillip Bay to San Francisco Bay.  I'm now driving comfortably on the wrong side of the road, happily ignoring red lights on right hand turns and can almost understand how far a mile is.  I'm still struggling with the funny accents and unusual turns of phrase but one of my work colleagues told me you could enroll in an accent reduction class.  I offered to pay the tuition fees for him.

I have no immediate capacity to open a new workshop or go sailing but I did use local postage to have plans for an Ian Oughtred Claedonian Yawl shipped to my apartment.  I thought that was an appropriate use of my first pay packet.  Starting to think about how I am going to tinker with the layout.  Maybe a scale reduction to 18 foot and bring the mizzen forward to eliminate the boomkin.  There will probably be more travelling tinkerer blog posts than build blog post for the immediate future.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The end of an era

It is with a little sadness I am announcing completion of my last project from the current workshop.  After two years of limited access the common sense decision has been made and the the house is on the market.  All my project material, otherwise known as scrap, has been sold or given away.  Most of my tools have been sold and my table saw decommissioned.

My last project was from an old hardwood plank I had been saving to make a Skansen style bench from Keisjser and Sjoberg "Making Swedish Country Furniture and Household Things".  There are no gussets or braces with this design just heavy timbers with mortises and wedged tenons.  Solid as a rock.

I don't know how much tinkering I can write about without a workshop so I may have to resort to a more abstract discussion about engineering design or just plain social commentary.  Who knows what the future holds but I'm sure it will be interesting, I just don't know if it will be worth blogging about.