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.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Low tech ideas from the gold rush.

Spent yesterday afternoon at the Central Deborah Gold Mine in Bendigo where I saw a couple of interesting ideas I would like to experiment with one day.  The first idea was hardwood bearing blocks sighted on a grinding wheel and a crank mechanism.  The blocks looked to be simply drilled out the the shaft size, mounting holes drilled and split in half.  An oil hole was drilled in the top half to keep the bearing lubricated.  The second idea was spotted on the large battery ram where brick laid wooden blocks formed the drive wheel.  Iron compression rings bolted through kept the wheel in tact but the belt ran on the wooden surface.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Some router work

One of the projects that has been on my to do list for some time has been to make some small bowls with my purpose bought router bit.  I have never really done any template router work before so this was a bit of an experiment.  I decided to start small with a batch of butter dishes.  My template has two uses.  With the work piece mounted one way I can cut out the centre of the bowl.  Then when I flip the work piece over I can use the same template to cut the handles.  The final shape was cut free hand on the bandsaw and sanded.  Not bad for an experiment,

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The home of the Couta Boats

I was lucky enough to receive an invite to tour the Wooden Boat Shop in Sorrento today the home of the Couta boat.  I find it truly remarkable and inspiring that, in 2015, some one can make a living as a wooden boat builder.  The yard was full of interesting boats from historic wrecks to new, lightly built, racing Couta boats.  The highlight for me was to see how they bend that iconic bowsprit of as Tim Phillips calls it the "jiboom".  Originally the bowsprit would have been steam bent from a single piece but these days they are laminated.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Buying engineering supplies in Bangkok

I have been on the look out for a pair of stepped pulleys for a future project for some time but most of my usual suppliers in Melbourne don't hold stock and will give me a ridiculous price out of a catalogue.  After seeing some of the shop fronts around Bangkok Chinatown I thought it would be worth asking.

I did a rough sketch and showed it to a randomly chosen shop proprietor who pointed across the road.  Initially I thought she was trying to politely fob me off but to my amazement I had directed to a shop that specialised in cast hand wheels, pulleys and chain sprockets. Unlike Melbourne suppliers these guys held stock!

Well worth a look at the engineering suppliers around the Odeon Circle Monument.   Specialist shops for stainless marine fittings, bronze hardware and lots of metal merchants.  Make sure you get lots of baggage allowance.