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.