Friday, August 27, 2010

Summer vacation

When we decided to come home for the summer I thought that I’d have NOTHING to do except hit the library, read books and visit friends... well, it has been a working summer for me. Both cars needed work. My poor old Jetta had to get patches welded onto the front suspension before it fell apart and the van is on life support. I helped my friend construct 60 feet of dock, rebuild a 10 ton utility trailer, work on my house, work on Anna’s house, help re-build the boat that we were going to spend the summer on, took on several contracting jobs with a Condo Association, re-build a maple floor and of course, more repairs to the cars! I have build things for Snow Goose and even re-roof a house! The best part though, was going to Texas to help Angie move from one apartment to another (even though the daily temp always reached about 100deg). In another 2 weeks we should be on our way back home to Snow Goose. I can’t wait to get back so that I can get a rest from this vacation!
(PS. Maybe Anna will come back off from vacation and up date the main page.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

We’re back in Michigan and the davits are back from the welder. I’d say that they look pretty good. The best part is the cost, just over $200 dollars instead of $1200... my kind of boat upgrade! I can’t wait to toss out those old 2x4’s that we have been using and add these to the Goose.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Even more life in Texas

Well, our time is almost done down here in the lovely state of Texas and just to prove that I’ve been busy during all of these 100deg days here is the fruit of my labor... a 2007 Chevy Aveo. I know, not a very big fruit but you should see the great deal that we got. It took a bit of looking but, Angie is happy and Anna is happy and as for me, well, I think she should take me back to that old swimming hole for a cooling off dip!

On another note, here are some of the bat pictures that we took when we went down to the Congress street bridge to watch the bats come out at night. The Austin area has the largest bat colony in the USA. They estimate that there are between .75 million and 1.5 million bats that live under the bridge and come out at night. As you can see the bats also bring out people!

Here's a few shots of them from above and below. The lower shot isn't very good but you can see the how many bat there were in the instant that we took the picture. It was like a small river of bats flowing out from under the bridge.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More life in Texas

(OK, more boring pictures of someone else’s vacation.)
Angie took us over to a “swimming hole” just outside of Austin. A pond has formed at the base of a water fall and it’s about one or 2 acres in size. since the day time temps are in the 100’s the water is warm and the waterfall is warm too. Standing under it is like being in a warm rain shower. Small fish and large catfish will swim right up to you. Except for the ¼ mile hike from the parking lot to the water it was a great place to go to on a hot day. Thanks Angie!!!
This is what we walked through on the way to the pool.

And, here's the pool with the waterfall in the back ground.

The water fall wasn't very big but it sure was warm!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Life in Texas

Austin (the capital of Texas) is a nice sized city, not too big and not too small. Any larger and it would be unmanageable, any smaller and it would lack the spark that drives it’s creativity. As it is, it only takes about 20 minutes to get to any place that you might like to visit. It has a great late night seen and it’s filled with friendly people. Before you start to get the idea that I’m now employed by the Austin tourist council I’d like to point out that during the summer it is hotter than hell down here and most of the inhabitants of the city find an air conditioned place to hide in from about noon till 7 PM. Today, the expected high temp is going to reach 103deg before the day is done. The funny thing about this heat is that I had expected it to be a dry heat but this part of Texas is humid. In fact, there is normally dew in the mornings on the cars even though it only got down to 80 degrees during the night. All in all, it makes for a warm and sticky place to live. We have been busy playing tourist and seeing many of the sights of Austin. From the capital building to the local swimming hole (complete with a 30 foot water fall that you can sit under), to Ester’s Follies (a Vaudeville club) and watching the 1.5 million bats emerge from under the downtown bridge! I’ll post a few of the pictures that we have taken starting with the capital building...WOW what an edifice!Notice that even the hinges on the doors tell you that this is the capital of Texas.

The stairways were impressive and the splendid rotunda was eye popping!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


There done! The only problem is that I’m in Texas on a visit to our daughter so it will be another week before I can get a look at the end results... stay tuned!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

New Davits-3

I made the stand offs between the two main tubes by cutting the tubing to the proper distance and “squishing” the ends of the tube together in a vice. This is not the normal method of doing 90 deg joints in piping. The normal method of attaching one tube to another is to “fish mouth” the end of a tube but this requires a special tool to cut the ends of a tube into a perfect ½ circle so that it will fit completely over another tube (like a saddle fits on a horse). I don’t have this tool so, I just squished the end of the tube together in a vice until the end was oval. This oval shaped end made the process of fitting the stand offs in place much simpler. It also provided a good weld area for strength. I ground off all of these stand offs until I had a good tight fit. Then, I put the clamps on the finished product. The end result (from 5 feet away) looked just like store bought. Now, it’s off to the welder.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New Davits-2

We stopped at Wolfs Marine in Benton Harbor, Mi and bought about 25 feet of 7/8 inch Stainless steel tubing (I wanted 1 inch but they were out) and a bunch of SS end fittings. (Time for a commercial break) As a little side note, Wolfs is one of the best kept secrets in Michigan. It’s the best marine store in Michigan and beats out West Marine hands down. Then, I retired to my shop to see if I could fabricate a set of davits that would be as good as store bought. I found that you can bend 7/8 SS tubing with a ¾ inch conduit bender and a bit of muscle. The hard part was judging how much to bend the pieces. I built a simple wooden gauge and as I would bend the tubing I’d check it against the gauge until I had the necessary 30 deg angle. The hardest part was “eye-balling” the placement of the tubing bender on the SS tube so that the bends on the inner tube ended up where I wanted them on the outer tube. This was easier than you would think since I’d just guess a bit longer than necessary then keep bending until the curve lined up with properly with the outer tube. Then cut off the excess curve. Next, the stand offs!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New Davits-1

I know...What are davits?
They are the devices that you use to haul and store your dinghy out of the water with and they’re normally mount on the rear of your boat. When we left the Great Lakes (over a year ago) I built a pair of, 2 X 4 wooden davits on the back of the boat to hold the dinghy. They were a, “temporary” addition to the Goose and were only meant to last for the 2 month trip down the river system. These temporary davits have become permanent since they’re great for lifting the dinghy out of the water at night (so that barnacles can’t grow on the bottom) and to carry the dinghy when we are making short inland runs. We looked at different sets of “real” davits to replace them with but the cost of real davits runs from a low of $1000 to a high of $2000! So, being who I am, I decided that I could build a set of my own. First the design. I decided to take two different designs and combine them to make a simple davit that would be strong enough to work yet be simple enough for me to build. Here’s the preliminary drawing, now all I need is some tubing! Stay tuned!
This will be another multi part Blog so check back to see how the project is coming along.