May 5 2012

Bicycle Crank Arm Repair

A friend of mine gave me a Huffy with the pedals stripped clean off of the crank arms.  The thread in the crank arms was completely stripped.  After calling a few bike shops, and looking online, it seemed that replacing the crank arms on a Huffy isn’t worth the money, just buy a new bike.  I was happy to have a bike with shocks, I wasn’t about to give up.  So I simply repaired them.

Simple concept:

Fill the pedal holes in the crank arm (Weld them shut)
Grind for aesthetics
Drill the holes in the crank arm
Replace the pedals

Most hardware stores do not carry the necessary tap, you may have to order it online.

So I ordered the tap, bought some cheap, rugged pedals on eBay, and waited.

While it is recommended for that tap to use a a 33/64 drill bit,  I found that a 32/64, or 1/2 inch bit, will suffice.

Here are the pics.  It was a Saturday job.

Jan 22 2012

New Smyrna Beach, FL and Canaveral National Seashore Camping and Surfing

To make a long story short, I had to pay a late fee in Volusia County. The closest city to me was New Smyrna Beach. So I decided to make an event out of it and go camping. Then I head surfing was pretty good up there, and I had an old board that someone threw away. It had been fighting the elements for at least 6 years, but hey, why not?  I packed everything into my old Chevy, guaranteeing this would be an adventure, and was off.



Click here for Photography pictures



The drive to New Smyrna was OK, and when I got there, pretty hungry, I held out until it was too late, and the last place left on the mainland was the JB Fish Camp. The Mahi Sandwich was awesome. Lots of bikers, tourists, and fisherman exchanging stories there. The place had a good vibe and one heck of a view.  I would like to drive up with a flats boat and see this side of Edgewater.  After lunch, I went across the street to take a look at the beach.  I could hear the waves crashing, still being about a block away from the walkway.  As I walked up, it was an awe-inspiring site.

This was the first time I had seen the Florida Atlantic Coast in Northern Florida.  The beach was large and flat, and the waves seemed to come up to shore forever.  The sky reflected on the spacious, and there was but a few people.   Unlike Miami Beach, where one would have to walk a few blocks to get to the beach.  Here, you come out of your house, and just cross the walkway.  There was a walkway to cross the dunes about every 3 houses.  After a short video to commemorate the moment, I was off to the Canaveral National Seashore National Park.

Finding the visitor center and registering was easy.  However, there was a lack of maps of the campsite, and I didn’t want to lug around all of my gear in the wrong direction.  So after a few visits to the visitor center on locating campsite 2, I went ahead and spoke to a Park Ranger.  He advised me to drop my gear and walk in through an Authorized Access only area.   Geared up and ready to go, I started towards the walkway.

Crossing over to the beach, I finally got over the horizon, and saw it.  This was one of the most inspirational beaches I have ever seen.  The fact that there were no buildings around, and not a single person that I could see, is probably what did it.

It was one of those moments, where everything aligned.   The fact that my wife couldn’t make it due to school.  The fact that it was Sunday afternoon in a small town where everyone had to work the next day.  I don’t know.  But the fact was, this entire beach, as far as the eye could see, was all mine.  I soaked that in for a moment, and began to hike.

The campsite was elevated, and had a perfect view of the beach, with the waves crashing throughout the night.  After I set up camp, I tried my hand at surfing for a bit.  In the beginning I was kind of worried due to the beach’s reputation for sharks and rip currents, and the fact that there was nobody around.  But there was no way I was coming this far and not trying.  Bottom line, I sucked at it.  My board sank, I couldn’t catch any waves, and when I did, I couldn’t climb on the board.  In the end, I practiced until the sun started going down, and then sat ashore drip-drying.

Eventually it was time for dinner, and I was excited about the skirt steaks I brought with me.  Unfortunately, the charcoal I brought was old, I didn’t bring any lighter fluid, and everything in my camp was wet with salt spray from the misty shore.  On top of that, the mosquitoes decided to come out.  Luckily, they couldn’t get through my wet suit, and I brought a little bit of repellent.   Getting the coals to light was a bit frustrating.  Even with direct fire for 15 seconds on one coal, it just would not light.  After foraging and experimenting with a few different things, in the end, it was Styrofoam that got me through it.  While cooking directly with it is a bad idea due to the release of carcinogens, they make a good fire starter.

The Styrofoam that comes in meat packaging, lights up fast, melts, and that melted substance continues to light hot for a while.   Underneath some saw palmetto leaves I found dry grass and vegetation.  I created a mini tee pee out of four matches.  I surrounded this with broken bits of Styrofoam, that came with the steaks.  Atop of the foam i built a bigger tee pee with pieces wood (which was still a bit moist), and underneath I filled it with the shredded vegetation as tinder.  I lit a single match and the reaction began.   The matches lit the foam, which together with the tinder, dried the wood.  After a few minutes of smoke and fanning the fire (more oxygen = hotter flame), the wood eventually lit up.  I covered the wood with charcoal, following a few more minutes of smoke as the charcoal dried, I had a barbecue.  The steaks took a long time to cook, but were perfect.

After a good meal under the stars, I got myself organized and settled in my tent.  A little down because I didn’t bring any dessert.  I forgot that I had stashed 2 Oreo’s in by backpack on a whim.  That was a good find.  The two best Oreo cookies ever.  I made a goodnight call to the wife, a few emails, and I was out. I woke up around 2AM, but the shore put me right back to sleep.

I woke up around 6AM, at my traditional cereal and Lil’ Milk breakfast, and took some pictures of the sunrise.  After an argument with myself on whether I should stick around and enjoy the day, or head early to the courthouse, I decided on the latter, packed up, and left.

Jan 21 2012

Automotive Spray Painting DIY spray booth

For most people getting into an accident is the worst. In my opinion it depends on the accident. A car accident can be great, as long as nobody was hurt, it’s a small “fender bender”, it’s not your fault, and their insurance is going to pay you.

In my case, for a bumper and taillight replacement, the insurance company was willing to give me $1000.00 This really isn’t worth the work commercially, but since the car was still drive-able, and I’d repair it on my time, I took it. I spend about $300.00 on an aftermarket, pre-primered bumper, taillight, and new paint. I have paint-and-body experience, so the practice was there, I just didn’t have the location.

Ideally, this should be done in a spray booth, but it is possible to do it in a gazebo or carport. The closer one gets to the ideal, the less likely it is to have things land on your paint before it dries. Dust, bugs, water, these are all enemies of your paint job.

What you should have:

  • All walls should be sealed: This can be accomplished with plastic sheeting, and masking tape.
  • There should be a filtered extractor: This can be a square fan, with two basic, blue air filters in front of it, this reduces damage to the environment, as well as over spray for you and your neighbors.
  • There should be a filtered intake: A screen, or metal frame with some air filter material attached to it will do the trick.

That should cover your spray booth if you don’t have a garage. Don’t forget to wet the walls and floor to help with flying particulates, and it doesn’t hurt to wet the air intake filter either. A decent compressor, filter, spray gun, mixing by manufacturer’s specs, patience, practice, and finesse, and you’re on your way to a professional paint job. An actual cross-flow example can be seen here from SprayShield:

Jan 5 2012

Polytarp sailing canoe

So I have this canoe, that’s over 40 years old and it shows.  I don’t know the brand, only a faded silhouette of a logo washed away on the front of the canoe.  A group of people at work were planning a kayaking expedition to Cape Sable.  Everyone armed with tandem kayaks, equipped with pedals and such, I was, once again, on the short end.  “I have a canoe”, I thought, and went on a test run by myself, alongside two people on a tandem kayak.  I learned that in heavy wind, it’s damn near impossible to keep the canoe pointed in the right direction with one person.  With nobody willing to join me as usual, I decided to make another member, in the form of a sail.  I read a little bit about how to make a sail out of a tarp, as well as basic sailing requirements such as a rudder, leeboard thwart.  Equipped with some new sailing terminology, I set out to make the sailing canoe.

Some research online proved I could make a sail out of tarp, double-sided tape, and some nylon rope.  Rather than use blue tarp from the hardware store, I bought some white tarp from Polytarp Int., so I would at least look legitimate.  After a little googling about sailboat dynamics, I set out to make a rudder, and leeboard thwart, and a mast/boom.  The canoe wasn’t strong enough to handle this new adventure so I strengthened it where I thought fit, as well as adding a mounting point in the center for the mast.


In hindsight, the mast, should have been a little more forward on the boat to improve maneuverability.  Also, an outrigger would have made a world of a difference, as I was throwing a way a lot of wind to prevent being flipped over.  In the end, it sailed.  twice.  The second day I ran aground and ruined the leeboard mount.  Since then, I bought the Hobie 16, and I’ve used, but not sailed the canoe.

Quick video in action:

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Dec 22 2011

Just another day on the Hobie 16

It was a nice day, not too calm, not too windy.  A good day to get out there and dust off the sails.


Dec 18 2011

Florida WMA Duck Hunting STA1

It’s late Sunday morning.  You’re driving North, Miami to your back,  camouflage canoe or kayak hanging out behind, stuffed with palmettos or coconut palm leaves and whatever else you could find to make yourself a blind.  Drivers pass you and wonder if you’re a landscaper and why you have a camouflage canoe in Miami.  It’s fine, they don’t need to understand, because you’re in the zone, thinking to yourself, “Did I bring everything”?

Do I have my shotgun? Shells? Decoys? Permits? Waders? Suddenly, a pickup passes you with a camo canoe in the back! No way he’s getting there first, so you’re stay on him, and the suspense begins.  If you’re lucky you already have a spot waiting for you because you thought about duck season months ago.  If you’re like me, you’ll just have to take the leftovers.

You get there at 12, sign up for leftovers, and start preparing any last-minute things, and talking about the last duck hunt, and your planned strategies for today.  At 1PM it’s raffle time, at this point the anxiety is at its peak.  The fact of the matter is, even after this long drive, you might have to go home if you don’t get picked…But your name gets called! You pick a great spot, you’re on your way to your truck, number in hand.  Drive passed everyone with a final good luck salute, and get on the dirt road along the levy.  It is here, where it’s official, you’re going duck hunting.  Put on a good country song, kick up some dust and drive on over to your spot.  Get on your waders, drop the canoe into the water, spread out your decoys, and get in.  Settle in with the coots, and soon enough, right on schedule, the ducks start coming around.

A flock nearby is obvious as all the hunters begin to serenade them with their own “best” calling style and decoy placement. Soon enough, they come around and you better be patient, because if you move, they’re outta there.  As they come towards you, you must sort out everything you know about their colors, wing-flapping patters, and sounds. Identify the bird, figure out if you can take it, and fire!  Dinner on the table, or another lesson learned?

This is a Wildlife Management Area public duck hunt on Florida Water Management District STA1.

Dec 17 2011

Smooth Sailing from Hobie Beach Miami Florida

As a follow-up to this post:

We (my wife and I) sailed today in 5-7 knots on the Hobie 16.  We went out of Hobie Beach which is great in high tide.  During low tide, it’s difficult to bring the boat up to the trailer without beach rollers, but the 16 is light enough to inch along by dragging it.

The day was smooth, there was just enough wind to cruise around the bay, and build some confidence.

Nov 13 2011

2011 Archery Season Opening in Bear Island

Mucho Mosquitoes, that’s for sure.  Season opened to a Doe and her fawn walking right in front of me.  The buck stayed back.


Aug 28 2011

Bear Island WMA Scouting Session

After a 2 year hunting hiatus, I decided to get back in the saddle, or “back in the boots”, better said, and decided to go hunting last year.  With school, rebuilding my home, and work, I had no time to put into the woods.  Hunting Florida Wildlife Management Areas all of my life, you’d think I’d remember, but I forgot, that in order to get in on the hunting you had to apply for quota hunts early.  So I was officially out.

I spent my time carefully mapping out the quota permit application dates, and areas I wanted to hunt.  I applied for Alligator, and was denied.  This gave me more fuel for the regular season.  So come application day, I was on it! Apparently, so was everyone else, because I got slim pickings. I was unsuccessful left and right, except for a couple of permits, one being in Bear Island, for Archery.  So I packed my gear and headed out.

As usual, in this time of year, the Everglades welcomed me with lots of water to slosh through, check out a video here:

All in all, it was a nice to be out there.  The strange thing was, I didn’t see any tracks or traces of deer around (or hog for that matter).  I have some other areas in Big Cypress where I frequent and the deer tracks are around.  I found what looked like a good area to put my tree stand, and I’ll be there, Walden in hand, waiting for the game to show.  Here are some point and shoots of the area.

And a video:

Aug 18 2011

Smoky Mountains National Park Chimney Tops adventure

After a delicious breakfast served at Creekwalk Inn on Whisperwood farms, the plan was to cover the two popular Smoky Mountain locations, Newfound Gap and Clingman’s Dome.  Being that Clingman’s is officially the highest point in the Smokies, it was a must.   With all the tourists in Newfound Gap and Clingman’s Dome, there wasn’t exactly a sense of accomplishment.  Yes, we had been hiking daily, and our legs were sore, but this was due only to our habits obtained in regular life.

The plan was to head over to Chimney Tops Trailhead.  It was a decent swimming hole, and a great study area.  It would work out perfectly, I could leave my wife studying peacefully on a large rock, listening to the rushing water, while I checked out a short trail.  Then I could come back from the trail, take a dip, and we’d call it a day.  I remember seeing a young man fly-fishing the stream, and wishing that I had a fly rod so I could try it on my way back.  There was no time for that today, however, figuring it was a 1.1 mile hike, I said, “I’ll be back in about an hour hunny”, and I was off.

I stopped a hiker early in the hike and asked her how long it was.  “It’s not that long, it took me an hour and a half on the way up, but it depends on how good you are, I myself am not used to the altitude”.  I figured I’d have to hurry it up, and started at a fast pace.  Now, keep in mind, when I hike, I take lots of gear.  I carry a gallon of water per day minimum in case of emergencies, which I had in bag minus the difference in my waste-bound canteen.  I also carry my Canon 30D, a knife, basic survival gear like water tablets, etc, a flashlight, and my heavy camera tripod, which I hang out of the back of my bag.  On this hike, I also had some extra weight, which I’ll get into later.

So about 20 mins into it, after passing beautiful flora, I gazed upon what looked like one of the nicest open-shutter stream shots I’d seen in TN.  I remember being exhausted, and thinking, I’ll get this on the way back, when there’s even less sun out.  I was basically jogging up the incline, and was dying.  I decided to sit down to catch my breath, which was wheezing, and about 25 lbs in the package of two stones I had in my bag.  I’m also a hunter, and have some very long hikes in my plan, so any hike is considered training.  This is how I convince myself that it doesn’t matter how much my gear weighs, but this was an exception.  I was stressing myself with speed rather than weight.  I crossed a sign that pointed out the Appalachian trail, and remember thinking on how I also wanted a picture of that.  I stood there for about a minute confused.  The sign said 1.1 miles.  I was under the impression that the entire hike was 1 mile.  I decided that the sign was giving me the entire trail’s length, which was pure denial despite a clear mind.  There was no way I was turning back. 

I crossed another group of hikers who alerted me the more strenuous part was up ahead.  I looked at it as motivation and pushed on.  As I got closer, this fit woman in sweats is resting and I don’t remember what I asked her, but I remember her reply, in full southern accent, “You got about fourth of a mile, pretty much, straight up, if you can get through that I think you’re alright.”  Again, more motivation, without hesitation, I continued to ascend.  If I can explain that terrain in few words, I’d say this.  If you take a staircase, made of stone, remove the stairs and replace them with rocks randomly poured down, for about a 1/2 mile, that’s about it.  I took a slow pace, and would set goals every few trees to hold on to.  I didn’t want to sit down, because I didn’t want my body to lock up.  I pushed it for as long as I could, and received some more inspirational words by some guys coming down.  “You’re almost through this part, then the incline stays the same, but the rocks turn into gravel, so it’s easier on the legs”.  About 10 minutes into it, with the breaks becoming more frequent, I got to the gravel.  Then, 10 mins later, I start feeling the breeze.  That was by far the most inspiring feeling.  The wind, near the top of the mountain.  I got to what looked like the end of the trail, a tree, rooted up, and a peak behind it.  The trail disappeared for a second but it was nowhere near the top.  I started walking faster now, the rough part was over.  I had been hiking for about 45 mins, I had to be close.  Then there was about a 1 min. descent, which was frustrating to know that I climbed it, and would have to climb it on the way back.  Finally, a sign, I could see the chimneys.  The sign said the trail ended, something along the lines of, “the trail is closed due to improvements, to get to the top, you must climb the rock face”. 

Yes, I’m afraid of heights, but I also have a deal with conquering my fears.  The rush is much more grande due to the primal fear.  So I decided to start climbing, with my backpack, water, knife, tripod, etc.  About halfway up, it started to rain a little.  And I started to think about how slippery the rocks were when wet, so I found myself a little ledge, took off my backpack and gear, and leaned back to see what the weather wanted to do.  A climber started coming down from the top.  His shirt said something rock on it, and he had nothing but a bottle of water in his pocket.  He says, “well you have it all to yourself”.  I said something about the rain and he answers, “yeah I wasn’t gonna stay up there to find out”.  So I rested for a while and realized, I was up there, all by myself.  Once the initial awe-inspiring view feeling passed I began to look immediately around, and realized, how a slip down the side would be a nasty fall.  I heard voices from the trail, so I decided to wait and see if I’d have company climbing up.

They settled in about 10 feet under me and one of them uttered something like, “I’m not too fond of them rocks up there”.  I decided to make conversation and said, “well I feel like a chicken shit, but I don’t think I’m goin’ any higher than this, with this rain”.  I don’t know if I was more afraid of the heights than the rain, but the rain sure seemed like a more respectable fear.  Who in their right might, afraid of heights, climbs up a freaking mountain.  One of them responded, “I don’t blame you, me neither”, and with that it started pouring.  I took a few pictures, packed it up, and started getting down to a safe zone.

Once down there, I took off my shirt, wrapped my SLR in it to somewhat protect it from the rain, and began jogging back.   I realized, then, that I had the car keys, and my wife, was stuck by the river, with no roof to protect her or her books from the rain.   I even began pacing through the roughest part of the trail, picked up too much speed, and almost spilled all over the rocks.  I realized, then, how that was a stupid risk, and slowly made my way down.  My wife would have to wait.  Of course, the best things and the worst things happen during the worst times, as life shall have it.  On the way down, I ran into a doe and her fawn walking the trail in the rain.  She wasn’t bothered too much by me and by the time I took out the camera and setup the tripod due to the low light of the sun going down, they calmly made their way into the bush, and the shot was over.   I decided to take that beautiful stream shot, however, in the rain.  I didn’t even check it.  I also stopped and loaded my rocks back into my pack.

Finally, on my last run, crossing the second to last bridge, I spot a young man about my age, with something on his fly rod.  I wanted to take a picture, but it was pouring and all I could think of, was my wife, the camera getting wet, etc.  In about a 30 second conversation I shared that I was from Florida, and he told me this was the first fish ever he’d caught on a fly rod.  He was so excited he must have dropped that rainbow trout on the ground about 5 times.  I told him I had to take a picture and took one with both my camera and his.  He was also from Florida, it turns out.  He asked me what I was doing in TN, and while I wanted to stay and chat, I said “I’m just up here hiking, taking it all in, but I gotta go my wife has no keys man!”, and I was off jogging again with my water, rocks, SLR, knife, tripod, etc.  It was a great example of payoff on both of our sides.  See, that was the same fly-fisherman I’d seen earlier.  And all those hours I spent on the trail hiking, he was fishing.  Even when it rained he was still at it.  The trout was no more than 4 inches long, but it was a trophy.

So I made it back, and there was nobody at the swimming hole.  Exhausted, and wheezing again, I jogged my way to the car, and there she was, sitting on the ledge, under a tree, studying in the rain.  I wanted to tell her the story, but she was so mad I left with the keys, I knew better than two spill it during that time.  So I caught my breath, drove towards town, and processed the adventure to myself.  See, just like the trout, this was not a major hike or climb. It was a simple, two-mile uphill hike, with a small climb at the end.  Not a big deal at all, Touristy, even.  But for me, after misjudging the distance, starting the hike sore, alone, adding the excess gear, excess pace, and the rain, this was a great Chimney Tops adventure.