Stiffen Your Hat With Wax

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There is nothing worse than a floppy cowboy hat. Steaming a cowboy hat will stiffen it for a short time, but just a short time. What I want is to steam my cowboy hats, shape them and never have to do it again, but when you spend $35 for a hat or buy one at Bi-Mart for $19.99 you can count on re-steaming on a regular basis to bring back the stiffness. I’ve tried spray starch and some formula that I got off the internet which included corn starch, but nothing really works for long and I’m back to steaming and shaping my hats again.

When I was a kid my brothers and I wore cowboy hats. Usually they were hand-me-downs from my dad or what he’d picked up at a second hand store. And usually they were too big and out of shape when we got them. To adjust for the too big size, my dad would roll up a sheet of newspaper and tuck it in behind the sweat band, adding more or less paper until it fit our tiny heads. One time, my mom sewed the crown together so the hat wouldn’t slip down over my ears.

My dad would always steam them and shape our new/used hats to our desired style and to stiffen them again, but kids are tough on hats and we would be begging him to re-steam them again for us. He too got tired of steaming and shaping hats, so using his vast ingenuity, he decided to wax our hats. I can still remember him melting the wax on the stove and painting it onto my white cow hat. When the wax cooled it was stiff as a board and as waterproof a ducks’ back! I also remember that it looked like it had a layer of wax on it, but that was okay because it was a white hat and the wax is white.

I have a brown cowboy hat that I wear around the farm when it’s cold and rainy. It keeps my head warm and the rain off my spectacles. But it does get beat up and out of shape fairly quickly. I don’t really care how it looks as long as it works, but I do reshape it occasionally. I also have a black cowboy hat that I wear at work when it’s cold and raining. It gets tossed around in the truck and before long it needs to be re-stiffened, re-shaped and occasionally, waterproofed. In the back of my mind, I kept remembering my dad waxing my hat and how nice and stiff it was, so I decided to give it a try.

The first thing I needed was some paraffin wax. You would think it would be easy enough to buy paraffin wax, but unless it’s canning season, it can be hard to come by. I finally settled on a white, unscented candle. I chose unscented because scented candles put out too much soot when they burn, and I didn’t want my hats to smell like a flower.20160228_172120

I thought I’d melt the candle with the old griddle that I have in my shop for heating things, but that was too slow, so I fired up my Harbor Freight heat gun, which melted the candle much faster. With the wax melted, I used a small paint brush to paint the wax onto the underside of the brim and the inside of the crown. I painted the inside and underside because if there was a waxy residue, it would be less noticeable on the inside/underside.20160228_172259 There was a waxy residue when I got done, because the felt didn’t absorb much of the wax. Now this is where my dad stopped, he just painted the hot wax on and let the hat felt absorb as much as it would, which is fine on a kid’s white hat, because who cares how a kids hat looks, right? Well, as I mentioned, my hats are brown and black and I’m not a kid. So, to get the wax to melt into the felt I used my heat gun and heated the wax on the hat. To my delight and surprise, the wax melted and was absorbed into the felt almost completely. What didn’t absorb, I brushed with a stiff bristle brush, removing what wax I could, and then heated the wax again until it was all absorbed into the hat.20160228_172821

When the hat cooled, it was stiff and waterproof. The process worked so well that I also waxed my black hat. I’ve been wearing my hats for about a week now and I am very pleased. I may have put a little too much wax on the inside of the crown of the black hat because there is a slight white waxy residue. However, no one but me knows it’s there and I don’t care.20160228_172918 Would I recommend that you wax your $200 Stetson? No! But if you have an old hat that just won’t hold its form anymore and you are going to toss it, give waxing a try and it just might become your favorite kick-around- in- hat.

Anyway…for what it’s worth.

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Journey of the Cart

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This blog isn’t about making an ATV cart. It’s about a trampoline legs, a piece of ½” rebar, two 5/8” pieces of pipe, a plastic barrel, some washers, nuts and bolts, a black rubber bungee strap with one hook missing, two metal brackets, a metal bed frame, a can of primer, a can of red paint, two cotter pins, an used 1×12” pine board, two scraps of 2×2” fir and a rusty piece of 1x3x24” iron.

Our camping spot up in the woods is kind of river front property. River front if you don’t count the 200 yards of green way and the small creek you have to cross on the way to the river. The distance becomes somewhat of a journey if you want to spend the afternoon at the river and you have to carry all your stuff that distance. My oldest daughter, her husband and their friends like to camp at the place and have resorted to strapping as much as they can to their ATV and making a trip or two to the river with said stuff. When I saw what they were up to I thought it would be nice to have a cart to load up and haul their stuff to the river. Being a loving and caring father and probaby even more true, I do like to make things and if you have read any of my blogs, you will know I like to make things out of stuff I already have. Except the two tires, which I bought on Amazon for $11. each, I rounded up all the other items from around the farm and in my shop.

I think it’s called making things from scratch. The fun of making something from scratch is that you only know what your end product will be, but how you get there is a journey.

This journey, the Journey of the Cart, started with a frame made from two bottom supports for the legs of a 12’ trampoline. I love trampoline frames because the pipes are so versatile. There are pre-bent pipes, tapered ends of the pipe will slide into the other ends of pipe and some are both bent and have tapered ends. I started the frame with two bottom leg supports. Both ends of the supports are tapered, so I had to cut two 6” pieces of pipe to slide the two ends into to make a rectangular frame that was about 20” wide and 5’ long.

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I had decided that I was going to us a 55 gallon plastic barrel for the bed of the cart and the 20” wide frame would allow the barrel to lay in the frame and not fall through.

I wanted to give the cart a little more ground clearance so I needed to support the axel below the frame. I scrounged around and scratched my head and scrounged around some more. I finally found two heavy brackets that I had salvaged off some farm equipment and sometime in the past. They could be bolted onto the frame with the two holes already in each of the brackets and to better accommodate the axle I notched them, giving me a place to weld the axle solidly in place. DSCF7754

The barrel, when laid in the frame, sagged through a few inches and sat on and conflicted with the axle. I solved the conflict by bowing the axle down to conform with the barrel before I welded the axle in place. DSCF7757

The wheel barrel wheels had heavy-duty bearings and the hole for the axel was 5/8”. I didn’t have any 5/8” steel rod, but I did have two short pieces of thick wall pipe that were 5/8” and 12” long. The two pipes welded together was right length. To straighten the pipe I slid a ½” piece of rebar in the middle of the pipes before I welded them together.

The wheels were easy to install with a hole through both ends of the axles, a couple of washers and a pair of cotter pins

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My first attempt at a tongue for the cart was made from pipe with a cross support make from the angle iron cut from a metal bed frame, but after I got it bolted together I wasn’t convinced that the pipe would be strong enough when the cart was carrying a heavy load. I remembered that I had come across a piece of a rusty of 1x3x24” channel iron when I was scrounging around the metal pile. It was very strong and the right length so I pulled it out of the pile and swapped out the pipe with the iron piece.

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The tongue needed a post on the underside of the front end to slip down into the receiver hitch hole on the ATV, so I welded a large bolt on the tongue that would fit. To keep the post from popping out of the receiver hole, I drilled a hole through the bolt that a pin could be inserted through, act as a stop and to the keep the bolt from popping up and out of the hole every time the ATV hit a bump in the trail. To keep the pin from getting lost I attached it to a short chain and tack welded the chain to the tongue.

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A plastic 55 gallon barrel is about 3’ tall and the frame was 5’ long, so that left 2’ of frame unused. I decided that a wood platform for a cooler would be a perfect utilization of the space. I found a piece of 1x12x48” pine board that had been used for a shelf at sometime in the past. It even had a lacquer finish on one side. I cut the board in half and ripped the boards length ways into four 4-3/4” wide boards. I attached the four smaller boards to two 2x2x18” boards. The 2x2s were spaced 18” apart so they would slide down between the cart frame in front of the barrel.

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To make it possible to put stuff in the barrel I cut about a third of the side of the barrel away, leaving the two ends full round.

I wanted to make it easy to remove and install the barrel on the cart. To secure the barrel to the frame I put two large pan head bolts through the bottom of the barrel just below the angle iron that secured the back of the tongue to the frame. The two bolts will keep the front from popping out of the frame. To secure the back, I attached a 12” long black heavy duty rubber bungee to the frame with a bolt. One of the hooks on the ends of the bungee was missing so I pushed a bolt through the hook hole and bolted the bungee to the frame. With a hole drilled in the end of the barrel, the bungee can be stretched up and hooked through the hole securing the back of the barrel down..

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After I was sure everything was going to work, I wire brushed the frame, cleaned it, primed it and painted it. I was going paint the frame black, but black metal is boring and red is a lot more fun. With the red frame, the white wheels and the blue barrel the cart is quite patriotic.

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I will admit that it takes longer to build a cart, or anything for that matter, without a well thought out plan, but for me, as I get older and have a several hundred projects under my belt, it’s much more fun, challenging and rewarding to just start with an idea and a shop full of stuff.

So back to my statement at the beginning; This blog isn’t about a ATV cart. It’s about a trampoline legs, a piece of ½” rebar, two 5/8” pieces of pipe… It’s about taking what you have and making what you want.

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Anyway…for what it’s worth.

 

The Things I Do On Rainy Days

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When it gets cold and the rain comes there are only four things to do; look at my motorcycles, work on my motorcycles, buy more motorcycles, and eat Cheetos. The other day I was looking at my Honda XR650L and thought to myself that it looked like it needed a renovation. I love my XRL and have enjoyed many fun and adventurous miles on it. I would never want it to think that I didn’t love it the way it was, but after riding this last fall with KLRs, BMWs, KTMs, Suzuki dual spots, I realized I was riding the plainest bike of all of them.

When I first got the XRL it was too tall for me. Every time I would put my foot down and the ground sloped down and away, I fell over. It was embarrassing and kind of tough on the bike and ego. So to remedy the situation I bought a lowering kit. When you lower the back you are suppose to lower the front too. I didn’t do that. Lowering the back was enough to keep me from tipping over, but the bike still was a little tallish. As part of the renovation I finally lowered the front too and wow, what a difference. The bike is so much easier to get on and off and it doesn’t seem so top heavy.

The next thing i wanted was a little more power. A few years ago I changed the front sprocket from a 15 tooth to a 14 tooth to give me more low end grunt on the trails, but I wanted still more power and I wanted it for free. One of the things that a gas motor needs to run is oxygen. After a little study I found that some people opened up the air box by removing the top, or snorkel. I did that and the increase in power was noticeable.

The stock bike colors were purple, red and white. That’s right, purple. I quickly painted the purple black.

The bike comes stock with something like a 2.5 gallon tank. When you are up in the woods you like a little more range that 100 miles. I found a 5 gallon tank on Craigslist for cheap and switched tanks. The original tank comes with graphics, very cool graphics. The 5 gallon tank came with nothing. it’s just a big ol’ white plastic tank.

So I thought it was time to dress it up with some color. and when I say “color,” I mean lime green and some more black. I also added some Japanese writing. Guess what it says?

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MANNY’S MUFFLER

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The Making of a Muffler

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My grandson refused to learn how to ride his bicycle. When he was two, on his second birthday, he started riding his 49cc ATV by his self, but at six he still hadn’t learned to ride a bike. He clearly had the skill and balance, but he just wouldn’t do it. One day he asked if I would buy him a motorcycle and I told him that he would have to learn to ride a bike before he could learn to ride a motorcycle. So he learned to ride his bike. I looked on craigslist and found a guy that would trade his 1997 Yamaha PW80 for my 1983 Honda XR200. My XR was a nice bike and I went over it, fixing anything I could find wrong with it before I put it up for sale or trade. The guy I bought the PW80 from,Todd, was a nice guy and so I trusted him, but I soon discovered that he wasn’t vigilant with the care and maintenance of his bike, the PW80, and I was foolish enough to believe that, just because he was a nice guy, he had been vigilant. When I got the PW up on my work bench I discovered; the air filter was deteriorated and mostly missing, the chain was caked with hardened oil that I literally had to chip off with a screw driver, the frame was bent and it didn’t have a muffler/silencer.  I’m not convinced that my judgment of Todd wasn’t misplaced, I just believe that he just didn’t have a clue about motorcycle maintenance.

So I went to work and cleaned up the bike and painted it, soaked the chain in oil after I got the solidified oil chipped off and bent the frame straight. I cleaned the carburetor, adjusted the brakes, ordered a filter and did general maintenance on the bike.

Replacing the missing muffler was a little more of a challenge, but a fun challenge. I could have bought a muffler, but that isn’t really my style. Basically, mufflers or silencers attach to the exhaust pipe or fatty and that attaches to the motor. There are three parts to a basic muffler/silencer system; outer metal case and insulation wrapped around a core pipe full of holes. The core pipe that is full of small holes attaches to the exhaust pipe. As the exhaust passes through the perforated pipe, some of the sound escapes out the holes and is muffled in the specially designed insulation that is wrapped around the pipe. The outer metal case holds it all together. Simple. So why are mufflers so expensive? Yeah, they are probably engineered for optimum air-flow so the bike run better or something like that.

The muffler for a PW80 is small, about 11” long and maybe as big around as a 1-1/2” pipe. The after market mufflers are a little larger. I had plenty ¾” pipe that I could make the core pipe out of. and I had some muffler insulation, so all I needed then was a outer case. Sometimes when I need to make something and am not sure what to make it out of I walk around my shop trying to get an idea by looking at stuff I already have. What I found was a 10” tall rattle paint can that was nearly empty. The rattle can had a cool shape at the top and was very shiny when the label is removed. With the can, I had all the basic parts I needed.

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I released the pressure out of it, drilled a ¾” hole through the top and bottom and cut the bottom off the can. After I drilled the core pipe full of small holes I wrapped it in the insulation and slipped it all into the rattle can, re-attached the bottom of the can with a pipe clamp by cutting some small slits in the bottom’s walls so it would slip over the body of the can.

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Because the new “after market” muffler was bigger than the original muffler, I used some ¾” copper pipe fittings, soldered together, to attach it to the exhaust pipe and snake it around the frame and into a good location under the back fender.

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I hung the new muffler from the frame with some metal plumbers strap and added some metal screws here and there to stabilize it. Without the muffler the two stroke motor sounded like the rapid fire of a gun, pop, pop, pop. Even with a muffler a two stroke motor is loud, but the homemade muffler cut the noise at least in half and in my humble opinion, it looks pretty cool too.

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The Transformer Motorcycle

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When I bought this 1981 Suzuki GS850 I was tempted to just polish it up, get it running well and sell. Most of the time though, I can’t leave well enough alone. After considerable contemplating I decided to make the bike a “Transformer.” Transforming from the stock bike to a bobber.

Bobber motorcycles are very popular, but to me, Bobbers are limiting. They’re cool, but limiting when it comes to riding for miles and many hours. What I wanted to do is create a bike that could go from stock to bobber with a bunch of variations in between and back to stock. When you buy a bike you pretty much get what you bought, cruiser, dual sport, café racer, bobber, crotch rocket…, but why not have a bike that can be changed to fit your need or mood.

When bike makers see this blog I’m sure they all will rush to make a Transformer bike.

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Here is what I did to make the bike into the Transformer; First I wanted to make a bobber style seat that would offer some comfort and would easily be installed and removed using the bike’s current brackets. This modification was perhaps the most time consuming. Bobber seats are pretty minimal, but I wanted something that would offer some comfort and yet look minimal. I’ve seen bobber seats that were metal farm tractor seats and though they look cool, I don’t think you’d want to ride all day on one.

I chose to make the seat out of plastic from a plastic barrel. I did this for two reasons; One, I like working with plastic barrels and second, I felt that plastic would offer some flex when sitting on it for long periods. To get the style I wanted, I cut the seat from the bottom of the barrel, leaving a couple of inches of the side of the barrel attached at the back of the seal. This would give the seat a raised back edge so it would look like just a flat board seat and the back raised edge would give the seat some flex. I covered the seat with first a layer of firm rubber yoga mat, then 1.5 inches of memory foam and covered it with black leather looking vinyl. The final product looks pretty good and is pretty butt form fitting.

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The original seat clips under two brackets at the front by the tank and lockded into another bracket at the back over the back fender. I wanted to use those same brackets for the new seat so I made a base for the seat, out of plastic.This gave me a base of attach the seat to.

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To attach the new seat to the bike I wanted to make it attach just like the original seat. At the front of the plastic base I welded together a bracket similar to the one on the original seat and attached it to the front of the plastic base with screws.

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The back latch was a little more complicated, but simple in nature. I made a slot in the seat base that would slip over the back metal bracket on the bike. So the plastic base would be secured down, I made a spring loaded latch, out of more plastic, a spring and small screw driver that I removed the handle from and bent the end so it would be easy to grab. This picture shows the base clipped to the bike’s bracket with the spring loaded screw driver. The other piece of plastic is the top piece, shown upside down, that holds the spring and screw driver in place.

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To install the seat base on the bike you simply slip the front into the front bracket, pull back the spring loaded latch, slip the slotted base onto the back bracket, release the spring loaded screw driver and lock it in place. The seat is bolted to the base using two small bolts. To make sure the seat unit doesn’t flex too far down, I installed a 2” x 8” plastic pipe across the frame of the bike under the seat. The pipe keeps the seat off the battery and wiring and adds to the flexing and comfort of the seat.

With the new seat on, the bike was starting to take on a bobber appearance, but I felt like if the back was lowered a little it would look better. Some bobber builders remove the back shocks and replace them with metal pipes that are shorter than the shocks. This lowers the bike, but offers no suspension. They call this a “Hard-tail,” because it’s hard, no suspension. I call it a “butt buster” or “back breaker.” I wanted to keep the shocks so the bike could be ridden with more comfort. If you’ve read any of my past motorcycle blogs you know I’m all about a comfortable ride.

The tops of the springs are attached to a threaded post, one on each side of the back fender, that are welded to the bike’s frame. The shocks slip onto the posts and are secured with a nut. To lower the back and keep the shocks I added two more threaded posts, one on each side, but I moved them up on the frame 1.5” and back slightly. To add the new posts I drilled a hole through the bike’s tubular frame, one on each side. I bought two bolts that would fit through the tops of the springs, cut the heads off the bolts and slipped them through the holes. I then welded the bolts in place on both sides of the tubular frame. Because the shocks are still installed the bike is called a “Soft-tail.” I call it “Heavenly.”

With the new bobber style seat and with the back lowered, the bike looked a little more bobberish, but not bobbered enough. Most bobbers have a raised gas tank. Some even have very small tanks that are almost head height. I decided the bike would look more “bobber” if the tank was raised up at the front. To accomplish this I again wanted to keep the original tank and attachment brackets. The front of the tank attaches to the bike with two slotted brackets on the under side of the tank that slip onto two “ears” attached to the bikes tubular frame. I raise the front of the tank by duplicating the two ears and welded them to a bracket that would straddle the bike’s tubular frame and slip onto the original “ears.” That worked and raises the front of the tank 2”.

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The signal lights on the bike are very large and kind of ugly. The lights, one on each side of the front and one on each side of the back, are attached to the bike on short tubes that stick out from the bike. I thought about replacing them with smaller L.E.D. lights, but I’ve ridden with guys that have converted to smaller lights and I find them hard to see. It’s my opinion that when riding a motorcycle you don’t want any light on the bike that is hard to see. I scratched my head for a while and decided to keep the signal light, but droop them by cutting the base of the of the tubes, where they attach to the bike, at an angle so the lights sloped slightly down giving them a drooped look.

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The stock tail light is huge. The light itself is large and square and the metal base that the light is attached to is kind of massive and not in keeping with the bobber simple look. I decided that when the bike is transformed into the bobber style, a round tail light with a small bracket would look better. You can buy many different sizes from your local automotive store. I chose one that I thought would be easy to see and look right for a bobber. (The white towel is to hide the license plate for whatever reason people do that.)

The handlebars that came with the bike may not have been stock. They were the style that raise up and swoop back and down. They were kind of funky looking and hurt my wrists after about five minutes of riding. I prefer something shorter and wider with only a sight pull back. The bars seemed useless to me so I cut them up and welded them back together in a more suitable style for my purpose. The result was handlebars that are more comfortable and better looking.

The thing about the bobber style is that most bobbers make you sit on a lowered bike with a flat seat and with the original foot shifter and brake in the original places. If you are taller, like me, this puts your knees in a very bent position. When I was younger that knee bent position wouldn’t have bothered me as much. Now that I’m older, lets say 40ish, bending my knees at such a squatted position is a deal killer. And knee killer. To remedy this uncomfortable riding position I made a forward shifter and forward brake mechanisms called forward controls. I wanted to keep the original shifter and foot brake lever in tact, so that the bike could be converted back to the original style. I did some shopping on Ebay and found replacements for a very reasonable price, like $36. for both with free shipping. I took the Ebay levers and cut them in-two, made brackets that attach to the frame in front of the motor, added pegs, rods, more brackets, etc… and I had forward controls that allowed me to stretch my legs forward, making the ride more comfortable.

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With all these modifications the bike can be set up in about 36 different configurations. You can change the seat or not, keep the front fender, or not, change the break light, or not, use forward controls, or not… raise the tank, or not, lower the back, or not, well you get the idea.

The last step was to paint the bike. A lot of people like “blacked out” bikes. I like them, but I wanted to add some bright highlights. I chose orange to give the bike some snap, some pop, some eye catchiness. To black out the bike, I cleaned the motor and sprayed it and the exhaust with a heat resistant paint. The rest of bike I painted first with black spray on truck bed coating, added the orange highlights and then clear coated it. I’m sure everyone will have their own opinion about how the bike looks, but I’m pleased with the results.

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This bike is my second winter project this year. The idea was to buy it, fix it, sell it and make a little cash. With this bike I made so many modifications that I told my wife that “I should hold onto it for a few months and ride it to make sure all the bugs are worked out and that it’s running right,” And that’s true, but this bike is a kick in the pants to ride and that’s true too.

There is a lot of parts to this project and each part could have been a blog in it’s self. If you decide to attempt any of these customization and need more information, please feel free to email me or leave your questions in the comments.

Anyway… for what it’s worth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lose weight by being taller

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Fun With Film, Digitally Speaking.

They say that the camera can add ten pounds. The thing is, I don’t need any help looking larger. I’m sure that an additional ten pounds on some people would be flattering. I know a couple of people that need to gain ten pounds, but they are few and far between and no,… it’s not you. If they can make a camera that will add ten pounds, I have to ask, why can’t they make a camera that can subtract ten, twenty, thirty or even forty pounds?

As I thought about it, I realized that even though a camera can’t make me look thinner, I knew how  to edit any photo to make me look thinner.

I’m sure we’ve all heard someone say, or have said it about ourselves, “I’m not over weight, I’m just too short,” or “according to my weight I’m really six inches taller” or “I don’t need to lose weight, I just need to be taller.” Well, that’s probably true, if we could stretch ourselves taller we wouldn’t be over weight, so why not just make ourselves taller in our pictures. It’s pretty easy to do using basic programs like Microsoft Paint.

Here is a picture of me on a trip to Glacier two years ago. I look kind of wide at 240 lbs and 6′-1″

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Here is the same picture. I’m the same weight, but in this picture I am 9′ tall. Thinner, right?

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And finally, here I am in the same picture, only now I’m 240 lbs and I’m 12′ tall. Looking good, right?

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By now you are probably wondering how you can do this. It’s simple.

1. Find the picture you want to “Improve” copy it and post it someplace easy to find, like your desk top.

2. Right click on it and click on edit.

3. Your computer will probably open your selected photo in paint. If your photo is too big to fit on the page, click on the view tab and reduce the size by clicking on the magnifying glass with the negative sign until the photo fits on the screen. If it fits on the screen, skip to #4.

4. Click on resize and when that opens be sure to make you un-check the “Maintain aspect ratio” box.

5. The “Horizontal” box should say 100 and the “Vertical” box should say 100. Now we are going to change the 100 in the “Vertical” box to 150, or 200. Be sure that you only change the “Vertical” number because if you change the “Horizontal” to 200, well here I am twice as wide. Not flattering.

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You can use the “Horizontal” setting and not use the “Vertical”, but make it a smaller number than 100, like change it to 50.

6. Now all that is left to do is to close the screen, save your changes, post your new picture on Facebook and wait for the compliments to roll in.

Anyway…for what it’s worth and for the fun of it.

Making a Hawaiian Sling

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For the Love of Snorkeling.

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I was fortunate to spend the last two and half years of my college experience in Hawaii. (That’s right, I have a college degree, a BS in Vocational Management.) I loved Hawaii. I loved the ocean, the weather, the beaches and I love to snorkel. Back then I could hold my breath for three minutes and free dive down to forty feet. I feel at home in the water and sometime I wonder if I wasn’t a sea snail in a previous life. Or fish, I could have been a fish.

In Hawaii I had roommates that were Hawaiian, Tongan, Chinese, Nigerian, Australian, and Japanese. It was my Japanese roommates that taught me to night dive. Night diving is snorkeling at night with a waterproof flashlight and a Hawaiian Sling. A Hawaiian Sling is a five-foot, three pronged spear with a loop of surgical tubing on the end. To use the sling you hook the rubber tubing over your thumb on an outstretched arm, you grab the shaft by your other hand and pull it back toward your chest, stretching the tubing. With the hand that has the rubber tube hooked around the thumb, you grip the shaft tightly. When you are ready to shoot the spear you let go of the shaft and the spear rockets forward, powered by the stretched out rubber tubing. It’s simple, but deadly.

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Around midnight at least once a week, my diving buddies and I would drive to a stretch of beach that had a coral reef about fifty yards off shore. I still remember the feeling of fear and exhilaration when I would walk up to the rocky shoreline, look down at the black water and wonder what the hell was I thinking, turn on my light and dive in.

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We would fish for an hour or two, diving down to the coral caves and spearing fish that were napping for the night. On our nighttime forays we would collect fish, eel, squid and lobster.

When I left Hawaii, I left night diving and spear fishing behind. I still snorkel every chance I got, but on the mainland it’s illegal to spear fish in rivers and lakes.

A couple of years ago we were invited to vacation with some good friends and their family in Mexico. We had vacationed in Mexico several times in the past, but always at a commercial resort. On this vacation we stepped out of our comfort zone and stayed at a private home in a little town, El Cardinal, on the Sea of Cortez.

The home was a beautiful, custom built, Spanish style home with a swimming pool and very large covered patio. The estate sat on about two elevated acres that overlooked the sea below.

As a big fan of snorkeling, I was in heaven. A reef ran from the beach out into the sea. It was some of the best snorkeling I have ever experienced. On one swim I snorkeled over a school of fish that was so large and so layered that I could not see the sea floor. After that encounter the grounds keeper offered to lend me his Hawaiian Sling, or Mexican Sling, whatever the case may be. Unfortunately, when I snorkeled with his spear I didn’t see any fish that were edible.

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After that vacation I decided that I needed to own another Hawaiian Sling. I wanted one that would break down into three pieces so that it would fit in my suitcase, so I started shopping on line. What I found was that they are pretty proud of slings that come apart. So, as usual, being a cheap guy, I decided that I could make my own.

I realized that I needed some kind of rod that would screw together so that it would come apart, but it had to be strong and flexible. My college Hawaiian Sling was a one-piece fiberglass rod, so that’s where my mind went first. I remembered from my fifteen years working as a retail manager in a home improvement center that we use to sell three-foot rods for cleaning chimneys. The rods screwed together to form a single rod long enough to shove a brush down a chimney to clean the creosote out of the flue.

I decided that I would need two of those fiberglass rods, a 3’X1/6” round steel rod to make the three prong end and two feet of heavy duty rubber tubing. Once I procured the items at Ace I was ready to make my spear.

The rods were three foot long so when I screwed the two together they were way too long. I wanted the overall length to be about five foot. That meant each rod could be two foot and the tip could be 12”. I cut one foot and the female end off one rod and a foot of rod and the male end off the other. The female end I would use to make the spear tip, but I needed to reattach the male end back onto the other shortened rod. I cut the male end off the one foot piece of scrap rod and drilled the fiberglass out of the fitting. Using JB Weld, I epoxied the male end back on the two foot piece of rod that had a female fitting on the opposite end. JB weld is great stuff, but to make sure the glued male end wouldn’t come off I drilled a small hole through the fitting and rod and put a small nail through the hole to pin them together.

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Through the top end of the other rod I drilled a 1/8” hole and put a short piece of cord through it and a tied the rubber tubing to each end of the cord forming a loop.

I drilled the fiberglass out of the female fitting that I had cut off so I could make the three pronged tip. To make the tip I first cut the three foot steel round rod into three, one foot pieces and sharpened the ends to a point. I inserted the other ends of the three steel rods into the socket end of the female fitting and welded the fitting and steel rods together. Now I would be able to screw the spear end onto the male end that I glued and pinned back on the fiberglass rod.

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I made a carrying case for the spear out of PVC pipe with a cap glued on one end and another cap that slips on the other end and I cap the spear with a short piece of rubber hose so I don’t hurt myself when I’m not using the spear.

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I hope that with the written description and the pictures these instructions will be clear. I’m not sure how many people will want to make their own Hawaiian Sling, but anyway…for what it’s worth.