Thursday, July 30, 2015

Patti is home.


Wednesday I picked Patti up at the hospital:

I arrived at the hospital around 9:30. There was a class at 10:00 for the coaches (that’s me) of knee patients that are being discharged. It covered what we had to do for the patient when they get home.

When I got to Patti’s room she wasn’t doing so well, She had a bad night with lots of pain and little sleep. I sat with her for a bit, then went to the class. It was in the hospital at the opposite end of the hall from Patti room.

By the time the class was finished they had Patti pretty much ready to go home.
They wheeled her out to the street where I brought around the car. We loaded her in the car and we went home.

Patti walked with the walker to the house and up the stairs. She is doing good despite the pain.

When we got her into the house she wanted to lie down so we put her in bed. Patti slept for four hours which she really needed. She felt somewhat better after her nap but still is hurting.

A nice visit:

Around 6:00 Joanne and Dave came by for a visit with dinner for all of us. So thoughtful of them. Thanks guys!

At around 7:30 Patti got a flower delivery from her sister Kathy and brother-in-law Bob.
The flowers were supposed to be delivered to the hospital and be in her room when she came out of recovery. Well, the flowers never showed. After several phone calls it was decided to have them delivered to the house.



Thursday; Physical Therapy:

I put Patti to bed around 9:00 and she slept good until I had to wake her at 12:00am and 4:00am, to take some pain pills.

At around 8:00am Patti got up for an hour or so.

The PT technician is supposed to come by around 12:00pm to cause Patti more pain.

She is now resting.


Things are progressing satisfactorily.

The home care physical therapist stopped by at 12:30. We spent the first 20 minutes or so discussing Patti’s meds and what exercise she needed to do and a lot of other stuff pertaining to her therapy.
After that he had her do some tricks and took score. She scored very high but he stressed that she could backslide if she didn’t do her exercises regularly.

Patti was pretty tired after The PT guy left so she took a little nap. 

A big crash:

I went in to give Patti a pill around 4:00. When I sat on the edge of her bed to talk, the bed collapsed.
Patti did a real good job getting out of the wreckage without hurting herself.

As it turned out the rails on this old (antique) bed are warped pretty bad. The sides moved away and the slats fell between the rails. I had to take the bed apart and screw the slats and the plywood to the rails.
I think it will work now.
Unfortunately as I was working on the bed I tweaked by back; now Patti and I are both in pain.
Hopefully a good nights sleep and some good pain pills and I should be okay by tomorrow. (I hope)

“Getting old ain’t for sissies.”

OK, I’m going to get dinner ready. We are going to have steak and asparagus.

I think I’ll let Patti edit this and send it on.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Patti’s new knee day 2.


Here is a representation of what the new knee joint looks like.


I got to the hospital around 10:00; Patti was sitting up bright and cheerful.


I asked her how it was going and she replied that she felt great and had no pain.
She still hadn’t taken any pain medication.

I was surprised at how small the bandage was.


The green thing around her leg is a compression boot. it is to prevent blood clots.

After about an hour, the PT technician came and got Patti out of bed and helped her to the bathroom. He took her for a walk down the hall and back.


After the walk he had her doing some exercises.

I went home for lunch and by the time I returned around 3:45, the PT guy had been back and worked Patti pretty hard.

She confided in me that now she was experiencing some discomfort.
Well, that’s the PT guys job; to cause pain.
No pain, no gain. Smile
I had to convince her to ask for some pain meds.

About a half hour after she took the meds she was feeling better.

I will be picking Patti up after 10:30 tomorrow morning. It will be nice to have her home again.

Stay tuned!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Patti gets a new knee.


I backed off the forging for a while and didn’t work on anything yesterday except mopping the kitchen floor.

Patti gets a new knee:

This morning Patti and I went to Memorial Hospital to get her knee replaced.
You know, that sounds really strange. almost like saying she was getting new tires.

Any way, she went into surgery at 1:00 and was back in her room by 4:00.
The doctor said that it all went great and he expected no problems.
Patti wasn’t in any pain when I left her but she was real sleepy.

I only took one picture.


Patti is the one lying on the bed.

Okay, she is doing good.

I’ll keep you informed on her progress.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A failed tool.



I was looking for more information on making basket twist handles. I Googled “basket twist handles” and two of the search results took me to my own blog.
I think I have to make a disclaimer at this point. I AM NOT A BLACKSMITH and I don’t claim to be one. I have too much respect for the Blacksmith art to to make that claim.
I am just a guy that likes to play with hot metal. Some times the things I try to make turn out and some times they don’t.

Trying to make a swage tool: 

I wanted to try to make a metal forming tool to reduce the end of a 1/2” rod to 3/8” diameter.

A thought that this type of tool was called a Fuller but after further research I learned that a Fuller is used to make a notch in metal such as the Fuller or Groove on a knife blade.

What ever you call it, here is the tool that I tried to make:

I dug around in my scrap metal pile yesterday and found a nice piece of 1” X 1” steel and a piece of 5/16” spring steel rod.. This will be turned into a tool if I am real lucky.


I cut two 1-1/2’ pieces off the square stock; these will be the jaws of the tool.


the next thing to do was to make the spring. It might have been better to make the spring last as I had to reshape it later.


Making the jaws:

I decided that the jaws needed to have a groove on the outside where I could set the ends of the spring in the groove to weld it to the jaws. 
(I think it would have been better to drill a hole in each block to insert the end of the spring into and welding it there.)
To do this I clamped the jaws in the vice on my drill press and drilled a 5/16” hole between the two blocks which makes a groove in both blocks half the diameter of the 5/16” rod that will be welded to the block.

Here is the piece on the drill press.


You can see the grove on the side of the block.
The hole that is being drilled in the picture is my first mistake. That hole was supposed to be perpendicular to the grooves on the outside. Oh well, I can drill the correct hole after the spring is attached.

Here is my setup for welding the spring to the blocks.


Once the spring was welded the next thing to do is to add a “Hardy” to the tool so it can be held on the anvil.
A Hardy is a square piece of metal that goes in the “hardy hole” (the square hole) in the anvil. It is part of any tool that is used on the anvil.

I found a nice piece of 3/4” square stock which is the size of my anvils hardy hole and cut off a 2” piece which I welded it to the tool.


After the hardy was welded on, the next thing to do was to heat treat the spring.

I put the whole thing in the forge and got it nice and red hot. Then I quenched it in cold water. Ok,  so now the spring is hardened. The next step is to temper the spring.
I fired up my plumbers pot and began heating the spring slowly until the metal began to turn a nice blue color. As soon as the whole thing was blue I quenched it in cold water.

Now I have a spring swage die? I’m still not sure what its called.


As I was inspecting the tool later in the evening I noticed that the jaws didn’t quite line up. I took the tool back to the anvil and tried to adjust the jaws. In doing so I broke the spring. 



Oh well I guess I can still use the swage, I’ll just have to hold the top jaws by hand..
Maybe I can fix the break but it may just break again.

Okay, that was my adventure in tool making. I hope we all learned something.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Basket twist handle day 3.


Straightening out the mess from last time:

Okay, when we finished on Thursday the handle was a mess. I spent a good part of yesterday morning welding, straightening and adjusting it.

Here is what it looked like when I was finished.


Bending the ends:

I still needed to bend the ends but I didn’t want to heat the whole thing to do it.
I went out back and got my plumbers lead melter.
This was what I used to heat metal before I made the forge. It won’t get as hot as the forge but it will heat a smaller area.


Once the end was heated I beat the ends over as close to the basket as I could (not really as close as I wanted).

Here is how that turned out.


They aren’t quite centered and one end is a bit longer than the other but that can be adjusted later.

Making the feet for the handle:

I found a leaf pattern on the web and printed it out. the printer paper is a bit thin so I glued the leaf to some heavy pattern paper before cutting it out.


Once the pattern was cut out I transferred it to a piece of flat 1/8” thick metal


and cut them out on the band saw.


The next thing I did was heat up the leaves in the forge and peen them all over to make them look hand forged. I also scribed the vanes in the leaf.


Once I had the leafs peened I drilled four holes in the leaf; three small holes for mounting and a large hole in the center for the handle.


Next I welded the feet to the handle.

Here is how it turned out.



I am not real happy with the result but fortunately this handle was a trial piece to learn how to make a basket twist handle.
On the next one I will do a lot of things different. Maybe eventually I will get one that I like. In the end I have to make three good ones.

You will see it all take place here, so stay tuned.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Basket twist handle, Day 2.



I was going to just do the project and if it turned out good then I was going to tell you about it. After giving it some thought I decided to let you see the complete project; mistakes, screw up’s and all. That way we will all learn together.

Basket twist handles day 2:

First thing this morning I moved the anvil from the backyard to my shop. I haven’t used it in several years so I moved it out back. I figured I needed the room in the shop. Now it’s back.


Around 9:30 I went to the local Ace hardware store and bought three 1/4” steel rods 3’ long.


When I got back Patti was leaving to take Dina to lunch for her birthday.
They went to the Tides Restaurant at Bodega Bay.

I cut one of the 1/4” rods into ~ 5” lengths

A little lathe work.

Next I took two 3” pieces of 1/2” rod put them in the lathe and turned a nub on one end  1/4” diameter by 1/2” long. A real blacksmith would have heated the steel and hammered the end into the correct shape. The lathe works faster and I have one so I use it when I can.


Wiring the bundle together and tack welding:

Once I had that done I bundled all the 1/4” rods around the ends of the 1/2” rods and wired them together.


Once I got the rods all secure I tack welded the 1/4” rods to the the end of the 1/2” rod with the turned down bit in the center of the bundle..
Here I could have tried forge welding both ends to the center rod but instead I chose to arc weld them.

Here is my welding jig.


Below you can see them just tacked welded.


Heating the metal:

Now it’s time to start the forge welding process; I get the forge fired up and start heating the metal.


One thing I wanted to do was to make the two ends square.
Once the metal was nice and red hot I pulled it from the fire and hammered both ends square. This will give me something to grab onto with a wrench when I go to twist the bundle.


My first screw up:

Some how in all the excitement of getting the forge back running and all, I forgot a step in the process.
As soon as I got the square ends made and the steel nice and hot again, I put one end in the vice and a wrench on the other end and started twisting. Two of the 1/4” rods broke loose before I realized that I hadn’t forge welded them yet.
Ok, so I straightened everything out as well as I could then re-welded the rods that broke away.

Time for lunch:

By now it was time for lunch so I took a nice long lunch break.
While I was eating I was thinking that it was excessively hot in the shop when the forge is running. I didn’t remember it being that hot when I used to run it in there. Eventually It dawned on me why that was. In the past I always did my Blacksmithing in the fall and winter on cold days never in the summer.

I needed to do something about the heat and after a bit I remembered a small rolling table that I had made to house the metal chop saw and the belt sander. I think it is just the right size for the forge to set on.

After lunch I drug the table out, took the cutoff saw and sander off it and put the forge on the top. Then I put the propane tank on the bottom shelf.
Perfect now I can role the forge outside when I am using it and back in side when I am done.


Forge welding:

Okay, now that, that was done I was anxious to start the forge welding process.

To forge weld metal you have to heat the metal to a very high temperature almost to the melting point. Flux is used to exclude oxygen from the metal and help with the welding.
Tap the metal with  medium blows from the hammer; if it is hit too hard the almost molten metal will squirt out from the weld and the weld won’t take. It takes several heats to finally get something as large as the bundle of rods  to weld together. Eventually I got what looked like a good weld all around.

I heated the whole thing again and when it was the right color I clamped one end in the vice and with a twisting tool on the other end I twisted the hole group of bars into a tight spiral then pushing against the axis of the rods, I untwisted them slightly to open up the basket.

Below is the result cooling on the anvil.


Now it is time to bend the end rods 90° so they can be attached to a plate that will be screwed to the barrel.

Screw up #2

I put the work back into the forge to heat the end so I can bend it. Of course the whole thing gets hot so when it is time to take the piece out and bend it, the center has to be cooled so it won’t bend also.
I took the work out of the forge and quenched the center all the way to just before where the bend is to take place.
I put the hot end of the rod into the pritchel hole on the anvil and attempted to bend it.

I guess I didn’t get the body of the work cool enough because when I tried to bend the 1/2” rod, the end of the bundle bent also and two more rods broke their welds.

Here is what it looks like now.


Okay that’s enough for today; I am exhausted, hot and sore. I had forgotten just how much work blacksmithing is. I’ll see what I can do tomorrow to fix the problem.
I’ll give it another try tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Morning at the Hospital and a new project


Morning at the hospital:

We spent most of this morning at the hospital getting all the paperwork done so Patti can be admitted for her surgery next Monday. Fortunately her surgery isn’t scheduled until 1:00 pm so we don’t have to get up at some unholy hour in the morning to get her to the hospital.

A new blacksmithing project:

It has been several years since I have done any blacksmithing but my nephew, Dave, has been making some real nice furniture and other stuff out of wine barrels. His latest project is to build a large cooler out of a 50 gallon oak barrel. As you can imagine a 50 gallon wine barrel is quite heavy so it will need some heavy duty handles on it to move it around.

I told Dave that I would like to try and make some nice hand forged handles for the barrel. 
After giving the project some thought I figured that some nice steel basket twist handles would look good and would be easy on the hands when carrying the heavy barrel.

Here is one that I made for an adjustable grill to use around a campfire.


Getting ready to blacksmith:

It is taking me a while to get the shop ready for a blacksmithing project. I finally got the welding table clear and set up the propane forge that I made for building knives.


I have been digging around in my metal piles and came up with some long steel rods. I was hoping to find some 1/4’ rods but only had these that look to be around 5/16”
I spent a little time getting the rods ready by wiring them together but then I decided that they were just too thick for what I wanted to do so I will have to go buy some 1/4” rod.

You can see how the rods are prepared below;


Wire management:

Oh, you may notice the tie wire sitting on the welding table. It looks a little strange but it is an experiment of sorts. When starting a new role of tie wire I usually pull the wire from the center of the role. Eventually the outside wire can get all mixed up and can become a real birds nest. This time, before I started pulling wire off the role I whapped Gorilla tape around the outside of the role. Eventually we will find out if this is a good fix or not. I probably should put the wire in a box with a hole in the top that would surly work. Maybe that will be another project.

Okay that’s all for today. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ready for Patti’s knee surgery.


I think we are ready for Patti’s knee surgery:

We decided that it would be best if Patti use the spare room for the first week or so of her convalescence since our bedroom is too small to allow for the use of a walker; and it would be safer for her knee if she slept alone at first.

After we emptied the spare room I vacuumed the carpet three times and then shampooed the rug twice. We swiffered the walls and wiped the window sills clean.
We put Patti’s antique full bed frame in the room.
We are going to use the full size air bed mattress that we recently purchased. Patti slept on it Monday night and pronounced it suitable.

Today we went to her Orthopedist for the pre-op; tomorrow we will go to the hospital and take care of all the admitting red tape.

Patti’s surgery will be on July 27 at 1:00pm.

Okay that’s all for the last couple of days. If anything exciting happens I’ll be sure to let you know.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A day paddling around the Russian River Estuary


More room work:

The last couple of days we have been working on the spare room. I vacuumed the room three times and shampooed it twice.

Paddling the Russian River Estuary:

Yesterday I went for a paddle around the Russian River estuary  at Jenner with Bob.
I got to his place around 11:00, we sat around for a bit then headed for Jenner for a paddle. We got on the water by noon and headed across the river to the north shore of Penny Island.


We sat along the shore watching the area for a little while then paddled along the north shore of Penny Island heading for the rivers open mouth.

Big bob cat:

As we paddled along Bob noticed a large bob cat walking along the shore. I tried to get some pictures of the cat but every time I pointed the camera at it all I could see was the reflection of my face in the view screen. I just started taking pictures in the cat’s direction. As it turned out I did get some shots of the bob cat but he was hard to find so I had to blow the pictures up and enhance them a lot  so you can see the cat. The cat walked along for a ways then just lay down in the grass.

Here is an unenhanced long shot. The bob cat is the brown spot in the tall grass about 6ft to the left of the big log.


This is an enhanced close up view of the bob cat. Isn’t he beautiful!


And another shot just because he is so beautiful.


I was amazed that I got any pictures of the cat at all.

Heading to the rivers mouth:

After the bob cat wandered out of view we headed for the mouth of the river.
We passed a blue Herron


and a cormorant waiting for fish.


As we crossed in front of the open mouth we passed what looked like hundreds of seals sleeping on the shore waiting for fish.


No wonder the salmon fishery is collapsing. With all the seals, otters and other predators it is a wonder any fish make it far enough up stream to spawn. After they spawn the young ones have to run the same gauntlet back to the ocean. Then when they mature in the ocean we catch millions of them in nets.
Good luck Salmon!

Paddling along the south shore of Penny Island:

We sat around near the mouth for a while watching the seals, etc. then paddled across the river to the south side of Penny Island and followed that shoreline.


We passed these Turns posing along the shore.


We saw a couple of Egrets in some cedar trees across the channel as we drifted along.


A little hike to Swamp Rock:

We slowly continued up stream stopping occasionally to enjoy the scenery and eventually arrived at the trail to Swamp Rock.

We beached the yaks.


You can see the rock against the hill side in the center of the picture


The trail to Swamp Rock is a narrow game trail that after a short walk through tall grass enters some taller brush.


At one spot on the trail where it goes through a thicket of small trees, we passed under this Twin Berry bush. It’s pretty but is likely poison.


After getting through the brush the trail crosses a swampy area (hence the name “Swamp Rock”)


Eventually we made it across the swamp (dry at this time) to the base of Swamp Rock.

The climb up to the seat on the rock was short but steep. By the time we got to the top of the rock I was done in.


Here is Bob waiting for me to get to the seat.


The climb is a little tough for an old fart but the view is well worth it.


We sat on the rock for about an hour enjoying the view and contemplating those who had sat here in the past.

Eventually we headed back to the boats. Bob wondered if I could find my way back to where we landed as the trail is a bit tricky to find. I have been wandering around in the woods for most of my life so I am fairly observant when hiking around. I noticed from the the rock that the brush more or less funneled  anyone walking around right to where the trail comes out of the brush. So I just followed the brush line to the trail. We got back to the boats and after a short break sitting on the grassy shore we got in the boats and headed for the ramp.


It was a fun day paddling around the Russian River Estuary.