Monday, December 26, 2016

Santa Shops on Craigslist!

In my previous post, I told of making a special cabinet for the Make717 maker's group, to hold accessories for their new Sherline lathe. I had spent a good bit of time using that small, precise lathe and was very impressed with it - so much so, I thought about buying one for myself. However, they are rather expensive, and I talked myself out of it.

But then... I "accidentally" typed Sherline in a Craigslist search, and there was one, just a few miles from our house! I went right over and found this:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Make717 Lathe Cabinet

I've written several posts previously about the Make717 makerspace, a local group of which I'm a member. The makerspace, in space donated by Thaddeus Stevens College, brings together a lot of different equipment that would be expensive to purchase for a home shop: metalworking lathe and mill, 3D printers, laser cutters, CAD workstations, an extensive electronics bench, and more. I've been involved with the group since almost the beginning, and have made a few pieces of shop furniture for them (a workbench and a pair of hardware cabinets that took four blog posts: 1, 2, 3, 4).

Now, I've taken on a project involving a tiny Sherline lathe. It's a fine piece of equipment!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Yoda, the Z3 Coupe, Finds a New Home!

This blog has reported on a lot of projects at the Grant St. Garage, but it actually began before we ever found and purchased the Garage on the next-to-last day of 2011. It started (on another blog site, now defunct) as a project log for a car I bought in September of 2011, my 1999 BMW Z3 Coupe.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Temporary Fix?

Recently, I blogged about learning to knurl reliably on my lathe (link). In that post, I mentioned that the first problem to solve was a stripped bolt - here's the photo again for reference:

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Un-Vise

I recently blogged about a small band saw I was given after it was removed from service in another shop (link). I was able to repair its broken vise for holding the stock to be cut, but even in that post, I mentioned that I had plans to improve it. In fact, the inadequacies of the stock vise was the main reason it was replaced by the other shop. This photo of it trying to hold round stock makes it all clear - it is sort of a piece of junk:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Learning by Doing

Look what I made - it's a small (about 3" long) machinist's clamp in solid brass:

Learning by doing is the only justification for making your own clamps like this. I probably have eight hours tied up in this one, and you can buy one in much more durable steel for around 20 bucks. But learning was my goal, and I did learn!

The project's genesis was a perfectly knurled thumbscrew I made for my finger plate clamp tool (link). I'll repeat that photo here:

Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Work-Holding Thingamajig

This thingamajig actually has a real name, but I didn't put it in the title because nobody would know what it is. The official name is a "finger plate," and its mission in life is to hold small and awkwardly-shaped things for drilling or shaping. In the staged photo below of my completed plate, it's holding a scrap of aluminum I picked specifically because it is not square (parallel) in any plane. Holding it in a vise would be hopeless, holding it in your hand would be dangerous, but holding it in the finger plate just works:

Monday, September 5, 2016

A Big Step

This summer at Lancaster Church of the Brethren, we undertook a big project. We just didn't know how big it was going to become when we started! In conjunction with having professionals replace the carpet in the sanctuary, our project was to extend the depth of a few steps in the Chancel area up front, and remove one row of pews from the front of the sanctuary in order to improve space.

We were very fortunate that Wayne Stauffer, a retired contractor and new member of our congregation, agreed to be the project manager for the step modifications. His plan, which worked perfectly, was to extend each step by adding carefully cut construction lumber in sufficient quantity to extend the tread depth from 10.5 inches to 15 inches. Those modified steps would then be carpeted along with the rest of the sanctuary.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Reclaiming a Saw

I was recently gifted a nice little band saw that had been taken out of service because the work-holding vise had literally broken off during use. I immediately set out to restore it to rude health and put it to work! Here it is ready to rock:

Of course, it wasn't quite like this when I got it.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Yard-Sale Find

Today, I stopped by a yard sale near the church. I'm not usually one for such, but this one had a white Karmann Ghia in the yard, and I stopped to take a look. The car wasn't for sale, but while there my eyes fell on this BMW-logo'd bag in apparently unused condition, and for 12 bucks I just had to have it!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Kitchen Science and the "Land Blender"

We have guests from out of town visiting, so of course we wanted to show them the very best local attractions. High on the list is the AACA Museum in Hershey. Mary Ellen and I are members, so we can go anytime we want for "free." We were there with Marty and Teresa yesterday, and saw the off-road vehicle show currently in session. One of the most impressive vehicles was this beautifully restored, fully equipped Land Rover, complete with side tent:

But wait! What is that on the front bumper - a blender?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Stopping and Measuring

I've just completed a fun project - my first machinist project in steel instead of the softer, easier-to-work metals like aluminum or brass:

You're looking at a fixture I made for my metalworking lathe. However, if you don't know much about lathes, it's hard to tell where the lathe ends and the new part begins! It's a removable, adjustable fixture (1 in the photo is the body and clamp knob) with a carriage stop (2) and a dial indicator (3), which measures the movement of the carriage at (4), and the indicator is removable using the thumbscrew at (5). That nice Ames dial indicator was a gift from Kelly Williams. (Thanks, Kelly!)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Not Another Dash!

How is it that I keep getting into this situation??? This time the subject is the 1999 Z3 Coupe - the car that was the genesis for this blog:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Boxing the Seats

In my last post, I detailed how I changed the seats in Ebony, the new-to-us 2007 BMW Z4 Coupe. That means I had a set of valuable and easy-to-damage sport seats sitting on the workbench at the Grant St. Garage! Clearly, the next project had to be protecting them from harm.

In that last post, I mentioned that I planned to reinstall the sport seats in Ebony some years from now when I was ready to sell it, or at least give the buyer the option of choosing between the installed standard seats (which I'm calling "touring seats") or the more aggressive sport seats. My plan was to build very sturdy boxes to store the sport seats, and when I was done with them, use those same boxes as shipping crates for an eBay sale. And that's exactly what I did!

Friday, April 29, 2016


First things first: It's "Ebony." The car's name is Ebony. First suggested by Sydne Fredrickson, and later by Matt Sware (although he suggested the German version, Ebenholz), this name appears to have stuck. Here's a recent beauty shot, taken in front of John and Dee Zimmerman's house. Look how the early morning light plays over the complex surfaces of the body:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Make717 Hardware Caddy Part 4: Done!

The Make717 Hardware Caddies are done! All the heavy lifting of design and prototyping have been documented in part 1 (initial prototyping), part 2 (detailed instructions for mounting drawer slides on the plastic boxes) and part 3 (building the case), so now all that's left to do is celebrate the completion. Here are both caddies in the Make717 Innovation Center:

Monday, April 18, 2016

Welcome to the Fleet!

In my last couple of posts, I've been hinting at a new car in the fleet. I've been waiting for all the paperwork to be done before making it official on the blog, but today the title and registration paperwork was completed, and it's really ours: a 2007 BMW Z4 3.0si Coupe!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

John and Emery Drive a Rocket

John Zimmerman and I had a very rare treat last Sunday - the chance to drive the brand-new, rare as hen's teeth Tesla Model X. Of course, Tesla is much in the news these days for making a success of selling vehicles that are electric only - no gas engine at all. The nephew of one of my choristers had managed to get his hands on one, and had kindly offered to let John and me drive it. It's a very nice ride, and driving it was a real treat!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

POST 100: The GSG Story

Hard to believe that this modest blog has achieved the milestone of 100 posts! When it began, this was to be a log for a single project: my 1999 BMW Z3 Coupe. There are plenty of posts about that car, but after a while I began adding other projects, to the point that car-related posts are in a distinct minority.

But it occurred to me that I had never really done a post about the Grant St. Garage (the GSG among its friends and admirers). It has come a long way in a little over four years! So let me indulge myself by going down memory lane, and creating a single place to go for pictures that tell the story.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Upgrading an iPod

This little device is the iPod Mini, made in 2004 and 2005, with the huge-for-the-time capacity of 4 Gigabytes of storage. It has remained a popular model in part because it, among all the iPod variations, is the easiest to repair and upgrade. There were two "generations" of the Mini, and the second generation is preferable for its much longer battery life.

If you click that photo to enlarge it, it's easier to see on the screen that this is no longer a 4 GB Mini - now it has 128 GB!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Z4 Roadster For Sale

I'll have something new in the garage to talk about soon, but I'll wait until it's actually here before I post about it. It's in Atlanta now, and I'll be flying down and driving it back next week. An adventure!

But for now... please check out my post offering the 2005 BMW Z4 2.5i Roadster for sale! I put it on a different blog since this one is my project log. UPDATE: The ad is gone now, and so is the Roadster!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Make717 Hardware Caddy Part 3: One More Prototype

In Part 2, I detailed how to mount those drawer slides on the thin plastic sides of a Stanley hardware organizer. Now, it was time to make one more prototype to check that everything is going to work right. I made it out of cheap MDF (medium density fiberboard), but I used the same joinery techniques I plan to use on the real thing. Here's the finished prototype:

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Thanks, Ox!

The Cabin Fever Expo is one of the premiere gathering of model engineers in the US, and since I've gotten interested in this machining hobby, I've attended the expo each year. Fortunately, it's  really close by. It was in York the first two times I went, and this year, in nearby Lebanon. It's a great place to be inspired by some really fine craftsmanship, and also to pick up some bargains on tools and materials. It's where I found the welding equipment mentioned in a previous post.

I went with a short list of things I was looking for, including some better "tap handles" than I had previously. A tap is the tool bit used to cut threads into material, and of course, the handle is what holds it. I was rooting through a box of old tools and scrap, and came across just what I was looking for:

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Make717 Hardware Caddy Part 2: Mounting Drawer Slides on a Plastic Organizer

In the first post in this series, I detailed how we used an iterative design process for a set of cabinets for plastic organizer bins. The chosen design mounts drawer slides directly to the bin, which requires several components and some modifications. This second post details how to do it in a step-by-step fashion. It's not easy reading, but I hope it will help someone else duplicate our work.

The final result looks like this:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I Need a Teacher!

At the recent Cabin Fever Expo in Lebanon, I found a bargain - an almost new, portable oxyacetylene welding rig. I paid about a hundred bucks for it:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Make717 Hardware Caddy Part 1: The Power of Prototypes

My friends at our local Makerspace, Make717, asked me to help with an organization project. Among the assets of the group, we have a number of these Stanley hardware organizers in two different heights. They are super useful for storing hardware, small electronic components, and more. This stock photo is from this link on Amazon:

Monday, January 11, 2016

Every Shop Needs a Milling Machine

The Grant St. Garage has a rather complete set of woodworking tools, but they are usually the cheaper version, often bought used, and that sometimes makes for compromises. My Delta 12" planer is a good example. This little benchtop machine has planed thousands of feet of lumber without complaint, and it works great. But when it was designed, chip collection was not a big part of the equation. Delta did offer a bent sheet metal attachment, and I bought it to hook to my dust collector. It works more or less adequately, but its design is poor compared to more modern equipment like the Dewalt 13" benchtop planer.

Anyway, today I noticed that the duct had pulled loose on one side. The thin metal, held by a pair of tiny wing nuts, was just not up to the task.