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A Look Around My Humble Shop

May as well have a look at the rest of the place as long as you're here. The top picture is from around 1990. Things have changed rather dramatically since then. My shop was struck by lightning in July of 2010. The resulting fire caused very extensive damage, not only to the garage but to the adjoining electronics shop and the rest of the house. Devastating. See the pictures below for a more recent view from August of 2014, and one at the bottom showing part of the garage immediately after the lightning strike.

Adjoining the garage was my electronics shop, loaded with top end vintage Tektronix equipment; tube type scopes, signal generators, meters, loads of TM-500 test equipment including power supplies, frequency counters, function generators. Also, a number of solid state Tek scopes. It makes me puke even now, four years later, to remember tossing all my beloved and totally irreplaceable - I found out - Tek stuff into a thirty yard dumpster. Actually, I couldn't bring myself to toss them in, even destroyed by fire. I set them in gently.

An image from the good old days. You see a Honda XR600 and CR480 in the foreground. The Zundapp KS601 is just beyond them. To the right, my Mercedes 300SD under its cover, hiding from Michigan's salty winter. 400K miles and still going pretty good. Retired it as the main traveling car in 2013 with the purchase of an '02 E320 4matic wagon. Just ain't the same quality, but it sure does glide down the highway.

An '84 Honda V65 Sabre - my main traveling machine at that time - is this side of the SD, serving as a CD holder. My second V65 is just out of the picture to the left. These bikes have been everywhere in the country a number of times, including Alaska (once), and have more than 280,000 miles between them. I think they could have hauled me around Wyoming, Montana, and Washington while I slept on the back (in fact they did, briefly, upon occasion).

My glorious work shop with a Zundapp KS601 in there somewhere.
       A very busy view of my work shop/hangout, before the lightning fire.

The picture, again, is pretty dated. The dirt bikes have long since moved up front to the smallest apartment of three, where they got moderately damaged by smoke. Can't bring myself to rent that apartment because then where would I put all my crap? Now, in addition to everything else, there's a Bridgeport mill, totally refurbished and tighter than factory new with hand scraped ways due to the fire, a Hardinge HLV-BK lathe purchased from an aerospace company (not the one I've retired from) that kept it in perfect shape. Doesn't look so good since the fire, but I totally overhauled it mechanically, except the quick change box. That's still on the list, along with plenty of other stuff, believe me.

Both Sabres in this picture (or not) were pretty badly smoked by the fire. Probably restorable, but... I picked up another '84 a few years back, which is now the main traveler, so maybe the others will be spare parts, or maybe spares. Have to decide that some day.

To further aid in Zundapp KS601 and Dodge Power Wagon work, I have also picked up a 15 ton Atlas arbor press and a fabulous 14" Steptoe shaper, the later visible in the picture below, both from the now vanished Western Machine Tool Works in Holland. I know that's got you breathing heavy. The tale of these acquisitions is another story, maybe for another page on this site someday. Did I mention the huge 9500 lb 40 Hp Ingersoll-Rand Imperial horizontal twin double acting two stage compressor from the same incredible building? There's a link to that on my "Some Other Stuff link from the home page, although I sold it to a museum in the spring of 2014.

And now, the new garage. The old floor was in pretty poor shape, a situation that was not improved by thousands of gallons of fire water. The water undermined the concrete and sunk one of the slabs three inches or so. You could hear the hollowness under another, so I had a new floor put in. Then I satisfied a long time dream by giving it an epoxy finish. That was a serious shitload of work, which I'll detail at some point. Materials cost me (not the insurance company) about $1200, plus various sundries, like a floor grinder, mixing buckets, etc., but just look at it shine! You can crawl around dragging your tongue on it for yards and have nothing to spit out. You can inadvertently decant a full torque converter on it and just wipe it up, no freaking about permanently staining the concrete. I do believe that would still piss me off pretty thoroughly, however.

Note that the cabinets on the far wall and above the work bench, in the picture above and badly damaged in the fire, have not yet been replaced. The Steptoe shaper, to the right, has not yet been cleaned up from the fire. A large early Sperry gyrocompass is just visible at lower right. Beyond all that is the Zundapp KS601, partially disassembled, with the stereo and vinyl shelves and speakers against the wall behind it, which are designed to be easily moved with a pallet jack. More on that at some point.

My Hardinge lathe is to the left, just out of the picture. Ahead you see the totally refurbished Bridgeport with my beautiful pre-war Delta metal cutting band saw beyond. The ladder is temporary stairs to my "office" in the loft. In the picture, above, you can see the old (old) solid mahogany stair/ladder, which no longer reaches since the top foot or so got badly charred. The lightning struck at the rear peak of the roof.

My glorious work shop with a Zundapp KS601 in there somewhere.
       A view from the door of the old electronics shop.

Below is another look at the shop from the other side. Note the radial Pratt Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior hanging on the wall, victim of a gear-up landing. It miraculously survived the lightning strike fire although it looked pretty bad. Took three days of solid work to clean it up, but now it's beautiful, back up on the wall, and serving once again as air hose, extension cord, buckets and sundries rack.

The Cabinets immediately beyond the Zundapp also survived the fire, as did the ankle biter '46 GE fan, on the floor ahead of it. Both took substantial work to restore, especially the fan, which came off the wall of the second story engineering department at the Western Machine Tool Works in Holland, mentioned elsewhere on this site. Still haven't straightened the fan's wire guard, which has fought me like hell. Meanwhile, watch out for the blades!

Why are the doors closed with the fan running? We had a pretty cool summer in 2014, and I'm in the garage cleaning the Zundapp with kerosene. The fumes were becoming an issue and risking the fan's blades seemed the lesser of the evils to get some ventilation going.
The old garage doors were insulated similar to what you see now, but with nice framed paneling enclosing the insulation. Another thing that's on the list.

Another view of the new work shop with the Zundapp KS601 partially disassembled.
       A view looking back toward the electronics shop door, just out of the picture.

It's pretty hard for me to look at this picture even four years later. The vise at lower left (now on my new work bench) is right where the red plastic stool is in the image above.

You can see the Zundapp's rear fender midway up at the right. The thing above it is one of my porcelain lamp shades attached to a rafter tie. You can't see it, but the KS601 is holding up another rafter tie, assisted by the '85 Sabre.

You can see the black soot clearly on the hood of the John Deere. In the garage, oddly, it didn't settle too badly. Although innocuous looking, it can range from damned difficult to impossible to remove and is extremely corrosive. Throughout the first floor of the house it settled thick as chocolate syrup. Well away from where there was any water, things that had stood rust free for decades rusted heavily literally overnight.

A look at part of the garage after the lightning strike.
       A view from the right garage door. Can you see the Zundapp?

This was actually a pretty neatly arranged garage, an impression you won't gather from this picture. A good percentage of the stuff you see on the floor was up in the loft. But the roof structure burnt quite badly and everything came down from front to rear.

Observe that I was doing some work on the '84 Sabre, replacing the front bank head gasket which had slowly been starting to leak at 154K (finally figured that out on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington). Unfortunate time to have the head off it. I did triage throughout the garage, can of WD-40 in one hand and Eagle oiler of gear oil in the other, hosing everything down. I drained the sump and dosed the bike heavily with the full oil treatment, so I hope that all is well with it, although you can see the tank got sooted pretty badly.

The other one also, alas, was being worked on. Worse, I had both heads unbolted and lifted about 1/8", trying to free them of the exhaust pipes, doing a timing chain tensioner replacement. Honda, the stupids, bolted the tensioners down with four head bolts instead of four dedicated bolts, transforming a few hour job into a few days. Unfortunately I was taking my sweet time at it. Drained the sump and hosed everything with oil, but no way to tell how that one fared till I get back to working on it. Pretty low priority at this point.

Last updated 03-10-16
Email:  mechanique at wmol dot com

Zundapp drive shaft, U-joints, and pinions.