Monthly Archives: March 2015



Yesterday was a serious disappointment. We had an appointment at DMV to register the vardo. I quit work early to get home on time at 2:45. Raven called, still in Calistoga, her truck driver totally flaked. She and I made it to DMV on time in separate vehicles, we won’t need a permit but the wagon needs to be there. We went shopping at Trader Joe’s, Cost Plus and Michael’s, we’re in town, let’s make the best of it. Home, we sulked in our quarters, oh well. Raven crashed early in the vardo as I tinkered on the computer.

This morning Raven came in from a walk with mail, mostly junk recycled. We headed to town in my truck for coffee and such, a stop at CSV, I hit Goodwill, home. Raven worked online a while making an invitation to the vardo. I helped her copy it to paint (printscreen).

Meanwhile I glued up the second wheel with carpenters glue to get it done, using clamps and extra glue on a couple fellows to get them lined up with the band clamp to hold everything in place. I removed the dowel pins between the fellows as they don’t line up anyway. It will be fine once the steel tire is in place.

Lunch time while the glue dries, TJ’s tater tots in the oven, O beef hamburger steaks with garlic, soy sauce, garden herbs, and frozen TJ’s green beans in the steamer. I made gravy in the burger pan, plus ketchup on the side. Served in the back yard with a view.

After lunch Raven walked up town to Bosworth’s looking for a hook latch for the front shutters, nothing she liked, HD or we’ll make one easy enough, black smithing I know. I drilled the second front hub on the drill press using the jig same as last weeks post.

I cut the first 16 dowels all to 10 inches with a 3/4 mark on the band saw for spokes. Reset the lathe for the shorter spokes with oil on the ways to keep it from rusting and move easy. I clamped the wood I’ve been using for a tool rest to the cross slide horizontal, this works well. I center punched all the dowels with the spring punch. Mounted to the lathe, dead centered to the punch mark, tighten the chuck, center tight, turn on the power. Cut the 3/4 end mark with the skew, rough turn it to center with the round chisel hogging it down, and cutting a bevel end, power off to measure. The calipers are set to a fat half inch, the end angle gives me an idea of how much. Using the flat chisel I turn the very end down, power off to measure, close and again to correct it. Once on size I trim the rest to match, skew the step again, filing smooth. Remove the part and fit it. Remount and file if necessary. 16 times took the rest of the day. wellspoken

Meanwhile Raven stained the by now mostly dry second wheel, getting it much done.


The neighbor boy Jamin came over wanting to play, make stuff. I gave him some scrap from the fellow cuts he liked, making a race track with jumps.

16 spokes is a good days work. Raven said “These fellows are well spoken.”, very funny, wheely now. I will need to drill the fellows next and have a sanded scrap cut part to use in the drill press as a jig. The press makes a much better line up, all the spokes turned out in line on the hubs, expected again on the fellows next. These smaller 26 inch wheels are much easier to build as the band saw cuts the dowels and fellows so easy and true.

We measured it at 90 inches wide and total length 14′ 7″. This falls into the $30 for 5 years category registration, very cool. Raven applied for another appointment at DMV three weeks out, We’ll need to find a reliable ride. Here is a shot of the vardo as the blog needs a shot to show every so often.


I took pictures for this post and cleaned up. I envision a planter box on the tire fender with a cover to hide the wheel and the two wooden wheels swivel bolted with set pins for travel. We got a lot done.

Next Day:

I finished drilling the fellows, chamfered the spokes on the sander, assembled the small wheel band clamped and hammered.


By far the best one yet, here is the vardo with both wheels.


3/21/2015 Spring


I talked to my sister this morning, not a day for Oakland as Elliot is busy all day. I plan on going tomorrow instead so it is not a vardo weekend. I went shopping, nothing good at Sally’s. Cooking beef stew. I just talked to John across the street, he gave me those two tanks, score. I’ll need to fill one and measure it for how many gallons, but they are tough tanks and free. Threaded on the end will make great connections.


The stew turned out fine, one serving now and two for later. Beef, but a light broth as I used some chicken broth I had open as well as the rest of the beef broth. Good stuff served with sourdough toast.

I picked up a bunch of garden plants today at Garrett’s, two tomatoes, zucchini, crookneck squash, celery (yes!), a flat of bush beans all starts. I also bought seeds for wax beans, pickling cukes, beets and carrots, all planted. The radishes I planted last week are up, the pak choy is healthy, peas need string soon, everything is happy with new dirt and timed water.
I did lay out the two hubs for the smaller cart wheels and drilled holes in one of them using the new jig. There wasn’t enough room in the bench drill press for the jig straight up, but it worked OK tilted sideways as the base held the wheel vertical. Much better than the freehand method of before.
I filled up one of the new free water tanks from neighbor John, it took 11 3/4 gallons to fill it, so two tanks, 23 1/2 gallons grey water storage. That’s a lot, to code with three fresh 5g bottles, mind it will take some drilling and plumbing to connect the two tanks, but they’re only 8.5 inches round. They will fit right up underneath without being a speed bump hazard, heavy duty fiberglass water tanks. Perfect and free.
I’ve sorted out some tools I’ll need tomorrow, charging the battery on the hand drill. It’ll be an early start with a stop at Home Depot on the way for a couple fence boards to fix the broken fence. The power cord is in the truck, DMM set aside to bring for electrics, taps, tap handle, numbered drills, for treadmill wheels. The irrigation system will be a challenge. Perhaps a different water supply from the hose. TBD.
I’m thinking as they are off to a concert at 3, I may head to my boat for another coat of varnish on the rails. The new boat slip is right on the way home from Oakland off Richmond Bridge. My laundry is already done for the week ahead. A good day, much done.



Well it’s pi day, 3.14. We met at Safeway Starbucks as usual. A trip to Garrett’s for a water timer, little chickens for sale, cute. A stop at Salvation army, nothing special. Home.

A simple lunch of pan fried chicken breast, rice and green beans  with maple syrup, rice vinegar and mustard powder. I liked it though Raven thought it a bit sweet. A good lunch all in all.

Time for work, Raven prepares the paper work to register the rig. I break out the saw horses and 2x4s, drawing the 26″ wheel fellows pattern on the last stud, enough for both wheels and a spare with the other stud drawn before. I start cutting them out on the band saw. This size is nice as I don’t need to use the jig saw, just cut them to size on the band saw, a much nicer tool for shorter stock less than a foot. I get one eight set done and laid out round on the floor, these will be nice for the smaller front wheel.

Raven has decided to use a stain on the cart wheels, tries a couple on a scrap piece and picks the walnut color. She proceeds to stain the one wheel with the tire attached. It looks good.


I received the wire clips in the mail last week, time I secured the running lights wiring to the frame. Using the old boat pad I climb under and secure the wires using pliers and a hammer, six clips on each side to the steel frame, they won’t move or chafe, good to go for the inspection.

Back to the wheel fellows, that’s what you call the outer wooden round semi circles, I’m using eight, with two spokes each fitting into the center hub. I’m cheating, drilling round holes in the hub, should be rectangle mortises but these are just for looks. I cut the next set of eight fellows on the band saw. Putting on a dust mask I use the lapidary drum sander to smooth out a set, takes a long time.

Part way through we decide to take a hike to the river. It’s down and somebody has cleared the path to get to it. The wild grapes are in bloom and smell wonderful. The river has changed it’s path in the winter floods, the main channel is out with a couple small rapids between. The old deep fishing hole upstream appears to still be there from a distance, I’ll need to look closer. Back up the bank we check on the wild asparagus, one is up and splitting out already, we nibble on the soft fronds, tasty. There will be a few more. Raven picks some mugwort, a strong smelling bitter herb. Around the corner the poison oak is flourishing. and near the bay tree. I’ll be careful. Heading home with a stop at the garden just sprouting above the truckload of organic compost I put in last week.

More work on the wheel fellows I get one set sanded ready and dust off. Raven lays the hitch chain on newspaper and sprays it black.


I open the new 2″ ball hitch and check the fit. We’re good to go for registration as long as her friend’s truck electric mates to the 4 in line wiring harness or the adapter we have. We’re still waiting on his response with a two week buffer before our appointment. I stack up the wheels for a picture before putting things away.


Two big ones mostly done and two small ones begun. These little ones are a good size for a spinning wheel, another potential future project. Next I’ll need to sand, mark, 1/2″ drill the 16 holes in the hubs,  center mark, 3/4″ drill the fellows, cut spokes to 10″ size and turn to 1/2″ to fit the hubs. I’ll cut and weld the steel tires for all three wheels another same day hopefully with torch black smithing set up. All good fun. Raven finished the first wheel stain this evening, beautiful. A fine day.


Well I didn’t work on the wheels today after all. I do have all the parts. I went to town. A stop at Salvation Army came up with an old oil lamp for a buck, some sanding masks and a meat grinder. There was a router I’ve been looking for for Joe, but it smelled bad on start up, no pass. I drove in my truck swept clean of tree seeds and a shovel with a plan. Hey to Starbucks for a cup.  A stop at Garrett’s for a thumb screw and washer to fit the grinder, on to the dirt store between Garrett’s and the RV shop. I picked up a half yard of organic compost in the pick up, drove home the back way slow not to loose it. I backed in to the garden and unloaded the new dirt, took awhile with a shovel finishing with broom. The garden will be happy this year I think.
A Trader Gioto’s mini pizza in the oven, I went out and worked on polishing the lamp. This is a nice lamp, embossed “New Rochester made in USA” but it has a heavy coat of fire scale, somebody got it hot on one side. The copper has floated to the surface and will need a hard polish. I moved the cloth off Sky’s old polishing wheels and find the course bobbing compound. Buffing away I spaced the pizza, baked dark roast and trashed, another of four, more aware and tasty.
I called Joe to check in. He’s home with Josie in the shop ready to paint the guitar. Ace has a sale on sample paint, a buck a pint. “Hearts and stars” says Josie. Hmm.
I need lamp parts anyway, back to town with pieces to Garrett’s. I picked up a glass chimney to fit and two packs of wick I’m stitching together with cotton string to make a 5 inch circumference circle wick. I bought four pint samples of paint, a ‘ruby slipper’ burgundy, black, a light lemon yellow and a chard green. At a buck a can, why not, indoor satin won’t last outside. It will need more stirring, maybe a coat of urethane to protect it.
New Rochester
This lamp is nice for a buck, Ebay $40 to $200 plus. It doesn’t have an oil cap. I’ll need to make one, and I can of few. It won’t be original, but will work. A fine day of sunshine and a happy garden.



I met Raven this morning for coffee, it’s been awhile as she’s been to Esalen. We jumped in my car and went to the RV shop Raven knew of on the North end of Healdsburg. We had to ring the bell to get in, but it actually had a lot of stuff. We picked up a lock pin for the trailer hitch and an adapter for the running lights. They didn’t have the trailer frame wire clips I’m looking for. We tried the auto store, no luck, Garrett’s nope, maybe these 25 cent pin clips could work, bought four to try. Let’s go home, dropped back to Safeway for her rig.

Raven has a phone appointment as I cook us lunch. Bean soup, O canned cannellini beans, carrots, that lean O bacon, onions, celery, garlic, cherry tomatoes halved, some cauliflower florets,  garden herbs of parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and oregano. A re baked sourdough sandwich roll with butter on the side and parsley garnish served in the new Shrek ear cups. A dash of rice vinegar sets it off nicely. Yum.

As it cooked down I went out and turned a couple more spokes for the next wheel in process. After lunch I cut another, a few more spokes should finish this wheel. But I want to get the iron tire made for the one good wheel to finish for painting. I break out the lumber strapping I got for free at Healdsburg Lumber. I attach the new ratchet band clamp to the wheel and crank it down tight. Measured with the tape measure I get 10 feet 4 and a quarter inches. I lay it out and measure the metal band, cut with the abrasive side grinder. I break out the oxy-acetylene torch with the new tank set on the ground.


Using three C clamps, one as a base and two to secure the flat and paint ground banding with a couple saw horses to hold the metal ready for welding. I used a coat hanger for welding rod, worked fine with my welding dark glasses over my eye glasses. To fit it, damn, I measured it wrong it’s way to small by a foot. Oh well, save the piece for the smaller front wheels and cut another piece, this time with Raven’s help to hold the tape measure. Marked, cut and welded, fitting it’s a little bit big by a 1/4″ dowel thickness. Dang, OK I cut a 1/4 inch out with the grinder and re weld it, now it’s too small. This is difficult. I re saw a couple of the looser fellows with the Fein tool, not enough.

Meanwhile, Raven prepares the interior for the move to get this trailer registered for the road.

I need to get some wood glue before Harry closes, head up town thinking. On the way home I have an idea. I re hook up the clamps and add some more coat hangar metal to the joint with the torch, then using the big vise as an anvil with the clamps loosely holding the band flat, torched red hot I hammer the metal down flat, quenched with a cup of water, test fit. It’s bigger, not quite, I do it a couple more times adding metal to the joint, hot hammered flat and ground straight. Finally it just fits the wheel with the clamp super tight. Tapped into place and remove the clamp, I have it.


Wow, this is cool. I added metal to the tire and blacksmith hammered it hot to lengthen the tire to fit. It worked perfect. The tire holds the wheel mostly but it will need some glue or dowels to hold it ultimately secure. It fits. The next wheel still needs a few more spokes, easy and a tire.


Then a couple more smaller wheels I have drawn ready to cut the first set of fellows. This day of wheel wright black smithing was exciting.

I ordered 25 good frame wire clips this evening from amazon after measuring the 3/16 angle iron frames.