Monthly Archives: April 2015



I got up when I heard Raven in the kitchen, she spent the night in the vardo. We each had a boiled egg and she was off with it warming her hands, on her way for a class with a friend on matrilineal art, inspired by the lineage of the artist’s women. As I was up and last nights rain had stopped I went out picking some long grass to attempt a basket, I’m learning from Youtube.. This one didn’t work out, too brittle, oh well.

I bought a couple pieces of 1×2 at HD yesterday coming home as last week we saw a nice signboard at Beverly’s while waiting on the tires. I broke out the saw horses and measured the boards, 8 feet one inch, one and a half wide. Two pieces each, marked at one and a half short of 3 feet, 34 1/2″ and again for the sides, left 28 inches, 14 in the middle top and bottom. There is a piece of birch plywood left from the cabinets I’ll use for the panels, 53 1/2″ by about 16″. I cut the side boards on the inside of the line to keep them equal and the 14s down the middle of the mark. As the panel is 3/16″ thick and the boards are 3/4″, I set the fence to 9/32″, half a line over a quarter and just a hair less. I cut the top and bottom boards with some difficulty as I don’t have a zero clearance plate on my saw, balancing a see-saw with push sticks to keep it to depth. I got it done. The long sides were easier though scary as I cut the slots in the middle of the board, stopping the cut and removing the board before it cleared the end. I used the push stick on the narrow end cuts. I next cut the panel down to 14 1/2″ by cutting a 1 1/2″ piece off the side with the fence. I freehand cut the panel in half on the line with the table saw, a bit risky, but it worked. Nudging all the pieces together with a plastic mallet and a long clamp, drilling nail holes and hammering them together on the bench with the vise open for the clamp and roller holding up the far end. One panel is done, the other needs nailing and I’m low on nails. It’s only 11:00 but Raven’s class gets out at 1:00 if she chooses to return.

I head for town, to Garrett’s for nails, hinges and a piece of brass plate to make the side frame hinge, like a ladder cross bar. Also plants a sun gold tomato, cilantro. I want celery in the garden, to the nursery, nope but seeds, a new parsley start and a spaghetti plant for Shelly. Shelton’s next for O celery, farfalle bow pasta and mushrooms to make the chicken soup I have prepped. A quick stop at Safeway for Bucky’s coffee and bread. Salvation Army on the way home, an insertion blender for 50 cents and a portable work bench vice tool box for $5, good deal.

Home, as I unloaded, Jamin the neighbor’s kid wanted to come play, “Not yet, I need to do some things.” I planted the starts and a patch of celery seeds in the garden, it’s getting full. A quick sandwich of package sliced chicken, cream cheese, mayo and garden greens, beet, arugula, pak choy and new lettuce, tasty.

I worked on the A brass piece next, cutting the brass bar in half with the hand jewelers saw on the vee block to back it. I cut a tab at a third up on one side to be bent as a stop. On the other side I cut a slot to match behind enough stock for a hinge pin. Punching centers I drilled the holes to match the bronze welding rod, cut short enough for a ball peened rivet. Grind the plates round to fit together nicely, peen the rivet, cut the bars to a good length and drill a larger screw hole.


I finished drilling and nailing the other half of the sign board as Jamin played with pieces of wood and a hand saw. Attaching the top hinges to the panels, then attaching the A hinge with a couple washers to space it. It works perfect, just needs chalkboard paint and a finish.


So Jamin wants to make something, I have new nails. He has these pieces cut roughly the right size of equal length set up on the new bench. I help him, but let him figure out how to get the saw to cut. He has most of a box laid out. I go find some scraps and cut him some ends, true up a couple of the pieces on the table saw. We use the electric drill with a tiny bit, he on the trigger, me on the housing to save my bit, down and back. He hammers them in, well done.

Jamin's box

We built a fine box, he added a ramp for his cars to get in. As he was called home I heard Wows from his folks.

I cooked up a batch of chicken soup, carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, garlic, garden herbs, all that home made chicken broth with the chicken held back until the end. Add three handfuls of bow noodles, wow, this is amazing soup. A bowl for now (plus some, so good) with the rest in the fridge after cooling some. I’ll split it up frozen for lunches.

A good vardo day, perhaps more tomorrow.

Sunday 4/26/2015:

More soup, quarter roll, half an O avo, yum. Laundry is drying. We have two sealed grey tanks secured to the rig, with a drain input to the first one. I still need to make a drain system. We have 10.5″ ground clearance, the axle has 11″. If that isn’t enough, we can reduce the 2 x 4 a half inch. I also added a piece of 1 x 4  to hold the tank in position under the drain. There is a twenty and half inch distance between the tanks center to be plumbed. I think I’ll wait and research the size for drain hose. A large quick connect would be cool, maybe the size of that fire hose I have. TBD.


Three soups freezing and one in the fridge for tomorrow.



We met for coffee this morning, climbed in my truck and headed for town. I had taken one tire off and threw that and the spare in back of my truck. We arrived at the Firestone tire shop at Coddingtown mall as they had the better price. After all the added installation charges it wasn’t so good but we went for it. Outside, the spare we got at Pick and Pull is a sixteen, the others fifteens. “I’ll be back in an hour with the other tire.” Off we went back home, pulled it, return in minutes close to an hour.

We stopped next door to Beverly’s craft store as they changed it, a good idea on a flip open chalk board sign we will be making soon. With the tire done and in the truck bed, hungry, we walked to the Whole Foods store. Raven picked a smoked turkey sandwich, some carrots for later, I teriyaki chicken, broccoli and fried rice. We ate on a bench in the warm sun.

Heading home with a brief stop in Healdsburg so Raven could get her truck (and gas). I had both tires on by the time she got here. They look good, brand new, never driven, though a little dusty from my install.


Raven wants to paint the wheels soon, should have done that first, but OK, we’ll need to mask them. As we are putting in new narrower grey water tanks I remove the big old blue barrel and begin to modify the plumbing tape straps shorter to fit. These tanks are longer and need another strap. I have the steel tape, but head up the corner to Bosworth’s, Harry has what I need, six 1/4-20 bolts and seven nuts. Back home it dawns on me I forgot the bolts to tie the two straps tight. Digging in my stash I find a couple shorter sets that will suffice. I clipped a piece of strap with two holes to use as a drill guide. Break out the long boat cushion I use down under I drill the holes. I had to remove the tank again to get access to drill more holes, redo the bolts several times as I forgot the far nuts and needed to rearrange the strapping around the iron beams. It’s a good thing I sanded all the new strap ends not to cut me as I’m under there, arms tired. I have one tank closest to the axle installed, the other one is strap tape ready.


I’ll need to remove them again to drill and install the piping to join the two tanks with drain valve, add the 2.5″ drain in hole on top, much to do, but a good start of mounting brackets. These new tanks won’t bottom out on a speed bump.

Meanwhile, Raven installed the new hook I blacksmithed last time. Here is a shot she likes.


Here is a shot of the installed latch in the front shutter, it works well.


On a break from under the tanks, I showed her how to cut a 3/4 spoke down to a half inch on the lathe. She likes the tool. She chose to stain the spokes.


They look good and will need turning to fit the hubs. This is not traditional, for wheels the hub is mortice and spoke tenoned rectangular, but these are just for show, they’ll look fine.

We need a way to keep the cupboards closed on the road, Raven came up with a fine simple solution using the cushion scrap fabric, much better than my strings.


We got a lot done today. New tires is a major accomplishment, ready to impress the DMV, but more important, a safe road worthy vehicle. Raven has reset our DMV appointment to May 8th, enough time to secure things and get a reliable truck to deliver the vardo, I have three friends at work with trucks willing to help. A new hook, low profile grey tanks in process, the next wooden wheel coming together. A fine spring day.



We met at Safeway Bucky’s for coffee, Raven already has the bagels. I picked up some flea stuff for the cats. Off to Shelton’s for some good sprouts, a special mix of all kinds and a sweet 100 tomato plant. To Garret’s to find a good hook latch for the front shutters. Nothing looked right, I picked up piece of iron rod to blacksmith our own. Outside we picked out some more new plants for the garden, pickle cukes, big boy tomato, a basil and Raven’s pick of stevia. Sally’s is packed as it’s Easter weekend egg hunt, we’ll pass. Home. We plant them in the garden happy.

Raven has an hour long phone session to deal with. I’m a blacksmith today. I pull out the cream cheese and smoked salmon, she can make lunch when finished,

I break out the oxyacetylene mini tanks, the small wheel and measure the already cut too short for big wheel banding strap. Using my pocket knife I score the mark, easy to see on black. I break out the extension cord and cutoff grinder, zip it clean to the line on wood backing, then grind it clean flat 90 on the lapidary removing the paint in the process. I use three C clamps, one bigger I ground flat on the edges so the smaller ones can hold the banding together for the weld. I used a tight spring clamp to hold the bands together as I set the second clamp. Looped over two saw horses I’m ready. It’s windy, back to it I light the torch and set a neutral flame, laying down 4 coat hanger sections melting them together and down to the strapping. Quenched with a soup can from the big coffee can of water. Moving it to the anvil and reheating red hot I smack it flat with the hammer. Heat hard, quench, heat to temper (guess) and quench again. It turns out perfect and fits.

I prep the big wheel in the band clamp, measure a new strap, cut it on the cutoff grinder and sand prep it. Clamped together ready for welding as lunch is ready.

Bagels, cream cheese, salmon and sprout salad, yum, simple elegance.

Back to it I had a hell of a time getting the big wheel to weld right. Meanwhile Raven stained the small wheel.


I finally got it, a fraction large but it will do. I’ll add glue, this whole wheel needs it. Raven takes it to stain.

Time to play with the hook, I smack the hot round rod square and taper the end by heating and hammering it down. I left a larger spot, then tapered down the next shank section, keeping it square best I could. Another fat spot then tapered for the final loop. I secured the taper punch in the vice tight with the hammer for a round anvil. Heating each section red I hammered the hook up first, then over hard round for the main hook with a flair at the point. The back loop hammered in, using the cutoff wheel and grinding it flat. A trip to Bosworth’s for a couple eye screws, heated and hammered to match. I moved the hook out hot to accept the eye, then closed it.


A fine latch. I have in mind to copper plate it in copper sulfate solution then gun blue it to match the door hardware and prevent rust.

Raven finished staining both wheels, suggested using the smaller wood wheel to cover the real one.


I think it would look better to cover the real wheel and move the small wood wheel to the back, put a plant on the fender.

I received a steamer pan in the mail today, a perfect fit to the 3 sinks we bought. I have a mind to make a two inch punch and a 4″ indent tool. Triple sinks are expensive, steamer trays cheap, an opportunity.

A lot got done today, two iron tires, a latch, two wheels stained, and a fine lunch. Happy Easter tomorrow.