Sunday, April 14, 2013

motorcycle trailer build

Picture time
 Lots of stuff in this pic:  New Glarus beer, a Proto 5# dead blow hammer that was my reward for perfect attendance in diesel mechanic school in '87-'88, the augmented sawhorse platform, the black and red of the trailer frame, a hint of the stepladder I picked up off of the highway in the mid '90s, the tail of my RoadStar and of course, some wrenches.
 A danger/warning label in the trash, where it belongs.
 I was very happy that the tires are King brand.
 Taking apart the leaf springs, the bent steel is the bracket that I had to bend with the pliers to separate the 3 leafs.   I had to take the bolt from the center and put it back into the single leaf, the round head acts as a centering pin for the axle. 
DIY wiring harness plugs and home made tools to remover the various spade/bullet/pin connectors from the varied plug bodies.  Just take a piece of wood, hammer in a finish nail, hammer down the end about as thin as you need and then grind/sand/file it to the shape that will work.  Carve/sand the handles for comfort.  You can see that some of them are double ended.

I crimp and then solder the wires, because I occasionally like to be redundant and do the same work twice.

You can get those plugs in 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 connector configurations, but if you only have 5 or 7 wires, you can of course, leave one empty.  I think I got them at Vintage  Oddly, the locking shells are less expensive than the non locking shells.  

As soon as we're strong enough, we're going out to take it off the supports, turn it over onto the wheels so we can measure for the height of the box.  You know I'll let you know how that goes....Wish us luck.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Making yogurt

If you'd have asked me a year ago if I'd ever make yogurt you might not have gotten a favorable response.  Not that I didn't like it then, it's just one of the weird things that I had never considered making.

Quart of yogurt at Aldi's is $2.  Tiny cup of it at Kwik Trip is $.79, half gallon of milk is about $1.50.

Of course, you either need some starter or some yogurt to make more I bought the $2 bucket to see if I'd use it all before it rotted.  Turns out that I did.  I used the last of it today to make a quart, I wonder how it'll turn out.

I did make some a week or so ago, it turned out pretty thin.  It had a decent flavor, for plain, but very thin.  After reading some pages on the interwebsnet thingy, I may have found out why...and if this batch turns out thin too, that will support my new found knowledge.

All pages concerning making yogurt are consistent with one thing:  being widely varied regarding the end temp to heat the milk...and I figgered:  the crap is already pasteurized, why do it again?

Here's the answer I got: (from here)

If you are using pasteurized milk, you must first sterilize it. Some people ask why this is necessary if the milk has already been pasteurized. The answer is that pasteurization kills the natural bacteria that are in milk, so as it ages, the milk can collect and nurture bad bacteria. If you simply warm the milk up to 110°, the bad bacteria can flourish and make the milk taste unpleasant or even make it harmful. (This is why pasteurized milk has an expiration date, and is not good to use after a certain time.)

Sterilizing the milk just before culturing it makes sure that the milk is completely clean and will present a welcoming environment where the yogurt culture can thrive and do its work. Additionally, heating the milk denatures (changes the characteristics of) the milk proteins, weakening the cell membranes and allowing the protein molecules to adhere to each other, causing better coagulation in the yogurt.

The first batch I made was from old, expired milk.  It didn't smell sour, but was nearly a week past the date on the bag.  Yes, people not familiar with Kwik Trip/Kwik Star, we buy milk in a half gallon sack.  It is quite a bit cheaper than those plastic jugs....and comes with a free pitcher.   They used to have a little bag corner slicer too, and we have one, but we just use a scissors now.  We fold the corner over and clamp it, even though the pitcher has a clamping slot machined/moulded in it already.  

You can see that I bought "Fit and Active" yogurt.  This is nonfat stuff and may be another reason mine turns out thin, even though I used whole milk.  More about the picture.  You can see the thermometer next to the crockpot (which we got as a wedding gift, 1994, for those keeping score).  Apparently yogurt yeastie beasties are pretty fussy about temps, they die about 118 and doze off under 90.  They don't completely go to sleep in the cold, which is why older yogurt tastes more tangy or sour than new/fresh yogurt.  

Why does yogurt taste tangy or sour?  I can answer that.  Oh, you want to know why yogurt doesn't make your lactose intolerance reaction react?  Same answer.

The beasties that the yogurt introduces into the milk eat the lactose (sugar) that is in the milk.  Or something like that.  Less sugars means more sour.

I may buy an "heirloom" starter which I can use over and over.  Most websites say that if you continue to just save back some yogurt as a starter after "several" cycles the beasties get tired/nonproductive.  Ungrateful little bastards, is what I say they are.

I poured some milk in a sauce pan, turned on the heat and put the thermometer probe in the pan.  I heated it to 120 or so, since it was before I read that linked page.  I filled the crockpot with hot water, and when the milk was down around 110 I tempered the left over yogurt in the bucket, then poured the milk into the bucket and all over the counter including my wallet, which was lying innocently on the countertop.  A quick rinse, a not so quick swab, and then poke a hole in the lid for the bucket.  Drop it into the hot water and monitor the temp for a while...when it got up to 115, pull it out of the water, when it dropped near 100, turn on the pot.  I let the beasties feast for about 6 hours, during that time I made a batch of bread and lunch.  

I like thicker yogurt, so I put a coffee filter in the colander, propped that on a bucket and dumped in the yogurt.  It's interesting how much whey comes out. Last time, it was white, and I fed it to the dog.  This time it is nearly colourless and I'll save it for making bread.  The dog loved it, btw.  

It's been draining about an hour, there's about an inch of whey in that bottom bucket.  I did stir/scrape the stuff around on the filter, had a taste, it is quite tangy and I think it will thicken nicely once in the fridge.  If it doesn't, I have some xanthan gum that will thicken it.  

One reason the first batch might not have gotten thick is the too much culture for the amount of milk, or not keeping it warm enough during the incubation stage.  I think I'll experiment by putting it in the cabinet above the fridge's pretty warm up there.

I am going to call this a success.  Stop by if you want to taste it.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

motorcycle trailer build

Assemble the frame day.  (Before Easter) I carried the frame rails, the tongue, axle and cross members out of the basement, stacked them on the recycle bin while I dug out the saw horses and enhanced their stability and size.  They're the fold up bracket type that have lived outside much of their life, and they must be 10-12 years old.  I used scrap wood/plywood to make stringers to keep them from wobbling, and some of those have rotted away, it's clearly time to remake them.

But not today.  I got down a couple of barn boards that I had used to build 2 different entertainment centers, one in 1989 and one in 1993.  I used some screws to fasten the boards to the 2x4 that is the top of the saw horse so they would be long enough and wide enough to put all the parts on for assembly.

I laid out the frame rails and cross members and began bolting them together.  One thing I hate about metric bolts is that the bolt head and nut are often different sizes.  In this case, the bolt heads are 16mm and the nuts are 17mm.  This is good if you only have one set of wrenches, I guess.

I then bolted on the spring brackets and then addressed the springs.  The trailer is rated for 1070#, but I don't expect to ever load it past 400#, so I removed 2 of the 3 leaf springs, hoping to minimize bounce and it should also lower the trailer a little bit.  It's not too hard to remove those leafs, simply clamp the the springs in the vice, bend the clip that holds the 2 small leaves to the large leaf so they will separate and then unbolt the middle bolt that holds all 3 together.  They don't paint the leaves separately, so the long one is already a little rusty, it's now in the basement with a coat of primer on it.  I'll squirt some black on them before bed.  The spring brackets come silver and not painted at all.  I don't know why.  The spring mounting bolts come with a regular nut and are drilled for a cotter key.  Why not just send nyloc nuts?  

Another way to make the trailer lower is to mount the axle on top of the spring instead of under the spring. It took a while for me to visualize that, and I'll post a pic when I've got that done.  Yeah, never mind all that...because when the axle is on top of the spring there isn't room for the fender.

Had some fun when I was ready to put the wheel on the wouldn't.  The bearing wouldn't slide on the spindle.  And then when I gave up putting it on, it wouldn't come off.  Wound up ruining the seal, returning/exchanging the axle, and starting over.  4/6  Sadly I did not realize that I had ruined the seal until today, when no replacements were available, so the frame has one wheel on, and one wheel off.

I started on the electrical tonight, first mounting the front marker lights, which ground via the mounting screw.  I may take them back off and add a ground wire for each light.  The wiring harness has just a short wire to ground to the tongue, and I think I want to ground each light.  So I spliced on a wire as long as the other wires before sliding on the wire loom stuff, woven nylon sheath, it's magical stuff.

I will post some pics, I promise.