Thursday, July 31, 2014

Paint: Restoration Days 11, 12, and 13

Boy, that came quickly.  In one moment I'm stripping paint and smoothing out rust spots which seemed like it would take forever and then all of a sudden, the paint is all done.  I guess it seemed this way because I was putting primer on some parts while still sanding others.  The only things left to do is to shine up the handlebar and headlight and then we'll see if I can get the whole bike back together again.

Outdoor spray booth version 2.0: I unhooked the swings from our old swing set and took advantage of the existing hooks.  Thank goodness we still have this, even though it's a hassle to mow around and I haven't played on it for years.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cardboard Trucks

Cardboard, paper and have been my main building material ever since I was just a few years old.  Scrap was always readily available and Mom bought a huge pack of construction paper back in the day that must have lasted eight years.  I'd make rudimentary three-dimensional models of things like telephones or vehicles from my favorite cartoons and then try to color them with Crayola markers.  Scotch tape was just about my favorite office supply and I used tons of it.  Sadly, I think I have tossed most of those things before going to college. I don't seem to have taken any photos of them either, which is pretty uncharacteristic of me.  I also remember, in second grade, constructing a saggy, crumbly, five-foot long model of the new 2002 Ford Thunderbird entirely out of construction paper.  I reinforced the wheels with popsicle sticks like I'd seen my mom do on other crafts but that didn't help the rest of the structure much.  When my parents came home that night, we didn't have anywhere to put it so I dismantled it and kept the steering wheel and column which I still have today.  For the record, I was never interested in, nor have I ever been good at origami.

Slowly, the construction paper turned into cardboard and Scotch tape became duct tape or hot glue.  More of my crafts started having a more functional or practical purpose.  I made portfolios for artwork, boxes to carry gadgets, and gridded trays to carry Hot wheels cars.  This skill with paper and cardboard comes in handy pretty often and it is nice to have in the studio classes at the architecture school.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Unfounded Hatred of NASCAR

Disclaimer: I am not an actual fan of modern-day NASCAR. I don’t watch it or follow it, but I have respect for the drivers, crews, and engineers that make it possible. I simply wrote this article to combat certain prejudices that some people wrongfully hold against NASCAR.

Image from

Many fans of Formula 1, Indycar, and other types of road/track/rally racing look upon NASCAR in distaste. The fact that it could be boring for them to watch cannot be argued: that’s a matter of personal opinion. However, many of them preach that NASCAR is not a real motorsport and it requires no skill since all they do is turn left in a big circle. This is wholly incorrect.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Day I Lost My Marbles: 1965 Ford F-100

For a long time now, one of my dream cars has been a '65 Ford pickup.  I tend to appreciate low-cost, easy-to-work-on, old American cars more than exotics and imports.  I figured that if I was to work on cars and build stuff for myself when I grew up, I'd need a good tow vehicle.  Having been a Ford fan all my life, I naturally had an eye for the F-series trucks, one of the best-selling vehicles in the world.  After many years of gathering knowledge, I realized in middle school that my favorite was the curvy '56 model but that quickly changed to the more capable, more powerful '65.

I sometimes look for cars for sale just for fun.  I can spend entire nights just clicking links and drooling over things I won't be able to get.  One night, I came across an all original '65 Ford F-100 that was red-orange with a white roof, had a 352 c.i. V8 engine, and was slightly weathered.  It really struck a chord in me and even though that particular truck was sold years ago, that image was cemented into my mind as my dream truck.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sanding, Priming, and Sanding: Restoration Days 8, 9, and 10

Alright, it's been a few days since I've posted about my 1958 Raleigh Sports restoration project.  As expected, it's been really time-intensive trying to smooth out the parts.  The whole thing is covered with rust pits and lines where paint was scratched and chipped off long ago.  Also, I only worked three out of five days last week because I've been fixing a few breaks in the house's sprinkler system.

The often-used outdoor spray booth, aka the backyard.  
I stuck a chopstick through the brake bolt hole and hung the fork on a dead branch that I'll get rid of once this project is over.  I couldn't find any disposable string in the house for some reason. Of course, I had to move to the cardboard afterward to get paint into the brake bolt hole.  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Landmarks of Detroit: Fisher and Guardian

I've lived around Detroit ever since I was a year old but my parents never really had the desire to take me there.  They probably thought the possible things I could learn there were outweighed by the possible danger that our family could be in.  That's usually how people view Detroit: a dying city where murderers, robbers, druggies, and decaying buildings surround a small oasis that is downtown.  Of course, there's also the optimistic crowd that thinks Detroit is hip, the new cool, a blank canvas, and full of awesome opportunities.  In reality, it's not really either of those.  In the last four years, I've had a few chances to begin learning about Detroit from the inside: Playing at the Detroit International Jazz Festival for three years with the high school jazz band, taking a couple tours, driving around myself, and reading lots of books.  One major thing I did was to take a college course that had "real, live," big-name speakers from old and new Detroit share their experiences with us every week and normal residents of the city could sit in and offer their opinions too.  I don't plan to ever stop learning about the city and at no point will ever I say that I know "enough" about it.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Waiting for "Someday"

In the roughly eight months that I have been in the world of bicycles, I have already come across countless stories of bicycles languishing in garages for years, sometimes decades before hitting the road again.  Many of the blogs from which I acquired information on my bike had reader-submitted stories and running comment threads that contained posts like "My parents gave me this old 3-speed they had in the back of the garage for twenty years ..." or "I just got an old Raleigh for $20 that had been rotting away in a guy's shed." While I am aware this happens not just to bikes, but to many different kinds of vehicles, I was slightly bothered by the fact that people can essentially forget about their bikes, leaving them locked outside at college for eternity or letting them gather dust in garages.  I mean, bikes aren't that small and they aren't cheap so in my eyes, it didn't make sense that people could just let them fall by the wayside like that.  Garages aren't usually that big either, so how could someone just forget?

That was until I realized this exact thing was happening at my own house.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sewing My Childhood Together

During the second semester of college, I took a sculpture class.  Many people have said that architecture and sculpture went hand in hand and I hadn't taken an art class since 8th grade so I thought, "why not?" It turns out this class was a "found object sculpture" class.  I still made the most I could out of it and had a lot of fun. (If any readers out there, by any sliver of chance, can take a class by Andrew Thompson - he teaches at three different schools now - do take it.  He's an awesome guy)

Many people seem to miss their early childhoods and usually refer to them as the good ol' days.  I've said to many friends, when asked, that I don't miss my childhood at all.  Life has just kept getting better and better for me.  I have usually thought of it to be mostly boring, somewhat deprived, and aside from some nice moments or events, I felt that there just wasn't really anything special about it.  Yes, my childhood as a whole  was pleasant and has helped me become the person that I am today but that period of time, I'd say, from when I was born to about 5th grade, wasn't very extraordinary in itself.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nissan 300ZX

 I have two Nissan 300ZX Matchbox cars that came with built-in suspension.  The first is a white one that came with a small, spiral parking structure kind of track when I was about five years old.  It was "well loved," so they say.  The gray and blue one was won from some sort of game at school and it was already very used when I got it.  It had dark blue paint and strange silver patterns that resembled riveted and torn metal.  The headlights had been pushed down into the car.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Smith-Corona Coronet Super 12 from the 1970s.  I really don't know much about it, except for the fact that it was made after 1973 when Smith-Corona introduced the cartridge ribbon.  I just don't know much about typewriters in general, but I like old machines.  It has been in the family for a long time, but I'm not sure if it has been since new.  I found it in the basement maybe six years ago and Mom succumbed to my curiosity and taught me how to use it.  I've never done anything useful with this typewriter because there isn't really a practical use for it anymore now that computers are so widely available.  Even though I don't get to use it much, it's just nice to have.

I've seen baby blue ones online, too.  Either way, the colors of these are very pleasant.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Me Writing Upside Down

So, this is my handwriting.  I just figured this would be something funny to look at.  I got this idea from my sister because she showed me her results, which were obviously much more beautiful.

Click to enlarge

My handwriting has evolved through various stages of chicken scratch through the years. I remember back during kindergarten when Mom used to buy me those paper pad things with letters and I'd copy them across the row.  My row of A's got really small toward the middle and back to normal at the edge and it was really funny.  On the other hand, my sister's teachers have always told our parents that her handwriting was better than theirs.

My backwards or upside down writing is more legible, but that makes sense.  It's probably because I do it more deliberately.  Same with my word art and block letters and stuff because at that point it's more like drawing than writing.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

New Tunes! Drum & Bass for Summer 2014

During my junior year in high school, my love for electronic music grew to its high point.  I was into electro house and drum & bass genres, and I still am.  However, soon after that, I started discovering a lot of more instrumental music genres such as '60s soul, Motown, funk, classic rock, etc.  They started to overshadow the electronic types for me.  As stated in a previous post, my parents raised me solely on classical music so my musical taste was completely self-developed.  I was not exposed to the works of Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, and Lynyrd Skynyrd the way most kids had been in their childhood.

I only listened to electronic music for two distinct periods of time in all of last year and most of this summer had been spent listening to classic rock, southern rock, and country.   Part of the reason was that there just aren't any local radio stations that played other kinds of instrumental music that I grew to love so much.  The tape player in my car stopped working so I spent the spring semester listening to 94.7 WCSX, 99.5 WYCD, and 102.9 WWWW while commuting to and from school.  Also, rock- and country-like genres don't seem to demand a special mood or anything from me; I can listen to them any time and they'll fit the situation.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Paint and Rust Removal: Restoration Days 6 and 7

After taking care of a bunch of yard work earlier this week, the trash cans were full and I was finally able to get back to the Raleigh Sports on Thursday and Friday.

Chain guard on Thursday.  The inside had not yet been dealt with yet.  

I started with the smallest and rustiest body component: the chain guard.  This thing was nearly covered in surface rust and where it wasn't, the paint was all peeling off due to all the little pits of rust forming.  I spent all of Thursday just sanding the outside smooth, trying to free it of pits.  Thankfully, the sheet metal was still very solid and wasn't even close to rusting through.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hot Wheels USB Drives

In the summer of 2011 before my junior year of high school, I made my first Hot wheels flash drive (or USB, jump drive, thumb drive, whatever you call it).  I remember the very day I made it: I had spent two and a half hours in the basement hacking around, only to have my father come home and yell at me for wasting my time.  I was apparently supposed to be studying for my first ACT class, even though there was nothing to study before the first day of class ...

'10 Mustang GT, HP v165w 16 GB flash drive
Front and rear faces detailed with Sharpies as always.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

LEGO 1965 Ford Pickup

In the summer of 2013, I combined two of my favorite LEGO vehicles: the 4404 Land Busters pickup truck and the Technics 8285 Tow Truck.  I took what I felt were my favorite features of both sets to build a roughly-1:12 scale model of a 1965 Ford F-250, one of my dream cars.

The boom was the most complex part of the truck.  I did not disassemble that part.  

The Land Busters pickup shown before suspension was taken.  
"V4" engine was swapped for a carbureted V8.  More on this one later; it has suspension once again.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Do Old Cars Have More Soul?

This topic is related to my recent post about the various forms of music playback that I experienced and/or enjoyed over the years. Just like how I care more about the listening experience that vinyl records offer than their actual age, I find old cars appealing because of the driving experience offered by cars produced during a certain time period. It just so happens that the vehicles I prefer are old and the history of the antique object is an added bonus. This applies to my bikes, too.

Video by Hooniverse.  Skip to 1:15 if you're short on time

Anyway, I sent the message below to Hot Rod Magazine after reading a blog post by them that contained the video above.  This was last year so I hadn't yet turned eighteen to be able to comment directly to their blog.  There is something like a disclaimer after the end of this message.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cleaning the Frame and Re-packing Bearings: Restoration Days 4 and 5

Both last Friday and yesterday (Monday) were slow days.  I spent most of Friday cleaning the dirt and grime off the frame.

Since I didn't have a real hoist to hold the bike frame off the ground, I mounted the bike rack to the back of my mom's Mountaineer and just worked with that.

Monday, July 14, 2014

This One Has No Pictures

During the winter semester of my first year at the University of Michigan, I was fortunate enough to have Mr. Philip Christman as my English 124 professor.  I was honestly just taking the class because it was required but I got a whole lot more out of that class than I ever imagined I could.  Mr. Christman was very relatable and easy to talk to, which made the class's learning experience more engaging.  Through the semester, we focused on how the introduction of written language affected the course of human history and how literate and illiterate cultures differ.  Mr. Christman made a subject that I wouldn't have studied on my own into something very fascinating, something that I couldn't wait to hear more about during the next class.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pull-back Hot Wheels Cars

This was one of the few projects that I finished without having thought about it for too long.  I usually have a backlog of fun things I want to do that never get done mainly because of money, lack of time, or being told not to by parents.  This was rather spontaneous and ended up working quite well.

Near the end of the last school year, I purchased a pack of three extremely cheap pull-back toy cars.  They had rubber wheels for traction but the cars themselves were nothing more than clear plastic shells.  Thinking I could do better, I thought maybe I could stick the pull-back motors into Hot wheels cars.  I was afraid the metal cars would be too heavy for the weak motors but I went forward with the project anyway once I returned home from school.

I didn't get a picture of the original cheap car but here's the Hot Wheels '70 Mustang under construction

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Neutering Ballpoint Pens

Two winters ago, I got the bright idea to take my dead ballpoint pens and pull the balls out of them for the heck of it.

Friday, July 11, 2014

20 Mile Ride to ZZ Ward Concert

I'm assuming not everyone really knows who ZZ Ward is at this point because she's not that popular yet, but she's a singer from Oregon who started out singing the blues and fusing the style with hip hop.  That was very apparent in her first mixtape but her album Til the Casket Drops has a more pop-oriented feel.  I actually like that one more, but that's just my opinion.  If you haven't heard her stuff, I suggest that you check it out!

Anyway, my friend Nikolai and I decided to ride our bikes from our homes in Northville to downtown Ann Arbor yesterday to see ZZ's live outdoor performance hosted by Sonic Lunch and Ann Arbor's 107.1.  I lacked a long distance bike of any sort so I borrowed his family's 1990 Fuji Arcadia ten-speed.  When I first lifted it up, I was like "Man, this is light!" and Nik's father said "Uh, that's light?" Nik and I sort of laughed because it didn't occur to us that his father was unaware that I usually ride a heavy, old, English three-speed.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dynohub and Rust Removal: Restoration Day 3

I got out bright and early yesterday morning (more like 10:00) to start working on the bike.  I started out by trimming the bottoms of the fenders by about a centimeter because they were rusted thin.  I planned to install mudflaps to help protect the ends from future damage, but the openings were a bit too small so I had to trim them.

Used  roughly one Dremel disc per fender.  They were tough

This is roughly how they're going to fit; I ended up trimming the outer part of the slot so the outer tip of the fender would be protected as well.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Front Fork Work and Degreasing: Restoration Day 2

After doing some research the night before, I became more familiar with how the fork was actually attached to the bike.  Removing it would make it so much easier to work on the separate parts.

The bearings on top of the head tube were still greased, but the bottom bearings were dry and slightly rusty.  Strange.  

The ball bearings were in remarkably good shape.  This leads me to think that the noise the fork made was due to the top bearing race being partially unscrewed, which I discovered yesterday.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

1958 Raleigh Sports: Restoration Work Begins

After a week of putzing around on here and talking about random stuff, I can finally start writing about the main point of this blog.  Since the ground was still muddy from the last night's rain, I skipped yard work yesterday and started to work on the bike and as I was tearing it apart - carefully, of course - my buddy Nikolai stopped by to lend a hand.  I photographed the assemblies just to make sure I could get everything back together later on.

In this close-up, it's clear how badly this bike needs to be cleaned up and refreshed.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

1968 Raleigh Superbe

I just recently acquired another vintage Raleigh free of charge during my spring semester -  a "you can have'er if you can fix'er" kind of deal.  There are a number of cool, old bikes around Ann Arbor and I'm not sure how many of the owners are aware of just how valuable they are.  This one had been left outside for years with its front fork turned completely backwards, twisting the fender a bit.  This bike came with a front fork lock but the key is long gone.  The brake cables were seized up as expected, nothing a little WD-40 couldn't fix.  It turned out all this bike needed was a new front wheel so I threw on a random 26 x 1-3/8" wheel from a decomposing '70s Iverson bike.  Thankfully, the axle was thin enough to fit into the special Raleigh fork.  It was a bit narrow so I had to press the fork blades together a little.  After oiling up the moving parts and straightening the front fender, I discovered that this bike was already in perfect running condition.  The 3-speed Sturmey-Archer AW hub worked flawlessly and the shifter was already at the correct tension.  

 My two trusty Raleighs at the University of Michigan: 1968 Superbe and 1958 Sports

Sunday, July 6, 2014

First Set of New Cars for This Blog

Whenever I talk about getting a new car, it's probably going to be about a Hot wheels car.  I had 487 cars of ~1:64 scale size last time I counted and I bought four more last weekend.  When I was at the store buying a gallon of milk, a huge stand of Matchbox cars caught my attention.  I prefer Hot wheels because they have skinnier, faster axles and they usually look better; however, I bought three Matchbox and one Hot wheels car this time.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Independence Day Parade

The Fourth of July parade in Northville is usually not very long or flamboyant because our town is not very big.  That's not to say it's too boring to watch, though.  I like to go to see the classic cars pass by and sniff the un-catalyzed exhaust even though they're the same every year.  As a car guy, I've been deprived of car shows.  Also, I participated in the parade throughout high school in the marching band and currently, my younger sister is still in the band so that's the main reason why my family still goes.  The following photos contain some of the highlights, at least in my eyes.

'04 Mustang GT 40th anniversary.  I rarely see '94-04 GTs now - it's likely they've all either been trashed or kept in garages and seldom driven.  A few appeared today. The V6 cars are everywhere, though.  Next, the '87-91 Ford F-350 Pierce conversion fire truck, my favorite one in the Northville stable.  7.3 Powerstroke diesel, 5-speed manual transmission.  .  

Friday, July 4, 2014

Defining Moments of the Week before July 4th

I have now officially fallen off a bike a total of three times in my life.  They all happened within the the last year, the last two times being on my Raleigh Sports.  The most recent time was exactly one week ago when I was on the Raleigh on the way to the library and I turned too sharply on a thin layer of gravel scattered over cement.  I wiped out and the fall wasn't particularly forceful and I hopped back on the bike immediately.  One nice thing about step-through frames is that you can more "gracefully" roll clear when you fall instead of getting pinned under it.  I did that but somehow, I landed on my right wrist wrong and sprained it.  All the way to the library and back (10 miles total), the pain got worse.  I then vaccuumed the entire house using only my left hand. I did have some scrapes but 'twas "but a flesh wound."  My right hand started out being nearly useless for the better part of three days but it's been recovering and I'd even say that it's almost done recovering.  I carefully rode my bike last night for the first time since then.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Uh Oh! (First of Many)

For a larger part of the last few months, my car had been having some slight starting issues.  If let to sit for more than two hours, it took a time to crank and the starter motor sounded weak.  The electronics would also reset themselves.  If parked for less than two hours, everything would be fine.  The battery is still strong so that was not the problem.  I'm not too familiar with the electronics on cars so I was dumbfounded.  Starter, fuel pump, bad connections, or what? These problems continued until last Thursday.

This guy helped me so much.  Thank you, "Bushougoma."

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Old Music Equipment / I Am Not a Hipster

The subjects of this post and posts to come may give rise to such suspicions, but I assure you, I am not tailoring my interests to avoid or identify with any group.  I guess I'm just a scavenger of sorts who also likes to preserve historical artifacts.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Here she is, the single biggest reason for why I started this blog. 

Scale figure of the bike at 3/8" = 1'0" for an architecture project.  Real size was less than 1 inch tall.  Teacher said she used to have a Raleigh Sports as well, "but not a '58 (laughs)."  Hmm...