Thursday, June 15, 2006


Monster Sewing

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I just got my new sewing machine. It’s old, but new to me. It's a 1950s Necchi. It’s steel, all steel, and weighs 45 lbs. This was back when they actually made sewing machines, not these piss-ant Cheap-Mart specials they've got nowadays.

Seriously, most "home" sewing machines are designed for dressmaking not tentmaking. The home machines can't handle multiple layers of thick fabric like canvas, packcloth or Cordura. Just imagine driving your car with half the horse power and only running in 3rd gear or above. That's what today’s "home" sewing machines are like. They have thier purpose, but not for what I want to do.

Now industrial sewing machines are different. Industrials are like Top Fuel Dragsters. They can sewing threw concrete. Maybe not concrete, but I bet they could sew threw thin cardboard.

Anyway, the “old” home machines are another story. Many were made of steel. And in the bicycle world we all know that Steal is Real. Those things had heavy gears which didn't wear out, bigger motors and lower gearing. Which means an old machine is much more suitable for my ambitions: sewing bicycle panniers and other outdoor equipment.

And the guy who fixed up this Necchi bolted on an even bigger motor than the original and lowered the gear by installing a big freaking balance wheel. He even turned the balance wheel inside out so the load would be exerted directly over the bearings. He also cut a groove in the balance wheel to install an industrial grade drive belt: a Gates 2L190.

My Hot Rod Necchi isn’t industrial, but it’s a whole lot stronger than any other home sewing machine. I guess that means it’s heavy duty or semi-industrial.

Here’s the guy who sold it to me:
Firefly Ridge Sewing Products

He also wrote a great Ebay Guide titled Want Industrial Strength or Heavy Duty Sewing Machine?

Friday, June 02, 2006


More Hammock Testing

Comfort Supreme. If John Coltrane had a hammock like this I bet he'd write tune named Comfort Supreme, lol. Posted by Picasa

I've been waiting for it to rain for a long time. FINALLY, the bottom fell out today. So to Lake Harris I went. I hiked down to the spillway, about a half mile or so. It's easy to get down to the spillway cause it's all down hill. I mean REALLY downhill. The lines would look stupid close on a topo map. Hmm, maybe I should by some topo software for this kind of stuff.

Anyway, the storm was coming from the northwest. I figured I'd have enough time to get down stream to the 90 degree bend that heads south. I hadn't been there in years, so I was interested to see how God had changed the area.

It was a lot the same, but the stop at the bend was full of beer bottles and torn flotation swimming thingies. THAT FREAKING SUCKED!!1!!!!11!!!! Frellnicks littering up the place without cleaning it up. This ruined my otherwise sunny disposition.

Then the storm hit. CRAP! I turned around and headed upstream about 20 yards to a small opening in the woods. Cool thing about the woods is that the trees will provide some protection against the rain.

I found a great spot: two trees about 8-10 inches in diameter, about 12 feet apart. So I started to hang my rain tarp so I could get completely out of the rain. But the frelling tree was dead. I mean dead dead, not mostly dead. No way that thing would've sustained my weight. Hanging your hammock off dead trees is dangerous. And I'm not a Jedi so I couldn't have reached out with the Force to stop thing from falling over and breaking my neck.

Oh well, I turned around and found another tree. But when I went to tie off the tarp the freaking guylines had gotten tangled up in the underbrush. By then it was raining hard. So bent down and untangled the thing hoping the Tick Army of Doom wouldn't attack. The tarp went up fine. It took longer than I thought it would. The slip knot in the trucker's hitches kept confusing me.

I see why Hennessey uses a diamond shaped tarp: you only have to use two tent stakes. My tarp is an old skool A-frame tarp. With an A-frame you need four stakes which takes twice as long to pitch. But the rain protection is superior.

Next the hammock. Happy I had snake skins to keep it dry. It went up much more quickly than the trap. But there was a new problem: I was still wet from trying to find a place to pitch this thing. So I tied up a ridge line to use as a clothes line to dry out my t-shirt. I remembered something my dad told me as a kid. He said, "Damon, always take an extra change of clothes no mater where you go 'cause you never know what's gonna happen. Man, I keep wondering where my dad got all this wisdom. I don't know what happened, but he seems smarter now than then. Hmmmm, I wonder?

I took off my t-shirt, hung it on the ridgeline, and started to get in the hammock, but I couldn't see. My glasses had fallen off. Crap! Once again, braving the Tick Army of Doomie McDoom Doom, I got down on my hands and knees to find my glasses: no luck. I stood up hoping I wasn't sitting on them: no luck. I walked around looking: no luck. I was getting scared. I wouldn't be able to see my way back to the car. So, I sent up prayers. Then sat down in the hammock and there they were on the ground just under where I was sitting. I hadn't walked on them or anything. Nice to know the King of Israel was/is looking out for me.

So I put them on and climbed in my hammock and pulled out my book and started reading. I dried out quickly, faster than I thought I would. "Amazing, this hammock is a real waterproof sleep system that I made with my own hands," I thought. I really enjoy being out in the woods or on my bike or making things. I think God has blessed me with this talent to make things. And here I was out in the woods, drenched in rain, tangled guylines, and lost glasses having the time of my life. I think I was born for this stuff.

I think most of my life I've pursued things I was good at. I don't think it's a good reason to choose a career just because you're good at something or just for the money. There has to be a combination of skill, personality compatibility, passion and life calling in anyone's profession. If either is missing then life is Hell. What's worse than spending 40 hours per week of your life doing something God hasn't designed for you to do? What's the point?

Anyway, I'm happy with my hammock. I'm trying to think of a name for it. I may call it Dude.

Lake Nicole again. Posted by Picasa

The pack gives you a little reference point. The tarp works well; I kept dry. Posted by Picasa

A little better view; the rain tarp is there. It blends end pretty well. Posted by Picasa

Can you see it? The picture didn't turn out so well. Posted by Picasa

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