A Look Around My Humble Shop
May as well have a look at the rest of the place as long as you're here. The top picture is
from around 1990. Things have changed rather dramatically since then. My shop was struck by
lightning in July of 2010. The resulting fire caused very extensive damage, not only to the
garage but to the adjoining electronics shop and the rest of the house. Devastating. See the
pictures below for a more recent view from August of 2014, and one at the bottom showing part
of the garage immediately after the lightning strike.
Adjoining the garage was my electronics shop, loaded with top end vintage Tektronix equipment;
tube type scopes, signal generators, meters, loads of TM-500 test equipment including
power supplies, frequency counters, function generators. Also, a number of solid state Tek
scopes. It makes me puke even now, four years later, to remember tossing all my beloved
and totally irreplaceable - I found out - Tek stuff into a thirty yard dumpster. Actually, I
couldn't bring myself to toss them in, even destroyed by fire. I set them in gently.
An image from the good old days. You see a Honda XR600 and CR480 in the foreground.
The Zundapp KS601 is just beyond them. To the right, my Mercedes 300SD under
its cover, hiding from Michigan's salty winter. 400K miles and still going pretty good. Retired
it as the main traveling car in 2013 with the purchase of an '02 E320 4matic wagon. Just ain't
the same quality, but it sure does glide down the highway.
An '84 Honda V65 Sabre - my main traveling machine at that time - is this side of the SD, serving
as a CD holder. My second V65 is just out of the picture to the left. These
bikes have been everywhere in the country a number of times, including Alaska (once), and have
more than 280,000 miles between them. I think they could have hauled me around
Wyoming, Montana, and Washington while I slept on the back (in fact they did, briefly, upon
A very busy view of my work shop/hangout, before the lightning fire.
The picture, again, is pretty dated. The dirt bikes have long since moved up front to the smallest
apartment of three, where they got moderately damaged by smoke. Can't bring myself to rent that
apartment because then where would I put all my crap? Now, in addition to everything else, there's
a Bridgeport mill, totally refurbished and
tighter than factory new with hand scraped ways due to the fire, a Hardinge HLV-BK lathe purchased
from an aerospace company (not the one I've retired from) that kept it in perfect shape. Doesn't look
so good since the fire, but I totally overhauled it mechanically, except the quick change box.
That's still on the list, along with plenty of other stuff, believe me.
Both Sabres in this picture (or not) were pretty badly smoked by the fire. Probably restorable,
but... I picked up another '84 a few years back, which is now the main traveler, so maybe the
others will be spare parts, or maybe spares. Have to decide that some day.
To further aid in Zundapp KS601 and Dodge Power Wagon work, I have also picked
up a 15 ton Atlas arbor press and a fabulous 14" Steptoe shaper, the later visible in the picture
below, both from the now vanished Western Machine Tool Works in Holland. I know that's got you
breathing heavy. The tale of these acquisitions is another story, maybe for another page on this
site someday. Did I mention the huge 9500 lb 40 Hp Ingersoll-Rand Imperial horizontal twin double
acting two stage compressor from the same incredible building? There's a link to that on my "Some
Other Stuff link from the home page, although I sold it to a museum in the spring of 2014.
And now, the new garage. The old floor was in pretty poor shape, a situation that was not
improved by thousands of gallons of fire water. The water undermined the concrete and sunk
one of the slabs three inches or so. You could hear the hollowness under another, so I had
a new floor put in. Then I satisfied a long time dream by giving it an epoxy finish. That
was a serious shitload of work, which I'll detail at some point. Materials cost me (not the
insurance company) about $1200, plus various sundries, like a floor grinder, mixing buckets,
etc., but just look at it shine! You can crawl around dragging your tongue on it for yards
and have nothing to spit out. You can inadvertently decant a full torque converter on it and
just wipe it up, no freaking about permanently staining the concrete. I do believe
that would still piss me off pretty thoroughly, however.
Note that the cabinets on the far wall and above the work bench, in the picture above and badly
damaged in the fire, have not yet been replaced. The Steptoe shaper, to the right, has not yet
been cleaned up from the fire. A large early Sperry gyrocompass is just visible at lower right.
Beyond all that is the Zundapp KS601, partially disassembled, with the stereo and vinyl shelves and
speakers against the wall behind it, which are designed to be easily moved with a pallet jack.
More on that at some point.
My Hardinge lathe is to the left, just out of the picture. Ahead you see the totally
refurbished Bridgeport with my beautiful pre-war Delta metal cutting band saw beyond. The
ladder is temporary stairs to my "office" in the loft. In the picture, above, you can see
the old (old) solid mahogany stair/ladder, which no longer reaches since the top foot or so got
badly charred. The lightning struck at the rear peak of the roof.
A view from the door of the old electronics shop.
Below is another look at the shop from the other side. Note the radial Pratt Whitney R-985
Wasp Junior hanging on the wall, victim of a gear-up landing. It miraculously survived
the lightning strike fire although it looked pretty bad. Took three days of solid work to clean
it up, but now it's beautiful, back up on the wall, and serving once again as air hose,
extension cord, buckets and sundries rack.
The Cabinets immediately beyond the Zundapp also survived the fire, as did the ankle biter '46
GE fan, on the floor ahead of it. Both took substantial work to restore, especially the
fan, which came off the wall of the second story engineering department at the Western Machine
Tool Works in Holland, mentioned elsewhere on this site. Still haven't straightened the fan's
wire guard, which has fought me like hell. Meanwhile, watch out for the blades!
Why are the doors closed with the fan running? We had a pretty cool summer in 2014, and
I'm in the garage cleaning the Zundapp with kerosene. The fumes were becoming an issue
and risking the fan's blades seemed the lesser of the evils to get some ventilation going.
The old garage doors were insulated similar to what you see now, but with nice framed paneling
enclosing the insulation. Another thing that's on the list.
A view looking back toward the electronics shop door, just out of the picture.
It's pretty hard for me to look at this picture even four years later. The
vise at lower left (now on my new work bench) is right where the red plastic stool is in the image
You can see the Zundapp's rear fender midway up at the right. The thing above it is one
of my porcelain lamp shades attached to a rafter tie. You can't see it, but the KS601 is
holding up another rafter tie, assisted by the '85 Sabre.
You can see the black soot clearly on the hood of the John Deere. In the garage, oddly,
it didn't settle too badly. Although innocuous looking, it can range from damned difficult
to impossible to remove and is extremely corrosive. Throughout the
first floor of the house it settled thick as chocolate syrup. Well away from where there
was any water, things that had stood rust free for decades rusted heavily literally
A view from the right garage door. Can you see the Zundapp?
This was actually a pretty neatly arranged garage, an impression you won't gather from this
picture. A good percentage of the stuff you see on the floor was up in the loft. But the
roof structure burnt quite badly and everything came down from front to rear.
Observe that I was doing some work on the '84 Sabre, replacing the front bank
head gasket which had slowly been starting to leak at 154K (finally figured that out on
the Olympic Peninsula in Washington). Unfortunate time to have the head off it. I did
triage throughout the garage, can of WD-40 in one hand and Eagle oiler of gear oil in the
other, hosing everything down. I drained the sump and dosed the bike heavily with the full
oil treatment, so I hope that all is well with it, although you can see the tank got sooted
The other one also, alas, was being worked on. Worse, I had both heads unbolted and
lifted about 1/8", trying to free them of the exhaust pipes, doing a timing chain tensioner
replacement. Honda, the stupids, bolted the tensioners down with four head bolts instead of
four dedicated bolts, transforming a few hour job into a few days. Unfortunately I was taking
my sweet time at it. Drained the sump and hosed everything with oil, but no way to tell
how that one fared till I get back to working on it. Pretty low priority at this point.
Last updated 03-10-16
mechanique at wmol dot com