Wednesday 25 April 2018

WTF Penn State?

Today’s paper had a number of articles on the murderous rampage of a madman in a rental truck in Toronto on Monday. 10 dead, 15 injured. Then there was an update on the bizarre Waffle House shooting last week in Nashville. 4 dead. And both articles, of course, remind us of the spate of mass murders, school shootings, cop shootings, etc. that seem to occur on a daily basis. Some days it seems the world has truly gone mad. Hell. Handbasket.

Now, amidst all this insanity and mayhem, Penn State has taken a bold stance to protect its students. More specifically those who are members of the Outing Club. Even more specifically, it has banned the Outing Club from going – you guessed it – outdoors, because wilderness activities are “too risky”.

Have the administrators at Penn State lost their collective (albeit small) minds? Where did I miss reading that 15 campers were mowed down by a suicidal maniac in a VW Microbus? Or of a misfit loser 5 pints short of a 6-pack who decided to go people hunting in the wild with an AR-15? Did it even occur to these simple-minded fools that outdoor activities can be a powerful antidote against that type of anti-social behaviour? Or that fresh air (unpolluted by the PC’ness of academia) and some physical activity might actually be healthy?

It boggles the mind. 

Perhaps showing the movie Deliverance in the Faculty Lounge wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Japanese Industrial Standard

The Phillips head screw (with the + shape) was first developed in the 1930s to be used on automobile assembly lines. Some time later the Japanese created a slight variation called the JIS (Japanese Industrial Standard) or, more specifically, the JIS B 1012.

While they look like the standard ISO screw, trying to remove or tighten a JIS screw with the usual Phillips head screwdriver found in everyone’s toolbox can, and often does, result in damaged screw heads, skinned knuckles, and lots of cursing. In the worst case this results in the mechanic(?) eventually having to drill out the damaged screw. To this I can speak from experience.

JIS screw headFortunately JIS screws are usually marked with a small dimple on the head itself. However this is not foolproof, so sometimes it’s just best to assume that when working on a Japanese motorcycle that any cruciform-head screws will be JIS. And that’s not such a bad idea as a JIS screwdriver will work better in an ISO screw than vice versa anyway.

The point of all this – and there is a point – is that many, many years ago I had a pretty good set of JIS screwdrivers that saw yeoman’s duty on the various Japanese motorcycles I owned at the time. Unfortunately, at some point during several intervening house moves, they disappeared, along with countless 10mm sockets and wrenches – another necessity of which one can never have too many. So I have been making do with Phillips screwdrivers, hence the above comment about experience.

But after stripping and having to replace the umpteenth small screw (brake master cylinder cover screws are the worst – my parts guy insists they are made out of soft cheese) I finally broke down and ordered a replacement set. They arrived today, direct from Japan, and I can’t wait to start scr… er, removing screws.


If you are interested, Web Bike World has a write-up that provides more detail on the specific differences between the types.

Saturday 7 April 2018

During the war…

As you can imagine, the logistics of sourcing, shipping, and making spare parts available when and where needed during a war can be challenging. Equipment failures are dangerous while in theatre, and efforts going into maintenance and repairs detract resources from the broader mission. So, getting the most out of every piece of equipment is of paramount concern.

During the Second World War Canada’s National Defence HeadquartersIMG_0698 attempted to reduce maintenance costs and increase equipment life by publishing a monthly preventive maintenance magazine, CAM. It provided helpful suggestions on proper equipment usage as well as detailed maintenance tips and techniques.

As a motor mechanic with the RCAF’s No. 1 Fighter Squadron, my father was a recipient of these monthlies, a few of which found their way home with him and which I now have in my possession.

I just recently dug them out again and re-read some of the articles, particularly those related to the wartime care and feeding (as it were) of motorcycles. While clearly dated, both in style and content, they offer a sense of the challenges faced by those tasked with keeping these machines on the road under difficult circumstances.

Here’s one such article on the proper use of “auxiliary foot rests”. Seems pretty obvious to those of us with extensive riding experience, but probably not so much to the novice rider assigned to two wheels for the very first time.