Monday, November 30, 2009

more music / bike mixing

One of my many drums is a synthetic West African djembe. I chose this type over a real one mainly because it requires zero maintenance, and can also endure a certain amount of abuse, which is handy when I use it for street events and that sort of thing.
Usually this type of drum is played either standing up with a strap, or sitting down with it between your knees, and you either rest the base on the ground (tilting it to allow the bass tone to come out) or hold it up off the floor with a waist strap or on top of your feet.

With the Propeller Dance groups I need to sit, and it can be awkward holding onto it when I have other instruments to play, as at the very least I have the synth and sometimes also the e-drum pad, the laptop, and other devices (see my post on the gear). There are commercial floorstands available, but they cost money and seem a bit bulky. Being both cheap and reasonably creative I decided to make a stand based on available materials.

First up was a RIMS mount for a 14" floor tom. The RIMS has the legs attached to it and the drum sit in the cradle, as opposed to the legs directly attached to the drum. This is to reduce resonance losses from the legs touching the drum then the floor. (I've personally never had a problem with a big floor tom not ringing enough, but the system they use for rack toms works very well indeed, and I've been using them for 25 years now). I bought this thing cheap many years ago and never used it for its intended purpose.
The challenge is that the djembe is 12" in diameter, while this is 14". So the opening needed to be narrowed down. So, I scrounged through my pile of surplus drum bits (it's about the same size of my pile of surplus bike bits) and found a 13" rim.
Two opposing lug holes handily lined up with two on the RIMS, so they were bolted together.
It still needed to be narrower, but I also needed some way to cushion the drum. I first thought of using a 12" bicycle innertube, but that'd probably be too bouncy. Then I came up with this:

A solid foam 12" tire - excellent! :) And taped it in place.
One drawback, which became obvious when I started using it, is the how the legs attach. This is an early version of the RIMs concept, and the old "screw pushing against the chrome metal plate" does not grip all that well.

New versions have a better set-up (see link above), and I'll take some old floor tom leg brackets I have and MacGyver those onto this rim. In the meantime, it more or less does the job and does not look too shabby.
One added benefit to the bike tire is that I can use it with the drum off the stand. Because when sitting the bottom of each tuning lug tends to dig into one's thigh, and the tire will act as a cushion against this.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

vintage velos

Some very cool old velomobile and other recumbent designs at:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

little tandem

I recently came into possession of a small-wheeled tandem bike. I think it was made by Miyata, as it's called the "Miyarenter" (perhaps it was designed for use by bike rental outfits?). If so, then it joins my little tilting trike as yet another "perhaps made by Miyata".

Those twin, umm, top tubes give it a nice swoopy look, no? The bottom/ down tubes curve up to become the seat tubes, a design also used by those old cheap Euro folding bikes from the 70's, like this one:

Hey, it's yellow too. :)

The tandem currently has only one gear, but there are a few cable guide braze-ones on the rear-most chainstay that indicate it may have sported either derailer gears or an internal-gear hub.

The gearing is rather low, which I guess is fine for when it's carrying the weight of two people. Though I frankly don't know how much those typical crappy 20" tires, holding only about 40psi of air, would cope with two people. At least not two large people. If I was going to seriously use this thing I'd swap in some Schwalbe Big Apples or similar, since those can take the weight and also give a nice cushioned ride (I use the Apples on the cargo trike). Of course, like some of the other interesting machines I have it's a bit small for me...

Oh, and if you look at the rear wheel its hub has what looks like a rotor for a disc brake! I'll need to get a better photo of that, after I try to hook up an old Shimano disc brake unit we had lying around at the re-Cycles shop. Not that this tandem really needs a disc brake (nor the extra weight of one); just that it would be way cool to actually find a use for this old brake.

Another idea I had was to turn this thing into a poor man's Xtracycle. I could use the rear seat tube and some clamps and fashion some sort of way to carry loads on the rear half. Y'know, for those trips that don't require the big cargo trike... Hmm...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Curious street feature

On one of my walks about town (doing more of that for exercise these days) I came across something that has me scratching my head:

What the heck is it for? It is situated on the east side of Ralph St. in the Glebe, just past Holmwood Ave. at the edge of Brown's Inlet. As you can see, there are no signs indicating its use as a waiting area of some kind or whatever.

It's very fresh and new-looking, and was obviously purposely done and with a specific shape. And it sits there all by its lonesome.

It's too small to be much of a bus stop (if this was a bus route), and it's too narrow for just about anything related to a vehicle that might park alongside.

At least there's a rather nice view looking over top of it:

Sunday, August 23, 2009

cargo trike update (again)

Structurally this trike has held up quite well into its sixth year of use. Building it out of square-tube mild steel was not the lightest way to go, but it certainly has been strong.

The one area that has always been suspect is the bar that connects to the frame and holds the "steering" arms that I hold onto while the front end pivots below me. When we built it the plan was to bolt it to the frame like a handlebar using a BMX-style 4-bolt stem. But the threads in the the bottom part of the stem plate got damaged by the heat, so we said heck with it and welded the plate to the frame and the bar to the plate.
(Yes, the bar has a bend in from when some accidentally dropped the frame right after the weld.)

As you can imagine, this bar sees a lot of flex, and while I did insert a wooden dowel into it as well as put braces where the upright bars meet it, we figured the main joint at the frame might start to fail some day. And it did - last last year I saw a crack developing, and finally this Spring I took it over to Johnson Welding for repair (my friend and co-builder Juergen having gotten too busy with his new business for welding projects).

The guy at Johnson asked me to remove all the paint:
and take out the dowel, then he would try and tap in a thicker steel insert tube, then weld the crack. I decided to also add a pair of braces from the bar back to the frame for some triangulation, which is what should've been done when the trike was built. I fashioned them from the chainstays of a dead 10-speed bike from the scrap pile at the re-Cycles shop:
The welder got those in place, fixed the crack, and was able to add the sleeve. The work is a little rough and the braces are not perfectly centred, but hey it only cost me $40.

I then applied primer and gold paint and it looks fab. And the repair should hold for the rest of the trike's life.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

dare to compare

The Impressions in Jazz Orchestra, with whom I've been drumming since early 2006, plays a wide variety of music under the "jazz" umbrella. And some of that is the wonderful music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

At a concert earlier this year one tune we played was the beautiful "Isfahan", written by Strayhorn. The lead was originally done of course by the amazing Johnny Hodges, but we had our very own Sandy Gordon for this, who is quite well versed in this genre, and he did a fabulous job.

But it's not just about getting the lead, with all its bent notes and huge expressivity, but also in the backing parts. The trombones have some short figures that need to be both soft and precise, like someone playing the chords on a keyboard. And there's the gorgeous ensemble work in the bridge that needs to flow and swell. And then there's the drums, just swishing quietly on the brushes through the whole thing. ;)

And as we played this tune to a rapt audience, that feeling came over me, the one that pretty well all musicians hope to get every now and then - that we're doing it right, doing it justice, and I'm almost having an out-of-body experience. (This is one of the reasons I love playing drums - that I get to be in the middle of this sort of thing but not have a part, at least in ballads, as demanding as most of the other players, which allows me to listen and enjoy what's going on.) So we sailed through this beautiful tune, and as it ended I thought "damn, we did it", and the audience seemed to agree.

I knew we had recorded this concert (and there are audio clips on the IJO site), so I asked orchestra leader Adrian Cho for an mp3 of this one. I've uploaded it so you can hear it, as well as two versions by Ellington (both on YouTube) for comparison. I think we came pretty darn close... (our version) (Ellington studio version) (Ellington live version)

Let me know if you agree! I know I'm highly biased, but I'm also critical when we do not capture the magic. With this one I think we did.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

cool bike links

Some good summer reading.

CCM catalogue from 1918:

Bicycle accessories catalogue from a Toronto supplier in 1900:

This Online Vintage Bicycle Museum is a public internet database for fellow enthusiasts of vintage bicycles and tricycles.":

"The name describes any 3-wheel vehicle, including un-motorized 3-wheel delivery tricycles and ordinary pedal tricycles; motorcycle and scooter pick-ups and vans.":

Mark Twain's "Taming The Bicycle":

Sunday, July 26, 2009

unhinged on a bike

No, 'twas not I that was unhinged, but someone else...

Late this afternoon I was walking home and had just crossed the construction mess that is Bank St. I got onto James St. and saw what looked to be an older East Indian couple sitting on some steps, perhaps waiting for someone. What drew my attention was that there was a guy with a bike saying something to them in a loud voice, and I realized he was insulting them (stuff like "f-ing immigrants").

They tried to ignore him, and I was wondering what to do. I was across the street, and it was one of the moments that can happen where you have to decide very quickly whether or not to get involved with people you do not know. I thought what he was doing was pretty awful, and after he walked away from them I thought it was over, but then he went back and started in on them again, and they looked pretty nervous and got up to leave.

I then decided that if this guy thought he was so tough he should pick on me, not them, so I shouted "hey, it would be good if you left them alone!". He looked my way and then got on his bike and cycled into the middle of the street, shouting more abuse and I basically said "look, leave them and me alone and just go home". He stared at me briefly and I realized he would probably not try to attack me, and instead he just pedaled slowly as I walked and shouted general abuse my way. I thought "well, the other folks are safe so I'll just let him do this for a bit and then get away from him at the next intersection". I didn't know whether he was mentally ill or high on drugs, but also did not really need to find out.

As we both got to James and Kent he accelerated and turned left, the wrong way onto the one-way street. Problem was, he was riding down the middle of the road with three lanes of traffic heading straight for him! He half fell / half jumped off his bike, and made a motion at the traffic like "come and get me" and started waving his arms and shouting as the cars slowed and dodged around him. Then he grabbed his bike and threw it at one car, and that's when I remembered that I now have a cell phone and that this would be a good time to use it!

I called 911, describing the situation as he threw the bike at yet another car (he missed both times), and they asked me to stay until Police arrived. Just as they said that, the guy, after wandering around for a few moments, threw his bike for a third time and finally hit a car. The driver slowed and stopped for a moment, then turned down James and did not come back.

Just after this a cruiser arrived, and as it pulled up I saw the guy walking off southbound on the opposite sidewalk, with his bike still in the middle of the road. I pointed him out to the officer and she ran after him, and she was joined by another officer at Gladstone Ave. They all disappeared around the corner for a bit, and while I waited a fellow came out of a nearby house, sating he had seen most of what had transpired and that he had also called 911.

Then a third cruiser arrived, and the officer go out to talk to us, and as he did yet another fellow walked up - the driver of the car that had been hit by the bike. From there it was just talking and filling out statements, and the officer said they had grabbed the perp. The original officer returned, the perpetrator was in the back seat of the second car, and they then double-checked our statements (I was the only one that had seen it all from start to finish).

Just as I was leaving the scene I heard the driver of the damaged car say to the officer "my car is over at James and Bank because that's where I was going to pick up my parents". I asked him "were your parents sitting at the apt. building there?" and he said Yes. This was bizarre - I had called the perp. away from them, and then he manages to hit their son's car with his bike; only after trying to hit two others. Now that's one of those Twilight Zone moments...

And this is all on top of the three separate incidences this past week where cyclists were hit (and in at least one case killed) by motorists.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


A profile of the amazing bike collective known as Cyclecide. I love all of it, especially the Rimshot Bike, because "your joke can be lousy but you still get the rimshot". The "pedal-powered carnival" may be the ultimate in HP fun:

Now there's a job description: "Artist in Residence at the Dump". :)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Propeller Dance gig gear

June 19th saw the annual fundraising gig for Propeller Dance. In past years this event took place at the NAC's Fourth Stage, but this year it was moved to the new home of the GCTC.

The show had performances by all of the weekly classes, plus the main performing group. That meant around 70 performers! I've been providing the music for the Monday classes with Renata for many years now, and for this event I was also asked to help out the Saturday morning kids and youth classes. This was because Jason Sonier, the regular Saturday musician, was not going to be available for the show, and so I had to take over the final four weeks so the two classes could put their shows together.

(This meant getting up far earlier than I am used to on Saturday mornings, then having one hour to pack up, load out, trike home, unload, grab food, and get to the re-Cycles shop for 1pm!)

Over the years my equipment for these gigs has evolved. After buying a bigger amplifier and adding other gear, my current set-up uses:

The Behringer keyboard amp, Kawai K4 synth, Boss looping pedal, Roland Handsonic 10 percussion pad, an older Mac iBook, and my very latest tool, a Korg Nanopad. The laptop has been great because I can set up various loops and fade them in and out or make them do interesting things, and the Nanopad is an interesting (and very cheap) MIDI controller that I'm mostly using to trigger soundfonts. For the Sat. kids class I also added my "street drum", originally put together for Grasshoppa Dance street performances.

In past years Propeller Dance's accompanying musicians have tended to be in the shadows for performances. This year we were right onstage, though due to space limitations we needed to tuck ourselves into a corner.

The other guys, Dominique Saint-Pierre (main performing group) and Mike Essoudry (Thursday group), are also using varying degrees of technology. Here's a view of my rig:
Dom uses a Yamaha synth, microphone (sometimes run through a delay unit), djembe, the same model amp I use, and he recently bought an older Roland Handsonic 15:
Mike had an interesting set-up using a mix of acoustic and slightly more "primitive" digital technology:
Yes, those are Discmans! Mike loaded these with loops he'd burnt onto CD, then ran each through its own mixer channel to be faded in and out as needed.

A closer shot of my gear. The Nanopad is right in front of the laptop:
A rear view of the collective gear during dress rehearsal:
This event was a lot of fun, though we musicians did not help each other / jam along during pieces as in the past, because the performances have gotten a bit more structured. But Dom did invite us to jam along on the final performing group piece, which, after a run-through during dress rehearsal, came off quite well.

David Scrimshaw has a ton of performance photos on his Flickr pages. I really like this one of our Monday group during the show:
And yes, as always I used my cargo trike to get to this gig. ;)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jazz festival gig

I'll be performing this coming Thursday at noon at our local jazzfest, this time with the new quartet Art Nuvo. And it's a free show:

This group is comprised of myself on drums, Rick Rangno on trumpet and fluegelhorn, Ian Clyne on piano, and Tom Denison on bass. As mentioned in an earlier post, we were in the recording studio back in April, putting together series of original compositions form Rick and Ian. That should be released sometime in the Fall.

This group is a good challenge for me, as it's an opportunity to play some real jazz. Meaning that we're focusing on original material and not just playing the same old standards all the time (which is what a lot of us get stuck doing when folks hire a jazz group). I've been nicely encouraged by the lads to play a bit more "out" and go for it, which I'm happy to do. ;)

I'll be triking to this gig, of course...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

newest oldest bike

I've just acquired a rather old but still completely functional steed. It's a CCM "Red Bird", and the serial number dates it to 1937! Holy smokes, that's 72 years ago!!

I plan to get more info on its history from the guy that passed it on to me from a friend of his.

The only things I've added were the bell and a perhaps even older seat (which is covered with some black fleece, but under that is some worn leather with horsehair padding!). The bike did have its old-style seatpost that is shaped a bit like the number 7, and I'll see if I can fit this seat to it.

The bike has its original but rather faded paint, but some of the detail work is still there:

as well as various stickers:

and the rather cool head badge, where the name is cut out of the metal:

The bike rides just fine, but has a few issues. The easiest to fix is a slightly reluctant coaster (back-pedal) brake. I'll just open that up for an overhaul, and do have some replacement brass brake "shoes" if they are needed.

A little more fussy is that at some point the bike's hubs got re-laced into cheap steel 27" rims, when it originally came with Canadian 28" (700C) wheels. I'm presuming they are the original hubs, as they have oil ports that seem to match the one on the bottom bracket shell.

The single rear cog even has a slot in it for easy spoke removal, which is a feature not seen in a long time.

These replacement chrome-plated wheels with their skinny tires and flat braking surfaces just do not look right on this bike.

I have access to a complete front wheel from the "railing bike" at the re-Cycles shop (a dead CCM from 1945 that was going to be an outside sign bike, but instead now graces the shop's library railing), as it did not fit the installation and was simply snoozing in a basement corner, and had escaped being spray-painted. I dug it out tonight and was pleased to note that the painted rim matches my bike!

So I either use this wheel as it is, or only its rim and lace in the bike's original hub (this other wheel does not have an oil port). For the rear wheel, I could either remove the one from the railing bike and carefully strip the spray-paint (and simply substitute any old single-cog wheel), since it wold be the correct colour, or find one online.

The bigger challenge is that the stem is seized, and its bolt loose. It has probably been this way for quite some time, and I fear that the stem bolt has snapped off inside at the top of the wedge. But the bolt, while loose, will not back out, so until I can get it in a vice and tug it out I can't see what is really going on.

I'm applying some Liquid Wrench inside the head tube at intervals to start freeing up whatever rust might be holding things, but if the bottom end of the bolt is stuck in the wedge then I may have to unfortunately cut off the stem. This would allow me to dismantle the headset and pull out the fork, then hopefully get the conjoined mess out. Via the "English Roadsters" discussion group at, I've been offered a replacement stem if needed.

An interesting feature on this bike is that it sports non-cottered cranks. And it is not the usual one-piece / Ashtabula crankset. I was told that CCM pioneered this, but need to get more verification.

And here's the most worn part of the bike:

I'll post more photos as the "restoration" continues.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fun book

Flights of fancy can be a very good thing. Sometimes they can lead to new and interesting things, and sometimes they are just a bit "out there", and make you think.

I'm browsing through a .pdf version of a book full of all sorts of wonderful weirdness called the "Codex Seraphinianus". Some are calling it The World's Weirdest Book, with images such as:

I think it's a hoot. You can download the pdf file (50meg.) HERE.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Frank Zappa drummers

While I'm not the biggest Zappa fan, I certainly do like some of his music, and some of it I like a LOT. I have always appreciated what a musical free spirit he was, and how he had some of the best musicians on the planet in his various bands; people like George Duke, Terry Bozzio, Steve Vai, Vinnie Colaiuta, Ruth Underwood, etc.

And for all the silly stuff that most folks know him by, he also wrote some of the most complicated music any musician ever had to read. And they often had to play it while engaged in some musical comedy routine. But they could do so because they knew the music cold, as Zappa would rehearse his bands eight hours a day, five days a week for at least two or three months before heading out on tour. That's a lot of work!

I just came across a cool roundtable discussion featuring ex-Zappa drummers organized by Terry Bozzio, who played with him from '75-'78. With him are Ralph Humphreys ('72-'74), Chester Thompson ('74-'75, later tour drummer for Genesis), and percussionist Ruth Underwood ('68-'76). Ruth had basically stopped playing after Zappa because, well, any other music was not going to be quite as interesting!

7 episodes, and there's a link on the page of the first one to a 4-drummer drum jam that lasts for 42 minutes!

More drums 'n Zappa - Terry with the "Zappa Plays Zappa" band last year (led by Zappa's son Dweezil), playing "The Black Page". This was written for Terry by Frank back in 1976, and the tune got its name from the fact that Zappa wrote it in a slow time signature, so all the fast stuff is in 32nd notes and the page looks like a blur of ink. Terry is joined by the aforementioned Steve Vai for Part 2:

(Steve Vai first came to prominence as Zappa's "stunt guitarist" in '81, to play parts that Frank wrote that even he could not easily play on guitar. Vai had transcribed some Zappa guitar solos while he was studying at Berklee, and Frank paid him to continue that until Steve graduated and then joined the Zappa band.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

catching up...

Two weeks ago I observed my 50th birthday. At some point I'll start acting my age, maybe when I'm 60.

Here's one for the numerologists in the crowd: within a period of three weeks I turned 50, my step-mom turned 80, and my niece Marianne turns 20. So I'm in the middle, with a fabulous woman 30 years on either side. ;)

My birthday week was a tad hectic. On the Monday I was at the re-Cycles shop from noon until 5pm, then had to zoom home, gulp dinner, then load the trike and head off to the weekly Propeller Dance gig (where the gang gave me a fabulous pre-birthday celebration).

On Tuesday, I was up at 7:30am (yikes!) to head into the recording studio for three days with a new group I've joined called "Art Nuvo" (more on them later). I was home from that by 4:30, then off to a b'day dinner 'til 8pm, then picked up at 8:30 for an IJO rehearsal that lasted until about 11:30.

Wednesday saw another 7:30am wake-up, and I got home from that session around 4:30 again, then had a 3-hour choir rehearsal from 6-9.

Thursday was like Tuesday, without the b'day dinner in the middle. Thankfully I had nothing booked for Friday, and I did as little as possible. Ok, so I spent three hours sorting stuff at the re-Cycles shop, but that was on my own schedule, and it had no music! My ears were a tad fried by this point...

The following weekend was busy, and by then I had run myself down and was sniffling with a cold by Monday. And it became the worst cold I've had in three years (after not being sick all winter), and I spent a bunch of time half passed out on the couch. So if spread out over the past two weeks I guess I did a normal amount of work. :P

While I was sick I watched an excellent BBC documentary about the Second World War, produced in 1973 and running for almost 24 hours. It had been uploaded to YouTube in the allotted 10-minute increments, so it took a while to wade through, both mentally and emotionally. But I finally have a full understanding of the insanity of that war: approx. 60 million dead, and half of those were Russians. The Nazi ideology, the various cold and calulated programs they put in place, how much the German populace bought into it all... (let's face it - none of it would've happend if most of the people had not wanted it.) Truly wrenching stuff, but I would consider it mandatory viewing.

Here's the playlist link.

Monday, April 13, 2009

IJO gig this week

Got another cool concert coming up with the Impressions in Jazz Orchestra.

We're doing the fabulous "Far East Suite" by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, along with a newer work called the "Chicago Concerto", written by Richard Peaslee. This is for baritone saxophone and Big Band, and was originally written for jazz great Gerry Mulligan.

Mike Tremblay will be the bari soloist, and some of the music is giving us quite the challenge (odd time signatures and that sort of thing). Rick Rangno will also be playing a beautiful piece by Peaslee called "Nightsongs" for fluegelhorn and strings.

Full details at the IJO site. I'll of course be using my cargo trike to get to this gig. ;)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

tech blending

Last summer I bought a new mouse for my Mac, and in December I bought a new electric razor. They look similar enough to confuse me in my morning dopiness if I shave while at the computer...

folding trailer

A friend of mine sent me this link: A wheel-y unique idea for commuter cyclists: Milton university engineering student co-inventor of collapsible bike trailer.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

back on the trike

I got Kyoto out of its winter hibernation this past Thursday.

On Wednesday there was still a bit of ice piled in front of the door to its trikeport, and once that was cleared I still could not get the door open! Prying the top edge back I could look inside and see ice on the gravel floor of the 'port, and the front wheel had ice up to the rim. Joy...

But on Thursday I was able to pry the door open a bit more and reach in and lift the front wheel out of the ice out easily enough, and it was no worse for wear. Then I eventually got the door free and the trike out (the rear wheels did not have ice around them). I adjusted the brakes and cleaned the chain and put the small battery in to check the lights and signals, and all was well.

Friday was a beautiful day and I put the battery pack for the electric assist in and went for about a 10km roundtrip doing errands. It was nice to be back on the beast (currently my only recumbent) and I'm looking forward to using it once again for moving gear after almost four months of using the winter bike and trailer(s).

The next day I had to do a shift at the re-Cycles shop from 1-5, then from there straight over to the NAC for a soundcheck and gig at the Fourth Stage. The trike makes this kind of thing easy to do.

And so begins Year Six of my cargo trike adventures. :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Jivewires gig tonight

A little late in posting this, but...

The Jivewires are playing at the Rainbow tonight. This is the make-up gig for the one canceled two months ago due to heat and water problems at the club. In the band tonight are Steve on vocals and trombone, Rick on trumpet, Zak on alto sax, Brian on tenor sax, Dr. Dave on guitar, Tom on upright bass, and me.

And check out our new website! The old one was OK, but not put together by us. I maintained it over the years, but Steve has now redone it and looks after the updating.

Friday, March 13, 2009

fun with power tools

Anyone visiting the re-Cycles shop will see two rooms; one being the front "sales" room, and the other the work room. Some folks might even get to see the basement, where the largest room holds all the donated bikes that have come in (which at this time of year have mostly been made ready for sale and are awaiting the Spring rush).

Then there's the smaller basement room, where we store scrap metal for eventual recycling, dead tires awaiting recycling, supplies, spare parts, etc. This room also contained appliances that had long been taken out of use but never removed, such as the building's furnace (each tenant now has their own furnace) and water storage tank (for the old hot water radiators). These things took up a lot of room that we really needed. So we got the landlord's permission to remove them and hired a contractor.

And Mr. Contractor actually showed up. Once. He had quoted two nights to shut off services and disconnect, and then cut things up enough for us to add to our metal scrap pile. Well, he got as far as shutting off power and gas and some of the water and left things to drain. Then he disappeared, as contractors so often do.

By the time the Christmas Holidays rolled around a month later we figured the guy was gone, and somebody had to finish the job. The shop had recently bought an angle grinder with a nice cutting disk, so I thought what the hell I'll see if I can do the job.

The furnace was pretty straightforward. A few pumps had to be disconnected, and I could tell they had been put on not long before the furnace had been decommisiond, as the bolts came undone easily (and the old dead pumps were lying nearby). The pumps were taken by HPVOoOer Mike Watson for a project, so nice to see them reused and not scrapped when they were perfectly good.

The big water tank was another thing. It had cut-off pipes sticking out of it so I presumed it to be drained and started cutting into the bottom pipe. And water starts spraying out! Just what I want when using power tools... (the tank had water, but obviously not enough to overflow the upturned open pipes.)

A quick clamping repair was made using a section of innertube and a hose clamp. The tank needed to be properly drained, and fortunately fellow HPVOoOer Charles was upstairs working on his winter bike. It was off-hours, but I was glad I'd let him use the shop while I was downstairs, because he was able to scoot the few blocks back to his place and get a garden hose. This was attached to the tank's drain plug and left overnight. (He also took the above photos of me.)

The next day the remaining pipes were cut and the tank was waddled out of the way. The furnace consisted of a sheet metal top resting on a core of metal and fire bricks. That core was extremely heavy, and I could only heave it aside by squatting and putting my shoulder to it.

The various cut pipes were sorted by metal type for our scrap removal guys (copper being the most valuable), and then all taps and fittings removed.

The grinder was a fabulous tool for this project. It certainly would not have been a fun task to do all the cutting using only the shop's hacksaw...

A little while later the scrap guys came and hauled most of it away, and it took three people to get the furnace core and big water tank up the stairs.