Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sturgeon Fishing - More Shaker Action

The rain broke and hope springs eternal... so we went after sturgeon again.

It was a beautiful morning... sailor take warning?

This trip we launched out of Goble, and headed to the deep hole where the old Trojan Nuclear Tower used to sit.

Here is the lead rock - the water starts dropping from 50' down to 80' about where the marker rock is located.

The old Trojan tower was just behind that tallest tree...

Its actually too bad they blew it down - it was a nice landmark.

Anyway, the water was cold, and so was the bite. We caught a few shakers down in 100' of water - even small fish feel big with 16oz. of lead down that deep!

Farther down, the water dropped down to 145' deep!!! Alot of fish stacked up down there, too.

But none of them biting. None of the other boats had much action, either.

We moved around quite a few times, and finally put the boat back on the trailer.

You can see, the launch in Goble isn't very big or wide.

Oh well - we had to try. Reports are the sturgeon have been slow everywhere. Some folks are doing well, but most aren't.

We think its just too cold right now. We'll probably try again, though....

Boat Repair - Outboard Poppet Valve

Later last fall the outboard motor started acting up - the temperature would heat up if we slowed down on the throttle.

Since then, we've replaced the water pump (impeller), and the thermostats, but the heating continues.

We are ok if we are at higher RPMs and speed, but when we slow to anchor, it heats up quick.

Our next idea was a stuck Poppet valve - if it was stuck open it wouldn't build water pressure.

There are great diagrams and information on outboards at this site:

The hardest part of openning up the Poppet valve was removing the lower Cowling.

We found the first 3 bolts easily, and finally found the last one up front of the cowling.

The poppet is on the lower starboard side (right) of the motor.

Here you can see we've dropped the starboard cowl to expose the poppet assembly.
Outboards are pretty easy to work on - it is nice they are easily available to get at most of the parts...

Here you can see the poppet housing.

The four bolts holding the housing together were pretty corroded.
It has been a while since anyones been in here.

Here is the housing opened up, exposing the valve's spring.
The gaskets were in good shape, and some grit and sand inside.
Actually, I was really hoping to find alot of sand and gravel - so then I'd be more confident this would fix the overheating problem.
It looks too clean inside...
We flushed the motor with a hose up at one of the thermostat ports, to blow out any gravel inside to come out the valve.
Here are all the parts, and the valve body itself.
We scrubbed and cleaned it all up, and it went together very easily. W
Now lets keep our fingers crossed that it fixes the problem.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Chainsaw Carving - Finish Work on the Carvings

OK... several days in a row without rain means its time to finish our chainsaw carving!

The only problem is that the actual carving is the fun part. Now the work begins.

Here's one of the carvings and the dog making sure we get her best side...

First, we do a rough-sanding with a hand grinder.

Next, we burn the wood with a propane torch to give color and depth to the areas that need it.

Coloring works best when the wood is dry!

Painting is also an option - we use paint on poorer quality wood. Cedar has such a nice color we try to keep it more natural.

Its easier to have a helper when the saw is put away.

She made her own 'chainsaw' from one of the scrap pieces.

"Don't put a cut there!"

After burning we do another finer sanding with the hand grinder to clean it up and make it perdy.

"Oh yeah - Safety First!"

It is hard to get the finish work done with good helpers wanting to goof around... but we highly recommend it.

After the carving is sanded and ready, we oil it and often coat it with Polyurethane.

Brushing on the sealant takes time - another option is to use spray cans. Much easier for the smaller carvings.

When spraying the fish, more ants popped out!

Grinding the carvings can get crazy, too. Make sure to wear protective gear and GLOVES!

Burning the wood is fun - especially when the ants show up.

On the fish-jump carving we are darkening all the base of the wood to add 'shadow' to the water the fish are emerging from.

Here is the final product, hanging on the wall.

Its really nice with several layers of poly-u to give it a nice shine.

Phew, finally done with this one- Time to fire-up the saw again!

Early Gardening - Tayberry Starts

We got a call from a friend that they were clearing out all the 'volunteer' berry vines in their patch - come over and get some starts.


We got about a dozen Tayberry starts for our berry patch.

While we were distracted, this dude thought he'd sneak off - he spied a neighbor's play equipment and before we knew it, he was gone!

Good thing he got hung-up in the barbwire...

It was a real fight getting him to come back.

Here are some of the friend's berry trellises.

Very nice and neat.

Here you can see all the rasberry starts all over. These plants are really prolific.

The best part is that they are thornless.

We'll be back for some of those...

A break in the rain also gave us the opportunity to weed and plant the starts right away.

Its only January, but it is great to get out and have a headstart on the year.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Chainsaw Carving at Home

Too rainy to fish... and too bored to stay indoors. Sometimes the Pacific NorthWest is hard to take.
I've had this old cedar stump out back for several years. Last week, my chainsaw-carving-fishing-buddy got our chains all sharpened, and so I got the bug to carve!
Here is the stump.

... and here are the bugs! The ants infested some of this wood.
There are alot of challenges in carving - rotten wood, nails, bugs, etc.
One always hopes when they start carving that the stump isn't rotten...

There aren't alot of things the kids can do to help carve - other than staying out of the way and not sneaking up on me...
But they can help with getting rid of the bugs!
The big ants make a 'popping' sound when sudden heat is applied...

Here are the first few cuts. Bears are fun to carve, but I need more practice with them.
I love carving fish - if we can't be out fishing at least I can carve some big ones...
Another nice thing about carving cedar is the smell - it smells great. Alot of sawdust!

Here is one of the 2 fish emerging from the wood.
There was enough wood to carve 2 fish, and having them "bust" out of the water/stump is a fun thing to carve.

The kids had fun on the fringe, too, making fires and goofing off.
Here she is modelling her "mermaid" tail she discovered.
"No, you can't keep this in the house." We end up saying that alot to the kids...

Here are the two fish nearly finished.
Make sure to keep extra wood on - when it is sanded with the grinder it will shrink and look more "fish" like.
Now... on to cut out the water...

Another angle of the fish.

It is hard to take a decent photo of a 3D carving... and make it look ok!

I think I'll call this one "Neck -n- Neck".

After some more work, they take better shape.
A blow-torch adds some color and shadow to help distinguish features. Eventually the base of the fish will be black, where they emerge from the water.
Need to grind them now.
The dog really liked laying in the soft, fragrant cedar dust. Hopefully it gets rid of the fleas! She didn't seem to mind the saw, either.
There was another smaller part of the stump that didn't work with the first carving... so lets do some more fish!
Here is a rough outline...

Carving can be messy.
It is a great outlet and very relaxing. Especially on a wet day with nothing else to do.

Here are the other fish carved.
Two fish stacked on the same piece of wood is another favorite to carve.
It can get tricky, though, workingon details of one while not scaring the other...

Here's a side-view.
The one in front is smaller, about the size of a 'Jack' Salmon.
We agreed that "Jack Over Kings" would be a good name.
Carving is the most fun. Grinding and sanding are important and really make the carving nice, but it is time consuming and boring.
Burning and laquering is also boring, but important - especially before the wood starts to split and dry out. Oh well - on to the work.
Carving is alot of fun and highly recommended. The more try, the more you will appreciate work by professionals - like this:

More Changes of the Camas

The indoor camas are doing well and continue to grow... and now the bulbs we potted outside have started growing, also.

Its been warmer than December, but still in the 40's and low 50's. We are wondering if the growth is triggered by more sunlight, or by temperature.

Temperature is a big factor. The seeds haven't sprouted at all, yet. None of the wild camas up on Liberty Hill have shown any signs of growth, yet, either.

An Old-Timey Frame

A few years back we drug home some old lumber from a mill originallly built where our family cabin is in WY.  The mill was there back in the early 1900's.

We since milled the refuse lumber into smaller pieces for projects.

Its been rainy lately, so we whipped up a 'barn-wood' frame.

We don't have a joiner or the right tools, but a simple mitre-box hand-saw and some large staples... and here is a frame!

The clamp and chain are holding it together while the glue dries.

With the glue dry we router'ed the inside of the frame.  It gives a nice texture and color to it.

Here is where we router'ed the backside, for fiting in the photo, glass, and backing.

It is pretty rough, but very appealing in a pioneer, "splinter-in-the-finger" kind of way.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Happy Shaker-Day, 2010

Looking at the calendar, our Saturdays for the next few months are booked! We better get out while we can and do some fishing!

It was rainy, but we've got a top on the boat for that...

We've learned over the years that Jan and Feb are slow months for Sturgeon - at least for us! Oh well, we had to get out.

We took all kinds of bait on this trip - smelt, squid, anchovies, even nightcrawlers. The one thing we didn't take was sand shrimp, and wouldn't you know it - everyone else had good action with the shrimp!

The nightcrawlers did well for us - we did get a few shakers.

We tried several new spots - outside of this drydock was cool.

Noisy, though - they were working all day.

After 45 minutes of 'nuthin', we moved.

Here's a fun little shaker we got on nightcrawler.

We hit 5 different spots, and it was slow at all of them. We all got at least one shaker, and Jake caught 3 or 4 of them.

Tons of boats out, too. The fish counter said it had been slow for everybody, and the 3 other boats at the launch when we pulled out hadn't even caught a shaker!

Oh well, it was fun!

Science Project - Fishing Pole Vibration

We've learned in the past that it is best to start science projects early... plus its been rainy out and we need something to do!

This year one of the projects is to measure the stiffness of different fishing poles - we had to tie fishing into it.

Here you can see a small accelerometer soldered to a small PCB - we've used these in the past to record vibration and shock using a microcontroller. Today we used the Labjack to capture the accel data.

You can see the vibrations of the fishing pole here on this software.

The IC is an old ADXL105 accelerometer - good for up to +/- 5G's.

Our plan was to measure the vibration of each fishing pole at the tip and middle of the pole as we pulled the tip down and released it. A simple 'pluck' test to watch how fast the pole stops vibrating.

We compared 3 different rods - a GLoomis backbounce (salmon) rod, a AbuGarcia Medium action (steelhead) rod, and a very light fly rod.

Here is one of the rods clamped down to the table - to act like a fixed cantilever beam.

Our software is able to sample 2 channels at 600 samples per second. There is a danger of anti-aliasing because we aren't filtering out the higher frequencies... but since this is for a 5th grade class, we will just talk about sources of error...

Here is the accelerometer clipped to the end. The board and sensor are fairly light, and are held on by a simple paper clip.

Both will add weight and skew the data - as will the wires, but again, we're after fun and not accuracy!

Here is the other accelerometer at the middle of the rod.

To run the test, we pulled down the tip of the rod one foot from its 'equilibrium' position, and let it go.

This guy isn't convinced. He wants to see confidence levels and error bars on ALL the data!

That's called "peer reviewing"!

We collected some data and had fun. We'll collect more, and compare the 'action' of the different rods.

Hey - it quit raining outside... lets go fishing!