Thursday, December 31, 2015

Greens and Machines -- Top 10 Projects of 2015


As 2015 comes to a close, we'd like to take this time to look back on some of the great projects and activities we managed to do this year. We'd like to thank all of our followers for sticking with us and hope you continue to follow along with all of our homebrewing, scrap welding, and other adventures.

Without any further delay, here are the selections for the Greens and Machines Top 10 list of 2015!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Pipe Clamp Vise

I received half of a pipe clamp at a garage sale for free since nobody else would buy it, and decided to make it into a vise.  I used a scrap block and a pipe nipple from the hardware store for $3.
pipe clamp half and some scraps
Just to make sure we're all on the same page, this is what a pipe clamp looks like.  One half (the half I got) mounts on the threaded end of a pipe, the other half can slide down the whole length of the pipe depending on the size of whatever you're clamping.  The second half is held on by some spring mechanism which I didn't feel like re-creating, so it turned into a vise instead.
a typical pipe clamp

Saturday, December 19, 2015

SN Celebration Ale Clone Fermentation progress and Bottling

All seemed well after the brewday for my Sierra Nevada Celebration IPA clone, until 3 days into fermentation. I took a peak in the closet and noticed that there was a boatload of yeast caked into my airlock! Acting quickly, I remedied the situation, installing a blowoff tube into a jar.
Blowoff tube installed
The batch was saved... for now.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

7 Stocking Stuffers for the Homebrewer in your family

Do you have a fanatical homebrewer in your family? Are you looking for a gift for your homebrewing pal that won't tell you what he wants for Christmas? Let your search for the perfect stocking stuffer end. Here's a list of ideal gifts for homebrewers of all experience levels.

1) Long Handled Stainless Steel Spoon

A good, long, sturdy stainless steel is a must for the homebrewer's kitchen. Useful in many steps of the brewing process including mashing and chilling the wort. Although it's likely to stick out of the top of the stocking, the length should prevent any brewer from getting burnt hands when stirring the kettle.
Long Spoon

Sunday, December 6, 2015

SN Celebration Ale Clone -- Brew Day

Celebration Ale Clone brewday
To get me in the mood for what I'll be enjoying in a few weeks.
November 19, 2015: Following the success of the new brew setup and batch of beer I made, it was time to make another creation in my kitchen. Since it is winter, I decided I wanted to attempt to emulate one of my favorite seasonal brews from this time of year: Sierra Nevada Celebration IPA. I found a recipe lying around on the internet and set to adapting it to my kitchen.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Bicycle Upgrayedd 2

With the success of the last bike upgrade, I decided I wanted to do it again! I figured I already got a good reliable bike for getting around, so why not get a rough-and-tumble bike that I can jump curbs with and not worry about breaking?
When I saw this bike at a rummage sale, I knew instantly it was the one.  Seeing that it's already the same color as my other bike, has good features, looks barely used and only $10? oh you know it!
Huffy Trail bike from rummage sale

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Scrap Attack: Autumn Harvest

Even though I'm not actually growing plants, I still have a harvest post.  Why's that? well, let's just say scrap alchemy doesn't only apply to metallic items!
In the land of too-small-backyards and near-perfect weather, the opportunity for fruit trees overgrowing peoples' property lines leaves an opportunity for free food.  In other words, I get the best deals on Earth.
I haven't seen any decent examples of pears or apples growing in southern California, probably because it doesn't get cold enough here, but I found these cute little ones on the ground.  Once they became squashy they were tasty, though several remained hard.  On the right are some pineapple guavas, which were good except for mold inside a few.
pears and pineapple guavas

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Winter Rye Ale Update -- Bottling Day

The color and flavor is spot on
You could almost pass this off as Rye Whiskey
After a good 2 weeks of fermenting + 1 week of settling, it was time to bottle my latest batch of beer. I was hoping to jump the gun on bottling after only the 2 weeks of fermenting, but as you can see in the above photo, the extra week of settling made a significant difference in the clarity of the brew.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Right time for some more Beer -- Winter Rye Ale -- Brew Day

Grain
The grains needed for a warm winter
Last week I decided that it was time to revive making beer at my new house thanks to some financial leeway, the change of seasons, and some extra free time. I decided it would be more efficient to scale back up to doing 5 gallon batches.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Mill Table Strap Clamps and T-nuts

Everywhere I go where there is a milling machine, there is always a set of strap clamps and T-slot nuts nearby.  I didn't realize the importance of this until I actually wanted to clamp something that wouldn't fit in the vise.  Basically, without strap clamps, you're missing out on 90% of clamping potential!
A strap clamp works by securing a clamp with a threaded rod to a T shaped nut in the corresponding shaped slot in the machine table.  The back support for the clamp is usually provided by a staircase shaped wedge and stair shaped cuts in the back of the clamp, but that's unnecessarily complicated to make for my application.  Instead, I decided to just tap a 5/16" hole in the back of the clamp and use carriage bolts to adjust the height range.  The shim is so I don't mess up the table.
strap clamp diagram

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dulcimer Tuning Wrench

I found this dulcimer at a garage sale for a good price, but it was all out of tune and had no way to tune it.  The strings attach to these square pegs that can be tightened or loosened to adjust the tension.  As I was considering how to make a tuning wrench, I decided I might as well use the most wrench-shaped item to begin with to avoid having to do extra work.  I had this extra chuck key and tool post wrench lying around from when I had my machine re-shipped to me with an extra box of tools, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to get used.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Super Fast Vise Handle

One day I found this 19mm socket in the street thinking, "When am I ever gonna need a 19mm socket?" It didn't come to my attention until I remembered that at work I had used a 19mm wrench to tighten the draw bar on a milling machine which is usually 3/4".  After measuring the socket and realizing that 19mm is just so slightly larger than 3/4" I realized this would be an excellent opportunity to make a "speed handle" for a milling machine vise.
The story: when having to open the vise up a lot to accommodate a different sized workpiece, the original handle takes forever since it is so cumbersome.  Several people and companies have offered an alternative called a speed handle, but they are usually made of CNC'd aluminum and look lame. >So what are you saying Todd?

Monday, July 6, 2015

A (somewhat) Midsummer Garden Update

Garden overview

Let's take a look at the garden. It's been quite a hot summer so far, with several days reaching all the way up to 107! This week will be significantly cooler than that (but still pretty hot) which should provide some relief to these babies (I only need to be careful in case Mr. Jerry Brown decides to ration watering personal gardens.)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bench Brush (Broom Repair Part 2)

I bought a push broom at a garage sale not realizing I didn't need it.  Since it seems brooms seem to be a recurring topic on this website, I decided it would be more useful as a bench brush.
My idea was to take the broom part, and remove a good portion of the wood and half of the bristles to make a handle.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

5 Gallons of New Cider and New Ideas

I started a 5 gallon batch of cider back at my old house to get back into the groove of fermenting in 5 gallon buckets. I was not able to complete bottling until I moved to my new house, as I did not have enough bottles. There was much to learn from this batch of cider that I had not known before.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Foundry - "Some Call it Ankh is a key"

Yo, it's been a long time, but I am finally back from my field trip to ancient Egypt!! It was such a sight to see!!!  I learned so much about the ways of the scales and physics and how it applies to scrap alchemy and stuff like that.  I saw a statue of this guy holding and ankh and I was like: "Hey, that kinda looks like the relics from Crash Bandicoot" or: "Hey, that looks like the millennium key from YU-GI-OH."  Either way, I wanted one!!!  Plus, I had an album photo shoot coming up, and wanted something cool to wield in the photo, so why not an ankh? 
The Statue

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Joe's Ancient Orange Mead

I generally do not make promises I cannot keep. Even if it takes a little over 2 years to follow through on it, I'll still manage follow through. Yep, today I finally got around to starting a batch of mead. For those that do not know, mead is a fermented beverage made from honey. Think of it as a honey wine.
5 lbs of Kirkland Honey
I needed a fastpass for the checkout line today
Using the classic recipe for Joe's Ancient Orange Mead, I set out to acquire all the supplies necessary to make my 1 gallon batch. The most important being 3.5lbs of honey. I can thank Costco for making that so cheap. (If this comes out good, I'll look to using locally sourced honey.) The other ingredients came from a "safe" store. (The only thing I did not get were the cloves. I can add one in later)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Medicine Cabinet Scrap Bin

In the land of pointless suburban renovation, things like this are common on the side of the road.  I noticed this medicine cabinet was made of sheet steel of decent thickness, so I figured it would be a good scrap bin also due to it's shallow depth which means no digging through huge piles of metal to find the right piece.  Also the cardboard boxes I'd been using to store metal were falling apart.
Since scrap bins don't usually need mirrors on them, I inspected as to how to remove it.  It turned out the hinge for the mirror was spot welded on, a formidable mass production strategy.  At last, a legitimate use for my spot weld cutter!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fender Bracket Repair Part 2

The long awaited sequel to part 1.  When we last left our fender bracket adventure, the bracket for the rear fender remained unfixed.  However, there were several other stays holding the fender on, so there was no urgency in repairing it.  Over time, I'd been noticing the fender rattling more and more when going over bumpy terrain, so I figured it could do for a fix.  The moral of the story last time was never use aluminum to hold stuff together, bend it, or use it ever!
broken aluminum fender bracket
Who needs lōctite when you got rust?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Vineyard Expansion and Garden Relocation April 19

Garden after relocation
The garden has successfully survived relocation once again.

ACT I -- Relocation and Expansion

My life has gone through many numerous twists and turns in the last month and a half, causing me to relocate once again. Luckily I was able to move my downsized garden without any issue (ok I lied, I snapped a stem on one of the tomato plants). The plants seem to have adapted to their new home well and are growing up just fine.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Foundry: Molding Sand

Let's see what we got in the trailer today... Oh it looks like we're making some molding sand for the foundry!  Now that we got the furnace working at a decent level, it's time for some real casting action!
bike trailer with bag of sand
Details on the trailer now available!
For over a week I was compulsively checking the free section on Craigslist hoping for a free bathtub which I was going to store the sand in, but the Scrap Alchemists had something better in mind.  Instead of letting me have a bathtub, they intentionally withheld all free bathtubs in the area for those two weeks until I could find this: the turtle sandbox.  I know this for a fact because as soon as I got the sandbox, free bathtubs started appearing all over the place.  With that notion, I decided that bathtub dodging was very necessary.  Not in a gypsy sort of way. Actually, yes.
Anyways, we gave the turtle a lift by attaching some trashpicked castors onto a pallet.  There were a few small holes in the bottom of the sandbox, but I just put duct tape over them. 
turtle sandbox on pallet with wheels

Monday, March 30, 2015

Rye Stout update

After 4 long weeks of fermenting and bottle conditioning, the Rye Stout was ready to drink.
Mexican coke bottle homebrew
Those Mexican coke bottles make novelty homebrew bottles!
I got a total of 16 bottles from that batch, averaging the cost per bottle to about $1.10 each (with no regard to labor of course). I should also mention that the head turned out fantastic. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Rye Stout Brew Day -- How to use a 5 gallon bucket as a mash tun

Uh oh, it's time for more homebrewing shenanigans!

I decided I wanted to get 2 gallons of beer out of my kettle to save me some time in the long run (plus more beer). What I did not anticipate though is that the recipe I had crafted would require a kettle with more volume to do a successful BIAB mash (6lbs of grain + 2.5 gallons of water + 3 gallon kettle = potential disaster). Frantically, I went out to my favorite Arkansas-based big box store to see if I could get a slightly bigger kettle (read as 1 gallon larger), but they had run out of them (damn capitalists!).
Grains of the field
A multicolored satchel of the specialty malts

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Container Garden Expansion 2015

"It no longer feels like it's still winter in CA. That groundhog was completely wrong this year."

I was shopping around OSH last night to get some new paint strainer bags for my next batch of beer, when I got distracted by all the cool new things in the garden section. I ended up leaving the store with a lot more than just paint strainer bags.
Container garden setup 1
Testing the layout to see how it will all fit together

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Beginning of the End of Winter

I hear of rain coming to Norcal, but it appears that it fell on Southern California instead this week. We've been blessed with a long week of temperatures reaching toward 70°F. Likewise, the plants I currently have are taking off or coming back to life. Here's what's in the garden at the moment.

Mint Plant

New to the garden is a mint plant. I plan on using this plant to make some tea and soap in the near future. Notice how I've planted it in a container to prevent the roots from spreading all over the yard. It would be near impossible to remove if that occurred.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bicycle Handlebar "Up"grade

Being tall is pretty nice sometimes.  Benefits include being able to pick fruit off trees overhanging peoples' backyards, and reaching the drawbar on a Bridgeport mill.  One disadvantage, however, is that the vast majority of bikes were designed for short people.  Mine in particular is about 10 sizes too small (it used to be my mom's), but since I have already decked it out with so many customizations, like the extended seatpost, I have no desire to replace it.  As a long overdue modification, it was time for my handlebars to get lifted higher than ever before thought possible.

My original idea was to buy a bunch of 7/8" tubing and construct a completely new set of integrated-stem handlebars, like the "bullmoose" design, except angled really high.  However, one day a better idea crossed my mind that would utilize the original handlebars and stem, and require buying no metal at all.  All I needed to do was find a piece of tubing with about the same diameter and wall thickness of the stem's upper section.  In the most blatant use of scrap alchemy ever, I found that exact piece of tubing later that day in the scrap bin at school.
free metal for handlebar upgrade
The tubing came "pre-bent" for me!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Foundry: Oil Tank Redemption and Controlled Burn

After the tragic outcome of the previous foundry session, a few things needed to be fixed before we could fire it up again.

Act 1 - New Wheels
Since the original furnace wheels got lit and completely melted, we decided it would be wise to make new ones out of steel.  We couldn't just let the furnace sit there without wheels either because it would cause a height difference between the blower and the furnace inlet.  I went to work turning the new wheels out of some 3" scrap.
Turning a new steel furnace wheel in the lathe

Saturday, February 7, 2015

New Sink Handle

The attachment hardware for the handle to the bathroom sink broke.  The most obvious design flaw was that the entire handle was made of plastic.  PLASTIC!!!  They didn't even have the decency to make it chrome-plated die-cast zinc.  To me, making a sink handle out of plastic is tantamount to a plastic trailer hitch.
crappy broken plastic sink handle
A plastic sink handle? This is heresy, blasphemy, polygamy!!!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Foundry: Testing Everything and Pressure Tank Disaster

Alright no more messing around, time to fire up the foundry for real this time with the new burner, new oil tank, and blower.
First filtering the oil with a metal screen and funnel I made from a coffee can with a pipe floor flange bolted on the bottom.  This just screws onto the pipe welded on the tank for minimum leakage.  I say minimum because it still leaked, which is why the towel is there.
filtering oil with screen and funnel
Reconfiguring the burner with the new needle valve.
assembling burner with needle valve

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Lettuce try growing something?

So it's been a long while since I posted anything about my garden. That's mostly due to the fact that nothing has been growing at all. The Sacramento area has been having really cold and foggy mornings lately. The cold mornings (below freezing) at the end of December killed off my lone pepper plant  and sent my grapevine into dormancy. So really the only thing looking at in the garden was a lifeless twig along with a water-filled kitty litter container.

Lettuce germinating
Signs of life

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Foundry: It's Time To Build A New Oil Tank

The new burner has proven success with the garden sprayer pressurizing the oil.  The next step was to build a new tank that holds more than one gallon, so there would be enough fuel to actually complete a decent melt without stopping to refill.
pump garden sprayer tank to pressurize oil for burner

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Maltodextrin Brewing and Taste Test Experiment

The last time I brewed, I decided to do a slight experiment with my new recipe.
Look mom I made beer again
I brewed the same recipe for my new brown ale in consecutive weeks. (I can't resist not buying grain when I'm on that side of town.) The second time I brewed though, I decided to add in 1 oz of maltodextrin to the boil.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Bicycle-Powered Air Compressor

bicycle compressor gif
After Halloween, I was looking in the dumpster for free pumpkins to cook.  Unfortunately, there were no pumpkins, but instead a free air compressor.  I figured this was a better find.  I tried plugging it in, and the motor started sparking like crazy and spinning.  This was nothing I wanted to try repairing, so I decided to rig it up to a bicycle instead.
Campbell Hausfeld extreme air compressor

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Foundry: Trying Out the New Burner

Foundry season is back, and what a better way to kick it off than by testing out the new burner?  Since I was so confident it would work, I decided to use the opportunity to try casting the soap dish again.
Here is the burner with the input pipes attached.
burner with pipes
Like I did with the last burner, I set it up in a vise to hold it in position for testing.  Eventually, this will be replaced by the blower input pipe, which the burner will be mounted in.
burner in vise