Monday, October 29, 2012

Raleigh Chain Case: Adapting A Screw To Fit


Adapting Parts: Raleigh brake pad screw converted to chain case screw.

Sometimes you run into a part that you just cannot locate. This happened to be the case with the Raleigh Dawn rod brake roadster's front chaincase mounting screw. A 26 inch Raleigh full chaincase needs to be able to mount to the frame both at the back (via a two piece clamp) and at the front- via a screw that binds the chain case to the frame. In this case I had the rear clamp but not the front screw. I wanted to test fist the chain case. 

Raleigh screws use a proprietary 26 TPI type thread system. A normal 24 TPI screw will not work. Metric 1mm pitch screws sort of work, but won't full tighten. I tried an M6 bolt, but it wouldn't bite down enough. That meant it was time to improvise.

I went through my parts and found an old set of Raleigh sports brake frames. These are the metal frames that hold the rubber caliper brake pads. The thing was looking for was the screw. Being Raleigh parts, the pitch would be correct, I just needed to make sure the size was correct.



Sure enough, the size was the same, so I opened up the frame and extracted the screw. The screw's head was a football shaped flat thing without any bit slot. I could sort of get an adjustable wrench to turn the item, but then I figured I would adapt the part by cutting in a slot for a screwdriver.

I took a Dremel cutting wheel like the one shown below and on medium speed cut a slot into the screw head.



The slot is certainly not as perfect as a precision manufactured one, but it would allow some power in turning the screw in. I plan on using blue Loctite or perhaps a lock washer to secure it ones I am ready for final mounting. This will keep it from vibrating out, but still allow me to take it out if need be.


Below is the test fitted chain case. It needs to be cleaned and painted to match, but I can at least be fairly sure it will mount and fit correctly. The screw I adapted will go a long way to making sure it will stay tight and fit properly. 






Sunday, October 28, 2012

Riding Vintage Bicycles In the Winter

The autumn is wearing on, which means shorter days and colder temperatures. However, just because the winter is coming does not mean you need to entirely give up your vintage bicycle riding.


  
Your Basic Emergency Kit is Essential

A couple of weeks before the cold weather and dark conditions set in (often the changing of the clocks is a sign for those who ride in the evening), you should take a look at your riding kit and see if everything is in order. First, there should be some emergency supplies in there, in case you break down. This means a tire patch kit and levers, a flashlight, spare bulbs for your lights, a warm set of gloves, and maybe an adjustable wrench/screwdriver grouping. I use a large period saddle bag on my Raleigh sports to haul these things. I also have a brooks seat protector for wet or rainy conditions.The silver ring is a cuff clip for long pants, which I suggest you have if you want to keep your cuffs out of the chain. The best advice here is to think of what could go wrong in a ride (in a sane manner) and put in the stuff you'd need to remedy the problem. Also remember to carry your cell phone, in case you need to call a friend for a ride (if things get really bad). It's much harder to just "leg it" home when it's below freezing and dark outside.



 Getting A Little Extra Light

Before riding in the dark, it's also time to check your headlight and taillight bulbs. Do a quick test to check light levels. Some systems put out nice light, others are a little anemic. A modern LED or halogen system running on good batteries will provide nice light. If you go period like me, my suggestion is an uprated bulb for a Dynohub or similar system.

 The following website has some Dynohub-specific stuff that I found very helpful in selecting an uprated headlight bulb. It really does make a difference compared to the originals:


http://www.mbzponton.org/n2awa/bikes.htm

My bulbs are:

Head lamp bulb: "GH107", halogen, Screw-cap, 5V, 1.5W (0.3A)
Tail lamp bulb: "GV601", incandescent, Screw-cap, 6V, 0.1A, 0.6W

Both available from:

http://www.reflectalite.com/halogenpage.html


Again, check your system before you ride off.



 It is also essential to have a rear reflector, which can be most helpful when you have cars behind you. Mine are period correct pieces, but still provide a degree of safety in being seen. A single reflector, alone, is not enough, but it goes a long way in being seen.


Priming the Pump

A frame pump or portable air pump for your tires is also a good idea. You can indeed find period-correct pumps too. If your bicycle has no frame pegs, you can buy nice frame pump clamps from various sources, usually on E-bay. On this Raleigh, I use period chrome clamps and a new pump that is a copy of the original. It is a good idea to refresh the rubber seals every so often with Trident Silicone Grease. Do not use a petroleum-based grease on the seals, always opt for Silicone. You can get it at Diver's or Scuba Shops.



Pumps even come in different sizes. This smaller aluminum Zefal pump is French and offers a compact solution for an even smaller pump. The smaller pumps tend to be a little more work because they put out less air, but it's still a good idea to have one.


Many old 3-speeds have an added advantage of a white strip on their rear fenders. The white combines with the rear reflector and the tail lamp on this bike to add some visibility.



Another period option is a "bottle" generator that rubs on the tire. I have had luck with Union brand Halogen dish lamps from the 70s and 80s, but this particular one is a two-pin dual beam light. They are very heavy and when engaged slow the bike down. However, they can provide a nice amount of light for the individual who is prepared to tinker with the system. I suggest them if you are interested in a low cost, period solution for your bike and are prepared to play around with setting them up properly. If you want an "easy" solution, avoid the vintage bottle types because you have to set them up carefully, and they can be a pain to pedal. Modern or brand new bottle types can cost a lot more, but are much better. However, for a period rider who is willing to maximize the system, a vintage bottle like this one below can offer a solution.


You can also buy a modern lamp with a retro look, if you want better light but a chrome bullet type. The lamp is made by Busch & Muller, and available at places like Peter White Cycles.

http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/b&m-hl.asp




It is worth noting that none of the vintage systems I detail here are close to modern ones for output. Modern lamps offer impressive strength and lower weight. You can always strap a modern light onto your vintage handlebars for the winter and use that for awhile, at least until the longer days return. However, even if you opt for an all-period system, it is best to check your kit, your lights, and have warm, fairly visible clothing for the ride.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Polishing Plastic: Simichrome

Many people are familiar with Simichrome as a quality polish for plated metals, often for chrome plating. However, what not everyone knows is that it is also a very nice polish for plastic products and even for small pieces. This stuff is expensive, but worth it in my book. It is the most versatile polish I have encountered because it is just the right mixture of gentle and abrasive for finishing off pieces. Tough... but sensitive as they say.

After finishing up my hurricane prep at the shed, I decided to work on the Raleigh Dawn project a little bit. Among other things I did, I took the old Fairlytes reflector and polished it up using Simichrome and a paper towel. You will require an arm to do this as well, though I cannot tell you where to buy one of those.


Here is the item "before". It's pretty cruddy and faded, but not broken or heavily damaged. The reflector lens has some scratches but no breaks. I then set to work with Simichrome. I generally follow the directions, but instead of letting the polish paste haze up entirely, I actually start rubbing while it is still soft. I want to work gradually with a softer paste on plastic than on chrome plating. For chrome, I would follow the directions on the box and let it haze up. Because this is plastic, I suggest working it while it's still soft.


Here is the side of the piece after working. There are still some of the deeper scratches, but as you can see it's much better. Some of the fading has also been removed. If you wanted to go after those deeper scratches, or entirely remove the faded layer, you would have to keep working with the polish. However, you have to remember that you're removing material with each pass. The Dawn will be a "cleaned up" but not totally done over bike, so some minor wear like this is fine for me.



Here is the finished piece overall. As for the lens, I polish that too. I put on the Simichrome and again work it while soft. This time I am careful to take some pressure off and work in circles, lightly swirling around. The result is that the reflector cleans up pretty well, though a few scratches remain. Once again, that sort of condition will work fine with this 1965 Raleigh Dawn roadster, so I'm happy enough with the result. The hardware you happen to see with it will be cleaned using a Dremel brush rather than Oxalic acid because CAD plating and galvanized finishes are attacked by Oxalic. The Dremel brush will be the answer for those. I am getting to the point where I should start buying stock in Dremel's company, since I use so many brushes and attachments these days.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Current Project

I've put up a couple of posts showing some dark green parts, particularly the fender set. They are off of my current project: a Raleigh Dawn roadster made in England for use in Denmark. I have a particular interest in "weird" Raleighs and other roadsters that don't usually turn up in the USA.


The Raleigh "Dawn" is a mixture of the 26 inch Raleigh Sports type frame and wheels, with rod brakes and, often, a full chain case. It's basically the pup of the Sports and the larger rod brake roadsters like the DL-1. They usually have rod-stirrup brakes like you see on the DL-1. But this model built for export to Denmark has drum brakes actuated by the rods. As you can tell, some of the parts are from other bikes, but will be painted to match the rest. All of the parts here are vintage, though some are a bit older, like the chain case you see above.


The brakes are a set of shoes contained in side the left half of the hub. When the handle is pulled, the rods pull on an arm connected to the hub. The arm in turn causes the brake shoes to expand and rub on the inside of the hub shell. The result is that the brakes are contain within the hub itself, similar to a coaster brake. The tightness of the brakes is adjusted by tweaking a nut that holds the rod onto the brake arm. So, this is a Dawn, which is not entirely common in the US, and it is a drum brake Dawn, which is even more unusual in the USA. 

The color is a forest dark green, which was still used outside the US in the 1960s. This particular bike is from about 1965. 



The front wheel also has a drum brake. A small hand pump for the tires attaches to the frame. 


The rear hub combines the 3 speed gears of an AW with the drum brake system. This is the "AB" model hub, which entered production in about 1938, and which continued on for many years. This particular hub is from late 1964.

As you may have read, I've already shaped the fenders and begun to de-rust them. I also pounded out the dents with a small ball peen hammer. There's plenty to do, but the project is essentially all there. I will have to fabricate a couple of parts, but with some care it should be very possible to do.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Removing Rust from Fenders, Hybrid Method

Here are the fenders from the current 1965 Raleigh Dawn Roadster project again. Previously, I shaped their bottom tips using a Dremel tool and sandpaper. This time, I will be removing rust from parts of the fenders.

If you read about the Columbia DeLuxe project earlier (blue bike in earlier posts), you saw that I cleaned rust from the fenders by dunking them in a large container of Oxalic Acid. The condition of the Columbia fenders was such that an Oxalic bath was best. The paint was badly peppered with rust, so any potential dulling was worth removing all those little spots.

This time around, the paint on the fenders isn't that bad. In fact, much of the rust is limited to certain areas and is not widely peppered the way the blue fenders were. Moreover, the paint that remains is pretty glossy and nice still.

You don't have to dunk the entire fender to clean the rust off. You can use a hybrid method mixing mechanical and chemical methods.

 I have chosen to use a Dremel with a soft bristle brush. This brush is a brass one. The brass is harder than the rust but soft than the solid steel underneath. That means it will remove the rust but won't chew up the good steel. I set the Dremel to medium-low speed and begin to work.


 I hit the bare and rusty parts first. Sometimes around the rust you see "bubbled" paint. This means there is rust underneath the paint inside the visible bubble. I hit those too, and sure enough the paint flakes right off because it has been compromised by underlying rust. The spots where I use the Dremel will later be filled with matching paint. I then take a rag and rub the dust off to check my work.


Now the inside of the fender is somewhat worse. Second, the inside is much less visible than the outside. This means I can use an Oxalic pool. Rather than dipping the entire fender, I prop it up until the Oxalic bath water sits in it over the rusty areas. You can modify the position of the fender to hit different areas of the inside well. Moreover, it can get into places where the Dremel cannot reach. Even if it dulls the paint a bit, that area is not really seen because it goes up against the wheel. If you're doing a show bike, this may not be the best method. But, if you're doing a rider restoration, this can work nicely. After a couple of hours of checking, the rust in that area is gone and I rinse the solution out with tap water, then rub dry. The bare areas will also be filled later with matching paint.

So there it is: the outside parts have ok paint that is still glossy, and the Dremel can reach the rust. So I use that on the outside. On the inside, the paint shine is somewhat less important and the areas are harder to reach, so I use an Oxalic pool method. I never did a full dunk, yet I used a couple of approaches to remove rust, depending on the needs of each area of the fenders.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Design Element: Rod Brakes

Most people are familiar with normal cable hand brakes. Basically what happens is that you have a metal braided cable attached to a handle on the bars. When you squeeze the handle, the cable tightens. On the other end of the cable is a set of calipers. These fingers have rubber pads attached that pinch the sides of the rim as you squeeze the handle.


The Raleigh Sports here has cables. The black rubber tubes house steel cables inside. The steel cables move when you squeeze the brake levers and that silver caliper pinches the wheel. Just above everyone who rides a modern bike has seen this in one form or another.

There are other ways of moving the brakes though. Instead of using cables, you can use solid metal rods attached to hinges.




 These picture show rod brakes. These metal rods attach to the handle bars. When you squeeze the brake lever this time, it pulls on the rods, which in turn applies the brakes. The front brakes are pretty straight forward- you the rods get pulled up and apply the brake shoes or brake drum. If you have brake shoes, a stirrup applies the two pads to the inside circumference of the rim. If you have brake drums, as this green Raleigh has, it causes internal brakes in the hub to expand and rub on the inside of the hub shell.


When you need to turn a corner, you cant just bend a rod as you would a cable. So a hinge is attached to the bike frame. When the front rod goes up, the hinge pivots and pulls on a cable running down the bike, which in turn pulls on a second hinge near the wheel, which then pulls on the brakes and applies them. It's like a series of elbows all bending to move the bones of the system.

A basic description of adjusting rod brakes:



Rod brakes can be adjusted. In the picture above you see some hex nuts where the small rods pass into the larger ones.

The front:

You loosen those hex nuts to adjust the handle pull for softness or hardness in applying the brakes. First you loosen those nuts so the small rods leading to the handle bars are loose. With a stirrup model, you adjust the brake pads to sit closely to the rim without touching it. You're looking at the gap in the picture above denoted by the red line added to the picture. If need be, move the rod peg guides. Basically you want the rods resting close to the rim without touching it. Then, re-tighten the nuts linking the mechanism to the small handlebar rods.

The back:

If you're doing the back brakes, there is a second linkage below the bottom bracket similar to the one you see at the front. When you do the back brakes, loosen both the handle bar small rod nuts (seen above in the picture) and the similar adjustment nut under the bottom bracket. That way, everything in the system is loose and ready for adjustment. Then set the back brakes close to the rim at rest. Move the stirrup peg guides if need be. Once the pads rest closely to the rim without touching it, re-tighten the adjustment nuts under the bottom bracket and up at the front of the bike. You can do the job using a decent wrench or socket.

If a nut is frozen, use Kroil or Liquid Wrench and let it soak into the joint. It is indeed possible to crack the adjustment parts at the joint where that nut is. Work slowly.

Replacing pads:

The pads are held in place with a nut to the stirrups. When you want to replace these, remove the pads and replace with new ones. When you replace and try to mimic the contour of the inside of the rim as best you can. They will be a little weird until they wear in, if they're the flat profile pads. The really good pads come with their shapes pre-contoured to fir the rim. You can use either, and both work reasonably well once you wear the flat ones in. You will probably have to re-adjust both the front and back brakes once the new pads are on. Use the method I describe above.

A final caution:

Remember that because you are using the inside of the rim's surface with stirrup/rod brakes, if the pads hit the spokes, you're in for trouble. Your wheel needs to be trued for both hop (radial movement) and wobble (lateral movement). Hop is more annoying than anything, but wobble can be dangerous if the pads are going to hit the spokes or nipples. Test spin your wheel and test your brakes several times before riding them, to make sure you're ready to roll.

Also, only certain rims can be used with rod/stirrup brakes. These are the Raleigh/Westrick and Westwood rims with wide, flat top profiles that feature a ridge in the middle where the spokes are.






Sunday, October 14, 2012

Shaping fender tips

Many vintage bikes have fenders, and often you find the fender tips in a mangled or misshapen state. These dark green Raleigh Dawn Tourist fenders are from about 1965 or so, and in need of some work. As they arrived, they needed some work. This is very typical of old Raleighs. The company used relatively thin sheet steel, and the fender bottoms tend to back on curbs and other obstructions.


As you can see the bottom has a bit out of the left lower tip. A clean up is in order, but the part is otherwise solid and can be worked into decent shape. The minor dings above the tip are hammered out gently with a ball peen hammer (more on that later).

The tip is the focus for today, as will be the tip of the rear fender, which is in somewhat better shape. Don't worry, you have plenty more to do once you've finished the shaping.




First, I look over what I have. It doesn't look bad, and most importantly the metal is solid. If the metal is all crumbly, then you may have to actually cut the fender up higher. Rust is OK, but the underlying structure of the steel has to be sound. This one is fine. I take a Dremel tool with a medium grade stone cone tip. It's the tan colored one here. I bring the Dremel up to medium speed and work right at the edge of the fender. The stone grinds down the edge slowly. Check the work often.



Once you have the profile you want for the tip, you'll probably have some slag peel on the edge and maybe some roughness. I next take medium grit sand paper (P320 here) and work down any uneven surfaces. You want to do this one without any drink in you- it's harder to sand a "moving fender". This time I am working BOTH on the edge and on the inside/outside. Work it slowly by hand until you have it the way you want. Don't worry at this point about removing all the rust- it's time now just to get the general shape of the fender tip the way you want it. In this case I want basically a stock arc. You could also do a custom shape, if you want something wilder (fork tail, Salvidor Dali blobs, whatever does it for you). I tend to like a stock arc the best for these (don't care for abstract art).


Here is the product- it's basically an even arc, and we didn't have to remove much metal because the steel was sound. I am willing to sacrifice perfect uniformity of the shape in order to save more metal. Some people just have to have a perfect shape, so will be more aggressive with the Dremel grinding. As you can see this arc is not 100% perfect (remember, working by hand is a little irregular itself), but once cleaned and painted to match the dark green, it will look nice. It's quite close, I think. I used a similar method to clean up a set of balloon tire fenders awhile back too.

Addendum: 10/15/12

I seem to have forgotten to add: you do NOT need a Dremel to do this. You can handle step 1 of the basic shaping using coarser sandpaper applied to the edge instead of a Dremel stone. It takes a little longer and is a little bit hard to work very small areas of the contour, but you can do it. The rest is the same as outlined above once you sandpaper your basic shape down. Remember though- you will need a relatively coarse sand paper if you have to remove much material. In the case above, I was removing maybe 1/16 of an inch to balance things out.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Oiling Older Internal Gear Hubs Like Sturmey Archer AW

Older internal gear hubs like Sturmey Archer AW hubs (the most common) use oil rather than grease to lubricate internal parts. These hubs can be identified by their large diameter and the presence of an oil filler cap. The hub in the picture below is a prime example: it is an AW. That black rubber dot you see on the wheel's hub is a cap that opens and allows you to put in oil.


The question that follows is, "what sort of oil do I use?". The answer is both simple and tricky. The original service manuals call for SAE 20 oil-- this is your basic petroleum-based oil of light weight. It is pure and does not contain detergents or vegetable derivatives. Sturmey Archer actually made and marketed their own oil, for the purist.

You should not use heavier substances like heavy gear oil, 50 weight motor oil, etc. You also should not use substances like WD40. WD40 is great for cleaning hubs filled with junk, but not for lubricating a ready hub. The one place you can use a little grease is on the hub bearings, assuming you want to take the hub apart (most avoid it).

So you can use SAE 20 motor oil from the auto parts store. I use SAE 20 because I tend to like sticking to the original spec stuff. However, I buy it in small, blue and white cans made by 3 in 1. It is called 3 in 1 "motor" or "electric motor" oil.

If you cannot find SAE 20 (whether motor oil or 3 in 1 blue label), you can get by with SAE 30 motor oil. It's a little heavier but will still do the job.

One substance that is advertised specifically for bicycles is 3 in 1 Standard Household oil. It comes in a black, red, and white can. The label is black, not blue. This oil tends to congeal in hubs and leave a nasty, sticky mess. If you want to use a 3 in 1 product, use the blue label "motor" oil shown above. I've heard of people using automatic transmission fluid and Phil Wood products as well, but have been perfectly content with SAE 20, so why mess with an original, working formula?

Today, most internal gear hubs rely on grease and do not involve oil filler caps. These hubs can be given a shot of life now and then by slipping some oil in the hollow side of the axle, but a full re-build means taking it apart and re-greasing. I tend to prefer the old ones, which require periodic oiling but rarely need to be opened up. 

As an interesting aside, Sturmey Archer hubs also have a 3 or 4 digit code on the shell, which lists the month and year the hub was made. The green on above says "5 74", or May 1974.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Still going old style


One of the things often overlooked by bicycle people here in the USA is that many familiar brands turn out bicycles unique to each country. For example, Schwinn and Columbia turned out balloon tire cruisers with coaster brakes in the US, but those sorts of bikes never attained full popularity outside the US. The novelty-focus of the balloon tire machines did not really take as practical transportation.

For many years utility shopper bikes and general purpose machines were go-to transportation in other countries, while they never really made it to the US market. After World War II, utility cycles finally started to flow into the USA for short distance transportation and exercise. I'm a big fan of these old utility cycles from the 1950s-70s, in particular English 3 speeds. The green bicycle from earlier posts is one such machine. In their most traditional form, the all-black, large wheel rod brake bicycles were made largely unchanged from the 1910s through early 1980s. The bicycle below is a 1978 Raleigh 3 speed roadster. The brakes use solid steel rods and mechanical linkages rather than the more commonly seen cable brakes. The brake pads rub on the inside circumference of the rim rather than the side of the rim. If it sounds awkward, it sort of is. It's an interesting approach, though they don't have the stopping power of modern brakes. They are interesting though.



These bicycles largely died out in the US by the 1980s. They were largely considered obsolete even by the 1960s, let alone by 1980 or so. Their technology was more or less perfected in the 1910s-30s era. However after an initial burst of interest in the 1890s, bicycles did not become popular options for adult transportation and exerciseagain in the US until the 1970s. When that happened, lighter bicycles with dropped, curve bars and 10 speeds were the norm. Only recently have utility bicycles made a bigger come back it seems, though in a different form from the earlier English bikes. While English 3 speeds are quite common in the US (the 1960s-70s models mostly), they never seemed to hit the massive appeal they did in other places. You can still find them around, often for cheap.

However, in places like the Netherlands and Denmark, these bicycles are still very popular. I was surprised to find that Raleigh's Denmark division is marketing some bicycles that are very close to the old style roadsters, and even very close to some types of roadsters rarely seen in the US.




These bicycles have the sought-after full metal case around the chain to protect the rider's pant legs, as well as other add-ons friendly to hauling a day's gear. They even come with their own small pump mounted to the frame, as the old English machines did. They have the classic internal gearbox for commute-friendly riding, as well as fenders to prevent mud and water splash. It has that "Swiss Army Knife" element with a little something for everything.

They still look much like the old roadsters made right in England. This video shows the making of a similar bicycle in 1945. 5 years after the German blitz, they were rolling along.


Somewhat Americanized versions of these bikes returned to the US in the form of the Electra Amsterdam series in the past few years. The hipsters love these over in DC and Montgomery County.


However, I will admit that these Danish Raleighs really do seem to capture the look and feel of the original, vintage machines. If one showed up in a local store, I'd seriously consider getting it. They really do follow the old school of design, which is how the Bike Shed rolls.






Sunday, October 7, 2012

Wash Down


So I had planned on going to Trexlertown, PA for a swap/sale to clean out my garage of antique and reproduction bicycle parts I no longer needed. The caveat was, of course, that if it was nasty weather than I would cancel the trip. The plan was to be up about 3AM and to be up in Trexlertown about 6-7 or so. I spent a fine Saturday afternoon in the garage putting price tags on all the items and creating a catalog so people could browse what I had to buy more easily. I like being organized and knowing what I have to sell.





I put down my $30 for a spot and hoped it would be nice. Instead the weather showed 48 and rainy. I have no tent and travel pretty light aside from the parts. I also had visions of Ms. Casey sitting in a cold rain and becoming increasingly bitter and resentful of the enterprise as my sales helper. Saturday looked like a much better day.




So the day approached and I was hopeful the forecasts were wrong as they usually are. Weathermen change their stories nearly as frequently as politicians and trial attorneys do. By Friday night I knew things looked bad because the forecast was the same- cold and rainy. So we instead decided to head to Winchester, VA for a Civil War cannon shooting contest.

 

As you can see, my garage had quite a lot of stuff in it. I assumed it would take me just a couple hours to go through it. It instead took an entire afternoon. I'm now trying to sell it online, since it's just doing me no good sitting around in my garage. I'd likely never use this stuff. I swear that 50% of stuff people buy gets used a couple times and never again. Their heirs find it when they die, all piled up in the garage, attic, or barn. 


So here we have a cannon and its accoutrements. The targets are the little white rectangles off in the distance.


 Of course it wouldn't be Virginia without the Confederacy on hand. Their fans continue to root for them at reenactments everywhere, even though they end up losing the final, big game. That doesn't stop the local crowd from cheering when they advance. As a dissenting Yankee I keep quiet but smile whenever the "blue coats" win one.

These cannon sure do make some nice effects, even if you don't hit anything too.


Now if you ever  had a problem with someone tailgating, this is the way to stop it. This brass "Napoleon" smooth bore cannon hitches right up to the family vehicle and uses no gas of its own. What's more it's hand built in the USA, comes with its own American (Union) flag, and faces down anyone who wants to "drop in" right behind you, or otherwise ride your ass on the highway. I have no such device, and I don't even have a hitch for it right now. We all have our problems though...