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Dang, it's Hard to do Nothin' All Day

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  • Dang, it's Hard to do Nothin' All Day

    I made my last engine building post on the 10th of May. I've been building engines or things to run with my engines since 2008. I have about 40 engines, half steam (air) powered and about half gasoline engines. It's been fun, it's been fascinating, and it's been frustrating. I have learned a lot, designed a lot of totally new engines and copied engines that were originally designed by someone else. I've been admired, I've been insulted, and I've learned a great deal about machining. (As a side note, I've never really been a machinist in my 50 year career of designing machines and automation). Now I have decided to not machine anything more for a few months, and it's really, really hard. Before I got into machining and designing small engines, I was a totally involved hot rodder, building and drag racing and cruising my own hand built hot rods. At 75 years old, I still like to see hot-rods, but my days of building them are past now--Too much arthritis, I can't get up and down of the floor anymore to work on them. I have to go and see a surgeon tomorrow about total knee replacement on both legs. I'm bored. I'm driving my good wife crazy. I've never realized how many hours there were in each day before now. I'm reading a lot of books from two libraries, but I can't read for 16 hours every day. Probably I will find something to do to take up some of my time, but right now, like the title of the post says, "Man, it's hard to do nothin' all day".---Brian
    Brian Rupnow
    Design engineer
    Barrie, Ontario, Canada

  • #2
    It could be much, much worse, you could do nothing in a hotel room for two weeks, away from your shop, doing things that feel like a huge waste of time, like YouTube and posting to this forum with no content of your own.


    • #3
      I guess I bore more easily than you in that I made under 10 engines and got bored with that. My next challenge was delving into the realm of tenths of thousandths. Nothing you’ve done till now prepares you for it. Lots to learn to keep your mind busy. Even measuring there is a challenge. Dust or a hand print on the surface plate is an issue there. Even a line from a marking pen makes a difference. Frustrating yes but it’s rewarding to achieve that level of perfection. Good part is you will need a few new tools and will take a long time to get all of your blocks, angle plates etc to be under (or around) 0.0001” flat, parallel and perpendicular, every surface to every other surface. Scraping large surfaces may be a problem for your arthritis but small things can be done on a surface grinder or scraped.


      • #4
        Brian- you don’t have to design/ build just steam or gas engines. Sterling cycle would give you quite a challenge that would require precision and patience.
        Hot rods? Still doing that myself. What about helping someone build theirs? You may not be able to do the heavy lifting or ground work, but maybe you could design and make a special part? Pay your experience forward at this point.
        Plus, you’d be hanging out with potentially younger people, will help motivate you off the sofa.


        • #5
          I completely understand, having just had surgery. When I was finally able to sit up a couple weeks ago, I spent the time reading Welding Web forms and watching Youtube videos and making plans.... after 10 days I just had to get up and move.... very carefully. I did learn a lot and decided that I need to practice more. Began planning a set of practice exercises to do with the new welder I got.
          25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA


          • #6
            Brian, if no one, doctors or otherwise, has yet suggested, it's a good idea to start doing leg strengthening exercises well before the actual joint replacements. That will help get the most benefit from the therapy that follows.
            Lynn (Huntsville, AL)


            • #7
              Some quotes and perspectives about doing nothing all day:

              The Dire Straits get "Money for Nothing":

              I'm actually pretty happy "doing nothing all day". I rather enjoy sleeping, or at least resting while listening to music or just dreaming about stuff. Sometimes I imagine myself doing various things, even machining and electronics projects, that seem like they should be quick, easy, and fun to do, but when I actually wake up it just seems like too much work, and there is usually no real need to do such things, so they stay on my "someday" list, but "Someday Never Comes".

              My dogs make sure I don't stay in bed all day - they demand that I take them out at least for a while. But they are senior dogs and are pretty happy just being lazy. It might be helpful to get one or more pets. Or you could volunteer at a local animal shelter or rescue for a few hours a week, mostly just to provide socialization and some loving that will be returned many fold.

              Paul , P S Technology, Inc. and MrTibbs
              USA Maryland 21030


              • #8
                I have a Sterling cycle engine that I designed and built, and I have a flame-licker engine that I built from someone else's plans. I've lost touch with the hot-rod guys, because after I sold my roadster pickup six years ago, I haven't been to any of the cruise nights. I'm coasting right now and I will have a better idea of what the future looks like after I see the surgeon tomorrow.
                Brian Rupnow
                Design engineer
                Barrie, Ontario, Canada


                • #9
                  Brian, try this.

                  Turn the lathe and mill on then walk away. For 15 minutes. Betcha ya can't do it.


                  • #10
                    I think Brian needs to build some one else's design as an exercise. How about the Tiny 4?


                    • #11
                      My wife went for three weeks of physical therapy before her knee replacement. Then after ICE ICE ICE! She kept it iced constantly, even took a cooler to bed with ice packs in it to change out during the night. It's a painful recovery, but she wishes she had went sooner, as she had suffered with her bad knee for years. The replacement has been a Godsend. No pain at all. Best of luck!!



                      • #12
                        Brian, if you want to take a break from actual shop time maybe you could start working up some new knees in CAD.
                        (that's a joke, but only sort of...)


                        • #13
                          Since I have been retired I have had the OPPOSITE problem. Never enough time to do everything I want to do.

                          Yes, YouTube is great. So many videos, so little time. I have seen hundreds that I can't make time for.

                          Why can't you plan future projects. Ideas, rough sketches, calculations, drawings, etc. For me over 50% of a project is done right here, in my office and at my computer with all the resources of my collection of books and the internet at hand.

                          Reading. No, not all day, but two or three hour breaks from other things is not out of the question. Serious books on engineering and electronics as well as fiction and (surprise, surprise) history are high on my list. I even have old college books that I could benefit by rereading.

                          And you could join more internet groups like this one. Help others in what they are doing. Sometimes I get so involved in answering questions that I wind up staying up well past my bed time. I find it very rewarding.

                          On the knee replacements I wish you well. I had an operation on one knee; just a scraping. But that was enough. I still get shots every four or six months in that one. Do not be afraid to ask any questions you may have for the doctor. Do be fully informed. If there is any doubt, ask another doctor; one who does not do knee surgery for a living.
                          Last edited by Paul Alciatore; 05-15-2022, 10:22 PM.
                          Paul A.
                          SE Texas

                          And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
                          You will find that it has discrete steps.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lynnl View Post
                            Brian, if no one, doctors or otherwise, has yet suggested, it's a good idea to start doing leg strengthening exercises well before the actual joint replacements. That will help get the most benefit from the therapy that follows.
                            Yes. Start the strength training now. Everyone I've met that has gone through this surgery has said; 1) they wish they had done it sooner, and 2) doing physical therapy after surgery is the most important part of a successful outcome. The doctors had all of them "warming up in the bullpen" before surgery to gain strength and become practiced in the required therapy.


                            • #15
                              Something new and challenging is needed. Fishing, learn an instrument, new software, gardening, whatever. Just different. Maybe put your inventor hat on and look beyond engines. Identify a problem in the world that is within your skillset and try and solve it. Don't worry if anyone else ever knows you solved it, just do it.

                              Personally I don't bore easily. I've made a science of wasting time! I have a lifetime of project ideas I'll never get to.
                              Location: Jersey City NJ USA