Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Workshop Wednesday-Stake Puller

 Our tent crew at work has been after the shop techs to build them some kind of stake puller for those tough to remove tent stakes.

 There has been a lot of talk about converting log splitters, building self propelled hydraulic units and many other mechanical doohickeys. The other day when Dan asked about a puller I decided it was time to "just do it". The idea of beefing up a hi-lift jack had been discussed and I was in the right mood to build it.

 I don't claim to know everything and the nice thing about our shop is wealth of knowledge that is freely shared among the techs. When I asked the others how thick they thought this piece of steel needed to be, most thought half inch thick. I don't know why I asked because I had already planned on using some 3/4" plate.

 Most of you have figured out by now that my method of building shit like this is "go big or go home". If the jack breaks, I don't want it to be where I modified it. That's the reason I chose to use 3/4" steel for the piece that actually pulls on the stake. I mounted it in a way that most of the pulling force is on the original jack lifting pad. Thanks Al for the idea.

 The base plate has a hole large enough to allow a stake head to pass through. The jack upright is raised so it can pivot to compensate for stakes pounded in on angles. This way the jack will never shit out no matter how many monkeys are on the end of the handle. The hole in the plate design assures that.

 The tent crew took it out on a few jobs already and it's not broken yet. When I asked how it worked I was told it does what it is supposed to do and got a thumbs up.

 In other work related news, it seems I'm to blame for the destruction of all living creatures on the planet. The other day I was spraying some weeds in a lawn when I noticed a lady walking down the sidewalk. My spray rig was parked in the street and the hose was hanging over the sidewalk, meaning a person would have to lift their leg up and step over the hose or walk in the freshly sprayed lawn. Both are unacceptable and I was watching for this scenario so I moved over to the machine and pulled some slack into the hose so it would lay flat on the ground. As the woman passed she said "thanks..." and right away I thought she meant for moving the hose. Before I could finish that thought she continued "...for killing everything!" Set phasers to stun I just took a direct hit. She had a look on her face and the tone in her voice as if I had just pushed the button on a doomsday device. I was at a loss for words and all I could do was smile and laugh. She continued across the street and struck up a conversation with some workers there and in a short time they were all watching me.
 I wonder what crawled up her ass and died?


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ride To Work Day

 Monday is the official "ride your motorcycle or scooter to work" day. The idea is for a mass of two wheeled vehicles to demonstrate the benefits of riding to include less congestion, easier parking better fuel economy and the like. This despite that fact that my Ultra takes up dang near as much parking as todays cars and gets worse mileage. Maintenance costs are higher too.

 Creating this event is fine and dandy but I admit to usually finding out about ride to work day after I've arrived at work and maybe hear about it on the radio. If the weather was nice, I rode. If the weather was crap, my bikes are probably still in the garage.
 I have to wonder what the point of promoting motorcycle riding might be. Oh sure the manufacturers want to sell more bikes and more riders means more awareness. Personally I'm not so sure we want to push riding onto people that wouldn't otherwise take it up on their own. I see enough stupid shit happening out there with the riders we have. Ya some of it is about riding gear or ATGATT (all the gear all the time). I'm guilty too. Lately my riding style could be best described as SOTGSOTT (some of the gear some of the time). Sadly, I'm of the bull headed nature that I need a good spill to get myself to remember how bad it hurts to hit the pavement. The other stupid shit I'm referring to is rider skill. Young riders with no skills yet, old riders with no skills yet, "new" old riders trying to relive their youth and aging riders loosing their coordination. Somewhere in the middle of all that are experienced riders with decent reaction times. Nobody is born with these skills. They are learned and only more practice and muscle memory makes you better. The problem is the practice happens out in the real world of questionable road conditions, wildlife, and text messaging cagers. I swear some people can be looking right at you and not even know you are there.
 If you're in a cage on Monday please be extra cautious of bikes. That doesn't mean that on Tuesday you can knock us over like bowling pins, it just means there may be all different skill level riders out there promoting "scoot to work day" and some may benefit from your defensive driving. From what I've seen on the road lately, some may not know what that means. Common sense is another term many are not familiar with. Yesterday, as a pedestrian, I was almost run over when some broad was looking right and turning left. Seriously, I was looking directly into her left earhole as her bumper approached my shopping cart. Of course when she finally noticed me I got the stink eye for being in the cross walk while she was battling for a parking space.
 So remember, everyone out there is at a different skill level and when we see stupid shit we need to keep the road rage to a low roar. It's ok to think someone is a dumbass, just don't act on it.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017


 When it comes to branding, nobody does it better than Harley Davidson. The bar and shield is recognized world wide and appears on everything from genuine accessories to useless trinkets. It also appears as outerwear, underwear or even permanent ink on the bodies of many an enthusiast. The Motor Company has really got it figured out. We the consumer pay good money to advertise their brand.

 This post isn't about "us" or any desire to be part of a brand. I want to talk about the people that are actually paid to represent these brands. If we like a celebrity that represents a brand, then we maybe gravitate to that product. It works the other way too. What was the deal with Jeff Foxworthy in that super hero stuntman outfit representing Golden Corral? I hope he got paid well.
 My problem is with the paid employees we actually interact with. The people that work at the shops and dealerships. These people can take a good brand and absolutely foul up my perception of it. I own a HD Ultra Limited and I like it. I know what it can do and it makes me happy. It's the Lick Knobs at some stores that piss me off and lessen "the brand". Here's some advice for the owners of these shops. If you let your employees lie to customers and waste their time, you will lose those customers. I know because I'm an employee that represents a few different brands and we make every effort to satisfy the customer even when they are wrong. I should point out that not everyone I interact with is a "customer".
 Case in point. In a phone conversation, Lick knob A tells me they have a part in stock. After traveling quite a way to the store I discover that not only do they not have that part in stock, they have NEVER stocked that part. What the hell? As much as I wanted to go off on the lady at the counter, I knew she wasn't the one that I originally talked to on the phone. She was a perceptive old gal and could see I was on the verge of being one of those A-hole customers that didn't get the service they were expecting. I kept my cool and she did her best to locate the part at another store but struck out.
 And then I spotted Lick Knob B. This is the guy that was "helping" me when I walked into this shop a while back to buy the new Ultra. I had a lot of questions about the Rushmore models and this guy treated me like shit. A potential customer of a flagship bike shouldn't walk out feeling belittled and treated unworthy of the brand. He even implied that I couldn't afford the bike. Sure I was in my work clothes but so what. Who the hell did this guy think he was? I got even by purchasing the bike at a different dealership and I thought about that as I walked out during this visit. They got their second chance and blew it so I'm done with them.
 If you decide you want something then you have to decide where to spend your money. Is price always the deciding factor? Not for me. Sometimes I'll go out of my way to get a part if I need it now and other times I'll get a decent price and wait for it to be shipped to me. When I don't need the part right now then its about who I want to support. In this case I thought it was a nearby dealer but they pushed me away because of a few employees that don't get it.
 I won't name shops because I've found out that everyone doesn't get the same satisfaction from a given dealer. I may have a great experience at a place that you got snubbed at. That's why I usually give them a second chance but when you dick me around twice in a row then I'm done.

Rant over. Later.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hot Hot Hot

 BLAMO! Just like that summer weather has arrived. Already the lawns are getting a brown tint and are a bit crispy with the lack of rain. Temps have been in the upper 80s and will remain that way for a week they say. It is 77 degrees already this morning with highs predicted near 90. I know that seems fine to most of you but for me that is too hot. Yes, I whine when its too cold or too wet and now when its too hot. Guess what else I have to whine about. Yesterday it was too windy. The wind made the heat bearable but it also cost me a pair of my favorite sunglasses. I was riding along minding my own business and just started across a bridge when an updraft or some kind of weird wind hit me from down low, went up my chest and pulled the glasses right off my face. It was like an invisible hand just yanked them off my head. I reached out for them in a quick panic type reaction but I was too late. I watched as they flew over the guard rail and ultimately into the Wisconsin river.

 On the topic of things that don't happen too often, mine wasn't the only bike parked at the shop yesterday. Al finally got the needed battery for his Buzz Lightyear bike and rode it in Saturday. Of the other two people at work that ride, one has a broken leg and won't be on a bike for a while and I'm not sure what the story is with the other. I know he has been riding, just not to work.
 Today we will ride down to Madison to visit our daughter. My wife was with her Friday and Saturday when she went in for back surgery. We'll visit with her again today to see how she is doing.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017


  After work yesterday I was on my own to forage for dinner. Now given the fact that I rode the Ultra to work and the sun was still shining, I decided it would be best to wander off for a nice ride and visit my favorite mexican food joint, the Grand River Oasis. I wasn't in a hurry so I stopped a few times to look around and snap a few pics.

County Park-Big Green Lake

  The bike has been running good. I'm getting pretty comfortable on it despite the fact that it weighs half a ton. This ride was very relaxing after an unusually tiring day. It's hard to explain but it was one of those times when I felt very connected to the machine and it responded exactly the way I wanted without thinking too much about it. Even the bugs left me alone. I saw a dragonfly do a left flank maneuver like none I had ever seen. Normally they just hari kiri themselves and splatter their guts all over my glasses or windshield.

Looking north at Lake Puckaway from Marquette
 On the ride home I passed through Montello and just happened to look down at the odo and noticed a milestone.

 I pulled over for a quick photo. I figure the bike is about a quarter of the way to being shot. Well maybe not shot, but I have to wonder what kind of shape it will be in at 100K? At this pace thats only six years away.


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Searching For The Wear Bars

 I've been thinking about this post for a few days now and keep coming up blank. No bike wrenching or even much riding to report about. I guess did ride to work two days this week. Nothing unusual happened. Fourties on the way in, hot on the way home. The other night after work we rode to dinner and then for a short tour afterwards. I thought about riding in to work yesterday despite the threat of rain. At the last minute I decided against it and here is what I encountered in the truck.

 A little further down the road a car wiped out a sign and was in the ditch. Not sure if it was from visibility or hydroplaning but it could have easily been either one.
 After work yesterday we had a destination about two hours from home and were debating if we should take the car or bike. Temps were great but there was a threat of heavy rain. Night riding in the rain kinda sucks and we decided to take the car. We both felt like we wussed out and wished we were riding until half hour from home on the return trip when it rained pretty dang hard. It made wussing out justified.
 Getting surprised by rain and putting on the gear is way different than heading out into a known storm. I don't mind getting wet but I always consider the other factors. Do I want to sit in a restaurant all wet while trying to enjoy a meal? The older I get the less appealing that seems.

 The BSA and Rat Turd will have to wait. Summer is short enough here in the northern states and I need to get enough riding in to satisfy me through winter. I like to run a fresh set of tires right before I leave for vacation each year and that means I have a lot of miles to put on to wear the set out that's on the Ultra. I'm gonna work on that today. The weather should be nice with only a chance of a scattered thunderstorm. With no actual destination, it should be easy to ride around such storms.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Workshop Wednesday-The Strainer

  This new year resolution of not being a dickhead is working out pretty good. I'm a happy person and fun to be around! Well that's the way I see it anyway. I'm reminded by coworkers of every action I make that can be interpreted as slightly dickheadish. Bah, humbug. I don't need any negativity and this year everything goes through a strainer. No lumps in the gravy for me. Anything caught in the strainer gets tossed out and all that is left is lump free gravy for me.
 What does this mean? Basically I'm not putting up with stupid customer bullshit. If you don't have a clue on a certain topic and need educating, I'll help you with that. If you're a big mouth who thinks he's always right, yet I know you're wrong, I'm not pussy footin around your feelings. If you flat out lie I have no problem setting you straight and enjoying some lump free gravy.

 Customer A brings in a handheld blower that won't start. Right away I notice it has no compression. I pull the spark plug to find the cylinder scored all the way around. The fuel looks suspicious and when questioned, he states he mixed it correctly 2.6 ounces per gallon.....last year. This customer got an education. He was bummed about his equipment but passed through the strainer just fine.
 Customer B walks into the store complaining that I haven't sprayed the weeds in his lawn yet. He spouts a bunch of lies about who and when. I asked him when was the last day we didn't have rain or high winds and he just turned and said he was gonna find someone else. He was bluffing and was caught in my strainer. When he realized I was gonna let him walk he came back and asked to be kept on the list. In my opinion I was not being a dickhead. This is just weeding out the unwanted bullshit.
I haven't wiped the strainer clear of this one yet. He may pass through and turn out to be a good customer. Some of my best accounts are people I've butted heads with in the beginning. Sometimes you just need to establish boundaries so everyone knows where they stand. Some things take longer to pass through the strainer than others.
 Customer C buys a yard of mulch. After his trailer is loaded he claims he should get more material. It's easy to measure the trailer, do the math and show him he is getting exactly what he has paid for. Lets not even get into the fact that the loader bucket is one yard struck. This customer claims he got more material the last time he was here. I gave him a choice. I asked if he would like to pay for the extra he got last time or enjoy the fact that he got away with a little extra last time. He chose the latter. Does that make me a dickhead? He passed through as lump free gravy but I would have been just as happy to throw him out with the other lumps.
 Customer D calls on the phone a few weeks ago and asks what spark plug he needs for his hedge trimmer. That's exactly what he asked. I know he's standing at the counter of the auto parts store looking to buy from them but wants free info from us. Whatever. I say I need more info and he says it's a hedge trimmer. I'm thinking no shit and ask what brand and model? He stumbles a bit and finally decides it is a Stihl hedge trimmer. I know there's no way this rocket scientist will know the model but ask anyway. He insists they're all the same and I think to myself "If you're so fricken smart, why did you call?" I tell him I'm looking at the chart for all Stihl hedge trimmers and there are five different spark plug choices. He says. "Is Al there? He's the smartest one at that shop" I say, "Thanks for calling". Click. I don't know who this guy was and didn't let it bother me but I did tell the story to Al just in case he didn't know he was the smartest one of us.

 Yesterday a guy comes in the shop and is talking to Al and says he wasn't sure if he should come here because I was so rude to his freeloader ass on the phone. Once Al made the connection of my story with this guy all he could do was laugh. In fact he did a lot of laughing after the guy left. Ya maybe I was a bit of a dickhead for hanging up on him but how much of a dickhead is a guy that calls a business and wastes a techs time to get free info so he can spend his money with some other business.
 Just another lump caught in the strainer.

Rant over. Later.