Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Workshop Wednesday- Chainsaw Scabbards

 This time of year we build a few ice saws for the sturgeon spearing season on Lake Winnebago. Ice saws don't use the typical oiler system used when cutting wood. The oil would foul the water and limit visibility in the hole. A simple grease system is used sometimes just after the hole is cut and this prevents freeze up of the chain. Ice saws have a specially cut chain that limits the amount of water thrown and also have shields or covers in place to limit the amount of water that can enter the cooling system and air box. 
 There are regulations on the size of the hole you can spear from and that size is measured at the surface of the ice. For better field of view, many people cut the hole back at an angle so they can see the big fish approaching. This means the saws bar length has to be much longer than the vertical thickness of the ice. 

 The small saw in this pic is average size with a 20" bar. The ice saw has a 42" bar. One issue we have is that Husky currently doesn't offer a scabbard for this big of a bar so we made our own.

The first step is to borrow a "hot box" from a local contractor. These are used to make bends in pvc pipe.

 We slipped a piece of wood through the pvc pipe and set the whole works in the heater. This allowed us to really get the pipe hot and easily lift it out without distortion.

 Next we set the hot pipe on a smooth straight surface. In this case it's a snow plow cutting edge. The piece of wood is still in the pvc pipe. We then quickly lay another cutting edge on top and apply a little weight. The pipe squishes easily and in a minute is hard enough to retain it's shape.

 These are a couple of rough 48" blanks. They will get trimmed to length and have a retaining cord attached to them. Then all that is left is to add a decal with our company name and phone number.
 I had no idea that day that we would be making these. A few ideas turned into possibilities and the next thing ya know we had scabbards. It keeps the job interesting.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Driveway Daydreams

 Those of us in the colder climates know about putting equipment away for the season. Maybe some day I'll move to a warmer state where I can ride year round, but until then I'll continue the annual ritual which includes among other things, an oil change.
 This oil change isn't any different than all the others that occurred during the last 24,000 miles of the big Ultras two year life but there is something different about the way it feels. Summer oil changes are an

 unwanted expense and task that just burns up valuable riding time. Yes it's required maintenance and I enjoy wrenching but the end of season oil change is different.

 I've waited till after the last ride to drop the old oil. Ya, the last ride. That's a serious bummer. I lay there waiting for the hot oil to make it's way out of the big twin and into a grungy old catch pan. I wasn't wearing any bitch mittens so when some of the lube ran across my hand, I felt it. Not a burn, but kinda like when a playful puppy nips at you. It was just a little reminder that even the simplest tasks require some attention. My intent was to inspect the underbelly of the beast for cuts, bruises or worse. Everything looked normal and I started day dreaming about the places this machine had taken me. One of those places is Tennessee where wild fires are killing people, consuming homes and destroying some of the most beautiful landscape this country offers. I don't know how it got so dry and I'm not making light of the situation but I've been vacationing in that area for fifteen years or more and it seems to rain every night when I'm there. Take a minute to consider what those people are going through.

 I was pretty comfortable stretched out in the driveway. Actually I just didn't feel like getting up and I started thinking about places I still wanted to point the front tire. Sturgis doesn't do anything for me. Never been to the rally and it's not even on my to-do list. I don't understand the fascination with the big crowds. Hey, you're all great but I need my 40". Anyway, a trip west anytime other than the rally is on my bucket list. I did pass through that area back in 2000 on the ride home from New Mexico. Somehow I detoured through Wyoming to get here in the dairy state. That ride was more of a high speed blast than a site seeing tour. I was into doing iron butt rides and picking a destination for the next day that was 800-1000 miles away seemed ok. I don't know when I'll make that trip west but this is probably the bike that will take me there.
 Right now I'm thinking I would trade any long trips just to be able to ride to work every day. It's snowing, the bike is parked for the season and I know I'm months away from my next ride.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

34 Degrees

 This was taken a few weeks ago on the ride to work. Whether global warming is fact or fantasy, the fact is that at some point the weather here in Wisconsin will go to crap and I'll have to store the bikes for a while. They haven't salted the roads yet so I'm still hopeful I'll get to ride to work a few more times.

  A lot of people strike up conversations proclaiming how lucky I am to be riding the bike this late in the year and what wonderful weather we are enjoying, unlike years past. Well I decided to scroll back a year in my blog posts and found I rode to work December 13th although the two years prior to last year don't look like they were as warm. When I say warm, I mean above freezing. If you can't tell what I'm pointing at in the pic, the dash reads 34 degrees.
 Those rides aren't as relaxing as I'd like them to be, mostly because I am constantly reminded by others that there are a lot of deer in the streets. These warnings are verified by the blood stains and carcasses I see everyday. Now I'm not saying I let my guard down during times of year when deer traffic is lower, I just ramp up the awareness late in the season. I suspect if it happens again, that is if I smuck a deer, it will be a lot like the first time. No time to react. I say that because I see and avoid deer all the time.

 This pic was taken last night on the way home from work. I kinda like the red, white and blue of the pic. If I would have realized it was gonna turn out this way I would have taken a few more and tried to get creative with it. Anyway, my wife is away on a cruise so I was in no hurry to get home and decided to bum around on the bike for what will probably turn out to be the last ride of the year. No moon, full display of stars and a crisp bite in the air. Best of all, no deer. I rode around till I was freezing my ass off and then parked the bike in the garage. I'll put the battery tender on it tomorrow.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

 I hope everyone had as nice a holiday with family and friends as I did. Like last year we had a gathering hosted by our friends Denny and Deena in their restaurant. I can't say enough good things about the effort they put into making a great gathering for us to enjoy. The detail in the food, table setting and decorations was second to none. Thank you.

 We had the responsibility of providing the mashed potatoes. I helped peel thirty pounds of spuds along with chopping onions. See, I can do things. You probably thought I sat in my lazy boy drinkin beer and scratchin my butt while others did the work.

 After the big meal we came back to the house to chill and catch up. The fact that I moved a couple of my bikes into the living room for winter storage didn't go unnoticed.

 A while back I told you we had a goal of finishing our bathroom remodel for this days activities. We met that goal and in celebration my wife challenged her facebook friends to post bathroom selfies. Nothin weird so don't even go there. It was a big hit and we had fun with it.

 The gentleman in the shower is not standing on a stool. Just sayin.
 I got a lot of positive feedback about the remodel. I needed it because I was feeling it could have been better. I guess that's just the way it is when you know where all the mistakes are. Anyway, I just installed whatever pieces my wife picked out. She should get the credit. I'm not sure which room will be next but we pretty much decided to just keep picking away, room by room, till we've been through the entire house. Except for a few coats of paint we really haven't done much here the whole time we were raising the kids. That's a lot of years of accidents, bangin stuff around, cracked plaster and artist endeavors that need to be addressed.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Why Won't My Saw Start?

 This is a story about a guy that thought he was doing everything right until I rained on his parade.

 So this guy shows up at my workbench with a chainsaw that wouldn't start. He was an elderly gentleman with just enough mechanical knowledge to get by but not enough to figure it out. He told me he pulled the spark plug for inspection and to check for spark. I'm told it was clean and grey and he did have a nice blue spark. His next move was to squirt starting fluid in the carb but still nothing. Not even a burp. He then decided to pull the spark arrestor from the muffler to see if it was blocked with carbon. I guess it was nice and clean with a grey tint to it. "I just don't understand why it won't start", he stated.
 At this point I had a pretty good idea what was wrong but I didn't yet know why. I told him he had a scored piston and a stuck ring, and this was resulting in low compression. Engines need a certain amount of compression to run. The unit was junk as repair costs would exceed the value of the saw. I pointed to the scrap metal dumpster but he didn't think that was too funny.
 I was getting that look. It's the look you get when the customer thinks you're just trying to sell new saws. I told him this failure was possibly from, among other things, a lack of lubrication. Now I was getting the look and attitude. He said he didn't believe it and proclaimed he only uses premium ethanol free gasoline and the best outboard motor oil money can buy.
 I believed every word of his story but now I knew the rest of the puzzle. As he ranted about the price and quality of his oil, I pulled the muffler off his saw. Sure enough, the piston was roached. The wannabe mechanic just couldn't believe his eyes. He used quality oil and mixed it with the precision of a pharmacist. I pulled the recoil slowly to allow viewing of the intake side of the cylinder and that wall was scored too. I wondered to myself how many buddies he bragged to about his use of that "quality" marine oil.

Just a generic image of a scored cylinder wall taken with a small inspection camera that connects to my phone.

 I don't like having to tell people they ruined their equipment. I don't get pleasure from this but come on, this stuff is right there in the owners manual. The sad part is most people think a chainsaw owners manual is really just meant to lay in the bottom of their saw case and soak up bar oil. The techies reading this saw the clues. For the rest of you I"ll point out that the grey color on the spark plug and spark arrestor screen was actually aluminum transfer from the cylinder/piston scoring. If you think the scoring was from the starting fluid that doesn't contain lubricating oil, you'd be wrong. The engine never ran on that stuff. The oil he did use was for marine use. That oil is not formulated to work on air cooled engines and will fail under the high temps and loads these chainsaw engines develop.
 Despite the fact that this guy snuck in the back door and I didn't have a work order to justify the time I spent with him, I took another minute or two to educate him on oil. I didn't sell him a new saw that day but as he left he shook my hand and I knew that even though I was the dick head that gave him the bad news, he'd be back and I had earned a new customer.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Berco Blower part 2

 I might as well finish up the story of the Berco snow blower install. The cold weather has minimized any good riding and soon enough snow will prevent it.

 Our first thought was to just bolt the winch on the front of the tractor frame and sandwich our drop plate behind it. That would have left the winch pulling on the bolt threads rather than relying on the strength of the bolt to support the load. This is our second design for the winch mount plate. It sucks as well because we miscalculated how high the winch needed to be in order to lift the way we wanted. You'll see in the video that the blower needs to roll back and once it binds against the push plate (the piece with the wheels), the whole push arm will come up for travel down the road. I shaped the lift plate (below the winch) to align and hold the push arm so it would stay snug while bouncing down the road. Not shown is a rubber pad where the push arm meets the lift plate and a limit switch that Greg added. The switch prevents the operator from "over winching" the system and potentially bending the shit out of everything.

 Here you see the revamped winch mount. You may also notice we ditched the weak chain and turn buckles that came with the blower. Everyone that worked on the project felt they were going to fail so we made that change.

 On the back side you can see the "quick attach" system. Ignore everything hanging off the three point lift, our attachment is just the standard trailer coupler on a 2" ball.
 Besides what I've shown you, these installs also include mounting controllers to run the blower, additional lighting and all the wiring, breakers, fuses and switches involved. Every unit is just a little bit different and each customer has different needs. I guess that keeps it interesting.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Workshop Wednesday-Bercomac Snow Blower

 It's that time of year again when we get the trucks and tractors geared up for snow duty. Along with prepping our own equipment, we do a lot of installs for customers. One of those customer installs is a Bercomac snow blower that I'm helping Greg with. This is a self powered snow blower with a 24 hp honda engine on it. It's designed to go on the front of an atv/utv but we think it can easily be adapted to a small utility tractor.

  We just kinda mocked it up today and have a few ideas on how to best adapt it to this particular tractor.

 There are a lot of things to consider including the ability of the machine to hop a curb or go up a steep trailer ramp. We also want to make a support that will allow for lifting the entire blower off the ground and traveling at high speed down the road. I'll detail this in a future post.

  We fired the blower up even though it's not fully mounted to the tractor yet. We had to. It's a gearhead thing. The general consensus was "holy crap". The full 24 hp is used just for a blower so power is not an issue. I think this machine will be impressive.