Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Filter Maintenance

 A while back I told you about oil oozing from my air filter. This was due to high heat and a way full oil supply. I recently did an oil change and made sure to keep the oil down at a reasonable level and away from the full line. After that I decided to clean the air filter. This one is called the Extreme Billet Ventilator. It has a washable KandN filter and now was the time to start saving money as advertised by cleaning the old filter. By the way, for the amount I paid for this air cleaner, it will never pay for itself. In fact, for that money the damn thing outta clean itself.



 I did not have to go out and buy the cleaner and oil. It was found lurking on my parts shelf. I think it's left over from the Aprilia. Sometimes it pays to be a pack rat.



 Six allen bolts removes all the screaming eagle made in china decorations. Loosen three more bolts and off comes the filter. I think the amount of bolts used in this setup should keep it from vibrating off and littering the streets. I only mention it because my other Harley is a nasty litterbug.


The cleaning solution does a nice job of removing oil.


It even got this messy rain sock looking like new.


 I guess my phone was hungry because I think it ate the rest of the pics I took that day. Anyway, after the filter has dried the filter oil just sprays on like you would use a can of paint. It doesn't take much and you don't want oil dripping from the element. Some blue loc-tite to keep everything in place and this job is done.
 I just looked at the calendar and it seems my vacation is less than four weeks away. I gotta get on some more of this maintenance before the big trip. I just did the front brakes and fixed an air ride issue. Still on the list is replacing the rear tire, tranny and primary oil changes, investigating some finicky led lights on the fairing, and adding some music to the thumb drive. Another thing I need to do is empty the tour pack and see what is all stashed in there. There's a good three inch layer of tools, parts and hats/gloves spread out across the bottom.
I think I'll ride the sportster to work today just to mix things up.

Later.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Rain or Shine

 We've had quite a lot of rain this year and much of it is pop up storms in the evenings. The other day after work my wife and I decided to ride about sixteen miles to a grocery store. Ya there are closer stores but we were looking for an excuse to ride and the timing involved in the ride and shopping would be just about right. As we were checking out the cashier figured we were on a bike and showed us a radar image. It didn't look good and when we walked outside it looked worse. I would have got a pic but there just wasn't time. We had to move now or get hammered.


 Based on the quick look I had of the radar I thought I might be able to take the long route home and hook around the storm.


As the storm front started catching up with us the wind picked up. As you can see my wife has full faith in my route selection.


 At one point I got caught behind a slow cage and couldn't be patient any longer. I grabbed a gear and shot the big Ultra across the double yellow just a little early and sped around the car. As I did this I caught sight of a squad car pulling out of a lot. I was easily twenty over and he had me dead to rights. My wife said she looked at the cop, looked at the big nasty clouds and then looked back at the cop. He left us alone. We still caught a few miles of rain but not that strong wind bullshit, and with temps in the low eighties it was kinda a relief.


 Not all our rides are threatened by nasty weather. We got out yesterday with no destination in mind.


 We were on some seldom traveled roads where we disturbed the locals. They'll get over it. We also stumbled upon a little Amish country store that we'll certainly seek out in the future. My wife is the official GreasyShopRag field photographer and she snaps a lot of pics. It seems she is taking pics even when she doesn't know it.



 The forecast today is for more scattered showers. Try to ride around the clouds, get wet, dry out, repeat.

Later.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Up Valve

 It wasn't all that long ago I reported that my air ride suspension was holding up decent after a year of use. I guess I jinxed myself because I started having problems. As I was riding the pressure in the shocks would keep rising. I'd bleed some air off and a few miles later there would be and extra 10 or 20 pounds in the shocks. When the bike was parked the pump won't run but I would find it with full tank pressure in the shocks, or more accurately, the tank would bleed into the shocks till pressure evened out. If the bike were slammed onto a short center stand then it would have raised up and tipped over.
 I emailed DirtyWorks LLC to find out if my suspicions of the up valve being faulty were plausible and if the unit was under warranty. Their reply was to give me cleaning instructions for the valve. That was my plan anyway because I figured they were gonna tell me to piss off. I guess I'm just so used to bad customer service that I have been taking the low road in these matters but this company has been good to me from the start. I wish they offered more stuff I need.



 On the right side of the bike behind the side panel is where I've installed the up valve and dump valve. 


 Here you can see the manifold with the pressure regulator switch and our problematic up valve.


 Another look at the same manifold. The regulator switch is still attached but I've remove the up valve solenoid and valve itself. I forgot to get a pic of it but it's just a cartridge with a spring loaded rubber stopper. That rubber stopper pushes against the tiny hole in the center of that valve body. 


 Here is a zoomed in shot of that hole. Notice at about 8 o'clock how it looks odd. It must have been some debris because after swabbing it with a q-tip, it looked perfect.


 Having cleaned it up nice I reassembled everything and hoped for the best. I say that because my first test was an hour plus ride to Belgium to pick up my wife from a party. Ya, I never heard of Belgium Wisconsin either but I assure you, it's there. I just punched the addy in the Ultras gps and followed her instructions. Yes it got me there but I must have the preferences set to "zig zag" because that was the most messed up ride I've been on in a while. Lucky for me I wasn't on a schedule. 
 So it has been four days now and the valve is working as it should. Happy, happy happy.

Later.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Dinner Cruise

 On my ride home from work Friday I was cruising along at a pretty good clip when an oncoming rider started frantically patting the top of his helmet as we passed. I gave him a thumbs up return instead of my usual arm stretched to the side peace sign. There were a lot of cars around us and I'm sure some of them were wondering what all this secret biker code was about.
 A few of those cagers found out in a hurry what it meant. Our friend on the crotch rocket was letting me know that Johnny Law was near and I should scrub off some speed. I acknowledged with the thumbs up and just enough braking to get legal but not make it obvious by nose diving the front end. The cops had us trained to slow down about two miles back in their regular trap. Now they have expanded their coverage and this is gonna suck. I may have to find a new route to and from work.

 Besides my riding to work, the bulk of our riding has been dinner cruises. There's been a change in our eating habits lately that includes a lot more vegetables and little if any meat. My wife is taking it pretty seriously with a lot of juicing in her diet and no meat. The changes in weight and energy are quite noticeable. I've eliminated the crap from my diet as well but I'm not being a food nazi about it. My goal is just to eat healthier. Eliminating soda has probably been the most important change. Beer and brandy old fashioneds are still on the menu so all is well in the drunk and stupid department. Anyway, because of this diet change we are now expanding our restaurant destinations further from home. Yesterday was a hundred mile round trip for dinner and we had some gorgeous riding weather for it. Friday night we had great weather as well.

There are at least two veggies on our table I can't even name.
No matter, except for the bananas, honey and whiskey old fashioned,
 they'll get "juiced" and drank.

 On that Friday night ride we passed through a known speed trap and my wife said "Don't let the coppers get us, Honey". Ya I was accelerating from an intersection in a playful manner but I started thinking about her request. Should I slow down or should I gun it if I draw reds? I chose to slow down because I don't think the Bonnie and Clyde option was really what she meant. We all know the tone of a text message can be misunderstood but sometimes things can be taken the wrong way even when said face to face. When we got home and were putting away groceries (yes, we grocery shop on the bike) my wife held up a bag a of cashews and asked if I was gonna put my nuts by my chair. "Yes I am" and I plopped my ass down in my recliner.

Later.




Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Flags, Fish and Fresh Oil

 Last weekend my wife and I were on a ride and it was pretty hot outside. Not "yea it's warm lets go for a ride" hot, but "crap its hot, pull over and find some shade" kinda hot. We found a park and used the rest rooms, looked at some ducks and stretched our legs. Unrelated to the story but something I had never seen before, was that this small city had their own flag. The US flag was on a pole elevated higher than the state flag which was on a pole next to it and then their city flag same level as the state flag on its own pole. This may be common but after 54 years it's the first time I've ever seen a city flag. Anyway, I usually do a walk around of the bike in these situations to look for problems and sure enough I found one.

This pic has nothing to do with this story but don't you just want
 to grab that fish and push that eyeball in till the two eyes are even sized.
Every muscle in my body was telling me to snatch him out of there and fix
 his bulgy eye problem. Stupid fish.

It appeared my two year old Harley had an oil leak. At first glance it looked like the front push rod base was seeping oil.


 Closer inspection of the oil patterns ruled this out and sometimes you have to back up and look at the whole picture.


 Right above this oily mess is the air filter. It has a rain sock on it in this pic.


 I swiped my hand under the filter and got a big dose of engine oil. Warm temps combined with my habit of hugging the full mark on the dipstick created this mess. I'll clean it up and wash the filter and should be good to go for a while.


  Back to the fish. Is this normal for this fish to have one big eye? None of the other fish looked like they needed their face clamped in a vise to straighten out their appearance. Maybe he got into a fight with another fish and took a fin to the face. Maybe he was doing laps, high sided and hit the wall. All the other fish were quite active but popeye here just kinda stared at the side of the tank. It's like he wanted me to pick him up and help him. I may have to go back and investigate in a few weeks. Do you think the staff at the restaurant will be suspicious if they see me walk in with a small net and a C clamp?

Later.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Nobodys Fault

 I don't want this blog to become just one big rant about a-hole customers but some stories just need to be told so I can get them off my chest. An elderly gentleman walks into the store carrying a small string trimmer. Well to be accurate, he had two parts of one trimmer. That is, the power head was separated from the shaft/handle/trimmer head. I escorted him back into the shop and we set the patient on the work bench. Right away I thought the unit looked like one I may have worked on recently because of the new fuel lines that were on it. The next thing I noticed was that the end of the shaft that goes into the clutch was all fouled up and that the inner driveshaft or bearings/liner was most likely damaged because the head wouldn't turn.
 "It looks like it broke either when the shaft came out or when you tried to cram the shaft back in".
 "Now just wait a minute! I will not have you blaming me for this". he said.
 I asked if the trimmer was in one piece when he tried to start it. "Yes" was his reply.
 I asked if he tried to put it back together. "Yes" again.
 I asked him how my statement was inaccurate and he said "I didn't ask you who broke it and I don't want to know how it broke, just tell me if you can fix it"
 I then began to explain that the cost and availability of parts for a 15 year old trimmer may not be a worthwhile effort, especially if you are having difficulty pull starting it. (He had mentioned shoulder surgery) He then told me that he bought the unit new less than two years ago from another shop. So now I know he is not only a dick, but either a liar or senile. I suspect the latter. I really hope that some other shop didn't screw this guy over that bad because the price he claims to have paid should have got him a new machine.
 He could see that repairing this one wasn't a good idea and started giving me the sob story. He just had shoulder surgery and had to clamp the machine in a vise to hold it so he could pull the cord. It started making sense now and I could see the scratches on the tube of the machine where it was clamped. He eventually pulled the head right off the shaft.


 Anyway, I told him about the advantages of a battery powered machine and told him I could show him models from three different manufacturers. We eventually found one that he was comfortable with and wanted to purchase. Now he asks how much trade in value his old unit had.
 Our policy on these handheld trade-ins is simple. I figure how much we can get for the unit and subtract repair costs. Whats left is your trade-in value. If he leaves the unit here, trade or not, this will be its final resting place.


 I tried explaining that our cost to make it sale worthy would exceed what we could get for it but I'd give him ten dollars despite that fact it was going in the dumpster. He started whining about how I should have known this was gonna happen when I repaired the fuel lines earlier. I wanted to tell him "Now just wait a minute, yer not gonna blame this on me!" but instead I said nobody knew you were gonna clamp it in a vise to try to start it. "There he goes again" as he turned toward a coworker. " He keeps blaming me for this and I'll not have that!" "I didn't clamp the tube in the vise, it was the engine where the shaft goes in. I never mentioned that the tube was clamped, he offered that up on his own.

If this end was clamped in a vise the paint would be chipped but it's not.

 Steve overheard most of our conversation and was actually involved in helping the gentleman figure out how to start the machine when he picked it up after that previous repair. Now that the guy was re-telling his whole story to Steve, I took the opportunity to slip out of there. They worked out a deal, the details of which I couldn't care less. I'm still not sure if the guy was a dick, a liar or senile.
 What the hell? You bring your trimmer in for service and it runs perfect when you pick it up. Because you don't have enough gumption to pull start it, you clamp it in a vise. I can picture him yanking on the cord with the engine unsupported until he loosened the engine from the tube. BTW, the stop switch was in the stop position. I always look at this because people just don't move the switch to "off" if the unit never started and the ones that truly don't run always come to me with the switch "on". Now you dicked up the machine and are gonna blame me and accept no blame yourself?
 For me it seems better to just step away from these situations and vent here. Thanks for listening. Oh ya, you came here for motorcycle content. Well, I'm gonna go for a ride today. Vroom vroom.

Later.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Holiday Weekend Wrapup

  Some of you may have taken four or more days to enjoy the holiday weekend. I did not. I volunteered to work Saturday and Monday although I could have taken them off if I had made plans. The few plans I did have mostly fit in around business hours at work. Good thing we were open because a lot of people were at the store for rentals, repair work, landscape supplies, grilling pellets and lp tank refills.
 One guy was a dick otherwise the customers were all in a pretty good mood. I was the only person in the shop that was available to hook his chainsaw up to a computer to check for error codes and I was 15 minutes behind schedule for leaving to do some of those plans I just talked about. He didn't care and insisted he couldn't leave his saw behind because he makes a living with that saw and uses it all the time. All the pros I know that make a living cutting wood have backup saws. I didn't bother to tell him this or even argue. I just grabbed the saw and took it into the shop. When I hooked it up to the computer it revealed that it had 20 hours of run time in two years. If he makes a living with this saw he must have a really high hourly rate. I was kinda pissed after seeing this and asked Greg if he would take the saw back up front when I was done with it. I was afraid I'd say something smart and blow another sale they had worked out. Sometimes it's best to just separate yourself from these situations and that's what I chose to do. I mean the guy was such a dick that after he left the boss told me he was surprised I didn't tell him to piss off.
 After leaving work Saturday we went to a 50th wedding anniversary party.  We met some relatives that I hadn't seen since we were married 29 years ago. I'm quite the social butterfly and like to keep up with people every few decades or so.
 Sunday we rode through some heavy rain to visit a friend. It was one of those rides where you start and finish dry but somewhere in the middle of the ride you were wet. The outcome of that visit may be a used dishwasher purchase. I'll have to go back to pick it up because it wouldn't fit on the bike with my wife and she wasn't willing to hitch hike home. That ride also included a stop at the Harley dealer for some front brake pads. This will be the third set of fronts. I understand that most of my braking power comes from the front end and I exercise that every time I stop. Muscle memory will save you when you need to react.



 Monday after work I rode the sportster to meet my wife and some of her relatives. I took the sporty because I knew the driveway which is about a hundred yard long path through a field, was full of soft sand and ruts. Based on my performance with that smaller bike, I know I would have struggled or even dumped the Ultra. Seventeen years ago was the last time I was on that drive and I was on a Kawasaki Voyager. I almost got stuck and dumped that bike and didn't want to repeat history.
 When I left, there was an opportunity for me to stop for a minute and I was going to turn the bike off but the switch felt odd with a lot of resistance. This is the second or third ignition switch in this bike and I felt if I turned it off I would be stranded. I forgot about the switch and continued on my way. "My way" was the slow route home. Just chillin on lesser travel back roads. Lately I've really been taking it easy and driving around like a tourist. There was a time when I'd fly over this one lane bridge so fast that I'm sure those yellow and black signs were shaking. Today I actually slowed down enough to look at the creek flowing under it. Not sure whats going on here but I'm not holding anyone up or breaking any laws so for now I won't get too concerned.


  I can't decide if summer is going fast or slow this year. The calendar says we're into summer but the crap weather has made it feel earlier in the year. I think we may be in for some heat next week so my feelings may change on the matter.
 When I got home I parked the bike outside, opened the garage door and made a mental note of where the fire extinguisher was. I just had a bad feeling. When I tried to turn the ignition switch off it didn't want to move until I forced it a bit. The bike died and sparks started flying from behind the switch.


 There was no fire and I quickly unwired the switch from the power source. It's a good thing I was doing this at home because I'm sure my bacpac didn't have the necessary tools in it and there is no tool kit on the bike. Only recently did I remove the tool kit and I suppose I should get something back on there.
 Tuesday, Independence Day, was open. We wanted to ride and decided our destination should be the movie theater. Afterwards we stopped at Harbor Freight and picked up an air brush compressor. Stay tuned for more about that once I figure out how to use it. BTW, harbor freight and their stupid coupons are really pissing me off. I'm about ready to give them the FE.
 The rest of our Tuesday ride included a stop at a farmers market and a scenic joyride. Once home I fiddled around in the shop and then just sat down and relaxed. I'm looking forward to a short work week and another weekend.

Later.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Air Ride Update

 About a year ago I told you about how I installed an air ride suspension system from Dirtyworks on my Ultra Limited. The bike already had air ride from the factory but it only dealt with the load I was carrying, I wanted to change the ride height and the Dirtyair system allows me to do that on the fly.


 Because the brackets that came with this system don't account for "filler" lights along side the fenders, I had to make my own brackets and relocate some things. I like making crap like this so the fact that the kit didn't work for my setup was just a bonus. The pump needed a bracket and the air tank did too. You can see the stainless cylindrical air tank at the top edge of the pic. This is the first time the saddlebag has been off in about a year so I was curious to see how things were holding up. I also wanted to check bolts for tightness. I was delighted to find everything just as it should be with no signs of wear, stress or looseness. I've got at least ten thousand miles on this setup, probably more and it looks like it should hold up for much more.


 The system didn't go low enough for my wants so I also added a Covingtons 1" lowering kit. You can see it in the above pic as the aluminum piece between the axle bolt and lower shock mount. I was concerned these wouldn't be strong enough but it seems that was just me being a worrywart. The brass pieces in this pic are parts of an adjustable bleeder system. The bike has three switches for letting air out. Ya overkill I know but I don't tell you how to build your bike sooo...ya. One mini switch can add or release air. This was the original switch and it broke right away. The company was fast in replacing the switch but I was skeptical about its reliability. For that reason I added a second switch. This one is up at the handlebar. Both these switches bleed out only with the key on, through a solenoid and the brass bleeder. They are set to let the bike down at a slow rate so if I fiddle with them while riding I won't lose control or whatever. The third switch is a fast dump directly from the shocks. This one needs no power, is loud and fast and I use it when I slam the bike when parking.


 I also added an air gauge so I can monitor and set pressure in the system. Everything has been working fine. The green light comes on when the compressor runs, as heard in the following video. The reserve tank just happened to be low so the compressor kicked in. The orange light was supposed to be for a future project. I guess the future ain't here yet.


 There's a line of thunderstorms about to pass through. Once that happens we're gonna hop on the Ultra and head up nort ya there hey to visit a friend. Have a safe Independence Day weekend and watch out for all those campers on the road.

Later.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Dream Come True

  Sometimes after a day of work it's the little things that can make or break my evening. On the ride home there are two different spots where slower traffic is to move right and the flow of traffic continues in the left lane. The right will eventually have to merge into the left lane. Cops like sitting in these spots because they know stupid shit will happen here.
 In both these spots the speed limit is under 55 and then turns to double nickels after the merge. The problem comes when Lick Knobs use the right lane to pass and gain position on the herd. At the merge people get screwed up, blocked and start hitting the brakes. This sucks for everyone except the asshole that passed on the right. I can imagine the bravado they feel from such moves but I'm not impressed.  Is it wrong to wish ill fate on your fellow man for doing something as minor as a traffic violation?
 I've been pulled over in one of these spots for excessive speed. Nothing like passing on the right, just me rolling along too fast. Now every time I get passed in one of these zones I get pissy and wonder where Johnny Law is hiding. Probably stopping a bank robbery or pulling a kid out of a burning building. That's crap! I need him here to stop this caddy with out of state plates and let him know it's not ok to bring your big city attitude to our small community. I'm sure there must be an old Beach Boys song that covers the way I feel about this. If not, well this is me patiently waiting for justice:


 Well the other day there was a chance for my dream to finally come true. Joe F-stick with out of state plates pulled the "pass on the right" bullshit and guess who was waiting for him? That's right, the long arm of the law. Our speeder got on the brakes but it was way too late. He did have one advantage though, traffic was unusually heavy. The cop was sitting on the opposite shoulder and had to wait a long time before he could safely whip a shitty (execute a u-turn) and pursue. I was miles down the road and was giving up hope of my dream coming true when in the distance I finally saw his lights approaching.

 Some people say old people shouldn't drive. I don't agree and believe if everyone else just drove sanely then we could accommodate a few drivers with diminishing skills. I knew the driver of the vehicle behind me was an elderly woman because I saw her when I passed her on the right way back before the merge in the two lane traffic. I know, I know but this was different. A whole line of us went around her slow ass and nobody was in jeopardy of injury and nobody was speeding or breaking the law. She was just moving slow in the left lane and the thought of her trying to merge into traffic was scary.
 As the cop got closer I determined it was time to signal and pull onto the shoulder to let him pass. I was hoping the little old lady behind me would follow my lead but must have never noticed the lights or siren behind her because she was actually shaking her fist at me as she was passing me. I got to see that moment in her eyes as she noticed the cop behind her and that I was doing the right thing and she was just in the way. That was quite satisfying. It was also quite satisfying seeing the cop had the guy in the caddy pulled over up the road in the next county. I wanted to beep the horn or throw some confetti or maybe whale on one of those party horns that roll out as you blow into them.


 Nobody got hurt and it felt pretty good to see someone finally not get away with bullshit driving. A nice way to distract from the daily ride home.

Later.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Joy Ride

 Yesterday was another work day and let me tell ya, some people really challenge my ability to not be a dickhead in the store. I was talking with a customer in the showroom when a guy taps me on the shoulder and says he hates to interrupt but...and then he goes on with his lame ass story. The first thing I did was look around to see if I was being filmed because this guy was politely being rude, if that makes any sense and I felt like I was being set up. I wanted to give him a quick answer that would get him to leave me alone because I knew he was just looking for free advice. I came up with one that made him go away but what I wanted to say was if you hate interrupting then why are you doing it and by the way go jump in the lake. And another thing, why do you think your problem is more important than this gentleman that got here before you? OK, I'm done venting.
 So after work my wife and I went for a joy ride. No destination but I was tired and knew I'd keep it under a hundred miles.



 I thought this pic looked odd because the road looks pretty straight but the bike looks kinda leaned over. Not really leaned over but tipped more than appropriate for the situation. I don't even know where this was so I can't piece it together.



 Just a breezy ride on some quiet back roads. I realized I had traveled about ten miles on these back roads that were posted 55 and I had not even touched 45mph. That's one of the first signs of getting old. I forget the other signs.


 My wife is our official photographer and she gets some interesting shots despite the fact I don't take her to interesting places. The glare screwed this one up. I call it "alien campfire".
 Our turn-around point turned out to be take out chinese. We didn't leave the house with food in mind but it ended up that way. It's fun not having a plan and ending up with a nice ride. The sun is shining and we should be able to get out again today. See you on the road!

Later.

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?

Later.

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.

Later.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Branding

 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.

Later.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

25K

  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.

Later.

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.

Later.

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.