Sunday, November 19, 2017


 Texture- the feel, appearance or consistency of a surface. I like texture. Texture gives a surface character and a personalized feel. Texture hides flaws. While certain textures do require some skill to get right, for the most part smooth surfaces require much more skill and patience to look good. There are a lot of textured surfaces in my projects for all of the above reasons. Look at the fuel tank on the Rat Turd. Brushed on bed liner was easy, required the skill level of a monkey and in my opinion looks good. Yes a flawless smooth paint job looks good but I'm not at that skill level and those paint jobs don't feel as inviting as a textured finish.
 I'm not just talking about bikes. I mentioned in a past post that my wife and I are picking away at remodeling many rooms in our old house. To try to make crooked and cracked walls straight and flawless would require a huge investment in time and money and in the end I don't think we would be happy. We're just keeping things old school, clean and simple. We just had to replace my wifes car so any budget we might have had is now parked in the garage and has a BMW emblem on it.

 My wife and I had many "discussions" about how to finish the walls in this room. We considered everything from wall panels to recycled wood pallets. There were a lot of trips to Menards for ideas and prices and in the end I was able to convince her to let me try skim coating the walls. I had never done this before but figured it fell into the skill set of that monkey again. Believe it or not the room looks a lot better in person than in the picture. I like the look and feel and we've got positive feedback from others that have seen it. I learned a lot and am excited to move on to the next room and do things a little different and possibly get some interesting results.

 Someone was about to get painted into a corner but then I realized she was doing the hard part so I backed off.

 We still need to do some trim/moulding work along the base board and around the window. A few other details like a door stop, closet door hardware, curtains, replace an outlet and install the heating register still need to be done. We're also keeping a piece of door moulding that has hash marks on it from when the girls were growing up and keeping track of their height. I think it will give the room a more personal feel. A large throw rug or two will be the only other addition to the floor. The hard part will be to take apart the spiral staircase so we can move furniture up there. For that I have a plan to enlist the help of two other monkeys. They don't know it yet but if you're dating one of my daughters and plan to eat my food at Thanksgiving then you can assume you are one of the monkeys I'm referring to.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

To Ride Or Not To Ride

 That really is the question. This post will be written in two parts. This first paragraph is being scribbled down on Tuesday night. I haven't been following the forecast much but I've been told tomorrow may be my last decent chance to ride the bike to work. Its nice to have so many people looking out for my motorcycling welfare and they've told me temps may climb to the upper forties. That's doable. I can't remember the last time I rode but I'm thinking three weeks maybe. I'm a little excited and I've made arrangements to make sure it can happen. I plugged the trickle charger into the bike and was happy to see the light went from orange to green in about half an hour. I also dug out my heated jacket liner and put the battery on its charger. I've got clear glasses for the pre-sunrise ride in and for the dark ride home. Other than grabbing some warm gloves the only other task should be giving the tires a squeeze to see if they feel soft. It may seem like a lot of dickin around for a 40 mile round trip but as many of you with the sickness know, its worth it.

 Wednesday morning. I opened the garage door and walked outside to find a light rain coming down and everything wet. I've been out there three times checking the weather, nobody said anything about rain. A check of the radar shows it may end by the time I'm ready to leave for work, then some more chances during the day. The ride home would be in 36 degree temps. My excitement to ride has dropped considerably. Not because of being uncomfortable. The temps and light rain are in the acceptable range and ten or twenty years ago I wouldn't have even checked the forecast. No, the problem is with me. Something doesn't feel right. The older I get the more I analyze these things and consider my safety. Deer traffic has been high and its hard to forget the week long stay in the hospital when I hit that deer seventeen years ago. Rain reflecting off a windscreen or glasses make for crappy visibility and then I have to ask myself if I want to rewash the bike before storage.
 Its official. I just switched from a helmet friendly dew rag to a knit hat. Its a sad day because I'm gonna puss out and not ride. May God have mercy on your soul if the sun comes out and you ask me why I didn't ride today.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Long Week

 This week seemed to have gone on forever. As you know we have been busy used car shopping and were considering a 2011 BMW 328i Xdrive. On our second visit for a closer look I discovered that the techs at the dealership had replaced the front tires but not the rear. I'm not sure what they were thinking but we had them correct that along with ordering a few other pieces such as a special light bulb for the halo ring headlight and a cracked rear view mirror. Its a used car but getting them to agree to replacing items is an easy way to help get the bottom dollar down closer to where it should be. One of those agreements was knocking off the cost of buying a spare tire. The car originally came with run flat tires and an inflator kit. There is no kit in the trunk and the tires they just installed are not run flats so they gave in to my logic.
 We bought the car and after running it for a few days now it seems like it should fit our needs. My wife keeps saying I like it more than she does but the fact is I just like it because it handles so nice and I think it should be a safe car for her. Getting out of my truck and then driving the BMW is like getting off a boat and into a slot car. Whats not to like. The other thing that intrigues me is the engine. My past experience with inline six cylinders has been with the likes of the Mercury Comet or maybe my old '51 Chevy pickup. They always vibrated like they were only hitting on five cylinders unlike the smooth power delivery of this BMW.  It was a little greasy yesterday and I pushed it a bit to see how the Xdrive worked. It must work fine because I couldn't get myself sideways. This should be a good winter car for my wife.
 I ordered some Weathertech floor liners for the front of the car. I had heard a lot of good things about them and figured that if you're gonna drop a nert on floor mats it might as well be for a BMW. Let me tell you that when they say they are laser measured they ain't kidding. These floor liners fit perfectly. I was concerned about how they might feel slippery underfoot but was quite surprised at the amount of gription they offered. Thats right, its my blog and its ok for me to make up words as needed.

 In other news the bedroom remodel is back in gear after a week off dealing with the car issue. The walls are all skim coated now and some paint has been applied. Nothing fancy is happening here and it almost feels like we're just taking the shortest route to get the room done. Thats fine because its looking pretty good and we have plenty other projects to complete.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Used Car Shopping

 I last reported of a blown engine in my wifes Subaru Outback. We've been going back and forth on what to do about that situation. Do we fix it? That ain't gonna happen overnight and carpooling together won't fly once the snow falls because we would then be leaving for work at much different times. We really need that second vehicle right away so last night we went car shopping. At one of the dealerships I was talking with the salesman about utilitarian, practical 4wd vehicles when I heard a squeal coming from the other side of the showroom. I pretty much knew I was wasting my time with the salesman because my wife had already found something she fell in love with.

 The car is a 2011 BMW 328i Xdrive. That Xdrive was my only real requirement for her because I truly believe if you live in Wisconsin then you should have all wheel drive. If you don't then you are slowing me down or creating a safety hazard for the rest of the folks on the road.
 The list of options is impressive to include a heated steering wheel. I've not been around many luxury cars and certainly no German engineered ones so shucks BillyBob, this is a new one to me.
 I never even considered such a vehicle as her replacement but why not? A used luxury sedan with all wheel drive and winter package is really ideal for our situation now that the kids are out of the house. She deserves a new one but this particular Ultimate Driving Machine is in our budget. We put a thousand dollars down to hold it and are going back today to take a closer look. My only concern is cost of ownership/maintenance but really its a crap shoot with any used car. Besides, if the lady likes it then she should have it.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Groundhog Day

 This past week had me stuck in a rut.  When asked "How ya doing?" I'd reply "Its Groundhog Day again". The difference between my week and Bill Murray's adventure is that I didn't try to create the perfect day. I just trudged through waiting for things to change.
 Well something is very different this morning. I woke at my usual time, 0-dark thirty, and noticed that it quickly got light outside. Thanks to the wonders of the modern smart phone there is no setting the clock back but only acknowledging that daylight saving time has ended. Something else is different. Today my wife and I are faced with a big unexpected financial burden. Last night we were on the interstate when the car engine killed. A lot of things go through your head when these things happen and I immediately realized a tow truck might be in my future. I was doing 70 (ish) in the left lane and needed to get to the right shoulder before I lost momentum. I know I pissed one guy off who probably thought I was just an a-hole cutting him off but shit happens and there was no left shoulder. Once safely on the shoulder and having answered all my wife's questions I made an attempt to restart the engine. The starter engaged and the motor spun but there was clearly no compression. I was pretty sure the timing belt checked out and there is no fixing that on the side of the road on a rainy Saturday night. Even if I had the tools and parts there is no fixing it. See this Subaru engine is an "interference" engine meaning if the timing belt is out of time there can be contact between the valves and piston. Based on the two loud bangs from under the hood and the feeling at one point that the drive train momentarily locked up I'd say there was not just contact but an all out brawl.

 Out of curiosity I popped the hood but there was nothing to see. I got back into the relative warmth of the car and my wife handed me the phone number for road service that she had found in the glove box. After a long conversation with the roadside assistance rep we came to an agreement as to where I was located. A tow truck should be to our aid in half an hour. We sat in the car being blown around by the wind blasts from big rigs and came to the conclusion that seat belts might be a good idea even though we weren't moving. About ten minutes into our adventure we had a state trooper pull up behind us and I was actually happy to have his reds blinding me through my rear view mirror. Our flashers weren't working and with just tail lights on a rainy night we were feeling a bit vulnerable. The trooper made the usual drivers license check but didn't even ask to see insurance papers after we explained that they had a truck in route already. He offered to hang out until we were off the hiway.
 If you don't know what your roadside assistance covers then maybe its a good time to check your policy. I found out mine covers the hook and ten miles. We were sixty miles from home so there would be some out of pocket expense. The towing service showed up when they said they would despite one more phone call and two text messages. They actually made a miserable situation somewhat palatable.

Safely back home but not under its own power.

 This was my wifes car. The plan was to run it till summer and then get her something else. I would run her hand-me-down car and we'd keep the truck for pulling the trailer and hauling shit. Right now I don't know what the new plan is. I can't walk away from a car I still owe money on but I don't know if its a good idea to stick big money into a high mileage car. I'd have to keep it forever because there would be no breaking even by selling it. If it were a bike I'd fix it no questions asked because I always plan on keeping every bike I buy even though I don't keep them.
 Right now I need to decide if we look for a temporary beater, a permanent replacement or something else that I'm not even considering. Until then my wife will have to drop me off at work in the morning and then drive my barbaric pickup truck the rest of her way to work. It just occurred to me that if it snows and I need to leave at an odd hour, she's stranded. 
 I think I preferred the humdrum boring week I was stuck in.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Photo Dump

 Searching through my phone pics, looking for something interesting to talk about yielded the following sorry ass excuse for a blog post. I'll try to spice it up with some sparkly fireworks.

 Last Saturday night we went to Brooke and Mikes annual Halloween Bash. Food served was a chili dump. Bring your favorite chili and add it to the nesco. This years mix was delicious and I had two bowls with sour cream and fritos on top. Washed it down with some brewskis. The DJ played music I knew the words to, so that was a plus. Later in the evening we went for a hay ride and watched some fire works. It was a good show and made up for missing the show on Independence day.

 While our daughters were growing up we let them decorate their bedrooms any way they wanted to. Its an old house and its not like they were gonna wreck anything. Now twenty years later we're sprucing up one of those rooms.

 Yes those are clouds and sea gulls and yes my wife is pulling staples from the ceiling. If the final job looks decent I'll post some pics. If you never hear of it again then you know we did a piss poor job on the remodel.

 My last post was about a truck salter install. This pic is from the other truck I mentioned that got a salter and back blade. These two controllers are for that equipment. I am posting it because it was one of the easiest controller installs I've done in a while. The wires aren't tied up yet but the bracket was so simple because it just uses the two holes for the head rest on the center console. Unplug the wire harness, release the catch on the head rest holes and shazaam, the controllers pop out!

  And finally, some toilet humor. At work we rent tents among other things including porta potties. Every so often we sell them off and buy new ones, just to keep the rental fleet looking fresh. When the boss had one cleaned out and set by the road with a for sale sign on it, Al made him a bet that it wouldn't stay clean and fresh over the weekend. Sure enough someone dropped a deuce in it and the boss lost ten bucks. I guess it wasn't really humorous but we did all enjoy watching the boss have to pay up after losing the bet. I'm told there wasn't any paper in the outhouse and there wasn't any evidence of "wiping material" having been used. WTF? The for sale sign says the price and "as is". I'm not cleaning it out.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

Tunnel Vision

 This year we decided to put a bigger salter on my plow truck. Instead of leaving the flat bed on the truck, we remove it and bolt the salter directly to the frame rails. This allows for better vision of the back blade and also saves the aluminum bed from corrosion. Speaking of corrosion, any spilled salt lands on the fuel tank, drive shaft and frame rails. Despite being undercoated, this could lead to rust issues. For that reason we decided to dress things up a bit and prevent spilled salt from getting there.

 We had Ripon Truck Repair bend a piece of steel for our tunnel. This was a job worth farming out. We just don't have the equipment to bend such a piece and they were able to do it the same day and to our exact specs.

 Mocking things up. Yes, that salter is freakin huge. The F550 will handle it but it still looks huge. In fact the only problem I foresee is whether or not our skid loader will be able to dump into it.

 The rear valance. I have it bolted on so it can be easily removed to service the multitude of wires and connectors back there. The holes are for a trailer plug, flatbed lighting plug, back blade control plug, back blade power, and salter wiring to include a vibrator, strobe lighting and a camera. Last year all these wires were just zip tied to the frame and it was an ugly mess but it was worth it. We learned a lot about the back blade and fitting a salter to work with it. So much so that this year we tooled up another truck with that combo.

 Ya theres a lot going on back here. Another issue we addressed was the fuel filler. We had some problems with slow filling and decided to fix that by creating a new permanent mounting spot for the hose. Last year it was pretty long and we just used a bungee cord to secure it. You can kinda see it under the license plate.

 This is so much cleaner looking than last year. As a selling dealer for the salter and back blade, this project is something that can be justified not only for function but what is possible for custom applications.

 I'm anxious for some snow so I can get back behind the wheel of this rig. I like plowing and this truck with its 11 foot front blade and 16 foot back blade is a treat to use. The extra size of this salter allows me to carry twice the volume of salt which equals less trips back to the shop to refill.

 I did something different on this project. I didn't over analyze every decision and just went with the flow. I accepted things without thinking about the outcome. That experiment failed and I'm going back to my old ways. The few minutes I usually spend looking off into space is a lot less time than having to redo something because I wasn't looking at the whole picture. Thinking is working and just because it looks like I'm on break doesn't mean I'm not actually saving time and money. That wasn't aimed at anyone, its just the way I feel. Something else done different on this one was that I had a lot of help. Not in decision making but in the physical labor. Having the young guys crawling under the truck and doing the heavy lifting, welding and cutting was much appreciated.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

National Mustard Museum

 Ya I had the same reaction as you just did. It was even worse when I found out that a visit to that museum was in my immediate future.
 We were enjoying brunch at the Hubbard Avenue Diner when the request was made by my daughter asking that we don't allow her friend Chayse to buy any more mustard. Really? How bad could it be? So what if he likes mustard. Following a nice visit and meal with family, we walked next door to the Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wi. Upon entry a greeter asked if any of us had ever been here before. She then spotted Chayse and dollar signs rang up in her eyes as she said, " You, you've been here before" as if they just recovered from his last visit.

 I'm not really sure what I expected to see. A couple squeeze bottles of mustard, maybe some Grey Poupon? What could possibly draw people to this place? Upon entry the first thing I noticed was there was a definite theme here. All yellow painted walls and shelves full of different flavors of mustard. I didn't know there were different flavors of mustard and to be honest, I didn't care. I don't like mustard.

   The entire upstairs of the museum is a store. They have all different kinds of mustard in every conceivable flavor. Who would spend money on something as questionable as Raspberry Mustard or Walla Walla Onion Mustard? How about Three Monkeys Mustard or Horseradish Mustard? Well, they have a tasting bar and after a visit I can tell you that I enjoyed the Horseradish Mustard and purchased some.

  Down stairs is the museum. One wall is dedicated to all types of mustard offered in the country and its divided by each state.

 This case is mostly just Wisconsin mustard. So many different flavors. I looked over a few labels and was surprised to see mustard from towns only ten miles away from me. Whoda thunkit?

 Some of us are much more passionate about our mustard and will do whatever it takes to get their fix. All in all it was a worthwhile experience and I'll be sure to stop back for some more sampling if I'm ever in the area.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Truth About The Wind

 Every so often the daily ride turns into more than just commuting. Something happens and everything just clicks and there's an overwhelming sense of a connection with the environment. That happened Wednesday when after years of biking I finally made a realization about the wind. We always talk about the wind in our face as we hustle down the road or our "knees in the breeze". Thats all fine and dandy but the blast of the wind in my face as I roll down the hiway is an artificial wind. Its only wind because I'm hauling ass through the calm air. What I like is the interaction with the environment. I don't just want to be outside, I want to be part of the outside. I want the wind to blow in from my side and slap me on the shoulder as to ask "you want some of this?" Yes please, may I have another?
 Its not just the feeling of the wind but the visual evidence of its presence. I like watching the trees dance back and forth. They twist and sway as if they are trying to shake their leaves off. Sometimes they remind me of this scene...Is there a spider on me!? Get the spider off me!! Is it still on me?!? Stop laughing! Where did it go? Some of the fall color leaves are hanging on for dear life while others let go and sail away. On the ground, ribbons of leaves chase each other like lemmings as a gust of wind rearranges them across the street. I can hear them over the thump of the big twin as they shuffle along the concrete, or at least I think I can hear them. Maybe it's more than that. As I approach and ride though that gust I can feel natures power influencing me and those leaves. The combination of feeling the gust, adding a little steering input to correct my path and the visual of the racing leaves gives me that feeling of connection with mother nature. The bike becomes a tool for transportation, but not from point a to point b. It transports me to a place where I can get lost in the feeling of being in tune with this thing we call nature. I like that feeling, even if it only lasted a few minutes during my lunch break.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Workshop Wednesday: Bag-A-Nut

 This post may be a bit off the beaten path from what you're used to reading here. I had been riding the sporty to work without issue so nothing to report there except a lot of fresh air and vibrations. Instead I'll tell you about a product I tried the other day called Bag-a-Nut. The boss bought this gizmo to clean up acorns in his yard and he had limited results. He asked me to take it home and give it a try on walnuts.
 Last year this tree produced like two nuts. This year we've picked up a few garbage cans worth of the little suckers. Each nut picking session lasts about a half an hour and its mostly on my hands and knees. Not my idea of a good time. I would try to follow some type of pattern but I'd always have to backtrack to get them all. With the Bag-a-Nut, I just started at the base of the tree and walked outward in circles.

 In a matter of minutes the job was done. Others with more nuts in their yard have given it a try and claim they need multiple passes to even gain marginal results. Part of the reason is the limited height of that grey bar above the green fingers. Nuts that are too big bounce off that bar and land back on the ground. Another factor may be that after my last manual picking session, I cut the grass quite low to make picking more nuts easier. I plan to modify that grey bar to allow larger nuts to pass. Maybe that will help if the finger pattern is even wide enough for that sized nut.
 I think this may come in different versions designed for different sized nuts. I'm not really sure because I didn't research this thing to promote it. I just wanted to share my positive experience with a yard tool that you don't see every day.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Air Brush Fail

 You may remember me telling you about a spray booth that I built for my shop. So far its been handy for quick little jobs but except for a test run with an old fuel tank, it really hasn't been used much. That will change this winter for sure.
 I may have also told you about purchasing an air brush kit, or at least it was represented as a kit. It came with the compressor, water separator, hose and air brush. To the average knucklehead like me that would appear to be everything needed to start competing with the likes of Van Gogh and Rembrandt. Wrong. What it needs is a pressure regulator. Without one it is almost impossible to do anything. Pull the trigger and you get a blast of tank pressure that makes a big splash on the project.

  You can see as the pressure drops off it is possible to do some minor detail work but even then I think its way too much pressure. It just seems stupid that the kit didn't come with a regulator. I'm not sure if I'm pissed off at the manufacturer or at myself for not knowing better.
 This run wasn't a total waste of time. I did learn about the need to thin the paint so it would flow through the small brush. I also learned what is needed to clean the air brush and how much time to allow for that. I can fix the regulator issue. In fact Al just texted me that he has one laying around that I can use. The only concern left is my ability to paint something and not have it look like a grade school art project.
 Yesterday I sanded down the BSA tank. I'll prep and prime it this fall but Probably won't paint till this winter. The same goes for some other parts. I can wet sand inside but I just don't want to be outside rough sanding parts when its twenty below zero.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017


 Last Sunday I had planned to do some work around the house and shop. The temps were just a bit cool that morning but the sun was shining and the mercury was on the rise. You probably already figured out that I blew off the chores and went for a ride. And why shouldn't I? The season isn't gonna last forever and those nice days are gonna be few and far between. I'm kinda like a squirrel packing away nuts for the winter. I have got to get in enough miles to satisfy the urge till spring or I'll get a knot in my stomach jonesing for a ride. Anyway, along the way I noticed the odometer was gettin ready to pose for a pic so I pulled over and obliged.

 There'll be a few thousand more on it before I park it for the winter. That will average out to about 12,000 miles a year which has been the norm since I've been keeping track when I got a new Kawasaki Voyager back in 1999. This doesn't include Sportster or Rat Turd mileage so maybe the annual mileage is a bit higher. I know this doesn't do much for resale value but thats not why I buy the bikes. Its because of the wind in the hair, the handling and power to weight ratio, and being more exposed to the environment. Some days that whole "being exposed to the environment" thing really sucks but for whatever reason I wouldn't trade it. I have a hard time putting it in words but if you're reading this blog then theres a good chance you already know what I'm talking about. 
 Temps haven't dipped below freezing yet...see ya on the road.


Sunday, October 8, 2017


 Preventive maintenance checks and services. That is (or at least was) a term used by our military to describe regular equipment maintenance. In motorcycle circles you may hear the term "pre-ride check list" or something similar. You would think that someone that has served 21 years in a National Guard mechanized infantry unit, works as a mechanic and has rode bikes all his life would grasp the concept of making sure his equipment was ready for service. While I do understand the importance of pre-op checks there are some days when "Did the bike start?" Is the only check made.
This last week I rode the sportster to work. I can strap my cooler to the sissy bar and carry a few essentials in a bacpac. I can't stop for carry out dinner on the way home or stop to buy auto parts to keep my old dodge running but I can enjoy the freedom of a lighter bike with no wind shield. I also enjoy the top gear roll on power of the big bore twin. During one particularly energetic dash around some slower cages I almost had an incident and it was due to lack of maintenance. Really no big deal but the left grip came almost all the way off the bar at a bad time. I noticed it in time and made the appropriate corrections but the point is that it never should have happened. After work that day I decided to look the bike over before riding home. Besides gluing the grip on, I wanted to check why the bike was handling like a boat on a river. Turns out the front tire had 9 pounds of air in it. That's inexcusable and I'm ashamed to admit it. As long as I was on a roll I decided to look into why the headlight was shining 'coon on one side and lighting up the ditch on the other. Sure enough, the sealed beam rotated in the housing. This is a condition not easily remedied due to the housing having cracks in it. As I was looking the bike over a coworker noticed that the one and only bolt holding the gas tank on was missing its nut. It's not like the tank would fall off but I put a nut on that bolt anyway.
 So what does this all mean? The riding season is winding down for that bike. The mornings will be getting colder and I'll want to sit behind the protection of the Ultras fairing and keep warm with the heated grips and seat. Today I'll make a check list of what needs to happen to the sporty over the winter to bring it back up to safe standards. 

 I also want to move some things around in my small heated shop and see if there is any possibility of having two bikes torn apart in here. The shop has been terribly neglected this it should be during warm riding weather in a state with a limited riding season.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Fall Slimey Crud Run

 Sunday morning I bundled up and rode the Ultra down to Madison, Wi to visit my daughter and have some breakfast. It was a cool ride and I was surprised to see a lot of other bikers bundled up and enduring the Fall temps. After the visit I rode to Leland which is the destination of the Slimey Crud Run. I arrived early like I usually do. I'd say there were only about thirty or so other bikes and that allowed me to park right in front. I like that because I usually just sit on my bike and watch the riders pass by.
 The internet can bring strangers together that may have never noticed each other. Upon arrival I was greeted by "Coop" of Coop's Corner. As we were chatting I noticed a burgundy Ultra roll up and it just clicked that this was Mark that writes another blog I follow called The Biker Wave.  If you tolerate my babbling on this blog then you'll enjoy the writings of these two different riders.
 I took a bunch of pics of bikes I liked but those are my may be into something else. Instead of posting those pics I'll just give you a 360 of where I was parked. This wasn't taken at peak attendance and I expected a lot more bikes considering the nice weather.

  In past years I've usually hung out pretty late but this year I got a bug in my ass to get moving. The weather was great for a ride and this is prime Wisconsin back road area. My mood was quite relaxed and on this day "prime back roads" meant scenic country rather than race track. I was pretty much alone on those roads for quite a while and enjoyed a quiet ride with great overlooks and fall color changes. For a while I was lost in all of it and achieved that nirvana that is so hard to find on a bike. I didn't let my guard down but there weren't any distractions to take away from the beauty of it all. The only sounds were the rush of the wind and the big twin thumping away. The roads were pretty smooth and the bike handled perfectly. Good bonding time with the Ultra.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Left Saddlebag

 Yesterday morning I threw a leg over the Ultra and headed off for work just like I had all summer long. The difference was that after I got underway the thermometer on the bike was telling me it was only 8 degrees above freezing. I wasn't prepared for that and I certainly didn't need the thermometer to tell me it would be a cool ride because I was already shivering. They say ten minutes of shivering is equal to an hour workout. Will this be my new weight loss plan?
 I'm one of those people that would rather be hot than cold. Because of that my left saddlebag is dedicated to clothing that will keep me warm and dry. 

 Well it usually is but it had been rearranged when I went on vacation. What was in there was rain gear, two sweatshirts and a jacket liner. I'll repack it to include winter riding gloves, a dickey, balaclava, thermal underwear and the controller for my heated jacket liner. I took out one of the sweatshirts because I really don't even need one of them with the jacket liner in there. Also shown in the pic are insulated riding pants. They won't go in the bag because they are usually put on when I leave the house. If it was warm enough to not put them on then odds are I wouldn't be looking for them later in the day. Today is one of those days they'll get put on. It is cold out there and I have a full day planned on the bike and shivering just makes for a miserable ride. As for the weight loss plan, I'll stick to lite beer and no sweets. See you at the Slimey Crud Run.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Can't Think Of A Good Title

 So I'm sitting here on Tuesday night trying to write this blog. Because I promised myself I would post every Wednesday and Sunday you'll see posts like this. I really don't have any good material and my motivation is kinda low. My wife brought me a souvenir from her vacation and I'm on my second glass. Its some kind butter pecan flavored moonshine. The stuff is delicious and drinking too much is easy to do.
 Last weekend I went to the bike show in Green Lake and got a first place in my class. Thats cool. I like to see the judges have good taste.

 The bike got a lot of attention and I'm thinking next year I might want to take it to a few more shows but I keep looking at it wondering what I can do next to up my game. I honestly feel its only about half done. I'm not saying I'm bored with it. It just needs more. To me it looks too conventional and there are many parts that could be re-engineered to be more rat-like. One of these days I'll quit dreaming about it and start posting progress reports.

 It looks like we may have broken out of that crazy heat wave of 90 degree temps. I won't miss the blistering hot rides home from work but I will miss the warm morning rides in. The temp for Wednesdays ride to work should be about 55. Yesterday it was in the seventies. If the sportster starts I'll ride that bike in. Its hauling capacity is limited to what I can get in a back pack and I have no shopping plans so I should be good. The headlight is a little weak so I may push off my departure time. It will be dark when I pull out of my drive but light enough to see clearly when I arrive.
 One more thing. A reminder that Sunday is the Slimey Crud Run. The forecast looks favorable and I think I'll try to make an appearance if I can coordinate it along with a visit with my daughter in Madison. I hope to see you there.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Green Lake Bike Show

 This morning I'm planning to ride to the bike show in Green Lake during their Harvestfest celebration. I'll be taking the back roads because right now the Rat Turd doesn't have enough gumption to handle sustained speed on the hiway. I'll figure that problem out someday but because the bike sees such limited duty lately it doesn't seem to be a big concern. Yesterday I had the idea of building my own carb for the bike. It already runs like crap, so there is nothing to lose. I'll let the idea fester for a while.

 I pulled the windshield off of the bike. It was on there for the trip to the Smokies many years ago and I just forgot how ugly it was and it certainly isn't needed for the few local rides that the bike gets. Yes, of all the crap on this bike, that was the ugly piece. Deal with it.

 This year on vacation I picked up a few stickers and decided this bike was as good a spot to adhere them as any.

 There used to be a few signs on the Blue Ridge Parkway that looked like this decal but I don't remember seeing one this year. I wonder if they were stolen much like the US129 signs that no longer appear along that road. We used to wave our hands in the air when we saw this sign and can't recall doing that this year. The truth is, there are no reducing radius curves on the lower end of the parkway except maybe the one or two that had these signs and I'm not sure if they tighten up or maybe they are just long arcs. 
 I gotta wrap this up and get rolling. To my wife, welcome home from your vacation, Honey. You were missed, I survived and the house is in one piece, there isn't a sink full of dishes, and the cats aren't dead. To the rest of you, see you at the show.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Damn Cats

 I don't think I mentioned in my last two posts that my wife is gone on vacation. She is in Gatlinburg enjoying some quiet time with friends and apparently some bears. It seems the bears are familiar with cabin visitors and have a few tricks for scavenging goodies. I'm told they even opened the door on one of the vehicles. My wife sent me a pic of one of the bears and it couldn't have been more than thirty feet from the porch she was standing on. No thanks.
 Instead of bears I'm dealing with some pain in the ass cats. I wish a bear would come knock on my door. I'd feed him two felines. The cats miss the one person in the house who gave a crap about their existence and are stuck with me. Their whining annoys me and their pleas for attention often earn them a lead role in a game I like to call "launch the kitty". You can imagine the rules. I don't abuse these creatures, I just redirect them when they strut their smelly ass near my face. I am curious to see how they react when my wife gets home. Will they be happy to see her or ticked off she left?

 My daily routine hasn't changed much except I do spend more time in the garage tinkering with projects. I've eaten all the food in the freezer that was worth consuming and decided to get chinese take out last night.

 Eating in the garage seemed like a good idea. No cats to pester and three bikes to think about. The leftovers will carry me through one more day.

 One stinkin fortune cookie and it was all wrong. After dinner I messed around with the Rat Turd a bit to see if there was anything wrong with the diaphragms in the cv carbs.

 Three of them seem kinda brittle and I wonder if that's what I'm feeling when the power drops off at hiway speed. The screws are stripped on the cover for the fourth one and further investigation is required. Maybe a pin hole? This whole thing makes me want to ditch these carbs and build an intake manifold more suited to a rat bike. I'm still tossing the idea around.
 Sunday is the bike and car show in Green Lake. Proceeds from the bike show support the local animal shelter. As you just read I'm not a big fan of cats but this shelter took my moms cat without any questions and I like to support them in any way I can. Go to the show, check out the bikes and help out the shelter. See you there.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Watson Street Cycle Show

 Yesterday there was a car and bike show in Ripon and I decided to enter the Rat Turd like I have for the last few years. If you follow this blog then you know that bike has some running issues and I'm here to tell you it still does. I left home at 630am with the intent of registering the bike at the show and then walking to work. That all happened but the 20 mile ride was extended a bit when I turned off the hiway and headed for back roads due to loss of power. If I keep it under 45 it seems I can ride all day but above that I'm screwed. I first thought my jetting was wonky, then thought my fuel delivery lines were restricted. I know its not a tank vent issue. Now I'm thinking maybe the diaphragm/slide/needle of one or more of the cv carbs is the culprit. Anyway, I made it there and back with no points for speed but a passing grade on style.
 It was a typical turnout for this show with some new blood in the mix. One of my (and many others) favorite bikes was this contraption:

Here are a few other random bikes from the show:

And of course my favorite:

 Next week is the show in Green Lake. I'll be there, will you?


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Workshop Wednesday-Auto Mower

 Let me tell you about a new piece of technology you may not be familiar with. We're a full line Husqvarna dealer at work and that includes the new Automower series of robotic mowers. These small lawn mowers run on their own and take care of all the cutting on up to two acre lawns depending on the complexity of the property. A boundary wire is installed around the area to be mowed and along with other guide wires and gps assistance the machine keeps the area looking great. Here's a short vid of our demo unit in action.

 This particular unit also has a connect feature that allows you to program and monitor it from your phone or even show you its location on a map whether it's mowing or if it's stolen.
 Inside they are just a set of circuit boards, wheel motors, tilt sensors, proximity sensors, batteries and such.

  We can hook the mower up to a laptop for updates, diagnosis and programming. It's been a bit involved getting to know these mowers from a dealer standpoint but for the consumer they really aren't that difficult to figure out. The factory settings seem to work quite well and only in special situations does it need custom programming. The mower will cut grass till the battery gets low then it will find it's way back to the charging station using boundary wires, guide wires and radio signals.

 The other day some guys were working out near the street doing some dirt work. They weren't paying attention to the auto mower and backed over it with a skid loader.

 Unfortunately it got squished pretty hard and will have to be replaced. This machine was maintaining just under an acre of craptacular lawn full of weeds, hills and mud and it was doing a really nice job at keeping the lawn looking even considering the area is basically "under construction".
 When I was young I used to thumb through Popular Mechanics and see stories of futuristic equipment that should have been a part of my adult life. I remember fancy lawn mowers but none of them were robotic so technology may have taken a leap in this area. On the other hand I also remember them predicting I would be commuting with a jet pack or hover car and I'm a bit pissy that prediction didn't come true. Sure my Harley is nice but a jet pack with ape hangers and chrome pipes would be so sweet!


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Cut The Cable

 For decades we've been paying the cable company for tv service and the ability to watch an ass load of channels. There's a problem with that and I'm not just talking about the cost. We were turning the tv on just for the sake of having it on and trying to justify the cost. That's really lame. After the last superbowl game we decided to cut the cable and bought an Amazon Firestick. The firestic allows us to stream a lot of different media when we feel the need to veg out in front of the boob tube. My only issue with cutting the cable was that I needed to be able to watch the Packer games and I wanted to do it from home in my lazyboy. I had heard of a lot of people streaming the games but when I tried doing this during the pre season I had nothing but problems. I don't even know the outcome of any of those games.
 Now it's crunch time. The first regular season game is today. Earlier this week I was on Amazon and stumbled across an antenna with rotor for $35. Really? Could a thirty five dollar antenna bring the Pack into my living room from sixty miles away? I've blown more money on stupider shit so I pulled the trigger and ordered it. Two days later a small box was sitting on my doorstep.

 The antenna needed assembly and the whole time I was putting it together I was laughing thinking this cheap thing would never work. To be fair, most antennas are built light and feel cheap but I was still skeptical. I decided to set it up in my living room and if it gave me any type of hope then I would do a more permanent mount outside.

 To my surprise I picked up seven different channels with it set up this way. Unfortunately I wasn't getting any of the stations the games are broadcast on. The next day I decided to move the antenna upstairs to see if things improved and improve they did! With the antenna just sitting in the house upstairs I now get 22 channels without turning it at all. The first football game I watched with this setup was the shellacking of Tom Brady and the Patriots by the KC Chiefs. I don't like the Pats and I didn't like the Cowboys during their dynasty or the Bears that one year they had a good season. This antenna is the cure to my "lack of Pack" problem.
 The only issue I have is there's a length of coax snaking down the steps, across the living room floor and up the wall to my tv. I can live with it till I come up with a permanent solution and until then I duct taped the coax down in key places so nobody trips on it. Does it look totally redneck? Yes. Do I care? No. It can be picked up in a hurry if the secret service, Vatican or Packer Hall of Fame calls and tells me a special guest is stopping in for a visit. Everyone else can deal with it.
 I'm happy with my $35 far. The unit comes with an amplifier and rotor and I have to wonder how long those will hold up. Two things I've decided about this move are that it was nice not being exposed to all those annoying commercials. Also, if I have to spend the equivalent of a few months of cable charges on a nicer antenna, I'd be ok with that. Go Pack!


Wednesday, September 6, 2017


 I last reported that I was gonna look into the fuel system on the Rat Turd because it was running like crap. Imagine a turd running like crap. Anyway, I had previously used some JB Weld to seal some fuel tubes on the bank of four carbs.

Because the engine seemed to be starving for fuel I was concerned I may have gotten carried away with the epoxy and created a restriction. A closer look here shows excess epoxy squeezed out of the tube.

 It took a lot to break the epoxy bond. It involved a vise, hammer and a lot of twisting force. Once apart I discovered that everything was as it should be. My assembly method with the epoxy was spot on. Too bad because now I am back to not knowing where the running problem is. The tank vent and fuel petcock were next on the list to check.

 Pour some gas in, watch it flow out. No obstructions in the tank and no problem with flow.
 So what have I accomplished here? I felt I had to check this off the list before I moved on. If I had confidence in my ability to successfully complete the initial repair then I could have saved a lot of time by not tearing this all apart. Maybe that kind of confidence is really just stubbornness and an unwillingness of a person to admit they are capable of making a mistake? So far my only mistake was doubting my first repair and that brings me full circle to where I started. Lucky for me the only thing this cost me was some wrenching time which I don't mind at all. In fact I enjoy the challenge of figuring out my running issues without just throwing money at the problem.
 I think the next step will be to revisit some wiring issues I had back in October of 2013 when the bike gave me grief while running the Blue Ridge Parkway.