Sunday, April 22, 2018

First Ride

 That foot of snow we got last weekend is melting away at a pretty fast rate. There's a lot of grass showing already but not all exposed grass is a good thing. In a spot by my garage that was snow covered in the morning there is now a dandelion. I'm not happy about that because I can just image customers calling in wanting their lawns sprayed when I haven't even been there for the first two rounds, not to mention the fact that the ground is too soft for equipment. Enough about weeds.

 With temps near 60 and the sporty in pieces I made the command decision to roll the Ultra out of the garage. After making a few checks I thumbed the starter and brought the beast to life. Everything seemed alright until I noticed the bikes rear suspension was raising to full height on its own. This is a problem that came and went last year so I knew I had to clean the "up" valve in the ride height control.

 I spent maybe half an hour looking the bike over before I decided it was ready for the road. 

 It wasn't a long ride but it really felt good to be back on a bike. There sure are a lot of buttons on this bike and I admit to forgetting what a few of them do. I guess I'll just have to do some more riding and get back that muscle memory. 
 I thought about taking my wife to dinner on the bike but knew it would be a cold ride home as the temp was sure to drop quick after the sun went down. Prime rib and an old fashioned were just what I was craving and we found a place that chars and seasons the meat just right.

 I'll most likely get out for a ride again today. I need to wash the bike and look closer for damage from that tip over in the garage this winter. A quick inspection yesterday only revealed that large scuff in the fairing and I think it'll buff out.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

April Showers Bring Snow Plowers

  Its not unusual to get snow in April and I enjoy plowing snow at work but this close to the riding season is a real punch in the gut. Just when the weather was hovering above freezing and the roads were almost salt free, we get the biggest storm of the season. Here we got a foot of snow while just north in Green Bay I heard they got their second largest snow accumulation on record at two feet. That's not lake effect snow, no sir that's good old fashioned precipitation.
 For me this event meant an eighteen hour tour of duty in a plow truck. That was preceded by an all day run by the first shift and will be followed up by a clean up shift. I spent the better part of the next day in a truck cleaning loading docks and trailer parking stalls. We won't be done before the next predicted storm of 3-5" arrives. The wind has been strong and with the ice buildup we had the result was a lot of downed trees and branches. Its good to be busy and have work available but we really would rather doing spring-like activities.

 The delivery man was at my house and dropped off some stuff I can play with in the spray booth. Some of the stencils are cool but the narrow masking tape will likely be the answer to finishing the sportster tank. We'll see, because I still haven't settled on a design yet.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Air Brush Or Tool From Hell

 I'm about sick of old man winter hangin on so long into spring and I'm sure you are too. We are in the middle of a winter storm warning as I write this on Saturday. I suppose that its because of the wind and freezing rain and there's talk of accumulating snow up to five feet depending on who you listen to. We already got a lot of rain, then a few inches of snow and then a warming spurt. Now its just windy and cold again with a layer of ice on everything. Fun times. My wife needed to use unconventional methods to check the mail. Apparently the mail man didn't have a hammer handy because the box was empty.

 All this means I have time to dink around in the shop. I'm still fighting the paint job on the sporty and BSA. In fact I resprayed the BSA and I hate the way it turned out and will be doing it over again. No hurry, its been decades since that bike was on the road so I suppose a little longer on the paint wont matter. Half the sporty tank looks good. The other half looks like ass. I'm not sure what I want to do next so I just walked away from it for now. I screwed up the front fender and repainted it again for the fourth time. Painting is something I wish I were better at so I'll just keep practicing.
 I spent some time with the air brush and found out that the crappy paint was my problem with flow through the gun. Actual air brush paint and reducer flows pretty nice. I spent quite a few hours trying different lines, patterns and such only to confirm the problem is that I have no talent.

 I ordered a french curve and some stencils because I have a feeling I'll be better at lines and graphics than freehand drawing. My first attempt at blending some colors looks very elementary school like but I'll keep practicing.

  I've decided to check out some painting videos to speed up the learning process here before spring arrives. Its too crappy outside to do anything else.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Sportster Fender

 Last week I told you about the sporty tank and my painting adventures. I decided to get some polishing compound and buff it out just to see how it would look. The quality of the paint in the areas where I sanded it out decent look pretty good even though the job as a whole is quite amateurish. Heres the deal. I'm thinking the weather is gonna break soon and I want that bike on the road. I know if I continue with my graphics plan the whole project will be set back at least a few weeks. I can't accept that so the tank is done for now...maybe even till next winter. I still need to paint the front fender and I decided to get the bulk of it sanded the traditional way and the uneven areas with paint stripper. Wow that stuff works good.

 It didn't take much to get the old paint off and I followed up by filling a small dent. This time around I'll use lacquer rather than enamel paint and see how it goes.

 My air brush adventures hadn't gone so well but I don't even know what I was using for paint. Just a jar of some hobby paint that didn't go through the brush well. I decided to order actual air brush paint and I'll give it another try on my test tank.

 Even if things go all right in the air brush department I don't think I'll attempt anything on the sporty till I get some practice in. I was thinking about painting a design on my new toolbox hutch roll up door. If I can't get that right then I have no business trying to paint a bike tank. We'll see how it goes.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Gloom, Despair And Agony On Me

 No this isn't an episode of Hee Haw but I'm a bit bummed out. Nothing serious, just struggling with my painting adventures. I've self taught myself a whole lot of things NOT to do and hoping I'll stumble upon the right way of approaching these projects without fouling it all up. I find myself making a mistake and then starting over. I'll get past the step where I made the mistake and then screw up some other step. I'll then start over and get those two right only to eff something else up. I do have to admit that I'm fine doing it this way rather than following some online instructions or reading a book. Hey, here's a rare financial tip from the Greasy Shop Rag. Buy stock in Rustoleum paints because they're experiencing a nice sales burst right now. Ace hardware is doing pretty good on sandpaper sales too.
 Lets start with the Sporty because its not half bad.

 It looks pretty decent in the shop but out in the sunlight I can see a few light scratches. Many of them will be hidden by the graphics I want to paint on here but and if history repeats itself I'll be sanding the whole damn thing down anyway.

 I think I posted a pic of the BSA tank looking kinda glossy. It had a few flaws in it and when I tried to wet sand them out I went through to the primer. That was a blessing anyway cuz I knew the whole thing could have looked better.

 I'm hoping I can pick up the process from here without having to sand it all the way down. I've had some funny reactions going on at times so its really a crap shoot. Here's a prime example on the sportster front fender:

 I had been giving some thought to the graphics for the sporty and decided it was time to get a tank mounted on my air brush compressor. On a recent resupply run for sandpaper I picked up and adapter that connects a propane tank to 1/4" pipe tread. This allowed me to tee a tank inline from the compressor to a regulator and then to the paint gun. It works much better but my skills in that type of painting are also lacking. I've been practicing on an old tank with piss poor results. Maybe I should just paint all my bikes with bed liner and wrap them in barbed wire. It worked for the Rat Turd.

  That's all for now. Hopefully next time we talk about paint it has something to do with waxing or polishing and not painting.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Easter Bowling League

 Our family has come up with a new tradition that we've followed now for three years. Brunch and bowling in Milwaukee. The place we go to has pool tables and pinball and we all enjoy some time playing.

 None of us bowl much except for two that went out and practiced twice after a particularly poor performance last year. In fact, because I was using a cane last year its been two years since I've bowled. To be honest, we all suck but we suck at the same level. We have a good time and thats all that really matters.
 One of my daughters made a traveling trophy that went to the high score for the day. Its an embarrassing low number so lets just say a pro bowler could have beat it in less than six full frames.

 Bunny Bowl! Ya, that's what we're calling it.
 My wife and I have discussed secretly going out and practicing so next year one of us can take home the trophy and maybe make the children cry. The problem with that plan is my back didn't care much for bowling. That is a sweet trophy though and it would look good on my mantle :-)


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Paint Booth Adventures

 Saturday afternoon was all mine to work in the shop and the biggest project on my mind right now is getting the sporty running. I want to get out on the road even if there is some salt residue out there. Right now the streets are probably ok but the forecast is for snow and cold temps so more salt is sure to go down... starting the waiting game cycle all over again. I'm getting revved up to go for a ride, even if its a cold and miserable one.
 I have a lot to do on the sporty to get it on the road but today we'll just talk about paint. I've talked about sanding the tank down and paint bubbling and other miserable reactions with the current paint and the old paint. I've gotten past that and am now moving forward with the base color,  (duh, black). At the same time that I'm painting the sporty tank I've decided to paint the BSA tank, (duh, black).
 Both tanks got their primer wet sanded. I used grey for the BSA and dark grey primer for the Sporty. Why? Because they say dark primer should go under dark paint and the topcoat is the same for both and I want to see if there really is a difference. I guess I'm a "show me" kind of guy. I'm not a pro painter and I'm just squirting these tanks with rustoleum so experimenting seems appropriate.

 The first thing I had to do to the BSA tank was wet sand the primer and make it smooth.

 The next step turned out to be making a simple pedestal to set the tank on during painting.

 This is the BSA tank with three coats of black sprayed within ten minutes of each other. The objective is to build a thick enough layer that can be wet sanded without sanding through.

 The next step for the BSA tank will come in at least a few days when it gets wet sanded. At that point it will look something like the sporty tank does in the pic below. For those of you that don't paint, this is the basic finish of the black paint after sanding. Yes it looks dull but the clear coat will bring it back to life. Any imperfections you see are gonna be covered by the center cowl or the paint scheme I'm planning on adding later. Why mess with it when I can hide it!

 After three layers of clear this is what the tank looks like now.

 It doesn't look terrible but I think it will get wet sanded and clear coated again. At this point if I'm ever gonna up my game in the painting department then I need to do some experimenting. Worst case scenario is I screw the whole thing up and it looks like ass. You've seen some of the crap I'll ride and you know that really doesn't matter to me that much. Knees in the breeze and all that.
 By the way, this little 4 foot by 9 foot spray booth is one of the smartest things I've ever done. It sure is nice to have a clean dust free and stink free indoor place for these projects.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Busy Week

 I mentioned there was a big sale going on at work and because of that I haven't had much time to think about todays post. Instead of a photo dump I offer you a small video dump of slower times at the shop.

One thing leads to another...

 Play time in the showroom...

And you've seen a pic of this one but now here's an action shot. Again, I have no idea whats going on with this...


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Popcorn and Urinal Cakes

 Spring is supposed to be here but the cold hearted bitch is having an identity crisis and thinks shes old man winter. This is really putting a cramp in my urge to get out and ride. I was waiting for some rain to wash the salt residue from the roads but pretty soon I'll just have to bite the bullet and put some layers on and go for it. Failure to do so soon feels like it could end up in a seizure, spaz attack or at the very least a hissy fit.
 Thursday evening we had an employee appreciation party for work. There was food and drink and I think everyone had a pretty good time. During dinner my wife and I sat with another couple and engaged in some nice conversation. For them it was a night out and a chance to have adult conversation away from their two young children. For us, watching James eat was a bit like going to the Ripleys believe-it-or-not museum. Of course I'm joking. Many of us ate as much but we did it in multiple trips. James had a mound of food on his plate that looked like a science fair project.
 Friday my wife and I went to a nice Italian restaurant just because we felt like it. Once inside I discovered I didn't have the key fob for the car. My wife thought I was joking because we've had these talks about what would happen if we locked the only key we have in the car. An earlier call to the BMW dealer suggested that a second key/fob would cost north of five hundred bucks so we are treating this one we have very carefully. At least I thought I was being careful. I traced my steps from our table, out the door and down the sidewalk. Then I noticed something dark resting in the street against the curb. Sure as shit it was our key fob. I don't know how I did it but somehow I dropped it after getting out of the car and hitting the lock button. That could have gone very wrong and I feel lucky to have found it before someone else stumbled across it, or worse, drove over and destroyed it.
 Saturday started out with a bright orange sunrise.

  It was pretty busy at work because we are trying to set up for a sale that runs all next week and because we have a tent set up in front of the building people think the sale is going on now. We sold a lot of stuff but still didn't have everything set up for the sale so that means Monday morning is gonna be hectic. Oh well, better than not being busy at all.
 On the way home I picked up some paint and sanding supplies for the sportster tank project.

 I should have sanded more of those layers off because my primer actually reacted with one of those colors and started bubbling it. Thats really weird because I never had that problem last time I painted it and I think I'm using the same paint.
 After I got to the quitting point for the day with the painting we decided to do some shopping and get dinner. I needed furnace filters for the paint booth and supplies for the end table near my recliner.

  It was also a good chance to swing into the car wash and get some of those layers of salt off the beemer. We got the deluxe wash with the smurf jizz again and my wife finally decided what it smells like. Cherry scented urinal cakes. I can't argue with that but it does beg the much time do you spend in the mens room, Dear?


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Randumb Foto Dump

 Another Wednesday is upon us and I don't have anything interesting to talk about so I scrolled through my phone and pulled some pics I don't think I've used here before. I guess this is a post for the guys that don't like to read. Why I even took some of these is a mystery.

Perfect example of "WHY?"

Git r done!

Some guys have barbed wire pin stripes. Some have real barbed wire. Just sayin.

Jack must have lost the flip!


A tote full of chainsaws and weed wackers.

This is the kind of crap I have to deal with at work.

Found on a piece of power equipment. I get what it means...just thought it was weird.

Thats a lot of scrapings and it all came from this one mower deck!

I don't even know whats going on here.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Black River Falls

Last week the postman delivered a couple of pieces of mail to me and my wife. They were coupons to the casino in Black River Falls for some kind of a grand opening gimic celebrating  their new hotel addition and remodeling project. I suppose we got on the mailing list because of a visit last year during a bike ride where we had joined the players club and got maybe ten or twenty dollars free play each. This time around it was $150 each and a free nights stay. I guess that's the magic number that will draw people in because the place was packed.
The room was really nice. Very modern, plenty big and almost completely clean. We elected to do the buffet right in the casino only because they didn't offer anything fancier than that. The food turned out to be ok and I suppose it ranked as being deserving of another visit.  Afterwards we headed to the gaming floor where managed to make a little of our own money by using theirs.
I'm writing this Saturday night in that hotel room during a break from the slot machines. I brought my own beer and we ran back here for a refill. Ya I know that sounds cheap but because the casino was putting us up we decided to see how much fun we could have without making any major contributions to the funding of their remodeling project. Besides,  I already had enough green beer for the night and it was time to get back to my usual swill and at their pricing I could buy a six pack for every two cans purchased at the bar.
We later returned to the gaming floor where we enjoyed some live music and were able to play on their dime for the rest of the night.
I'd say we had a pretty good time considering we didn't have any other plans for the night although it's unlikely we'd do it again if we were funding the adventure.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Winter Projects

 One of the worst parts of my job is having to tell someone their equipment is shot. I know its not like I'm a doctor telling you that your days are numbered but it just kinda sucks having to tell good people that they need to spend more money especially when its not their fault. The exception would be dick heads that won't listen, argue or worse yet they lie and try to blame someone else for the mistake that ruined the equipment. I have no problem telling those fools where they went wrong.
 We have a minimum labor charge for diagnosing equipment and the customer has the option of paying that charge or abandoning the piece in exchange for that bill. We try to recover our expenses by parting out the unit. Once in a while a decent piece comes along and I save those for winter projects. As a dealer we can use parts at our cost and obviously supply our own labor. Usually the best we can expect is to come out even and hope to rent the equipment out after its fixed and make a small profit.
 One such piece is this hedge trimmer. It was one of our rental units that wouldn't start. I remember pressure testing it and it failed. I must have been busy at the time because I just marked the tag "crankcase leak". If I would have spent more time on it I would have discovered the leak wasn't a hard one to repair.
 I removed the flywheel in preparation of pressure testing the unit again and immediately noticed something out of the ordinary.

Do you see it? At first glance this looks like a normal crank seal but look closer.

 Its actually a damaged seal due to grass and debris getting wound up around the crankshaft. Enough of it got wedged under the flywheel that it started working its way against the lip of the crank seal.

 That shiny spring below the seal and around the shaft should actually be hidden under the lip of the seal which is worn away. Thats a huge air leak and a two stroke engine won't run with a leak that big. A simple seal replacement fixed this trimmer and its back in service, or at least its sitting around waiting for spring just like the rest of us.
 So, was it lack of proper maintenance, sloppy operating practices or poor engine design? Blowing debris out of the cooling fins is regular maintenance but removing the flywheel isn't so we can't blame it on lack of care. This trimmer sucks cooling air from the bottom so the design may be poor but I think this was used to cut flowers back in the fall. The unit was probably sucking in dead grass and debris from a bed and that debris got wrapped around the crankshaft. Maybe it was just set down in a messy area and idled for a while, all the time sucking crap into the cooling system.
 I don't think anyone is to blame. Sometimes things just happen. Yes this could have been avoided by using a stick hedger rather than a hand held and a lot can be said about using the right tool for the job but sometimes you just run what ya brung to git er done. As a rental unit theres nothing that can be done to prevent this. For an individual owner there is a lesson to be learned here that can be best summed up with the old Chinese proverb, He who work in messy bed end up with dirty crank!


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Saturday In The Shop

 Saturday morning I didn't have to work and my wife had plans to leave town. This meant I would have time to dink around in the shop. The first thing that had to be done was a little bit of cleaning. I found a tote full of tools and realized they were from a past remodeling project. No, not the bedroom painting project from a few months ago, these were from the November 2016 bathroom remodel. Oh well, those and the ones in a tote from the latest remodel are now put away. I also found a box with the old valves from the Subaru project.

 Not a straight one in the lineup. This was the first time I had looked at them out of the heads. Pretty impressive the amount of damage that can be done from not changing your timing belt often enough.

 My wife had mentioned how cloudy the headlights were on that car so Friday after work I picked up a restoration kit from the local parts store. I chose the Mothers brand product because I really like some of their products like Back to Black. I've used this for a long time and really like the way it restores sun faded plastic on bikes. I see it now comes in an aerosol and I may have to pick up a can and try it. The headlights weren't bad enough to need wet sanding in multiple steps and the polish and bonnet supplied did a nice job. As you can see, the light on the left still looks like ass before the polishing.

 The outside temps were rising into the high thirties so I decided it was a good day to sand the sporty tank so I can paint it.

 I got some 60 grit paper on the orbital sander and started chewing away at layers of paint. 

 You may remember how this paint job got on the tank and the gold glitter I sprayed on in frustration. Well I'm paying for it now. It took two packs of 60 grit to remove that glitter paint. It gummed up something terrible but its all gone now. I was surprised to see evidence of at least three other paint schemes under the mess I created. 

 The purple with white lightning bolts is what the bike had on it when we bought it. I'm not sure what the green is about but I could tell it was taped off into a few stripes so thats two different paint jobs.

 I'm not sure how well this pic shows it but there is a blue flame paint scheme under here as well. I stopped sanding at this point and spent a lot of time trying to decide if I just wanted to squirt clear coat over the tank in this condition. I think it looks cool and probably better than whatever I'll come up with.

 I had this small can of 3M bondo laying around and once the sporty tank was sanded I wanted to fill a dent and also one or two on the BSA tank. Thats right, progress was made on the BSA. A lot more progress could have been made if the working time of this body filler would have been longer than 14 seconds. Seriously, you can see I'm holding the can up just by the stir stick that now won't move. I put a dab on the sporty tank, wiped it with a squeegee, did the same in two spots on the BSA tank and by then the stuff was hard. There was some other stuff to do on the sporty but I couldn't because my bondo was now a rock. I'll have to pick up some more and finish the job.
 While I was messing around in the garage I remembered there was one more piece of business that needed to be taken care of now that I'll be commuting in the Subaru for a while.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

On The Road Again

 Sorry if you thought I was referring to getting back on a motorcycle because I'm not. In fact we just got a few inches of snow the other day. I'm talking about the Subaru Outback that blew a timing belt back in November. Let me get you up to speed. After the belt broke the car sat in the garage for a while before a couple day stretch that was warm enough for me to tear the engine down and remove the heads. Turns out all sixteen valves were bent but everything else looked ok. A local machine shop went through the heads while I bought a complete gasket set, head bolts, timing belt, idle pulleys and water pump. Last week I had in my possession all the pieces and mother nature provided a few days above freezing.
 Bolting the heads on was easier than taking them off because I unbolted the motor mounts and slid the engine to one side and installed the opposite head. It was tight getting a torque wrench in there but it was doable. Actually, the worse part was that the torque sequence had me doing one bolt from the top then the next bolt from underneath, then back on top and so on. That sucked because its a seven step process per bolt.
 I think it was a Sunday afternoon and two nights after work for a few hours to get it all buttoned back up. I was working in the dark with the front of the car pointing out of the garage and just used a pen light to light my way. After making one last lap around the engine compartment I decided it was time to fire it up. Crank, crank, crank...nothing. Not a single pop. I had a check engine light flashing at me and the "cruise" light flashing too. Last time that light flashed it cost the dealer a new $800 catalytic converter. The car was still under warranty then. Anyway, I cranked a bit more hoping to hear something that sounded like an attempt to start but still nothing. It seemed to crank normal, meaning compression sounded good and no interference between valves and pistons. I whipped out my handy dandy pen light and made one more sweep of the engine compartment. Sure enough, hidden under the intake runner on the passenger side is the ignition module and I could see it wasn't plugged in. The wire harness for it got bunched up under the manifold and kinda hid there. I plugged it in, jumped in the car and tried starting it again. Vroom! It started right up!
 I was standing just outside the garage lookin in and the garage was filling with smoke. My Ultra is a big bike yet I couldn't even see it back there through the cloud. I quickly pulled the car outside. The car ran for maybe fifteen minutes and began overheating. Remember its dark outside and from the glow of the tail lights it looked like the car was still smoking. I thought it was blowing antifreeze out the exhaust like maybe I screwed up the head gasket install or maybe I had a cracked head. All those negative thoughts clouded my rational thinking so I backed the car in the garage and gave up for the night. I spent all night going through the repair and couldn't come up with a good reason for the problem. I'm not saying I'm too good to screw up cuz I make mistakes all the time but I didn't rush this job and it should have gone right.
 A few days later I borrowed a cooling system pressure tester from Al. Thanks Al. That test told me there were no leaks in the system. I fired the car up and to my surprise it didn't blow smoke but it did overheat. I started thinking logically and realized I just had an air pocket in the system. Once I got that bled out the car stopped overheating and the heater worked fine. I'm thinking all that smoke was raw fuel in the exhaust from when I initially cranked the piss out of it. I suppose anything left in there evaporated after sitting a few days. Oh, and to my surprise, all the flashing lights and check engine light just went away. Schwiiiiing!

 So this will be my ride until we're ready to upgrade the truck. I'll need the old Dodge for towing and hauling but thats about it. The only other thing the Dodge can do better is deep snow and off roading. I don't do much off roading and the chances for deep snow yet this year are slim.