Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Search Is On

 I still don't know what my used car budget will be when a profit sharing investment matures later this week but that hasn't stopped me from poking around at whats available out there. I've looked at hundreds of vehicles online and have cruised most used car lots in a fifty mile radius. Those vehicles range from pickemups, big ass suv's and some regular size suv's. To this day I've only test drove one.

 I don't know why this is the only pic I took of it or even why I took it. There are plenty of pics online. This one is a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 5.7 v8. It fits all the basic requirements of what I'm looking for and did fine on a test drive. I guess because its the only vehicle I've test driven that its currently my top choice.
 I saw this window sticker yesterday. Yikes. I don't think my house is worth that much. Certainly out of budget but a nice looking truck.

 So the search continues. Theres a v10 powered f250 I want to take a closer look at and also a Yukon. I wonder if I'll find something I really want or if I'll just settled for a fair deal. Either way, the search is fun.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Time For A Battery

 My Ultra is just over three years old now with something like 36k miles on it. Lately I've noticed that when hitting the starter button the engine doesn't always crank over with the same gusto it once did. With a nine day out of state bike vacation coming up I figure some good preventative medicine would be to replace that battery with a fresh one. I mean this bike has an awful lot of electronic gizmos including the air compressor I've added for the air ride suspension so I'm not gonna take a chance.
 Or am I? Five or six years ago, I had the same idea when I swapped out the battery on my Aprilia Futura right before a bike vacation. At work we are a dealer for a popular line of batteries and I can get a fair deal on them so why not, right? I did the swap, rode the bike locally for a week or so and then went on vacation. One day while on a ride with my buddy Bill my bike wouldn't start. The battery wouldn't take a charge and I was SOL. To us we were in the middle of nowhere but Bill and I removed the battery and he loaned me his bike so I could venture off in search of a replacement. I found a service station with a suitable replacement and left my junk battery with them as a core which is pretty standard. Besides that I had no intention of hauling a dead battery back home nine hundred miles away. I returned to the scene of the crime, swapped in the new battery and enjoyed the rest of my vacation trouble free as far as the battery is concerned. In the end that replacement battery lasted years in the bike so we know the bike wasn't the issue.
 Upon return to work the following week I told the battery supplier about my problem. He had no desire to credit me for the bad battery because I couldn't produce it. I guess this is where good or bad customer service is decided. A reasonable person would understand someone not wanting to deal with hauling a dead battery around while on a motorcycle vacation. Hell if I had enough room to pack a dead battery then I might have actually packed clean underwear or deodorant. As a reasonable person myself I know companies have policies and employees don't always get to do what they think is right. I wasn't gonna get a credit for my defective battery until my boss found out about the story. Bottom line was this. He told the battery supplier to credit me or get all his shit out of his store. I got my cha ching back and we still sell a shit ton of that brand battery. In fact I ordered this battery from the same guy that sold me the first one and he even gave me a little break on the price.
 So the short version of this post is to tell you that today I'm gonna swap a new battery into the Ultra.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Dans Ride

 So yesterday coworker Dan comes up to me and he says his bike is effed up but he's not sure whats going on. The description started out like a possible clutch issue or maybe something in the primary but as more questions were asked and answered it became obvious it wasn't something simple.

 A test ride was in order. At first I wasn't sure if I'd need to take it out on the road and torque the crap out of it to find a problem but when I gave it the first little twist I noticed right away that the back wheel wanted to go in a different direction than the front. Its funny how a half inch of movement can feel like the wheel is exiting the fender. I went less than a hundred yards and nursed it back to the shop. He'd been riding it this way so long he didn't even notice the issue. Or...maybe because I'm so spoiled on the Ultra that any little deviation from normal is grounds to question whether or not I can take advantage of that extended warranty I paid for.

 It looks like the transmission is cast with a long hole that the swing arm bolt passes through. This hole is completely broken in half lengthwise and the arm is allowed to flop around between the frame bushings. This looks terribly dangerous to ride and I'm surprised he has gotten away with it for this long. I couldn't stick around long enough to find out if any other problems were found but I did learn something else that shocked me. Here we are with ten guys standing around shooting the shit and the subject of using the front brake comes up. I felt alone on an island preaching about front brake use and only hearing back that the front brake will cause you to drop the bike or whatever. Come on, its 2018. Aren't we all past that? The news has been out for decades. Yes if you lock the front wheel in a slow turn you could have problems but thats not what we're talking about. In an emergency you need that 90% of your stopping power to stay alive and you'll never use it if you have trained yourself to always use the back brake. The harder you apply the front brake, the more weight you transfer to the front tire. The more weight on the front tire means you have more braking grip with that tire and the road. Do it. Practice it.
 Yes there are times when the back brake is appropriate like greasy stop sign intersections, some rain situations, slow speed maneuvers and gravel. Some squid type riding in the twisties may also call for feeding in a little rear brake but that's something completely different. If you need to stop from hiway speed in a hurry and you don't step hard on the pedal then odds are good you'll hit whatever you wanted to avoid. If you do step hard then odds are good you'll lock the rear and go into a skid. I guess then you'll be able to say "Dude, I couldn't stop and had to lay it down".
 Do yourself a favor and train your muscle reflex to include squeezing the front brake lever when you want to stop. Using both the front and rear is acceptable also but remember as the back end gets lighter from using the front, it will want to lock easier and you'll have to ease up on that rear brake. Your concentration is better used focusing on how hard you can use that front brake without locking the wheel.
Lecture over.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

4th of July/Princeton Flea Market

 What a screwed up week this was. For crying out loud we had two Mondays this week. The second one being Thursday after having Wednesday off for the holiday. Thursday really did suck in so many ways and Wednesday felt like a Sunday. Here's the deal. Its Independence Day so lets drop the whole 4th of July monkey business and celebrate Independence Day on a Monday or Friday so more of us can do a three days in a row vacation. This work two, take one off and then work two bullshit has got me constantly checking to see what day it is. I was surprised when I got a paycheck on Tuesday because it was actually Friday. I totally missed out on a fish fry because I thought it was Tuesday. After all this I'm sure next week is gonna feel like a nine day work week. Yesterday, (Saturday) I felt like I was playing hooky because I normally work Saturdays but had this one off and it felt like a Wednesday due to the 4th feeling like a Sunday. There was no Thursday and I can't even tell you what happened on the actual Monday or Tuesday.
 On top of all that, this entire summer is flying by so fast I can't keep up. Every time I blink its a month later except next week of course which will feel like an eternity. OK, rant over.

 So I told you that I had Saturday off. What did I do with it? Not a dang thing. At least nothing productive. The Day started out with my wife and I taking a stroll through the Princeton Flea Market.

 Its amazing the time some people will take to set up and display some of this crap. Don't get me wrong, there is some cool useful stuff to be had but much of it is pure dumpster material. I guess they're taking a chance that the initial shock of a piece of crap will trigger a purchase. I admit that some of the pieces in the following pics made it back to our home.


Monkey business

Cheese curds for breakfast? Yep!

High tech.

No thanks. Too much of a chance of zipping up something important.

These are now on display in our home. My wife says its art. I say creepy.

A twisted drive shaft. I wonder what the story is behind it?

This is my favorite shirt. My wife said it was too wrinkly but I wore it anyway. What a rebel.

 So after a day of flea markets, garage sales, antique malls and truck shopping, the evening ended on a farm in Wautoma and a good time was had by all.


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Day Off Photo Dump

 Day off in the middle of the week. What to do. I may wander off and search the used car lots for a replacement pickem up truck. The problem is that every truck that catches my eye is triple my potential budget. Oh well, it doesn't hurt to look.

Todays mini photo dump includes this hole in the roof of an enclosed trailer. Of course the driver has no idea how this could have happened. What we know for sure is that the trailer was moving and the door was all the way open when that cable broke, whipped around and bitch slapped the roof.

 I got a notice on my phone that the automower at the shop had a problem. "No drive" was the error message. When I investigated the problem the mower looked fine until I lifted it up and discovered it was dummy hung on this weird little piece of wood. These mowers are wonderful little machines but you really need to make sure the crap is picked up in your yard.

 And speaking of automowers, I was participating in what will become Americas new favorite pastime...tipping back a cool one and watching a machine manicure the lawn. As it came to the driveway edge a few clippings shot out onto the blacktop. I couldn't help but notice how clean of a cut this thing was making, even on this weedy grass. You don't always see this with a conventional mower.

 And finally a bit of bike related content. I may have mentioned that I had ordered a new "up" valve for the air ride on my Ultra. I installed it the other day and also removed the air tank to check it for moisture but found none. I know some dirt was getting in that valve so I also have a filter to install. I'll need to get some fittings before that can happen. Until then we'll just keep riding the beast and stop to clean the valve if it plugs up again.


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Farewell Old Blue... barbaric hunk of junk. Gone are the little piles of rust that you shit on the driveway every time I close the door. Gone is the need to put you in drive for a moment before you'll even think about moving in reverse. Gone is the need for a 1200 watt sound system just to overcome the road noise from the street mudders and air leaks around the doors. You are gone and out of my life. Lets just leave it at that.

 So moving forward the search is on for a replacement. We've been putting money into a profit sharing investment that will end in a few weeks. I don't even know what my budget will be yet but I do know it will be at least ten grand. I'll find something in that range because we have no interest in a loan payment. My needs are quite simple. I need to be able to get to work even if the roads are snow covered at 2am. I need to be able to pull my 6 x 12 enclosed trailer on a limited basis. Anything else like heated seats or nicer trim levels are just wants and the budget will decide how far we can go with those. Half ton short bed pickups, Tahoe/Yukons and Grand Cherokees are the ones I've been eyeballin at the used car lots. Let me know if you see any deals out there.


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Top 10 Recent Annoyances

 Right off the bat you can tell what kind of mood I'm in. This week started off for shit right away on Monday morning when I was riding to work. Something wasn't right and I couldn't put my finger on it, but I had a toe on it the whole time. When I came to my first stop fifteen miles from home I knew right away that I was wearing sneakers and not my work boots. Not sure how this happened but its a brain fart I hope not to have again anytime soon. I feel naked in sneakers and didn't feel comfortable in the shop the whole day.

 Here's a fun fact for ya. If you use BlackJack crack filler in your driveway and then it rains later that night, you end up with white crack filler and white stains where it ran. The pic below kinda shows it in the drive between the bike and truck.

 If you think this post is just gonna be a bunch of whining then I suggest you get out now. These are just annoyances in an otherwise normal week. If you want whining then we could talk about that rust bucket truck of mine or the state of my checkbook.

  How does a mosquito get into the bowl of a carb and block the jet? Greg was working on this carb when I heard him yell from the other side of the shop something to the effect of "Its bad enough those little f***ers bother you outside. Now they are bothering me inside a carb!" The jury is still out on how it got in there.

 This is kinda annoying. You build a nice tool hutch and it becomes just another flat surface for crap...only it has a door on it. The good news is that the hutch has been working great (when I keep it clean).

 Now that I have an Automower doing my lawn mowing for me, seeing the trimming it leaves for me is kinda annoying. Eventually I'll eliminate the need for any trimming in the yard. FYI the time I used to spend mowing is now spent doing all the other things I skimped on like weeding, pruning and squirting round up. That's not annoying. I'm just saying my yard looks better than it has in a long while.

 Speaking of Automowers, one annoyance is a machine that is effected by an underground utility. I'm told this isn't a common occurrence but of course if its gonna happen, its gonna happen to us. This machine will sometimes lose its signal when it passes over a combination of buried water pipe, phone and electrical wires. The good news is that we like a challenge and we're coming up with ideas to overcome this situation.

 And on the topic of outdoor lawn care, how annoying is it when a property you maintain is still in a contract with a nationwide pesticide company for the weed control and they burn the lawn while making an application.

 On the same topic, our spray crew had an incident the other day. I guess a tie down strap rubbed against a wire harness of one of the rigs while it was being transported in an enclosed trailer. They opened the door and smoke was pouring out. What they didn't know at the time was that the hold down strap shorted the harness and had burned from the melting wires and when the door went down the mower rolled out. Man I miss all the funniest shit. I guess the rig rolled down the road with our guys and a nearby construction crew chasing it trying to stop it. It finally stopped in someones yard and as I understand it, they drove it away and then put out the fire. I'm glad they have their priorities in order. None of that is really annoying but what is annoying is later that day when they did an application to the wrong property despite me having given them a correctly typed name and address. They made assumptions and while assumptions usually make an ASS out of yoU and ME, this time it just made an ass out of me because I'm the one that had to do all the 'splainin to the folks that missed their app and the ones that got something they didn't ask for.

 I think thats eight so the last two go to all the customers that can't count. If you bring in your broke ass weed wacker and I tell you one week, don't call in two days askin if its done. If I'm on the phone then I'm not at my bench fixin stuff so that slows the whole process down. And don't think your weed wackin needs are more important than the guy that showed up three days before you cuz they're not...unless you're a contractor earning a living with this equipment. Those guys get special consideration.
Rant over.


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Pillion Pics

 Yesterday we had some really nice weather. I know this because every customer that came into the store let me know how decent the weather was. My standard reply was something along the lines of "that depends which side of the counter you're on".
 Once my work day ended and I was on the freedom side of the counter I arrived at home to find my wife ready for a bike ride, and so we did. The following are random pics from her point of view on the back of the Ultra.

 We had a nice ride mostly on back roads but maybe we stretched it out too long as I clearly heard a groan from her when she dismounted. I guess I made a grunt or too as well when I got off the bike. Still, good times and it was nice to get out for a ride.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Whats Up?

 Dunno but I'll tell you whats down. My mileage. It has been a busy summer so far and that has kept me off the bike. Riding to work happens less due to the need to haul stuff back and forth. The rat is still parked in the living room and the sporty is waiting on a paint job. Oh sure I probably have more miles on in the last few months than most bar hoppers do in a year but my personal pace is down. That bothers me because I know how short our season is here in Wisconsin.

 The BSA sits on a lift in the shop and is surrounded by bits and pieces of other projects. You know how precious flat spaces are in a shop and all of mine are full of stuff. I wonder if I'll have that bike ready for the show in September? Dunno.


Saturday, June 16, 2018


I'm writing this Saturday night and I can tell you that tomorrow morning I'll wake up in a strange place. I know that for fact because I'm in a motel north of Milwaukee but not sure what city or even what road.
We rode the bike down to Cedarburg to attend a fund raiser that involved a bunch of my wife's relatives. We missed the official ride but had a nice hour and a half ride of our own getting there. Once there I was surprised as my wife had made arrangements for some of our kids to be there.  We had a nice visit. At one point we walked out of the bar and discovered it was beginning to rain. A lot of riders decided to leave and so did we. The loose plan was to ride four miles down the road and stay at one of the many hotels except they were all booked. To make a long story short, we spent the next two hours in misery being turned away at all stops. One place that was recommended we couldn't even find. Later we got stuck in a back up. It was that kind where you can't completely let the clutch out without having to pull it back in again before tagging the car in front of you. Fun times.
When the rain appeared to be picking up I decided to get some fuel. My wife took the opportunity to use her smartphone to find a place and book a room. We ran inside and grabbed some snacks and beer then followed her phone back north away from milwaukee. Things started looking familiar and sure as shit we ended up making a huge loop that ended up at the place we couldn't find earlier.
At least the hotel is nice and clean.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Husqvarna Automower 450x

 As you know I've been installing an Automower in my yard that will take care off all my summer grass cutting chores. I'll still be responsible for some trimming and leaf cleanup. The trimming will eventually be eliminated through the use of creative landscape layout or Roundup. Not much I can do about the leaves.
 The idea is that it is out there much of the time just cutting a small amount of the grass blades at a time. This will eventually reduce the thatch layer and is much easier on the grass than letting it get long then wacking half the plant away. It should also keep the weeds down. In the end I will have a healthier lawn.
 The mower is kept in the yard through the use of a wire that carries a signal, similar to a dog fence. I buried most of the wire but that wasn't necessary. I could have just stapled it to the surface if I didn't have access to a cable laying machine like this one:

 A number of safety and security features are built into the unit that prevent it from leaving the property. If the loop signal goes down then the machine stops. If someone lifts the machine an alarm goes off and if it leaves the property I can track it with gps. The gps can also be used by the mower to determine if it has covered all areas of the yard, and if not then it will mow in those areas. Pretty smart for a lawn mower.
 There are a lot of advanced features on this model like slope control, spiral cutting and a weather timer feature that cuts back on mowing when it determines the grass is slowing down, to name a few. One feature they don't mention in the owners manual is that this thing is curious. Every time I go check up on one at a job site it comes over and gets under my feet. Actually its kinda a dick. If there is a trouble spot on the lawn it seems to know it and drive right over to sniff it out. At home last night I grabbed a beer and a chair to watch it work the lawn. Sure as shit the first thing it did was try to get me. When it hit the boundary wire I laid around a downspout it found another way around.

 There are three razor blades under this things that can fold away when they hit something. I wasn't too worried about my shoe but you wouldn't want to stick your hand under there while the machine is running. If you were to pick it up the blades would stop spinning right away.
 Initially my plan was to connect the front and back yards through a passage behind my garage. The problem is that I have no rain gutter on the back side and there is a rut formed that the mower would have likely been stuck in and certainly made a mess when wet. See, the automower will mow in the rain no problem and we have many units out there doing the 24/7 routine. As an installer I wanted to try a few different things to witness for myself how the machine would respond. One of those things was to create a passage across my drive:

  The three grooves each hold a wire. The two outside wires are boundary wires and the center one is a guide wire. The guide wire is used for quickly finding its way to the charging station but can also be used to send the mower out to specific areas to start mowing. In my setup I have a guide wire in the back yard and the machine cuts back there 55% of the time. The front and two sides have there own guide wire and the machine exits the wire in three different spots, 15% of the time each. Its still too early to know if those percentages will need tweaking.
 Thats enough infomercial for now. I'll keep you posted on the mowers progress. BTW, we still didn't name it. Hell we can't even decide on its gender. My wife says its like a hard working woman. I said what? Its slow and random. Maybe it is a male.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Random Schtuff

 I told you about installing an automower in my back yard. Its been running without issue for a week and today I'm gonna work on extending my boundary to include the side and front portions of my yard. This will require the use of a few tools I don't have to include a concrete saw. I'll need to run some wires across my drive and I'll use the saw to create some grooves for the wire. I'm anxious to run to work and grab those tools along with some crack sealer so I'm gonna cut this post short.
 How about some random phone pics?

 James got boo boo to his hand and hasn't been able to run a spray rig. This means I've been out more than usual but it also means my back has been sore from bouncing around on these things.

 Don't you hate this? Somebody cranked this ratchet strap tight without considering that the crank lever needs to open all the way up to release. Grrrr.

 I know the guy that wrote this book. Well, not really but I used to work with a guy that we joked had a big book of excuses. Some of em were whoppers.

 I hadn't watched a movie in a while and was looking for a laugh. This classic did the job for me.
Ok, gotta cruise. Need to get some work done today.


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Need A Name

 I don't know if the younger generations are just spoiled or if the fact that they weren't spanked is the reason for their piss poor behavior. They act like they are entitled to whatever they want without having to earn anything. Responsibility for ones actions seems to be a lost notion. I don't know anymore. The older I get the more I feel like the old man yelling "get off my lawn".
 Is it me getting old? How about this situation at work. We have an eyewash station near a sink. I covered the station with clean towels to keep dirt and dust off of it. I had to use it once and the thing was nasty because some lazy fux kept grabbing those towels to wipe off their dick beaters. I had to put a sign on the thing to keep them from taking the towels and someone inserted the word "please". No. Not please. I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. Someones eyesight may depend on it.
 Now we have a paper towel dispenser near the sink and of course a garbage can. It just pisses me off but apparently close is good enough for these lazy fux.

 I vented and put up a sign. Things got worse and they just started hanging garbage from the sign.

 Sometimes I like to have some ranch dressing handy at lunch time so I bought a bottle and put it in the fridge. Apparently I'm not the only one that likes ranch because I used it like twice and the next time I wanted it there was nothing but an empty bottle in the fridge. Not almost empty but more like licked dry. Why would you put that back in the fridge?  The situation needed a sign.

 It may be hard to read but it basically tells the children that there is no such thing as a ranch dressing fairy. No winged entity with a magic wand sneaks in at night and restocks the fridge. People buy that stuff so they can use it when they want. Blah blah rant over.

 I last told you about wanting to install an Automower in my yard. This is one section now cleaned up so the mower can easily pass over the sidewalk. I still need to lay the wire in this section...

...but the back yard is wired and the mower ran flawlessly the first day out.

 Watching this thing roam around the yard is mesmerizing. Its fun to guess which way it will turn next after reaching a boundary wire or bouncing off a tree. After the first day I can see where I might relay some boundary wire to lessen some trimming and fill in some areas I left out. The other thing that needs to be done is to give it a name. Initially we called it Squish because it was monster trucked and all the plastic (and much of his guts) was destroyed. The demo mower at the shop has been named Squish2.0 so maybe we could keep the name Squish Ver1 or something. Dunno yet. Gonna watch it for a while and see if it does something stupid that earns it a name.


Sunday, June 3, 2018


 I don't really have much to report this week. Somehow it just didn't feel like a short work week. Basically Tuesday was a Monday at work, meaning you get to deal with all the crap that happened over the weekend no matter what day is the first work day of the week.
 I didn't ride the bike to work at all this week and I can't blame the weather. Sometimes things just don't feel right so I will just pretend I saved myself from some horrible fate by leaving the bike parked. Instinct? Gut feeling? I don't know but I'm over it now.
 Maybe I'm just loosing it. My wife and I were at the store and I wanted to pick up some lemonade.

 I saw this bottle and right away thought "hmmm, non-carbureted, must be injected." I guess its impossible to set aside the gearhead in me even when grocery shopping.

 I'm still working on cleaning up the yard. My plan is to install a Husqvarna Automower and my landscaping needs to be changed up to allow the machine access to all parts of the yard. I'll talk more about the mower in future posts but for now I'll tell you we sell and install these at work and I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have about them.

 Here is one example of how I need to clean up the landscaping. A long time ago I laid these paver blocks as edging around a mulch bed. The mulch has broke down and disappeared a long time ago only to let grass and weeds take over. The bed ran from the shovel to the drive and you can see where I removed some pavers. There are pavers on the other side of the walk as well. The automower could monster truck through the mulch I suppose (if I remulched that area) but instead I'll relay the pavers where I have painted the white line. I plan to finish this area today and clean up a few other spots that really just need attention. I'm burnin daylight.