Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sportster project

 My wife is so wonderful. When a co-worker expressed some interest in selling her sportster, my wife jumped on the opportunity to buy me an awesome anniversary gift. She knew I had been thinking about getting a Harley and she also knows I enjoy projects. Thanks Honey!
First trailer ride on the day it was purchased.

The lightning bolts were cool but the paint was showing its age.

 The bike had been sitting for a while and had some issues. I was able to ride it around the block but it wasn't quite right. At first I thought it was just a gummed up carb but I soon realized it was more than that. As it turns out it had a cracked rockerbox.
This crack opens up about 3/16ths of an inch allowing the rocker shaft to lift and the valve to barely open.

 I could have just replaced the rocker box but I also found an issue with a transmission cross shaft bearing. Someone tried to epoxy it back in place after it had worked its way out of the case. I did a little research and found out this was a common 4 speed problem.
That bearing below the output shaft is coming out of the case.
 I wanted something reliable and I didn't have a good feeling about this engine. I took a chance on an ebay engine. I found a seller that was showing videos of the running bike before harvesting the engine. I found one that sounded good and bought it. Ya I was a bit nervous about buying an engine this way but as it turns out I got a decent one.
As long as the motor was coming out I figured I might as well paint the frame.

 The bike is an '89 and my new motor is a '99. Seems simple enough but as it turns out there were quite a few differences in that 10 year stretch. The wiring harness is different but that didn't matter as someone had already raped the wiring harness on the bike and left it for dead. The old bike used a separate ignition box, the new engine does not. The oil pump on the old motor had one more port than the new motor. I managed to get everything correctly plumbed on the first attempt. The new motor was belt drive and I converted it to chain drive because the old chain and rear sprocket were in good shape.
 The clutch release mechanism is also different. The strippers I bought the motor from removed the derby cover, pulled out the clutch release mechanism, and disconnected the clutch cable. They then put the cover back on without the release mechanism in there. When I called them on it they claimed thats just the way they do it. "We sell a lot of those". Not to me you don't. I explained that it is assumed all the parts are behind the covers unless stated in the description of the motor. Just like I assumed there were pistons in the jugs even though I couldn't see them. They sent me the parts.

 The thing that bit me in the ass was the crank case breather. The '89 had a vent port in the side cover near the area of the oil filter. The '99 is a head breather. I didn't know the term "head breather" until after I had problems.
If you know what you're looking at then you know those two 1/2" bolts are totally blocking off the crank cases ability to breathe.
 I rode the bike to work for a week and didn't have any problems until the day I decided to take it on the interstate. I didn't realize it at the time but pressure built up in the case and eventually blew the cap off the oil tank. When I got to my destination and got off the bike I was immediately freaked out by all the oil dripping off the bike. This explains why the rear tire stepped out on the off ramp. It was covered in oil.
 I added two quarts, fabricated a temporary tank cap and started heading home. I went ten miles, added more oil and continued another ten miles where I added more oil. This turned out to be the end of my ride as the battery was now dead. The dead battery was a separate problem from the oil issue. I was just lucky enough to be hit with two major problems on the same ride. Modern technology to the rescue...I called for a trailer and took up residence on the curb. Thanks uncle Tommy!
Kwicky Mart oil cap. I bought a pair of gloves and a hose clamp. Bag it please! I stuffed the plastic bag in the glove before clamping it down. The first glove/oil cap attempt, without the plastic bag, just let the oil push through the fabric.
I painted the fuel tank, oil tank and fenders in one afternoon with Rustoleum and glitter coat. It doesn't look terrible but it will have to be redone this winter.
 This is the way the bike sits now. I'm just trying to get some miles logged on it so I can get a feel for what it wants to be. There are a lot of little issues that pop up and I'd like to get them all sorted out before next years riding season.
 I consider this the starting point of this project. All that other work was just to figure out what I had.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Personal Reminder

 I have been running lawn and landscaping crews for decades. When you do the same thing for years and years you develop a feel for what to expect from a piece of equipment. If you don't see what you are expecting from the operator of that equipment then you need to train that crew member to function more efficiently. Its all about a calm approach to the situation.
 On one particular afternoon while doing leaf cleanup, my brother was running a tractor with a leaf blower mounted to the front of it. He was working on a slope and having some difficulty with the machine. He said the hill was too steep for this rig and was concerned it may tip over.
 This would be a good time for that calm approach to the situation. A chance for everyone to learn without any yelling. Instead I called him a pussy and told him to get out of my way.
 Well as it turns out my brother who has as much experience as I do, was correct. The hill was too steep. The low side tire of the tractor fell in a hole and that was enough for the tractor to flip. It rolled a few times and stopped short of hitting the water.  I was able to hop off without getting hurt.

The machine was upside down but we were able to roll it over to try to stop the fuel from leaking out.
The neighbor brought over a bucket to help put out the fire. It was way too late by then.
 The gas powered leaf blower mounted on the front started leaking fuel. There were some magnificent flames and it didn't take long for all the rubber parts to start burning and all the plastic pieces to melt. The 13 hp honda powered blower was a total loss. The front of the $12,000 diesel tractor suffered a lot of damage. Luckily we were a dealer for this brand of mower so we had most of the needed parts on the shelf back at the shop.

 So I look at these pictures every now and again just to keep myself in check. Hey, we all make mistakes but I was kinda an asshole in this situation. This was a turning point for me. A real game changer.
 Oh, I can still be and ass, but I'm a lot more cautious on slopes.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Rat turd takes third

 On Friday I was working in the shop when an ad came on the radio for a car and bike show to be held in town. A co-worker suggested I take my rat bike and another co-worker seconded the motion. I've never entered any type of show, it really wasn't my thing. I kinda threw out a "put up or shut up" offer that I would go if he also entered his bike. He agreed and we made plans to meet in the morning and enter our bikes.
 As it turns out, the place I work was setting up tents and such for this event. Our crew got there early and left a vehicle there for me so I could register my bike and then drive to work. I worked all morning, got a ride back at noon and met up with friends.
 I had to enter in the "radical" class. I think of this bike more as rat-ical, not radical. I knew I would be going up against some cool iron but my attitude was more about checking out other bikes and having fun. Good thing because as it turns out the other bikes in my class were pretty nice.
This Sportster took second place in its class.

 You know whats fun? For me it's watching people check out bikes. Some people just kinda glance as they walk by till something interesting catches their eye. Others stop fully in front of each bike and try to take it all in. Still others go over the bike with a fine toothed comb checking out all the details.
Peoples choice award winner.

 My bike has a bunch of odd little details and it was fun to watch people discover them. Some of those details would get a laugh from one person and a sour look from another. Good stuff. The spice of life.
I never took a pic of my bike at the show. The tractor seat gets a lot of attention.

 I heard a lot of comments about the tractor seat and how I must never ride this very far. LOL! This is one of the most comfortable bikes I have ever ridden because the seat, bars and pegs are all located exactly where I want them. Last month I did 3000 miles in a week during a Smokey Mountain vacation.  It may not be pretty or shiny but it works for me.
Here's something you don't see every day.

 There were some beautifully restored bikes but the ones that really interest me aren't built from mail order parts. They are made from scraps of steel and rough ideas. I saw some examples of this and got to listen to a few stories. It has my mind spinning with thoughts of my next project.
This 650 yamaha powered scoot earned a first place. This is one of those bikes that looks ok but when you get up close you realize its very clean and awesome.

 The time came to announce the winners. My co-worker had a good chance of placing so we gathered around and awaited the results. Sure enough, he got second place in his class. I immediately gave his wife crap about not doing a good enough job polishing the bike. That got mixed reactions.
 The surprise came when they announced that I placed third in the radical class. Yes, there were more than three bikes in the class. Obviously the judges have excellent taste.
 I had fun. I enjoyed the bike show experience and I'm thinking I may want to do it again. I have a few ideas for the rat bike and I'll be sure to post any updates.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Is this your bag of weed?

 It was over twenty years ago and it forever changed the way I deal with strangers when I sell a bike.
 My neighbor was a nice elderly woman that never gave us any problems. Her grandson had been staying with her for a couple of weeks and we had talked on a few occasions. He seemed like a decent enough guy so when he inquired about a bike I had for sale I was eager to show it to him. He asked to take it for a test ride and I offered him the key.
 About a half hour went by and I started wondering if he was having problems. I mean it was a high mileage Honda CX500. Anything could have gone wrong. Another half hour went by and I decided to talk to his grandmother and let her know what was going on. She said "you didn't give him the keys to a bike, did you? We just had a big fight and he said he was moving out."
 Wonderful. I reported the bike stolen and figured I'd never see it again or the $500 I was asking. A few weeks went by and still nothing. Then one day the phone rings and its the cops from a county in the northern part of the state. It seems our test rider was involved in a high speed chase. Apparently he went straight through a T intersection and crashed the bike. I was told if I wanted the bike back I should bring a trailer.
 I had considered just abandoning the bike. I certainly wasn't gonna stick any money into it just to resell it for a couple hundred bucks. The truth is I was curious so I hooked up the trailer and headed north.
 I found the cop shop and right away things seemed weird. Two officers escorted me to the building that housed my bike and what I assumed were impounded vehicles. The bike was laying on the ground and smashed up pretty bad. I remember wondering how the driver was. Anyway, one of the officers positioned himself behind me and the other walked over to the bike, reached in the fairing storage pocket and pulled out a big plastic baggie. "Is this your weed?" he asked.
 Really? Even if it was, what did he expect?
 Ya, dude, I've been looking for that.
 Come on. They just chased a guy on a bike he had stolen three weeks ago and they think thats my weed?
  I wanted to say something smart like "No, I keep my weed in the other saddlebag" or something like that but I thought better of it and said, "No officer. I've never seen that before."
 These guys were serious about setting me up. After a few uncomfortable moments and a lot of convincing on my part, it was decided that it probably wasn't my bag of weed.  I learned the bike was full of drugs. They had removed them earlier but double checked for anything they may have missed. They then released me and the bike. I breathed a sigh of relief.
 I salvaged a few parts off the bike and then took it to a buddies property where it would sit for years. I remember someone asking about it one day and I told him to take whatever he wanted. I figured that would be the last time I would hear about the bike and I was ok with that.
 I was wrong. A few years later I received a check in the mail for $500. At first I didn't realize what it was for because I had forgotten the whole incident. It turns out our test rider did some time and was forced to pay restitution.
 Lesson learned. Pick your own moral of this story:

A. If you want asking price for your bike, make sure the cops are present at the test ride crash site.

B. Don't base the decency of an individual on the sweetness of his grandmother.

C. Be careful of a friendly invite from a strange cop.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ten Dollar Honda

 There are a lot of twisty scenic country roads here in Wisconsin. Many of them are southwest of where I live. One sunny summer day I was making this trek in search of undiscovered roads when I came across a bike for sale. Funds were kinda tight but I decided to turn around and check out the bike. You never know how much someone is asking until you investigate.

 It was a 1984 Honda 750 Interceptor. The bike was complete, ran well but did show signs of its age in the paint and body work. Asking not ten dollars. He wanted 1500 dollars. Cool. It seemed like a good deal. Maybe I could raise the funds and negotiate a better price.
 I continued on with the ride. Theres a point about an hour from my house where I often stop for a soda and use the restroom. Its a casino. On this particular day I decided to throw a ten spot at a slot machine. No kidding after just a few pulls I won 1500 bucks. I figured this was a sign. I needed to buy that bike but after careful consideration I decided on something different. I rode home, picked up my wife and brought her back to the casino for dinner and some gaming.
 The machines were loose that night. I kept winning. In the end I had enough to buy the bike and then some. And so I did.
The frame didn't need paint but it did need a bath.
 The bike was in fair shape. It needed the basic maintenance stuff like chain and sprockets, brakes and valve adjustment.

 Because some of the plastic pieces were cracked and needed repair, it was easy to make the decision to repaint. The original paint was cool but not "original". I like to add my own touch.

 It turned out all right. I rode it for a while and finally sold it to a co-worker who learned to ride on it. He later traded it in on a new bike.
 Where do all the sold bikes go? It would be nice to know if this one is still on the road. Maybe it was wadded up? Maybe its rusting in a shed somewhere. I know it was running good when it was traded in. I like to think someone is enjoying it. Maybe they are on a ride right now and they just noticed a cool bike for sale along side the road...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Random Food Pics

 Someone asked me the other day if I ever move the pics off my phone. I don't do it too often and after deleting over a hundred stupid pics I still have over 400 in there. That seems like a lot but I bet many people have much more than that.
 Why do we take a pic of something and just walk around with it in our phones where nobody will ever see it? I take a lot of work related pics. Some to keep a record of something, some to discuss projects with clients and some of crap I build.
 I noticed a bunch of pics with a food theme. I don't know, maybe I'm just hungry right now and thinking about food.
I haul a lot of styrofoam containers this way. Usually at least three at a time.

Meet the "Princeton Monster". The local VFW puts on a fundraiser on saturdays. Their claim to fame is a brat voted best brat in the state. This bad boy is a burger with two types of cheese and then pulled pork on top. I like to add onions, bar b que sauce, and horseradish. Yum.
Cookie jar!

Heres one I created myself. A slice of banana with a raspberry and topped with chocolate. I call them sweet-rasnanas.

Thats right...a bacon covered ham.

My wife knew I liked this stuff so she ordered a case online. It never got here. We tracked the shipping and it just ended in St Paul. I think someone put a fork lift tine through it. I like to think its a big sticky mess on someones loading dock. I was finally able to secure this bottle directly from a restraunt.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

To Infinity and Beyond

Sometimes the moon and stars all line up just right and you finally get what you've been waiting for. This happened today at work when a co-worker named Al finally got to ride his bike to work. Al has a few bikes and they are all pretty cool but this one is special.
Als '92 Dyna Low Rider. I wish I got a better shot of the wheels and rotors.
I like the green fins
I'm more of a Foghorn Leghorn fan myself. The quality of the paint is awesome.

  As long as you own a bike, its never really done. I know Al has some colored LEDs that he plans to add for a green glow that will reflect of all those shiny surfaces.
 Al says the reactions he gets about the paint vary from "awesome" to "why did you wreck that bike?"  How can anyone think he wrecked it? Its a one of a kind bike that will never get confused with anyone elses bike.
 Its funny how how the guys screaming at you to be a free spirited individual are always trying to get you to do the same thing they are doing. Whats up with that? 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My first touring bike

 As a new rider I spent all my spare time riding my early 70's Honda CB100. It was my free ticket to go anywhere. It didn't take long for me to realize that this bikes "anywhere" was a bit limited. The lack of power made it sort of dangerous on the highway.
 I needed something with longer legs and found it in the classifieds of the local paper. It was a red 1972 Kawasaki Mach III. This bike was a 350cc three cylinder two stroke. I remember seeing it for the first time and thinking how big and fast it looked. After giving it the once over it was time for me to take it for a test ride.
 It fired up on the first kick. No problem. I gently pulled away and headed down the road. Once out of earshot of my dad and the owner I let er rip. WOW! The front wheel came up and stayed there for what seemed like a whole block but was probably only a few feet. That was my first accidental wheelie but by far not the last wheelie I would do on this bike. Oh, it was also the last time I would gently pull away from a stop.
 This bike proved to be very reliable. Ya if I over-revved it too many times it would blow a head gasket or two. No big deal to replace them. My point is that I realized I could go anywhere I wanted and probably make it home without relying on a friend with a truck to rescue me. On a weekend I would spend a half day just riding away from home and the other half riding back. I covered a lot of ground and discovered a lot cool roads.
 This bike would be my first touring bike.
Its funny how that small rack on the back made this a touring bike in my young eyes. These days I seem to require bags, trunks or big racks to haul all my stuff.
 I had a lot of bikes come and go but this one stayed around for a few years. I finally traded it for a fast car. Looking back I now see that was a mistake but this blog is about bikes, not stupid crap I did in a car.
 I missed the bike after I traded it and longed for that rush that you get from a multi-cylinder two stroke. I picked up a 500cc version later in life but it just wasn't the same. The bike followed me around for a few moves until I found out a friend needed the engine for parts. I loaded the engine into a small trailer I towed behind my Kawasaki Voyager, hauled it 950 miles to a bike rally, and traded it for dinner. I was on a budget and considered it a fair trade.

Monday, September 9, 2013

What is The Greasy Shop Rag?

 This blog will be a chance for me to share some ideas and observations with the world. Much of what you will find here will be motorcycle related but anything of a mechanical nature interests me.
 When I was young and just getting my drivers license I asked my father if I could buy a car. He insisted I didn't need one or the expense associated with owning a car. As a young man with a taste for things mechanical, this just wasn't gonna fly. I got the idea to ask him if I could buy a motorcycle. I thought I was going to have to argue all the good points of owning a bike over a car but I was surprised when he said "Sure, it's just a motorcycle".
 As a car guy I don't think my father really knew a lot about bikes but in the following months he would become educated. As a young man he spent his time hot rodding cars. As a father he would end up spending a lot of time passing along his knowledge of things mechanical. I still learn things from him.
 It wasn't long after he OK'd the bike that the garage was full of bikes. We fixed a few bikes and resold them. Good times. One of those bikes we picked up was a '67 BSA Lightning. We carried it home in boxes...a true basket case. That was about 33 years ago. I still have that bike and if you follow this blog I'm sure you'll hear more about it.