Sunday, March 30, 2014

Shuttin er down for the night

 I went to work this morning and when I got home messed around with some car maintenance this afternoon. When I found out my wife was going out of town overnight to visit one of our daughters, I decided it would be a prime time to get some work done on the sportster.
 If you remember, I needed a soldering tip for my gun. I decided to fire up the rat turd and make the 35 mile round trip to the nearest open hardware store despite the cool 40 degree temps. The ride was nice.
 Here's where everything goes south. I was going to install a new brake light switch in the handlebar when I heard a "tink". Crap, something fell out of the throttle control assembly. It didn't take long to notice I dropped a cable ferrule. You know, that little brass piece that fits over the cable end. I think it bounced off the bike and landed in the shag carpet. I searched and searched but can't find it. Its frustrating because I plan to remodel this shop soon. I even have the floor paint sitting right here next to me. I wanted to get this electrical situation buttoned up before I moved the bike just so I wouldn't have these kinds of problems. GRRRRR!
 Fine. Its a 89 cent part. I'll order a new one later. Keep pushing on. The plan is to cut the old switch off and solder the new switch wires (pre wired) to the old wires and pull them through the existing harness. First I need to put my new tip on the solder gun. Sumbitch. I bought the wrong tip. Now I'm really pissed off.
 My thought is to just push the whole project out into the garage and start the remodeling project here in the workshop. I'm sick of this mess. There's enough space in this room if I just organize it right.

I just spent another half an hour looking for that stupid little piece.

If it didn't hit the floor, I don't know where it went. I searched the bike and can't see it. I'm gonna look one more time.

 If it is laying in the carpet it would look the the other one laying here in the pic. The screwdriver is pointing at it. Ya, that little dot about an inch from the screwdriver tip.

 Screw it. I'm pullin the pin. Gotta run out and get some beer.

 I started moving crap out of the shop last night. Wow there is a lot of stuff in here. A lot of it is gonna go. I want a fresh start in here. I'm gonna pick away at this project a little at a time. Theres really no reason to rush the sportster project because the rat turd seems to be running fine. Its gonna be in the 50's today so a ride is in order. I also wanted to adjust the valves on the subaru today but I think all my feeler gauges are at work. Ya, thats it, first I will spend some time cleaning this shop, then I'll ride to work to get the gauges, then come back and fix the car.
 Sounds like a plan.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-Greasy Shop Rags

  At work we are fortunate enough to be supplied with a lot of rags. These are more like hand or small bath towels and work great for dealing with grease. I'm always trying to be efficient so when I see a guy grab a fresh rag and clean off a grease gun I get pissed off. What a waste. Ya, I know its just a rag but why be wasteful? I like to use the rags in stages until they are used up.
 Stage one of a shop rag is to use it as a napkin. These things are 2 feet by 3 feet ultra soft cotton/polyester blend. I feel like a king using this towel as a napkin. I also eat some pretty sloppy food on occasion and a towel this size almost isn't enough.
 The next stage is to use them to wipe my dirty hands. Hey, all that grease from my face thats now in the towel really loosens up the grunge on my hands. These rags are usually found on my desk or toolbox. That means I've claimed that rag as my own...go find your own rag.
 Stage three rags will be found laying around open projects. They get dirty with oil and such from engines. They continue to be stage three rags until there is a need for a stage four rag. Stage three rags are only used as napkins in desperate situations.
 Stage four. Grease. When using a grease gun, the rag you look for is a used up stage three rag. NOT a napkin or hand rag.
 Stage five is the end of the line for a shop rag. When there is a spill to be cleaned up then a stage four rag is used to soak up the mess. Maybe after everything is soaked up some floor dry can be used but its not usually needed. Stage five rags are also used to wipe down batteries.

I bet you didn't think there would be a test. What stage rag is this?

 Now don't start thinkin I'm nuts. I'm not anal about this. In my mind its just the normal life cycle of a shop rag. Kinda like jeans.

 When my oldest work jeans are worn out, I replace them with my casual jeans. These are clean, unstained pants worn outside of the work place. Now the casual jeans are replaced with the church/fine dining/funeral jeans. I then go out and buy a new pair of jeans to replace those. This sounds stupid as shit but I know a lot of you out there do the same thing.

Nuff said.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Packing Ultra Light part 2

 For the handful of you that actually look forward to these posts, I apologize this one is late. The reason is that I just returned from taking my daughter to start her adventure hiking the Appalachian Trail. Her article about how she packed can be found here.  For me it meant taking friday off from work to make the journey to Georgia to drop her off. The truth is I wish she wasn't doing this but that's just a father worrying about his daughter. I had fun on the road trip with my wife and enjoyed some warm weather.

 Here is my daughter weighing her pack at Amicola Falls State Park, Georgia. It came in at 35 pounds with food. She went as far as to cut off all her hair. Hair care products just add weight. Shes flying low drag with the same buzz cut my dad gave us every summer when we were kids. Set the razor to 1/4" and start cuttin. Her friend James who is hiking with her is carrying a 50 pound pack. I'm guessing his pack gets lighter in a few weeks

 A couple of young kids really excited about starting their adventure. You could see this excitement growing the closer we got to this point. It went from sleeping in the back seat to perking up and checking out everything they could take in as we got closer. I remember this feeling. Mostly from the military but I know what its like to spend a lot of time preparing for something, then wake up early and head out to an area your not familiar with.
 Things don't look like you pictured them but you know how to react to them because you are well prepared. I could tell these two were well prepared.

 After we said our goodbyes, my wife and I headed home. We didn't push it like I would on a bike. Halfway home we stopped in Paducah, KY for the night. We found some barbeque which was actually one of our roadtrip goals.

 If all goes according to plan we will see our daughter again in five months.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-55 Willys

 There was a time when I was into 4x4 trucks. I had big and small jeeps, a v8 Land Cruiser and full size pickups. Trail riding, mud drags, ice racing, I was into it all. Even on the day my wife and I married, it seemed like a good idea to involve trucks.

Yes this was taken on our wedding day. Yes thats us in a truck parked in a river.

 My favorite truck was a '55 Willys pickup. When I bought this truck it was a completely stock runner.

 The 6 cylinder engine wasn't gonna be enough for what I wanted to do. The frame was rusty and the suspension would never have enough travel for decent off roading.

 I decided the best way to upgrade this truck was to just put the cab and box on a modern chassis. At some point I added a hoist. I can't remember why I took the step side box off but it sure looked a lot better than this wooden flatbed.

 The engine was a chevy 383 stroker. The truck had such goodies as a hydraulic winch, belt driven air compressor, decent sound system and red/white zebra pattern interior.

 This is the only other pic I have of the truck. I think this was an Independence day parade in my home town.
 For me a big part of bikes and trucks is the building stage. I spend a lot of time figuring out what I want and then try to build it on a budget. It seems that after some time of enjoying my project, I have the urge to start another one. The new project is usually initially funded by the selling of the old project and that was the fate of my '55 Willys.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Thinking About Daytona

 Tens years ago I vacationed in Florida during Daytona bike week with a couple friends. We trailered the bikes from Wisconsin to the northern part of Florida where we abandoned the truck for the week.

 It was nice to go from the crappy snow weather to warm ridable weather. Seeing the ocean and watching the waves roll in can be mesmerizing. The only waves we saw back home were when we scooped the ice chips out of a freshly drilled fishing hole. There was one cooler morning but still 50 degrees warmer than the temps back home.

 We did all the touristy stuff including the space center and of course we went to the speedway. If it had a motor, no matter how big or how small, I had to check it out.

 We ventured as far south as we could without a boat. After a few days in the Keys we headed back north to the waiting truck and trailer. It sucked to have to return to the ice and snow after such warmth. I don't know, I mean I do like the winter but not the arctic blast we've had this year.
 The bikes held up well which really isn't surprising because we spent some time going through them. A breakdown can be fun if its repairable on the spot but can ruin a vacation if the bike needs parts.
 The only real problem we had was when we stopped somewhere in Kentucky and peaked in the trailer to check the bikes. My Ape was tipped over and bouncing against the trailer wall. Ya it turned an absolutely perfect bike into a used scratched up bike but it could have been worse. If it would have tipped the other way it would have been bouncing against Jeffs Harley. Now that would have sucked.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-A Hint of Spring

 I'm in my little workshop trying to get things organized.  A long winter means I will have spent a lot of time in here and there are remnants of projects laying everywhere. Its easy to clean up but its also easy to save crap "just in case" I need it some day. I sometimes feel like I'm one bad decision away from ending up on an episode of Hoarders. I'm not walking around on top of stuff or saving garbage. I just need to tidy up a bit.
 My immediate goal is to clean off this desk. Here's a partial list of what I'm looking at. Stickers, light bulbs for bikes and cars, a tripod I made for taking video with the cell phone, a piece of aluminium for the bike, bushings, assorted pieces of shrink tubing from the tail light project, a screen protector for my phone, 3 flashlights, a hat, safety glasses, body filler, a bottle of Detail Doctor (approved by Danny "The Count" Koker)(I've only seen one episode of his show), a usb disc drive, another flashlight, a compass, mink oil for my boots, a stack of cds, a license plate frame from the sporty, a file, 4 drill bits, a belt from our clothes washer, a couple of bingo ink daubers (that's right, you got a problem with that?), an oil filter and some important looking paperwork.

 *there was a long pause here while I tossed some of this crap in the garbage can which is within arms reach. I also need to up the count on flashlights and drill bits.*

 I need to take my Mityvac brake bleeder to work to fix the brakes on a forklift. I'm looking at the empty box right now but have no idea where the tool is. The pump, hoses and the bottle are all missing. My guess is they are in a leak proof container because I know the bottle will have fluid residue in it and spill. I only kept the box so I could easily find the instructions. Obviously I didn't look everywhere or I would have found it, but I feel I've looked everywhere it should be. The garage isn't such a mess that its hiding under something. Actually the garage is in pretty good shape. This has happened before. A week from now I'll find what I was looking for. I don't know if its the onset of old timers disease or what.

 I have three computers that I need to get rid of...err recycle. They have exceeded the one year rule and the second year rule. That is, I haven't used them in a year so they should go but they are cool so they got a one year extension. I still didn't use them in the second year so bye bye computers. Here's the plan. Remove the circuit boards and give to someone that recycles that stuff. Check the memory to see if it fits anything I'm currently running,  smash the hard drives with a sledge hammer, toss the plastic pieces.

 My goal is to remove any unnecessary items from this room and make it more motorcycle friendly.I want to be able to get my lift table in here without it taking up all the free space. That means I need change the entire layout of the room. This old carpet should go. Heck, I might even slap a coat of paint on the walls.

 The really big news for the week is that I was able to take the rat turd out for a ride on Monday. I was impressed that the battery was still strong enough to fire the bike up and that the fuel wasn't sour. My "winterizing" effort was nothing more than finding a corner to stuff the bike into. The weather has turned to crap again but that short ride I took should hold me till spring actually gets here.


Sunday, March 9, 2014


 Saturday I was able to spend the day in my little workshop working on the sportster. I wanted to get started on this mess...

 The module on the frame backbone to the left is a Badlands Auto Turn Signal Flasher. The module on the right is a converter for the rear tail lights. It allows me to run the combination brake/turn signal tail lights rather than the stock separate turn signals that came from the Motor Company.
 The modules are wired in and everything works the way it should. I haven't finished the wiring cleanup yet because I need to order a front brake light switch and that comes with long leads that will have to be wired in near the steering neck.

 I mounted the 5 3/4" headlight with its 100/80 watt bulb. I had been looking for the right material to make some bushings but everything at the hardware stores was thin wall tubing. I wanted something with a little more beef to it.
 I found what I was looking for at work when Greg was repairing an extending pole saw. This saw telescopes in and out and has about three different sized aluminum tubes in it. All of them are thick wall tubing. Score! Rescued even before it hit the dumpster! There are a few other places on the bike where I can use this tubing.

 I need to make a trip to the hardware store and pick up a new soldering iron tip.

 The tip broke before I was finished for the day. I found that if I kinda got the ends to touch I was able to get it warm enough to melt the solder. Then I just kept a puddle going where the break was. Ya, I know but you do what you got to do to get by.

In other wiring related news, today I'm going to wire in my new voltage regulator. Its actually a regulator that belongs on this bike. The one on there now was installed as temporary repair.

 I'm looking forward to making this a gremlin-free zone. Too many wires and some aren't even hooked up to anything. Hey, it worked in a pinch and I'd do it again but its time to get this cleaned up. This is one area where the factory look will do just fine.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-Good Luck Er No?

  What good luck, I found the problem with one of my forklift projects...

Coolant is finding its way around the base seal of the cylinder sleeves. Mmm Mmm, pudding anyone?
 What bad luck, nobody seems to be able to identify the engine as there are no visible markings on it or the forklift. Thats gonna make ordering parts interesting. Maybe after I pull it out something will become obvious.

 What good luck, seven McNuggets in a 6 piece box...
 What bad luck, I'm eating McNuggets.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mail Order Stuff

 My plan for yesterday was to do a little work on the sportster, take some pics and post the results here. That didn't happen. I spent the day with my wife. Our lives get so busy and we barely see each other some times so it was nice to hang out together for the day.
 This morning at 2 a.m. I had to go to work and plow snow. Then because my shovel dude didn't come in I had to cover his route. I got done about 10:30, picked up some chicken BBQ the local fire department was cooking up and headed home. It was delicious.
 I've been ordering some parts and a few have come in.

 I mentioned I was going to order a HID kit for the headlight. I changed my mind and just ordered a 5 3/4" light that accepts a H4 bulb. I chose a 100/80 watt bulb from Hella. This will work pretty good for now. If I decide I want more I'm not out much money.
 One of my goals was to beef up the front end. I'm waiting on a 4 piston caliper that was ordered a couple weeks ago. Not sure why its not here yet. I also purchased braided brake line. This combo is going to give me some decent braking power that this bike really needs. To prevent the bike from nose diving I also ordered Progressive fork springs. Seals and dust covers will also be arriving soon.
 In the electrical department I received my Badlands Auto Signal Shutoff. This will fix my biggest complaint with this bike...push and hold turn signals. The module has its own flasher unit and also has a 4-way flasher feature. I also ordered a voltage regulator because the three wire unit I cobbled on temporarily really isn't giving me the full potential of my stator.
 So for the next few weeks expect to see write-ups about the crap I just mentioned. I also have an idea for a sculpture of sorts on the sissy bar. Stay tuned.