Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-Needed a Lift

 At work there are four of us that fix customer equipment. Al does mostly bigger equipment and he has a hoist in his work area. Greg does mostly riding tractors and he uses a motorcycle lift table with side extensions. He also has an overhead hoist. James has a large workbench and also an overhead winch for repairing whatever is thrown at him. When I'm not out killing weeds or fertilizing lawns I'm in my corner of the shop also fixing customer equipment. Lately I have mostly been doing the handheld stuff like chainsaws, trimmers and blowers, but I also get into generators, pressure washers and push mowers. I have a large workbench and plenty of floor space but bending over and working on equipment on the floor has really got me down.
 I came up with an idea to build a lift table off of a post that is in my area. When I approached the boss about it, I said "I wanna build...". Thats all I got out and he said "OK". I like working for him.
 This is what I came up with.

There's a winch mounted above the post which is cemented into the floor. The winch cable drops down to a pair of plates with bearings that ride along the post. The plates have square tube receivers welded to the bottoms of them.

 The table can be removed from the receivers and any other configuration of table or lifting device can be added to either side of the post. For the most part I foresee just leaving the table in there.

 This table is great. Its so nice to be able to raise equipment to any height, pull up a stool, and get to work. Its funny how something so simple can bring so much joy.
 The lift has gotten the approval of most everyone in the shop, including the boss. The first day I had it done I had to go out and do some landscaping. When I got back he had a project torn apart on it. He agreed that being able to adjust the table with just a push of a button to whatever height is comfortable is really nice. Thanks Al for the four bulb florescent light you recently added above the table.
 One member of the shop jokingly gave me crap for spending time building this table rather than fixing a forklift that needs a head gasket. Sure it would be nice to have a fourth forklift available...sometimes you just have to prioritize. Besides, I've heard he uses the lift table when I'm not around.
 Moral of the story. If you're down and need a little a little lift.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Smurf Piss

 The sportster is still in my shop on the lift. I finally got around to putting a new Energy One clutch in it. The wait was my need for a clutch spring compressor tool. Having never replaced a Harley clutch, I didn't know what I needed. Finally I went online a found the answer.

 Its really very simple. Tightening the center nut makes the wrench push on the round steel ring that I cut on the bandsaw. The ring compresses the clutch spring and allows for removal of a snap ring. Credit for this idea goes to some dude that goes by the screen name Dirty Don.
 Part of the install process involves pre-soaking the friction discs in the oil that they will run in. Energy One recommends using B&M Trick Shift, so thats what I got. I know this is just some fancy type F transmission fluid but I didn't know they dyed it blue.

 Smurf piss! The nice thing about having blue fluid is that certain individuals that like playing games like pouring oil under someones bike to make them think they have a leak, probably won't know or have immediate access to, smurf piss. Yes Bill I'm talking to you.
 So I still have to paint the primary cover and button things back up with new gaskets and seals. Later when I pull the bike back outside I'll adjust the clutch. Before that happens I need to pick up some other parts like wheel bearings, shocks and a few more maintenance items. I want to eliminate any potential problems that could ruin my vacation next month.
 Thats all for now.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-Crappy Day

 If you don't like whining then move your cursor up to the corner by that X and opt out cuz I had a crappy day.
 Even though I didn't know it at the time, I forgot to post this blog. I post every sunday and wednesday morning. I'm sure it would have been something wonderful, witty and enlightening.
 My windscreen on the Rat Turd was full of bug carcasses so I decided to clean it. Whatever I used looked fine at the time but once I got on the road and had to look through it, it was terrible. The ride into the sun for twenty miles sucked.
 I picked up my morning quart of orange juice but they were out of chocolate chip muffins. No biggie, its not much out of my way to get them somewhere else.
 Everything went wrong at work. I'm pretty sure that even though I didn't directly mess anything up, I didn't make the company any money today. I should have known when the first saw repair of the day was so old it still had points and condensor that the day would suck. Intermittent electrical issues were the tone of the day which was actually a better sound than the country music playing in the background.
 One machine wouldn't run right and kept killing. After an hour of diagnosing it turned out the owner had installed a non-resistor spark plug. In some cases this really makes a difference. I assumed the plug that was in it was correct but it wasn't.
 A machine that I had worked on this spring when we were super busy came back yesterday. The first time around I had battery voltage at the regulator but it wasn't charging. I put a regulator on it and it started charging like it should. Full stop. Bill
'em. NEXT. Wrong. Yesterday Greg and I were looking at it and to make a long story short, there was an intermittent connection at the fuse block. Greg fixed it and the machine works again. I decided that I need to slow down and take a few extra minutes looking over equipment when I work on it. I also need to take some of my own advice and always ask "why?" The biggest waste of time can be fixing something thats just the result of something else thats broke.
 Listen to me whine. Poor me. I rode my motorcycle to a job. Couldn't get the right flavor muffins. Didn't get yelled at for screwing up. Rode back to a house and flipped open a laptop to post a blog.

 I hate soap opera crap. There are people out there with real problems that get by every day without crying about it. Take a close look at your life and decide if you really have it tough or maybe just a few simple different decisions could make it better. Help yourself rather than waiting for help.

 OK, here's what I learned today.
1- Don't make assumptions. If you do, accept the consequences of having made a mistake.
2- Slow down. an extra few minutes aren't gonna matter. Its better to be slow and consistent than being fast but having to do it twice.
3- Ask yourself "why?" Often times you will find the root of the problem and save time in the long run.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Back Cracker

 I've got back problems. Bulged disc, degenerative disc disease, whatever they want to call it. When I built the Rat Turd I picked a seat that fit my ass. I trimmed it so it fit just right. I mounted the seat with its own pair of nitrogen filled shocks. I placed the hiway pegs in a spot that allows my spine to bend in such a way that it takes pressure off my nerves. I made the handlebars with just the right bends to be comfortable for me. I rode this bike three thousand miles in one week last year on vacation. It works for me and my back feels better after a ride.
  Here is a pic of the cast iron seat on the bike. It looks like torture but that's not the case at all.

 So the other day I roll up to the chiropractor's office. I pull into the first available stall and step off the Rat Turd. There was an elderly gentleman sitting in the car next to me with his window down. He must have been waiting for someone. He looks at the seat, looks at me, looks at the seat again and asks if maybe that seat is the reason I need the services of a chiropractor. He was kinda a dick. I mean it could have been funny but he said it with such a "holier than thou" tone in his voice and a judgemental look on his face.
 If someone that rides is truly curious then I offer all the info I just stated above. I was already running a little behind so as I was walking away I just told him "The key is in it. Find out for yourself".
  When I came back out the bike was right where I left it. I guess Mr. Knowitall didn't take me up on my offer.
 Moral of the story...Keep an open mind and don't be a dick.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tool Bag

 Its been about a week now since I put the sportster up on the lift. Not too much has happened but I did find a spot for the much needed tool bag.

 As you can see I bolted the license plate and plate illumination right to the leather tool bag.

 BEEP BEEP, I gotta back up here just a bit. When I was trying to figure out where to put the tool bag and saw this spot, I dismissed it because of the plate. My wife suggested putting the plate on the tool bag. I kindly notified her that putting the plate there was the dumbest thing I had heard in a while. I was probably just jealous that I didn't think of it. I kept on with the idea and made it work. Anyway, thanks for the idea, Honey.
  Now I know what you gear head types are thinking. First, yes, I ran the wires right into the back of the bag to the led lights. Second, those straps look stretched tight and that thing is gonna flop around. BUZZZZ. Wrong. The bag is bolted to the sissy bar and the straps just give it that "throw caution to the wind" look.
 I'm not thrilled with the look of these bags. They're like a man purse for a bike. Next thing you know I'll be hanging a bunch of leather fringe all over. Anyway, I already envision making a sort of hidden tool box in the depth of the sissy bar. It would finish off the front of the eagle into more of a 3d sculpture and extend down to the folding rack. This bag will have to do for now because the way parts are vibrating off this bike its much needed.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Apes and Cows

 I wonder what they would do if the gate was open? Do you think they would still be so interested in the shiny red bike?

 I think they would come over and check it out. If they could, they'd ask a bunch of questions like "who makes Aprilia?" "Is that a Harley?" Well, all except that one cow dressed in black standing by itself. He's looking the other way pretending to not be interested. Probably smells like shit. Not even another cow will stand next to him. I can relate but I'd still be checking out the Italian iron. Do you know why? Because I like all flavors of bike.
 As the former owner of this Aprilia Futura, having logged over seventy thousand miles on it, I can tell you that a bike like this will generate a lot of interest. There are not a lot of them around and this pic doesn't do it justice but that red paint is different than any other red bike you've seen. When this bike stops for fuel, someone will say something about it. The owner, Mary-Anne, sent me the pic. She told me she is thinking about selling her whole stable of bikes and getting something different. I say go for it. Life is short and there are a lot of bikes out there to be enjoyed.
 This pic gets me thinking. I do things to my bikes that I like. I think a front fender made from expanded steel is kinda cool. The same goes for tail light mounts that remind me of the Sputnik satellite or an eagle on top of a sissy bar. Am I doing it for attention? No. I don't think so. These things are an expression of myself and can also be an ice breaker to strike up a conversation with people that would not normally come near me. Kinda like our friend in the cow picture.
  So after a little chat with a stranger, I'm no longer a dick head. I'm a dick head with a cool front fender.

 Rock on with yer bad self.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Too Tired

 This is a happy site when I get home from work...

 The delivery man has left me a pair of new tires! These are for the sportster, but oddly enough the rat turd uses the same size tires. Normally I spend a lot of time trying to decide which ones to order. That wasn't the case this time. I was thumbing through a catalog from JP Cycles, saw these and ordered them. They are Dunlop American Elites.  I'm not sure how "sporty" they will be but I expect to get decent mileage out of them.
 Gotta roll or I'll be late for work. I'm taking the rat turd today and I probably should give it a decent pre-ride once over because its been neglected for a while. Later.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Bonus Blog

This is just a test to see if I can easily post from my phone.
The picture shows another piece that shook off the bike. If you look close you can also see the plate was zip tied to the bag after it vibrated off.

Long Weekend

  We've been busting ass at work this spring and early summer so when the boss said I could have three days off I was thrilled! Hmmm, now what could I find to do for three days. Oh ya, ride!
 I had originally considered a motorcycle camping trip but realized I still need to get the bike in order for BuRP '14. The shortest route to Maggie Valley, NC is about an 850 mile ride. In the early years I used to do it in a day. Then for a while I was doing it in two days. Later I was meeting up with friends and it became a three day ride down. The ride home has always been a straight shot on the interstate in one or two days depending on weather and how I felt.
 I'm worried about the sportster shaking itself apart on the interstate. Yesterday and friday I got a bunch of "testing" done including a few hundred miles of interstate travel. Al borrowed me a tach that clips to a plug wire so I could get an idea of my engine speed. I also mounted a mini tach I bought mail order. I figured between the two I should get a good idea of my rpm's. Huh, right. The mini tach fluctuates 500 rpm and the clip on gives different numbers at the same mph. I am starting to wonder if I have something crapping out with my ignition system.

 You know, with all the stuff vibrating off this bike, you'd think I was carrying a bunch of tools. I wasn't. Only two screwdrivers my brother threw in the bag a few weeks ago. Yesterday I finally had a premonition of pending disaster and decided to throw a few basic tools in my bag. Sure enough at one rest stop I was looking over the bike and the license plate bracket was cracked all along my weld. I needed the tools and some zip ties to continue on.

 Later on my journey I passed through Green Bay. Of course I had to drive past Lambeau Field, but I also stopped at the new Cabelas. Their stores are like museums and I like checking out the stuffed animals and fish. I picked up a dry bag that I plan to haul on the back of my sissy bar. This years BuRP rally will be the first time I travel on the bike for over a week without saddle bags. I like to have my "stuff" but I'll have to learn to pack a little lighter this year.
 Today I'll bring the sportster into my little workshop and put it up on the lift. It will get a thorough inspection along with a new clutch, some brake work and the remounting of my tool bag.
 Of course after all that work more "testing" will be needed.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


 Just when I thought I had the sportster locked down and cured of its parts shedding habit, I notice this:

 What you're looking at is a crack running across the fender. Its only 1/4" away from going all the way across. I noticed it right before I was heading out for a ride. If it would have broke off I'm sure the tire would have kicked it under the remaining fender and made a huge mess of things.
 As it turns out this may be a blessing in disguise. I never really cared for the look I created back there and I also have been struggling trying to find a good place for my tool pouch.
 I have a few ideas brewing. I'll post pics when its done.