Sunday, August 31, 2014

Spiders and Bones

 Our kids are home for the holiday weekend. Yesterday the middle daughter and I found ourselves doing some local shopping. There is a large flea market held every Saturday just a block from our house so we went to check it out. I was on a mission to find a rubber spider but was not having any luck in my search. We stopped in a nearby antique store just because its so close to our house and we had never been in there.

Me- "Do you have any rubber spiders?"
Them- "No sir, this is an antique store"
Me- "Do you have any antique rubber spiders?"

 They didn't have what I wanted but I did score some Harley collector cards. I don't collect crap like this but I bought them just because I thought it was kinda fun and reminded me of when I was a kid and we collected Wacky Packages cards.
 When we left the antique store we cut across the flea market again and there was a vendor cleaning up his wares. My daughter noticed a big bin of rubber insects sitting on the table. I didn't have any use for the crickets, flies or grasshoppers but I was able to haggle the price down on a spider and walk away a happy camper.

 My daughter found some bones she thought were interesting. I'm not a big fan of dead animal parts unless I'm eating them, but hey, to each his own. She wanted a way to display them so we did a little shop project together.

 It turned out alright and should work good for what she wants to do.

 It was nice having the whole family together for a few days even though everyone had their own separate agenda.  We probably won't get together like this again until Thanksgiving. Today will be a big road trip getting everyone back to school and apartments.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-Work

 Work sucks. Not because I don't like my job. The fact is I really like my job and I work for a good employer. Work sucks because I have to do it. No silver spoon here. Work takes time away from living. I'm not college edjumacated so I have to rely on my fix it skills. Ya I also do some landscaping and weed control work but a well trained chimp could probably do some of that too. Actually a well trained chimp would probably go back to school and look for a better paying job.
 So now that vacation is over its back to fixing chainsaws with dull chains, weed wackers that won't start, pressure washers that don't build pressure and generators with fuel tanks full of water. Those are a small sample from Tuesday. I enjoy fixing these things so it helps to make work better.

Scene of the crime. Fixin broken stuff on my new lift table.

 Today Al has the day off so the boss will have the radio tuned to country music. Shoot me now. Don't bother commenting here about how great country music is. I just don't care for it. Besides, all the best country music is from people trying to be rock stars so what does that tell ya?  The real problem is that there must only be like ten country songs total because I hear the same ones over and over.
 I got a new "project" today. The boss wants me to build a tent stake puller. A what? Part of the business is tent rental. We have a crew that sets up and takes down tents. The stakes they use are three feet long. Some times these stakes are hard to remove. We can build pretty much anything we want and I did hear the boss use the term "overkill" so that makes me happy. Al and I have been throwing ideas back and forth and we keep coming back to something that can best be described as a self propelled log splitter. I'll be sure to post pics once we get started.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Return Home

 I'm back home. I had an uneventful day of riding. Turns out the most accidents, congestion, stopped traffic and cops were all here in Wisconsin. Whodathunkit. Here are a few random pics from the week.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Road

I'm sitting in a sports bar within walking distance of my motel room. A rack of ribs and a few cold beers have taken up residence in my stomach. When I look back at the day on the road and wonder what to report, the first thing that comes to mind is the bike. It's an '89 sportster with a '99 engine. The engine has a big bore kit and now displaces 1250cc. I converted the new motor to chain drive and changed the gearing a bit. It's pretty much stock as far as everything else goes.
When I left Maggie Valley this morning it was cool. I ran into some fog on I 40 and then hard rain. Later the sun came out and dried out both me and the bike. This happened three times today as I pushed the buzzing Harley closer and closer to home.
The afternoon was unusually hot at over a hundred degrees. I kept pushing the little hog. Not fast enough to land in jail, but fast enough that not too many people were passing me. Splash and go fuel stops and an occasional rest stop to check on the progress of a big storm moving across Illinois was the tone of the day.
What I want to report is that the bike ran perfect despite the abuse. Not one hiccup or hot start problem. No funny noises or unusual vibrations.
It's not a big fancy touring rig like the dozens I saw on the road today but it makes me smile when I think about where this little bike has taken me this week.
Thanks Honey for the anniversary present.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Two Wheels

Ever since I've heard about Segway scooters I have been intrigued by them. Today I had a chance to ride one. 

 I did a "half tour" which includes a training session and some time to just enjoy the machine on their grounds. If you find yourself in the Waynesville , NC area and want the experience, Carolyn is an excellent instructor.

 I also checked out

 If American motorcycle history interests you then this is a must see. I've been there ten times and always find something new. There's a story behind every piece in there. None of them are boring. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Deals Gap

Today we decided to go for a ride. Imagine that. We started out on the blue ridge parkway and then rode through the smokey mountain national park.   The sun was shining, the weather was perfect. We followed the Foothills parkway until we hit US129. If you're familiar with the area then you know we are about to slay the dragon. "Deals Gap" has 318 turns in 11 miles. It's a fun section of road if you don't get stuck behind someone going under the speed limit. The sportster handled it well although there really wasn't much "slaying" going on.
We stopped for lunch and watched the bikes come and go. It was nice to chill and talk about bikes. The ride back was uneventful except for the last five miles of rain.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Welcome To Day Five

The road gremlins got me. I suppose I made it easy for them by loading so much weight on the back of my sissy bar. I had been inspecting the frame of the bike where the bar mounts because I thought I could have overstressed it with my design. During last night's inspection I saw a crack. It was close to breaking completely off. 

 After stopping at a few auto parts stores I learned of a fabricator that had a shop just a couple miles down the road from where I'm staying. If your in the area and need some welding, call Pemco Welding.

The bike is fixed and the sun is shining. Guess what I'm gonna do?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Blue Ridge Parkway

Today was another one of those days when I dressed for rain but got lucky and never saw any. I rode the blue ridge parkway with some friends. We stopped at the Pisgah Inn for a delicious lunch. I had a turkey, apple, brie wrap with cranberry mayo. My wife would have loved it.
We also stopped at the highest elevation of the parkway for a photo opp. A park ranger rolled up and set up a table. We watched as he placed skulls, stuffed animals, snakes and bugs on it. His mission was just to educate park visitors. We picked his brain and listened to what he had to say. It was interesting.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Random Thoughts

I have arrived safely in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. I'm sitting in a wooden rocking chair enjoying the sunshine. This morning's forecast showed two separate thunderstorm systems that I had to try to avoid. I was successful as I saw wet roads but no rain.
Here are a few random thoughts from the day. 
* If you've ever seen a pair of semi trailer tires on fire then you know it's quite an impressive site.
* If your minivan is shaking like the dickens then you should probably pull over and figure out why the wheel is loose. You know this isn't normal yet you keep on blasting down the interstate. I know she didn't make it far.
* I was going to limit the bathroom humor in this blog but this one has to be told. If the toilet is obviously plugged and there's a pile of crap in it already, don't add to the problem by dropping another duece on top of the mess. Judging by the size of that thing you've been walking around with it for over a week. Would it have killed you to wait 10 more minutes to find a working toilet?
* Why is it so many people in this country don't understand the concept of the fast lane?

* I'm riding without a radio so my thoughts wander. I'm glad that willy wonka song is no longer stuck in my head. I stayed in Paducah Kentucky yesterday. The song started out like this: oompaducah doopity doo, I've got another riddle for you...

I have to be careful or I will get that creepy oompa loompa song stuck in my head again.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


The tone for day two was set on the evening of day one. Scott and I were messing around with our gps units. Scott B. rides a bmw so nothing but the best good enough for him. He has the latest and greatest motorcycle gps made by garmin. ( I'm just bustin his balls. He works hard for his stuff just like the rest of us) I told him I wanted to leave his house by 8am and arrive in paducah by 4. The gps said I could do it but it doesn't figure in the extra fuel stops a bike needs, rest breaks and of course the "sportster factor". Before I left he seemed pretty concerned that I wouldn't be able to prove what time I arrived here. Well the proof is in the picture.
I suppose a lot of people wouldn't consider an 8 hour ride with just splash and go fuel stops to be much of a vacation. Well, it's my vacation and I had a good day.
I had the first problem with the sportster today. While I had my feet on the rear passenger pegs to stretch my legs the front left foot peg decided to go on it's own vacation. I was able to catch it with my boot until I could pull over and bolt it back on. The gps didn't factor in time for that either.
I have absolutely no plans for tomorrow. I'll check the radar tomorrow and plan a route around the storm clouds.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Day one

I had a nice day for riding. No rain and just enough sun to keep it interesting. The Rolling hills of Wisconsin are very relaxing.
The National moosucker museum was better than expected. A return visit is in order.
I'm in Cedar Rapids with friends. Scott treated me to the second best burger I've ever had.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-Swept Away pt 1

 At work we run a few sidewalk tractors for clearing snow. The Steiner hydraulic brooms work awesome. The John Deere pto driven broom is always breaking down. Repair costs are always steep. For this reason the boss has tasked me with adapting a hydraulic broom to the JD tractor.
 The first thing I had to do was measure pump speed on the broom and output speed on the various pto's on the tractor.

 Years ago I bought this laser tach. Just apply a piece of reflective tape to a shaft or pulley and then aim the laser at it while its running. This shaft is rotating at 1039 rpm. It doesn't get used a lot but it sure is a handy tool. It will also measure feet per minute if you want to measure something like conveyor belt speed.
 It was determined that we would have to buy a pump to run off the rear pto of the tractor. The original pump will just become a spare part for our other brooms.

 This is the broom that will go on the JD tractor.

 Once I stripped the pump, tank, turntable and Steiner mount, this is what was left. The tractor mount (the black section between the green tractor and red broom) is universal. It does the lifting and angling and will handle our snow blade, snow blower and soon this broom. I just need to weld up a mount.

 This is a shot with the main pieces just tacked together. You'll notice that once again the heaviest pieces of steel are the ones I'm adding. Go big or go home I say when it comes to these kind of projects.

 The pump won't be in for a few weeks. We special ordered an electronic flow control so we could control the broom speed. Part two will show the pump mount, tank, filter and such. Stay tuned.
 Saturday is day one of my vacation. If you're interested, I'm gonna try to post daily.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

One More Week

 I've got the sportster back on the road. In an effort to make the bike less appealing to gremlins I replaced the clutch, installed new wheel bearings, rear brake pads and new tires. I did a few other little things like adding a power port and Progressive rear shocks. I still need to sort out an electrical issue that popped up yesterday. My fuel gauge quit working. No big deal as I haven't had a working fuel gauge in over ten years. Now that I think of it, the gauge doesn't work in my car either.

 Yesterday I rode about 300 miles. The bike held up well and nothing fell off. Actually the bike held up better than I did. I got home after dark but was only dressed for the warm sunny weather I was exposed to when I left. The part of me that wants to just throw a leg and ride won over common sense.
 A short part of yesterdays ride included a stretch that follows along a river. The bugs were thick.

 My vacation plan is to follow the Mississippi river south to Tennessee. I better pack plenty of rags and lens cleaner.
 My "to do" list is getting shorter. I still need to do the most important thing and thats to assemble a tool kit for the bike.
 In other news, our daughter Squag is back home from her hike on the Appalacian trail. She had a good time. So far the stories I've heard can be categorized  into "bears" "snakes" and "spiders". I'll try to get her to share some stories on this blog.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Packing Issues

 I've got issues. I think this goes toward my bike packing problem. I always think I need an extra (whatever) just in case.

 On the far left is my home furnace. The two furnaces on the right are extras. One complete and one for parts.

 At the time of this pic I owned all three of these Subarus. Hey, they're practical little efficient awd cars that are ideal for Wisconsin wintery travel.
 Our laundry room has two sets of washers and dryers...just in case. I have three laptops. Instead of hauling one around, I have one at work, one in the shop and one next to my recliner. They are all linked to a cloud along with my smart phone.
 Maybe I just like having a back up plan.
 So here is my problem. There's no room for a back up plan with the sportster. I'm gonna be on the road nine days and its certainly gonna rain. I get wet every year I do this trip. Having the right gear has always allowed me to ride all day through any weather. Having storage space has always allowed me to bring warm, cold or wet weather gear.
 Right now I'm thinking about just bringing more bungee cords. My sissy bar is plenty strong and if the sun is shining I'll just lash the jacket and pants to the bar. If its wet I'll be wearing them. The other option is bringing my Frogg Toggs. They are light weight rain gear that can keep you dry although they won't keep you warm. Heavy rain at hiway speed with no windshield and the wrong jacket can be miserable.
 There's a part of me that wants to just throw a leg over and ride. Too bad I have to be back to work on a certain day. It would be nice to be able to just wander around the country without a schedule. I know how my daughter must feel. She is hiking the appalachian trail. A bad muscle pull has ended her chances of completing the trail before she has to be back to work in september. She has now decided to just enjoy the trail and her time off without the pressure of the goal.
 As for my vacation ride, I think I'll make a daily post here. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Squag will be home Friday! She has decided to cut her time on the trail short. She will be working for a friend that has some medical issues. It will be nice to have her back home for a while until she moves into her apartment. I'll try to get her to write something up about her hike.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Random Thoughts

   I saw a poster for a charity walk to help find a cure for alzheimers disease. I forgot the date and missed the event. Instead I spent saturday afternoon working on the sportster. Things were getting frustrating trying to remove the rear wheel bearing races. I started getting a bit side-tracked. Between the lights and wiring, clutch, primary cover and a bunch of other details, I was feeling overwhelmed.

 I decided to put my feet up and just reflect on what I had going on here. This ain't no show bike. Its a daily rider that has to be reliable. I don't have a puller that will yank the rear wheel bearing races so that will have to wait for now. Maybe a little heat will help get those races out. This got me thinking about heat, why do people call them hot water heaters? If the water was hot, it wouldn't need to be heated.

 The best way for me to clear my head is to go for a ride. I threw a leg over the Rat Turd and flew away. The circus is in town. I drove past the entrance and a sign said "Fair Parking".  I wanted the good parking but was never able to find it. Are they trying to keep it a secret? Put up a nice big sign for all levels of parking.

I headed back home refreshed from my ride but sadly couldn't stay focused.