Sunday, September 28, 2014

Harvest Fest Bike Show

 Today is the Harvest Festival Car show in Green Lake, Wi. I understand the show drew around 800 cars last year. Not too shabby. This year there will be their first ever Motorcycle show. Proceeds from the entry fees will help support a local animal shelter and the Town Square.
 I'm taking a bike to the show. Not sure which one yet.

 It really doesn't matter. Neither one of them is a show bike. I ride one or the other to work most days. Right now I'm leaning towards the Rat Turd (on the right).  The main reason is because the sportster has died on my ride home from work twice this past week. On the twenty mile ride home the bike died within 100 feet of the spot it died days before. That's really odd considering I think the problem is just a bad key switch. Maybe there's just a high concentration of gremlins living in that area. I didn't really notice any evidence of gremlins while I was PUSHING the bike to a safe spot to work on it.
 I just got a text from Al. He was asking about registration time for the show. I think he's bringing his Buzz Lightyear bike. The weather should be perfect for a car and bike show.  All the rides will be glistening in the sunshine. Well unless your bike is painted with truck bedliner.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

British Revival

 Last weekend I attended a bike show. At that show there was a small force of Brit bikes that got me excited.

  I have one of these bikes and I just need to get my ass in gear and fix it up. Mine is a '67 BSA with a long history of just sitting around.
 So, inspired from the bike show I decided to pull the old english iron out of the shed. It's in pretty rough shape. The chrome is covered in surface rust...and a little bit of pitting. The paint is beat up pretty bad. Anything rubber is cracked. The good news is that it's all there.

 I also found a cart full of parts. I'm pretty sure everything I removed from the bike over 16 years ago is on this cart. What I'm not seeing are the new parts I thought I already bought. More investigating is required.

  Even though this bike has spent much of its 47 year history just sitting in a shed, it has been a roller coaster ride from an emotional standpoint. Whats the point in having a bike sit unseen in a shed? Why not sell it and let someone else enjoy it? The money could fund other bike projects.
 I'm not sure I could ever sell it. Its been with me longer than any other physical object I have. It represents my initial interest in bikes along with my learning how to work on them. On the other hand, you say, it's just a bike. Ummm, I don't know. It seems more than that to me. I put the bike on the lift and started looking it over. My memory was sparked by some of the things I was looking at. One example was a small run in the paint on the frame. I remember painting that frame about 35 years ago and I remember accepting the run and not fixing it. My patience for painting has not improved.
 I know that every year I say "this is the year I get that old bike running again". Well this year is almost over but next year...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Watson Street Bike Show

 Yesterday I attended a bike show. The proceeds will help fund a local ice skating rink which seems like a good cause so I entered the Rat Turd. Well actually, I dropped the bike off early so I could go to work. I just told them to put it in whatever class needed another bike. I had no illusions of winning a trophy that day. Prep work on the bike consisted of hitting it with a pressure washer the night before only to ride it twenty miles on wet roads the next morning. I never got around to the big plans I had to build a custom front end, modify the exhaust or build a new fuel tank. Oh well. Those things are still on the to-do list.
 The judges pretty much got it right from a technical standpoint but my choices would have been a bit different. I guess if we all liked the same thing there would only be one bike in each class and everyone would be happy.

 This is a pretty cool cb750. I kept coming back to it. Clean and simple.

 Another Honda that grabbed my attention. I want to build something like this. It seems like it would be a fun bike to ride.

 I just noticed all my favorite bikes at the show were lacking front fenders.

 Mine has a front fender but not much of one.
 There's a show next weekend in a neighboring town. I'm told it will be a first time event and the promoters are trying to get as many attendees as possible. I think I'll enter a bike to help get the numbers up. I like the idea of having bike events close to home that help the community. This one will help a local animal shelter.

 I want to take this opportunity to thank the people involved in putting on Saturday's show. Good job.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Happy Camper

 A while back I was tooling along on a bike ride when I passed a camper for sale. I rode a few miles and something made me turn around to take a closer look at it.

 Its an older rig but looks like its been well taken care of. None of that really matters because I'm not buying this camper. My problem is that I'm drawn to the idea of having one of these. Why? I don't know.
 When I was a kid we always had a "fort". A sort of club house. Every so often we would come across some new building material and tear down the old fort and build something new. This camper could be a mobile fort. With plumbing!  Lately I've found myself studying floor plans and following Craigslist just to see whats out there.
 I could see pulling a small trailer with a bike, sled or boat on it. Maybe a fishing trip up north or a ride west to see the Grand Canyon. Actually there's probably a lot to see right here in Wisconsin. We just need to get out on the road and see it.
 On one hand it seems you could save a lot of money on lodging and food by traveling this way. On the other hand you could buy a lot of  motel rooms and fancy restaurants for the purchase price of even an old motor home. I'm thinking the more you use it the more it pays off. I just don't know if I'd ever use it enough to justify the cost.
 For now I'll just keep my eyes open. If the right deal comes along then maybe I'll pick one up. Until then I'll keep dreaming about my fort on wheels.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Cold

 Saturday was a work day. It didn't get very warm but the sun was sure shining. When I got home I decided to take the sportster for a ride. I was wearing a sweatshirt and threw on my riding jacket. As soon as I hit the hiway I knew I wasn't gonna be dressed warm enough if this ride lasted past sundown.
 Well as far as rides go, this one was ok. There was no destination or goal, just me and the bike going nowhere. By the time I was ready to head toward home the sun was dropping below the tree line. Crap. I had an hour ride in front of me but only a few minutes of the suns warming rays.
 I had been enjoying the rush of wind even though it was a bit cool. Now the wind has played a cruel trick on me and turned cold. How come when the wind is warm you don't really notice that it's everywhere. When it's cold you can feel its icy grip all over your body. It pushes and tugs at every seem  in your clothes and always finds a way in. Once in, it has a strange power over the body. It makes me tense up. When I say tense up I mean like muscle spasm tense. It seems my butt cheeks are taking a bite out of the foam seat of the bike. My neck and shoulder muscles are all crunched up to the point where I think the bottom of my helmet is actually sitting on my shoulders.
 It seems all this scrunching, tensing and foam biting doesn't do a damn thing. After a few minutes of this I realize what's happening and just relax. I exhale because it feels like I've been holding my breath and I just settle down. Despite the neck squeeze it seems my profile shortens about three inches. I feel the same amount of cold as I did before but I'm more comfortable. This only lasts a few miles and soon I find myself all tightened up again. I have a moment of clarity, relax and repeat the cycle.
  Usually on a bike you will find little warm pockets of air as you travel along. That's part of the great connection a biker makes with the environment. Not tonight.Without a windshield on the bike there is no way to beat the cold wind.  I'm not numb, I mean I can function all the controls of the bike although I'm sure not as quickly as I could if it were eighty degrees out here. So what's the deal? I start to imagine the cold chill is actually a warm flame. I think about how much heat would be radiating from those trees if they were on fire. That pain in my knees is actually a burning sensation from the heat rolling off the v-twin. The wind is a tropical breeze on a warm summer night. Tail lights are heat lamps warming me up as they pierce through the night.
 These head games go on for twenty miles until I roll into a small town. I think I'll check my bac pac for warmer gear. My cold fingers fumble with the zipper but I finally get it opened up. SCORE! I find my snowmobiling gloves hidden in there! There is also a balaclava stashed in the bottom of the bag but I would have to remove my helmet to put it on. Despite the warm tropical breeze in my head I decide to put on the heavy gloves but pass on the dickey.
 The next fifteen miles were kinda weird. The last pit stop must have refreshed me a bit. I was cold but not tensing up. I wasn't having to play tricks with my mind to function. I know it isn't any warmer out here. I think what got me through this leg of the journey was that fact that I remembered something I had done earlier in the day. I had turned on the heat in my workshop Saturday morning. I knew it would be seventy degrees when I got home and I was looking forward to thawing out.
 Despite the cold I would say it was still a good ride. A person learns a lot about themselves under these kinds of circumstances.
 Today I'm gonna put the liner in my riding jacket. It's no wonder I froze my ass last night.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-Corner View

 The last few days we have had really decent weather and I've been out spraying and fertilizing lawns. Back at the shop, all the techs have certain equipment they concentrate their efforts on. For me its hand held equipment repairs. There is a section of pallet racking where we place all the incoming equipment. A few days ago I was caught up and the shelves were empty. Last night I noticed the shelves were overflowing with broken chain saws. It looked like I hadn't fixed anything in a month. I guess its the time of year when people are making fire wood for winter heating.

 Its a rain day. I can hear the rain falling as I type this. That means this will be my view for the day. Sitting on a stool in my corner of the shop. I'll try to repair as many saws as I can so I can get back out spraying lawns tomorrow.

 I'm sure I'll find at least one saw that looks like this on the inside. The customer will be notified of the damage and repair costs, and maybe quizzed about the gas/oil mix. The customer will then explain how his neighbor borrowed the saw and it never worked right since. Rarely is it the fault of the customer.
 Have a nice day.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Man and Machine

 So just a couple weeks ago I was on vacation. I put about twenty six hundred miles on the sportster that week. A lot of time and effort was put into making the bike road worthy and except for a cracked frame and a foot peg wanting to fall off, it held up well. I had a great time on the bike but I was really never one with the machine.
 Saturday afternoon I went for a ride after work. The sun was shining and it was great riding weather. Pre-fall kind of weather. A light jacket or a sweatshirt was just right to stay comfortable. The bike was running perfect. I ran a tank of fuel through the v-twin and was in need of more. A quick fuel stop and I was back on my way.
 I hopped on the interstate and headed toward home. My shadow was in front of me and stretched out about fifty feet. I moved my boots to the passenger pegs and leaned into the wind. The air was rushing up my helmet and past my ears but wasn't loud enough to drown out the sound of the engine pounding out a steady pleasing beat. The pressure of the wind pushing on my chest held me up and allowed me to just relax as I was blasting down the road. Everything felt right. I could feel every imperfection in the road as I made lane changes to pass slower traffic. The deep groove between lanes sent an anticipated shake through the bike as I crossed over it. It was happening, I moved past just riding this bike to a place where I am one with it. Everything just comes naturally now and I don't even have to think about the machine under me.

 Chicken fries are back! I don't know what that means but I'm gonna go twenty miles out of my way to find out. Why? Because I can. The sun is down now but I can still see without the need of a headlight. Its the time of the day when you can see the bats come out to dine. There is almost no traffic in front of me so I roll on some throttle. I scan the road for hiway patrol. Faster now. We're approaching speeds where the don't even ask for your license. They just slap on the bracelets and haul you away. Faster still. The speed rating of the tires has been exceeded. We won't stay here long. My exit is ahead. Push right. Push right. Exit now. The bike doesn't react like a crotch rocket but it does everything asked of it. I think to myself, not bad for an old cruiser. The bike handled all right too.
 Its dark now. I retire my shades and switch to clear glasses. My face shield has a pretty thick layer of bugs on it but I can still see alright. I don't dare raise the shield or my glasses will get coated in bugs. Faster now. I'm hauling precious cargo. Burgers and chicken fries that I don't want to get cold. Twisty back roads through deer country means I have stopped worrying about cops and am now on the lookout for wildlife on the move. Still moving at a quick pace. A narrow path weaving through the forest so it seems in the dark. Whats that? Movement from the left. DEER! All at the same time I feed input to the front brake, rear brake and air horn. The deer crossed the left lane and turned back by the time it reached the yellow line. No problem, he's gone now. Roll on more throttle. Gotta keep pushing. Movement on the right! A deer enters my lane from that side. I react fast. Same reaction as last time. Squealing tire! Too heavy on the rear binder and locked the tire. The rear steps out a bit. Countersteering now. Slowing down fast. Ease off the pedal and steer left. The deer is next to me now as the bike straightens up. I can hear his hoof beat on the asphalt.  I notice now there are two deer in the road on my right. A dozen more just off the shoulder.
 I remained calm through the entire event. That only comes when you're comfortable on a bike. Slower now. I knew this area was thick with deer. Slower now. No point in risking an accident just for a warm meal. Slower still as I enter the city limits. A few blocks from home now, I wish the ride wasn't coming to an end. Pulling into the drive I look back at the ride and I think how much I like the way this bike is coming along and the experiences I'm having on it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Workshop Wednesday-Bad Gas

 So many small engine problems are related to bad fuel. Many times I find the fuel is old and has gummed things up. Some times ethanol has deteriorated rubber parts or it has absorbed moisture and now the tank has water in it.
 A quick look inside the fuel tank is almost always the first thing I do when diagnosing a running (or non starting) issue. When I emptied the fuel tank on a bac pac blower, I thought what I was seeing were pieces of rubber fuel line.

 It seemed like a lot of fuel line so I put my cheater glasses on and took a closer look...

 Are you kidding me? It wasn't chunks of fuel line at all. What are these earwigs doing in here? I think they must have been in the gas supply can and poured into this tank. Talk about bad gas.
 So when the customer brought this unit in for repair and said it had a bug in it and didn't run very well, he was close. It had a LOT of bugs in it.