Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bit By A Rat

 I was tinkering on the Rat Turd fuel tank after work on Monday. Because I used a gasless wire feed welder there is a lot of splatter that needs to be cleaned up. As I was turning the tank in different positions to sand on it the tank kinda slipped out of my hand. I reached quick to grab it and the little rat bit me.

 I hooked my hand deep into what would be the ear of the rat head design in the front of the tank mount. There's kinda some meat hangin out of it. It's not like a life threatening wound but it is in an annoying spot for a mechanic. At least it didn't cross my "heart line". That would really be annoying.

 So what does this all mean? Well, nothing really except that there is some slow progress on the Rat Turd. After buying the new Harley I was consumed with it. I had a lot to learn about the new bike and I guess I still do but I'm comfortable enough with it now that I can start thinking about my other projects. There is a deadline for the fuel tank project and that's coming up in September when I want to take the bike to the Watson Street Bike Show. I know it's not a show bike but it is fun to let others get a close look at the stupidity that is the Rat Turd. Maybe I'll see you there.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Does Your Butt Hurt Too?

 Special GSR late edition.  I usually post on Sunday mornings but that just wasn't happening today. Yesterday my wife and I got on the bike and went for a ride. It was a beautiful day...almost too warm. When we decided to stop for the night we also decided to close down a bar. We weren't shit faced or anything like that, just up late. When we woke this morning I just wasn't thinking about this blog.
 So, bike life with the wife is coming along pretty good. She's doing just fine on the back of the bike. The only thing close to an issue is packing. It's a huge bike but two people can use up the available storage quickly. It's not the overnight stuff so much as the "keep warm and dry" stuff. I guess the other potential problem is the weight of the bike. Stop and go city riding is a drag.

  You can see in the pic that I added saddlebag lid bras. They will protect the lids from the occasional boot scuff but more importantly the guilt my wife felt every time she scuffed them.
 When we got home I was asked if my butt hurt too. I wanted to be the tuff guy and deny it but I was sore. I haven't quite figured it out yet but something needs to be tweaked just a bit to get that day long comfort this bike should be providing. I'm sure I'll figure it out. I just need to keep riding till I do.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Workshop Wednesday-Ride to Work Day

Ya well that ship has sailed. The official ride to work day was the third Monday in June. I don't get all worked up about it because I ride every day that it's possible for me to ride. Fellow employee Dan rides whenever he can also. And now CalBob has a bike that he's been riding to work.

 Maybe some day this summer I'll get a pic of ALL the employees bikes. Of course that would require ALL the employees to ride to work. hint hint.
 We park in the grass. It's about the only place we can park without experiencing a huge dust problem. As I walked up on the bikes today I noticed something that made me remember what it was like to be young. These two bikes don't have license plates on them. One owner stated he had the plate in the saddlebag or in his garage...I can't remember which. The other just asked for me to be on the lookout for a plate. He doesn't know where he lost it. There was a time when not having a plate or insurance or whatever wouldn't bother me. Now I can't imagine wasting all that energy trying to avoid the cops. It's easier to play by the rules and not be bothered by Johnny Law. Of course I'm still on board with rolling stops and excessive speed. On that note, I'm enjoying the torque of the 103c.i. v-twin. It's not the fastest bike I've owned but it pulls pretty hard for a 850+ pound bike. I only mention it because on yesterdays ride home I moved every vehicle in my lane from my visor to my mirror.

Speaking of rules, here are a few personal rules I try to follow whenever possible.

 The bike should be visible from your table in the restaurant. If the place where you're dining is so fancy (or shitty) that there are no windows then you will have to accept that someone may mess with your stuff.

 The bike should also be visible from your hotel room. That's mine, under the tree next to the street light. I should point out that these rules have been in effect for decades and apply to rats as well as new bikes. There's nothing worse than having problems when on the road but I should add that there is nothing better than having problems on the road that can be worked out on the road. For me, those are the things memories are made of.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Appleton HD

 Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of Appleton HD. Part of their celebration was an offer to pay for up to $20,000 of one lucky winners new bike purchase made between march and yesterdays bash. That lucky person was not me. I won a can koozy. I did get 20% off some nice rain gear for both me and my wife. After that first rain ride we had together it was decided we should both have some decent wet weather gear.
 The band was good and played music I actually knew the words to. They also had a pig roast that was delicious.
 We arrived shortly after 10am when the prize drawings began and stayed till 330 when they called that lucky bastards name. We had a lot of time to "people watch" and here are a few observations from the event. These just relate to me and how I fit in with this crowd. First, we were the only people without tats. Ok maybe that's not true but we were in the minority on that one. I wear black jeans. I might still own a pair of blue jeans but to be honest I don't even know if I could find them. I saw one other person with black jeans and that was a chick. Faded blue jeans and a Harley shirt was the preferred dress code. It doesn't mean nothing, just an observation. We also walked the lines of bikes to admire and get ideas. Not one other bagger had saddlebag bras on the lids. I put them on because my wife kept having to apologize for dragging her boot over the paint as she dismounted the bike. I think they look alright and fit in with the look of my bike. Now that I have them on there I'm thinking about having some custom embroidery done to them. Not sure exactly what as I just came up with the idea. Anyway, I guess I'm not the typical hd rider. I may need another glass of that special koolaid.
 That's all for now. We're gonna hop on the bike and find brunch somewhere. Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Rat Turd Fuel Tank

 Its been a while since I've worked on the Rat Turd fuel tank. I've wanted to work on it but I just couldn't find the time. As the weeks passed the bike started getting buried. You know how it is. Tools, remnants of other projects, boxes of stuff. When you're in a hurry they all find a place to sit anywhere there is a relatively flat surface. After an hour or so of cleaning and organizing I found the bike right there on the lift table where I left it.

 The first order of business was to weld the end caps onto the tubes. The caps for the front tank are solid and the caps for the rear tank have bungs welded in them to accept some brass fittings.

 All the main pieces welded together. I still need to add a filler neck and cap to the front tank.

 The front tank has a fitting on the bottom of each end. There will be a clear hose running from there to a fitting on the side of the rear tank as seen in the above picture. This will be somewhat of a fuel level indicator. The two fittings on top of the rear tank will be vent hoses running to the still undersigned filler neck. If you look close you can see the sediment bowl under this side of the rear tank.
 There's still a lot of work to do. Hopefully it won't take me another four months to give you an update.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Paducah for Ribs...

 ...At least that was the plan.
 See, my wife and I have three daughters. As each one turned 18 they were offered a vacation as a birthday present. I don't remember where the first two went. Maybe Mexico, Chicago or a cruise. Beats me. My wife took them. Parker decided she wanted to got to a "One Direction" concert. They're playing in California and my wife took her. That opened up a weekend for me to put some miles on the new Ultra. The plan was to ride down to Paducah on Saturday and ride back today.
 The boss gave me Friday afternoon off and I used that time to ride to Cedar Rapids and visit Scott and Debbie. We had a nice visit albeit too short. We had plans to do breakfast on Saturday but I changed those plans when I woke up and saw the weather radar. If I continued south I would experience half a day of thunderstorms followed by an afternoon of 95 degree heat. The rain wouldn't have bothered me too bad but the idea of riding in that heat isn't appealing to me. If I got on the bike and headed north immediately I would avoid all the bad weather. I decided to get on the bike and ride back to Wisconsin where I enjoyed some very comfortable riding conditions.
 I regret wussing out and not following through with the origin plan. Oh well. I'll be in Paducah in a few weeks.
 The good news is that I still managed to put almost a thousand miles on the bike Friday and Saturday. The better news is that if I can keep motivated I plan to clear a path to the Rat Turd and finish welding up that fuel tank. I might even get around to putting that new back tire on the sportster but I'll get none of that done if I sit here behind a keyboard all morning. Later.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


 Just a view from the saddle on the new Ultra Limited. This bike is designed to provide a luxury touring experience. It's a lot busier than a sportster, that's for sure.

 I'm digging the infotainment system. The older I get the worse my vision gets and this screen is large enough that I can read it without glasses. One of the displays tells me things like outside air temp and engine oil pressure. Other screen shots include info on the radio, cb, usb, phone and nav system. The system can be controlled with voice commands, joy stick or touch screen. My phone can be linked via blue tooth and accessed with the headset and mic that came standard with the bike. I gotta tell ya, I am impressed with how well it works. The second day I had the bike I took a phone call without any prior knowledge of how it all worked. Answering the call and having a normal conversation was all very natural. The other day I decided to make a call from the bike. Simple, and the person I called had no idea I was motoring down the road.
 Now I know some of you out there think this is all nonsense and doesn't belong on a bike. Great, whatever works for you. This thing does have an off switch and I don't always have it on. Some days I just want to relax in the wind. Other days I'm commuting and taking care of business. This bike fits both needs.
 Lets see...what else. The LCD display has the odometer, dual trip meters and range to empty. There are dummy lights for cruise, abs, fog lights and high beam. The gauge to the far right is a voltmeter. I like having that on a machine with so much electrical draw.
 Speaking of "range to empty" I've been splitting my miles between solo commuting and two up evening rides. Looks like I'm getting about 42 mpg. Thats the same number I got on the Kawasaki Voyager and Aprilia Futura. It has been getting better as I rack up the miles but I'd be surprised if it gets much higher.

  The sound system on the bike happens to be the best sounding tunes in the house. The other night we found ourselves sitting in the garage drinking beer watching a storm roll in as we listened to music by the glow of the tail lights. I figure for the cost of this bike we might as well get as much use out of it as possible.  Later.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence Day

The original plan was to work Saturday morning and then get some work done in the garage at home. Maybe later I would fire up the grill. That all changed on Friday when I casually asked the boss if needed me for the weekend.  He said, "No. Why don't you take your wife on a bike ride." Sweet!
The weather was so nice it seemed like a waste to work in the garage so we hopped on the bike and rode.
About an hour in we decided to pull over for a break. A casino makes a good stop. Designated bike parking,  clean restrooms,  free pop and a chance to win big. And so we stopped and enjoyed all these things.
After riding some more we decided it was time for dinner. Drinks seemed like good idea so we decided to find a hotel with a restaurant and get off the road for the night.  I enjoyed prime rib and my wife a delicious tenderloin.
Like most cities there were celebrations and fireworks. We enjoyed live music, drinks and we're preparing for the evening light show when I spotted a movie theater with a Terminator banner. The huge crowds in the streets really are not our style so we stepped in to watch Arnold protect Sarah. This theater has two seats that are in the back and raised high enough so your view isn't blocked by anyone. We enjoyed being big shots in the VIP seating because nobody else was in the theatre! When we walked out the crowds and vendors were all gone. You would have never guessed that just two hours ago the streets were packed with people celebrating Independence Day. 
 This morning it looks inviting as I peak out the hotel window to check the status of the bike. We're not quite empty nesters yet but we're getting some good practice in.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wet Ride

 I've mentioned that my wife and I have been spending a lot of time on our new Ultra Limited. I say "our" bike because if I say "my" bike then I have four bikes. I think four must be too many because I've been hearing talk about selling one. Good thing this one is "ours" and "I" only have three bikes.
 On a recent ride we encounter some light rain. Those of you that know me and my riding habits know that I don't stop for rain. As we pushed on the rain got heavier. I'd say we rode about forty miles in the rain and for a while we were in wet conditions that rivaled some of the heaviest rain I've ever encountered.
 I fully expected to hear some major grumbling from the rear seat. Instead what I heard was laughing. Maybe she was crying? No, this was clearly laughing. Kinda weird laughing like that you might expect to hear coming from a room with padded walls. I turned and asked her how she was doing back there and if we should stop. She said she was ok but if there was a convenient place to pull under shelter that would be ok too. As we rolled into a small town I spotted an empty parking lot with a small open steel structure. I eased the Ultra under cover and we dismounted.

  Ya we were pretty wet but the worst only happened when we slowed down in town. On the hiway we did alright. We were having fun and I guess it's because we are sharing moments together that we haven't had in many years.
 We've been thinking about places to visit just for an excuse to ride. I think one of them might have to be to a bike shop to purchase some rain gear.