Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Top Five of 2016

 This is my last post of 2016 and my annual cheater post where I just link to a few old stories to wrap up the year. These are my picks and have nothing to do with blogger stats.
 I picked these in order from January to present. The first choice was titled "The Sickness" and it talks about a hoarding problem a lot of us have. Do you have the sickness?
 My second pick was titled "Night Out". Nothing special, just a little fun in the cold of winter. I also like the link to the story of Jack Shit. I can read that story back to back and giggle both times.
 A post from June titled "One in a Hundred" is a favorite because of the pic my wife took. Not to pat myself on the back too hard but I also did a hell of a job riding around some severe weather. I remember it as a great day on a bike.
 A touch of sickness in July resulted in the post "Popping Hostas". Although I didn't write it that way, it's a post about missing my Mom.
 "Chillin on the BRP" is a post about enjoying vacation time on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
 Finally my last "favorite post of 2016". Ya I know it's number 6 in a top 5 list but I don't feel like changing the title. If you've made it this far then you're a real trooper. On that note I'd like to thank everyone that suffers through this blog. I know this isn't quality writing and many times has almost zero entertainment value but hey, nobody is twisting your arm so thanks for stickin around. Anyway, "34 Degrees" was my last ride of the season and I really like the red, white and blue pic of the Ultra.
 So that's it. I wish you all a great new year!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

 When I was a kid we always went to grandparents homes for Christmas. As a kid it was something I could plan on each year. It was also the one time a year I saw my cousins, aunts and uncles. Since my grandparents have passed on I haven't seen any of those relatives. I barely remember all their names and I certainly couldn't pick them out of a lineup. I'm not sure why I mention it, it was just something that crossed my mind as I reflect on Christmas past. In later years we went to our parents homes for the holiday. The size of the group was smaller but the magic of the holiday was the same. At some point the celebration came to our house. This went on for a long time but times they are a changin. Our oldest daughter is hosting the family gathering today. The group is smaller still but that really doesn't change anything. It's nice to have the family get together, no matter where we do it.

 Our house will be empty for Christmas. We didn't set up a tree or decorate. I wanted to stage a pic for todays blog so yesterday I went in the basement looking for something to hang on the Rat Turd. At first I saw a red and white scarf that looked kinda festive till I stretched it out and realized it said "One Direction". WTF? The kids aren't here but their crap still is. I dug a little deeper and found this bear. He'll have to hold down the fort till we get back.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New Specs

 Spectacles that is. Every couple of years our insurance company kicks in some money for glasses so I take advantage of that.  That and the fact I thought things were getting fuzzy again made me set up an appointment for a checkup. Turns out my eyes really haven't changed much from the last checkup. That's good. I decided this time I wanted some shatter proof glasses for working in the shop. Nothin fancy, just something practical to get the job done. Besides, with killer looks like this it doesn't really matter what you hang on the face. Not. More like, good looking glasses can't help fugly.

 With motorcycle activity near zilch I need to find something else to talk about. Because my memory sucks I write things down (in my phone). Observations, interesting quotes or whatever. When I wrote these down I swear they seemed like winners but now weeks or months later most of them are kinda lame. Here are a few.
 "The pancakes are just the carrier for the syrup." Anyone with a sweet tooth knows what I'm talking about. Try the butter pecan syrup at IHOP and you'll know what I mean.

 "How does the inside of the parts washer get so dirty?" It should be the cleanest piece of equipment in the shop but it always looks like ass.

 "Ten rolls of electrical tape lasts about as long as a single roll." If you know you have only one roll of tape then you spend time looking for it when needed. If you can't find it right away but know where there are nine more then you'll just grab one of them new rolls. Somewhere in my shop are ten  partially used rolls of tape.

 "Microwave or pan fried bacon?" It's like picking which one of your kids you like best. Come on, it's bacon. The cat could rub his nuts on it and I'd still eat it.

 I told the boss about a work related idea that came to me in a dream. He stated "So you're workin overtime? I ain't payin for that shit." We had a good laugh.


Sunday, December 18, 2016


 Unless you've been hiding in a warm room with no windows or access to media, you're aware of the cold blast and snow that just hit us. I've been plowing snow for what feels like forever. I just did the math and "forever" is 25 hours in the truck for Friday and Saturday. We rotated shifts so we could be on the job around the clock and that worked out pretty good. In the past we had times where we tried to push right through and that left everybody wasted for a whole day afterwards. With only seven hours of sleep in the last two nights I feel fine. I hear some of you don't get much more sleep than that anyway with your weak bladders and fears of what the stock market will do.

 This was my view for quite a few hours. Pulling loading docks. Drag snow out, back in and salt, repeat. Keeping a factory moving during snow storms isn't like keeping a gas station open. If some dick head in a rusty chevy gets a wet foot cuz the pumps weren't clear then he gets pissy. There's a special kinda of pissy that comes if you're paying hundreds of factory workers to wait around while truck tires spin for traction trying to move trailers.
 I had a broken a tranny line. Had to dump some oil in to get back to shop for the repair. We had a big tractor get stuck in a retention pond. Another truck had a seized brake caliper. Pretty much a normal snow event. Stuff happens and this was all fixable. On a good note, the mystery electrical problem in the wheel loader was cured with our last repair effort.
 I need to wrap this up and go snow blow my own driveway. It's nine below zero out there. Brrr.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Before and After

 I thought it might be interesting to look at the Sportster before and after. This '89 Sportster was a gift my wife bought me for our anniversary three years ago. She's got me figured out.

 A good starting point for a project. My plans for this bike were to make it reliable enough for daily use and a 3000 mile one week vacation. I also needed to personalize it a bit.
 The original 883 4 speed ran ok I guess but there were tranny issues. It was easy to find a replacement engine on ebay and I bought a '99 883 5 speed with belt drive. I converted it to chain drive and put a 1250 big bore kit in it. Now the bike runs strong.

 Because I wanted some comfort I chose a Mustang solo seat. I also installed new Progressive springs front and rear. I can ride this thing all day pain free.

 This was the first version of the eagle sissy bar. The pics below are the shortened version. I was having problems with the frame cracking so I shortened it.

 This post shouldn't be call before and after because I'm sure the bike will go through some changes again. 

 I also had to add some header wrap to the pipes. I like the way it looks, or the way it covers up some very aged pipes, but the real reason was because they were eating my pants.
 As I sit here in my workshop I just realized the furnace is out. Temps in the teens means I gotta fix that before I head to work.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Two Car Garage

  Even though the bikes are parked, I want to try to keep this motorcycle blog filled with some motorcycle content. I know that is going to be difficult and some posts will be extra lame, like this one, but I'm gonna write these things even if nobody is out there reading them.

 Winter is here and that means my wifes car and my truck come in for the night. Stuff had to be put away to make this happen. Some stuff was put into outside sheds and some was just put away where it belongs. Other stuff found its way into our living room.

 The "stage" that the Rat Turd sits on has nothing to do with displaying bikes. It just worked out that way. It looks like I could fit another bike up there if I had too :-)

 I kinda enjoy sitting back and eye balling the sporty during tv commercials. I like the lines on this side of the bike. The other side sucks and I'll keep it next to the wall. It's funny, sometimes I sit on the bike (yes I sit on the bike, wouldn't you?) anyway, I sit on the bike and one of the cats freaks out. She knows from looking out the window that this thing makes noise and moves fast. If I want the cat to leave me alone I just go near the bike. The other cat is dumber than a speedometer on a moped and really doesn't seem to have a clue. Seriously, I see you moped riders out there. You're either stopped or going as fast as it will go.
 I can sneak the sportster out the front door at a moments notice if the roads clear up but right now life is busy, snow is coming down and riding is non-existent, and projects are in a holding pattern. Somehow, I still enjoy the change of seasons.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Workshop Wednesday- Chainsaw Scabbards

 This time of year we build a few ice saws for the sturgeon spearing season on Lake Winnebago. Ice saws don't use the typical oiler system used when cutting wood. The oil would foul the water and limit visibility in the hole. A simple grease system is used sometimes just after the hole is cut and this prevents freeze up of the chain. Ice saws have a specially cut chain that limits the amount of water thrown and also have shields or covers in place to limit the amount of water that can enter the cooling system and air box. 
 There are regulations on the size of the hole you can spear from and that size is measured at the surface of the ice. For better field of view, many people cut the hole back at an angle so they can see the big fish approaching. This means the saws bar length has to be much longer than the vertical thickness of the ice. 

 The small saw in this pic is average size with a 20" bar. The ice saw has a 42" bar. One issue we have is that Husky currently doesn't offer a scabbard for this big of a bar so we made our own.

The first step is to borrow a "hot box" from a local contractor. These are used to make bends in pvc pipe.

 We slipped a piece of wood through the pvc pipe and set the whole works in the heater. This allowed us to really get the pipe hot and easily lift it out without distortion.

 Next we set the hot pipe on a smooth straight surface. In this case it's a snow plow cutting edge. The piece of wood is still in the pvc pipe. We then quickly lay another cutting edge on top and apply a little weight. The pipe squishes easily and in a minute is hard enough to retain it's shape.

 These are a couple of rough 48" blanks. They will get trimmed to length and have a retaining cord attached to them. Then all that is left is to add a decal with our company name and phone number.
 I had no idea that day that we would be making these. A few ideas turned into possibilities and the next thing ya know we had scabbards. It keeps the job interesting.


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Driveway Daydreams

 Those of us in the colder climates know about putting equipment away for the season. Maybe some day I'll move to a warmer state where I can ride year round, but until then I'll continue the annual ritual which includes among other things, an oil change.
 This oil change isn't any different than all the others that occurred during the last 24,000 miles of the big Ultras two year life but there is something different about the way it feels. Summer oil changes are an

 unwanted expense and task that just burns up valuable riding time. Yes it's required maintenance and I enjoy wrenching but the end of season oil change is different.

 I've waited till after the last ride to drop the old oil. Ya, the last ride. That's a serious bummer. I lay there waiting for the hot oil to make it's way out of the big twin and into a grungy old catch pan. I wasn't wearing any bitch mittens so when some of the lube ran across my hand, I felt it. Not a burn, but kinda like when a playful puppy nips at you. It was just a little reminder that even the simplest tasks require some attention. My intent was to inspect the underbelly of the beast for cuts, bruises or worse. Everything looked normal and I started day dreaming about the places this machine had taken me. One of those places is Tennessee where wild fires are killing people, consuming homes and destroying some of the most beautiful landscape this country offers. I don't know how it got so dry and I'm not making light of the situation but I've been vacationing in that area for fifteen years or more and it seems to rain every night when I'm there. Take a minute to consider what those people are going through.

 I was pretty comfortable stretched out in the driveway. Actually I just didn't feel like getting up and I started thinking about places I still wanted to point the front tire. Sturgis doesn't do anything for me. Never been to the rally and it's not even on my to-do list. I don't understand the fascination with the big crowds. Hey, you're all great but I need my 40". Anyway, a trip west anytime other than the rally is on my bucket list. I did pass through that area back in 2000 on the ride home from New Mexico. Somehow I detoured through Wyoming to get here in the dairy state. That ride was more of a high speed blast than a site seeing tour. I was into doing iron butt rides and picking a destination for the next day that was 800-1000 miles away seemed ok. I don't know when I'll make that trip west but this is probably the bike that will take me there.
 Right now I'm thinking I would trade any long trips just to be able to ride to work every day. It's snowing, the bike is parked for the season and I know I'm months away from my next ride.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

34 Degrees

 This was taken a few weeks ago on the ride to work. Whether global warming is fact or fantasy, the fact is that at some point the weather here in Wisconsin will go to crap and I'll have to store the bikes for a while. They haven't salted the roads yet so I'm still hopeful I'll get to ride to work a few more times.

  A lot of people strike up conversations proclaiming how lucky I am to be riding the bike this late in the year and what wonderful weather we are enjoying, unlike years past. Well I decided to scroll back a year in my blog posts and found I rode to work December 13th although the two years prior to last year don't look like they were as warm. When I say warm, I mean above freezing. If you can't tell what I'm pointing at in the pic, the dash reads 34 degrees.
 Those rides aren't as relaxing as I'd like them to be, mostly because I am constantly reminded by others that there are a lot of deer in the streets. These warnings are verified by the blood stains and carcasses I see everyday. Now I'm not saying I let my guard down during times of year when deer traffic is lower, I just ramp up the awareness late in the season. I suspect if it happens again, that is if I smuck a deer, it will be a lot like the first time. No time to react. I say that because I see and avoid deer all the time.

 This pic was taken last night on the way home from work. I kinda like the red, white and blue of the pic. If I would have realized it was gonna turn out this way I would have taken a few more and tried to get creative with it. Anyway, my wife is away on a cruise so I was in no hurry to get home and decided to bum around on the bike for what will probably turn out to be the last ride of the year. No moon, full display of stars and a crisp bite in the air. Best of all, no deer. I rode around till I was freezing my ass off and then parked the bike in the garage. I'll put the battery tender on it tomorrow.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

 I hope everyone had as nice a holiday with family and friends as I did. Like last year we had a gathering hosted by our friends Denny and Deena in their restaurant. I can't say enough good things about the effort they put into making a great gathering for us to enjoy. The detail in the food, table setting and decorations was second to none. Thank you.

 We had the responsibility of providing the mashed potatoes. I helped peel thirty pounds of spuds along with chopping onions. See, I can do things. You probably thought I sat in my lazy boy drinkin beer and scratchin my butt while others did the work.

 After the big meal we came back to the house to chill and catch up. The fact that I moved a couple of my bikes into the living room for winter storage didn't go unnoticed.

 A while back I told you we had a goal of finishing our bathroom remodel for this days activities. We met that goal and in celebration my wife challenged her facebook friends to post bathroom selfies. Nothin weird so don't even go there. It was a big hit and we had fun with it.

 The gentleman in the shower is not standing on a stool. Just sayin.
 I got a lot of positive feedback about the remodel. I needed it because I was feeling it could have been better. I guess that's just the way it is when you know where all the mistakes are. Anyway, I just installed whatever pieces my wife picked out. She should get the credit. I'm not sure which room will be next but we pretty much decided to just keep picking away, room by room, till we've been through the entire house. Except for a few coats of paint we really haven't done much here the whole time we were raising the kids. That's a lot of years of accidents, bangin stuff around, cracked plaster and artist endeavors that need to be addressed.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Why Won't My Saw Start?

 This is a story about a guy that thought he was doing everything right until I rained on his parade.

 So this guy shows up at my workbench with a chainsaw that wouldn't start. He was an elderly gentleman with just enough mechanical knowledge to get by but not enough to figure it out. He told me he pulled the spark plug for inspection and to check for spark. I'm told it was clean and grey and he did have a nice blue spark. His next move was to squirt starting fluid in the carb but still nothing. Not even a burp. He then decided to pull the spark arrestor from the muffler to see if it was blocked with carbon. I guess it was nice and clean with a grey tint to it. "I just don't understand why it won't start", he stated.
 At this point I had a pretty good idea what was wrong but I didn't yet know why. I told him he had a scored piston and a stuck ring, and this was resulting in low compression. Engines need a certain amount of compression to run. The unit was junk as repair costs would exceed the value of the saw. I pointed to the scrap metal dumpster but he didn't think that was too funny.
 I was getting that look. It's the look you get when the customer thinks you're just trying to sell new saws. I told him this failure was possibly from, among other things, a lack of lubrication. Now I was getting the look and attitude. He said he didn't believe it and proclaimed he only uses premium ethanol free gasoline and the best outboard motor oil money can buy.
 I believed every word of his story but now I knew the rest of the puzzle. As he ranted about the price and quality of his oil, I pulled the muffler off his saw. Sure enough, the piston was roached. The wannabe mechanic just couldn't believe his eyes. He used quality oil and mixed it with the precision of a pharmacist. I pulled the recoil slowly to allow viewing of the intake side of the cylinder and that wall was scored too. I wondered to myself how many buddies he bragged to about his use of that "quality" marine oil.

Just a generic image of a scored cylinder wall taken with a small inspection camera that connects to my phone.

 I don't like having to tell people they ruined their equipment. I don't get pleasure from this but come on, this stuff is right there in the owners manual. The sad part is most people think a chainsaw owners manual is really just meant to lay in the bottom of their saw case and soak up bar oil. The techies reading this saw the clues. For the rest of you I"ll point out that the grey color on the spark plug and spark arrestor screen was actually aluminum transfer from the cylinder/piston scoring. If you think the scoring was from the starting fluid that doesn't contain lubricating oil, you'd be wrong. The engine never ran on that stuff. The oil he did use was for marine use. That oil is not formulated to work on air cooled engines and will fail under the high temps and loads these chainsaw engines develop.
 Despite the fact that this guy snuck in the back door and I didn't have a work order to justify the time I spent with him, I took another minute or two to educate him on oil. I didn't sell him a new saw that day but as he left he shook my hand and I knew that even though I was the dick head that gave him the bad news, he'd be back and I had earned a new customer.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Berco Blower part 2

 I might as well finish up the story of the Berco snow blower install. The cold weather has minimized any good riding and soon enough snow will prevent it.

 Our first thought was to just bolt the winch on the front of the tractor frame and sandwich our drop plate behind it. That would have left the winch pulling on the bolt threads rather than relying on the strength of the bolt to support the load. This is our second design for the winch mount plate. It sucks as well because we miscalculated how high the winch needed to be in order to lift the way we wanted. You'll see in the video that the blower needs to roll back and once it binds against the push plate (the piece with the wheels), the whole push arm will come up for travel down the road. I shaped the lift plate (below the winch) to align and hold the push arm so it would stay snug while bouncing down the road. Not shown is a rubber pad where the push arm meets the lift plate and a limit switch that Greg added. The switch prevents the operator from "over winching" the system and potentially bending the shit out of everything.

 Here you see the revamped winch mount. You may also notice we ditched the weak chain and turn buckles that came with the blower. Everyone that worked on the project felt they were going to fail so we made that change.

 On the back side you can see the "quick attach" system. Ignore everything hanging off the three point lift, our attachment is just the standard trailer coupler on a 2" ball.
 Besides what I've shown you, these installs also include mounting controllers to run the blower, additional lighting and all the wiring, breakers, fuses and switches involved. Every unit is just a little bit different and each customer has different needs. I guess that keeps it interesting.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Workshop Wednesday-Bercomac Snow Blower

 It's that time of year again when we get the trucks and tractors geared up for snow duty. Along with prepping our own equipment, we do a lot of installs for customers. One of those customer installs is a Bercomac snow blower that I'm helping Greg with. This is a self powered snow blower with a 24 hp honda engine on it. It's designed to go on the front of an atv/utv but we think it can easily be adapted to a small utility tractor.

  We just kinda mocked it up today and have a few ideas on how to best adapt it to this particular tractor.

 There are a lot of things to consider including the ability of the machine to hop a curb or go up a steep trailer ramp. We also want to make a support that will allow for lifting the entire blower off the ground and traveling at high speed down the road. I'll detail this in a future post.

  We fired the blower up even though it's not fully mounted to the tractor yet. We had to. It's a gearhead thing. The general consensus was "holy crap". The full 24 hp is used just for a blower so power is not an issue. I think this machine will be impressive.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Beverage Review-Arty's

  Things on the motorcycling front have been quiet this week. The bathroom remodel is almost done with just some plumbing and a few pieces of trim left to do. If I were a plumber or carpenter that would be great news but I'm neither so wish me luck.
 There has been some talk round these parts of parking two motorcycles in our living room this winter. It really would help free up some space in the garage and the two bikes I have in mind aren't due for any winter makeovers. Besides, having bikes parked in close proximity is good for the soul, even if they are just decoration till the weather gets better.
 Meanwhile the Ultra sits in the garage waiting to be ridden but the fact is that not many more miles will get logged for the remainder of the year, unless there are big changes in A: the weather. B: my schedule. The garage is trashed. The sheds are trashed. I need to get my snow blower situation figured out and I still need to do a leaf cleanup in the yard.

 Oh ya, I was gonna do a beverage review. I had a few of these Arty's old fashioneds and lost track of where this blog was going. First, the pic was taken in my newly remodeled bathroom because it now has the best lighting in the house. Looks good, eh? It's a bathroom, you know what the rest looks like. 
 When my wife and I go out for dinner and she is doing the driving, I like to sample a brandy old fashioned or two. Even the bad ones taste alright to me, especially by the time I get to the second one. I wonder why that is?  I was mixing them at home for a while but never found the right combination that was any better than what I was getting at the bars. Because companies thrive on our laziness, the trend has been to offer single serving premixed drinks, and I think it was someone from work that told me about Arty's. I guess the stuff is made about 50 miles from here so I'm not sure how available it is in the rest of the country. They offer a few different mixes but my favorite by far is the brandy old fashioned sweet. Ya you can pour it over ice and add some fruit but occasionally I just sip them right from the bottle. I will warn you that sometimes settling does occur so I like to flip the bottle upside down to stir things up before opening.
 You won't find any fancy talk here about the quality of what might be in this stuff or a touch of this and a hint of that. My taste buds aren't that sophisticated. All I know is that its freakin delicious and you should limit your use of power tools once you start drinking them.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

No Political Content

 I have a problem staying organized at work. My area looks like a bomb went off because right now there are no less than twenty chainsaws and other handheld pieces of equipment in various stages of disrepair. Most of them are waiting on parts.

 It's really not a problem from an organizational point of view. No parts are getting mixed up between units. My real problem is when people see this mess they think they can just grab stuff off my bench and not return it, as if I don't care or won't miss it. Guess what? I know it's missing. If I have to get a new can of carb clean every other day then I know someone is taking it. In an effort to figure out if the culprit was gremlins or coworkers, I started marking the bottom of cans with an "S" so I could track them. Guess what? I found those cans everywhere. And just because it's only ten feet away doesn't make it ok. Put the shit back where you found it! My stuff is closest to the tire machine and I always find a side cutter and various tools used as pry bars laying over there. Put the shit back! It's not ok that I have to waste time looking for my own stuff.

 The can on the right is one of my marked cans. After it was discovered that I was tracking these things, I've noticed a lot of other marked cans.
 I don't know what to do. When I was super organized it just made it easier for people to borrow my tools. On the other hand it was easier for me to see when something was missing. I'm not the only one in the shop with organizational issues. Check this guys bench out.

 He would tell you these are just the "frequently used" tools and it is a waste of time to put them back in the box. I'm not gonna argue with that because I do the same thing. The funny thing is I bet you could take him out of the room and he could tell you every single tool on that lift without looking at it... except for the ones some ass bag borrowed.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Four Quarts and a Filter

 Saturday morning started out late for me. I didn't have to get up early because the boss gave me the day off with the instructions to get on the bike and enjoy what might be one of the last nice Saturdays left this year. I mean, it is November in Wisconsin. Before I could leave there were a few things I wanted to accomplish including some more work on the bathroom remodel.

 It seems like the ceiling is a bit low but I don't see a problem with that if you're just sitting on the pot. The to-do list still includes crown and base molding, shower stall, vanity and shitter. Oh and the flooring too. Oh, and put the door back on and finish the plumbing. Yikes, it makes me wonder what I've been up to all this time.
 Another task that had to be accomplished before I could ride was to wash that two wheeled pig pen I call a bike. It really was bad, covered in a combination of dust from a construction project at work, rain riding and saw dust from hacking big remodeling project pieces of material into smaller ones in my garage.
 Once the to-do list was complete the only task left was to decide where to ride. I proclaimed to my wife that the big Ultra was gonna need an oil change soon so we might as well find a dealer and pick up supplies. We packed some "just in case" cold weather gear and headed out. It was such a nice day that the closest dealer and even the second closest dealer were just too close. We picked one about 75 miles away and tried to stay off any major hiways to get there.

That's me enjoying some unseasonably warm weather.

 And our very own official on board photographer. We saw a bunch of eagles flying around but those pics didn't turn out. Here are a couple I thought were pretty good considering they were taken with a cell phone while hauling ass down a bumpy back road.

To me this looks like a special effect pic but its not. Kinda cool.

 Nothin fancy but I just like this one. The whole day was was illuminated with brilliant sunshine.

 Today is supposed to be even nicer than yesterday. A ride is definitely in order and I'm considering just catching the Packer game on the radio while on the road. 


Wednesday, November 2, 2016


 Hey, let me tell you about whats been happening in my motorcycle world lately. Nothin. Notta. Zilch, zero. I did brush against the sportster while wiggling my way to the table saw. I stopped, admired it and wished I could take it for a ride. Does that count? I didn't think so. I won't be riding to work today so I'll be stuck in this rut for a while.
 Yesterday was a blow off day at work as I attended a service school for Husqvarna. I don't want to sound like a know-it-all but I already knew-it-all. The course was aimed more at beginners but we need to attend these things for warranty certification. If we make a claim and they ask us to do, say, a crankcase pressure test, they want to know we understand how. I guess there has also been a lot of claims for faulty ignition modules that weren't actually bad.
 I did find out an answer to a question I had about some saws that had issues. They would run rich and bog or die. When I heard the fix was them using a metal metering diaphragm with a film backing in a new carb, I wondered how the heck a metal piece could flex the same way as a piece of rubber (or whatever those things are traditionally made of). I have some of these replacement carbs so upon return to the shop I opened one up for a looksy.

 The diaphragm in the bottom left is the traditional style. The spiral wound metal one in the carb is the new (to me) style. Pretty cool. Well I think it is anyway.
 Saturday night we made it to Brooke and Mikes annual halloween bash. I went as a drunk chainsaw mechanic. My wife wore her scary monster mask. The chili was great. Being the anti-social bastard that I am, we didn't stick around for the hay ride.

 The bathroom remodel is still in progress. It's coming along fine but I'm having issues dealing with a room that's so out of square. That's all I'm gonna say about that for now.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pucker Factor 8.5

 I've been working a lot of Saturdays lately and I don't mind it. If I really had something important to do I'm sure I could get the day off. This way I'm making money instead of blowing it. Anyway, I stepped out of the garage in the morning and the weather rock was telling me it was wet although I'm pretty sure it didn't rain. Temps were in the 50's and I was looking forward to a nice ride to work. I mean that is the best part of going to work and it sets me up for a decent day.
 I pulled into the kwicky mart for some OJ and a muffin. I slid a bit when I pulled in by the pumps and assumed there was oil or coolant on the ground. I thought nothing more of it. When I left, the thermometer on the dash said 55 degrees but the road had an eerie look to it. It really looked icy. I thought I could see tire tracks from cars in what appeared to be an icy road. Naw, can't be and I kept rolling along. When I got to a place where it was safe to do a brake test I was surprised as the abs kicked in. We had 2" of rain a few days ago so the roads should be clean of any oily residue. Why so slippery? I decided because it was dark and deer were a threat that I would take a lonely back road and just putter along. I made my turn and tried a brake test again. Sure as shit the abs kicked in again. I turned the radio up, eased against the back rest, and held it at about 45. As I rolled along I noticed frost in the grass along the road. WTF is going on? I checked the temp again and it said 50 something. It was just weird and I was watching the road pretty close now and getting a little excited. Maybe a pucker factor of 2 just because I wasn't sure what was going on. Each time I checked the brakes or gassed it a little and had slippage, the pucker factor went up. I turned the seat heater on to try to relax but it didn't help.
 I put one of those small slips in the video. I like to think the bike has decent torque but not so much that it can break the tire loose with just a wiggle of the throttle. I was upset because I knew there was a long uphill climb ahead of me and if it was too slippery I was screwed. Maybe on a lighter bike I wouldn't care but not on a new 900+ pound bike. After getting a running start I was able to crest the hill without issue but I was tense. It sure would have been a fun ride on an enduro or a rat.
 I guess the warm air and high humidity along with the road sweating created these not so favorable riding conditions. I was never so happy to get to work.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

33 or Higher

 The forecast for today is wet. I know this time they got it right because the rain is pounding on the roof so loud that I had to look outside and see if it was hail. I knew this weather was on the way so I've been riding to work as much as possible. You know, just to get in as much seat time as I can before the snow flies. My basic rule for how cold before I won't ride is 32 degrees so you can imagine my excitement when I discovered the temp was a balmy 33 yesterday as I left for work. I didn't see any other bikes on the road and haven't seen any on my morning commute for a few weeks now. For the most part I can stay warm but my knees and thighs are exposed to the wind and get pretty cold.

Another craptacular photo brought to you by the GreasyShopRag. This one is
actually a frame from a GoPro video. The dash says 33 degrees.
 The bike has got a pretty thick coat of dirt and grime on it. My plan for last weekend was to wash it but as is usually the case when the sun is shining, I rode it. My wife and I went out for brunch and then to the hardware store. The wife agreed to carry some five foot plumbing parts on the way back. Such a trooper.
 The plumbing parts are for our bathroom remodel project. It's coming along slowly because I only work on it for an hour each night after work. No problem because if we get done before Thanksgiving then I've met my goal. While doing this project I've discovered my woodworking tools are just adequate. The table saw I'm using is the same one my grandfather used on his house. Kinda nostalgic but I wish gramps would have invested in a better saw. My sabre saw starts smoking after cutting more than a few inches and all the big batteries for my Milwaukee power tools are shot. As much as I like new tools I don't think I'll replace any wood working stuff unless I absolutely have to. I'd use them for this project and then they would (hopefully) sit for years unused. Then again there has been talk about other projects around here. We'll see.
 I've been waiting for a break in the rain but it's coming down as hard as ever. I want to unhook the trailer from my truck but I may just pull it today so I don't get soaked disconnecting it.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

From Green to White

 Its been a long time since I've talked about the "other" thing I do at work. If you follow this blog you know I repair chainsaws and other handheld two cycle equipment. What I don't talk about much is that when I was first hired by my current employer, it was to run the landscape crew. It's something that I had done for a very long time. Part of those landscaping duties was to do develop and manage a lawn pesticide applications and fertilization branch of the business. The owner of the business at the time didn't give me a blank check but he did give me a loose leash. I was given the type of equipment I wanted and what we couldn't buy, I was allowed to build.
 Be careful what you wish for. I had a good reputation and some connections from past employment. That combined with fair pricing, the willingness to work with the customers schedule, and good results has built a monster that consumes way too much of my time. 
 I never really had any desire to spray lawns. It came with the job and if you're gonna do a job you might as well do it well. I also can control how these chemicals are applied. I mean, people that want weed or pest control are gonna either do it themselves or hire someone. You wouldn't believe how many people figure if a little is good then more is better. When I make the application I have control over chemical types, rates and the possibility of runoff. That's how I justify it in my head anyway.
 There are two things I really like about this kind of work. One is being outside. The weather is always good because if it's crap weather then I'm not able to perform the work. The other is the equipment. I like building or working on the pumps, sprayers and spreaders. It's a gearhead thing.
 The other day I decided to shoot a short video while running one of the rigs. Nothing fancy, just a phone in one hand and steering wheel in the other. It appears to be boring work but the truth is I've been doing it so long it comes automatically. The equipment is calibrated for a certain speed so there is no rushing the job. That relaxed pace means I am rarely thinking about actually running the equipment and most of my thought process is consumed thinking about motorcycle projects, a stubborn repair waiting on my work bench, or lately a bathroom remodel. Guess what? The pay is the same no matter what I'm day dreaming about.
 I have one big job left for Monday and then all the equipment can be cleaned and put away till spring. The trucks will lose their water tanks and get salters and snow plows installed and then we just wait for mother nature to dump the white stuff. One more year in the books.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Trying To Capture The Moment

 I was on the way home from work yesterday enjoying the unusually warm October temps and a colorful sunset. While scootin along I was trying to come up with an idea for todays blog. I came up with bupkis. I suppose I could write something cheezy that would express just how great this ride was. None of that is necessary. Most of you that ride know the feeling when you connect with the bike and environment at the same time. Yes I'm commuting but on special days it doesn't feel that way.
 In an effort to capture the moment I figured a picture was in order. I pulled over, snapped the pic and voila, I have a blog post.

 As curious as it may seem, the one thing that takes up the most pixels in this image is also the one thing that matters the least. Sure it's a nice bike but when I feel this connection with my surroundings and my ride it usually doesn't matter what the ride is. Oddly enough for me it also doesn't have to be a nice warm sunny day. I want to try to explain this to those of you that don't ride but can't find the words. Maybe it's kinda like that scene in the Matrix movie where the dude is dodging the bullets. There is some kind of control that happens automatically as I seemingly slip into another dimension.
 Ya, so much for not sounding cheezy.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Bathroom Remodel

  I've been reading a lot of talk on blogs lately about putting bikes away for the winter. I'm not ready to do that yet and I couldn't even if I wanted to. You see, my garage is such a mess right now that two of my rides are blocked in. Whats in the way is debris from a remodeling project I'm doing in our house. It has also become a staging area for new material coming in. The whole ordeal has become quite a mess. How come beautifying one room leaves so many others in shambles?  Construction dust is everywhere although it has revealed something to me. There are cat paw imprints in this dust and they are everywhere. Some of them are in places I'd never imagine they could get to. I thought they just slept all day but it appears they are wandering around rubbing their junk on everything I own.
 Those that have been through these types of projects know they can be difficult at times. First you have to decide to what length you will take this project. My wife finding a loose tile in the shower has led to this.

 The room is not part of the original house so you can imagine the added complications to the project including plumbing and someones idea of stud spacing that must have involved the metric system.
 The cleanup is done and the sub floor and walls are next. That meant a trip to the lumber store. My wife thinks she came along to help choose a vanity and such but what I really needed was someone to help with the heavy lifting and she was a trooper. If your not sure why she appears to be eating her glasses then I'll assume you are single. See, its hard to strangle someone while holding glasses in your hand.

These kind of projects can either make a couple stronger or start fights. So far there has been no talk of divorce so I guess we'll be alright although I was just reminded that yesterday was sweetest day. Dang hallmark holidays get me every time.
 Last night was an out of town over nighter. We saw Jay play drums in a rock band and enjoyed some adult beverages. A good time was had by all.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Am I a Writer?

 That question came up when Al and I were talking in the shop yesterday. He claimed he had no clue about my writing as he is just in it for the pictures. I'll post a couple of random pics today just for Al.
 Yes I have a blog and I make regular posts twice a week but I'm not a writer. I wish I could write but the fact is I suck at it. My blog posts are usually an explanation of a picture rather than an intellectual observation. My skill set stops at the end of a wrench and does not include the mental fortitude needed to capture your imagination with words. My high school edjumication limits me in this area and I accept that.

I ate 18 of these last week during our annual open house at work.
 My digestive system is finally back to normal. Thanks for asking.

 This doesn't mean I'm dumb. I happen to be good at figuring crap out...even if that crap is new to me. Maybe that's what I like about doing repair work. It's a little bit like detective work. A customer brings their broke ass equipment into the store and tries to explain the problem in the best way they know how. These sometimes aren't very mechanically inclined people or they'd fix the stuff themselves so their problems have to be decoded by our counter personnel. Now I grab the work order and try to decipher the customers and the counter persons interpretation of the problem. Sometimes the problem is obvious and other times what appears to be the problem is just the result of the problem. A broken pull cord is a good example. At first it may seem that replacing the broken rope is all that's needed but many a rope has been replaced only to discover the machine doesn't run. The broken rope was the result of the customer pulling on it a hundred times, trying to get it started.

If this pic of Als wife Vikki with her vette doesn't get him to
scroll back and read this entire blog then  nothing will.

 So what does this have to do with blogging? I dunno, for this blog some of that repair work is fuel for posts. Also, some of that desire to figure things out gets applied to the mechanics of creating this blog. This would include the layout, presentation and pics involved not only for this blog but the social media and web page I maintain at work. Its not hard but it does have to be figured out.
 When I asked google the question, "what is a blog", the answer I got said "a website containing a writers experiences...blah, blah, blah" So, I guess it must be true because I read it on the net. This chicken scratch bullshit I post twice a week qualifies me as a writer. Suck that Hemingway.