Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Rat Piss

 Well I finally pushed the Rat Turd out of the living room. The slimey crud run is this weekend and I want to ride this bike down there. Problem one, the battery is dead. Not really a problem, I have many different forms of electron rejuvenation devices so I connected one in anticipation of firing the bike up and taking it for a spin. Problem two, the bike pissed all over the garage floor. At first I thought one of the four carbs just had a hung float and after a few taps with a hammer would let loose and set the needle. A few taps didn't do it and before I could find a bigger hammer I came to my senses and looked for another reason for the leak.

 I knew the carbs would need to come off so this seemed like an easy way to pinpoint the source of the leak. Sure enough, I discovered fuel flowing from the inlet tube that connects the two middle carbs.
 The o-rings were getting old and just weren't sealing well anymore. I suppose they got lazy enjoying the good life in my living room all winter. I tried new o-rings but the ones I had were just a tad different sized and after reassembly proved they wouldn't seal the leak. I disassembled the whole mess again and tried some gasket sealer on the o-rings. A day later I turned the fuel petcock open and watched the rat piss on the floor again. If I'm gonna run this bike two hours from home this weekend then I need this leak fixed. I made a command decision and used JB Weld on the cross pipe. Right or wrong, it's done. The leak is fixed.
 Problem three revealed itself on the test ride. The clutch slips. This isn't a huge problem and if I were riding alone to the crud run I would be ok. The problem only shows itself when I really get on it and I assure you if I ride two hours with guys on bikes twice the displacement that I'll be "getting on it" more than once. I knew about the clutch last year after I rejetted the carbs and gained a bunch of power. The new discs are here in my shop and I just need to remember to pick up some oil and soak them overnight before I do the repair.
 Despite the fact that its only 35 degrees, the plan is to ride the Ultra to work today and pick up that oil. After work I'm gonna ride to the HD dealer in Beaver Dam because their website says they are stocking a battery I need for the heated jacket liner we bought for my wife this past weekend. This will be the maiden voyage for the new handlebars on the Ultra so I'm kinda looking forward to that. Tonight I'll soak the clutch discs and do the repair on thursday. This gives me two days to test ride the Rat Turd locally before sundays ride.
 It all sounds good to me.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


 I was working in the garage last week putting some new bars on the Ultra when my wife walked in with a bacon snack. I submit to you, it don't get any better than this. Motorcycles and bacon!

 I'm smiling on the inside. Really. It was my first selfie with the new Samsung s7 Edge and I was reading the different functions on the screen when I hit the shutter.

 The other day I rolled the Rat Turd out of the house and put some fuel in it. The fuel leaked onto the ground. At first I thought the float was sticking on one carb but after disassembly and cleaning, it turns out the problem is bigger than that. I'll have to pull the bank of four carbs apart and try to find a leak in the fuel connector pipe that is pressed in between the middle two carbs. I've had those carbs off so many times I bet I can do it blind folded and I might just try that to take some of the monotony out of the task.
 Two posts ago I mentioned the frame on the sportster was holding up well where it had been welded. I inspect this area regularly and it appears to have cracked again. I'll probably just weld it and run it for the summer. Actually, as soon as I get out on the Ultra, the sporty will have served its "rat bike, salt on the road" purpose for the season. I know what I have there and that bike may be a winter project for next year...provided I actually finish the BSA.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ultra Handlebar Swap

 Sometimes I like to ride "tank to tank". What I mean is I like to run till I need fuel and those fuel stops are the only stops. The only way to do this is to be comfortable on the bike and my Ultra had me reaching for the bars. Lucky for me The Motor Company offers a bar with a little less reach and I bought a set last winter. I knew the swap was going to be quite involved and I only recently decided to take it on.
Because the bar riser bolts are under the fairing, a lot of stuff had to come apart to get at them.

 After removing the front of the fairing and unbolting and rocking the rest of the fairing forward, I was able to remove the bars.
 Wires everywhere! Wires inside the bar and wires on the outside. Actually when you think about all the functions this doesn't seem that bad. Heated grips, radio, cb, turn signals, start, kill, high beam, throttle by wire, volume, etc. The rest of the swap was uneventful. I hope I tightened the bars down in a favorable location because I really don't want to have to take a bunch of stuff apart to make an adjustment. I won't know till we get some decent rain, The roads are STILL salt covered.
 I also added some more led lighting, this time to the top of the fairing under the windshield.
 Those orange lights stay illuminated with the other marker lights. The only difference is that the two end sets of lights on each side flash with the turn signals. I like the way they look, even when they are not lit up. The fairing has a groove where these are mounted and looks like something is missing. I have to wonder if they design these bikes with pieces like this as part of the original design and then just remove them and offer as add-ons or if a design team comes up with this stuff after the fact. To me they just look like they belong on this touring rig.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Bikes Everywhere!

 The sun came out this week and that means motorcycles are back on the road. There is still a lot of salt residue on the road and I refuse to put the Ultra out there till that salt has been rinsed away. I see a lot of the bikes on the road are nice newer rides. I guess there are people that don't have the luxury of owning multiple bikes but feel the need to get out there. I understand that and I guess if you wash the bike it may be ok. I don't want to chance it on a new bike so the sportster has been the ride of choice till the Rat comes out of hibernation.

I've been riding to work this week in morning temps in the 30's. The payoff comes at the end of the day when temps have been in the upper 50's and 60's. Yesterday I think we hit 70. After work  I had a couple hours to kill so I wandered around on the sporty. It was just a lazy ride and a perfect road for that is a nearby Rustic Road. Its not exactly smooth but its quiet and there is usually a good chance of seeing some wildlife. I saw two ducks, that's it. I guess everybody was sleeping.

Most of the road is one lane which really doesn't make a diff on a bike.
Nothing to see here, just a marsh.
And a sportster.
I was just thinking, I call my 2000 dodge truck "old" but until just now I never really thought much about the age of this '89 sportster. The bike runs pretty good and I always feel confident I could ride it anywhere despite the fact that I've had to trailer it home twice when it wouldn't run and nurse it to a welding shop once to have the frame repaired. That repair was done in North Carolina and seems to be holding up well. We'll just call that "working the bugs out".

 This spot seemed picture worthy as I watched the water flowing past and all the little bugs and critters jumping, hopping and crawling around on new legs enjoying the spring warmth, kinda like all the bikers on the road this weekend. If your caging it , please look out for the anxious newbies and rusty oldies as they wander out on their steeds for the first ride of the season.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dodge, Salt and Spyders

 Earlier this week I snapped a pic from my truck while heading home from work. Hey, at least I wasn't texting.

It's not much of a pic because I just whipped the camera up and clicked the shutter without taking my eyes off the road. Anyway, this one boring pic actually says a lot if you read into it, like why am I in a truck when the weather supports bike riding?

 Also, no snow! We just had a small blast of the white stuff and everybody tried to use up their salt supply. This means the roads got hosed pretty good with salt and there is a lot of residue on them. The temps went up, the salt never fully dissolved and it's still laying everywhere. When this guy on the Spyder passed me you could see the salt dust flying as he crossed back over the center line. According to the locals in the restaurant the other day, we need three good rains to wash the salt off the roads. I don't think I can wait for three rains but I can wait for at least one. I trashed a bike once  by riding in the salt and have no plans to do that with the Ultra. The Rat Turd is almost completely painted with truck bedliner and that should be good for protecting the bike from salt. I'm thinking I'll roll that bike out of the living room this coming weekend. There is rumor the temps could rise to 70 degrees and I want to take advantage of that.

 In other news, yesterday after work I installed a rebuilt steering box in the old Dodge pickem up. This is the latest in a series of attempts to make this dang truck go straight down the road. Last year I upgraded all the steering tie rod ends to 1 ton pieces. I also replaced the wheel bearings. Oh and we can't forget about the exploding ball joint incident. That was when a stubborn ball joint had to be heated and pounded out. It hit the floor and laid there about a minute as the grease inside was expanding. It finally let loose with a loud bang and flew across the room, denting a steel door. Ya.
 The steering box install started like most projects when I realized I didn't buy enough parts. The existing power steering hoses needed replacement as well so I ran back down to the parts store. The next series of cuss words came when the pitman arm wouldn't come off. I decided to skip this step and move on with the removal of the old box which went ok. Reassembly sucked as most of the threaded holes had paint in them and I didn't clean them before trying to hang the box. I pulled it back out, cleaned things up and bolted it back to the frame. The new pressure hose was stubborn to get started but after a half hour of dinkin around, the threads finally meshed.
 Now that everything else was put together I just needed that pitman arm. I put the puller back on, fired up the torch and heated it up until it "popped". Simple.
 The test ride was what I was hoping for. Considering the "alignment" was nothing more than me using a tape measure to set toe in, it rolls pretty decent down the road. I'll pay for an actual alignment and it should steer like new. Some may think this is a waste of money to fix this old truck. I should just "run it till it dies". I don't want to spend the coin on a newer truck, at least not now, but I do want something I can trust rolling down the road so I'll keep tinkering with this old Dodge.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Rebel Maintenance Continued

 I've been picking away at my to-do list on Brookes Honda Rebel. When I was digging through a box of spare parts I noticed an air filter without the foam wrap. I didn't give it a second thought until I inspected the filter in the black bike that I'm prepping for her.

 The foam was just falling off of it as it was removed from the bike. I'm sure that's what happened to the other filter. The body and mesh screen are fine but the foam will get replaced. The big aftermarket sources don't list it so for shits and goggles I did a search online an up popped amazon. I've been using them a lot lately for odd parts and their service is great. Most of you already know that. On the topic of Amazon, I ordered and received tires for this bike. The seller was listed as Amazon, not some second party and when they arrived they looked like this.

  They are packaged with cardboard supports in between the beads to help support the shape of the tire. I've ordered a lot of bike tires and  have never had them show up this way. They are usually just banded tight and deformed. I'm not sure if its a Kenda thing or Amazon but I like it.

 While I was filling my virtual cart I decided to pick up some turn signal mounts. It's just an adapter between the fender and the light stem that flexes if bumped into. A droopy light just looks like the bike gave up, or worse, spent time on its side. Here is a pic with the new mounts.

 Yesterday I ordered a master cylinder rebuild kit and caliper seals for the front brake. Once that is fixed all I have left is a turn signal that won't flash and some fuel hose. Then I can push it out the door and see if it runs!


Wednesday, April 6, 2016


 What is art? When I think about art I usually consider objects that only serve the purpose of being appreciated, like paintings and sculpture. There is also art in design of certain useful objects, say, a fancy schmancy Italian motorcycle. But what about an object that is left in its original functional form and put out on display to be critiqued for what it is?
 I reported a trip to the antique mall where I purchased some signs for my shop. When my wife makes a purchase it is much different. Not bad, no. I enjoy some of the "pieces" we have on display in the house. Here is her latest find.
 She said there was some significance to the number three and besides that, its just cool. Do you think if it could tell its story that it would be a boring one?

 This beast weighs about 55 pounds and is full of interesting details. I'm sure the designer wasn't thinking about art when this was made but how can you not call it that? My appreciation is not just a gear head thing because my wife is nowhere close to being a tech head and she loves it. It must have some merit as a piece of art. But then again, my Rat Turd sits in the living room too and I enjoy looking at it but I would never call that bike art.
 Ack, its all just a bunch of baloney anyway. Call it what you want. Art, scrap metal, whatever. If it piques your interest and you enjoy looking at it then I guess it doesn't matter what you call it.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Crap Weather

 It figures that right after I pull the Ultra out of hibernation the weather would get snowy again. The roads are too slippery for a two wheeler so the bikes sit waiting in the garage and I sit waiting in my shop. Sure I've got a lot of projects to finish but after that initial ride on the big HD, I was geared up for doing some miles. Now I'm just bummed out and having trouble getting motivated.
Poor photography and backlighting or is it snowing that hard?

 Yesterday as the snow was coming down I decided to quit whining and just get moving on some of these projects. I started slow by refreshing my memory on the security system on the Ultra. The bike uses a fob rather than a key and there are codes and procedures for working around the fob if its battery dies or you drive off without the fob. See, if your fob is within 20 feet of the bike, the bike will start and allow you to drive off. There won't be an issue till you shut the bike off. At that point you need the fob or your security code which can be entered manually to allow starting of the bike. I've heard stories of guys riding off like this and not knowing their security code. I don't want to be one of those guys. I've also heard that if you trailer the bike without setting it in "transport mode" the security system will keep flashing the lights. If your trip is long enough this could mean a dead battery. I don't foresee a cross country trailer ride for the bike but again, I don't want to be caught in that situation so I familiarized myself with the procedure. I also decided to put fresh batteries in the fobs. Not a very technical job but it is motorcycle maintenance.
 The next project was to drive to work and change the front tire on Brookes Rebel. Showing up at the shop was risky and didn't go unnoticed. I ended up clocking in and pushing some snow. Not a big deal, just not part of the plan. When I got home I changed the oil in my wifes car and we went for a drive. No purpose, just wandering. One of our stops was an antique mall. There were a lot of cool things there but not much was motorcycle related. Sure they had a bunch of Harley signs and some were cool. I like my Ultra and sportster but I'm having a problem with all the HD hype. Not for what it is, rather the fact there is so much of it. Its everywhere. When I see something a little different it seems more interesting to me. I walked out with the only faux antiques they had. Why spend a lot of coin on a rusty old sign when you can have a cheap imitation for less?
 I'm hoping these signs hanging on my shop wall will help motivate me to finish the BSA project.