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.