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.