Sunday, July 30, 2017

Loud Pipes And Other Thoughts

 This past week was the EAA AirVenture event in Oshkosh, just ten miles up the road from where I work. I am fascinated when I see a plane overhead, especially a large one, and wonder about the physics in keeping it aloft. Despite my interest I've never been to the air show. At work we get a bit of a show of our own. The approach pattern for smaller planes goes right over our shop and for at least a week we get to see all forms of small aircraft just overhead.  When I'm not looking up at the planes I still know they are there because they are much louder and annoying than any Harley ever was. One after another, back to back all f-ing day long. Some people say "loud pipes save lives" and maybe that's why air travel is so safe, er no?

 So the other day I was at my work bench fixing a customers saw when the dj on the radio said it was flashback friday or something like that. He then explained that they would not be playing any songs newer than five years old. WTF? I don't even listen to music till it has fermented at least five years. New music, big crowds, concerts aaack. You can have it all. Not for me. I can handle the classics in a small bar setting but that's about it.

 Later that day I found myself in my garage tipping back a cool one, contemplating the meaning of life when out of nowhere comes a squirrel and a robin. I don't know what that poor squirrel got into but the robin was making him pay. It would swoop down and just beat the shit out of that furry little rodent. This went on through my yard and two other neighbors yards as far as I could see them. I wondered where or when it started and how long it would go on. I guess I wasn't curious enough to follow and instead got myself another beer. I didn't want to get in the middle of that beat down.

 Yesterday after work my wife and I went to Madison to visit our daughter and her boy friend. We had to take the cage because we were hauling something too big for the bike. The plan was to meet at a vegan restaurant called The Green Owl Cafe. This would be a new experience for me and it wasn't that long ago I would have found some way to get out of going there (or snuck in a cheese burger). As it turns out the food was terrific and I was surprised at the complex dishes despite the fact that they didn't contain real food (meat). At least that's the way I used to think.

 So here's the deal. Madison sucks. I feel the same way about any city larger than, oh say, 1500 souls. We didn't know it at the time but there was a celebration called AtwoodFest going on. This meant double suck with sprinkles because there was no place to park. Initially I made a few loops around the surrounding few blocks with no luck. I saw a lot of places I could have landed the Ultra but the Subaru Outback just wasn't gonna squeeze in those spots. We finally found a spot about a mile away. It didn't kill us to walk but when you need the gps to find your way while on foot, thats bullshit. How do people live this way? I hope I never find myself in a situation where I need to rely on public parking to get home after a long day at work. Anyway, Madison is a huge Bicycling community. The whole city is bike friendly and that's great...if you're into that kind of thing. If I lived there my choice for transportation would look like this:

So that about wraps up my week. Today should be a great day for riding and I'm gonna start right now by taking the sporty down town for breakfast. I know there will be parking right up front.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Filter Maintenance

 A while back I told you about oil oozing from my air filter. This was due to high heat and a way full oil supply. I recently did an oil change and made sure to keep the oil down at a reasonable level and away from the full line. After that I decided to clean the air filter. This one is called the Extreme Billet Ventilator. It has a washable KandN filter and now was the time to start saving money as advertised by cleaning the old filter. By the way, for the amount I paid for this air cleaner, it will never pay for itself. In fact, for that money the damn thing outta clean itself.

 I did not have to go out and buy the cleaner and oil. It was found lurking on my parts shelf. I think it's left over from the Aprilia. Sometimes it pays to be a pack rat.

 Six allen bolts removes all the screaming eagle made in china decorations. Loosen three more bolts and off comes the filter. I think the amount of bolts used in this setup should keep it from vibrating off and littering the streets. I only mention it because my other Harley is a nasty litterbug.

The cleaning solution does a nice job of removing oil.

It even got this messy rain sock looking like new.

 I guess my phone was hungry because I think it ate the rest of the pics I took that day. Anyway, after the filter has dried the filter oil just sprays on like you would use a can of paint. It doesn't take much and you don't want oil dripping from the element. Some blue loc-tite to keep everything in place and this job is done.
 I just looked at the calendar and it seems my vacation is less than four weeks away. I gotta get on some more of this maintenance before the big trip. I just did the front brakes and fixed an air ride issue. Still on the list is replacing the rear tire, tranny and primary oil changes, investigating some finicky led lights on the fairing, and adding some music to the thumb drive. Another thing I need to do is empty the tour pack and see what is all stashed in there. There's a good three inch layer of tools, parts and hats/gloves spread out across the bottom.
I think I'll ride the sportster to work today just to mix things up.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Rain or Shine

 We've had quite a lot of rain this year and much of it is pop up storms in the evenings. The other day after work my wife and I decided to ride about sixteen miles to a grocery store. Ya there are closer stores but we were looking for an excuse to ride and the timing involved in the ride and shopping would be just about right. As we were checking out the cashier figured we were on a bike and showed us a radar image. It didn't look good and when we walked outside it looked worse. I would have got a pic but there just wasn't time. We had to move now or get hammered.

 Based on the quick look I had of the radar I thought I might be able to take the long route home and hook around the storm.

As the storm front started catching up with us the wind picked up. As you can see my wife has full faith in my route selection.

 At one point I got caught behind a slow cage and couldn't be patient any longer. I grabbed a gear and shot the big Ultra across the double yellow just a little early and sped around the car. As I did this I caught sight of a squad car pulling out of a lot. I was easily twenty over and he had me dead to rights. My wife said she looked at the cop, looked at the big nasty clouds and then looked back at the cop. He left us alone. We still caught a few miles of rain but not that strong wind bullshit, and with temps in the low eighties it was kinda a relief.

 Not all our rides are threatened by nasty weather. We got out yesterday with no destination in mind.

 We were on some seldom traveled roads where we disturbed the locals. They'll get over it. We also stumbled upon a little Amish country store that we'll certainly seek out in the future. My wife is the official GreasyShopRag field photographer and she snaps a lot of pics. It seems she is taking pics even when she doesn't know it.

 The forecast today is for more scattered showers. Try to ride around the clouds, get wet, dry out, repeat.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Up Valve

 It wasn't all that long ago I reported that my air ride suspension was holding up decent after a year of use. I guess I jinxed myself because I started having problems. As I was riding the pressure in the shocks would keep rising. I'd bleed some air off and a few miles later there would be and extra 10 or 20 pounds in the shocks. When the bike was parked the pump won't run but I would find it with full tank pressure in the shocks, or more accurately, the tank would bleed into the shocks till pressure evened out. If the bike were slammed onto a short center stand then it would have raised up and tipped over.
 I emailed DirtyWorks LLC to find out if my suspicions of the up valve being faulty were plausible and if the unit was under warranty. Their reply was to give me cleaning instructions for the valve. That was my plan anyway because I figured they were gonna tell me to piss off. I guess I'm just so used to bad customer service that I have been taking the low road in these matters but this company has been good to me from the start. I wish they offered more stuff I need.

 On the right side of the bike behind the side panel is where I've installed the up valve and dump valve. 

 Here you can see the manifold with the pressure regulator switch and our problematic up valve.

 Another look at the same manifold. The regulator switch is still attached but I've remove the up valve solenoid and valve itself. I forgot to get a pic of it but it's just a cartridge with a spring loaded rubber stopper. That rubber stopper pushes against the tiny hole in the center of that valve body. 

 Here is a zoomed in shot of that hole. Notice at about 8 o'clock how it looks odd. It must have been some debris because after swabbing it with a q-tip, it looked perfect.

 Having cleaned it up nice I reassembled everything and hoped for the best. I say that because my first test was an hour plus ride to Belgium to pick up my wife from a party. Ya, I never heard of Belgium Wisconsin either but I assure you, it's there. I just punched the addy in the Ultras gps and followed her instructions. Yes it got me there but I must have the preferences set to "zig zag" because that was the most messed up ride I've been on in a while. Lucky for me I wasn't on a schedule. 
 So it has been four days now and the valve is working as it should. Happy, happy happy.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Dinner Cruise

 On my ride home from work Friday I was cruising along at a pretty good clip when an oncoming rider started frantically patting the top of his helmet as we passed. I gave him a thumbs up return instead of my usual arm stretched to the side peace sign. There were a lot of cars around us and I'm sure some of them were wondering what all this secret biker code was about.
 A few of those cagers found out in a hurry what it meant. Our friend on the crotch rocket was letting me know that Johnny Law was near and I should scrub off some speed. I acknowledged with the thumbs up and just enough braking to get legal but not make it obvious by nose diving the front end. The cops had us trained to slow down about two miles back in their regular trap. Now they have expanded their coverage and this is gonna suck. I may have to find a new route to and from work.

 Besides my riding to work, the bulk of our riding has been dinner cruises. There's been a change in our eating habits lately that includes a lot more vegetables and little if any meat. My wife is taking it pretty seriously with a lot of juicing in her diet and no meat. The changes in weight and energy are quite noticeable. I've eliminated the crap from my diet as well but I'm not being a food nazi about it. My goal is just to eat healthier. Eliminating soda has probably been the most important change. Beer and brandy old fashioneds are still on the menu so all is well in the drunk and stupid department. Anyway, because of this diet change we are now expanding our restaurant destinations further from home. Yesterday was a hundred mile round trip for dinner and we had some gorgeous riding weather for it. Friday night we had great weather as well.

There are at least two veggies on our table I can't even name.
No matter, except for the bananas, honey and whiskey old fashioned,
 they'll get "juiced" and drank.

 On that Friday night ride we passed through a known speed trap and my wife said "Don't let the coppers get us, Honey". Ya I was accelerating from an intersection in a playful manner but I started thinking about her request. Should I slow down or should I gun it if I draw reds? I chose to slow down because I don't think the Bonnie and Clyde option was really what she meant. We all know the tone of a text message can be misunderstood but sometimes things can be taken the wrong way even when said face to face. When we got home and were putting away groceries (yes, we grocery shop on the bike) my wife held up a bag a of cashews and asked if I was gonna put my nuts by my chair. "Yes I am" and I plopped my ass down in my recliner.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Flags, Fish and Fresh Oil

 Last weekend my wife and I were on a ride and it was pretty hot outside. Not "yea it's warm lets go for a ride" hot, but "crap its hot, pull over and find some shade" kinda hot. We found a park and used the rest rooms, looked at some ducks and stretched our legs. Unrelated to the story but something I had never seen before, was that this small city had their own flag. The US flag was on a pole elevated higher than the state flag which was on a pole next to it and then their city flag same level as the state flag on its own pole. This may be common but after 54 years it's the first time I've ever seen a city flag. Anyway, I usually do a walk around of the bike in these situations to look for problems and sure enough I found one.

This pic has nothing to do with this story but don't you just want
 to grab that fish and push that eyeball in till the two eyes are even sized.
Every muscle in my body was telling me to snatch him out of there and fix
 his bulgy eye problem. Stupid fish.

It appeared my two year old Harley had an oil leak. At first glance it looked like the front push rod base was seeping oil.

 Closer inspection of the oil patterns ruled this out and sometimes you have to back up and look at the whole picture.

 Right above this oily mess is the air filter. It has a rain sock on it in this pic.

 I swiped my hand under the filter and got a big dose of engine oil. Warm temps combined with my habit of hugging the full mark on the dipstick created this mess. I'll clean it up and wash the filter and should be good to go for a while.

  Back to the fish. Is this normal for this fish to have one big eye? None of the other fish looked like they needed their face clamped in a vise to straighten out their appearance. Maybe he got into a fight with another fish and took a fin to the face. Maybe he was doing laps, high sided and hit the wall. All the other fish were quite active but popeye here just kinda stared at the side of the tank. It's like he wanted me to pick him up and help him. I may have to go back and investigate in a few weeks. Do you think the staff at the restaurant will be suspicious if they see me walk in with a small net and a C clamp?


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Nobodys Fault

 I don't want this blog to become just one big rant about a-hole customers but some stories just need to be told so I can get them off my chest. An elderly gentleman walks into the store carrying a small string trimmer. Well to be accurate, he had two parts of one trimmer. That is, the power head was separated from the shaft/handle/trimmer head. I escorted him back into the shop and we set the patient on the work bench. Right away I thought the unit looked like one I may have worked on recently because of the new fuel lines that were on it. The next thing I noticed was that the end of the shaft that goes into the clutch was all fouled up and that the inner driveshaft or bearings/liner was most likely damaged because the head wouldn't turn.
 "It looks like it broke either when the shaft came out or when you tried to cram the shaft back in".
 "Now just wait a minute! I will not have you blaming me for this". he said.
 I asked if the trimmer was in one piece when he tried to start it. "Yes" was his reply.
 I asked if he tried to put it back together. "Yes" again.
 I asked him how my statement was inaccurate and he said "I didn't ask you who broke it and I don't want to know how it broke, just tell me if you can fix it"
 I then began to explain that the cost and availability of parts for a 15 year old trimmer may not be a worthwhile effort, especially if you are having difficulty pull starting it. (He had mentioned shoulder surgery) He then told me that he bought the unit new less than two years ago from another shop. So now I know he is not only a dick, but either a liar or senile. I suspect the latter. I really hope that some other shop didn't screw this guy over that bad because the price he claims to have paid should have got him a new machine.
 He could see that repairing this one wasn't a good idea and started giving me the sob story. He just had shoulder surgery and had to clamp the machine in a vise to hold it so he could pull the cord. It started making sense now and I could see the scratches on the tube of the machine where it was clamped. He eventually pulled the head right off the shaft.

 Anyway, I told him about the advantages of a battery powered machine and told him I could show him models from three different manufacturers. We eventually found one that he was comfortable with and wanted to purchase. Now he asks how much trade in value his old unit had.
 Our policy on these handheld trade-ins is simple. I figure how much we can get for the unit and subtract repair costs. Whats left is your trade-in value. If he leaves the unit here, trade or not, this will be its final resting place.

 I tried explaining that our cost to make it sale worthy would exceed what we could get for it but I'd give him ten dollars despite that fact it was going in the dumpster. He started whining about how I should have known this was gonna happen when I repaired the fuel lines earlier. I wanted to tell him "Now just wait a minute, yer not gonna blame this on me!" but instead I said nobody knew you were gonna clamp it in a vise to try to start it. "There he goes again" as he turned toward a coworker. " He keeps blaming me for this and I'll not have that!" "I didn't clamp the tube in the vise, it was the engine where the shaft goes in. I never mentioned that the tube was clamped, he offered that up on his own.

If this end was clamped in a vise the paint would be chipped but it's not.

 Steve overheard most of our conversation and was actually involved in helping the gentleman figure out how to start the machine when he picked it up after that previous repair. Now that the guy was re-telling his whole story to Steve, I took the opportunity to slip out of there. They worked out a deal, the details of which I couldn't care less. I'm still not sure if the guy was a dick, a liar or senile.
 What the hell? You bring your trimmer in for service and it runs perfect when you pick it up. Because you don't have enough gumption to pull start it, you clamp it in a vise. I can picture him yanking on the cord with the engine unsupported until he loosened the engine from the tube. BTW, the stop switch was in the stop position. I always look at this because people just don't move the switch to "off" if the unit never started and the ones that truly don't run always come to me with the switch "on". Now you dicked up the machine and are gonna blame me and accept no blame yourself?
 For me it seems better to just step away from these situations and vent here. Thanks for listening. Oh ya, you came here for motorcycle content. Well, I'm gonna go for a ride today. Vroom vroom.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Holiday Weekend Wrapup

  Some of you may have taken four or more days to enjoy the holiday weekend. I did not. I volunteered to work Saturday and Monday although I could have taken them off if I had made plans. The few plans I did have mostly fit in around business hours at work. Good thing we were open because a lot of people were at the store for rentals, repair work, landscape supplies, grilling pellets and lp tank refills.
 One guy was a dick otherwise the customers were all in a pretty good mood. I was the only person in the shop that was available to hook his chainsaw up to a computer to check for error codes and I was 15 minutes behind schedule for leaving to do some of those plans I just talked about. He didn't care and insisted he couldn't leave his saw behind because he makes a living with that saw and uses it all the time. All the pros I know that make a living cutting wood have backup saws. I didn't bother to tell him this or even argue. I just grabbed the saw and took it into the shop. When I hooked it up to the computer it revealed that it had 20 hours of run time in two years. If he makes a living with this saw he must have a really high hourly rate. I was kinda pissed after seeing this and asked Greg if he would take the saw back up front when I was done with it. I was afraid I'd say something smart and blow another sale they had worked out. Sometimes it's best to just separate yourself from these situations and that's what I chose to do. I mean the guy was such a dick that after he left the boss told me he was surprised I didn't tell him to piss off.
 After leaving work Saturday we went to a 50th wedding anniversary party.  We met some relatives that I hadn't seen since we were married 29 years ago. I'm quite the social butterfly and like to keep up with people every few decades or so.
 Sunday we rode through some heavy rain to visit a friend. It was one of those rides where you start and finish dry but somewhere in the middle of the ride you were wet. The outcome of that visit may be a used dishwasher purchase. I'll have to go back to pick it up because it wouldn't fit on the bike with my wife and she wasn't willing to hitch hike home. That ride also included a stop at the Harley dealer for some front brake pads. This will be the third set of fronts. I understand that most of my braking power comes from the front end and I exercise that every time I stop. Muscle memory will save you when you need to react.

 Monday after work I rode the sportster to meet my wife and some of her relatives. I took the sporty because I knew the driveway which is about a hundred yard long path through a field, was full of soft sand and ruts. Based on my performance with that smaller bike, I know I would have struggled or even dumped the Ultra. Seventeen years ago was the last time I was on that drive and I was on a Kawasaki Voyager. I almost got stuck and dumped that bike and didn't want to repeat history.
 When I left, there was an opportunity for me to stop for a minute and I was going to turn the bike off but the switch felt odd with a lot of resistance. This is the second or third ignition switch in this bike and I felt if I turned it off I would be stranded. I forgot about the switch and continued on my way. "My way" was the slow route home. Just chillin on lesser travel back roads. Lately I've really been taking it easy and driving around like a tourist. There was a time when I'd fly over this one lane bridge so fast that I'm sure those yellow and black signs were shaking. Today I actually slowed down enough to look at the creek flowing under it. Not sure whats going on here but I'm not holding anyone up or breaking any laws so for now I won't get too concerned.

  I can't decide if summer is going fast or slow this year. The calendar says we're into summer but the crap weather has made it feel earlier in the year. I think we may be in for some heat next week so my feelings may change on the matter.
 When I got home I parked the bike outside, opened the garage door and made a mental note of where the fire extinguisher was. I just had a bad feeling. When I tried to turn the ignition switch off it didn't want to move until I forced it a bit. The bike died and sparks started flying from behind the switch.

 There was no fire and I quickly unwired the switch from the power source. It's a good thing I was doing this at home because I'm sure my bacpac didn't have the necessary tools in it and there is no tool kit on the bike. Only recently did I remove the tool kit and I suppose I should get something back on there.
 Tuesday, Independence Day, was open. We wanted to ride and decided our destination should be the movie theater. Afterwards we stopped at Harbor Freight and picked up an air brush compressor. Stay tuned for more about that once I figure out how to use it. BTW, harbor freight and their stupid coupons are really pissing me off. I'm about ready to give them the FE.
 The rest of our Tuesday ride included a stop at a farmers market and a scenic joyride. Once home I fiddled around in the shop and then just sat down and relaxed. I'm looking forward to a short work week and another weekend.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

Air Ride Update

 About a year ago I told you about how I installed an air ride suspension system from Dirtyworks on my Ultra Limited. The bike already had air ride from the factory but it only dealt with the load I was carrying, I wanted to change the ride height and the Dirtyair system allows me to do that on the fly.

 Because the brackets that came with this system don't account for "filler" lights along side the fenders, I had to make my own brackets and relocate some things. I like making crap like this so the fact that the kit didn't work for my setup was just a bonus. The pump needed a bracket and the air tank did too. You can see the stainless cylindrical air tank at the top edge of the pic. This is the first time the saddlebag has been off in about a year so I was curious to see how things were holding up. I also wanted to check bolts for tightness. I was delighted to find everything just as it should be with no signs of wear, stress or looseness. I've got at least ten thousand miles on this setup, probably more and it looks like it should hold up for much more.

 The system didn't go low enough for my wants so I also added a Covingtons 1" lowering kit. You can see it in the above pic as the aluminum piece between the axle bolt and lower shock mount. I was concerned these wouldn't be strong enough but it seems that was just me being a worrywart. The brass pieces in this pic are parts of an adjustable bleeder system. The bike has three switches for letting air out. Ya overkill I know but I don't tell you how to build your bike sooo...ya. One mini switch can add or release air. This was the original switch and it broke right away. The company was fast in replacing the switch but I was skeptical about its reliability. For that reason I added a second switch. This one is up at the handlebar. Both these switches bleed out only with the key on, through a solenoid and the brass bleeder. They are set to let the bike down at a slow rate so if I fiddle with them while riding I won't lose control or whatever. The third switch is a fast dump directly from the shocks. This one needs no power, is loud and fast and I use it when I slam the bike when parking.

 I also added an air gauge so I can monitor and set pressure in the system. Everything has been working fine. The green light comes on when the compressor runs, as heard in the following video. The reserve tank just happened to be low so the compressor kicked in. The orange light was supposed to be for a future project. I guess the future ain't here yet.

 There's a line of thunderstorms about to pass through. Once that happens we're gonna hop on the Ultra and head up nort ya there hey to visit a friend. Have a safe Independence Day weekend and watch out for all those campers on the road.