Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Can't Think Of A Good Title

 So I'm sitting here on Tuesday night trying to write this blog. Because I promised myself I would post every Wednesday and Sunday you'll see posts like this. I really don't have any good material and my motivation is kinda low. My wife brought me a souvenir from her vacation and I'm on my second glass. Its some kind butter pecan flavored moonshine. The stuff is delicious and drinking too much is easy to do.
 Last weekend I went to the bike show in Green Lake and got a first place in my class. Thats cool. I like to see the judges have good taste.

 The bike got a lot of attention and I'm thinking next year I might want to take it to a few more shows but I keep looking at it wondering what I can do next to up my game. I honestly feel its only about half done. I'm not saying I'm bored with it. It just needs more. To me it looks too conventional and there are many parts that could be re-engineered to be more rat-like. One of these days I'll quit dreaming about it and start posting progress reports.

 It looks like we may have broken out of that crazy heat wave of 90 degree temps. I won't miss the blistering hot rides home from work but I will miss the warm morning rides in. The temp for Wednesdays ride to work should be about 55. Yesterday it was in the seventies. If the sportster starts I'll ride that bike in. Its hauling capacity is limited to what I can get in a back pack and I have no shopping plans so I should be good. The headlight is a little weak so I may push off my departure time. It will be dark when I pull out of my drive but light enough to see clearly when I arrive.
 One more thing. A reminder that Sunday is the Slimey Crud Run. The forecast looks favorable and I think I'll try to make an appearance if I can coordinate it along with a visit with my daughter in Madison. I hope to see you there.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Green Lake Bike Show

 This morning I'm planning to ride to the bike show in Green Lake during their Harvestfest celebration. I'll be taking the back roads because right now the Rat Turd doesn't have enough gumption to handle sustained speed on the hiway. I'll figure that problem out someday but because the bike sees such limited duty lately it doesn't seem to be a big concern. Yesterday I had the idea of building my own carb for the bike. It already runs like crap, so there is nothing to lose. I'll let the idea fester for a while.

 I pulled the windshield off of the bike. It was on there for the trip to the Smokies many years ago and I just forgot how ugly it was and it certainly isn't needed for the few local rides that the bike gets. Yes, of all the crap on this bike, that was the ugly piece. Deal with it.

 This year on vacation I picked up a few stickers and decided this bike was as good a spot to adhere them as any.

 There used to be a few signs on the Blue Ridge Parkway that looked like this decal but I don't remember seeing one this year. I wonder if they were stolen much like the US129 signs that no longer appear along that road. We used to wave our hands in the air when we saw this sign and can't recall doing that this year. The truth is, there are no reducing radius curves on the lower end of the parkway except maybe the one or two that had these signs and I'm not sure if they tighten up or maybe they are just long arcs. 
 I gotta wrap this up and get rolling. To my wife, welcome home from your vacation, Honey. You were missed, I survived and the house is in one piece, there isn't a sink full of dishes, and the cats aren't dead. To the rest of you, see you at the show.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Damn Cats

 I don't think I mentioned in my last two posts that my wife is gone on vacation. She is in Gatlinburg enjoying some quiet time with friends and apparently some bears. It seems the bears are familiar with cabin visitors and have a few tricks for scavenging goodies. I'm told they even opened the door on one of the vehicles. My wife sent me a pic of one of the bears and it couldn't have been more than thirty feet from the porch she was standing on. No thanks.
 Instead of bears I'm dealing with some pain in the ass cats. I wish a bear would come knock on my door. I'd feed him two felines. The cats miss the one person in the house who gave a crap about their existence and are stuck with me. Their whining annoys me and their pleas for attention often earn them a lead role in a game I like to call "launch the kitty". You can imagine the rules. I don't abuse these creatures, I just redirect them when they strut their smelly ass near my face. I am curious to see how they react when my wife gets home. Will they be happy to see her or ticked off she left?

 My daily routine hasn't changed much except I do spend more time in the garage tinkering with projects. I've eaten all the food in the freezer that was worth consuming and decided to get chinese take out last night.

 Eating in the garage seemed like a good idea. No cats to pester and three bikes to think about. The leftovers will carry me through one more day.

 One stinkin fortune cookie and it was all wrong. After dinner I messed around with the Rat Turd a bit to see if there was anything wrong with the diaphragms in the cv carbs.

 Three of them seem kinda brittle and I wonder if that's what I'm feeling when the power drops off at hiway speed. The screws are stripped on the cover for the fourth one and further investigation is required. Maybe a pin hole? This whole thing makes me want to ditch these carbs and build an intake manifold more suited to a rat bike. I'm still tossing the idea around.
 Sunday is the bike and car show in Green Lake. Proceeds from the bike show support the local animal shelter. As you just read I'm not a big fan of cats but this shelter took my moms cat without any questions and I like to support them in any way I can. Go to the show, check out the bikes and help out the shelter. See you there.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Watson Street Cycle Show

 Yesterday there was a car and bike show in Ripon and I decided to enter the Rat Turd like I have for the last few years. If you follow this blog then you know that bike has some running issues and I'm here to tell you it still does. I left home at 630am with the intent of registering the bike at the show and then walking to work. That all happened but the 20 mile ride was extended a bit when I turned off the hiway and headed for back roads due to loss of power. If I keep it under 45 it seems I can ride all day but above that I'm screwed. I first thought my jetting was wonky, then thought my fuel delivery lines were restricted. I know its not a tank vent issue. Now I'm thinking maybe the diaphragm/slide/needle of one or more of the cv carbs is the culprit. Anyway, I made it there and back with no points for speed but a passing grade on style.
 It was a typical turnout for this show with some new blood in the mix. One of my (and many others) favorite bikes was this contraption:

Here are a few other random bikes from the show:

And of course my favorite:

 Next week is the show in Green Lake. I'll be there, will you?


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Workshop Wednesday-Auto Mower

 Let me tell you about a new piece of technology you may not be familiar with. We're a full line Husqvarna dealer at work and that includes the new Automower series of robotic mowers. These small lawn mowers run on their own and take care of all the cutting on up to two acre lawns depending on the complexity of the property. A boundary wire is installed around the area to be mowed and along with other guide wires and gps assistance the machine keeps the area looking great. Here's a short vid of our demo unit in action.

 This particular unit also has a connect feature that allows you to program and monitor it from your phone or even show you its location on a map whether it's mowing or if it's stolen.
 Inside they are just a set of circuit boards, wheel motors, tilt sensors, proximity sensors, batteries and such.

  We can hook the mower up to a laptop for updates, diagnosis and programming. It's been a bit involved getting to know these mowers from a dealer standpoint but for the consumer they really aren't that difficult to figure out. The factory settings seem to work quite well and only in special situations does it need custom programming. The mower will cut grass till the battery gets low then it will find it's way back to the charging station using boundary wires, guide wires and radio signals.

 The other day some guys were working out near the street doing some dirt work. They weren't paying attention to the auto mower and backed over it with a skid loader.

 Unfortunately it got squished pretty hard and will have to be replaced. This machine was maintaining just under an acre of craptacular lawn full of weeds, hills and mud and it was doing a really nice job at keeping the lawn looking even considering the area is basically "under construction".
 When I was young I used to thumb through Popular Mechanics and see stories of futuristic equipment that should have been a part of my adult life. I remember fancy lawn mowers but none of them were robotic so technology may have taken a leap in this area. On the other hand I also remember them predicting I would be commuting with a jet pack or hover car and I'm a bit pissy that prediction didn't come true. Sure my Harley is nice but a jet pack with ape hangers and chrome pipes would be so sweet!


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Cut The Cable

 For decades we've been paying the cable company for tv service and the ability to watch an ass load of channels. There's a problem with that and I'm not just talking about the cost. We were turning the tv on just for the sake of having it on and trying to justify the cost. That's really lame. After the last superbowl game we decided to cut the cable and bought an Amazon Firestick. The firestic allows us to stream a lot of different media when we feel the need to veg out in front of the boob tube. My only issue with cutting the cable was that I needed to be able to watch the Packer games and I wanted to do it from home in my lazyboy. I had heard of a lot of people streaming the games but when I tried doing this during the pre season I had nothing but problems. I don't even know the outcome of any of those games.
 Now it's crunch time. The first regular season game is today. Earlier this week I was on Amazon and stumbled across an antenna with rotor for $35. Really? Could a thirty five dollar antenna bring the Pack into my living room from sixty miles away? I've blown more money on stupider shit so I pulled the trigger and ordered it. Two days later a small box was sitting on my doorstep.

 The antenna needed assembly and the whole time I was putting it together I was laughing thinking this cheap thing would never work. To be fair, most antennas are built light and feel cheap but I was still skeptical. I decided to set it up in my living room and if it gave me any type of hope then I would do a more permanent mount outside.

 To my surprise I picked up seven different channels with it set up this way. Unfortunately I wasn't getting any of the stations the games are broadcast on. The next day I decided to move the antenna upstairs to see if things improved and improve they did! With the antenna just sitting in the house upstairs I now get 22 channels without turning it at all. The first football game I watched with this setup was the shellacking of Tom Brady and the Patriots by the KC Chiefs. I don't like the Pats and I didn't like the Cowboys during their dynasty or the Bears that one year they had a good season. This antenna is the cure to my "lack of Pack" problem.
 The only issue I have is there's a length of coax snaking down the steps, across the living room floor and up the wall to my tv. I can live with it till I come up with a permanent solution and until then I duct taped the coax down in key places so nobody trips on it. Does it look totally redneck? Yes. Do I care? No. It can be picked up in a hurry if the secret service, Vatican or Packer Hall of Fame calls and tells me a special guest is stopping in for a visit. Everyone else can deal with it.
 I'm happy with my $35 far. The unit comes with an amplifier and rotor and I have to wonder how long those will hold up. Two things I've decided about this move are that it was nice not being exposed to all those annoying commercials. Also, if I have to spend the equivalent of a few months of cable charges on a nicer antenna, I'd be ok with that. Go Pack!


Wednesday, September 6, 2017


 I last reported that I was gonna look into the fuel system on the Rat Turd because it was running like crap. Imagine a turd running like crap. Anyway, I had previously used some JB Weld to seal some fuel tubes on the bank of four carbs.

Because the engine seemed to be starving for fuel I was concerned I may have gotten carried away with the epoxy and created a restriction. A closer look here shows excess epoxy squeezed out of the tube.

 It took a lot to break the epoxy bond. It involved a vise, hammer and a lot of twisting force. Once apart I discovered that everything was as it should be. My assembly method with the epoxy was spot on. Too bad because now I am back to not knowing where the running problem is. The tank vent and fuel petcock were next on the list to check.

 Pour some gas in, watch it flow out. No obstructions in the tank and no problem with flow.
 So what have I accomplished here? I felt I had to check this off the list before I moved on. If I had confidence in my ability to successfully complete the initial repair then I could have saved a lot of time by not tearing this all apart. Maybe that kind of confidence is really just stubbornness and an unwillingness of a person to admit they are capable of making a mistake? So far my only mistake was doubting my first repair and that brings me full circle to where I started. Lucky for me the only thing this cost me was some wrenching time which I don't mind at all. In fact I enjoy the challenge of figuring out my running issues without just throwing money at the problem.
 I think the next step will be to revisit some wiring issues I had back in October of 2013 when the bike gave me grief while running the Blue Ridge Parkway.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Three Days Off

 A lot of you working stiffs out there are in the middle of a three day weekend right now. I get two and a half days and that's fine with me. In fact I started wondering what I would do with myself with the extra time off so Saturday after work I took care of some "around the house" crap that's been on the list for a while. I tweaked some rain gutter down spouts, fixed a leaky toilet, fixed a door knob and insulated a hole in my shop wall. Later I prepped the driveway for seal coating which I'll do today. I gotta remember to park the bike in the street before I start sealing the drive or I'll be grounded for the day.
 I have to check the dates but I think the bike show that I've been attending in Ripon is coming up in a couple weeks. If you've been following this blog then you know I set a goal to have the BSA running for this show. That ain't gonna happen. BTW, I set the same goal last year and the year before and the year before...
 I want to enter a bike in this show and have three choices.

 This pic is a first for this year. Three bikes in the garage. I rolled the Rat Turd out of the living room yesterday in hopes of getting it to run right so I can take it to the show. It almost didn't get me home from that show last year which is also the last time it ran. I must think it's a fuel related problem because yesterday I yanked the bank of four carbs off of it. I'll let you know what I find if and when I find it.
 The other two choices for the bike show include the Ultra (yawn). Who wants to look at a full size Harley touring bike? Just open your eyes next time you're blasting down the road and you'll see a few roll by in the other lane. The sportster would be the next logical choice but I don't think I'd take it with this current paint job. If I can't get the Rat Turd running decent by the end of the weekend, I may pull the tank on the sporty and squirt some different paint on it. I still have a good selection of rattle cans laying around.