Sunday, October 29, 2017

Tunnel Vision

 This year we decided to put a bigger salter on my plow truck. Instead of leaving the flat bed on the truck, we remove it and bolt the salter directly to the frame rails. This allows for better vision of the back blade and also saves the aluminum bed from corrosion. Speaking of corrosion, any spilled salt lands on the fuel tank, drive shaft and frame rails. Despite being undercoated, this could lead to rust issues. For that reason we decided to dress things up a bit and prevent spilled salt from getting there.

 We had Ripon Truck Repair bend a piece of steel for our tunnel. This was a job worth farming out. We just don't have the equipment to bend such a piece and they were able to do it the same day and to our exact specs.

 Mocking things up. Yes, that salter is freakin huge. The F550 will handle it but it still looks huge. In fact the only problem I foresee is whether or not our skid loader will be able to dump into it.

 The rear valance. I have it bolted on so it can be easily removed to service the multitude of wires and connectors back there. The holes are for a trailer plug, flatbed lighting plug, back blade control plug, back blade power, and salter wiring to include a vibrator, strobe lighting and a camera. Last year all these wires were just zip tied to the frame and it was an ugly mess but it was worth it. We learned a lot about the back blade and fitting a salter to work with it. So much so that this year we tooled up another truck with that combo.

 Ya theres a lot going on back here. Another issue we addressed was the fuel filler. We had some problems with slow filling and decided to fix that by creating a new permanent mounting spot for the hose. Last year it was pretty long and we just used a bungee cord to secure it. You can kinda see it under the license plate.

 This is so much cleaner looking than last year. As a selling dealer for the salter and back blade, this project is something that can be justified not only for function but what is possible for custom applications.

 I'm anxious for some snow so I can get back behind the wheel of this rig. I like plowing and this truck with its 11 foot front blade and 16 foot back blade is a treat to use. The extra size of this salter allows me to carry twice the volume of salt which equals less trips back to the shop to refill.

 I did something different on this project. I didn't over analyze every decision and just went with the flow. I accepted things without thinking about the outcome. That experiment failed and I'm going back to my old ways. The few minutes I usually spend looking off into space is a lot less time than having to redo something because I wasn't looking at the whole picture. Thinking is working and just because it looks like I'm on break doesn't mean I'm not actually saving time and money. That wasn't aimed at anyone, its just the way I feel. Something else done different on this one was that I had a lot of help. Not in decision making but in the physical labor. Having the young guys crawling under the truck and doing the heavy lifting, welding and cutting was much appreciated.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

National Mustard Museum

 Ya I had the same reaction as you just did. It was even worse when I found out that a visit to that museum was in my immediate future.
 We were enjoying brunch at the Hubbard Avenue Diner when the request was made by my daughter asking that we don't allow her friend Chayse to buy any more mustard. Really? How bad could it be? So what if he likes mustard. Following a nice visit and meal with family, we walked next door to the Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wi. Upon entry a greeter asked if any of us had ever been here before. She then spotted Chayse and dollar signs rang up in her eyes as she said, " You, you've been here before" as if they just recovered from his last visit.

 I'm not really sure what I expected to see. A couple squeeze bottles of mustard, maybe some Grey Poupon? What could possibly draw people to this place? Upon entry the first thing I noticed was there was a definite theme here. All yellow painted walls and shelves full of different flavors of mustard. I didn't know there were different flavors of mustard and to be honest, I didn't care. I don't like mustard.

   The entire upstairs of the museum is a store. They have all different kinds of mustard in every conceivable flavor. Who would spend money on something as questionable as Raspberry Mustard or Walla Walla Onion Mustard? How about Three Monkeys Mustard or Horseradish Mustard? Well, they have a tasting bar and after a visit I can tell you that I enjoyed the Horseradish Mustard and purchased some.

  Down stairs is the museum. One wall is dedicated to all types of mustard offered in the country and its divided by each state.

 This case is mostly just Wisconsin mustard. So many different flavors. I looked over a few labels and was surprised to see mustard from towns only ten miles away from me. Whoda thunkit?

 Some of us are much more passionate about our mustard and will do whatever it takes to get their fix. All in all it was a worthwhile experience and I'll be sure to stop back for some more sampling if I'm ever in the area.


Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Truth About The Wind

 Every so often the daily ride turns into more than just commuting. Something happens and everything just clicks and there's an overwhelming sense of a connection with the environment. That happened Wednesday when after years of biking I finally made a realization about the wind. We always talk about the wind in our face as we hustle down the road or our "knees in the breeze". Thats all fine and dandy but the blast of the wind in my face as I roll down the hiway is an artificial wind. Its only wind because I'm hauling ass through the calm air. What I like is the interaction with the environment. I don't just want to be outside, I want to be part of the outside. I want the wind to blow in from my side and slap me on the shoulder as to ask "you want some of this?" Yes please, may I have another?
 Its not just the feeling of the wind but the visual evidence of its presence. I like watching the trees dance back and forth. They twist and sway as if they are trying to shake their leaves off. Sometimes they remind me of this scene...Is there a spider on me!? Get the spider off me!! Is it still on me?!? Stop laughing! Where did it go? Some of the fall color leaves are hanging on for dear life while others let go and sail away. On the ground, ribbons of leaves chase each other like lemmings as a gust of wind rearranges them across the street. I can hear them over the thump of the big twin as they shuffle along the concrete, or at least I think I can hear them. Maybe it's more than that. As I approach and ride though that gust I can feel natures power influencing me and those leaves. The combination of feeling the gust, adding a little steering input to correct my path and the visual of the racing leaves gives me that feeling of connection with mother nature. The bike becomes a tool for transportation, but not from point a to point b. It transports me to a place where I can get lost in the feeling of being in tune with this thing we call nature. I like that feeling, even if it only lasted a few minutes during my lunch break.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Workshop Wednesday: Bag-A-Nut

 This post may be a bit off the beaten path from what you're used to reading here. I had been riding the sporty to work without issue so nothing to report there except a lot of fresh air and vibrations. Instead I'll tell you about a product I tried the other day called Bag-a-Nut. The boss bought this gizmo to clean up acorns in his yard and he had limited results. He asked me to take it home and give it a try on walnuts.
 Last year this tree produced like two nuts. This year we've picked up a few garbage cans worth of the little suckers. Each nut picking session lasts about a half an hour and its mostly on my hands and knees. Not my idea of a good time. I would try to follow some type of pattern but I'd always have to backtrack to get them all. With the Bag-a-Nut, I just started at the base of the tree and walked outward in circles.

 In a matter of minutes the job was done. Others with more nuts in their yard have given it a try and claim they need multiple passes to even gain marginal results. Part of the reason is the limited height of that grey bar above the green fingers. Nuts that are too big bounce off that bar and land back on the ground. Another factor may be that after my last manual picking session, I cut the grass quite low to make picking more nuts easier. I plan to modify that grey bar to allow larger nuts to pass. Maybe that will help if the finger pattern is even wide enough for that sized nut.
 I think this may come in different versions designed for different sized nuts. I'm not really sure because I didn't research this thing to promote it. I just wanted to share my positive experience with a yard tool that you don't see every day.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Air Brush Fail

 You may remember me telling you about a spray booth that I built for my shop. So far its been handy for quick little jobs but except for a test run with an old fuel tank, it really hasn't been used much. That will change this winter for sure.
 I may have also told you about purchasing an air brush kit, or at least it was represented as a kit. It came with the compressor, water separator, hose and air brush. To the average knucklehead like me that would appear to be everything needed to start competing with the likes of Van Gogh and Rembrandt. Wrong. What it needs is a pressure regulator. Without one it is almost impossible to do anything. Pull the trigger and you get a blast of tank pressure that makes a big splash on the project.

  You can see as the pressure drops off it is possible to do some minor detail work but even then I think its way too much pressure. It just seems stupid that the kit didn't come with a regulator. I'm not sure if I'm pissed off at the manufacturer or at myself for not knowing better.
 This run wasn't a total waste of time. I did learn about the need to thin the paint so it would flow through the small brush. I also learned what is needed to clean the air brush and how much time to allow for that. I can fix the regulator issue. In fact Al just texted me that he has one laying around that I can use. The only concern left is my ability to paint something and not have it look like a grade school art project.
 Yesterday I sanded down the BSA tank. I'll prep and prime it this fall but Probably won't paint till this winter. The same goes for some other parts. I can wet sand inside but I just don't want to be outside rough sanding parts when its twenty below zero.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017


 Last Sunday I had planned to do some work around the house and shop. The temps were just a bit cool that morning but the sun was shining and the mercury was on the rise. You probably already figured out that I blew off the chores and went for a ride. And why shouldn't I? The season isn't gonna last forever and those nice days are gonna be few and far between. I'm kinda like a squirrel packing away nuts for the winter. I have got to get in enough miles to satisfy the urge till spring or I'll get a knot in my stomach jonesing for a ride. Anyway, along the way I noticed the odometer was gettin ready to pose for a pic so I pulled over and obliged.

 There'll be a few thousand more on it before I park it for the winter. That will average out to about 12,000 miles a year which has been the norm since I've been keeping track when I got a new Kawasaki Voyager back in 1999. This doesn't include Sportster or Rat Turd mileage so maybe the annual mileage is a bit higher. I know this doesn't do much for resale value but thats not why I buy the bikes. Its because of the wind in the hair, the handling and power to weight ratio, and being more exposed to the environment. Some days that whole "being exposed to the environment" thing really sucks but for whatever reason I wouldn't trade it. I have a hard time putting it in words but if you're reading this blog then theres a good chance you already know what I'm talking about. 
 Temps haven't dipped below freezing yet...see ya on the road.


Sunday, October 8, 2017


 Preventive maintenance checks and services. That is (or at least was) a term used by our military to describe regular equipment maintenance. In motorcycle circles you may hear the term "pre-ride check list" or something similar. You would think that someone that has served 21 years in a National Guard mechanized infantry unit, works as a mechanic and has rode bikes all his life would grasp the concept of making sure his equipment was ready for service. While I do understand the importance of pre-op checks there are some days when "Did the bike start?" Is the only check made.
This last week I rode the sportster to work. I can strap my cooler to the sissy bar and carry a few essentials in a bacpac. I can't stop for carry out dinner on the way home or stop to buy auto parts to keep my old dodge running but I can enjoy the freedom of a lighter bike with no wind shield. I also enjoy the top gear roll on power of the big bore twin. During one particularly energetic dash around some slower cages I almost had an incident and it was due to lack of maintenance. Really no big deal but the left grip came almost all the way off the bar at a bad time. I noticed it in time and made the appropriate corrections but the point is that it never should have happened. After work that day I decided to look the bike over before riding home. Besides gluing the grip on, I wanted to check why the bike was handling like a boat on a river. Turns out the front tire had 9 pounds of air in it. That's inexcusable and I'm ashamed to admit it. As long as I was on a roll I decided to look into why the headlight was shining 'coon on one side and lighting up the ditch on the other. Sure enough, the sealed beam rotated in the housing. This is a condition not easily remedied due to the housing having cracks in it. As I was looking the bike over a coworker noticed that the one and only bolt holding the gas tank on was missing its nut. It's not like the tank would fall off but I put a nut on that bolt anyway.
 So what does this all mean? The riding season is winding down for that bike. The mornings will be getting colder and I'll want to sit behind the protection of the Ultras fairing and keep warm with the heated grips and seat. Today I'll make a check list of what needs to happen to the sporty over the winter to bring it back up to safe standards. 

 I also want to move some things around in my small heated shop and see if there is any possibility of having two bikes torn apart in here. The shop has been terribly neglected this it should be during warm riding weather in a state with a limited riding season.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Fall Slimey Crud Run

 Sunday morning I bundled up and rode the Ultra down to Madison, Wi to visit my daughter and have some breakfast. It was a cool ride and I was surprised to see a lot of other bikers bundled up and enduring the Fall temps. After the visit I rode to Leland which is the destination of the Slimey Crud Run. I arrived early like I usually do. I'd say there were only about thirty or so other bikes and that allowed me to park right in front. I like that because I usually just sit on my bike and watch the riders pass by.
 The internet can bring strangers together that may have never noticed each other. Upon arrival I was greeted by "Coop" of Coop's Corner. As we were chatting I noticed a burgundy Ultra roll up and it just clicked that this was Mark that writes another blog I follow called The Biker Wave.  If you tolerate my babbling on this blog then you'll enjoy the writings of these two different riders.
 I took a bunch of pics of bikes I liked but those are my may be into something else. Instead of posting those pics I'll just give you a 360 of where I was parked. This wasn't taken at peak attendance and I expected a lot more bikes considering the nice weather.

  In past years I've usually hung out pretty late but this year I got a bug in my ass to get moving. The weather was great for a ride and this is prime Wisconsin back road area. My mood was quite relaxed and on this day "prime back roads" meant scenic country rather than race track. I was pretty much alone on those roads for quite a while and enjoyed a quiet ride with great overlooks and fall color changes. For a while I was lost in all of it and achieved that nirvana that is so hard to find on a bike. I didn't let my guard down but there weren't any distractions to take away from the beauty of it all. The only sounds were the rush of the wind and the big twin thumping away. The roads were pretty smooth and the bike handled perfectly. Good bonding time with the Ultra.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Left Saddlebag

 Yesterday morning I threw a leg over the Ultra and headed off for work just like I had all summer long. The difference was that after I got underway the thermometer on the bike was telling me it was only 8 degrees above freezing. I wasn't prepared for that and I certainly didn't need the thermometer to tell me it would be a cool ride because I was already shivering. They say ten minutes of shivering is equal to an hour workout. Will this be my new weight loss plan?
 I'm one of those people that would rather be hot than cold. Because of that my left saddlebag is dedicated to clothing that will keep me warm and dry. 

 Well it usually is but it had been rearranged when I went on vacation. What was in there was rain gear, two sweatshirts and a jacket liner. I'll repack it to include winter riding gloves, a dickey, balaclava, thermal underwear and the controller for my heated jacket liner. I took out one of the sweatshirts because I really don't even need one of them with the jacket liner in there. Also shown in the pic are insulated riding pants. They won't go in the bag because they are usually put on when I leave the house. If it was warm enough to not put them on then odds are I wouldn't be looking for them later in the day. Today is one of those days they'll get put on. It is cold out there and I have a full day planned on the bike and shivering just makes for a miserable ride. As for the weight loss plan, I'll stick to lite beer and no sweets. See you at the Slimey Crud Run.