Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dropped The Ultra

 It seems nothing will get me into a pissier mood than dropping a bike. All the pecan pie and cold beer in the world won't help my attitude right now but I'm giving it a shot anyway.

 Of course I had to buy a bike that weighs as much as a medium sized elephant. When that pachyderm decides its time to lay down there ain't much I'm gonna do to stop it. Even when I was a young buck I don't think I'd have been able to keep that behemoth from tipping over. Here's where the bike was sitting:

 Well, actually it was closer to the Subaru. I was trying to roll the beast closer to the wall so I could move some crap out of that small room in the background. That stain on the floor isn't from tears, its an oil slick from my lawn mower. I really should fix that mower.
 I hate the kick stand on these Harleys. It has slop in it and will rock ahead but it always stops short of tipping forward. I get nervous every time it happens but the longer I've owned the bike, the more used to it I've become. Well guess what? I've become careless with that damn stand and this time it bit me in the ass. The bike rocked forward and tipped over. It happened fast and I couldn't stop it. The fairing rubbed along the bumper of the Subaru and settled to a stop as the handlebars came to full lock. The saddlebag guard was on the ground and I was standing on that oil slick stuck between the bike and car.
 They say that in these situations you get an adrenaline rush and have somewhat super human strength. I don't know who "they" are but I wish a few of them were here to help me lift the damn bike because my back was having none of it. I always figured that if I dropped this pig, er, elephant, that I wouldn't be able to right it. I turned around, grabbed a bar end and the seat backrest and tried to lift. Only because I was able to push against the Subaru with my legs was I able to accomplish the task. If I were alone in the wild you'd find me laying in a puddle of tears with a broke back.
 So now that the mammoth is upright and stable I nervously scan for damage. Right away I notice a long scuff in the fairing. I figure the scuff will buff out but then as I scan the surface of the paint with my trusty flashlight I notice a series of fractures in the plastic.

 Dem ain't gonna buff out. The weight of this mastodon was concentrated on that edge of the plastic fairing and it fractured. There's also a "chrome against concrete" scuff in the saddlebag protector. The fact that I had the air shocks set pretty low helped keep the bike from tipping farther to the side. I was too disgusted to look for more damage and headed into the house for the aforementioned beer and pie.
 I know it seems petty to get upset about a few blemishes on a bike. The thing is that this has happened on every damn bike I've owned and I was kinda proud of myself for not having tipped this one over yet. Now I find myself among the ranks of any other putz that has performed this act of stupidity. I need to find a silver lining and may have found a couple. If I go back and find more scratches then just maybe I can justify some sort of custom paint job. That would be cool. The other thing is that after a first scratch on a bike I've always kinda loosened up a bit with my riding attitude. You know like a little less "stick up the butt" proper riding and more "to hell with it, lets lay this biotch over and see what it'll do".
 Now I'm really looking forward to next spring.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Day Off

 Thanksgiving was on Thursday and the boss had given us Friday off, although I did work on Saturday. The point is that he picked the right day to close shop because Friday turned out to be a gorgeous day, so I took advantage of the nice weather to get in a bike ride.

  The first thing was to get the bike out. Luckily we left just enough room when pushing the dead Subaru into the garage. If I would have had to push it ahead any further it would have rolled over a small drop and the end of the concrete and I wouldn't have been able to push the car back in on my own. 

 The sun was shining and at one point the bike thermometer told me it was 64 degrees. Are you freakin kiddin me? 64 degrees on the day after Thanksgiving! I saw a bunch of riders out doing the same thing I was...taking what we figure is the last warm ride of the year. Come to think of it I saw more leather than I did blaze orange.

 Brown was the theme for the day. Except for a few pines, most all of the landscape was very winter-like without the snow. I pulled over a few times to take a closer look. 

 Not much to see here but sometimes just watching a river flow can be interesting. I didn't stick around long enough to get all philosophical and shit, just long enough to come to the conclusion that having a river in the back yard would be cool.

 Another quick selfie just to record the moment. The wind really raises hell with my beard. Its odd how the sun seems to make it look grey as well. Huh. 
 I didn't check the odo but I figure I rolled along for about 150-200 miles. I guess I timed things out pretty well because I pulled into the garage just before I would have had to make the switch from shades to clear glasses. I fear this may have been the last ride of the season but the bike is still accessible if we get another winner day. Of course the deal breaker is if they have to salt the roads before such a day. That salt dust just seems to get into everything and I'm not willing to ride the Ultra in it. The Rat and the Sporty are put away so as far as riding anymore this year, the end is near.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Bike Storage

 Friday the temps are supposed to get up to dang near fifty degrees and I'm thinking the Ultra may have to come out and play at least for a short ride. I won't tuck that one away yet, but he sporty was drained of fuel and the tank was removed for sanding. I'm hoping I'll get to paint it this winter. What color is still a mystery.

 I was gonna store the sportster in my enclosed trailer but I have plans to use that soon so I'll just push it into a shed for now. The goal here is to clear this garage bay for my wifes BMW. The other bay will get the Subaru. The plan is to have that bay cleared enough so when guests come to visit on Thursday, they can help push the car in the garage. You wants to eat? Push da car. You may remember that we blew the engine in that car a few weeks ago. Once inside I can tear into it and find out what its gonna take to get it back on the road.

 The Rat Turd has a special spot in the living room but that spot is still occupied by furnature from the bedroom remodel. I found a temporary spot for it in the house and actually kind of like it here.

 I often think I need more garage space but then I realize I would probably just fill it up with crap and still be short of needed space. Some day I'll figure it out.
 If you're coming to my house tomorrow for Thanksgiving then plan on being put to work. For the rest of you, I wish you a happy holiday.


Sunday, November 19, 2017


 Texture- the feel, appearance or consistency of a surface. I like texture. Texture gives a surface character and a personalized feel. Texture hides flaws. While certain textures do require some skill to get right, for the most part smooth surfaces require much more skill and patience to look good. There are a lot of textured surfaces in my projects for all of the above reasons. Look at the fuel tank on the Rat Turd. Brushed on bed liner was easy, required the skill level of a monkey and in my opinion looks good. Yes a flawless smooth paint job looks good but I'm not at that skill level and those paint jobs don't feel as inviting as a textured finish.
 I'm not just talking about bikes. I mentioned in a past post that my wife and I are picking away at remodeling many rooms in our old house. To try to make crooked and cracked walls straight and flawless would require a huge investment in time and money and in the end I don't think we would be happy. We're just keeping things old school, clean and simple. We just had to replace my wifes car so any budget we might have had is now parked in the garage and has a BMW emblem on it.

 My wife and I had many "discussions" about how to finish the walls in this room. We considered everything from wall panels to recycled wood pallets. There were a lot of trips to Menards for ideas and prices and in the end I was able to convince her to let me try skim coating the walls. I had never done this before but figured it fell into the skill set of that monkey again. Believe it or not the room looks a lot better in person than in the picture. I like the look and feel and we've got positive feedback from others that have seen it. I learned a lot and am excited to move on to the next room and do things a little different and possibly get some interesting results.

 Someone was about to get painted into a corner but then I realized she was doing the hard part so I backed off.

 We still need to do some trim/moulding work along the base board and around the window. A few other details like a door stop, closet door hardware, curtains, replace an outlet and install the heating register still need to be done. We're also keeping a piece of door moulding that has hash marks on it from when the girls were growing up and keeping track of their height. I think it will give the room a more personal feel. A large throw rug or two will be the only other addition to the floor. The hard part will be to take apart the spiral staircase so we can move furniture up there. For that I have a plan to enlist the help of two other monkeys. They don't know it yet but if you're dating one of my daughters and plan to eat my food at Thanksgiving then you can assume you are one of the monkeys I'm referring to.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

To Ride Or Not To Ride

 That really is the question. This post will be written in two parts. This first paragraph is being scribbled down on Tuesday night. I haven't been following the forecast much but I've been told tomorrow may be my last decent chance to ride the bike to work. Its nice to have so many people looking out for my motorcycling welfare and they've told me temps may climb to the upper forties. That's doable. I can't remember the last time I rode but I'm thinking three weeks maybe. I'm a little excited and I've made arrangements to make sure it can happen. I plugged the trickle charger into the bike and was happy to see the light went from orange to green in about half an hour. I also dug out my heated jacket liner and put the battery on its charger. I've got clear glasses for the pre-sunrise ride in and for the dark ride home. Other than grabbing some warm gloves the only other task should be giving the tires a squeeze to see if they feel soft. It may seem like a lot of dickin around for a 40 mile round trip but as many of you with the sickness know, its worth it.

 Wednesday morning. I opened the garage door and walked outside to find a light rain coming down and everything wet. I've been out there three times checking the weather, nobody said anything about rain. A check of the radar shows it may end by the time I'm ready to leave for work, then some more chances during the day. The ride home would be in 36 degree temps. My excitement to ride has dropped considerably. Not because of being uncomfortable. The temps and light rain are in the acceptable range and ten or twenty years ago I wouldn't have even checked the forecast. No, the problem is with me. Something doesn't feel right. The older I get the more I analyze these things and consider my safety. Deer traffic has been high and its hard to forget the week long stay in the hospital when I hit that deer seventeen years ago. Rain reflecting off a windscreen or glasses make for crappy visibility and then I have to ask myself if I want to rewash the bike before storage.
 Its official. I just switched from a helmet friendly dew rag to a knit hat. Its a sad day because I'm gonna puss out and not ride. May God have mercy on your soul if the sun comes out and you ask me why I didn't ride today.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Long Week

 This week seemed to have gone on forever. As you know we have been busy used car shopping and were considering a 2011 BMW 328i Xdrive. On our second visit for a closer look I discovered that the techs at the dealership had replaced the front tires but not the rear. I'm not sure what they were thinking but we had them correct that along with ordering a few other pieces such as a special light bulb for the halo ring headlight and a cracked rear view mirror. Its a used car but getting them to agree to replacing items is an easy way to help get the bottom dollar down closer to where it should be. One of those agreements was knocking off the cost of buying a spare tire. The car originally came with run flat tires and an inflator kit. There is no kit in the trunk and the tires they just installed are not run flats so they gave in to my logic.
 We bought the car and after running it for a few days now it seems like it should fit our needs. My wife keeps saying I like it more than she does but the fact is I just like it because it handles so nice and I think it should be a safe car for her. Getting out of my truck and then driving the BMW is like getting off a boat and into a slot car. Whats not to like. The other thing that intrigues me is the engine. My past experience with inline six cylinders has been with the likes of the Mercury Comet or maybe my old '51 Chevy pickup. They always vibrated like they were only hitting on five cylinders unlike the smooth power delivery of this BMW.  It was a little greasy yesterday and I pushed it a bit to see how the Xdrive worked. It must work fine because I couldn't get myself sideways. This should be a good winter car for my wife.
 I ordered some Weathertech floor liners for the front of the car. I had heard a lot of good things about them and figured that if you're gonna drop a nert on floor mats it might as well be for a BMW. Let me tell you that when they say they are laser measured they ain't kidding. These floor liners fit perfectly. I was concerned about how they might feel slippery underfoot but was quite surprised at the amount of gription they offered. Thats right, its my blog and its ok for me to make up words as needed.

 In other news the bedroom remodel is back in gear after a week off dealing with the car issue. The walls are all skim coated now and some paint has been applied. Nothing fancy is happening here and it almost feels like we're just taking the shortest route to get the room done. Thats fine because its looking pretty good and we have plenty other projects to complete.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Used Car Shopping

 I last reported of a blown engine in my wifes Subaru Outback. We've been going back and forth on what to do about that situation. Do we fix it? That ain't gonna happen overnight and carpooling together won't fly once the snow falls because we would then be leaving for work at much different times. We really need that second vehicle right away so last night we went car shopping. At one of the dealerships I was talking with the salesman about utilitarian, practical 4wd vehicles when I heard a squeal coming from the other side of the showroom. I pretty much knew I was wasting my time with the salesman because my wife had already found something she fell in love with.

 The car is a 2011 BMW 328i Xdrive. That Xdrive was my only real requirement for her because I truly believe if you live in Wisconsin then you should have all wheel drive. If you don't then you are slowing me down or creating a safety hazard for the rest of the folks on the road.
 The list of options is impressive to include a heated steering wheel. I've not been around many luxury cars and certainly no German engineered ones so shucks BillyBob, this is a new one to me.
 I never even considered such a vehicle as her replacement but why not? A used luxury sedan with all wheel drive and winter package is really ideal for our situation now that the kids are out of the house. She deserves a new one but this particular Ultimate Driving Machine is in our budget. We put a thousand dollars down to hold it and are going back today to take a closer look. My only concern is cost of ownership/maintenance but really its a crap shoot with any used car. Besides, if the lady likes it then she should have it.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Groundhog Day

 This past week had me stuck in a rut.  When asked "How ya doing?" I'd reply "Its Groundhog Day again". The difference between my week and Bill Murray's adventure is that I didn't try to create the perfect day. I just trudged through waiting for things to change.
 Well something is very different this morning. I woke at my usual time, 0-dark thirty, and noticed that it quickly got light outside. Thanks to the wonders of the modern smart phone there is no setting the clock back but only acknowledging that daylight saving time has ended. Something else is different. Today my wife and I are faced with a big unexpected financial burden. Last night we were on the interstate when the car engine killed. A lot of things go through your head when these things happen and I immediately realized a tow truck might be in my future. I was doing 70 (ish) in the left lane and needed to get to the right shoulder before I lost momentum. I know I pissed one guy off who probably thought I was just an a-hole cutting him off but shit happens and there was no left shoulder. Once safely on the shoulder and having answered all my wife's questions I made an attempt to restart the engine. The starter engaged and the motor spun but there was clearly no compression. I was pretty sure the timing belt checked out and there is no fixing that on the side of the road on a rainy Saturday night. Even if I had the tools and parts there is no fixing it. See this Subaru engine is an "interference" engine meaning if the timing belt is out of time there can be contact between the valves and piston. Based on the two loud bangs from under the hood and the feeling at one point that the drive train momentarily locked up I'd say there was not just contact but an all out brawl.

 Out of curiosity I popped the hood but there was nothing to see. I got back into the relative warmth of the car and my wife handed me the phone number for road service that she had found in the glove box. After a long conversation with the roadside assistance rep we came to an agreement as to where I was located. A tow truck should be to our aid in half an hour. We sat in the car being blown around by the wind blasts from big rigs and came to the conclusion that seat belts might be a good idea even though we weren't moving. About ten minutes into our adventure we had a state trooper pull up behind us and I was actually happy to have his reds blinding me through my rear view mirror. Our flashers weren't working and with just tail lights on a rainy night we were feeling a bit vulnerable. The trooper made the usual drivers license check but didn't even ask to see insurance papers after we explained that they had a truck in route already. He offered to hang out until we were off the hiway.
 If you don't know what your roadside assistance covers then maybe its a good time to check your policy. I found out mine covers the hook and ten miles. We were sixty miles from home so there would be some out of pocket expense. The towing service showed up when they said they would despite one more phone call and two text messages. They actually made a miserable situation somewhat palatable.

Safely back home but not under its own power.

 This was my wifes car. The plan was to run it till summer and then get her something else. I would run her hand-me-down car and we'd keep the truck for pulling the trailer and hauling shit. Right now I don't know what the new plan is. I can't walk away from a car I still owe money on but I don't know if its a good idea to stick big money into a high mileage car. I'd have to keep it forever because there would be no breaking even by selling it. If it were a bike I'd fix it no questions asked because I always plan on keeping every bike I buy even though I don't keep them.
 Right now I need to decide if we look for a temporary beater, a permanent replacement or something else that I'm not even considering. Until then my wife will have to drop me off at work in the morning and then drive my barbaric pickup truck the rest of her way to work. It just occurred to me that if it snows and I need to leave at an odd hour, she's stranded. 
 I think I preferred the humdrum boring week I was stuck in.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Photo Dump

 Searching through my phone pics, looking for something interesting to talk about yielded the following sorry ass excuse for a blog post. I'll try to spice it up with some sparkly fireworks.

 Last Saturday night we went to Brooke and Mikes annual Halloween Bash. Food served was a chili dump. Bring your favorite chili and add it to the nesco. This years mix was delicious and I had two bowls with sour cream and fritos on top. Washed it down with some brewskis. The DJ played music I knew the words to, so that was a plus. Later in the evening we went for a hay ride and watched some fire works. It was a good show and made up for missing the show on Independence day.

 While our daughters were growing up we let them decorate their bedrooms any way they wanted to. Its an old house and its not like they were gonna wreck anything. Now twenty years later we're sprucing up one of those rooms.

 Yes those are clouds and sea gulls and yes my wife is pulling staples from the ceiling. If the final job looks decent I'll post some pics. If you never hear of it again then you know we did a piss poor job on the remodel.

 My last post was about a truck salter install. This pic is from the other truck I mentioned that got a salter and back blade. These two controllers are for that equipment. I am posting it because it was one of the easiest controller installs I've done in a while. The wires aren't tied up yet but the bracket was so simple because it just uses the two holes for the head rest on the center console. Unplug the wire harness, release the catch on the head rest holes and shazaam, the controllers pop out!

  And finally, some toilet humor. At work we rent tents among other things including porta potties. Every so often we sell them off and buy new ones, just to keep the rental fleet looking fresh. When the boss had one cleaned out and set by the road with a for sale sign on it, Al made him a bet that it wouldn't stay clean and fresh over the weekend. Sure enough someone dropped a deuce in it and the boss lost ten bucks. I guess it wasn't really humorous but we did all enjoy watching the boss have to pay up after losing the bet. I'm told there wasn't any paper in the outhouse and there wasn't any evidence of "wiping material" having been used. WTF? The for sale sign says the price and "as is". I'm not cleaning it out.