Sunday, April 29, 2018

Prime Rib and Gruel

 Yesterday was the first day this spring I had worked in the field as opposed to turning wrenches or helping customers at the shop. It felt good to be outside all day but then again I felt that I had been outside working all day. One of the tasks we were working on was fixing some turf damage along sidewalks in a high profile area. I found that a Garden Weasel is a wonderful tool for loosening soil in preparation for seed in the areas that the power slit seeder couldn't get. The only problem was that the handle is way too short and the amount I had to lean really messed with my back. I found the best cure to be handing the Weasel off to someone else, making me the weasel.

 Luckily I was the senior weasel on the job and I could get away with that. Another task that had to be done today was fertilizing. We use these small stand on units and they really work well although the ride is quite bumpy and (you guessed it) it messes with my back. It sucks getting older.

 After work my wife and I decided we would go out for dinner. The goal for me was prime rib and old fashioneds. Unfortunately for my wife her meal was terrible. How bad was it? Well, Miss Tipper Extraordinaire left no tip. Nothing, notta, zero, zilch. In 30 years I have never seen her do that. It wasn't just the food but the whole way they tried to push people through like we were cattle, not to mention a lousy wait staff. I don't have anything nice to say but I won't bash them by saying where it was. The place was packed and obviously others enjoy going there.
 To top things off, on the ride home while my wife thought she was gonna get sick, we ran into this:

 Not only was it long but it came to a complete stop. Grrr. Some days ya just can't win.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Flames, er No?

 Have you heard the one about the cheesehead that thought he could paint his bike? Turns out he keeps running into problems, and none of them are actual runs. So basically what we have is a pretty smooth coat of paint although nowhere close to perfect but it's good enough for my standards...

except for one spot where the paint is thin. You can't see it in the above pic but when the light is right its very obvious. Look at 11 o'clock of the bright spot created by the flashlight. Its like a ghost spot that pisses me off. If it weren't there I'd be just fine to leave this project alone. I have two choices and the first is to repaint at least that whole half of the tank. I'm not prepared to do that yet and instead I'm leaning on option two which is to cover it up.

 I laid out some wicked flames with narrow masking tape and started masking off the rest of the tank. At one point I decided to make a change and pulled off some tape. It turns out the tape damaged the clear coat. I think with all the layers of paint that maybe things are still a bit soft. The pic below shows the damage from the tape. The vertical lines aren't scratches, rather soap residue from trying to clean the mess but the mess wouldn't clean. Its not tape residue that you see. That paint feels just as smooth as can be. I had to take a power buffer and some Ultra-cut compound and go over the whole thing to smooth it back out where the tape was.

The pic below is another example of how the tape messed with the clear coat.

 So now what? If I use less aggressive tape will I be ok? I doubt it. If I wait six months will I be ok? Maybe. Should I just put a sticker over the bad spot? If I free hand airbrush a design I'm sure to foul things up because I really don't have enough practice for that... but odds are good I'll risk that anyway.
 Update: That was yesterday. This morning the tape damage reappeared. I don't know how because everything looked great after buffing it out.
 At this point I don't know what I'm gonna do with it.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

First Ride

 That foot of snow we got last weekend is melting away at a pretty fast rate. There's a lot of grass showing already but not all exposed grass is a good thing. In a spot by my garage that was snow covered in the morning there is now a dandelion. I'm not happy about that because I can just image customers calling in wanting their lawns sprayed when I haven't even been there for the first two rounds, not to mention the fact that the ground is too soft for equipment. Enough about weeds.

 With temps near 60 and the sporty in pieces I made the command decision to roll the Ultra out of the garage. After making a few checks I thumbed the starter and brought the beast to life. Everything seemed alright until I noticed the bikes rear suspension was raising to full height on its own. This is a problem that came and went last year so I knew I had to clean the "up" valve in the ride height control.

 I spent maybe half an hour looking the bike over before I decided it was ready for the road. 

 It wasn't a long ride but it really felt good to be back on a bike. There sure are a lot of buttons on this bike and I admit to forgetting what a few of them do. I guess I'll just have to do some more riding and get back that muscle memory. 
 I thought about taking my wife to dinner on the bike but knew it would be a cold ride home as the temp was sure to drop quick after the sun went down. Prime rib and an old fashioned were just what I was craving and we found a place that chars and seasons the meat just right.

 I'll most likely get out for a ride again today. I need to wash the bike and look closer for damage from that tip over in the garage this winter. A quick inspection yesterday only revealed that large scuff in the fairing and I think it'll buff out.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

April Showers Bring Snow Plowers

  Its not unusual to get snow in April and I enjoy plowing snow at work but this close to the riding season is a real punch in the gut. Just when the weather was hovering above freezing and the roads were almost salt free, we get the biggest storm of the season. Here we got a foot of snow while just north in Green Bay I heard they got their second largest snow accumulation on record at two feet. That's not lake effect snow, no sir that's good old fashioned precipitation.
 For me this event meant an eighteen hour tour of duty in a plow truck. That was preceded by an all day run by the first shift and will be followed up by a clean up shift. I spent the better part of the next day in a truck cleaning loading docks and trailer parking stalls. We won't be done before the next predicted storm of 3-5" arrives. The wind has been strong and with the ice buildup we had the result was a lot of downed trees and branches. Its good to be busy and have work available but we really would rather doing spring-like activities.

 The delivery man was at my house and dropped off some stuff I can play with in the spray booth. Some of the stencils are cool but the narrow masking tape will likely be the answer to finishing the sportster tank. We'll see, because I still haven't settled on a design yet.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Air Brush Or Tool From Hell

 I'm about sick of old man winter hangin on so long into spring and I'm sure you are too. We are in the middle of a winter storm warning as I write this on Saturday. I suppose that its because of the wind and freezing rain and there's talk of accumulating snow up to five feet depending on who you listen to. We already got a lot of rain, then a few inches of snow and then a warming spurt. Now its just windy and cold again with a layer of ice on everything. Fun times. My wife needed to use unconventional methods to check the mail. Apparently the mail man didn't have a hammer handy because the box was empty.

 All this means I have time to dink around in the shop. I'm still fighting the paint job on the sporty and BSA. In fact I resprayed the BSA and I hate the way it turned out and will be doing it over again. No hurry, its been decades since that bike was on the road so I suppose a little longer on the paint wont matter. Half the sporty tank looks good. The other half looks like ass. I'm not sure what I want to do next so I just walked away from it for now. I screwed up the front fender and repainted it again for the fourth time. Painting is something I wish I were better at so I'll just keep practicing.
 I spent some time with the air brush and found out that the crappy paint was my problem with flow through the gun. Actual air brush paint and reducer flows pretty nice. I spent quite a few hours trying different lines, patterns and such only to confirm the problem is that I have no talent.

 I ordered a french curve and some stencils because I have a feeling I'll be better at lines and graphics than freehand drawing. My first attempt at blending some colors looks very elementary school like but I'll keep practicing.

  I've decided to check out some painting videos to speed up the learning process here before spring arrives. Its too crappy outside to do anything else.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Sportster Fender

 Last week I told you about the sporty tank and my painting adventures. I decided to get some polishing compound and buff it out just to see how it would look. The quality of the paint in the areas where I sanded it out decent look pretty good even though the job as a whole is quite amateurish. Heres the deal. I'm thinking the weather is gonna break soon and I want that bike on the road. I know if I continue with my graphics plan the whole project will be set back at least a few weeks. I can't accept that so the tank is done for now...maybe even till next winter. I still need to paint the front fender and I decided to get the bulk of it sanded the traditional way and the uneven areas with paint stripper. Wow that stuff works good.

 It didn't take much to get the old paint off and I followed up by filling a small dent. This time around I'll use lacquer rather than enamel paint and see how it goes.

 My air brush adventures hadn't gone so well but I don't even know what I was using for paint. Just a jar of some hobby paint that didn't go through the brush well. I decided to order actual air brush paint and I'll give it another try on my test tank.

 Even if things go all right in the air brush department I don't think I'll attempt anything on the sporty till I get some practice in. I was thinking about painting a design on my new toolbox hutch roll up door. If I can't get that right then I have no business trying to paint a bike tank. We'll see how it goes.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Gloom, Despair And Agony On Me

 No this isn't an episode of Hee Haw but I'm a bit bummed out. Nothing serious, just struggling with my painting adventures. I've self taught myself a whole lot of things NOT to do and hoping I'll stumble upon the right way of approaching these projects without fouling it all up. I find myself making a mistake and then starting over. I'll get past the step where I made the mistake and then screw up some other step. I'll then start over and get those two right only to eff something else up. I do have to admit that I'm fine doing it this way rather than following some online instructions or reading a book. Hey, here's a rare financial tip from the Greasy Shop Rag. Buy stock in Rustoleum paints because they're experiencing a nice sales burst right now. Ace hardware is doing pretty good on sandpaper sales too.
 Lets start with the Sporty because its not half bad.

 It looks pretty decent in the shop but out in the sunlight I can see a few light scratches. Many of them will be hidden by the graphics I want to paint on here but and if history repeats itself I'll be sanding the whole damn thing down anyway.

 I think I posted a pic of the BSA tank looking kinda glossy. It had a few flaws in it and when I tried to wet sand them out I went through to the primer. That was a blessing anyway cuz I knew the whole thing could have looked better.

 I'm hoping I can pick up the process from here without having to sand it all the way down. I've had some funny reactions going on at times so its really a crap shoot. Here's a prime example on the sportster front fender:

 I had been giving some thought to the graphics for the sporty and decided it was time to get a tank mounted on my air brush compressor. On a recent resupply run for sandpaper I picked up and adapter that connects a propane tank to 1/4" pipe tread. This allowed me to tee a tank inline from the compressor to a regulator and then to the paint gun. It works much better but my skills in that type of painting are also lacking. I've been practicing on an old tank with piss poor results. Maybe I should just paint all my bikes with bed liner and wrap them in barbed wire. It worked for the Rat Turd.

  That's all for now. Hopefully next time we talk about paint it has something to do with waxing or polishing and not painting.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Easter Bowling League

 Our family has come up with a new tradition that we've followed now for three years. Brunch and bowling in Milwaukee. The place we go to has pool tables and pinball and we all enjoy some time playing.

 None of us bowl much except for two that went out and practiced twice after a particularly poor performance last year. In fact, because I was using a cane last year its been two years since I've bowled. To be honest, we all suck but we suck at the same level. We have a good time and thats all that really matters.
 One of my daughters made a traveling trophy that went to the high score for the day. Its an embarrassing low number so lets just say a pro bowler could have beat it in less than six full frames.

 Bunny Bowl! Ya, that's what we're calling it.
 My wife and I have discussed secretly going out and practicing so next year one of us can take home the trophy and maybe make the children cry. The problem with that plan is my back didn't care much for bowling. That is a sweet trophy though and it would look good on my mantle :-)


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Paint Booth Adventures

 Saturday afternoon was all mine to work in the shop and the biggest project on my mind right now is getting the sporty running. I want to get out on the road even if there is some salt residue out there. Right now the streets are probably ok but the forecast is for snow and cold temps so more salt is sure to go down... starting the waiting game cycle all over again. I'm getting revved up to go for a ride, even if its a cold and miserable one.
 I have a lot to do on the sporty to get it on the road but today we'll just talk about paint. I've talked about sanding the tank down and paint bubbling and other miserable reactions with the current paint and the old paint. I've gotten past that and am now moving forward with the base color,  (duh, black). At the same time that I'm painting the sporty tank I've decided to paint the BSA tank, (duh, black).
 Both tanks got their primer wet sanded. I used grey for the BSA and dark grey primer for the Sporty. Why? Because they say dark primer should go under dark paint and the topcoat is the same for both and I want to see if there really is a difference. I guess I'm a "show me" kind of guy. I'm not a pro painter and I'm just squirting these tanks with rustoleum so experimenting seems appropriate.

 The first thing I had to do to the BSA tank was wet sand the primer and make it smooth.

 The next step turned out to be making a simple pedestal to set the tank on during painting.

 This is the BSA tank with three coats of black sprayed within ten minutes of each other. The objective is to build a thick enough layer that can be wet sanded without sanding through.

 The next step for the BSA tank will come in at least a few days when it gets wet sanded. At that point it will look something like the sporty tank does in the pic below. For those of you that don't paint, this is the basic finish of the black paint after sanding. Yes it looks dull but the clear coat will bring it back to life. Any imperfections you see are gonna be covered by the center cowl or the paint scheme I'm planning on adding later. Why mess with it when I can hide it!

 After three layers of clear this is what the tank looks like now.

 It doesn't look terrible but I think it will get wet sanded and clear coated again. At this point if I'm ever gonna up my game in the painting department then I need to do some experimenting. Worst case scenario is I screw the whole thing up and it looks like ass. You've seen some of the crap I'll ride and you know that really doesn't matter to me that much. Knees in the breeze and all that.
 By the way, this little 4 foot by 9 foot spray booth is one of the smartest things I've ever done. It sure is nice to have a clean dust free and stink free indoor place for these projects.