Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Search Is Over

 If you've read this blog more than once in the last few months then I'm sure you know I've been in the market for a used truck or suv. I had been following the price drops on an F250 and when it dropped again over the weekend I decided to buy it and end my search. This was a v10 powered standard cab pickup. I texted my guy at the dealership where we bought my wifes BMW and told him I would be in to test drive it after work. We set up a time but unfortunately he didn't start work till noon and another salesman sold it that morning. I guess it wasn't meant to be.
 My needs are to be able to get to work when the roads are crap and also to be able to tow an enclosed trailer. I was thinking a gasser v8, auto tranny and 3.73 gears at minimum. What I found was an '08 Yukon XL with exactly that combo plus a locking differential all rolling on 20's. Once I yank the third row seating out I'll basically have a crew cab half ton with a permanent topper. Works for me.

 This Yukon has selectable four wheel drive, not awd and it does have low range. Its kinda cushy too with a smooth ride suspension and I felt comfortable sitting in it. There are a few other options I wasn't looking for but will enjoy like remote start, sun roof and a halfway decent sound system. Oh, I came in under budget too!
 I went to look at and buy it alone. That means its still at the dealership but they said they would deliver it. Sweet. I'll post again when I know if I picked a winner or a lemon.


Saturday, August 25, 2018

Last Leg Of The Trip

I'm shacked up in central Illinoiz after a 600 plus mile day. I took a longer route than the GPS suggested to try to avoid some rain. I'm gonna go ahead and say that plan worked perfectly as I only got hit by a few drops today and that might have even been a bird. Temps hit 90 but the humidity was decent so I had a pretty good ride. The bike ran flawlessly and got better mileage than the trip down despite a headwind much of the day. I was running a tad faster today so my fuel mapping program must have a rich spot around 3000 rpm. I don't know how else to explain. It's certainly not because I'm lighter.  I spent the whole week eating.
The vacation was good. I enjoyed time with friends I only get to see once a year and ride my bike on some great, scenic roads. I still have half a day riding to get home and then it's back to business as usual. There won't be a Sunday morning post this week. I'll catch up with you on Wednesday. Right now I have to go find dinner.


Friday, August 24, 2018

Fridays Ride

The decision was made to ride to Hot Springs for lunch at the Iron Horse Station. As usual the food and service were good. We followed up with a little adventure through town before getting back on the bikes. Our next destination was a few hours away to visit a ranger station we know had a certain t-shirt one of the group was looking for. That ride included some of the parkway and the views were great. Traffic was light so we were able to keep a decent pace and not be bothered. An hour or so later we were back at the motel.
My wife sent me a text telling me my truck found money has been deposited so the search is now official. Thanks Honey! I won't have time to look down here anymore but I'll be keeping my eyes open. I'm gonna wrap this up cuz there's talk of dinner so my next post should be from somewhere in illinoiz.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Lunch at Pisgah

Today's weather could well be described as gorgeous.  I don't know what the actual numbers were but it was the kind of weather that was comfortable at speed while wearing all the gear. After a cup of doughnut holes and some orange juice I set out with the gang for a ride. We started with a visit to a local bike shop then made our way to the BRP and stopped at the Pisgah Inn. The plan wasn't to eat there but the view was so nice that by the time we had enough, it was time to eat, and so we did. Where to ride to for food has kinda been the theme this year and we were even talking about dinner while chewing lunch. After chow we rode north on the parkway and stopped at all the ranger stations, visitor centers and a folk art center. We even took the time to watch a movie at one stop. It was nice and relaxing with no pressure or many idiot drivers unless you count one guy that tried and failed to back over BillT.
That's really all I have to report today.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Found a Truck?

I'd be all over a rig like this if it were a clean runner. I've always thought these looked cool.
Today was a lazy day. A vacation day. Others like my wife would have preferred to dip their toes in the ocean or poke around for sea shells. For us it was three friends just catching up and bullshitting. Same idea, just no ocean although the first half of the day had water in the form of rain. In the afternoon when the sun came out we wandered into town to do some exploring. We took a tour of a distillery which turned out to be quite educational.
We await the arrival of Ed and then we'll forage for some grub. It's a pretty relaxed pace right now and that feels good.


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Day Ride

Today Dan, BillT and myself spent the day on the bikes exploring the beauty of the area.  The first thing we had to do was figure out how much of the Blue Ridge Parkway was under construction being chip sealed. It looks like the section from Cherokee to 276 is messed up but we could still make it to the Piscah Inn which we'll probably do for lunch later in the week.
The day was a mixture of sun and light rain with a lot of wet roads in the tree shaded sections through the mountains. Normally the trees are just hanging there providing shade and blocking your view but we had some wind today. Some sections provided a new perspective with trees just swaying hard and freaking out. It was pretty neat to ride through. I know that sounds kinda lame but sometimes natures simplest acts are the most interesting.
BillT led the ride and spotted a little Mexican joint for lunch. We knew the food would be good because the parking lot was packed. That theory held true and Dan even cleared his plate!
We made a few other stops including a ranger station and a store called Mantiques. All in all it was a good day. Bill did a great job leading and navigating as usual and we arrived back at the motel dry.


Monday, August 20, 2018

Arrived Maggie Valley

I woke up this morning not knowing what my plan was for the day. The first thing I knew had to be accomplished was breakfast. The hotel furnished that and on a scale of 1-10 it scored in the low threes only because it was hot. I wonder what they do with all the juicy flavor they squeeze out of those sausage patties? A piece of cardboard has more flavor. Afterwards I hung out in the room searching the internet for used trucks. Good thing because breakfast was duking it out with my guts and winning. When I finally walked out to the bike I met a couple that was parked next to me. They couldn't figure out why their truck wouldn't start. Sometime in the middle of the night I had looked out the window and noticed the parking lights were on. I had no idea they left it that way nor did i really care. With that new info he found someone to jump start his rig and they continued on.
I went back inside to check out and quiz the clerk about the condition of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  She mentioned chip sealing but didn't know where and proceeded to tell me about the "road to nowhere". Google it for the story. Now I had a destination so off I rode to Bryson city. The road isn't unlike any of the other twisty roads in the park but this one is a dead end as far as pavement is concerned. There are foot trails beyond the tunnel. A group was walking out of the tunnel as I was walking in. I overheard them talking about snakes. You can see the other end but while inside it's quite dark and I'm sure I wasn't alone. About midway I decided I'd had enough and turned around. No snakes for me thanks.
On the road back out I saw a small black bear. No bear picks because I'm smart enough to know little bears come from big bears. No big bears for me thanks.
The rest of my ride was completely random with a few stops to look at trucks. At a lunch stop I met a couple from Maine and we bullshitted for an hour about bikes and road trips. They left and I ordered some chili cheese curds. Ya gutsy, I know.
I arrived in Maggie Valley early and got a message from Dan that he and Bill are an hour behind me. Sweet.


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Dew Rag

I didn't sleep very well last night.  Not sure why. I fell asleep early enough and didn't feel ill, I just tossed and turned for quite a few hours. Eventually I got some rest but woke up late (8am). Because of this I passed on visiting the national Corvette museum. Good thing too because it was as long day on the road. It wasn't the amount of miles, it was the amount of traffic and slow downs. Uneven lanes in construction, broke down vehicles and tire remnants everywhere. Cripes it took an hour to get through Pigeon Forge. 441 through the national forest was like a parade with some jag off in an RV setting the pace under 30 mph. Another dipstick stopped every time we went through a tunnel. It was just a day when a lot of patience was needed.
I hit a little rain today and found out it takes nine miles of interstate travel in 89 degree temps to completely dry out after being soaked.  Not bad.
I saw a sign as I passed the entrance to the blue ridge parkway that said "travel not advised". I think its gravel and under repair. I'll have to find out how much is tore up.
The pic is something the motel left on my bike. I was hoping for head gear and maybe a scrunchie but it was just an old wash cloth.


Saturday, August 18, 2018

Cheesecake or Another Beer?

That was the question asked of me by a waitress tonight. I told her I'd make room for both. Ya know, if I had Trumps money you'd find me on the road every day. I like covering a lot of ground every day, seeing the sights and sampling the local cuisine.
Today is day one of my bike vacation. I covered about 550 miles and despite question whether or not I was in shape for this ride, I did alright. Oh sure the title of this post should have been "my left ass cheek is killing me" but that pain eases up quick after a few adult refreshments.
The bike ran good today. I pushed it hard and got shitty gas mileage in the 30's. The temps were just about 90 and for the first time in a long time I heard the radiator fans running on the big Ultra. My new clutch seems ok, the new battery cranks great even on hot restarts. The new front tire is another story. It's an American Elite but different thread pattern than the original. It feels weird. Squirrely maybe. I dunno, maybe it's just me.
I'm gonna finish out the night by investigating the rumor of warm cookies in the lobby then watching "The Outlaw Jose Wales" till I fall asleep.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Not Packed Yet

 On Saturday I'll be leaving for a nine day bike vacation to the Smokie Mountains. I had a few things on the Ultra that needed attention including a new battery, new clutch and new front tire. The radio/nav system hadn't had an update in over a year so I went on the Harley web page and discovered it was due for the latest software. This is a simple matter of downloading the data and transferring it on a thumb drive to the bike. All went fine. Last night was the final piece of maintenance when I changed the tranny oil. I was happy to see nothing stuck to the drain plug magnet.

 In years past I would be packed by now. I've found that just makes these last few work days drag out forever so I'm not gonna rush things. I also don't have a packing list made out. Thats not like me to wing it in this area. I usually take too much crap anyway so if I forget something maybe it will all even out.

 Every day in my shop I walk past the tank for the sportster and think to myself that I need to get rolling on that project. Those thoughts inspired me to take some campfire pics so I could maybe practice up on my attempts to paint real fire.

 By the time the fire was burning the brewskies had left me less than steady but these turned out pretty good and should give me some material to study in developing a style for painting my own flames. The first thing I notice about them is that I can't make most of the outer shapes with the stencils I already have. The next thing I notice is there is a lot of stuff moving in all directions, not just vertical. I'll give it more thought when I get back from vacation.


Sunday, August 12, 2018


I'm posting this from a motel room in Rome, Wi. Yesterday we attended a family reunion on my wife's side. The day involved bullshittin, beer drinking, boat rides and bags. Ya bags, or better known as cornhole, where you toss a bean bag at a hole in a target. I suck at it but then I was going against "leagers".
A good time was had by all. Anyway, gotta get moving and find some chow.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

35,750 Miles

 That's what the odometer on my 2015 Ultra Limited was reading when I decided to pull the primary cover and replace the clutch. I had noticed on a ride two weekends ago that I was able to whack the throttle and slip the clutch. Not the kind of thing you want to mess with when bangin gears, doing burnouts and knee draggin with your buddies in the Smokie Mountains. OK, these days we're more like the old geezers we used to laugh at as we flew past, but its all good, knees in the breeze and all.
 My first concern was getting the bike vertical to work on it. No center stand and even if there were, I ain't capable of putting a 900+ pound scoot up on one. OK, maybe I could but my back would be barking at me for a week. These days I limit my lifting weight to an 18 pack of brewskies, 24 pack if they're on sale.
 Anyway, the chore was easily handled with a bike lift that Chris VB gave me. At first I was nervous and thought my wife may need to run the jack while I balanced the bike but I found that the lift was well suited to the task of bench pressing a full size touring rig. Once I blocked it up front to rear the bike felt quite stable. Thanks Chris!

 The job itself is pretty much just straight forward wrenching with no special tools needed unless you consider a torque wrench a special tool, which you shouldn't.

 The heel shifter, front and rear floor boards and primary cover come off. Then 6 bolts holding the diaphragm spring in place and thats it for tools. During disassembly I discovered this gunk smeared around the edge of the pressure plate, under the diaphragm spring.

It had the consistency of a paste but I accidentally found out it was attracted by a magnet. This is the worn material from the fibers and steels of the clutch.

A caliper proved that the clutch was actually worn past spec.

 The last clutch I did was in the sportster and the manufacturer recommended soaking the fibers in primary oil overnight. This Barnett clutch only wanted a 3 or 5 minute bath.

  So after buttoning everything back up and filling the primary with oil, it was time for a test ride. I thumbed the starter and the beast let out a big roar as it came to life. The next sound I usually hear is the famous Harley "clunk" as the bike is shifted into first gear. Not this time. One down, no clunk, not a peep. Sweet! In fact, in about a dozen shifts from neutral to first it only made a light clunk half of the time. Thats a huge improvement and I wonder if it will get better. Before if I wanted a butter shift from N to 1 I had to pull in the clutch lever and whack the throttle three times before attempting the shift. Two whacks didn't work.
 The clunk wasn't the reason for the new clutch. Slippage was and I realize now how bad it really was. No more twisting the wick and getting a slip. A couple of rips through the gears and wow I could really feel the difference. It pulls hard and I'm looking forward to the next ride.


Sunday, August 5, 2018

Used Vehicle Search Continues

 Saturday at work sucked. There wasn't any particular reason why, I just couldn't get out of there fast enough. Thats not normal and I think I'm just getting anxious to go on vacation. The next two weeks are gonna be brutal.
 After work I went for a bike ride and stopped at a few dealerships to check out their inventory of used crap that might fit my budget. I wanted to see if a particular truck was still available. It had been there for quite a while and I was thinking of making them a lowball offer just to see how that played out. On the way I glanced down and noticed I was low on fuel. I don't normally let it get this low and if I were aware that I was running on fumes I'd have been nervous. Only 23 miles to empty. I know thats a quarter tank on some bar hoppers, or a full days use, but I don't roll that way.

 When I got there I spotted the truck from a distance but something wasn't right. The truck had a bit of bubbling rust starting around the fenders and those bastards recently put flares on it to cover it up. I call them rust covers. I hate that and these particular flares look awful and are a deal breaker for me. Too bad, this 3/4 ton would have pulled any load I hooked to it.

 That same lot had only one other candidate that would have met my needs.

 This Yukon was in fair condition and wasn't a full time awd. For me the third row seating would get shit canned and it would be just like a pickup with a permanent topper. When I look at this thing I daydream of pulling my bike and trailer down south on a cold winter day. I'd drive until the sun was shining and the roads were dry, then hop on the bike for a ride.
 Another dealer in the same town had a used truck lot so I decided to investigate. The first thing that caught my eye was a Toyota FJ Cruiser. I had a v8 powered fj40 decades ago and I guess its just kind of a nostalgia thing. That, and the fact that I'm drawn to ugly vehicles. Over the years I've owned a Corvair, an AMC Pacer and a Willys pickup. Its all good. Another vehicle on that lot really caught my eye. This black and orange Harley edition is a real looker.

 The last "truck" I looked at was this Avalanche. Not my first choice but I suppose it would do. A car like ride with the ability to do some light towing and even lighter hauling in its tiny bed. It was clean enough for the age and thats what caught my eye. 

 The latest news on our truck fund looks favorable in the dollar amount but I doubt the money will be available before I leave for vacation. Until then I'll keep poking around and see whats out there.


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Top Ten List

 Wow, August is here already! This summer is flying by and I feel like I haven't accomplished a damn thing. As far as motorcycle projects go that's really a true statement. The Rat Turd is still in the living room. The sportster needs a headlight, turn signals and a fuel tank. The BSA is still sitting idle on a lift in the shop. I want to work on these things but it just hasn't happened.

High class

 Last weekend I decided to spend the day on the Ultra just to see how out of tune I was from not racking up the mileage this summer. When I got home I was sore and my mileage wasn't anywhere near what I plan to do on a daily basis while on vacation. Most of the problem is a bruise on my back side from that fall out of the garage rafters. After that ride I started feeling anxious about this vacation so here is my top ten list of shit that needs to happen before I can leave.
 In no particular order of importance:
 *Replace the front tire on the Ultra. Its cupped weird in the center with the blocks tapered front to rear. I don't remember any other bike tire wearing this way. Its worn and I don't trust it in the rain. I think the rear will be fine.
 *Investigate the state of the clutch. If I'm cruising at hiway speed I can roll off the throttle then whack it and the clutch will slip. I'm thinking plates, frictions and springs. Unfortunatley this wasn't a planned expense.
 *Charge the batteries in the GoPro and re-familiarize myself with its operation. I still have video from last year that needs editing.
 *Study the map and look for possible points of interest along the route. BillT pointed out I'll be near the Corvette museum and I may just check that out.
 *Buy socks. Its become a tradition, once a year right before vacation whether I need them or not. (I always need them)

Tapping a fresh glass of vino

 *Clean the bike. Not the bugs and grime although that will probably happen, I mean the trunk and left saddlebag. I was shopping out of town a while back and needed to haul a box home. It was threatening rain and I wanted the box in the trunk. The amount of crap that had to come out of that trunk and get stuffed in the saddlebag was embarrassing. If I have extra room on a bike I find something to take it up. Gloves, glasses, hats and tools. Spare parts, camera stuff, gizmos and straps. Its all in there.
 *Create a real packing list. This isn't an impulse ride, its a planned vacation and if I want it to be smooth then I better not forget any essentials.
 *Make sure I'm caught up at work. Not much planning involved, just a matter of doing it. I don't want to be thinking about a chainsaw sitting on the bench while trying to enjoy the Smokie Mountains.
 *Update my thumb drive play list. I usually just fly down the interstate while blasting tunes till I reach my destination. I'll smell the roses when I get there. You don't have to like it, its my ride.
 *Surf the web for a used vehicle. Dunno yet if I'll have found a truck by then or if I'll even have the cash in my account but I've been enjoying time spent researching different rides.
 That's ten. As far as the vehicle search goes, I got a call today from a salesman where I test drove a Grand Cherokee. There are three vehicles I've been watching closely and that one is still available. We'll see.