Sunday, September 30, 2018

Making More Room In The Shed

 Now that I have an automower taking care of my grass cutting chores I feel its time to get rid of my little rear engine rider. Sure I could keep it around for doing Forrest Gump impersonations while grinding up leaves but I have a bagger push mower that will work better for that chore. A big sale at work next week will be a good opportunity to try to peddle it because I need to raise some cash to pay up a bet my wife insists she won. She says our garbage can is one color and I say its another. She thinks she is right just because everyone she asks about the color agrees with her. I feel a need to pay up and just get this over with, even though in my mind I know its green, not grey...or at least the old can was green. Anyway, the problem with selling it is that it leaks engine oil worse than an old harley. I can't just pressure wash it and hope for the best because the leak reveals itself as soon as you start the engine. For the longest time I just assumed the leak was the sump gasket but today when I pulled it from the shed there was a huge puddle under it and no oil at all in the crankcase. The problem must be the lower crank seal.
 I pushed the machine from the shed to the garage where I could better work on it.

 Nothing has been fixed in this garage in a long time. I was looking forward to some quiet wrenching.

 Initially I was prepared to yank the engine and all of the associated bull that went along with that. After taking a closer look I discovered this was gonna be an easier job than I thought. I pulled the mower deck, one rear wheel and the crank pulley.

 What I found was a huge mess except where the seal was leaking, That area was washed clean from all the oil flow.

 Of all the gaskets, seals and o-rings I bought for this repair, I only used this crank seal. The old one came out too easily and the new one pressed in just about right. In a couple days I'll know if the repair was a success.

 It really was a simple job and this is all the tools I needed. Now I feel the need to get into another project. I suppose I should get back into learning how to use that airbrush and get the sporty painted. I'll keep you posted.


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Video Dump

 In the past when I've been thin on interesting material to post I've just thrown up random pics from my phone. Due to lack of interesting motorcycle or maintenance material I am forced to do it again but this time it will be video rather than pics. Thats right, I've just been walking around with these gems hiding in my phone. I've loaded them to YouTube to forever seal my fate as a dork.

This first one was on the way to the Ripon bike show. The plan was to ride off with the phone in my hand and get footage of the rain flapper at WOT. I thought better of it and decided the GoPro might be better suited for the task. I'll try to capture that before the bike goes up for the winter.

 So far there have been no problems with the automower running out by the city sidewalk in the dark but I was thinking a set of tail lights might be a good idea.

I was working on a piece of equipment and a little disgusted with the way the new parts fit together.

We run an automower at the shop in a steep ditch. During the drought the unit struggled with the hard, dry conditions.

Speaking of automower performance, sometimes "testing" looks a little like screwing around.

More testing I think. Which stapler will win?

 And for the big finale, some more motorcycle content.

 I'm not even sure what I was thinking when I filmed most of these but now that they're out there I can safely delete them from my phone.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Big Ass Station Wagon Update

 So its been a few weeks now since I bought a used Yukon XL. Did I get a lemon or a decent used vehicle? Almost right away I noticed it was pissing oil in my driveway. It didn't take long to realize it was power steering fluid. A quick text message to the salesman to confirm they'd stand behind it and then an appointment for it to be looked at. I had to wait over a week to schedule the repair because I would need a loaner. No problem, I'm a big boy and can add power steering fluid as needed.
 I showed up at the dealer and had to pull into one of their reception bays to drop the rig off. The bays are marked "trucks" and "cars". Hmmm. Nothing marked "big ass station wagon" or "oversized suv". While it would mean nothing to anyone else which bay I picked, in my mind it would forever solidify the way I feel about this rig. I was early and had time to give it some thought, then I eased on into the truck bay. Really, when you crawl underneath this thing its not much different than a 1/2 ton pickup...or is it? It turns out the loaner would be a good comparison rig. They gave me a 2018 GMC Sierra 1/2 ton with the same motor as my Yukon. The difference would be a six speed tranny rather than the four speed in the Yuke.

 The new GMC had only 650 miles on it and the sticker showed an asking price of $51K. The interior was pretty nice but I suspect not the top end package. It was nice to be driving a new vehicle but that niceness kinda wore off a few miles down the road. First I didn't care for the feel of the steering. I think this truck uses an electric pump and it just didn't agree with me. Second, and the only thing that would really keep me from buying one of these if it were in my budget, is the six speed transmission. The transmission is an indecisive little bitch and spends an awful lot of time hunting for the best gear. To me it was just plain annoying and I'd never be able to live with it. I'm not just being picky. This annoyance revealed itself right away on flat ground and brand new asphalt. Even with cruise control set the trans spent a lot of time shifting back and forth.
 So how does the Yukon compare? As far as towing goes I don't know. I haven't hooked my trailer up yet. As far as power they felt close despite the fact that mine is much more used, but I'd have to give that one to the new GMC. At times there was a considerable lag between flat footing it and tire spin. Other times it felt normal and the traction control button didn't make any difference. Not sure what was going on there. Ride comfort and drive-ability go to the Yukon. That transmission is a huge no-go in the new truck so the Yuke wins that one too.  
 The dealer ended up putting a new steering rack and pinion in my truck. They also fixed an exhaust leak I was unaware of. They claim to have done $2000 worth of repairs (or at least thats how they will claim it on the insurance policy that came with the purchase). I was responsible for a $100 deductible. I can see the new parts, I know how long they had it and they washed it afterwards. No complaints from me. That's the second time Holiday Budget Center has treated me right after a used car purchase had issues. 
 So, its been a few weeks now since I bought a used Yukon XL. Its nothing fancy but I'm liking it. 


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Effin' Skeeters

 OMG! WTF is going on with the mosquitoes? Its like we're under attack. They're even double teaming us in the shop. Trying to work in there has become a joke.
 Every so often I'll hear a yell from the other side of the shop. Its usually someone freaking out, unable to comprehend how we can be so swarmed in these little biters. I've done that dance myself. They are relentless. I've made 55 laps around the sun and as far as skeeters go, this one bites the hardest. I've heard a lot of old timers make the same claim. When people bump into each other on the street, the small talk isn't about the weather. Its about mosquitoes.

 Experiments have shown that carb cleaner really has no effect on these evil doers. 

 The best spray I normally have on my bench for knockin em down are the ones with oil in them. Penetrating lubes and Fluid Film work well. Spraying a mist into a stream of air blasting out of a shop air blow gun is a good way to fog the area and stop an approaching swarm.

 In our shop the decision was made to not just repel these bastards but to send them a message. Once knocked down we can begin operating. The plan is to surgically remove their needle nose and send them back into the general population. This way the other skeeters can see what happens when you mess with our crew.

 Here's pre-op. These little bastards will get what they deserve.

 Not all of them make it. This one had an allergic reaction to our anesthetic. No one will grieve.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Ripon Bike Show

 Yesterday morning was a warm one, about sixty degrees and it made for an enjoyable twenty mile ride to the bike show. Because I had to work I was early and the first one registered and just dropped the bike off. It wasn't until after work when I arrived at the show that I found out registration was a bit dismal. Its not the fault of the guys putting on the event. They don't have the help they once had and other events like the Tomahawk Fall Ride were going on the same day. I guess the blame should rest partially on regular attendees like myself for not spreading the word. This pic of the bacon section at wallyworld is about as interesting as the bike show was and that bothers me. Sure I checked out the few new bikes to the show but the others were all just the same cut of meat, including the Rat Turd.

  I guess the most interesting part of a show like this is to talk with the "builders". To me that term includes everyone that did their own work on their own bike. Everyone has a story that you can't read just from eyeballing the bike. You need to hear about the broken head bolts or use of Flex Seal from the guy that did the work. The factory customs that were just purchased and ridden don't do it for me.
 This bike was pretty nice.

 It was a lot nicer after I talked with the guy that built it. He deservedly beat me in our class. Hes an older gent with an eye for detail and the bike is no trailer queen. He found interest and creativity in the Rat Turd and tried out the cast iron seat. I think it took about 2 nanoseconds for him to decide that wasn't for him. So much for my offer to trade even-up.

 When it was time to leave I went to thumb the starter button on the rat but got bupkis. I'm not sure what happened to the cranking circuit but my handy dandy pocket knife easily jumped the solenoid and the little four banger came to life. I looked up and noticed there was a crowd watching me. I had forgotten how much interest there is in seeing that rain flapper bounce on top of my muffler so I gave em a few blips. Hey, its a show, might as well show off.
 I found an older video I once posted. Pre-barbed wire, the bike doesn't even look the same.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A Little Of This, A Little Of That

 A couple of posts back I showed you an Automower display I was working on. Here I am in action at a show working my ass off trying to sell mowers. The "display" worked great in this outdoor setting and drew a lot of attention.

 Such an honest face. Wouldn't you buy a mower from me? I almost had one sold to an Amish dude till we got to the part about plugging in the charging station. Details, details. We did sell a few of them at the store this week and I have to wonder if this show had any influence on those sales.

 In other news, the Yukon has been running good. I should clarify.

 Power steering fluid is running out of the Yukon. The drips in the middle are normal straight line steering. The big arc of oil is when the wheel is pinned to one side. The dealer will take a look at it next Wednesday. They did right by me with the BMW when it needed a front differential. Lets see how they handle this problem. Otherwise I'm diggin the big station wagon. Adequate power, smooth ride, plenty of storage and I feel comfortable in it. The first tank of fuel revealed a 17 mpg average. Thats up 5 mpg from my last ride. I'm good with that.


Sunday, September 9, 2018

Crunch Time

 Yesterday I had heard the Chili Cook-Off was happening in Green Lake. I don't usually attend this event but it kinda kicks off a series of fall events, some of which I do attend. I woke up today thinking I had a free day to catch up on things around the house and maybe finally clean the garage but then it hit me. Two bike shows are coming up and I'm not prepared for them. The sportster was to have its new paint job, turn signals and headlight. It has none of that and is currently unrideable.

 The flyer basically says the bike show is next weekend and my dumb ass isn't ready. Because my reason for attending these shows is more about support and fun than winning something, I could just wash the Ultra and attend. That seems kinda lame. People want to see cool shit at these shows and the Rat Turd is about as stupid a bike as you'll see on the streets around here.

 That means I have to clean the garage so I have room to work on and store the Rat. The last time that bike ran was a year ago. It has a faulty charging system and I have just been putting a lawn mower battery in a saddlebag to run it. It also has a running issue possibly in the fuel delivery system and its in my living rook. Just getting it outside is an adventure. I better get started.


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Me and Mowby

 I guess I could go back and count the weeks but basically its been most of the summer since I've installed a Husqvarna Automower in my yard. I sell and install these units at work and having one at home has been a big asset in understanding their operation. Now I'm not one that usually names objects like cars or bikes or lawn mowers but you may know that our robotic mower is named Mowby Dick. While its true that he got the name cuz he's a dick, I've become quite attached to the little guy. Sure my liking for him is mostly based on the fact that he is absorbing much of the work load in the yard but sometimes when I'm trimming while he's mowing we play a game of catch or hide and seek. He likes to nip at my feet once he catches me and I enjoy the exercise of jumping out of his path.

 Ok enough of the silliness. This post was gonna be about a project at work. The boss wants a display area for these Automowers that we can take to trade shows or whatever. He bought some fake grass-like carpet and the plan was to attach the wiring underneath. We then could just roll the whole thing up and carry it away.

 The mower needs a boundary wire that sends a signal telling it to stop. I laid the wire where I wanted it...

 Then used some heavy duty tape to secure it to the bottom of the "grass". The wire runs on the grass side of the carpet in one area so people can see there is a wire boundary that the mower stays in. For whatever reason, I stopped taking pics of the project at this point so you'll have to use your imagination for the rest of this post. I'll help with some pics I found in my phone.

 Picture if you will, an automower and charging pad perched proudly on top of simulated grass. Maybe grass like this:

 And now imagine a short video of this mower moving around inside its boundaries on the fake grass carpet and returning to its charging station every four minutes. This is a program built into the mowers software just for these types of demos.  Maybe you can visualize a post or log standing in the middle of the carpet. Something that the mower can bounce off of and maybe doubles as a brochure stand. Good job. Now get on your scooter and take a nice long ride, you've earned it.


Sunday, September 2, 2018

Station Wagons

  Now that I've replaced the old Dodge pickup the plan has been to give our Subaru Outback to one of our daughters. Before that could happen, one last repair had to be done. The car had a warped rotor and shook pretty bad during braking so I decided to do a front brake pad/rotor replacement. It was a simple job and if you've ever done it then you know that the caliper pistons have to be pushed back into their bores. I was lazy and grabbed two of the tools laying nearby and accomplished the task without a clamp or special tool. Git r done.

 Happy camper Kenzo. I heard some talk about strapping a kayak on the roof and other "outdoorsie" type activities. That car is hyped up as a yuppie recreational get away vehicle. The closest I've ever come to using it like that is putting a beer cooler in the back.

 The Yukon has been running good. No issues found yet. We've decided its just a bigger version of the Outback and yes I had a beer cooler in it yesterday. It seems some truck owners get pissy if I call the Yukon a truck. Not sure what thats all about. If you look underneath its not much different and better in some ways if you look at things like gearing. Ack, its just a big station wagon.