Sunday, June 30, 2019

Automower Tail Lights

 I'm really enjoying Mowby Dick, my Husqvarna Automower. Its nice to not have to cut the lawn and just deal with some detail work every now and then. One thing about the mower has always bothered me though. It has headlights but no tail lights. The head lights flash when there is a problem but otherwise can be scheduled for day or night. The mower doesn't need lights to "see" but when its on a city sidewalk in the evening, the light helps people avoid the dumb mower that just randomly wanders wherever it wants. Tail lights would make this machine even more visible and safer, especially when approaching it from behind, so I set out to make the upgrade.

 As you can see from the above pic I was successful. What follows is how I went about doing it.

 First off, I can't find any reference online to anyone else doing this so I was on my own. My main concern was overloading the main board in the mower. I'm not an electrical engineer and I have no idea how they get all that smoke in the wires. I just try to proceed with caution and gumball logic. So some things I noticed were that the main board on my 450x has 4 pins on the Aux output that powers the led headlight and only 2 were being used. I also noticed that the output was 4.2 volts. A third thing I noticed was that the add-on lighting kit for the old 430 models used three wires and split into two plugs. These are the plugs you disconnect underneath when separating the top cover from the main body of the mower.

The 450 harness on the right and the 430 add on kit on the left.

 I replaced the 450 lighting harness with the 430 kit harness and now had two plugs hanging out under the mower ready to accept lights. One plug will get the 450 headlights and the other gets the pair of 430 lights.
 My plan was simple. Use the 430 headlight kit that I know is the proper voltage as my tail lights. The rear section of the top cover unbolts with 4 screws and is easily replaceable if I screw up.

 The 430 lights are a sealed white tube with a flange on the end. I just took some red button lights and sanded them down till they fit the end of the tubes and epoxied them in place. There were a hundred ways I could have done this and I'm not even sure why I chose this route.

 Then I drilled a couple holes in the bumper and epoxied the tubes in place. The white ring lights up too and because of the length of the tubes, I get a ground effects type of glow under the bumper. I think I'll black out the exposed tube behind the bumper to eliminate that glow.

 There's plenty of room under the top cover to handle the depth of these lights in the place that I put them. Originally I was just gonna illuminate the husky logo and I still might some day. For now I wanted to just get this thing lit up.

 I drilled a couple holes in that rear bumper to pass wires through. You can also see a hole for the tail light tube.

The wires then drop into the channel the proximity sensor wires run in, and run all the way to the front of the cover. I had to solder extra wire in place so don't get any ideas that it was "plug-n-play".

 I know this only makes sense to those that have been under the hood of one of these mowers so I'm trying to make this painless as possible. 

 Now my top cover has a plug for front and rear lights. Everything goes back together just like the factory intended.
 So heres the deal. I don't know if this is going to last or if it will release all that smoke the engineers spent so much time installing. I had an old employer that used to say "Theres 10 ways to Berlin. I'm not gonna tell you what route to take, just get your ass over there". If you decide to do what I did then you're on your own. I'm not suggesting you do it or that this will hold up in the long run, so don't call me sayin I made you fry your mother board. BUT, if you do this and do fry your machine, I'd love to see pics of the carnage.
 I will say that I'm happy with the results.


Wednesday, June 26, 2019


 I'm pissy today (Sunday 6/23). Today is the day I set aside to finish painting the Sportster fuel tank and front fender. First off it was supposed to be a rainy stormy day but the weather liars screwed me again. Do I ride or finish this paint job? What I want to do is ride the sporty so today is paint day so I can get that bike back on the street.
 The fender was simple enough as it just needed a quick wet sanding and a coat or two of clear.

 I told you about replacing the headlight on this bike. What happened was that amazon told me it would take like a month to get the light. At some point I got anxious and searched Amazon again. This time it told me I could have it in days from the same company. I ordered it and figured when it came I'd cancel the first order. I got the second order, forgot to cancel the first order and weeks later the first one arrived. I'm not even gonna try to wrap my head around how the hell this can happen from the same company and it doesn't matter in this story. The point is that I had an extra shell and painted that too. Ya know I searched all over my shop for that extra headlight shell. Couldn't find it till I realized its still in that unopened box the front fender is perched upon in the above pic. It was hiding in plain sight.

 When it was time to paint the flame job on the tank I had to first clean the dust and crap off of it. I had a can of paint prep, sprayed it on a rag and started wiping. Right away I knew it was gonna be a bad day. The paint lifted the top layer of clear and left a sticky mess. I guess thats why the can says to test it in an inconspicuous spot.

 I decided that wet sanding it again was the answer. I already had a spot that was sanded through the top layer but because the rest of the paint looked so good I would just hide it with the flame job.

This wet sanding session burned through another spot.

 Screw it. I painted it again.

 I took it out of the spray booth for examination. From ten feet away it looks great. Up close there is some random orange peeling. This means I will have to let it dry, wet sand it and then apply the clear. This also means today was a waste. I really didn't make any forward progress on the sporty. Now I'm struggling with whether or not I should attempt painting flames. If I mess it up I'll have to paint the damn thing again. It occurs to me the thing to do is find another set of tins so I can use the bike while I practice my painting skills (or lack thereof). Maybe the answer will come to me when I've cooled off and am less pissy.
(Wednesday morning update) Last night I wet sanded and painted the tank again. Its coming along but I'm still pissy. Still haven't decided if the flames are going on or just to get the bike on the road.


Sunday, June 23, 2019


 Gonna flip a coin today to decide what this post will be about. Heads we'll talk about growing old. Tails we discuss just how fast you can fly a motorcycle past a county officer before getting stopped.

 Heads it is. It took several tries to flip that damn quarter and get it to land on the BSA seat and stay put. I've only had two wine coolers or fizzies or something like that, so I know thats not the problem.

 The other day the boss wanders into my work area like he owns the place, which I guess he does, and starts telling me about an old man outside. The old man is using a walker and doesn't move very fast but hes kinda like the energizer bunny and just keeps going. The boss went out to meet him and find out whats up and the guy just saw the Automower cutting our yard and had a few questions. Not questions like he was gonna buy one. Just curiosity questions. Well even energizer batteries get weak and eventually this old guy needs a rest. The boss offers him a seat on a nearby trailer bed and starts asking questions cuz something didn't seem right. Turns out this guy is on a mission. He wanted to walk to the gas station and buy a hot dog. Normally buying a gas station hot dog is a non-event. The interesting part is what that dog does to your digestive system and how fast it wants out. Anyway, the problem here is that our friend walked from the nursing home without telling anyone. I went online and measured and it would have been about 400 yards door to door if he took the shortest route. It must have taken him a long time at his pace. He was offered a ride and eventually accepted one provided he could stop for that hot dog. Unfortunately nurse Ratchet was hot on his trail and found him before we could get a vehicle over to him. I don't know if he ever got his hot dog.
 For me this event really messes with my head. One of the guys in the shop knows this guy. Hes lived a full active life as an independent responsible adult. He hasn't lost his mind and he can still kinda get around. It just seems sad to me that at some point something as simple as wanting to walk to the gas station for a hot dog won't be doable. I guess the lesson here is not to take youth and good health for granted.


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Repost-Apes and Cows

 I've been going back in the archives and reading some of my old posts about bikes I used to own. This one is a favorite from July 2014 that I thought I'd share with some of my newer audience. 

Apes and Cows

 I wonder what they would do if the gate was open? Do you think they would still be so interested in the shiny red bike?

 I think they would come over and check it out. If they could, they'd ask a bunch of questions like "who makes Aprilia?" "Is that a Harley?" Well, all except that one cow dressed in black standing by itself. He's looking the other way pretending to not be interested. Probably smells like shit. Not even another cow will stand next to him. I can relate but I'd still be checking out the Italian iron. Do you know why? Because I like all flavors of bike.
 As the former owner of this Aprilia Futura, having logged over seventy thousand miles on it, I can tell you that a bike like this will generate a lot of interest. There are not a lot of them around and this pic doesn't do it justice but that red paint is different than any other red bike you've seen. When this bike stops for fuel, someone will say something about it. The owner, Mary-Anne, sent me the pic. She told me she is thinking about selling her whole stable of bikes and getting something different. I say go for it. Life is short and there are a lot of bikes out there to be enjoyed.
 This pic gets me thinking. I do things to my bikes that I like. I think a front fender made from expanded steel is kinda cool. The same goes for tail light mounts that remind me of the Sputnik satellite or an eagle on top of a sissy bar. Am I doing it for attention? No. I don't think so. These things are an expression of myself and can also be an ice breaker to strike up a conversation with people that would not normally come near me. Kinda like our friend in the cow picture.
  So after a little chat with a stranger, I'm no longer just a dick head. I'm a dick head with a cool front fender.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Fischer Family Reunion

Technology has failed me today. This post comes to you late and without pics...unless one of the other many attempts made to publish it come through. 

I find myself waking up in a hotel room a couple hours from home. Sure we could have drove home last night but it was a long day and the older I get the more I appreciate a full nights sleep. 

The reason we were out of town was a family reunion on my wife's side. Some of these people see each other all the time, some just at wedding's and funerals. Others have been out of state for a long time. The emotions were flowing for some and a lot of hugs were exchanged.  That's really what a reunion is about, right?  Me, I'm not an outsider but I didnt know all these people in my youth so it's not the same. I did get to see some of my kids which was a nice Father's Day gift for me. 
The event was held on a beautiful piece of property complete with a log cabin and pond. I could get used to a place like that and I feel the location really was an important part of why people had a good time. Some even camped overnight including Chayse and Alaura who pedaled bikes 45 miles to get there. I don't remember ever having that kind of energy.  A personal highlight for me was when my cornhole sugar momma Karen and I kicked ass in bags, beating two of my daughters. Those kids thrive on beating me at games and I deny them whenever I can, and yesterday  I could. 
Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Bike Wash

 Spring has been busy and come to think of it last fall was too. The Ultra spent the winter with a layer of bugs splattered all over along with a bunch of road grime. Never had a chance to wash it before temps dropped below freezing. Yesterday I was finally able to find the time to give it a bath.

 In order to wash the entire bike the way it should be done a person needs a few hours. The saddle bags should come off, the luggage should come off, the wheels should be scrubbed etc. I wasn't willing to make that kind of commitment and just wanted it to look presentable. After all, its just gonna get dirty and full of bugs next time I ride it.
 My process starts with something like S100 that can be sprayed on and allowed to loosen those bugs. After that comes a hard rinse. The bike now had a little longer to soak as I needed to get a bucket of hot water and soap.

 While I was inside getting that hot water, Mowby Dick took the opportunity to get all tangled up in my garden hose. No action shots of that cuz I wanted to quickly get him untangled before the little shit cut the hose. That Dick came from the other side of the house just to sniff out what I was up to. I scolded him and sent him on his way but not before hosing him down. I run him rain or shine and the other day he was wet before going under some bridal wreath bushes. He don't care.

 So now the bike gets hot water and suds to remove what was left. The areas I started in dried before I got back to rinse them but looked great. I left it. Again it was a half assed job but the bike does look much better. One thing that didn't look so great was my blog sticker.

 Maybe the pic doesn't show it well but the sticker on the bike is quite faded. Its supposed to be removable but that sucker wasn't peeling off so I did just like on the license plates and just slapped a new sticker over the top of the old one. One sticker deep isn't bad and I might even get away with three but after that I'll need a new plan.


Sunday, June 9, 2019

Bathroom Remodel Wrap Up

 Ya I know you're getting sick of hearing about this damn bathroom remodel but I promise this is the final post unless theres a huge failure that makes it blog worthy.

 In earlier posts you may remember there was a picture here of a forest or garden or something green. It was put up because underneath it was a boy band poster that has become a permanent part of the wall. When we tried to remove it the drywall paper was coming up. The simple solution is to bury it deeper with something fun like this v-twin. Our house. We like it. End of discussion.

 Moving left around the room we pass the tub. Before I start a project like this I try to envision what I want the end product to be. Because of the ultra slow pace, there was time to make changes as we went along. That shower panel changes the entire feel of where I thought this project was going.

 Continuing left we pass a closet. Not much to report here except some fun detail like the door knob.

 Still moving counter clockwise. I have mixed feelings about the curtain. Just the fact that I wrote that should get my wife searching for something with a motorcycle theme :-)
 I wanted a bigger sink/vanity but getting something bigger up the spiral staircase would have been difficult. I also wanted a urinal but wasn't willing to make the huge plumbing commitment needed to make that happen. Just because I didn't get those things doesn't mean I don't like it. It should serve us well.

 Another fun detail.

 And finally the BSA. Maybe looking at this pic when I'm standing there with my crank in my hand will get me motivated to finish that project. Just to put things more into perspective, I took that picture when I was in high school photography class. It didn't run then either. Procrastinating on this BSA project has become a life long ordeal.


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Mowby Blade Change

 Mowby Dick has been living up to his namesake, meaning he's a dick. I have a spot at the end of the driveway that is bare from parking over it. I decided it would be nice to get some grass to grow there so I dumped a little fresh topsoil down, raked it out and seeded it. Four seconds later Mowby Dick rolls through my project. I mean I knew he was gonna drive though it but couldn't he wait till I wasn't looking?

 Actually, its kind of an experiment. I want to see if I can grow seed despite his activity in the lawn. I've seen spilled grass seed growing in some pretty odd places so why not in my lawn? The machine doesn't weigh much so I guess its just a matter of how much spinning and churning of the area that he does.
 Yesterday I had an Automower customer come into the store and tell me about having to change his blades more often than suggested. He wasn't complaining, just keeping me up to date on his mowers progress. He keeps a perfectly maintained lawn and the Automower just does a nicer job with fresh blades. This made me think about when I last changed Mowbys blades and decided he was due. I set my screwdriver and blades near the edge of the drive and didn't have to wait long for that little dickhead to come over and try to run them over. I hit the stop button and punched in my security code.

  I flipped him over on his back and gave him a little scratchy poo to distract him from the fact I had a screwdriver in my other hand. He giggled and I quickly removed one of the blade screws.

  The silver disc is just a skid plate. The blades are mounted on a disc (below it in the pic) with three mounting screws.

 Line up the hole in the disc with a mounting screw. Then its a simple matter of removing the old screw and replacing the two sided razor blade with a new screw. Normally I'd take this opportunity to remove the top cover and clean him off a bit but Mowbys personal hygiene practices must be working cuz he didn't look too bad.

  After spending decades sitting on a mower cutting grass for others, it sure is nice to "cut grass" while sitting in a lawn chair slurping down a beer.


Sunday, June 2, 2019

Strange Encounter

 I was just stumbling through life minding my own business when a dude approaches me.

Dude: Hi Matt, Howz it going?
Me: Great Jim, How are you?
Dude: Um, I'm not Jim.
Me (pointing at my name tag on my work shirt) Ya, well I'm not Matt.
Dude: Aren't you the guy that sprays lawns?
Me: Its true I have sprayed many a lawn but these days I just manage a crew.
Dude: Well you work for Dick, right?
Me: No I don't work for dick. Did you call my boss a dick?
Dude: No, I asked if you spray lawns for Dick.
Me: (pointing at the business name over my other shirt pocket) No but I have some customers named          Dick so technically I work for some Dicks but my boss isn't a Dick.
Dude: You're not Matt? I thought you were Matt.
Me: I'm not Matt but I have a guy on my crew named Matt.
Dude: Did he used to work for Dick?
Me: I doubt it. Hes a married man.
Dude: I don't think I know you.
Me: Have a good night Jim.

 I told him I wasn't Matt but that wasn't good enough for him. Did he think I stole a shirt from some guy named Scott? Maybe he thought I was in the witness protection program and my new name was Scott. Did he think I was avoiding him because I owed him money? Was he just stoned to the bone? I dunno.
 On the other hand, I wonder how he recalls the encounter. "I saw Matt today. He was pretending to be someone named Scott. What a dick".