Sunday, September 29, 2019

More Ambition Than Last Weekend

 Last weekend I didn't do a damn thing. Nothing, unless you count watching football as doing something. This weekend I was somewhat more productive, starting out the morning by cutting and bending some flashing for some window trim. It was a small project I've been putting off for a while now. Another little project I addressed was a downspout on the garage that needed some tweaking. That project was followed up by cleaning gutters and trimming some tree branches. Later I raked up some walnuts while a squirrel threw nuts at me from above. On one hand I was a little pissy that he was playing bombardier and I was the target. On the other hand he was helping speed up the natural process of getting those nuts out of the tree.
 My self appointed reward for getting those tasks off the to do list was to go for a bike ride. I'd only been on a short test ride since the new water pump and compensator so a longer ride was in order. The first stop I made during the ride was to check up on some automowers we have mowing a 5 acre property. One of them is showing signs of a bad wheel motor and the on-board diagnostics backs that up. I put the machine back in to operation only to have it fail a few hours later. I went back later with the big ass station wagon and picked it up. I'll fix it Monday.
 Next I decided to stop by the golden arches for a sandwich. I was sitting at a booth with my back to a booth full of teenage girls. My wife and I raised three girls and never have they been such airheads as these rocket scientists sitting behind me. Basically I felt the fate of the world slipping away.
 I was still in the next town over and really hadn't got out on the back roads for this ride yet when I saw Tractor Supply. I had never been in this newer store or any Tractor Supply so decided to stop. Seemed like a small Fleet Farm without the lumber and cashews. Short visit, and back on the bike.

 The fall temps along with bright sunshine makes for a magical ride. The roads I spent the most time on are just connections of remote areas that mean nothing. Not a lot of homes and not a lot of farms. Just trees, wildlife and wetlands.

 I even helped a turtle across the road. He didn't seem happy about it and hid in his shell. Odds are pretty good he would have made the other side way before another vehicle came along.

  The bike ran good out on the road but I noticed it idles differently. I have to wonder if the new compensator has anything to do with it.

 White roads, grey roads and black roads. A little mix of everything today. I had a good ride and I'm already looking forward to the leaves changing color and more fall rides.


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Warranty Followup

 As reported last time, I took my bike to the Harley dealer for some extended warranty repair work. I told you they replaced a light bulb and wanted to charge me hundreds of dollars for it. I asked them to remove the bulb as I didn't think that bulb was even something I still wanted in there. They put the old bulb back in and that was that. I didn't get any flack for being a cheapskate.
 The water cooled heads on this bike use an electric water pump for circulation. I guess that pump was a crap design because as they fail they are being replaced with a totally different style pump and thats what they put in my bike.
 I also complained of noise coming from the primary chain area. I knew the noise was related to the compensator because I had issues with it early in ownership. They replaced that compensator with the Screaming Eagle alternative. I'm not sure what the differences are but the service writer said it was the best one they could install under the warranty. I guess if this one goes 45k miles like the last one did then I don't have a lot to complain about.

 Now was the time to see the bill. With the light bulb removed from it the total was actually just my $50 deductible as originally promised. Sweet. I'm not sure what happened with that original phone call where he said they did the repairs, replaced the bulb and the total was well over $350. Harley advertises a pair of these bulbs in chrome cases for $400 so a single bulb couldn't be as much as stated. There were a lot of things on that bill, mostly all covered under warranty. He must have interpreted it wrong.
 My extended warranty cost me $1500 and this bill came out to $1200. That means unless the bike breaks before May I will have been better off not buying the warranty. On one hand I don't want problems on the road, on the other I wouldn't mind a major failure just to justify the warranty purchase. I took the bike for a test run last night and it sounds good. Not sure I'm gonna come out ahead on this one unless I put a $300 value on "peace of mind" knowing I'm covered if needed.


Sunday, September 22, 2019

Extended Warranty

  Buying an extended warranty isn't something I normally do.  I figure if its a piece of crap its gonna break under regular use during the warranty period. When I bought my Ultra Limited I decided to get the extended warranty because so many individual pieces are so expensive. The radio was one such item I was thinking of but unless it konks out in the next couple months I guess I lost that gamble. So far my warranty claims were all under the original two year warranty so it was looking like that three year extended warranty was a waste of money...until two weeks ago. 
 I was riding home from work when an orange light on the dash caught my eye. Further investigation revealed a red light on the other side of the dash. Without my reading glasses I have no idea if these lights are warning me of a problem or suggesting my current dew rag is out of style. I thumbed through the menu and saw the oil pressure was normal. I was only a few miles from home so I continued on. Once in the garage I was able to determine that these lights represented "check engine" and "temperature". 
 I felt fortunate that this happened the week after returning from my week long vacation. A few days later I was able to investigate and determined the problem wasn't a simple fuse or relay and in fact the coolant overflow tank was empty. It wasn't like that while on vacation so I know this problem just occurred. BTW, most of you are familiar with Harley as being air and oil cooled but some of these bigger touring models also have water cooled heads. Traditionalists hate it and I'm not a big fan of all the extra garbage hanging on the bike but there are advantages to it. 
 I refilled the tank and tried to ride it to work one day but didn't make it far before the lights came back on. Now I knew I had a serious problem because the tank was still full. Was the electric water pump broken? Thermostat stuck? Dunno.

 The next step was to call and confirm my extended warranty covered this type of problem. I was told there is a $50 deductible and can I get it there or do I need it towed in. I let them know I didn't want to schedule it and would drop it off at my convenience. No problems. When I finally did drop it off the service writer told me they have redesigned the entire cooling system. He knew when I called just what the problem was because they have seen many before. I guess this is one of those cases where a crappy design may not reveal itself under the original warranty. Early in ownership I complained of a lot of noise from under the primary cover. Their response was to shim the compensator, a "shock absorbing" device in the primary chain assembly. What they shim I don't know. It sounded like a band aid repair but the noise was gone so I eventually put it out of my head. Recently that noise has returned and I mentioned that to the service writer. 
 A few days later, yesterday, he called and told me the bike was ready for pickup. He said they had fixed the cooling system, replaced the compensator and replaced one of the driving lights and that the total bill was $xxx. I told him I wasn't prepared to spend that much on a light bulb and asked it be removed. He was kind and agreed to do it but I know he was probably thinking I was cheap. While its true I may be budget minded, the fact is those lights don't offer a lot of benefit to seeing down the road or into the ditches. I believe I can put different bulbs in there and get better performance whether it be for the same money or not. 
 Thats all the info I have now. I'll run up there this week and get the bike and have a better idea of what these repairs actually consisted of and if my extended warranty was justified.



Wednesday, September 18, 2019

More New Toolbox!

 I last reported of my new toolbox purchase. I hadn't really ever seen that 72" box on sale but to be honest I had only considered the purchase for a short period of time. I sold the old boxes to help generate revenue to pay for the new cabinet and when I called Harbor Freight to find out if they stock the red one that I wanted, they said those big boxes are special order only. Right after he said that he told me they had accidentally been shipped one and had it in the warehouse, so it was unusual but they had one in stock.
 I don't remember why but a week had passed before I was prepared to buy the cabinet. I figured my chances were slim that it was still sitting in their little warehouse but called anyway. Sure enough they still had it and I told the guy I needed to hook up my trailer and head up there. I'd be there in an hour. It must have been Thursday night because I remember listening to the Packer game on the radio. When the Pack is playing, shopping is weird. All the "guy stores" are slow and when I pulled into Harbor Freight I was the only customer. The gal at the register greeted me by saying "you must be here for the toolbox". I acknowledged and she got on her radio and let the dude in the back know I was there. She rang me up and I asked if there were any coupons available. She said no but if they went on sale in the next 60 days I could bring in a coupon and get a refund. I thought "ya right like thats gonna happen" but made sure they had my email address for sale flyers.
 Out back in the warehouse the dude had unburied the crate and grabbed it with a forklift. Because I was the only customer and he had nothing else going on, he agreed to help me strip the crate down, lift the box off the pallet and help me roll it up the ramp of my enclosed trailer. All the cardboard and crating stayed there. I returned the favor by walking him through some tune up procedures he needed to fix up an old chainsaw he inherited.

 Yesterday morning after waking up I was scrolling through my emails on my phone and saw the usual flyer from HF. Huge Garage and Shop Super Sale was the header. Could it be on sale? I started scrolling down through the page and sure enough the 72" cabinet was on sale. Is this really gonna happen? I was just thinking it would be nice to put a small top box next to my hutch to help sort out my tools. The big drawers of the new cabinet are nice but I was lacking smaller drawers for better organization.
 I found my receipt, printed out the coupon and ran up to Harbor Freight after work. When I showed the cashier my receipt and the coupon he stated that the offer doesn't apply to special order items. He knew that big cabinet wasn't something they stock but didn't know I didn't have to special order it because they accidentally had one. Luckily the gal that sold me the cabinet was within earshot and straightened everything out. In the end I walked out of there with a top chest to set next to my hutch and it didn't cost me anything. Sweet.

 The shipping weight of the top chest is like 120 pounds. My back won't handle that kind of lift anymore so I have to get creative when moving stuff around. I slid the box out of the big ass station wagon onto a cart. I rolled the cart next to the cabinet and pushed it up and on.

 So what have I gained here by selling the train and buying these two boxes? I did gain more cubic inches of storage space with the extra four inches of depth and I like this drawer configuration and a few larger drawers. Its true the hutch was built to match the height of a different cabinet but what are we really talking about here? I work out of it, a few guys at work see it and except for this blog no one else knows about it. It doesn't have to be pretty.
 I dropped the box off at work last night and then came home and typed this post. I just spent five minutes studying the above pic and started thinking maybe I could build a third floor above the hutch. You know, for more stuff.
Before I sign off I just want to say to my wife, Thanks Honey for putting up with my bullshit.


Sunday, September 15, 2019

New Tool Box

 My tool box at work has been one of those Harbor Freight collections that my coworkers have been calling "the train". I guess thats because I had a couple boxes bolted together and when one of the guys called it a train I may have let out a "choo choo"! After that the name stuck.

  You may remember the hutch I built for the train that holds a laptop and printer. That setup has been great. Besides having the ability to instantly look up parts, I have easy access for hooking up the laptop to chainsaws and Automowers for service. What I didn't like was the short 18" depth of the drawers and the configuration of the drawers. One big drawer for all size sockets and ratchets would be nice. To do that I'd have to step up to a bigger box, so I did.

 This is the Harbor Freight/US General 72" cabinet. Its length is 8" shorter than the train but its 4" deeper so I did gain some storage space on the bottom. I still have to hang the locker and maybe add a smaller box next to the hutch. So far its been great although it may take some time to memorize where everything now lives.
 At first my plan was to build a new full length hutch for this cabinet. I'm still tossing the idea around but I'm not sure if thats really gonna happen. The smaller hutch I already have is working fine.
 I asked one of the tool vendors how much this would have cost as a name brand box. He said anywhere from 6-10 thousand. Yikes. I don't know about the quality comparison but at $1200 this was definitely the only option I could afford. There are a lot of US General boxes in our shop and I don't think we've had problems with any of them unless you count dents from bumping into them with a forklift. This one is still shiny so lets keep away from it with forklifts and lawn mowers.


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Debris Box Part 2

 I finished up the debris box project and all thats left is to send it out for paint. I thought the project went pretty smooth and there were no hiccups. Also none of the guys in the shop had any smart ass comments about how long it was taking. Even if a project goes fast theres always someone that will tease. One thing that did raise a lot of discussion was how to latch the door. We easily came up with twenty different ways with variations of each suggestion. In the end it was decided to rob a latch off a box truck roll up door and just bolt it on. Simple and done.

 I asked the boss what color it was gonna be painted. "Whatever they have thats cheap", he said. Works for me. When it comes back I'll line the inside front wall with plywood to deflect any stones and such that could ding the sheet metal, otherwise thats a wrap on the debris box project.


Sunday, September 8, 2019

Love Fest

 These young whippersnapper kids of mine are always throwing curve balls at me. Tradition be damned, they're gonna do things their own way.

 I'm good with that.
 They were raised to understand the rules of decency and respect for others. How they live within those rules is their business. The latest example comes from my oldest daughter. This weekend family and friends worldwide gathered to celebrate Alaura and Chayse commitment to each other. When people have asked me what Love Fest is, my best interpretation is a casual wedding without the paperwork. As for tradition, it would be hard to argue that a stuffy church is a better setting for a proclamation of love than the slight chill, starry night sky and campfire that we experienced.
 I wish them all the best in their adventure together.


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Cleaning The Shop

 Thats how I spent my day off. With so much going on lately I just haven't had the time to get organized so with an entire day off I decided to get started on reorganizing my work space. Part of the goal is to create space in the greenhouse for two bikes to over winter. I have that greenhouse completely empty now except for a washer and dryer. As long as I don't fill it up with other crap I'll be ok. Actually there might even be enough room to add another bike to the fleet. Ya hear that honey?
 Shelves, shelves and more shelves. Stuff needs to go somewhere and shelves work the best.

 This wall is a mess. I just keep creating flat spaces for "stuff" but end up wasting a lot of space in the process. The room is only so big and I need to make the best use of every square inch.

 The first step is moving crap out. Don't look in my garage right now, its a messy staging area.

 I should be able to tidy up a bunch of crap with these deep shelves.

Thats it for now. I went to work Tuesday and lost motivation. Maybe tonight I'll have more ambition to push on. The thing I have a problem with is getting rid of stuff. I know damn well if I throw it out I'll be looking for it in a week. That might be because I've brought it to light and am again aware of an items existence in  my shop. Another thing I'm having trouble with is throwing out stuff that I've had a long time, even if its junk or something I don't use. One example is a small boom box I bought about 40 years ago while I was in basic training at Fort Benning. Its one of those dual cassette jobs with a cd player. I had some army income and bought something I'd had my eye on. I've kept it all these years and it just keeps getting shuffled around. The antenna seems to keep getting broken and I've fixed it a few times and to be honest I think that the fm receiver is the only thing that still works. I'm sure theres some deep psychological issues to be explored here but the bottom line is that there are some things I'm just not ready to throw out yet. I've got borderline hoarders syndrome, despite the fact that a cleaner work space makes me happy.
 Oh the struggles of cleaning the shop.


Sunday, September 1, 2019

Debris Box

 I do two cycle/handheld equipment repair at work but every once in a while the boss tasks me with a light fabricating project. This time around its a debris box for the back of a truck. The box will just sit on the back of a flatbed truck and can accommodate the chute of a wood chipper and in the future, a leaf loader.

 Oddly enough I've built a couple of these debris boxes before so I already know whats needed to make this a successful project. Thinking back, the first one was made of wood. This will be the fourth. "I see here on your resume that you've built four leaf boxes. Thats just the kind of man we're looking for".

 This stack of 4'x 8' 12 gauge sheet metal is like porn for gear heads. I was able to design whatever I wanted and just hand the boss a list of materials. Sweet.

 It took me a whole afternoon to cut all the 1 1/2" square tube and weld up one side. I bolted down the base piece on the bed rail and just built up from there.

  I like these larger projects because it gives me a chance to unroll my tape measure into areas where the numbers are actually still readable.

 I was able to recruit some help and to name names would be silly. A lot of guys helped and it was appreciated.

  So this is the way it will sit for the holiday weekend. Tuesday I should be able to work on it a bit and maybe finish Wednesday or Thursday. 

 I've been asked a lot of times already about why some of the sheet metal is on the inside of the frame and some on the outside. The reason the side panels are on the inside is to hide the seams behind the framework, allow the material to dump out better without getting hung up on framework and to allow one man to unbolt the unit from the truck. That wouldn't be possible with the bolt heads on the inside of the box with the nuts underneath. The front and top panels are on the outside for a number of reasons also. If the front panel were inside, how would it seal to the side panel on the inside? It would need to be welded its entire length to seal the seam and there would be no framework support behind the corners unless I added an extra piece. Also, there will be a sheet of plywood screwed to the inside to protect the front panel from stone dings caused by the material loader. Finally, the expanded metal roof can then just lay on top of the framework and be welded down. Ya its a simple project but if you think these things through then there are no regrets or wasted material.