Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fall in Montana

Nice cool Fall day so decided to take the /5 on a little ride. Installed a new pair of Napoleon Bar End mirrors I recently acquired. The short stemmed OEM mirrors gave me a view of my arms....had some proper long stemmed mirrors but they vibrated and didn't look correct with the Euro Bars.

 Took "Duck Creek Road" which eventually connects to the Yellowstone River Road. Always a nice ride along the river.
 Used to be dozens of 40's - 50's cars lining the river banks for slope protection....the way things were done back in the days. They've removed many of them. There are still many along the river in less accessible areas.
 Went through Laurel MT. and over to the "Canyon Creek Battle" site.
 Most of the "green" has turned to Fall browns / tans.
 Snow flurries in the Pryor Mountains it appears....

 Snow flurries in the Absaroka (Beartooth) Mountains too.
All the Billings deciduous trees are in there Fall colors and leaves are everywhere.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Winter is approaching?

Not much new around here. Been working mostly 6 days a week so not much riding activity. Have tried to ride one of the bikes each weekend as time allows. We took a ride to Belgrade MT. on Labor Day with the intention of attending an Airhead Tech Day, but rode into torrential rain coming into Bozeman. We had a motel reservation so checked in and never got over to the Tech Day location. The following day brought more unsettled weather so we headed back to Billings. Originally planned on a trip through Yellowstone Park but the weather did not agree with that plan. Some areas in and around the Park had snow.
Took a 200 mile sidehack ride around Yellowstone / Big Horn Counties a couple weeks back.

Winter is drawing nearer so I anticipate my work will end in the next 2 - 3 weeks. We'll  pack up and head for Arizona when work slows / weather deteriorates. The Montana weather has been surprisingly warm this Fall, still having 60 - 70 degree temperatures. That will come to a screeching halt before too long.

 We have 3 or 4 motorcycle trips planned as usual for this Winter.
My main Winter focus is a long list of RV repairs and upgrades which are due. Also need to diagnose & repair the old Goldwing as it has been "dead" for the past few months.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Honda CX Road Trip

CX Honda's have always been a favorite of mine since I owned a GL650 SilverWing a few years back. They are known for their reliability and longetivity.

This afternoon, while working, three young guys rode into a parking area at Badlands National Park where I am working. I had a nice, but short visit with them.

 They were traveling across the country from North Carolina, heading West. Two of the young guys had passengers. They looked like they were having the time of their lives. All three had bought cheap CX 500's for their journey. Riding two-up with all their gear they were a bit "over taxed" but obviously the bikes were getting them across the country.
 I was real happy to see young folks traveling across our great country and seeing it from a "biker" prospective. This is the type of trip I always wanted to take but never took the time in my younger years. I had numerous opportunities but ......
So Cheers to you fine young people on a trip you will never forget! Happy Trails and enjoy!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Mt. Rushmore Revisited

We rode the sidecar over to Rushmore a couple weeks ago. Decided to run the /5 for a few miles today. Went to get it ready and saw leaky old fuel lines. I'd replaced the "easy" ones last winter. Pulled the airbox cover and replaced the cross-over line and the ones to each carb. 

Haven't ridden this bike much since putting it together last Winter due to leaky fuel lines. Finally got off my duff replaced all the fuel lines this AM and took it for a 200+ mile jaunt. It never "missed a beat".
My old Honda "took a crap" on me yesterday at the end a 380 mile ride so the /5 will be the ride of choice for a while.

Out in the flats of SD. The exodus from Sturgis was well under way. 

Mr. Washington 

Some small storms in the area but nothing serious.

South Dakota 350 miles ....Dead Honda

Finally got in a decent ride today. Leaving Wall SD  I ran East to Kadoka, SD....misread my map and ended up 15 miles past my turn....back West 15 miles and headed South on Hiway 73. The Exodis of humanity leaving Sturgis and heading East was unbelievable. A solid line of vehicles as far as the eye could see,
I looped around South then West, eventually passing through Pine Ridge SD. A very depressing place.
Heading North towards Hot Springs the weather began to turn:

The Black Hills are in the back ground, shrouded by the thunderstorm. The road appeared to be heading directly into the storm. I took a few minute break and headed into the darkness.
A few miles down the road, it turned in a more Northeasterly direction which was just outside the worst of things. I hit light rain for 20 minutes or so but just missed the main storm:
 Glad I missed the wall of water. Looked like a real "gully washer".

I stopped at a Conoco Station at Hermosa SD and filled up. The bike had ran well up to that point, averaging at 43 mpg. Immediately after fueling up the bike started running ratty. I stopped in Rapid City and the engine did not want to idle. Headed down the freeway and the engine ran OK at higher RPM's but let the RPM's down, and it barely ran at all. Pulling into our RV Park, I had a hard time keeping it running for the last 100 yards. As soon as I let off the throttle it died and I rolled into my space. Rode 350 miles today.  Well at least it got me home and didn't die hundreds of miles from home.
I have not a clue as to what is going on with it. It has not run as good as it should for the past year, but nothing as bad as this. Likely a fuel delivery / carburetor issue or bad fuel (?)....don't know.
Appears that a multiple carb rebuild might be on my list for this Winter.....or sooner. I do have a good old school Honda GoldWing mechanic located in Billings. Maybe I'll get a quote from him for a carb rack rebuild. I imagine he will want way more than I am willing to spend. A complete rebuild kit from Radakk is about $150.00. The Honda will be "resting" for a while in any event.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Little Projects.....Big guns.....Bad lands

Many years ago I purchased my small open motorcycle trailer from my Brother. He had built the trailer back in 1967, then it sat unused for many years. Prior to my use, I sand blasted and painted the trailer before putting it to work. 20 some odd years later, my Wife had been complaining that she was tired of towing the "mobile eye sore" around the country behind her car. She was correct, my restoration had depleted to rust and missing paint. My Winter neighbor in Yuma was hounding me to help out with a project so the little trailer became our focus for a couple of days.....

("click" on images to enlarge)

Initially we were going to spray paint the frame, but opted to "brush" paint it to allow a much heavier application. The heavy plywood decking was still in real good shape, other than a few stains and weathering. I have a couple of .50 caliber ammo cans which mount to the trailer for storage. Of course they were painted too. 
The final product looked real good and my Wife was happy, no longer embarrassed to drag the thing around. The toughest thing was finding replacement wheel seals for the bearings. They were shot and the spindles were old Studebaker units. After many miles / phone calls I finally found a shop that had boxes full of NOS seals and he had dozens of them. I bought a couple spares for the next time.

We have been in the "Badlands" of South Dakota for the past couple of months, after spending a few months in New Mexico. 

 A few weeks ago I took a little ride on my old Goldwing while here in South Dakota. I happened across a little Military Museum at a small town and decided to tour the place. While looking at their Equipment Display the owner came along and stated that it was time to give his 105 mm Self Propelled Gun a bit of exercise. I thought the display was a "static" display but I was mistaken. He opened the overhead doors, fired the thing up and backed it out the door, telling me to mount up.He explained my escape route from the gunners position in case of a fire....then away we went!

 Overhead view of the turret mechanics.
Optical equipment from the gunners position. The interior had little comfort and was all steel.

View from a "vision slot" when in the gunners seat.

He cruised a few laps around the property and ran it up to 30 - 35 mph. Has a Rolls Royce Diesel engine and Allison Automatic Transmission. Originally of British decent, he found the tank in Australia, and imported it back to the US a few years ago. Quite the ride / experience! Not often one gets a chance for something like this.

 Working 80 - 90 odd hours a week hasn't left much time for riding recently but we've been able to have an odd day off here and there. I had to deliver pay checks to some workers across the Park on a Sunday so opted to take the sidecar over. The "Loop Road" is about 35 miles long.
 We've been performing various pavement maintenance on all the Badlands National Park roadways so I've driven back and forth across the Park dozens and dozens of times....some days well over 200 miles worth.
A very beautiful place. Thousands of motorcycles passing through due to the proximity of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Seems that everyone visiting the Black Hills also comes here.

 One Saturday, I completed my work by early afternoon so we decided to ride the Hack over to Hill City to a little Mexican Food Cafe we found a year or so back while working at Mt. Rushmore. Some guy in a red dress was admiring the sidecar.....
 He had friends.......They were on some sort of Charity Run, which required their "best dress"...literally.

 We timed our ride home just right, having a nice sunset before arriving at 'home".

 Last weekend we had another "free" day so decided to make a ride over to Pierre SD, the State Capitol. Hill leading down across the Missouri river into Pierre.
Actually a pretty boring ride for 120 miles each way....lots of grain fields and corn fields. Not much else. There were a lot of "Loud Pipes Save Lives" believers on the road, heading to Sturgis.

I did fire up the old /5 BMW a few weeks ago and took a short ride around town. When I assembled the bike I replaced the seriously bent rear turn signal mounting bracket with a new one that came with the bike. I didn't notice that it was 2" longer than the old one. Once I mounted the saddle bags I realized that the fit was not good.
The side reflectors were tight against the saddle bags. Being lazy, I just never got around to resizing the brackets. Late today I got caught up on work activities and decided to give the bike a little attention.
I thought I might be able to cut the 2" required with the bracket in place with a hack saw but immediately realized that this thought was a "no go". Ended up pulling the wiring out of the bracket, removing it and easily lopped off  2" from each side with a power cut-off grinder. Fit is much better now! almost looks like a planned event.

 The clearance from boot heels to mufflers is nil on a /5 with the stock "cigar" mufflers. I had these exhaust shields on the sidecar rig but boot heel clearance on that bike is good....the right side is shielded by the sub frame and the left side a way above the muffler. So I opted to remove them from the hack and install them on the /5.
I already have some melted boot heel remnants on the left muffler, but no more.
I've been watching eBay looking for another set of  muffler shields....a pair came up the other day but they are asking $ gotta be kidding me?

Looks like a week end off this week. I hope to give a couple of the bikes some extended exercise.
Would like to ride the /5.... but a "weeping" oil pan gasket is haunting me. The previous owner installed a silicon pan gasket which seeps oil. When I pulled the oil pan last winter, I carefully cleaned / washed the gasket as recommended prior to re-installation. Even though I carefully "snugged up" the oil pan bolts, the gasket still "squished" out on one side a little bit. Not a serious leak but will likely make a mess underneath on an extended ride. I have a paper gasket so maybe I'll do a quick change tomorrow AM. (?)

Traffic is nuts out there with the Sturgis Rally going on....maybe I'll ride over there and check it out. Went there in the 90's but haven't had any urge to return during the Rally....we'll see.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The "Grindstone"

I typically do not write about my work in this Blog but for the past 3 months, work has been an overwhelming factor, allowing little time for anything else. I've been faced with 65 - 100 hour work weeks.  Been required to be on work sites 9 - 12 + hours a day, often 7 days a week, and then accomplish massive amounts of documentation (for the Federal Govt.) in the evening hours. This typically makes each work day a 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM affair. Weekends, if I'm not working in the field, are used to catch up on what paperwork is behind. At one point I was so overwhelmed that I had to develop a 3 page spreadsheet just to list the documentation items that were delinquent and the status of each item. I am working with a young Federal Govt. Engineer. All contract specifics are intimately scrutinized and expected to be carried out to the letter. In the "old days" we called many of the contract items "boiler plate" as they were in the contract but never really enforced or addressed. Not the case anymore. Plus the Govt. now requires contractor pay submittals / daily reports  via a secured Govt. web site. The focus is to eventually arrive at a "paperless" system. This goal is not realistic as all Govt. site entries must be "backed up" with documentation to accompany all specifics. At one point I was required to enter 6 - 7 different Daily Reports per day for different Project Sites while I was only physically present at one of the sites. Needless to say, I was at the mercy of other QC employees on their sites to keep the flow of information coming to me. The majority of the documentation "funneled" to me eventually. Add that the Govt. requires / expects all documentation be submitted within 24 hours, and the task is impossible. Luckily enough common sense occasionally prevails and a little more time was allowed.
The Project has been in 14 different National Parks / Monuments across all of New Mexico so not only are the work hours long, but some weeks we've had to drive 1000+ miles. Dragging all my office equipment from motel to motel and setting up every time we move, usually 2 - 3 times a week, is a task in itself.

Thankfully the Project is winding down and the 50 + work force is now down to 10 or so workers in one location at a time. Another 3 weeks and the madness will end....then we're off to a similar Federal Project in South Dakota. The "fun" never ends.....
You would think that working in the National Parks would allow some site seeing time, but after 6+ different visits to Carlsbad Caverns over the past year, we did not once have the time to tour the caverns. Chaco Canyon at sun rise was awesome though......
[click on photos to enlarge]

 These Vultures would roost each night in these trees. The same morning my Wife was at a "flagging" station right where this photo was taken. The morning was dead still and not a breath of breeze....Suddenly, the bushes in front of her started violently shaking and a tiny area of  "wind(?)" came up from the creek bottom and right into her where she was standing....the "wind" then instantly vanished after accosting her. She said it felt like an "entity" had passed over her. She was actually a little shaken by the experience....strange....

My wife recently had a medical emergency, ending up in a New Mexico hospital for a few days. Thankfully she is now doing OK, but while in the hospital we found that her insurance was not yet if effect. We'd received new insurance cards 6 weeks earlier (with no explanation) so were under the impression her insurance was in effect. Crap....

Enough is good and we are very fortunate to be in decent health and working as so many folks are without work / health. My Wife always reminds me of the "off time" we have in the Winter to keep me going during my "low" personal  moments. Seems that work is getting tougher as we approach 60 years of age. Just don't have the physical / mental stamina we used to. But...I've "made my bed" and no one is forcing me to sleep in

We did get a 50 mile sidecar ride in a few Sundays ago. Went across the Rio Grande a few times on our route...The river was running pretty full compared to last Fall, when it was just a trickle. I try to at least start a couple of the bikes every weekend, especially the Honda Gold does not like sitting for very long and the engine likes to be "run up / warmed" up every 10 days or so. I've drained the carbs on my old /5 as it did not want to readily start a few weeks back. I'll get it running when I am able to get in some riding time later this Summer.

 We have a nice view from our currant RV site. Since we have to travel back and forth across the state, we have left our rig in a central location and commute "home" on weekends when we can.