Gila Mtns.

Gila Mtns.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Salton Sea Day Ride

Decided to take a long day ride yesterday as the weather forecast was great. After looking over the area maps, decided to go around the West shore of the Salton Sea. We've traversed this same route numerous different times, but never get tired of the scenery. 
                   (left "click" on photos to enlarge)

Decided to run the Gold Wing for this ride as it is by far the most comfortable highway cruiser I I wanted to run some more miles with the recent single carb conversion. The bike performed flawlessly and hit an average of 40.2 MPG. Speeds varied from 45 mph to 80 mph on the freeway stretches.
I ran the bike with the windscreen and soft saddle bags....and the always present tank bag. 
 Encountered some pretty heavy cross winds on I-8 to El Centro CA. The big Gold Wing is quite stable in windy conditions due to its' weight. Much more stable than my R75/5 in cross winds.

The Salton Sea is a large body of water covering approximately 350 square miles and sits 234 feet below sea level.

Stopped at Desert Shores for a quick break and bite to eat, packed some snacks as did not want to take any time at eateries. Very nice day with mid 70's temp. and the wind died off earlier in the morning.

Crossed over to Mecca CA. and the East side of the Sea. Then up to the "Box Canyon Road" which cuts through a 25 mile section of twisty roads. Always have to be alert on this road as when storms hit, the roadway becomes a river. Quite often there is debris and sand on the roadway so diligence is needed. Today was pretty good with minimal rubble on the road. 

 Not much traffic, but a few bicyclists were sharing the road.

I always enjoy riding this section of road. Have seen sand and rocks on the road more often than not.

The most boring section was the I-10 from Joshua Tree National Park to Blythe CA...about 70 odd miles of Interstate. Stopped for a minute at the old location of Camp Young which was Gen. George Patton's Desert Training area during WW2.

 Some newer tanks sitting about, a small museum and gas station / convenience store.
The town of  "Desert Center", a few miles from Camp Young, used to have a store, gas station and some activity. Now it appears pretty much abandoned with no store, food or gas available. Only a few hard core inhabitants remaining, so it appears from the freeway.

Turned South at Blythe CA. after a fuel stop and traveled the route down to I-8 and home. Arrived home just at dusk. About 350 miles in 6 hours.
Was a nice day ride and the single carb conversion worked well. Still have the "lag" at take off, at low RPM's, right when the clutch is dis-engaged. I simply counteract this trait by giving the bike a tiny bit more throttle which counteracts the issue. Not really a problem now that I'm used to it. Once moving, the throttle response is better than the stock OEM four carb set up. Acceleration is awesome on the highway.

I'm still a hard core BMW fan, but the Gold Wing is a joy to ride on the highway, and handles well on the two lane twisty roads too.  The upgraded suspension contributes to the better handling, but sacrifices some comfort due to the harshness of the stiffer "Progressive" suspension.  My Wife does not like riding pillion due to the "stiffness" of the ride. I find it quite effortless to ride 350 - 500 mile stretches with minimal fatigue. The bike is much heavier than the R75/5 and braking is much better with the triple disc brakes. All in all a great road mile eating cruiser!
I guess as I age I appreciate the comfort afforded by the big Honda, but nothing still compares to road riding on an old BMW /5..... Completely different "animals".

Friday, January 9, 2015

World Travelers Visit

Last Summer I had met a Finnish couple at our campground in Wall South Dakota in July or so. They are on a multi year "around the world" adventure on a sidecar and motorcycle. The sidecar seats their dogs which are their constant companions. When we met is SD, they had three dogs, sadly one of the pooch's passed away a few weeks ago.  A link to their Blog:
We had a short visit in South Dakota and I gave them my Yuma AZ. information in case they wanted to stop by for a visit when they got to the Southern US. A couple of months ago they contacted me and were planning on passing through our area so we invited them to spend a few days.

The sidecar rig is a special construction rig which "Wolfi" had built in Germany.  The sidecar door is a fold out ramp for the dogs easy entrance. Wolfi recently braved some of the rough back roads of Death Valley and had a catastrophic failure of one of the BMW OEM front suspension components. Luckily he was at low speed on a dirt road when the steering failed. He had to abandon the machine and return the following day to retrieve it. The story is covered in their Blog.

                       (Left "click" on images to enlarge)

 The below photo was taken in South Dakota last Summer, showing the dog ramp.

 The stacked aluminum container system straps down to a rear rack. Tons of storage between the two bikes. He also has a light duty electric winch mounted to the front of the sidecar frame.
 "Skippy" is riding a Suzuki on their adventure.

We decided to show our visitors the "Dunes" area West of Yuma, just inside California. 

 The little dogs had an absolute blast and ran and ran and much energy!
 It was a beautiful day with a little breeze which was slightly moving the sand around.
The couple now have headed over to Phoenix to continue preparation for their adventure into Mexico, Central America and South America. Wolfi estimates that they will spend at least a year traveling through South America. He suspects they'll need 6 weeks to be fully prepared to cross the Mexican border and continue Southward.
 The dogs are right at home in the sidecar.
 We thoroughly enjoyed the 3 day visit and hope they will come back and spend a few more days before they depart to the South. We don't have many Winter visitors.

On to Phoenix! Happy Trails!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Stretching the Wings "legs" today.....

Decided to take a 200+ mile road trip on the Honda GL this afternoon. Quickly loaded up some warm gear and on the road by 1:00 pm. Decided to run up "Ogilby Road" in California and north up to Blythe CA. Then over to Quartzsite AZ. Basically a big 200+ mile loop.
 The old ghost town of  "Obregon" along CA. Highway S-34...nothing there now, other than quite a few RV'ers dry camping in the desert. Appears to still be some small mining efforts going on.

                 (left click to enlarge)

The Gold Wings new carburation  system worked fine throughout the ride, other than the occasional "lag" when starting out. Checking fuel mileage put it at 42 MPG, which is about what I got with the original 4 carb system. 40 miles of rock, brush & sand on CA. S-34. Numerous sections of the road are water crossings, when it rains the water carries loads of sand / rock onto the road. After every rain "event" of any size, the Cal-Trans guys have to plow the road.

A nice section of hilly twisty roads were on my chosen route. The road then drops into the Colorado River Valley prior to hitting I-10.

                  Main Street - Palo Verde CA.

Fueled up in Blythe CA....checked mileage @ 42 MPG. Had a quick Macdonalds burger...then to Quartzsite AZ. Temperatures were cooling off as the day went on. In the lower 60's by 5:00 PM. Great riding weather. The bike ran great. I'll pull the spark plugs and take a peek at them tomorrow to see how they look.
The GL 1000 was really happy running at 75 - 80 mph on the highway. Engine temperature was in the low range as usual. This bike is more comfortable on the highway than any other bike I've ever owned.....other than the "stiff" rear Progressive Shocks..... CA. S-34 is a pretty rough road and a few of the bumps rattled my teeth.
Arrived home just prior to sunset.
                           Mountains outside Quartzsite:

We rode the sidecar rig over to the Mexican Border yesterday. Guess I'll need to get the R75/5 out for a ride next so it doesn't feel neglected...

Monday, December 15, 2014

GL1000 Single Carb Road Test

Got the bike out on the road for 150 miles today.
 Cold starting the bike (@ 50* or so) took a few minutes of warm up time. Took about 3 tries to get the bike running, then had to hold throttle at 2k RPM for a full minute before idle could be achieved.
Once warmed up, things were fine and idle consistent at 1100 RPM. Re-starts were instantaneous with a touch of the switch. What really amazes me is the amount of acceleration when the Weber carb secondary  opened up. ....65 MPH to 100 MPH happens VERY quickly. Engine ran smooth and consistent at highway speeds with no issues.

Took some secondary roads out to the Yuma Army Proving Grounds....then through the Dome Valley. Ran some freeway sections on I-8 at 75 - 85 mph.

 Occasionally experiences some throttle "lag" when starting out from a stop. I was pre-warned of this trait without the plenum preheating in place. Only experienced that at a few start outs from a standstill. When sitting stationary in neutral and hitting the throttle, zero lag is only occurs when starting out, under load, when "lugging" the engine.

 The final "product" looks like a "planned event" when it was complete. The spark plugs in the bike are probably 5 years old so I stopped at a local bike shop and picked up a new set of plugs to install.  I want to keep an eye on plug "burn" condition to make sure it's not running to lean and new plugs were due anyway.

I monitored fuel usage for today's ride and was at 42 MPG for the highway riding, varying from 50 MPH to 80 MPH. That was exactly the same fuel mileage I was seeing prior to the conversion. The plenum heating will be next on the list to hopefully eliminate the occasional throttle "lag" I'm experiencing. Thinking about routing some exhaust heat via tubing up to the plenum. Not sure if that is a good idea but it would definitely be the simplest way. Still sorting out options:
1) Cooling System Heating
2) Electrical Heating
3) Exhaust System Heating
Saw where one aftermarket VW single barrel conversion used scavenged exhaust heat (EGR) for their preheating. Not sure how they achieved that but I'm going to think it through.

starting update:
I've "cold started" the bike a few times now and have a routine down to start it with one attempt. About 8 throttle twists, then hit the starter...... feathering the throttle for a few seconds will keep it running. Then lock the throttle at about 2k  RPM for 60 - 90 seconds, after that point the engine will idle.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Goldwing Single carb conversion - "on the road again"

Finished up some small details today to get the bike on the road again. Now the bike is "wearing" one Weber 32/32 carb. The Weber utilizes a progressive 2 barrel system, with the secondary barrel activated via a progressive linkage.
Completed the air filter installation and plumbed in the crankcase breather to the air filter. 
Rode about 30 miles, 20 of which were on the freeway. Engine ran well and power was good. 
Took a couple of minutes to warm up. Engine wanted to "stumble" a bit when cold when throttle was applied.
Power band isn't as "seamless" as the OEM 4 carb set up but acceleration seemed to be as good if not better. 
I'll rack up some more miles in the next couple of weeks and keep an eye on the spark plug conditions.
As far as a final determination to the set up, we'll see how it performs over time. The idle is stable at 1000 - 1100 RPM. 
I'm just happy to have the bike back on the road...for around $350.00 total cost. 

The bike has been sitting since August and the front brake calipers were a bit "sticky". I removed the calipers, and with a large c-clamp in place, extended the pistons out past their normal travel distance, then use the c-clamp to re-set the piston. Performing this task a few times frees up the pistons. With the fluid sitting "static" for a long time, the fluid must create a "spot" on the cylinder bore walls.  This same scenario happened a year ago when the bike sat for a while. I'll eventually need to rebuild the calipers, and should probably change the brake fluid, although the visible fluid looks as new.
I also changed the oil / filter, I'd only ridden the bike a bit over a 1200 miles since the last oil / filter service about 12 months ago. The previous owner retro fitted the bike with a spin on filter adapter which really makes the filter change easy.

Right side view:
Throttle cable was too short to bring in from the rear, so I opted to bring it in from the front. Made a simple bracket for mounting. Had to drill a small hole through the "firewall" to route cable into place. Purchased a universal throttle kit to adapt to the cable. 
                   ("left click" on photos to enlarge)

Air Filter had plenty of clearance and the OEM Tool Tray still fits in its' place. I ordered a Weber 32/34 air filter but it didn't quite fit, so had to modify the base plate a bit to make it fit.

Left side view:
The carb came equipped with an electric choke assembly which was quite large...not enough room "under the hood" for the assembly. I removed the entire assembly and plugged a vacuum port behind the heat coil. I could have likely been able to plumb in a manual choke but so far the bike started easily with no choke....just a couple throttle twists to prime the system prior to starting. 
One issue I'll need to address is a "preheating" system to warm the manifold plenum. The proper scenario will be to have a chamber welded to the bottom of the plenum and circulate engine coolant to heat the plenum. The carb supplier says this is a "must" for proper atomization of the fuel. He was an Engineer for G.M. and knows his business. Since I have no way to perform the welding / fabrication myself, this addition will have to wait until I hook up with a reasonably priced fabricator who is willing to take it on....then I'll also need to "tap" into the cooling system to access coolant. 
I've also been thinking about alternate plenum heating options. I wonder if one could adapt an electrical heating system...maybe using something like a "heated grip" type for thought? Downside would be the additional draw on the charging system, but it might be an easier (cheaper?) option. 
According to the Engineer, the plenum does not need to be "hot", only warm, to achieve more efficient fuel / air mixture atomization.

Plenty of room under the manifold to fit a heating chamber to the plenum if I go that direction.
Initially the carb sat lower when installed....this did not allow room for the fuel inlet fitting up in the shelter area. I eventually fitted some 20 gauge 1 1/2" chrome steel pipe inserts inside the 1 1/2" rubber fuel tubing. The inserts fit tightly in the tubes and also reinforce the tubes as they are not "vacuum rated" and would collapse under throttle application. When all assembled, the steel tubes made the assembly more "rigid" and raised the carb / manifold high enough for fuel inlet fitting clearance.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Honda GL1000 Single Carb Conversion?

We've been at our Winter retreat for 10 days already. Been working on minor up the yard and some RV repairs which have stacked up over the past 9 months.
Finally took a little time and removed the Gold Wing carburetors. Prior to removing them I performed a compression test on the engine....PSI ranged from 139 psi to 142 psi across the 4 cylinders....sign of a perfectly healthy engine.
 The OEM carbs have caused me minor problems for the past 3 years and have never worked as they should. If the bike sat for more than 2 weeks it would flood and not want to run, usually flooding and gas would expell through the exhaust manifold. After a thorough warm up the bike would then run, but never as good as I thought it should. I got into the habit of starting the bike once each week and warming it up to riding temperature, even if I wasn't riding it. This weekly procedure at least kept the bike ready to ride. But last August it basically "died" on me, not getting fuel to the right cylinders at lower RPMS....engine would run at 4000 RPM's and higher but not in the lower ranges.

 I have a few different options:
1) Rebuild them myself.....this option would be the best. A rebuild kit from "Randakk" runs about $189.00. But the 4 top plastic "plugs" in the top covers have rotted and one had a hole in it last Winter which I jury rigged a fix. I cannot find any replacement parts for these so I'd need to buy a set of 4 donor carbs to replace the top of each CV chamber.  Also I don't have the equipment to properly "soak" them to clean them out. I simply did not want to tear into the complex "4 carb" rack. Once mounted on the bike the multiple adjustment screws are nearly impossible to access. I attempted to remove the bowl drain plugs last way to get the soft brass plug screws loose without stripping them. The OEM design is definitely the best, but overly complex and difficult to keep working properly.
2) I had a quote for a rebuild from a retired Honda mechanic....quote was for $850.00 to rebuild / tune the bike. Way more than I am willing to spend. A local shop would rebuild them if I brought them in...cost of rebuild kit plus 3 - 4 hours labor. Likely a total of $500.00 - $600.00 by the time it was done.
3) Go to a more simple alternate carburetion. After many hours of research I found multiple different bolt on options:
        This set up utilizing a "Solex" type one barrel carb sells for around $400.00. I don't like to looks of the squared plenum, I would think that fuel mixture flow would be disrupted.
 This bolt up set up about the same...same carb and slightly better manifold.....$400.00.

This design appeared to be the best...again with the VW one barrel carb and a better designed intake....$580.00

After more research I just don't think the Solex one barrel carb would be sufficient to handle all ranges for the Gold Wing. Read a lot on the subject.... many have installed and like the above set ups.

I finally decided to go a different route and ordered the items below today. This will require some design of my own and won't be a "bolt on and go" scenario, but talking with folks who have built / used them, I think it will be an easier option rather than  maintaining the more complex OEM system. Also should be a better fit for the ranges needed for highway / street riding than the Solex single barrel carb. I found some information from a guy on the Internet who has done this exact conversion. Trying to follow his "lead" as close as I can. He put a lot of effort into research / developement while designing his conversion. 

                VW Type 4 Bus engine Plenum.......

            Weber "32DFT" 2 barrel carb using a progressive (linkage operated) secondary.

My experience with the Weber carbs has been excellent over the years. I once replaced a troublesome Solex 2 barrel with a Weber 2 barrel on a German car I had years back. The Weber was much better and trouble free.
I will need to come up with either piping or tubing to connect the plenum to the heads. The stock intakes which attach to the heads will be retained and used. I've also purchased a "universal" throttle linkage kit which will allow used of the OEM throttle cable. This project will require a bit more labor to install but I think the final installation will be much easier to maintain and tune than the OEM setup once everything is dialed in. Hopefully I won't regret this decision....Discussing the above set up with folks who have toyed with the single carb conversion, I found that the chosen setup should be the best alternate to the OEM system...we'll see.....

Slowly acquiring required parts. The manifold / linkage / air cleaner assemblies arrived. The Weber carb was finally shipped earlier this week. Ended up that the carb vendor was on vacation for a couple weeks so shipping was delayed until this week.
Went out yesterday and found some fuel "friendly"  1 1/2" intake hose. Decided to attached directly to the intake manifolds with the fuel hose. That required removing the rubber intake attachments on the OEM manifolds. I did not realize the rubber was perminantly bonded to the intake alloy manifold. I damaged the first one to remove it. The "lip" on the OEM manifold (which the new fuel runner attaches to)  is quite small. Hopefully I can acheive a positive seal with clamps. I'll go ahead and strip the rubber off of the three remaining manifolds today. Others use a rigid pipe (of different types) and retain the OEM manifold / rubber. If my technique fails, I went ahead and ordered a replacement set of used OEM manifolds ($18.00 for 4 with free shipping.)
I found another design where as folks are making single carb manifolds out of sch. 40 PVC pipe with reported success. They use single barrell VW carbs though, which I decided to avoid.
Slowly but surely I'm gaining some progress. If all goes well I should have everything assembled in the next few days. The throttle linkage would be the next challenge, but I have a couple different options in mind.
The carb comes with an electrically activated choke assembly. A number of set ups I've seen remove the electric choke activation module due to clearance issues...some running without a choke control. I'll figure that out as I go.....We'll see how the bike starts without a choke and go from there. The Weber carb uses an accelerator pump so fuel enrichment can be acheived by a twist of the throttle.
One problem I've read about is a "Hydro-lock" situation, where the cylinders flood with fuel, locking the engine. Every instance of this scenario has been due to someone leaving the fuel tank petcocks open and fuel leaking past the needle valve, effectively flooding the engine. I habitually close petcocks when engines shut down so this should not be an issue for me.
Total investment in the assembly is currently @ $300.00.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mecca Beach / Sand Storm

We made a quick run over to the Salton Sea / Mecca Beach on Saturday. Since I was riding the solo /5 BMW, Darian followed up in her "chase" car. Was easy to throw all the camping gear in the trunk, rather than pack a bike.
We joined up with a few dozen fellow "Airheads" who were attending the yearly event. Great to see friends and catch up on "BS". We attended the same campout back in 2008, that was the last time we were in the area for the gathering.
 The old /5 ran without a hitch and worked well. Used 2.8 gallons to achieve the 130 miles to Niland CA.The "new" bar backs I installed made for a much better riding position. Also the small "S" Style fairing made for less wind blast on my chest.

 The Mecca Beach camping area is nice. Lots of sandy beach to set up on if one wishes. We set up across the lot next to a picnic table. A lot of close friends showed up. B. Jan Hoffman, the Airheads founder, was in attendance. B. Jan is always a "hoot" to camp with. He has always been a gracious guy and always has some good stories to tell.

A typical Salton Sea sunset. Numerous waterfowl always around. I was awoken by a massive wind in the night. At one point it was completely still outside but I could hear the roar of the wind approaching. When it arrived it was ferocious.  The large tent we were using has an 8' height so it was a good test for its' endurance. It fared well, only pulled up a couple side pegs while dancing in the wind. Packing up the tent in the 40+ MPH wind was a chore...eventually I chose to roughly roll it up and stuff it in the car trunk ...and deal with properly storing it when we got home in less windy conditions.
 Part of the ride home was with a tail wind, but turning east/west brought me into a "crosswind" which was massive. Approaching the Glamis Dunes I expected some blowing sand...but what was found was much more than that. Topping a hill, I saw a Ca. Highway Patrol car sitting with the lights flashing. I slowed down and came across a 8" sand drift across the road, probably 80 feet long. Plowing through the sand was a bit squirrely. Passing through that drift I then encountered numerous more on the road.
                                           Beautiful Downtown Calipatria CA.

 The blowing sand was brutal.....unfortunately I had my 3/4 helmet on so got a face full of sand along the way. Meeting RV's was another experience. Some of the morons were traveling at 50+ MPH and plowing into the drifts on the road. I met a couple at a "drift" and was pelted mercilessly by the flying sand.
Luckily the "dunes" area is only about 10 miles long. After passing the dunes area, the crosswinds were the next challenge. Leaning a 30* or so to keep upright. All in all there were no problems but by the time we arrived home I was worn out....the longest 150 mile ride in recent memory. Part of the Adventure!
The "lightness" of the R75/5 is not an asset in high crosswinds. My old Gold Wing would have fared much better in the wind, but not too well crossing the sand drifts in the road.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Arizona Sunshine...Mecca Beach or Bust

 Spent some time today and installed the "Emgo" S-Type Fairing. Planning on riding to the Salton Sea tomorrow for an Airhead gathering. Also installed the old "Bar Backs" I had purchased last summer. The Bar Backs were missing the top clamp....and the original /5 top clamp wouldn't work with the :stud" arrangement they use. A trip to the hardware store and the bolts needed were found.
 Euro Bar Fitment...a bit low for my crippled back. I think the repositioning of the bars will save me some back agony. Off for a couple hundred mile run tomorrow morning. Time / miles will tell.

Bar Backs rendered the friction damper unusable, but I only used it when parking anyway. Also installed a cheapo after market "S" Type Fairing. Should keep a bit of the wind off me. 

Emgo Viper Fairing 70-52501

The "bar backs" didn't come with the top clamps. Found a pair of "K-Bike" clamps for $10.00 on Fleabay. Wasn't sure if they would fit, but they fit just fine. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sub Zero Winter in November

The past week I've been closely following the weather forecast while working 13 - 14 hr. days. Initially the forecast showed a three day "cool down" with temperatures in the teens. The outlook degraded on a daily basis over the next week. When forecasts started showing temps. in the near "zero" mark it was time to go. We hurriedly prepared for departure last Friday evening and with all our earthly possessions were heading South on Sat. afternoon. Currently we are sitting South of Las Vegas NV with temps. in the 70's. Billings is now at minus 4* with minus 25* wind chill factors. Tonight the Billings forecast is for minus 10*.
Yuma AZ. is in the low 80*'s...we'll be there this afternoon. RV's and subzero weather do not go well together. I know from experience....We've been "chased" South by Weather numerous times in the past. Hated to leave work on such a short notice, but luckily I work for people who understand.

A Airhead gathering is scheduled for Mecca Beach, along the Salton Sea this weekend. Maybe we'll attend to see all our friends. The Airhead Community suffered a tterrible loss last week with the sudden death of one of the active So. Cal. members. Steven VanTwuyver passed away in his sleep a few nights ago. He was a good friend and we've spent many, many weekends camping with him over the years. I rode to Death Valley with him and another friend a couple years ago. It is hard to accept such a sudden loss of such a close friend....

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.