Sunday, February 26, 2012

Death Valley and Beyond - BMW Airhead Sidecar Tour

Pacific Coast - Tire and (almost) Tears....

We found a nice little motel with a view....
In the morning we pulled out and checked out one on the big rocks there at Morro Bay.

The sliding hood on the sidecar wasn't closing properly and has been tough to get closed lately...I didn't realize that the lock nuts had come loose on a mount....
Attempting to close it, Darian pulled with all her might when my fingers were under the deck. The result was my fingers getting caught in the lid, gashing two fingers top and bottom. My left index finger was laid wide open....We found a drug store and stocked up on bandages. Should have had a few stitches in it but no way were we going to deal with that....Since I seriously cut two fingers on my right hand last week...I now had 6 different injuries to my fingers. ....had to man up and just deal with it! At least I could still get my gloves on and the constant (painful) movement while riding kept them from stiffening up.
Heading south we headed towards Malibu and LA..... Traffic on the Pacific Coast Highway wasn't too bad at all...

During a break we visited with a couple on Harleys and they took this photo for and my bandaged

We arrived at the Malibu Campground well before dark so had plenty of time to get set up. We stayed here years ago on a car camping trip and liked the place...downside is that you cannot bring your vehicle right to the campsite but carts are provided to move the gear the 80 feet or so to the tent area.

A great view.....for $29.00...hell, KOA's are often higher than that...

and a nice colorful sunset....

Looking closely at the rear tire situation I decided that it would never make AZ. Of course I have a couple brand new tires sitting in Yuma but never dreamed I'd wear one out so quickly....maybe I should slow down in the curves a bit more?
I think I'll be dragging a spare with me in the future...I've taken one with me before but never needed one.

I called an acquaintance in Murrieta hoping that he might have a cheap used tire but to no avail...he hooked me up with a tire shop in Reseda. By chance I had done business with the tire guy via internet and bought the saddle bags on the bike from him. He would not answer his phone so we just headed towards his shop. We went through Malibu Canyon and then onto Highway 101 to Reseda...unfortunately the guy did not have a rear tire of the size needed.
He gave me the name of another tire shop in LA so we braved 15 - 20 miles of city traffic to find the next place. He did not have a highway tire but had a more treaded tire which would fit. He let me remove the wheel to save $60.00 and mounted up / balanced the new tire. The areas of LA we were driving in were pretty seedy....bars and graffiti everywhere...

We wanted to get back to the coast so decided to get on the 405 freeway to avoid the city streets....bad idea on the sidecar. The road was rough.....traffic running at 80 mph+. I tried to keep in the slow lane at 65 mph but the road condition was terrible with holes, ruts, nasty mis-matched rain name it. Traffic was passing us like we were standing still. After 20 miles or so I couldn't take it any more and took an exit....which by chance took us right to the coastline again.

We wandered through coastal LA streets for the remainder of the day and eventually ended up in San Clemente CA for the night. We were going to go camp near Carlsbad CA. but were worn out and a seedy motel / shower sounded better.
This location left us only 300 miles or so from home so we decided to make it to Yuma on Friday.

Coastal views:Coastal Gas:
Probably the shape of things to come for all of us. We saw gas as high as $5.60 a gallon along the trip.

Some Coastal shots....

We got on a lot of little city streets along the coast....stop and go....stop and go....stop and go.....I decided to get south a little faster and got on the 710 Freeway for a while...another mistake which took us onto Terminal Island over the big shipping channel bridge. With 6 lanes of very fast traffic being in the proper lane at the proper time can be an issue for us who don't know where the hell we are going anyway. Sorta lost so Darian got me headed back in the right direction into Long Beach. From there we stuck to the Pacific Coast Highway 1 all the way south to San Clemente.

Death Valley and Beyond - BMW Airhead Sidecar Tour

Day 7 :
Heading West to the Pacific.

We left Panamint Springs, headed towards Ridgecrest...through Trona Ca. on Ca. highway 178. This was a great ride over some ridges and desert. Trona is a mining town with as many abandoned houses as there are occupied houses...

Leaving Ridgecrest CA. we continued on 178 over through Lake Isabella Ca.
The country was pretty and mountainous. A lot of curves and my rear tire tread was disappearing quickly.

We stopped at a little town with a Post Office, Onyx, CA. so I could mail off the MT. Airheads Flag, back to MT. A fellow Airhead is going to Daytona Fl. for Bike Week so the flag is heading there next.

I attended an Airhead Rally years ago at Lake Isabella, I don't remember the place looking so bleak back then...
Heading towards Bakersfield the road winds along the Kern River and is narrow, steep and curvy. Many sections have no guard rails so caution for the sidecar was necessary. No room for error on this road. The scenery was fantastic.....unfortunately we didn't get many photos here.

There were what seemed miles and miles of this terrain. The bike was getting quite a workout.
Suddenly the canyon ended and we were outside Bakersfield Ca. Wandered through the town in search of a Denny's restaurant and luckily found one right where Highway 58 heads out of town.

58 was recommended by a rider at Death Valley. It was quite a road with switchbacks and steep grades. No services or towns for 80 miles or so.
We climbed and climbed up to 5000 feet or so before dropping back down towards the Pacific Coast.

This area kind of reminded me of Wyoming.....a lot of open country and no people....

Eventually we ended up at Santa Margarita CA. From there we headed a bit north to Morro Bay. We found a very nice older motel with an ocean view and secure parking. Went out for a meal and were down early and pretty worn was my rear tire....

Death Valley and Beyond - BMW Airhead Sidecar Tour

Day 6 Panamint Springs:
We made the short 60 or so mile ride over to Panamint Springs on Monday. A whopping $7.50 / night for a camping spot.
Our site had a great view of the Panamint Valley.

We rode over with one friend and a few others showed up a bit later. The cafe / store lost power for a while as they were changing generators or something. We all headed over for pizza's and beer for dinner. Had a nice camp fire in the evening.

Sunrise in the Panamint Valley.

Heading towards the camp ground we stopped for a quick break. Expansive views from this spot....

Friend Murray on his Oilhead BMW....

I always like camping with Murry...he comes up with the latest / neatest little camping gear....

Death Valley and Beyond - BMW Airhead Sidecar Tour

As always there were a few other side car rigs in attendance.

One Ural appeared....I think it was trailered to the Rally.

This one is a R100 conversion into an earlier frame. Very tidy rig. He was running 32mm Bing carbs on the R100 engine. The sidecar was a "one off" fiberglass tub which was modeled after an English steel tub. The sidecar was quite large.

This one is a Watsonian Car attached to a BMW R100RT. The sidecar was originally a two seat version which was converted to a one seater. Unfortunately the sidecar access drop was on the wrong side since English cars are made for left side mounting.

Another old /2 conversion with a Ural car. This one was ridden in by a gal.

We left Texas Springs on Monday morning. While fueling up at Stovepipe Wells I spied a sidecar rig on a trailer across the road. By chance it was "Ara (The Beemer Chef) & Spirits rig. He was nowhere around and we hung around for a few minutes before moving on....maybe we'll meet again sometime down the road.
Upon inspection of our rig I noticed fast wear occurring on the rear tire on the bike. I had mounted "K-Block" tires prior to leaving. The one on the bikes' rear was a used tire but had lots of tread....but it was disappearing quickly due to our massive load of stuff.....on ward we headed for Panamint Springs.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Death Valley and Beyond - BMW Airhead Sidecar Tour

Day 1 thru 5

Wow, what a week....Completed the timing chain project on Wednesday and left for Death Valley Thursday AM. After weeks and weeks of cloudless skies we awoke on Thursday AM to clouds and rain showers. We drug our feet a little and the rain stopped before we left home. Took 2 hours to get 20 miles as the bike developed a serious "miss" on one cylinder. I messed with the points, checked the valve clearances, and pulled the diaphragms out of the carbs, finding nothing amiss. Finally turned and headed back for Yuma and the bike was running fine...? What the hell, another u-turn and off to Death Valley we go!
The winds all the way up were ferocious and the ride was a "white knuckle" ride all the way. Tons of semi trucks and RV's all the way north. The bike never missed a beat all the way up. We made it to Las Vegas by 5:00 PM and checked into a Hotel there.We had a nice dinner and made a small donation to the gambling gods before turning in for the night.
The following morning dawned sunny and windless. We ran over the mountain pass to Parumph NV. encountering snow along the top of the pass. Parumph was warm and after a quick stop we headed down into Death Valley.

Death Valley Junction

Dropping into the Valley, near "20 Mule Team Trail"

We weren't "pre-registered" this year so opted to get there early. Lucky we did as decent camping spots were at a premium and the place ended up very crowded. The normal Rally site, "Furnace Creek" is under refurbishment so the rally was moved to "Texas Springs Campground" which is in the wide open and quite small.
By Saturday afternoon the place was wall to wall tents and motorcycles.

Saturday AM photo of the rally site.
Saturday ended up partially cloudy but still very warm. Eventually the clouds moved on. Ran into a lot of old acquaintances and made a few new ones too...

Our little camp site & table was occupied all weekend with folks coming and going....
The four days at Texas Springs was as typical as any Rally.....a lot of BS'ing and stories. The Park has a swimming pool / showers, a store, bar and restaurant.
Also the golf course has a burger cafe so we tried it too.
Some friends from San Diego cooked for a couple of meals.
Another San Diego friend, and a couple from L.A. planned on another night of camping at Panamint Springs so we opted to join them for another night of camping there.....continued.....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Death Valley Bound

Finished up on the bike assembly this AM. Reset the new points as they were a bit wide on the gap. Then reset the timing statically, then hooked uup a timing light. All looked good so the bike went back together.
I then hooked up the Twin Max carb. synchro meter and balanced the carbs.
Engine idles better and runs quite a bit quieter without the timing chain slapping around.

I position the chair on stands which are near the exact height needed to reattach.

To reattach the sidecar, I lean the bike way over to the left, then walk the bike in until the right cylinder clears. Then stand the bike vertical into the mounts. I got the bike lined up on the first try and pinned her together.

Then the wiring has to be reattached, seat, fuel tank, side covers, etc. installed.
I was cutting a small aluminum shim this morning and screwed up, slashing my right index finger / middle finger at the knuckle pretty bad. Definitely should have been stitched up, but WTF. Darian wrapped them with a few layers of band aids to hold the gashes closed, then I taped my fingers together. Looked like a crime scene as I left quite a blood trail around the bricks as the damned things kept bleeding through the bandages for a while. Wounds finally quit dripping after an hour or so.
Throttle operation / wearing gloves will be interesting for the next week or so.
I ran the bike without a windscreen a couple weeks ago but the wind affected my previously (multiple - times) frost bitten hands. The windscreen offers wind protection for my paws so I'll definately use it for the upcoming 1000 + mile trip.

Ran into town to buy fuel bottles for a new MSR stove I bought. Finally retiring my near 30 year old Peak One white gas stove. It still works but is a PITA to get going and wore on my patience last camping trip.

I was going to make a highway trial run today but the wind was brutal all day and we had a lot of preparation to get ready for the hack trip.
I'm pretty confidant in the recent repairs so we'll have a "trial by fire" when we hit the road tomorrow.
We'll leave for Death Valley in the morning. Plan on getting to Las Vegas before dark where we have a coupon for a free room in Henderson. Then off to Death Valley on Friday morning.

The weather here calls for showers tomorrow AM but everything north looks good. Death Valley forecast is in the 60's - 70's, mostly sunny, through the weekend.
Two of our friends from San Diego are going to cater a couple of meals at the Death Valley Airheads Rally so we'll be eating well while they're there.
We also have heard from a few other biker friends who plan on attending so I think we're in for a good time.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Time for A Timing Chain?

Recently when the engine has been running for lengths of time a "rattle" has emanated from the front of the an erratic timing mark last time I set the timing....all signs of a worn timing chain. I pulled the front cover off the engine today....this required removing the exhaust...which required removing the sidecar sub frame....which requires removing the sidecar....sort of a domino effect.

The whole scenario took about 3 hours to get everything disassembled and the timing chain exposed. I've never gone into the front of a BMW engine before but it was pretty straight forward. The stator mounting bolts were stuck so I heated the aluminum at the block with a heat gun before I stripped the allen head out. Heating did the trick and the stubborn bolts finally broke loose.

Upon removal of the cover it is obvious that the chain needs replacement. The spring loaded idler arm was pretty much out of travel.
I'll also replace the camshaft seal and crankshaft seal when she goes back together.

The old idler arm (Top) shows wear from slapping into the engine housing....I imagine this was the source of the noise I was hearing.

I had ordered a timing chain from a San Diego BMW shop but they did not order what I needed....which was a master link type chain....rather they sent me an "endless" chain with no master link. Utilizing the "endless" requires removal of the outer bearing and both drive sprockets.
In reality the gears should be changed but at over $300.00+ for those parts, I'm just going with a timing chain at this time.
I'm hoping to get my supplier in Florida to Fed EX overnight another chain and master link I need so I can get her back together this week...we'll see....

We're hoping to make it to the Airhead Beemer Club Death Valley Rendezvous by the end of the week.....

Hans, owner of Hucky's BMW in Florida, made an exception for me this morning and will Fed Ex Over night my parts to me today. He typically does not do Fed Ex Overnight as he must hand deliver the package. By chance he is off on Mondays and runs, one of his errands will be my parts delivery to a Fed Ex Office...Service which I could not have gotten from anyone else!

Gila Mtns.

Gila Mtns.