Friday, February 21, 2014

Death Valley Airhead Rally 2014 - Day 1

Fantastic weather prevailed for this years Airhead Beemers Club 21st. Annual Death Valley Rendezvous.
This Rally is the "Oldest & Lowest".
We traveled a circuitous route heading first West then North.
["Right "click" on photos to enlarge]
I made a few stops on the first section of the ride to check things over. All was well.
We headed North on CA. S34 to CA. 78 through the Glamis dunes area. This is our typical route to the Salton Sea area. For a change, and better roads we decided to take CA. 86 North, which routes up the West side of the Salton Sea.

Unfortunately I failed to think about the Border Patrol Check Station on that route. The traffic back up was over a mile long and barely moving. The bike got pretty hot inching ahead for 30 minutes or so to cover the

We were at 131 feet below sea level at this point.
Finally getting through the Station we headed North and then took "Box Canyon Road" which cuts across to I-10 and into Joshua Tree Nat. Park.

The road follows the west shore of the Salton Sea for most of the distance of 60 miles.
We turned East at Mecca CA. after a fuel stop. The sidecar / trailer combination was getting around 26 MPG. The same as the sidecar got without the trailer. The machine seems to like pulling the weight, rather than carrying it all. 

 The Box Canyon Road follows through a series of washes to the I-10. Pretty cool formations along the way. During a rain event the road often floods and is closed.

The above photo was taken through the side cars windshield.

 The road goes over I-10 and leads directly into Joshua Tree National Park.

Fuel availability is nil.  We've ridden these routes in the past so always have fuel stops planned in advance. I also carried an extra 1.25 gallons on the sidecars step....never did need it. Some sections are over 120 miles of remote areas along the trip.

 Joshua Tree is fairly cheap for motorcycle entry....only $5.00.

The desert is diverse and lots of different fauna to be seen.

The roads are in pretty good shape on the route we took. We only covered a small area of the Park The Western most section is supposed to be very scenic also. We have never ridden to the Western side.

The "Cholla Gardens". These cacti are not something you want to get too close to. The needles almost seem to "jump out" at you. I've brushed against some in the past. The needles are miserable to remove.

We decided to camp at "White Tank" Campground. $10.00 per night.

The rock formations are interesting in this area.

Darian & I took a little hike after setting up our campsite.

Great spot!

 The Western section of the Park has a campground called "Jumbo Rocks".....I think the area is similar to this but with much larger rock formations...climbers like to camp there and climb some of the formations. We'll have to make a point of visiting the Western side next time....

There are numerous trails throughout this area.

We had a very pretty sunset.......

 Just enough clouds for an interesting shot.

As the sun set...the full moon appeared.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Road Trip

Received a new tent today. Boy is it big! Great tent but a little larger than we really need. We set it up in the front yard to make sure everything was present & accounted for. Only took a few minutes to set up. I think it will be a great "home" while we're on the road.
Trip itinerary:
Plan on running to Joshua Tree National Park on Wednesday. Camped @ "White Tank" a couple years ago so we'll likely make that our goal for Wed. afternoon.
Thursday goal will be "Tecopa Hot Springs" which is just south of Death Valley Nat. Park. Plan on meeting some other riders somewhere along the route on Thursday.
Furnace Creek is only a couple hours from Tecopa so we'll arrive at Furnace Creek early on Friday. We've committed to help out with the organizers of the Rally for Registration or where ever we can be of assisstance.
The Rally will extend until Monday AM..... We'll then head over to Panamint Springs with some other riders and spend one night camping there. From Panamint Springs we are somewhat in limbo. We may head over to Bakersfield, then over the Coastal Mountains to Morro Bay. We rode the same route a couple years ago and really enjoyed the ride. But....quite a few miles to cover in one day so we'll see. We plan on taking our time and stopping often.....Don't really want to ride the coast roads through Los Angeles again as it was somewhat of a traffic nightmare last time.
Darian wants to put her foot in the Pacific so we'll definately end up along the coast somewhere.....One of the fun things about a trip like this is having no schedule. We have a schedule for the first 6 days but after that we're open to whatever whims come our way.....

Friday, February 7, 2014

R100S Tug Tuning / Trip Prep.

Spent the afternoon working on the R100S Tug engine. Pulled the valve covers and checked the valve clearances. Left side was right on....right side was a bit tight on the exhaust valve.
Installed a new set of points which ended up being faulty. Could not get any "spark" to the plugs after installing them. Checked the wire lead and everything appeared to be fine, but nothing I did would get them to function. I took a points file to the points I removed and cleaned them up as the contacts were still decent with no pitting. The rubbing block showed a bit of wear but not bad.
After reinstalling the old points, The bike fired up instantly...I ran a short ride. Once home I pulled the front cover again and I reset the timing. Initially tried to static time the engine but was getting some odd results. Hooked up my timing light and found the timing quite a bit advanced. The ignition / points plate needed to be turned quite a bit to retard the timing...nearly out of travel on the adjustment slots, but that is what was needed to get the timing set. Upon getting the timing in tolerance, I hooked up my "Twin Max" electronic carb balancing meter. Played with it for a while and got the carbs synched and working equally.
Went through the spare parts bin I carry in the sidecar. Added a pair of ignition coils to the "extras" box. Probably carrying way more spares than needed but better to be prepared, not only for myself but for other biker travelers in need.
 Spares on board:
2 ignition coils
2 alternator rotors
2 diode boards
2 extra ignition condensors
1 set of usable (used) points
3 extra carb floats
1 extra carb float bowl
2 40mm Bing diaphragms
2 32mm Bing diaphragms
Assortment of Bing Carb Jets / needles
3 clutch cables ( 1 new....2 used)
Extra Cable nipples for controls
2 containers with spare nuts / bolts
18" & 19" spare tubes
1 extra quart oil
Plus a lot of misc. small items. (zip ties, wire, tire valves, assorted o-rings, specialty tools)
During all the work performed today, I used  only my tools from the bikes tool set, other than timing light / Twin Max. Only used a couple tools from the "shop" tool box for convenience. I don't carry a socket set with me when traveling, but haven't had instances where they would be required. Performing necessary maintenance using only the on board tool kit is a good practice....if something extra is needed, it is added to the bikes' tool set. Obviously I carry a large assortment of tools, but all fit into the BMW tool roll which is stored in the Heinrich tank tool box.
An extra 1.25 gallon fuel can will be carried on the upcoming trip.
Next will be to start preparing / sorting through the camping gear and planning for "on the road" meals.
Hopefully our new tent will arrive tomorrow....I see by the tracking information that it was held up due to incliment weather for 2 days.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Periodic BMW Final Drive Maintenance

I'm getting in a rough groove.....staying up til all hours of the night, then sleeping until 8:00 AM (or a bit later) each day. This pattern will be hard to overcome when day to day "working for a living"  rears its' ugly head again....
Planning ahead for the Death Valley gathering coming up in a week or so. The sidecar tire has near 2000 miles on it, and although showing quite a bit of tread, will not make another 2000 miles. With that in mind, plus the fact I don't want to mount a tire on the road, I went ahead and mounted a new "K-Block" tire.

 Mounting a new rear tire always means cleaning / lubing the hub and final drive splines. I was expecting to see very worn splines, but they aren't that bad yet. They do show wear...probably at about 60% remaining life. The "Lester" Wheel hub has a bit more wear than the final drive.

 I have a special made "BMW Wheel Bearing Lube Device" which is inserted into each hub for grease injection. I typically always give each bearing a few shots of grease when installing tires. I probably have the most "over lubed" wheel bearings on the planet.

 With the rear wheel removed, access to the final drive drain / fill plugs is a lot easier. I went ahead and drained both the final drive  and drive shaft reservoirs. No metal found on the drain magnets, just the typical small amount of grey, metal "mud".

 The final drive fill is a simple task. "Fill to the bottom of the threads" says the manuals. The drive shaft reservoir is a bit different. The Long Wheel Base drive line shows 150 CC of gear lube in the books, but no  way to visually see the proper level.
 I simply use some large medical syringes and inject three @ 50 CC's each.

Checked the transmission oil level and it looked good. Checked the engine oil level....No recordable oil was used on the 280 mile round trip run last weekend. Oil still looks "as new" after 600 miles so we'll do the Death Valley trip on the oil in the engine, but will haul an extra quart with me for top off's if needed.
Tightened the rear brake linkage a small amount....jacked the front end off the ground and checked for any "slop" in the steering head bearings. All seems just fine and nothing out of the ordinary noticed.
Next....I want to pull the front engine cover and take a look at the ignition points. Plus should check the valve clearances again.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Recent "gear" acqusitions

I only have one large "clip on" windscreen so I swap it back and forth between the Sidecar rig and the Goldwing. That has become rather "old".... as I ride the Goldwing on a daily basis, so am constantly swapping the windscreen back & forth.
Since I've had a few of the same windscreens over the years, I had a couple sets of mounts so just leave a set on each bike. I went to purchase another similar windscreen and now find them in the + $200.00 range. Last one I purchased a few years back was $160.00.
An Ebay seller had a new but "slightly scratched" windscreen listed for under $100.00.  The windscreen was slightly smaller than the windscreen I currently have but I thought I could make it work.
It arrived today and is definitely a bit smaller, but not by much. All my mounting hardware was the same so mounting it was easy...and now I have a few more spare mounting parts. Took a bit of messing with it to fit without touching the instruments / headlamp but once fitted, I really like it. Upon close inspection I cannot find any scratches or damage so am real happy with the purchase.
The lower edges are a bit shorter than my other windscreen but I was able to fit it with a little effort. The "Honda GL" was not on the list for this windscreen but with a little diligence I figured I could get it on.

I decided to "retire" the old large tent we've been using for the past few years. It leaked terribly under any type of heavy rain. We've "dodged bullets" for the past few years when camping...only getting wet once during a 10 hour rain event.....and we got wet! With the Death Valley Airheads Rally coming up I want to be prepared for rain so have been tent shopping via EBay for the past couple weeks. One can spend a LOT of money for a decent tent, but since we only camp probably 4 - 6 times per year I wanted something affordable, but large and (hopefully) weather tight.
After reading lots of reviews and looking at a lot of tents I went with another "Eureka!" tent. Our smaller camping tent is a "Eureka!" and has been a great tent in all weather...just not big enough for longer term camp outs. I use it when out on solo camping trips. Since we are on the sidecar we've gravitated towards larger it keeps my Wife happy, which is VERY important since she isn't a huge camping fan anyway. The model I ended up is a large tent 11' x 11'...which is also a large wind "target". One review said it was not that large of a foot print, and was closer to 9' x 9'...After reading a lot of reviews on this tent, at least 95% of them were positive so I went ahead and ordered one. Just need to have it by the end of the week as we are preparing for Death Valley. I nearly spent a lot more money on other tents but delivery times were sketchy and most wouldn't guarantee delivery by early next week. This seller promised to have it to me by Thursday. Upon receipt we'll set it up in our yard to make sure nothing is missing and that it has no flaws.....I remember one camping trip.... unpacked my new tent, only to find the wrong poles had been included.
A number of buyer reviews included folks experiencing major rain events and keeping dry in this tent during them. I really like more substantial covering rain flies, but with that, you get no windows and less ventilation. My other "Eureka!" tent uses two walls which are screen netting....I was aghast when I first set it up...looked more like a "screened room" than a tent. But the rain fly totally enclosed the tent and it has been weather tight, although hotter than heck in Summer weather. Hopefully the new one will fit our needs....

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Airheads "Salton Sea Overnighter"

We spent the weekend out near the Salton Sea, at a nearby hot springs resort.
This was a scheduled annual Airheads Beemers Club event.  A riding buddy from Phoenix had been in touch and we invitied him and his friends to come to Yuma and spend a night here, prior to heading out to the Salton Sea. The guys showed up Thursday afternoon and we had a great visit, evening campfire with a few adult beverages. The Lad in the middle has been "on the road"for near 5 years, traveling around the country. What a great adventure, I am envious!

We awoke Friday AM to some cloud cover and cooler temperatures. Of course some wind accompanied the cooler weather. We rode out to the Salton Sea at a leisurely pace and took a couple breaks along the way. the stop at Glamis, at the sand dunes,  gave us a good look at some radical off road machines:

The machine below was of particular interest due to twin super chargers and radical suspension and about everything else. A LOT of money tied up in it. We could live for a few years on the amount of dough spent building this thing.....

The "overnighter" at the hot springs turned into a "2 nighter" this year. Quite a few folks showed up Friday afternoon. Quite a crowd was in attendance Friday night.
 I failed to take many photos this year.
 The weather was nice with a touch of wind.

 We grabbed a "road side" campsite with a little shade.....

We took a short hike on Saturday afternoon.  The mountains directly behind the campground:

Campground below:

 The sidecar / trailer worked just fine. The trailer tows easily and is not really noticeable  until I'm in a corner.
I ran 55 - 60 mph all the way over and still ran around 25 mpg which is what I was getting without the trailer. The wind was a bit strong along the Salton Sea, requiring pretty good effort on steering to counteract the wind.
We returned Sunday afternoon. I ran a bit slower coming home, averaging 50 - 55 mph.....fuel usage improved a bit coming home. The minimal wind today was mostly in our favor.
We will now begin preparing for the Death Valley Airheads gathering which will be weekend after next. I have some maintenance to perform on the bike. I will  drain / refill all gear boxes, change the ignition points, check the valve clearances, install the rear "K-Block" tire I recently purchased, check spark plugs, and give the bike a general looking over.   We plan on spending about a week on the road, leaving a couple days early to camp on the way to Death Valley. I will likely carry an additional fuel can on the trip, due to some lengthy stretches with no fuel available. After leaving Death Valley, we'll decide a different return route and probably spend a couple days returning home.
Our large tent will be replaced by a new large "Eureka" Tent which I ordered tonight. The tent currently in use is not a good "rain" tent and will leak under rainy conditions. I only paid $69.00 for it a few years ago so we have definitely got our money's worth. It leaked like a sieve the one time we were "deluged" while camping in it. I don't want to tempt fate at Death Valley with a leak prone tent.

Gila Mtns.

Gila Mtns.