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.


RichardM said...

What a great opportunity! Any videos from exercising the self propelled gun?

The trailer clean up looks pretty nice. Is it wide enough for the sidecar rig?

redlegsrides said...

nice pics of that self-propelled howitzer....the DATs would take offense though at it being called a tank. :)

I say DATs in the nicest way possible of course, they come in handy since they do tend to attract the enemy's attention.....I've heard them called: ordnance magnets. :)

I am sure it was fun to ride the track though....sure it wasn't a 155mm Howitzer?

Gila Mtns.

Gila Mtns.