Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Home Stretch

I have been busy with the bike. I've also been ill for over three weeks plus I spent a week in Mexico with a team that built three houses for poor families in Vicente Guerrero. This has hobbled my efforts, but I am back on track. The bike is 90% back together as I write this. Tomorrow, I need to slide the fork tubes into the triple clamps and she'll be up on two wheels again. The Linexed frame looks good and required very little extra effort to assemble. I just had to clean out a few holes and scrape some of it off to get good grounds for the running lights. I hope to make some noise late tomorrow or the next morning

Friday, June 30, 2017

A Lesson in Fluid Dynamics

Prior to our misbegotten vacation to Japan, which resulted in Lady LaFong being hit by a bicycle and spending over two weeks in the hospital with a broken pelvis, the bike experienced, yet another, catastrophic failure. Excess fuel, from the previous, leaky carburetor, flooded one cylinder and caused a hydrolock, which bent a connecting rod. So, upon our return from Japan, I, once again, reduced the bike to a pile of parts. The new rod and gasket set arrived the other day. My plan is to replace the rod and button the engine back up. No drama, no complete rebuild, just the one bad hole. In the meantime, I've stripped the frame back to bare metal. My plan was to have it powder coated, probably in a hammertone finish. I took it to the guy that I've been using and he quoted me 500 bucks for the job, up from the 350 he quoted me a few months ago. Additionally, I was told that the Lab Metal filler, which is recommended for powder coat use, would be blown away when the frame was sandblasted. So, I am going with plan B, against the very good council of a friend. I will have the frame coated with Linex bed coating. The concern my friend had was, that it will turn gray in time. I don't think it will, since it will spend very little time in the sun. Time will tell. I have already spoken to another friend about painting the rest of the bike

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Making a Big Splash

The transmission is back together but lousy weather has kept me out of the shop. With no automotive adventures to occupy my time, I decided it was time to readdress the kitchen remodel. We found some tile that looked nice and matched the decor. I ordered an amount that was sufficient to cover the back splash area. Also, I ordered a pot filler faucet to put above the stove. They have become a must have in new kitchens. In order to install it, I had to crawl into the attic, again. It was really simple. I cut into an existing cold line, that runs to the refrigerator, and dropped a line straight down to the range. A bit of drywall patching and it was ready for tile. Of course, I miss measured and there isn't enough tile to finish the job. So, off to Lowes to get some more. It is a non stocking item so we have to wait 4 or 5 days for it to show up. I the meantime, I grouted the tile that I was able to install. I have some fancy, brushed nickle, wall plates on order for the switches and outlets. So far, it's lookin' pretty good

Monday, December 12, 2016

Shafted Again

Today, I dropped the transmission out of the old Dodge. Not a horrible job, but a horrible mess. Try as I may, I couldn't get the drain plug out. So, I just let it leak all over the floor. I should have removed the pan and emptied it, but I, incorrectly, figured it wouldn't be bad. At least a gallon of fluid leaked out. Armed with a pail of sawdust and a broom, I cleaned up most of it. I'll scrub it down, later. Anyway, my initial suspicions were confirmed. I snapped the input shaft. The transmission, itself, is fine. I just have to source a new shaft and it'll be back on the road in no time. They're all over eBay for 50 to 75 bucks, so it will be a cheap fix as well. Of course, I could pop for the 800 dollar billet race shaft ........... uhhhh..........no.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Carl La Fong...Adult Idiot™

The bike has been giving me fits for 6 months. In an, ever increasing, quest to spend as much money as I can, here's what has transpired. The carburetor has never been right from day one. I had two, very good, people go through it. One at the beginning and another a few years later. It was OK, but still never ran right. I finally sent it off to a guru in Pennsylvania for his Super Legatz Stage II rebuild. Worse that ever. It spewed gas out of every orifice in the carb. Multiple efforts to determine what was wrong were met with failure. Having had enough, I went to the auto parts and ordered a brand new double pumper Holley spread bore. I stuck it on and fired it. It ran OK, but there was still some problems. This is where it gets hazy. I cannot recall in what order I began throwing money at it. It was a frenzy. I replaced the plug wires. Top of the line set. Very expensive. New Accel Super Coil. New Accel cap and rotor. New Module, New pickup coil. New plugs. Now I have a bike that won't even try to start. Now, I'm sitting on my little stool, dejected and ready to call the scrapper. I look at the distributor and there are two connections. One for the tach, which I don't have and the other is the hot lead. Everything looks fine. I think, "Hmmmmmm?????", so I switch the hot lead to the tach terminal. What can I lose? If I fry something, I have plenty of extra modules. It fires instantly. I had the coil leads, inside the cap, reversed. You would think that there would be only one way to assemble it, but nooooooooooooo.............that would be too easy and make it too simple for guys like me. You would also, incorrectly, assume that the red wire was the hot lead but, again, no that is the tach connection. I guess the upside is, I have good, used cap, rotor, coil, module and pickup coil as spares, that I will never use, I'm sure

Sunday, November 6, 2016

LaFong Lampoon Vacation


We were invited to our nephew's wedding in Boise, Idaho. We both were in the mood for a road trip, so we hitched up the trailer and headed north, up Highway 395 to Reno, where we then drove to Elko and then north, again, into Idaho. Very nice drive. We attended the wedding and took off the next morning for eastern Oregon. We camped along the way for about a week until we found ourselves in Bend. We camped, again, for a few days in La Pine at a nice state park. We thought we would head over the Cascade Lakes region, but after just 4 or 5 miles, it began to snow pretty hard, so I whipped a U turn and drove back to La Pine and got back on the interstate. We decided that we would try Crater Lake. Now, what made me think that it wouldn't be as bad, or worse, weather than we encountered in La Pine will remain a mystery. I'll chalk it up to wishful thinking. As we were going uphill to the park entrance, it began to snow. We were only about a mile from the lodge, so I figured we've come this far, how bad could it get? Wrong question. As we came around a curve, I slowed down a bit, since the road was getting a dusting of snow on it. Once around the curve, I hit the gas to downshift for the grade ahead. The truck lurched hard and there was a loud "POW", and then nothing. There we were, sitting in the traffic lane, dead in the water. I had no gears that worked. I think I snapped the input shaft of the transmission. After a bit, two or three people came by and asked if we needed help. I asked then to notify the ranger at the park of our dilemma. Some time passed and no ranger appeared. There is, also, no cell service, so we couldn't call 911 or AAA. Another person drove up and said he would drive me to the lodge. So I jumped in and off we went. When we got there, it was a ghost town. Closed for the season. We saw UPS delivering something at the store, so we knew there was someone there. We found someone to let us in and I was able to call AAA. We returned to the truck and the Samaritan headed off. After several hours, panic set in. It was pitch black and snowing and no tow truck in sight. Finally, I saw emergency lights in the distance. The driver had gotten bad directions, but looked until he found us. After getting hooked up to the tow truck, we climbed into the cab and he drove us to Klamath Falls and dropped us off at an inexpensive motel. 80 bucks a night, minimal cable TV, worst WiFi ever and cereal, bagels, weak juice and coffee for breakfast. I guess southern Oregon's definition of inexpensive is different than SoCal's. Anyway, the next morning, I called the local Ram dealer and told the salesman that if he wanted to sell a new truck today, to pick us up at the tow yard. About 15 seconds later, he shows up and it's off to the dealership. I finally settle on a Ram 2500 Cummins Diesel, Crew Cab, 4wd with a 6 speed manual transmission. Papers are signed and we write a big ol' check. Now, we still have to get the fifth wheel hitch installed so we can get the trailer home. They tell us a day and a half. Too long, sez I. I go across the street to U Haul and they say 5-7 days to get the hitch and another day to install it. A large U Haul dealer and they don't have a hitch in stock?? So, we head to an RV dealer in town and he says, 2 1/2 weeks!?!?! Now the day and a half is starting to sound pretty good. As promised, the hitch is in and we're good to go. We bid a fond adieu to The dealer and go to the tow yard and fetch our trailer. We make a bee line for home and get there in, about, 11 hours. Now, how to get the old beast home? I go online and find an auto transport outfit that sounds perfect. 600 bucks and they'll deliver it to my door. They have several drivers in the Klamath Falls area and can get on it right away. I say, "Do it". the next day, I hear nothing from them, but I do hear the same BS story from 20 other people in an endless stream of emails and text messages. OK, I see what's going on. A bunch of flim flam men, basically brokers, who have no trucks or drivers of their own, hoping a desperate driver will take the load at their, cheap price. You know what they say about getting a job done right? Yup, do it yourself. I call U Haul and tell the lady on the other end what I need to do. She takes all of my info, what I'm hauling, what I'm hauling it with, where it is, where it's going and so on. She says everything is set and the trailer will be waiting in Klamath Falls. She will text me the location. So, we fuel up and back to KF we go. We arrive late in the afternoon and there is, still, no text. I go back to the same U Haul that I went to for the hitch. "Nope, we don't have it. Gimme your name." he enters it into his computer and tell us the trailer is at another dealer a few miles away. It's too late to pick it up, at this point, so we drive by the other dealer to see where they are. No problem, we'll get it in the morning. We drive to WalMart, the cheapskate RVers campground and try to sleep in the truck. That works about as well as you might expect, but we do manage to get a few hours of shuteye. Back to the U Haul lot to get the trailer. The guy says, no problem, the trailer is here, I just need to get the information from you, again. I give him all of the same info that I gave the lady on the phone when we were home. He says that he cannot rent us the trailer. The old truck won't fit and the new truck won't haul it. I tell him, while pointing at the new truck, that it would pull his building off of it's foundation and why won't a regular cab, long bed truck fit on his trailer. He tell me that his hands are tied and the computer won't allow the deal to go through. This just keeps getting better, moment by moment. There we are, 800 miles from home, without a clue. I go to the tow yard and ask if they ever deal with this sort of thing. Nope, we are just a towing and retrieval service. I go back to the dealer and ask if they do dealer trades and if their guy could help us. They said they could get the truck to Chico in a week. That's only half way home, not good enough. They suggest I go to the RV supply that quoted us 2 1/2 weeks for the hitch. They also rent trailers, he says. Back we go and I tell the guy what I need to do. No problem. I sign a few papers, hand him the debit card and we're off to the tow yard. Of course, by now, it's raining. Still, they get it on the trailer for us, we pull out the debit card again, and we're homeward bound. Again, we drive straight through, just stopping for fuel, food and to pee. We hit the front door around 11 pm. and hit the sack. Next morning, I roll the old truck off of the trailer, safe and sound, though it's seriously wounded. Here's where it gets even worse. The trailer is a two way rental, unlike U Haul, where I would drop it off at a local dealer. You guessed it. The next morning, we're on I-5, headed back to KF. We, wisely, decide to sleep in a motel, this time. A stop over in Redding and we're back at the RV dealer by 11 am. A quick unhitch and we're southbound before noon. An uneventful drive home and we're in bed before midnight. A tick over 3600 miles in one week. I have to say, that this truck is twice the truck as the old one. Quiet as a Cadillac, pretty smooth ride, especially with our trailer hooked up, tons of power, decent mileage, really cool Sirius XM stereo and a back seat to store all of our road necessities. I like the manual transmission. Just feels right. Turns me from a steering wheel holder into a truck driver. Real trucks have three pedals and no spark plugs. In all, it was an expensive, frustrating, tiring vacation. It also was fun and a bit exciting. It all worked out well. I got a spanking new truck. I thought I'd never do that again. Our trips, from now on, should be without incident, at least a far as mechanical issues

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Things That Go Bump In The Night

Satisfied with the new grille opening, I decided that the original front bumper needed the heave ho. Several reasons dictated this event. First, the plastic upper and lower portions were looking shabby. The black upper was turning a charcoal gray color. Armorall and other treatments were temporary and not really much good anyway. The second reason was lighting. One thing, about this truck, that has never been satisfactory, are the factory headlights. That is giving them the benefit of the doubt. The lighting is the worst of any vehicle that I've ever owned. I ordered a pair of KC 6 inch, round, driving lamps. I do not want them on a light bar or mounted to the top of the bumper. The new bumper will have two 6 inch holes in it so I can put the lamps inside of it. To my eye, this will look cleaner. I am still going for a more heavy duty look but, again, I want to avoid the off road, rock crawler look. While I was at the metal supply, getting the material for the grille, I grabbed half a sheet of 11 gauge steel. Back in the shop, I made another cardboard mockup. The thicker steel does pose a minor problem. Unless you're Hercules, you aren't going to cut it with snips. All the cuts were made with the torch or a cutoff wheel in my power saw. I hesitate to call it a Skilsaw, since it was a freebee, off brand saw. It lasted through about 4 or 5 feet of this abuse before copious amounts of smoke belched out of the motor housing. So, back I goes to The BORG and buy a new Skilsaw. I have a worm drive model 77 but, it too, needs help because of quite a few years of horrible abuse. So, I chose a lesser model, sidewinder style. I'll try not to kill it, but I do need to repair the old workhorse. I made each piece of the new bumper with one, factory cut edge. That way, I could use that edge to align the ragged, torch cut edge of the adjoining piece and, with luck, get a nice straight seam so it would look as if the bumper was formed in a press brake rather that a bunch of weldments stuck together. So far, my plan has worked and the seams are all nice and flat as well as being straight. All total, there will be about a dozen separate pieces going into the completed assembly. The rest of the job will be pretty boring. Lots of cutting, welding and, most of all, grinding and filing. At this point, I have finished all of the cutting and have most of the pieces welded together. The welding and grinding is tedious and filthy, but I hope to have it done soon