Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cool Runnings

After being laid up on the couch for over a month, with the side effects of radiation/chemo, I decided I was well enough, today, to go to the shop and work on the bike a bit. A lot of ideas have been buzzing around in my noggin regarding making it more dependable and less reliant on Boss Hoss for parts, etc.
The primary idea is to eliminate the Jabsco bilge pump. They are not, especially, unreliable but failures have and do occur. I want to be able to go to any parts store and buy a pump, off of the shelf, and install it in the parking lot with ordinary tools. I have a pump in mind and have designed it mentally. More to follow.
Another item that troubles me is the factory coolant manifold. As built, it directs coolant from the pump to the inlets in the block on each side of the timing cover. Seems simple enough. I, as well as others that I have spoken with, believe this part was ill designed. As you can see in the first photo, coolant comes up the left side of the manifold (right side in the photo, left side of the engine) and then to the left coolant inlet and then to the right inlet. The problem is, the coolant wants to keep going in a straight line to the right side of the engine, bypassing the left side. Enough coolant dribbles into the left side to keep it relatively cool, but I'm willing to bet the right side runs cooler than the left. I don't have a point and shoot thermometer, so I can't prove it, but it makes perfect sense to my imperfect mind. So, what I did was to plug the original inlet on the manifold and put a "Tee" fitting between the two block fittings. This will allow a fairly equal amount of coolant to enter both sides of the engine. The second photo shows the modified manifold. Additional plumbing will be added later, from the "Tee" to the water pump. I have never had an overheating problem with my bike, but I still feel this modification is a good one.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Choppers, Bobbers and other nonsense

I read a lot of stuff online and peruse the bike magazines at the newsstand pretty often. I rarely buy them because I'm a cheapskate and they offer very little in the way of real down home DIY stuff. Iron Horse is an exception and I sometimes actually buy a copy. Several thing bug me in all the mags and online boards. It has to do with terminology and it's misuse. The younger guys are the torchbearers for the old guys and they're blowing it. I'm sorry, but many of them don't know their asses from their elbows as far as tradition, or as many like to call it, "old school". I've already ranted earlier about the non existent "suicide shift", so I don't need to belabor that point. Let's move on to the "bobber". First of all, the term "bobber" was invented just a few years ago, so the term "old school bobber" is a bit of an oxymoron. Sorta like an old school 2010 KIA. BTW, as I mentioned in an earlier post, the term, "old school" or even worse "skool" gives me the runs. Find a new term, you've worn that one out. Anyhoo, way back when, the early bikers bought old HDs and Indians and began stripping them down, not much though was given to looks. Front fenders were removed, rears were cut off at the hinge, windshields, bags and other unnecessary stuff was chucked into the dumpster. The result was a "Bob Job" or, before HD trademarked the term a "Fat Bob". All went well for a while until one of them decided that maybe an 18" wheel on the front might look lighter and might just handle a bit better like the Limey bikes. Then, again after looking at the foreign machines he thought that it might look a little better without that big ol' gas tank. So he got himself a Mustang tank or maybe he cut down the stock 3 1/3 gallon tanks. That big, fat rear fender is beginning to look out of place on this sleek machine, so he finds a '36 Ford spare tire ring and makes hisself a skinny rear fender. The pogo stick and it's 3 foot wide seat got the heave-ho and a Bates spoon was installed. What you have now is a chopper. It didn't have a raked frame, it didn't have a 5 foot long front end, a rear tire that was 10 inches wide, an Easter egg paint job or a "more money than brains" douche sitting on the seat. They were fundamental machines. No nonsense, no superfluous bling. Shortly after this they began to chrome them up, add a nice, basic, paint job and in my humble, yet always accurate, opinion (remember, I am a Boy Genius™), created the quintessential chopper. The choppers of the mid 60's were the high point. Nothing that came after made them better looking, better handling or better bikes overall. I'll take Dick Hirschberg's (He was the original Galloping Goose) Knucklehead over any Bourget, OCC crap wagon, ugly assed HD Rocker or any of the rest. They don't get it. None of these bikes are choppers or bobbers, if that's the term you insist upon. They are bikes built to resemble choppers or bob jobs. Some may be nice, but they ain't the real deal and they ain't for me. Plus, I don't want to ride anything that I have to lean to one side to see past the gas tank. What are these clowns thinking of??
The second picture is Hirschbergs 69 Electraglide. He built it from a brand new bike 2 years before Willie G. Davidson "designed" the 71 FX Superglide. You don't suppose this picture from Hot Rod magazine influenced his creative juices? Nahhh, had to be a cowinkydink.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Going to the Movies

Time to shift gears again. I remember going to the scary movies when I was a kid. When the big moment arrived, I always hid or looked away. I couldn't look at the monster. I went to another monster movie last month. It was called, "John's Colonoscopy". As I lay on the exam table with a doctor and a couple of nurses guiding a camera up my exhaust pipe, I watched the monitor. I saw the monster. It was as ugly as any alien, Frankenstein or boogeyman that I've ever seen at the movies. Unlike the, aforementioned, creatures, this monster is alive and all too real. There was no biopsy required. The doctor said, as I lay there, "You have colon cancer". I was floored. They rolled me out to a recovery area where I had to tell my beautiful wife what I had seen. We went home with no real answers. Just a few papers and a picture of the monster. I told her to put it away. I didn't want to see it again. I cannot look at the monster.
I was scheduled for a CT scan. I went in and had the procedure and was sent home again. A doctor needed to look at the scan and determine what it revealed. I waited. Finally, I couldn't take it any longer. We drove to the hospital this past Friday, August 7th. My intent was to pound on some one's counter or desk until I had some answers. I went to the GI unit and simply told the lady at the window that I was here to find out if I'm going to live or die, because I need to prepare for either scenario. She said, "come back Monday morning and you can talk to the doctor". Yesterday arrived. I brought my wife and my posse with me. My pastor and his wife and two other good friends from our church. We sat in the waiting room for about an hour, waiting. I became very anxious and afraid. I started to shake, uncontrollably. Finally it was my turn to face my mortality. The doctor was a cute girl, seemed about 12 years old to my aging eyes. She told us that the CT scan showed no evidence of any spread, that it is a localized lesion. I will still need major abdominal surgery in a month or so. They will do a bowel resection. I asked if a colostomy might be done and she said it is always a possibility , but it didn't seem likely from what she had seen. I can live with one but, like everyone else, would prefer not too. I have too many cool T shirts. I still have more ahead of me, but I can do that standing on my head. I've been trying to loose some weight (down 12 pounds so far) so this upcoming procedure, while a bit extreme, should allow me to reach my goal of 200 lbs. or less.
To all who have gotten this far, consider this next statement carefully.
If you are 50 or over, get a colonoscopy. Get a prostate exam. Get a mammogram. Get a Pap smear. Be pro-active about your health care. Don't wait until you're bleeding out of an orifice or a lump gets bigger or it takes 10 minutes to take a leak. You do not want to hear the words that I heard. You do not want to plan your own funeral in your mind. It looks as though I got lucky and dodged the bullet. The monster is no quitter, however. I will continue to keep a close eye out for him from this point on. Do the same for yourselves and the ones that you love. The monster has no pity and no conscience.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Unchain My Heart

The chain drive that I put on my bike has lost it's luster. It rattles, flops around, stretches and slings chain lube. It's time to switch back to a belt. I'm looking at the Gates Eliminator belt. It comes highly recommended. It is supposed to be stonger than any belt on the market, including the Gates GTs that Boss Hoss uses. As with all of the available belts, it is only available in finite lengths. Right now I am looking at running a 40/72 tooth sprocket ratio which will give me around 2500 RPMs at 73 mph with a 25 inch diameter tire. Doing some quick and dirty calculations,I think I will need a 44 inch belt. The closest that Gates has is about 46 inches, so I will end up with another inch of wheelbase. Not bad. I was aiming for as short a bike as possible when I began this conversion. I am at 79 inches right now, so I can live with 80. The pulleys for this belt are different than the stock BH pulleys. The have, what is known as, an RPP pattern. Reinforced Parabolic Profile, whatever that means. The countershaft pulleys are no problem. They are held on with the QD bushings, same as stock. The rear is a different story. All that is available is a large, heavy cast iron unit. It weighs about 40 pounds. I'm not a chassis guy, but I do know that unsprung weight is important and you want to keep it as low as possible. I don't know why, and maybe it's no biggee. One guy that I correspond with says he has no problems with his, so I may just go ahead and run one and see how it goes. I may try to cut an aluminum one later. I have a horizontal mill and a dividing head, but not a hell of a lot of experience. I would cut one from MDF first to see if my skills and math are up to snuff. I have a bit more research to do before I begin. I can't afford to screw up and start again. Money is too tight right now. I still have my Nesco to sell for additional funds, but I wanted to wait until I'm sure that the Ranger was the right choice (it was) and for the market to go up a bit so I can get the best price.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Enigma/Conundrum of the Hard Core Biker

Someone told me, the other day, that, maybe, I didn’t understand hard core bikers. This seem to be an odd statement. I pondered it for a few days and have come to a few conclusions regarding the hard core bikers. My opinions are not directed to anyone in particular, but if you fit the profile, then I guess I’m talking about you.

First thing on the agenda is to define the hard core biker, who we will call, for the sake of brevity, the HCB.There are a number of criteria that must be met in order to be included in this fraternity. The first is obvious. You must own a motorcycle. Ahhh, but not just any motorcycle will do. No siree, Bob. It must be a Harley Davidson, or one of the many clones that are on the market. Just a minute, though. Not any HD will do. It’s not gonna be that easy. It must be a Big Twin, the evolutionary progeny of the fabled 1936 EL Knucklehead. But, how about the Sportster, you may ask? Sorry Charlie, but in nearly every case, ownership of HD’s “Little Twin” is to be avoided. These are girls bikes. If you choose to ride one anyway, you will be suspect and some may even think that you prefer the company and comfort of large, hairy men. Step away from the Sportster.

Next is appearance. You cannot show up at the bike night in tennies, slacks and a cardigan. Might as well ride a pink Sportster. Think denim and dead animals. These are the most practical clothes for any biker, not just the HCB, so I won’t dwell too much here. It’s the accessories or “flair” that makes you a HCB. You must have a black HD tee shirt from a dealer that you wish you had been to. You can’t miss with Sturgis HD. Always a winner. A big ol’ honkin’ wallet with a chain clipped to your belt. I used to have one of these and at no time did I ever find the wallet dangling from the chain and thought, “Thank God for that chain.” A leather vest. Though it serves absolutely no purpose other than to make you look like Ed Norton, people see them and think, “What a macho looking man. I’ll bet he can impregnate a woman with the power of his mind.“ A belt buckle with a skull or an HD bar and shield. Gotta keep buying that licensed merchandise. Wrap around shades, as dark as possible. Never, unless it becomes absolutely necessary, should they be removed. Keep in mind that all of this is a total package and the removal or alteration of one or more of the “flair” items can diminish the “look”. Purchase, unless you are super HCB, then steal, the smallest, non DOT compliant, beanie helmet available. If it resembles a fiberglass yarmulke, you’ve made a good choice. This is important, DO NOT WEAR IT YET. Under the glass case at the cycle boutique you will find stickers with hilarious sayings, that other people thought of, on them . Buy, or again steal, a good selection of them Do not be too concerned about what they say as none are, particularly, original. Two, however, are mandatory. I cannot stress how important this is. One must say, “HELMET LAWS SUCK”, and the other must state, “IF YOU DON’T RIDE A HARLEY, YOU AIN’T S**T.” The logical conclusion to this has to be, that if you do, indeed, ride an HD, then you ARE S**T. Congratulations.

Proper hair care is paramount. Though the cue ball look has gained significant inroads in the past 15 or 20 years and is a perfectly acceptable look, unless your head is shaped like a light bulb or has noticeable divots or other cranial abnormalities. The long hair, somewhat unkempt look is classic HCB and should be considered as your first choice unless nature or age has robbed you of the ability. Facial hair is mandatory as well, though it is optional with the Yul Brynner look. Mutton chop sideburns are the kiss of death unless you are from the deep, deep south. Grow them at your own risk. For the profoundly hirsute, it is recommended that the shoulder hair be grown and braided.

Piercings are part of the visage of the HCB. Earlobes, left or both but never just the right side. That can land you on the pink Sporty in a heartbeat. For the exceptionally HCB, it is recommended that the ear be pierced with a paper punch and a number 630 masterlink be worn. As to noses, septums only.

Tattoos. No question about it, ink is an absolute must. There are two different schools of thought here. One subscribes to the neo modern, highly colorful and intricately detailed full sleeves. The biggest problem with this concept is, yes, you see them at the HCB gatherings all the time. You can also see the same thing at a West Hollywood gay bar…….or so I’ve been told. Parenthetically, let me state that at no time have I ever been inside of or within 50 yards of the "Ramrod" or the "Driveshaft". The preferred style, for the true HCB, is the random tats that were applied while the HCB was in a drunken and/or chemically induced stupor or incarcerated. We’ve all seen them, “Death Before Dishonor”, “Born to Lose” a little green worm with a top hat, a dagger going through the skin with blood dripping off of the point. This tells the world that you don’t subscribe to anyone's rules and you’re gonna get the tat based on how much you've got left in your pocket.

Now onto demeanor. You can have the look nailed, but if you don’t have your swagger on straight, you’re a poser. The basic rule here is to treat everyone, outside of your carefully chosen circle, like crap. Here is an example.
Parker and his wife, Muffy, along with the kids, Logan and Carter, happen to walk by, on their way home from the oxygen bar, and are taken aback by the comprehensive awesomeness that is your machine. “Nice 'sickel”, says Parker, “is it a Honda ?” The following MUST take place within a 10 or 15 second window of opportunity or you will loose the respect of your peers. Knock all of his teeth out, rape Muffy, devour the children and, if you have time, dig up his mother and violate her corpse. Honda, indeed!

Seemingly innocuous questions must also be given flippant answers. “Nice paint, who did it?” “Von None of Yer Bizness, Douchebag", is appropriate. Feel free to think of similar comments and practice them in front of the mirror.

Always remember that your bike is the culmination of the two wheeled experience. Never miss an opportunity to make that clear to anyone within earshot. As far as the bikes of others, they can be anything from a POS to a nice bike, but if it were mine I woulda done it better.

One accessory that I have to mention is, of course, the fair sex. Now if you have just fallen off of the turnip truck, here’s a heads up. All biker chicks do not look like the women in the old Dave Mann centerfolds in "Easyrider". No, in fact if you thumb a few more pages you will come across a more accurate representation of the typical “Ol’ Lady”. Good old Miraculous Mutha. Regardless of where your lady falls in the appearance department, she must display as much skin as possible. Don’t worry about the excess flab, zits, navel hair or stretch marks. She is a goddess that all men desire and wars have been fought over.

There are only three acceptable jobs for a HCB. Bike shop owner, auto body repair or bouncer in a nudie bar. The only exception to this rule is if the HCB decides to forgo the drudgery of regular employment, he is permitted to cook and/or sell Meth, but only to other HCBs and regular tweakers.

If you, my loyal reader, have made it this far in this, semi-coherent, rant you will agree that at a certain level I do understand the HCB. I don’t get it, but I understand. It is much the same for a lot of people that have attached a term or lifestyle to themselves. Traditional hot rodders, Goths, punks, skateboarders and on and on. They all have their rules, written and tacit. Now, I’m sure you’re all asking yourselves, “What about you Carl? Are you a HCB or just another pussy?” I don’t know, for sure. I try not to fall into any of the behaviors that I have listed. I do not own an HD, but my bike, in many ways, tops and trumps the Harley elite. I love HDs and may someday own another one. I have seldom gone more than a year without a two wheeler since I was 15 ½. I don’t ride as much as I used to, but I ride when I want to. I can’t toss down a handful of reds and a bottle of cheap wine and ride to San Francisco. I still think and dream about bikes as much as I did when I got that first Cushman in 62. I don’t think I can kick too much ass anymore. Actually, I never claimed to have a lot of ass kicking prowess. I’m too old now to engage anyone with any stamina. I did have an encounter with some clown a while back. I told him one of two things could happen. A 60 year old man would kick his ass or he would kick a 60 year old’s ass. It was a lose/lose situation for him. He gave me the standard, “You ain’t worth it, Dude.” reply and left. I think I could have taken him, though. I am whatever you want to call me, a biker, a motorcycle aficionado, a buff, an enthusiast or whatever. It doesn’t matter to me. I am comfortable in my skin. If I don’t fit into anyone’s preconceived notion, that’s OK. I like motorcycles. Period

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

If Yer Gonna Spew, Spew Into This.

Quote from "Wayne's World"
At the advise of another rider, I ordered this overflow or "puke" can for my radiator. The price was right and I needed one since I loose a bit of coolant during the hot months. It was suggested that a couple of billet clamps could be ordered to fit the crashbars that have holes that fit the can. I circumvented the clamps for a couple of reasons. I'm not a huge billet fan, I want to keep it simple and, of course, I'm a cheapwad. I simply drilled two 3/8 holes in the crashbar, installed nutserts and bolted it up using the, supplied, angle brackets. Again, clean and simple..............and CHEEEEP!

Friday, April 17, 2009

My Odyssey

No, it ain't "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?", just a new battery. I've been wanting to try one of these for a while. A friend has one in his 502 and has had no problems. It came with a couple of cheesy "L" shaped adapters to convert it to side post cables. They received a quick course at Captain La Fong's School of Aeronautics. Yup, the ol' flying lesson. I took the side mount cables and cut away all of the plastic and tossed the little bolts also. This left me with a small mounting tab. I cut the end of the tab off where the original hole was. This left enough remaining tab to drill a 1/4 hole. I covered most of the tab with shrink tube and bolted the cables to the battery with the supplied bolts. Nice and tidy. Using the "L" brackets that they sent would have worked, but there is no need for them and they only add more areas to experience corrosion and bad connections. Remember the KISS principle, Keep It Stupid, Simpleton.
The real bonus is the extra tool carrying capacity. I have a 3/8 drive socket set, a 1/4 drive set, set of Allen sockets, 12 inch and 6 inch crescent, 5 combo wrenches, pliers, screwdriver, Swiss army knife, zip ties, electrical tape, teflon tape, small roll of tie wire, extra chain, fuel pump, fuses, rags and there is still more room for additional stuff. The extra T shirt is in case I want to go somewhere nice. There is nothing in my fork bag and nothing in the pocket, that I previously made, in the right side cover, so there is still more room available for additional items. Plus, I have plans in my head for a rear mounted travel pack that will hold large items. It will attach to the sissy bar mounts. More to follow.

Coming Through in the Clutch

Well, it seems that I've finally solved all of my clutch issues. I've been having problems getting enough throw to fully disengage. It would work well when cold, but as everything warmed up it began to drag, to the point that I would have to shut it down in order to get it in gear. No Good!! I realized that, again, my geometry was off. The bell crank from the cable to the booster was at too acute an angle to work properly. It got chucked into the "Big Tub O' Failures". I fabbed up this new one and what a difference. The clutch action is smooth and light. Not two fingers, but an easy three finger pull. I used the foot peg as a pivot on the old one. This one pivots on a bronze bushing. Not the Torrington bearing that was recommended, but I think it will be fine. I can always change it later if it proves to be inadequate.
At the beginning, I was asked why a vacuum booster AND a mousetrap? I had no real answer, I just thought I'd give it a try. I think I made the right choice. As stated in earlier posts, full disengagement, no heel assist pedal and a comfortable pull at the lever were my objectives. There just seemed to be no way to achieve this with the booster alone. I decided to piggy back the mousetrap onto the existing system to see if it would help. It did. I also discovered that the mousetrap alone, when adjusted tight enough to disengage the clutch would not re engage. This is due to the diaphragm clutch cover and the fact that it becomes easier to pull the farther it disengages. So, the answer turned out to be two boosters, one vacuum, one mechanical. It seems Rube Goldberg and, perhaps, it is, but it does work. I also believe that the necessity to replace the clutch every 10 thousand or so miles on the old clutch bikes is, partially, due to the fact that there was never complete disengagement. At a stop, the disc was dragging slightly. It wouldn't be noticeable due to the weight of the bike. Every time you would stop, you were wearing out the disc and overheating the cover and flywheel.
Another Ranger conversion has a hydro/electric setup on it. It seems to work well from the pix and videos that I have seen. He is riding the bike and so far, to my knowledge, has had no problems. I wish him well. I don't think mine is better or worse than his, just two separate roads up the mountain. We'll see after we have some real miles piled up.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Rust Never Sleeps

Time to change gears.

Here is a proven method for rust removal. Even though I am a Boy Genius™, I did not come up with this one. The key ingredient is Sodium Carbonate. It can be purchased as Arm & Hammer Wash Soda, or as I did, as pool and spa PH booster. I got a big ol' container of it at Wally World for about 5 bucks. Procure a plastic container large enough to immerse the rusty object. Tie a piece of wire to the rusty victim. You will need a piece of iron rod. A hunk of rebar works just fine. Place the rusty part in the bucket and put in enough water to completely cover it. Add a tablespoon or so of the Na2CO3. Stick the rebar in the solution, making sure it does't touch the part being derusted. Attach the negative lead of a battery charger to the wire connected to the part. Attach the positive side to the rebar. remember, in spite of what young Tom Edison said, DC current flows from negative to positive. You will see bubbles begining to form. This is hydrogen, so do this in a well ventilated area. Remember the Hindenburg? Oh, the humanity.

I used a crescent wrench that I found buried while clearing weeds. It is way beyond salvation, but was a good piece to experiment on. I left it in the solution for three days, only because I forgot to check on it. I removed it from the bucket and hit it lightly with the wire wheel. Nearly every bit of the rust was gone. It still is no good and will go back on the hook as a garage ornament' Next time I am going to try using my DC welder as a power source to see if it goes faster or better

Friday, January 23, 2009

Nooks and Crannies

I don't like to venture too far away from my tools. The toolbox that I built will hold quite a bit, but I still felt there was more room to be found. When I had the seat off, I noticed that there was a large gap between the fuse box and the side cover on my bike. I made up this little box and glassed it to the inside of the side cover. I went to the Borg the other day and picked up a set of three zippered nylon bags, small, medium and large. They were cheap, under 5 bux for the set. The medium one holds a full set of 1/4 inch drive sockets and the small one has extra fuses, electrical and teflon tape, small zip ties and a Swiss Army knife. Both bags fit into the new storage pocket and free up space in the toolbox. I have room now for extra fuel and water pumps or whatever. I plan on going to a drycell battery when this one conks out, so there should be even more space for additional stuff.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Man Plans......God Laughs

I took it out yesterday for a test run and all went beautifully. The clutch was working perfectly. A nice three finger pull. I was stoked. Woo Hoo!! Finally, sucess. I put the bike away and decided to get up in the morning and clean it up a bit and take a longer ride. This morning I put it all together and fired it up and.........THE FRICKEN CLUTCH WOULDN'T WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! After calling the bike and myself a few choice names, I began adjusting all of the various links, the mousetrap, the spring tension.........nothing. As I was about to push the bike outside and set fire to it, I noticed that the pushrod that comes out of the back of the booster was cocking at an angle when I applied pressure. I said to myself, "Self, this cannot be good." I yanked off the booster and made a support plate. Simply a hunk of 2 x 1/8" flat steel with three holes, one in the center drilled to the size of the pushrod and two that fit the mounting studs. I placed shims, (OK, flat washers but shims sounds more professional), between the support plate and the pushrod seal to apply a bit of pressure and keep the vacuum in the can where it needs to be. Works bitchen now.
One suggestion, made by an old hand at this sort of thing, is to install Torrington bearings on the mousetrap and the cable-to-booster bell crank. I will be doing this very soon, but for now, it's working well with the bronze bushings in the mousetrap. The bell crank is steel against steel, so that will be the first thing that I will change. With the lessened friction that the bearings will give me, I think it will be, nearly, perfect.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Another Cheap Coverup Scheme

I modified the left side cover today. I filled in the old switch holes as well as reshaping the bottom edge to cover the booster linkage and squaring off the lower corner to cover more of the frame. I hated to kill my flames, but cest la vie. I will repaint them black and put a BH logo on them. There is still a bit of work to do on them. There is at least 1/8 inch of Bondo and three paint jobs on them. I'll take them down to the bare glass and start from scratch. In a former life, I used to paint cars, but I may be a bit out of practice, plus the new paints are not like the old lacquers and enamels of yore. If all else fails, I still have a gallon of good old black acrylic lacquer on the shelf, but I understand the base/clear coat paints are pretty user friendly.