Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day, 2016

A day dedicated to remembering those who have lost their lives while in the service of the country.

Yesterday, Sunday, I paid my regular visit to SSgt Brian Joiner, USAF.  He was the son of a work friend of mine, who passed away while serving in the US Air Force in 2009.

It's always sobering to see the seemingly endless rows of headstones at Fort Logan National Cemetery.  I visited briefly with Brian and then headed home after taking a slow ride through the cemetery's roads.


Sunday was also the 10th anniversary of the first time I threw a leg over a motorcycle and started learning how to ride one properly.

The original intent and thought had been the cliched "save money commuting".  We all know that didn't happen.  :)  Proper riding gear, repairs on one's motorcycles, tires and gas....they all add up.

It's been a mostly wonderful journey, with changing goals and routes, surprising and great friendships with folks I met along the way, a broadening of one's mind, a great deal of wrenching knowledge gained and the traveling and discoveries of my own state, other parts of the USA and other countries!

There's been a few miles covered while on motorcycles, over 181K miles at the end of last year, and I've become a sidecarist along the way.  Talk about that being an unforeseen result!  It's funny how a sidecar rig becomes the preferred conveyance, though I have a perfectly working two-wheeled moto in Brigitta, my '87 R80 Beemer.  Poor thing almost never goes out now.

When I ride Brigitta, it's exactly like Jack Riepe described it:  "Closest thing to flying while still touching the ground".  She's not the fastest out there, far from it, but for me with my sidecar rig senses, she's plenty fast and maneuverable!

As I pass the ten year mark though, I'll admit that riding a motorcycle is no longer the "prozac on wheels" that Martha used to describe it as.  Not sure what happened but the excitement and eagerness to ride is no longer there.  This is reflected by the steadily declining total miles ridden each year, which started in the low 20K miles range to last year's pitiful 11.5K miles total.  Having a job which allows me to work from home hasn't helped rack up the miles either.

"Prozac on Wheels" and its present lack aside, I remain a motorcycle rider.  Rider/Motorcyclist, not biker, thank you very much.  The term Biker, when applied to what I do, irks me to no end.  Ich Bin ein Motorcyclist!

I've gone from one motorcycle to presently two sidecar rigs and one two-wheeled motorcycle.  I've ridden a small cruiser (Gretl, my first motorcycle) and a sports tourer (Maria); airheads and sidecars (gone through five so far).  There's even a 125cc Scooter in the barn but that's Martha's ride.  Stewie, the scooter, spends a lot of time garaged along with Brigitta.

Here's a video of  selected pictures of the last ten years.....I hope you like it.

I plan on adding some more countries to the list of countries where I've ridden either on two or three wheels....stay tuned!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Number One Son graduates High School


Big day for my oldest son, Patrick.  He graduated from Eaglecrest High School today, with the commencement ceremony held at the Richey Center on the Campus of Denver University.

It was a big graduating class, I think around 600 students!  The families of the students, of course added to the massive crowd that gathered for the event.

Patrick at his Kindergarten Graduation
and now a High School Graduate

 pre-ceremony pic of my sons....

 Like me, Patrick doesn't enjoy having his picture taken.

 Laura (Martha's sister), God-Mom Terri K. and Martha

 Younger son Miles played his viola in the orchestra providing 
music entertainment during the event
one more to go.....

Here's a very short video of the 90+ minute commencement ceremony.  Patrick did great we thought and now he moves on to the next phase of his life.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Giving Scarlett more breathing room

Back in January of this year, I had installed the Raceway Two-into-One exhaust headers onto Scarlett, my 2014 URAL Patrol Sidecar rig.  I had elected at that time to keep the right-side stock muffler and use it.

I'd had no real issues with the stock muffler but recent rides convinced me perhaps I was "stifling" Scarlett in terms of her ability to push exhaust gases out of the engine.

Scarlett's recent trip to the vicinity of Provo, Utah and back had revealed a rather severe lack of top end power when negotiating hilly portions of highway.  Her MPG ratings had plummeted as well since I'd had get gearbox rebuilt by URAL but I'd blamed that on the use of the OR1.02 EFI mapping which was known to be "rich".

So, I ordered some exhaust pipe reducers and they all finished arriving today.  Took me a while to remove the remaining stock muffler from Scarlett but with just minimal cursing, it came off.

I had, originally, cut a portion of the header pipe that came from Raceway to accommodate the length of the stock muffler.  Using the new adapters, I added back the length and it worked out just perfect to line up the Harley-Davidson Sportster muffler that fellow Uralista Darrell had given me prior to all this.

 The installed adapters/reducers.  Took three of them to get the right
fit for the muffler and the header pipe extension.  I'll be adding one more 
clamp I think, forward of the one you see above.

If you look closely, you can see I was able to reuse the bracket that was
used by the stock muffler's circular holder.  Lucky.

Took Scarlett out for a test drive, she sounds a bit louder than normal of course with the HD muffler but not annoyingly or obnoxiously so.  I drove her to the local toll road and warmed her up.  The first run through was a bit dismal, no power going uphill and thereby no real acceleration.  This first run, I used the stock speedometer to gauge speed and it was not giving me the readings I wanted.

Decided to mount the Garmin Nuvi GPS that I'd received from SonjaM back in 2013.  

Did another run of the same test course and this time, she ran much stronger.  It's like the EFI computer adjusted for the newer freer-flowing conditions provided by the Sportster muffler and rendered better performance?  Not sure.

Using the GPS, I was certain this time (as opposed to the highly inaccurate speedo from Ural) that I was holding steady speeds of 60 MPH.  This second run, she did both uphill portions just fine, holding 55-50 MPH, in fourth gear, with no struggling though I was at WOT.  (Wide Open Throttle).

So, satisfied with the initial test run, I filled up her tank (25.5 MPG) and we'll see how the new muffler affects the next tankful's MPG results.

On a further positive note, no backfiring from exhaust leaks when decelerating using engine braking.

More to follow.  Perhaps I've become spoiled with Fiona's more powerful engine, but if Scarlett can once again hold 55 MPH while going up hills on the highway, I'll be happy.  After all, I've learned to not exceed 55 MPH on the slabs if I want any kind of decent MPG.

If future tankfuls of gas render same dismal MPG ratings, then I'll have to again explore going back to the OR1.01 EFI Mapping or failing that, putting Scarlett back to using the stock mufflers.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Fiona will be offline for a while

I rode out on Fiona, my '99 Ural Patrol Sidecar Rig with a '84 BMW R80 engine, this morning with the objective of getting her to the top of Pikes Peak.

The skies were clear and the temperatures were warm, perfect riding conditions.

We were cruising at around 55 mph down CO 85 aka Parker Road towards Franktown when all of a sudden (no warning noises or sensations) the rig lost power and I could hear the clutch disk slipping.

I quickly pulled off to the side of the road and initially, it looked like the donut was spinning (all kinds of rubbing/spinning noise at this point) but no forward motion so I thought the drive shaft splines had worn off where they go into the donut yoke.

This by the way, is an expected event.  The rig's drive shaft came with the old type "fine" splines used to mate up to the yoke on the donut which transmit power from the gearbox.  I even have the new "coarse" splined drive shaft on hand and ready to be put in.

I pushed Fiona down the slight hill that I stopped on and moved her to a spot alongside a dirt trail out of the way of traffic on Parker Road and called my son Miles.

Miles and his friend Travis got the trailer hooked up to the PT Cruiser and shortly before 11AM they were there and we got Fiona up on the trailer and tied down.

While I had been waiting, I did some more troubleshooting and determined it wasn't worn off splines on the drive shaft.  Damn.  It was looking like possible a gearbox issue and probably a clutch disk issue as well.  The noises being made with the gearbox in gear sounded very much like when the clutch disk splines on Scarlett failed.  Damn.

We got Fiona home with no issues and about an hour later I had removed the pusher wheel, final drive and gearbox to take a look.

First major issue, the splines were completely gone from the BMW clutch disk!  It looked, just like in Scarlett's case, like they'd been machined off:

splines were completely missing!

Here's a picture of the new clutch disk when I installed 
over a month ago, note the splines.

Here's a better view of the splines.

So that explained the spinning noises of course.  But what caused the splines to be worn off?  The gearbox input splines were looking pretty bad as well.  These are the splines that mate up with the splines in the clutch disk above in order to transmit rotational power from the engine.

 Pretty chewed up eh?

Below picture is of the same input splines as they looked
when I got the rig from the previous owner.
Not looking that great to start with eh?

another view of the input splines on the gearbox as the were
when I brought the rig home.

I had also drained the oil from the gearbox and it came out the color of Olive Drab Green.  So there was water contamination as well.  Apparently, the rubber boot that I thought was there to seal the hole where the speedometer cable goes is just there for looks.  I'll be using some liquid tape to seal it off when it's re-assembled.

No big chunks of metal but plenty of metal "sparkles" in the oil pan so something has become damaged inside the gearbox.  The suspicion is that the rear main bearing for the main shaft in the gearbox had failed, coincidentally, the same bearing that had recently failed in Scarlett's gearbox. 

When you turn the yoke at the rear of the gearbox or the input shaft itself by hand, you can feel a clicking or "notchiness" while turning.  This is not a good thing.  

The theory right now is that the bearing failed, perhaps causing undue stresses on the main shaft which were transmitted through the splined connection to the BMW clutch disk splines, eventually wearing them away.

I cleaned up the gearbox, will drain it overnight and package it up for shipment to North Carolina and Richard Winter who's going to check it out and replace what needs replacing.  He wanted to also check the custom welding work he'd done to ensure the previous owner had not bent something while mounting/dismounting the gearbox.

If there was some bending of the mounts, that would also cause the input shaft to not be "true" as it mates with the clutch disk splines, causing the existing damage.

Since I'll not be doing much riding on my motorcycles next month, I'm not very bummed out at these mechanical failures.  Sure, it'll cost money to have Richard Winter fix things right but then I'll know they're corrected and the gearbox is in good shape.  I'll also be getting a replacement BMW clutch disk from Richard to replace the stripped out one.

Any sidecar riding that needs to be done before June, will be done on Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol rig.  I do need to swap the muffler on Scarlett but that's minor work and the subject of a different posting.

Ah, the vicissitudes of the life of a Uralista.