Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Natasha in Bondage

No, sorry to disappoint, but this is not a Jack Riepe type posting in terms of salacious content and wonderfully written prose. Title grabbed your eye though, didn't it?

The time has come for me to explore the concept of sometimes trailering my Ural Sidecar Rig or my Beemer Airhead motorcycle for the longer trips across this great country. Sure, my Beemer can handle highway speeds all day long and not strain at all but the same cannot be said for the Ural.

That, and since I want my family along sometimes on the long trips, this way I can trailer the motorcycle and still help out with the driving duties of the family minivan.

Up till now, I'd always been one of those motorcyclists who believed in riding his trusty iron steed anywhere he wanted to go.  Reality now is a new job with only two weeks vacation and with the Ural I'd end up using up most of that time riding there and back, with no time to explore much at the destination.

So, I looked into trailers, the one I want is pricey and I remain unsure as to how much use I'd get out of it you know?  So when a co-worker friend of mine offered up his trailer to try out with Natasha, I took him up on the offer.

This past weekend, I was stuck near the house since I was on call for work; so it was perfect time to go pick up the trailer and see if I could fit Natasha onto it.  My loving wife had recently had U-Haul mount a trailer hitch onto the minivan so I was all set.

I drove the car out to Oscar's house, and we got the trailer attached with no fuss.  There was an issue with the left brake light but I thought I could figure it out.  Oscar and I figured it was something with the trailer wiring as its been "well used" over the years.

Got the trailer home and here's some pics of the first attempt at loading Natasha:

Oscar's Trailer, those are 13" tires and the width of the trailer is 5ft.

Note the gap I had to bridge between the trailer's deck and the sidewalk in front of the house

Turns out, regular auto service ramps from the local auto parts store, with some bricks, fit the bill

My first attempt to load with my loving wife taking pictures

Those of you experienced trailer owners will have noted I was trying the above without leaving the tow vehicle attached!  Yep, I ended up causing the front of the trailer to raise up as soon as the front of the motorcycle placed weight onto the rear of the trailer!

I quickly pulled in the clutch and eased her back off the trailer and onto the ramps to "assess" the situation.

The aftermath of the first attempt, luckily Martha didn't snap pictures of the Ural with the
trailer's front end up in the air!

After some thought, I placed a cinder block under the rear left corner of the trailer to prevent it from going down and all was well.  Yes, next time I used the minivan as an anchor.  Have you noticed I tend to learn things the hard way?

So the second attempt went much smoother, a bit of jockeying around to make sure the sidecar wheel was as close as possible to the right side frame and the left side jug, engine guard and pegs cleared the left side frame just fine!

Lining Natasha up with the ramps

You'll note the cinder block now in place!

And here she is, snug on the trailer!

It's less of a tight fit than I had originally estimated but still not much room to play with when riding her onto the trailer.

Not much room to play with.....

Oscar plans to weld a set of ramps and tailgate to the rear of the trailer

The next step, and the inspiration for the title of this posting, was to tie down the rig securely and take it out for a spin!  I used straps borrowed from Oscar and attempted what I thought was a secure tie down.

I noticed her bouncing a bit more than I liked and drove over to Oscar's place for his advice.  I was pretty much wrong on everything involving the tiedown usage methodology!

Oscar showed me how to properly tie down the rig and then she was really held in place, no more bouncing around as I drove around some more with the trailer in tow.  I noticed both my front shocks are leaking oil though, I guess the attempt up Argentine Pass took its toll!  Oh well.  Time to get them serviced!

Note the tiedowns now anchor the front wheel into place, am planning on buying a wheel holder soon

The rear proved a bit more difficult to anchor properly, will do some more research 
as I am not sure the anchor points I used will be strong enough for longer rides

Another view of the tiedowns and how Oscar "locked" the front wheel in place for now

Got Natasha back home and unloaded, worked on the left brake lighting issues.  Much troubleshooting later, finally narrowed it down to the brand new wiring module from U-Haul that was wired into the minivan's left light assembly!  Good quality control eh?

I got a replacement from them and all was well.

So, now I know I can trailer Natasha with the minivan, whether for long trips or repairs.  Lots of stuff learned while "bound" to my home neighborhood due to on call duties and some electrical troubleshooting practice.

9 comments:

Circle Blue said...

Sounds like a very productive day. Like my wee chariot, the Ural is magnificent in her element, but highway isn't her strong suit. Looks like a great solution.

~Keith

bobskoot said...

Charlie6:

great idea. I also have a 3 rail trailer but you really need 2 people to load as it is really high. I have thought about trailering it but it just didn't make sense to ride and have a car follow behind or in front.

I was thinking of replacing with a drop axel for lower height, then perhaps I would use it more but it is more about the ride than getting there.

I have the same problem with limited vacation time, I can't devote all my time to riding, I have to go in the car too, so during the past few years I have only allocated 1 week to myself. But now I have crossed the threshold into 4 weeks, so now I can devote 2 weeks for myself, and 2 weeks for family time.

bob
Wet Coast Scootin

Sojourner rides said...

That's an impressive set up. Seems like it would be easier to get the bike in but I can't imagine backing it out would be easy? But I'm thinking from a woman's pov and not being the strongest woman, I can't figure out how navigating it backwards would work. Nice pictures--glad you've worked out a system.

Lloyd said...

Broke my Retro last week on a trip from Salt Lake to Denver. My son's trailer was the same size as the one you tried out but the left side would not clear the rail. Thanks to Grand Junction HD/BMW we were able to run the bike up on pallets to get it home. 8700 km in nine weeks, replaced the pusher, pucks for the disc and was stopped dead by carburator flange.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

A cheap trailer is like a bad second marriage. I own a Kendon two-rail rig capable opf hauling 2,000 pounds. It is very low off the pavement, and has a locking wheel chock to grab the front wheel of a bike. It makes loading a one-man operation. At the end of the day, it folds in half, and stows upright in the garage.

Lesson 1) Unless tension is applied to the bike's shocks, it will bounce and loosen the tie-downs. Tensiuon should be between 33% and 50% on the shocks.

Lesson 2) Trailers call for additional tools, such as a grease gun for the bearings and a torque wrench for the nuts on the tires. Also a jack that will collapse flat enough to squeeze under the low trailer axel. Also a rubber mallet and a wedge to chock the wheel on the sidecar.

Lesson 3) If you are trailering a bike any distance, make sure you own a spare tire for the trailer. If the tire mounts under the trailer, remove it and carry it in the tow vehicle. (That way, ypu don't have to unload the trailer to fix a flat.)

Lesson 4) Never trailer a motorcycle on the sidestand, unless you plan to throw the sidestand away and pick the bike up off its side later on.

Lesson 5) You can get a decent wheel chock for about $250 - $350 that can be bolted to the wooden deck of the trailer. It starts to get uncheap quick. The chock will not fit flat against the nose of the trailer depriving you of 4" to 6" or more of deck length.

Lesson 6) Cheap tie-downs have the same effect as sandpaper on bike paint. Tie up all loose ends. Also, covering a bike with a tarp or even a bike cover while towing is a great way to ruin the paint.

Lesson 7) Stop in 50 miles to check your lashings. At least one will be loose. Thereafter, stop every 100 miles for a good look. The wheel bearings are very important, and seldom properly maintained.

Lesson 8) U-haul motorcycle towing trailers are no bargain and nothing special. If you plan to trailer a lot, the trailer will be as important as the bike.

I have found all of these things out the hard way.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Chris Luhman said...

+1 to most of Jack's comments on trailers. A wheel chock is nice, but not necessary. It does make loading a two-wheeler much easier solo.

G-Anne said...

great idea! :)

HS3MIB said...

Nice post, thanks

irondad said...

Triangulation is everything, isn't it. I often haul a trailer with 14 training bikes tied down inside. Yes, I have to load and unload it.

Just don't let us catch you parking on the outskirts of town then riding in like you actually rode there! We'd hate to have a poseur in our midst!