Saturday, March 26, 2016

A gray Holy Saturday with a warm Sunset

Just a dusting of more snow for us here on the southeastern side of the Metro Denver area.  The roads are clear and wet, no real ice encountered even though the temperature didn't rise above 24°F (-4.4°C).

Scarlett and I meandered about looking, seeking spots which perhaps some snow accumulation or trees silhouetted against the thick overcast clouds which covered us as a dome covers a snow globe.

One can almost see the curved edges of the imaginary snow globe that
seemed to cover the area, so dense were the snow clouds overhead.
The wet pavement provided a nice reflective surface at times.
I've always like to try and capture a tree's discordantly balanced tree limbs
and branches against a light background sky.

Towards the mid-afternoon, skies started clearing as the snow clouds blew away to the south and east.  We enjoyed a couple of hours of starkly blue skies before more clouds moved in towards the sunset hour.

This is just for you to compare the same scene this morning as shown
in the first picture.

The front range mountains were crowned by a wide and seemingly solid bank of clouds which prevented a really nice sunset, we had to settle for a fair one.  Try as it might, the setting sun couldn't really penetrate the thick clouds.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Uraling after the big blizzard

Are you familiar with the expression about weather and the month of March?  Is it "In like a lion, out like a lamb" or "In like a lamb, out like a lion"?

Regardless, its the second version we're experiencing right this month as Easter approaches and the month winds down.

We got a pretty good amount of snow in the metro Denver area yesterday.  It was blizzard conditions at times, with the snow being blown horizontally by the strong winds.  We got perhaps a foot and half (more where it collected in drifts) in my neighborhood.  I spent a good couple of hours with the snow blower just to clear my driveway!  Heavy, wet, snow...not optimal for snow blowers.

Today we woke to clear and sunny skies, which led to go look for scenic sites before the snow melted.  The roads were not very well cleared yet, the untouched stuff in the center of the lanes had hardened and made pave roads feel like rock-strewn trails at times.

Didn't find much in terms of good photo op spots:

After dinner, it was time to find a nice snow covered parking lot for the sunset.  The sun had wiped out a lot of the snow on non-grassy surfaces so it was slim pickings to be found near my neighborhood.

Fiona update: I sent her existing old-style clutch perch and associated hardware to Bural who will modify them to accept the new URAL clutch cable.  Once I get them back, hopefully I can get Fiona on the road and progress further into sorting her out.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Scarlett and the First Day of Spring

I retrieved Scarlett from the URAL dealer in Fort Collins on the 17th of the month, it snowed on me on the way up and on the way down.

Randy, the dealer, had coordinated the return of the malfunctioning gearbox to URAL HQ in Redmond, WA.  Here's what I got from Jason, the VP in charge of operations and support:

Sergey is not positive what could have caused the bearing failure. It is possible the bearing may have been defective and/or damaged during installation.
We have completed the repair of your gearbox and it has been shipped back to Randy.
Sergey replaced the rear cover, bearings, seals, and also the main shaft.

I'd not had a chance to give Scarlett and extended test ride till yesterday, Sunday the 20th of March or the First day of Spring.

Scarlett and I, motored out of the neighborhood shortly before 9:00 AM I think and headed through the morass that is the Metro Denver area to the town of Morrison, CO where I fueled her up.  We took Bear Creek Canyon road to twist and turn our way through the sleepy towns of Idledale, Kittredge and Evergreen.

Bear Creek Canyon Road

At Evergreen, I got on CO Highway 74 towards the eastern end of CO Highway 103 aka Squaw Pass Road.  I wanted to see how the recent snowfall had improved the scenery.

The road quickly became snow-packed with rare clear patches of road where the sun had melted the snow away; it was quite slicker in the areas where trees and the mountain itself had kept the snow in the shadows! Ironically, the higher we went, the better the roads got....sun exposure I suppose.

Still, traffic was very light and I would pull over when I could to let them pass so I could pick my photo op sites with care and not worry about some tailgating cager behind me.

 Snow decorated trees at a hairpin turn along Squaw Pass Road

 First good views of the top of Mount Evans
The road up to the top is closed for the season

I cruised by Echo Lake but chose not to stop for pictures, sorry.  Scarlett and I then plunged downwards, twisting and turning our way down the western half of CO103 until we arrived at the town of Idaho Spring.

Though traffic on the I-70 Super Slab didn't look too bad, it was heavy enough to cause Scarlett and I to take the usual frontage roads all the way to Georgetown, CO.

From there, there's no real choice, so we got on the slab and motored as the second slowest vehicle all the way to the junction with US Highway 6 or Loveland Pass Road where we got off to enjoy the sights leading up the pass summit.

 View of nearby mountain peaks from the first major hairpin turn
on the way up to the summit of Loveland Pass

 Just before the summit of Loveland Pass

 Above is about the midway point between the summit of Loveland Pass
and the Arapahoe Basin ski resort

 A view of the Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort

 A view to the west of the summit

 You can almost see the cars parked at the summit

One last shot of the view to the west from the summit parking lot.

An incredibly gorgeous and clear blue sky as you can see from the pictures.  Scarlett and I took I-70 eastbound all the way back to the high plains desert that is the Metro Denver area.  No snow-covered landscapes here.  

Hope you were able to get a ride in, wherever you are located, this first day of Spring.  I expect I'll start seeing more motorcycles on the road now, coming out of hibernation.

Fiona update:  She's all put back together, engine is running but needs some tweaking.  Awaiting a modified clutch cable as the one she's presently got is too tight and causing the clutch disk to slip.  That's the theory anyways, we'll see when I get the cable and put it on.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Fiona Work Notes

This post is to track ongoing and finished work done to bring Fiona, my '99 URAL Patrol sidecar rig with a BMW R80 engine.

Yes, Fiona, as in Shrek's wife, who is also green.  We arrived at the name today.

1.  Clutch:  Turns out the PO had the wrong pressure plate/cover.  He'd been referencing what turned out to be the wrong diagram of a BMW Clutch Assembly from the Clymer's Manual:

The above diagram shows six spacers, #6, which are for the "lighter"
duty motorcycle such as the R65.  This is NOT the one to use.

this is the diagram I am using.  
Basically, the conversion uses a /6 clutch pack but with a /2 clutch disk

I ordered the correct Compression Ring from Richard Winter, #5 above along with a replacement Pressure Plate, #2 above as the one that came from the PO looked worn and damaged.  Once I get those two pieces, I'll be able to re-assemble the clutch pack and put the drive train back together.

Update: Got email from Richard Winter the day after we talked about the parts above and how I had the wrong pressure ring.  Got email with pics from Richard the next day, he's got the parts and shipping them to me.  Payment via Paypal.  No fuss, no muss, damn quick service!

 The right, /6, pressure ring aka cover plate

By the way, the major work in the conversion by Richard Winter is the welding/cutting and modifications needed to mate a URAL gearbox to the BMW engine.

Stock URAL 750 Gearbox

Richard Winter-modified URAL gearbox.
Note how the opening for the URAL starter was removed and filled in.
Mounting holes were added to match the BMW Engine's case
The diamond plate can be removed to inspect the clutch screws

2.  Wheel Bearings.  I removed the wheel bearings and associated hardware from the pusher wheel since I had it off anyways in order to dismount the Final Drive.  They are the old type bearings which need to be repacked at set maintenance intervals.  I checked with URAL and I ordered one of the new wheel bearing kits that come with the sealed bearings to replace the old bearings.

3.  I've ordered a used R80 Air Box from eBay, hoping to be able to modify it later on to provide a sheltered area for a stock BMW air filter for the carburetors.  In the meantime, I'll ride Fiona with the "muffin" air filters directly attached to the carburetors.

4.  The U-joints on the sidecar drive shaft are the old type, lacking grease zerks, so I'll arrange for their replacement with newer models that have the grease zerk.  They do feel nice and smooth and tight so they're still usable in the meantime.

5.  The drive splines on the Final Drive and on the pusher wheel look "OK", better than I thought they'd look like, but still not in new condition.  New would be a small flat tip instead of pointy triangles.

I was happy to find grease on the splines on the pusher's wheel hub.

6.  Main drive shaft U-Joint:  Turns smoothly, no play and I injected the zerk with new grease.

7.  Now I understand why Bud P., the PO, made the comments about how stupid it was that one has to move the sidecar over to the right a bit in order to be able to unscrew one of the four nuts holding the Final Drive to the swing arm.  Looks like someone else basically unscrewed the studs free of the FD case, not just remove the nuts securing said studs to the swing arm.  Doh!

Found two studs loose and one missing out of a total of four.  I then found the missing stud in the box of stuff Bud P. had given me.  Sigh.  I reinstalled the studs into their respective mounting holes in the case along with some blue Loctite, hopefully that does the trick.  Update: will add lock washers as well.

8.  Checked the spark plugs, type: NGK BPR5EGP, both showed black and oil, so the engine was running "rich" before.  I put in new versions of these plugs.  Might swap for Bosch W6DC plugs later.

Gap on the old plug was set at .037
The Clymer manuals states is should be .024-.028 !!!
I set the new plugs at about  .0265

9.  Drained the fuel tank, the gasoline came out a bit darker than I usually see it.  Kind of like the color of urine?  Anyways, I will be putting in fresh gas.  While I had the carburetor bowls off to inspect for crud or water, noticed that both carburetors were missing the small screw that caps the vacuum port on them!  Starting to wonder how it ran well before.  For now, bought some 5.5mm Rubber Caps to seal these openings.

Red arrow points to vacuum port which is missing a screw/cap

10.  Drained the engine oil, black as night.  Bud P. says he put in a new oil filter 1500 miles ago, so based on the odometer reading, roughly at the 13,000 Kilometer mark.  I'll just plan on replacing it at the 15,000 Kilometer mark with a new filter.  I put in two quarts of Castrol 4T Synthetic 20W50 oil, will see if it causes any "leaks", if so, will switch back to Dino version.  I'll probably swap the oil out anyways at the 15,000 mark just for GP.

11.  Battery Hold Down Strap.  It's missing, will try and get one from the URAL dealer.  Presently, it's being held in place, mostly, via a rubber strap.

12.  Found the ground wire for the stock horn but not the power wire, mounted the horn and ran a new wire to the battery for power.  Now I have a working horn.

13.  Tapped into the high beam power wire  to provide power to the auxiliary headlights that are mounted below the main headlight; they only come on when I turn on the high beam setting.

14.  Found a broken wire connection for the auxiliary headlight mounted on the sidecar fender, fixed,
it now comes on with I switch on the ignition.

15.  Previous owner had positioned both a relay and the BMW Voltage Regulator on a bracket anchored on the stud used by the upper front arm securing the sidecar:

Checked with Richard Winter and he confirmed that it's probably not a great location for these items where they're exposed to the weather.  The PO never rode in rain (rare as it might be in Arizona) so I guess he wasn't worried.

Temporarily, I removed both the relay and the voltage regulator from the bracket and repositioned them under the fuel tank:

Took a bit to find the right spots so that the fuel tank could still be fitted where it belonged, but it wasn't too bad.  Found a broken ground wire on the connector going to the regulator so, bonus repair!

Now waiting for the arrival of the clutch parts, hopefully tomorrow afternoon.

Ready for the clutch parts to arrive...

Oh, and good news about Scarlett, my 2014 URAL Patrol sidecar rig.  The repaired gearbox arrived at Randy's place today and last word I got was he was assembling it this afternoon!  I will be taking the trailer up there tomorrow to pick her up after an extended test drive up in Fort Collins!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

My Fourth Ural Sidecar Rig

Today I bought my fourth URAL Sidecar Rig, a used one, from a gentleman in Kingman, Arizona.

She's a 1999 URAL Patrol with a key difference from my other rigs.  She has a 1984 BMW R80 (800 cc) engine crafted together with a BMW /2 Clutch and mated to the stock URAL transmission to retain 2WD and Reverse gear.

The engine transplant/conversion was done by SovietSteeds member: BURAL, aka Richard Winter.  He's done several of these conversions for other Ural owners over the years and now I have one of his babies.

It all started with a phone call between myself and Richard, seeking information on what I need to find/source and finances to budget for someday replacing Scarlett's engine with a BMW engine.  The idea at the time was that once the warranty was over, and if/when her engine blew up, I'd put a Beemer engine in its place.

Turns out, there's a lot more to it and it would have run an estimated $4K to mate Brigitta's R80 engine to Scarlett's frame.

However, Richard mentioned that he knew of one of the owners of one of his converted rigs, a Bud P. who lived in Kingman, AZ.  Apparently, he might be willing to sell his as he wasn't riding it enough.

Long story short, I called Bud and after several calls between all concerned;  I agreed to purchase Bud's rig.  The rig had been sidelined by a damaged clutch disk, then he got hurt in an unrelated incident so he hadn't been able to replace the clutch disk.

I drove down to Las Vegas on Friday, overnighted with friends there and this morning met with Bud P. at his home in Kingman, AZ.

 Bud P. and his former rig

 1999 URAL Patrol with a '84 BMW R80 Engine

 I'll be re-installing the stock air tubes and air box

Pre-1976 /7 Flywheel (heavier) which will be mated to a /6 Clutch Pack
except for the clutch disk which is from a /2 with the coarse splines

 Not sure I'll keep the Red Star

odometer reading at time of sale.

I was with Bud P. for about 90 minutes as he described items on the rig, gave me some parts he had, and generally we chatted about stuff related to the rig.  I left his home at Noon and spent the rest of the day driving Martha's X5 with the rig on the trailer in tow to Albuquerque, NM where I will spend the night.  This will leave me about 7 hours of driving tomorrow before I get home via the I-25 slab.

Hopefully not much to do to get this rig operational.  The clutch pack replacement should be pretty straightforward and Richard Winter has promised tech support via phone.  All the fluids have be drained and replaced with fresh oils.  I'll drain the gas tank and put fresh gas in and re-connect some of the wires that go to the auxiliary lights.  

As its a '99 Patrol, I'll be replacing any fasteners with "lacking" metallurgy with modern equivalents, using Nylocs where appropriate, etc.  The pillion tractor seat is "toast", not sure I'll replace it, instead perhaps installing a cargo rack from a Chiang-Jang rig?

So, why do all this?  It's in the hopes of having a spare sidecar rig with a reliable engine even though the rest is pretty old in terms of components.  The BMW R80 engine has a great reputation for reliability and the rest of the URAL components, I can deal with easier than the Ural engine.

Perhaps, I'll try sourcing a more modern gearbox with Herzog manufactured gears but I think the one that comes with this rig will be fine for now.

We'll see if the above assumptions and hopes prove out, I'll definitely learn/relearn a lot of things along the way I am sure!  In my opinion, the major weakness of these URAL rigs was the engine and its associated "Russian grenade" alternator which tended to take out the associated timing gears when the alternator "grenaded".  This happened with my '96 URAL Sportsman, Natasha.

More power/torque from the R80 engine but you still have to "drive it like a URAL" since the final drive wasn't designed to handle the power/torque the BMW engine can generate.  Drive it over 55-60 MPH for long periods of time and I'll be buying a new final drive!  

As my goal is a reliable engine, not racing the rig, I think it's quite a realistic goal.

Update: some corrections/notes after I sent pictures of parts to Richard Winter.  Turns out I will need a pressure plate and a pressure ring, as the ones I got from Bud are either damaged or wrong one.  Richard is going to see if he's got the parts, used but in good condition, if not, it'll be a trip to the BMW dealer for /6 clutch components.