Sunday, May 24, 2020

On the Front Range with Brigitta

Saturday, May 23

It was high time for Brigitta, my '87 BMW R80, to get some exercise!

We would end up riding perhaps 60 miles or so, meandering the county roads to the NE of the cesspool that is the Metro Denver area.

The day was warm and mostly sunny with incoming weather clouds evident to the west as the afternoon moved towards evening.

First stop was Saint Isidore Church along the I-70 Super Slab near the small farming town of Watkins.  I was hoping for a nice view of the Front Range Mountains but the haze and clouds made that impossible this ride.

So instead, I posed Brigitta near the entrance to the Saint Isidore Cemetery, a place I'd not noticed before on previous rides:


I then rode to the town of Watkins and spotted signs for the "Colorado Air and Space Port".  Space Port?  We have a space port in Colorado?  So of course, with much doubt in my mind, I followed the signs.

As I suspected based on what I knew of this area, it turned out to be the Front Range Airport, rebranded as a space port!



So, what gives them the right to call themselves a Space Port?

From wikipedia:  In October 2011, the Governor of ColoradoJohn Hickenlooper, formally requested that the federal government designate Colorado a "spaceport state" and that the airport be designated a spaceport for suborbital horizontal takeoff flights (HTVL and HTHL).[8] Spaceport designation would allow a facility offering suborbital tourism, travel, and cargo transport from one point to another on Earth. The Denver Post reported that "No vertical launches are planned at the Front Range, unlike most of the other eight certified U.S. spaceports. Instead, space planes — an emerging technology — will use regular runways and jet engines to take off and land, switching to rocket power above 50,000 feet."

So no, I didn't spot any space craft while wandering around the "space port".  

Heading west a little bit away from the "space port", one passes several solar panel farms and eventually one can see the white canopies and ugly "mustache" hotel of the Denver international Airport.

As a sign of the Covid-19 times, you could see a line of idled aircraft parked on the outskirts of the airport, waiting for more "normal" times and traffic patterns.  I wonder if we'll see such normalcy again.



The clouds had moved in by now and so Brigitta and I headed back home as winds picked up as well.

Brigitta performed flawlessly as usual, she's barely over 101,000 miles (roughly) on her odometer.  

Friday, May 22, 2020

Replacing seals/oil on Fiona's Shock Absorbers

I returned from camping on Wednesday, May 20.  I didn't want to be out camping during the Memorial Day Weekend when seemingly EVERYONE wants to be outside seeing the sights/camping/riding/driving...etc! 

Better to stay at home away from the maddening crowds surely to hit the mountains and campsites after weeks/months of "stay at home" or "safer at home" or whatever your particular state/country dictated.

Once the Memorial Day weekend debacle passes, it'll be time to go camping with Martha in the URRV, destinations are unclear as I type this.

So, with the arrival (Covid-19 delayed) of the seals from the ebay vendor located in Belarus, it was time to try and replace all the seals on all five of Fiona's shock absorbers.  All five had been leaking for a while now, and they were quite the mess.

I followed the great photo tutorial published by Bill Glaser:  LINK so plenty of pictures there with instructions.

My photos just show the differences I ran into:

On the first shock to be repaired (left front shock absorber), I put a green piece of tape to remind me of the forward orientation for the lower mounts.  The tape didn't last long.  No worries though, I learned the hard way that one side is threaded (which goes inboard) and the other side isn't.  If you mistakenly install it backwards, the bolt will not work!


Here's a view of my version of Bill Glaser's homemade shock spring compression tool.  It presses the spring down until you can access the two half moon clips that hold everything together under pressure.


I did the front wheel's shock absorbers thinking they'd be the easiest.  I was wrong.  The left side shock went just fine but the right side shock proved to be a bugger in terms of installation.  First, I forgot to put in one of the components inside the shock which I believe restrict/regulate the flow of oil through the shock assembly along with others.

the disk I forgot to put back in is the third one from the left
in the above pic

I also placed the lower legs backwards so that the threaded hole was outboard, and wasted a lot of time fighting that error, till I realized my mistake!

It proved to be such a pain to align things (had to ultimately remove the front wheel in order to see the other side of the threaded hole to align things, that I am NOT going to take it all apart to put the missing metal disk in place. 

We'll see how that goes eh?

Just doing the two shock absorbers on the front wheel proved to be so taxing that I stopped and left the remaining three shock absorbers for the next day!  Just as well, as I had to tackle a failed sprinkler control valve when I went to activate the lawn sprinklers for the season!

Dale, my friend from the neighborhood, came by and showed me how to easily diagnose and fix the issue.  A $20 part later, I was back in business.  Thanks Dale!

Did incur a metal splinter while cleaning components of one of the shock absorbers.  I got through the day with it embedded in my right thumb and finally managed to dig it out, with Martha's help in cutting an exit for it, later that evening.  So yes, blood was shed.

A much magnified view of the splinter:


Friday, May 22.  Resuming work on the shock absorbers.

Started with the sidecar's shock absorber.  It removed easily enough from the frame but then proved to be very tightly screwed on, the cap that one uses the pin wrench on, and I had to resort to a vise, heat, penetrating oil and lots of effort to get it unscrewed!


After a thorough cleanup of the parts and the threads involved, everything went back together pretty well after replacing the rubber seals.  Installing it back onto the frame was easy.  Good stuff I though, two more to go.

The fourth shock absorber to be done was the left side unit for the rear wheel.  Again, it came off easily enough.  It also came apart easily as it wasn't over tightened. and once taken apart, it proved to be missing the slightly concave washer which sits on the bottom of the oil seal for the shock's shaft!  (Item 1 below).  I put in a flat washer of similar dimensions which hopefully will do the same job of protecting the deal from the spring which is below it.


The last shock absorber, the right side unit for the rear wheel proved even more difficult to take apart!  It came off the frame easily enough, but I couldn't unscrew the cap to access the inner shock components using the same methods as with the sidecar shock!

Even with Patrick holding down the shock's top eyelet to help keep pressure on the pin wrench failed to yield more than perhaps a 1/2" of movement!

We then used a ratchet strap, anchored opposite sides of the workbench and it finally provided enough downward pressure on the eyelet to compress the rubber donut seal onto the pin wrench to allow me to use full force on it.  Much grunting and effort later, the cap started turning easier and easier and finally we got it off!  Yikes.  Definitely cross-threaded!


While cleaning components and replacing seals, I noted the damage to the cup portion of the inner shock assembly:


The above damage, coupled by the fact the shock tube's threads were so damaged due to previous cross-threading either by the factory of P.O. that I abandoned attempts to use this shock absorber further.

I'll be ordering a refurbished one from ebay from the same vendor as the seals, just waiting on confirmation the one I selected is compatible. 

In the meantime, I mounted one of Scarlett's old Sachs shock absorbers so that Fiona is rideable.  The shock proved to be a bit of a bugger to install, two long screwdrivers, hammers, the ratchet strap and at times a crowbar were involved in getting the upper eyelet lined up with the frame's mount point to get that sucker installed!  Yikes.

Note: I ended up using a different nut/bolt to secure the bottom legs of the Sachs shock absorber as it didn't have the threaded inboard hole to secure the stock bolt onto.  The stock bolt, and the damaged shock housing/cap along with working components will go into storage for now.

All done for now, I am beat.  My hands hurt, my knees hurt, got myself a blood blister when some tool pinched my left thumb but it's done!  We'll see if she rides better, at the very least, there won't be unsightly dripping of oil from the shock absorbers.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Riding the Penrose BLM trails with Bob and Dale....

Thursday, May 14

Not much  riding today, mainly relaxing at the URRV campsite and catching up on my reading.  The sunset this evening was OK:


Friday, May 15

Dale and Bob from the neighborhood arrived Friday afternoon and after they got their tents setup and such we headed out for short ride to get them acquainted with the area.  Sorry, no pics.

Saturday, May 16

We rode around the accessible to the Ural portions of the BLM trails, concentrating mainly on the ones off of the 6101 and 6102 trails.

After this riding, we stopped at the campsite for a snack at mid-morning, then geared back up to head over to Brush Hollow Reservoir to check it out.

 Dale at the reservoir

 Back at camp for the mandatory group shot

Bob and Dale decided to do some more riding later in the afternoon while I chose to stay at camp and rest.  Here's Dale trying on Martha's riding jacket as the afternoon was quite warm and the jacket he'd been using wasn't really vented:


Luckily, Dale's fashion sense prevailed and I lent him my riding jacket for their riding:

Bob on his Honda Rancher and Dale on Yagi, the T-dub

No campfires permitted during our camping so instead we just had dinner and chatted away the evening in the URRV.  Good times.

Sunday, May 17

More riding of the BLM trails with some emphasis on practicing the riding over rocky ledges and obstacles.  This video shows you some of the highlights.  Everyone had a good laugh at each other's expense, no one was hurt except perhaps in pride and no damage to the vehicles.  So a good riding set of days!


Both Bob and Dale are quite enthused with the capabilities of the TW200, they were talking about getting one of their own.  That would open up more terrain for exploring when we ride together so hopefully they carry through those thoughts.




Thursday, May 14, 2020

Boondocking again at the Penrose BLM Area - Pre-Group-Arrival

I drove out of the Metro Denver Cesspool on Tuesday and less than two hours later I was setting up camp in my favorite spot within the Penrose BLM Area.  Nice and secluded, not along the main "road" traversing the area and good cellular signal.


I set up camp and relaxed in the quiet and solitude.  Enjoyed it so much, I didn't do much of anything else the next day, Wednesday, except work on a wiring issue involving the URRV's rear lights.  The weather was very warm and lows were in the low 40s the first couple of nights.

I woke Wednesday to find the valley areas covered in a dense fog, making it look like the tops of the hills were islands floating on a frothy sea.



 Kind of looks like a fog shrouded bay or body of water eh?



A view of the valley in the afternoon, way after the fog had burned off.

Thursday, I woke to a warm dawn of 48°F (8.8°C) and soon after breakfast I was off riding the area's trails on Yagi, my 2006 Yamaha TW200.  The objective was to refresh my mind on what trails were there, their condition and whether it would be Ural-able with a passenger in the sidecar.

Passenger in the sidecar you ask?  Was Martha joining me?  Nope.

Starting Friday afternoon, I was expecting three neighborhood friends: Bob, Dale and Jim.  They were joining me for a couple of days of camping and I would be giving one of them a ride in the sidecar while one of the other two would ride Yagi.  A guy's camping weekend, so to speak.

What?!  Me mingle with others?  Me, the solitary curmudgeon?  Yep, though it was Martha's idea.  We'll see how it goes.

My wanderings ended up taking all morning and yet covering less than 26 miles.  Slow going on the trails within the BLM area and just slow meandering within the Brush Hollow State Wildlife Area and Reservoir.


I'll be spending the rest of the afternoon, after I publish this post, enjoying the warm but not hot weather and relaxing.  Retirement is hell I tell you, simply, hell.