Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ride Report - Grand Tetons - Day One

After finally getting a solid ten hours of sleep after having worked a straight 24 hrs for yet another network change at work, I woke rested for the trip to the Grand Teton National Park.

I left at 0842 after doing last minute preps on Maria and some light packing for the trip. It had taken my wife's ROTC college reunion at the University of Wyoming to kickstart plans for this trip. We'd head up to Laramie, WY; she in the van with the boys and me on Maria. I'd meet her classmates, they'd go off to the football game and I'd continue onwards to Riverton, WY where I planned to overnight.

I made it to Laramie and the campus by 1100, it was a small gathering and they all piled into the shuttle van to go to the game at noon. I left shortly after and hit the I-80 Slab for a while. Followed the GPS and highway signs for Grand Teton/Yellowstone Parks, up US 287 which is also WY789.

The scenery was a bit plain at first, ok mostly all the way. There were brief periods of forested twisty terrain but for the most part it was boring slab riding.

I got to Riverton at 1600 having made pretty good time so I decided to push on to Dubois. I got to Dubois around 1730, home of the Giant Jackalope Ride (which I skipped) but did take a picture of the Giant Cow Skull that adorns the entrance to a laundromat.

Some of the scenery seen on the way to Jackson from Dubois

The sun was still pretty up on the horizon so I pressed on to Jackson which was now ony 86 miles away. I hit about 5-6 miles of bad roads that were being rebuilt, mind you this is still US 287! It was loose gravel and potholes, kind of what I imagine the Haul Road in Alaska being. This slowed me way down of course but luckily traffic was very light.

As evening approached, I became very alert and wary of deer and other wildlife that might pop out of the sides of the road. The many signs warning of such events did not help the stress level but fortunately I never saw anything.

As night fell, I arrived at Jackson, WY shortly after 2000hrs. Got mixed up in the evening traffic and finally rode my way back out of the town to the Dairy Queen where I got dinner.

I headed 5 miles back the way I came and found the Campground near Kelly for which I'd seen a sign on the way in to Jackson.

I rode about in the dark, found an empty campsite and registered for it. I was feeling pretty lucky with all the riding I'd done, finding a spot in the dark and the setup of the camp could not have been easier in spite of the darkness. I did use Maria's headlight for illumination for the setup of the tent.

I used up all my luck as I tried and back Maria into the parking area belonging to the tent site. I had her in place then my foot slipped as I went to put down the kickstand and down she went on her right side!

Damn. Well, a brief examination showed scratches on the right mirror (yep, the brand new one), the right side GS mirror had loosened in its mounting and hopefully fixable in the morning and perhaps some scratches on the right valve cover. Not too bad. A bunch of guys popped out of the darkness to help me pick her up, so no strain on my part. They were fellow riders they told me and had heard the bike fall I guess. Good guys.

After this, I just retreated to the tent and tried to sleep. I must get an air mattress if I am to continue this camping business!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

S Fairing Project - New Dashboard

The new dashboard I'd ordered was delivered to the Beemer dealer yesterday and I picked it up today along with oil change supplies for Maria, my 2004 1150RT. I am riding her to Wyoming this weekend and she was close to her scheduled oil change which I did today, early.

So anyways, I talked to Clem, the Vintage motorcycle Mechanic at the dealer, and he told me you need a special tool to install the brass/copper inserts that hold the new dash onto the fairing. Damn I thought to myself on the way home; now I've got to remove the fairing, take it in, and have Clem put the new dash on. I was bummed.

Got home, changed the oil on Maria which took me past 1800 hrs with dinner included. No real issues with the oil change, some seepage after the change but I think its because I overfilled the oil filter before I mounted it onto the motorcycle. At least, I hope so. So far, no leaks after some more tightening of the filter. 11nm is apparently not enough.

Around 8pm or so, I went ahead and took the old dash off after removing the windshield. I had the idea to replicate what the "special tool" did but in a cruder fashion. Basically, I'd put the insert in so that the flanged end was on the inside; then I'd cut/bend/flatten the outside edges of the insert manually. This worked out very well I must say! Not as pretty as with the "special tool" but it works! The plastic expanding rivets hide my crude work so it's all good!

New Dashboard

As you can see, it looks pretty good with the dashboard in one complete piece as opposed to before where the ends had been trimmed off:

Old Dashboard

Now to the finishing touches, some plastic trim work perhaps to fill in the missing portions of the fairing itself. The plastic trim will be added so that it does not impact on the brake reservoir on the right side of the fairing.

All in all, this part of the project worked out pretty good and I didn't have to unmount the fairing which is a pain! I am a happy camper.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Running out of Gas

Temps in the mid to high 80s, sunny.

I ran out of gas on my 1987 R80, Brigitta, while riding home from work today.

FYI: Airheads have an internal hump down the middle of the gas tank so that fuel is delivered to the carburetors from two petcocks. One on each side of the tank, they have three settings: Off, Main and Reserve. I tend to ride with the left side on Main and the right side on Reserve. This way, the theory goes, when the motorcycle starts sputtering from lack of fuel, I can reach down with my left hand and switch it to reserve. It's not so easy to reach over the tank with the left hand to manipulate the right petcock, since one's right hand is on the throttle.

There's a crossover gas line between the two lines coming out of the two petcocks so each side can supply both carburetors.

Using the above method, I believe that when I put the left side on reserve, the right side is already completely empty and all I have left is the Left Reserve.

She started signaling she was running low (it feels like the engine is losing power) at 185 miles on the trip meter and so I switched the left petcock to reserve, thinking that I had at least 1 gallon left. Not so, more like 1/2 gallon. Not only that but I didn't notice that I was running with my right petcock on main instead of reserve as usual.

Around mile 200 or so, she started sputtering and I thought to myself: Damn, I should have stopped at that gas station by work instead of trying to make it to my usual gas station near home! I coasted to the side of the road to assess things while traffic flew by a few feet to my left. I looked down and finally noticed my right petcock was on main instead of reserve! So I switched it over and voila, the engine cranked right over and I thought myself fortunate.

I eased my way into the traffic stream after building up some speed on the grass besides the pavement and motored on towards the gas station near home. At mile 207 on the trip meter, the engine quit again as I prepared to enter the gas station's shopping center's parking lot and I got off the motorcycle after trying to crank it and pushed it 30 ft into a nearby parking spot. Damn. There I switched off the ignition and put it on the sidestand for a minute. I thought about calling my wife and asking her to bring a gallon of gas I keep at the house for the lawnmower.

Before I called though, I cranked her over one more and she caught! I quickly backed up and turned my self around and headed once more to the gas station. Wouldn't you know it, 100 ft from the gas station she quits again on me. No more fuel this time as I cranked the engine several times.

Sighing in the heat, I got off the motorcycle after putting her in neutral, and pushed her all the way to the nearest open pump. I am sure I made for an amusing sight to the patrons of the gas station but I didn't care. After all, 100 ft of pushing is not bad when one is riding the R80 which weighs 432lbs dry. Had I been on Maria though, with her 550lbs of dry weight, it would have been a much harder ordeal! Woof.

So, now I know I've 20 miles when on my second reserve before I am pushing the motorcycle or walking to get gas or waiting for someone to bring me some. I also know now that while my tank capacity might be rated at 5.5 gallons, it's closer to 5 due to the design of the tank flap under the gas cap. Apparently a lot of other airheads cut out this flap to get the most capacity out of their tank. Might be a winter project for me when I do the recommended flushing/cleaning of the gas tank.

I guess those are good things to know and a reinforcer of the concept of getting gas when its present and not hoping to get to one's usual fuel stop instead. A sort of a motorcycling version of "A bird in the hand, is worth two in the bush" if you take my meaning.

Monday, August 25, 2008

S Fairing Project - The Gauges

In the continuing work involved with fitting out an S fairing onto my 1987 R80, Brigitta, today I received the VDO brand Clock Gauge from Contrary to their "customer service" information, it did come with a spin-lok mounting ring so installing it was no problem.

Took the fuel tank off, a couple of wire runs later and the clock gauge was mounted snugly on the left hand hold of the S fairing. I discovered I'd put the spin-lok on the voltmeter on incorrectly so I fixed that as well and its snug in the right hand hole of the S fairing.

Both gauges are "lit" so that they're visible at night. The only thing that is just slightly out of place in my eyes is that the Equus Brand Voltmeter's Bezel is not the same as the VDO Brand Clock's Bezel but its minor. Sooner or later (watch it be years now) the voltmeter will croak and I'll replace it with a VDO voltmeter.

Next? Replace the trimmed dashboard with a stock one to provide support to the outlying portions of the windshield, then maybe some plastic trimming of the cut-off portions of the fairing itself for a more "complete" look.

Yes, I understand it'll never stand up to the scrutiny of Airhead Purists but it's my motorcycle and since I've only myself to please when it comes to her, then the purists can just purse their lips disapprovingly all they want! Heck, an R80 is not even supposed to have an S fairing to start with! You gotta love how interchangeable parts appear to be among the many years/models of Airheads that BMW produced!

23OCT08 Update: I had to change the wire that powered the light for the clock to run off the hot feed for the voltmeter. This way, the light for the clock would only come on when the bike was running, and not slowly draining the battery as it was doing.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rainproof Brigitta? Perhaps.

Last night I rode into work in the midst of a light shower. I had to participate in a change at the datacenter that would run till 0400 today.

The light rain was actually nice and cooling as it had been a hot and muggy day, for Colorado anyways. I found it quite refreshing and it did not rain hard enough to cause vision issues. I soon rode through the rain and the streets were dry by the time I got to work.

It rained on and off through the rest of the night on Brigitta and I was so busy at work I completely forgot to worry whether she'd start up again when next I saw her.

This worry returned as I walked to her after the change, it was 0400 in the morning and quite cool and wet out in the parking lot.

I tried starting her on half choke setting and it didn't fire her up. I cycled the ignition key one more time, this time engaged full choke and after a few cranks of the starter she fired right up! I closed off the choke and let her warm up as I prepared to ride. I was a happy camper.

The fact she'd been sitting out in rain all night was no issue this time. She held idle just fine once she was warmed up and I encountered none of the issues I had encountered in my previous ride in the rain. Now given, it had rained much harder the previous time, still I'll take her condition as a good sign.

Here she sits in the garage tonight, all cleaned up from her riding in the rain.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ready for my next ride in the rain

The new spark plug cables came today from for Brigitta, my 1987 R80 who has had "issues" when riding in the rain, specially if she's sat in the rain for a while getting soaked.

I did some research on the airheads archive site, posted questions on the airhead list and the consensus seem to be to replace the existing spark plug cables with new ones. After all, I had already replaced the cracked coil and ignition control module. Those were usually the culprit of rain-related sputtering/failing to hold idle issues on these Airheads.

The new cables were $16 so it's a cheap thing to try and make Brigitta scoff at rainy days. I used dielectric grease on the connectors for the new cables, on the plugs themselves and the coil towers as well. Anywhere I saw exposed wire on a grounding point, I covered with dielectric grease as well.

This should leave only one issue that arises when I ride the R80 in the rain, somehow water is getting under the gauge lenses and fogging them up a bit. However, if that's the only thing that happens untoward in the next rainy day, I'll be happy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

This is why I try to do all maintenance work on my motorcycles

While saving the labor costs associated with services and general maintenance tasks on my motorcycles is the main reason I do them. Sure, I could let the Beemer dealer's mechanics do them and just enjoy riding the bikes but....

When I do the services/maintenance tasks, I know they're done, done on time and done right and under no time crunch at the dealer trying to get everyone's bikes fixed.

They're my bikes so I take the extra step, the extra time and extra effort to do the task right. Sure, I'm slower than a trained mechanic but I am sure I care more about the results than that mechanic.

When there's several things to be done, I know ALL will be done; sometimes I've had doubts about this being the same at a dealer's shop. Sure, I was charged for a service, but in one case, I don't believe it was done....can't prove it but doing it myself, I've only me to blame.

Today I found the voltmeter I'd installed months ago, just hanging free from its wire connections. Apparently whomever replaced my fairing panels "neglected" to secure it back where it had been behind the speaker grid! Inexcusable on his part, inexcusable on mine to not have noticed that when I took receipt of the bike. Yes, I've been riding Brigitta more than Maria but really, I should have checked.

So, trust but verify.....the Gipper's words once again are on my mind.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rain Riding Issues

Today I had a meeting at the university where I'm adjunct faculty and teach part-time. It was softly raining as I looked out the garage door and the weather guessers were calling for the same all day.

So, did I make the rational decision and take the cage? Or at least take the motorcycle with the most weather protection? Nope, took Brigitta, my 1987 R80 with an S fairing. I wanted to get a ride in with the new ICM from to see if it cured the tachometer needle twitchiness.

So, some issue arose:

1. I had a heck of a time getting her started after she'd sat in the rain for about 3 hrs or so. The battery sounded pretty weak as I tried to crank her over. I even tried bump-starting it using a very slight incline in the school parking lot. Several attempts later, involving pushing the motorcycle back up the incline, failed miserably. She finally did crank over and I was quick enough to rev her up high enough to catch and stay on. Sheeesh. Not exactly my idea of fun. I guess my using the heated hand grips on the short ride to the school was not the best idea. After all, these Airheads are known to have weak charging systems. Sigh. I must get a voltmeter mounted on this motorcycle.

1a. Update: 1710hrs: Got a cheapo voltmeter from the autoparts store, hooked it up first to the switched connections for the heated grips, not good when the grips are on. Left the hot wire on the heated grip switch and ran the ground to a ground screw under the tank. More better. This will do till I find a BMW or VDO Voltmeter for a reasonable cost.

2. There's still some twitchiness with the tachometer's needle, so I guess it's not the ICM but the motorcycle still needs some work in that regard. It's worse in driving rain too, on the return trip home she was not holding idle even when warmed up. Rather disappointing in a way, I had been thinking of upping the idle somewhat and this clinched it. She then held idle fine once I tweaked it upwards when I got home. I really hope the new coil is not defective somehow. Still, it works much better than the old cracked one.

3. The most serious is I've got to figure out how to keep the inside of the helmet visor from getting wet and foggy. I am thinking perhaps a towel that's accessible at stops. The visor I had on the helmet had the Fogshield brand anti-fog mounted and it failed pretty miserably in rain.

So yeah, riding in the rain specially on a motorcycle with a minimal fairing is something to be experienced once, next time I'll know better. I do plan on a short ride through the neighborhood later to make sure the higher idle setting is a real solution or not.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Maria's Fully Repaired

Even though she's been back home with me since 08JUL08, she came home with her damaged fairings replacements on backorder through the Beemer dealer: LINK

Yesterday I rode her to the dealer and left her with them since they finally had time to take off her damaged right main panel and her front panel surrounding the headlight and put on the new ones which had been sitting in their staging area since the end of July I think.

There had been no rush or need for me to pressure them for an earlier date since I had Brigitta to supply my daily riding "fix" and you could hardly tell the plastic was damaged on Maria. Heck, I usually had to point it out to people.

Today was a rainy day here in the Denver Metro Area, but no matter, for I was able to pick up Maria at the dealer and ride her to work. The rain was light and soft on the way there, so light I didn't bother to put on my rain gear.

Maria was alone in the work parking lot, getting soaked all day as I worked, waiting for the worst of the rain to clear.

By 1530, I was ready to go, it was still raining pretty good so I went through the PITA ritual of donning my raingear. My loving wife calls it the banana suit since it's bright yellow. I figure it keeps me dry and perhaps the cagers out there in the rain with me will actually see me.

The ride home was pretty uneventful, just rain and droplets on the helmet visor to deal with. As always, I rode very timidly on the curves where normally I like to exercise good "lean" angles. Cagers pretty much gave me my space, possibly to avoid burning out their retinas as their headlights shone on my yellow rain gear.

Discovering a New Motorcycling Blog

Today I was reading through the AUG 08 edition of the BMW Owner's News magazine. I read with much delight a trip report by Jack Riepe on his riding group's recent trip in New Jersey to seek a meal of that uniquely Scottish dish: Haggis.

Jack Riepe is a professional writer and quite entertaining in the way he comments on life in general but with a motorcycling influence. I highly recommend you check out his blog: LINK.

The article in the BMW Owner's News magazine had me laughing out loud in his vivid description of a bump-starting of a GS situation they encountered while on the road trip. My kids ran over and asked me why I was laughing in such a loud and maniacal fashion, very unusual for me I assure you. I read the article to them and it was so well written that even they got the humor of the situation and laughed at the appropriate times. This is unusual for them when it comes to my kind of humor!

His review of the movie "The Long Way Down" was outstanding, much better than mine. Read his to see what you really missed and some amusing commentary of his own thrown in.

Again, go read the man's blog, I know you'll find it a good use of your time, unless of course you were going to be riding your motorcycle instead. Jack Riepe would understand, and so would I.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Big Dog Ride

No, I didn't ride in it as my motorcycles are more street-oriented than the tough looking motorcycles I saw at the BMW of Denver dealer's parking lot where I was dropping off Maria to have her replacement fairings put on.

From their website: LINK

The BIG DOG RIDE is a BMW "Invitational Ride" for owners of BMW G/S and GS model motorcycles. It is neither a race nor a rally. It is an annual gathering of a fraternity of BMW aficionados of G/S and GS styled motorcycles that mutually appreciate riding their motorcycles with like minded philosophers in the best environment for on and off-road riding in the world, the Rocky Mountains of North America.

As I was waiting on my loving wife to come pick me up from the dealer, I walked by each of the participant motorcycles, admiring their lines and gear and protection devices. As I said, very tough looking motorcycles, perhaps someday I'll own a R100GS.

Above and below, Clem, the vintage mechanic's GS

BMW's new HP Moto

A customized R100GS

Another R100GS, with extra load capacity

Even a Kawasaki KLR showed up for the ride

a very clean GS Airhead I've seen at work

Sorry for the picture quality, I only had my phone's camera with me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

S Fairing Project: It's Mounted!

My loving wife picked up the windshield and mounting hardware parts from the Beemer dealer yesterday and I started working on mounting it all on the motorcycle when I got home. I realized shortly thereafter that I was missing some pieces that I'd ordered! Damn. I luckily was able to "improvise" some replacement hardware from the local hardware store. Now I just have to make sure the Beemer dealer didn't charge me for the missing items.

Took a bit of trial and error but I believe I got the right bits in the right spot and in the right mounting sequences. It was a tight fit pulling the fairing's lower mounting holes over the turn signal mounts but I finally got it to go in.

Once the fairing was in place and mostly centered on the headlight (still needs some work), I tackled mounting the windshield onto the fairing using the expanding rivets. These were not the easiest thing to put in, even with some lubrication with WD-40 as recommended by others in the Airhead mailing list. The end rivets were definitely a PITA but I did manage to get them in.

That's when the realization of the meaning of a comment made by the previous owner of the fairing hit home. He'd mentioned that the owner of the fairing prior to him had done some trim work on the upper arms of the fairing. Me being a noobie airhead owner and never having seen an S motorcycle in person, looked at the pics he'd sent me and saw nothing wrong.

Well, there was, kinda. The guy had actually cut off about three inches off the ends of the fairing's upper arms. I can see why he did it, otherwise the arms would hit the brake fluid reservoir on the right and the choke assembly lever on the left. Apparently, S motorcycles either came with the european or "low" handlebars and not the US or "high" handlebar Brigitta came to me with.

So, it's good that he trimmed it otherwise I'd be stuck doing it or figuring out how to move things out of the fairings way if I wanted to use it. I am now debating whether to "trim" the overhanging end of the windshield or not. Any opinions out there on whether to trim the windshield or not?

You can extrapolate where the missing portion of the upper fairing arms would have caused issues.

She does look pretty good though

The windshield and fairing does help a little bit in getting the wind pressure off my chest when going at speeds higher than say 55mph. If I was trying to make this motorcycle my touring motorcycle, it'd need a higher windshield I think.

No, this S fairing is mostly for looks, I like the way Brigitta looked before but the S Fairing gives it that aerodynamic retro look for which the S motorcycles were famous for when they came out in the late 70s through early 80s.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Today's Wrenching Theme: Carburetors

I gotta tell ya, you really have to have a willingness to tinker and learn wrenching concepts when buying a motorcycle that's over 22 years old and has over 60k miles on the odometer!

Today's wrenching theme was Carburetion and my discovering how sensitive the carburetor floats are on Brigitta's left carburetor. Yep, the carburetor which has the broken float pin mount, and the subject of many of my recent postings.

After experiencing no issues on the ride in to work, I had some power loss near the end of my commute home. It felt like I was not getting gas and I even switched to reserve to see if perhaps that was it. Nope. I thought then that the new ICM which had been causing tachometer needle twitchiness was the culprit. Got home, swapped it with the old one which did not cause tachometer twitchiness and after after a few miles...experienced power loss again!

This power loss usually occurred above 60 mph which was kind of weird, then Brigitta would just run like there was no power, and I'd barely be able to ride along at 50mph on the straightaways, on the hills she'd just steadily lose way.

Returned home to dinner, thought about it some more and since it was not the ICM, figured perhaps the left cylinder was not getting fuel when at the higher speeds. Figured perhaps gas was being drawn up by the carb faster than the fuel was being resupplied into the float bowl.

So, finished dinner, took the left side carburetor floats out and bent them to be as straight as possible as I believed previous tweaking on my part had not helped things. Put it all back together, checked for leakage then geared up for another test ride.

I rode her out to Quincy Road as before and as before, experienced power loss symptoms at damn near the same mile marker! Damn. Stopped her on a side road, killed the engine and without using the sidestand, got off the motorcycle and put her on the centerstand.

I took off both carburetor float bowls and noticed that the left side bowl's fuel level was significantly lower than the right side float bowl's fuel level! Hmmm.

I "tweaked" the floats some more so that they were a bit more angled upwards as they hang on the mounting pin. This way, I thought, the fuel level would go up higher before the floats actuated the pin that shut off further fuel from the tank.

Once again, put everything back together and went off eastward on Quincy. Things were much better this time and I was able to sustaing speeds in the 70-80 mph range with the usual great performance I'd come to expect from my R80. I went all the way till Quincy Rd/CR30 became dirt, and turned around to do another high speed run westward in the direction of home.

Brigitta's floats must be at the right angle now since she did not complain or lose power through lack of gas to the left cylinder! I was a happy camper once again. Sensitive buggers these floats!


Today was also the day the replacement carburetor body I got from arrived. $75 was the cost and the part is in very good shape! Here's some photos of the part which I'll be swapping out with the damaged one come the end of the month.

Existing Carburetor: Bottom view, note the broken mount where the float mounting pin is exposed.

Replacement Carburetor Body: Bottom View

Looking down into the replacement carburetor body

Existing Carburetor, Inboard side

Replacement Carburetor: Inboard Side, not the unbroken float pin mounts!

Existing Carburetor: Air Intake Side, you can see the jet needle inside

Replacement Carburetor: Air Intake side

Existing Carburetor: Fuel/Air Mixture Output Side, note the Throttle Plate

Replacement Carburetor: Fuel/Air Mixture Output side

So why wait till the end of the month you ask? Well, one of the recognized Gurus within the Airhead Beemer community, Matt Parkhouse, in Colorado Springs has agreed to help me transfer the innards under his guidance; and he's ok with me taking pics throughout the process for the blog! The airhead beemer community is really full of helpful and experienced folks like Matt and I am very fortunate in that respect.

I've also received the BING Carburetor Manual, very handy reference and only $10.50. Today I also ordered new screws that hold the throttle plate to its mounting rod. I'll most likely have to dremel off the existing ones since they're peened to prevent their coming loose within the carburetor. I am thinking perhaps of ordering a replacement cork gasket for the float bowl as well. Maybe tomorrow.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Brigitta gets Engine Guards

I recently blogged about riding to Aspen, CO to get a set of free engine guards for Brigitta, my '87 R80 Beemer from Patrick J, a fellow Airhead owner. LINK

Between work and family and other maintenance/riding to be done on both motorcycles, I'd been cleaning the engine guards up and applying about three coats of heat resistant paint on the guards in preparation for mounting them on Brigitta.

I did not do as good a job on the guards as I'd like, definitely not as good as the paining turned out on the S fairing but then I said to myself: "they're engine guards, what do you think will happen to a nice paint job if and when you drop the motorcycle?". So, enough trying for perfection for now, I went ahead and put them on yesterday.

Took me a while to figure out how to loosen the engine mounting bolt to which the lower portion of the engine guards attach to. You have to hold both sides of the bolt! Doh! : )

Here she is with the engine guards on, comments?

Hmmm, possible temporary foot rests on long rides?

I also took some shots aiming for a more "artsy" effect, the two that came out are appropriately commented I think.

A Bird's Eye View

A Prairie Dog's Eye View, as he runs across my path!

Long Distance Touring - 1924

Phil Gooding Jr, on his Indian Scout motorcycle, made quite the long distance riding tour back in 1924. This may be a book I buy to read all the details of motorcycle touring "back in the day".

Based on the excerpts in the website hawking the book, the roads were quite primitive back then across the US and more an adventure than today's modern super slabs.

LINK to website.

From the website:

Phil didn't have a lot of time for writing, riding his Indian 9,427 miles in just about 60 days. But he did manage to make an entry just about every day he was on the road. It's not a story, and there's no soul searching hoo-hah in the pages he wrote at the end of long days on his motorcycle. He was twenty, and out for a ride all the way across the country.
The journal entries on the website are short, sweet and to the point as alluded to above. I was very interested in the entries for when he was transiting Colorado, my home state, to read his descriptions of familiar locations and how they looked 84 years ago!

Here's some pics from the website:

Gooding's Indian Scout, before the trip

Gooding's Route, quite a trip even with today's motorcycles!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Rain-Testing the New Ignition Coil and ICM

To go with the new ignition coil I'd recently installed on Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer, I'd shopped around and found a direct replacement Ignition Control Module for the most up to date ICM sold by BMW that was supposed to be used with the new ignition coil. Why not get the BMW one? $139 vs $25, quite a difference. The source is, and Stan the owner had a good reputation in the Airhead community.

Here's the two ICMs side by side, pretty much the same form factor, the changes are internal. The main one being that the new one does not send power to the coil until the engine is cranked over to prevent overheating the coil. More info here if you're really curious: LINK

I'd also discovered a small leak at the drain plug for the bevel final drive, the slow leak had spread hypoid gear oil all over the rear wheel. I tightened up the drain plug a bit more, cleaned off the wheel and will monitor for more leakage. Yes, I did use a new crush washer when I did the fluid change last week.

After the kids were in for the evening, I readied to go for a short 12 mile ride to check out all the changes I'd made Well, as I suited up I discovered that I'd left my wallet at work when changing into my riding gear. Dang. Instead of a short 12 mile ride, it was more like 24 miles there and back to retrieve my wallet.

Why do I mention this? Because it rained on me on the way home. Of course, since I was on a test ride, I did not put the sidecases back on and that's where my rain gear is stored. Sigh, got wet on the way home, not too bad.....just that cold Colorado rain while riding at night. The silver lining is that it was also a good rain test for the new coil and it did great! Held idle just fine, no sputtering, no complaining.

I did notice some slight twitchy behavior on the part of the tachometer needle though around the 4000 rpm mark. I'll have to watch that, am pretty sure its tied to the new ICM, hopefully its just part of the "burning in" process for a new ICM. I'll be carrying the old one as a spare anyways.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Flight for Life Ride - Colorado

This announcement came to me from the Colorado Beemers Club I belong to, a very worthwhile ride I think, hopefully I'll never be one of their customers!

A message to All Motorcycle Riders:

The annual Flight for Life Benefit Motorcycle ride will be Saturday, August 16th beginning at 10 am at the Jefferson County Stadium/6th and Kipling St. The ride is assisted and escorted by Lakewood, Dillon, and Auraria police as well as motor escorts by the State Patrol and the Jefferson County Sheriff, with a helicopter escort by Flight for Life Denver and Flight for Life Summit County. The ride travels I-70 west, over Loveland Pass and ends in Dillon at the Red Mountain Grill at approximately 11:30 a.m. A poker walk precedes the free concert that evening featuring the Nacho Men at the Dillon Amphitheater.

Book Review: Leanings and Leanings 2 by Peter Egan

I just finished reading both books, back to back. Thoroughly enjoyable reading of a long time motorcycling enthusiast and outstanding CycleWorld motorcycle magazine writer/editor Peter Egan. The man can write and is a skilled and diverse rider!

He's got a great sense of humor and the rare ability to inject just the right phrase/comment into a well told story to get one laughing or at least snickering. The man's dabbled in all kinds and makes of motorcycles: Ducatis, Vincents, Beemers, Hondas, Nortons, Triumphs and Harley-Davidsons amongst others that slip my mind as I type. He's got a weakness/bias for British Iron and Italian Reds but is not adverse to throwing his leg over other marques as well.

His long motorcycling careers encompasses many motorcycles/racing cars and through it all he can recount to you specific events in his life that evoke similar thoughts in one's own experiences. His road trip tales are very detailed and amusing, his dirt rides through Baja even made me, briefly, want to get a dirt motorcycle and follow the trails he rode.

I really liked his trademark "Should you buy a X motorcycle" tests where X is replaced by the word British or Italian or German, you get the idea. The tongue-in-cheek questions always, at least to me, had obvious answers and amuse the test taker at the same time.

His short stories of fixing/wrenching on his many motorcycles stirred an affinity with him what with my recent mechanical work on Brigitta. He's of course way more knowledgeable and experienced than I'll ever be, but its good to see he also can sometimes not "bend" a motorcycle to his will in terms of mechanical issues.

Well worth the read, and you can do several of his articles in a short sitting, leaving you inspired to get some riding in; or perhaps "rescue" an old motorcycle from storage and restore it to health, something he did quite often. He must have a very understanding wife, as I do, though I am sure mine would draw the line way before FIVE motorcycles were parked in my garage. Five being the perfect number of motorcycles according to Pete Egan! You'll have to read the books to find out why.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Riding through a Prairie Dog Gauntlet

There's a neighborhood road on my regular commute to work that takes me to Havana road and the back way to the United Airlines training facility I work at as a contractor. I use this road because its got very little traffic, its only two lane and fairly safe.

Not today! Apparently, there's quite the bustling/growling prairie dog colony all along this stretch of my commute now.

from google images

I had to hit the brakes pretty good to avoid running over three of these varmints who decided to dash from one side of the street to the other as I approached doing perhaps 30mph.

After that I swear there must have been at least 15 more eating or watching me go by from both sides of the road as I prepared to hit the brakes just in case!

There's plenty of evidence on the road itself of previous varmints who were not quick enough to avoid being run over.

I get to run the gauntlet again this afternoon on the way's usually deer that motorcyclists need to worry about in terms of animal hazards, now I get to add prairie dogs to the list.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

S Fairing Project - The Painting

A hot weekend here in Denver, although I did ride both days, they were short rides to run errands and do some work.

Instead, I worked on my R80. Tried a couple more times to secure the loose end of the mounting pin for the carburetor floats, all I did was cause it to overflow. Gave up on that for now, and instead, concentrated on making sure the other end did not come out so easily. After some thought, used one single strand from some electric wire, to "snug up" the hole through which the knurled end is secured. Seems tighter now. 04AUG08: update: Had to remove the strand of wire, it caused the carb to leak fuel on the ride into work this morning. Big hassle, must get a new carburetor body it seems.

I also did the initial first coat of heat resistant black glossy paint on the engine guards I got from Patrick of Aspen. Thanks again Patrick! I got a bit over-eager and had some paint runs, will have to wet-sand them away before I can do the second coat. I have to wait 24 hrs for the paint to cure first.

Then, I masked and prepped the S Fairing I got from John C. of the BMWMOA for painting. Following shots show the fairing as it received coat after coat of Glossy Black Acrylic Automotive Paint. I hope it turns out ok once it dries and cures which will take seven days. Then a few coats of clearcoat and it should be ready for mounting.

Before the Painting

First Coat (Light)

Second Coat (Light)

Third Coat (Medium Wet)

Fourth Coat (Heavy Wet)

Fifth Coat (Heavy Wet)

Sixth and Last Coat (Heavy Wet)

I'll probably have to try and do some light wet-sanding as well on the fairing where "orange peel" may develop once the paint dries. Took me 2 full cans and a bit more to get to the sixth coat and perfect the paint application pattern. Not too bad if it turns out OK.

I've ordered the mounting hardware and it should be here within two weeks I am told by the Beemer dealer. A bit pricey but it includes the stock windshield and all the related hardware.