Sunday, November 15, 2009

Natasha is temporarily patched up, thanks to Sanoke

Yesterday I wrote about how Andre helped me through the process of removing the damaged pieces of the propeller shaft from Natasha, my 1996 Ural Sportsman Sidecar Motorcycle.

Today, we woke to about six inches of snow on the ground! I got busy with the snow blower and cleared off the driveway so that I could get out with my wife's minivan. I used it to drive on over to John's home where he awaited me with his welding expertise and equipment. He had about eight inches of snow in his neighborhood but the roads were navigable.

I spent a good three hours there I think while John, aka Sanoke my riding mentor, noodled over how to fix the shaft, and we debated options and prepared for the welding. I was too fascinated watching and where possible helping John do his welding on the propeller shaft to take pictures, sorry. Suffice to say, he knows what's he doing and made it look easy.

I left his house at 12:21PM and by 2:30PM I had the now whole propeller shaft installed and everything put back together on Natasha. Truly are these rigs easy to work on. Felicia of Wagner's Cycle wanted me to remind people of this fact and that newer rigs from 2005 onwards are leaps and bounds ahead of older Urals like mine in terms of reliability and quality. If only I'd know that ahead of time! Oh well, finances dictated this and I've no regrets.

I fired Natasha up and slowly backed her out of the garage, nothing broke and the weld held! That small timid step done, I geared up and took her out for a test ride around the neighborhood. I kept looking down at the moving propeller shaft every time I could do so safely, it was holding! Of course, there was still some snow on the streets and I extended my test ride accordingly. Have to give the weld a good workout right? : )

At the Eaglecrest High School Parking Lot

I got back home with no issues, still remembering how folks turned to stare as I rode past on the slushy streets.

Here's a couple of shots of the temporarily repaired propeller shaft:

That's the final drive on the left, the rubber boot protects where the prop shaft joins the U-joint assembly pictured.

Sanoke's welded pipe sleeve is visible above, it's the dark piece to the right of the whitish portion of the shaft.

Here's a view of the shaft so you can see how the final drive and the sidecar wheel are linked by the propeller shaft.

After securing the rubber boot where the prop shaft mates to the final drive assembly which I'd forgotten to do; and putting away my tools, I went for another "test ride". I asked my sons if they wanted to go but apparently they've more sense than their old man! : )

I went out to the auto parts store to get supplies. Finally, I went over to the Plains Conservation Center on Hampden Road and managed to get her up to 55mph on the way there with no issues.

At the Plains Conservation Center, note the tepees in the background

Looking east, you can make out Hampden Road

The temporary repair job by John is doing excellently so far! Thanks again John, you were The Man today! I hope to get the shaft properly repaired this week and then we'll on to the next RPOC moment with Natasha.

Tomorrow, my friend Andre is going to query his mechanic friend and see where I can get the prop shaft properly repaired by a welding professional. It'll involve cutting off the shaft except for a couple of inches from where it mates to the left and right u-joint assemblies. A new pipe/shaft will then be sleeved onto the stubs on the u-joint assemblies and welded.

A new shaft is $233 but I am going to try and new shaft welded on first and see how long that lasts.

The circled portion is going to get replaced by a new shaft that'll fit onto the remaining ends.

This experience taught me few things:

1. It's not hard to remove the side car wheel, or to lift it up in the air to permit you to put a jack stand in place.

2. It's not too hard to remove the propeller shaft or to put it back on. So when time comes to replace the u-joints on this shaft, it'll be easier to do with the shaft removed!

3. Rust can and will eat away at metal to the point where it'll break due to weakened metallic structure and stress.

4. Worst came to worst, I could have removed the shaft and then the u-joints and transformed Natasha into a 1WD sidecar rig and kept going if I had to. I would have to have come up with a way to cover up the exposed bits once the u-joints were taken off but it would have been doable.

Update: 19NOV09: The welder I've selected won't be able to do the repair work till 02DEC, so I'll be riding Natasha on the "patched" prop shaft till then. I bet the weld job that Sanoke did holds fine till then.


cpa3485 said...

You sure have had a lot of trying times (fun?) with this rig. But I gotta be impressed with your determination. That rig makes for some great pictures and stories.
The snow you had is headed our way, but looks like it will be just warm enough for it to be just very cold rain, which is actually less fun in my opinion. If it sbows, I just get the Canadian Subaru out and have fun with that.

Richard Machida said...

I just look at your pictures out in the snow and think "how cool is that". Glad to see you back on the road.

bobskoot said...


I hesitate to say much for fear Natasha may hear me and demand more of those RPOC parts, but glad to see you back on the road

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

irondad said...

I rode in the snow last Thursday. Went over the coast range a little over 1600 feet high. Snow was down to 1300 feet. By the time I got there it was just slush. It was too dangerous to stop for a photo, though.

Glad to see you going for it. Here's to good welders!

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

You amaze me. Even though this repair seemed easy enough (considering your own abilities, the proximity to an expert, and the availability of a welder), I think it would have daunted the average rider.

Have you considered putting this machine up on blocks, replacing all of the wiring with US 12 gauge standard, and the engine with a salvaged R-bike motor? With a little welding, it seems to me you could eliminate 90 percent of problems and still maintain the Ural look?

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads