Saturday, February 27, 2010

Beemer farkle for Natasha

Beautifully sunny day today here in the Denver Metro area, so just a short post about the beemer farkle I installed on Natasha this morning.

FARKLE:  The term is well known in the sport touring community.  (source)

An enthusiast may be in the process of "farkling". The completed motorcycle would be all "farkled up". Radar detectors, Global Positioning System receivers, heated grips, and satellite radios are some of those farkles. Other accessories could be aftermarket seats, side and/or top cases or bar risers, which make the motorcycle more suitable for long miles.

F.A.R.K.L.E. -- Fancy Accessory Really Kool Likely Expensive 

In terms of the above definition, the farkle I installed today was not fancy, is functional cool and not very expensive.  Close enough!

From, the stock brake adjusting nut 
that URALs come with from Russia
You need a 12mm wrench to adjust its position on the brake actuating rod.

 I replaced the stock brake adjustment nut with Beemer Airhead wingnuts
easier to adjust and no tools required.

 The sidecar wheel's drum brake adjustment nut

Took Natasha out for a spin and the brakes worked great.  I even managed to get a small brake squeal when I did a practice "panic stop".  First time I'd been able to achieve that with the URAL's drum brakes.  I look forward to the Tech Day this spring when I hope to see one of my fellow Uralisti demo the correct procedure to "adjust" drum brakes.

Update: I took Brigitta, my '87 R80 out riding in the afternoon.  Temperatures were in the mid 40s and partly cloudy so not too bad.  It would get steadily more and more overcast as I headed south towards Franktown and then past the town to the vicinity of Castlewood Canyon State Park.

 Along Inspiration Drive, looking at Mount Evans

Brigitta with Pikes Peak in the background

Panorama of Castlewood Canyon

I really had to play with the exposure and color settings of the photos of Brigitta to compensate for the haze and overcast skies making it difficult to get some good definition on the distant mountains.  Hope you like what I ended up with.

Snow tomorrow, it'll be Natasha's turn to go out again.  Hope you got a ride in today!

EOM Mileages: Natasha: 14,937 Km  Brigitta: 83,525 Miles

Friday, February 26, 2010

Back in the Rat Race...

Well, after being a contractor to different companies from 2005 through 2009, I am pleased to report I will be rejoining the rat race as a fulltime employee with Sungard Availability Services.

I will be working as a Network Engineer in their Aurora, Colorado offices/Data Center.  My start date is March 8, 2010.  It was a long almost three months of searching and applying for jobs, thanks to all who expressed well wishes in my job hunt.

As to motorcycling content......well, I did ride my Ural Sidecar rig just now to the drug testing facility to produce and turn in my pee.  That counts, right?  : )

The place I went to was stricter than the above location, 
I had to leave Natasha outside while I provided the sample! 
source: google

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Servicing Natasha's wheel bearings

Almost 5K Kilometers overdue, today I serviced the front and sidecar wheel bearings on Natasha, my Ural sidecar rig.  Why so late, well, about 5K kilometers ago, I was actually recovering from a sheared apart sidecar drive shaft!  Scheduled maintenance was really the last thing on my mind.  Still, no excuse.

I didn't service the bearings on the present pusher tire since it's a new wheel with new bearings.  I just realized though as I write this that I forgot to do the spare wheel's bearings.  Dang it.  Oh well, it's a spare for a reason, not much wear on it.  It'll wait till the next cycle of service.

Following the beautifully written and photo demonstrated instructions at Bill Glaser's outstanding site, I removed both front and sidecar wheels, took out the bearing assemblies, cleaned them of the old grease (what there was remaining anyways), packed new grease into the bearings, put it all back in the hubs and remounted the wheels.  NO problems, no hassles, easy peasy!

 Here's a view of the sidecar wheel's hub splines, they were in good shape

This is a view of the sidecar wheel's drum brake assembly and splines, also in good shape

The front wheel's drum brake assembly, note that it does not have splines
so yes, if your pusher wheel becomes stripped of its splines,
you can swap the front and rear wheels and carry on!
(Yes, I would clean all the brake dust off before putting the wheel back on)

I guess there was no grease on it from the factory since no splines are involved in the front wheel
I went ahead and gave everything a light coat of grease anyways to prevent further rust

 This is the old grease on the sidecar wheel bearings, they were definitely due for service!

 The sidecar wheel bearings and bushing, with new grease on!
I used this video to learn how to "pack bearings" by hand   It's easy, but messy.

 This is the front wheel bearings, glad I pulled them today to repack them with new grease!

 Ah, new grease on the front wheel bearings and bushing

Re-assembly was per the instructions at Bill Glaser's site.  I really could not imagine trying to do this service without the help he's provided to Uralisti everywhere!

As I said before, no problems encountered and there was only minimal use of the BFH to "entice" things to fit correctly.  I feel better now about the condition of all the wheel bearings presently on the rolling wheels on Natasha.  Another wrenching experience for the old knowledge bank.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A trip to Linden Engineering for Natasha's new wheel

As you probably read in my previous post, I stripped the splines on Natasha's pusher wheel yesterday.  I called around and Dennis of Linden Engineering in Golden, CO had a black painted one in stock for a good price.

I headed out to Golden around 11:00 AM, using the wife's minivan as I didn't want to put undue miles on the knobby spare tire.  Dennis and his shop are always a busy looking place and today was no different.  Still, he brought out the new wheel and then proceeded to swap the tire from the stripped wheel to the new wheel, while also doing two other tasks apparently!  He's never still for very long!

As Dennis worked to swap the tire around, I walked around the front of his shop and captured these other Urals who are in for work. (Sorry for the picture quality, all I had was the camera on my cellphone)

Army Green, looked in pretty fair shape

Natasha will eventually end up with black rims front and back like this one, pretty ain't it? 
Check out the black painted exhaust pipes as well.  
Note the latest iteration of the URAL logo on the tank

Then there was this Ural Troyka who I realized had once belonged to an acquaintance I made while repairing Natasha's timing gears!  Mike had been the owner of this pretty rig but ended up selling it to Paul.  Now Paul, has lost the use of his legs and is having Dennis modify the Troyka so he can ride it without having to use the rear brake pedal or the shift lever.  Now that's a hard core rider!  I hope to do a writeup about him and his Troyka someday.

These are the front (disc) and rear (drum) brake handles since Paul 
can't operate the standard rear brake pedal

 The Kliktronic electronic shifter device, its presently unhooked from the shifter which
is located below and to the right of the black air hoses leading to the carburetor

 A previous iteration of the URAL logo.  The work YPAN means URAL in Russian

Nice color scheme eh?

By this time, Dennis was done swapping the tire from the old wheel to the new one and off I went to my home to put it in place of the knobby tire spare wheel.

It took me very little time, lots of practice lately I guess, to swap out the knobby for the DURO tire on the new wheel.  Here's some pictures of the splines involved:

Thankfully, the above photo shows my final drive's spline gears are just fine!
  No need to replace it which would involve rebuilding the dang Final Drive.

The spline conditions on the spare wheel's hub, pretty good

Here's where the pusher tire mounts up, the final drive's spline is in the middle, note the brake shoes 
still have plenty of stopping material.  I cleaned up the greasy mess you see before I installed the new wheel

 I didn't think to take a picture of the "virgin" splines on the new wheel before I'd started
putting new grease on the splines but you get the idea

New wheel in place, I like the black rims and hub!

Note:  Today I realized and was also told in the sovietsteeds forum that I could have swapped the front and rear wheels and gotten home as well.  You see, the front wheel does not require splines!  Doh.  But that's OK, it would have bugged me to have one wheel buggered up, even if still functioning fine.  

I plan to get a replacement hub, new bearings and bushings and repair the old wheel.  Then I'll have two spare wheels and tires!  All in all, a pretty good learning experience.  Tomorrow, I'll be taking off the other two wheels and servicing the bearings and hubs on them, they're overdue!

Finally, here's a old scooter I saw at Linden's, for the scootering clientele that visit this blog:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stripped Splines on the pusher hub, made it home anyways.

Note: This posting is also located on So what's the difference?  I get paid per # of hits on that site, so if you feel like helping my fuel budget, read the article there instead:  LINK,  Thanks!

Back when I did the wheel swap to put the regular DURO tire back on Natasha as the pusher wheel, I'd noticed that the gear splines within the hub were kind of worn down.  I remember thinking to myself that I needed to start shopping around for a replacement wheel hub.

I guess I didn't move fast enough for Natasha however.  I was riding on Deer Creek Canyon Rd to shoot a video of the curves and twists offered by this nice road.  I had stopped to mount my son's video camcorder onto the grab rail on the sidecar.  I went to start moving and there was this dreadful metal rubbing noise!  I stopped the engine immediately and did an inspection of the transmission area, the drive shaft and the final drive assembly, no obvious damage or leaks of any sort.  Hmmm.

I started the engine once again and gently eased off the clutch, again there were the dreadful metal rubbing and clanking noises!  Damn.  I started walking her down the slight incline where I had stopped, all the while watching the drive shaft.  I noticed it turned just fine but I noticed that the sidecar drive shaft was not spinning.  The noise was coming from the final drive area....damn damn.

Then, a light went off in my head and I remembered an article on where a fellow rider had a similar situation and it turned out to be worn spline gears within the pusher tire's hub.  In his case, they had worn down to the point where the gears from the final drive were not engaging the pusher tire's spline gears and so no power.  Here's a link to the article:  LINK

Hoping against hope, I started working on taking off the pusher tire so I could see if that was the problem in my case as well.  It took me over 90 minutes to swap the wheels out.  It's really hard to swap wheels when you're on a slight incline, have to dig a channel in the hard rock encrusted dirt to allow enough clearance to pull the old wheel out and put the spare wheel in. (It really helps to have a helper when swapping wheels).

Still, I had managed to get the old wheel off and sure enough, the spline gears were worn almost completely away!  I put the spare tire on as pusher, and was hammering in the axle when a good samaritan stopped to offer help.  Good timing on Bruce's part, that was his name, since I was having the usual issues getting the final third of the axle to go into the frame's suspension arm.

Axle in place, Bruce said goodbye with my thanks.  I wish he'd have shown up about 30 minutes before when I was struggling to pull the wheel out but hey, he stopped.  Unlike the many cagers who simply went by as I worked on Natasha.

Got the spare wheel buttoned up and secured.  Put away my tools, secured the bad wheel onto the spare's position on the sidecar.  Used some of the Goop I carry in my toolkit to clean the grease and dirt from my hands and washed them in the snow.  Brrrrr!

I geared back up, started the engine and damn if she didn't start moving as expected, with NO noises!  A good self-recovery experience for today!  A new wheel will cost me $311 and I pick it up tomorrow.  (I was thinking this was pricey but it turns out to be a good deal)  It's got a black rim vice a chrome rim like my old one but again, beggars can't be choosers.  I might, in the long run, find someone who can take the hub from the new wheel and install it onto the old rim with the old spokes but it won't be tomorrow.

After all this, I decided to shoot the damn video I'd come all the way to Deer Creek Canyon for anyways.  I hope you enjoy it.  Sorry, no pics of the repairs, was to busy repairing and fighting to get the old wheel off!

After all, I can't let Bobskoot do all the videos can I?

Here's a picture of the old pusher wheel's hub and the stripped splines therein.  Looks pretty bad don't it?

Here's my pusher wheel's hub
The threaded rod in the center is the support rod that holds the spare tire
not much left of the splines eh?

The wearing of the splines is apparently a common issue with Urals, sigh.  Russian metallurgical skills can sometimes be "lacking" apparently.  Oh well.  Things made by Man will break or wear down, that's life.

It's good to have a spare wheel/tire!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Review: Talus Outdoor Technologies ColdAvenger™

Talus Outdoor Technologies has created a cold weather face mask that is another big step in helping cold weather motorcyclists deal with one of the hazards of such riding:  the fogging up of helmet visors or one's eyeglasses if you wear them for riding.

Some excerpts from the Talus Outdoor Technologies website:
The Talus ColdAvenger® is designed for a variety of winter outdoor activities where protection from cold is essential. Researched and developed in Northern Rocky Mountain winters and tested in snow and freezing weather, ColdAvenger™ keeps your face warm and dry while helping humidify inhaled air and allowing you to breathe freely. ColdAvenger® has been used with comfort at -20ºF. It’s the ultimate ski mask for winter face protection during outdoor activities. 

 As you can see, with the chin bar down on my helmet, you can't really tell you're wearing something different

Check out the images of other folks doing different activities on Talus' website:  LINK

Normally, inhaled air is warmed to body temperatures and humidified at the same time by the moisture and warmth contained in the nose and upper airways. An unprotected face allows cold air to interfere with this warming and humidification process. ColdAvenger® helps keep the temperature of the air around your face 40º to 60ºF higher than outside and helps to humidify inhaled air.

The ColdAvenger® ventilation face piece is made of medical grade plastic selected for human safety, biocompatability, flexibility, inherent microbial resistance, and endurance. The soft shell stretch fabric is wind proof and water resistant with an inner fleece lining for a comfortable fit.

I wrote these folks and they agreed to supply me with a sample ColdAvenger™ to try out while motorcycling this winter.  I have to say, it works and works very well!

It's plastic it's made of is soft and remained flexible down to the mid-teens which is as cold as it got for my review rides.  I was able to wear it most of the day during my recent participation on the 2010 Elephant Ride in the company of three other Ural Riders and their wives: LINK.

The only time I took it off was to eat, I did not have to take it off to talk to my fellow riders and they understood what I said just fine.  The medical grade plastic mask and its fleece-lined material used to secure it to your face are quite comfy even when drawn in tightly for a good airtight seal.

It kept the air I breathed in warm and I believe it helped in that way to keep my core temperature warmer as well.  I went the whole day of the Elephant Ride, where temperatures never got above 20°F, without having to turn on my heated grips!  Fogging was never an issue with my KBC FFR flip-up helmet which I use as my cold weather helmet.  For the Elephant Ride, I used the clear visor with a Fogcity Fogshield attached.  This combination allowed to me keep the visor tightly shut, no need to keep it cracked open, even when stopped at stoplights and such!  Usually I have to ride with my visor cracked open slightly to keep things from fogging up, even with the Fogcity Fogshield insert.

For my next test ride of the ColdAvenger™, I swapped out the visors on my KBC FFR helmet with one that did not have the Fogcity Fogshield installed.  I rode out into temperatures that were in the low to mid 20s, with a forecasted high of only 28°F for that day.

During my ride in the snow-covered eastern prairies, I first tried things without the ColdAvenger™ mask.  My visor and glasses immediately fogged up when I closed the visor while moving!  Not good.  I stopped, removed my helmet and donned the ColdAvenger™ mask and continued riding.  There were, from that point on, no significant fogging issues on the helmet's visor or my eyeglasses.  LINK to ride posting.

Without the Fogcity Fogshield though, I did have to crack open the visor at stoplights and such to avoid a slow fogging of my eyeglasses.  The helmet visor remained fog free except for a tiny area just above where the ColdAvenger™ vents to the front.   Still, it was a significant improvement in keeping my vision fog free while moving.

 Here you can see the ColdAvenger™ medical grade plastic cup in detail

Some notes for you cold-weather motorcyclists out there:

1.  The ColdAvenger™'s mask extends about an inch from your face, so you need that much space between your face and the back of your helmet's chinbar if so equipped.  This only applies to riders with either full face helmets or flip-up helmets.  If its a tight fit now, the mask will probably not fit and get in the way of things.  As it is, with my KBC FFR helmet, it's pushed in a little by my helmet's chin bar.

The ColdAvenger™ vents through the rotatable front vent system (pretty smart actually, you can rotate it to control how much it vents forward or lets air in); and also through small holes along the bottom edge of the medical grade plastic cup.

2.  I wore my regular Gaitor neck wrap, with the Cold Avenger Mask on top of it.  Though the ColdAvenger™ covers the lower part of your fact, you still need something to protect your neck and the major blood vessels on either side of it to stay warm!

3.  The ColdAvenger™ was most effective when used in combination with a Fogcity Fogshield insert.  I imagine the results would be as good with the Pinlock anti-fog system as well.

4.  The ColdAvenger™ is designed for use during strenuous activities, sports and such.  While motorcycling is not really that strenuous, I found I always had moisture droplets built up within the plastic cup when I removed the mask after a ride.  Just goes to show how it humidifies things for your breathing air.

A great product for motorcyclists who venture out in cold weather.  Factor in the windchill you get exposed to when riding a motorcycle and it was doing just fine in temperatures around -8°F which is pretty chilly!  I could have used this product back when I was commuting in windchills that were closer to -45°F back in December of last year!  LINK.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Prairie Circuit

The first three definitions of the word circuit on are as follows:

1.  an act or instance of going or moving around.
2.  a circular journey or one beginning and ending at the same place; a round.
3.  a roundabout journey or course.

Such was my riding this Sunday afternoon after a surprisingly expensive hour of bowling with the family.  Let's just say both Martha and I were surprised at the total quoted to us for one hour of play and the rental of shoes for the four of us!
I started off with the temperatures in the low 20s, riding north on Gun Club Rd, turning east onto Jewell road intending to go through to 26th Avenue and then east towards Monaghan for a picture of the farm house and silos I'd pictured before in this posting back in June of 2009.

However, I spotted a snow-covered Smith Road just before the train tracks on Powhaton Road and so I turned west instead to see what I could see.  I went past some "road closed" signs that were there for no apparent reason as there was no apparent road work or construction.  Very curious.  I went as far west on Smith Rd as its junction with Picadilly Rd.  There was a good four inches of snow accumulation on Picadilly Rd so you know I had to try it out!

Natasha's street tires did fine on the dry snow covered dirt road, a little bit of fishtailing but nothing untoward.  The road dead ends on the side of the the westbound lanes of the I-70 Superslab so I turned around and made my way back to Smith Rd.  I stopped about halfway between I-70 and Smith Rd to capture this scene:

On the small stub of Picadilly Road, located north of the I-70 Slab

I turned eastward once back on Smith Rd and at the first opportunity moved closer to the rail road tracks that Smith Rd parallels.  It's owned by the Union Pacific Rail Road company I believe but I've rarely seen train traffic on it during my travels in this area.

Looking West on the Union Pacific Rail Lines, paralleling Smith Road
the snow here was closer to 4-5 inches in depth

Once I got back to Powhaton Rd, I turned north towards East 26th Avenue and turned right onto it until I reached Monaghan Rd.  I headed north again on Monaghan and posed Natasha with the farmhouse and silos that had been today's objective:

 It's a different scene than last June's photo, isn't it?

My eye was drawn to the patterns created by the lines of corn stalk remnants in this field

Heading back south on Monaghan Rd, I turned left or east on East 26th Avenue to see where I'd end up.  At the junction with North Watkins Rd I saw a snow covered dirt road in front, clear smooth and dry pavement on Watkins Rd.  Yep, I went for the snow covered road, again just to see what I could see.

Again, it was a good 2-3 inches of snow accumulations in spots, still nothing to Natasha's "go anywhere" capabilities:

Heading east towards Watkins, CO

I soon arrived at the outskirts of Watkins and followed the dirt road south until it got me within the town's boundaries, next to the Watkins Grain Elevator building:

The Watkins Grain Elevator

I left the small town of Watkins and took Watkins Road south until I crossed over the overpass spanning the I-70 Slab.  I took the first right onto a frontage road which lead to this large Catholic Church that you can see from the highway.  I've never seen cars there, with folks gathered for services, but today I saw evidence of several cars having been there before the latest snow falls.

The church just stands there, alone, with just a nearby famer's house for company and a shed or two.

Our Lady of the Helping Christians.
a little exercise in symmetry on my part
By now it had been over two hours of me wandering around in temperatures in the low 20s with occasional snow falls to provide diversity.  It was time to head for the barn as they say.  I went south on Watkins Rd till it reached Quincy Rd which I took westward back to my home neighborhoods.  I actually had to turn on the grips 2-3 times as my hands were getting quite cold.  Everything else on me stayed warm enough though, thanks to the large fairing on Natasha in large part.

Another good day of Winter Riding.  I hope you got a chance to ride this weekend!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A misty snow ride through Red Rocks Park

Today's forecast high temperature was 28°F, it was overcast gray skies with a light snow mist falling over parts of the Denver Metro area, and less than an inch accumulation in the grassy areas.  Perfect!

I headed out after breakfast, shortly after 9:20 AM and crossed Denver using Hampden Avenue which is also known as US285.  Forty-five minutes later, I was in the outskirts of the town of Morrison and getting my first glimpses of the rock formations that the Red Rocks Park is known for.

I was surprised to see the number of cars with sightseers but then again the beauty of the rock formations with the snow cover they'd collected is a powerful draw:

A Panoramic view one is greeting with when entering the park through Entrance#3

 Frog Rock, looking north on Red Rocks Park Rd

Further up on Red Rocks Park Rd

Looking south, back towards Frog Rock

 Framed between Nine Park Rock on the left, and Picnic Rock on the right, you can see the Trading Post

 A better view of Nine Parks Rock

 Looking south towards the Frog Rock formations

 The light snow mist that was falling, caused a blurring effect on this view of the park's amphitheater from 
the Lower South Lot 1 parking lot

 A rock formation near the southern end of the Trading Post's parking lots

 As you start heading up Ship Rock Rd, you can see the ramp people use to get to the 
amphitheater on the other side of this large rock formation

 Ship Rock, it makes up the southern "wall" of the amphitheater complex
view from the Upper South Lot

 Again from the Upper South parking lot, a view of "Sinking Titanic" Rock

 Heading north on Trading Post Rd, I believe this is Creation Rock

The view of the north side of the amphitheater rocks on Plains View Rd (I think)

 West Alameda Parkway, takes one through the tunnel cut through Lizard Head Rock
click here for a pic from the Denver Public Library of when this tunnel was being built

 Some of the shallow caves formed on the walls of Lizard Head Rock

 The west side of the tunnel cutting through Lizard Head Rock

 Coming back down from the Upper North Lot, another shot of the rocks to the north of the amphitheater

Red Rocks Park Trading Post
click here for a photo from the Denver Public Library from back in the 1930s

By the time of the last shot, it was a bit after Noon and so I started heading home.  I took on gas at the Conoco just east of Morrison and then headed towards Kipling Avenue on Morrison Blvd.  I took Kipling south till I could turn onto US285 and from there it was a retracing of my outbound route.  The roads in town were pretty dry and traffic was building.  I got home just before 1:00 pm.  A good winter's day of riding!

More information on the park here:  Red Rocks Park

My previous rides through Red Rocks Park, when there wasn't as much snow around: