Sunday, September 25, 2016

More Fall Colors

This Sunday, given the hordes of leaf-peeping cagers currently swarming over the popular highway destinations for Fall Color, I decided to stay somewhat closer in to the Metro Denver area.

The main destination was the Switzerland Trail in the hopes it had some Fall Colors.

I crossed the metro area using the I-25 to US35 slabs to get to Boulder or the PRB in good time.  I transited through the PRB and turned west using Left Hand Canyon Road.  Not much color to report on this nice and twisty canyon road until you get higher up in altitude and closer to the Peak to Peak Highway aka CO Hwy 72.

 On Left Hand Canyon Road, approaching CO 72 aka the Peak to Peak Highway

Once Scarlett and I reached the Peak to Peak Highway, we turned South on it to keep some distance from the cagers who were most assuredly swarming over Estes Park about 30 miles north.

I turned off on County Road 93, heading towards the Boy Scout Camp to look for Fall Colors.  I found them too, a nice bunch of it at the private lake that is Beaver Reservoir.

 Fall Colors next to the Beaver Reservoir

 ScooterBob gets to witness Colorado Gold

 That triangular peak is called Sawtooth Peak for obvious reasons.
It's one of the mountain peaks visible also from the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Back on CO 72, we headed a little further south, this time turning west into the Brainard Lake Recreation Area.  It's a fee area and it cost me $10 to get in.  It's more of a hiking destination however, I'll have to go back some day if I ever do pick up hiking.

 A vista of the nearby peaks as one heads into the area

 Pawnee Peak on the left and Mount Audubon on the right

 ScooterBob near Brainard Lake 

Exiting the recreation area, we headed south once again and this time stopped at a favorite spot for pictures.  Unfortunately, the colors in the vicinity were so brilliant that the place was swarming with leaf-peepers, getting in the way of many picture angles.  I got only one:

Heading away hurriedly from the milling cagers and leaf-peepers, we rode a short way further south and I posed Scarlett near the edge of a pullout area.

 Along the Peak to Peak Highway south of Ward, CO

Shortly after the above shots, I found the turn off for Gold Hill Road.  This dirt road was pretty much lacking in terms of Fall Colors however.  I did find the turnoff for the Switzerland Trail and spent the next hour or so bumping along slowly on this rocky trail.

Progress was slow as I didn't want to loose the fillings in my teeth or parts off the rig as we descended down into the valley.  Again, no real fall colors or very scenic shots so no pictures taken.  Finally, reached a junction with County Road 118 which became Four Mile Canyon Road.

Very nice and twisty, this canyon road, but again no Fall Colors or much in the way of scenery.  A few miles down this road, we came upon this imposing rock/brick structure that used to be a mill for the Wallstreet Gold Mine Complex back in 1902:

Not much remains of the other buildings but there was the Assay Museum just a bit further on from the mill structure.  I didn't stop, but if you're so inclined, the museum is waiting for you.

Update: 22NOV16: While searching for something else, found this picture of what the mill looked like back in the day:

source: X-61546

Four Mile Canyon dumped us onto CO119 which we took towards Boulder.  We took CO93 from Boulder to Baseline Road and from there swiftly left the PRB and transited north of the Metro Denver area to I-25.

I-25 would take us to 104th Street east, to Tower Road at the town of Reunion.  From there it was just boring usual roads back to the home neighborhoods.

Scarlett ran pretty well though once in a while she'd run a little rough in first gear.  I think the air filter might need replacing.  I'll find out this coming week as Scarlett went over 40K Km during this ride and it's time for services!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Fall Colors on the road to Mount Evans

I was able to take off early from work today, and yes I checked with my boss first, to try and get some shots of Fall Colors before the maddening crowds hit the mountains this weekend.

We got onto Squaw Pass Road from its eastern end near Bergen Park.  I was riding Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol.  The weather was warm, the skies were partly cloudy and just a bit windy.

 The taller peak on the right is North Arapahoe Peak

We didn't really see Fall colors until we gained a little bit of elevation above Bergen Park's altitude.  First it was one Aspen which had turned color, then more were passed by us and soon it was time to start stopping for pictures.

 Near the summit of Squaw Pass

 The sun made the yellows leaves among the dark pines
seem like spots of fire

Soon after the above shots, Scarlett's lost power and acted like she'd run out of gas.  I had filled up the tank in Morrison so that wasn't it.  I checked two of the three relays under her seat, nothing, no noise from the fuel pump.  I couldn't get to the third relay easily and then it occurred to me it could be the ignition switch again somehow (even though the starter was cranking).

Took me over an hour to swap it out with the new one I'd gotten from the dealer.  Managed to bugger up the connector as I had to forc the old wire assembly off.  Still, I got the new ignition assembly in place, still no joy, the fuel pump remained silent.

Since now I had all my tools out, I got out the flat tip screwdriver and levered the third relay off, tried my spare relay and Bingo!  I could hear the whine of the fuel pump and the engine caught!  Buttoned up Scarlett, put away my tools and it was on to Echo Lake.

It was getting overcast and windy by the time we reached Echo Lake, rendering pictures there not worth a stop.  So instead, we went up Mount Evans Road to see what we could see.  

Near the start of the Mount Evans Road, came up on a tourist from New Mexico.  The driver was so scared of the road edge, that the car was straddling the double yellow line!  So scared, the driver would not go back into his lane and downhill traffic had to come to a halt  or pull over in order to avoid hitting the car.  Truly amazing.

Luckily, the scaredy cat finally found a pull off spot on the side of the road away from the edge and got out of everyone's way!  

We went all the way to Summit Lake where the road was blocked for the winter season.  The gray overcast skies precluded much in the way of pictures.

I posed Scarlett at a couple of spots to show you the colors splashed all over the nearby peaks and mountain sides.

The following pictures are from the western half of Colorado Highway 103:

I started exploring Vetterman Gulch, turns out to hold a few National Forest camp sites and some mountain cabins.  As I was picking out a site for pictures, the engine died on me again.  Dammit.

I pushed Scarlett over to the side and reached for the new relay which I'd left hanging since I didn't want to remove the seat to properly mount the relay.  That had been planned for tomorrow you see.  I checked the relay, it seemed nice and secure.  I tried the ignition one more time and the engine started just fine!  Weird.   I wonder if the jostling along Vetterman Gulch Road (dirt road) caused the relay to act up?

I placed the third relay on a small platform at the front of the seat and didn't experience any further issues all the way home.  I plan on securing the relay in the morning, probably go and buy a couple more spares.  I hope, that's the end of that particular problem.

Although I had ScooterBob with me, I never thought to dig him out of his storage box for pictures.  Sorry about that.

There's more riding planned for Fall Colors, so hopefully I'll be able to show SB with the Colorado Gold we get around this time of year.

24SEP Update re electrical issue.

I think I found the problem and it wasn't the relay.  Somehow, the connection for fuse 6 (parking lights) had come loose enough to cause intermittent connectivity for power to the fuel pump!  How parking lights are involved with fuel pump power is unclear to me now but I could definitely replicate the symptoms by wiggling that connection.  It's now much more secure so hopefully that fixes that!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Self-Recovery Box

A recent question from CCjon reminded me of a previous posting about training to recover one's rig from a position it cannot remove itself from, by itself.  Link to post: LINK

In other words, it's stuck, can't power out, and you're by yourself.

The Maasdam Rope Puller mentioned in the post is a bit awkward to store/carry.  So I'd resorted, shortly after buying it, to disassembling it slightly so it'd fit onto the storage box under my sidecar.

After a while, I decided to carry it instead in a box I'd found at Home Depot, along with other associated gear needed to pull a vehicle out of a predicament.

I got it out, both to show you the contents and to do a practice re-assembly of the rope puller.

 Disassembled Maasdam Rope Puller along with contents of
self-recovery box.

 I keep the "manual" that came with the rope puller as a reference
on how to put the puller tool back together.

 The bolt used to secure the two parts together.
Remove for reassembly.

 Make sure the tube that centers the retainer wheel is positioned
so that it's flush with the bracket on both ends.

Using the picture as guide, place items together, add the bracket, slide the bolt through all components and voila, you have a rope puller ready to use:

You reference the manual on how to thread the rope through the puller mechanism and with a bit of luck, pull your rig out of its "predicament" with minimal effort.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

New Floor Jack

My old but trusty Maasdam Pow'rLift 3 Ton floor jack gave up the ghost yesterday, right after I had finished using it to raise Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol, onto the car ramps.  I've had this jack for so long, I can't remember when I bought it!

I figured the jack was low on fluid as it had been taking a lot more up/down strokes than usual to raise vehicles lately.  Also figured there was a blown o-ring or seal somewhere in the system as there was little to no resistance when pumping the handle anymore.  Sigh.

I put some motor oil into the system (since I figured the jack was toast) and got enough pressure to lower the rig back onto the ground safely after doing the work I needed to do on Scarlett.

The Maasdam jack did fine, still took a lot of pumps to get things done though.  Time for another jack it seemed.

Today I went by Harbor Freight during lunch and picked up another 3 Ton Jack, a beefier one for $6 more than the replacement cost of a Maasdam floor jack.  Why?  Because it was local and it was low profile so I can use in on #2 son's car, an Acura Integra which sits pretty low to the ground.

I rode Fiona to Harbor Freight, to rack up a few more "break in" miles for the gearbox.  I did draw some stares from the other customers there, pushing along a cart with the new jack in its shipping box, in riding gear and a helmet in the shopping cart.  :)

The new floor jack is a Pittsburgh Automotive 3 Ton Hydraulic Floor Jack: LINK

For $99 and the low profile gain, it seemed the best choice for me.  The box weighed over 76 lbs so it was a slight struggle for me to load it into Fiona's sidecar but I managed.  I'm experiencing a rather painful episode of plantar faciitis on my left heel, which causes me to limp when walking.

 The new floor jack, after I used it to easily put Fiona onto the 
car ramps, just as a test of the jack.

The Maasdam Pow'rLift that's retired now.  I think it's usable but 
since I've got the new one....I'll keep it as a last resort item.

Some notes:

The new floor jack is HEAVY.  Max lifting height is 19.75", 1.25" less than the Maasdam Jack but enough for what I need it to do.  I supposed I can get some lifting blocks to add a couple of inches, or use suitable blocks of wood in a pinch.

There's  a metal spring, under tension, holding down the portion of the jack that the pump handle inserts into.  Be very careful removing the spring, the handle portion will snap up to a vertical position once you remove the spring, and it hurts if it hits your wrist.  DAMHIK.

Otherwise, assembly is pretty straightforward, assemble the pump handle, remove shipping spring, insert assembled handle into socket after loosening set screw and re-tightened set screw.  Done!

The whole thing maneuvers around the garage pretty easily and the handle moves to the vertical position for storage.  You turn the handle to loosen'/tighten the mechanism which locks/unlocks the pump for lifting operations, easy and rather a nice feature.  Before, I had to remove the handle from the Maasdam, tighten/loosen a set screw with the handle and then replace the handle for pumping action.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

A Two Pass Day for ScooterBob

September is the month where the Fall Colors appears in the Colorado high lands.  There had been rumours that it might be a week earlier than usual, the peaking of said Fall Color so I decided to do some reconnaissance.

First, it was a ride to Loveland Pass and the Continental Divide.

ScooterBob and I rode Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol, using both frontage roads and also the I-70 Superslab where it couldn't be avoided to ride towards the Eisenhower Tunnel.

The Eisenhower Tunnel crosses the Continental Divide and is the main route for vehicles crossing the state along it's northern half.

Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) carriers are obliged to take US Highway 6, aka Loveland Pass Road since they cannot use the tunnel.

Loveland Pass is a favorite destination of mine, especially when it's covered with fresh snow, I find it near and quite beautiful, perfect for a day ride.

There was very little traffic, as the western end of the road was blocked for a Triathlon Event.  Skies were clear and sunny and the morning chill eventually wore off as we rode along.

 Another Pass Summit for ScooterBob

 At a nearby picnic area just west of the summit parking area.

 A view of the mountain peaks to the west of Loveland Pass

 Seven Peaks

 Grizzly Peak?

 The ski runs at Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort

As you can see, not much in the way of Fall Colors yet but I did see the beginnings of it in spots along the road.

Once we were done with Loveland Pass, we took I-70 eastbound to the nearby town of Georgetown.  We did stop briefly at Silver Plume just before Georgetown hoping to see the old vintage locomotive but it wasn't on duty today apparently.

So we tanked up Scarlett at Georgetown and then headed along the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway to check Fall Colors along that road.

I will say, it appeared the northern half of Guanella Pass Road was sporting more Fall coloration than the southern half.

 Scarlett's and ScooterBob's first good look at Sawtooth Peak

 At the Guanella Summit Overlook

 A view of Sawtooth Peak from a lower level parking area.

 ScooterBob at the requisite pass summit sign

There were a few other spots but this was the best I could find on the
southern half of Guanella Pass Road.

So, yes, Fall Colors are starting to come in around the areas I rode through today.  I would say it's still a couple of weeks before they really peak though.

I am using this map put out by one of the news stations as a planning guide, I was in the "pinkish" area today.

Update: A different couple of maps for Fall Colors prediction: