Saturday, February 25, 2017

Squaw Pass Road in Winter

A bright and sunny day here in the Colorado Front Range, with a forecasted high temperature of 40°(4.4°C).  Time to go see how the recent snow fall that had amounted to not much in the Metro Denver area had impacted up in the foothills and nearest mountains.

Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol and I motored out of the neighborhood around 8:30 AM and made our way through the cager mess that is Metro Denver using US 285 to the town of Morrison.  After tanking up there outside of town, it was slow riding through town to Bear Creek Canyon Road and into the foothills.

There was snow on the trees but not a lot, still, it was quite scenic and with the exception of one oaf in a pickup truck going too fast for conditions, it all went well to the town of Evergreen.

From Evergreen, we made our way further east along Upper Bear Creek Canyon road, the road became snow packed and would remain this way mostly for most of the ride until Bergen later on.  The snow packed roads weren't slick per se, but they did inspire caution and so I rode at about 5 mph below the posted speed limit.

The first photo is just past the junction of Witter Gulch Road and Upper Bear Creek Canyon Road where I always stop for a picture of distant peaks.  Once again, I forgot to look up their names using the Peak Finder app on the phone.

Scarlett then took me up Witter Gulch Road, the bordering houses and fields covered in at least six inches of snow or better.  The road itself was just snow-packed but it did make the hairpin turns going up the road quite interesting at times.

I stopped to engage 2WD and the engine died.  Dammit.  No lights when turning the ignition key.

I would spend perhaps 35-45 minutes troubleshooting.  Checked wires leading to the ignition, tried swapping relays under the seat and finally I determined there was no power being supplied by the battery to the ignition switch.  I got a jumper wire from the trunk and connected the battery directly to a toggle switch that was patched onto the ignition's power wire.  Success!

You can see the red jumper wire leading from bottom edge of pic to the 
hot wire toggle switch.  The wire and assembly draped over the speedometer
is the ignition assembly.  It worked as well, go figure.

So, deciding to carry on towards the top of Witter Gulch Road, it was smooth motoring all the way onto Squaw Pass Road and moving onwards towards Squaw Pass.

I stopped Scarlett at the same spot where I'd posed her this past Fall while searching for Fall Colors:

September, 2016

February, 2017
Incoming weather front precluded seeing the farther out peaks.

September, 2016

February, 2017

Continuing further along Squaw Pass Road and as one approaches the junction with Colorado Highway 5 (Mt Evans Road), one can spy some nice views of the top of Mount Evans and surrounding areas.

 Mount Evans Views
It was a bit colder up here: 10°(-12°C)

Since Mount Evans Road is closed until sometime in late March, early April, Scarlett and I went down to the parking lot area of Echo Lake for another view of the peaks.

 The view from Echo Lake

Near the entrance to CO Highway 5, looking back towards Echo Lake

Scarlett and I decided to take Squaw Pass Road all the way down the mountain towards the town of Bergen.  Snow-packed conditions remained until just short of the junction if CO Hwy 74 so it was nice and easy going down the mountain!

A brief stop to secure all the wires draped on the headlight bucket
before getting to the I-70 Super Slab

Made it to Bergen with no issues and no major pucker factor moments.  The roads were nice and dry at that point and Scarlett took me onto the I-70 Super Slab for a rather windy ride back to the Metro Denver area.

Man, it was windy!  The rig was being blown by very strong headwinds and side winds.  It felt like we were on grooved pavement, where the front wheel sometimes seems to have a mind of its own you know?

Still, we made it to the E-470 exit which we took back to the northbound US 285 exit and once again through the mess that is traffic in Metro Denver.   Made it home shortly after 1:30 PM or so and after a quick lunch I started diagnosing the power loss issue to the ignition key assembly.

As I suspected, there was a break, and it was at the connector which links Scarlett's main wiring harness with the ignition key assembly.

The Blue wire is the "always hot" wire coming from the main wire harness.  The red wire leads to the ignition key assembly.  I had exposed the wires for testing with the multi-meter; the black wire would be used to "bridge" the gap within the connector.

The connector is a major PITA to separate, which is why I decided to bypass the wire path for the hot wire instead.

A little wiring, a little soldering, some electrical tape and some wire ties later; I had restored the power to the stock ignition key assembly.  Hopefully, I'll never have to use the hot wire toggle switch again but its ready.

Scarlett's engine did fine throughout this process, and I continue the break-in process with it.  Another 500 km or so and it'll have been 1000 km of varying speeds, no lugging or over-revving and keeping it under 55mph.   In other words, Ural riding conditions.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Mt Evans through an arch and a Fiery Sunset

Update: March 23, 2018.  Sad news, I just found out today, that a mentor and friend from my ROTC days had passed on this day, the 21st of February.

Rest In Peace Sir.

I was in the Denver Tech Center dropping off tax paperwork and took the opportunity to get a shot of Mount Evans through the arched gateway to Westlands Park:

I rode to catch the sunset and while waiting for the colors to be in full bloom, was UDF'ed by a rider who had stopped to check in on me; since he saw me parked on the side of the road.

He turned out to be an Air Force Chaplain and we talked about motorcycles, the military, PTSD and such for a bit.  He rides a Yamaha VStar, 1300cc cruiser, all black and sleek looking.

Kevin, the chaplain, finally had to go and the light was just right on the peaks to the northwest of my location.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Scarlett is Back!

Today I drove Martha's car with trailer to go fetch Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol with what is basically a new engine.

As you might remember, her engine had seized at the end of last year while we were in Texas and we'd towed her home using Umarang the URRV.  The beginning of the year was a very busy time for Randy, the premier Colorado URAL dealer and so he wasn't able to get to Scarlett until a week or so after I dropped her off.

Her engine was sent to Ural HQ in Redmond, WA where it was determined the big end bearing for the right-side connecting rod had failed, causing the engine to lock up.  More details on what was replaced by the rebuild done by the renowned Sergey of Ural here: LINK

Randy received the engine back from URAL on Thursday of this past week and Randy had her basically ready to go by late Friday.

Got to Randy's shortly after they'd opened and we chatted a bit about the repairs, the planned get together at Moab, UT this year and just whiling away about an hour pleasantly.  Soon though, it was time to load Scarlett up onto the trailer and take her home.

Once home, I put her back together in terms of gear, baggage and sprucing up some wiring that had gotten disconnected during the engine removal.  I checked all her fluids and it was time to begin her break-in riding period.  The next 1000 km had to be done at varying speeds, with speeds not above 60 mph and no lugging or overloading the engine.

 Views of Mount Evans

 Cloudy skies and warm weather still being enjoyed here

After running an errand, it was time to go see what kind of a sunset was going to welcome Scarlett home that evening:

 Denver about 20 minutes before sunset

 Mount Evans

Scarlett's engine sounded very good along with her new clutch pack.  Randy did discover a class 1 (seepage) leak on the pusher brake line so he's ordered a replacement.  Whether I replace it or he does is still to be decided, but it'll be a warranty coverage item as well.

My thanks again to Randy, and the team at URAL HQ for once again standing behind their product and fixing things for Scarlett under their great warranty program!

Mileage note: Engine seized at 41669 km.  I'll drive Scarlett in "break in" mode for the next 1000 km plus a bit more.  I'll consider the engine broken in at 42700 km on the odometer.

Update: Sunday: A couple of views of Pikes Peak from CO Hwy 83 and Lorraine Road:

Friday, February 17, 2017

Warm Winter Sunset

We're experiencing rather warm temperatures here on the Colorado Front Range this week, it was 76°F as I type this!

Last evening's sunset was "fair to middlin" but it did have a good finish:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Lunchtime ride's views of Mount Evans

A brilliantly sunny and clear day here in Colorado's Front Range.  Warm temperatures too....Fiona and I went riding for lunch to work up an appetite.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Pikes Peak atop the Fog

Sunday was a blustery day here on the Colorado Front Range.

I was riding Brigitta, my '87 R80 Beemer, giving her some overdue exercise and just cruising the prairies to the east of the Metro Denver area.

Here's a view of distant Pikes Peak, seemingly floating atop a layer of clouds and fog from Tombay Road, just south of Quincy Road.

The winds, coming from the south, and the chill in the air, served to shorten my riding for the day.  Brigitta only got perhaps 30 miles of riding but she did them smoothly and well as always.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Scarlett Update and Fiona Maintenance Notes

Got an update from Jason, the VP of Operations/Support for URAL in Redmond, WA this week:

Sergey, the master URAL mechanic/guru had diagnosed the issue as a bad/failed connecting rod bearing which had locked up on the right side.   Ilya, the president of URAL, also piped in on FaceBook that they'd changed to updated standard roller bearing used in the crankshafts for 2015 URAL engines and that he didn't recall any issues reported yet on those.

From URAL's online parts catalog:

 Above items highlighted in green are the parts replaced.
The black arrow points to the connecting rod and the red
arrow points to the big bearing for the connecting rod which failed.

Both cylinders and heads, the left one shown above,
will be replaced.  Only item not replaced in above picture
are the #7 push rods and associated camshaft, lifters and gears.

The above items are based on this from Jason:  Sergey did a complete rebuild on the engine including new crankshaft, pistons, cylinders, heads, clutch w/flywheel, and all misc. gaskets, seals and bearings.

I'll have to ask Jason if he meant the entire clutch pack was replaced.

The rebuilt engine was supposed to have been shipped on Friday, February 10th and should be at Fort Collins, Colorado by the 17th, hopefully.

Kudos again to URAL for standing behind their product.  I wish it would have lasted longer but then again, I am glad it happened while the engine was under warranty!


Fiona, my '99 Bural with the '87 R80 Beemer Engine got her gearbox and final drive oils changed out today, about 200 km late.  Switching to the new speedometer with its new odometer readings had thrown my calculated service intervals off a bit you see.

The engine oil was changed a little over 1100 km ago and really wasn't due till the 22,000 km mark on the old odometer but it had been looking dirty.  In order to sync things up, I'll be doing the gearbox/FD oil changes at the 2500 km mark on the new odometer (early) and proceed onwards from that point.

The beauty of the Beemer engine is that oil changes aren't due every 2500 km like on the older URAL engines, or even 5000 km like on the newer EFI engines but every 4500 miles or 7200km!  Still, I'll probably use the 5000 km interval for the engine oil as well, cheap insurance eh?

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Thursday, February 02, 2017

My Boondocking Power Plan and some related additions to Umarang

First, the sunrise I saw while camping at Cheyenne Mountain State Park recently:

I have been following with interest RichardM's postings about the farkling of his Fifth Wheel RV and his plan to go Solar for his power needs while on the road.

In the long run, once I retire, I will probably go solar myself but for now, the ROI (Return On Investment) to go solar for the amount of projected road/camping time for the foreseeable future doesn't make it worth it when boondocking.

Boondocking: Camping in dispersed camp sites, usually in National Forests, state parks, BLM public lands, etc.  No hookups for power, sewer, water.

Full disclosure:  clicking on the links in this posting and purchasing, may result in some pennies coming my way for my fuel budget from amazon.

Power Plan:

Instead, I plan to, when boondocking, to use my Honda eu1000i generator (that I bought used a couple or more years ago) to provide electricity for most all power needs in Umarang, our motor home.  I've tested it and it's quiet enough to run right under the coach and it powers everything but the AC and the Microwave and maybe the electric heater.

I got cable lock from Amazon to secure the Honda generator to the RV when its being used.  Just keeping honest folks honest, if someone really wants it they'll take it; that's why I have insurance.  I'll run it till it dies, then probably buy either a Harbor Freight Predator 2000w or Champion 2000w generator as a replacement for less than the cost of a new Honda eu1000i.

There's always the Onan 4K generator that came with the motor home for the heavier demands of the AC unit and the Microwave Oven and such high wattage items.

The plan is, to run the small gennie (uses less gasoline than the 4K generator)  in the daytime and probably up till accepted/published  "quiet hours" which are usually from 10PM - 8AM in most dispersed camping sites run by the National Forest service.  On BLM land, the proximity to other campers will drive the following of "quiet hours" as well.

This means the maintenance of the engine and coach batteries becomes a key factor.  Umarang came with a 98aH 12V Interstate SRM-29 battery.  Best practice is to not discharge a deep cycle battery more than below 50% which meant I have theoretically 49 aH available to me when not on generator.

After some calculation and testing using a clamp on amp meter, I got my power budget down to < 2 Amps.  This is the power needed to run the refrigerator in Propane mode and powering the inverter with the wireless access point powered on.  (the theory is, we're asleep during "battery power" hours)

The demands on the inverter could be higher but I plan to have all electronics charged up while on generator power, so no demands by portable electronics while on battery power.

I plan to use the eu1000i to power the smart battery charger to recharge the coach deep cycle battery each day.  It took it 4.5 hours to go from 12.11V (near 80% discharge after 12 hrs at 2 aH (amp hours)) to 12.84V full charge.

Lighting is provided by LED type 921 lights throughout the coach which really draw very little power.

So, basically I need 10 hours at 2 aH, which should be doable with the existing battery though drainage testing says I'm getting closer to the 20% discharge rate, which Interstate says is OK but it will reduce the number of cycles I can do this.  I don't know when this particular battery was installed; but I do know the previous owner never boondocked.

I think I can reduce power needs to 1aH as well (why run my WiFi access point when asleep?), but more testing needed.

One thing I learned though, is making sure that the battery has sufficient distilled water to cover the lead plates within the battery can be a PITA to do due to space constraints in the battery compartment!  I ended up making such a mess that I bought and installed a water filler kit from Amazon:

Installation was easy peasy, and I  had bought myself a large syringe instead of the recommended hand pump, and so I'm good to go next time I check water levels!  Note: letting air get in contact with the top of the plates in flooded lead/acid batteries ruins those plates!

In order to dry camp in Winter, and without enough battery/solar power, one must winterize parts of the plumbing in the RV.

Heat is provided by the Olympian Wave-8 Catalytic Propane heater instead of the on board forced air furnace which is highly inefficient, uses electricity for the blower fan and is wasteful of propane.  Best part, the Olympian requires no electricity to run.

This means no using the on board fresh water tank but still using the gray and black water tanks; I'll be using a hand pump designed for large 5 gallon plastic water bottles to easily transfer water for use in cooking, washing, flushing.  This method also precludes the power requirements of the water pump since you're not using water from the fresh water tank.

NOTE: The water bottle that is offered with the above pump by Amazon, under the premise of "frequently bought together" doesn't quite work.  I returned it.  Bought instead one of the water bottles at the local Safeway grocery store with the 57.5mm wide cap.  

Yeah, some folks and some RVs fill up their on board fresh water tank and it doesn't freeze.  I choose to not take that chance as the tanks are exposed underneath Umarang.  Testing during previous trips showed the pipes from the fresh water tank can freeze pretty easily when it gets cold enough even when the heater is running within the motor home.

The pipes used for washing/flushing are also within the habitable space of the motor home and as long as I run the heat, should stay unfrozen.  We'll see.

Note: Since I don't have the power (without generator) to run the tank heat pads, one must mix in RV antifreeze when "adding content" to the gray or black water tanks.  RV antifreeze is safe for humans if accidentally ingested, do not use regular car antifreeze!  I figure I can run the heat pads that Umarang came with when on generator power to keep things "liquid".

My thanks to RichardM for putting up with my questions on power usage calculations!

So, in summary, when on generator power, no restrictions on power usage as long as you remember to stay within the power capabilities of the generator.

When on battery, we're asleep, so really not much battery draw.

We'll see how it all works out.