Sunday, January 31, 2021

Now in New Mexico

Saturday, JAN 29

The sunrise for today wasn't too bad:

Penrose Sunrise

Found out the hard way that a 40 acre plot of land I was curious about was within the confines of a gated community.  So, no way to get in and wasn't interested in waiting on the offering realtor.  Still, it was a nice drive out with Mariko.

Did some errands in the town of Cañon City and managed to get a view of their Castle Rock which seems to lie within one of the prisons' land; so not easy to get closer to it:

 In the afternoon, I aired down Mariko's tires from the usual 30 PSI for street driving to 20 PSI for off-road conditions.  I'm happy to confirm it seemed to make taking on the rocky bits of the trails less bouncy and a bit more comfortable on my kidneys!

Rest of the afternoon was quite cool even though the sun was out, so no riding done with Yagi, my Yamaha TW200...I might as well have left her tied up on the URRV's front rack.  Oh well.

Decided tonight to start headed on south, today was forecast to be cooler than yesterday  so no point in waiting till Monday as previously planned.

Sunday, JAN 30

Woke up early and packed things up while waiting for daylight to break so I could see.  Took a bit of time to air up the tires on Mariko so she could be towed on the highway.  I also decided to top off a couple of the URRV's tires that were a bit lower than all the others.

A bit before 9AM, I was headed out towards CO Hwy 115 which I would take to US 50 East towards Pueblo, CO and points south.

The drive was boringly without issues, which I'll take anytime!  By 3PM I had unsuccessfully tried to find a Santa Fe National Forest camping area reported by  Got the URRV turned around and though I did find some likely sites, no cell signal.

Kept retracing my route back towards Bernal, NM and settled in a spot right at the edge of the Santa Fe National Forest, just off of Cty Road B28A.  It's only for one night so it's all good, I didn't unhook Mariko or dismount Yagi.

In the Santa Fe National Forest, near Bernal, NM

The current plan is to set up for a few days of boondocking near the town of Truth or Consequences.  I hope to fill up the propane tank in the URRV somewhere in Albuquerque as I pass through it tomorrow morning.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Boondocking again in Penrose, with Mariko and Yagi

 Packed up the URRV this morning and by 10:30 AM I was heading out of my home neighborhood and headed South/Southwest towards Penrose, CO.

About three hours later, made it to the Penrose Commons BLM area next to the small town of Penrose off of CO Highway 115, no issues, a couple of stops to check out the towing bits that were pulling Mariko the Suzuki Samurai along as a dingy/toad behind Umarang.

I got my preferred spot, and though it did take a few light hammer blows, didn't have any real issues unhooking Mariko from the Blue Ox Tow bar. I think it was because she was slightly down slope from Umarang so there was slight binding.

Got camp set up for the next few days:

It had been quite windy and gusty all the way from south of the Metro Denver area and it remained quite breezy in the Penrose area.  No big deal though as I had doors, windows and a roof to keep things nice and warm within Mariko.

Took her out for a brief scout of the area to the north where several of the dirt trails are located.  It took me a few minutes to figure out when to go into 4WD and also how to keep the engine from stalling when encountering the rockier/rougher portions of the trails.  No problem, just something to re-learn from my days of 4x4 driving in a 1977 Jeep CJ-7 Renegade; the first car I ever bought with my own money.

Mariko and I wandered along for a bit, some parts of the trails were quite muddy due to recently melted snow.  I experienced her behavior both in high and low range 4x4 mode and it was quite enlightening.

Because she came with the True Twin Sticks mod for the transmission, it was easy to shift from high to low range depending on the terrain.  I will say, 4WD Low is very low geared with the aftermarket 6.4:1 gearing in the transfer case!  It's so low geared, I basically had to go into second gear even from standing stops to get going!  I suppose the low-geared first gear will come in handy in really bad road conditions!

Went up and down rock-strewn hills with no issues using 4WD Low, just powering up them and slowly descending them using the low gearing and engine braking made it very easy.

Mariko's short wheelbase however, produced a very bumpy ride when things got rocky but I guess I knew to expect that.  It helps a lot to lean forward a bit and not have contact with the seat's back in order to negotiate the rock-induced rocking motions.

Saving most of the other trails for tomorrow or another day, I then drove Mariko over to the nearby Brush Hollow Reservoir for pics.

Southern side of the reservoir

Northern side of the reservoir

The winds were picking up by 4:30 PM so I headed on back onto BLM land and the campsite.  I was surprised to see other campers out here, I'd figured it was too "cold" for so many to show up.  Still, not to crowded and I can't see any of them from my campsite.

It's supposed to get down to 32°F (0°C) tonight so I shouldn't need to turn on the Catalytic Propane Heater until I wake in the morning.  We'll see.

I hope to check out one or two nearby properties that are on sale, not really seriously looking but as long as I'm in the area.....

Mariko did very well, once I figure out the right combination of accelerator, clutch and high/low range modes to keep her from stalling!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Mariko is back and running....finally!

A recap of the last two weeks or so.

Last week:

I got Mariko back with a new fuel filter, the mechanic thought the old one had caused the issues which had prompted me to return the Sami to them for another look.  Basically, symptoms reflecting haphazard fuel flow.

Some maintenance related items were done, such are replacing the spark plugs it came with.

These same plugs had been black with soot!

You'll note the above old plugs look pretty good in terms of color.  Before, when the engine had been running with the thermal choke stuck in the open position, they'd been black, covered in soot!

I also installed a generic battery hold-down bracker.
The Same had come with the rubber bungie strap holding
it down!  I put it back on as a "belt and suspenders" mechanism.

Here's the carburetor bits that were replaced by the mechanic.  That is one sad looking main gasket eh?  The rubber bits in the upper right functioned as dust jacket for the accelerator pump in the lower left next to the float needle.

The O-rings and tiny bits that were replaced, the ruler is used to ensure the float is mounted correctly within the carburetor's fuel bowl.

Let's see, also replaced both of the two headlights as they'd been both cracked when I bought her.

On Jan 21, I drove her to the DMV to get her permanent license plates.  She ran beautifully all the way there.  I ran into a snag at the DMV however, now it seems its not enough to have a current passing emission test but the test has to be done while in one's ownership!


So, after arranging to return to the DMV clerk after getting an emissions test, I left the DMV and started heading out to the nearby testing station.

Mariko was hard to start and was once again experiencing fuel delivery issues!  I had to push heavily at the accelerator pedal, get the engine wound up and then let out the clutch to get her going!  Quite embarrassing and the situation didn't improve as the engine warmed up.

More embarrassment at the emission testing location, barely got her in position and the tech voiced doubts as to Mariko being able to pass the emissions testing.

Still, perhaps 15 nail-biting minutes later, he'd put her through the most thorough inspection I'd ever seen done on one of my cars and she passed!  I was amazed.

Clutching the emissions certificate, I drove her back to the DMV, having fuel issues the whole way and got her plates without further drama from the DMV.  Then I drove her, still not getting fuel well, back to the mechanic's shop in Parker and demonstrated the behavior to the head mechanic.

He finally agreed that yes, there was an issue and most likely fuel delivery so I left the Samurai with him and got a ride home in the owner's truck.  It's a small shop so the owner is also the head mechanic.

I thought a fuel pump installation being relatively simple, I figured I'd get her back the next day but no word and then I had to wait for the weekend as they're not open then.

Monday, was told the mechanic was at the doctors but that he was expected to begin working on the fuel pump.  Monday passed, nothing from the shop on I called them at 5PM and only then was told the mechanic had managed to get a concussion and no one had been available to work on Mariko!

Wednesday the 27th, was told the mechanic was expected back late morning but that they'd also try and get one of the other mechanics to put the pump in.  They called me near 5PM to advise the pump was in and things seem good but the head mechanic wanted to do another test drive in the morning after she sat all night.

Thursday, the 28th.  The morning test drive involved them coming out to the house in the Sami and picking me up.  I then drove the service manager, Adam, back to the shop to pay the bill.  The electric fuel pump makes a constant tapping noise but it's not too bad, I'll take that over fuel delivery issues when using the failing mechanical fuel pump Mariko was equipped with at the factory, over 33 years ago!

Note: after consulting RichardM, will try installing a rubber mount between the fuel pump and the floor board near the gas tank where it's currently mounted.

She now drives just fine, no problems getting her going from a standing stop and no need to force the revs up before letting out the clutch!  Hopefully, that's it for mechanical issues for a while.  Fingers crossed.

I then went to retrieve the URRV, hooked Mariko up to her and drove both vehicles home.  I learned its easier to unhook the towed vehicle from the Blue Ox tow bar if both vehicles are lined up directly behind each other!  No curves allowed!

I installed the brake assist mechanism in the afternoon and got it adjusted so it pulls on the brake pedal inside Mariko when I push the brakes on the URRV.  We'll see how it works out, I don't really need it when towing the Sami but once in a while I do feel a slight "klunk" in the URRV's suspension when stopping so I figured I'd try the brake assist setup.

We had us a pretty good post-sunset display of color along the Front Range:

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Still at home, some snow pics....

 Mariko, the '87 Suzuki Samurai 4x4 is still in the shop, this time awaiting the replacement of the factory mechanical fuel pump with an electrical pump to hopefully remedy the ongoing fuel delivery issues.

More on the delays in the next posting I hope.

It snowed a little bit on the Colorado Front Range, the mountains to the west as usual got a lot more.

We got perhaps an inch of the powdery version of the white stuff so I thought I'd kill some time this morning with a ride on Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol.

I rode out to the East Ponderosa area SE of my home neighborhoods, posing Scarlett in the usual spots with views of the fourteener named Mount Evans directly west of the metro area.

Like Owen the Cat, I find myself looking out at windows at cold scenery.  

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Snow, delays, batteries and a sunset

Sunday, Jan 10

Went for a short drive with Mariko, to check out her 4WD in a more extended manner on what I hoped would be snow covered road.  The area I picked did have some snow on the roads, but not much, more muddy than anything else (which is also a good test I guess) as the weather had been warm the last few days.

Aside from a slight rattling noise when engaging the clutch before bleeding down the speed, no issues encountered.  The PO told me he'd heard some noise too, especially in Low Range but I guess we'll see if its something to worry about.

I dropped Mariko off at the mechanic's shop on Monday, the 11th.  They estimated at the time it would take perhaps 3 days.

Wednesday, Jan 13

I'm not known for patience so it probably won't surprise you that I was disappointed to be called and be told by the shop that the carburetor rebuild was delayed.  

Looks like they have to replace the e-choke component involved with the radiator ( the fluid temperature tells the choke to activate or shut down ).  Also, apparently the float has to be replaced.  The delay involves finding the right parts for this old carburetor model: Hitachi DFB306-832.  The parts are due in Jan 21, Thursday of next week but they'll call me if they arrive earlier.

On the positive side, its good they found these problems now and are working to fix them.  Hopefully, it'll mean a more reliable key component to the Samurai being a dependable vehicle.


I'd been exercising both Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol and Brigitta, my '87 Airhead Beemer the last few days.  They've not gotten ridden much since the last three months or so as I was away camping.  Scarlett gave me no issues the couple times I rode her around the area.

Brigitta, on the other hand gave me the dreaded clicking noise of a dead battery.  This is even though she started fine at home, and no issues all the way to the RV storage yard where I'd been doing some work on the URRV.  

Sighing heavily, I got the jumper cables from the URRV, hooked her up and she started right up and caused no issues all the way home.  I looked up on her maintenance records when I'd last changed out her battery and it was over 10 years ago!  Dang.  Just goes to show how little she'd been ridden in the last ten years!  So a replacement battery is ordered and on the way, a PowerStar PS-NH12-18, which is equivalent to a BMW 51814 which is suitable for R Bikes.

More battery issues, the small lithium battery on Yagi, my 2006 Yamaha TW200 failed completely same day.  The battery had been stuck on 14.1 volts for over a day, so I'd disconnected the charger and reconnected...not bothering to check the voltmeter readout.  

As I was checking Brigitta, I finally noticed the voltmeter showing weird readings, changing rapidly, and reporting only 6.4 volts with the multimeter!  It was toast.  

Luckily, I still have the Yuasa YB7C-A  battery that had been installed in 2016 and which I'd changed out proactively when I brought the TW home.  I ordered a replacement battery as they're not too expensive and it should be here Friday this week.


Jan 12

We had us a pretty good sunset, with some nice clouds being lit up by the sun's rays once it had sank below the horizon:

Wrote this blog entry to keep my mind off the delays involving Mariko's carburetor, yesterday I washed part of the garage floor and mowed/mulched the large amount of fallen leaves that were in the back yard.


Friday, January 08, 2021

Recovery gear for Mariko and more Maintenance

 Since Mariko, my '87 Suzuki Samurai 4x4 weighs almost 2100 lbs takes a lot more in terms of equipment to do jobs like raising her to change a tire, or straps and shackles to pull her out of loose sand and just gear to do tire repairs!

Note: Still, she basically weighs a bit over One Ton!  Light for a four wheeled vehicle!  

One Smittybilt 2780 Air compressor rated for 2.54 CFM to air up the tires after leaving terrain where I decided to air down the tires for better traction.  I like the "screw on" connector, leaves your hands free and is more secure.  Not only that, but its the only connection that works to air up the right front tire on Mariko....something about the stem I think.  All of my other different type connectors fail to open the air core...and yes, I did swap out air cores.

I look forward to trying this 12 volt air compressor on my URRV's tires....if they can air those puppies up then I'll be able to stop bringing along the big air compressor that used to sit in the garage!  I have to run the 4KW onboard generator in the URRV to power that compressor as it requires more power than my HF Predator generator can supply.

One 4" x 30' Snatch Strap with rated break strength of 46,500 lbs for recovery ops.  Of course, this is dependent on there being another vehicle to do the pulling!

One 6 Ton Capacity Bottle Jack with 16" max lift height and a 6" Safe Jack Extension in order to raise the Samurai's frame 20" in order to be able to change out a tire.

One 3" x 30' Tow Strap with a 10,000 Lb load capacity and Two 3/4" Steel Shackles.  Again, another vehicle is required.

Two 1/2" x 22" Soft Shackles, to be used if at all possible over steel shackles unless there's danger of sharp edges at the recovery points to be used.

One Auto and Light Truck  Deluxe Tire Repair Kit for tubeless tires.

Storage Box to secure all the above in the cargo compartment of the Samurai.  

Got this 30" Tool box from Murdochs:

Thinking about a pair of MaxTrax MkII Traction Boards for self-recovery ops.  They're quite pricey and though they are the gold standard among traction/recovery boards out there....some of the competitors are not bad either, just not as long-lasting.  At $299 currently online.  I got the X-Bull 3rd Gen traction boards instead.  Less money and with some thought in one's riding, should be enough for a few uses with such a light 4x4 like Mariko.   It would, theoretically, enable me to get out of sand/mud/snow traps by myself, no other vehicle required.

What's holding me back from buying, besides their steep price, is how to secure them in a soft-top equipped vehicle?  I supposed I could run a cable look through the handle holes but would that be enough?

Yep, four wheels = more gear required when going off road and expecting to make it back when things don't quite go the way I want them to.

Maintenance Notes

Monday, next week, I drop her off at a mechanic's shop to have her carburetor rebuilt.  The thing is just more complicated than I'm willing to tackle at this time and will come with a warranty of sorts and dialed in in terms of idle speed and such.

76130 Miles I've changed out her engine oil and filter, easy.  Next oil change in 3000 miles, might stretch it to 80,000 to keep better track.

76326 Miles: Because it was overdue (last time done by PO was at 55,752, partly).

In order to have a good baseline: I changed out gear oil in the transmission, front and rear differentials and the transfer case.  During this process I discovered what a wonderful thing it is to use a fluid pump to pump the gear oil into said components!  There's bad angles and parts which obstruct one's use of the bottle that gear oil comes in.

My new favorite tool

The oil in the Front Differential looked clean.  Oil in the transmission was dirty.  Oil in the Transfer Case was contaminated with water!  It was the color of coffee with milk (flushed it by running extra .5 Liter of 80W90 Gear Lube through it before adding required amount to fill it).  Oil in the Rear Differential was dirty.

The tires are old, a bit over 8 years old but have enough wear to last me a year or so before I have to replace them. (They were made in the 21st week of 2013).  The spare tire is definitely worn and only good for use as "get me back to camp" purposes.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Fiona's Replacement

No, its not another Ural Sidecar Rig.  Close though in terms of speed, older in terms of years but more comfy in terms of weather.

Meet Mariko, a 1987 Suzuki Samurai mini-SUV.

Saw her on Craigslist about a week ago, and went to look at her on New Year's Eve, ending up buying her and driving her home.

From the Craiglist ad:

 I also bought from the Samurai's seller most of the required items to tow it behind the URRV in the near future....just have to figure out the wiring from the URRV's four pin connector to the Samurai's six pin connector by Blue Ox.

The ride home went fine, stopped a couple of times for pictures and to get her added to my auto insurance policy.

I said similar in this point I'm not sure who is faster getting to 60 mph, the Samurai or a Ural Sidecar Rig!  Let's just say it is 0 to 60, eventually.  After all, she's only a four banger with a 1.3L engine with a maximum of 60 anemic horse power due to her being 33 years old!

Got her home with no issues.  Then she presented me with one.

She's apparently easy to flood if you don't watch it when using the accelerator.  I think I gunned the engine a bit too much while in first gear, dealing with the steepness of the driveway where she'd been parked.  I shut off the engine once inside and I think she was flooded.  (I'm still getting used to the clutch pedal action)

This being a new experience for me, I proceeded to try and start her some more, making things worse.

I eventually stopped, took a look around and finally found some gas leaking from the cracked rubber sleeve used by the accelerator pump:

accelerator pump....I believe the rubber gasket
on the left side of lower bit needs replacing along
with the sleeve pictured in top half of pic

Another case of ethanol gasoline ruining the rubber bits on a carburetor!

After some phone calls with RichardM, it looks like there's a carburetor rebuild in my future to take care of the leaks which are causing the engine to run too rich; a symptom of which (and that I failed to check before purchase) is soot covered spark plugs.

So, if you're ever buying a used car, check the condition of the spark matter how well the engine seems to run!  Learn from my mistake.

Anyways, after about an hour or so, I went out to try and start her again and damn if she didn't start right away and after a brief rough idle, settle down to a smooth running idle!  I guess all the gas I'd flooded the carburetor with had evaporated or seeped away.  A short test drive that night and she ran fine.  Sigh.

New Years Day:

Spent the morning spraying the engine down with a spray bottle to remove a light coating of Moab dust and grime from all surfaces so I can see what's going on with the engine.

I also diagnosed a faulty ground cable going from somewhere in the steering column to the horn.  There was much corrosion on the steel bits which comprise the contact points for the horn pad on the steering wheel.  Also I had to run a bypass wire and now have a working horn.  The OEM horn was weak and on its last legs so I installed a horn I had bought for one of the motorcycles. 

Test ride 1:  Per the manual, for a cold engine, you push the accelerator pedal 1/4 way down then crank the engine...this resulted in flooding the carburetor instead!  Had to use the flooded engine procedure per the manual, and got her started and soon she was fine.  The electric choke (I assume that is what kicks in the high idle soon after startup) makes the engine a bit loud but soon turns off as the engine warms up. 

Test ride 2: Cranked the engine without using any gas.  Started fine.  Ran fine.

Saturday, JAN 2

Finally found the inked on model ID number for the carburetor.  It's a Hitachi DFB306-832 carburetor!  This makes it so much easier to shop for parts and such.  Bonus, the kit I ordered from AutoZone (GP Sorensen 96-688) is actually the correct one and includes a replacement sleeve AND accelerator pump!  

Changed Mariko's oil and filter out in the afternoon at 76132 miles, no issues, though it took 4.5 quarts to get to top mark on the dip stick vice 3.9 per the manual.  Yes, I did wait 5+ minutes before measuring.

Test ride 1: No gas used, just cranked the engine and she idled rough as I backed out of the garage....then the electric choke kicked in and it idled high until warmed up, then all was fine.  After fueling up, she started just fine and no issues all the way back home.

Discovered the trip meter reset knob missing when I went to reset the meter after getting gas.  I used a small punch to gently push the stem the knob would rest on to reset to 000, will look for a knob....assuming the trip meter works.

And so, another vehicular chapter begins....this time with four wheels.  She should be fun on the dirt trails I like to explore, being able to handle anything a Ural can handle and more!

Jan 3 Update, added Mariko's first sunset pic.