Tuesday, April 27, 2021

An Introduction to Pick and Pulls

 Today, I rode along with Dale B. as he went to what he describes as one of his favorite places to go.  An auto salvage yard or "Pick and Pull".

Basically, you pay a small entry fee, then using your own tools, pick and pull off any parts from any of the salvage cars in the lot.  There's a lot of cars at this particular lot in Denver, I was in salvage heaven.  

The above pic is just a small portion of the whole inventory of salvage/wrecked vehicles just waiting to be scavenged by cheap bastards like me.

Dale and I found ourselves a pretty pristine Nissan Pathfinder and not only did he get the AC switch he wanted, but we ended up taking the front seats, some dash plastic components, door handles, mirrors, WARN locking hubs for 4WD, a radio (for me, which turned out wrong one, oh well), assorted bits and bobs.  The bill came to only $135 for Dale's stuff.  The radio was $15 for me.  

No idea if the radio even works, but I'll first have to do some creative wiring to mate it to the wiring in the Samurai.  Why a radio?  The one that came in the Sammy was fried by the faulty regulator which took out a lot of the electronics when it failed.

Bonus, I found my next project vehicle a few rows over from where we found the pristine Pathfinder:

Dale B. poses next to my future entry into the world of Jeeps

Alas, no Samurais in the lot, they're pretty rare apparently, sort of like Unobtanium!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

A Group Outing to the Paint Mines Interpretive Center

 Today's destination involved Martha and two couples from the neighborhood, all neighborhood friends of many years.

Bob W. and Dale B. rode a Yamaha 250 Dualsport and a Scooter respectively, Martha and I drove in Mariko and Jacqui and Anita, Bob and Dale's wife respectively drove in another car.  This was Martha's first ride in the Samurai and she liked it.

Windy, windy, windy day.  The guys on two wheels were having some interesting moments while riding along, with some of the gusts shaking the Samurai as well!  Along with the occasional hills, the strong winds kept the poor Samurai from making much over 45 mph at times!  Pretty much like a Ural in high winds.

Still, we made it to the Paint Mines Interpretive Center near Calhan, CO in about 90 minutes or so.  The parking lots were mostly full, the weather being nice though windy and it had brought out more people than I thought would be there.

It's about a half mile hike to the formations and we meandered about following the trail and seeking color among the weirdly shaped formations.

Can you see the people further in among the formations?

Bob had come up to me on the way to Paint Mines and told me Mariko's brake lights weren't working.  Cue heavy sighing on my part.

Once we got to Paint Mines, I did some basic troubleshooting, nothing found.  It was decided to go on the exploration and fix things once at home; with the guys on motorcycles acting as escorts/brake lights on the way home.

Before we went home though, we stopped at a diner in Calhan and had some great tasting meals.  Here we are after finishing the meals, all stuffed!

Above pic courtesy of Dale B.

We returned home via a slightly different route, some strong winds of course, but everyone got home without incident.

After resting for a bit, I tackled the non-working brake lights with the help of Thing 1.  Some methodical testing with the multimeter, I determined it was the wire from the brake switch to the left brake light that had a break in it.   

As the wire was part of the wire harness, I elected instead to run a separate wire to the correct wire at the left brake light assembly.  Not the prettiest or professional of jobs but the brake lights now work!  Getting at the brake switch proved to be a bit of a PITA as you have to twist your upper body in painful ways to be able to see and access the darn thing.

Still, Mariko has brake lights again so all is well.  I verified the reverse and turn signals still worked along with headlights.  The only electrical thing that still doesn't work is the wiper motor and the replacement should be here soon.

I won't be installing it any time soon though, since it involves major work in terms of having to remove the dash to access the motor!  In the meantime, by using a resettable fuse of the required amperage, I can get the wipers to work, sort of.  Good enough for now.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Replacing damaged tach and resolving idling issue

 As I work to get the Sammy back online fully, one task was to re-connect the wiring for the Bosch Tachometer I'd added prior to the last camping trip.

Got everything connected, using a fuse tap this time for power, and the darn thing gave me weird readings.  The tachometer's needle would actually move backwards or counter-clockwise as I accelerated.  Sigh, another victim of the high-voltage incident.

So I got another one from the local auto parts store.  Hooked it up with no major issues and it worked fine, but it was reporting an idle RPM reading of 1500 RPMs!  Too high.  The Samurai manual says between 800-900 I think and the shop had set it to 825 RPMs.

Dinked with what I thought was the idle set screw but found out via chat conversation with the Sammy Guru in New Mexico aka Mike W. that I was actually turning the adjustment screw for the lower butterfly valves in the carburetor!  Doh!

the wrong screw
photo courtesy of Mike W.

So I put that screw back to where it was, at least I hope so.

Then, this morning, after the engine had warmed up and the thermal choke had cut off, the tachometer once again reported 1500 RPMs.  I tried adjusting the right idle screw this time, a full turn out, no effect.  A full turn in, no effect.  Huh?

Here's two views of the correct adjustment screw, courtesy of Mike W., the Sammy Guru, the circled in red item is the correct adjustment screw for the idle.

Then I thought of another thing to check that had been suggested to me by the Sammy Guru.  There's something called a idle-up actuator that raises the idle when a load is put on the engine at idle (such as lights, AC, etc), it also works to "compensate" for higher altitudes apparently.  

In the picture below, the green circle shows the idle-up actuator rod (white) and the red circle shows the point where it pushes to raise the idle RPMs.

photo courtesy Mike W.

I'd noted the idle-up actuator's rod position prior to engine start and it hadn't been in contact with the throttle assembly.  Now with the engine warmed up, it was in contact!  Per Mike W.'s instructions, sort of, I traced the vacuum line from top of idle-up actuator to the front of the engine where it connected to a two-port VSV or Vacuum Switching Valve.

I pulled the vacuum line belonging to the idle-up actuator and lo and behold the RPMs immediately dropped to 950 or so!  I looked and the idle-up actuator's rod had indeed retracted away from the throttle mechanism!  Wow.

So, I took the Sammy out for a short test drive (five miles or so) and she did just fine, the idle RPM always coming back to 950 to 1000 RPMs at idle.  She seemed responsive (well as responsive as a Samurai can be in my experience) and I returned home.

I capped off the disconnected vacuum line and port at the VSV for now.  One can achieve the same effect apparently by disconnecting the electrical connection for the VSV but this will do for now.

More driving to be done to ascertain this "fix" didn't cause other issues or I didn't cause something else by dinking with the wrong screw initially!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Mariko's electrical issues - resolved for now?

 So, as a review.  I was driving my Samurai in the vicinity of the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona on March 27.  It was a light rain kind of day, so driving with headlights on, wipers going, heater going as it was a bit chilly.

Everything went dead after a high pitched squealing noise as I pulled away from the gas station in Marble Canyon.  Long story short, I lost the fusible link and there were electrical shorts occurring even after replacing the fusible link.

A shop in Page, AZ diagnosed a damaged ECM, Electronics Control Module, as causing the ignition short circuit which kept frying the ignition fuse.

Fast forward to my return to the Metro Denver area on April 6.  I drop off the Samurai with my "regular" shop and was told that the main culprit for all the electrical issues appears to have been an alternator with a failed internal regulator.  When the regulator failed, the alternator was generating 19+ volts into the electrical system!  Normal, is 14.5 volts, max.

This over-voltage resulted in, a damaged ECM (replaced with used one), damaged battery (replaced with new one), fusible link (replaced), damaged wiper motor (to be replaced by me eventually), the radio appears to be toast and an electrical short circuit for the headlights (fixed).  The alternator was a GM alternator installed by some mechanic's shop in Boulder, CO at the behest of the previous owner back in September of 2016.

My own mechanic mentioned said alternator had been wired up in a "funky" manner and not the correct way.  I can't say for certain but suspect that it might have contributed to the relatively early failure of the internal regulator on the GM alternator.

So, alternator has been replaced with another GM alternator; apparently this was easier and faster than trying to source the OEM alternator.  I guess we'll see how long the repairs last and how long till the next issue?

The Sammy is back for now....

Note: Email notifications for new blog posts will stop starting July, 2021.   The previously mentioned subscription service via follow.it has been canceled (too spammy).  More to follow.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Spring Time Uraling on the cold, snowy prairies.

 This morning, after about 2-4 inches worth of snow fell overnight in and around the Metro Denver area, it was time to take Scarlett out for a ride.

The sun was out, and no wind, which helped me bear the "brisk" temperatures at the start of the ride (21°F (-6°C).  Above 40 mph, the wind chill factor made itself felt, cutting through all the warming layers I was wearing!

Still, grip covers with heated grips and putting my boots up against the engine's cylinders, helped keep frostbite at bay.  

Even though it was below freezing, the sun's rays and probably magnesium chloride on the pavement of the primary roads made for sometimes slushy conditions.  

It was cold enough though, to freeze said melting water into nice designs:

Ice-encased branches 

I managed to stay out about 90 minutes or so I think, but definitely was feeling the cold in my fingers and toes by the time I made it home.  I spent some time chipping off the ice from the rig while it was in the driveway.  This to prevent the ice melting inside the garage!

Reminder: If you'd like to continue receiving email notifications when a new post is published, please enter your email address and click the subscribe button over on the right hand side of the screen, near the blog's header pic.  

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Goodbye Bob Peek, R.I.P.

 Wednesday this week, I learned of the passing of a fellow sidecar rider and friend: Bob Peek, of Wasilla, Alaska.

He leaves behind his lovely wife Sharon, who rode with him in the sidecar of a BMW GS rig called The Raven.

I first met Bob and Sharon during my ride to Alaska back in 2013, they'd generously offered me a place to stay while I rode south from RichardM's place in Fairbanks, headed eventually to Homer, AK.  It was the 5th of May and the first time we saw each other was in the dusk of a rainy evening.  It had taken two attempts to get to Wasilla, but it would prove a worthy endeavour.

Bob and Sharon saw me, a stranger who they'd communicated with online, knowing me only from my blog activity, sitting on my rig in the pouring rain and still took me in and made me welcome in their home.  LINK

Bob and Sharon, consumate hosts that they were, would take me on a car ride the next day to see the local sights near Wasilla: LINK

Bob and Sharon at Hatcher Pass

Bob's Rig

Here's a link of the ride Bob and I did to check out Hatcher Pass: LINK, check out the videos to see Bob's rig in motion.

Bob and our rigs at Hatcher Pass

Then there was another ride to Steven's Point, following Bob and his rig in this continuing exploration of the Wasilla area:  LINK.  I was spending some time at their home you see, as I waited once again on parts and repairs to be done on Valencia, my 2011 Ural Patrol.

Near McKenzie Point with Bob and the loaner rig from Mickey
the Ural dealer in Anchorage

Here's a picture of Bob and Sharon, as I said goodbye to them on my way to Valdez, AK....

The last ride I did with Bob was going to the Sidecar Meet in Talkeetna, Alaska....RichardM would join us there with his rig:  LINK

Talkeetna Sidecar Meet

Though we stayed in touch of course, Bob and I wouldn't meet up again until a bit over five years later, as Martha and I traveled by train (mostly) from Seward to Fairbanks.  We met up with Bob and Sharon at some hotel we were staying at and caught each other up on our lives.  LINK

I was sad to hear of Bob's passing and Martha and I send our deepest condolences to his lovely wife Sharon.  Another fellow rider has ridden off into the sunset....

Note: Bob tried his hand at blogging:  AlaskaPeeks, though he didn't get into it as I did (and saved him a whole bunch of time I am sure), I invite you to peruse it to get to know the man in the pictures.

The etymology of Goodbye: God be with Ye....

Goodbye Bob....

Monday, April 05, 2021

Home for a bit...

 94 days so far this year of 2021, and I've camped 66 days of it.  70%, not bad....

Home for now as of today.

Dropped off the Samurai at the shop in Parker, they're a bit short-handed right now in terms of mechanics but eventually they'll deal with her current electrical gremlins.  I also handed them the replacement ECM (Electronics Control Module) (used) that I got from Highway83 Suzuki Samurai, a shop that specializes on these beast and their upkeep.

There's a couple of honey-do tasks to be done around the house of course, so I'll have plenty to do I am sure.  There's motorcycles to be exercised and possibly serviced,  the readying the trailer to take Scarlett the 2014 Ural Patrol out on for the next trip, planning for the camping trip.

Here's pictures of yesterday's sunset, on my last night at the San Luis Lakes SWA (State Wildlife Area).  Note: Though the campground is accessible, as is the larger of the lakes, the rest of the SWA is closed to the public from FEB 15 to JUL 15 to protect nesting waterfowl areas.  

At the boat ramp in the SWA....water level is a bit low....

I am not sure when's the next time the Sammy will go out exploring on one of my camping trips, she's going to have to prove more reliable.  If you've read along in my travels over the last few years, you know I like to wander into the hinterlands, alone, and managed to return mostly without issues.

Trouble is, with a car, recovery can be a lot tougher when driving alone.  I've been lucky so far when my motorcycles have broken down; I'm just not sure that luck is going to keep holding up when it comes to the Samurai.

More to follow on the Samurai to be sure....I'm also not sure four-wheeling is going to bring the same enjoyment to my explorations as when on two or three wheels....it's too much like being in a car driving down a bumpy road.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Dunes and Shadows

Spent most of the day hanging out at the VRRV, checking some electrics on Mariko (yep, another short circuit involving the headlights this time), and verifying what worked with the ECM disconnected.

Tried but could not locate the short for the headlights so now planning on dropping off the Sammy with the mechanic in Parker, CO for him to troubleshoot.  Have also found the quick disconnect for the positive terminal of the battery tends to "lose connectivity" randomly, am going to ask the mechanic to eliminate it as it's no longer required.

I'll also have the mechanic hook up the replacement ECM, this to ensure it's not something I might cause beforehand.  The ECM is due at home Monday evening, so hoping to be able to drop off the Samurai on Tuesday afternoon.

Anyways, enough of that shit, I rode out on Yagi shortly after 4PM to see what the late afternoon sun did for shadows among the dunes of the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

From Ponderosa Point along the Medano Creek Primitive Road

Looks like a couple of climbers made it up to the top of the first
dune I tried to get to yesterday!

Riding back towards the main dune access area

See the guy atop the dune, near the center?

Looks like he was taking a selfie!

While posing Yagi near the main dune access area, a spot of
white caught my attention....look up and to the left of Yagi...

Yep, looks like a new bride, getting her post-wedding pics

Another "can you see" the folks on the top....

On the way out of the park:

Tonight's sunset was a bit better than yesterday's sunset I believe: