Friday, June 30, 2023

Working on To-Dos while Home

We're keeping somewhat busy getting stuff fixed, arranged, projects started on or worked on.

Uma, the VRRV is in the shop for brake rotors/pads all around, a new serpentine belt and tensioner for the engine, new shock absorbers all around and replacement anti-sway bars in the rear.  There's some more stuff but those are the major ones.  Apparently, the rear brake pads were "metal to metal".  I really need to learn to check brake pad wear on dually wheels.  I hope to get her back next Friday.  Yes, it's going to be expensive but works out to about $800/year since 2016 when we bought her.  Also, working brakes are kind of key....

Martha and I spent a few days pulling at weeds in the backyard.  Made good progress and we'll see how things go in terms of preventing the weeds returning.

We'll be having the two big Cottonwood trees trimmed so that they pass more air through their branches.  This expense won't happen till just past mid-July as the work can't be done before then due to prior commitments on the part of the tree trimmer compay.

This to hopefully prevent the sometimes very strong wings from causing major damage.  Our worry had been that the trees would be toppled over in a wind storm, but the tree guy said they look strong and healthy.  

I laid out a circle of bricks around the patch of grass that has never grown in well, we're thinking of setting up a portable gazebo within the circle to cover up the patch.


Digital Mockup of Gazebo Idea

We also outfitted the second set of wheels for the Honda CR-V with new all season tires and had them installed on the CR-V.  The wheels with the snow tires went into storage under the deck for eventual use this coming October.  Yep, more money.  

We'd been paying to have summer and winter tires swapped out on same set of wheels but now have the option of me changing them out as required.

Bought and installed replacement trailer tongue jack for the Aluma trailer.  It is definitely easier to maneuver the trailer with it on than without it!  I'm pretty sure this last camping trip was this trailer's last outing for such purposes.

Now that I have Scarlett operational again, I'm thinking of selling both her and Brigitta, my '87 R80 BMW Airhead.  In the case of Brigitta, I'm just not riding her enough to keep her healthy.  Yesterday, was the first time I'd ridden her in over six months!  As to Scarlett, I'm pretty sure she's taken her last camping trip and will also suffer Brigitta's fate in that she won't get ridden enough either.

One of the reasons selling has been entertained, is to raise money to buy a small/reliable spare car.  Allowing us the option of taking it vs the Honda CR-V on camping trips where Martha comes along.  We'll see how this notion plays out.

During recent torrential rains, Martha had reported possible issues with the Sump Pump's activation switch.  Luckily, she and Patrick had monitored the water level and had run the pump manually as needed.  It turned out to be that the pump's float had come loose from wherever it'd been mounted.  So it would just float horizontally with the rising water instead of its buoyancy eventually forcing one end up and closing the circuit to run the pump automatically!  Easy fix.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Scarlett has a New Clutch and Swing Arm

During most of the past two days or so:

Well, it took way, way, way longer than I expected but Scarlett now has a new clutch pack and is once again drivable.

I'd received some time ago, a replacement swing arm from IMWA (Ural).  It had been sent to me after I reported that mine had broken apart while in Utah.  Link.

I'd taken such a long time to replace the swing arm since the welded version did work, though it was slightly misaligned.  It necessitated more work to change out the pusher wheel for instance, to allow for the misalignment but it was something I got used to.

Now, since I had to push the swing arm to the rear to remove Scarlett's gearbox to access the clutch, I thought I might as well change out the swing arm.  No, I didn't want to remove the engine from the frame to work on it.  Looking back, it probably would have been easier but since I had the replacement swing arm....

Things were taken apart without any major issues.  The swing arm took a bit of creative maneuvering but nothing too complicated.

I was presented with lots of clutch material in the form of black dust all over the clutch components and flywheel:

The flywheel, where the clutch disks reside,
prior to cleanup.

The clutch pad disk closest to engine.

Of the two clutch pad disks that comprise the Ural's clutch pack; the front one was basically destroyed.  As you can see above, it had broken apart.  I could lift the thin sheet of remaining material off the disk backing, easily.  The second disk, closer to gearbox, seemed in OK shape.  I'll be keeping that one but not the other metal plates/rings as they were heat damaged at the very least.

Here's the flywheel after I cleaned it up:

Took me a few tries at least to get the new clutch components lined up and screwed down.  Before I could even start, one trip to the hardware store was required to get two 60mm long M8 x 1.25 bolts and nuts to uncompress the old components and compress the new ones into place.  The ones I'd used before over the years?  Burnt up/lost during the fire that caused me the loss of Fiona, my BMW engine Ural.

After the second attempt, I had to take it all apart because I had placed the cover plate backwards!  Doh.

An old transmission input spline gear is used to line up the two new clutch plates center hub gears:

Next two pics show the clutch pack in place, and you can see the center hub gear teeth are aligned.  Note the square hole onto which the clutch actuating rod is inserted.

I used red Loctite on the six screws

The next day, I started work on re-assembling all the components.  Took me quite a bit of time and some calls to RichardM and Darrel S. to talk over ways to fit the clutch actuating rod through the rear of the mated to engine gear box, and onto the little square hole shown above.

There's at least three methods now known to me, but it was RichardM's method that ended up working for me after many attempts with forceps.  I didn't even try the small rubber tube method!  

It took me many attempts because the square hole in the new pressure plate was tight.  In frustration, I took the gearbox off the engine again and checked to make sure the rod would even go in!  In fact, the first attempt to do so directly failed!  The square was very tight.  I got the rod in and out several times until it was easier to slide the square end of the clutch actuating rod into the pressure plate!

Note: you can tell when you've successfully inserted the rod, the thrust washer assembly goes into the gearbox deeper than when the rod isn't in the right spot on the pressure plate in the clutch!  Trust me, I thought I had it in the right spot, twice, and after fiddling with clutch cable found it too tight both times.

I hung the gearbox on the two mounting screws coming out of the engine case, leaving enough of a gap to be able to see the rod as I once again tried to push it in through the gearbox.  Success!  

Following RichardM's advice, I used a thin flat tip screwdriver to hold/put tension on the rod visible between the clutch pack and the input spline on the gearbox to prevent it from moving backwards when I withdrew the small nut drive on a magnetic extension that I used per RichardM's suggestion.

Next major issue was installing the new swingarm.  Took me a bit of time to figure out the way to twist the sucker onto the frame.  Lost a lot of time trying to thread it through the wrong part of the frame mind you!  Sigh.

I had to enlist my next door neighbor's assistance to remount the two shock absorbers onto the new swing arm as one has to fight the shock's compressing springs, so that took a bit of time as well.

That joyful task done with, the rest of the components went on without too many tears and cursing on my part.

The new major issue was the rear wheel's brake calipers.  Though I wasn't replacing the pads, I couldn't put them back onto the caliper when mounting it to the rear disc!  The brake piston you see, I couldn't compress it to allow room for the old brake pads!

At least two joyful hours and extreme exhaustion on my part, I gave up and just hung the caliper out of the way for another day.

Finally got most everything installed and after some adjustment of the clutch cable to prevent Scarlett from creeping forward with clutch engaged, I went for a short test drive.

I'm happy to report the new clutch works fine!

Today, I rested and did other chores about the house.  In the late afternoon, I used a brake pad separator tool and damn if the piston didn't start moving inwards finally!  Of course, in my efforts previously, all brake fluid had been leaked out so I must get more DOT4 fluid to fill then bleed the brake caliper.  Perhaps Wednesday after I get the new speed bleeders for Scarlett's brake calipers to make thigs easier.

Yep, I'd installed speed bleeders before according to my maintenance spreadsheet but the one on the stubborn bake caliper sure seemed to be sucking air back in!

Such are the vicissitudes of a Uralista's life, that and I really shouldn't be allowed near tools some days.

Still, the job is done, soon Scarlett will be close to 100% and we can move on to other things.

Update: June 27 - Got the piston to retract using a different tool, remounted the caliper and oriented it so the bleed valve was pointing up and tried to bleed the air out of the system.  Over an hour of pumping later, realized something wasn't right.  A quick call to RichardM provided the answer, when one is refilling a caliper, the caliper itself must be the highest point from the brake cylinder!  Doh.

So I raised the pusher wheel above the cylinder, a few more pumps and no more bubbles!  Sigh and Yay.  Got Scarlett buttoned up, went for a successful test drive and cleaned her up.  Must rest.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Home for the first time this year.

Martha and I drove from west of Craig, CO to our home in Centennial today, stopping only for one chore (buying a replacement swing away trailer jack for the trailer), dumping tanks and getting fuel for Uma.

We left the campsite at 7:08 AM and were at our cul-de-sac by 1:23 PM.  The drive on US40 is much more restful than the sometimes frantic traffic on I-70, especially as one crosses into the Front Range of Colorado.

Here's some pics taken by Martha:

I believe we were approaching Berthoud Pass, the 
final "big pass" before reaching Idaho Springs eventually.

Apparently, Thing One missed me.

Got all the vehicles returned home safely, pilot
and navigator still speaking to each other

Some trip stats:

Uma drove a bit over 5089 miles since the beginning of the year.  We covered nine US states, I flew into one other to visit my folks and a month in Mexico's Baja California, resulted in me being 179 days away from home total.  This is the longest stretch so far in terms of camping!

I'm going to be home for a bit, Scarlett needs a new clutch, Uma needs to have some items looked at and there's a bunch of stuff to be done at the house too.

I also have to finalize the gear to safely flat tow Martha's Honda CR-V for the next camping trip where she comes along.

We both found Northwestern Colorado to be nice and somewhat uncrowded, especially when compared to the Front Range's mess.  More exploring of that portion of the state may be warranted.

Thanks for following along!

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Back in Colorado, almost Home

 We left the campsite a little after 7am, I guess we were both ready to get going eh?

Tried to dump tanks at the USFS Lucerne Campground but you can only use tokens and those weren't available till 9am!

Went into Manila and got gas and washed the underside of the VRRV and trailer using a pressure washer at the car wash.

Then we took Utah Highway 44 down towards Vernal, UT.  This section of highway is replete with steep hills, twisty roads and heavily forested on both sides.  Uma, the VRRV struggled to maintain 30 mph at some of the steeper bit, and that's with the accelerator all the way to the floor.  I don't think we'll be visiting this area again anytime soon.

Stopped at the Harbor Freight in Vernal, UT but they didn't have the swing-away 1000lb trailer jack I wanted.  The old one was bent and twisted you see, from being used as a tow point when the trailer was being pulled from the recent mudfest.

We changed the planned route as our destination turned out to be a pay site now run by the BLM in Rabbit Valley, CO.  We stuck to US40 and headed towards the Harbor Freight in Craig, CO.  There was a State Park Campground beyond Craig and we'd figured on staying there.

About 30 minutes east of Craig, Martha located a good boondocking spot through the iOverlander app so we decided to check it out.

Pretty good site, not very large so no temptation by other campers to "share" the site with you.  We had decent LTE signal so we decided to stop for the day and set up camp.

It's a lovely, secluded due to location spot.  I like it.  Next to a county road but very little traffic.

This spot is on the way to the Juniper Hot Springs on the Yampa River about four miles from the campsite.

I rode to the Hot Springs to check them out at Martha's behest while she relaxed in the VRRV.

The Hot Springs were easy to find, though not well marked with signage.  I didn't go into the water, the venue had a "sketchy" feel to it.  Not to mention, the guy who I assumed was the "host" didn't dispel any of the sketchy atmosphere if you know what I mean.

Yampa River view from CR 77

Juniper Hot Springs, by the fifth wheel RV

I left and briefly explored portions of CR 74 and CR77 nearby, along with CR53 which leads one back to US Highway 40 to the north.  I checked out the nearby trails close to camp but there were just OHV trails with no nice views due to foliage.

So, though we went through several "issues" early on in this drive: (malfunctioning gas pumps, no jack in stock, dump stations closed (two different ones); we ended up today's driving with a WIN thanks to Martha's navigation and careful checking of the iOverland map!

We'll be home tomorrow.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Scarlett needs a new clutch

June 19, Monday

A very windy day today!

Here's yesterday's sunset:

We set off on Scarlet after breakfast, to go find the Flaming Gorge Rock formation.

Once we got on Utah 44 the winds got really strong, to the point where a couple of times I was barely in control of the rig it seemed. Martha reports at one time the sidecar seemed to be in the air!

To top it all off, there was a series of steep uphill climbs which eventually forced me to go into second gear in order to maintain any kind of momentum forward!  I rarely have to go into second gear so this was confirming to me the clutch needed replacing soon.

After a rather rough downshift into second at one hill, I pulled over to take a look at stuff. It was at that point that we agreed that perhaps it was too windy to be riding today as well.

I had to adjust the clutch cable in order to get some working performance from the clutch. I think the clutch pads are now worn to the point where shifting requires more effort than usual.

Still, got Scarlett turned around and back down the hills, through the town of Manila and back to the campsite with no issues.  Both Martha and I complimented Scarlett on being a good girl and getting us home safe.  I got Scarlett loaded up on the trailer and secured with only minor issues.

Clutch pack has been ordered, it should be close to home by the time we are home later this week.

To calm my nerves down afterwards, I rode Yagi, my TW200 around the State Line Cove Campground area...once again checking out the rock formations.  Temperatures were in the mid-70s but it felt much warmer under the sun!

The first pic is of a couple of hilltops visible from the swim beach, it looks like a flat grassy patch of grass between the rocky hill tops.  Weird.

A very much more sedate version of the Vermillion Cliffs:

Edge on, the same rock formation as previous pic

We hung out at the VRRV the rest of the day; the strong wind gusts occasionally shaking the VRRV.

As I chipped away at a large clump of mud under the camper's left rear corner, I realized the extension rod for the gray water tank valve was gone!

A little stub of the valve's control rod remains so I can use vise grips to open the valve when dumping tanks.

All in all, we got of lucky so far from our mudfest incident.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

A Short Uraling into the Flaming Gorge Recreation Area & T-Dub'ing while the Sun is out

June 17, Saturday

We spent yesterday recovering and cleaning up from Thursday's mudfest, so no pics but there was also plenty of resting and relaxation.

Lunch yesterday:

Fajita Veggies

Today, we went for a short ride to the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area to the SW of the town of Manila, UT.  The town was named in 1898 after the Battle of Manila in the Philippines.

The weather threatened rain soon after we got to the Sheep Creek Bay overlook:

As the clouds closed on us, we decided to not finish the Sheep Creek Geological Loop, choosing to take just these pics:

We did stop at an overlook close to the entrance to our campsite, the Linwood Overlook.  So named because the drowned by the reservoir's creation town of Linwood used to be nearby.  Located at the 41st Parallel, it straddled the borders of Utah and Wyoming.

Our campsite, Uma is on the left

Today's lunch was Beef Stir Fry....yum

Sunday, June 18

Got a call and text from Things 1 and 2 for Father's Day.  

Martha and I went into Manila with Scarlett so I could get some hardware to fix the damage caused by the TruckClaw on the left side duallies area.

The damage was not unexpected, the clearances were pretty tight on the VRRV's wheel wells and once mud builds up.... 

The rest of the day was spent under overcast skies waiting for the sun to make an appearance.  The temperature reached 72 degrees shortly after 5PM and the sun came out! 

I rode out with Yagi, my TW200 to capture pics of a rock formation near the State Line Cove Campground nearby.

The weekend being almost over, the local swim beach was pretty much deserted, the clouds had moved in again though:

Closer to camp, most of the campers had left which allowed me to pose Yagi by the waters of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir:

Martha had this charcuterie and a Bourbon Old Fashioned when I got back to the VRRV:

Thursday, June 15, 2023

We should have heeded the Pronghorn Omen!

We left the Palisades Reservoir today, thinking to do a short day and camp at a BLM site near the Fossil Butte National Monument.

We dumped tanks, took on water and groceries in Alpine Junction and then two hour later were stopped by construction just short of the entrance to the BLM area.  I was feeling pretty good so we decided to push on instead to the Flaming Gorge Recreation Area instead.

Two more hours later, under rainy conditions, we'd found a site near the Lucerne USFS Campground.  We actually spotted a Pronghorn just hanging out at what we ended up calling "plan B" in case the next site proved not suitable.  

We headed to the site labeled "Riverside" on iOverlander trying for a better spot but instead we found trouble.

The way into the site wasn't covered in gravel like the previous site by Lucerne.  It was getting squiggly when we came almost abreast of a white pickup truck that had been left off the trail.  The trail ahead looked muddy but I didn't really see any options for turning around, so I tried charging ahead.

Of course, we got stuck.

2-3 lovely hours later, we managed to unhook the trailer after unloading Scarlett, then using Scarlett to pull the trailer out from behind the VRRV.  Once the way back was clear, and using the  TruckClaws traction devices and sand tracks, I was able to back the VRRV clear of the softer mud.

Some more work with the shovel and sand tracks, and I was able to get the VRRV to claw its way out on TruckClaws, eventually ending up on less muddy ground and free!

Then it was time to hook Scarlett up to the trailer to drag it towards the now-freed Umarang.  I broke two tie-down straps in the process, finally switching to a tow strap I'd bought for the Samurai.  The strap did the trick though I fear I took a year's worth of life from Scarlett's clutch muscling the trailer out of the mud and onto firm enough ground where Uma, the VRRV could take over pulling duties.

Uma pulled the trailer all the way to the cattle guard and graveled area and I finished hooking up the trailer back onto Uma, the VRRV.  Then I walked back to Scarlett and rode her back towards the trailer, got her loaded and strapped down using a combination of old straps and new ones that really aren't rated for her weight.  I'll have to get beefier straps to replace the ones that broke soon.

One of the two TruckClaws that were so key in allowing Uma to get free of the mud, broke in terms of me not being able to release it.  I had to cut it off.  I hope the manufacturer will warranty it but if not, we're still way ahead financially on what a tow truck would have cost!

Sorry, no pics taken while all the above was going on!  Martha did take pics of Scarlett once she was back on the trailer, the smell of burnt clutch pad material hanging heavily in the air.  Should give you an idea of the gumbo like consistency of the mud we encountered.

While all this fun was going on, two separate groups of fifth wheel trailers and tow vehicles had shown up, we warned them.  The first group turned around after reconning the mud with an ATV, the second group we left after warning them....they said they'd check it out.  

We drove towards the USFS Lucerne campground, but found it full according to one of their maintenance guys.  So we ended up returning to the site we called "Plan B"!

Once again, probably thinking to itself that we should have minded the omen, we found the Pronghorn sitting by what would end up being our site tonight!

Some shots of whiskey and dinner later, we had us a good sunset.  

Quite the adventure day today.  But, we self-recovered, no fights, no injuries and relatively little in the way of damage so far to equipment.  I call it a win!

A pano from Martha:

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Now Boondocking by the waters of the Palisades Reservoir, ID

A bit over 3 hours of driving led us from Clark Canyon Reservoir in Montana to Palisades Reservoir, Idaho.  The reservoir actually spans the border between Idaho and Wyoming (barely).

So yes, we're continuing to make slow progress towards Colorado.

It was raining when we got to the previously planned destination of Alpine North Loop Campground run by the USFS.  Though we did find a spot, it was designated a "two RV spot" and they wanted $40 for basically dry camping.  Nope.  Also, it had crappy speeds for cellular internet access.

We continued onto a spot listed on iOverlander and found ourselves a nice spot close to the waters of the Palisades Reservoir next to an existing fire ring.  While I'm pretty sure the water levels won't be suddenly rising in this age of declining water levels everywhere; I'll be keeping a close eye on the water level as we're pretty close to it.

We're basically on a small spit of land, on which part of the small airport near Alpine Junction is located.  There's good cellular internet here and not too many other campers.

Bonus: Apparently, this is a popular area for American White Pelicans, as there's lots of them nearby and in the air around us:

The rain stopped as we selected the site and the sun would occasionally peek through the mostly cloudy skies throughout the afternoon.

Here's a video of the pelicans s flying about the area, sorry for the dust spots on the telephoto lens.

We had a pretty good sunset tonight: