Saturday, January 15, 2011

Natasha the tug, is toast

My adventures with Natasha, my '96 Ural Sidecar rig have come to an end.

During a ride to the hardware store during lunch yesterday, she started emitting a loud metallic rubbing noise, very similar to what I'd experienced before when the splines on the wheel hub of the pusher tire had stripped; and there was no force able to be applied to the rear tire.

I coasted to a stop a bit short of a mile from the house, in a local neighborhood.  Since I was so close to home, I just pushed her there, and boy was that a long way to push.  But I had to get home you see, as I was telecommuting and my lunch hour was expiring.  At this point, I was mad because I'd somehow stripped yet another wheel hub spline and it would cost a bit over $250 to replace it

Later on that afternoon, once my shift was over, I tried to remove the rear wheel on the tug (that's what sidecarists call the motorcycle portion of a sidecar rig).  I've done this many times before, both to swap out tires, wheels and do services.  This time, the axle was not coming out.  I could barely, with much force and using the tommy bar as a lever, even get it to rotate!

I even tried loosening the mounting bolts on the final drive (FD), made sure the castellated nut was off and the pinch bolt was complete off...no luck.  You're supposed to be able to just pull it out

Removed the sidecar propshaft from the FD and pounded on the axle from the right side.  No luck and I damaged the threads while doing so, which should give you an idea of how hard I was hitting it with the BFH.

While long range plans in my head had included someday replacing the Ural tug with my '87 R80 Beemer Airhead, I had been planning on it being done AFTER this Winter.  What is it that they say about the "Best laid plans of mice and men"?  Or in Mr Riepe's case the "best laid mice of men and plans"?

Some phone calls later, my decision was made, try and sell the tug as a parts motorcycle to the local Ural mechanic: Linden Engineering up in Golden, CO; and start the process of obtaining the right subframe mount and parts to mate my R80 "Brigitta" to the sidecar.  Further on down the road, figure out a way to afford a GS type BMW for two-wheeled motoring.

It's kind of sad and dissapointing in a way, but I think in the back of my mind I knew this day would come.  If nothing else, Natasha's sometimes questionable reliability precluded the really long distance rides I wanted to do with a sidecar.  I've been lucky each time she had issues, I was close to home and not up in the mountains.

More to follow...

Update: 31JAN2011: So, the damage was mostly in the wheel hub.  Replacing the driven gear hub in the final drive which was eating the wheels, replacing seals/bearings.  We'll see if I can repair her for now.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fiery Sunrise

I saw a beautifully fiery red/orange sunrise starting to peek over the horizon as I motored along on Natasha, my Ural Sidecar rig.

I was a few minutes late for work but I think you'll agree the delay was worth it to capture this shot:

Colorado Sunrise 12JAN2011

The tower structure is the water tank at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds.

Update: 13JAN11, an even better sunrise today on the way to work:


Sunday, January 09, 2011

Skyline Drive revisited

Yesterday was a long day of riding to and from Cañon City, Colorado. The purpose was to test out the GoPro HD video camera's capabilities along this road which spans the top of a set of ridges just west of the town.

Cañon City also has several prisons around it and is the site of the Colorado Territorial State Prison founded in 1871; so if you're curious about such things, there's a prison museum there as well.

It's 2.5 hrs of Ural riding, with speeds in the 50s and mid-60s from my home in Centennial, CO, to Skyline Rode. The weather was warm and sunny and I found myself thinking I should have taken Brigitta, my R80 Beemer instead of Natasha.

It would actually warm up to the point I had to shed all the warming layers I had on at the start of the ride!


Or, you can watch it on youtube here:  LINK

I didn't get home till way after sunset, its amazing how puny Natasha's headlight is. It's not just because I run a total-loss electrical system I believe. I remember thinking that even when the alternator was running, that the light seemed weak. Or maybe, it's my old eyes.

Snowing today, though not much expected. 2-4 inches for today, 4-5 for tomorrow. Cut that in half, and you can see, not much; though I am sure it'll snarl traffic up nicely for Monday.

Hope you got a ride in this weekend!

Update: Sunday 9jan2011:  We have snow!  About four inches so far but its tapering off I think, no more than 2-3 more inches by morning.  Just in time to snarl up the morning commute.  On the plus side, it made running errands today much more fun:




Saturday, January 01, 2011

First ride of 2011: Jarre Canyon Rd and Red Rocks Park

Happy New Year!

We woke to warmer temperatures today from yesterday's sub 8°F temperatures with some sunshine thrown in for good measure.  I bundled up and headed out for a long first ride of the year.  I was also testing the durability of using 175lb Tensile strength zip ties to hold chain links to the front tire on Natasha.  Figuring on using something like this for running on ice, if I ever get the chance this winter:

The links are from an old car tire chain set I had in storage.

I first headed over to the Blackstone Country Club area to see how the chains did, all four remained tightly bound to the front tire.  I had a nice view of the mountains near Mount Evans from where I stopped and so I got this shot:

The peaks seem close don't they, actually using the 12X optical zoom on my new camera.

The main roads were mostly dry or drying on the way to Sedalia so I didn't expect the chains to hold up under that kind of conditions.  Surprisingly, I only lost one of the four by the time I got to the Parker town limits.  Soon enough though, the highways speeds needed on Crowfoot Parkway to Castle Rock caused two more of the links to break off and disappear by the time I got to Sedalia.

Past Sedalia, on CO 67, you come to a neat little bit of twisties by the name of Jarre Canyon Road which eventually takes you past Rampart Range Road.  Here's a bit over four minutes video of the 14 minute ride to the entrance to Rampart Range Road:


or you can watch it on youtube.com here:  LINK

Road conditions as you can see were not optimal for two-wheeled motorcycles; at least, not two-wheeled motorcycles ridden by yours truly!  It's times and conditions like these where riding a Ural really comes in handy!

Once at Rampart Range Rd, which is closed for the winter, I posed Natasha for these shots:

 Copying a shot angle I saw on everydayriding.org, thanks for the idea Chris!

note I still have one remaining zip tie/chain on the front wheel, amazing.

Although the road to the parking lot was plowed, 
there was a barrier stopping traffic further past the curve in the picture.

I retraced my route, heading back towards Sedalia on CO 67.  Once I exited from Jarre Canyon Road I turned right onto Oak Valley Rd and went looking for the turnoff for the county road that leads one to Bee Rock.

Snow conditions on the road past Bee Rock were pretty meager, not much snowfall in this area from the storm we had a day or so ago.  Still, it made for a nice background for this last shot of Natasha:

Bee Rock, 01JAN2011

It was now time to head northwest towards the town of Morrison to check out the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater.  I headed back through Sedalia where I picked up northbound US85 until I was able to get on the C-470 super slab westbound.  Soon enough I was cruising through Morrison (not a single motorcycle in sight, go figure) and I arrived at Entrance #3 for the Red Rocks Park.  Note, I lost the last chain link somewhere on C-470, pretty good performance I must say, of those zip ties.

I hope you enjoy the following video ride through the park.  It was a total of 24 minutes long but I edited out all the not-quite-so-interesting bits.


Soon after I exited the park, I was homeward bound using Morrison Rd to get me to Kipling which I took south to US285.  From there it was light city traffic all the way to the I-25 to I-225 interchange.  Parker Road came up a bit afterwards and I was home by 3:00 PM or so.  A bit cold to be riding today but my gear kept me warm enough, specially when the sun shone down upon me.  When riding under overcast skies and at highway speeds, I could feel the chill start to seep in on my arms which are exposed to the wind, still, not bad.

Hope you got some riding in today!