Sunday, January 26, 2014

Valencia is sidelined again.....dammit.

Yesterday afternoon, after lunch, Valencia and I motored out of the neighborhood to try and get some pictures of Mount Evans as we were having a bright sunny clear day here in Colorado.

Turns out, the crisp views of the nearby front range mountains that I'd glimpsed while running errands in the morning, were obscured slight by haze in the afternoon.  I had been in a cage in the morning, so no camera with me.

Still, one must make do:

At the Rocking Horse Subdivision

While meandering about the nearby eastern prairies...

Mount Evans

Valencia's motor started exhibiting what I thought were "ignition missing" issues, basically it felt like the ignition would cut out for a second.  Thinking perhaps it was the PowerArc sensor disk having gotten loose again, I headed for home to check.

On the way home, I started hearing and worse, feeling metallic clanking noises.  Some were hitting hard enough I could feel the impact through the foot pegs.  Damn.  I even stopped to check the oil level thinking perhaps it was too low, but no, it was fine.

Luckily, I was within a couple miles of home when the noises appeared and I nursed Valencia back to the barn.

Once in the garage, I checked the PowerArc sensor disk but no, it was nice and secure, so it wasn't ignition "misses" causing issues.

The metallic noises led me to remove the left jug's valve cover, to see if the nuts holding the heads had worked loose or something similar.  Nope, all secure, but then I noticed a lot of metallic shavings, shining brightly in the small amount of oil one usually finds in the valve cover!  There were also metal shavings all over the inside components of the valves.   Damn.  (Sorry, no pictures, I went into "get it to the dealer" mode at this point as it was late Saturday afternoon).

At this point, it was flashback time to when the engine basically seized on me in Oregon as I was making my way back to Colorado from Alaska.  Not taking any chances, I buttoned Valencia up and put her on the trailer.  

Less than two hours later, I was dropping her off with Randy, at Unique Rides in Fort Collins, the nearest URAL dealer and known good mechanic.  We discussed the recurring engine issues Valencia has experienced and Randy said he wanted to talk to URAL and see about sending the engine to them for full analysis.  He also told me he was hearing sounds I couldn't hear (my high frequency hearing is shot from my days in the Army) and he was sure if I'd kept running the engine, that it would have eventually seized up.

As it was the weekend, he won't get a chance to talk to URAL till Monday or Tuesday at the earliest, we'll then see what the plan is to fix Valencia.  She's still under the URAL warranty so she should be covered.

Me, I'm hoping that the entire engine is replaced.  Most if not all of its "innards" had already been replaced by Raceway Services in Oregon, and I would like to have Sergey of URAL to check out the engine on Valencia to determine why it's had so many issues.  Sergey is regarded as the Mechanical Guru, at URAL.

It's looking like Valencia is out for this year's Elephant Ride.  Yoshie could do it, if I swapped her rear pusher for a dedicated snow tire but I'm not feeling up to it.  Damn.

More to follow.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pre-Snow Sunset and Post-Snow Lunch Ride

Ah, Colorado.  Where the weather can change suddenly and temperature shifts involving changes of 20-40 degrees farenheit are not uncommon.

Yesterday, as I rode home on Brigitta, my '87 BMW R80 Airhead, the forecast of snow in the late evening was on my mind as temperatures held in the low 40s.

After running an errand to the post office after I got home, the setting sun painted the southwestern skies is vivid hues of orange fading later to pinks.  Though I hurried (should have skipped the errand) I only managed to catch the closing act of a truly gorgeous sunset.

Colorado Sunset, that's Scraggly Peak in the distance.

We woke to about four inches of snow, maybe a little more, in my neighborhood.  I wasn't worried as I had a fresh tire on the pusher wheel in preparation for the upcoming annual Elephant Ride.

I took this picture of the driveway as I backed Valencia
out of her spot, its about 4 inches deep.

Valencia had no issues with the snow as we motored out of the neighborhood.  The main roads were plowed so there was just snow/ice packed onto the road surface.  It made for some slick conditions at times but nothing major.  

Today, I had work planned at Encana's Denver area data center in the Tech Center.  It was a short commute, though Arapahoe Road remains a nerve-wracking experience when things are slick.  Still, managed to get to work with no issues.

A bit before Noon, I took Valencia out for a short ride to see the sights.  All the snow was gone from the roadways, and the melted stuff was evaporating in front of my eyes.  Very strange to me still, watching wet pavement steam away when temperatures are in the low teens.

I spotted a row of satellite dishes belonging to DirecTV so I stopped to pose Valencia:

As the sun was out, it didn't really feel cold at all.  I was of course all geared up but didn't have the layers I'd worn for the morning commute.  Got to love living here, snow in the morning, clear if wet roads in the afternoon.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Book Review: Templar Codes

The book does contain a smidgen of motorcycle content.  It even has a mention of a URAL sidecar rig!

That being said, here's my review of my friend Lee Sweetapple's latest book:

The third book in a series featuring main character Jim Stillwater, action-oriented veteran of the US Intelligence community and his small but tightly knit community of friends who like Jim have been tested and proven in America's less publicized struggles with varied enemies.

As is his writing style, Lee Sweetapple moves the reader along at a fast pace, providing location details and references to keep the reader oriented. The story line took a few unexpected plot twists and turns which kept this reviewer guessing and very engaged. Some books, you can almost guess from the title and previous works how the story will go, this book will not disappoint in that manner!

In this book, long lost records created by the Knights Templar are recovered by Jim and his friends, initiating gun battles and successive attempts by rogue agents to steal said artifacts, artifacts which prove in the end to have impressive historical significance.

The story line takes the reader from the Mediterranean ocean through Europe ending in an explosive finale in Scotland. Folks who've traveled Europe will feel they're back as familiar locations are described and local cuisines consumed by Stillwater's team.

Plenty of action, enemies at every turn, and even a gourmand's appreciation of food to keep things moving along.  It's available in paperback and Kindle version.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

URAL Tech Day

I hosted a gathering of Uralisti to hold an informal tech day for anyone who wanted to show up.  Seven fellow Uralisti showed and we had a great time, changing tires, balancing carburetors, lubing and greasing splines and u-joints, learning about cool new tire tools, exchanging tech tips, ride stories, and generally having a great time!

My HarborFreight tire changer got quite the workout, with my Mojo Lever emerging as a good tool for the removal of tires from wheels, but it was very much eclipsed by the tool brought by Dan K.  It's quite the tool, makes the mounting of tires very easy and impressively fast.

I only managed one photo the whole day, and that was the group shot below, shot by my loving wife Martha.

 The Star of the Tech Day
All who saw it operate came away impressed.  I believe
I'll be part of the next group buy for this tool.
LINK to product site in Estonia
Photo courtesy of Spat

 From right to left:
Greg P., Dave S. Steve C., Spat, Liz S., Dan K., Tim L., and yours truly

 Showing Dave S. the operation of the Harmonizer Carb Balancer
I bought from Darrell S.
Photo courtesy of Spat

Here's me injecting some grease into the main driveshaft's u-joint.
I also made sure the drive splines were greased and I am happy to
report both the driveshaft and coupler splines were well lubricated.
Photo courtesy of Spat

 Spat and Dan K. work on Dan's tire
Photo courtesy of Tim L.

 A view of Valencia, sans pusher wheel, and final drive on the floor.
Photo courtesy of Tim L.

Dave S. ties down his rig in preparation for trailering it
back to Colorado Springs.
Photo courtesy of Tim L.

A great day of camaraderie, re-connecting with friends, meeting new ones with a little bit of wrenching on the side.  Martha had left us a pot of chili that was completely consumed for lunch.  Spat had brought burritos for breakfast.  Coffee flowed and there were no injuries caused by the wrenching, which is always a plus.

My thanks to my fellow Uralisti for your attendance, good cheer and helpfulness where needed.  

Note:  I discovered before everyone showed up, that I am missing the tool roll that contains my extra set of large wrenches and more to the point, my tire irons.  For the folks I stayed with  during my trip to Alaska, if you see the below, please let me know.

The image above is not the actual tool roll I am missing, but shows you how it looks like.  Thanks.