Saturday, August 30, 2014

Back to Hacken

Pigpen is back where it belongs attached to Petunia.  Took it for a spin in the neighborhood on Friday and everything except right turns seemed fine.  Almost got hit twice trying to turn right and Petunia just went straight.  Part of the problem was I had no ballast in the pigpen.

Got out early Saturday morning to wash the rig and was going to install the right turn signal on Pigpen, but the flange isn't flat as there is a nut the protrudes about 1/8 of an inch and I'm not willing to drill that big of a hole in the side of the car body.  So, I will have to come up with another option.

Got ready to take her out on the road for a real test and decided to put a toolbox inside the Pigpen for ballast.

That was the ticket I missed on Friday and at highway speed, with my ham hock hanging off the right side of the seat and shifting my weight between Pigpen and Petunia, right turns in the road were nothing.  On the straight portions on the highway Petunia's steering was completely neutral and she tracked straight and true.  I could have almost taken my hands off of the bars and she felt like she would still run straight.  Tighter corners were another story, as it required some muscle to get her to turn.  She ran very strong up to 70 mph and could have gone higher, but I'm not in that big of a hurry. 65 mph seemed to be just about right and the cruise control held her there without any issues.

Back into town I stopped at Wally World to get some cleaner for the tonneau cover and between there and home I discovered that right turns were still an issue.  It seems I just wasn't putting enough input into turning the bars as required.  I will be out working on that this weekend.

Still have a few finishing touches to be done, but all looks promising.  Dexter came out this morning to check out his new ride.  I hope he knows what is coming.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Pigpen Progress

Just spent a warm, humid, six hours in the garage. The result is the pigpen frame is now attached to Petunia.

Took her out for a spin in the neighborhood and at all speeds she runs true with no pull to left or right.    That tells me all of the extra care and time on the attachment was well spent.  Only real problem was when I took off the bolt on the strut to adjust the lean out I dropped Petunia on her left side on top of the frame.  I worried that it may have messed up all of my work, but all pinch bolts had been torqued and rechecking showed everything was still good.  Also, there was no damage to Petunia.

The ride showed no speed issues up to 45 mph, but without the body that isn't a fair assessment.  However right turns were an adventure.  With no weight out there flying the chair was a bit hairy.   Next step tomorrow is connecting all of the electrical and installing the body.  I also changed the baffles in the mufflers because I was tired of the loudness and am worried about Dexter riding in the car that close to the pipes.  She is much quieter, but still sounds like a Hog.

Have to get a new Taillight as the current one has four holes drilled in it and the tape that was covering them up is past tense.  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Garage Time With The Pigpen

Well, the temperatures in Arizona are down into the low 100's, but the humidity is a bit high.  Still it is time to try and venture into the garage and think about installing the pigpen, also know as a sidecar,  back onto Petunia.  Dexter the Wonder Dog is getting ready to become a motorcycling pooch and he got his new Doggles this week.

First order of business was looking at the TILT control that didn't work the last time I had it hooked up.  The purpose of the TILT is to raise or lower the sidecar to lean the bike out or in to help with steering on crowned roads.  I started by removing the body from the frame.  I did this for two reasons.  First was to be able to get a perfect foundation when making the connection between Petunia and the pigpen.  Secondly was to be able to access all of the wiring.  Cutting into the wiring I found a rats nest of a crappy job that someone before me had done.  Digging deeper I found the TILT has a pair of disconnects near the motor and one of them had somehow come apart.  I also found the 3 way switch on the bars was bad.

This is how it is supposed to work

The nest of wiring

I plan on redoing every bit of the wiring using all soldered joints and shrink tube.  Just seems like the best way to do the job the right way.  Also, when I got the sidecar the guy had the switch mounted to his handlebars, so that is where I put it.  That leaves it out in the elements and unprotected.  To protect it I will drill a hole in the fairing and install it out of the weather.

Another issue that I paid no attention to last time was the turn signals.  The pigpen doesn't have signals on the right side of the car body.  I have ordered a pair and will put them there, disconnect the right turn signals on Petunia, and hopefully that will prevent anyone from being confused when I signal a right hand turn.

The plan to get back into the world of hacks now begins in ernest.  Updates will follow as I continue to look into sidecar forums, get it installed, refresh my riding/driving skills with the hack installed, and teach Dexter he really WILL like to be a Biker Dog.

Monday, July 28, 2014

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a Polaris?

Polaris is stepping into a new type of motorcycling with the introduction of the Slingshot. Labeled a motorcycle you need a motorcycle endorsement to operate it, as well as follow helmet laws.

Sounds like an interesting vehicle to me and I look forward to checking it out at the dealer just down the street from me. Was supposed to launch July 27, but you never know when they will be hit the showroom.

Follow this link for more information:

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Saturday in the Country

Saturday morning arrived with cool temperatures and bright sunshine.  The original plan was to be at Nancy's place around 9:30, so I called about 8:00 to be sure she was ready.  Her place is Southwest of Sierra Vista and while she sent great directions, they are only useful if I had taken them with me.

I placed a second phone call when it was apparent I was lost and thought I was straightened out.  Getting lost a second time resulted a third phone call and finally when I turned the corner Nancy was standing there waiting. It would have so much easier if I would have remembered to take the directions. First came the tour of the outside acre of her property and all the hard work of planting and installing fence and irrigation systems.  Then it was to the inside and the tour of her beautiful home that had also received a lot of TLC after its purchase.

After a cup of coffee and catching up for a while it was time to go explore the reason she loves this area so much. Our first stop was into Ramsey Canyon.  The trail head was about two miles from her place and changed from desert landscaping into tall trees and a hiking trail that rose up to 9,800 feet in elevation.

Bridge to begin the hike just outside the Visitors Center

I wasn't aware that the elevation here was about the same as Flagstaff, but as we started walking Nancy told me if I needed to rest to just stop. Well, it was hard to breath with the allergies plugging me up, not to mention to the lack of exercise on my part, but I kept plugging along.  Being in the shaded areas was pleasant as it was heating up.  

This rustic log cabin is along side the trail

View of the mountain top

It was an enjoyable walk/hike and the scenery was beautiful. Not anything like I could have imagined.  We drove, in a cage, to a couple of other areas that Nancy hikes and then headed over to Carr Canyon.

We took a walk down to the location of the original Carr House which is now in ruins.  It was interesting to speculate about the construction methods used based on what was left of the house. It showed signs of being updated as the walls had been chiseled out and notched for electrical outlets. It also appeared that galvanized pipes were used, but couldn't really tell if it was for water or support. We stopped in the Visitors Center on the way back up and took a look around.

This tree is just off the front porch of the old house

A reminder that we are on the US/Mexico Border. Tracking devise used to locate Border Crossers.  However with the terrain around here I can't imagine they have many.

Next we headed into Sierra Vista and stopped at La Casita Restaurant & Cantina for lunch. The food here was very good. We returned to Nancy's and sat on the porch talking until Happy Hour time and shared a bottle of wine.  We continued to talk for another couple of hours until moving inside until bed time.

Sunday morning arrived to cool, almost cold weather. After breakfast it was time to don jacket and gloves and head to the barn. It finally warmed enough at Picacho Peak to remove the gloves and jacket when I got gas. The ride home was mostly uneventful and it was good to get much needed windshield time in.  Arrived at home after 3.5 hours and went to collect Dexter.

The doggy sitter told me they would like to keep Dexter because he was such a lover. I respectfully declined their offer and he must have had a great time with the other dogs because he slept all day on Sunday and Monday turned into the same.

Monday, May 19, 2014


The conspiracy of life may have been broken.  Retirement has been almost exactly a year ago and there has been no real riding.  At least no road trip to speak of.  Partly because of updating Petunia to an 98 inch beast, partly because of family issues, partly because of not feeling like riding.

But, even with an issue with installing a new clutch on Mother's Day that didn't go well, the motorcycle gods smiled on me and I got away over the weekend.

My concern about the new new clutch arriving was unfounded as it arrived on Wednesday, three days after ordering it.  Petunia was resting in the garage, apart, waiting to be put back together and in 30 minutes was ready to roll.

A dear friend moved to Hereford, Arizona and invited me down to see her new place. The plan was to leave Saturday, early, and be down there around 9:30, but I was so ready to ride I left Friday about 11:00.  I chose to run the back roads to Tucson.

Leaving out US 60 Superstition Mountains

Enjoying the ride

Petunias new cockpit

After making my way to Tucson on the back highways through Florence, the home of the Arizona State Prison,  I had no choice, but to ride I10 for about thirty-five miles to Arizona 83 which is a scenic highway that takes you to the Elgin region and wine country.  I have visited several of these wineries in the past and found that they produce some very good wines. Granted they are no way near the stature of California Wineries, but very good.

Highway 83

This is wine country? The drought is taking a toll. On the ride through this area I only saw one stand of grapes that were being watered and were green.

I made it to Sierra Vista about 5:00 and since I wasn't expected until Saturday morning I checked into a motel for the evening.  I stretched a 3.5 hour ride into a 6 hour one by taking the long, leisurely way.  It has been so long since I rode any distance that the last few mile were uncomfortable. I am so far out of riding shape that this short 300 mile ride kicked my rear and I slept like a log.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Routine Maintenance Isn't Always Routine

I bought a new clutch pack about a year ago and because the old one was slipping now was a good time to put it in.  So, Mother's Day Sunday instead of just sitting around I went to work.  I was surprised when the job only took two hours, but when test riding Petunia the new clutch slips worse than the old one.  It was supposed to be a heavy duty clutch, but at 30 MPH and opening the throttle wide open the RPMs went to 4,000 and the bike barely moved.

So, I jumped on the web and ordered a Barnett Kevlar Extra Clutch Plate kit.  It is supposed to be here as early as Tuesday - Thursday and I will try again.

A few weeks ago I had checked my primary chain adjusting shoe and found it showed considerable wear.  I say considerable wear because I changed it only about 10,000 miles ago.  The original one was at least twice as thick as the one the Harley dealer sold me and claimed Harley changed to the new thinner ones because they were better.

Instead of getting another 'new and improved' one from Harley I picked up a York Automatic Primary Chain Adjuster #18-0581.  The shoe rides on a double spring which allows it to move as needed and is closer to the thickness on the old original shoe.  Hopefully it won't wear as quickly as the one I took off. 

Because the new new clutch is supposed to be here Tuesday - Thursday I will take Petunia apart Tuesday morning just to be ready.  This possible delay is most troubling because I have a weekend ride scheduled that I don't want to miss.

UPDATE; The new new clutch arrived Wednesday afternoon at 1:30. Petunia was on the road at 2:15 and seems to be running as she should. Will take her out Thursday morning for more of a test, but it looks favorable for a Road Trip this weekend!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Day Well Spent

Sash and Highway made a stop in the Phoenix area to do a show on Monkey Butt Radio.  We took the opportunity to get together for breakfast and a ride.

This is just as they arrived at The Place ready for breakfast.  The Place originated in Flagstaff, Arizona as Mike and Ronda's.   I learned about it when my daughter was going to NAU and it is still my get away breakfast joint whenever I travel heading north.  Breakfast was plentiful and delicious as usual for The Place.

The weather couldn't have been better with bright sunshine and a high just around 95.  Leaving breakfast we headed up to the Cave Creek/Carefree area of yard art you never knew you needed and biker bars toward Barlett Lake.  Rolling through Cave Creek Sash spotted a restaurant named Cartwright's and since that is her maiden name we had to make a stop.

From there is was back on the road heading east to the turn off to the lake.  This is the second most fun road into a lake in Arizona near the Phoenix area.  It is 16 miles of nice sweeping turns, stunning scenery,  and bathed in sunshine today.  Running at a leisurely 50 MPH I lead towards the lake.  Reaching the boat launch area we found a nearly empty lake.  

The last time I was out here in June 2013 the water was at least as high as the light colored pavement on the right.  This is the only ramp on this half of the lake and it is now closed.  People were still launching off of the bank just to the south of here.  However there were very few boats on the lake and no cars in the parking lot.  In the past a weekday trip out here would have at least half of the parking lot filled and the lake filled with boats.

Sash and Highway enjoying the perfect weather.

Time to head back toward town and as we left the parking lot Sash rocketed past me like I was standing still.  The trip out was run at 60 -70 MPH.  The last time I rode with Sash and Highway was in Tucson going to Mount Lemmon and she was a newbie.  Funny what riding across the USA and back can do for a person as her riding has grown exponentially. Having a riding mentor and teacher like Highway doesn't hurt at all, but I was impressed with her belief in her riding and her skill level.

We made a stop at the Tap Haus Bar and Grill for a beverage and appetizers before heading in our separate directions.  Today was a perfect riding day and I look forward to the next time we can get together.  Thanks for sharing your day with me! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Interesting People

Scooterists come in all flavors and categories.  Once in a while one shows up that is so unique it is hard to believe.  Let Scooter Tramp Scottie introduce you to one of those scooterists as he writes;

Ran into Hondog at Daytona Walmart. He lives in the woods of New Hampshire with the bears and completely off the grid. No electric or running water.

By winter Hondog travels the southland on this contraption and with very little money. The sleeping trailer he pulls behind the bike is at a friends place right now. Hondog is a member of the CMA. Ive known him for many years.


Now being a scooterist at 74 alone is unusual, but this fellow Hondog is in a class alone. 


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Everything Is Possible In Time

Changing to rear Brembo brakes on an 03 Electra Glide sounded like a great idea.  The fronts were a simple buy and bolt process.  Buying was simple, as I mentioned in the past, because a lot of people changed from black to chrome and sold the black to offset the cost.  Me being me, I bought the parts off an 08 for the rear and then started to look into the process.

Nearly all the links I could find were from 08, 09, 10.  I only found two mentions to links with written directions and/or pictures.  Both links were bad.  Not detoured I took Petunia apart and began the process.  1st problem was the mounting bracket.  Being thinner and a 25mm hole were the first problems.  Started looking for a machine shop to bore the hole out and make the needed 0.71" spacer.  STICKER SHOCK!!!!

25mm to 1" is only about this (l) much.  My first thought was to get some sand paper and just sand it down.  Then I remembered about honing a cylinder and went to Home Depot to see what specialty tool I could find.

 It was like they knew I was coming!  Grabbed two of these bad boys and rushed home.  Got some oil and started to hone it out thinking I had to go slow to keep from heating the aluminum.  Stopping to check, it was working.  Starting back up I snapped off the grinding stone.  I wasn't deterred because I had bought two.  Being more careful, I started again and was happily making progress until I got in a hurry.  Snap......back to Home Depot to pick up the three stones they had left.  It took four of the little Devils to get it done, but it worked like a charm.

Next came the mock-up to see how close it was to fitting.

See that dark spot right of the silver spacer?  That is the difference between a 0.5" original spacer and the needed 0.71"spacer.  Searching I could only find a 0.75 spacer, so I bought two just in case.  My plan was to use a grinder because the difference between 0.71" and 0.75" is only about 1/25 of an inch.  The spacers arrived and I used the aforementioned grinder and like magic it fit the first time.

I also ordered a master cylinder rebuild kit. Taking it apart showed that this was well worth the effort.  The internal plunger was rusted out and it appeared there had been water, or condensation, in the master cylinder.

Less than an hour after UPS dropped off the kit, Petunia was ready for a road test.

First response was similar to the fronts, felt funny and like there were no brakes. But, after a short start, stop, start, stop cycle it was time to hit the road. What better way to test brakes than out among the Snow Birds that frequent the Surprise area at 4:00 PM.  After an hour of stop and go traffic the brakes began to come in.  Even with the 03 master cylinder it was easy to lock the rear tire.  Because I am a feel rider that won't be an issue for me.  The last set of rear pads on Petunia were put on 43,000+ miles ago in Alaska and there was still plenty of pad remaining.  I am mainly a front brake guy and use my heel on the rear brake pedal.  I am more than happy with the update and even more so with the perseverance in doing it myself without the need for a machine shop.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

It Won't Be Easy

Picking up a nail and getting a flat is a pain!  Having the tire go flat in the garage is a bonus. Taking the tire off is less than a five minute job.  At least after the two hour delay looking for and purchasing the BFWs, big f'ning wrench, to get it off.

Since it was off I thought I would install the Brembo brakes I had already picked up.  Comparing the old to the new I find it isn't going to be an easy swap.  The axle hole is about 1/16" to small for the axle.

The existing caliper, silver is wider than the new, black.  I'll be looking for a machine shop to bore out the bracket.  Then I will mock it up on the bike to see what will be needed  to make everything lineup and work.

I have read many posts in my search to find how to swap to the rear Brembos on an earlier bike and many have claimed it is to much work for the results.  But, I'm hard headed and the fronts made an unbelievable difference. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Back to Road Ready

Updating Petunia is nearly complete.  I had known for awhile I needed to change the fork oil, but removing the fairing caused me to wait.  Then adding the Brembo brakes on the front made it a necessity from a safety perspective.  Every time I hit the brake lever the front end would take a dive.  That and on several occasions the front end would feel like it was washing out when I cornered at speed.  I thought about changing from the Harley single cartridge left fork, but instead I changed to the Progressive Monotube Fork Kit.  Riding Sunday afternoon was a treat with this new front suspension.  No more nose drive when braking, no front end drift, a very solid feel when cornering, and a general solid feel to Petunia's ride-ability.

Because of the fairing removal to get the forks out it was time to address the faded, bleached out inner fairing.  Searching the options I went with a color matched painted inner fairing.  Here is the before and after comparison.

I had been riding for almost two years without sound as the radio went out.  It was time to change that and I opted for a Sony radio with Hog Tunes speakers and a tweeter bar.  I also wanted to change the yellow lights in the tach and speedometer.  According to Harley when these bulbs go out you have to replace the entire unit.  Once removed I found both to be sealed units.  Searching the net I found and he changed out the old yellow lights with blue and I changed to blue leds for the other smaller gauges.

Now I just have to make time to get out on the road and exercise Petunia.  Going to have to get to some local attractions to show what this great winter weather looks like out here in the desert.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


No, I'm not a pirate. For the first time ever that I have ordered motorcycle parts online I received the wrong parts.  Not just one, but three.  On the same day.   After an almost week weather delay caused by snow back east!  SEE finally a snow delay in sunny Surprise, Arizona!!!  That is just wrong.

Dexter the wonder dog doesn't seem bothered. 

At least the Progressive Monotube Cartridge Fork Kit was right and an east install.  Now there is only 5 ounces of oil in each leg to worry about and it is only there to lubricate the internal moving parts.  I also changed the fork lowers because the old ones were peeling and showing their age.

So, now I sit and wait for the redelivery of wrong parts and an inner fairing.  Funny thing is, if Petunia was ready to ride and I didn't it wouldn't bother me.  But, because I can't ride it is aggravating as Hell.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Winter Maintenance Time

It must be winter in Arizona because mornings are about 40 degrees and afternoons are in the low 70s.  Since it it winter and riding slows down it must be time for neglected maintenance on Petunia.  Necessary parts should be arriving today through Friday and much needed fork work, clutch work,  rear Brembos, and a couple of farkle updates and Petunia will be just like a new pig looking for highway to chew up.

She looks sad without all her cloths on

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tax Season.....What/If

Retirement?  Early retirement when not old enough for Social Security?  An elusive dream or creative entrapment?  As tax season approaches it might be time to look closer at just how much a person really makes a year.

Finding some spare time on my hands I have done my preliminary 2013 taxes already.  That got me to thinking and looking at the last pay stub I just received.  Since I only worked 5 months in 2013 I was a bit surprised by what I found.

Looking at the total earnings it isn’t bad for less than half a year.  But, then looking at the withholding/deductions section was like WTF!  Subtracting all the Arizona State Tax, ASRS Retirement, Federal Tax W/H, FICA Medicare, FICA Social Security and that total earnings took a nose dive.  So, subtracting all of the withholding/deductions from the gross, taking that number and dividing by the gross I find I am in a 42% withholding bracket for 2013 and that is just based on 5 months.  The true value of my income wasn’t what I made, it is 42% less than what I thought I was making.  42% that I don’t have to pay being retired!

Being interested in how that works for me, I found the new 2014 tax guide.  I did the projections for next year with my numbers and found I will only pay 8% tax on my total income.  No ASRS Retirement, no FICA Medicare, no FICA Medicare, and only a one time estimated 2014 tax payment if I’m not off on my calculations.  I could be off, but I estimated this year’s tax bill last February and am only $75 off.  Wasn’t expecting or counting that bonus check.

Next I compared 2013 spendable income to projected 2014 spendable income and found a reduction of only 9%.  I didn’t believe that number and went back several times and it always comes out the same. Because I had already cut the cable cord (small sacrifice to retire early and not planning to be home as much anyway) and restructured my cell phone plan without a smartphone I made up that 9%.  The reality, for me, is by looking closely at what I could live without and still live comfortably I am retired on even money.   Just to be safe going forward I am now budgeting more closely for this year to prevent any surprises.

Play the What/If game while doing your taxes and see what you find.  Maybe working those last couple or so years really isn’t as profitable as it would appear.