Sunday, September 27, 2015

Working For Insurance Is Interfering With Playing

My first step was to find out what a motorcycle tire size converts to in an auto tire size.  Found this handy site,, that tells me without any modifications to Petunia I can go up to a 18"x4.25 rim and use a 150/70-18 tire.

Petunia is the top row listed, left-right, by model, year, front size, rear size

To convert the bike tire to something useful I need to know how wide a 150 tire is.  You get that by dividing 150/25.4 = 5.9".  So, a 5.9" wide tire should fit.  I'm sure there are many who got this far and found, like I did, this converts to something like a 175R16 using the stock rim.  Therein lies the real problem, it doesn't work on a 3" rim as the suggested rim size is 5" - 5.5".  Any size below 175, that I found, is a donut spare and not usable for high milage.

So, I went to the Harley parts site I use to look into what I could do, or what might be possible.

Schematic for a 2003 rear fork assembly

 Schematic for a 2010 rear fork assembly

Seems all of the major attachment parts, connecting the rear fork to the transmission, are the exact same part numbers, so the 2010 fork would be a plug and play replacement.  But at $950 plus tax and shipping I wasn't willing to take the chance.  

Not willing to give up I searched E-bay for a few days and found a trike shop selling a 2010 take off that had less than 600 miles when it was converted. At $170 with free shipping I was willing to take the chance that this will be the answer to putting Petunia on the darkside.  It got here this week and is only 1" wider than the stock one.  Plus it came with the axel, axel nut and adjuster cam, all the bushings, and piviot shaft.  This week when I get the stock one off I will post comparison pictures.

Another reason it seemed worthwhile is I need to pull the rear fork to replace the bushings, bearings, and the drive belt.  I know the drive belt might last another 20 - 30,000 miles, but I really need to go to a 1" drive belt and pulley versus the 1.5" setup for stock 2003 and with 85,000+ on the current belt, plus with pulling the extra weight of the pig pen, I would rather do it in the comfort of my garage than calling a tow truck and going to the dealer to have it fixed. 

Rim size is also a problem. Up to 2008 Harley rims are 16" X 3" and I need a minimum rim size of 16" x 4".  Can't find anything that works, but because I have spokes I can find a 16" x 4" 40 spoke, drop center, chrome rim.  I'll order one of these bad boys and teach myself to lace and true a rim.

To be determined issues; a tire that might fit, fender clearance, using a 5" 2009-up rim with crush drive.  Adding to my already long list of wants I am adding a tubeless tire to run on my spoke rim. Might as well shoot for the moon when doing the impossible.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Exploratory Surgery

Today felt like a good day to start tearing Petunia apart to see exactly what would be required to install a car tire on her.  Looking it over the pig pen HAD to come off.  I was hoping that wouldn't be required.

This is the tire with only 1,200 miles that started this idea.

Next I had to remove the tour pack to expose the fender and I removed the chrome frame covers.  That allowed me to see that there is 8.5" between the frame rails.  The fender, however, is only 6.5" wide.  That 2" could be better used in tread width I think. 

 Space on right side between fender and frame.

Space on left side.  The chrome piece on each of these pictures is to hold the tour pack in place and I'm thinking they could be relocated to the outside.

Another issue I noticed is the long ass screws, LAS, they used throughout the bike to attach things. These, and several others, will be getting cut off to only the necessary length.  The nut and washer above the LAS is used as a spacer to connect the fender to the frame.  

This is the 1.5" drive belt which is really a 1.75" pulley that takes up a lot of space.  My first thought is go with a 1 1/8" pulley and a 1" drive belt, but as I was studying it using a chain drive popped into my feeble little brain.
Anyone have an opinion on using a chain?

My thoughts on using a chain are that older Harleys use them, race bikes are chain driven, and it will free up a ton of space that might be necessary.  

I also plan on replacing the swing arm bearings and bushings.  I read bad things about the pivot shaft freezing and being almost impossible to remove.  I am happy to report that mine, while rusted, turned with just a bit of effort and seems to move without much effort at all and I haven't even sprayed any penetrating oil on it yet.  

I now believe that while this won't be just a bolt in operation that with  a bit of effort and time it has the possibility of being successful.  That and it will be a lot cheaper than a new bike.  I keep trying to convince myself that is a good thing.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Pondering the Impossible?

I put on a cheap, off brand, tire not long after reinstalling the pig pen.  After only 1200 miles it is bald and now, after not riding for 4 months, almost flat out in the garage.

So, I made the decision to look into going to the darkside, putting a car tire on a motorcycle.  Researching the topic shows a consensus that you can't put a car tire on a pre 2009 Harley FLHT.  Reason being there isn't a car tire that will fit the 3" rim and inside the frame.  

Never the one to take no for an answer I will attempt to do what they say can't be done.  There is the possibility I have to much free time on my hands, but who knows it might even work!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Going Camping Part 2, Ends Early

The rain finally stopped and I got up to make coffee.  Set up the burner, filled the pot with water, and reached for the coffee.  It wasn't there!  I looked everywhere twice to be certain and sure enough I FORGOT it at home!  That was another 50 mile trip down/up the hill, after breakfast, to find a store to get some because the plan was to be up here for six days.  Six days without coffee just won't work.

The grill on the end of the table was useless to cook anything without the cover on it to keep the heat in.  The single burner camp stove was a lot more useful.

 I had been seeing the commercial for Spam, glorious Spam on TV and thought I would give it a try.  It had been years and I found it to be just awful and uneatable.  It was so bad even Dexter wouldn't eat it.

We secured the coffee, came to camp and made a pot, filled my cup, and headed to checkout the Blue Ridge Reservoir.  In all my travels up here I had never seen it.  After 10 miles down a rutted road I found it tucked among the trees, down in a valley.

 At the end of the road was a boat launch ramp and up the hill only a couple of parking spots. As there were some guys launching their boat that would need to park, we just looked for a few minutes and headed back out.  In order to fish here you would have to have a boat.

We headed back to camp for another pot of coffee and I took the opportunity to start reading a book I have had for a while, titled The Harley-Davidson Reader, a collection of stories about the founding of the Moco.  Interesting people and stories so far.  An interesting fact I learned was the early, original claim by one of the Davidson brothers that Harley was proud of being such a quiet motorcycle.

It started clouding up and in the distance you could hear the low rumble of thunder.  Dexter thought this would be the perfect time to become a lap dog.

This is when I noticed Dexter breathing funny.

Started a fire just in case the storm came back tonight.

Lasted until about 9:00 and then turned in.  More lightening, thunder, and rain during the night.   Dexter had a restless night and started whimpering.  He crawled up and stuck his snout in my face and his breathing was raspy and he started to cough.  When the sun was coming up he was dragging and barely moving.  After making a pot of coffee I made the decision to pack up and head home to take him to the vet.  Getting home the vet couldn't see him until Thursday morning.  Took him in and found he has a respiratory infection.  He will be taking meds for 12 days, but should be fine. 

The great, forgetful, camping trip was cut short by a sick pup, but it was fun while it lasted.  I'm not sure that Dexter really liked camping.  It is a good thing I am bigger and get to make the rules.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Going Camping Part 1

After substituting for 4 days in one week I needed a break.  Decided to load the truck and head for the hills that I had been pondering for a couple of weeks.  Had been checking the weather regularly and all looked well, until the truck was loaded.  Sunday, flash flood warnings were issued in the area I was headed and Monday called for a 60% chance of thunderstorms, but that meant 40% chance it would be clear.  Odds were good enough for me, so I loaded Dexter and off we went at 7:00 AM, Monday morning.

Stopping at the rest area at Sunset Point to relieve Dexter and grab a water I noticed I left the eggs and cold food at home.  Weighing options I continued on to Verde Valley and then made a swing by Walmart in Cottonwood.  That would be a 28 mile side trip, but going back home would be about 80 miles.  I took Dexter into Walmart, in a basket, and he was the hit of the parade.  Something about the cute little fellow that the older ladies couldn't resist.  About 15 miles out of Walmart I realized I forgot the eggs, AGAIN! This wasn't boding well for a successful trip.  Found a grocery store in Verde Valley that I could have used instead of the trip to Cottonwood, but it was supposed to be an adventure.

Dexter's first trip to the forrest at Clint's Well Campground.

First step was to put up the tent.  Next put down the sleeping pad and sleeping bag, get the pillow....find the pillow....forgot the damn pillow! Non-issue, roll up a pair of jeans, cover with a towel, problem solved.  I see a pattern developing here.  

Dexter didn't see any problem, he found himself a nice place to lounge.  Right by my makeshift pillow.

Camp set up ready to relax and the sun is shinning.  Why was I worried?

This was two hours later.  About 1:00 PM.

So, the camping adventure begins.  It was very nice for two hours and then the rain started.  At about 12:15 AM Dexter was yelping and trying to crawl under me.  The thunder was a rolling, booming, set of explosions bordering on scary close and the lightening was lighting up the night.  It was quite the experience and sometime after an hour or so I fell asleep.  I woke up about 4:30 AM and it was still raining, so I went back to sleep.  

Monday, August 17, 2015

Where To Begin

I have recently found myself in a very dark place.  Many factors that I will spare you the gruesome details. With the exception of going to the doctor and finding I'm pre-diabetic. Probably my great Southern heritage and love of anything fried and/or sweet.  I am related to my Me Maw.

An admission, that I am more than embarrassed by, I was arrested for DUI/DWI. Yes, I know better.  No, it wasn't intentional.  It just happened and there are no excuses, ever, for driving drunk.  But those are the facts that I pled guilty to.  I have always owned my mistakes.

In retrospect, for me, it was a blessing.  In my dark state I had been making some bad choices that were out of character for me.  Regardless, I have to own up to my failings.  This is partly how I found out about the pre-diabetes.   So, I am suffering the debt that Arizona demands and the worst part is not being able to ride Petunia for a year.  In Arizona a DUI conviction requires an ignition interlock for a year and Arizona just passed a law to allow them on motorcycles again, but they aren't yet available.

So, I have been spending my time evaluating, heavily, what and why I am in this dark place.  Again lets spare you the gruesome details, but internal, self reflection is an awful place to go when a person is honest.

I am making an honest effort to learn and grow from this terrible event.  I can guarantee that there will never be a reoccurrence.  On a brighter note, as I close, I have lost 35 pounds as I make lifestyle changes to combat the pre-diabetes.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Time Out

It has been a while since my last post.  Seems I have a couple of issues I need to address before they become major issues.  So, I am on a time out to do that.  When my issues are resolved I will be back, hopefully better than ever.

Friday, March 6, 2015


First Petunia and the pigpen.  I am learning that 1 gear lower than I want to run is the best option.  Keeping the RPMs near 2500 - 2650 allows for an average 37 MPG and if I upshift a gear she runs @2000 RPM, but the MPG drops to around 23.  I'm sure that has to do with the fuel map I have loaded into the ThunderMax.  I can't change that right now because ThunderMax isn't supported on a Mac computer.  I may dig out my old computer and have the charging outlet repaired to be able to use it to reprogram the ECM.

Petunia is otherwise running great.  I am getting more and more comfortable riding with the hack and right handers are becoming second nature.  I have found that by dragging the rear brake a touch I can shoot her around corners without the 3rd wheel coming to high off the ground.  It is a pretty cool feeling when accelerating out of the turn.

Finishing touches on the shower install are just about completed.  Had an issue with water running out of the entryway.  The shower head wouldn't adjust to spray in front of the drain, so I had to get a 15" shower arm with a 90 degree bend and that puts the spray completely in front of the drain.

 When a girl is under 39 having to use grab bars doesn't seem right, so I choose to install  her a  ballerina bar.

 A handle to help get over the 2 1/2"  threshold.

Luckily I am just about finished with this working crap because old age is setting in.  I tweaked my knee last week and this week I have a pain in my hip whenever I take a first step or two after sitting, kneeling down or dismounting Petunia.  Thankfully they don't treat old guys like horses that are breaking down. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Completed Project?

My two week project is 98% completed in just one day over the schedule.  Because my daughter, Jeane, has Multiple Sclerosis mobility has become an issue.  Getting into and out of the tub was becoming a real safty issue for her.  So, I removed her tub and and put in a barrier free shower.

Had to break the floor to move the drain.

 Drain set and floor repaired.

 Walls installed, curb set, and shower pan poured.

 Walls waterproofed and tile going on.

Tile being grouted.

Glass block going up.

Repainting the walls on Monday, clearing out Jeane's garage, returning unused parts, and installing grab bars are all that is left.  She is moving back home today and gets to use her new shower tomorrow.  Oh, and now she says the shower looks so nice that the vanity needs updated too!  

Sounds like I have another project in the pipeline.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

New Project

Well, about 750 miles on Petunia since the transmission rebuild and all still seems well.  I have mostly been riding her daily around town, but have had her up to highway speed on several occasions.  I think I am still just a touch gun shy of trusting her yet.

Dexter has become a problem, as he isn't cooperating with riding.  Not sure how this is going to work out, but fighting him to get in the pigpen and having him miserable isn't working for either of us.  Treats don't even work anymore.

Now I am into a new project for my daughter.  I allowed myself a two week window, but after two days I'm already a day behind my own timeline.  Funny how as I get older things always take longer than I remember in the years gone past.

This is where I started, getting final approval before she leaves for school.

 This is two hours after the fun has begun.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Riding In The Rain

Finally, at long last I took Petunia and the pigpen back on the road.  This is my street about twenty minutes before I left.

This is about twenty miles from the house

 The clouds and rain were coming after me

 This was looking back toward the house and it was worse coming back

Petunia ran well, the transmission seemed to be working correctly.  Shifting was stiff at first, but the heel/toe shifter needs to be readjusted because it doesn't feel right to me.  The break-in procedure for the transmission is to ride-it-like-you-stole-it! So, I took them at their word and at 85, in the rain, on the wet roads, I ran out of nerve before throttle.

I changed from a 28 tooth compensating sprocket to a 25 tooth one.  The result is 2,600RPM @ 60 MPH in 6th gear.  With cruise set, she pulls hills without any trouble and maintains 60 without any effort.  70 MPH is @3,000 RPM and Petunia sounds like she wants another gear.  I'm going to ride her like this for a while before I make any decision about replacing the 28 tooth sprocket.

So, wet, chilled, and with a smile on my face I am happy that this project is complete.  After the necessary speciality tools I had to purchase, waiting out the weather delays getting the gear-set rebuilt, and not removing the pigpen, this project really wasn't bad.  Similar to my take on rebuilding the motor, it is just like a car only with a lot less parts.

Petunia.....Almost There

Spent Wednesday in the garage putting Petunia together.  Went to the manual for the torque specs for the comp sprocket and ran across the warning about silicone sealant needed on the primary housing.  How did I miss this in the hundred times I read and reread how to take apart and reinstall this transmission?

Spent Thursday taking Petunia apart, applying the silicone to the appropriate bolt holes, and putting her back together, again.  Thinking I was about done, I tried to put her into gear to torque the comp sprocket and she wouldn't shift into gear!  Looking for an answer I realized I didn't double check the shifter pawl adjustment and it was slightly off.  So, I had to take the primary housing off again to adjust it.  Frustrating as Hell to be in such a hurry and spinning in circles.  Putting it all back together a third time and it shifted as intended, so put the primary cover on and got ready to fill it with oil.  That is when I couldn't find the drain plug.  Searched high and low until I gave up and went to the Stealership, fighting Super Bowl induced traffic, and paid $7.56 for a new one that lists for $5.45 in a Harley Parts Catalog.  Got home, installed the new plug, filled with oil, started putting tools away and THERE is the missing plug sitting in the middle of the work bench!

Moved to the right side to button it up and the step that I thought was going to be the hard part...replacing the head pipe and heat shield.  But, first I decided to take the time to bleed the brakes because the head pipe limits access to the master cylinder.  When I got to the head pipe it went a lot quicker and easier than I could have imagined.  At this point with only needing to install the floor boards and adjusting the clutch I was done for the day.  I was worn out, it was getting darker, and I was having difficulty seeing in less than bright lighting conditions.  I opted to put away all the tools I didn't need anymore and started Petunia just to warm her up.  She started on the first crank and sounded great!  This almost gave me the energy to finish her up, but I really had had enough for one day.

As I'm sitting here it is raining.  Supposed to rain all day today and some of tomorrow.  Of course it is raining this is Phoenix Open week.  I'm heading out to Denny's for breakfast then into the garage to put on the floor boards and adjust the clutch.  When that is done I'll be taking out the rain gear and going for a ride.  I've earned a ride, rain or not!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Progress Is Slow

Bad news is Petunia is still apart.

Good news is the gear set and shift forks are in the housing.  Everything spins freely and feels good.

Bad news is I currently have divided priorities and Petunia got shifted to the back burner.  I did get far enough to know I have to jack her up and loosen the rear wheel to move it forward to install the drive belt pulley. 

Good news is Wednesday should be the day I can get back to her and hopefully make some progress.  It seems like it has been forever since I got to ride.  I am more than ready to change that.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Thoughts Thunk

Cool winter days spent in waiting mode can cause odd thoughts to creep back into one’s mind.  

I want to be a motorcycle gypsy.  I want to ride around visiting various locations and immerse myself in places off the beaten path, down dirt roads, off into the wilderness, living somewhat like the folks that originally explored this great nation without benefit of a covered wagon to carry the supplies.  But, I am a product of the 20th century and am married to the creature comforts that I grew up with.

Therein lies my dilemma.  Off the beaten path, especially on a motorcycle, would be challenging.  I’m pretty sure I could find rivers, streams, or lakes to clean up in and probably wash cloths.  Learning to become a hunter/gatherer for food, with modern hunting laws, would be problematic, so securing a food source could be an issue.  

Maintenance on the bike would be essential to live in this lifestyle.  It wouldn’t be good enough to just dump used oil onto the ground, refill, and ride on.  Without a garage full of tools and jacks working on the bike myself would offer problems that would make this life style unattainable.

But, in my, somewhat, rational mind the biggest hurdle would be doing this while not being connected to the real world.  I’m pretty sure I could go without TV, but a phone and computer are another story.  Computers today play such a vital roll in my very existence.  I use the web on a daily basis just to do everyday business and  staying in contact with family and friends.  Being out in the wilderness without a method to contact the outside world would be a problem in case of a breakdown or some type of injury.  

To stay connected would require an energy source.  With that in mind I have been looking into solar panels and deep cycle, marine batteries.  A panel, a battery, some wiring, an inverter, and an electrical outlet would allow for charging a computer, phone, and possibly a light for after the sun goes down.  

A solar panel on the pig pen, an interesting idea that will require more investigation.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Baker Delivers As Promised

UPS came a knocking this afternoon and dropped off my newly rebuilt gear-set.  I approved the cost of the rebuild last Friday afternoon and even with MLK Day and the weather back east it arrived as promised.

Getting started on the installation Sunday afternoon after some other obligations are met.  Hope to be riding by Tuesday baring any unforeseen complications.