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

ROAD TRIP!!!!!

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.

HE IS 74 YEARS OLD.

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 www.gaugeledmods.com 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

Arrrggggghhhhh!

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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Hurry Up 2014



 


Good riddance to the year from Hell!  It featured 6 issues that singularly had the power to kick in my guts, but collectively have knocked me to my knees. 

BUT, 2014 is here and I have decided it is time for me to get up off the deck, quit feeling sorry for myself, and get back to living life!!

So, I will start the year with a great attitude and my plan for rebounding.  It started when I pulled out the neglected Atlas and began to look toward the roads I still need to ride to color in my map.  I haven’t really been riding the past six months, but have been making a list of items/maintenance that Petunia needs to head out. Let the fun, miles, and smiles begin!

Yep, 2014 is going to be a GREAT year and I am looking forward to a larger slice of this thing called retirement.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Long Term Road Trip?

Brian over at Ribbon of Highway penned a post He Wants to Escape... As If That Were a Bad Thing. This post brought me back to February 2011.  I had been searching for something on the internet and come across a story written by Scooter Tramp Scotty about something called being a Motorcycle Gypsy.  As I read the article I was intrigued.

As some may recall this was also four months prior to the nuptials that I was to embark on.  I shared the story with Linda and after going silent for a short time she surmised, “You are thinking about doing this aren’t you?”

Well, it did speak to me.  But, in reality I was a conformist to society’s expectations of family, job, responsibilities, and keeping one’s word.  So, while continuing to follow Scotty’s stories, I buried the Gypsy idea somewhere in the back of my mind.  

When the marriage didn’t work out I began to flirt with the idea again.  A few weeks ago I was all set to hit the road for a few weeks to give it a try, but circumstances prevented that.  Luckily for me, it turned out, because the weather on my intended route took a nasty turn and hasn’t gotten much better. 

On the bright side this gives me about five months before spring to make a few decisions about what I really have the guts to do.  Daughters and grandwonderfuls are a huge part of the decision.  The dog is a priority and I am thinking of making him my riding buddy.  My lease is up in July and I have to make a decision about where I want to live before that.  It seems the less responsibilities I have the harder the decisions become.  

If you want to know a little bit about Scotty and the Gypsy life here are some links for the former husband, roofing contractor, American Dream chaser….he ditched it all to live for the past 20+ years from the seat of his Harley, Betsy. Wait, maybe he is living the American Dream! You can also find him of Facebook.




Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Invisible Helmet?

So, you don't want to have helmet hair, but you wish there was something to keep you safe.  

An Invisible Helmet might be the answer, if there was such a thing.

http://autos.yahoo.com/news/swedes-develop-invisible-bike-helmet-184635653.html

Monday, November 11, 2013

Harley's Biggest New News

Several Bloggers have posted about Harley coming out with two new smaller displacement bikes. I am surprised that nobody has mentioned the New 2014 Touring Limited. This marvel of Harley development is water cooled, or as Harley calls it Twin Cooled.

Last week I had a need to visit the local dealership and got a peek at this new machine. What a beautiful machine it is. From newly designed, lower profile, tour pack and saddle bags, redesigned fairing with an integral vent, to larger, white faced gauges it screamed, "Take me home!!!" I left thinking I really would like to make my next trip on one of these beauties.



The radiators are located in the lower fairings and seem to run through the frame. at just over a quart of water for the system I will wonder just effective it can really be.


Today in my mindlessness I began to think. $27,164 bike + $2,716 tax + $500 License + $680 dealer fees = $31,060. Petunia has a 5 gallon tank @ 3.03 per gallon = $15.15 per fill-up. $31,060 divided by $15.15 = 2050.17 tanks of fuel X 180 mile average between fuel stops = 369,029 miles I could ride for the same money.

I really wanted that new bike, but Petunia has a way of convincing me, again, that she is my Hog and she ain't going anywhere.  But, hey some of you might want to go have a peek-see at what a gorgeous bike this really is.