Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Preliminary Report

The preliminary report is in and while not good, is better than I first thought. First off I have been carrying a card for a Harley shop that comes highly recommended by three of my friends, but because I have a maintenance agreement with the dealer I haven't used him. For this I decided to give a call. To my wonder he just moved his shop and is now located less than a half mile from my house. That explains all the bike noises I hear.

I rushed home from school, took off the sidecar, started Petunia, and the noise was almost gone. What the hell!!! I rode over to ACME Cycle anyway to see John. As soon as I rode up he walked out and told me to shut it off. He said it sounded like a cam chain tensioner issue. Then proceeded to explain the issues with the cam chain guides, what the consequences could be, showed me several examples from mileages as low as 6,000 to 12,000, and said he wouldn't ride it at all.

I asked what the process would be to have Petunia fixed and he told me about S&S gear drive cams. But, he also said that some exploratory surgery was needed. So, I will know more tomorrow.

Petunia Has Taken Ill

OK, I was riding yesterday and all of a sudden Petunia started making a strange whining sound. I pulled over to check it out and it is coming from the lower end of the motor. I checked the oil level and if anything it is a bit overfilled. I checked the oil cooler and it was warm, telling me the oil was circulating. The motor felt pretty hot, even though the temp gauge said 200, so I went to get something to eat and let her cool down.

After eating I checked some more and decided my options were to ride the six miles home or call a tow truck, but they would only take her to the Dealer. I rode home at 35 mph and except for the noise she seemed to run normal. By that I mean there didn't seem to be any power loss, the oil gauge showed 32 pounds of pressure, and the temp gauge showed 210 degrees. An hour after getting home I went back into the garage and the motor was still really hot to the touch.

I made this quick video to show the noise.

I will have to take her in to see what is wrong. One thing I know is it sure sounds expensive.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Unveiling

This is the nearly finished version of Petunia and the Pig Pen. I still need to find some type of spray adhesive to glue the carpet back down. My only complaint about posting the pictures is I haven't installed the new wide white wall tires I have in the garage. Putting those on will really add the finishing touches to make her stand out.

Jim at Young Customs did an outstanding job in painting the Pig Pen. He has posted before and after pictures on his site of the Pen when I picked her up. I sent him a couple of these finished product pictures as well because she looks even better with all the trim on. I would say that Young Customs exceeded my expectations in quality and service. If in the Phoenix area and needing paint or bodywork give Jim an opportunity to help you out. I'm really glad I did.

Fasthair asked in the tease about the 03 Harley trim. For those who don't know the trim on 03 anniversary Harleys have Harley Davidson written a zillion times on the tape as shown on the left. My understanding is the tape isn't available for purchase. So, the stripe (right picture) on the Pig Pen is just a matching light gray. I will be honest and tell you that I owned the bike for about five months before I ever saw the script. Most people don't even know it is there. The matching that Jim did is spot on in color.

So, she is road ready in time for Arizona Bike Week. After another week of being under the weather I'm hoping to get out this weekend and ride. Maybe if I hadn't ridden Petunia to school three days this week I would have kicked this by now, but that is how it works. Riding in high 40's/low 50's in the morning and then in the upper 80's in the afternoon, along with a bunch of kids who don't know how to cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze, makes a cold linger. Yes, it started about the time I was in Laughlin, but I'm blaming the little darlings anyway.

I hope all of you get a chance to ride this weekend and enjoy some nice weather.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Just a Tease

The Pig Pen is painted, mounted, and almost ready for public viewing. A couple of small interior details to finish and putting her in some sunlight, rather than a dark garage at 4:30, and more detailed pictures are to follow.

Jim at Young Customs did an outstanding job painting the Pig Pen. It has exceeded my expectations.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Weekend Review

I dropped the Pig Pen off to be painted last Saturday, 3/14, and I was supposed to pick it this Saturday 3/21. But, it wasn't ready. The new date is Wednesday, 3/25.

It is hard to argue with the reason for the delay. The radius's couldn't be made with the 1/2" tape. Jim tried to make it work, but he wasn't satisfied with how it looked and wasn't willing to cut corners. I was invited to stop by and look at the progress Saturday. This picture is the tub with the base coat applied, a clear coat wet sanded, and after the tape had been applied and removed. The picture isn't a realistic representation of how it looked because the color is an exact match to Petunia.

The new plan is to tape off the 1/2" light gray stripe, paint it, and use 1/8" gold trim tape on each side of the gray. Along with the new decision we came up with a new design for the front of the tub that will make it a lot more visually pleasing. After painting the gray and striping the gold he will apply two clear coats before it is finished.

If you are like me you are wondering what the hell kind of paint job is that! But, Jim wet a section of the tub and explained that when the clear coat is applied the color will shine through. I defer to Jim's knowledge about painting and wait with bated breath to pick it up Wednesday.

Sunday I installed the Harley oil cooler that I purchased on Ebay. It really was a simple installation except for a couple of minor items. I had to stop to go to Checker Auto to get some blue Lock Tight. That stuff is like gold at $6.50 for .20 fl oz. But if you need it and don't have it what are you going to do? Next I had to make a run to Harbor Freight to purchase a set of long t-handle allen wrenches. Tightening up the 5 allen screws just wasn't possible with the allen set I had.

When all was said and done I had to run to the Harley dealer to get oil and check the system out. Syn3 oil is now $11.35 a quart at my local stealer. During my ride in 81 degree, windy conditions the oil temperature just barely reached 180 degrees. I will keep an eye on how the temperature runs and am looking for a place to get a leather bra to blank the oil cooler off.

The transmission debate has been settled. I found a Baker DD6 for $2800, a Revtech for $998, a Harley factory six speed for $2,099, (thanks Joker) and another Baker DD6 on Ebay for $1999. I split the difference and went with the Baker DD6 from Ebay. I searched many sites and the prevailing thoughts, including Big D and Fasthair, were to go with the Baker DD6. I could have saved an additional 33% by going Revtech, and did save 33% by searching for the best price on a Baker gear. So, by all accounts Baker is the BEST six speed gearing for my application. I am willing to spend a little extra to get the best gears possible. I am hoping that Big D will be able to help out with the installation when the gears arrive.

So ends my Sunday evening and Spring Break 09. Back to school tomorrow and wait a week for Arizona Bike Week. I will miss out on most of that because it is the same week as our State AIMS Testing. But, the good news is in three weeks I will be spending a week in Washingto, DC at a math conference.

Have a great week everybody!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Laughlin, Nevada Ride

I had planned to leave for Laughlin, Nevada at 10 AM. But, I also needed to take Petunia in and have her dyno tuned because I had screwed up the Power Commander so bad I couldn't fix it. At 8:15 I called Thunder Manufacturing and talked to Travis who said, "Come on down at 11." Quickly thinking of my options I agreed, knowing I could leave by 3:30-4:00 and still get to Laughlin.

I arrived at Thunder Manufacturing at 10:50 to find that Travis had gone to get some materials, but should be back in a bit. Great! Set an appointment and then leave. While waiting there were two kids who kept me entertained. A second grade boy and his little sister. They were pretty funny. Travis arrived, put Petunia on the dyno, and invited me in to watch the process. It was interesting to watch how it worked. Short version is he dialed in 117 individual settings and then readjusted my desired cruising speed figuring in the load of the sidecar. He had to shut Petunia off two times to cool down and explained why he was doing everything and answered every question I could come up with. The end results were an increase of 7.25 horsepower and 2.5 foot pounds of torque. What that really means to me is an increase of 8 mpg at 75 mph. I left for Laughlin about an hour after he was finished and averaged 43 mpg for the trip. I'm pretty happy with that because Petunia has never gone over 35 mpg since I've had her.

In my haste to leave I took the camera out to load up, set it down, and never picked it up again. It was still right where I put it when I got home. It was a bright, sun drenched, high eighty degree afternoon that was covered in a dull haze. The desert was in bloom and covered in a carpet of green and white that was muted by the smog.

The ride down was uneventful except for me watching the fuel and oil temperature gauges. The fuel gauge was falling slowly and the oil temperature climbed up to 230 when I was behind slow moving traffic. That was without the sidecar. The oil cooler will be installed in the next week or two.

In Laughlin I stayed at the Edgewater Hotel and Casino. For my $24 a night I didn't get to stay in the fancy 26 story hotel tower, I was put at the far end of the fifth floor of the old original hotel. But, the bed was comfortable and I will stay there again. They also have dedicated motorcycle only parking in the parking garage. Funny thing about that is when I asked at check in the woman at the desk didn't know if they did or not. On the recommendation of my daughter I ate dinner in the Hickory Pit Steakhouse where I enjoyed a great prime rib dinner. After dinner I went outside to enjoy a walk along the riverwalk. It was a pleasant evening.

The ride home was more of an adventure. There was an accident where a SUV had rolled a couple of times. I got there before the Highway Patrol and it just happened that an ambulance was ahead of me. There were plenty of people there and the ambulance crew jumped in to try to get the people out. Not a good way to start the day. Then there was the trucker who pulled over in front of me going up a hill and just rode next to another truck at 50 MPH for about 10 miles. When I finally got around him I gave the universal one finger salute and was off. Then looking in my mirror I saw him coming. Fast. I changed lanes and accelerated to 80 and he followed. This was the same truck that in Kingman swung wide turning onto the freeway and ran a truck off the road. Being no match for an 18 wheeler I put Petunia up to 90 and held her there for the next eight miles to my exit.

That was my no picture spring break ride. It is now time to go wash Petunia again and have her ready to go pick up the freshly painted sidecar tomorrow. I can hardly wait to see how she looks in Gun Metal Pearl.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

News to Report

The beginning of Spring Break is even sweeter with the arrival of my second grand daughter, Kennedy Quinn, born on the 15th. Her big sister, Keegan, thinks she is the best. Me? I'm biased, but she is pretty damn cute for a new born.

Being very random here and having nothing to do with anything I will add this. I like the patterns of numbers and my daughter Elizabeth's family has some interesting numbers in their birthdays. Kennedy 3/15, Seth 4/5, Keegan 5/5, Elizabeth 6/15. Unusual at the least and intriguing in my mind.

The sidecar is out being painted this week and is supposed to be ready to pick up on Saturday. I will need to bring it home and put the finishing touches on it prior to posting pictures. I found a body man on Craigs List who works out of his house, not far from me, and the work he does looks really good. Another aspect I liked was his level of excitement in getting to paint the Pig Pen.

The oil temperature gauge I installed a few weeks ago works great. Petunia has had a hard time getting up to that magic number of 180 degrees until yesterday. It was mid 80's and in stop and go traffic, after running on the freeway at 70 for 45 miles, it hit 230 for the first time. So, my thoughts on the oil cooler are now to install it, but to go have a black leather bra made to blank it off when not needed. Hitting 230 yesterday had to only be a warning about what is ahead here in the desert.

A six speed conversion is my latest idea for Petunia. I really love Petunia and contrary to Harley's trade up ideas, I'm not ready to get rid of her. But, the benefits of an overdrive, when tugging the hack, are sounding good. So, anyone have an opinion about six speeds? Baker DD6 or RevTech? The Baker DD6 is about three times the cost of a RevTech unit. Of course Baker claims they are the best and are used by some of the big custom builders. But, is all that hype worth the cash involved? I'm sold on the idea, but not on a product yet. I know the old saying you get what you pay for, but if I can save 66% and it works the same I think I would be happy.

Pongo the wonder dog is going to the vet for more puppy shots today. I'm going to give him his first bath in a bit and that should be fun. He tolerates riding in the sidecar pretty well. I don't think he is really sure about it yet, but I keep adding distance to the rides. Next week I will add in trips to the dog park instead of just a ride and then home. Doggles will be the next thing I introduce him to. Yea, that's going to be fun because he still doesn't like the harness I use on him when he is ridding in the sidecar.

Because it is Spring Break I am going on a ride tomorrow. I'll head up to Laughlin for at least one night. I'm not thrilled with leaving Pongo in the back yard, but for one day won't kill him. Pictures and a story should follow in a day or so.