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.


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.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Newest Update to Petunia

Well, the rebuild went according to plan and she runs like the Hog she was meant to be. She was scary fast. Now scary fast would be subjective because throttle control was all that should be required. So, if I was light on the right hand how could Petunia be scary fast? Because once she began to run she almost refused to slow back down. Putting on new brake pads and bleeding the system didn't gain much. So, it appeared that an update to Brembo 4 piston brakes was in order.

There are plenty of people who are buying brand new motorcycles and replacing perfectly good components because they are black instead of chrome. The secret is to hunt Craig's List and E-bay, while waiting patiently for the right combination to show up.  

First I got a smoking deal on a set of new rotors from Craig's List. Went to pick them up and found the guy was a friend of a friend and left with an additional $50 discount. After about six weeks I secured a set of Brembo Calipers off an '08 Street Glide with the pads from the chrome replacement calipers. Something about the pads he had were better than factory pads. 

Today was the day to tackle the change over.

Going to all this effort I may as well change the wheel bearings also. Now, Petunia is a 2003 and there are some who believe that parts from 2005 up won't work on her, but that just isn't the case. Besides my old rotors being just about past tense at 84,000 miles the Brembos require a 1/4" larger rotor. Everything was a perfect match and fit with no issues at all.

My only worry was Petunia used DOT 5 brake fluid and the Brembo Calipers use DOT 4. These two fluids are not interchangeable and mixing them, it is said, will cause a jelly like substance to form in the caliper, lines, and reservoir. I used an air pump to drain all the old fluid and filled the reservoir with brake cleaner and sucked that through the system. Next, I blew air through the lines until I felt there was nothing left in the lines. Bolted it all together, filled her up with DOT 4, and vacuumed her down until there was no air bubbles on either caliper.  Finally, I vacuumed each caliper down again until I exchanged the fluid from two full reservoirs each. Hopefully this will prevent any chance of making brake jelly.   

The completed new look of Petunia with Brembo brakes. Put everything away and took her for a spin. Damn, these bad boys have some kind of stopping power!!! For the first few lever pulls it felt like nothing was happening, but with every stop they felt better and better. I'm guessing seating the pads into the new rotors will take a few stops, but the first reaction is there is a HUGE difference between these Brembos and the stock 03 brakes. 

I'm not in any hurry to test them under duress, but I feel confident this was the smartest update/accessory that I have added to Petunia.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Specialty Tools

A late finish to my rebuilding post:

Specialty tools are the hallmark of the Harley Repair Manual. On any given page, for every given repair or maintenance item the use of a special tool is noted. Checking into these tools finds them all to be quite expensive, especially when they may only be used once. So, what is a shade tree, or garage, mechanic to do to get around these special tools?

Simple……the Internet. It appears you can find just about anything on the Web.

First issue was going to be the cir clips on the piston wrist pins. The original ones were easy to remove with a screwdriver, but the new ones were almost twice as thick. I tried to put them in on the bench, but that wasn’t going to happen. Looking online a cir clip installation tool was in the near $200 range. I kept looking for a cheaper solution when I discovered a mention about the copper trick. It took awhile, but I finally found it. It was as simple as going into the garage, finding a bucket of old, almost forgotten plumbing parts and I had the solution. A three-quarter inch copper coupling and a five-eights inch deep socket? Really? I tried it and it worked like a dream. Even when installing the outside clip on the bike, it was like the copper coupling was made for this job. 

Next came the installation of the jugs over the pistons. I needed a ring compressor that was narrow and would come apart to allow removal from between the head bolts. Had a talk with Dr. Wrench who explained about using a hose clamp.  Was going to give it a try, but couldn’t find a clamp that would cover all three rings. Next option was to buy a cheap, $8.99, O’Reilly special ring compressor. That was a waste of time and money. So, back to the Internet. Search, search, and search some more and then there it was! The answer I was looking for. At first I was skeptical, but the answer came from S&S machine works. Popsicle sticks were the answer to my problem. The video said it took less than a minute to complete a cylinder. On the rear cylinder it really took less than a minute. The front one took about three minutes because of the rear cylinder being in the way of my fat fingers.

So, there it is. My foray into the internal workings of a Harley engine was completed with a copper coupling and a couple of popsicle sticks. Specialty tools indeed. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Eulogy for a Good Man

On Monday August 19, 2013 we laid my pop to rest at Liberty Chapel Cemetery in Williana, Louisiana. This cemetery sits off a single lane country road, surrounded on three sides by 30 foot pine trees, and is fronted by the Liberty Chapel Methodist Church.

The following is my eulogy for Pop.

Paul Malone wasn't perfect, famous, or a great man by societies terms. Not that he couldn't have been. Rather he chose to live an obscure life as a man of his word, a World War II Navy veteran, a husband of just short of 50 years, only stopped by the death of the love of his life, and a hard worker. He is only these things to a select few that had the privilege to know him in life.

He was a father. A loving father that wasn't always apparent except by the testimonials of his children.  I, for one, will say Pop had his faults and wasn't a perfect dad.  I'm not sure what a perfect dad is, but I took a lot of what he did and did the same things.  I, also, saw some of what he did as a father and vowed to never do that.  That isn't a bad thing or judgement of Pop, but rather it is called growth and he taught me that. In his life the most valuable gift Pop gave me was his work ethic.  I thank him for that.

He was a grandfather.  There were trials and tribulations with those eight gifts that his children bestowed upon him and Granny.  But, without a doubt the most important one was India.  I hold in my heart that if not for a 5 year old little girl, that needed watching over, he would have quit living almost 14 years ago.

My Pop made me, us, go to church as kids.  When I argued and wanted to stay at home with him he used the, "I'm the Dad argument."  However after Mom passed his attitude changed and while he never, as far as I know, publicly changed his views it was apparent to all he met that he had. He became more tolerant and accepting.  He even spoke of God and an after life. My final conversation with him was when he told me, "I am dieing." I asked what he thought about that and he said, "I'm scared."  I, we, all spoke to him about the joy of being reunited with Granny (Mom), MeMaw (Goldie), PoppaMan (Keener) and others who passed in the past.

No, Paul Malone wasn't a perfect man, but he WAS a good man.

Paul Malone was human and had human faults, but he WAS a good man.

Paul Malone wasn't a demonstrative man when it came to emotions or showing his love, but he WAS a good man.

Paul Malone wasn't always a religious man, but he WAS a good man.

I would offer today that there isn't anyone that could argue that Paul Malone wasn't a good man. As I stand here right now I can finally say Paul Malone was the perfect man. He was our Dad!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

So, You Think You're a Harley Mechanic

I made the decision to try my hand at being a Harley mechanic, all parts were ordered, and secured. Check, double check, and check again to be sure I didn't miss anything. I got a set of 96” jugs and a set of ported and polished heads.



This is what she looked like about 4 hours after a 150 mile quick jaunt just for a goodbye to the 88” basically stock motor. She did have S&S 510 gear drive cams already. 

Started putting her together in the cam chest…using a Feuling Cam Plate with a high flow oil pump. This swap was something I couldn't accomplish on my own because I wouldn't use a hammer on the cams. I contacted Ram Jet Racing, a shop that Caveman recommended. The guy said to bring it in and he would get to it later that day. Once I got there he asked if I had anything to do for a while. When I said no, but that I lived on the far West side  he said give him an hour. I went to have lunch and in about 40 minutes he called and said come get it. Service like that is hard to beat!  

Progress being made. 

Completion and connected to the Thunder Max loading a base map that was really close. 

With a couple of small issues, waiting on a couple of specialty tools that I just couldn't do without, the entire process from tear down to running was 12 days. Best past was when she started on the second turnover. Worst part was when a lifter went south in the first five miles. It was replaced with no hassle and only a day and a half wait for it to arrive. The girl is now the beast she is supposed to be. Now I find I have another problem though. Seems going fast isn't a problem, but she doesn't want to slow down at all. I think she wants/needs a set of Brembo brakes. Ahhhhhh, every project on a Harley is really just a starter project.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Thoughts Thunk

36 days into being retired and I have been busier that when I was employed. Admittedly, most of the busy has been self inflected. It seemed to me like I should; somehow, reward myself for all those years of hard work. So, I began to contemplate a new motorcycle. Looking, dreaming, wanting, and wishing.  Could I, should I, would I?
Yes, maybe, NO! Yes, I could because anything is possible if you want it bad enough. I should because I deserve to after having worked hard for these past forty-six years. NO, because there is just something inherently wrong with the thought of getting rid of Petunia! Actually, the plan was being hatched over the past three months when I realized I was serious about retiring.
But, if Petunia was to stay, she was going to need a little TLC. She was getting a touch long in the tooth and staying will require many miles of hills and dales and blue highways. I, in the past, would read the service manual when contemplating a change to Petunia and succumb to the dreaded…Obtain Special Harley tool (1234-432)….and off to an indy shop to pay to have her worked on. But, as I am now on a fixed income, I have to be very careful of where my money goes.

It has come to the time of life to realize it is only a 2 cylinder motor and that just means less parts. Even if the title does say Harley Davidson!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I Guess Late is Better Than Never

Damn, life is sweeping past me at breakneck speed. Point to wit…..it was six weeks ago that I played hooky from school to partake in a day in the saddle of Petunia.  My almost forgotten love of the open road having been shelved while I struggled with my new lot in life.  But, as I read the blog posts of those still posting I discovered a couple that were about to embark on a journey of discovery and adventure that really appealed to me.

Sash and Highway, a couple of kindred spirits that were drawn together were setting off to become homeless, motorcycle vagabonds. A self imposed exile, if you will, into six months of exploration, search, growth, discovery, and whatever adventure lies in their path.  

That is when I received that fateful e-mail, “Hi, we are in Tucson and are going to ride Mount Lemmon. Want to go?” Well, Hell Yes! Call to sub finder, a trip to the copy machine, and I would meet them on Friday at the Tom Mix Memorial outside of Tucson.

Headed out about 6:30 in about perfect weather, just getting the ride rolling and easing to the HOV lane, and wouldn’t you know it an accident that brought it all to a screaming halt. After about 25 minutes of quickly going nowhere it opened up and I was making up for lost time. Out US 60 to Arizona 79 and the wind kicked up. Not bad at first, but kicked, and kicked, and kicked some more. When Florence arrived it was gusting around 40 MPH.  Out at the Mix Memorial it had settled into a gentle 30 MPH breeze. Sash and Highway arrived, we got acquainted, and it was off to Mount Lemon.

At the top we pulled into the parking lot for what most rides are really about….food!

The significance of the pickle on the plate was duly noted. I have to say, I will go back to ride this road again because the food was that good. Don’t get me wrong, the road is worth the trip by itself, but I would go back if it was just a straight line for the burger.

It was time to return to Tucson for an adult beverage and then I had to get back to Phoenix.  It was a pleasure to meet up with Sash and Highway, share in a small part of their adventure, and put personalities to their stories. They are now somewhere in Kansas or beyond settling into their great adventure.  Ride safely my friends and if near the Phoenix area let me know and I’ll put you up for a night or several.  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Short History Lesson

March 2013

Gary France posted this

I posted about it and tried to get the thought out of my head.

April 2013

This feeling was overwhelming me!

I tried to fight it!

May 2013

I Pulled the pin!!!!!!

Resignation was accepted.

On May 25, 2013
Arizona Harley Dude will be officially........


Not doing anything anymore that isn't fun.

Thank you Gary!!!!!!

Class dismissed.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What Are You Willing To Do?

Spring time is for the renewal of Mother Earth and all of her creatures. A time for those creatures to awaken, leave the safety of their den, and start to live again. So, it shall be in AzHD land like the bear waking from a long winters nap....emerging from the shadows to stretch, begin to explore, to get out to start living, and riding again.

So, my first day out of hibernation was to meet up with Boston for breakfast. She and a couple of friends had been out enjoying Arizona Bike Week and seeing the Doobie Brothers.  Yea, I don't understand that either.

It has been a struggle in my world the last few months, but I am seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
Then today, like someone turned on a switch, it came to me. "What are you willing to do?"

"What the Hell am I willing to do?" 

It is now under serious consideration. Me and thinking is normally a dangerous situation.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cool Place to Park a Motorcycle?

Gary France, over at Flies in Your Teeth, has a picture contest for a cool place to park your bike.

My submission should count for a downright cold place to take a picture. This is from a Spring Break ride in 2008. It is on Highway 36, leaving Red Bluff, California, crossing over the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, heading over to Del Rio, California, to get to Highway 1.

The woman working the desk at the motel I stayed at suggested it would be perfect weather. She said she had been there just a couple of days earlier and there was very little snow.  It was about 25 degrees and the coldest I have ever been. Once going up the hill there was no turning around with the trailer on the ice covered road. Just another quality ride that I will remember for ever.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Just a Test

Just testing with my iPad. Trying to decide if I am ready to change full time from a laptop to this little beast. One of many changes on the horizon out in AHD land.

Random file photo from a Spring Break ride through Utah back about 2008.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Gary France over at Flies in your Teeth posted this picture a week ago.

I just can't get that thought out of my mind.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Summer Nears

Well, it certainly has been a while.  Been working on finding some sunshine in the cloudy days that have become my norm.  Spring is about to commence, 90 degree weather is predicted for Saturday, cold morning commutes are warming, Spring Break week is here, and summer looms. 

Summer.  The time when a man needs to begin to think about the necessity of some serious, long distance road therapy.  Something that has been absent, and missed, for a couple of years now.  Where, when, for how long, and routes are beginning to invade that empty space between my ears.  I’ve got a vague idea and got the maps out, but as I look across the room they are collecting dust, laying, waiting for that former desire to take hold and kick this fogginess in the ass.

In days past, I would already have a destination, the route, and a complete time line mapped out.  Weekly, I would be pouring through the book of maps searching for interesting highways to travel.  Reviewing on http://byways.org/ to find tempting roads that would call to me and allow Petunia to carry me to the scenery that I need to fulfill something inside of me.  Remembering a site like http://www.roadsideamerica.com/ for a few oddities that may or may not be worth the time and effort to find.

If I’m going to sit on my ass this summer, it needs to be looking over the windscreen on Petunia. This recliner and TV are getting old and making me old also.  Summer is coming boys and girls…..where will you be riding?