Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Better Mousetrap

Sometimes it is better than the original and works very well, sometimes it ends up not so well and causes more problems than it's worth.

Remember the bike spinner I built to turn my bike around in the garage?

Works well in theory.

Round and round.

It worked well enough but it does have its flaws, the first involves getting the bike up on it. Once the front wheel is on the spinner I dare not turn the handlebars or the spinner will start to spin creating a very dangerous situation. I have to keep everything straight until I get the rear wheel up on it too. I never did figure out a way to lock it into position without drilling a hole into the concrete floor.

Next is the width, I designed it to accommodate the kickstand on either side so I wouldn't have to turn it around every time I took the bike off of it. I can ride off and close the garage door then when I got home simply use the garage door opener and ride up on it and spin it around to be ready for my next ride. Unfortunately with it being so wide this means whenever I want to work on the bike I either have to stand back from the spinner and lean over or stand on the spinner which is unstable at best.

Another problem with it being so wide is with the center pivot it has to sit center stage of the garage and getting anything past it like Trobairitz's bike or pellets for our stove is a chore. Not to mention not having any room to use my table saw and chop saw to do most important trim work, renovation and honey do projects.

A third problem is the steel bearing type rollers I used for stability on the underside.

They are beginning to etch the garage floor making it difficult to spin the bike.

Some low profile rubber wheels may be a better option, but then it was back to the drawing board.

Instead I was remembered an AMA Member-Tested product review of the Pit Viper Motorcycle Dolly in an issue of American Motorcyclist Magazine by the AMA .

Pit Viper Motorcycle Dolly

The reviewer recommended it and as best as I could tell it's the identical dolly that I had been eyeing at Harbor Freight but at a significant savings with a coupon. Check any of your motorcycle magazines (Cycle World, Motorcyclist or Rider magazine) for the Harbor Freight two page coupon spread.

Harbor Freight Motorcycle Dolly

I decided to try it and instead of a Lexus in my living room, I had an unassembled motorcycle dolly.

It took me about an hour to assemble and with a quick swap I had the bike rolling around the garage floor. It is a little difficult to "spin" without a central pivot point but being able to move the bike sideways and out of the way makes up for the minor inconveniences.

Moves to the side and out of the way.

I've been using it for about a month now and I am extremely happy. It is well built, sturdy and easy to move about the garage. It took me a bit to get the hang of using it as a spinner and requires more of a three point turn to get the bike to come around. The instructions state not to 'ride' up onto the stand but being one to ignore the rules on occasion I glued rubber strips on the bottom of the ramps and it doesn't move. I ride up onto the dolly, set the kickstand into place, dismount, kick up the rear ramp and give the rear of the bike a shove toward the garage wall.

The rear ramp in 'up' position.

I then kick up the front of ramp and pull on the handlebars toward me to bring the bike 90º then shove the rear of the bike to complete the 180º turn.

I then kick the front ramp down and she's ready to roll in the morning.  I assembled it so the kick rods for the ramps were on the left side of the bike so I didn't have to walk around the bike to set the ramps into position, the instructions stated the opposite side.

It's like trying to turn a big dog, or giant cat in this case, around in a tight spot. Once you realize they're not going to follow direction, a little shove with your knee is enough persuasion to accomplish your task.

The advantage is that I can push Brandy's bike up on it, spin it around, move it sideways and back Max into the corner of the garage for the week. Then roll Lucy up on it and spin her around for the morning commute or move her about the garage to check tire pressure, chain tension or use my workbench, table saw or whatever without tripping on anything. Well worth the investment.

Here is my quick demo video.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

2012 Floods

We have been experiencing some serious rainfall this past week which has resulted in major flooding that this area hasn't seen since 1996. We haven't lived in Oregon that long but in the past 11 years we have seen our share of flooding and it has been nothing like this. I've experienced road closures, I've seen farmer's fields flood and I've chased water at a nursery I used to work trying to divert water away from everything. I've even attempted a water crossing on Lucy about this time last year but that's another story. We experienced an unseasonably dry, cold December and now we are paying for it with not only high water levels but with landslides and roads washing away.

Online photo courtesy of the Corvallis Gazette Times

The local newspapers are posting up stories everyday with photos showing the high water, reporting road closures and keeping us all updated of what is happening throughout the valley.

Some residents have been evacuated from their homes due to landslides while others simply have to deal with their homes flooding.

Online photo courtesy of the Corvallis Gazette Times

The Linn County Sheriff came by my work last week looking for empty grass seed bags to use for sandbags which they offer free to anyone who needs them.

There was one accident last week claiming the life of a mother and her child when the car they were riding in was swept into a creek.

While another driver tried to cross some high water and soon discovered that it was not such a good idea.

Online photo courtesy of the Corvallis Gazette Times

More articles and record breaking flood levels.

Rick Rick even went out and took these photos around his neighborhood and of some of our favorite riding roads, thanks Rick.

Photo courtesy of my friend Rick

Photo courtesy of my friend Rick

Photo courtesy of my friend Rick

Photo courtesy of my friend Rick
We are fortunate as we don't live in the flood plain and have not been affected by the high water and are safe as are many of our friends. I was a bit inconvenienced this afternoon as I had to ride Lucy home on the main highway instead of the backroads but the sun was shining and I stayed dry.

Here is a link to many YouTube videos regarding the flood of 2012:

These roads are just south of our house. This is not me, just a video I found online, but I wonder if it is the same guy in Rick's picures.

An aerial video from the Gazette Times.

I hope everyone is safe out there, be careful and stay dry.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Bah! snow!

We don't get snow around here very often so when it does everyone screams like a giddy schoolgirl, news broadcasters post dramatic headlines like "Winter Blast 2012" and send reporters out in toques and mittens to show the trapped viewers at home how dangerous and treacherous it is outside while using words like 'dangerous' and 'treacherous' and every year it makes me think of this parody video, enjoy.

It only snowed about a half inch here and less than a skiff elsewhere, hardly a winter blast at all. I grew up with snow and had to shovel snow from the roof of the house, dig out my car and have driven over mountain passes in whiteouts so it is somewhat amusing when an inch of snow here shut down schools and creates a state of emergency.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sprag Clutch

I rented a trailer Saturday, loaded up Lucy and went to Saturday morning coffee to tell my story before going to the Triumph shop.

Of course, nobody wanted to leave the comfort and warmth of the coffee shop to come outside and assess the situation except for Andy. You can always count on Andy and I do value and appreciate his vast knowledge on damn near everything, (remember he discovered and came to my rescue regarding my rear wheel bearings).
We thumbed the starter, confirmed the battery was flat and headed next door to Les Schwab to jump start the bike. Unfortunately the starter just skipped and spun, when it did catch she just wouldn't start and Andy recommended we take it to Rod, so we were off to Eugene.

I received the phone call from the shop today with the diagnosis on Lucy's ailment.

See the white Tiger 1050? Yeah, me too.

These calls always start with good news, Louis said he charged the battery and she was running.

"You did not just say that" I said. "I had it on the charger overnight, tried bump starting it and attempted a jump start with Schwab's service truck".

He fessed up and said he did fiddle with a few things, "adjusted a sensor", unplugged the headlights and the starter kept spinning but when it did eventually catch she started.

Now the bad news.

She needs a new Sprag clutch as these were a defective part on these motors and a new updated part would require a modification to the cover. Since I am not an expert on the fine art of modifying clutch/engine covers I gave him the go ahead to order the part and replace it. I did discuss this possible scenario with my CFO last night and she pre-approved the necessary funds if need be. The battery has a lifetime warranty and I will go back to the shop Saturday to have that replaced and talk to Louis in person to get a better idea of what he found.

Here is a little write up of the work required from Bowl of Mice.

From Clegg of

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

She's a bit temperamental

Separation anxiety in dogs is one thing, but in bikes too? She didn't pee on the garage floor or tear up my favorite pair of boots but she definitely showed her discontent this morning for me leaving her in the garage over the four day weekend.

I suited up and rolled her out of garage this morning to go to work and she wasn't going to have any part of it. I thumbed the starter and just as she was about to fire, I let go and that was that. the starter would spin but not engage. C'mon baby, don't be like that. Zuhzuhzuhzuhzuhzuhzuhzuhzuh ziiiiiiinnnnnnnnng, zuhzuhzuhzuhzuh ziiiiiiinnnnnnnnng, zuhzuhzuhzuhzuh ziiiiiiinnnnnnnnng. NOOOOoooooooooooooooo!!!

Maybe the mystical hamster is out of alignment, put her in gear, push, rock, push, clutch in aaaaaand zuhzuhzuhzuhzuh ziiiiiiinnnnnnnnng, zuhzuhzuh ziiiiiiinnnnnnnnng, zuh ziiiiiiinnnnnnnnng, ziiiiiiinnnnnnnnng.

%&*%#@#%*!   ^&*#$%@!  @#$#*&^@!  Bad Kitteh! Bad, bad, bad kitteh! Back in the garage you go and I'll take Max, how do you like that? And you can just sit here alone all day.

When I got home tonight I thought I'd go give her a scratch and see if she learned anything from her childish antics this morning and an extended time out. Well, at least the starter is engaging and trying to turn over but she still won't start.
What's the matter baby? Not feeling well? C'mon you can do it, let's go play. It's warm and dry out.

No? FFFFFFFFFFINE! I can only attribute it to the timing which is beyond my diagnostic ability as I don't know whether it is mechanical, electrical (no, I didn't let the smoke out) or computer ECU magic. So off to the vet she goes this weekend and my new year starts off with a repair bill. Yea!

She's a bit temperamental.

Stay tuned, it'll be a couple of weeks before I'll get the diagnosis.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Did anyone get the number of that bus? Was it 2011? It sure went by fast, in fact I'm a day late posting this.

Last year started off with a Polar Bear ride to test our mettle, this year there was a ride planned but everyday is a polar bear ride for me.

I decided to tackle the last room of the house to be remodeled instead. We wanted to knock out the back wall of a back to back closet and make our master bedroom larger by taking over the extra closet in a spare bedroom. It's been a busy weekend of moving furniture, breaking down walls rebuilding walls, scraping ceilings and tearing up carpeting. Unfortunately the project turned out to be bigger than my weekend. I see a few evenings and weekends of the new year being reserved for awhile. Better to clear chores from the honey-do list now than in prime riding season.

I hope 2012 is as good if not better than 2011, everyone had a happy and joyous holiday season and here is wishing you all a prosperous happy new year.

My post script from 2011:

P.S. - I've never tracked my annual mileage as others have so that can be my resolution for 2011. Yesterday's ride was 120 miles, subtracted from my current odometer reading of 24,156 makes my official 2011 odometer login reading of 24,036.
I can, however, calculate the 3198 miles I put on the Tiger since I purchased it on 9/22 with 20,958 miles on the clock. Which means I averaged 31.6 miles per day, not bad for buying a bike on the first day of autumn eh? At that rate, I would average 11,557 miles per year, but a more realistic goal would be putting my 2012 odometer reading well into the 40K mile mark.

I did come up short of my prediction, quite short indeed as I did not pass my 40k mile goal and only reached 34,574 miles last year (10,538 miles logged for 2011 equals 28.9 miles per day). I can only contribute this to a very wet Spring as the rain did not let up until July.

Happy New Year!