8 Ball In The Wind

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Heroes Have Always Been Bikers

I can remember as a young boy in the 60s riding in the back seat of our 60 Merc station wagon along 6th Avenue in Tacoma, and seeing a couple "bikers" riding custom bikes.  The apehangers; loudpipes, cool paint jobs, raked and extended front ends, and I knew then and there what "cool" was all about.  Even if my father in the front seat thought the bikes werent worth a shit, I knew better. 
They weren't his type of bikes.  He had rode in the late 30s and early 40s before he joined the army.  Then WW2 came along, and by the time that one was over, he had a wife and family in Chicago and had to settle down to take care of business.  Dad always had the style of bike he rode as his way a bike should look.  Whe a trip from Chicago to Peoria was a major ride over shitty roads, the bikes had to be strong.  To him anything that even looked spindly just sucked ass.  But not to me.
Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying there's anything wrong with the bikes of his day, and even older.  They're just not my first choice.  I enjoy a long bike.  Chrome doesn't do it for me, but a low long bike can just be the shit when it is rolling down the road, and you are riding it for all its worth.  I don't have a longbike anymore, but when I get through this financial hole I am in, I will again.  I can see it in my mind, with the details growing sharper as I fine tune what I want, and need on it.  How it will look will follow two lines of thought that blend well with each other:
1. Form Follows Function
2. Keep It Simple Stupid!!

It may take me a while to build it the way I want, and I will I am sure need some help of a good welder, and painter, or better, I will learn from my brothers how to do it myself.  So yeah, I guess what this video I made a couple years ago says is still true.  "My heroes have always been "bikers" in some way or another.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Could Be Worse

Cabin fever, and being broke don't make for a good mix.
I am only sure of one thing, and that is things will change.  A person can only hope the change will be for the better.  As of now, I have been off work for more than a month and a half, and things being tight is an understatement.  Finally, I am beginning to get callbacks for interviews on jobs, so it is looking up.  My plans for this years riding have been wiped out, but that just means I will need to shake my head clear and look for more local shit to do, and ride when ever and however I can.
I don't mean to sound like I am pissing or moaning about this, but I hate being out of work.  If shit  gets really bad, I will have to deal with it.  But for now things are only kind of bad...I aint in a tent huddled in a mummy bag in the woods somewhere.  Been there, done that, and I am getting too fucking old and grey for that shit if I can avoid it.
Come what may, I will deal with it.  Facing what changes are coming, and keeping my head together the best I can.  The weather is supposed to be above freezing, with only a chance of showers this weekend, so I think there needs to be a session of two of wind therapy.  A little road time to blow the shit out of my head and let my thoughts get better focussed.  Take a putt and drop in on some riding partners I got up in the hills, and then head down the road.
I may freeze my cajones off, but fuck it, I need to change my head around...a decent ride will help.

Friday, January 7, 2011

What could possibly go wrong?

This is the tale of the attempt to install a Baker F5K kicker on my 91 H-D Softail Custom.  The only problem being that we didnt have access to an arbor press, so being the people we are, we tried to adapt the set up to work without the press.  We had already swapped the 21" front wheel for a 16" white wall.  When Scott came up from Astoria, Oregon to lend a hand and bring some tools, the bunch of us got to work.  That should have been the first red flag warning sign...five scooter tramps drinking apple pie (and one on Oxycontin) as they work on one bike..in the livingroom.  What could possibly go wrong?

After putting the bike on asheet of plywood on the frontroom floor; we took off the exhaust, disconnected the battery and removed horseshoe oil bag.  The primary came off without a hitch and things were looking good.  Next we removed the Harley 5 speeds tranny cover and then unbolted the trap door.  We removed the primary cover; clutch countersprocket and primary chain, and stator.  Then we went to remove the trap door...so far so good.  Once we had the trapdoor off (which proved to be a bitch in itself), we got to thinking (should have been another red flag)  since we didnt have an arbor press, what were we going to do to press the tranny shafts into the new trapdoor? 
It was decided we would try "sucking" the bearings in the trapdoor onto the tranny shafts by slowly tightening the mounting bolts on the trapdoor.  It made sense, sort of, and even seemed to work, kind of.  Now I know, we should have just removed the tranny and taken it somewhere to have the shafts pressed into the trapdoor properly.  But the nearest shop with a press was a two hour round trip.  Not counting the time at the shop itself.  So we didnt do what we "should have" done.  It came back to haunt us in the end, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Before too long, (ok, it was like threeor four hours later) we had the shaft for the shift forks in place and the forks all set and ready.  All we needed to do was "suck" the trapdoor back onto the tranny shafts, and button everything back up.  For a while it really seemed like everything was going good.  The trapdoor was slowly getting itself pressed onto the tranny shafts, and everything was looking good.  Near as we could tell, this was starting to cook right along and everything was going really smoothly as it went back together.  Yeah, I know, it was going too smoothly. Once we had the trapdoor on, we checked the gears and made sure they were meshing and shifting using the shiftforks.  Put the shift drum on and buttoned up the tranny.  Reconnected the battery and oil tank, and  all we were looking at doing was putting the cover on with the kick lever. 
When we started, we had put the tranny in 5th gear as the directions instructed.  Before we put the shift drum back on, we made sure it was back in 5th.  When it was time to check the tranny before we put on the cover and kick lever...it wouldnt shift out of 5th.
So we pulled everything back off that needed to be removed.  Including the new trapdoor and started over from that point.  It too awhile but we went through everything and soon realized we couldnt see any reason it wasnt working.  Personally, I think we were just a bit too tired from fucking fighting it all day, and a bit too buzzed to think straight.

The next day we hit it after breakfast and spent a few more hours spinning our wheels but getting a hell of a lot accomplished.  We realized as we talked it over, that the gears werent meshing as soon as the shift drum was put back in place.  Near as we could tell, the Main shaft was out of alignment by about 3/16 of an inch.  Our "sucking" the new trapdoor on didnt work.  

A few days later, I pulled the tranny completely out of the bike.  Dave and I ran it down to a shop about an hour away.  When we got it to the shop; Old School Choppers in Longview, Washington, Denny looked at it and said yeah, the shaft had been pushed in the opposite direction because nothing was holding it in place like a press would have done.  It ended up that our attempt to "suck" the trapdoor on had sucked.  It had ruined the bushings and the tranny was going to need a rebuild. 
Once Denny  got finished with it, the tranny worked slick as shit.  And for less money than he had estimated too, so I wasnt about to bitch.  I got the tranny home, and over the next couple days, befor and after work, I put everything back together.  Including the new kicker cover.

Everything with the bike is hunky-dorey now...at least as far as the kicker goes.  I have to reroute the exhaust because it now covers the tranny fill hole, but I wanted to change the pipes anyway.  It all just goes to show, if youre going to do a job, do it right.  If the instructions say you need a press, better find access to one, or your gonna fuck it all up.  I hope to catch you on the road, and hopefully I'll be back at work soon enough to be able to keep the bike and the house...I have a few plans left for the bike before I call her done, so I'll probably need the front room again.

Monday, January 3, 2011

American Ridge Lodge

There is a cool little spot I found out about on line, and the more I heard about it the more I wanted to check it out.  It is an old ski lodge in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State just east of Mt Rainier National Park.  Out in some majestic wilderness, and wonderful riding roads.  It's late tonight, and I already fucked up and lost the entire blog I had spent the last hour writing about this place.  So I am just going to post a few pics of the 200 or so that were taken by me and a my friends during a weekend party and get away to this special place.  It is run by the US Forest Service as a group campsite.  Capacity of 60 people, and 15 vehicles (depending on who you talk to 2 bikes make 1 vehicle).  There is a gate with a combo lock near the start of the dirt road leading up to the place, so if you lock it after you go through no one should bother you.  During the entire weekend, there was no one else showed up to even check on us which I really liked as well, and we left the gate unlocked the whole time.  It's at 3,000 ft above sea level, so dont be surprised if it gets nippy at night, even in June.  No running water, no power, you ahve to haul in your own water, food and firewood.  Wonderful riding until the last 3/4 of a mile, when it turns into a steep twisting dirt logging road.  It also has a 20 holer outhouse as just one of its unusual cool things about it.  I'll post more about it later, but I definitely recommend this place as a spot to get away with a few dozen friends and party. You can get more info at http://www.recreation.gov/  the place is called American Ridge Lodge.
All this snow in the middle of June?

Scott Jamming on the bar

Breakfast...or was that dinner?

Bumping Lake

20 holer outhouse

Dont forget to bring enough


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Iron Oyster

With the loss of my job at the end of November, it has put a damper on my plan to make a run from Mesa, AZ to Anacortes, WA in September.  Why would I want to make such a run anyway?  Well on the 4th Sunday of every September is the nearly legendary Oyster Run in Anacortes.  It is the biggest bike run in the NW, and brings in about 25-30,000 bikes every year.  Now this is a cool reason to make the ride to Anacortes by itself, but when The Horse Backstreet Choppers magazine announced they wouldn't be doing a Smoke Out in the west anymore, it got me to thinking....

Why not get something going to bring as many of the hardcore riders from the western US up to the NW for Oyster Run?  It sounded like a reasonable idea to me, and it didn't take long to round up a starting point.  Now, before you get the idea this is just going to be a mellow cruise of 1500 miles (or a bit more), let me set the record straight.  This is an every rider for themselves run along a course that wont be set until the day before the start.  This is not a group cruise with stops at all the scenic viewpoints.  This is plain and simple a get on the road and ride sort of thing.  Whether the whole route takes you 24hrs, or 48 is up entirely to you.  The plan is to leave Medusa Cycles in Mesa at Ohdark:30 on the Wednesday before the Oyster Run and be on the road to Anacortes, and get there before Sunday's big shindig.

At least that was the plan...

Right now I have to get my dirty ass back to work.  That has become my top priority right now.  Taking care of the homestead first, and keeping my shit together.  But that doesnt mean I am calling off the Iron Oyster Run.  It just means, for now, that I probably wont be making the week long trip down to Mesa, then turning around and coming back up to Washington.  Who knows, I might win the lottery between now and then, but I doubt it.  So I am going to probably miss the first running of the Iron Oyster.  Which pisses me off, but I am just going to have to deal with it.  I can still at least make the Oyster Run, and work the finish line over the weekend.

The route wont be finalized until a day or two before the start due to having to cross the Cascade mountains, and depending on weather, the pass I want to run the route through can be closed for the winter by late September.  But, for the most part it is laid out.  Spending as much of the route as possible in "free" states where you dont have to wear a damn coconut on your head if you dont want.  It will run north out of Mesa/Phoenix up into Utah, and Idaho before crossing into Washington.  I am working with a couple people on getting trophies for the 1st three riders to make it built.  I was going to have patches made for anyone who completed the route during the run, but might have to hold off due to funding for now.  There is 9 months to get this figured out, and on the road, so I am still hoping it will turn out to become something cool for the riders to want to keep doing. 

See you on the road.