8 Ball In The Wind

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Twice in A Lifetime

I had to run out to Chehalis today to put an application in with the county public works department.  Since I was going in to put in a job application, I didnt wear my cut like I usually do when I ride.  Well, I was going northbound on the freeway into Chehalis, and a B-17 bomber came in alongside the freeway to land at the airport.  It is only the second time in my life I have seen a B-17 actually flying, and I almost ran off onto the shoulder trying to watch it land while I rode along the freeway.  If I had worn my cut I would have had my camera to take a pic of it.  I just hope I dont have to wait another 25 yrs for the next chance to see one fly.

Catch you on the road sometime...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I Don't Take Shit From A Machine

On the way back from the remote mountain campout last weekend, I hit a bad, sudden dip in the road followed by several nasty bumps that I couldn't avoid.  That first one broke the shock mounting bolt. After getting replacement bolts, I went about the process of fixing it.  Fabricator Kevin had told me that he had good luck using left handed drill bits to extract broken bolts.  So, I went into Tacoma and bought a set to give it a try.  I had forgotten that my heavy duty drill had finally given up the ghost.  Which meant I didn't have a drill to use the bits with anymore.  Not wanting to make another 150 mile round trip just to buy a drill, I ended up buying a cordless drill and charger at the local 2nd Hand store for $25.  Not what I wanted, but it would have to do.

So the bike got jacked up and put on blocks.  The shocks; rear wheel, brake caliper, belt guard, and swingarm were all pulled.  Using the drill and the left handed drill bits to take out the broken bit would have probably worked with my old drill motor.  But this cordless just didn't have the ass to turn the bolt as it slowly drilled into the hardened bolt.  So, it was time for the old 'easy out'.  

I really hate using them.  They seem to break on me about 1/3 of the time.  Then I am stuck with having to deal with them as well.  Gypsy's swingarm was no different.  After getting about one turn of the broken bolt, the easy out snapped right off clean.  I still think they should be called 'hard outs'.

So after trying to tap the broken bolt around with a chisel and a drift for a while, it came down to trying to drill down past the broken 'easy out' and try another bigger one.  My brother Ed and I went through several drill bits before we finally were able to get past the remains of the broken extractor.  Then, with a hole now drill all the way through the broken bolt, we inserted another 'easy out' and tried again.  But not until we gave it a heavy dose of WD-40 and a few minutes to soak in.

This time, it slowly began to turn.  In a matter of just another minute or so the entire broken end of the bolt was free from the swingarm.

Then it was just a case of putting everything back where it was suppose to be.  The swingarm went back into place and was bolted to the swivel axis bar.  The two shocks were reattached.  Except for the usual pains getting the brake rotor to fit properly into the caliper, everything was back together in just over an hour.

After getting all the tools put away, most of which stay in the saddlebags, I took Gypsy for a little test ride.  She handled great.  The rear suspension worked just like it was suppose to.  Once again I was able to do the work myself and not have to pay someone else to do it.  I may not be as fast as a shop, but if I can do the work, I am a whole lot cheaper for me to pay.

This winter, I am figuring on having to go through the top end since the base gaskets are both leaking slightly.  That is something I haven't done in many years.  So I might just call in a brother or two with the skills I don't have and do the work here in the house.  But, that is still a few months good riding ahead.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Patience My Ass

I hate being patient...waiting for the phone to ring.  I had a good interview today, and now it's time to wait.  I have to send in another app for another job tomorrow, so then I'll be waiting again.  i am just hoping I can find something before my part time job starts back up in September!!

I'll keep ya all posted.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Keeping My Fingers Crossed

I have a job interview tomorrow with JB Hunt as a driver.  If I get it I'll be able to afford to finish Gypsy up the way I want her.  So I am keeping my fingers crossed.
It will be good if I can pay for the Hunt magneto set-up, and maybe a different paint job.
I'll know more tomorrow.

Plus, tomorrow since I am in Pierce County for the job interview, I am planning on picking up some tools to help extract that broken shock mount bolt, and a replacement for it.  Then I can get to working on having the bike back together again.

I'll keep you all posted on how things work out.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Source of the Problem

Do you see this sheared off bolt?  That's what broke on me coming back from our camping trip on Sunday.  The other part of it is still inside the swingarm, so if I am going to extract it, I need to remove the entire swingarm from the bike.

This means that I have to:

1.  Put the bike up on blocks.

2. Remove the drive belt from rear wheel, and pull out the wheel.

3. Remove the brake caliper.

4. Remove the passenger pegs, plastic mud guard, the shock absorbers and the swing axis rod.

5. Then remove the swingarm.

All this just to be able to extract one broken off bolt.  Such a pain in the ass.  Reminds me of the old saying; "A dollar waiting on a dime."  The whole bike is down because of one broken bolt.  I am hoping I don't have any trouble extracting it.  On Thursday afternoon I am going to pick up some left hand drill bits and try to drill it out.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Cool Place To Camp

We headed out of Friday, and rode for a couple hours up into the mountains on some cool but old forest service roads to a real cool, remote campground on the Lewis River, right at the Lower Lewis Falls.  Did some sight seeing and enjoyed a great weekend.  Although it seems like almost every bike that went ended up with problems, I would go back in a heart beat.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Roadside Repair

If there is one thing I have been certain of, and it has been my experience to be true, that you are going to have some sort of breakdown along the road.  Some you can deal with and limp home without too much difficulty.  Some will leave you stranded by the road and unable to go any farther.  Others will make you scratch your head, and think before coming to the realization that “I can fix this!”  With the tools you carry in your bags, and a little ingenuity you can ride home without too big of a hassle.
This past weekend, a group of us went camping way up in the mountains, about thirty miles from the nearest map dot of a little town.  Three of us suffered one of the three types of breakdowns I mentioned earlier.  I broke a shock absorber mounting bolt on a hard pothole in the shade, but was able to deal with it and ride the rest of the way home.  Just being very careful and ginger with the bike.  My friend Chris experienced the  second type of breakdown.  His final drive belt snapped, and he had to be hauled back out of the mountains.  Then there was my old friend and riding brother T.  He experienced that third type of breakdown.  The type where a little ingenuity and some basic items in the tool bag will keep you on the road.
We were up at a viewpoint southeast of Mt St Helens, enjoying the beautiful sun shine and spectacular scenery alongside a truly wonderful twisty mountains road.  The road was such a departure from the old, decrepit narrow roads we had been riding on, that we were deciding to follow it to the other end in the Columbia River Gorge town of Carson.  Once there, we’d refuel, both the bikes and ourselves, and ride back down this same road before heading back to camp.  Instead, as we were about to get rolling, T’s clutch cable snapped at the lever and his bike stalled.
Within a couple of minutes, a plan had been conceived to at least limp it back to camp.  Using zip-ties and a small pair of vice grips to operate the clutch so T could at least shift easier on the nearly 30 minute run back to camp where a ore permanent solution could be thought of.  The zip-ties held the cable in place, and the vice grips held on to the end of the cable tightly.  When he needed to shift, T just had to pull back on the vice grips to actuate the clutch.  It wasn’t pretty, but it worked, so off we rode.  Luckily we were able to pull a California stop at the intersection so T didn’t have to come to a dead stop and start again.  With no traffic coming I just signaled everyone to just roll through and away we went.
Once back at camp, we gathered around T’s old Wide Glide, and assessed the situation.  The set-up that he had kluged together worked.  It just looked like total shit.  So now it was a question of making it not look like an example of hillbilly engineering.  The plan was to try and run the cable back up to where it attached to the clutch lever, but with the vice grips in place of the lever.
T had to remove the circlip that held the lever in place, and remove the lever.  Then he had to get all the available slack in the cable, and then replace the cable housing back on the cable so it would fit into the lever bracket.  That left only about a quarter inch of cable coming out of the end of the housing.  But that was enough for the vice grips to clamp down on.  Then it left the need to pull on the cable enough to fit the vice grips into the lever mount snugly.  Once it was in place, all T needed to do was to reach out with his fingers and pull the vice grips back towards the handlebar grip. 
It worked, but the difficult part was starting or coming to a complete stop without stalling the bike.  To make it just a bit easier, T would get the bike rolling before using the clutch to shift into 1st at take off.  When it came time to stop, he’d let off on his throttle and reduce rpm until he could slide the tranny into neutral. 
When we broke camp and headed out, he was looking at about a 100 mile trip over rough twisting, steep mountain roads before he got home.  Taking it easy, and not shifting unless he had to, T made it home in a bit over two and a half hours.
It just goes to show what you can do if you don’t panic.  If you think about the situation you find yourself in, and what your options are for getting out of it.  That is also why I carry a saddlebag full of tools and zip-ties.  You never know what a person may need out there in the middle of nowhere alongside the road.  I hope this gives you something to think about in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation.
Catch ya on the road sometime…

Friday, July 20, 2012

Did I Piss Off The Road Gods Somehow?

OK, just what the fuck is going on?  Did I somehow piss off the Road Gods?  The last five big planned rides I have laid out and organized have all gone the same way.  Beautiful weather until the day of the big ride...Then pissing down rain....(happened 4 times) or the bike breaks down the day before we're suppose to leave (happened the day before last years 1,000 mile vacation run).

At 12:06 AM, I had just laid down and was getting ready for a nice sunny weekend at the Lower Lewis River Falls, when the whole bedroom was lit up and the thunder rattled the windows.  It's been over 9 hrs, and the thunder is still here.  Along with rain and wind.  It has been gorgeous and warm out for the past two weeks.  Go figure, six minutes into the day we are scheduled to leave, the lightning and thunder start.

The forecast says it is suppose to clear out by 11AM, and if it does, maybe I can wrangle everyone up to head out today.  If not, we may have to cut it to a one day campout or just cancel.  WHICH I DO NOT WANT TO DO!!!  

Maybe if I look at it this way...with the bad weather, maybe there won't be as many people heading to the campground today.  So when we DO get there, we can have a better choice of campsites...yeah maybe.

I'd just be happy for the rain and thunder to blow through, and not stop anybody from going.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Shot Ski

Back in January of 2007, one of my nieces got married up at Crystal Mountain ski resort.  At the reception, the bar had what they called a "shot ski".  It actually was a lot of fun, because if you didnt take your shot as fast as it was flowing it went all over you.

The last weekend, when I went to my Brother-in-laws retirement BBQ, there was a shot ski.  It seems one of his daughters had seen a pair of ski's at a garage sale for $2 that had his home state 'COLORADO' as the main design on the ski.  They set it up, and we used it during the BBQ.  Again it was fun, and everyone got a few laughs.

So when we got back home, I got to thinking about a set of ski's that had been floating around amongst the garage sale stuff here and figured; "Screw it, I can make one of those!"  So I did.  This is just the 'mock up', I havent decided on whether or not I'm what colors going to paint it yet.  But basic construction is done.  I am leaning towards black, with orange shot glass holders, and orange or red pinstripes....may both.

I'm planning on breaking it in on Friday before we head out for a camping trip up into the mountains.  A shot of Apple Pie before we hit the road on a hot day will be a fitting baptism for my new 'Shot Ski'.

As you can tell from the pics, they arent hard to make.  And it is a blast doing shots with them.  I feel sorry for the folks down south were snow skis arent a common sight.  Water skis might work, but I think they'd be awfully cumbersome compared to the slim snow ski.  Come on, try it for yourself.  I bet you'd enjoy it.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Monday, July 16, 2012

I Thought It Felt Weird

Up until just a couple years ago, the bridge in this photo had two way traffic on it.  I crossed it on a regular basis from the time I was a kid until just before the other bridge was built and opened to carry eastbound traffic.  Hell, I can remember when this bridge was the widest part of the highway, and the rest of it was only a two lane road...but that was back in the 60s.  

Anyway, I had to cross the Narrows Bridge on Saturday to go to a big family BBQ.  All the time I was riding across the bridge I had this weird feeling.  I thought it was just because I wasn't used to it being one way after almost 50 years of crossing it.  But not until after my niece (who crosses it on a VERY regular basis) commented on the photo I posted on Facebook did I realize why.  The state never painted over the old yellow paint on the center grating.  So all the way across the bridge my subconscious was trying to tell me to get back on the other side of the yellow line.  No wonder it felt weird...I was driving on the wrong side of the highway!!  Who'd have thunk it?

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Old Stomping Grounds

I had to go to Port Orchard yesterday for a BBQ.  Since I was in the area of downtown Tacoma, I thought I would ride the bike through Tacoma and check out my old stomping grounds.  I don't know what the Hell was going on in downtown Tacoma yesterday, but they had streets blocked off and traffic rerouted going all over the place.  Then the idiot drivers would come to a complete stop on a hill, with a green light and sit there before following the signs through the detours.  

FINALLY, we got onto 6th Avenue and headed west.  It is kind of sad but most of the places on the avenue that I hung out at are now parking lots; The 6th & K Tavern, Jimmy's Tavern, The Pine St Junction, all gone.  The only place that still had it's old name was the West End up on 6th & Proctor, but it's a 'Pub & Grill' now not a tavern anymore.

Oh well, things change, just have to deal with it.  I know it felt weird to drive on the old eastbound lanes of the Old Tacoma Narrows Bridge.  I know the New Bridge has been open for a couple years now, but it still just seems strange after almost 50 years to be riding west only on the one bridge.

What the Hell, it was a beautiful day to ride, and we had a great time at the BBQ breaking in the new 'Shot Ski' that my nieces put together.  It gave me an idea about what to do with that pair of old skis I cant seem to give away.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How Things Grow

What has started as a small little camp out between a few friends, is quickly turning into some sort of real run.  I printed up an "invitation" with a pic of where we will be going to, as well as a map to leave in the door of a Brother who I thought was still in eastern Washington visiting other friends.  Well when I got there, he  was home already.  After reading what I had brought for him he showed it to a few other people, and even had another friend scan and print up a copy so they could post it at the local tavern.  

I will still be surprised if more than 6 or 7 bikes actually show up next weekend.  But it still should be an awesome ride.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Camping Trip

I have been wanting to get a few people together and have a camping trip into a remote area for a while now.  I posted a picture very similar to this one I took from the Gifford Pinchot Nat'l Forest's website on Facebook, saying I was "thinking" of going camping in this area and asked if anyone wanted to ride along with me.  I was amazed at how few people even knew these falls were in Washington state.  This is the last of four falls that the river goes over within about three miles.  So the river drops nearly 120 feet in just those three miles.

There is a Forest Service campground in the trees on the left side of this photo.  That is where I was planning on camping at.  Because of it's close proximity to the falls.  But if the campground is full, this area has plenty of 'free' camping within 150 feet of the road.  So one way or another I am planning on making this a camping trip to remember.

I'm going to have to pack an extra one gallon gas can along with because after topping off the tanks in Randle there won't be any fuel along the way until we return.  Which will be about 130 miles later.  And that doesn't cover any sight seeing miles that I am sure will get put on checking out the numerous waterfalls in the area, as well as any other sights I might find to check out.

So that makes it over a two hour ride each way, without stops.  Riding deep into the heart of the Gifford Pinchot Nat'l Forest between Mt Adams and Mt St Helens.  The roads are paved Forest Service roads through mountains and along rivers.  That means fairly narrow, two lane twisting roads.  It also means that the roads may not be in the best of condition since they are only open during the summer months after the snow has melted away.  So this is looking to be a minor adventure.  I'm hoping it will be a good one.
Care to ride along?

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Gypsy Sounds OK

Just showing the straight pipes on Gypsy, and how she idles.  A fine relaxing melody to my ears.

Catch ya on the road sometime...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Loud Pipes

Those that know me, know I ride with straight pipes.  I enjoy the sound as I roll along, and yes, I enjoy occassionally setting off a car alarm as I ride by.  

But what I don't get, is why people roll up fast to a stop; pull in the clutch, give it a bit more throttle, then drop a gear and let out the clutch.  Forcing the tranny to slow the bike in a roar of noise as they drop down through the gears.  Or, when they go to start from a stop; they rev the motor three or four times with the clutch in, then shift into gear and repeat that procedure as they shift up through the gears again.

I rode with a guy the other day who did this to the point it was ridiculous.  After about 200 miles, I was glad to get away from his noisy ass.  You can hear him fire up the bike and ride away from the garage from my house (about4 blocks away)....but what REALLY ticks me off about this guy is it isnt his bike.  He won't ride it like that when the owner is around to hear, but when the guy isnt around....BLAPPP BLAPPP BLAPPP!!!  When you say something to him about it...the dude just says "I'm a firm believer that 'Loud Pipes Save Lives'.  

Not only doesnt he have a bike of his own, he has been borrowing bikes for over a year, and doesnt even have an endorsement...so no insurance if (no...when) he wrecks.  

I have no problem with loud pipes…Hell, I run them myself…but idiots who think it is cool to constantly rap the pipes to draw attention to themselves without any concern for who else is around (twice this guy had cops look up and check us out..but both already ahd someone pulled over) are just fucking idiots.  Especially since here in Washington state, if you get stopped on a bike, and don’t have an endorsement, or learners permit, they can impound the bike.  It’ll really be a bitch if idiots like this guy get someone else’s bike impounded…I can see a definite ass whooping coming his way when that happens. 

Something tells me he won’t be riding too much longer.  Unless he actually buys his own bike…ANY BIKE to ride.  Not just the high dollar high chrome shit he always talks about that he is going to get (hard to do when you aren’t working).

Catch ya on the road sometime…

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

Morton Loggers Jubilee

Loggers Jubilee
By 8 Ball Brian

Nestled in a valley in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains lies the little town of Morton, Washington.  Surrounding by mountains covered in dense forest, it isn’t surprising that 70 years ago there started up a sort of Loggers rodeo.  Over the decades it grew and grew.  Until today it is a world class event with competitors coming from around the world to take part in the logging show, and tens of thousands of people converge on this little town for a weekend of fun.

What’s this got to do with motorcycles you ask?  Well anytime there is a big party in a place surrounded by amazing motorcycle roads, there are bound to be bikes.  And plenty of them!!  The Morton Loggers Jubilee, always held on the seond weekend in August, is no exception.  There is a big Flea Market and food court that is open from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon.  The vendors have a lot of stuff that a scooter tramp might enjoy or need.  And there is always a few chainsaw artists doing their thing, carving logs into amazing works of art or furniture.

The fun starts on Friday night with the lawnmower races over in Jubilee Arena.  The lawnmower races started back in the day, about 30-40 yrs ago.  It turns out that late on a Jubilee Friday night at the Moose Lodge, the owners of the local Ford Dealership and the local Feed Store got into a heated discussion about who was the fastest driver.  As the night progressed, one of those hazy crazy ideas took root, and the two decided to prove it once and for all.  They’d have a drag race down Main St.  The Feed Store had just taken delivery a short time before on some brand new riding lawnmowers, and they would drag race two of them.  The Ford owner left to go to his shop and bring back some high octane racing fuel, and when he returned, the race commenced.  By the time he returned, the group of “drivers” had grown, so several “heats” were going to be needed.

The Moose Lodge quickly emptied out to watch the competitors drag race their high octane mowers down Main Street towards the heart of town.  Sometime around midnight, as these things happen, the Police showed up.  But instead of putting the kibosh on the fun, they just blocked off the ends of the street so no one would accidentally go out into traffic.  Over the years, the races left Main St., and moved over to the arena where a crowd could watch the fun.  Soon racers were coming from far and wide to race their 8 HP machines.  I know, 8 HP doesn’t sound like much, but believe me, they get them things cooking around the track.  More than a couple racers have been sent sailing through the air mid crash as their mower flipped them off the course.  I have yet to see someone go watch the races, and not think about building a racing mower themselves.  It is a real kick in the butt.

The racing continues on Saturday morning, but with even less horsepower.  The annual Bed Races start down Main St before the Grand Parade.  In these races, each team that registers down at the Fire Dept is assigned a racing bed.  The teams are 5 person teams, with a definite gender breakdown.  Four females push the bed, and the lone guy on the team rides.  So I suppose each guy can say he is riding a 4 ‘Girl Power’ bed…or something like that.

After the Bed Races, the Grand Parade starts, and passes through the heart of town.  During the parade, the two lane highway from the north gets diverted down a one lane side road.  It can really clog things up, so if you want to get into town before the road gets choked, you better make it in by 10:30 just to be safe.  Now this parade is like your usual parade in some ways, and completely different in others.  Sure it has; bands and drill teams from all around the Pacific Northwest, and floats from other towns, classic cars, and even bikes if they want in, and of course clowns.  What makes this parade different is that the big finale is all the semi-trucks and heavy equipment that makes up the end of the parade.  Logging trucks with train air horns, Dump Trucks covered in chrome and fancy paint.  It is something that tickles any gearheads heart.

After the parade is over, and Main St gets thinned out a bit, that is when the bikes begin to congregate downtown.  The tourists tend to go to the Jubilee Arena for the Logging competition or the Flea Market.  So downtown  gets filled with riders coming in from all over.  At least until evening, when the city blocks off the block in front of city hall and the Fire Dept. and has a street dance.  Just don’t get caught with an “open container”, or the cops will be all over you for it.  But there are enough places to kick back and listen to music and enjoy a cold beverage in town.  So that shouldn’t really be much of a problem.

Over in Jubilee Park, next to the Arena on Saturday and Sunday mornings during Jubilee there is a “Loggers Breakfast”.  A good hearty meal for a cheap price put on by the Lions Club.  It makes for a great morning after the night before meal, and the coffee is always hot and strong.  Just like it should be.

Now if the crowds in town during the day tend to get on your nerves, some of the best motorcycle roads in the state of Washington are within a 30 minute or so ride.  So you can head out away from the maddening throngs, and up into the heaven of two lane twistiness that only remote mountain roads can provide.  There is always a good reason to check out the Morton Loggers Jubilee.  If you don’t care for the tourist oriented goings on in town during the day go ride, and come back for the party when the sun goes down.  Just if you’re planning on coming into town over night better have reservations or a friend with a place to crash for the night.  Because every motel room for 30 miles will be booked up for Jubilee.  Come check it out, and see for yourself.  You just might find something special about the Jubilee.

Catch ya on the road sometime…

A Good Time

Went up to Lakewood yesterday for a BBQ to celebrate Adam's 6 yrs of sobriety.  It was nasty when we left here, so in fairness to Robin, we took the car.  The sun came out about 12 miles down the road and it turned into a real nice weekend.  Oh well, I wasnt the only one who didnt ride there.  But it was still a good time, and a good reason to get together to see old friends and new.

Catch ya on the road sometime...