Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cherry Pickers: Not all are seasonal!

Did some searching and I think I can get my tranny reasonably fixed as long as I do the removal and install.  Since removing the tranny requires supporting the engine I decided this was a good excuse to get a new tool:  An engine hoist!  For those of us who work on cars this handy device is also known as a 'cherry picker'.

A search on the local Craig's List had a very nice 2-ton unit briefly used that was only a few miles away and for $160...and it was posted this morning so it must've been a sign to get it!

I called Ken to see if I could borrow his Yukon as a transport vehicle but it was down so I had to use my Squareback, uhg!  So I drove to the place in the rain and we barely got it loaded into my baby.  He gave me some thin rope to secure it in the cargo area and then he was gone...was in a rush to go somewhere!

I took the side streets to avoid the rush-hour traffic because I wanted to keep my speed below the 35mph speed limit and not piss off anyone.  Got home with no issues.  Antonette helped me unload it.  Here it is before unloading it:

Lucky me, it came with a load-leveler as well!

All folded up and ready for use:
Happy happy joy joy!  Now all I need is a two-post lift and my shop is complete (tool-wise).

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tick! Tick! Tick!...Crap!

Wednesday my Jetta suddenly developed a loud tick tick tick in 2nd gear...likely a chipped tooth in the tranny!  Damn!  Average cost to repair/replace starts at $1000 and likely would be a few hundred more.  I'm seriously thinking of parting the car out because to sell her whole (ask-is) I could only get a thousand or so.  Parting her out would get me close to two thousand or more.  Just really sucks because the car runs great and handles just as well but the body is in need of paint and the interior needs some refurbishing.

I wonder what my next used car should be...

Sunday, December 4, 2011


If you walk into our house it smells like a fir-rich forest.  We got our Christmas tree today, packing it home from the Ryzn Farm somewhere north by northwest of North Plains.  We used my Jetta with the converted trailer.  Worked out nice.  The tree is now on display in the front window in the living room and BOY does the house smell gooooood!

We also put out the illuminated deer and decorated a some of the shrubbery.  Cold but dry day, rather nice.  Once we finish the outside I'll take evening pictures.  The tree isn't decorated yet but those pics will be forthcoming as well.

A couple weeks ago we got the spin-down filter attached to our well filtration system so now the bigger particulate is filtered out before it hits the rest of the system.  This means that the landscaping water supply is now filtered so the sprinkler holes won't get clogged up with debris.  It's the clear tube hanging down with the white grid inside.  Turning the red handle at the bottom of it flushes the debris out the black hose and out of the shed.  Very handy!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Finally, fresh water!

We live on a dead-end street. Every house on our street has city water. Except us. Our house is the last one to remain on well water.

Actually, that's rather nice.

See, at the previous house, we had city water. Now, the water in Oregon is actually quite good. The only thing I did was add a particulate filter to slow mineral build-up and eliminate the occasional 'chunk' from blocking a water aerator in the bathrooms. However, the water from the well in our new house has sulfur and iron -- not a lot but enough to cause trouble. The sulfur gave the water a very slight 'rotten egg' odor, typical of sulfur. That, along with the iron, tinted the water a little orangish which was noticeable when we gave the kids a bath. The real down side was that it would tint the whites when my Sweetie did laundry, thus she had to use a laundromat once a week. Not fun. Our water was definitely 'hard' but it didn't bother me as much as it did the girls.

Okay, that's not so nice.  But wait, there's more!

Here's the mess the previous owners had, minus the awful insulation, with a little house-hold filter that was definitely earning its keep by filtering out the sand/particles (the person shown is Jerry from Hillsboro Pump & Supply):
Our installer did a great job and now we have a pre-filter, water softener, and charcoal filter all feeding the house.  The landscaping supply lines will get a spin-down filter to remove the particles so the sprinklers don't get plugged up, otherwise the plants get pure well water.

Okay, now the nice part...
Maintenance for the whole system is simple and our 'water bill' will COST LESS THAN CITY WATER! (in the long run, of course).  Oh, and he also bumped up the water pressure from 50psi to 70psi...much nicer!  Here it is:
Now, the spaghetti wiring job will be a new task...grrr!  I need to fish a neutral wire from the main breaker box, some 80' or more away, underground, if even possible, so I can put in a proper subpanel to feed the pump, lights, and outlets.  For the time being I replaced the old metal outlet with a fiberglass unit with a wet location GFCI and  sealed cover, just as a preventive measure to help keep the outlet dry (it's dry but I'm being paranoid until I can get that electrical mess fixed).  I also need to re-insulate the interior before winter hits us and replace the subroof so I can insulate it as the pump house takes up a corner inside the garden shed.

Anyway, the nice thing is we now have good water and we can use as much of it as we want without being 'penalized' by the city.  We also had it flow-tested as part of the pre-purchase inspection and it was flowing great for over an hour and a late July...during the heat waves that hit our region.  Awesome!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


It's November 1st and that means it's "Movember".  What is this Movember you ask?  It's a month where men shave their face and then grow a moustache (no beards allowed!) in support for men's health awareness, mostly prostate and other cancers that affect men.  You can read more about it here.

Here's my Mo Space <click me>! and here I am before and after my shave this morning:

Oh, and to make the situation even better, I received a complementary shave from The Art Of Shaving, located just a couple blocks from where I work.  It was great.  Master Barber Elijah gave me one smoooooth, hot-towel shave.  The guy is a master and easy to talk to.

Today I also did a little rewiring of the breaker box in the shop so the circuits are in a more logical order.  I also added a 240V breaker and wall outlet so I can now use my air compressor, yeay!  Luckily there was already an appropriately sized line so the process was quick and easy.

Here's a better look at my shop, an open canvas right now:

Happy happy joy joy!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Long time, no see!

Well, uhm, I haven't made any posts for a while because I've been very busy.  We bought a house...can't call it 'new' because it was built in 1968 but it's 'new' for us.  4/5 of an acre with a large garden shed (which houses the pump for the well) and a 36'x36' enclosed, insulated shop!  YEAY!!  We also got a new roof laid on the 'old' house (we call it the Derby house) plus painted some of the interior and had a solar tube finally installed in the hall way.  So that house is done and looks great.  Oh, it's also a rental and we got it filled immediately, whew!

The new place (the Jaylee house) has almost 3 times more square footage than the Derby house so the kids and, especially, Antonette love the added space.  It also has a large, fenced back yard with an attached sunroom for A to lounge in, even when it rains.  She's a happy girl!  I've gone around and replaced many of the cheap light switches with more modern, flat, illuminated units and sliders (rheostat-style) for the bathrooms and bedrooms.  I've never seen so many 3-way switches in my life, oy!  What a pain in the butt those are!!

Though we lost the storage shed at Derby we have plenty of floored attic space above the garage.  Oh, and since there's the shop all my crap is there, leaving a whole garage just for A.  Now she can park in the garage instead of outside, making un/loading the kids much easier and a much drier operation in the winter.  All of the vegetation stuff (mower, blower, edger, poisons, fertilizer, wheelbarrow, etc.)  are stored in the garden shed, along with anything else that doesn't need to be temperature/humidity controlled -- the shed isn't insulated but is big enough to hold a car and then some.

My shop (yes, MY shop) feels great.  It can comfortably fit six air-cooled VWs in it, two deep by three wide.  Probably could squeeze in two more if I had too <grin>.  The whole place needs to be sheet-rocked but at least it came with the sheet-rock and insulation for the ceiling.  Plenty of 20A electrical outlets but I will need to wire in my own 240V line for my air compressor.  Oh, it also has a new, gas heater...just need to hook up a gas line to it <groan>.  On either side is a tall, RV-height garage door so getting vehicles in/out should be no problem.

Anyway, that's the news that's been keeping me from posting news :-D  Things are slowly settling down.  All the house hold stuff is finally out of my shop and in the house, just need to start putting that away.  Hopefully I'll be getting more time to organize my tools and get the shop 'tuned' to my tastes so I can work on my big boy toys!

Pics from my phone when we first started moving in:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A 'new' trailer, returning my Goldwing, & replacing a waste line.

Last week I finally got rid of the MasterCraft wetjet to the neighbor's brother.  I then got a sheet of 3/4" plywood, some carriage bolts, made some clamps, and converted the wetjet trailer into a general purpose trailer.  Once we get it to my shop I'll paint it to further protect the deck.
What I started with:
How it turned out:

Thursday, Aug. 11th, my buddy Brian came up from Roseburg and picked up my Goldwing, which originally was his Goldwing that I bought from him back in 2002, in Parma, Idaho...that was a long ride home back to Portland!  She's in good hands and will get used more.

This weekend my neighbor (the one who redid our house siding) and I replaced the original, 1960 waste water backbone line under the house.  The pipe started at the washing machine and ran three-quarters the length of the house, picking up the dish washer, kitchen sink, and hallway bathtub on the way to the main sewer line.  The reason for replacement was that water was backing up when too much water was going into the drain, particularly from the HE (high-efficiency) washing machine, and treatments line Drano and Zep Drain Care weren't really fixing the issue.  We -- well, my neighbor mostly! -- replaced the whole line of 1.5" galvanized steel, from the washing machine discharge all the way to the main sewer line, with the proper 2" plastic.  The system now can flow more volume and more smoothly as we used Y-fittings instead of flow-slowing T-fittings.  These two pictures show what 50+ years of washing machine and kitchen crap do to your waste lines (no wonder we had flow problems!):

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Protect her tushy with a mini-skirt

When I bought my bike the stock rear fender was removed and the tail lights and license plate relocated.  This is known as a "tail chop".  Cleans up the rear of the bike and looks better.  However, with the license plate mounted under the tail light in the standard position (horizontally), there effectively was no longer any protection for the rear of the bike from debris flung up from the tire.  Since I finally got my oxy-acetylene gas welding kit and I had some left over metal strapping I figured it would be a good reason to make a vertical license plate holder with the hope that the longer positioning of the license plate would act as a mini-fender and help protect my rear.  Here is the end result:

The construction was easy.  I cut the heads off two M6 x 1.00 bolts and gas welded them to the outside points of the metal bar.  This allowed me to bolt the bar to the original license mounting points on the tail chop without having additional hardware showing.  I beveled the outside edges to help the bar blend in better instead of it looking like it's just sitting on top.

In the middle of the bar I centered the license plate and drilled mounting holes.  Next, I tapped the holes for a M6 x 1.00 thread pitch.  This would allow me to screw the plate to the bar without the need for retaining nuts.  Unfortunately, I didn't find any bolts that were short enough to be more flush with the bar which is why they are sticking down so far and I didn't feel like cutting the stainless steel bolts.  All hardware is stainless steel and snugged down with blue Loc-tite, just to be on the safe side.

As can be seen in this shot, the original mounting bracket was not a uniform piece -- had it been then this would've been a much simpler modification.  Anyway, my creation was cleaned, primed, and coated in black semi-gloss epoxy paint.

So the big question is, does it work?  In a word, YES!  I was surprised that the extra length, which is almost 2x the width of the plate, has enough distance to keep debris from smacking the tail.  My commute takes me through a couple of wet spots where the hill-side runoff sometimes runs across the road, so whenever I cross that I get water spots and crap smattered on the pretty little tushy of my Italian girlfriend.  Well, this short-skirt treatment does a far better job of keeping her clean than before so I consider it successful.

I originally had thought about a T-shaped bracket, where the vertical part of the "T" is where the license plate would be mounted.  I nixed this when I remembered the time my bracket came loose:  The license plate swung down on a bump, hit the tire, and got folded and thrown up into the seat pan.  It wasn't until I parked the bike that I noticed it.  So for the sake of safety, no vertical bar.  After several days of riding -- and on bumpy, pot-holed roads no less! -- everything is solid and the license plate is in the same position (it's not like it's flappy like a piece of paper).  In the event that the assembly does get loose and the plate flops down the only thing I'll have to worry about is a folded plate.  I'd hate to think of the damage that could be caused if a solid metal bar struck the spinning tire...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I win!

In the Ducati forum I'm in, a person started a thread about losing one's mojo for motorcycles and how they got it back.  I responded and, uhm, got carried away.  Here's my story...

My mojo-loss has been with cars. I've done so much and taught myself so much, mostly because I was younger and made less money. I'm still on several forums but there are so them that the signal-to-noise ratio is saddeningly low It's frustrating. There are some good guys but not as many as their used to be. I've been working air-cooled dubs since 1985 so maybe I'm just burned out? The thought saddens me something bad. My one best air-cooled buddy, Brian, won't let the fire extinguish, bless him!

What contributed to my fading automotive passion/hobby was my Goldwing. A portly, two-wheeled Japanese woman. Snow, rain, and even sun, she's carried me where ever I wanted. I didn't trust myself with a sport bike: I loved acceleration far too much. I know I would die. I know. But it didn't matter because I was on a motorcycle and I could carry a paper bag of groceries on the back seat as easily as a passenger Finally, after dragging my after-market floorboards on corners far too often I decided I needed something more lithe. Something that looked older but was modern under the skin. The cafe racers caught my eye and it was a Paul Smart, some old looking race bike made by an Italian manufacturer I heard of and roughly equated them with Ferrari, that set my heart spinning. It took a couple of years before I decided life was too short. I went on the prowl for any of the cafe racer bikes but my web browser kept going back to the Ducati motorcycles for sale.

Now that I have my Italian girlfriend I've been spending a lot more time with her. My cars likely feel neglected. They're not but they certainly don't get the mileage put on them like they used to. Yes, I even ride my Goldwing but not nearly as much. I just feel so slow in a car. I'm less maneuverable (which is funny since I set my cars up for corners). I don't get to smell the air or feel the multiple temperature differences. When I ride and I see a nice BMW M3, an air-cooled Porsche 911 (yes, I can hear the difference!), even the occasional tricked out Corvette/Charger/Camero, I just can't help smiling and think to myself, "I win!".

For me, I guess you could say my motorcycle mojo got a shot of Viagra I don't plan on having a stable of bikes -- I still would like to get a vintage Ferrari and maybe a Lamborghini sedan or Maserati or Aston Martin (I've really come to appreciate the classic Italian designs) to go with a Porsche 930 (I've wanted one ever since they were introduced) -- but I could see getting another Ducati, one of their race bikes, just because they're so traffic-stopping gorgeous! But that's money I don't have right now and won't for some time but, ya know, I'm very happy right now and with what I got. I smiled when I saw Tron: Legacy, with the father's Ducati in the beginning and then when they showed it again in the son's "living room". I plan on keeping my Sport Classic for so long that it actually becomes its namesake.

I like this forum because everyone is, well, more mature and helpful. I'm glad our bikes are not as common as the bajillion in-line fours and cruisers I see one a daily basis. Ideas, help, and experiences are all documented here. We've lost some folks and gained others (many, it seems, are now lurkers ); it's nice to have a respectful group of adults, it really does make a difference in this community, believe me! In this forum we all win!
The End

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

After eight years of accident-free riding it finally happened.

Monday morning I dropped the kids off at school along with cat food and litter for donations to C.A.T, a some-what local no-kill feline shelter that I've spent time volunteering with.  I parked the Bus then donned my motorcycle gear: Helmet, sunglasses (I was going to be riding East and it was just before 8am), armored textile jacket, armored and padded over-pants, leather boots, and armored gloves made for cold-weather since the temp warmed up to slightly above freezing.

I left my neighborhood street, turning right, to get on the main artery. It was freezing last night and though the temp was just above freezing and the roads were dry I think my enthusiastic throttle input and cold tires contributed to the get-off. The bike literally slid and pivoted down to the right side and out from under me in a heart beat. I don't think I slid or if I did it was only a couple inches. My feet were forward and I was on my right butt cheek...I think my hands were at my sides but my head was was a very gentle landing. None of my gear, boots, backpack, gloves show any abrasion -- NONE! Traffic, being rush hour into Nike, was long and slow and I didn't cut in front of a car so there was a good buffer. I was damn lucky.

I make this turn almost every day that I ride so I guess complacency played a part. Let me tell you, the line of traffic behind me and approaching me was way more scared than I. No adrenalin rush on my end, only theirs. My bike rotated 360 so the front wheel was pointed at the 11 o'clock position, making it easy to lift the bike up. I moved the mirrors away from the controls, hit the start button, and she fired right up. I put my tail between my legs and rode back to my house and gave her an inspection, took pictures, and then got back on and came to work (lunch break right now).

Here's the damage:

Right Sato puck saved my fuel tank...a very expensive item!  It also saved my clutch and further damage to the brake and foot peg:

Front Sato puck saved the forks, whew!

Napoleon mirror end got scuffed, as did a tiny part of the end ball on the front brake:

Ouch!  My poor Termi exhaust!  The bottom took the brunt of the fall and got slightly dented:

If it weren't for the scratches on the exhaust you'd be hard pressed to see the damage. The rear brake pedal is a tiny bit scuffed underneath but no obvious damage to it (brake works, wasn't dragging). So I'll need a new right mirror and, of course, new sliders (frame and front). I think I'll look into a rear axle slider, if at least for the left side. I tell ya, they sacrificed their "life" to protect my bike! BTW, here's the sliders when I installed them. I'm a big believer in sliders now!
Tuesday evening I cleaned the lower exhaust and then painted it with hi-temp black paint.  Now when I ride I don't feel quite as self-conscience about my oopsie.  New slider pucks are on their way!

Oh, and guess what arrived in the mail today?  I'll give you a hint:  RevzillaYep, I finally saved up some greenbacks and got a quality helmet, a Shoei RF-1100 Strife 2.  Lovin' it!

The shadow with green eyes is Eris.  She patiently waited for me to finish my pictures before demanding I lavish attention on her.
Hopefully tomorrow or Friday the weather will be decent for me to use it.  I mainly got it for cold weather riding...maybe a track-day, perhaps?  I love my Roof Boxer but it's not a good cold-or-foggy-breath-weather helmet.

Shiny side up!

Friday, March 18, 2011

RIP Russ Wolfe

The VW community lost a valuable resource, Russ Wolfe passed away last night due to cancer.  Rest in peace, Russ.

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's about the bikes

The turn signal on my Goldwing wasn't staying put when I was making right turn signals so I decided to see if I could figure out what was going on and maybe fix it.  Turns out the 1981 grease just aged and was very thick.  I cleaned out all the original grease, then I put white lithium on the ball bearing and detent, and dielectric grease on the rest.  This is the final, greasy product and it works much better.  The right signal does stay but it doesn't "lock in" like the left signal position unless I tap it a second time.  But at least it's waaay better than before.
More pictures here.

Also, I had to send off the speedometer back to the rebuilder as it won't go past 40mph and the needle is slow to return.  I put a brand new, OEM speedometer cable on the bike so I know it isn't that.  The cable also spins freely.  I'm hoping he can fix it as it was working before.  The original fix was to fix whatever it was that was causing the speedometer to squeal.  At least it doesn't squeal any more and looks new.  But still...

A few weeks ago I also got the Tank Slapper protective film back on the gas tank of my Duc.  Next, I make a pattern where my legs grip the tank and I applied the StompGrip clear volcano to the tank, on top of the Tank Slapper film.  I have yet to ride my bike since the application but just sitting on the bike I'm able to hold myself up whereas before I'd just slide forward and "fall" onto the handle bars.  I'm hoping this will help my riding form better and keep the weight off my wrists/arms, allowing my core to properly perform the task of holding me up.
More pictures here.

The detailing is amazing!  I highly recommend this model.  I have other models from AUTOart and they have very good detailing as well.