Friday, January 27, 2012

Cold!, Dressed up Rhinos, Somebody's Been Practicin', and Pretty Clouds

While you are waiting for me to get the bike put back together, here is a little writeup of a couple of other trips taken recently.

As you know, I usually go out riding on Saturdays, and lately I have endured/enjoyed some pretty cold temperatures.  A Saturday almost two weeks ago is a good example.  The temperature in the morning was only 25F, but there had not been rain for a couple of days, so ice wasn't likely on the roads.

As an aside, amazingly, the day before New Years was up into the mid-sixties.  Remember these guys?

Here is a better view.

They were all dressed up for Christmas.  I visited them on that warm day. 

Back to the cold.  I bundled up as I usually do, stoked up the heated grips within the bar muffs, and headed out.  A little cold air found its way to the back of my neck, but other than that, I was quite comfortable, despite the calculated wind chill at 40 miles per hour -- about six degrees F.  I headed to the south in an attempt to find some interesting scenery or roads.

I didn't see any other bikers on the road -- not tough enough, they, I smugly concluded.  (Another motorcycle blogger, an iron-willed rider, has apparently had the same kind of self-satisfied thoughts.)  

Well, I really didn't see any other bikers out and about until much later in the day, when it had warmed up a lot -- to about fifty.  Anyway, I wasn't cold and enjoyed the ride.  In fact, it is an interesting phenomenon knowing that it is cold and windy, but feeling only the effects of the wind, not of the cold.  Superheroes must feel like that, I suppose.
Superhero? -- NOT!

I didn't find much in the way of exciting roads that day, but I happened across a place where someone had been practicing.  In the boat launch parking lot on Lake Secession, I spotted paint markings on the pavement that looked familiar.  A little like this:

I wrote about that last July. 

Someone had been practicing his cone weaves apparently, judging from the pattern.

That last cone, shown below, is perilously close to a curb, so I don't know whether the guy practicing was especially good, and able to miss the curb on his last left hander, or whether he simply omitted swinging around the last one to avoid that potentially cruel boundary.

Maybe he just isn't a very good planner.

By the way, Lake Secession was named because South Carolina was the first state to secede from the union in the Civil War.  The lake was originally privately owned: One J. Roy Pennell exercised his resourcefulness during the Depression era when he decided to build a dam and sell electric power to the city of Abbeville. With men and equipment standing idle due to the economic conditions, Pennell purchased land at his own expense and built a dam about fifteen miles northwest of the city, thus creating Lake Secession. The project was nearly ready to begin producing electricity when the federal government intervened, declaring that private individuals could not sell power to municipalities. In time, Pennell sold the lake and dam to the city of Abbeville, which uses it now to generate electricity.  Note the government takeover of a private venture.  Sounds familiar, doesn't it?  Bureaucrats think they can manage better than free enterprise.  They never can, though. 

Here s a view of the lake from the boat launch lot.  

Kind of a pretty place.  I wonder whether the practicing biker improved his technique.

On another, warmer, Saturday, this time about three weeks ago, I went out and rode to Devil's Fork State Park, Oconee Station, Tamassee, and a few other familiar places.  Devil's Fork lies on Lake Jocassee, and though I didn't take many other pictures that day, the clouds struck me as beautiful.  So, here are a couple of shots of them, against the mountains of the Blue Ridge Escarpment.

We are certainly blessed to live in this beautiful country of ours, cold or warm. 


Thursday, January 19, 2012

No Riding This Week

I'm not going to ride my Ninja this week.

No, I didn't take a tumble, and it's not the weather.  [Edit 1/23/2012: Well, actually, the weather has been rainy almost since I turned the first wrench on this task.]

Instead, I have work to do.  See what it is? 

Yep.  Time for a valve clearance check.  

What a pain!  You have to remove the seat, tank, air intake box, cylinder head cover, and a host of related brackets and shields.  Only then can you see the cams and valve lifters to check their clearances using a feeler gage set.  

Naturally, some adjustments are needed, so off come the cams and the bucket lifters, and the shims.  Then the micrometer comes out to determine the existing shim thicknesses.  

Then to the service manual table to determine what the new shim thickness should be for the eight valves. 

Next, to the Ron Ayers website to order the shims.  Last time I ordered something from them the service was quick, the phone man was helpful and courteous, and the shipping time was short, even for items not in their stock. 

I'll be cleaning things in the meantime, readying the parts for reassembly.  

Although I have been a grease monkey for most of my life, this is my first time into an engine that uses shims for valve adjustment.  Lots of work to change out some itty bitty parts.  

Oh well.  It is one of the pleasures of owning a motorcycle: Fixing it yourself.  

See you on the road in a few days!  

See also: Valve Clearance Adjustment Tips I learned while doing this work.  


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Zipper Fix

A short while back, I wrote about a rather serious situation where I became trapped under trying circumstances.  I told you, kind reader, about a temporary fix for the fix I was in. 

I have since discovered a better looking, more permanent solution.  It is called Zipper Mend, and is available direct, and from Amazon.  It costs about $3.99 for one, but it is still much less expensive than replacing the zipper entirely. 

The replacement zipper pull is made of two zinc die castings that are hinged together.
You squeeze the two parts together, which causes the claws to close through the zipper slide.  A detent locks the two castings together so they don't reopen.  You can Super Glue the two together, but don't drip any on the zipper teeth or you really will be stuck!

The claw part is a little thick, causing the dog in the zipper that prevents it from slipping down from engaging fully.  The zipper sometimes slides down as a result.  Not a huge problem, though.