Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bison at the Arsenal

An overcast and somewhat cold day here in Metro Denver, there's perhaps an inch (if we're lucky) of snow forecast for overnight and the weather clouds have blocked most of the views of the mountains.

I rode out towards Downtown Denver, heading for the Western Expo Complex to check out the National Motorcycle Expo that is going there for the next three days.  I got there with no issues, parked pretty close since I was on a motorcycle and headed in to the exhibit hall after a little UDF.

Didn't make it in very far, the ticket booths were cash-only and the place was incredibly crowded.  Much to crowded for my taste and the majority of the attendees were from the Harley Davidson portion of the motorcycling gene pool.  Not my cup of tea on all counts, so I left.

It would spit snow flakes on and off the rest of the morning.

I headed east a bit and took Quebec street north towards the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge Area.  This place used to be where munitions and nuclear warhead components were made back in the days of the Cold War; now it's a Superfund cleanup site and a wildlife reserve inside the confines of the Metro Denver area!

It's a bit unusual, having this much land fenced off and dedicated for wildlife refuge inside a big city I think, but I like it.  The last time I was here, I was with my oldest son Patrick and my 2011 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig: Valencia.  LINK

Scarlett, my 2014 URAL Patrol Sidecar and I motored about the open roads slowly checking out the prairie scenery.  Because it is a Superfund cleanup area, lots of the roads are signed as closed to unauthorized vehicles.  Still, one can find a few areas to enjoy the quiet prairie and once in a while see deer grazing near the road.

The next three pictures are from "The Lakes" area of the refuge.  There's walking trails bordering the lakes if you're into hiking.

Leaving "The Lakes" and the vicinity of the contact office, I found myself entering an area used to "enclose" wild Bison!  All these years, I didn't realize there were Bison here in the refuge, I thought it was just wild deer.

I saw the sign above as I rode over the cattle guard that prevented Bison from wandering off their enclosed preserve area.  It caused me to be a bit more attentive but for the next 30 minutes or so of riding and taking pictures, I didn't see a single one.

I found a place where one could get a good look at the distant buildings of the Denver Downtown area and posed Scarlett thus:

 Downtown Denver from the Wildlife Refuge

As I packed up the camera to get going, I glanced up the road and spotted four Bison grazing near the gate that leads to the Visitor Center.  One of them I watched crossing the pavement:

Sorry for the poor quality, this was at max zoom with digital zoom on top
using the telephoto lens.  I didn't want to move closer you see.

Cagers visiting the refuge started congregating near the gate as they spotted the Bison and soon the above solo Bison got spooked and ran quickly back to join his fellow Bison.  He moved very quick, by the way.

Given what I saw of the speed of the solo Bison, I fired Scarlett up and instead of simply getting a bit closer and parking behind a car that was perhaps 100 ft from the herd; I headed through the above pictured gate and parked safely on the other side of the cattle guard.

At this point, I was perhaps 50-60 ft from the four Bison and took a bunch of pictures.  They turned out hard to shoot as they were behind a wire fence and they were quite dark in coloration!

As you can see by the sign, one is not allowed to walk right
up to the fence to stick one's camera lens past the wires

I photoshopped away the wire fencing for the last 
shot of the Bison.  Such magnificent animals, quite large
and I'd no doubt they'd make mincemeat out of me and Scarlett.

Worked then intruded into my life shortly after 12:30 or so, so I headed on home do do the work in comfort.  A quiet ride through the Arsenal's refuge, very nice way to wait for the incoming snow.

Previously: The "I'm Officially Bored Challenge"

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sonja's "I am officially bored" challenge.

Sonja, a moto-blogger friend in Germany who used to live in the Vancouver area of Canada....issued a blogging challenge.  More info here: LINK

Here's my entries:

... show me your barn porn (picture needs to have a motorcycle in it).

... show me your covered bridge porn (ditto, needs to include a motorcycle).

Ron and Kari (Bluekat)

... show me a motorcycle and airplane themed snapshot.

Challenge met! 
Ich traf die Herausforderung!

Previously: Warm Winter Day Sunset

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Warm Winter Day Sunset

Temperatures have hit highs in the 60s the last couple of days and today was quite nice as well, clear skies and warm temperatures as the northeast portion of the country goes through snow storms.

Again it was Scarlett that I rode out to the nearest usual spot for sunset pictures.  It's a parking lot of a church which has somewhat unobstructed views of the mountains to the west and southwest.

 Shot while the sun was still above the distant mountain peaks, 
above shot in Auto mode, below in Sunset Scene mode.

 Backlit HDR mode cut in on the above shot once the sun
was behind the mountain peaks.

ISO-200, backlit HDR mode

The colors turned their reddest just before the light faded away, leaving only a vaguely yellow glow in the sky as I rode home in the gathering darkness.

Previously: Weird Tacos and Horsetooth Reservoir

Monday, January 26, 2015

Weird Tacos and Horsetooth Reservoir

Yesterday, Sunday, I rode up to the town of Fort Collins....home of UniquAfe Rides, the dealer I work with for all things relating to my URAL sidecar rig.

Being Sunday however, the dealership was closed.  The intent instead was to visit with a co-worker at the location of the Snowbank Brewery near the intersection of CO14 and Lemay Avenue.  Today was the "debut" day for her husband's food truck business.

Angela D, is one of the 25 employees in the company I am part of:  Her husband, John, has opened his own business in the form of an independent food truck specializing in tacos.  I had John's "Classic" breakfast taco and it was delicious!

John and Angela's Food Truck
That's Angela by the door.

After eating and chatting, I left them to their customers and headed off towards Horsetooth Reservoir as it has been quite some time since I've ridden it's steep waterside roadways.

The sun was out, the day would warm into the low 60s so folks were out enjoying the great weather.

 To the right is one of the two big dam roadways one can ride on top
of while enjoying the scenic views provided by the reservoir.

You can see in the distance, at lower elevation, part of the
town of Fort Collins.  I get the feeling if the dams that created 
this reservoir ever fail, there's going to be one flooded town below!

I used the I-25 super slab to both get to and return from Fort Collins, about two hours of steady riding at Ural speed.

It was good to visit, if only briefly, with one of my's employees all work 100% from home so its not like we all see each other during the work week!

Previously: Adding Vacuum Ports to the EFI Throttle Bodies

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Adding Vacuum Ports to the EFI Throttle Bodies

Since it appears that URAL will not be selling the current software/cable used by dealers to synch the EFI models, it was time to do a modification to allow one to synchronize the throttle bodies.

There's been, by the way, no official announcement either way re a bare bones version of the dealer tool which allows dealers to upload EFI maps, synchronize the throttle bodies and see engine details rendered by the ECUs.

So, like a carbureted motorcycle, the idea is to measure the amount of vacuum being "pulled" by each throttle body and ensure it's even both at idle and at around 1800-2000 RPM.  Unbalanced carburetors or throttle bodies tend to run rough and/or poorly so this is an important thing.

Marc L., a fellow Uralista with a Battleship Blue 2014 Gear-UP hosted both Darrell S. and myself at his home in Westminster since he had a drill press.

We all were ready to go by 10AM this morning and soon we had the throttle bodies off both Marc's and my rig.  I watched Marc drill the mounting hole for his throttle bodies and I then mimic'ed him in drilling my own throttle bodies.  Close supervision was supplied by Darrell to ensure I didn't bugger up the job since this was the first time I'd ever used a drill press.

Holes done, it was time to run a tap through them to introduce 5/32" threading into the hole for the vacuum ports we'd bought previously to screw into.

Note:  The throttle bodies are made of a very soft aluminum so a very light touch on the drill press was called for and slow/smooth but very effortless threading of the tapping tool.

Marc demo's the use of the tapping tool, trickiest part was at the
beginning since you have to ensure you're straight up/down and sideways.

The vacuum ports were threaded in with a very small dab of blue Loctite material to ensure they stay in place in the throttle bodies.

Freshly mounted vacuum port, this is the left side throttle body

Re-assembly was basically a reversal of the steps taken to unmount the throttle bodies.  The process highlighted the need for a 2.5mm Torx wrench (these are the stock screws) used to secure the fuel injection module and the bracket holding the throttle cable.

We elected to replace the Torx screws with allen headed screws by the way, and Darrell was kind enough to make a hardware store run to obtain them for us as we did the drilling and tapping.

So now, I need to buy an extra long 2.5mm allen wrench with a T-handle, it makes the removal of these two screws much easier!

Once we got the rigs re-assembled, we set off together, Marc and I, to warm up the rigs by doing about seven miles of riding.  

We returned to Marc's house and put the Harmonizer tool on Marc's rig.  No adjustments required!  Lucky dog.

My rig was next and Scarlett proved quite stubborn in terms of getting her idle where we wanted it and still balanced!  Finally, after much travail, we got it to balance but with the tach on the Harmonizer reading 1200 rpm, a bit high.

I had the left side idle screw completely off the stop and still we couldn't adjust the idle any lower.  Both Darrell and Marc remarked that before we made changes, the rpm had been reported at 1200 by the Harmonizer.  We are suspecting perhaps a small leak on the left side throttle body butterfly valve.  I may have been, all this time, running with idle a bit high?

There's been reports, you see, of some 2014 rigs needing updated butterfly plates as the ones they had are "sticking".  Mine weren't sticking when I examined them but something to keep in mind, the fact that some of the early 2014 rigs needed replacements of these disks.

We said our goodbyes to Marc around 2:30PM and I was home after boring slab riding by 3:30PM in medium traffic conditions.  An overcast day with temperatures in the low 50s for a high though it was cooling down as I neared home.

Note: Scarlett's idle RPM was being displayed as 960 rpm at idle by my cheapo tachometer I got from ebay which I'd determined in the past to read 100 rpm low.  Sure enough, I got home, put the Harmonizer on Scarlett and her idle was around 1060 rpm after an hour of highway riding.  So the idle is fine for now, she sounds good, and pulls strong through all the gears.

I'll monitor things some more I think before I start the process of replacing the butterfly valves on the throttle bodies, under warranty of course.  

Previously, Yet Another Colorado Sunset

Friday, January 23, 2015

Yet Another Colorado Sunset

I started off today's Sunset pictures session without much hope for good colors as the initial beginning was less than promising.

About sixteen minutes before sunset.

I switched to the telephoto lens and backed up as far as I could (there was a building in the way) and the sunset colors got much better.

 Four minutes before sunset

 Two minutes before sunset
(Sunset Mode on Camera)

 Seven minutes after sunset

Eleven minutes after sunset

Previously: Riding after a Snowy Day

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Riding after Snowy Day

It snowed on us, pretty much all day, here in the metro Denver area yesterday.  I seem to recall the forecast earlier on to have been "flurries".  Well, my neighborhood got almost three inches of "flurries".  :)

The skies yesterday, were completely overcast, which led me to not venture out for pictures as one gets the impression Denver is enclosed inside a gray dome of clouds.

This morning, right after the school rush, Scarlett and I ventured out hoping to get some got views of the mountains to the west.

Conditions would prove a bit hazy, not exactly what one would expect after a good storm but you take what you can get right?

 Pikes Peak in the Distance

 Added digital zoom and almost two stops of under exposure
to bring out the snow on Mount Evans.

About an hour is all I could devote to riding this morning before the morning "rush" at work.  Temperatures hovered between 17-19ºF (-8 to-7ºC) so it was bit "brisk".  To RichardM however, it would have been positively balmy.

Previously: Breakfast Ride

Monday, January 19, 2015

Breakfast Ride

Oscar N. and Erik S., two friends of mine from the IT side of my life, are fellow members of what we call the SSSG or Sungard Survivors Support Group.  Sungard, you see, is where we all met as fellow inmates of one of the Tier III Network Support teams for Sungard's many customers who've outsourced part or all of their IT operations.

This morning, it was time for the periodic breakfast we try to do, to allow for the sharing of a meal, the venting of frustrations at our different jobs and just general camaraderie.

The sun was rising as I rode west along Arapahoe Road to the breakfast place, and I could see some nice colors brightening the horizon behind me.

I missed the really pink colorings but still got what turned out to be a decent sunrise picture after some photoshopping away of power lines and such.  I'll find a better spot for the next breakfast meeting.

A leisurely breakfast later, everyone parted for their own respective workplaces since although it was Martin Luther King Day today, there's no rested for the wicked in the IT world.

Near the restaurant, I saw a nice view of Mount Evans in the mid-morning light and had to pose Scarlett to capture the view using the zoom lens to bring the mountains a bit closer than they actually were:

The ride home was in pretty dense traffic, guess not a lot of folks got the day off after all.  Work-related crisis work kept me busy the rest of the day and evening, so this posting is a bit late.

Weather guesser reports are calling for a maximum of an inch of snow for our area, but I bet we'll only get a dusting of the white stuff.

Previously: A Day of Wrenching

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Day of Wrenching

Spent the morning beginning Brigitta, my '87 BMW R80 Airhead's 105,000 Mile service a bit early.  Basically trying to sync up the intervals with the readings on the new(used) odometer I recently put on her.

She's really not at 105,000 until the new(old) odometer reads 96,178 but I decided to start it at 95,648.  This way, I can resume the 4500-5000 mile service interval without having to keep reminders taped to the inside of the fairing.

All fluids were drained from the engine, transmission, final drive and adjoining drive shaft housing.  Spark plugs were checked and found to be of good color, the air filter was checked and blown clean and will be replaced at the 10K interval.

Valve clearances and carburetor sync are scheduled for tomorrow.

In the afternoon, we were relaxing around the family room and Martha spots a posting on the CZAR (Colorado Zidecar Adventure Riders) Facebook page.  A fellow Uralista, Scott M. was reporting being broken down in the town of Wellington, CO!

Some texts and phone calls later, we knew he needed a replacement donut and clutch release lever.  The donut coupler mates the output from the transmission to the main drive shaft going to the final drive; the clutch release lever activates the clutch when you pull the clutch lever in.

I called Tim L., who lives in Longmont and he immediately headed out with a replacement donut.  It took me a few minutes to hook up the trailer of shame (just in case it was needed) and soon I was on the road myself, driving Martha's X5 with the trailer in tow.

About an hour later, I pulled up to the guys who had things taken apart and yelled out the window:  "The Trailer of Shame is here!".  The guys both laughed.  I parked the car and we got to work.

This is what I saw when I showed up shortly after 3 PM.

 Broken Donut

Broken Clutch Release Lever

 Repairs went pretty smoothly, though the spare clutch release lever I had carried for
over a year and a half turned out to have troublesome threads.  It caused some thread
damage as Scott installed it, but it did the job.

Scott finishes "buttoning up" his rig in preparation for a test
ride and then a victory spin about the parking lot.

We said our goodbyes, Tim headed home to Longmont and I followed Scott and his rig for a while to make sure nothing else happened.  Everyone got home safe, a good day of wrenching!

Previously: Ride to Sleeper House and Westlands Park

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Windy Ride to the "Sleeper House" and Westlands Park

It was a very clear and sunny day here in Colorado, and thrown in for good measure there were some strong winds to keep one's attention.

The intent today was to find a good spot to photograph Brigitta, my '87 BMW R80 Airhead with the The Sculptured House a.k.a the Sleeper House (Woody Allen's 1973 movie "Sleeper") in the background.  More info here on the house: LINK and LINK2

This was about the best spot I could find where I could include my motorcycle, it's on US40 and the junction with South Lookout Mountain Road.

Brigitta and the Sculptured House

I should have ridden Scarlett, my 2014 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig as there were several roads in the area that might have rendered better angles on the house but there still have remnants of snow and ice.

All morning, as I rode about looking for spots to shoot the house from, Brigitta and I were thrown some good punches by the winds coming from the west.  I missed the surefootedness of three wheels today!  Along with the strong winds, there was nothing like approaching a curve that's covered in the shade of trees and wondering if there was ice on the road eh?

Brigitta and I retreated from the mountains after we got this shot of the mountains from the Buffalo Overlook exit.

Those are not clouds near the peaks of the mountains, 
that is snow being blown off the peaks by the high winds.

We made it back into Metro Denver with no issues except for some brief episodes of wind shifting one's position in one's lane.  

As it was such a clear day, I detoured into the Denver Tech Center and positioned Brigitta across the street from the entrance to Westlands Park.

Westlands Park

This time I ventured into the parking garage structure to the east of the above spot in the office center parking lot.  We rode up to the next to highest level and got these shots:

 Going artsy with Brigitta 

The winds had died down once I left the Denver Tech Center so it was smooth riding across the Cherry Creek Dam Road and on towards my home neighborhoods.  About 110 miles covered today, so good exercise for Brigitta.  I plan on doing her 105K mile service a bit early this coming week to synchronize her new odometer to the service schedule.

Hope you got some riding in today.....

Scarlett's 15000 Km Service

Monday, January 12, 2015

Scarlett's 15,000 Km Service

At 14,867 kilometers, Scarlett is close enough to 15,000 Km mark for me to do her 15K km service.

The service actually started at 14,479 when I swapped out her tires; it was at that point that I greased all the drive splines, wheel splines and u-joints.

Today, I did the valve clearance checks and found the right jug's exhaust valve way loose!  In fact, I am using up more adjustment on the nut that on the intake valve on this jug, something to watch more closely.

 Intake valve adjuster nut, about three threads still sticking out.

Exhaust valve adjuster nut, maybe one thread sticking out.

Valve clearances are now at .004 inches per the manual on both sides.  I inspected the spark plugs and they were the expected color and condition.  I regapped them to .04 inches and installed them back in with some anti-seize compound on the threads.

Next significant task was the draining of the gas tank.  I had returned home and hadn't filled up as is my habit just because of this task.  You see, the checklist says to check the inline filter and I'd not realized there was one inside the tank as well as the outside one; the last time I did services!

Spilling only small amounts of remaining gasoline, I got the fitting off the right side bottom of the tank and here's what we found:

 Crud in the form of metallic shavings!  Arrgh.
Found even more in the hole that leads to the hole that 
feeds the outside fuel filter.  See below pic.

A bit of careful prying out of the crud with a small screwdriver and a few blasts of air and it was all cleaned up.  I replaced the fuel fitting with little issues, tested for leaks, found none.  Yay.

At this point, I cranked up the engine to put full pressure on the EFI system and no leaks still.

After lunch, it was time to change out the fluids on Scarlett.  I went out for a ten mile ride to warm things up and get all particulates into suspension.  "Sounds fancy doesn't it?".

Got home and drained out both the engine, transmission and final drive oils and let them drain drain.

Other than breaking the cheap oil filter wrench and having to go buy a new one, no issues replacing the oil filter and refilling all components to desired levels.  Levels which will be checked again after the next ride of course.

Let's see, air filter replaced because though the checklist only called for inspect, I tore the air filter while removing it so I put in a new one, less than $10, no big deal.

Wheel spokes were checked today.  Balancing the throttle bodies, or at least, the checking of same will have to wait till I get the vacuum ports installed later this month.  More on that later.

Such a fun-filled life, the life of a Uralista.

Previously: Dillon Reservoir and Loveland Pass