Sunday, August 31, 2014

Palmer-Wasilla-Hatcher Pass

The original plan was to take the Ural down to Anchorage but Saturday morning brought winter-like temperatures to Fairbanks. I really didn't want Bridget's first sidecar trip to fail due to temperatures so we fell back to plan #2. We took the Prius. A plus is that it gets way better gas mileage than the Ural, holds more stuff and will easily cruise at the spead limit.

Mt. Mckinley was out in all it's splendor and from Canwell to Willow, people were pulled off the road to take pictures. I really wish that I had brought a better camera on this trip as all I had was the iPhone. This is the view from about five miles south of Cantwell.

On Saturday evening, we went to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer and the crowds and traffic jams were unbelievable. This is the last weekend for the fair so I think that it was more crowded than usual. I had not been to the Palmer fair since about 1984 and it looked and felt huge compared to the Fairbanks fair. These were some pretty flowers outside one of the buildings.

A few other readers probably recognize this gnome and know where we are staying during our visit. Fellow sidecarists, Bob and Sharon opened up their guest home for us and took us all around the area, including putting up with the crowds at the Palmer fair. This gnome statue is solar powered and the headlight lights up when it gets dark. Very cute.

On Sunday, we went up towards Hatcher Pass from the Palmer side. This is the Little Susitna River. It turned out to be a very nice day with beautiful, blue skies and Bob and Sharon are a wealth of information about the history of the local area.

Another photo of the river on the left. Below, the pano is taken from the pass, elevation about 3,500' and, as you can see, we are well above treeline. There were a number of para-gliders launching from the pass and it was fun (though pretty cold) watching them play on the thermals.

This small lake would have been behind me when I took the pano shot above. And the actual pass is up the road on the left.

An HDR photo taken from the same area.

After coming down from the pass, we went to Independance Mine now being managed and restored by the forest service. Slowly some of the buildings are being restored. This area was an active gold mine until 1951 though production was shut down during WWII as a non-essential activity. This photo was taken from the museum looking towards the housing and power plant. The pano below was taken from the trail to the water tunnel seen in the upper right pane in the picture on the left.

Most of the structures are collapsing as the environment in this area is pretty harsh with a lot of snowfall and wind.

An old mine railway leading toward the power plant.

One last photo looking from the lodge towards the mine site. This was a beautiful area. Thanks to Bob and Sharon for sharing "their backyard".

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Messing With the Ural & 20,000 km Service

This was a slow, relaxing afternoon and after getting some tasks taken care of in town, I messed around with the Ural some more. The first task was removing the castellated nut on the sidecar wheel (again) and rearrange the order of the washers to match the parts book. The last person who changed the tire put them on in a slightly different order. Thank you Dom for sending the drawing of the assembly. I also replaced the cotter pin and picked up several spares for future wheel removals. Then I removed the front wheel again to recheck the balance since there is still a vibration at 55mph. I added another ¼oz weight but it wouldn't be significant enough to make a difference. Yesterday, I had removed and balanced the rear wheel and it required removing the existing weights and installing ¾oz in a different location.

I had decided to move the tachometer shortly after picking up the bike. It was mounted to a clamp on the handlebar but there was, to me, a slightly better place. I removed the fork nut using the wrench provided in the Ural tool roll and drilled and bottom tapped it for an M6x1 screw. The cap is around 1" thick so I only drilled about ¾ of the way through. After cleaning up the metal shavings and oil, I put on a little anti-seize and reinstalled it on the fork. The nut appears to be made some sort of aluminum alloy and the button head screw was stainless steel. Anti-seize is required to prevent galling.

When I tried to bend the tachometer bracket slightly to get a little more clearance, the bracket snapped. I thought that it was stainless but it turned out to be something more brittle. I made a copy of the bracket with some ⅛" aluminum stock we had lying around and installed the tach on the bracket. I think that this location looks cleaner than a clamp on the handlebar. I will probably be drilling and tapping the other fork cap for another gauge (CHT) sometime as this seemed to work out pretty well.

The dial to the right of the tachometer is the thermometer that the previous owner installed into the windshield. Instead of a simple thermometer, he used an outside air temperature unit from a light aircraft.

I started the 20,000 km maintenance as I need to get it finished before next weekend. I checked the air cleaner. There is some oil in the housing but the air cleaner itself is still fairly clean. The rubber fitting on the right carb was loose and getting all of the pieces to fit properly and tightening the four hose clamps was a real pain. I need to pick up some 20W50 oil for the engine and transmission. The U-joints are greased as well as the splines on both the driveshaft and the sidecar driveshaft. Head Checked cylinder head torque and adjusted the valves.

Monday Evening Update - I changed all the fluids. The engine and transmission oil were still amber and clear. Hardly any swarf on any of the magnets except the final drive drain. But that oil has over 10,000 km. The oil filter change is significantly easier than it is on the Beemer. The engine seems to run a little quieter after the valve adjustment. Both exhaust valves were on the tight side and both intake valves were loose. I set them all to 0.003" (the specs say 0.002" to 0.004"). I checked the timing using my old Sun timing light and it was right on at idle. I don't have the setup to balance the carbs so I will defer that for now.

I moved the RAM mount for the handheld Garmin but I still need to install an SAE plug for the power cable.

Tuesday Morning Update - Inserting the info below my own information. Only a couple more items left. I'm not sure what "Hinges of the foot brake pedal" item 12.2 below, is referring to...


SERVICE COUPON NO. 9. 20,000 KM
(To be performed between 19,900 to 20,100 km)

Odometer reading km. 19,895
  1. Change engine oil and filter. (See Lubrication List, chapter 11)     ✔
  2. Change transmission oil. (See Lubrication List, chapter 11)     ✔ 
  3. Change final drive oil. (See Lubrication List, chapter 11)     ✔ 
  4. Inspect air filter element.     ✔
  5. Torque cylinder head stud nuts.     ✔
  6. Adjust valve tappet clearance.     ✔
  7. Change oil in front fork shock absorbers (on telescopic fork models) (NA)
  8. Replace the spark plugs and inspect ignition leads. (Replaced at 18,000km))     ✔
  9. Replace in-line fuel filters. (Replaced at 18,000km))     ✔
  10. Check:
    1. Carburetors while idling for synchronous operation
    2. Check steering column bearings and adjust if required. (Just checked for play)     ✔
    3. The condition and action of the brakes, lubricate the brake shoe fulcrum pins and cams. (Removed the axle grease and replace it with white lithium grease)     ✔
    4. The tension of wheel spokes. Adjust if necessary.     ✔
    5. The toe-in and camber angle of the motorcycle and sidecar.     ✔
    6. Electric wiring. Tighten connections if required.     ✔
    7. Fasteners for proper tightening.     ✔
  11. Repack the grease in wheel bearings, adjust the bearings. (Sealed bearings)
  12. Lubricate:
    1. Foot brake pedal
    2. Hinges of the foot brake pedal
    3. Lever pins and thimbles of clutch and front wheel brake control cables.      ✔
    4. Drive shaft splines     ✔
  13. Check battery electrolyte level (Sealed battery)
  14. Check tires, tread (tires ordered)     ✔ 
  15. Check the timing     ✔ 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Heated Gear Outlet Works!

Today seemed like a good morning to see if my heated gear outlet I installed a few weeks ago works and not blow a fuse. It was a "brisk" 36°F on my commute in with some fog hanging in the low lying areas. I guess that's the price for crystal clear skies.

I have not installed a relay (yet) with a distribution block near the battery for accessory power. Right now, in addition to the heated gear power, the sidecar has a seperate, always-on fuse block. That could come off of the same relay for accessories.

I don't know if it's me or not but the sidecar wheel seems really out of balance. The vibration I was feeling was just like the Beemer/Cozy rig when the sidecar wheel was really out of balance. Last night, I  removed and balanced the front wheel and the sidecar wheel. The front wheel took 1 oz (reasonable) but the sidecar wheel took 4 oz (unreasonable). And the vibration is still there. I think that maybe I should just remove, rotate and reinstall the sidecar tire as the bead doesn't look uniform all the way around. Maybe the tire isn't round anymore or the wheel needs to be trued up. When I removed the sidecar wheel, I checked the splines. They are in good shape and there was grease though it appeared to be simple axle grease and not the high moly grease that should be used. Both the front and sidecar wheel bearings feel smooth with no play. But the nut holding on the sidecar wheel wasn't tight and there was some play when I first jacked up the wheel. The sidecar brakes seemed a little tight i.e. the shoes drag when the wheel is turned but wear seems minimal

I ordered three new tires but they won't be in for a couple more weeks. I hope that there is enough tire life to make a trip over Labor Day. The pusher was new when I picked up the rig but the front, sidecar and spare are worn.

BTW, the heated gear works wonderfully!

Friday Evening Update - I pulled the sidecar wheel off again. Then remove the tire, flipped it and turned it 180°. The Baja No-Pinch tool really simplifies mounting tires! Rebalanced the wheel (it didn't change significantly) and reinstalled. Dom from provided some missing information such as how tight should the sidecar hub nut be tightened and verified that I am not missing any pieces. What was really confusing me was why the axle was turning. As it turns out, the bearings on the 2WD model sidecar wheel aren't used as bearings since the axle shaft turns with the driveshaft. And the axle nut simply holds the wheel onto the axle and the splines. The actual "wheel bearings" are in the swing arm. If the bearings are tapered roller bearings, the axle nut provides the preload on the bearings. If it is too loose, the bearings will fail quickly. Tight is better than loose. There is a lot more stress on the bearings with this design as the load isn't centered over the bearings.

I do need to pick up some new cotter pins as they normally shouldn't be reused. I didn't have a now cotter pin the correct size so I reused the old one. There is still vibration at about 55mph and the only wheel not balanced is the rear. I am reading up on the removal procedure and will do that tomorrow afternoon. Maybe I'll even flip the front tire as there is some cupping evident.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Motorcycle Parking

Beautiful day, no rain, and still the only one using the motorcycle parking spaces. There was a Yamaha C3 earlier this morning but it was gone by mid-day. Usage of the spaces has been pretty light all summer where there were, at most, only four bikes. I suspect that we will lose them next year as there are a number of people clamoring that they should go away.

The Ural has been running well after changing the carburetor jets. Not enough miles to see if there has been any change in gas mileage. I did readjust the idle adjustment turning the set screws CW ¾ of a turn to smooth out the idle. Cold (50°F) starts no longer need the use of the enrichener which should help when it gets really cold. I also painted the fog light mount that I made on the front of the sidecar with Plasti Dip. It is a spray-on, synthetic rubber coating that has a nice, flat black appearance. I'm thinking of moving the LED driving light from the Cozy this weekend but haven't decided where to install it on the sidecar.

Today was the first day of school and Bridget asked to be driven to the school in the sidecar. After all, the cool teachers ride sidecars. It was a cool 50°F this morning and I think Bridget will need to find some riding pants to keep warm on our upcoming road trip. (Labor Day weekend to Anchorage)