Sunday, August 30, 2015

Barrow Misc.

I thing that I finally have things working and done, I can slow down a bit. On my way to the grocery store to pick up a small ActionPacker, I stopped at the now empty football field. This place was pretty packed yesterday afternoon when the high school football game was in full swing. The blue artificial turf really stands out against the drab tundra.

I needed the ActionPacker to bring back some of the tools, laptops, etc. from the office in Barrow for the winter.

This is a capture from the camera server installed on an instrument tram out at the BEO (Barrow Environmental Observatory). Seeing the video demonstrated to me that the network is working and I could plan on going home without something hanging over me. This site is about 1.1 mile from the nearest road and the boardwalk/trail would be pretty wet due to all of the recent rainfall. So the challenge for me was to do all of the reconfigurations without having to walk out to the shed housing the network equipment.

The last photo was a pano taken using the Nexus 4 Android phone that I had picked up for the summer tech to use while he was up here. After wiping the phone, I updated all of the software including Android itself. Not having to depend on a carrier for the update is one of the real benefits of the Nexus phones. I was curious how well some of the apps work. This pano was taken from the same bluff at the end of the airport runway that I had visited a couple of times on this trip.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Now that the winds have died down, we are seeing something that some dread hearing about so I won't say anymore about it for now. Let the picture tell the story.

The ocean is almost calm again though there is still a steady 10 kt wind from the SW. It feels nice compared to just a few days ago.

This afternoon, I went out to visit a group that was working out of a tent on the old airstrip. I had never actually driven out onto the airstrip before and was surprised to see that the surface was actually perforated metal plates which I'm guessing is to distribute the load of the military transport planes. This group was flying UAVs so the surface was only used for takeoff. For landing, they were snagging it out of the air. The group was carefully looking at the weather to see if it was adequate for flying today.

This may be a better view of the surface of the runway. The Weatherport in the background is where they have all of their electronics with multiple 2 KW Honda generators behind it. The large green building in the background is an old hanger from when this was originally built by the Navy in 1947. As you can see, the sun is actually out and it isn't snowing anymore. Oh, I wasn't supposed to say that word....

While waiting for my to-go order for dinner (East Coast Pizzaria) I went to the bluff that I took the storm video. The water is now calm with only a few waves. Not glass smooth but not 20' waves either.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Storm in Barrow

For the next several days I'll be in Barrow. I just arrived today with winds up to 45 kts coming in from the west. I hear that it is from some storm from the Pacific. Here is the view this afternoon of the normally calm ocean where it has washed out the road along the shore. Below is a short video that was taken after lunch from a bluff overlooking the ocean. It's a pretty short video since I am running out of memory on my phone.

I flew up for a meeting today and tomorrow and to resolve some network problem that has been plaguing researchers throughout the summer. I have been unable to access the device until I arrived as it required physical access to the network. The problem has been resolved and it is up and stable again. It was just a matter of changing the configuration of an wireless ethernet bridge that connected a field site with the main science facility. It actually feels pretty nice to get this problem resolved but there is still more cleanup to do.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Suitability (Part 1)

This picture is was taken last Saturday at College Coffeehouse and I thought it sort of fits this post. Plus, I thought that it was a cool experiment. It is an ADV version of the RnineT that BMW sales rep, Justin, set up for the local dealer. It has knobby tires, some Touratech engine protection with some Wunderlich parts thrown in. The exhaust wrap and tiny turn signals add to the look. George Rahn thought it looked silly. Justin said that the ride was a bit squirrelly in the rain with the brand new tires. Not really a suitable platform for off road riding but still very cool.

This post is about the suitability of the Ural for my last road trip. Kind of like the RnineT in the picture or Mike Saunders' 49cc Ruckus, the Ural may not be the most suitable rig for MY trips. I know that some have travelled all over the world with their Ural rigs and emphasize that if Urals are used within their design envelope, they will run forever.

Dom has pointed out in a comment on my last post,
"All things, made by Man, eventually fail."
When buying any sort of used vehicle there is always a risk on how it was treated by the previous owners. Raceway mentioned that some of the parts have evidence of "misuse" such as extended driving on pavement in 2WD and flying the sidecar with hard landings. I'm fairly confident that it wasn't me and pretty sure that it wasn't the previous owner but there is still before then. Only time will tell how well the replaced components last. Before, it was always difficult to shift into 2WD. Now it easily "clicks" in and out. Since I didn't have it from new, I didn't know what to expect. I remember that there has always been a lot of play on the sidecar splines but since I didn't have anything to compare it to, I assumed that it was normal.

Riding in very cold temperatures like I did last winter is probably outside of the design envelope as well but now that I no longer have a commute, that may not happen very often. At least one can hope.

Back to suitability. I had absolutely no issue with with the cruising speed of the rig. Especially after I discovered that the speedometer and odometer ran low (or slow) when compared to a GPS. The speedometer error is not consistent but in the past, cruising at 100 km/h on the speedometer was almost impossible to maintain and the engine sounded really strained. On the GPS, that equated to almost 70 mph. No wonder the engine really sounds strained. This fits with antidotal observation. Last May when I rode out to Nenana with the casual BMW group, George mentioned that I was going significantly above my claim of 55 mph. Maintaining 90-100 km/h on the GPS wasn't a problem and felt fast enough.

Engine reliability seems like it should be okay if one follows the general recommendations given by some other long distance Ural riders. Such as don't shift into 4th unless you are above 50 mph. The engine actually sounds really nice between 4000 and 5000 rpm. On the way down, that's also when it was burning oil. On the way back, no problem and 3rd gear at 4000 - 5200 rpm was common. Higher RPM allows the rod bearings to get more oil.

With the new rear brake shoes that happened to come with the final drive, braking is decent. There was the weird "clicking" that I though may have been the head bearings but it turned out to be a loose brake bolt. I'm going to check alignment to see what Raceway set it to as it handles pretty nice right now.

Tire wear is much more reasonable than I had expected. The K28 that I have on as the pusher was brand new when I installed it at Iskut, BC, and now has 9,981 km on it. It is pretty well worn but not completely worn out. The sidecar has the old pusher on it and now has just short of 19,000 km on it. It still has enough tread to get through the next winter. I don't think the tires get a lot of wear in the winter even as the pusher. I was happy to have the K37s installed on the front and pusher for the first quarter of the trip. The traction improvement was noticeable on the dirt, mud and gravel.

If you look at my posts early in the trip, I worried a lot about what was happening inside of the engine. The valves wouldn't stay adjusted, excessive oil consumption, higher than expected cylinder head temperatures, etc. Part of that concern was due to the lack of any service facilities in that part of the road system. I'd probably be concerned no matter what I was riding or driving. After passing the border into Canada, I knew that the next dealer was in the Vancouver area and the next dealer that would honor the extended warranty was somewhere around Bellingham, WA, or Spokane, WA. I had a hard enough time finding anyone in rural BC that knew how to weld the stainless steel exhaust system. Both repairs only lasted a short time before partial failure of the welds.

If it sounds like I'm not sure it's because I'm not. To be cont...