Monday, December 31, 2012

Almost Made it to the Road

Happy New Year!

I spent much of Saturday getting the sidecar frame attached to the motorcycle subframe. Thank you to Dom for looking at the picture and giving me a little confidence as to what I was doing. This is a shot of the rear mount with the names of the parts. There are quite a few parts and the trick was to get everything level with the motorcycle at ride height. I measured the distance from the rear subframe mount to the floor while sitting on the bike to get a rough starting point. Then after putting the bike on the center stand, I measured the distance again. The difference is the amount I raised the sidecar wheel above the floor with wooden blocks. After a lot of dinking around with the pieces, I finally pushed the 70 degree clamp as far as it will go into the new rear crossmember to get the sidecar as close to the bike as possible. Then with the sidecar frame on jackstands, leveled the sidecar frame side to side, threaded the heim joint all the way into the 70 degree boss and adjusted the boss so that the heim joint is parallel to the ground. I then did the same with the front mount ensuring the sidecar frame is close to level front to back. Actually, I tilted it up a couple of degrees to account for the forks compressing. The rear strut was installed just to keep the bike from falling over when it was moved off of the center stand.

At this point the body was placed back on the sidecar frame and the bike pushed off the center stand. At this point, the sidecar was pretty close to level in both axis so my procedure seemed to work. A line was marked on the floor and the center of the bike tires were wheeled onto it. The sidecar book known as the "Yellow Book" by David Hough describes a procedure to set toe in using a straight edge set against the front and rear tire. This procedure won't work on my bike unless I made a spacer as the rear tire is wider than the front. I then placed a 2x4 against the sidecar wheel and measured the distance from the 2x4 and the line on the floor in front and behind the motorcycle. I adjusted the front sidecar mount to get the toe-in close to what I wanted then used the threaded front heim joint to get it exactly to 5/8" in. Once toe in was set, I bolted the body back onto the frame. I mentioned in an earlier post that I would be replacing the cracked rubber body mounts. This turned out to be challenging as they are pretty stiff rubber rings. I finally came up with a method using a turnbuckle and a chain to stretch the rings on one side so I could bolt up the other side. I then set the lean out of the motorcycle by adjusting the rear strut with the front one removed and putting an magnetic angle gauge on the rear disc. It is initially set to 2° lean out with me sitting on the bike. Finally tightened up all of the bolts and looked for the Ibuprofen. Too much bending and lifting for me.

This morning seemed like a good day to take it out to see if it all works. This was taken while the engine was warming up but I didn't get much farther. The temperature has warmed up to 31°F and the driveway was pretty slippery. I made it within a couple of feet of the road but the driveway gets a little steeper at the very end. It felt weird to be backing down the driveway on a motorcycle. The rear tire (Shinko street tire) didn't have very good traction and would slide if you braked. The front (Heidenau K60) had pretty good traction and did a good job controlling speed and direction even while backing up. For this initial test, I used a car battery in the trunk and half a bag of this stuff used to clean up oil spills in the garage. quite a bit of weight.

I still don't have the wiring done and now plan on borrowing a trailer to take the rig to a parking lot to see how it handles and learn how to turn. Especially turning right. With the ballast in the car, I can hang all my weight on the handlebars and the left peg completely off the bike and not be able to pick up the sidecar wheel. Even if I throw myself trying to pull it up, I can get it to bounce up maybe an inch off of the ground. I think that this may be a good starting place though I want to put the battery into something to prevent acid from getting on the paint. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could still mount the right case to the bike and still be able to almost open it fully.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Morning Clouds and a New Crossmember

We've began the slow procession towards summer now gaining approximately two minutes more daylight per day. Sunrise today was at 10:58am and was accompanied by some nice colors. This is the same Alaska Range view to the south that I've taken many times before taken just a few minutes before sunrise.

This one was a few minutes after sunrise with the sun behind Mt. Hayes (4,216m) casting a distinct shadow on the bottom of
the clouds. I really couldn't decide which of these I like better.

Fairbanks is enjoying a respite from the "bitterly cold" temperatures since Christmas Day when the temperature ventured above 0°F.

This afternoon, Scott had some time and was willing to weld the crossmember into the sidecar frame. Scott is a Gold Wing rider who has gone on several of the summer rides with the church group and has ridden to MN several times over the years. He is interested in the sidecar installation and generously volunteered to weld in the new crossmember. Here the frame is supported by stands in his shop while we tried to determine the best location for the crossmember. The sidecar frame is inverted at a convenient working height.

Since the crossmember is being welded in, there was one chance to get it right. Fortunately, Scott is very meticulous and everything was measured several times. DMC had included several steel support pieces machined to fit against the round tube to provide additional support. I believe that the crossmember on the motorcycle side sees more stress and needs additional support. Scott modified these pieces to fit, ground off the paint where the welds were going to go and used his heli-arc welder to tack everything in place. Once everything was measured again, he finished the welds.

After cleaning up the welds, everything was sprayed with primer and gloss black paint. This is the new rear crossmember on the motorcycle side showing the additional support pieces. He is a real pro at this and the welds look fabulous with good penetration. We test fitted the DMC 70° mount to make sure the welds didn't distort the metal too much and everything fit together really well. The square tube to the left of the new crossmember in this photo, supports the sidecar suspension. The new crossmember is attached to the square tube as well as the frame rails.

This is the opposite side of the new rear crossmember and it is welded to the existing frame rail support holding the lower sidecar suspension mount. It will take about a day for the paint to dry completely. Tomorrow evening, I'll start the reassembly of the sidecar and attach it to the motorcycle mounts.

Thank you Scott for sharing your excellent welding skills.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice

Temperatures are still down in the -45°F range and the ice fog is getting even worse than it was on Monday. But it does make for some spectacular sunsets. This iPhone pano was taken through the window from my office building at abut 2:30 Thursday afternoon. I must admit that I haven't gotten tired of the view though a little warmer would be fine. I have been using the borough bus as often as possible for my commute as I end up walking outside a minimum of 3¾ miles per day.

Things didn't look that much better this morning with the ice fog and low temperatures continuing. Today being the shortest amount of daylight is encouraging for many people but sunrise isn't until 11:00am and sunset is 2:37pm for about 3½ hours of brilliant sunshine. Still much more than Barrow where the next sunrise isn't until January 22, 2013. From now on, the days get longer, This photo shows a little red tint on the horizon already and it was taken at 8:36am while walking to get coffee. The university is located on a small hill overlooking town so it is usually above the ice fog. According to the EPA, Fairbanks is one of the smoggiest, unhealthiest places to live in the country since their sensors are all down low in the ice fog. If you are in it, it feels pretty grim. (Of course, most of the schools are in it!)

Sunrise at 11:19am. It looks like it'll be a pretty nice day as long as you aren't stuck in the fog. If you compare this with the sunset photo above, you'll notice that there aren't too many degrees difference between the position of sunrise and sunset. They're both pretty close to south.

I'm sure many of you have seen this graphic already but I really did get a kick out of it. Especially since there is no Saturday listed. But we're still around and for some, a little warmth would be appreciated.

And, no work done on the sidecar. Waiting until the welder has some free time...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cozy Mockup

Yesterday evening, the now modified Cozy front mount was re-installed and connected to the motorcycle front mount using the new DMC parts. With the relative position of the sidecar and motorcycle mount, the minimum lead is going to be 12% with the mounting parts completely collapsed. This mock up was to determine the location of the new crossmember and rear sidecar mount and I think I selected a location. I need to cut down the new crossmember and grind off the paint from the frame for welding. Once everything is welded/bolted in place and the initial alignment done, the excess metal on the two 70° bosses will be trimmed.

Cozy Universal Mount
At this point, the bike is still on the center stand so it is sitting a little higher than it would be when running down the road but I think that it may be close enough to go ahead and measure the front and rear struts. I was originally thinking that I would be able to re-use the struts from the Cozy universal mount (shown on the right) but only one strut was barely long enough and I would have to modify one end to fit. Plus, due to their design, they would be very difficult to adjust the lean (the amount from vertical that the bike is tilted). From what I've been reading, the initial setting for the lean is 2° out or away from the sidecar to compensate for the tendency for the sidecar to turn you to the right. in case you are interested to see what the struts look like, Dom Chang has a picture posted of his rear strut installed on his Vstrom-Dauntless rig on his blog Redleg's Rides. You can compare the struts from the Cozy and the DMC struts on Dom's Vsrom rig. Quite a difference. I should have just picked the struts up when I was in Enumclaw but didn't think of it. I ordered them from DMC this morning and I just received email from Jay letting me know that they were already in the mail. Very good customer service.

On the local weather front, the temperature inversion is much more pronounced this morning. It was only -6°F this morning at our home which was about 35°F warmer than in the lower areas of town. Our home isn't that high in the hills so it is unusual for us to benefit from the inversion. By the middle of the day, a slight wind came up which is sufficient to eliminate the inversion and the fog started to dissipate.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Welcome Home

My "welcome back" to Fairbanks was over a foot of snow combined with what the National Weather Service called "bitter cold". Just while I was gone, the snow completely filled the back of the truck and needed to be shoveled out before we could haul trash. Even though I had the truck plugged in while I was gone, it was on a timer and the heaters (block heater, oil pan heater and two battery heaters) were only powered on about eight hours per day. Apparently not enough as the engine wouldn't even turn over let alone start. The timer is now bypassed until it warms up a bit. I'm not complaining about the snow as it's needed to provide insulation for the ground to prevent pipes from freezing.

This is where the temperature has been sitting since Fairbanks got dumped on with snow. The fog is what is known as "ice fog" or ice forming around particles of smoke. This makes it really unhealthy if you breath it in. You are left with the particles of smoke in your lungs. The little orange exclamation point in the screen capture indicates a "Severe Air Quality Alert". This is due to a temperature inversion. Usually, the higher up you are, the cooler the air is. That's why smoke rises. With an inversion, the colder is lower so the smoke goes down instead of up. This concentrates the smoke.

So far, the only work on the sidecar has been moving the bike and the sidecar frame together to see where things line up. The front sidecar mount is only about two inches ahead of the front motorcycle mount. This results in 13.8% lead, i.e. the amount that the axle for the sidecar is in front of the rear axle of the motorcycle. This will determine where to locate the new rear crossmember.

I will be calling Jay at DMC tomorrow to find out if the rear sidecar mount needs to match the front mount. I.e. if the front sidecar mount is in ahead of the front motorcycle mount, should the rear sidecar mount also be ahead. My gut feeling is that having them spaced farther apart is better though it may make it more difficult to align. Only one of the upper struts can be reused so I will need to fabricate the second upper strut.

Monday Morning Update - I just got off the phone with Jay at DMC and he says that it doesn't really matter. In that case, I will probably put it in front of the existing cross-member so I don't need to worry about clearance with the body. You may notice that the rear crossmember is dropped down for clearance.
Almost sunrise (taken at 10:42am). You can see the power plant
exhaust heading for the ground. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dauntless Motors

This morning, I stopped at Dauntless Motors aka DMC Sidecars, to pick up the modified front mount for the Cozy sidecar as well as a new rear crossmember. It was a very wet trip north from Corvallis OR, to Enumclaw, WA, with almost continuous rain. Jay was out running errands but his knowledgeable and helpful staff got my order together and gave me general instructions for welding in the new crossmember and getting everything lined up.

There were a lot of bikes in the shop which I'm assuming were waiting for sidecar installation and a few looked to be ready for delivery. Through the doorway on the right is the machine shop where the fabrication is done.

In the back of the shop were a couple of interesting looking cars. I didn't take time to look at what it was though the louvers suggest a rear engine. The yellow scooter looking object to my immediate left is a kids grocery store type scooter ride with a sidecar. I probably should've gotten a picture of that contraption.

Here are most of the pieces of my order with the rear mount and the new crossmember in the center. They are flanked by the two identical 70° bosses that connect the sidecar lower mounts to the lower mounts already installed on the bike. The modified Cozy mount was already sitting in the box. The parts are all very well finished.

General directions were 10-15% lead and with my airhead, he recommended closer to 15% of the bike wheelbase since my airhead is a relatively light bike (according to him!). Lead is the amount the sidecar axle is in front of the bike's rear axle. More lead helps keep the rear end planted on left turns. Torque on all of the pinch bolts is 80 ft-lbs. A bit more than I would have guessed. Toe in should be about 5/8" to start. For our weather, he recommended I look at some of the soft rubber compound trials tires since they are readily available in the 4.00-18 size my bike uses. The disadvantage is the soft rubber wears faster.

He also suggested that I start with a fair amount of ballast in the sidecar and explained a technique on how to determine if there isn't enough. Turn the bars to the right, stand on the left peg and try to lift the sidecar. It shouldn't come up much more than a few inches. He also suggested playing with the distance between the sidecar and the bike. He prefers it close but due to the light weight of the sidecar, more may be better. Like I said, very general directions. Now all of this stuff is packed in my checked baggage as I sit in the Seattle airport for my flight home.

This is an example of lack of planning on my part. DMC is in Enumclaw, WA, just outside of Tacoma, WA. I should have just flown out of SEATAC just a few more miles north but, no, I ended up driving back to Portland, OR, to catch my flight to SEATAC.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Corvallis, OR - Visiting Friends and Family

After five days in San Francisco attending the Fall AGU Meeting in Moscone Center, I was feeling pretty burnt out. I headed for the airport on BART and boarded the wrong train. I wasn't really paying attention to anything until I noticed that we were zipping past the airport. It was a simple matter of turning around at the next stop then switching trains again at the next stop. There were about a dozen of us out-of-towners going through this exercise and it probably added fifteen minutes to the trip. I flew up to Portland, rented a car and headed down to Corvallis to visit family for a couple of days. Since I had met Troubadour, Trobairitz and thier riding group before, I knew where they would be on Saturday morning. It was wonderful to visit with them again their very entertaining friends as well. They made me immediately feel welcome and part of the group.

After morning coffee, I drove my mom to the Willamette National Cemetery east of Portland to visit my fathers grave as she hadn't been there since the engraved stone was put in place. It was a wet, sloppy day and the muddy slopes were pretty slick but we had no trouble finding the site. Afterwards, we had lunch and did some Christmas shopping on the way back to Corvallis.This afternoon was spent at the Corvallis Youth Symphony concert where my nephew had his last concert with the group. It was a wonderful concert of classical works with not only the symphony but three youth choirs as well. After the concert, we had a wonderful dinner at Sada Sushi & Izakawa in Corvallis. Instead of being a simple sushi bar, they had a lot of other small dishes such as roasted yellowtail collar and salt roasted mackerel in addition to the standard sushi offerings and noodles. No pictures...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

San Francisco - AGU Part 4

I went out walking again this evening while looking for somewhere interesting for dinner. Here is a view from the other side of the Union Square Christmas tree and you can see the decorated windows of Macy's in the background. I'm not sure what the bucket truck is doing but it was there a couple of days ago as well. Maybe a bulb is burned out on the star and its taking them a long time to identify it.

This picture is from the same vantage point of the one above showing the decorated palm trees at one of the entrances to the square. Lots of noise in this area as there are a number of percussionists performing their art on five gallon plastic buckets.

I had another OSPA session to attend early this morning as judge. It was just one of a whole series of presentations on a common topic which turned out to be so interesting that I ended up staying for the entire block. I guess I'm more than a little interested in ice studies no matter which pole the work is being done. When I initially moved to Alaska, it was as a physics grad student and one of the areas I considered studying was sea ice. This mornings talks were on the formation and physical properties of sea ice and one of them dealt with the impact of snow cover. Snow is a pretty efffective insulator and is much more reflective than melt ponds in the spring. All good stuff.

The afternoon was spent meeting with several folks on IT issues in Barrow and really enjoyed seeing them again. The last time I've met a couple of them was at the Polar Technology Conference a year and a half ago. I really enjoyed it the last time I attended it in 2011 but unfortunately, I won't be able to attend again next year.

The week is winding down and tomorrow mid-morning, I head north to Oregon. So this will be the last San Francisco - AGU post this year. No food photos this evening as I just had stir fried noodles with veggies. Nothing exciting at all.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

San Francisco - AGU Part 3

Today, I attended another invited talk on climate change and sea ice. Last summer in August during the unprecedented cyclonic storm (first ever recorded in the summer with 70 kt winds), he watched someone surfing in Barrow. He thought that the arrival of surfers to the north coast of Alaska to be one of the most significant indicators of global warming. There is usually no waves let alone enough for someone to surf. The image to left comes from a page with videos of minimum sea ice extent for the last 33 years. Another climatologist presented about the correlation between open water in the arctic and winter time temperatures in the continental United States. Essentially, the less sea ice, the colder the winters along the eastern seaboard and warmer in the southwest. He was comparing different simulation models which all gave similar results. So his conclusion was that global warming translates to more severe winters in the eastern U.S.

The sessions I judged this afternoon were mostly ones with a lot of computer modeling so a lot of math. But the students did very well with their presentation and the canned questions. I say canned as they usually came from the same area where they were sitting and only after no other questions were asked.

Dinner this evening was back at the Indian restaurant diagonal from the hotel. Today was butter chicken and jasmine rice with garlic naan and a salted lassi. The butter chicken was highly recommended on Yelp and I thought it was okay but not very spicy. The garlic naan wasn't as "garlicky" as the other place across the street but still very tasty. I could've took half of this home but all I took was the naan as it may make a good breakfast.

Only 28,272 steps today or about 13 miles. I feel like a slacker especially since I didn't enter the 5K fun run this morning.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

San Francisco - AGU Part 2

I finally managed to get up Powell Street to Union Square to get a photo the the Christmas tree. I always want to take pictures of the cable cars maybe because it is uniquely San Francisco more than just about anything else. I didn't have a tripod so these are just hand held photos and required a lot of post processing (I use Aperture) to adjust white balance, contrast and exposure. It was just starting to rain so I took off in search of dinner.

Today started with a brief rain shower, just enough to get things wet and slippery. There is still way too much traffic for me and the sidewalks are very crowded. I still don't see how folks can deal with this on a day to day basis. The morning was spent at poster sessions in the south hall visiting with researchers working in Barrow. I was trying to get an idea of their expectations, some understanding of their work and what they have planned for the near future. The afternoon was be spent judging a couple more student presentations as part of the OSPA (Outstanding Student Paper Award).

In an effort to include more pictures, today's dinner was at an Italian restaurant. The meal started out with a delicious beet salad followed by pasta and brussel sprouts. Yet again, another wonderful meal here in the city that is known for great food. If the food's bad, the place would never survive all the competition. I was tempted to just go back to one of the Indian restaurants but felt obligated to try some of the other places around the hotel.

AGU had a pile of free pedometers on the first day so I grabbed one as a better way of keeping track of my walking during the meeting. Using the iPhone tends to run the battery down. Today, I walked 48,752 steps which translates to about 22½ miles in 13 hours. Even for me, that's a lot of walking and I'm pretty exhausted.

Since I arrived in San Francisco, I have been using the Verizon 4G cellular data service (aka LTE) on my iPad as the wireless network in the hotel and the Moscone Center have been almost useless. As you can see in my SpeedTest screen capture, the performance is nothing short of phenomenal and they allow you to tether to my laptop without an additional fee unlike AT&T. Verizon still isn't available in Alaska until sometime next year so until then, so I'll only be able to use their service when I travel. Fortunately, Verizon lets you purchase it month to month and cancel anytime you want without penalty.

Monday, December 3, 2012

San Francisco - AGU Part 1

Todays dinner was the tandori mixed grill at a Indian-Pakistani restaurant near the hotel. The lamb and chicken were pretty good though the fish didn't translate very well to this recipe or cooking method. There was way too much food for me as I only managed about half of the serving. Too bad there isn't a fridge in the room.

Todays AGU sessions were pretty interesting and covered a wide range of topics. One presenter talked about the diminishing thickness of the arctic ice pack and was asked to speculate on when it will melt completely. He said over half of the models said pre-2050 but the current number thrown around these days is 2030 due to the fact that it isn't linear but seems to be accelerating. There were two hours of sessions just on historic data collected over the years in Barrow. One of the presenters was a biologist from Barrow and talked about bowhead whale populations and how well they have recovered. There are about 15,000 and the population is growing at about 3.5% per year. He even gave a plug on how nice of a place it is to raise a family as he has been working there for 35 years. It was a great opportunity to meet many of the researchers I have worked with over the years again. There are more Barrow posters being presented in Moscone South tomorrow morning starting at 8:00

I still haven't made it to Union Square as todays sessions didn't get over until 6:30 and it's been a long day...

From a Google Image search - ABC news
One more thing. On the flight between Seattle and San Francisco, the person sitting next to me was wearing what I would guess to be a prototype of Google glasses. It looked just like the one in this photo except the frame was black. There was a little retangular screen and a camera next to his right eye. He quickly took them off and stuffed it into his messenger bag while sitting down. He just said that it was a miniature computer screen but wouldn't show it to me or tell me anymore about it. I think that it was tethered to his android phone as he also had an iPhone 5 that he was using for standard smartphone activities such as Facebook, texting and email.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

95 Degrees

That was the temperature difference between when I left Fairbanks this morning (-35°F) and arriving in San Francisco this evening (+60°F). This is a shot of sunrise from the Alaska Airlines flight this morning about 30 minutes out of Fairbanks. The airline must have wanted to give me extra time to acclimate to the temperature change as we had to sit on the plane, at the gate for almost an hour in Seattle before we were allowed to leave. Some sort of problem in San Francisco.

I am down here for the Fall AGU meeting as I have done for the previous 6-7 years. It is a pretty large conference and the best part is that it does not have anything to do with IT (Information Technology). I will be here for most of the week before heading north to Portland, OR, on Friday. I had reserved what can best be described as a "sketchy" hotel. It is right on the border with the region of town knows as the Tenderloin and many of the ratings weren't very favorable. So far, I am quite satisfied with the room as it typical of a clean, older hotel and there are two Indian restaurants across the street. I had saag gosht and garlic naan for dinner. It was wonderful and I was well into it before I thought about a picture.

For the next couple of days, I had scheduled myself to judge student presentations in a variety of fields. I am not to judge on content but the presentation itself. I selected a wide variety of focus areas as I still really enjoy learning something new.

I will try and post some other photos as San Francisco is all decked out for the holiday season and I'm only a couple of blocks from Union Square and their huge Christmas tree.

Monday Afternoon - It has gotten even colder in Fairbanks since I had left as it was -38°F this morning, or so says Yahoo! weather. There was a fair amount of noise from the street but that would be the case for just about any old hotel in San Francisco. With the new ones, you are so far from the street with high ceilings and multiple floors of meeting rooms and halls, that you are pretty isolated.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cold, Lazy Weekend

These days, this is now the norm with even colder temperatures on the horizon. The four day weekend was uneventful and sharing Thanksgiving dinner preparation with my daughter in-law was a real treat. I'm afraid that there are no food pics but it turned out well. Enough variety to satisfy everyone and it's nice to be able to try out new dishes.

No work done on the bike even though it would have been a good opportunity to knock off some of the maintenance tasks such as lubing the transmission input spline, changing the brake fluid or rebuilding the carbs. The input spline is supposed to be every other year, the brake fluid every year, and the carbs due to the fact that my mileage has really dropped over the summer. To get to the input splines, the rear swingarm and the transmission need to be removed. I last did the task in March 2010, so it is overdue. By the end of my trip last summer, the transmission needed to be shifted carefully and you can feel the bike try to move forward a bit when it is in neutral. Sure signs of dry splines.

This picture shows how the body is suspended from the frame. The sidecar came with only 4 installed to soften the ride and two of the rubber rings are almost cracked all of the way through. I found a supplier of Cozy parts at, an online supplier of Royal Enfield parts and accessories. I think that these are going to be a bear to install.

According to USPS tracking, the front sidecar mount should be delivered to DMC today sometime. I'm not sure what their schedule is like but I'm hoping that I will have the parts by the end of December. I will be down in San Francisco next week and stopping in Oregon on the way back. I could even run up to DMC which is in Enumclaw, WA, a couple of hours north of Portland. But hopefully they would have already shipped the parts by then.

Wednesday Morning Update - Temperatures (and daylight) are continuing to drop. I have been getting out walking around again though I usually opt for a ride in the morning. That way I have time for coffee and, occasionally, breakfast. I will be stopping by DMC aka Dauntless Motors, in a couple of weeks to pick up the modified front sidecar mount, the new crossmember and other miscellaneous mounting hardware. Probably on the 12th on my way to the airport. Actually a six hour detour but it seems worth the side trip.