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. 


18 comments:

Conchscooter said...

The idea of doing anything much in minus 44 seems preposterous. Put the trash out and recover it in the spring as all the arctic explorers are said to behave.

BeemerGirl said...

I am woefully behind in my reading. So I am going to have to catch up and find out where you went. But I can see having the truck heaters only working 8 hours a day would be insufficient in temps like that. Nasty, cold. So what do you do when there is an inversion and shouldn't inhale in the fog? Face masks?

And see? So behind I didn't even know that you had the hack rig home? I thought it was going to wait until spring! OK. I'll go read past articles to fill in the blanks. :)

Unknown said...

Richard:

I hope your batteries recover from the cold. I still can't imagine living in your temperatures, near freezing is cold enough.

After your sidecar is mounted, can the sidecar be easily removed, or will it always be a hack or do you also have to modify the front wheel suspension

bob
Riding the Wet Coast
My Flickr // My YouTube

RichardM said...

Life goes on even at -44°F. School is still in session and still commuting by bus which means I get at least 1.8 miles of walking each way.

The problem with your strategy is that no ne bothers to recover.

RichardM said...

It hasn't been a problem in the past but it may be getting time to replace the batteries. They are eight years old now.

When there is an inversion, besides avoiding low lying areas it's recommended that you avoid any strenuous activity. It's kind of interesting seeing the exhaust from chimneys turn down instead of up....

RichardM said...

The batteries were fine once they were warmed up a bit and the truck started up after being plugged in for about 9 hours. Many things still continue on even in the cold and still managing to get in at least a few miles per day walking. This morning, kids were still waiting along the road for the school bus.

I'm not modifying the front suspension so just four bolts and a wiring harness are all that hold them together. I plan on using a trailer connector for the sidecar lights but am thinking of physically moving the right rear turn signal from the bike to the sidecar which will add a little more effort to go back and forth. Also, thinking of using square profile tires auch as these for longer tire life than motorcycle tires. Time will tell how often things get switched back and forth...

Trobairitz said...

Is getting used to the cold like boiling frog syndrome. You know, it doesn't seem as cold as you get used to it gradually, as opposed to the rest of us who'd freeze solid at 10˚F.

Damn man and you are sill walking in it. I think I'd hibernate, there just isn't enough cold weather gear to keep me warm at those temperatures.

redlegsrides said...

Richard, so the mounting points for the sidecar subframe onto the Airhead's subframe are not obvious? It's troubling to me that you're having to guess. Hopefully Jay has the answers you need.

As to the kind of cold you're experiencing which basically froze up your truck engine....man! Best I've done is -25F degrees with the wind chilland that was for a very short ride, less than 30 minutes I'd say.

RichardM said...

It's a dry cold...

Haven't we all heard that before but in this case there's some truth to it. With the low humidity and no wind, -40 really doesn't feel that cold. I do still go out walking and unless I'm going to be in deep snow, I still use the same running shoes as the rest of the year. If I'm going to be outside in deep snow or for a long time, I have a pair of bunny boots and Carhartt coveralls. My homemade beaver fur hat (I made it 30 years ago) is very warm even in the wind or blowing snow.

RichardM said...

For the front sidecar mount, it's pretty obvious and the two adjustments set either the lead or the distance between the sidecar and the bike. I picked an 8" lead (61" wheelbase) based on the DMC recommendation (10% - 15% of the wheelbase). The new rear crossmember has the rear sidecar mount and needs to be welded into the sidecar frame. My plan was to attach the front mount then mock up the rear mount to find out the best location for the new rear crossmember.

Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

Richard, good luck with the sidecar mounting. Friend Dave worked and worked to get his rig that was supposedly already dialed in and I'm not sure he made it better. Based on what he said and what I've read, everyone seems to have their own twist on the technique and in the end, it's as much art as it is science.

Stay warm!

VStar Lady said...

Bitter! Richard, minus 20 is bitter -40 is extreme. And though the inverstion may be a health risk it makes for one spectacular effect at sunrise. I'm with Brandy though - anything near that cold and I'm all about curling up beside a fire.

Martha said...

I understand about getting used to the cold. I think the coldest (no windchill) I've experienced was -24. Your nose freezes inside, your eyes tear (well, mine did). Best not to breathe that cold into your lungs directly. And the sound of walking on that snow was rubbery. It was great!

And then when it got to about -15 I was out in a light sweater shoveling snow.

Is that sunrise photo near your home? Lovely shot!

RichardM said...

Can't just hole up and sit by the fire if it's this way for weeks at a time. Still have to go to work, school is still in session and there's way too many people driving around even though visibility is really poor.

It does make for great sunrises and sunsets.

RichardM said...

After a while at below -40°, almost anything feels warm. My cutoff for skiing is around -15°F but prefer it slightly above zero (F).

The sunrise is a iPhone pano from the parking lot next to the building where my office is. The large smoke plume is from the university coal power/steam plant.

RichardM said...

I'm looking forward to getting it done. Fortunately, there is plenty of adjustment with the mounts and the alignment steps seem pretty easy to understand, conceptually.

SonjaM said...

Beautiful pre-sunrise picture. However, with the current weather I would just go into hibernation mode and wake up in a few months.

RichardM said...

The fog does make for nice sunrise pictures. If I went into hibernation mode, I'll miss out half of the year!