Sunday, May 31, 2015

Spring Challenge

Dar from Princess Scooterpie Adventures of a Motorcycle Diva posted a challenge to show her what Spring looks like in our area. I think this may be as typical as it gets here in the interior. The snow is melted and all of the brown and grey has turned various shades of green. The Alaska Railway has the fancy Princess Tour cars. This group is probably arriving in Fairbanks after a stay at Denali Natl Park after their stay at the Princess Hotel just outside the park entrance. 

Today, Bridget and I went with a small group from our church to the Monderosa just north of Nenana. Definitely one of the best hamburgers in this area. This was another test of the homemade air box and the gas mileage definitely improved. From 25 mpg to 28.5 mpg over the same route. Lots of hills and there was a 15 mph north wind. Both trips with the sidecar windshield up. The additional drag is very noticeable as it tends to pull the rig to the right all the time.

The new air box is a bit noisier than the stock set up. All week I have been tweaking the jets and I think that I may be close. I'm trying to figure out if hearing subtle popping through the exhaust while decelerating indicates a rich or a lean mixture. The only problem is that the engine runs hot. I saw cylinder head temperatures of almost 500°F which is way above the Ural recommendation but similar to what I was seeing with the completely stock setup. At least is isn't worse. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

0 Days, 0 Hours, 0 Minutes

After 31 years as an employee of the University of Alaska, I'm finally retiring. My last day is today, May 29, 2015. I was originally hired as a computer programmer by the Fairbanks campus business office to create a telephone billing system and given my complete ignorance of telephone systems, Cobol or Wang minicomputers, they gave me a year to complete the project. I delivered the system in two weeks and was told to look for other things that needed done. I originally took the job just to make enough money to move to Glenallen, AK, and teach classes for Prince William Sound Community College and Alaska Bible College then possibly move out of the state. That didn't happen. Life happened and I'm still here trying to figure out what to do now.

Almost there...
As I've mentioned before, I'll still have an affiliation to the university working on the project in Barrow. It is funded by NSF (National Science Foundation) through CH2MHill and due to the externally funded, there was no restriction to being hired back as a part time temp. Plus it'll take me a while to clean out my office. There is a lot of junk in here...

On an unrelated note, the weather service put out a severe weather alert for interior Alaska and they are projecting freezing temperatures for the beginning of next week. This morning felt pretty chilly at 40°F on the ride in.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"Homemade Air Thingy"

Here is what I was working on that Bridget referred to as some "home made air thingy for the bike" in the previous post. I have been considering making a new airbox for the Ural for a while as I continued to have problems with the stock airbox when it is snowing while riding. The stock filter would get soggy and clog up.

Before the Talkeetna road trip, I put in a new K&N filter and changed the main jet back to stock (122 main, 42 pilot) and gas mileage was decent at 28 mpg average even with the extra passenger and the mound of camping gear on the rear rack. The second experiment is this airbox known as the "Leftka 3, no metal" on SovietSteeds, a Ural forum. The attraction of this box is a larger air filter and reports of fuel mileage in the mid-30s. The main body is made from an 8" length of 5" PVC fence post which another SovietSteeds member generously sent for just the shipping cost. The air intake hole is offset since the airbox doesn't sit centered in the frame due to the 2WD shifter linkage.

I think it uses K&N filter from a Moto Guzzi that I ordered from Amazon. The aluminum flanges were ordered from Aircraft Spruce, the same vendor I had ordered the CHT (cylinder head temperature) gauge from. The plastic ends are caps were the hardest piece to get as they seem to be sold only in quantities of 1000+ units. I (guiltily) requested a couple of free samples which were happily sent. The assembly went together in one afternoon though the fit is pretty tight in the space used by the old air filter housing. Tight enough that I don't even have any mounting hardware holding it in place. The flanges were installed slightly off center because I wanted to try and re-use the one-piece branch pipes. Other installations used Ceet flexible hose which is hard to find anywhere besides Aircraft Spruce and they alway want a bunch for shipping.

Initial testing is good. At idle and partial throttle, no popping so the pilot jet isn't too lean. On the initial test ride, there was popping at mid-throttle indicating that the mixture was too lean. I installed the two shims back under the carb needles. No more popping. At wide open throttle, there was some hesitation so the 130 main jets went in. Now, it seems to run pretty well. No popping at any throttle position even when cold.

A long grade on the Parks Hwy towards Nenana which had required downshifting to third could now be taken in fourth at 55 mph. CHT are maxing out at 450°F/425°F (L/R) under heavy loads such as that grade and actually drop at wide open throttle suggesting that the main jet is on the rich side. I'll order a 128 main jet. Normal running on flat terrain is around 375°F/350°F (L/R). On the Talkeetna road trip, I regularly saw 500°F which I personally think is on the high side. And that was basically stock.

Between the last picture and this one, I cut a relief (i.e. hole) in the air box to clear the tank mounting bracket and allow the box to sit more forward and vertical. Now that the box it is fitting the way I want it to, I'll paint it. The original design had all this weather stripping to seal the box but since it is all on the "dirty side" of the filter, I didn't bother. The clearance cutout is also on the "dirty side" of the filter. In this position, the branch tubes don't exert any additional mechanical stress on the all too fragile compliance fittings.

Monday, May 25, 2015

A few notes from Bridget

Hello all, Richard said that many of you would like my take on the trip to Talkeetna.  I don't know how many of you know that this trip down was to see if I would enjoy traveling around with Richard for a week this summer along the western US coast.

I had gone to my back doctor the day before to get an adjustment, and tips for travel. There are times when I travel on an airplane that I can't sleep because my back really bothers me. He recommended a pillow for lumbar support, and to keep my knees bent, not straight. To prepare for the trip I also downloaded podcasts and audio books.

Since I had to work on Friday we planned on leaving around 3:00.  The last hour I could barely do anything since I was so excited for the trip. 3:00 came.  Some teachers gathered out front to see the rig.  Here is where I would insert the before trip picture that I can't seem to add to this blog.  Richard is somewhere playing with some home made air thingy for the bike.  Hey, I figured it out!  There is my "selfie" for the trip, and our friend, Jed, riding ahead of us.

Jed ahead
It was in the 70's when we left.  I had the air vents open in my jacket, and the electronics all set to go.  I wish I could say some exciting things about the trip, but it was pretty uneventful.  We stopped every hour.  I was very comfortable and entertained.  The scenery was fantastic, much better than my camera could take pics of.  Denali (Mt. McKinley) was huge and beautiful.  We saw a caribou.  We arrived in Talkeetna around 10:00.  The only complaint I had was that I was tired of the helmet for the last hour.  The further south we got, the cooler it got, so I had to keep putting on layers.  That's Alaska.

Talkeetna is a very interesting little town.  Lots of Alaska history there.  It is one of the oldest towns in Alaska.  It was built as a stop for barges and ships going up the river.  There is a historic Road House there that served delicious meals, and huge breakfasts.  The picture isn't of the roadhouse, but of the general store.

There are 5 bikes in this pic.  4 are Urals.

Bob and Sharon leaving
Friends Bob and Sharon only came on Saturday.  Sharon and I spent hours in the gift shops.  I was glad I left my purse back at the campsite.  I did go back later and purchase a beautiful quilted wall hanging of sandhill cranes.

The camping in a tent part was fun.  I was very cold the first night.  The second night must have been warmer because I was very comfortable.  The was a building with a flush toilet and a sink with only cold running water.  I found two places in town with warm water.  Being a teacher I am very used to having clean hands.

The other activity I did in Talkeetna was geo-caching.  I found 4.  The last one was hard, but I had a young lady along with me anxious because it advertised to have books.  Sadly, it had only magazines in it.

I really bundled up for the trip home.  We were concerned that we would run into rain.  Luckily the only rain we had were sprinkles.  The next time I travel I will go in my winter skirt that Richard bought me for Christmas.  It would be easier than the blanket I had wrapped around my legs.  The heated jacket was a must for the trip home.  It could be why I slept so much on the way back.  Cozy and warm.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day Road Trip - 2

It has been a pretty laid back day here in Talkeetna. There are five sidecars and a 1980 BMW RT here. He had his sidecar rig here last year but it is in the process of being fixed.

It was sunny on Friday and Saturday morning but as the day progressed, we started getting some sprinkles. Deeter, on the '80 RT, headed back to Palmer mid-afternoon to try and beat the rain. Bob and Sharon headed back in early evening on their GS/DMC rig. The sprinkles are supposed to be letting up by noon so that's when we are looking to pack up and head north.

Saturday evening around the campfire. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day Road Trip Pt. 1

Fully loaded with the exception of the monkey. The front brake pads arrived in today's mail so I spent ten minutes changing them out. The old pads were pretty worn compared to the new and braking feels a little softer but that's probably because the pads aren't broken in. I just need to take it easy on them for the first hundred miles or so.

 The replacement gas cap was also waiting for me and also just in time. The rubber "O" ring on the old Saab cap was starting to fall apart. I drilled a hole in the cap and added a tether to prevent the cap getting left behind. You may notice that I'm using the tail bag instead of the tank bag. I just have the tent sitting on top of the rear fender so there was room on the seat for the bag. The tank bag just didn't fit as well on the Ural as it did on the Beemer. JedR is meeting us at Bridget's school at 3:00pm and we are taking off from there.

Here we are in Nenana, about 50 miles into the trip. We stopped just for a cup of coffee. 

We stopped at a Subway in "glitter gulch" aka the touristy area north of the Denali park entrance. The mud is from road construction. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Getting Ready

I arrived back in Fairbanks this afternoon and after a few quick errands, I started to get the rig ready for the Memorial Day road trip. Bridget and I are riding down to Talkeetna for the annual Alaska Sidecar camp out. We are leaving around 3 pm with Jed and his shiny Ural. Last September, I had picked up this 60mm ammo can at the Palmer fair with the intention of mounting it under the back of the sidecar. Procrastinator that I am, I finally installed it. I used 4 3/8" bolts with fender washers inside the sidecar and inside the ammo can and 1/4" thick rubber washers between the box and the bottom of the sidecar. It opens towards the bike and there is plenty of room to completely open the door. Later, I'll put on a small padlock to keep honest people honest. For now, I have the scissors jack, the spare tube, a quart of oil, funnel, and a small rachet set in there. There's room for more but that's probably enough weight.

I had mentioned that the one thing I miss on the Ural is a clock. This afternoon, Jed stopped by and dropped off a motorcycle clock that he had lying around. It's just what I was looking for.

So now the rig has quite a load with two camp chairs, a three person tent, two sleeping bags, two thermorest pads, stove (actually 2 stoves), cooking stuff, two breakfasts, one dinner and some snacks. Plus the normal camping gear, insect repellant and a couple of changes of clothes.

I checked the sidecar alignment since one of the lower clamp bolts was loose but it is still right at ¼" toe in and 1° lean out. The new gas cap came in and it is now tethered to the bike. I still haven't decided whether to put the duffle on the rear of the bike or on the rack.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Spring in Barrow

I'm back in Barrow again but this time to get the new IT tech set up for the summer field season. He is a university student from Anchorage and is anxiously looking forward to this new experience. After dinner today, we walked a short way out to the coast on a boardwalk and there was a great view of the ice covered sea. It is about 8:30pm and the sun is still high in the sky. The haze in the distance is where there is probably open water.

I am trying out a new iPhone camera app called Hydra. The picture above was in HDR mode and instead of just taking two or three photos, it took nine. I think it did a great job. The second photo was a test of the high resolution zoom feature. The iPhone sensor is 8 megapixels and this image is a 2x zoom with 8 megapixel resolution. It did this magic by taking advantage of the fact that hand holding isn't perfect and took 42 pictures. It then combined them together in software resulting in an 8 megapixel photo of just the center of the frame. Magic...

This is the short boardwalk out to the edge of the cliff looking back towards town. The restaurant we went to is the grey building on the right. Arctic Pizza. In many areas the snow has melted leaving a lot of swamps and mud. Boardwalks are nice to have.

The last image is a iPhone pano using the built in camera software and moving the phone from left to right. It was a beautiful evening. Almost painfully bright. The sun won't set again until August 1st.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tombstone's Travels

Ken, the author of Tombstone's Travels, stopped by with his new V-Strom. He has recovered from his accident on the Dalton Hwy after riding up to Prudhoe. I was hoping for an opportunity to visit before he headed out of town and since I am heading out of town tomorrow, today seemed good. I had also invited BruceW, Whojigger on SovietSteeds, who was up from Ketchikan over for dinner. We had a wonderful time talking, hearing about his adventures and accident on the Dalton. He and another friend from Utah are planning to be back on the road again within the next couple of days.

Here is the mandatory group shot as they were getting ready to head out. That is Bruce on his blue/white Ural Patrol. You might notice the green leaves but what you don't see is the 80°F temperatures that we have been dealing with. Pretty grim weather.

It was great to finally meet up with Ken as I thought I was going to miss him by a couple of days. He had arrived in Fairbanks when I was last up in Barrow and was originally planning to pass through Fairbanks while I was in Anchorage last week.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Farkling and Fixing

Time to start getting ready for trips. The first was the carrier for my stove fuel. On my last road trip, I carried it inside my side cases. There is some risk associated with that especially when things got really warm. I had picked up this Touratech carrier a couple of years ago but never installed it.  Very well made and came with stainless mounting hardware. 

I also installed the Hyper-Lites that I had picked up in Anchorage last week on each side of the tail light. They have a "California" option which blinks for 5 sec then are on steady. I prefer that especially if I'm following someone. I would find continuous blinking at a stoplight annoying. 

As part of the 27,500 km maintenance, I removed the front wheel to adjust the wheel bearings. They didn't need adjustment though I did notice that I need new front disk brake pads. They have been ordered and hopefully get here before Thursday. 

One last task was removing the stub axle from the sidecar. Here is the axle with the wheel and brakes removed. The "unofficial manual" says to just put a block of wood on the end of the axle and pound the stub axle and inner bearing out of the housing. Easier said than done. After more than a bit of pounding, I stopped as I didn't want to damage the bearings. Since I can't get a picture of the worn axle splines without risking the rig being down for an extended time, I'll just order the parts and fix it when I get back. Not try to do a claim on the extended warranty. 

BTW, this post was made using BlogTouch Pro on the iPhone. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

27,500 km Service

More just a note for myself than anything else. This is the checklist from the Ural owners manual. So far, I've put on just short of 10,000 km on the Ural since I picked it up on July 3, 2014.

  • Change engine oil - 20w50 synthetic blend and filter
  • Check final drive oil level - full. Changed at 20,000 km with Mobil 1 full synthetic 
  • Inspect air filter element - still looks clean and put the rubber sound dampener back in on the intake
  • Check fasteners for proper tightening.
  • Check steering column bearings - tightened the bearing ~⅛ of a turn. Did not grease.
  • Check adjustment of wheel bearings - Checked pusher when the tube was replaced. The sidecar tomorrow when I try to remove the sidecar stub axle. 
I had ordered a 5-pack of oil filters from Heindle Engineering in Ohio as well as a K&N air filter. I had cleaned the stock filter but didn't know how old it was. According to Heindle, the filter is in the mail. I had also ordered a Heidenau K28 sidecar tire and just received notice that I should have it by next week. It'll be great if I can get it before our trip to Talkeetna next week for the Alaska Sidecar Gathering.

Other maintenance or repairs done within the last month:

  • Checked the valve adjustment
  • Balanced the carbs
  • Adjusted the rear brake and installed wing nuts for easy no-tool adjustment
  • Adjusted the parking brake
  • Replaced the headlight (The Hella H4 got hit by a rock so I put the original Wagner bulb back in until I can get some sort of headlight guard)
  • Replaced the tube in the pusher
  • Checked the transmission oil level
  • Greased the U-Joints
Tomorrow, I plan on removing the stub axle from the sidecar as I believe the splines are worn out. I need to send a picture to Mickey, the Alaska Ural dealer, in order to get a replacement sidecar axle under the extended warranty. JedR, the owner of the new 2015 Ural, is planning to stop by and help out. He figures that he needs to learn how to wrench on these rigs.

2,555 km on the replaced speedometer. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Four Urals

Last night, BruceW, the Ural rider from Ketchikan that rode to Fairbanks last January, called and mentioned that he was back in town to pick up his rig. We made arrangements to meet at College Coffeehouse this morning and RickS, shown here on the left, came by in his new 2013 Patrol that he just picked up and drove to Alaska from Illinois. I had purchased my 2012 Patrol from RickS last summer.

Later in the morning, JedR brought his new 2015 fuel injected Ural by as well. I think that this must be a record for Fairbanks. Four rigs at one time. Ironically, I had just talked to RickS yesterday at the Napa store while I was shopping around for a gas cap.

I forgot to mention that I had lost the Ural gas cap somewhere in Cantwell. I had stopped at a gas station and removed the cap. Their card machine wasn't working so I hopped back on and rode about ½ mile to the other gas station. Upon arriving, I noted that I had forgotten to replace the gas cap before taking off. Couldn't find it along the side of the road. For the rest of the trip a piece of duct tape served as the gas cap.

I had stopped at several auto parts stores once I hit Wasilla but since they don't have caps hanging on the rack anymore it was hard to find a match. They kept asking what kind of car. I had stopped to see Mickey but he only had the older non-screw on caps lying around. I did find on Soviet Steeds, a Ural online forum, that a Stant 11871 gas cap will work. It took a bit of digging on the Internet until I found a website that mentioned all of the cars and trucks that used a Stant 11871 gas cap. One of those listed was a mid-80s Saab. I just happened to have one of those sitting in our yard. And just like it said on the Internet, the old, faded gas cap really does fit.

While in Anchorage, I did order a replacement from Crawford Sales in Michigan. They had the aftermarket non-locking gas cap instead of the expensive stock locking version listed on their web site. Mickey is in the process of moving his Ural business from Anchorage to Delta. A better location for me as it would only be 100 miles down the road. Most of his motorcycle stuff was packed into ten shipping containers. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Return From Anchorage

I rode from Anchorage to Fairbanks on Monday and experienced my first flat. Less than ½ mile from my brothers home, it was flat. I still have not determined the cause though I didn't see anything obvious. It only took about 15 min to swap out the pusher with the spare though I had forgotten to pack a tire pressure gauge. It felt a little low so I just added some air using my handy air compressor before heading into Anchorage.

I was thinking of stopping at Alaska Leather, a motorcycle accessory store, to pick up some Hyper-Lites, the flashing led brake lights, and now I added an inner tube to the shopping list. It turns out that they still had free tire pressure gauges courtesy of Abate. I didn't bother fixing the flat since I had the spare tube in case I needed to fix things on the road. I aired up the tire the rest of the way and headed north. The temperatures varied from 38°F to 65°F and there was even a bit of rain. The photo is from the Parks Monument just outside of Fairbanks looking south over the Tanana Flats.

It was a beautiful trip back though I will note that 400 miles on the Ural is much more tiring than 400 miles on the Beemer (sans sidecar). Though maybe it's just the time on the road. After removing the FrogzSkin pre-filter, the gas mileage jumped up to the expected 26 mpg.

Below is a short movie of the first half of the trip. The SD card filled up with all of the jpeg images.

And from the second half of the trip. From south of Cantwell to north of Healy. I think some of the nicer scenery on the trip.

Update - I removed the tube from the flat tire and the valve stem was pulled out of the tube. Maybe it was the incredible acceleration of a Ural but more likely it was me not checking the tire pressure on a regular basis. The Heidenau tires have such a sturdy sidewall that they can be low on air and the only way you can tell is with a gauge. Just looking isn't sufficient. A new tube is installed and the K37 is back on as the pusher. It feels so much more planted than the stock tire. I ordered one of the Heidenau K28 sidecar tires from Heindle Engineering and he told me that I am 3rd on the list. U.S. availability was supposed to start around now. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Short Visit to Seward

Bridget and I spent the day in Seward with my brother and his wife. While having lunch, we spotted three eagles flying around the small boat harbor. Bridget took this iPhone photo of the one posing for us. We believe that they were building a nest somewhere as the other two were carrying around twigs.

We were there checking out hotels for a family reunion next year. While we were there, we visited five hotels and checked out their conference facilities and room options. Seward is a beautiful place to visit with a lot of activities ranging from whale and glacier cruises, sea kayaking, cycling, hiking, etc.

The restaurant was right next to the small boat harbor and across from the commercial fish processing plants. Very picturesque. It rained for most of the day but there were short moments of blue skies.

The last photo was taken on the trip back looking south across Turnagain Arm.

Friday, May 8, 2015

First Ural Road Trip

I left Barrow on the Thursday morning flight and arrived back home about 2:00pm. By 3:00pm, I was packed up again and heading out on my first Ural road trip. This is just a short, weekend trip to Anchorage to meet with my brothers family and start planning the 2016 Machida Family Reunion in Alaska. Bridget is flying down on Friday evening so I'm on my own for this road trip down.

I think that I need to remove the FrogzSkin from the air cleaner housing as the rig was really anemic. And gas mileage was horrible as in 16 mpg. I needed the gas in my 3 gallon gas can twice as I could only go 116 km before switching to reserve. We don't have that many gas stations on our highways. My son had asked if I was going to bring both 3 gallon gas cans but that seemed excessive at the time.

Right now I'm staying with friends just north of Anchorage having arrived at about 9:45pm. North of the entrance to Denali Natl Park, there was a strong headwind and I was barely able to maintain 50 mph on the flats. South of Cantwell, the winds died down and I was able to easily maintain high 50's and gas mileage jumped to 19 mpg. Tomorrow, I'll remove the FrogzSkin and see how much of a difference it makes.

Here is a short video with bits and pieces of the trip.

Friday Afternoon Update - After a restful morning visiting with BobP in Wasilla, I pulled the air cleaner housing and carefully peeled off the FrogzSkin mesh. Just in case I want to use it again. On the ride across Knik Arm, there was a really strong headwind and the Ural was able to maintain 55 mph without full throttle and the CHT was the desired 350°F/375°F. If I sped up to 60mph, which it now does easily, the CHT climbs into the less desirable 425°F range pretty quickly. And 61 mph on the GPS is about 57 mph on the Ural speedometer. I think that I'll ride with the GPS more often as the indicated speeds were all over the map i.e. not consistently high or low. The gas mileage without the FrogzSkin may be higher as I already passed the 116 km mark where I've had to switch to reserve twice on the trip down.

In Cantwell, I had forgotten to replace the gas cap when I took off so now I'm using a piece of duct tape. Not optimal. I stopped and visited Mickey and all of the ones he had lying around were for the older Urals. He mentioned that I should try an auto parts store as the cap is supposed to be pretty generic. I tried three stores and no luck. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Even More Antennae

This is on the roof of the BARC (Barrow Arctic Research Center) with my latest antenna at the very top of this mast. It is an omni-directional antenna for cell phones. The building itself is clad in metal with metal-coated glass panels to help hold in the heat. So, as you can imagine, cell reception inside the building is poor and there have been many complaints over the years.

BTW, if you have an iPhone, you can quantitatively measure cell phone signal strength by entering *3001#12345#* and pressing the "Call" button within the phone app. The signal is shown on the upper left of the screen in place of the bars or dots. This feature was very useful when setting up the cellular repeater. Outside of the building, signal was a very good -67db, inside of the building, a horrible -97db. After the installation of the repeater, it was -69db (inside). On Android, I installed an app called "Network Signal Info" from the Google Play Store. It has a really nice graphical interface and a lot easier than dialing the weird code.

Inside of the building, I have two small antennae mounted to ceiling tiles in the hallways. Between the inside and outside antennae, is an amplifier that allows you to adjust the gain of each cellular band. Hopefully, this will eliminate some of the complaints. The low loss coax antenna cables were a real pain to work as they are pretty stiff and it was still only 11°F outside with a 10mph wind. There has been snow flurries most of the time I've been up here on this trip.

There is starting to be some open water and the spring whaling crews are out. The Barrow Sea Ice Radar images seems to be popular at this time of year. The science support staff has started installing the new Ubiquity radios on the huts so there is a chance that this part of the project may actually be completed. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Back In Barrow

I'm back in Barrow to finish configuring a new metro wireless network for the NSF leased facilities on the NARL campus. This photo shows the two base stations, the long, white panels. These radios are running 802.11N @ 5 GHz and, depending on the client, have a useful range of several miles. Each panel covers a 90° sector. The panels and cables were in the process of being installed the last time I was here but didn't get finished until after I had left.

Here is a typical client installation. The client antennae are only slightly directional (45° beam width horizontal and vertical) and I was getting great signal even when the antenna was sitting on the snow. But it's probably better to be mounted to a mast off of the ground. Less chance of damage.

Here is a "snow photo" for those still longing for just a few more weeks of winter. Water is dripping from roofs edges and sunset is now a bit after midnight (12:35am) with sunrise a few hours later. In ten days the sun will be above the horizon all day though with today's fog and cloud cover you wouldn't really know.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Finally, Balanced

Balanced carbs are a wonderful thing. I had relied on BobK, a fellow airhead, for balancing the carbs on the Beemer with his Hg sticks. The Ural seemed fine when I picked it up. Over the winter, I had raised the idle speed a little so that would have messed up the balance and I could feel the vibration. I was waiting for the Harmonizer, another electronic tool, to be built again but decided that I was tired of waiting. The TwinMax electronic balancing tool made in France and I believe that it's been around for a while, and though not quite as slick as the Harmonizer it is $25 cheaper. I picked it up from A&S BMW and the first one I received didn't work (doesn't sound promising) but the replacement arrived today and it worked like a charm. The needle essentially displays the difference in vacuum between the two hose connections.

The two vacuum hoses from the TwinMax are plugged into the vacuum ports on the two carbs. On the Ural, the left carb vacuum port is used to control the fuel petcock so after disconnecting the vacuum hose, the petcock needs to be turned to the "Pri" (prime) position. The TwinMax is powered up, sensitivity knob to max and the zero knob is adjusted to center the needle. The warmed up engine is started and after setting the idle speed to about where you want it, in the case of the Ural, right around 1000 rpm, the idle speed screw on the right carb is adjusted to center the needle. Before doing this, you want to make sure that the throttle cables are not tight. Then, using the throttle, you speed up the engine to around 2500 rpm and by adjusting the throttle cable on the right carb, you center the needle. If there is too much slack in the throttle cables, the slack can be taken up using the adjustment on the throttle. You can use either carb to make your adjustments but the adjustment points are easier to reach on the right carb.

Both idle and high speed adjustments were needed on the Ural. Afterwards, I took the rig on a short test ride and the difference is engine smoothness was pronounced. Now there is very little engine vibration at any speed. I was hoping that this tool would arrive this week so I could balance the carbs before my road trip to Anchorage on the 7th.

Tomorrow afternoon, I head back to Barrow to finish the installation of the new Ubiquity radios.