Thursday, October 29, 2015

Just a Dusting

Just like the forcast has indicated, we got a dusting of snow last night. It's almost like the first snow of the year and the roads were pretty slick with some ice under the dusting of snow. This picture was taken at Ballaine Lake on the way in to College Coffeehouse. Given the amount of wheelspin that I was occasionally getting, the pusher could use more studs. The sidecar wheel currently has none and you can tell that there isn't as much rear brake as usual.

I had ordered some more of the GripStuds from Aerostitch and asked them to just ship them with my RC Light whenever it is being shipped back. I think it's been almost 5 weeks so I just shot out an email to them this morning. The FirstGear Kilimanjaro jacket and pants are doing okay but they just aren't as warm or easy to put on/off as the RC.

Maybe if we get a little more snow I can try out the plow.

Thursday Afternoon - Still not very much snow but enough to try out the plow. Between steering, shifting (manual transmission) and the handheld remote to control the plow, you really have your hands full with a small driveway. But still, way easier and faster than the snow blower.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Stepping Gingerly into Facebook

I've had avoided using Facebook for a long time. I don't really care for some of their past/present security policies but things seem to be improving. The "sleazy" feel has either diminished or I've reached the "I don't care" stage. Anyway, I had created an account a couple of years ago just to "claim" it but never really did anything with it. The powers that be within Facebook said that they would delete unused accounts at one point. I'm not sure what the current policy is.

I have been using the IFTTT service to post to another rarely used social media outlet, Twitter (BTW, my identity is @RMachida in case you care to follow), for years whenever I put up a new blog post. I figured that I could do the same thing with Facebook. I installed the iPhone app and started exploring to see how to create a page and automating posts and got sucked into "adding friends" as the site was suggesting names of people that I had lost track of decades ago.

This response was predictable as I've avoided the site for quite a while and rarely had anything positive to say about the service. I was reminded of the problems when Dom had posted about the theft of his photos. Somewhat related is the terms of service on the site. According to

... although you still “own” the photograph, you grant the social media sites a license to use your photograph anyway they see fit for free AND you grant them the right to let others use you picture as well!
Pretty shady behavior and it's not limited to Facebook...

I figure that my photos and posts have little if any monetary value so I'm not really concerned.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Guess Where I Am (Again)

Today, I am back at the Fairbanks International Airport for the short flight to Anchorage. Just down this afternoon for a meeting and back again this evening. At least it isn't a 10 hour trip like it was when I travelled to Barrow last week. The trip back to Fairbanks yesterday was the normal 1½ hour trip for the less than 500 mile distance.

This picture was taken yesterday on our approach to Fairbanks from the south. On the Barrow-Fairbanks flight the normal approach is from the north just to the east of the university so this is different. We circled to the west of town and came in over the Tanana River. The airport and Fairbanks is on the upper right of the picture and the university is in the upper-center.

I did get some heavy duty velcro straps for the chains but they are too short as is. Instead of returning them, I will be making some extensions out of 1" webbing and some sturdy "D"-rings which I will attach to the chains. This will not only eliminate the clearance issue but will make them much easier to install. Another post for that project.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Slow Sunday Afternoon

Yesterday, there wasn't any sea ice to be seen. This morning, there is quite a bit of ice floating out there. The whale bone arch is sort of off the beaten path since they closed the restaurant next door. But Cruz, the wonderful, new Mexican take out place is right next door. Unfortunately, it seems to be closed on Sunday. Or at least is was when I went by which was shortly after sunrise (10:40 AM).

I went to Osaka's, my favorite restaurant in Barrow, for some tempura udon. The broth is a little sweet and delicious. It was wonderful especially when compared to yesterdays fare, I went to the Sam & Lees, one of the Chinese restaurants, and the food was horrible. It seemed like they threw together leftover pork from the lunch buffet and some raw vegetables in a bowl, poured some warm sauce on top and called it good. And served it with a blob of gummy rice. Pretty poor showing. Usually it's decent.

Here is a slightly better picture of the sea ice. The beach is in the foreground then open water followed by the developing ice. I headed out to the the BEO (Barrow Environmental Observatory) mid afternoon after most of the morning low clouds and fog had burned off. On the way out, I noticed that there was a nice rainbow and some blue sky over the ocean. By evening there was no more open water. It was frozen over...

Another photo taken from the SledShed looking southwest away from the BEO. This small building (not in the picture) gets its name from the runners that it is installed on to simplify moving the building. The photo is an iPhone HDR photo using the stock camera app. It seems to do a pretty good job. I was out there to check out some network hardware as I was finding tons of errors in the documentation. The documentation was wrong. Frustrating...

One last food pic. Returned in the evening just to make sure that it was my favorite restaurant in Barrow. This was just the #3 bento box with salmon. Not shown (already consumed) miso soup and ikura sushi.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Wi-Fi Calling

Another post with zero moto content.

I've noticed this new banner several times over the last week since I had turned it on. AT&T now supports Wi-fi calling when your phone is connected to the Internet over Wi-Fi and cell signal is weak or non-existent. Both voice and text are supported and since I've been in Barrow, it seems to work better than the local AT&T partner here. I wonder if it'll work in Canada?

Today was spent working in the BARC trying to simplify the audio/video setup in the conference room. I had initially set up the conference room with multiple cameras with a video switcher, and three boundary microphones and three wireless microphones with a small mixer. And one-click recording and/or streaming to the Internet. The setup is now simplified so that someone can walk into the room, plug their laptop in at the podium to VGA and Ethernet and use the single wired microphone. It has proven to be impossible to get anyone else up to speed on the A/V equipment for any length of time. Plus people just come in and randomly unplug things since they don't know how it works. Very frustrating for me and those at UIC Science trying to support the room. I had thought that the original setup was pretty straightforward. But I guess not...

I also upgraded a bunch of machines to OSX 10.11 aka El Capitan. Pretty easy after I made a couple of boot images on USB thumb drives. Only one download needed for all of the hosts. (The initial download took almost a full day) Tomorrow I'll try and upgrade the OS X server...

Friday, October 23, 2015

Barrow Logo-Wear

Back in Barrow for several days to get some things done. I was asked to run a cable to the roof for another Ubiquity radio with a directional antenna pointed towards some other building on the NARL campus. This is looking north. Not very warm, kind of windy with blowing snow. Not very nice day to be out on the roof.

The science logistics provider, UIC Science, gave me one of their hoodies that they provide to their staff. Pretty nice with a great logo. If it has a logo is it always classified as tchotchke? This is way to nice and useful to have that label. Plus I picked up a new down vest (no logo) from the surplus equipment pile resulting from cleaning out a shipping container. I believe that most of the pile was being donated somewhere in town.

I have the "lake view" hut again. I seem to only get it during the winter. This is the view from the dining room window. The darker sky is towards the ocean and to the east and it really looks that way and not just an artifact from the iPhone. Almost like you can see the night sky swallowing up the light.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Yet Another Non-Moto Post

My truck has gotten minimal use the last couple of years as I had finally figured out a way to turn my commute into recreation. It is a great 1 ton truck with 4WD, 6-speed manual and the Cummins diesel. It is now over ten years old and doesn't even have 50k miles. Barely broken in as the mean time between overhaul of the 5.9 diesel is something like 350k miles. I've always thought that plowing is something that I could enjoy doing and though the truck isn't ideal (heavy engine, long bed, quad cab), I think that it would work fine. Just not as maneuverable as a smaller rig.

A lot of time yesterday was spent riding the borough bus after I had dropped the truck off at TrailerCraft, the local Western distributor, to have them do the installation. I had started to walk back towards town when I noticed the bus stop signs. There is a new (at least to me) bus line. It wasn't due for a bit so I just continued on following the signs until the bus arrived. I stopped at College Coffeehouse to meet with some of the regulars then headed to the other side of town to the credit union.

(Now some minimal moto content) I met with JedR, another Ural rider, at the Starbucks inside Fred Meyer. He generously gave me a bag with a container of tire lube saying that we used up what I had when we installed his K37s a couple of weeks ago. Also in the bag was a great selection of cotter pins and some small picks to help pull out things like spacers and washers. Thank you Jed!

He offered to give me a ride back to TrailerCraft but I had plenty of time to kill before they would be done and just took the bus. The university pays the borough a lump sum every year so anyone with a university id can ride the bus. A pretty nice benefit especially with all of the new routes.

The plow is a Western Midweight with a 7½' metal blade and is classified as light commercial duty. It weighs around 600 lbs or about 50% less than some of the commercial "V" plows. Since I have the Cummins engine, it limits the size of the plow due to the weight of the engine. All of the hydraulics are installed on the plow frame so there are only 2 electrical connectors to the truck. One for power and the other for control. I will be picking up sand bags to put into the rear of the bed for ballast to offset the weight of the plow. So if it never snows in Fairbanks again you can thank me...

Right now I'm sitting at the airport waiting for my flight to Barrow through Anchorage and Prudhoe Bay. Due to their new flights the 1½ hour flight now takes most of the day.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Back to to Future Day

All I want to know is where is the flying Delorean that I was promised? Not to mention the hover board and the Mr. Fusion...

I remember when 2015 was so far in the future that I never really gave it much thought. Where has all that time gone. Last year I had posted about this date and was starting to seriously consider retirement. A lot has changed in one year but no flying cars. 

Happy Back to the Future Day!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Not Quite Cold Enough

Our extended "not yet winter" is continuing on today, sort of. For the last couple of days it has been floating right around freezing with rain, freezing rain and sleet with the resultant black ice. The studs are working well even the little tiny ones from China and I have not felt even a little slipping. Not so for some others on the road. Most people in Fairbanks never bother with things like studded snow tires and on normal years get by just fine with all season tires or mud and snow tires. This year has started out a little different.

I remember a post by Dom where he picked up tire chains for the Ural at and decided to try a set. They had a choice of a set of six or a set of eight. I opted for a single set of eight with the thought that could use some on the pusher and maybe a few on the front wheel or sidecar wheel as needed. The provided leather straps are almost too thick and barely fit between the tire/rim and the drive shaft. If I use a nylon strap and slightly bend the wire to match the contour of the tire then they fit easily.

I found these on Amazon and thought that I'd give them a try. I wasn't too keen on using the plastic buckles usually used on nylon webbing. D-rings are another option. If the velcro straps are sturdy enough then it'll simplify installation of the chains.

Here you can see that there is very little room between the K37 tire and the drive shaft. Not just to the rubber that covers the end of the spline but between the chain and the drive shaft itself. I think that this'll work but I went ahead and ordered the heavy duty velcro straps as well after running around town trying to find some.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Airhead Tech Day

This afternoon, the local Airhead group got together to play with someone's bike. This is what happens when the riding season is over and folks get antsy to do something moto related. In this case it was removing the pulse-air system on this 35 year old R65. I had done this as well as it helps the exhaust valves run cooler. Easy to do, only 20 minutes or so if you have the correct tools, plugs and caps.

Here is a shot of the inside of the airbox before all of the extra bits and pieces are removed. This bike only has 20k miles on it and still looks as clean as the day it rolled out of the dealer (IMHO). After this, the group moved to another garage to start pulling the forks off of an R80 to change the head bearings. Probably something I need to do one of these years.

The temperature was just above freezing as sleet, blowing snow and black ice were in the forecast for later in the day so I headed home mid-afternoon. This is at the dog-mushers field off of Farmers Loop Rd. A frequent stop back when I was doing the Polar Bear Challenge videos. Something that I probably won't bother with again. Too much whining...

Friday, October 16, 2015

Quick Trip to Anchorage

On Thursday morning, I headed to Anchorage with my oldest son to pick up some stuff that he had stored down there. So, obviously, this is not a Ural trip. For the first hundred miles or so the road was kind of slick with frost. The temperature was fluctuating above and below freezing so 4WD was needed more than a few times to make it up the hills without slipping. But it was a beautifully clear day. This is the view of Denali (formerlly known as Mt. McKinley) from the south viewpoint north of Trapper Creek. We had a great view of the peak for most of the morning. All I had to take a photo was my phone so this is what I have. The photo below is at max digital zoom just because I was curious about the detail.

Once we picked up his stuff from my nephew's home, we headed to Alaska Leather as I wanted to see if they had tire studs (they didn't). Then off to REI as my son was looking for a camp stove and thought that the Anchorage REI may have more of a selection than the Fairbanks store (they did). We then went to Best Buy and the Dimond Center to wander around before heading to my brother's home for the evening.

We head back to Fairbanks on Friday.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fall Sunrise

Sunrise is starting to get a bit later in the day. This was about 8:40 this morning and was the beginning of a beautiful day. It was about 28°F this morning and somewhere in the mid 40s this afternoon. It would've been a good day to go out for a ride but I really couldn't think of anywhere to go. Kinda sad, eh?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Tire Studs

The cheap carbide tire studs I purchased from Amazon came in yesterday's mail. They are 12mm long and the hex head is only 4mm. Pretty small but they are the shortest ones that they had. The GripStuds that I used last year are 12.5mm long but 9mm in diameter. The GripStuds are the ones listed in the Aerostitch catalog and they worked well. Not a single one came out on their own.

Here is what they look like when they are installed in the front wheel. I guess I am a little concerned that they will push further into the tire as the tire wears. As it is, 12mm is right at the limit of the tread depth and they are so small that they are fairly difficult to install with an electric drill. I don't have a 4mm driver bit and the 4mm ¼" socket is almost too deep. Maybe if I can find a small magnet to install inside of the socket to take up some of the depth.

The only benefit to the cheap studs is that they are cheap. 35¢ each is easier to swallow than $1.08 each for the GripStuds. In this photo you can see the real advantage of the GripStuds.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Ural Tech Days?

On Thursday and Friday, JedR came by and we worked his 2015 Ural which had been pretty well set up by Ural of Northeast. First was some electrical work. Since he has a full size automotive battery in the sidecar trunk, the stock battery wasn't really used for more than a terminal block. I had a terminal block  that I haven't used yet, we installed that in place of the stock battery. It's makes it really simple to add additional circuits on the bike. We also installed a 30 amp relay under the seat to provide switched accessory power for whatever else he wanted to add such as heated gear or lights.

We then added some driving lights which mount in place of the headlight bucket mounting bolts. A very clean looking installation. They are powered through another relay which we located in the headlight bucket and it is controlled by the high beam circuit and an inline waterproof switch. This same relay could be used to control fog lights.

I drilled and tapped one of the the aluminum fork caps and used that to mount the analog tachometer. This is identical to what I had done last year on my rig. IMHO, a much cleaner installation than just hanging it off of the handlebars. All wires are nicely dressed with split loom to protect the wires from abrasion.

Quite a bit of time was spent installing tires. He had purchased four Heidenau K37 M/S tires from Heindl Engineering in Ohio complete with heavy duty tubes and rim strips. They don't have the snow flake molded in but the snowman on the label indicated that it has silica embedded in the tread for additional traction on ice. These are the same tires that I had used last year and I now have remounted.

We also replaced the Heidenau K28 that I had been using as a pusher for my road trip. It had been relegated to "spare" until I was able to reinstall the Duro that I had been using as front tire for most of my 2015 road trip.

Here is a shot of one of the new K37. I learned some about the new disc brakes on the pusher and sidecar. The rear disc seems complicated with the parking brake compared to the older style drum brakes but easy enough to work on. Also, the rear brakes require a non-metric (⅜") allen wrench to remove the wheel. This allen wrench is not included in the tool kit. Fortunately, I have SAE allen wrenches. He is trying out Dyna Beads to balance the tires. We put in 2oz into each of the four new tires. Initial report is that the Dyna Beads seem to work great.

I now have a couple of spare rim strips and an almost new motorcycle battery for the Ural. The stock battery is now over three years old and probably due for replacement soon. Thank you JedR!

My screw-in carbide studs arrived in today's mail (from China). They are not as nice as the GripStuds but were ⅓ the cost. Time will tell as to how well they work. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

BMW R69S on the Road

I spotted this rig at the local Napa store while I was on my way to pick up Bridget from her school. According to Brett it's owner, the best guess that George had is that it's a 1964 R69S. It has an Earle's fork and has the factory frame mounts as it was designed for use with a sidecar. He said that the sidecar frame is from a Velorex sidecar. Pretty simple rig. 600cc engine with a magneto so it needs to be kick started.

Just a quick shot showing some of the beautiful weather we are having. You may notice that just about all of the snow has melted as daytime highs are in the low 40s (°F).

Finally a post that isn't about carb jetting...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

More Tinkering

Tinkering continues with another small changes to the main jet. Changing the jets is really is pretty simple on the Ural. This is a picture of the carburetor bowl that you would see when lying on the ground looking up at the carburetor.. First, the gas is drained from the bowl and the fuel lines on the left carb since it is easy to reach. The drain is the little tube at the bottom of the bowl with an allen head screw acting as a valve on the other side. Between the two carbs, there is about a cup of gas which I drain into a clean bottle that is not used for anything else. After draining the bowl, the four allen head screws which attach the bowl to the carburetor body are removed. The stock screws were replaced with the stainless allen head screws shortly after picking up the Ural to make them easier to remove.

The main jet is circled in yellow and is very easy to remove with a screw driver. I installed a 135 main jet which is quite a change from the stock 122 and the 127.5 that I had been running with the stock air filter housing. The low speed or "pilot jet" seems to be working just fine so I'm leaving that alone for now.

The behavior that I'm trying to change is a loss of power when the engine speed tries to go above ~4500 rpm with the throttle wide open. As I understand it, there are four parts of the CV (constant velocity) carburetor that are used to adjust the air/fuel ratio. The idle air screw, the pilot jet, the needle and the main jet. Each of these are used under different conditions and there is overlap with each other. The main jet controls fuel delivery when the throttle is in the upper third of it's range. It's "neighbor" which influences fuel delivery at mid throttle is the needle controlled by the slide.

I'll see how it works tomorrow. Last spring when I made the plastic air box I just didn't have the time to tinker with the jetting to try and get it running well.

Wednesday Update - Success! Last night, I installed the 135 main jets and the rig runs great. No hesitation or flat spots evident on this mornings ride into town. Granted, I haven't tackled any long hills but it definitely runs better than it did last spring when I first tried the airbox. I never tried this large of a jet last time as others posts on Soviet Steeds were suggesting smaller jets. Though if you have a freer flowing air box it makes sense to install a larger jet to compensate.

Monday, October 5, 2015

1st Monday of the Month

Yesterday afternoon, I dropped the bowls on the carbs to see what jets I actually had installed versus what I though I remembered. Pilot jets - 40, main jet - 127.5. There was one shim installed under each of the needles. I I had looked through my posts from June I would've seen this information. On my test ride last week with the alternate air cleaner, there was a huge lag when the throttle was opened up past about half.

I went ahead and reinstalled the plastic fence post air cleaner aka as the Leftka 3 as it was developed by Leftka on the SovietSteeds Ural forum. I really needed to switch from the stock air cleaner due to the upcoming snowy season and the problems that I've had in the past with the filter clogging up with snow. I added an additional shim under the needles which will richen the mixture at mid-throttle. I also changed the main jet up to 130 from 127.5 which will richen the mixture at the upper half of throttle opening.

At my ride this morning to the University and College Coffeehouse, there was still a little lag at large throttle opening. I then turned off the switch on the PowerArc which enables the regular PowerArc timing curve from the high-load curve (retards the timing). This seemed to eliminate the lag.

Today was the monthly get together of the group at the Silver Gulch microbrewery in Fox, AK, located about ten miles north of Fairbanks. Not too large of a turnout today maybe a dozen or so but at least I wasn't the only rider out there. DaveW rode his nice bumblebee R100GS.

The Ural popped a couple of times on my way out of Fox so I may try changing the main jets to 132.5 tomorrow to see how it runs with a slightly richer jet.

Tuesday afternoon update - This morning I changed the main jets to 132.5 and it still felt "doggy" at full throttle. In other words acceleration actually improved at ¾ throttle compared to full throttle. Not right. I will try 135 tomorrow. It sure is nice to have the time to mess around with this...

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Ural 40k Maintenance

What to do on this rainy Saturday. I did still need to change the oil on the Ural, that'll take a little time. After returning from College Coffeehouse this morning, I drained the oil from the engine. As you can see, there is almost no swarf on the magnet attached to the engine drain plug. And the oil looked to still be in excellent shape with no evidence of moisture in the engine or aluminum flakes. In other words, all seems good within the engine. And this is after running it significantly longer than the normal Ural recommended change interval. I was told by Raceway that I could significantly extend the change interval since I was running full synthetic oil (Amsoil 20w50) and the new spin-on filter which is much larger than the original cartridge filter. The fresh oil is 10w40 full synthetic for the cooler weather. Once it's consistently well below freezing, I'll change it to 5w30.

I had ordered a replacement filter from Amazon based on the filter list posted on Soviet Steeds rather than ordering a replacement filter from Ural. (Free shipping!) It was slightly smaller in diameter than the stock filter but since the timing cover had a large "O" ring sealing surface, it fit and sealed without any issues. After the oil change, I adjusted the idle again since it was running a little slow at stop lights. Again, trivial to do since I had the TwinMax to rebalance the carbs after adjusting the idle speed.

I re-installed the plastic fence post air box since it seemed to do better last year in wet or snowy conditions. But after a test ride, the rig obviously needed to be re-jetted for the additional air flow. Not sure what to change as the rig would sort of fall on it's face at about 4,000 rpm. Rather than mess with it, I put the stock filter housing back after cleaning the filter.

Not much riding around due to the weather. Rain/snow and hovering right around freezing. I ordered some additional studs from Amazon but they are being shipped from China so it may take a while. But the price is right. Around ⅓ or the Aerostitch price. Hopefully, they work out.

Saturday Evening - I had forgotten that I reverted the jetting back to stock before the trip. Maybe tomorrow I'll switch back to the 127.5 main jet and try the plastic airbox again.