Sunday, October 30, 2016

New-To-Us RV

This is the reason for all of the recent work on the truck. We are purchasing this 2001 Cedar Creek model CRF30RLFS fifth wheel travel trailer. In this picture, it is coming back from the local RV shop where the systems were tested and repaired as needed. The only one that they forgot to test was the air conditioner. We found a 30 amp outlet in the garage and tested it in the driveway of a friend of a friend outside of Vancouver, WA. The owners live in Fairbanks but the rig has never been in AK. And, in case you are wondering, note that there is nothing on this RV to facilitate travel with a Ural.

The kitchen has an 8 ft3 gas/electric (110 VAC only) refrigerator, a three burner propane stove with oven and a microwave. All of the appliances look like they hadn't seen a whole lot of use. On the left of this picture is a bit of the bedroom that is above the bed of the truck. There seems to be a lot of storage both in and under the rig. Not as much as many of the newer models but enough. The GVWR is 11,780 lbs and the unladen weight is 8,420 lbs given a payload of 3,360 lbs. With the 50 gallon fresh water tank full the payload drops to 2,943 lbs. The GVWR is well under the tow rating of the truck. 2,943 lbs sounds adequate. I was initially concerned as this model was marketed as "light weight" which usually translates to "no load capacity".

Here is the main living space with the large slide out. I think that there is plenty of room. The two swivel rockers are at the very rear of the trailer with the entrance door on the left just past the kitchen sink. And on the right corner is the dining table with four chairs. The photo on the left is actually one that was taken several years ago. I'm including it here as I forgot to take a picture when the slide was out. When slide is in, the couch is about a foot or so from the kitchen counter so you can still get around.

New EPDM rubber roof

A large awning

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Helmet Bag

I had a "loyalty" certificate from Compeau's, the local Ski-Doo dealer, that was going to expire next week. So I stopped by to see if there was anything there I could use. I spotted a helmet bag on the discount table for only $10. I have no idea what the regular price was but it was definitely worth $10. And, it just so happens that I needed a helmet bag this evening. It's nicely padded and has a soft lining so the helmet and visor don't get scratched. Right now, I'm sitting at the airport waiting for the red eye to Seattle then on to Portland and I needed to bring a helmet on this trip as part of my carry on. The Roadcrafter and other riding gear are in my checked baggage. Hopefully my luggage arrives without issue.

The actual purpose of this trip is a meeting at Polar Field Services on Barrow science support. The riding gear is not needed for the meeting. I'll explain more as this trip progresses...

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Course Closed

I don't play golf though I have ridden by this course almost every day for a number of years. It was another clear, sunny day and I had some errands to run. This morning, it was below 0°F so I drove the truck to the coffee shop and spent a couple of hours at the university taking care of some Barrow issues. By the afternoon it had warmed up considerably to 24°F (-4°C) so I switched vehicles to run my errands. I still haven't studded the tires so there was some slipping especially when there was any sort of hill. I think it may be time to order some GripStuds.

Today, a colleague mentioned that he believes that my Google account had been hacked. This was based on the title of my last blog post "Too Cold to Ride". Dom and Kari had posted something along the same lines in the comments. Funny...

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Too Cold to Ride

After the Ural engine rebuild last winter, I told myself to stop riding when it got cold. For now, my rather arbitrary definition of "cold" is 0°F (-18°F). In the past when I used to go x-country skiing a lot, I used that same temperature. Below that point, I had to switch to a really hard wax and you needed to carefully consider what trails you took if you were on your own. Trails where you were apt to run into other people were prefered.

By mid-afternoon, it had warmed up to +12°F but the sunshine was still providing enough heat to melt the snow. Most of the snow has melted from the south facing roofs as well as from our deck railing (as shown in the photo).

The cold temperature made soup sound pretty good. Here is what I came up with today. Carrots, onions, celery, cauliflower, mushrooms, tomatoes, barley and orzo. Seasoned with some basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. It was just what this day needed and very filling...

Thursday, October 20, 2016

It Was Inevitable

Well, I knew that it was going to happen sooner or later. In case you can't see it, there are snow flakes coming from the clouds. This morning, it was only 9°F (-13°C) and the National Weather Service said that snow was possible this afternoon. I guess they were right.

I took the truck to Alyeska Tire and had the tires siped. i.e. They cut slits across the tread in the center 50% of the tires. The slits are maybe 316" deep. The purpose is to have more edges on the road in slippery conditions. One of the side benefits is that the tires run cooler. I tried to take a picture of the siped tires but they are really difficult to see. Because of the snow forecast, the tire shop was packed with folks looking to get snow tires. I'm glad I arrived 15 minutes before they opened. I was 6th in line and out of there in only 1½ hours. By the time I left they were predicting six hour wait times. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Ice On the River

Still no snow in the long term forecast (not that I'm complaining!). This is the Chena River that flows through downtown Fairbanks and ice is starting to form. Since I was working on the Ural a few days ago, the BMW was easier to get out of the garage. There was a lot of wind today and you can really feel it when coming from the sidecar side. Occasional gusts would want to push you to the left and you can feel the sidecar occasionally get a little light. As in the wheel not being firmly planted on the road.

When going down the highway, I would shift towards the sidecar with more weight on the right peg. The 30-40mph wind combined with 18°F (-8°C) ambient temperatures reminded me that the BMW still needed to have the handlebar end covers installed. And, it feels like the left heated glove isn't working again. Sigh...

Later in the day - As expected, another broken wire in the left glove. Fixed. The next pair of heated gloves will be battery powered...

Tuesday Morning -  And again! This time the right glove decided that it wanted some attention. The break seems to frequently occur right at the end of the strain relief. The problem isn't the strain relief but they use plastic insulated wires that get brittle when cold. Not the best design for something that will be used in the cold. So I carefully cut off enough of the strain relief on the connector and the remaining wire to solder. Then slip some heat shrink tubing over the splice and tape it all up.

I was thinking of looking for some springs at the hardware store that can be slipped over the remaining strain relief and the first couple of inches of wire. Both repairs could use some additional mechanical support to prevent the wire from flexing.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Back to the Old Routine

Rode to College Coffeehouse this morning enjoying another beautiful day. In the background is Ballaine Lake with rocks and logs on the surface that people had thrown out to see how thick the ice was. A friend mentioned that he saw a couple of students running around on the ice a few days ago and from his vantage point, he could see the ice flexing. He suggested that they carefully make their way towards the shore.

I went ahead and added two more LED shop lights in the garage replacing three fluorescent fixtures. Now there is plenty of light when working in the garage. In fact, it feels more like a shop than a garage. I wanted to recheck the alternator gear lash as I occasionally hear a whine from the front of the engine. After checking that the marks I made during the rebuild still lined up, I went ahead and removed the alternator leaving the cush drive still attached to the engine. At the time that I rebuilt the engine, I didn't know how to adjust the alternator gear lash without removing the timing cover. I now know that I could simply remove the alternator and measure the lash at the drive.

I don't have a dial indicator but the lash feels like it's in the neighborhood of 0.002" which is what I had set it to while the engine was on the bench. That's when I made the marks.

Since the rig no longer creeps forward in first gear with the clutch disengaged, I'm not going to bother removing the transmission to check for abnormal wear on the clutch. In other words, the Ural seems to be running fine.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Another Beautiful Morning

Sunday - Another beautiful morning. Not a cloud in the sky and 23°F (-5°C) about an hour before sunrise. After the record rainfall this summer, we expected the moisture to continue and get dumped on with snow. But then again, it's still early in the season…

No challenges or engine failures makes for boring posts. Not much to write about.

Monday - The project of the day was replacing the old, flickering, dim fluorescent shop lights in the garage. There were 6 fixtures, each with two 40 watt T12 bulbs. Today, I replaced 3 of the fixtures. The LED replacement fixtures are 42 watts per fixture or about half of the power for a whole lot more light. The old fixtures were wired into the permanent wiring and the new ones were designed to plug into ceiling outlets. A quick trip to Lowe's got me all of the pieces needed to install quad outlets on the ceiling for the lights so they are still controlled by the wall switches.

Plus, we had a 10' track with 3 LED flood lights that used to be in one of the bedrooms. That now lives in the garage illuminating the workbench area. This is also plugged into my new ceiling mounted box. I'll replace the other 3 fixtures next month.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Clear, Sunny and No Snow!

The forecast for the next ten days is more of the same. Last year we've had a pile of snow by this date. I don't think anyone around here is complaining. I talked to a KLR650 rider this evening and he is enjoying the extended riding season on his new-to-him bike. Other riders at his job have been saying that it's past the time to put the bike up (as they already have done). His response is "no snow so why stop riding?". He mentioned that he told them that he knew the guy on the sidecar and they just shake their heads. Some people just don't understand.

If you look carefully, you can see the Alaska Range showing through the trees. This is what the weather has been all day. On Monday there was some great aurora but I didn't try and take a photograph.

BTW, the BlogPress app for the iPhone is considerably better than it was in the past. Especially the ability to specify photo size and placement. The reason for wanting to use an app is for times when I don't want to haul a laptop around.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Ural Tech Day?

I've had several parts for BruceW's Ural that were ordered as part of my engine overhaul parts order last March. We are finally getting around to installing them. BruceW rode from his home in Nenana on Monday morning (22°F), which is about an hour west of Fairbanks. A cold ride without a windshield or heated gear! After warming up, we installed a deep sump oil pan that is sold by Ural, an extended oil pickup from Crawford Sales in southern Michigan and the spin-on filter conversion also from Ural.

The oil pan swap went pretty smoothly and it increases oil capacity from 2 quarts to a little over 3. The extra oil is not really needed for cooling but I think it may extend the life of the engine. Adding the extended pickup allows the oil pump to continue to pick up oil even when the level in the pan drops such as in colder temperatures. The spin-on filter conversion requires you to remove and replace the front engine timing cover. The allen screws were carefully removed and we celebrated when none broke though some were pretty tight. The PowerArc ignition assembly also needed to be removed to get the old cover off. Assembly was the reverse with new gaskets and anti-seize on the new screws. This was a good opportunity to show him how to set the timing as part of the PowerArc re-installation.

After adding oil, we warmed up the engine in preparation to balancing the carbs with his Harmonizer. We then noticed that only one of the carbs had a vacuum port and one of the compliance fittings was leaking. I had a spare compliance fitting so we went ahead and swapped it. The engine ran much smoother and even without the Harmonizer, you could tell that the throttle on the left carb was opening up after the right. After some small adjustments to the left throttle cable to reduce the slack, the engine seemed to run much smoother. And no more popping from the small leak in the compliance fitting. BTW, the compliance fitting is a rubber collar that connects the carb to the intake port on the cylinder head.

Bruce's Ural had a lot of mods from the former owner of Raceway, Jim Petitti, including non-stock carbs. That evening, we went to the Howling Dog for the monthly Airhead meetup. Three Urals and about five motorcycles on this chilly evening. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

One More Task Completed

Another task completed. One or more of the five clearance lights on the front of the truck cab have been leaking for years. A very small leak as in a couple of drops after a heavy rain. It turns out that four of the five lights had cracks in them radiating from the screw holes. I was thinking of swapping them out for a set with LEDs for quite a while. The last time I looked for a set, it was over $100. Now, a quick search on Amazon yielded quite a few options all around $25 with free shipping.

I simply removed the old lights and cut the wires. I decided to solder the wires together and cover the splice with heat shrink tubing. After verifying polarity (current only flows one direction through LEDs), I made all of the connections. To help ensure no leaks, I used some silicone caulk on the roof opening and the screw threaded inserts. The bottom of the new lights have a thick gasket so it should seal pretty well.

They work pretty well and seem to be brighter than the stock incandescent bulbs. I like the smoke grey lenses of these replacements. I can't really fault the bulbs as they are still the ones that originally came with the truck in 2005. In fact, in the last eleven years, I've only had to replace the headlight bulbs once. Hopefully these last as long and the leak stops.

While I had all of the electrical repair stuff out, I decided to finally repair the wiring in the right rear door. I had repaired the drivers rear door about 7 years ago so I knew exactly what the problem was. The rear doors open about 80° so there is a lot of movement in the wire loom from the body to the door. With our cold weather, the insulation gets brittle and cracks resulting in some things not working. In this case, the electric windows worked but the power locks didn't.

I spliced in a 3" length of wire into all of the wires and covered the solder joints with heat shrink tubing. Even the wires that weren't broken I cut and spliced so they would all be the same length. I taped it all into a nice tight bundle and scratched one more project off of the list. (Even though it had never made it onto any "list") Like most tasks, this one took most of the day.

On another note, the suspense was killing me. I had to try some of my sauerkraut. I picked up some bratwurst and cooked them in a mixture of caramelized onions, apples, garlic, sauerkraut, brown sugar, a grainy mustard and a nice beer. In this case Deschutes Black Butte Porter. The sauerkraut turned out pretty good. It could've fermented a bit longer but the flavor was right on. I paired the bratwurst with a nice warm sour potato salad.