Friday, September 29, 2017

Wet and Dreary

Another kinda dreary day around here. But as they say, if it's raining then it's not snowing. After riding to coffee this morning, enjoying the lack of the road construction we have been subjected to for the last month or so, I headed up to my office to do a mandatory training session. The First Gear jacket seems to be still  weather tight but the First Gear pants are past their prime. In other words, some dampness but I'm still basically dry upon arrival. The riding boots aren't working as well. Even with the seams sealed up with Shoe Goo, they still are letting water in from all of the cracks in the leather-ish material. It's probably time to get some new riding boots.

I thought about stopping somewhere to get a nice shot of the low clouds with the Ural in the foreground but every time I started to ride somewhere, the sky would open up. I just didn't feel like standing on the side of the road trying to dig out the phone. So here is a shot at home after getting back from the university this afternoon. Note that most of the leaves have fallen. There just haven't been very many dry days. The fallen leaves are soaked and will probably be there until next summer.

As you may notice, I still haven't taken off the sidecar windshield. This has been contributing to me getting soaked as it redirects the wind and rain right onto me from the right.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Post Fall

Fall has pretty much come and gone so now we are just waiting for the snow to arrive. It has been pretty dreary for the last week or so with just occasional bits of blue sky. The Ural has been plugging away but just running to College Coffeehouse in the morning followed by errands around town. No recreational riding. I'm still waiting for the Roadcrafter to get back from Aerostitch so riding in the rain isn't as nice as it could be. They estimated a minimum of three weeks which is right about now. I'm also still waiting for the trailer to get repaired after dropping it off about a month ago at a local RV shop. Maybe I should look at it as free storage.

This picture is of a friends Suzuki GSX-R that he has set up for moto-camping. He used to race the bike but rather than get rid of the bike, he added homemade aluminum racks to carry his gear. It's a nice setup though I'm not sure how comfortable it would be but that's just me. He loves the bike and that's all that really matters.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Getting Ready for an Event

I had a web conference for an I2 working group this morning and those are much nicer to do in my office than at home. One of the many advantages of still being able to use my office. Also, quite a few Apple and app updates were released starting last Tuesday and I was able to take advantage of the fast Internet.

The conferences (Thursday and Friday) are partly preparation for an upcoming Internet2 meeting in October. I will be recording audio and video of one of the workshops. After I offered to do this, I realized that my Macbook Pro no longer has any analog audio inputs. Just four USB-C ports. I had picked up the Focusrite Solo earlier but haven't needed it. Basically it's a two port mixer with a USB interface that will link in with audio editing software. I only plan to use two microphones, a lav for the speaker/presenter and a roaming wireless mic for questions. The mixer only has one XLR input with a microphone amp but since I'm using wireless mics, I have the option of using a line level input.

So far, I've tried Apple's Garageband and Pro Tools First and both work flawlessly. For this upcoming event, I'll probably just use Garageband as I don't have to figure out how to add the EQ and compressor plugins within Pro Tools First. The Pro Tools First app is way more flexible but is also much more complicated. Basically the same as the full app except you are limited to only sixteen mono or stereo tracks. I only need three. Two input and one output. Video will be done with three cameras. One of the presenter, one for the participants plus one more wide shot just in case. I won't be relying on the audio from any of the cameras.

Saturday Afternoon Update - After a couple of days of playing around with Pro Tools First, I've discovered some "limitations". There is no local storage of your projects as it has to be stored in the Avid Cloud to force compliance to their "no more than three projects" rule. This means that Internet access is required. Also, export to MP3 is not supported. But I really do like the flexibility and options for both live and post processing so I'll be keeping the software installed but probably won't use it for this event. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mid-week Update

On Monday morning, I was flying to Anchorage for a meeting and took this snapshot of the Tanana River. It definitely looks like Fall here in the interior with hardly any shade of green remaining. Even though it does look a bit dreary, the weather in Anchorage was cold and wet. At least it was dry in Fairbanks.

Tuesday was spent upgrading devices to the new iOS. The 9.7" iPad Pro was registered in the Apple Beta program so it received the update last week. Today was the iPhone and the Apple Watch. Both went without incident though the watch update process took several hours. I think it was because the new OS was transferred to the watch via Bluetooth.

I'm still digging into them looking for any real benefits. The new Siri watchface (pictured) is probably not one of the real benefits though Siri on the watch has always been much better than on the phone. I've been running the public iOS betas since July and like the new features though it seemed to increase battery consumption. Hopefully that has been addressed in the final release.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ural Alternator

On Friday, I pulled the Ural alternator after noting the position of the slotted bolts. I could still see the punch marks I made when I overhauled the engine. The slots are used to set the gear lash between the alternator drive and the cam timing gear. After removing the drive from the alternator, I tried to measure any play. I could feel a very slight amount when putting pressure on the cush drive but it wasn't enough to even try and measure. Just to make sure, I disassembled the drive by pulling the drive gear then pushing out the shaft. There was an internal snap ring holding the bearings in place. This was easily removed followed by the bearings. The bearings looked good, very smooth movement. I removed the dust cover from one side of the bearings and there was still plenty of grease.

After reassembling the drive, mounting the alternator to the drive, and reinstalling the unit, I went for a short ride. I could still hear the whine but I guess it must be normal. No pictures as everything was good. Total time was maybe half an hour.

Last Spring, SueL had mentioned that she wanted a sidecar ride. Saturday was a great day for riding. Clear and sunny. We went around the Chena Ridge-Chena Pump loop and the Fall colors were wonderful. She mentioned that the view from the sidecar was much better than when riding pillion. Of course I pushed the concept that they needed a sidecar rig. And I know for a fact that the BMW they have would pull a sidecar around just fine but I'd look for something more comfortable than a Cozy. (They had picked up my '83 R100RT last Spring) I nabbed this photo from her FB feed as I forgot to take one. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Day Trip to Denali

After meeting of coffee with the regulars on Wednesday, I headed towards Denali National Park with the truck. I opted to not take the Ural since rain was in the forecast and the Roadcrafter still hasn't come back from Aerostitch. I visited with fellow blue/white Ural owner, BruceW, in Nenana. His rig is still in Delta with Mickey getting the engine worked on after his engine hydrolocked last Spring. Mickey mentioned that it was so locked up that it was almost impossible to get it out of gear. That sounded pretty serious. After a short visit, I continued on towards "Glitter Gulch", which is what the very touristy section of the Parks Hwy north of the park entrance is called.

I met up with Lynn, the author of motoblog Curvyroads.Info, and Jerry at the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge. They are on the land portion of a cruise and the park was as far north as the tour went. After talking at the hotel coffee place, we went to the 49th State Brewing Company which is about 10 miles north in Healy, AK. I had not been there before but my son, Tim, really recommended it. The food and company were wonderful. On the way back to the hotel, we saw three moose in a pond. Unfortunately, I didn't think about stopping for a picture.

There was a pretty strong wind in the canyon blowing north giving me a nice tailwind but it died down by the time I was halfway to Nenana. The remainder of the drive to Fairbanks had beautiful light shining on the trees. There was hardly any traffic and I arrived home shortly after sunset. It was a nice way to spend the day.

Thursday was clear and mostly sunny but it was in the 30s (°F) in the morning. I thought that it may be a good idea to winterize the water system in the RV. I brought about 1½ gallons of RV antifreeze for the pump and the traps and used the small motorcycle air compressor to blow out the hot and cold water lines. I already drained the water heater and switched the bypass. After blowing out the lines, I opened the low point drains. I pumped anitfreeze through the pump but not into any of the water lines. The manager of the RV repair facility said that they were targeting it to be done next week even though they haven't started any work at all.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Ural National Rally - Not

The Ural National Rally was today (Saturday, September 9th) and, no, I didn't participate. In fact, I never bothered to register since I wasn't sure if the rig would be on the road. But I did manage to get the Ural out and about a several times. It was too nice of a day to not test the transmission. After morning coffee and a stop at the Farmer's Market, I noticed a slight loss of power on hills. It was then that I remembered that before pulling the transmission, I made a point of using up most of the gas in case I needed to remove the tank. A quick switch to reserve solved the loss of power on hills. Later on in the day, I went out in search of evidence of Fall and I'm afraid that I found plenty. We really don't have a lot of Fall colors around here besides yellow. Unless brown qualifies as a color. There is very little red except on some bushes. This picture was taken at the park in the Goldstream Valley.

I then continued east towards the pipeline turnout on the Steese Highway. I thought that the trees would be more yellow. Maybe in a couple more days. I was reminded by a whining/spinning noise that I probably need to replace the bearings in the alternator drive. It's a pretty simple procedure and I believe that the bearings are available at Napa. I had helped JedR replace the bearings on his newer Ural. I think that they are pretty similar.

I then headed home as I was going to make pizza tonight and needed to start on the dough.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Ural Transmission Finished!

Seventeen days after disassembly, I actually remembered how to put the transmission together. And there were no parts left over. At least none that I could find. I used silicone sealer between the two halves of the case and followed the procedure that Van Le of to "set" the kick starter spring and adjust the upshift and downshift stop screws. I did go through the gears on the bench to make sure it shifted into all of the gears though reverse seems a bit more difficult to get into than before. Reassembling the case took a couple of attempts as I didn't have the kick starter spring procedure memorized and had to pull it to reset the spring to a known position. The specified torque for the case bolts is only 6.2 newton-meters which translates to 55 inch-pounds. This is lower than the lowest setting on my ⅜" drive torque wrench. So I just hand tightened the bolts.

I took the opportunity to grease the transmission input shaft with a mixture of Honda Moly 60 and thick axle grease. The input shaft splines show almost no wear as do the clutch discs. The input shaft is still the original but the clutch discs were changed during the engine rebuild. It was somewhat of a challenge to get the square end of the clutch release rod into the pressure plate but after digging through my tools I found that a nut driver fits onto the end of the rod perfectly and allows me to move the shaft around while rotating the flywheel with the kick starter.

I think it took longer to reinstall the rear swingarm than installing the transmission. It required the removal of the rear shocks to get the swingarm pivots to line up. It's about 99% finished. I took it for a test ride and realized that I had forgotten to attach the rear brake spring. Minor detail. The transmission shifts cleanly and no more popping out of gear. I still need to attach the brake spring and adjust the rear brakes. Then it'll be time for a real test ride.

Update - It runs just fine and the shifts seem more positive than ever. Ran it up and down through the gears tonight and then brought it back into the garage to change the engine oil. The last time I changed it I didn't have a filter handy. Upon examination, I'm glad that I changed third gear as well as there was significant wear where the slider engaged the gear that wasn't noticeable until I could compare it with the new gear.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Mid-Week Update

On Monday, we headed down the Parks Hwy towards Nenana to the Big M Farm at mile 314.5. They have u-pick berries and vegetables. While we were on our road trip, they would be posting these wonderful pictures of ripe berries starting around late June. We picked some golden raspberries, carrots, cucumbers, yellow beets, green beans, tomatoes and peas.

Yesterday, I made yogurt in the Instant Pot trying out its "yogurt" cooking program. I put 4 pint canning jars on a trivet inside of the pot, added some water and steamed the jars to sterilize them and the inside of the Instant Pot. I then added 1⅓ cup of whole milk to each jar. The initial part of the "yogurt" program is to bring the milk up to 180°F to pasteurize the milk. But since I was using the canning jars, I just used the saute function and had a thermometer in one of the jars. After reaching temperature, I moved the jars into a water bath to cool them down. When the temperature of the milk was down to 100°F, I added 1Tbsp of sugar and 1Tbsp of plain yogurt with an active culture to each jar. Stirred it up and added some of the golden raspberries to each jar. The jars were placed back in the Instant Pot on a trivet with about 1½ cups of water in the pot. Select the "yogurt" function and increased the time to 12 hours. In the morning, I put the jars in the refrigerator to thicken up. The yogurt is very tasty. Pretty tart as a result of 12 hours of cooking. (Normal is 8 hours and mild is 6 hours)

According to the recipe, if you then drained the whey from the yogurt by using something like cheesecloth or a coffee filter, then the resulting yogurt would be "greek style". You learn something new every day. I didn't know that was the only difference between regular and greek yogurt.

Today (Wednesday), I drove down to Delta to pick up the transmission parts ordered from Ural. Muriel gave me one of the limited edition Urals of Alaska patches. It'll look good on the RoadCrafter once it gets back from the Aerostitch repair shop. Muriel said that they had made up some stickers but didn't have any at the shop. Mickey also gave me some parts to drop off to RickS in Fairbanks the next time I saw him. RickS was the one that I had purchased the Ural from. Since he no longer has his shop in town, I rarely see him so I just ran out to his place and dropped off the parts.

Here is what I had ordered. On the left is the 3rd/4th shift fork, on top is the 3rd/4th slide, and on the bottom is 3rd gear itself. I need to pick up a different external snap ring tool as the transmission uses a different style of snap rings. I asked Mickey if there was anything I should do when assembling the transmission and he said to just oil the needle and ball bearings.

I should be able to get the rig back on the road before the weekend.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Transmission (Cont.)

I finally got around to cleaning up the transmission case. When I overhauled the engine 1½ years ago, I didn't clean the transmission case. I didn't remove the seals, the output shaft or shifters and just used solvent and a brush on the outside of the case. The oil and dirt came off pretty easily. After cleaning with solvent, I then used compressed air to dry off the remaining solvent. I probably should have cleaned the case before splitting the case but I was anxious to get a look at the inner workings of the transmission.

I heard back from Mickey on Friday and the parts have been backordered but the folks at Irbit told him that he should have them by next week. I was hoping to get the transmission done before the Ural National Rally Day on June September 9th. We'll see...

Friday, September 1, 2017

New Cooking Gadget

This isn't a really a new cooking appliance as we already had an electric pressure cooker. But this particular model adds a few more features. It has a "saute" mode so it can be used kind of like an electric sauce pan. It will also work as a rice cooker and a slow cooker. If you watch a lot of YouTube videos of full time RVers, they all mention the Instant Pot. I suspect that the Zojirushi rice cooker will make better rice but it is a uni-tasker.

On our road trip, a slow cooker and a pressure cooker would have been nice to have along but I didn't want to take two additional appliances. The pressure cooker would use less power than simply cooking on the induction burner as would pressure cooking rice. It does draw up to 1000 watts but that is about the same as the rice cooker.

I hadn't planned on picking one of these up but Bridget had ordered it as a wedding present but the couple already had one. So now I have one as well.

As a quick test, I boiled up some eggs. It took about 15 minutes total. 5 minutes to heat up, 5 minutes to cook and 5 minutes to cool down. And the shells practically fell off when they were done. This model has a program for making yogurt. Maybe I'll try that one of these days.

As another quick "test", I made up some steel cut oats. In the past, I had to pre soak them overnight. The recipe just said to saute them in oil or butter, then add 3x water and pressure cook them for 13 minutes. They came out great. Add some raisins and maple syrup and I had breakfast. I think that this will be a great gadget and addition to the kitchen. Both at home and in the RV.