Thursday, October 17, 2019

Project Warthog - front forks

The last time we were here, had mounted both new tires ands new longer rear shocks. Now the rear end sits higher than the front. In order to level out the bike, the front needs to be raised. There are several options for doing that, the least expensive will be to install extensions on top of the front forks.

Discovered the Rocket 3 underwent a few changes mid-2011 model year. Mine is a later 2011 model. All of the aftermarket fork manufacturers have built for the early model Rockets, none for the later. So far no one has been able to tell me what changed with the front forks. Might be something important, or might be just a color change. Who knows?

Looks like a custom machine shop is needed. 

Today we removed the front wheel, fender, fork guards, brake calipers in order to remove the two front forks. Just to remove the two fork tube caps so a machine shop can make a two inch extensions. 

Kent and John from Texas Sidecars came over to see if they wanted to tackle the project of building a subframe for the Rocket. There are not many Rocket based sidecars out there to copy from, so one has to reinvent the 'wheel". After inspecting the Rocket, the side camper and the GSA/EZS rig, much discussion ensued. Finally they agreed to take on this project. 

They do all the welding and fabricating, I'll do the powder coating, wiring and plumbing. 

Texas Sidecar is based in Houston now, which is really nice. So between the three of us, we'll figure out how to make everything come together. 



Thursday, October 3, 2019

New Spanish Missions found

We came here to see the changing of the colors, but the brilliant yellow aspen colors will not appear in northern New Mexico for another week or so.  Did find a few small pockets where the leaves were just starting to change...

Love the smell of aspen after a rain.

In the meanwhile, visited a few new adobe missions and of course, revised my old standby...

St. Francis de Assis Mission in Rancho de Taos
Considered the most photographed church in all of New Mexico, maybe the US.

As the sun peeks over the distant Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the east, the rays illuminate the steeples as parishioners arrive for morning mass

Returned in the late afternoon... with a warming west sun.
 The gateway is always open for all to enter...

St. Francis de Assis at sunset
Note there is only one window on each the east and west sides of the building. 
One smaller window in the choir loft above the entrance faces south. 
There are no windows on the north walls. 

Three-quarters size statue of St Francis de Assis in the courtyard

Have tried unsuccessfully many times to capture this image of a St. Francis statue as seen thru the Mission's west window. The secret was to be there with a late afternoon sun.

St. Anthony Catholic Church, Questa, NM 
The Questa parish church was rebuilt over last few years with modern materials yet
 still maintaining the New Mexican adobe color and appearance.
It is a historic Spanish church, but not one of the original missions from the 1600's.

Parishioners installed a statue of St. Anthony in the new courtyard as part of the renovation.

Nuestra Señora de los Dolores Mission, Sandia Pueblo
Also known as San Antonio de Padua.

The growing Pueblo recently built the larger modern St. Anthony church a few blocks away 
to replace this older smaller historic Mission.

San Augustine Mission, Isleta Pueblo
Originally built in 1613 as St. Anthony church, is considered to be one of the oldest churches in the United States. It is the southern most, and most likely the first of the Spanish Missions built in the early 1600's along the Rio Grande river. 

This church was rebuilt in 1716 on the original foundation after the first structure was destroyed in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Was renamed San Augustine at that time. 

The tall outer wall was added to the original design as a defensible bulwark 
overlooking a large open plaza.

Church of the Immaculate Conception

Found along NM Route 39 between Logan and Mosquero, NM
Is a well taken care of historic adobe church of vernacular architecture. 
How the simple buttresses supports the adobe brick sidewalls grabbed my attention. 
Still has an active congregation as evidenced by the recent burial and simple cross headstone.

Three different Pueblos refused my request to photograph their missions, 
so... simply move on to the next one on my list. 

Originally there were twenty-four Spanish missions built between Albuquerque and Taos along the Rio Grande river. Some were not rebuilt after their destruction in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. 

Today some Pueblo elders do not allow any photography within the pueblo, including their church. Others allow photographs of the church exterior only. Still others allow as many photos as you want but not of the people, unless they give you permission. Some persons request payment from you to take their photo. Is a complicated system as there are so many variables. 

There are still many of the old missions I have yet to locate.

The quest continues...

Ride safe y'all


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Project Warthog - Small Starts

Made just a few small changes, while waiting for more parts to arrive...

The original rear shock was removed...

A slightly longer Progressive shock was mounted. 
Note the gap between the tire and the fender in the second shot. Gained about half an inch... but wait, that's not all.

The new tires arrived the same day as the new rear shocks.

The new rear tire is narrower and taller then the stock tire. Next will take the wheels off and have a tire shop mount the new skins.

To replace that missing CAT, ordered a stubby ExtremeBlaster exhaust. The tunable type...

For louder speed, remove several disks by removing the end cap and take away several disks. For less noise and more low end torque, add more disks which creates more back pressure.

Well, off to New Mexico for a couple of weeks, trying to catch the changing of the aspen colors.

More wrenching when I return. By then more parts should have arrived.


Saturday, September 7, 2019

Project: Warthog, the process starts

In case you thought I no longer rode, only wanted to talk about photography, rest assured Riding the Horizon is front and center in my thinking as I return to the garage.

Well friends, this particular scoot has reached its conclusion...

The Sidecamper BEAST tagged both the Eastern and the Western ends of Canada, made it most of the way up the Dalton Highway in Alaska, as far as Coldfoot. 

It's not a heavy rig, but is W I D E.  Pushing a lot of air with that big nose slows it down.

Overall the Vstrom1000 is a great all-around tug for sidecar duty. Parts are readily available, reasonably priced too. The Suzuki has a reputation for reliability and durability. Might not be the sexiest machine, but it gets you home. When loaded with everything including the kitchen sink... somewhere in there, the BEAST got me there, not quickly though.

Decided the sidecamper BEAST needed a stronger tug.  Top end speed is not priority number one, but low end torque is. Studied motorcycle specs, consulted with sidecar builders, 
looking for the ideal replacement. 

In north Texas, located and acquired last week a 2011 daily rider, a Triumph Rocket 3 roadster. At 2300 cc with 146 HP and 163 of torque, there isn't much this brute cannot move. 

Meet the Warthog...

To think less than ten years ago, my initiation into sidecars was a 26 HP kick start Russian URAL . 

The stock rear wheel will accept a 245/55-16 auto tire, which sells for less than half the cost of a motorcycle rear tire and will last twice as long. The open framework will be easier to work with in mounting the subframe needed for sidecar duty. The shaft drive is easier to maintain when on the road. And the torque...     is awesome!

 On first seeing the Rocket, SO blurted out, "I thought you didn't like chrome..."  I don't. 

First order of business is to lose those heavy chrome mufflers.
Learned the big chrome mufflers block the rear axle bolt from sliding all the way out if trying to remove the rear tire. In order to remove the rear wheel, you have to remove the left muffler. That is a bad design from the factory. Eliminating the long muffler eliminates the problem.

Big chrome gone! Next remove the exhaust hanger. 

That exposes the CAT... hmmm...  it has got to go too! 
I need that space vacant for mounting the subframe for the sidecamper. 

Now you see it, now you don't... Officer, someone stole my CAT. 

That's better. Now we have a nice open space for both the sub frame and for crossing the exhaust over to the left side. Did not want the exhaust exiting on the right side near the camper tub. Space is tight between the bike and the tub plus the auto battery will be there. 

Next removed the small passenger pad to make room for a five gallon auxiliary fuel cell. The fuel cell will gravity feed into the main tank. That will give us 11.3 gallons of fuel, average 30 mpg equals 339 mile range... I hope.  Depending on headwinds... as long as it has more range than 260 miles, all is good when riding in Alaska and Canada.

Well, that's the start. Ordered a few pieces online.
1). Tuneable stubby 10"exhaust
2). 225/65-16 General Altimax RT43 auto tire 
3). Spun aluminum 5 gallon fuel cell
4). Extensions for the rear shocks 

Using extensions to raise the rear end will reduce the trail, thus lighten the steering. 
Is an inexpensive solution before having to spend big bucks on steering mods.

Now to design the subframe, identify mounting points before talking with a builder.

This is my winter project, progress will be slow as I await parts or for fabricators to make the custom subframe. Will post updates periodically.

Rode safe and far Amigos

Wrenching again, oh we're wrenching again, living the garage, busting knuckles deep in grease, on the road wrenching again ( humming along On the Road with Willie strumming the flattop).


p.s. Next spring the Vstrom1000 will be available for purchase. Anyone looking to build their own RTW rig?

Saturday, August 17, 2019


While in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho had the opportunity to attend the JULYAMSH Indian Pow Wow. 
Various tribes from the Northwest, including Idaho, Washington. Oregon, Montana, Alberta and British Colombia, Canada gather each summer for a dance, singing and drumming competition. Each tribe sends their best performers to represent their traditions, dress and customs. 

At first the visual impact is so overwhelming with over a hundred dancers in a small arena. So many bright modern colors, the decorative rapid movements, intense serious attitudes and the sheer beauty of it all.. seemed at first impossible to capture with a camera. 

The men dance aggressively, quick fast movements in rhythm with the multiple drums while competing for a judge's attention, attempting to out impress other tribal dancers.

Twisting turning stepping to rapid pounding of the drums...

Fast movement, dramatic gestures, flying feathers, 
ribbons of colorful flash fill the camera's lens. 

Visually overpowering the individual under all the regalia.

Tried toning down the colors so as to focus more on the participants. So many bright colors were too strong visually, distracting from seeing the real people involved.

The lady's dance is all foot work and attitude. Here an invited dancer from Oklahoma leads the procession of tribal princesses.  

This photo?  hmmm, with the color toned down, looks too stiff, no WOW factor... 
The fourth girl with the rainbow dress overpowered everyone else if at full color.

The male dancers invoked the unique tribal heritage from their ancestral origins.

Let's introduce more contrast...  better.

Whoops, by going straight B&W, has details but loses in attitude and excitement. 
Too dull. No focal point of interest.

Maybe try a different tint....   Hmmmm...  No, not quite right.

Participants were of all ages from infants to grandparents.

How about a close up...   No, too sharp, is modern looking, not the look or feel I seek.

Settling down, let's refocus of individuals, attempting to capture 
the native sense of attitude and the personalities. 

Here a young girl seriously studies the dance moves of teenagers performing. 
The competition between the tribes and among the individuals is intense. 
They are all battling for honor and tribal pride.

Note the square topknot in the girls's hair?

Let's try an old school type of photo editing, harking back to a long lost era 
of strong proud warriors, rich tribal heritage.  

Strong but too sharp, too crisp.

This is better. Has a 1920's grainy look, strong contrast, slightly out of focus.

The proud attitude is showing... good sense of warrior strong. 

Finally on the right track to capture and show the spirit of the individual 
honoring their heritage. 

This B&W image captures the beauty with a sense of power within.  
Strong, determined and proud of who she is. 

In the mist of swirling colors and frantic activity, 
she projects calmness, composure of a tribal princess.

And finally,  different princess from a different tribe...  what does her image say to you?

???????  Post your comments...

Being allowed to mingle among the PowWow participants 
as they competed was a fantastic experience.

I better appreciate now their tribal heritage and the impressive efforts they put into preserving and promoting their culture. The training and formal preparation for the intensity of their performances was on full display. 

Well, that was a walk-about in the photographer's mind as one attempts 
to achieve a certain look and feel for the images. From the several hundreds of photos taken, 
these are the few that survived the selection / editing process.

Thank you for taking the time to follow along.

See you on down the road,


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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Adobe Churches

Yesterday decided to ride a loop looking for country adobe churches in this part of New Mexico. These are not the famous historical structures as in the last posting, 
but what the locals have build for their daily worship services.

Near Peñasco Pueblo, a small boxy abode structure: Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion

Near Guadalupita with an active graveyard out front, 
a bright modern church: Nuestra Señora del Niño Jesus.

... a small modest church in Rio Lucio: no name posted.

Not all the churches I found are still used, some are abandoned. 

Found it interesting that the steeple cross is gone, yet the heavy bell is still hanging in the tower. Surprised it has not been moved to a church that could use it. It is very common for alters, railings, pews or other unique or sacred church artifacts be moved and incorporated in a replacement church. 

And some churches are beyond the point of rebuilding.

In Dixon, the old adobe San Antonio Mission church was abandoned, 

... in favor of it's replacement built next door. 
Note the cross has been moved from the old structure.

I did get off the sidecar rig to step inside a small old capilla in Mora, NM. This was the church before they build a big modern building next door. The simple capilla with its decorative alter is preferred for daily worship by the older members.

Outside on a hot dusty side street in Mora, I met Don Patricio. 
Born 87 years ago in Guadalupita to a farming family, now his declining health worries him.
Says he does not want to live much longer. The pains in his body are unbearable. 

Finished today's riding loop by taking the busy highway back to Taos,  
then the twisting winding road up to Angel Fire.

No photos of the sidecar today, just the adobe churches I found...   and Don Patricio.

Be safe y'all, God speed.