Thursday, June 29, 2017

Project SideCamper: Part Five - DAMIT LIVES AGAIN

Project: SideCamper is rolling along. Took him out for a spin since I needed to test the brakes... plus a visit was in store at my favorite temple for a blessing of the rig.

But first the BIG RIG visits the big rigs....

Does this make my...   look BIG?   Yes, Damit is at least seven feet wide, planted on three 15" car tires and carries fifteen gallons of fuel in the auxiliary tank to supplement the 5.8 gallons in the main tank.  He won't go fast, but he can go far.

He thinks he's the leader of the pack.  Speak softly and walk with muscle. 

He wants to know where he can get two big stacks to blow black smoke too.

The tub view... this will be home on the road. Looks small...

Looks bigger here. In an earlier shot of the camper opened.

A rear view of the opened up camper. 
Note the fuel cell has been changed along with many other modifications. 

The tug view... 
This mechanical mule will get the job done. Not quickly, but goes and goes and goes and g...

Then a visit to the temple for an offering and blessing.

I love this oasis of zen and beauty.

Here gathering inner peace and tranquility. 

Breath in positive energy, exhale negativity. Tai Chi was a great life lesson.

Soaking up strength of power and intuitive purpose.

And finally...  
we beat the holy dickens out of any negative spirits who refuse to dispossess Damit peacefully.

Damit III has been blessed and is (almost) ready for travel.

 Just a few more small details to attend to, like 
where to pack my clothes, water, stove, sleeping bag, tools, cover, rain gear, cold weather gear, waterproof boots, walking shoes, food, spare parts, passport, money, maps, camera, computer, chargers, cables, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, bear spray, mosquito headnet, electric jacket, electric gloves, rain gloves, summer gloves, tie downs, straps, tripod, etc, etc, etc... wheoooo! 
And where is my Alaska Leather Butt Pad?

Well, not quite ready, but getting there.

Departure date is July 20th, when Damit will carry me up to Corning, NY for five days at the United Sidecar Association National Rally. 

After the rally we will point the front wheel in the direction of St Johns, Newfoundland 
and Cape Spear Lighthouse (the eastern most point in Canada). 
And points beyond....

Ride safe ya'll

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Project SideCamper: Part Four

 Project SideCamper work slowly progresses, with two perplexing problems facing us. 

One is the front brakes. After removing the front wheel, replacing the bearings and mounting a new front tire, the brakes do not want to grab with any force. The previous owner rode this rig on the beaches in Mexico, which may be the reason the brake pistons acted like they are stuck. Ordered a replacement set of clean used brake calipers off eBay.  Learned that the brake calipers on this bike are not OEM Suzuki Vstrom 1000, but are from a Suzuki Hayabusa, a very fast high performance crotch rocket.  From the original eight piston brake calipers, this rig was upgraded to twelve piston Hayabusa calipers for better stopping power?  Speed is not an issue with this rig, but stopping the rolling weight is.  

Here is the old Tokico front caliper on a leading link front suspension running 155/80-15 car tire on a custom Stroker steel wheel.

The tools of the trade for brake bleeding.

Installed the eBay replacement Tokico brake caliper. Looks better, but still not grabbing like they should. 

After bleeding the brakes several more times, removing all the air with both forward and reverse bleeding procedures, cleaned the pistons and calipers, but still mushy feeling when I pull the front lever.  

Finally ordered a front master brake cylinder rebuild kit from eBay.  Hopefully by next week the brake issue will be resolved.

The second issue was the fuel gauge. It was not working correctly when I bought the bike. No matter how much fuel is in the tank, it always read empty. Tested the resistance of the float unit while in the tank, then the wiring and finally the instrument cluster. We spent hours and hours tracing the wiring on the bike, taking ohms reading at every junction. Everything had a good reading, no breaks or shorts found.  Decided to order a replacement instrument cluster as that was the one part we could not test.

Here the old cluster is out, waiting on a new one to arrive. Installed the new eBay cluster but same problem occurred, fuel gauge reads empty.  We can't have two bad clusters, can we? 

 Next removed the fuel float sending unit for testing outside the gas tank. The voltmeter reading says the ohms are correct when I move the float up and down. However when  it was inside the tank in the gasoline, it would give a reading, but not change much when one rocked the tank.

Finally ordered a new float assembly.  Installed the new sending unit. BAMM... Problem solved. Now the fuel gauge is showing the correct fuel level.  It is critical that the fuel gauge accurately show how much fuel is in the bike's tank so when I refill from the 15 gallon auxiliary fuel cell I don't create an overflow problem.

Here is the new 15 gallon auxiliary fuel cell mounted on the swing out table so the weight is carried over the sidecar axle. It gravity feeds into the main fuel tank on the bike when the manual valve is opened. Fifteen gallons is a lot of weight, so I don't plan on filling it completely until I am about to enter the more remote desolate regions.  I have yet to learn what my miles per gallon will be. A long road trip will tell me that. 

Added a map of Canada on the back and a map of the USA on the front of the fuel cell. The goal is to fill in all of the states and provinces on those two maps over the next several years.

Took the rig off the lift and opened the camper in order to rewire the taillights and add a right turn signal lamp.

 Also need to decide what and where to carry items inside the camper.  Still have to build storage compartments, add a drop down table, a light and an outlet for charging my laptop.

While the inside of the camper is waterproof when closed, nothing is accessible when the top is closed and secured for traveling. So all rain gear, cold weather gear as well as tools and camera gear need to be packed and stored on the bike somewhere, not inside the camper.

 The back door cannot be opened with the top is closed. In order to open the camper, the fuel table swings out and a drop down leg is lowered to support the loose end. The camper top is then flipped out over the sidecar fender onto its supporting legs to expose the interior. Then the door can be opened to step in and push up the two metal frames that support the canvas  roof.  Sounds complicated but it only takes a few minutes to set up. 

After a slow last week, we are seeing improvements.  Slowly but surely the project moves toward completion.

 Am anxious to get this rig on the road for a long test ride, Canada waits.

Ride safe, ya'll

Friday, June 16, 2017

Third Annual Photography Camp

Took a break in wrenching to travel to northern New Mexico for a week of bonding with three of my five grandsons (the other two are not old enough πŸ‘ΆπŸ‘Ά to be trusted with grandpa Abu πŸ‘΄, some day...).

Every day the four of us would have a morning class, hike, cook, play games and practice our photography skills.  The first rule here, no electronics, phones, iPads, etc  until the sun goes down.

My students, Anthony, Hudson and Harrison hiking in the high country tall grass of New Mexico.

Each day's hike would start at 8200 ft elevation in the lower valleys and meadows
 then work our way up.  Most of the time the weather cooperated, but we always kept an eye open for fast moving dark rain clouds.

When over 10,000 feet, a jacket is needed even though it is the middle of June. 

The boys were great at practicing in the afternoons and evenings what I taught them 
in the morning classes... 

... even getting creative with angles and techniques.

The mountains hold many surprises if one looks for them, from peaceful aspen glens where the elk, deer and bear bed down... (not all together, I assure you)...

to abandoned line cabins in the high country. Line cabins were where cowboys working the herd could spend the night, escaping the cold, rain and snow.

One evening about dusk we located a herd of twenty elk. With the light fading fast, we all quickly snapped photos until the light was gone. I always carry a cow elk call when up there to calm the animals and get their interest without spooking them. 

At this time of the year, the bull elk are off in their own or in small bachelor herds. 

This herd of cows had two spotted newborns calves who were always surrounded by the protective females. At any one time there were a dozen eyes on the look out for danger. 

Of course we had to walk out onto the Rio Grande River Gorge bridge near Taos. The concrete structure moves up and down with each crossing car or truck.  The bigger and heavier the vehicle, the more it moves. Our youngest found it too scary. He did not like it.

We arrived in time to see a rain storm move south out of the Colorado Rockies.

Moving on, next stop:  Earthship Biosphere. All of the structures here are built with recycled materials and partially buried in the earth for climate control and energy efficiency.  The several dozen homes are off the grid, generating their own electricity via solar and wind.

Looking out across the high plains of fragrant sage brush toward the Sangre de Cristo mountains and Taos.

Our last night out, we spotted a mule deer in velvet who cooperated for a standing portrait.

Was another good learning experience in photography.  The boys practiced with aperture, shutter speed and composition while I was educated on the world of fidget spinners. 

The youngest, Harrison, is the reigning Phase Ten card playing champion.

We all agreed to return next year for another week of North Country Photography Camp. 

Now back home, the wrenching on SideCamper continues.