Sunday, March 22, 2015

I Don't want to Jinx Myself....

....but it was exactly a year ago that I posted these pictures of the snow in the yard....


Today, one year later, the view is much different...


I know that by posting these pictures, I risk Mother Nature's revenge and face the potential for a huge dumping of snow. I'll take that risk.

In the past few weeks we've had some unseasonably warm temperatures. It's has cooled off the last few days, so much so that we're back to fires in the fireplace. This may not have been the snowiest winter, but it certainly has been a cold one.

The motorcycles are still sleeping in the garage but I've been hearing some grumbling from them. So it wont be long until they wake up and get out for their first spring ride.

I've started to work on a few garage projects. I added an elbow to the exhaust on my John Deere tractor. The factory exhaust aims forward, and blows onto the back of the snow blower. The warm exhaust warms the steel on the left side of the blower and a lot of the snow sticks to the inside. A short piece of 1.5" diameter chrome plated brass drain pipe will cure that problem.


I cut a few short slits in the new pipe and forced it over a 1 1/16" impact socket to expand it just enough to slip over the tip of the exhaust. I secured it with a hose clamp. I'll try it this way, but it might have to be modified slightly in case it catches in the weeds or comes to close to the loader frame.


This winter I added a SpeeCo Quick Hitch to the three point hitch of the tractor. This makes the job of attaching implements much easier.


I've been working on a ballast box for the tractor. I got a good deal on some 70 pound bags of sand (dirt cheap) and picked up some PVC pipe to put in the box so I can carry a chain saw, a few yard tools and some logging chains with me. I need some warmer weather so I can finish some painting and then add 500 pounds of sand. The ballast box is primarily used with the front end loader, but it will also add some extra traction in the rear when used with the snow blower.


I moved the tail light/flashers to the inside of the roll bar. The fixtures are plastic and I figured the first time I cut the grass I'd get too close to a tree branch and knock one of them off.


Over the winter, my buddy, John, has provided me with 3 large pallets and lots of extra lumber. The pallets are 110 inches long and will be perfect for stacking more firewood!


One project I managed to get done before winter came was making covers for the 2 huge basement window wells. A few treated 2x4s and some clear corrugated polycarbonate, and no more snow in the wells and plenty of light. The temps in the window well were often warm enough to open the windows and give the cats a treat of semi-outdoor warm sunshine.




No matter what the weather does in the next few weeks, spring is not far away. The sap is flowing in the maple trees. There was a "sap-sicle" hanging off this maple yesterday, but only a "sap-cube" remains today... Look close..

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Frustrated....

Even as the bikes are sleeping in the garage for the winter, life goes on. Today, it was time to change the oil in my truck. I hate that job.... Why? It's not hard, but the oil change on my truck is just unnatural...


I've been wrenching on cars, trucks, lawnmowers, heavy equipment and motorcycles since my high school days, and I graduated in 1978... so I've done a few things. I took Auto Shop my junior year and have been doing all my own brake jobs, wheel bearings, tire rotations, transmission fluid/filter changes, engine oil changes, grease jobs, tune ups, water pumps, belts, hoses and exhaust work since then. I serviced my parents' and sister's cars.
Back when cars had points and a distributor, I changed points, set ignition timing and dwell, changed countless spark plugs and air filters, adjusted choke coils, replaced carburetors and intake manifolds.
I've swapped a few engines, replaced the main bearings and oil pump in a 3.8 L Buick V6, replaced a clutch in a Ford Ranger pick up truck, swapped a few GM TH-400 automatic transmissions, changed the turbo charger on a 1980 Pontiac 301c.i.d. Trans-Am...

I mount and balance my own motorcycle tires, replace my own sprockets and chains, change engine oil, brake fluid, air filters...


30 years ago, I worked in the shop of a excavation and demolition company and I bought Snap-on tools off the truck that would come around each Friday afternoon.


I consider myself at least semi mechanically inclined.

But I absolutely hate changing the oil in my truck. It didn't help that it's -5 deg F outside, and the garage was just above freezing. Just warm enough to have the ice/snow built up under the truck melt and drip on me as I'm rolling around under it.

The oil filter on GM's 5.3 liter is mounted vertically and recessed a ways up toward the engine block. I have to use a cup style oil filter wrench on a 12" extension. Because of the vertical orientation of the filter and the fact that the truck is up on ramps, oil runs down the sides of the filter as it's being loosened. It drips onto the side of the oil pan, onto the frame and skid pans... It drips down onto my hands, runs up my arms...


Then, the drain plug is positioned horizontally... So when I remove it, 6 quarts of warm oil shoot out almost 2 feet... It's a huge pain to try and catch it in a drain pan. After a few seconds the flow slows down and the oil falls almost vertically... Better keep an eye on things or the oil will be falling on the floor and not in the pan(that's happened more than once)...

On 2 of my motorcycles the oil filter is horizontal and the drain plugs are vertical. When I loosen the oil filters, oil drips out in a single, easy to catch, stream. The oil drains from the sump straight down.... No messes, no spills, no surprises. Oh, if everything in life were that easy!

To top it all off, I spilled a bunch of the drain oil as I was pouring it into my 7 gallon waste oil container! The last time I brought my drain oil into town to recycle it, the place I took it to wouldn't take all my oil. Their tank was full. I had to bring home nearly half my old oil. I knew it would be close, but I over filled the container and made a mess on the garage floor. I had to find a milk jug to pour the last of the oil into. I'll be taking the oil in this week... I hope they have room for it all this time.


Sorry for whining, but I feel better now... or for at least the next 3000 miles...

Friday, December 19, 2014

My Return to Technology.


As I sit here tonight the cats are curled up, 3 in a bed, under the Christmas tree. There's a fire in the fireplace and it's a cool and snowy 25 degrees outside.


I realize that it's been almost 8 full months since I've spent any time on the computer(a very interesting and liberating experiment). I have spent more than a few hours trying to catch up on the blogs I follow, and there's still a lot of reading to do.

Nancy and I were saddened to read of the passing of fellow blogger Bob Leong. I'm sorry this is so late in coming, but we wish to express our condolences to Yvonne and family.


I met Bob in Oregon in 2012 at a blogger get-together, nick-named the "International Motorcycle Bloggers Convention". I spent 5 slow paced days driving from WI to OR. to meet up with 7 other motorcycle bloggers. Together we spent a 3 day weekend driving and relaxing in the beautiful Enterprise/Hell's Canyon area. It was really nice to be able to put a face to the blogs! It was a fun 10 day, 3500 mile trip for me.

I was kind of hesitant about making the trip because I am a shy, quiet and private person. I wasn't sure how I'd fit in with the group. I had been following and commenting on their blogs, but that's a lot different than meeting them in person. I was immediately accepted as one of the group, and Bob was the first person I met. Roland and Sonja, Karen, Brad and Brandy, and Richard all made me feel welcome.

I'll miss Bob's witty comments, his numerous bare feet pictures, and his bright pink Crocs.

Since meeting Bob, I've tried to post an occasional picture or two just for his benefit.....




On to some happier thoughts... Nancy and I have been staying quite busy. In October, we celebrated our 13th year together!

The fall colors were beautiful this year, but were very short lived...


Winter has arrived in the Wisconsin north woods and the motorcycles are resting. Our first real snowfall came November 9th and it's still here. This year, the snow will not break my spirit! I've upgraded the weaponry in the garage. The 5.5 hp, 24" snow blower has been upgraded. Now, I get to laugh at Old Man Winter!!!


I got a good deal on a John Deere 1025R sub-compact utility tractor. It's powered by a 24 hp, 3 cylinder Yanmar diesel engine. It came equipped with a 47" snow blower, a front end loader, and a 54" mid mount mower. The loader and mower deck are tucked away in the garage.

I spent a lot of time splitting wood this year and have expanded the wood piles by another 20+ feet...


This is our third winter up north, but it's the first winter we've seen wild turkeys in the yard...


The deer are everywhere...


The black bears made their appearance this summer and the woods is full of wildlife...

I'm happy to be back and look forward to catching up on a ton of reading!!!!!!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Taking a Break......

I want to give everyone a heads up, I'm stepping back from the computer for a few months. I'll be fine, just out of contact so to speak.

When my life changes back, I'll be following all of you again. I'm looking forward to reading all your updates and catching up when I can.

I hope to be back to blogging soon!

I leave you with a few of my favorite motorcycle related pictures...


Until I return, the best to you all, and ride safe...

Erik.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

This Morning.....

There was no snow on the patio the other day.....and that's all I'll say about that.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Bears are Awake...

...and they're hungry. Sometime between 6:00 pm and midnight, a black bear found our bird feeders. It's too dark to see just how much damage it did, but the feeder pole is bent to the ground, the finch feeder has chew marks on it and the metal cage of suet it empty. I'll post better pictures once the sun comes out.

We'll have to start bringing in the feeders at night from now on.



Now that it's light outside, I got a few more pictures.

When I came back inside, Nancy was watching some TV show, on the National Geographic channel, about killer black bears in a Provincial Park in Canada.


As the art work hanging on the wall behind our couch says...

I guess it's the start of spring.


Oh, it's snowing again too...

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Even Nicer Weather Today!

Days like today make up for the 3 months in a row of sub freezing temps. By noon, the snow was melting off the roof resulting in several steady streams of running water. It was warm enough to work in the garage with just a shirt and no jacket. I spent some time cleaning up the Zx-14. I washed all the winter dust off it, lubed the chain and checked the air in the tires. By 3:00 this afternoon it was ready to ride. It's amazing what 100 miles of seat time can do for a person!


50 miles away, Ashland, WI and Lake Superior...


Richard has suggested I not look at tractors and try hand shoveling my driveway as a way of making sure my riding gear fits every spring.. :) That's an interesting idea, but I still stopped by for a look...

It felt so nice to finally get out for a long ride!!