Wednesday, April 29, 2015

April Snowstorm

Sunday morning was clear and sunny. The distant peaks glistened white as the sun came over the horizon. Lower elevations were still asleep, snow free.

A few elk were late grazing in the early dawn, slowly working their way back up the slopes to their bedding area. Being nocturnal animals, elk sleep during the day and feed at night. Their bedding areas are in the dark spruce timber high on the mountain slopes. As warm air rises during the day, elk can smell any threat approaching from below before they can see it. They listen for any threat approaching from above.

The two cows disappear into the timber. We won't see any more elk until dusk when they reappear to graze in the open fields once again.

By evening,  the anticipated storm front arrives. We had been hearing storm warnings all day while the temperatures were in the sixties.  They said to expect 4-6 inches of snow.

Was awaken at three AM. Peeking out, was treated to a serene sight. Snow stacked deep everywhere. Nothing was moving. The wind was calm.

 Next morning, the snow was still coming down and the wind was howling. The animals stayed safe in the timber and we stayed safe inside as the snow outside swirled deeper and higher

By early afternoon the tail end of the storm moved east, out of Moreno Valley. The wind died down and animals were hungry. Looking out around 2:30 P.M. the front yard was occupied with a herd of nine cow elk, pawing at the snow so they could feed on the green grass below. Normally this was way too early in the day for them to be out in the open, but since the storm prevented them from feeding last night, stomach were growling. They wanted food!

By late afternoon the warming sun that followed the storm was already melting the fresh snow.  Overnight the melt refroze,  adorning gutters and bird feeders with icicles by morning.

By late Tuesday most of the snow was gone. 

What a fascinating 48 hours in the mountains, 
seeing how quickly the weather can change and how it affects the wildlife that live here. 

We are never too old to learn from Mother Nature.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Mother Nature's Lost Memo

After the close of tax/ski season and before the end of school, my BB and I like to go to the northern mountains of New Mexico for a little R&R. At 8200 ft, Angel Fire is an oasis of solitude this time of the year. The forecast was for spring like weather highs in the 60's, with lows around freezing at night.

Much to our surprise mother nature was not quite ready to say goodbye to winter... we awoke this morning to a six inch blanket of heavy wet snow. Our little chihuahua sank to her belly and still didn't touch tierra firma when I took her outside.

As Lily said, looks like Angel Fire didn't get "It's Spring"memo from Mother Nature.

So was a good day to work on indoor projects. One I have been contemplating for a number years was how to create a mosaic on the coffee table utilizing a large black marble tile with a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation logo. Most of the ceramic tile I found was much thinner than the black marble. Those wouldn't work. About six months ago I happened across some discontinued stone tile for kitchen walls that were thicker than most.

Now was a good time to play with putting all of this together.

First we prep the table, tape off the edges and rough sand the top...

Now to spread the glue

Set the tile

Waiting for the glue to dry

Next to work grout into the cracks...

Lots of warm water to clean up our mess and step back to admire...

Our admiring audience enjoy a little sun, trying to stay warm...

Outside the snow gets deeper, we stayed inside...

Good weather for cornbread and chili...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Damit 2.0

The new adventure rig is ready. Damit 2 finally gets to feel a little grass between her toes. Welcome to the real world....

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The KLR gets married

The time has come for the KLR and the sidecar chassis to be joined for evermore. The last few items needed have arrived, so a quick call to my friend/neighbor Gary was in order.  Since this was the first time for either of us to install a sidecar, we read the instructions,  reread them then watched a youtube video on how to do it.

Of course it helps to have a big hammer on hand. 
If that doesn't work, the Russians say you need a bigger hammer.

It is critical that the sidecar be level, so we did out best to accomplish that. Two other critical factors are the Lean-out and Toe-in.  Those terms only mean something to fellow sidecarists and they know to what I refer.

Every step of the way was measured and leveled.

Three hours later, we finally had it attached and level. Bolts are tight, but not wrenched!!! for now.

Of course what do you do with a new toy???? Well.................. ride it.

  Any experienced sidecarist will cringe at this photo. That empty, light frame will "FLY' with the slightest input..... and it did. This was a quick ride down the street and back to see if the settings were close or needed more adjustment.  Everything was GOOD! No further adjustments for now. Wow, first timers, first time and we are very close to a final set-up. The temporary blue tape is holding wires, etc out of the way while we were assembling the parts.

Now to add some weight to the sidecar. The used truck tool box I picked up is a double lid, aluminum  box that we then modified by adding rubber latches to make sure the wind did not catch a lid and flip it up. Second we added hasps for locking and securing the lids after we removed the factory latches.  This will keep my camping and personal gear safe and dry.

Because the bottom of the aluminum box is not very rigid and not wide enough to cover all of the sidecar frame, decided to cut out a 3/4" plywood base for the sidecar then mount the box and auxiliary gas cans on top of that.

With the plywood down, we then positioned the box and base fore and aft. Did not want to box to be further back than our rear taillight. The front edge of the box is in line with the front axle.


Lined up the rear fender with the tool box...

The front edge of the box lines up with the front axle on the KLR.

Next was to cut the plywood, trim it, stain it and attach everything. Added metal edging to the front and rear edges of the plywood for weather protection. The box and base were then bolted to the chassis. 

Between the bottom of the plywood and the ground is 12 inches. That is the ground clearance I was looking for and could not find on any already set-up adventure sidecar rig.  The ground clearance under the KLR is 7 1/2 inches.
Am pleased with the high ground clearance and a low profile front of the sidecar. Will offer less wind resistance. It rolls very easy. Much easier than Da'mit the Ural did.

Made a frame to hold in the two NATO gas cans, 2.5 gallons each. That will give me a total of 11-12+ gallons of gas.  Will add a bicycle cable lock besides the bungee cord to keep the two gas cans. safely on board. There are several nooks and crannies where more things can be mounted to the sidecar floor. Any suggestions? 

Like most complicated projects, some unforeseen developments arise.  For us, the used Pelican panniers that I bought from another KLR rider, fit on perfectly. The right pannier can be mounted and removed easily. However, with the sidecar cargo box in place, the right pannier cannot open. If it was a top opening box, would be okay, but a side opening box is not going to work. The tool box opens fine, just the pannier cannot fully open. 

Now the decision is, do I ride with just the left pannier, use the right pannier knowing I can only access the contents if I remove it from the bike everytime or sell this set up and find a complete pannier set up of top load boxes? Do I even need panniers with the big tool box?

Of course there are more, MANY more things yet to be done before this rig is ready for long distance travel. Today was a major step in moving this project forward. 

Thanks for following along with this build.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Christmas in April

The 2006 Khaki Kawasaki has flown the coop, now resides in Austin.  Just in time for a huge crate to arrived from up north. Not from the North Pole, but from Enumclaw, Washington.

The long awaited sidecar chassis I ordered back in early February has arrived. Hot Dog!

Immediately I tore into the box, the first to come out was the most beautiful 19" chrome wheel...

Stripped the top off to review the rest of the contents. 

Pulled out the various connecting pieces plus the box with nuts, bolts, linkage and instructions

Knocked the crate sides off to better check out the chassis. May not look like much to most, but I can see the finished sidecar in my mind's eye. And I like what I see...

First we have to mount the subframe onto the KLR so the sidecar has a place to connect. This process involved removing several factory pieces and replacing them with new braces. The lower subframe is very strong and well designed. It comes in two halves, a left and a right. There are six bolts mounting it to the bike and well as four additional bolts connecting two halves together.

Here is the subframe mounted with the optional skid plate.

The subframe provides two lower mounting points for the sidecar.  As you can see, the front lower mounting bolt is quite hefty.

As is the rear lower mounting bolt. You can see at the top of this photo, where the rear brake master cylinder now has a double banjo bolt mount so both the rear and the sidecar disk brakes can be activated with one foot pedal. 

Now to mount the two upper brackets. This is when the decision to buy from an experienced and well respected sidecar builder was confirmed. The engineering that went into the design and fabrication the upper front bracket is impressive. Because this is the bracket that must handle the bulk of the stresses put on a sidecar rig, it must be sturdy and well engineered. The area to mount this bracket is limited and requires several contortions in order to thread the piece in and around the various engine and frame components in order to fit. In all  it is mounted using three connecting points, two braces and six bolts.

The upper rear bracket was more straight forward, an easy install to the reinforced rear subframe. 

While waiting for the chassis to arrive, more wiring was completed for the sidecar and the driving lights.

The bike is ready to be mated to the sidecar, but we are missing a couple of pieces. So before  we can start that process, we wait and do our tax return.....  Oh the joy!

Before you ask where the sidecar body is.... there is not passenger body for this rig. It will outfitted with an aluminum truck tool box where all my gear, tools, parts and camping stuff can be safely stored. 

When the last of the parts arrived, the mating process will commence.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A little Wrenching

Seems this past month has been a time for wrenching and waiting. Put the finishing touches on the Gen 1 KLR650, thought I had it sold, but not yet............

Focus has been on the Gen 2 KLR, the big eyed beauty.  Making numerous changes, upgrades, and mods to suit the trip I have planned for her.

Added side racks for panniers and a top rack for a large box where I can recharge a laptop and camera batteries. Reinforced the rear subframe to carry a heavier load, upgraded the doohickey, install LED headlights, fork brace and handlebar risers.

Since I'll be adding quite a few new electrical outlets and lights, needed an auxiliary fuse block. Looked and looked to find one that would fit in the spaces I had to work with.  Also wanted to located it somewhere where I could easily access it to check and replace fuses without having to disassemble half the bike to reach it.

The long six circuit block fit perfect and will handle the load. The circuits to be wired are: 
1). Charging port near the handlebars for iPhone/GPS while riding
2). Charging port in the rear top box for recharging a laptop
3). Driving/fog lights to be installed on front of sidecar box
4). Heated jacket and gloves 
5). Air horn for safety
6). Open spare circuit

Decided the final drive needed strengthening: The standard 520 chain was replaced with a stronger 525 o-ring chain, a 525 15 tooth counter sprocket and a 49 tooth rear sprocket. 

The larger rear sprocket will give better low end torque when starting off or when in soft sand and mud. It also reduces the top end speed, but that is not an issue where we plan to go. 

Yet to be installed is a larger front brake rotor for better stopping. The sidecar was ordered with a disk brake so the rig will have three disk brakes in all, one on each wheel. Can't have too much braking power.

DMC Sidecar called to say a large crate is headed my way. Oh, boy, Christmas in April... can't wait to open the box and start the connection process.  But first have to move some things around...  or sell something...  or.... the workspace is getting crowded with three bikes/rigs in here.

My neighbor Gary has gotten involved in the building process with me. He loves a challenge and is not afraid to turn a wrench or two. Really helps when two brains are sorting out a problem or an install issue.  There have been numerous times when four hands wrenching are better than two.

Until next time, when the crate arrives....