Saturday, November 30, 2013


Shirt ride today. Just around the neighborhood. Lots of trees in our area and in the Fall season, lots of leaf.

Carpe Diem and ride safely my good friends.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

This Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for the reminder today that it's easy for us to forget what is really important in our lives. It's so easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of work, responsibilities and constantly striving to do all the things that we think other people want us to do.

I got news for us all. A lot of what we strive for is just bull$5it. And we take a lot of things for granted without realizing how important and meaningful they are.

Money? Well you can't take it with you.

Fame? Only lasts for awhile. 

How about the sounds of birds singing? When was the last time you really stopped and listened to them. How about the feel and touch of a loving and warm hand from a companion. Did you look into their eyes? I mean, really look? Really feel the moment?

I died almost 3 years ago. 


My body had actually reached a state where it could not sustain itself any longer. My heart had stopped. My brain was starving for the oxygen it needed. I had literally lost the battle for my life. It was only through the quick external actions of others performing CPR and using defibrillator paddles that I was revived. The realization of what happened is very sobering.

The priorities in my life are now a little different. 

Life is pretty amazing. It's easy to forget that.

There is this wonderful woman in my life. She is responsible for some of that CPR I previously mentioned. We have shared almost 35 years together. We have two fantastic children. We are lucky to have a decent home. There's lots to be very thankful for. And the world surrounding us, even with all of the problems there are, is full of beauty and wonder.

So, this Thanksgiving, when you are with your families, I invite you to make that hug with your relative last a little longer. Look a little deeper into someone's eyes. Take an extra moment to listen to a bird sing. Think about the things (like Jayhawk basketball) that are truly meaningful to you.

And Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Carpe Diem, my good friends.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Some Things Worth Doing are Worth Doing Twice

 It wasn't necessarily the Best of Times.

It wasn't necessarily the Worst of Times

Some things went very much according to plan.

Some things I thought that would be difficult, weren't

Some things I thought would be quick and easy, Weren't!

The first task was to clear off the workbench a little bit. The summer and Fall residue of various projects that didn't get all the way put back to normal were all over the place. One of the drawers to the cabinet needed a little repair. Got that Done!

Messy Work Bench littered mostly with "stuff" that just needed to be put away.

Then there was the "stuff that I wanted to get done.
1) Change Motor Oil
2) Change the Spark Plug
3) Change the Radiator Coolant
4) Change the Gear Oil

Here's the Lineup!

Castrol this and that, the NGK CR8E, and something called Silkolene for the radiator.
I like to do things for Max with the tools I normally carry on Max. That way when I'm on the road I should have most of what I need if something happens. One exception to that is a feeler gauge that just stays at home.

I also like to do the harder tasks first. Here, I thought that changing the plug would be the most difficult, so I started with that.

The shop manual calls for a .8mm spark plug gap. Of course I don't have a gauge blade with exactly that gap. But I did find a blade with a .381 width next to a blade with a .405 width, so put them together and what do you have? Something close enough for government work.

Putting two blades together to get the result I wanted
And here's a page from the shop manual, displayed on the Nook Tablet, free from the Internet. SYM apparently felt sorry for those of us now without dealers (their sales network collapsed), that they made the owners manuals free for the taking off the web

Anybody Speak Chinese? Actually the manual is pretty good!

The gap is easy to set. I just barely needed to change the gap on the plug.

You wouldn't think a little gap like this is so critical, but it sure can be.
 I was easy to get at the old plug without taking most of the bike apart. Now if I wanted to adjust or check the valve clearances, then a lot more parts would have been on the garage floor. But the plug itself was fairly easy to get at.

I compared the old and new plugs.Old one had been in for 3,000 miles. It looked to be in pretty good shape. Just normal wear, nothing unusual or threatening.

Bought the new plug at Auto Zone, was identical to the old plug. Note the hairy knuckles?
Here's the new plug installed. Swapping out the plug really took just a few minutes, easier than anticipated.

Only one panel (easily removed) to get to the plug.
 I didn't even take any pictures of the oil change. It was simple. The drain plug is underneath the center stand on the left side. The filler hole on the right side. Measured out 800 cc of oil per the manual and  filled the reservoir. I have a special sort of plastic drain case for the oils I drain off. I took the oil (back to Auto Zone) to be recycled after I completed my work.

What turned out to be more of a pain in the ass than anticipated was changing the gear oil. When I did this before, my friend Lloyd helped me. He had a particularly handy little syringe that we used. I remember we carefully measured how much oil drained out and replaced exactly the same quantity. The syringe was very handy because the fill hole is particularly tiny. Don't ask me why!

I originally fashioned together a very small funnel and filled the gear oil using that funnel. Didn't work real well and I made a mess on the floor trying to fill it back up.

The measuring cup collects the gear oil.
The problem was that I realized  that I had put in the wrong gear oil. I should have used SAE 140, but instead had purchased SAE 90, which is much thinner. Not a good idea. Must have been a brain fart moment. I though I had been careful, but.....

So it was back to the store (yes, Auto Zone, just because it is nearby)

The new gear oil with a hopefully handy new little pump tool.

I would really liked to have had a little syringe to replace the gear oil like the one Lloyd had, but couldn't find one. The guy at the store thought this little pump might help and at the time it seemed like a good idea and it was only a few $. So why not! Right?


It fit real nicely into the filler hole, but turned out to be essentially worthless. Oh well, It was worth a try.
So on Sunday morning, I did the gear oil again. To Do It Right! So I wouldn't worry. And after the fiasco with the little oil pump I decided to dump out the wrong gear oil, but use that old bottle, because it has a small nipple at the top, as my new tool to fill up the gear oil. Worked like a charm. To help me remember next time, I even placed a note on the old bottle to help me.

The lineup of gear oil bottles.
I'm still on the lookout for that syringe. Anybody know where I can get one? Can't we always use a little new farkle now and then?

And I admit, I didn't have the time to get the radiator fluid changed. We had some other chores around the house that we did this weekend, and my beloved Kansas Jayhawks even actually won a football game. (We are better known for basketball)

But the coolant replace is on the list to be done. Hopefully next weekend.

BTW, Max is running really nice with that new spark plug. It's just enough difference to be barely noticeable, but there is seemingly a new little bit of energy with each fire.


Ride On and Carpe Diem, my good friends.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Maddening Moments, some Zen and a Self Challenge

I hereby swear that I am going to not drive the automobile to work as much as I have been recently. There are two "Motorcycle Only" parking areas within a block and a half of my office. I never have trouble finding a place to park when I ride the scooter to work. There is always (Repeat, Always!), a place for little old me and Max to park.

Same cannot be said about the friggin' automobile. There's lots of parking around my new office, but some days it seems like it takes an act of the divine to find a place 'close' to my office. A block away is no problem, and I do that often. But there have been days where I think I can park closer to the office only to be frustrated because there are no close places to park. And I am not really being anal about this. I do not mind the walk. What bugs me is the situation of having to change my plan and the resulting waste of time to go back to do something else. And it's really silly, because we're only talking about a few minutes at most. It seems that as I get older, I have lost a certain amount of patience with things that don't go as originally planned.


But I'm sure you don't really care about that....

But here's a Question:

If I say I'm going to do something and write about it in this here blog, Does that mean it will absolutely have to happen?

Let me explain:

Max is way overdue for some maintenance. I'm totally embarrassed about it. It is ridiculously overdue. Substantially Overdue. Criminally Overdue!

I've had good intentions. I bought some motor oil. I bought a new spark plug. I bought some gear oil. I checked and I already had enough engine coolant. Problem is, I bought all this this stuff 2 months ago, and still haven't even turned the screwdriver on Max.

Shame on Me!

I know very well how important the maintenance is for vehicles like this. The investment could easily be wasted by not doing the "little things". And it's not that I have to take Max in to a repair shop to get it done. I'm well capable of doing it all. I've done it before! It doesn't even really take a very long time. (with one possible exception, I'll explain in a moment)

But still, I haven't done it. And I'm usually not that bad about this kind of thing. Oh, I admit I'm not perfect, I may be a little late at times with certain maintenance, but usually I get it done relatively close to the recommended and appointed mileage intervals.

And I even have a pdf file that is the entire repair manual for Max. I can have my tablet computer available to me in the garage as I work to check on the location of a certain drain bolt, or verify the spark plug gap, etc, as needed. I probably won't even have to refer to it much. As I said, I've done this stuff before.

Actually, on a side note, the shop manual reads a little strange in spots. Of course, SYM is a company in Taiwan, and the manual has obviously been written originally in Chinese and then translated to English by somebody that apparently doesn't use English as their original language. The words don't always , shall we say, "flow" real well. But in the final analysis, it works, the pictures and drawings are not bad and I'm happy to say I didn't pay anything for the manual.

But one thing not really explained very well in the manual is how the plastic shroud and body parts fit together. For instance, there are some obvious seams where plastic parts come together, and there are some clip and insert tabs on the inside (not visible from the outside) of the panels that hold things together. These are not pictured well in the manual.

So here's where the "Zen" comes in:

Pirsig talks about becoming "one" with the machine, or at least that's how I interpret it. I'll just have to sit there on the garage floor. Take my time. Play with the panels a bit. Detect how they are held together. (Believe me, it's not real obvious) The fluid changes aren't the problem. The drain and refill bolts are all accessible without taking any body panels off. It's the spark plug that will cause me some grief. The two main body panels will have to come off. And I have to take some other panels off to get to the ones I have to get off, etc. It's like a vicious never ending cycle. There will be a resulting pile of panels, screws and bolts on the floor.

Actually, it won't be all that bad probably. The problem is mostly my own personality and my own difficulty in dealing with things that don't go my way the first time around.

The problem is not the bike, or the panels or the damn spark plug.

The problem is me!

In self diagnosis, seemingly I have a mental block about getting this work done. There is no excuse. It has to be done. I am the only person to do it! Why the hell am I procrastinating?

So, my post today is an attempt to sort of "trick" myself into getting this work done! By the powers vested in me, I pledge that I am going to get this work done this weekend! I'm going to psyche myself up, similar to John Belushi in "Animal House". I'll rally around the house and then run into the garage and get on the floor and get started.

So, back to the original question, if I write about it in this here blog, Will it happen?

It friggin' better!

So here's the deal! If I don't have another post up by, say, next Wednesday, with maintenance pictures and the like, and a description of how it went, feel free to email me, comment me, and tell me what a goofball I am. I'll deserve any and all criticism.

Like John Belushi, I'm going to rally the forces this weekend and do this.

Let's Do It!
Let's Do It!
Let's Do It!
Let's Do It!
Ride On and Carpe Diem, my good friends!