Sunday, January 15, 2017

Game of Groans.

Raise your weapons high! photo source:

Who would have thought that finding the right spring compressor would be such a problem?

The Haynes repair manuals all proclaim proudly on the cover that each each volume is "based upon a complete teardown" Really?

Replacing the  lower control arms is pretty straight forward.  the most important thing is to keep in mind that you are dealing with some potentially dangerous forces, vehicle weight and that sinister, unseen force, compressed spring energy.  Like an evil genie in a bottle you want to keep it corked up until you are in a position to exert some modicum of control.  Unleashed unchecked it will wreak havoc on your health. Believe it.

The photo in the manual suggests using any of the commonly available inner spring compressor. I found one just like that at the local O'Reillys auto store. I paid the deposit and eagerly carried it home.

Sometimes car repair is just a numbers game. And sometimes the numbers are just stacked against you! The inner jaw is two inches wide, an inch thick and an inch and a quarter tall. The hole in the lower arm is just 1 1/4 inches. There is no way that you can insert through the hole with the hooks pointing up. Too wide.


You can try to put it in sideways with one hook pointing up and one down. except- there isn't enough room to raise the lower hook into position to grasp the coil. Maybe you can slide it horizontally between the upper coils, kind of like the supplied lower plate. I tried. I got the hook through but there didn't appear to be a way to get the center part through, even while prying between the coils with a pickle fork. I guess that an outside compressor might be called for.

I had a real nice set that was designed to compress the upper springs on a McPherson strut. Did you know that McPherson was a real guy? I believe that he was an engineer for Ford Motor Company working on a compact car for the European market in the late 1950s. Anyhow, these were too big to fit in the space between the spring pocket on the body and the top of the control arm. There is only about ten inches of space.

The cheap outside compressors from Harbor Freight have one very bulky double hook end and one single hook end. The threaded shaft is also twelve inches long and they cannot avoid the interference with the arm when positioned.


What do you do when you can't find what you need? What else, turn to the internet.

photo source: harbor freight

Yesterday after work I figured that I would make the rounds to see what was available locally. First stop Sears. Sears has fallen on hard times lately but they still carry a selection of good quality tools. The only had the McPherson strut type that I already had. I found a salesperson who used a computer to show me a selection of compressors that they never carry in stock. But, they would be glad to order them for me. I may be an Internet troglodyte but even I know how to order stuff on my own.


Next stop was Advance Auto parts. They also had the McPherson strut type tool but were out of the outside type compressors. A couple of burly fellows came in behind me carrying a dirty and rusty coil spring. I advised them that the store was out and that Sears didn't have one in stock either. They looked disappointed, but I told them that I was going to Pep Boys down the street next. I asked them if they had checked the Harbor Freight Tool store near the freeway. No, but we all agreed that their compressors were pretty crappy, but probably better than nothing. As I left the parking lot I was expecting to see them at the Pep Boys but I guess that they decided to give HF another try.

Pep Boys had both types of compressors available, but the outside types didn't seem like any improvement on the HF model. I was hoping to find the Eastwood style but was disappointed. Since it was on my way I decided to visit the O'Reilly store again. I told the counter person that I was going to bring the rented compressor back since it would not work.


It is possible to remove the springs without compressing the springs at all. First remove the brake caliper, support it, remove the rotor be sure to remove the ABS sender and protect the wire.Then  you unbolt the tie rod, loosen the ball joint nut and place a floor jack under the control arm, do not have the jack supporting any weight at this time, just raise it to within and inch of so below the arm. I would tie the spring to the steering knuckle to prevent the spring from escaping and causing any injury or damage. Then bang the side of the knuckle with the ball joint nut backed off, The ball joint should pop out of it's tapered seat but stop at the nut. Then raise the jack to support the arm, remove the ball joint nut and carefully, meaning SLOWLY, lower the jack. the spring will extend as the arm is lowered, releasing it's stored energy. At least that's how it's supposed to happen.

I once bought a used control arm at a wrecking yard because I thought that I couldn't afford a new ball joint. The yard man went around shaking the wheel hubs looking for a decent specimen. The cars were all supported by welded up rim stands. He found a car that already had the brake drums and tie rod end removed. He told me to stand back, while he removed the ball joint nut then banged on the knuckle with a large hammer. Suddenly the ball joint popped loose, the arm swung violently down,  and the spring shot straight down creating an explosion  of dust! This is not a recommended method!

The threaded shaft is too long, but that can be fixed.

I used the old control arm to locate the spring in the spring pocket and properly position the  compressors.

I decided that I could shorten the threaded shafts on the old Harbor Freight spring compressors that I had. I was able to place them in position and compress the spring. I figured that I didn't have to completely compress the springs, just relieve some of the pressure. I loosened up the ball joint nut be kept it flush with the ball joint stud. My plan was  to remove the pivot bolts and lower the arm with the jack and release the spring. Not a bad idea but I thought that I had better disconnect the ABS sender first. There was only one problem, the sender was held on by a type of bolt that I had never seen before. It looked like the end of a TORX screw bit. like this *. (but much bigger of course)


Now I had to buy a special socket to remove the bolt. Of course it was too late to go to the auto parts store to buy it since it was Sunday. Tomorrow I had to go to work, and tonight all my momentum was spent. This whole project was beginning to turn into a real bummer. The cut down compressor idea didn't work out exactly as planned.


I ended up using the cut down tool to remove the right spring. Then I bought the U-bolt tool to re-compress the spring for installation. It turned out that I had to compress the spring as best as possible for removal. Then I had to release the spring and re-compress it enough to get into place. Then I would put the floor jack under the arm. release the spring again, raise the arm arm higher to install the ball joint stud, attach the nut and tighten it. It sounds like a lot of repetitive work, and it was was.

It's easy to feel your enthusiasm draining away. Then your resolve starts to fade. Then of course "other matters" start to take precedence. It becomes very easy to see how so many cars become partially disassembled forgotten projects.

I found that starting a big repair project in the middle of the Holiday Season was not as good an idea as I had thought. Even if you have some extra days off, there is a lot of work to be done in preparation. Then you have family and guests over and your Wife would turn a dim eye to your choice of slipping away to the garage, to turn wrenches when you should be helping her and visiting with the family.

Photo source:

Still sometimes there  are jobs that have to be done. Today I decided that I had to spend a few hours in the garage or I was never going to get it done. I made some real progress. It wasn't really fun but I did get a real sense of accomplishment. I bought another spring compressor that seems to be working out, but I had to fiddle with another small compressor inside the coil to get the bottom of the spring to stay seated in the lower spring pocket. This lengthy discussion has probably gotten pretty boring, I know that I'm kind of tired of the whole mess.

Messy, Messy, Messy And this ain't the worst of it!

In some ways it seems kind of ridiculous that this job is taking so much time. My Wife has started hinting that maybe, maybe, I should have taken the car to my trusted mechanic. Perhaps, but I'm guessing that this would have probably cost over 500.00. (The two arms cost me over two hundred dollars alone.) I'm going to sell this car after I get it fixed. It's not like I can recover the costs of this repair in the sale. If I didn't do the work myself I might have just sent this car to the scrapyard.

photo source: OTC

Now, this is the tool that the job calls for. It wouldn't have eliminated all the crawling around, jacking and lying on my back unbolting a bunch of greasy, dirty parts. But, when I got to the part where I had to compress the spring for removal, (and later re-installation) I could have accomplished the task much easier, saving me hours of fiddling, fussing, modifying and shopping for alternative tools. The tool costs around 175.00 plus tax and shipping of course. For a couple of hundred bucks I could have ordered the tool on line (I never saw one for sale anywhere, and I looked at a bunch of stores) and it would have arrived within a couple of days, if not over night. 

So why didn't I just buy the damn tool? Because I was committed to the cheapest price fix. Like I said, I'm planning on selling the darn car as soon as it's roadworthy again and I didn't want to spend any more money than I had to. I will get the job done, but I did have to buy that other compressor and it cost me 55.00, so I had to shell out more money than I anticipated or wanted too. Penny wise and Pound foolish? Even a cheapskate like me puts some value on their time. 

Can you spell "short sighted"?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Harley Davidson number two, 1977 Harley Davidson XLCR.

At least in the looks department, it was a home run.

After riding a somewhat unwieldy chopper around for a couple of years. I realized that I was looking for a higher level of performance than I was getting from my modified bike. While it was quite stable and smooth riding on the highway, the braking still left much to be desired, and the range on that little gas tank was laughable. While on my trip to Canada I could only count on a maximum  of 60 miles. At one point there was a minimum run of 75 miles without any towns at all!. I had to scrounge up a couple of used antifreeze containers as spare gas cans to make the distance. So I was always looking for a bigger tank. There wasn't a lot to choose from. 


The K model and the original  Sportster of 1957 had a pretty nice large tank. I don't know what the capacity was, but I would guess around 4 gallons. I don't know what ever happened to those tanks, but I looked high and low for one, but could never find one. It's funny, but since Sportsters were so popular as choppers many original parts were discarded and are now quite rare. They were even rare back in the late 70s. I tried hard to find a handlebar mounted Speedo/Tach  instrument panel. I finally had to piece one together from a Superglide set up.

The second touring tank for the Sportster came out in the mid Sixties. This was nicknamed the "Turtle Tank", not a complement. It did hold four gallons but was low and wide and not exactly attractive. You can see how the seat is perched rather awkwardly floating above the tank and frame. Not exactly sleek. In the Seventies Harley would do away with all these more practical designs and every Sportster came with the classic Sportster  XLCH tank and a contoured "Cobra " type seat. Practicality be damned! At least they looked good.

Over time I did acquire some of the parts like those of the old blue 1965 XLH pictured above: The headlamp/ handle bar  enclosure, front  and rear fenders, crash bar, and seat. I did manage to incorporate some of these parts into the later rebuilding of my XLCR.

Just as I was planning to come up with my own design for my super Sportster,  little did I know that old Willy G. had his own design ready for production. The XLCR seemed like it was exactly what I was looking for, just look at the specs; a triangulated frame, alloy wheels with triple disc brakes, Siamese dual exhaust, with rear set controls, a long, XR750 styled tank and seat combination. 

The only discordant note is that exhaust pipe that curves along the primary side, it kind of looks like it was stuck on as an afterthought, but how else could you run that second pipe? The 1965 XLH featured a set of long mufflers connected at the end of the head pipes. It was probably quiet but a bit restrictive. Back in the day a set of staggered dual short pipes let the engine breathe but they were always going to be a tad loud. Harley tried to cope with that problem by tying the two head pipes together with a cross over pipe. This would allow the exhaust to flow through both of the small mufflers. This was only effective for a short time. The next plan was to utilize a two into one collector header.  This was actually a much better alternative. This was not only quieter but smoothed out the torque curve. This was used for '77 and '78. I kind of liked the look of the Siamese duals from the carb side. These pipes were the best flowing stock exhaust that were ever used on the Sportster, and this was probably the most powerful of the old Iron head 1,000cc motors. The factory claimed a quarter mile e.t. of 12.77 seconds. Surprisingly this was the same e.t. that Kawasaki claimed for the original 500cc. H-1. I remember reading the road test of this bike in Cycle World magazine and they almost managed to make it into the twelves, but it was close. Later models went back to a staggered duals system. but they were punishingly restrictive, and were ruinous to performance.

My first and only brand new motorcycle.

I thought that Harley was never going to incorporate these chassis improvements into the mainline Sportster so I thought that I would make my own version. I rode the bike stock for around a year, making some small changes. I used a set of Lowrider model set back handlebar risers, I bought the two up seat and pegs when they became available. I found that the stock XLCR just wasn't that good a motorcycle. For one thing, it was pretty uncomfortable. There was a huge steel/ rubber rear tank mount that was easy to feel through the seat cushion. The rear set controls and the drag bars were okay, but it wasn't easy to carry anything on the bike. We didn't wear backpacks in those days. The handling wasn't anything outstanding either, nor was the straight line performance. It just didn't deliver on the looks.

My plan was to modify the rear of the bike to use a traditional style rear fender and mounting system. The XR style tank was replaced by a custom "King Sportster" 3 1/2 gallon tank. For all my efforts, my modified XLCR ended up looking alot like a standard 1979 Sportster. The footpeg and control lever set up though, was just what I needed to convert my bike. I even used the stock '79 XLS seat.

To be honest, I never saw this coming.

Even so, the bike was now well suited to my needs and desires. I rode it everywhere, all the time. It was comfortable, the larger tank increased the range, I added a sissy bar and slung a set of pony express style leather bags across the rear fender and I was ready to go. And I did.

The seating position was very comfortable. The bike was compact and easy to use around town. It was very stable out on the open highway and it handled well up in the mountains. The motor was smoothest at 70 mph. which made it suitable for long trips. The bike was very reliable and I never had a qualm on setting out on any journey, even at the moment's notice. I added an external oil cooler, oil filter set up and highway pegs. I had a set of HD "compact hard saddle bags" and a "compact windshield" up front. Overall, this was a great set up for the "solo" tourist. I never did  take a passenger with me for a long ride during this time. The bike would have been lacking in long term passenger comfort. There's not a lot of room on a Sportster! There was one trip where my newly wed Wife and I rode up to Mendocino from my parent's home in the Bay Area. My Wife was a good sport even though we did get caught in the rain. We had a good time.

I kept this bike for over twenty years. Over that period I put at least 80,000 miles on it. I did a top end rebuild once at around 15,000 miles and a full rebuild at around 40,000 miles. I modified the bike from this configuration into a copy of the '57 Sportster pictured at the top of the post. I even went after the Euro look, with an attempt to emulate the BMW RS. I used drag bars, a Rifle fairing, Genuine Krauser side cases, (can't call those saddlebags),chrome '79 chrome Siamese pipes, a '79 "ham can" air cleaner housing, and a '79 "fat seat" . It was painted a very tasteful charcoal grey with black pinstripes.  I may have some pictures of these different set ups stashed somewhere around the house. I will post some pictures if I ever find them.

I even held onto this bike when I finally bought my first Big Twin, my 1981 FLH Sport. This Sportster was the bike that I took my month long trip around the USA on.

On the road, More about this later.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

"Sometimes a Man just has know his limitations."

There are a lot of great quotes in this movie. Fans will remember them all, but I found this one to be especially appropriate at my stage of life.

Jerry Brown following Clint Eastwood? Was he responsible for another of my favorite quotes? "We are entering an era of reduced expectations".

The need to manage the old car hobby can  be the result of a lot of factors; money, time, space, money, health and money. Did I mention money? In our youth most of us enjoyed good health and vitality, and most of our limitations came from the lack of time and money. There wasn't anything that we couldn't accomplish as long as we were willing to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Now after rolling up our sleeves we may find that our back is starting to hurt, our hips ache, and our arms and shoulders are feeling awfully sore. Hmmmm, now there is an another factor added to the equation; our physical health. Can we still do the DIY physical  labor that we need to invest to accomplish our goals?

Like the other forms of " human capital" the amount is always limited. Sometimes we have more time available, but without money we can't afford the parts or processes we need to do the job. Other times we might have extra space available, and we might find ourselves amassing a collection of forlorn project cars that we will probably never get around to finishing. Or even starting. As we get older we might be able to squeeze some extra cash loose, and of course this is the greatest lubricant to progress in the hobby car field. It's even better than STP! That extra money will allow us to buy a car in better shape, order all the parts we need at one time, pay others to do the work that we have no interest or desire to do, rent garage space, and generally make up for any other area of expertise that we are lacking in.

There is a lot of physical movement involved in this hobby of ours. Bending, crouching, kneeling , reaching. pulling, pushing, crawling, carrying, just to name a few. All this movement takes it's toll on our backs, shoulders, hips knees and elbows.

Dude! Put on some pants,  that's a sure way to get hurt in the garage!

Even the great Leonardo realized that all this stretching and such was going to take it's toll on our "mortal coil" ( a Di Vinci reference followed by a Shakespearean reference, hows that for high brow?")

Conservation gets a lot of press these days, conserving our Nation's resources is a good and vital thing, conserving our own personal resources is even more important since it has such a great and direct impact on our lives.

I told some of the young guys that I work with, that you know you are getting old when every movement is punctuated by a grunt, groan, or sigh.

All of this is just a way to lead up to to the fact that I started experiencing quite a bit of pain to my right hip a few days ago. I had been doing a lot of loading and unloading of my pick up truck bed. Lots of trips to the public storage space. My truck is not that tall, but getting into the bed requires me to raise one knee up onto the open tailgate and then to scramble and hoist myself up whilst pivoting on my bent right knee. This causes quite a bit of rotation and force being applied to that old hip. Now I've been doing this kind of thing for years, lots of years. I used to have to swing my arms around in circular motions a lot, as part of my job, directing vehicles around. I started getting pain to my rotater cuffs, even worse I could detect a faint ratcheting "sound" while I moved the shoulder joint. To preserve and protect the cartilage I've got left, I started doing the "T Rex"  thing with my arms. This entails restricting my arm's movement to the area directly in front of my body. Just watch how the dinosaur does it in "Toy Story."

This hip pain is the newest addition to my cacophony of  aches and pains. It joins my lower back, knees, upper back, and that weird joint in my left ring finger in a symphony of suffering, or at least nagging discomfort.

Boy did I laugh when I first saw that "man step." I'm not laughing now.

I had given myself what I thought was at the time an arbitrary cut off point for quitting my messing around with cars. "Ten more years, that ought to be enough!"  Well now I'm wondering if I will even make it to the end of that ten years.

While I don't envision myself being involved in extremely heavy labor in my DIY future . I do have some pretty  heavy duty jobs lined up, right now.

First, I've got to replace those lower control arms on my '96 Mustang, That means jacking up the car, crawling around underneath, compressing and removing the springs, and breaking loose the tie rod ends and ball joints.

Second, I've got to replace the rubber bushings in the control arms of my XJ6. This looked like it was also going to involve jacking up the car, crawling around underneath, compressing and removing the springs, and breaking loose the tie rod ends and ball joints.

Third, I've  got to remove and replace the transmission in my XJS. This will involve jacking up the car, crawling around underneath, removing exhaust pipes, linkages, oil lines and more. All while supporting the motor with a support sling and maneuvering  the transmission jack underneath while trying to avoid a reinactment of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, except this time with ATF instead of crude petroleum.

I see an immediate future involving a lot of crawling around on the floor.

Am I up to it? Well I better be. I've dug myself into a bit of a hole with this old car fleet. The Mustang must be repaired before it can be sold. The XJ6 must be repaired before it can be comfortably driven. The XJS must be repaired so that I can drive it enough to form some kind of relationship with it.

I could not have all these cars unless I had been willing to put in the work needed to keep them up. There's no way I could afford to take them all to a mechanic to have all the repair and maintenance done. I will have to be careful not to hurt myself getting all these tasks done. There is no way to avoid being quite sore the day after.

Of course it would be easier if I had less cars in the first place.  I may have to cull the herd soon. Still it is important to conserve my strength and physical ability over the long haul.

photo source:
Like the Old Gent in the picture, you can stand still or keep on walking, but the hands on that clock will keep right on moving.

Happy New Year! Best Wishes for 2017!  Let's keep on moving and see it we can stay ahead of the movement of that Cosmic timepiece.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

In praise of Peter Egan.

He seeks adventure and invites us along.

 He has been a contributing editor to Road and Track and Cycle World for so many years. His column "Sideglances" has enriched my life as an enthusiast, and I would bet that many others have had the same experience.

I have never met the man but through reading his columns and articles over the years I believe that we are kindred spirits. He treats his reader like an old friend, sharing stories of his youthful experiences and automotive aspirations.

Mr. Egan  (Can I call you Peter, Sir?) is a bit older than myself and grew up during the mid Fifties and early Sixties. He dropped out of college and was drafted. He served during the Vietnam War. Upon his return he was employed for many years as European Car mechanic. He has raced sports cars and motorcycles, usually preferring British machinery. He has restored several race cars and European sports cars such as MGs, a Jaguar E-type, a Porsche 356 and others. His life story and experiences have provided him with a wealth of experience and fodder for his stories.

In his writing you will learn that like most of us, Peter couldn't wait to get a chance to drive. He learned his mechanical basics fixing the old lawnmowers that he used to earn  his spending money. Like most of older guys, our parents expected us to work and earn our own money. He did finally manage to acquire a go kart. I know that I wanted a go kart for the longest time. He was extremely attuned to the different cars that were driven by his neighbors. His recollections of the cars in his neighborhood are quite amusing. Back then the type of car you drove was a big reflection of the person you were. Not only were there Ford and Chevy people, there were Chrysler and even Studebaker folks. Brand loyalty ran very strong in those days, and ran generations deep.

After the service he returned home and began his career as a "foreign car" mechanic and as a sports car racer. Always a "hands on" kind of guy, he turned his own wrenches, learning many valuable lessons that he shares in a humorous and ironic manner. He can find the kernel of wisdom in almost any situation. It is obvious that the man really cares about cars and how they are an instrument that we can use to satisfy so many of our needs and desires.

He delights in the prospect of obtaining a new automotive project. He immerses himself in learning the background and lore surrounding a potential purchase. I find it so gratifying that he cares so much. Just like me, and I'll bet like you do too. He knows that a car is always much more than a collection of machinery. It is the screen that we project the fantasy movie of our adventurous automotive lives. Like most of us Peter is interested in just about anything with a motor. He has been involved with motorcycles, boats, trucks, and even airplanes. I would say that he is a lucky guy, but as Peter once wrote,when you really want something, you make it happen!

On of the best things about Peter's writings is that it is so easy to empathize with him. His struggles, his frustrations are just like ours. He has been there, probably many more times than we have. His successes and triumphs can be shared by us, because they are like ours, though our's may be on a more humble level.

Another thing that I really like about Peter's writing is that it always has a positive message. It is uplifting and almost always cheerful and reaffirming. He may have suffered some real life setbacks, but his stories are always fun, sometimes quite humorous. It is easy to place ourselves in his shoes, because they fit us so well.

Peter's columns and articles have been collected into several books. The Sideglances and the Leanings series. There also books about his Road Trips. These are a convenient way to discover his material. Researching this post I found several books that I hadn't read yet. I have read many of his columns in Road and Track over the years but I was happy to discover these anthologies. The richness of these volumes cannot be understated.

You may have noticed that I have not really revealed any of the narrative storylines from Peter's writings. First, these were primarily written as magazine columns, so they are short, sweet, and to the point. Second, each volume contains about two dozen columns covering a myriad of automotive subjects and experiences. Since I have arrived at senior citizen status, certain themes, concerning the running down of my life clock, resonate especially strongly for me.

photo source:wallpaper abyss

In one story Peter relates how he has come to admire the new Porsche Boxster convertibles. They are a return to the simpler, purer, virtues that he remembers from his experiences with Porsches of the past. At this time late model used examples were available at fairly affordable prices. He had gone to the dealer and test driven some cars to determine which model he wanted. He still found their prices a little hard to swing, but he told the salesman that if a slightly older car at a certain price range became available, to "give him a call". Of course in due time he get's a call from the dealership telling him that a car meeting his criteria has just come in off lease.  He goes down to check it out and of course he is smitten. Still he decides that the times is not yet right , so he passes on the car. He then goes home and his long suffering wife, Barbara, asks what he thought about the Boxster. He tells her that it's a good thing that she didn't go down there with him, because she would have wanted him to buy it. She asks why he didn't just buy the car. He replies that the time just isn't right. Barbara counters the way we all wish that our spouses would. She says that the car is exactly what he wanted, the price was right, and it's a convertible! Summer is coming. And... There are only so many Summers left. Ain't that the truth! The time we have left is not unlimited, there is no guarantee that we will see even the next summer. Of course Peter realizes her wisdom and goes back and gets the car.

If you have never heard of Peter Egan or have just never had the opportunity to read any of his stories, I highly recommend that you take the time to pick up and read one of his books. As a car and motorcycle enthusiast it is a pleasure to find some one who can interpret our feelings. I think you will enjoy it and be amazed that someone so witty and eloquent can capture the very same feelings that we all share, and put it down on paper.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.

photo source: christmas tree

Monday, December 12, 2016

I have fallen into a pattern, updates on my the progress of my automotive fleet interspersed with postings of my memories, musings and ramblings. I actually have that line printed on my "social cards".

I would call them business cards if there was any money making business going on. They are more like the calling cards used in the Victorian period. You would exchange them with other folks you met and would like to get together and socialize with at a later date.  So if I discuss my blog with anyone and they express any interest I can lay a card on them!

There are so many sites with how to videos on the web that I wouldn't try to compete with those guys. I'll just share some of my insights into the process.

Progress has been kind of slow, due to all the work emptying out the garage. However I have turned the corner as you can see. The car is in there with enough room to work around it. Many thanks to my Wife who has worked hard to consolidate and move her things.

I asked that she be careful not to place anything on the car. But you know how an inoperative car in the garage is soon transformed into horizontal storage space. So just in case. The most dangerous thing is a rake or broom standing near the car. If one of these fall on the car they concentrate all the force in one small spot resulting in a nasty little dent. I'm keeping a close eye on those!

First I covered it with the basic car cover

Then I laid this old comforter over the hood and fenders.

kind of like Leatherface, but not as scary!

The final layer was this flat card board. It's not visible in the photo but there's an aluminum ladder hanging above the car. I forgot to remove before parking the car. I'll wait to move the car from the garage before I try to take it down, with my luck I can see myself dropping it on directly on my XJS.

Change of plans. I've decided that the best course of action is to fix up my XJ6 first.  I have made a point of driving this car every chance I get. I know that there are things that I should have fixed but my intention has to been to enjoy the "Jaguar experience" as often and as long as I could. "Keep calm and keep on driving" has been my mantra. Old cars have problems, they all do, and if doesn't stop me from using the car I'd rather drive than fix.

There has been problems with the rear view mirror, the loose door panels and some other minor stuff. The problems with the worn out hood and trunk struts which I have suffered through for the last nine months. The fuel gauge has never worked properly as it would be stuck on empty for a while after fill up, but it has always indicated properly after awhile, some times a very long while.  The car has started a screeching sound which I hope is just a bad fan belt. It got to the point where it would only make the noise for about 15 seconds on start up when cold. Now it's gotten worse though it does stop when it gets warm. A couple of days ago I was driving to work in a light misting rain when I noticed that the defroster wasn't defrosting. The air was blowing but it wasn't warm. I searched the forum and it appears that it might be the auxiliary pump for the heating system. It could be that the brushes in the motor are worn, maybe. I haven't taken a look yet. The steering pulls a little to the right. Obviously some steering or suspension bushings have"perished,"

                                                photosource: awesome

So I have a "squawk list" that has gotten pretty long. This afternoon I finally got around to ordering some of the parts I need for my XJ6 from Parts Geek. I had good luck getting some parts from them for my XJS. Prices are good but you can't find every part. I ordered a the support struts for the hood and trunk, the fuel tank sending unit, and the transmission mount spring and insolater for the XJS. Some of the  common transmission parts like the shifter, front and rear shaft seals and o rings for the filler tubes and vacuum modulator, I can get from my local auto parts store. There is also a vendor named Jaguar Specialties out of Los Gatos. I have done business with him and he claims that he can get any part I need.

I also need to buy some more equipment for the transmission job. I bought a new floor jack awhile back at Harbor Freight Tools, but I'll have to return to buy the engine support bar. I also plan to buy two pairs of auto ramps, I'll put a pair under each of the front and rear wheels. I didn't like the unbraced metal ones offered at H.F. so I'll probably go with the plastic ones I've seen at O'Reilly's. They look more trustworthy, for some reason.

I just finished up changing the drive belts and a/c tensioner. I also replaced the hood support struts. I replaced and overhauled the auxiliary coolant pump which is used for the heater. I'm running the gas level down a bit so I can change out the sending unit, and I'll replace the trunk support struts at the same time.

The best place to work on a cold and rainy day. At the kitchen table with a cup of coffee. The replacement brushes came from a local hobby store.

A little filing, a little soldering and the pump will be as good as new.
Don't confuse it with this part,

This is the heater valve, and it has four hose connections. My mistake just added a couple of hours of extra work.

In my last posting I described how my '96 Mustang sustained a crippling ball joint dislocation. Painful. In the concept of automotive triage it now moves up front and center. I've been debating whether I should order the complete replacement suspension arms from the Net or at my local auto parts store, Winchester Auto. Now I like to save money as much as the next guy, but the staff of Winchester Auto stands heads and shoulders above the local O'Reilly's or Pep Boys. These guys are experienced parts guys and they can provide useful suggestions. I have had these guys pull the old parts books out and go through them when I was looking for parts for my old Riviera. They would even look through the interchange listings! You know what happens at O'Reilly's, if it doesn't show up on their computer than it's a " dealer only part", the counter person isn't going to look in a parts book, I doubt they even know what one of those is. I would doubt that there are any in the store. I don't blame that young person behind the counter, those businesses don't like to keep workers over the long term and develop their skills, they would rather replace them with new, lower paid employees.

So we have to make the choice to support out good local stores, or they will go out of business. Yes, the Web stuff is cheaper but it is nice being able to see the actual parts and compare, and ask questions. There aren't a lot of those good old fashioned auto parts stores and little machine shop operations around any more.  I don't know if we can stem the tide, but we can hopefully slow their demise.

Who doesn't like finding packages on the porch?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sometimes bad things happen!

Get Thee behind me stale watery gas!

Sometimes it's a poor choice that we make. Maybe were in a hurry or we try to cut a corner or procrastinate on a repair and a minor problem can lead to a major inconvenience. Sometimes  the results can be much more serious, even life threatening. Luckily for me both my mishaps were mostly a hassle.

I've gotten my garage cleaned out and  started working on my XJS again. I've been moving it in and out out of the garage. I have a trickle charger that I use to keep the battery up but I also let it run to charge the battery and keep the fluids moving around inside. I remember some of the first advice I read on the forum concerning the XJS, never just start them, run them for a minute or two, then shut them down. Always run them a minimum of ten minutes. It made sense to me that you could easily foul a plug or two, I mean just look at the tortuous path the fuel charge has to follow, and think how long it takes to heat up that huge lump of aluminium and allow proper fuel vaporization.  I don't keep much gas in it so I needed to add a few gallons  so that I didn't allow it to run dry, another no no.

I've got several gas cans, mostly one gallon ones, but I've got a two and a half gallon one also. To get the most benefit from the gas run I chose the bigger can. I use this for the lawn mower so I found that there was still about an inch of "fuel" in the bottom of the can. I keep the cans outside in the sideyard and we've had a lot of rain in the last month. Now I figured that there might be some moisture (water) mixed with the gas due to condensation, but I figured that it wouldn't be enough to cause a problem. I poured the contents into my truck then drove off to fill up the can. I had about a quarter tank so I figured any bad gas would be dissipated and diluted and it would be okay. Wrong!

Seafoam has displaced Marvel Mystery Oil as the new "Miracle in a can".

When I returned to my house I noticed that the truck was running pretty rough. I left it running while I filled up the Jag. Thank God I didn't add that bad gas to my Jag! I figured I better add some fuel drier or some additive so I went to the auto store that was across the street from the gas station. They didn't carry "Heet", the  only fuel drier that they had was "Seafoam". Now I've used Seafoam in the gas tank and have added some before an oil change, and like most "miracles in a can" it promises probably more than it can deliver. I read the can and it promised to remove moisture from gas in the tank, so I bought a can. I added about a third to my tank, fired up the truck, (still running rough, but still running) went to the gas station and added five or six gallons added the remainder and returned home. I probably should have driven the truck around until I burned up some of the contaminated fuel but it was getting late. I'll do that tomorrow. I noticed that the Check Engine Light (CEL) had come on, but I parked the truck around the corner and called it a night.

The next afternoon I tried to start my truck. It would crank but not catch. My truck has this "computer controlled" starting feature, where once you turn the key it will continue to engage the starter automatically until the motor starts. You have to turn the key completely off to stop this. I must have tried to start it ten times, being careful not to overheat the starter or run the battery down. Now I was kind of discouraged. I could always call AAA and have them tow my truck to my trusted mechanic, but that would be the last resort!  I went inside to turn to the Web for advice. It was  pretty much as I expected, add gas drier, run the motor, burn up the bad gas add new fuel. Well I would have done that but my truck wouldn't start! One guy said to buy a quart of rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) at the hardware or dollar store and pour it into the tank. Basically all gas driers consist of alcohol in an expensive package.

A simple fact of practical chemistry is that water and gas don't mix. Also water is heavier than gas and will sink down to the bottom of your tank and fuel system, displacing the gas and will be sucked up by the motor. Well of course your motor can't run on just water, so you have a problem. Another fact of practical chemistry is that alcohol and water do mix, and alcohol also mixes with gas, ever heard of gasohol? My Wife uses alcohol in her crafting but didn't realize that it was dispersing the water in the paints she uses, causing certain desired affects. We took a small plate, added a small quantity of water, then dropped in some rubbing alcohol. The water suddenly flattened out over the plate, a dramatic demonstration.

Before I tried this I decided to swap out the spark plugs, maybe they got fouled somehow, I replaced the plugs and they were really clean, especially considering that they were the original plugs in the motor, now with 119,000 miles. The gaps were a little big, but only one was wet, with what appeared to be water. I cranked the engine with the same effect, no start, and an engaged starter motor. Now I was even more depressed. Looks like I was going to have to call that tow truck.

I hadn't used this stuff in years.

What I needed was a way to get the motor to catch and hopefully run long enough to disburse the water after I added the alcohol. Luckily my Wife had a whole pint of rubbing alcohol on hand. I found a can of starter fluid in the garage and luckily it was still half full. I hadn't had to use that stuff for years. I added the pint of alcohol, I figured that should be enough for the six or seven gallons of gas that were in the tank. I pulled the air inlet tube to the throttle body and shot a good stream down it's throat. I loosely replaced the intake tube , just in case there was a backfire. I cranked it. It caught, ran a few seconds then died, but the starter had disengaged. I repeated the drill, this time I stepped on the throttle when it caught. It stumbled but kept on running, it gained rpms and I held it there for a couple of minutes. I kept the revs up until I dared see if it would idle, it did. Success! I drove it down to my house and put it in the driveway, and let it idle for a awhile. After it was fully warmed up I drove several laps around the immediate neighborhood, not going further than I was willing to walk. I put it in the driveway again and let it run for about forty five minutes. It was running pretty smooth now, but the CEL was still on. I could deal with that later.

Surprisingly the exhaust didn't smell too bad. What a cocktail: Old gas, water, Seafoam, new gas, rubbing alcohol, topped with a spritz of starting fluid. Better Living through Chemistry!

I drove the truck to work the next couple of days. The CEL was on. but I figured I could disconnect the battery and see if that would clear it up. On the third day I was coming home from the barber shop after work and I noticed that the dash seemed different, the CEL was off!

Lessons learned: don't put "suspect" gas in any vehicle. If I'm using the gas can for the mower I'll put any unused gas into the truck that same day. Keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol in the garage, if I suspect water in the fuel system I would add some alcohol immediately, and drive enough to burn up the bad gas.

This bad gas experience had tied me up for several days. I had decided to change my focus to fixing what was wrong with my XJ6 first, since this was my Dailey Driver. The Mustang could wait. Sure it could. Cue the dramatic music of impending Doom.

In earlier postings I've mentioned that the steering on my Mustang has stiffened up, and it doesn't return back to the straight ahead position after making a turn, it also pulls a little to one side on braking. Obviously there is something wrong. I originally thought (hoped) that it was just the ball joints, but now I wonder if it's the steering rack. It's funny that the problem didn't seem to develop until after a I spent over 500.00 buying new tires and getting a front end alignment. So you can understand that I really didn't feel like spending any more money fixing it up, at least right now. It's been sitting parked at the curb, getting covered with leaves and bird crap for about a month. I just paid the registration for 2017, since I was unsuccessful in selling it.

Still it's important to drive the car to keep the fluids moving, the battery charged, and use up the gas in the tank. My truck now sits around quite a bit now and that doesn't help it's condition either. So I decided to clean up the Mustang and use it as the parts runner while I work on the Jags. I made a run through the car wash and down to a new hobby store on the south end of town. I picked up a set of brushes that I could modify to fix the auxiliary coolant pump in my XJ6. On the way back I stopped at Harbor Freight to pick up a cheap surge protector power strip that I needed for my Christmas light set up.

It was getting later and I was hungry, and wasn't planning on making dinner until that evening. So I crossed the parking lot to the Burger King to pick up a Whopper Junior and a Coke to tide me over.  For some reason I didn't see the faded directional arrows painted on the pavement and overshot the opening to the Drive thru lane. Hey, there's no one behind me so I could just backup. I did, turned to the right and promptly drove up onto a little dividing island. Still no one behind me, so I wasn't even too embarrassed. As I  backed down I heard a loud "pop!"  I continued through. The steering felt kind of weird but I got my burger and parked in the lot, I figured I would go home cautiously and check this latest development out. After eating I left the parking lot and entered the main street and accelerated. I was greeted by the sweet sound of my Flowmasters,  Then heard a loud thump and my car dropped on it's front suspension and lurched to the left. I braked, straightened it out, and made my way to the curb. Luckily there wasn't any traffic around. I activated my emergency flashers and got out to survey the damage. Luckily (there's that word again!) there was no damage to the fender but there wasn't any air space visible between the top of the tire and the fender opening. I didn't see any brake fluid dripping down so I figured that the wheel/ front suspension hadn't moved enough to rupture a brake line. I called AAA with my cell phone and got ready to spend an hour waiting for the tow truck.

I like 'em slammed, but not this way.

I had plenty of time to ponder what had happened. I had thought that the ball joints were going bad, I mean there's over two hundred thousand miles on the car. I thought back to things that I knew, and had read online about the problem of bad ball joints.

My experience with worn ball joints were that they allowed the wheels to tilt a bit, and cause some free play, but especially to cause accelerated wear to the inside tread of the tires. This was usually the motivation to replace them. My experience had been that the ball couldn't come through the top of the joint and separate.

I had watched a video series on You Tube about restoring old Mustangs and I remembered an episode where they were working on a Fox body car. They had jacked the chassis up and one of the front suspension arms had dropped loose, separating right at the ball joint! The shop owner/ narrator stated that this was uncommon, but these Fox body cars were getting on in age (over twenty years old by this time) and that the chassis and suspension needed attention. The arm was held in position by the vehicle's weight, and probably wouldn't have separated under normal conditions, unless the car was driven over a Hell of a series of Whoop Dee Doos! ( Extremely sharp series of undulating pavement, generally not encountered under normal driving conditions, it's where your car can catch "air" if you go fast enough. The actual term comes from Motocross racing).
Painful to look at. Like a hip bone ripped out of a pelvis.

The other point I remember reading on a Mustang forum was that bad ball joints on a Fox body and SN97 series car were primarily manifested through stiff steering. Well I definitely had that problem. My assessment is this; the divider island is the kind that has a higher curb that surrounds a lower dirt area. When I drove onto the divider island the left front wheel crossed the curb and came to rest in the lower dirt area. Then when I abruptly reversed the car, it was bouncing up as it dropped off the curb and stopped abruptly. I imagine that this abrupt motion caused the ball to be pulled out of the socket, producing that loud "pop" that I heard. The ball was resting directing on the suspension arm. When I accelerated onto the street, the weight transfer lifted the car allowing the ball to slip off the arm and the car to drop on it's suspension on the left front side. The arm dragged on the rim. causing it to lurch to the left, but still allowing me to maintain steering and braking control.

That's the operative word. Me. I've had a lot of experience dealing with extreme driving maneuvers, emergency situations, and even component failures. It's what I do. In cars and on motorcycles. So far I've been successful at maintaining control and resolving the situation safely. Maybe due to skill, but always partially due to Luck. It's always part of the equation.

So as I sat there waiting for the tow truck I was experiencing a deep sense of guilt and had a hard knot in the pit of my gut. ( I still did when I wrote this). I told my Wife to drive this car, I sent her out in this car, even with our granddaughter in the baby seat. "The steering's just a little stiff, don't worry about it." She did worry about it, and wouldn't drive the car on the freeway, just around town on surface streets. (Luckily I had bought the Explorer a couple of months ago). Would this happened under normal circumstances? Maybe not. Should I have put the car on the lift and checked out the freeplay in the steering? Definitely. Why didn't I? Too busy, procrastinate, more important things to do, blah, blah, blah. Could it have prevented a potential tragedy?

We ARE the car guys. Other people dear to us,depend on our "expertise", our assessments, our recommendations.  "With great power comes great responsibility".  Maybe we don't have great power, but we should keep that in mind.

My daughter had a very close call when driving, a couple of years ago, due to inexperience. It definitely could have resulted in a fatal collision. Luckily (there's that word again) it did not. Does she believe that it could have ended that way? I don't know, she's young, the young think that they are immortal. But I know the reality, it easily could have resulted in her death, I have no doubt about it.

When we experience an incident of that type we either end up with a tragedy, or just a story to tell. I hope we can always learn from our experiences. Let's not make this guy work overtime!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The beginning of the next big chapter of my motorcycling life. The Harley Davidson years. It isn't that I owned so many different Harleys, I ended up owning these motorcycles for longer periods of time. one for over twenty years!

Looking back, I wish my bike had looked like this.
Harley Davidson motorcycles had always been a Holy Grail for me. I had lusted after one since the time that motor cop pulled me over when I was riding my Honda 50. First of all, the name was magic. Harley Davidson, a delicious name to have roll off your tongue. You can enjoy each syllable. The only other name that I relish as much now, is "Aston Martin". I had gone through high school reading several different chopper magazines; Big Bike, Choppers Magazine, and Street Chopper. The first two were aimed towards the "Biker" rider and lifestyle, while Street Chopper was aimed towards the more mainstream enthusiast. I knew all about Knuckleheads, Panheads, and Shovelheads. Even the rarely seen Flathead models, the big UL or the meter maid trike style W series. I really, really, wanted a Big Twin. I wanted to build a chopper out of it. Back when I was a freshman I had convinced my Father to take me to an auction put on by the City of Oakland. I knew that there would be some retired OPD bikes available. They weren't just retired, they were just plain "tired". I remember that one of the three was even missing the top end, just a couple of connecting rods sticking up out of the crankcases. My Dad looked at those things and said that they couldn't go for more then a couple of hundred bucks. Boy was he wrong. The bidding pushed all the complete bikes to well over one thousand dollars apiece. No way could I get my Dad to front me that kind of money! Still hope springs eternal. 

While I was a high school Senior, riding my Mach III, which by all measures was a much better bike that an old thrashed Harley, I learned that one of my classmates had a line on an old Knucklehead. It seems that one of his uncles had been an honest to God, almost outlaw type, Biker back in the day. I guess when he finally got out of jail, his bride to be, told him that he would have to quit riding bikes, or find another girl. Like many before him have done, he chose the girl. He couldn't just sell the bike though, it was a part of him. So he somehow got it down the stairs to his mother's  basement. (Why is it that bikers are always living at home with their Mom? Back when I was calling around answering classified ads, my Mom told me that the phone would be answered by a woman, who would tell me, "Oh my son's not home now, I'll give him the message!" She was right ! That happened lots of times!)

Anyhow this bike had laid dormant for quite a few years. I asked my friend if the bike was for sale, how much would his uncle want, did it run, etc. and he told me that he would ask his uncle about it. Of course this third party questioning was going to take a long time. Finally he told me that his uncle was considering selling it. That's the only part that I needed to hear, The price of 650.00 was almost attainable. I just had to sell my Kawasaki and borrow a few hundred from my Mom. (Good old Mom, that's why those Bikers lived at home!). I got my friend to convey the message back to his uncle and find out when I could go see it. It took quite a while to hear back from him. His uncle had a change of heart and wouldn't be selling it. His uncle had told him, "That bike is my heart, and you can't sell your heart." So much for that Knucklehead. Well it was probably for the best. I really didn't have the money to buy the bike and fix it up. The reality would have been that I would have had a non running Harley in my parents garage and I would be passing my weekends looking at it and dreaming of a more financially secure future. Besides, I was used to riding a high powered motorcycle, and old Hog would probably be disappointing in performance. Maybe a Sportster, (another collection of tasty syllables!) would better suit my needs. Besides people were "Chopping" those all the time! 

My first H-D was a 1970 Harley Davidson Sportster XLCH. 900cc. At the time their were two models of Sportster offered, one was the light weight performance model, the XLCH. XL Competition Hot! Boy was that name magic in the late 1950s and early 60s! This was the original Superbike. While a Vincent Black Shadow was definitely faster, there wasn't much of a chance of running into one of those British Unicorns by the late 1960s. The Sportster had it all; great looks, thunderous performance, and that Magic name. Sportsters were not only faster than the Big FLH models, they were also faster than pretty much any other standard motorcycle. They were advertised as "the World's Fastest Motorcycle". These were equipped with the small tank, smaller headlight, shorter fenders, and smaller seat. The motor was in a hotter tune, with 
wilder cams, lower gearing and a magneto ignition. The Tillotson carb was huge,( maybe too big as it was prone to flooding the motor) and it could provide all the fuel it needed to let the engine wind to 7,000 rpm! It's no wonder that these motors didn't hold up that long to enthusiastic riding! My own Sporty revealed some flattened rod bearing rollers, and a scarred and worn pinion shaft, upon teardown. These were also always kick start models. Kick starting a Sportster to life was viewed as a rite of Manhood. Sometimes under the right conditions you could get to fire on the fist kick, or at least the first three of four. These motors were temperamental, early models even had a manual spark timing retard control to eliminate the dreaded "kickback." It was very easy to flood the motor with overzealous use of the choke, or the throttle. This could lead to an exhausting round of kick start attempts. It could easy lead to ten to fifteen minutes of open throttle kicking in an attempt to clear it out. Sometimes you just had to pull the plugs and burn them dry with a lit match, or you were never going to get that thing started.

It's hard to believe that the riding public tolerated these problems. Heck, we even used to boast about them. Are you a Man, or Not?  The big British twins and singles weren't any better, but that was the price we paid for being Motorcyclists. Boy, would that change with the coming of the Japanese Superbikes.  Many of the little tiddlers from Japan were sporting an electric starter by the mid 1960s. Fer Christsakes! Who couldn't kick over 160cc? 

You can easily see the difference between the two models. By '68 the XLH had the electric starter.

The other Sportster model was the touring XLH. XL Highway. It had the shrouded headlight, fuller fenders, big "turtle tank" higher gearing and battery and coil ignition. At first the XLH was also a kick starter, but by 1968 the electric start was standard. The Big Twins had gone to electric start in 1965. As time went on, the differences between the models disappeared. When the XLCH lost the magneto there wasn't much of a difference in the tuning. After 1972 the motors were enlarged to 1,000 cc. (61 cid) the styling was almost identical, the XLH being the one with the electric starter. After 1979 there were no more kick start Sportsters available. It was (thankfully) the end of an Era.

It was also pretty much the end of the era of the Sportster's performance dominance. The Sportster would never again be competitive from a purely performance standard. Cycle magazine had conducted a comprehensive Superbike comparison test in 1970. Check out the entire article here:

The 900cc Sportster XLCH was pitted against the new Triumph 750 Trident, the BSA Rocket 750, the Norton Commando S 750, the Kawasaki Mach III 500cc, the Suzuki Titan twin 500 cc. (these last two were two strokes) and the soon to be Legendary, Honda CB750. The poor Sportster was out classed by almost all the other bikes but still competitive enough to turn in a fair showing. Though it's days as a performance icon were fading fast, still the Harley was a desirable machine. The look, the sound and the feel still carried a lot of weight and the bike was still desirable and prestigious to a large part of the motorcycling community.  This comparison test still had  a lot of diversity in this group. The next test in 1973 would be different. This time there was no way to avoid the truth. The King was dead. You can read the whole article here:

These photos were taken right after I bought it.

My XLCH was already around five years old and it had been thoroughly chopped by  a previous owner. It had a raked and molded frame with a custom girder front fork. 21'' spool hub front wheel, that means that it didn't have a front brake. Great looking, very poor stopping! A "Frisco" high mounted Sportster tank. A cobra seat and staggered dual pipes. A velocity stack instead of an air cleaner. I guess I thought that this was a good buy since it was already customized, though a more standard model would have been a better idea. This example was pretty used up, but of course I had to have it. I'll never forget the first time I tried to make a emergency stop because I misjudged a signal light. I stomped on the rear brake, locked it up and slid into the middle of the intersection before coming to a stop. I couldn't believe it, but I should have known. I used to ride a Honda 750 with a front disc brake, this bike had no front brake at all! How could I expect it to stop at all?

The motor was pretty much thrashed which I discovered when I tore it down. I discovered the damage to the lower end and the pinion shaft. The crankcase boss that supported the kicker cover was cracked also. All in all just a used up, abused, old Sportster. Luckily I had a good job working at General Motors at the time, so money was not quite a problem. So why didn't I just buy a brand new bike? I really don't know. I guess I was just used to buying used stuff and I couldn't imagine chopping up a new stock bike. But I ended up doing it anyway with my next Harley. So I did a complete rebuild, well maybe 98%.  

Yeah, We were both looking pretty good.

I repainted the bike black. I was still running the girder up front. I decided to christen the bike with my usual pilgrimage, a trip up the coast to Mendocino. I had made the trip starting in my Senior year riding my Kawasaki. Later I made it on my Honda 750, so it was logical for me to make it on my newly rebuilt Sporty. There weren't any problems to report. The bike made the one day round trip with no issues. The bike did generate a lot of positive interest from the people I encountered. Nonetheless this trip confirmed that there was no way I could continue to ride a bike without a working front brake. So my plan was to switch to an extended telescopic glide front end with a disc brake from a '73 Sportster. I had a 21'' inch rim laced to the front hub and the infamous "banana caliper" was modified for clearance. I also added a fork brace and fiberglass Cafe racer style front fender.

This front end swap was part of the preparation that I was doing to get the bike in shape for my first really long road trip. My old buddy Rick and I were planning on riding up into British Columbia, maybe all the way to Alaska. This trip was to be my second epic trip after the California 1000. It did not disappoint. It was quite the adventure.

Photos taken the day before Rick and I left on our trip.

To be continued in a future post as an Epic Ride.