Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Break!

It's finally here and boy did I need it. I stayed at my last teaching job too long and it damn near ruined my career. I think if I had fallen assbackwards into my current job after relocating to Colorado, things would be different. But, this year, I've battled more and more health issues that I'm sure are related to stress. I still fight my neck day in and day out. I had shingles and I'm still not in the clear on something else (which I go in for more testing at the end of April). I'd be lying if I said there weren't times where I considered quitting my current job. My principals know it. I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to be here though. I know they want me back next year so we'll see how things go then. My self confidence seems to be growing more and more each day and I'm not sure what the hell else I'd do to pay for slightly less than 23% of the bills around this house and I have to keep Heather in the lifestyle that she has grown accustomed to living in since hooking up with me. Truth be told, I'm the lucky one in the relationship and I know it. 

My eyesight is getting worse in my old age so on Monday, we had a date with the eye doctor. Heather bought me new glasses. 

Today I went back out to the river. While driving out of town, I passed this bitchin' T-Bird. Sometimes I wish we could move to the beach and own an old convertible. It would be great to have a bunch of fly rods hanging out the back of it on the way to the water.

I fished for 6 hours today and was exhausted afterwards. This was during a lunch break. Once in a while I get email and texts on the water but never this time of year because they shut the towers down. So I was alarmed when my buddy Scott texted me today and I got it. I sent this to him to ask how work was going on his end but, in reality, I was the one who was working. I got owned today. Things just wouldn't go my way. I'm a bit of a snob. Generally, my policy is that I don't fish "fishy" water. I only cast to fish that I can see, that are big, and that are feeding. I tend to cover a lot of water. For some reason, every fish I spotted today was very big and they were that way because of where they were hidden. Super hard drifts that were deep with some crazy ass hydraulic thrown in for added challenge. I ended up hooking three of them and they all broke off. I worked one for an hour and made at least a dozen fly changes. I was worked over. And humbled. Today was the first time that a DOW official rode up to me on horseback to check my license. I half hoped I didn't have it on me and that he would take all my gear.

Not sure where I will go tomorrow. Stay tuned. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mustache 2.0

This morning I made an important life decision whilst shaving in the bathroom (sorry you ran out of hot water in the shower Heather but this was quite a debacle). I decided to leave a mustache to go with the always present, under the lip, triangle. I had been pondering this for about a week and pulled the trigger this morning. Now I know that some find the mustache to be silly. Even hipster doofus. Allow me to explain (not that I feel as if I have to justify what's on my upper lip to anyone).

About 2 weeks ago, I found myself in my classroom with a few of my students. Now...I really do enjoy working with all of them but I do have one in particular that simply fascinates me. I damn near spent 4 days straight with him at 6th grade camp this year (1:1 situation). For obvious reasons, I won't go into grave detail but I will say that this particular student has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. As such, things like social communication (joint attention, turn taking during conversation, and eye contact) are all things that we work on every day. I am constantly trying to stretch him and support the rest of his teachers in doing the same. He's come a looong way and in the last month, I've begun to see a change.

For some reason on this particular day (don't judge me) I decided it would be a good idea to draw a mustache on the inside of my finger with a Sharpie. Then I thought it would be a better idea to put said finger up to my lip and raise my eyebrows at this student. I was stunned when he laughed and maintained eye contact. Then he made farting noises with his mouth and we both laughed. The rest of that day as we would walk around the school, he would stop teachers that weren't even his (I'm sure he didn't know them) and tell me to show them my finger. He really wanted me to put it up to my lip but that's a lot to ask. I would do it and he would laugh and laugh. Later that day, I held my finger up to his nose and he looked in the mirror and thought it was a riot. He said he was growing to grown one. Then he wanted to walk around the school and find more people and show them. Each time, I would put my finger up to his lip and he would make a face and say, "Hmmmmmmmm." And then laugh uncontrollably. This went on for days. Then he started doing more things that amazed me. We sat in my office and he started playing peek a boo with me behind a backpack that was on a table. And he would laugh and laugh. There was more but I'm sure it's not as encouraging for you as it is for me so I won't bore you with the details.

His mother happened to be out of town but I talk frequently with her and was letting her know how I was corrupting her child. She returned home last weekend. This student checks in with me every morning because it's part of his routine. Months ago he would simply stand there and I would do all the talking. Now he enters the class, says good morning, greets other teachers and I try to have 3-4 verbal exchanges with him while maintaining eye contact. On Monday he enters my office (always with a stack of books/binders) and he's trying to hold them all in one hand which is not working out and I can see a yard sale in the future. With his other hand he is trying desperately to unzip his hoodie. He always wears this hoodie zipped up so I was curious as to what was going on. As he got closer I said,  "Hey buddy...what's up? Are you hot and trying to get that thing off?" Then I grabbed his books because he didn't answer but he had this smirk on his face. He unzips his hoodie, pulls it open and reveals to me a t shirt that has a giant hand on it with the index finger extended. On the finger was a mustache. We laughed hard and he hugged me. I almost cried. His mom had gotten it for him after we spoke while she was out of town. This is huge for a student with this disability. Since then something has clicked. I have witnessed him be more social with others. It's amazing to see and even better to be a part of it.

So...I'm on Spring Break and won't see my little buddy until next week. So...I'm going to grow a mustache for him. If having hair on my upper lip will continue to make him stretch socially then hair on my upper lip I shall have. Oh don't worry...I'll be posting updates. I've had short lived mustaches before but they usually don't last long. If only I still had my van. That would really complete the look.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Cafe Update

It's been a bit since I've done anything with the cafe project but I got a little bit done recently. First off, I decided to pull the rotor, paint it and then get all kinds of OCD on the front wheel in terms of cleanliness. Rotor all taped up and ready for paint. 

Wheel all cleaned up and polished. Rotor turned out great and looks fantastic.

About a week ago I got home from work and found a box on the front porch. I knew it was the tank. The body work on the tank proved to be a bit harder than I was capable of. I threw in the towel and walked away from it. One of the guys on an older CB forum that I belong to sent me a message and offered to help with the tank so I took him up on it and shipped it off to his shop in Virginia. He did an amazing job on the knee dents which is the area I was really having a hard time with.

I noticed a few areas where the filler that I had applied was cracking and became concerned. A few days later, I saw another area bubbling up and got really concerned. Then I got mad. This is the right side of the tank where I obviously did something wrong. At this pout, I was faced with either getting a new tank or going back down to bare metal and starting from square one. I spoke with my buddy in Virginia and he wanted me to ship it back to him. So...the tank left again yesterday. It's getting blasted back to bare metal and he will re-work it all. I'm super thankful that he's got some time on his hands and enjoys doing body work.

Today I had some time and got down in the garage for a while. I went OCD on the rear wheel but it's a bear to clean because the hub is so big and the spokes are so short. It's really hard to get in there unless you have tiny little hands which I do not. I ended up pulling the left side motor cover. It looks like hell and I've been trying to figure out what to do with it. So I started sanding the old clear coat off and working on the deep scratches.

I used 40, 60, 100, 220, 300, 400, and am now up to 500. Im not sure if I'm going to go brushed or mirror finish with a buffing wheel yet. Ultimately, I'd like the bike to have black hubs and rims and some black on the motor but I think I want some of the aluminum on the motor to be polished. So...I've still got a lot of work to do here. Taking XTR single speed cranks to mirror finish was a hell of a lot easier.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Calf Eh.

I've been up to my ears in wiring the last few weeks. This connector consists of 6 wires and many of those go to the alternator so they're kind of important. Each wire was cut in half and secured with bubble gum and electrical tape that was losing it's grip. So I had just enough slack to cut it all out and soldered it up and put shrink tube on. Good as new. 

While I was at it I removed the entire harness and went through it all. I found tons of really questionable connections. I soldered them all, installed heat shrink, and then checked each wire for continuity. All should be good in the wiring department. I also ran wires for the turn signals that I will order very soon here. I then wrapped the harness again in electrical tape and put it all back together. I then went to turn the key and got nothing. Nothing. So...unwrap all that tape and start looking for the issue. I finally found it in a bad switch for the ignition. Replaced that and all was good in the world again. Taped it all back up and....done. Oh the only issue at this point was that the led indicator in the tach that goes to oil pressure would not come on with the key. I verified that the led was good by sending 12 volts directly to it. Continuity of the wire was solid. Making a jumper wire and going from the sensor wire to the block made the led light up so I was pretty sure the sensor was bad. I even used a 6 amp charger connected to the sensor body and the top (with an inline resistor) and turned it on for less than a second. This was to try and fry the gunk inside the sensor in the hopes that it would shake it loose. No good. For a bit I was worried that the issue was the fact that the sensor is supposed to be lighting up an incandescent bulb instead of an led. I wired up a relay to see if this helped. Nope. I finally broke down and bought a new/used one on ebay for 9 bones and it showed up today. Used a little plumbers tape, installed the sensor, and the led now works with the key.

This is a picture from last weekend before I got the oil pressure led sorted. Now I can control no lights, parking lights only (if I choose to run that type of turn signal which I'm not planning on), head lights, low beam, hi beam, and horn. All I have left to do for this part of the project is install turn signals, and wire up the kill switch.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Back to the Project

It's been a while since I did anything to the cafe racer but when I got home from work on Friday, there was a box on the steps. I did a little bit of work on it Friday night but not much. Too tired. Most of the work happened today. Thing hardly looks like a motorcycle at all here. 

One of the things I ordered was a set of gauges. For a while I looked into taking the stock gauges apart, rebuilding them, installing more modern faces, and upgrading to led lighting but that's a lot of work and the gauges would still be...huge. I went back and forth between these 2.5" units and some 1.9" ones. Chrome or black? I ended up going with the 2.5" model and, obviously...black.

A while ago I made a bracket to mount the ignition to. It worked with the larger gauges but with the smaller ones, it was too busy. So I made another one that is fairly well hidden. I wanted the ignition to look like it was floating. I also wanted the ignition to sit down lower and be a third sphere. It's easier to see the ignition now that the huge gauges aren't the focal point.

Much better. I got everything mounted up and then wired the gauges. The tach is easy as it only has 2 wires for the backlighting. The speedo has the same and then a + and - for each of the four led lights (hi beam, turn signals, oil pressure, and neutral). Everything seemed fine here. I don't have turn signals yet so that wire gets capped off. Hi beam is connected but I'm still wrestling with some other wiring so I don't know for sure if that's done correctly. Oil and neutral should be wired correctly but I can't start the motor either and I don't know if that makes a difference (pretty sure on the CB's the idiot light only comes on in the event of low pressure as opposed to most cars that come on with the key).

Next up was wiring in this switch. The previous owner had this bike stripped pretty well. I need/want to have enough stuff on it to keep the police at bay. So I installed a horn, and then started installing this left side control. It has the ability to run turn signals, headlights (hi and low), horn, and kill switch. Initially I was going to drill the bars and run the harness through them to hide things but the harness is damn big and I didn't like the idea of having that big of a hole in the bar. Twice. I did have to shim the bar with some tape to make the switch tight but that was easy.

This...has not been easy. Or fun. In fact...it sucks. Remember...I'm dealing with a 550 frame. 500 motor. I think a 550 harness but Im not sure (I've found a few wires that are colored such that they don't show up on schematics at all). I also don't know if the previous owner wired things the right way to begin with. I'm close to having this done but...it's not done. I've got some calls into some friends in the CB community so hopefully I'll have this squared away in a jiffy here. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Birthday Cafe

So today I am 41. I don't feel 41 at all. In fact...I feel closer to 60. 

Today was gorgeous up here and my big day had a lot going on. I'm pretty sure I have an ulcer right now so I'm laying off coffee (which is a real bitch) as well as beer (although I have had some beer today but...it's my birthday). I've also been taking Zantac for about a week now and feel much better. After some morning Chai, I went down to the garage. It's so great to work on the motorcycle with the doors open. Since I don't really have a ton to do right now, I decided to look at some of the wiring harness. I've been thinking about doing this for a while now but I've had bigger things to do. I'm glad I did it today. This was the first thing I found. 

Then I found quite a few more questionable splices. I also found 2 wires that were just cut and left hanging.

I got this cleaned up, put back together and hooked up the battery tender. Heather and I took the pups for a walk and then went to watch the new Mark Wahlberg movie Lone Survivor. If you like military type movies, I highly recommend it.  We had some BBQ for dinner and then came home to relax.

I've been thinking about making a workbench for the motorcycle project and I'll probably start on that tomorrow. It's a real pain to bend over and work on stuff for a few hours. Stay tuned. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

All the Latest Cafe News

There really has not been much going on with the cafe project here lately. I'll post what little news I have in order to keep some (Dan) folks happy nonetheless. It should not come as a surprise that I was not happy with how the body work on the tank turned out. Looking back...this was not a good first project for someone new to body work because of the convex and concave areas of the tank and the need for everything to match all the way around. People that saw it in person thought it looked great but being the perfectionist that I am I just couldn't stop finding imperfections that would only stand out more when painted. It was when I began talking about painting the knee dents in flat black that I knew I had to walk away from things for a while. I just think that (at times) flat black says, "I gave up." I have an active thread on the single overhead cam forum about this build and I told those guys that I was going to step back for a while. A few hours later I received a message from one of the guys that had been providing me with a ton of help/advice. Many of the guys that are into these older Hondas just really want to see them keep going and they are willing to offer way more help than members of any other forum that I have been a part of. I have received more advice and hard to find parts from these folks. All for free with the only requests being that I pay it forward and post pics of the project as it moves on. Anyways...this guy asks if he can do me a favor and take the tank back to bare metal, work the metal a bit more, TIG weld the holes again, remove the areas where the badges mounted and TIG those up, reapply filler, sand it all out, prime it and ship it back to me ready to paint. Again...for free and he was insulted when I offered to send him some money. So the tank is in Virginia right now (arrived yesterday) and he will have it for a bit. This guy has built some amazing cafes and other styles and he does really nice body work so I'm excited. 

The next piece of the puzzle was to try and find a replacement side cover for the one that was cracked beyond repair. As I started looking more closely at these I realized that I had a 550 left side cover (the trashed one) and a 500 right side cover. I prefer the look of the 500 covers so I went on the prowl for one. I called in a ton of favors but was not able to find one as these are very rare to stumble upon and many are cracked and in need of repair. They do make aftermarket replacements but I thought it would be cool to have originals so I looked hard. I was finally able to find one in Alabama with no cracks. I bought it for $40. Both of my covers would now need sanding and prep and I would fill in the badge holes with body filler and get them ready for paint. Well I was excited when the new cover got here and went to put it on the bike. The damn thing cracked. The 40 year old plastic is simply too brittle so I'll fix the broken one and then sell them both off and buy newer replicas. 

These gauges will be here soon and I think they will go nicely with the bikes thinner look now. Stock gauges are 4" and these replacements are 2.5". I did consider opening up the stockers, and replacing the green faces with something black, upgrading the horrible lighting to led, and rebuilding the internal gears but it's a lot of work and the inside looks like a watch. I wasn't sure if the size of them would still bother me after all that effort. It probably would. So I'll sell the stockers and almost pay for the new ones. The speedo has nice led's mounted in it for warning lights too so I won't have to mess with that. I will have to make a new mount for the ignition switch but that's fine as I'll also get rid of the start switch that I have there because I also have a left side control that will be going on so I can have a horn, start/kill switch, an option to run turn sigs (which I eventually will), as well as a hi/lo for the headlights. I'll probably also drill the handlebars out when installing this stuff and run all the wiring from the switch through the bars to make it look anal boy friendly.  

This is the new tach. Not much to say about this but it'll be so much cleaner and minimal.

This is horrible picture of the tail light that will be here soon. It's small but, more importantly, it can pivot up and down. All the others I have looked at just mount on the fender but since I bobbed the fender a bit (and may go even shorter) I need it to adjust for the right angle. It's kind of bullet shaped. I really wanted to find a light off a 32 Ford but the style was just too different and more appropriate for a Bobber/Rat build.

I did get around to making a few adjustments to the plate mount. I bent it up a bit more because I kept looking at the lines of the back end and wondered if it would look better. I'll get a profile shot of the bike because it's easier that way. I also added this little 1" by 1" tab to the outside of it that sits up tight against the swing arm. Only one bolt holds this thing on and I didn't want the entire thing going into the spokes in the event that one bolt came loose. This tab will keep things safe if that happens. I also recently found out that my plate mount is illegal. The plate is not horizontally mounted, it's bent, and it's less than 12" off the ground. So that's 3 strikes. For a few seconds I did consider coming up with a way to mount it back on the fender but then...no. I'll leave it here. I see tons of Harleys with plates mounted this way. If I get pulled over I'll claim ignorance and deal with it then. This bracket is now ready for primer and paint.

That's about all that's going on right now. I did get my hands on a compression gauge and will be checking the numbers on the cylinders and that will give me an idea of what condition the top and bottom end are like and see if that needs any attention (hoping not). That's all. It's my birthday weekend and I'll be 41 but I feel like I'm trapped in the body of a 70 year old. Hanging out and keeping busy in the garage brings me happiness though so I'm sure I'll be down there for at least a while over the weekend. Thanks for checking in. Go do something fun outside or build something in the garage.