Saturday, April 27, 2013

A trip to Princess Auto is never wasted

Princess Auto is one of those great chains that carries a bit of everything shop related. Whether it’s tools, hydraulics, steel, welding supplies, trailer parts, small engines, surplus electronics or anything else in a long list of “guy stuff” they probably have it. So I can spend a lot of time (and money) in that store. The only saving grace as far as the spousal unit is concerned is that it’s an hour and a half away so it’s not very onvenient. However once a month or so I find an excuse to be at that end of town for something and, “since I’m there anyway…”.
Last week I had to return a defective utility trailer wheel (made in China, most probably from salt-infused rusted auto bodies) and spent a little time wandering the aisles. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular but then I came across this wheel chock that was on sale. If you’ve ever done an oil change (or any maintenance really) on a motorcycle that has no centre stand you know what a pain in the ass that can be. The analogy that comes to mind is the one-armed paper hanger; it’s awkward, inconvenient and usually much messier than it needs to be. Even so I could never justify the $200 or so that seemed to be the going rate for a wheel chock to hold the bike vertical while I worked on it.
But $40? A no-brainer.
Today I got around to assembling and installing my new wheel chock, and it works like a charm. I have a motorcycle lift that I’ll still use for most things but for sheer convenience and the fact it leaves the undercarriage open this is a great solution. Ride on and step off the bike. There are loops for tie downs but the bike seems really stable even without using them. I probably will anyway because the thought of 700+ pounds of iron toppling over and damaging the paint could ruin anyone’s day. It’s bolted to the floor but the vertical support and the pivot are held in place by a single bolt and a couple of pregnant-R clips. Remove those in a few seconds and all that’s left on the floor is the low-profile base component.
Yep, I’m liking it and almost (almost!) looking forward to doing that oil change now.
Photo 3(1)
Some minor assembly required.
Photo 1(2)
Done!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Progress is being made

Learning as I go, waiting for parts to come by mail, realizing I’d missed something and so more waiting for parts to come by mail (repeat several times), repurposing materials to new uses, screwing something up so having to start over… That’s been the story of this project so far.
But progress is being made and today was the first test of the panning servo. Some weaknesses identified but otherwise about 75% successful I’d say.
So now it’s back to the shop – a warm refuge from the freezing rain and snow pelting down outside right now.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Small packages

A few fellow bloggers have posted recently about the joy of receiving small packages in the post. Well, not to be outdone, here’s my small package story.
I almost made it.  It was only 2 months ago that I posted about not needing anything for the bike this year. What I actually said was “the bike is just about exactly where I want it right now” which, as any motorcyclist will agree, is probably one of the most, if not *the* most, stupid thing I could have said. There is ALWAYS something to be improved, changed, added, or otherwise tweaked… and sure enough I found something.
My small package arrived today.
Photo 7
Photo 2
Photo 1
I had noticed that the LED taillights on some new model cars were a lot brighter and the instant-on feature tended to catch the eye better. And so having had a couple of close calls because drivers clearly didn’t see my brake light and integrated rear signal lights I thought I’d brighten up the back end a bit.
If you’ve looked at a motorcycle parts catalogue lately you’ll know that there are hundreds of options for LED lighting and an electronics engineering degree is needed to identify all the parts required to make it work. (Simply replacing the bulbs won’t do it – I tried that route already, major fail!) But then I found this complete kit at my favourite supplier – J&P Cycles. Gave them a call and… Sold!
I will be installing this kit over the weekend and hopefully all will go well and it is really as “bolt in” as advertised. But if not I have lots of time to make it work as we’re getting a major snow and ice storm through here over the next couple of days, pushing the riding season out at least another week. Sigh….
Winter
UPDATE April 12:
One of the easiest installations I’ve ever done. 20 minutes, tops. Instructions were clear and everything fit the way it was supposed to. The most time was spent getting all the wiring jammed back under the seat when the job was done. It even works with my turn signal conversion. So two thumbs up for Biketronics’ LED Bulb Upgrade Kit from J&P Cycles.