Saturday, May 3, 2014

Yeah, I can do that in my Garage.

I recently had to do some work on my truck.  The pitman arm bolt sheered off.  After I repaired that I took it in for an alignment and was told that I needed new tie rods and that it would only cost $540 to repair.  Hating to pay extra for the same parts bothers me so I looked on Summit Racing and the parts were $145, so I bought them and did the repairs in my driveway.

First things first, I had to jack up the truck to take the wheels off.  While jacking up a vehicle is generally not a big issue, add a 6 inch lift to a Chevrolet 2500HD and it gets a little more interesting.  I assure you that this was OSHA approved, notice the jack stand to stop the 9,000 lb vehicle from crushing anything or anyone who may have been underneath it.

After jacking up the wheels I had to remove the old tie rods.  They come in two parts the inner tie rod and the outer tie rod, but rather than waste time I removed them both at the same time.

To remove the outer tie rod end simply remove the nut off the bolt that goes through the steering knuckle and give it a whack with a hammer, or use a tie rod puller.  As I had purchased a pitman arm puller, which is essentially the same as a tie rod end puller, i used that.  As you can see the old one was in bad shape.

The inner tie rod end screws into hole in the middle of the picture.

To remove the inner tie rod you need a 35mm wrench or a 12' redneck speed wrench (cresent wrench).  I ran into a small issue that I could not put enouch torque on the wrench to loosen it, and my cheater bar was too long to fit.  After looking around I saw my come-along and hooked one end to the wrench and other other to the frame of the truck and it quickly loosened the inner tie rod end.

My least favorite instruction is one that states "reverse the process"  This is usually the instruction that comes after detailed instructions on how to disassemble some part of your vehicle.  After three pages of instructions to take it apart, the instructions to put it back together, are less than a full sentence and simply state "Reverse the Process".  Trust me it is never that easy.  Nevertheless, I got them both done in the morning.

Finished Product.  A couple of hours and I saved $400.00 and a little of my sanity, if there is any left.
Shiny new parts.
Now for an alignment and all done.  I used to be afraid to work on my own vehicles, the fear of screwing it up held me back.  But after reading the shop manual and the official ASE certified instructions were to hit the part with a hammer, I realized I would have to really do something wrong to screw it up. 

Now all I need is a project vehicle in the garage, that should make Mrs. Zed1000 really happy.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

St. George Street Bikes

I recently attended a car and motorcycle show put on by a local motorcycle club.  For its first year they had a great turn out.  Here are a few photos of the bikes:

There were a number of very nice Ducatis

One of my favorite newer bikes, a Yamaha FZ800

One of my favorites was this Triumph, but as I have said before, I may be slightly biased.

It was interesting to see one of these in real life, having only seen one as driven by Richard Hammond on TopGear.

 Thanks for all of those who attended, there were also som very nice vehicles. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

France in America

Not to long ago I became aware of a gentleman from England riding his Harley across America.  He chronicled his adventure through a blog.  In fact, it was largley due to his blog that I began mine.  That being said, he has now written a book of his journey titled "France in America" as his name is Gary France.  Above is one of his videos from Beartooth Pass, and his collection of photographs from his journey feel as if they capture the soul of the many different locations throughout the United States.

If you are interested in his travels in the US and other countries his website is  I strongly suggest you visit his website when you have sufficient time as I guarantee he will pull you in with the wonderful photographs, videos, and Gary's observations and insights into motorcycle travel.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A New Even More Expensive Addiction

I was introduced over the weekend to a new kind of drug.  I did some work for a friend of mine, and in exchange he offered to let me use his Sand Car for the weekend.  As there are some sand dunes near my house I accepted his hospitality. 

The Sand Rail in question is a Suspension Unlimited Sand Pro 2.  Unfortunately due to the economy Suspension Unlimited is no longer in business however, the Sand Pro 2 is a wonderful machine to drive.  Its heart is a 480 horsepower LS-1 Corvette engine, it has over 20 inches of suspension travel at all four corners, seats five, and is probably the most fun off road vehicle I have ever driven. 

I recently recieved a GoPro HD camera (happy birthday to me), and took it with us on our trip to the sand dunes.  Below is a short video from our trip.  The sand dunes near my house are small and as a result there was no place to really open it up but we had a good time.  The video is also decieving as the suspension is amazing, it was smooth enough that my wife even went for a ride with me.

As you can see from  the video, especially the front facing angle the suspension is fantastic, the front wheels are moving up and down but the camera stays almost still, and after watching the video, I thought it looked boring compared to how fast I thought I was going.  In fact my son was able to fall asleep in the back seat.
I was told by my mother that it is a good thing I am married and have two children, or all I would care about is going fast.  This is true.  I have long believed that if it was not for my wife, who for some unknown reason agreed to marry me and stay with me, I would live in a single wide with a five car garage.  Since driving the sand car, I have schemed and planned how I could get one, as new ones are in the 60 to 70 thousand dollar range and used ones are 30 to 40.  However, you can purchase just a frame and build it yourself, which I thought would be a wonderful opportunity to spend time with my children, or at least that is the reason I gave to my wife.  Wish me luck.

I have also taken some video on my bike and plan to post that video and other motorcyle videos throughout the summer.  Especially of our planned trip to Yellowstone in July.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

You Find Out Who Your Friends Are

Christmas is a wonderful time because you get the chance to see family friends who live far from home.  At the same time you also spend time with a lot of people you may not otherwise choose to see.  So I came up with a convienent and easy test to determine how you should prioritize your time.  Before spending time with anyone this holiday season ask yourself this simple question.

If they asked would I let them ride my motorcycle?

Now the Z1000 is by no means an exotic or expensive ride, but its mine and I like it (I like it alot).

There are only about 5 people in the world that if they came to me and asked, "Hey can I take your bike for a ride?" that I would say yes.  So next time you are asked to attend a holiday event ask yourself, would I let them ride my bike, and if the answer is no, call up those people you would and go for a ride.  It is not a coincidence that the people I would let borrow my bike are also the people I ride with and they would not hesitate to let me borrow their bikes.  I am just saying. 

(There is one caveat to this rule, if your wife tells you, "I don't care about your stupid motorcycle rule, get your ass in the car we are going to my Grandmother's Christmas Party", you had better go.  Just remember as Red Green of the great Red Green Show says "I'm pulling for you, we are all in this together."). 

Happy New Year's Everyone.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Highs and Lows

I have always been a fan of Christmas.  This may be due, in large part, to my dilusional tendencies.  At Christmas time I forget the real world and believe that the entire world is like a Norman Rockwell painting.

This is reflected in my choice of Christmas music as well.  Roger Whittaker sings the only Christmas music which escapes from my Ipod these days.

However, Christmas is a tricky time at my house.  The joy of seeing my daughter, (who is lovingly referred to as "Babes") who is five, getting excited at the sight of presents under the tree, and seeing my son (known as "D") at his first real Christmas, he is only one this year, is contrast with the saddness of those loved ones who are no longer with us.  This was brought to a head the other day when I waived to a fellow rider.  Yes, I am lucky enough to live in a climate which allows year round riding, and I waive to other riders, especially those willing to ride in the (colder) winter months, regardless of make or model of bike.  This is the bike I saw.

My younger brother owned a CBR 600F3 like the one above, and he loved to ride.  He passed away five years ago, no not at Christmas time, but I seem to miss him more at Christmas than any other time.  He was only three years younger than I am and we were always close.  We spent many Christmas nights dreaming of toys and of course trying to decide which motorcycle we would ask Santa to bring us.  Yes this tradition continues, I still ask Santa for a Motorcycle every year.  Perhaps this year I will ask for a custom Cafe Racer based on a CB750. 
So while I will read the Christmas Story from the book of Luke in the Bible to my family on Christmas Eve, and wake my daughter up at 4:00 am the next morning exclaiming "Santa has been and left us presents."  A part of me longs for the days when I lay down next to the Christmas Tree with my brother, watching as a slide show of photgraphs, taken by my father, of past Christmas' is projected on the wall.

To all the other riders, keep it shiny side up, enjoy time with friends and families during the holidays, and to steal a phrase from Clement Clarke Moore "Happy Christmas to all and to all a good-night."   

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chicken Strips and Hard Bits

The two of you familiar with this blog, will remember my good friend and riding buddy Supe.

Here is Supe with his beloved Suzi, a Bandit 1200.  Supe recently relocated due to a change in employment, it was a change for the better, to a location that has a nice winding canyon road within a short distance.  A few days ago a received a very excited phone call from Supe, at which time he explained that during one of his recent afternoon runs he had scraped his foot peg through a turn.  Now this is not the first time I have had the opportunity to join in another rider's enthusiasm for doing something that others would consider just down right stupid.  During a trip with my brother he also scraped "hard bits" (read foot peg) while riding the Cherohala Skyway.

This recent conversation reminded me of many conversations I have had with other riders regarding chicken strips, and hard bits.  Some riders believe that attempting to eliminate the chicken strips or scrape hard bits to be an act of stupidity and to demonstrate a lack of maturity.  On the other hand there are even some tires which have markings to document your lean angle (Metzler M5 Sportec).  I have tried to determine why some riders I admire, are so against riders comparing chicken strips, but I think I have resolved this problem.

First it is important to remember that it is impossible with some bikes, including ones I have owned in the past, to completely eliminate chicken strips, therefore, comparing the chicken strips on the Z1000 to those on the Raider would be completely idiotic and mean nothing.  Therefore, I believe the action which should be looked upon with disdain is to go out with your riding buddies for the sole purpose of comparing chicken strips.  This could well be a sign that you are in fact a squid.  That being said, one could and should be excited about pushing yourself and your bike farther than before.  On occasion I investigate the status of the chicken strips on the Z1000 (happy to say there are none on the Pirelli Angel ST currently mounted), but I do this not to compare them against others, but to assess my own progression and abilities.  I am always seeking to improve my riding skills, better head and body position, better lines and throttle control, and the natural result of any improvement is more aggressive lean angles, therefore, the chicken strips, or lack thereof is a visual confirmation of my increased ability and confidence.  If you ride just to prove that you can eliminate your chicken strips, or scrape your hard bits you are an idiot, if you ride for the love of riding, and and you use the elimination of chicken strips and ability to scrape the hard bits as one of many indicators to demonstrate you improved riding ability, you should be excited to have evidence of your improvement.

Therefore, to Supe I say congratulations to safely exploring Suzi's limits, and commend you on a job well done.