Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Post Holi-daze Update..

Well hello boys and girls, wanted to give ya'll a little look at what Crawler and I have been up to.
We have made it back from the G424 meltdown, and are back on the road.
From this.... 
To this....
 I went ahead and removed the stock bench seat, replacing it with a solo seat from a KZ1000 Police bike and building a rear fender rack out of scrap wood in the shop.

For those of you with sharp eyes...the white scribble on the tank is me noting starting odometer readings with a piece of chalk. I painted the tank with chalkboard paint which allows me to make notes and directions right on it...I think it's pretty kewl.

Some more snaps from today...
My "Official Salute" pic.

My "Oh Crap I'm stuck!" recovery system....
Approach with caution...or you'll spook it.

Ready to try my luck...will it start? WILL IT?  
It Lives!!

Sorry for the lack of action shots, I did have my helmet camera on during the ride and might be pushing a little video later tonight....maybe.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wiring Diagrams...

Just so they are out there in the wild for other folks to use, here are a couple of versions of the diagrams detailing the way Melee and I laid out Crawler.

and here is one without the colors, if you want to use your own, and so it's a lil cheaper to print out.
Also here is a quick video of how it all works....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Resonable person??

As alluded to in a previous post, I wanted to discuss what kind of person thinks it is reasonable to spend time and money on what is an obscure, and many would say obsolete, machine with a questionable pedigree at best.
So, what kind of person puts themselves through the trial of owning a Ural/Dneper sidecar rig?
Well...there are some informal unscientific stats I can throw out there.
Most foil-heads are between the age of 45 and 56.
Most are experienced motorcyclists, with 25+ years of riding experience.
Most either have school-age children or grandchildren at the time of acquiring their rigs.
Most own other bikes, few have a Ural/Dneper as their starter bike.
There doesn't seem to be a 'feeder' brand of bike. Owners of Russian bikes come from both the Harley and Metric camps, however there are enough owners of British and/or Beemers to cause a statistically significant anomaly.

Few would classify themselves as introverts, and those that do go through a pretty massive paradigm shift due to the UDF (Ural Delay Factor) which forces them into a minor celebrity status at random times.
Most foil-heads also enjoy working on their machines nearly as much as riding them, and take a strange sense of pride in the 'creative problem-solving' and WWID moments necessary to have a happy rig.
Roughly 15-25% enter into the relationship with skewed expectations( 75MPH+ Interstate travel, high performance handling/braking, gas-n-go low maintenance) and discard the rigs in disgust. The remainder are prepared to ride the rigs in the Soviet Style and find they have another problem...they begin to neglect any other bikes they own.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Spark of life...

Crawler has been re-wired...again.
This time without the G424 Alternator or the Voltage Regulator. Melee and I decided to use the bus box system that we employed on the Dingo re-wire. It's a damn nice way to do it as it allows us to separate each system out. This time we where actually able to use correctly colored wire, so the harness is not just a mass of red/green/black wire going everywhere.

He will be using a total loss system with a deep-cycle battery as the power sink.
Right now I am doing a lot of amp/hour math and comparing it to the available budget (HAHAHA!!!) for a battery. I did some quick very short range testing using the motorcycle battery and all systems are go.

I was able to get rid of one thing I hate on motorcycles...ignition keys. Crawler, like Dingo, is now on a series of toggle switches.

I'll hopefully have a quick start/ride video up soon.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Finding a path to power... a lil update for ya'll.
As I mentioned last time, Crawler is having a laugh at my expense.
I have confirmed that the G424 Alternator is in-op, it had to happen sooner or later I guess. Least it could have done was give a little fair warning....Like so...

If only it had been that forthcoming....sigh. 

So I did what any reasonable person would do ( ...well...a REASONABLE person might not have bought a used Ural... but that is a blog entry of it's own.)
I put on my WWID hat and got to scheming.

I ripped that sucker off, tossed it into the basement and cobbled together some plywood, tin sheeting, and gasket paper to block the now gaping hole above the timing gear.
It ain't pretty...but it'll hold.   I think.

3 words.... Total Loss System.
3 more words....No More Bomb.

What is a Total Loss System?

Well it goes like this: The rig needs more than 10.5 volts at 8 Amp/Hours to run.
That means on average, with the stock lighting and coil/ignition module both engaged the system draws around 8 amps of power. The G424...when it worked...put out a whopping 11 amps. Meaning that the rig was draining 93% or so of the alternator output...leaving little more than a maintenance or 'float' charge for the battery. Basically enough to put back what it takes to kick start the bike....barely.
A standard motorcycle battery has a rating of 10 or 12 Amp/Hours good for about 1.5 hours of run time without an alternator. Which translates into about 50 miles huh? Yes it does...see last entry.

However, for about the price of a good motorcycle battery you can acquire a Deep Cycle Battery with a 115 Amp/Hour rating good for about 14 hours of demand . Which translates into about a 500 mile range on paper. In real world estimates...I can expect 250 miles before I drain the battery low enough to damage the cells. More than enough for commuting and scooting around with The Boy. The downside is a deep cycle battery is BIG. Around 14 inches long, 10 inches high and weighing 35 lbs. big. Luckily I have a little bit of extras space.

As I mentioned last time...cost and time are a factor in the decision.
Here's a lil visual aid.

  •  Replace 424 Alternator with another 424.
    • Cost: ~$300
    • Shipping time from Ukraine- 4 to 6 weeks
    • Likely to fail again.
  •  Replace 424 Alternator with Denso unit
    • Cost ~$500
    • Shipping time from Germany- 2 to 4 weeks.
    • Cat's meow...outlast the engine most likely.
  • Replace 424 Alternator with Total Loss System
    • Cost~ $80
    • Shipping time- NADA
    • Limited range(but within projected use profile)

As you can see, while Total Loss is less than perfect, it suits my needs for now and is a damn sight easier on my wallet than any other option. Additionally it smacks of one of the things I love...creative problem solving.  I am redoing the complete wiring loom [second time], fabricating a solo seat mount and rear fender cargo rack(not to mention the super sexy plug pictured above) mostly with crap that was in my basement leftover from other projects or found/scrounged supplies.
Yeah, so it's a 'Rat Bike' solution.  Maybe it's even a lil hillbilly.

But it's good practice for the Apocalypse. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fixed it so it could break....

Well...remember how I said I had killed all the electrical gremlins?
Looks like Crawler is having a laugh on my behalf.
One of the things that is a known risk of going south on these rigs are most versions of the Alternator.
Well....the different versions of the Alternators all fail in different ways.
The 14.3771 alternator, commonly known as the RPOC (...figure it out yourself. :) ) is infamous for failing and eating the gear tower...basically grenadeing the engine altogether.
There is also the G424 alternator, which isn't known for doing that, but IS known for a fairly high failure rate. As in about 92% of them fail. This is the alternator I have on Crawler.
And it looks like I didn't beat the curve.

I went for a bit of a ride, and all was going good...ticking right along.
Hell the powerplant even sounded less like a sewing machine failing down a flight of stairs...which should have been my first warning, or payed more attention to the Alternator fault light.
Seems the G424 gave up on I wasn't charging but sucking power from the battery.
I was completely unaware of this...until I got under 10.5 volts of power in the battery...then suckage.
I will admit to spending a bit of time on the side of the road thinking I was having a fuel delivery problem still, the symptoms are very similar.
Hard starting...rough running....backfires.
After eleminating fuel as the issue...I check the plugs spark.
WEAK pale spark...
Hmmm...coil going bad maybe?
I dig a little further (Thankfully traffic is light on side streets and the weather is a sunny 40F) and realize I don't have enough volts to work the flashers...and my horn sounds like a sick baby lamb.
So I unhook everything not required to run...yes, I cut out all the lights...ALL of them.
I got it kinda running...and limped most of the way home before the battery was too flat to even fire the coil.
I hoofed the couple of blocks back to the house and was debating what to do next....go charge the battery?
replace it? steal the battery out of Dingo and walk back with it?
Then I see my neighbor has a really nice trailer hooked to his truck with a bunch of cabinets in it. I pop over and discuss some quid pro quo.
I help him unload, he runs down the block and we drag Crawler home.
First thing I do is recharge the battery....and check my wiring again looking for mistakes, shorts and connection issues. All looks good.
When the battery shows green I try and start him up...catches in about 4 kicks.
Runs great...nice and solid sounding idle...quick throttle response..
Do some checks with the multi-meter, and sure alternator output at any RPM.
System shows 12 volts and falling.

So now I got a choice to make.

Get a deep-cycle battery and go total loss electrical. Cost:~$ 100 but limits range to ~250 miles.
Replace the G424 with one just like it...and try to beat the curve on the failure rate again. Cost: ~$300
Get a Nippon-Denso alternator (Which are reported as awesome and failure free....mostly) Cost:~$600

What to do....

Monday, November 28, 2011

We go to Wally-World

Well, I got the big issues sorted out with the Crawler.

Took Melee (The Wife) for her first sidecar trip to the Mecca of town...AKA... Wal-mart.
When we got back...took The Boy for his first jaunt down the block in the hack. No video, But I got some pics from Grandma as we rolled out.

Air temp was a balmy 31 degrees F (that 0 C) but he did fine. At first he wanted nothing to do with it...then I got the bike started and he was interested. He seemed to get what was happening as soon as we started moving. Now if only I could convince him his helmet is cool....

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tools in the trunk.

Ok...other than the 'special' tools I think I am in a good place with my tool kit.
Posted Image
Contents are.

  • Wrenches 9-18mm
  • Crescent Wrenches- Large and small
  • Vice Grips- Large
  • Edison Screwdrivers- Long shank and stubby
  • Phillips screwdrivers- Long shank and stubby
  • Slip Joint pliers
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Socket Set/ 4-17mm with Racket and Driver.
  • (6) 12 inch zip-ties
  • Diagonal cutters
  • Razor Knife
  • roll of RED electrical tape (it's red so I can find my field repairs when I get back to the shop)
  • Spark plug wrench and gapper (still need to get another set of plugs.)
  • Flashlights- handheld and head mounted.
  • 1 qt Oil- Engine/Transmission
  • 5 oz 90wt Gear oil
  • Small can WD40
  • Hammer
    *not pictured is the stock air pump in the boot.*

The black fluffy thing is the most imporant item...
My "What would Ivan do?" thinking cap.
Posted Image

Items still to add.
Exhaust wrench
Shock wrench
Wheel bearing wrench
Tire tools and tubes
Duct Tape :biggrin:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Quick update...

Well I got the electrical issues solved, at least for now.
I did some valve adjustments, re-set timing, worked at clearing the clogged up fuel petcock and replaced all the fuel lines.
New plugs, oil and filter change, a lil flat black spray paint and some garage floor coating in the boot.
I wanted to take some good pics, but every time I get near the thing my brain screams
I did get some quick video....enjoy.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Quick update before Turkey Coma...

Got the electric gremlins evicted...probably.
Redid the whole harness, and separated each system out into their own circuits/buses.
One of the pluses of that is if I kill the lights, the Alt/VR charges just off idle.
I did the 'drillbit' mod on the crappy petcock, although I gave up the main fuel setting snorkel up as it was beyond repair.
So I don't have a reserve on the petcock, but hey why am I toting a jerry can if not for fuel reserve? :biggrin:

Got the rig up on the centerstand...that's fun...and adjusted all 3 brakes.
Still think I have a lil too much tension in the clutch cable, as I reach the end of third and fourth gear it acts like the clutch is engaging, so I'll be tweaking that.
I did a lil bit of carb tuning...far from done there but I have it running steady.

Over I have said before, this rig is the easiest thing to work on I have played with yet.
My only cursing has been at the in-board screw on the timing cover, and the stock air cleaner.

Yeah yeah, I hear your or it didn't happen. <_<
I'll get some snaps in daylight tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What is he talking about?

Well, I just realized I talked a lot about my decision to get a Ural without really explaining what a Ural is.
I could explain it all detailed, with dates and such, citing numerous sources. Ya know...all scholarly. However, lots of others have done that. I'll give you links later if you want to go look at them. Here is the Monster-notes version.

The year was 1939. The Soviet Union had just entered a little dust-up with Finland and they found a lot of their equipment (tanks, trucks and even motorcycles) to be woefully inadequate for the battlefield. By the time they ended that lil skirmish, World War II proper was gathering steam with the Germans teaching the world a new word....Blitzkrieg.
They see us rolling...all over Poland.

Papa Stalin was both worried and impressed by how quickly the German forces where able to scoot around Poland and the rest of Europe. He mentioned to the Red Army Command that he sure wished that the Motherland had some better vehicles. So they went on a shopping spree. The Red Army managed to get their mitts on about 5 BMW R71 sidecar rigs through the Grey Market called Sweden.  They loved them. They did everything they wanted a military motorcycle to do. They where tough, fast (relatively), and able to handle the worst terrain. There was one lil hiccup.
BMW was a German manufacturer.
As in 'The Enemy'.
As in...they probably won't really be willing to ship war materials to their soon to be invadees.
So while the Generals where scrambling to figure out another option, a Russian engineer (Let's call him Ivan) said...
"No problem...I can make copy."
So with a flurry of wrenching and lots of squinting and Vodka...Ivan made copy.
Lots and lots of copies.
Lots and lots.
Well done Ivan....Well done indeed.

Within less than a year, they had a factory turning out hundreds of bikes right in Moscow. They called their copy the M-72. They even made the sidecar wheel drive, with a engage-able locking differential. Something the Germans added to the R75 they replaced the R71 with. As the Germans got better at blowing the crap out of countries, Papa Stalin got worried that Moscow was lil too close to the border. So they moved the factory up near the Ural mountains in Siberia to a small town called Irbit And they got down to to business of really working at making sidecar rigs.
They even built another factory in the Ukraine near the Dneper river to make EVEN more rigs.

After the war, the Soviet Union continued to make them off the same mold in both factories. In the '50s the factory in the Irbit began making some rigs for local use, while the factory in the Ukraine continued to make rigs for the Red Army exclusively. In 1953...they started exporting. In the '60s the Irbit factory was re-geared for making just civilian rigs.

The Irbit Factory is STILL making them. Sure, they have updated a lil, but mostly they are making a 1939 motorcycle still. Over and over.
So, a Ural is less a sidecar, and more a time machine.

If only we could hit 88 MPH!!!

I promised ya links.
Factory Site.
Another write-up.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

And so it begins...

Well. I went and lost my mind.
First let me give you a little background, just so we start from the same place, OK?
I am 40 years old with an awesome wife, a 2 year old son and way too many hobbies.

I practice full-contact stick fighting based on medieval combat. My wife also plays.
I play tactical paintball, hell I'm even on a team sponsored by a local field. My wife also plays.
I also wrench and ride motorcycles for fun. My wife also plays.

I come from a family of gearheads. One of my first memories is of a Panhead motor in the kitchen sink when I was a lil tot.
My Da rides, my brother rides...hell even my Mom has her own bike.
So motorcycles are part of my life.
For my birthday last year my Da gifted me a 1987 Harley Electra-Glide.
This wasn't just any bike...this was my Da's bike.
I lusted after that bike for nearly 15 years while he had it. Always begging to ride it...Hell, I thought about 'stealing' it on more than one occasion.
Then one day, he drives up from the old family homestead in Louisiana to my place near Chicago with it on a trailer, and signs the title over to me.
Needless to say, I was kinda floored.
But before you start thinking I promptly rode off into the sunset on it, I should come clean about a few things.
The bike has...Issues.
It isn't a basketcase, but it's not minty either.
Nothing major...just little stuff. Some electrical gremlins, the rear brake sticks, the paint is scuffed up, one of the saddlebags has a crack in the lid. Little stuff.
And my Da and I have a little different taste in aesthetics, pretty much every bike I have ever had has been
painted either flat black or OD green. Some examples...
I call this one Dingo.
The wife on her's named Plan B.
This bike has a wicked flame paintjob. 
One of these things is not like the other...
So needless to say I needed to get to work.
Well..there is one lil tidbit of background info I forgot to mention.
I am currently without a paying job. I am working all the time, but seeing how I am working on starting a company with some buddies of mine...nothing PAYING just yet. So I have a limited budget...very limited.
As in none.
Well...having owned Harleys in the past I'll let ya in on a lil secret I learned the hard way.
That HD stamped on all those parts doesn't mean Harley Davidson. It means Hundred Dollars.
So..I can't really do a rehab on the FLH. And I find I can't really ride a bunch anymore since we had our son, and me and the wife sure as shooting can't ride together, cause then there is nowhere to put The Boy.
So I start looking a something I have been interested in for years...a sidecar rig. I can't buy one, but I can look.
I have always wanted a sidecar for lots of reason.
Indiana Jones movies, Rat Patrol, Mad Max...blah blah. You get it or ya don't.
Plus...I have been thinking about something since The Boy was born.
As I said, I come from a family of gearheads and riders, and I always remember my Da working on bikes.
I remember wanting soooo bad to go with him when I was little. I did get to go, when I was bigger, for little jaunts around town. Hell I even got lil mini-bikes and stuff to tool around the yard.
Thing is...if I want to ride with my family in the near term, well, it ain't gonna happen.
But maybe if I had a sidecar rig....hmmmm. (see how this thought process goes? )
Well, in my cruising around the Internet, looking at sidecar rigs for sale...hell even just looking for a side car to slap on the FLH...I find out there is a Ural dealer in town.  So I go down to the showroom and take a look at some of the Russian rigs. I find them very much suited to my taste. They ain't fast...they ain't flashy, and they are basically the same as they where when they started making them back in the '40s. So far so good.
Then we get to talking price....a new one starts at $10,000. Well...there goes that idea. If I can't afford to fix the FLH, I sure as shooting can't afford that.
But I do what every gearhead does...I keep looking at craigslist/eBay/Cycle Trader hoping to see an ad for a free bike with delivery.
Then I see a used Ural listed at shop in Wisconsin. Hmmm... An email was sent. A reply came back.
A lot of haggleing and horse trading later...I traded the FLH for a Ural sidecar rig, and made a little profit.
The Boy gives his approval.

Tucked in for it's first night in it's new home.

 So I got it home,and did the first thing any real gearhead does with a new motorcycle.
I tore it apart.

Well...I'm glad I did. There are some bad wires in the electrical system, and some gunk in the carbs. But nothing that can't be fixed cheap and easy. Overall the rig is in good shape. The motor has a little over 5000 kilometers on it...chump change, and it looks good. First impressions of it are what I expected. It's ain't fast...or flashy. It is easy to work on, and from my research parts are easier to find than you'd think and they are cheap to boot. Well, cheap for motorcycle parts.
Is it a good trade for the FLH?
Hard to say.
Does it 'mean' as much to me as my Da's bike?  
No. But I hope this rig will mean as much to The Wife,The Boy and myself in the future.
I think it will, because it can do one thing the FLH couldn't.
Let us all eat the same bugs. Together.