Old School Spoonin’

Last night saw the second round of work on the Ultra get performed.  Mitch has the skills, the tools, and most of the equipment needed.  And…he believes in being thrifty, like me.  Some of the work being accomplished could be done easier by taking the parts to a motorcycle ship and having them do the work.  But, that defeats the purpose of going cheap and doing it ourselves, doesn’t it?

It did not seem like a bunch of work got completed last night, but in essence, quite a bit of laborious work was to be had.  With no tire machines to remove the tire from the wheel, we had to improvise using a little known technique to “bust the bead’’.   This consists of using miscellaneous parts found around the garage and using a lot of leverage and muscle.

A steel bar and some wood, tire removal tools

In conjunction with the tools above, tire spoons are used to separate the rubber from the steel.  This requires a lot of muscle, aggravation, and a few choice words to be thrown around during the process.  After about 45 minutes, the tire was free from the rim.

Next step was to get to the wheel bearings.  The last thing I want to happen out in the wilderness of next year’s trip is to have a wheel bearing lock up.  With over 30,000 miles on the Ultra, it would be good preventative maintenance to check them out while we had the wheel off the bike.  We pulled them with the help of a wheel bearing tool, and compared them to the new replacement ones I had already purchased.  Heck, if pulling them out, might as well just stick new ones back in there.  The old ones were in fairly good shape, but they did have a little side to side play in them that is indicative that they “may” start having problems soon enough.  I am glad we took the time to check them out and go ahead and replace them.

Old on the left, new on the right

Filthy wheel, no bearings

Watching Mitch take out the old bearings and insert the new ones was interesting.  I’ll get to do it when the front tire gets done soon enough.  The tool just puts them into the hub of the wheel so that they seat perfectly.

Bearing installation

The last step for the night was to get the tire reinstalled.  Using tire spoons once more (they are curved and round at the end like a spoon, and measure about a foot long), we again used our fatiguing, aging muscles to defeat the local motorcycle shop out of their $20 fee to mount the tires by machine.  Mitch even has a portable balancer that allows for the tire to be balanced and wheel weights installed.

Round and round it goes

Next visit to work on the bike will result in my actually starting to clean the grime off the parts as we start putting the back part of the bike back together.  New rear pads had been installed several months ago, so we are getting close to actually finishing up the rear needs of the Harley.

The work saga is on hold for at least a week…as both of us have other life needs to attend to over the next several days.


Initial Ultra teardown

The time has finally arrived to start working on the bike upgrades for the big road trip next year.  With some nervous trepidation, I jumped in the car and drove for 45 minutes over to my friend Mitch’s home, who had graciously offered the use of one of his garages during the cold months.  Even better, Mitch knows motorcycles really well, and is comfortable taking them apart and putting them back together.  The deal I worked out with him is that he was helping only as a guide and with backup hands when needed…and that I would be doing the vast majority of the work to be accomplished.  Sounds fair to me; how else will I be able to learn?

One step further, Mitch refused to take control of the work to be performed, instead just staying nearby as a mentor as he teaches me the art of Harley wrenching.  Not to say that he didn’t get dirty like I did; we both jumped into the project with gusto although he made it a point to mostly hand me the tools and to keep a watch over his younger grasshopper.

Tied down to stand, ready to start tear down
Back end off
New Progressive 444 HD shocks installed
Unfortunately, our work ended early last night trying to get the rear rotor bolts off the wheel.  These bolts are secured with LocTite, and the only thing that really helps to get the bolts out is concentrated heat on the bolt head.  Of course, neither of us decided to investigate the proper way, and instead decided to use sheer muscle power to break the adhesive properties of the LocTite.  After much straining and grunting, we were able to get two bolts out using just the star socket and a lot of Wheaties produced energy.  However, on the third bolt, the socket shattered inside the bolt head.

These bolts are Grade 8, some of the strongest made and used on critical motorcycle components for its strength and shatterproof-ness.  It really pissed you off when one of these bolts break, but in a way it is amusing that the torque applied by the human body is enough to shatter steel sometimes.

So, round two happens tonight.  We will get a couple of extra sockets, probably try out the routine heat application, and I need to stop by the dealership and pick up some new rotor bolts (they are designed to be one-use only bolts, for some reason.)  Probably Harley-Davidson’s way of getting more parts sales, by putting into their service manuals that so much of their bike hardware is not designed to be used more than once.

Preliminary Alaska Route

Playing around with a free mapping software called Map Creator 2.0.  Actually allows a route to be saved as an animation, but the file sizes are way too big to use here on the blog.  While I figure out how to put up a smaller video from the program, here’s a screen shot of the overall route for the June ride.  It’s not exact, the line was hand drawn, but gives everybody an overall idea.

Unlike in the lower 48 states where country roads abound between towns and cities, the further north one goes in Providences such as Yukon and Northwest Territories, the highway system are the only roads available to traverse.  Nearly all the asphalt and dirt roads that will be ridden have impressive sounding names to them:

  • Trans-Canada Highway
  • Crowsnest Highway
  • Icefields Parkway
  • Yellowhead Highway
  • Alaska Highway
  • Dawson Creek-Tupper Highway
  • Dalton Highway
  • Richardson Highway
  • Elliott Highway
  • Stewart-Cassiar Highway
  • Dease Lake Highway

There’s probably another half-dozen highways that will have the wheels of my Ultra land upon them during the June visit.

Speaking of the Harley…it has a new home for at least a few weeks.  A friend with plenty of storage room has offered to host The Mistress while all the upgrades and new maintenance items get installed.  Some of the work to be completed will in their selves turn into multiple day jobs, since neither of us have entire the availability to work on it more than a few hours at a time.  Just like having it “in the shop” in the past, it is a weird feeling to go out into the garage and nt seeing the Ultra sitting there.