Sunday 18 May 2014

So what happened?

Ok so why haven't I updated this blog in two years?
Well the simple reason is Natasha has been in storage for two years.
How did that happen?'s complicated.

In 2011 I happily moved to Northern Michigan for a new job.
My carrier and job skills have been in the film business for the past 15 years.
Mostly in the realm of doing 3d computer graphics for Films, TV and commercials.
My demo reel:

My job in Northern Michigan I thought was going to be a long term gig. That's when I bought Natasha. Turns out it only lasted for 4 months before the work dried up. My boss told me to “hang on for a couple of weeks and something will come along”
Two weeks turned into a few months. In the mean time I had an apartment contract for a year that I was stuck with. I picked up a few odd jobs to keep me going but nothing major for several months.
Not having a lot of money I didn't to much with Natasha other than get around town.
About the same time my apartment contract was finally ending I got a job but it was in Los Angeles. I wasn't sure how long the L.A. job was going to go for and I didn't have a way of dragging the bike with me to L.A.
I was also under a deadline of A) having to get out of the apartment in a week and B) having to be in L.A. in 3 days for the new job. So I managed to find a local Motorcycle shop that would store my bike inside for $20 a month.
I thought “Ok it's only for a couple of months”. Needless to say that was an underestimation.
I managed to get the bike stored during a nice Michigan snow storm and took off for L.A.

The L.A. gig was a bit of a dogs breakfast. I discovered I was in over my head and at not really all that fond of working 70+ hours a week. Plus I was having a hard time keeping up with 20 year old kids amped up on Red Bull and Aderall.
After 3 months the show I was working on got canceled. At the same time all the work was leaving town and going to Vancouver or London. Pretty much everyone I knew in town was unemployed themselves.
That when I decided it was time to get out of the film industry.

That was easier said than done. I came back home to Tennessee and helped my sister finish building their house. I ended up renting their old house while trying to find a job. I found out that the more specialized you are the harder it is to change carriers. My resume reads like a Digital Migrant farm worker. The cooperate world does not like creative people that don't fit into nice neat boxes. Needless to say I had a very hard time finding any jobs at all. I finally got a job teaching part time at at a local art college.

All the while Natasha is still sitting in Michigan. Finding the time and money to go get the bike was my main problem. Not to mention I had a 1995 ford explorer with 275,000 miles on it and a very flaky transmission. Just when I had the time and money to go get the bike the transmission on the truck finally gave out. I managed to by a cheap car but that ate up most of my bike rescue funds. Shipping the bike was going to cost me at least $900. I finally managed to find someone to ship the bike for fairly cheap. Even though it did arrive in the middle of the night in a horse trailer, with a live horse no less.

Since the bike was stored inside it was in good shape. The left carburetor was full of green crud though.
I had to go through an thoroughly clean out both carbs a couple of times. I also replaced all the fuel hoses and cleaned out the tank and the petcock. Doing all of this convinced me that Ethanol is plot by tree huggers to kill all internal combustion engines.

After a week of fiddling around I manged to get the bike running OK. The left carb still backfires a little every once in a while and it really could use a new battery. Other than that Natasha isn't any the worse for wear.
So what are Natasha and me going to get into next? I have no idea.
I'm open to suggestions.

Thursday 14 July 2011

Well that was short....

A small minor set back.
So I got the bike running and got insurance and registration done last Tuesday.
The bike seemed to be running fine and took it for a small test ride that evening.
Didn't go very far just 5 miles out of town and then turned around.
The next day I did some running around town doing errands and looking for a better helmet.
I have cheap half helmet I got in England but I needed another one in case anyone wants to ride with me.
The only place in town that has helmets is the Harley dealer, a now defunct Honda shop and Wal-mart.
Not a lot of choices. Plus I already have a nice full face shoei helmet at my sisters house. Just need to get her to send it to me. So I got another half helmet for the moment.
I always prefer full face helmets but I'm looking for a good flip up one so I'm still shopping.

Not exactly what I had in mind....

After doing my errands I decided to head north towards the tip of the Peninsula of West arm of Grand traverse bay. Got about thee miles outside of town when I suddenly heard a horrendous clanging noise. Sounded like the entire bike just blew up on me. Scared the crap out of me but I kept my wits, pulled in the clutch and slowed down. All the time very aware of the traffic that was heading towards me. Namely the white car that suddenly looked like it was going to eat me.
Got off to the side of the road and calmed down and killed the engine.
What just happened?
The engine looked like it was in one piece, tires looked ok. Looked at the final drive and the prop shaft for the side-car was dangling lose. The two bolts holding the side-car prop shaft to the final drive had come out. I had used cotter pins before but that obviously wasn't enough. Thus the shaft and the U-joint was spinning at hitting everything else. Didn't do any damage other than my nerves.

I quickly realize this was not something I could fix there. I was looking at the bike when nice gentleman came by on a bicycle and chatted with me. He gave me a bungee cord and I tried to secure the prop shaft from banging around.
Once that was done I started the bike and tried to limp home.
The bike wouldn't budge, in gear but going no where.
I have come to find out the bike is will not move without the side car drive shaft hooked up.
Which is good because I thought I had really screwed up the clutch or something.

Called my insurance, made sure I had roadside assistance on my policy, and spent more time trying to get a tow truck than the entire episode took.
“Where are you at sir?”
“I'm on the M22 going north out of Traverse city, about 3 miles out of the city limits”
“Where is that?”
“Uh.... on the M22 going north out of Traverse city”
“What Town is that sir?”
“Traverse city Michigan”
“Are you near your bike?”
“Where is the Bike located at now?”
“Next to me......On the M22.....3 miles outside of Traverse city”
“Are you on the side of the road and which road?”
@@@%$$!!! flaming fudge muffins!!!

After an hour of waiting, by the way the side car is a very comfortable place to read a book, the tow truck came by and Natasha did the ride of shame back home.

Today I took the tire off and took the final drive out to see if there was any damage inside.
No damage but I did find two screws lose, and not just the ones in my head.

So there is a good side to all of this. Had it not happened I wouldn't have known until those two screws caused some real damage.
I couldn't find the right size or type of replacement bolts to fix the drive shaft so I had to order them. Sucks having a metric motorcycle in an imperial country.

So what happened was not the bikes fault, it was mine not putting things back together right.

Lessons learned:
Next time use safety wire
Carry spare bolts and safety wire
Carry bungee cords
Have a good book with you
Carry a bottle of water and munchies in case you get stuck for a while.
More Loc-tite

Monday 11 July 2011

Natasha Lives.....again

I'm happy to report that all the efforts paid far as I can tell.
Natasha seems to be running just fine with out any unusual noises or leaks.
Of course I'm not exactly sure what is normal with a Ural so it's hard to tell.

I took several trips around the parking lot and then ventured over to the old Northern Michigan Mental Asylum. A grand total of .25 miles away though a few parking lots.
Since I'm not used to driving a Ural yet I'm taking it easy.
Plus there's a nice large empty parking lot over there to play in.

There are several things I need to address still. The brakes need some more adjustment.
It seems to drift to the left quite a bit. Not sure if that's normal but I need to look into it.
Shifting gears is like kicking a Tiger Tank. Still need to get the knack of that, if there is one.
Driving is like steering a Bomber with the rudder in the front.
Oddly enough it's like flying, you point the air plane in the direction you want it to go then it stays on that course until you change it.
Unfortunately with this Ural that course seems to be to the left.

Riding this bike requires constant attention.
Maybe it gets easier over time I'll wait and see.

I also took a trip to the grocery store.
I know Big adventure but it means a little bit to me.
For the past 5 months I've been doing my shopping on a bicycle.
The good side is I can't carry more than 20 dollars worth of food.
That bad side is I can't carry more than 20 dollars worth of food.
So it was nice to be able to stock up for once.

Had a reverse UDF (Ural delay factor) and saw a 1953 MG up there.
Talked to the owner for a bit.

Took off for home and had a white car followed me into my parking lot.
Then I had my own UDF.
I don't mind UDF and I'm sure I'll get used to it.
But why can't it ever be hot single women? :)

Munachar and Manachar

There's an old Irish story about Munachar and Manachar. Seem these two lads decided to go pick berries one day. As fast as Munachar was picking them Manachar was eating them.
Munachar got mad and decided to hang his buddy.
(I guess that's how my Irish Ancestors settled arguments :)
The only problem was every thing Munachar needed he had to do one more thing.
He needed a rod, to get the rod he needed an axe. To get the axe he needed a sharping stone. To use the stone he needed water to wet the stone etc, etc.

If you want to read it it's here and very short

That's been my past few weeks.
I had to get the bearings, then get the old bearing off. To do that I had to get a bearing puller.
I don't have one.
So I decided to go to a local auto shop that restores old cars and motorcycles.
They had a 1941 BMW R71 they were restoring on the stand.
So I figured they would at least have an idea of what to do. Showed them the problem and they sent me over to a machine shop on the other side of town. The machine shop said they couldn't do it.
“Your a machine shop. You have machine and tools and stuff I don't have.”
“Yes but we don't have a machine for that and we don't know how to do it”
So much for the old American know how and can do attitude.

Went back over to the auto shop and they said they would try. So I left the drive shaft and parts with them. I also asked them to replace the U-joint in the drive shaft.

In the mean time I had forgotten to order a couple of seals. I had to order them form Gene at Holopaw Corvette in Florida. Gene is a great guy. You order the parts and he sends you an invoice with the parts. Takes about a week for the parts to get to northern Michigan though. If I screw up an order once that's another week of waiting.

The auto shop had sent the drive shaft over to another machine shop.
One that I assume had the tools to pull the bearing off. Problem is it took them almost 2 weeks to do it. I finally got the drive shaft back and they pulled the bearing, and replaced the U-joint.
But they did not set the new bearings in place or put anything back together.

So finally after 3 and a half weeks I have all the parts and start working on replacing the seals, bearings and installing new bolts in the final drive gear.
On the old bolts the heads were starting to round off.
They should also be upgraded to grade 10 bolts and not 8.8 grade.
Start to put everything back together and the new bolts holding the Final drive gear together are too big.
Once they were installed the final drive would not mate with the differential because the bolt heads are in the way. Plus they were grade 8.8 instead of 10 that I had asked for.
Fudge muffins!!
Remove the old bolts, go to the hardware store and get rounded hex head bolts.
(This may bite me in the future but I figured the old grade 8.8 bolts had 15,000 miles on them. So maybe It will be a while before I have to worry about it.)

Got everything back together. Dropping the Final drive gear into place without screwing up the roller bearings was a practice in Zen mediation and patience.
That one step took me an hour alone to do.
That took all of Friday evening.
Saturday I get up and start to put the final drive back on the bike.
Which is not easy holding a 20 pound final drive up with one hand and a grumpy arthritic elbow.

I get everything in place and and lined up, go to hook the side car drive shaft and....
It doesn't fit.

I sat there scratching my head for several minutes.
Go back and look at all my photos I took of the disassembly.
The side car shaft drive isn't matting with the final drive because a bearing is sticking out.
I didn't replace that bearing so where did it come from?
Somewhere over the past few weeks I took the replacement bearing and “placed” it on the end the splined gear hub to keep it from “getting lost”.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and great ideas like that one.

It wasn't hammered into place or anything but it some how became stuck there.
I didn't notice it when I was putting things back together and just figured it was supposed to be there.

Take the drive back of the bike, take it apart again, take a hammer and knock out the bearing and set the old one back in place.

Put the final drive back on the bike and the exhaust pipe is in the way. Remove the foot peg, lower the exhaust pipe, get everything back in place and bolted down.
Fill the final drive up with gear oil. Check for leaks and start the engine....

The battery is dead.

Put the charger on and went to bed.

Monday 20 June 2011

Mystery Solved...I think

Over the week end I took apart the final drive piece by piece.
I was trying to find the source of the lose bearings I found inside the case.
The problem was all the bearings in the final drive seemed to be intact.

The one thing I did not take out was the shaft drive from the engine where it goes into the final drive case.
So I started to take that apart and found a bearing that was lose.
Gave it a wiggle and several ball bearings feel out that were the same size as the ones I found inside the case.
This got me to thinking and I remembered Dom had sent me all the spares he had when he sold me the bike. This also included several replacement bearings.
I took a look and found one that was the same size as the prop shaft bearing.
But the new one was a double row bearing. The one on the bike only had one row of bearings and was very lose. I looked at the parts diagram and the part was called “Thrust bearing -Double row”
I also notice the u-joint on the axle was stiff in one direction also.

Keep in mind this bearing is right in front of where the prop shaft and final drive gear meet.
Think of an egg beater going in two different directions at once. What I think happened was the last row of bearings failed and when it did it got chewed up and spit out into the case. The bearings were held in with a inner brass piece. Which would explain all the little brass flakes all over the inside of the case.
When the bearing got chewed up I think it sent the ball bearings spinning around inside the case like a frag grenade. Which probably also tore up several seals in the process.

What's amazing it he fact that the wheels kept turning after all of this had happened.

I called Holopaw Ural today in Florida and ordered new seals, a u-joint and I hope all the parts I need. Once I get them I'll start putting it all back together and hope it works.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Gears for Dinner

I spent a perfectly nice day inside tearing apart the final drive.
It wasn't too hard but it raised more questions than it answered.
Where did all the brass flakes come from?
Where did the lose Ball bearings come from?
Why are there 3 small mangled springs laying inside the case?
What ate the brass washer and left the crumbs all over?

What do I have to replace to fix it all?

Something bad happened and the only thing I can think of is one of the bearings
in the gear driven hub, if it has any, failed badly.

If you want to see a step by step photo break down
head over to my Flicker page

I also posted the questions to the Soviet steeds Tech forum to see if I can get any
Info there.

Thursday 16 June 2011

Cavemen and Dinosaurs

I've had the bike now for a few days. The first few days I had to spend just getting basic tools. I recently moved to Michigan from London U.K. where I was working the past 2 years. Needless to say I didn't bring any tools with me on the aeroplane.
The Ural comes with a very basic set of tools but no socket wrenches.
Also I needed to get cleaning supplies.
Yes first thing I did was wash it.
For some reason people think rust and grime is Russian Lock-tite
It aslo gave me a chance to look over the bike and see what was where.
Once I had that done I started the bike and the engine ran fine with a battery charge of 11.2.
Pretty good after sitting in storage for a month.
Yesterday I started on the major repairs I have to do to get it back on the road.
The two big things to fix are the broken front brake cable and find out what happened in the final drive.

I started on removing the final drive which means:
remove the rear axle
take off the back tire
unbolt the final drive from the frame and remove it

More detail on the steps can be found here

It has several more minor steps but I hit a snag from the first.

The rear axle would not come out.
It should just slide out but didn't.
I know the bearing inside the final drive had screwed up.
One look at the oil out of the final drive told me something bad had happened inside.
This is a shot of the rag I had just wiped on the final drive drain plug.

I thought maybe the bearings were binding the axle.
It started to rain so I quit for the day.
I was afraid I may have to cut the axle off like Dom did before.

I thought If I could just hit the right hand side of the axle
with a hammer it would come out.
But there is a U-Joint in the way. I had to remove that.
Emailed Dom and he told me how to get it off.

Got that removed and whacked the axle with a rubber mallet and it came right out.
Looks like there is no damage to the axle which is good.
Once that was done I removed the wheel and was able to get the final drive out
…..with several more whacks of the hammer.

At this point I felt like caveman killing a dinosaur.
I wanted to grunt, beat my chest and have a steak afterwards.

I settled for a bologna sandwich and a cookie.