Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Battle of the Bus...

Ever since the John Krakauer  book and Sean Penn movie (Into the Wild) came out, there's been a steady stream of visitors wanting to visit the old bus where Chris McCandless died..

Now they want to build a bridge, at the cost of how many million dollars, plus annual maintenance for upkeep. The easiest thing would be to haul the bus out to a more accessible spot where the trekkers don't have to cross the swift Teklanika River. They used to haul in mining equipment, that was the original purpose of the Stampede trail. Why would they want to go the expense of a bridge rather than getting a small dozer and sledge to haul it out in the winter when the ground's frozen? Inconceivable!

Just like the book and movie, this print is a glamorized view of the bus, with a panoramic view of mountains in the background. In reality, the bus is in a grove of trees, largely hidden from any scenic views.

I visited the area in the 70's before any of this happened. A friend wanted to run his dog team into the area to look at some state land that was open to entry for a homesteading program. Since I was getting into back country skiing, I tagged along. We camped near the bus and checked it out while we were there. Nothing special, just an old city bus that someone had hauled in for a hunting shelter. It had a wood stove, some cots, and a table and chairs. Kind of rough, but usable in a pinch. Now a days, it's apparently been stripped of most of the furnishings and the windows are mostly broken. Seems like a sad reminder of someone's wasted life.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Cold January?...

We didn't really need the NWS to confirm it, but here's their summary:
Mean monthly temperature was -21 °F, which was 13.5° F below normal. The maximum temperature was 4°F on the 15th of the month, while the minimum temperature was -43°F on the 8th. This was the coldest Jan since 2006 and ranked as 16th all time coldest in 112 years of record.
The total monthly precipitation was 0.42", which was 0.16" below normal. Snowfall totaled 7.3" and the depth at the end of the month was 19".

But so far, it's gotten a lot warmer in Feb...
It was warm enough, about fifteen above, for the older dogs to get down on their bellies to cool off on the way back home. What's interesting is how the three oldest have figured that out, while the youngsters just stand around waiting to get going again. They'll learn!

Friday, January 31, 2020

Chrome Bores Part 2...

I wrote earlier about the 850T Guzzi with the original chrome lined cylinder bores (Chrome Bores 12/16/19). Never realized this was an issue until I read about it on the forum, that talked about the chrome flaking off and destroying the engine. So now of course it dominates my thoughts. It was with some trepidation that I dumped the oil this fall, but it looked fine. Also pulled the valve covers but nothing up there either. One of the comments I got when I posted a question about this on the forum was to get the oil analyzed. Unfortunately, I had already disposed of the oil, but dropped the oil pan (sump) and was able to pour off enough oil to fill the sample bottle. The results just came back. While the chrome was slightly elevated, it wasn't especially high (8 vs 4 ppm) while the iron and lead were higher and silicon was the highest of all. They suggested this could be due to a leak in the air filter. So will have to check that, but still not sure what to do about the chrome problem. One of the few positive comments I got on the forum was: " if there isn't a bunch of chrome in the oil, and you are not putting tons of miles on it, then why tear apart a fine running motor?" So I guess that's my current thought, since I'm not planning a trip to Tierra del Fuego  anytime soon, I guess I'll just put'er back together and check the oil a lot.
Here's how the valves look after pulling off the covers. No sign of any chrome flakes or rubber shavings from the cam chain adjuster, the other part likely to fail.

Then there's the 650 motor, just found out (on the forum again) that the exhaust valves are prone to failure, anytime after about 20,000 miles. Since this one has 30.000 and one of the valves was way out adjustment, well I guess it's time to lift the head and take a peek. Might be time for a valve job. Too much fun!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Out and About...

Now in a normal January, it's usually too cold to do much outside. In the past, I'd mainly split wood, cause it almost explodes when struck with an axe at twenty below or colder. But now I mostly use the hydraulic splitter in the spring and fall, so don't  do that anymore. Now when it's too cold to run dogs, I've just been taking walks to get outside for some exercise.
You get to see a lot of decent sunsets in January, since the low angle of the sun keeps it setting for quite a while in mid-afternoon.
And when it does warm up a bit, like it did today, you can get the dogs out for a short run. That's because it's been quite a bit warmer east of town, where we live, maybe around ten below, as opposed to twenty to thirty below at the airport. It's likely due to a slight wind moving through, so that the extreme cold air that settles into the valley is getting mixed with warmer upper air in our area, but not quite reaching into town. Sometimes an ill wind does blow good!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Warming Up...

Finally had a weather front push through and get rid of some of this cold air. While it didn't quite get up to zero, it was warm enough to run the dogs.
The dogs really took off out of the yard after being off ten days.  It sure gave'em lots of energy, and they sprinted most the way down to the valley.

Stopped for a break on the way back with the snow really coming down. Only in Alaska does it warm up to snow!
Update: We got about 4 " of snow overnite, hard to believe it can snow that much when it's still below zero!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

December Weather, Updated...

According to the NWS, December 2019 was cooler and drier than normal in the Fairbanks area. The average temperature was -5.3 degrees F, which was 1.3 degrees lower than the normal temperature of 4.0 below. The highest temperature was 31 degrees above, which occurred on the 9th. The lowest temperature was 40 below which occurred on the 27th and is the coldest temperature recorded at the Fairbanks Airport this winter.

6.9 inches of snow fell at the Fairbanks Airport, which is 5.1 inches below the normal monthly snowfall of 12 inches. The total water equivalent from this snowfall was 0.38 inches. The heaviest daily snowfall was 2.0 inches and occurred on the 2nd.

The Alaska Climate Center has yet to publish their comprehensive summary chart for Dec. This is the USGS monthly data from the Little Chena River station, just down the road from our place.

Update: Alaska experienced its warmest year on record, according to NWS's 2019  climate report. Alaska had a statewide average temperature of 32.2 degrees (0.11 Celsius). That was 6.2 degrees (4.4 Celsius) above the long-term average. According to NOAA, four of the last six years in Alaska have been record warm years. Ten cities, including Fairbanks, experienced their warmest years ever. Alaska set the record despite a December where most temperatures were below average,
Finally, the climate center posted their December summary graph. Better late than never!

Updated the selfie at -30. More manly mug shot and now you can see the ice in the beard, even with the white hair! January has continued the trend to colder weather and we've not been above zero this month. Hopefully things will warm up soon.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Cold and colder...

After an exceptionally warm October and November, December's being contrary and keeps getting colder. Just been trying to get out with the dogs when it's up near zero, otherwise keeping close to home when it drops to twenty to thirty below; so here's a few pics.

One of the rare dog runs this month. When it warms up at the house, it's still going to be a lot colder down in the valley bottom where most of the trails are.

In December, the sun doesn't clear the ridge to the south, so the valley bottom stays in the shadows; it's like a trip to the twilight zone.

Sunsets are pretty cool this time of year, in more ways than one.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Chrome Bores...

While I knew the 850T Guzzi had chrome lined cylinder bores, never knew they were a problem until I started reading up on it in Guzziology, the bible of all MG gear heads. So put it on the lift, dropped the sump, and dumped the oil to send it out for testing.

According to what I've read and seen on the Wild Goose Guzzi website, the chrome eventually begins to wear away, plugging oil ways and destroying bearings. Since it has no oil filter, just a mesh screen, there's nothing much to stop it. While it's true that most mogu's will go 50, 60, 70,000 miles before needing a rebuild, the older the bike, the more likely there's a problem.

So from what I've read, there's basically three solutions...
1. iron liners - honed to match the original pistons (if they're reusable) and new rings.
2. have the original cylinders replated in "Nikasil". This also requires the original pistons be used since it's hard to get good replacement pistons.
3. "big bore" kits - but the piston assemblies would be heavier than stock, so lighter pins and weight removed from the piston itself may be necessary to get them to weigh the same as original piston assemblies (and they still might not be).

The "experts" at Wild Goose think the easiest/best way is #2 - send the cylinders to be replated, buy new rings and piston pin circlips.

So will send an oil sample out to a lab and spend  $28 to see if there is any reason to be worried. Then watch the oil carefully when it's changed annually. If it's not OK, well it looks like there's going to be some time and money spent.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Warm November...

While the Alaska Climate Center apparently never got around to posting their October summary, they had the November climate report done today. Go figure!

Weather summary for November 2019 for Fairbanks, Alaska.

Mean monthly temperature was 13.2°F, which was 10.6°F above normal.The maximum temperature was 38°F on the 22nd, while the minimum temperature was -11°F on the 9th and 19th.
The total monthly precipitation was 1.8", which was 1.2" above normal. Snowfall totaled 23.7" for November, while the snow depth was 14" near month's end.

Been trying to get out and get some decent late afternoon shots, since this is the time of year when the low angle of the sun (it's around 3°) provides interesting lighting. But I guess I either have to get out earlier, cut down some trees on the property, or head up to the top of the ridge to get something decent. Well maybe next time, or the time after that. So anyways, here's todays sunset shot, such as it is.

Friday, November 29, 2019

More Snow...

We keep getting more snow, half a foot or more this week, so it seems I'm either plowing snow, running dogs, or taking out the Ski Doo to work on the trail. Have extended it out to the creek crossing, where it now loops back, giving the dogs a longer run.
Heading down the trail extension, it's always good to get out and run more miles.
Taking a break after the turn around. Next week I'll check out the creek crossing, have to be more careful this time cause last year I fell through the ice. Probably have to build a ramp down from the high bank onto the creek unless the bridge is salvageable (Solstice Bridge 12/22/18).

Been waiting for the Alaska Climate Center to post their weather summary for October, but nothing's up yet. So here's the NWS summary with a graph from the USGS Little Chena River site.

National Weather Service's monthly weather summary, October 2019, for Fairbanks, Alaska.

October followed the September's pattern of above normal temperatures but also had above normal precipitation. The warmest temperatures of the month occurred on the 1st and 28th when it reached 48° F. The coldest temperature was 15° on the 15th. The average temperature for the month was 31.7° which was 7.5° above normal.

Precipitation totaled 1.58" for October which was 0.85" above normal. The greatest daily precipitaion was 0.40" on the 2nd. Snowfall totaled 3.3" for the month.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Getting Dogmatic...

With the recent snowfall, been able to finish the work on the sled trail and finally get the dogs out for a run.
Heading up the hill, the dogs stopped whenever they felt like it, so not the best run ever, but still good enough to get them out again.
Back in the yard, the older dogs acted a little tired but the younger ones seemed ready to run some more.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Out on the trail...

With the 8" of snow we got last week, figured it was time to put the sled dog trail in. After 3 days of plowing snow, it was a treat to do something else for a while. The neighbor who walks his dog up on the ridge told Andy there were some trees down on the trail, so took the chain saw along. But it wasn't bad, there was only one big dead spruce that had to be cut away and it should provide lots of firewood. After clearing it out of the way it was an easy run out into the valley.
Then found a clearing and made a loop back to the trail. It's still way too rough to run the dogs on the tussocks down there and the ice at the creek and pond crossings would be questionable. So will head back down here once we get a little more snow and check it out further.
Stopped on the way back to cut up a down spruce that I ran over all last winter. Just shows how much more snow we had then.