Friday, November 16, 2018

Hook'em up...

Well we're not running on the sled yet, but starting to take the dogs out with the 4-wheeler. It's certainly good to get out again with the doggies and they seem to enjoy it too. Andy took this photo with her iphone, so the resolution is not so good.
The 4-wheeler is an '85 Suzuki that I bought maybe 25 years ago. It had been ridden hard, so had to rebuild the rear axle, then replace the tires and brakes. About ten years ago the rascals took off without me and ran it into tree, bending the front wheel and frame. But was able to straighten the frame and replace the wheel, so it's been good to go since then. At some point, put on hot grips and an old windshield from the Moto Guzzi, so it's decent to run down to near zero. The engine still seems solid and all I've ever done to it is change the oil, spark plug, and adjust the valves. One thing's for sure, just like the dogs, it's got a great motor!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Hosed again...

Was hoping to post something positive this week, after all the bum stuff on the road, but then one of the hydraulic hoses blew out on the backhoe. Installed the hoe a lot later this year due to the extremely warm Oct, so when we finally got to finishing the dirt work, the ground had started to freeze hard. Was almost done filling the dog yard holes when I heard an odd sound from the hydraulics, then noticed something out of the corner of my eye and realized there was a stream of hydraulic fluid shooting off to one side of the tractor. A hydraulic line had sprung a leak, so shut her down real quick. Unplugged the backhoe hydraulics and then was able to drive the tractor back to the spot where the backhoe's parked. Got it unattached with limited loss of of fluid and then checked it out.
Looks like a kink in the hose where it blew out (arrow). Not sure how that happened, though that hose was originally installed a little too long, so maybe it just kinked over time.

The backhoe work's over for this year, so installed the splitter to start splitting the wood that's bucked up.
 Stealth cat, in the background, wanders around while keeping an eye on things.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

October weather...

The NWS weather summary for October for Fairbanks...
The average temperature for Fairbanks in October was 34.5° F, which was 10.3 ° above normal. The highest temperature was 68° on the 1st, while the lowest was 2° on the 31st. 
Precipitation totaled 0.52" for the month, which was 0.31" below normal. Snowfall totaled 0.7" at the airport, which is well below the average of 10.8" for the month. 

This was likely the nicest October we've had since moving to Alaska 40 years ago. There were at least three weeks of well above normal temps with almost no rain or snow. Amazing. Got most of the summer projects finished, and while it did turn cold at month's end with about 3" of snow,  the slimy road is frozen now so my neighbors can quit complaining about getting their shiny cars muddy!

Winter won't officially start until the solstice in Dec. But it'd be hard to believe that in the here and now, since it's been well below freezing the last few days.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Road Rage...

We live in an area where there's no maintenance on the rural roads. The state takes care of the main route, Chena Hot Springs Road, but the borough only accepts roads that are up to their current standards. The subdivision is so old that the roads would need expensive upgrades and no one is willing to contribute. So we do the work ourselves, though the condition often varies from mediocre to not so good. One neighbor, who's a heavy equipment mechanic, got a road grader into his shop for repairs. After fixing it, he apparently called a friend of his who's supposedly a retired operator, and told him to "check it out and maybe fill some potholes." So the guy took it upon himself to re-grade the whole two miles of subdivision road, pulling the ditch material up on the road to re-crown it. While this works on well maintained gravel roads, these hadn't been graded in 20-30 years. So what he pulled up was mainly silty muck and occasional cobbles and boulders, probably  left there by the original contractor in the '70's. The road became an obstacle course, trying to avoid the cobbles and boulders while not getting stuck in the mud. Great fun.
So eventually another neighbor got a friend of his to come by and regrade it again. Though he did the best he could, getting most of the muck and rocks off, it's still real slimy when it rains and the ditches are now filled up with muck. Most of the neighbors are pretty upset, they call or stop by to complain, but what can you do, sometimes shit happens, so just move on. Since they don't do much, I've been cleaning up the worst spots with the tractor and rear blade, then installed the backhoe and started digging out the ditches.
Re-digging the filled-in ditches. Tried to keep them shallow so the neighbors that drive too fast don't get stuck when they slide off the slimy road.

Also filling in the the dog yard holes. This is the same spot in the third photo of previous post "Is It Fall Yet" (9/16/18). Used to hand shovel these holes back in the day, but now the hydraulics rule.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

First Snow...

Supposed to have gotten our first snow this past weekend, but while it cooled off quite a bit, it stayed dry.
So spent some time up on the roof, painting the garage/workshop and then cleaning out the stove pipe. Andy took this photo cause she thought my system for working on the roof was, well a little different. I just didn't want to fall off!

But when we got up this morning, the first snow had arrived.

It wasn't much of a snowfall and had largely melted by late afternoon, but still...winter's here!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Last Ride?...

Switched out the battery from the 850 to the 650 Moto Guzzi and rode down to the Nordale Rd. bridge. Back when I was working, it was my favorite after work ride. Besides being a short but scenic trip, there was a decent size parking lot to loop through. Of course the state, in it's infinite wisdom, had to improve it by putting in designated parking and boat launching areas; in doing so, they blocked off one side, so you can't drive around the loop anymore. It must be great fun on a busy weekend to maneuver a 20 ft river boat and trailer with a crew cab pickup.
The 650 MoGu down by the Chena River

While the leaves are pretty much down now, the temps have stayed in the upper 50's to low 60's this past week, about ten degrees above normal. But the forecast is for cooler and possible snow coming soon.
The "exotic" trees, those not native to Fairbanks like the choke cherry and mountain ash, turn colors later and keep their leaves much longer than the native birch and aspen. The birds must have been eating the berries and crapping the seeds out cause there's little choke cherries growing everywhere!

Monday, October 1, 2018

September summary and then some...

The NWS summary for September in Fairbanks, Ak...

The average temperature for Fairbanks in September was 48.2° F, which was 3.3 ° above normal. The highest temperature was 65° on the 13th, while the lowest was 27° on the 30th. The first frost occurred on the 9th, when the temperature dropped to 30° at the airport.

Precipitation totaled 1.86" for the month, which was 0.76" above normal. While there were no major storms, 1.27" of rain fell from the 20th to the 23rd. No snow was recorded at the airport, but some of the surrounding hills reported light snow during the month.

Chart from Alaska Climate Center

Spent most of the month working on the cabin. About every ten years we wash the log walls and then give it a coat of log oil/wood preservative. This year we also did the back porch and the tool shed, since they hadn't been done in quite awhile. Also did some work on the windows, pulling off the trim,  removing the old fiberglass insulation, spraying foam in the gaps, and finally sealing them with new caulk. 
The cabin should be good to go for another ten years.

Been going to the "Airheads" meeting the last few months. They're a group of BMW riders who meet once a month at one of the liquid dispensing establishments for "barley therapy".

Quite a few bikes showed up since it had warmed up into the sixties. Everything from high tech, state of the art BMW's to some nice vintage iron. I got harangued by one Airhead for riding my Moto Guzzi, not a BMW, so he said he'd do me a favor and sell me one. I told him I come for the comraderie, not the bikes, but thanks anyway. You know what they say, if you can't take a joke, well...

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Is It Fall Yet...

Well according to the calendar, it's not fall until the equinox, but still...
We had our first frost last week.

The leaves have pretty much changed colors.

While the dogs are seriously digging holes...

We're trying to finish the last of the summer projects.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Weather Summary for August 2018

August was relatively cool and unusually wet in Fairbanks. Mean monthly temperature was 55.5°F, which was 0.6°F below normal. The observed maximum temperature was 72.0°F on the 12th and the minimum temperature was 37.0°F on the 31st of the month.
The total monthly precipitation was 4.2", which was 2.3" above normal. The highest daily rainfall was 1.0" on the 5th.
From the Alaska Climate Center

Kept waiting for the Aug. warm spell, there's usually a week or so of near 80°, but didn't happen. Maybe we'll get some nice Indian summer weather this month. Since I've put off most of the summer projects until now, it'd be great to have the extra time to work outdoors in decent weather.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Burt's Bikes...

Finally finished the two reports I'd contracted for one of the "alphabet agencies" (Odd Jobs 6/14/18), so am back to wasting time on the internet. One article I ran across is about Burt Munro. For those who don't know, he was a New Zealand motorcycle builder and racer who set land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats when he was close to 70, using a much modified 1920 Indian Sport Scout.
 Burt Munro at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1967.

There was a movie made of his life, "The World's Fastest Indian". While the bike scenes were great, the rest of the movie was well, not so much. One interesting thing, for me at least, was that they made two replicas of his streamliner for the movie. One, for close ups of the bike,  had a replica of the 1920 Indian motor in it; the other, for the speed runs at the salt flats, used a modified Ducati motor.
One of the replica streamliners used for the movie "The World's Fastest Indian."

But the most interesting part of the article is that Polaris Industries, who builds the latest version of the Indian motorcycle, are now sponsoring a Bonneville speed record bike using their current engine. Read about here:

The bike that is being run for the Speed Week trials at the Bonneville Salt Flats .

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Back together...

No, not like some long lost friends, but the '72 Triumph (Heads Ups 5/24/18). While it took three months, there were lots of spells where it sat untouched, so maybe spent 80 hours on it. The funniest part was the missing push rod tube, which I had to order on eBay, was sitting in the battery box. It wasn't until after I'd installed the head and lifted the seat to look at the wiring that I found it. So now I've got an extra set, since I found a used pair that were cheaper to buy than one new one.

This is the bike on the left in the fourth photo of the previous post. Not sure what's next, probably put an ad on Craigslist and see if anybody wants it. Be nice to have a little more room in the garage, maybe be able to work on the pickup inside someday!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Back In the Day...

Got some photos from my friend Phil from "back in the day". He moved outside Alaska a while back and it looks like he's been busy, digitizing some old prints.
In the late 70's, there was a group that hung around one of the local bike shops. While it sold mostly euro brands, their speciality was British bikes. Over time, the shop closed down, but the group still kept in touch. Sometime in the mid 80's, can't remember when, we got to talking about having a Brit bike ride, cause by then, almost nobody was riding their older bikes. So surprisingly, since talk often goes nowhere, it happened.

That first year there were only about ten Brit bikes with maybe 13 total. There was only one rule, while everyone was welcome, the Jap bikes had to ride in the back. Of course no one ever enforced it.

In the following years, there were a lot more bikes, the peak year had maybe 25, mostly Triumphs, but a good mix of others. The ride continued for 5-6 years, but then ended as people moved away or just lost interest.

Norton Commandos were always a fine looking bike and a real popular ride back then. It's too bad that Manganese Bronze, the holding company that bought Norton, ran it into the ground.

That long haired guy on the left is finally restoring the blue Triumph, (Heads Up 5/24/18), it's about time!

One year a group of Brit cars showed up. One of the Jags had a V-12, an awesome looking motor. The car guys were generally an older, clean-cut, more sedate group than the biker types. They didn't return.

On the way back to town, some of the guys would stage a "coasting race", shutting off their engines and coast down from the top of Cleary Summit, through the switch backs, and down to the bottom at Pedro Creek. Mike would have won on style points alone!