Monday, August 30, 2010

cordless drills

My old Makita cordless drill just died. Well actually, its still running. But the chuck is failing and one of the two batteries is completely dead. The other battery is getting weak. This thing is indispensable in my garage for everything from polishing components to the usual hole drilling.

After a bunch of research I just ordered a Bosch 36618-02.

I also considered the Panasonic EY6432GQKW (approximately $200). This is maybe best rated of the "prosumer grade" (my terminology) drills. But the NiMH battery, while probably stronger than the Lithium Ion batteries of the competitors just looked too bulky to me. But its supposed to be a great drill and my old Makita with NiMH batteries was great... at any rate I skipped it.

Makita BDF452HW is the other competitor (approx $185), but it had some bad reviews of the chuck and batteries. And in person looked cheap to me. It didn't look like a worthy successor to my old Makita.

So I'm trying the Bosch above. At $155, I could get a third battery for another $50, and still be in the price range I'm willing to spend. So my main concern, battery life, seemed to be best addressed with this unit as I'm pretty sure three batteries would do better than the two of the competitive units above.

Thats my summary, FWIW.
After I get it I intend to polish my truck headlights to remove the fogging. That should be a good test, and I'll report back on how it works out.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Motogiro d'Italia 2011

Well, Club Terni has announced the 2011 Motogiro!
Motoclub Terni Motogiro
Of course there are two of these now; DreamEngine2 runs an event too.
A short history...
Club Terni started running the revival event back around 1989. In 2001 Ducati spun off an organisation called DreamEngine to run the event with Club Terni. Ducati was interested in the marketing benefits. In those days DreamEngine ran the hotels and tourist stuff, and Club Terni ran the competition and road stuff. DreamEngine did bring a Ducati bias to the event, and that certainly brought many Ducati fans. That lasted through 2007 and then Club Terni and Dream Engine split ways. Around this time Ducati stopped making a big sponsorship of the event as well. And then DreamEngine disolved and DreamEngine2 was formed. Now there are two Motogiro events held in Italy. At this point it appears that the Club Terni event is the FMI (the Italina Motorcycle Federation, like our AMA) certified event. I've never been to the Club Terni event, but have heard good reports. And it sounds like people had a great time at the DreamEngine event too. Although I haven't personally been able to compare the two, I suspect the DreamEngine2 event is still a bit more Ducat and tourist focused and the Motoclub Terni event might be a bit more Italian (less English spoken and more Italian riders). But that is just my guess.
DreamEngine makes a big deal about the name Motogiro and you can see some noise about related Italian lawsuits on their website. But it appears that that trademark is for the "trapezoidal logo with motogiro printed inside it" and that Terni is being allowed to continue to use the actual word Motogiro as well. Which seems sensible, as this is a generic term in Italian, roughly translated "motorcycle tour" in english. Regardless of the lawsuits, its great there are two events now. But I hope the market can really support both.
I'd really like to go and try the Motoclub Terni event, as I remember those organizers fondly...

Every step is a battle... more

Interesting that I just posted about that line "Every step is a battle". So I'm working on the motorcycle hauler, my 2003 Nissan Frontier. I ordered new Yokohama Geolander tires, Bilstein shocks, and Hawk brake pads from Tire Rack about $700. Brought them all the big O tires. The Brake pads were the wrong ones, and I needed new rotors. So I bought new rotors and pads from Big O, and returned the Hawk pads to the Tire Rack. All good. Big O charged me another $700. Oof. Today I spent some time bedding the pads in. Interesting process documented here. It all seemed to be going ok and I took a break (pun intended) while I had a unrelated appointment. Then I was driving home when... a horrible squeal came from the front of the car. I was immediately very concerned, assuming maybe a caliper had fallen off or a pad slipped loose or who knows what? I pulled over and then carefully tried to move the truck and the sound came back. I got out and inspected things, and they all looked ok. So I tried again, same problem... and then I tried turning off the air conditioner... and the sound stopped. Maybe a pulley or the compressor seized? Well I was still a bit spooked as this all happened right after changing the tires, shocks and brakes! So I drove carefully to my mechanic, and on the last mile tried the AC again... so squeal... but no cold air either. Hmm. Well an hour later and my mechanic called, the compressor has failed and it necessary to replace the drier at the same time.  Another $700.  I'm beginning to remember why I thought renting a truck when I really needed it was cheaper than owning...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

GTV rattle update

Well, after poking around with the rattle (described a couple posts back) that I attributed to my throttle linkage. I brought the car to my experts at APC. The car needed some other servicing, and its alot easier for them to get under the car, as I don't have a lift. Ends up it was a good choice. The exhaust was cracked, and that was causing some extra vibration. My throttle linkage was probably shaking with the extra vibration caused by the cracked exhaust. But the rattle is gone now, thank goodness. This throttle linkage has been a lot of work... you can see my earlier story from when I replaced the bell crank and heim joints on the throttle linkage here.
Also, they found some of the front suspension linkages had been loosening and they tightened that up. And of course I let then do the oil change and we put in a fresh battery. The car seems to be running great now. Definitely quieter, a little smoother and just a dream. So I should be all set for the late summer and fall events.
And I saved myself some real frustration chasing the rattle myself. I hadn't even considered a cracked exhaust as a possible factor. Sometimes its best to enlist professional help!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Every step is a battle

Is it just me? So many seemingly simple projects seem to become a battle to achieve success. Like I ordered new tires, shocks and brake pads for the truck. And then found they shipped me the wrong break pads. And I got a new GPS... and found the SW is way out of date and it seems Garmin has made the update process as tortuous as possible. Even when the project is completely under my control, it seems it can mushroom out of control and the simple project can become hard. In fact is seems like the easy projects are the ones that become a problem... the hard ones just stay hard. I mean, I expect replacing the seal on the master brake cylinder of the Alfa to be a messy and hard job. But I don't expect to have trouble fitting bullet connectors to the regulator on the mondial to be a problem. Or to get the wrong brake pads when I order a set for a modern truck. Or the map update on a new GPS to be a maze of forms, registrations downloads and installations. Oh well. As I often say: Every step is a battle. (Lets just hope it resolves as a pleasant process and a success.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rattle and Oils

Had the GTV out today, and its running great. But it does have one issue, there is a vibration/rattle. Something makes this irritating vibrating rattle sound when I take my foot off the throttle at about 4000RPM. I've been chasing this for a while. I isolated the hand throttle's cable with a rubber grommet and I tweaked the whole throttle linkage carefully to make sure there is no play. Now I'm thinking maybe its coming from something else... might have to in list some help finding this. Its a pain because it only happens when I'm rolling, but maybe I can find someone to look under the dash as I'm driving? Anyway, I picked up some oil for the car, Castrol Syntec 20W-50 "for Classic Cars". Has more zinc, which is supposedly important. Frightening how expensive oil is these days. I remember the old cans of oil being under $1 / quart...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Vintage Hauler Servicing - sigh

Sadly, the pickup truck needs some servicing. Well, it's only sad because it uses up funds that would be more happily spent on the vintage machinery! But it needs new tires, shocks and brakes, just ordered it all from the Tire Rack. Installation to be scheduled.
I use the truck for runs to the desert with my dirt bike, and to haul the various vintage bikes to events. And for the errands a truck always seems so useful for. And it's a handy loaner vehicle when we have house guests. Its just a little 2003 Nissan Frontier King Cab XE with 2 wheel drive and the small 4 cylinder engine. Actually, its surprisingly fun to drive... somehow slow badly handling vehicles can be strangely fun. But it does spend much of its time parked while I ride/drive the more interesting vehicles!

Yokohama Geolander ATS tires, Bilstein HD shocks, Hawk LTS brake pads.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mondial Electrics ...progress

So I refitted the new regulator properly. Nice soldered connections and a new fuse in the headlamp housing. The new fuse is from the output of the regulator. So now the bike has 3, one at the output of the battery, one at the output of the regulator and one as original for the switches and lamps. I guess back in the day they didn't bother protecting the two power sources (the battery and regulator) from shorts in the ignition system or horn. Well now they are properly protected.
I'll also note that the bullet connectors were a real pain.  The regulator came with beautiful brass male bullet connectors. But of course there were no matching female connectors. Here in the USA I only can get fairly cheesy aluminum connectors, and they crimp only weekly. So I crimped them for the test. And then I soldered them. Unfortunately, once I soldered them, some solder wicked into the connector area... making it so the male and female would no longer fit together. A bit of work with a small file and some pliers fixed that. But as usual something that I expected to be simple took a lot longer than I anticipated.
So then I suited up and took a 5 mile ride to test things out. Its was a hilarious start as I made it about 100 yards before stalling because both petcocks were off. Then I made it about another 25 yards before a remembered to turn off the choke. Luckily I did remember the shift pattern (right foot; heel for downshifts and toe for upshifts) and the manual ignition advance.
The ride went well. No problems. So I pulled into the driveway stopped the engine and went to check the lights and horn. Nothing. What!? Just when you think you have everything under control the rug gets pulled out from under you. I bumbled around for quite a bit with the new fuses and my voltmeter before I realized I had two problems. The key's on off contacts were dirty, and my old battery was shot. The battery had been rather abused while fighting with the old mechanical regulator and I've already ordered a new one. And a bit of emery paper and the key contacts were repaired. So it appears all ready to go...
I put the bike up on the lift again, and ran upstairs for a beer and this blog. Gotta stop before something else breaks!
But actually, that seems to be the process with these old bikes. You restore them, and then you have to debug them. All those people who don't ride or drive their vintage machines miss the debug part. And then they are upset when the vehicle has problems on the annual outing. I believe that if you restore the vehicle, and then use it and debug it, after a couple hundered miles you end up with a car or bike that will be more reliable than it was back in the day fresh from the factory. More reliable, due to whatever modern enhancements you have fit, like maybe an electronic regulator. ;-)

Friday, August 13, 2010

California Melee XIV! I'm in!

Just received the good news, I have great honor of being accepted (with the Alfa and Lorraine) into the California Melee XIV! This is a great event that I've wanted to attend for years, and finally managed to get it on the schedule, and to apply in a timely fashion. This event is selective and sells out fast. So whoo-hoo! We're in!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mondial Electrics

I probably know more about the Mondial 175 TV electrical system than anyone else in North America. I have had trouble with it for a couple years in Italy, and brought it back to diagnose and repair here in California. Somehow in the course of this I burned out the dynamo armature. Of course, lacking proper test equipment, I ended up using an oscilloscope to be sure this was the actual problem (actually the oscilloscope is remarkably useful with these vintage electrical systems). Here's a shot of the bad output from my broken dynamo.

After a bit of a search, a friend sold me a possible replacement armature... but it was going to require some machining to get it to fit. So I ended up having the original rewound by the helpful people at Eurton Electric.
So the repaired dynamo worked adequately for the 2009 Giro d'California... but the regulator was still not good. Another friend managed to get me a replacement in Italy. But both of these regulators are pretty crude mechanical devices. Essentially they have a set of contacts inside, and these contacts open and close if the voltage is too high or low. On the oscilloscope you can watch this, and the rather rough waveform that gets output. And the regulator, even with it's built in temperature compensation is very variable. Mine seem to vary by a couple volts... leading to under or overcharging (and boiling or destroying) the battery.
Unfortunately, you cannot use a typical regulator on a dynamo system. A dynamo is a DC generator, and puts out a substantial amount of "over power" to the regulator. It requires a switching type regulator to dissipate the power sensibly.
I finally found a replacement (and modern) regulator that may work well in this system. Apparently many old British bikes also used dynamo systems and they suffer the same problem. So I ordered one of those, a DVR2.
After waiting a couple weeks for delivery (some Internet problems at the factory), I finally received this last week. And I test fit it tonight. It does appear to work! Now I need to fit it a bit more properly and give it a more formal test run. Here is a pic of the mounted DVR2. Note it fits in a hollow in the underside of the tank, where the original was.

Its been ages... working on the Mondial

Its been ages since I posted what was up here. Time to get back in the habit. Have two events coming up. The Giro d'California with the Mondial and (hopefully) the California Melee with the Alfa. The Alfa needs a basic going over and some work with rattling accelerator linkage. The Mondial is a bigger project. More on that in later posts.