The penguin's motorcycling and Jeep blog

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Grr... blogger bloggered!

Blogger has for some reason quit resolving, instead it gets Google. It's not a problem just for, it affects my attic too. Grrrr!

-- Badtux the Bloggered Penguin

Saturday, September 27, 2008


I just finished installing a Scottoiler on the Blackstrom. I'll add some photos to this post once I'm not so tired, but basically, here's how it went:

The first thing I had to do was find a place to put the reservoir. Finally I noticed that there was a plastic trim poprivet (the kind you push the center in to remove, then pop the center back out to re-insert, that holds two plastic trim pieces together) right beneath the rear left fender where an exhaust pipe might be if the Blackstrom had dual exhausts. I popped it out and looked at the mounting bracket for the reservoir and yep, the reservoir's mounting stud was almost exactly the same size as that hole. A couple of washers later, and the reservoir was mounted. Most people mount it inside the rear left fender rather than hanging under it, but I like it outside so I can glance at it to see if it needs filling and fill it up without taking the seat off. Besides, to put it inside the rear left fender I would have needed to take the plastics off, and that would have required taking the rear luggage rack off, which is a PITA...

The next thing was to route the vacuum line. The Scottoiler uses engine vacuum to open a plunger to let oil drip out onto the chain. That keeps all your chain oil from dripping out when the bike is off. I had to glue one guide onto the plastics in order to keep the vacuum line from flopping into the wheelwell. Oh well. It's hidden up under the fender, and from there the vacuum line goes through an already-existing hole in the plastics and forward to the forward throttle body, where it plugs into the throttle body sync port (previously covered with a vacuum cap) using the adapter in the kit. At some point in time I need to re-plumb this port with a "T" so you don't have to pull off the Scottoiler vacuum hose to sync the throttle bodies, but this is okay for now.

The last and final thing to do was to route the oil line. I routed it basically down the rear subframe member until reaching a point where I could hop it down to the swingarm, then of course to the side of the swingarm, then down underneath it until I could bend the nozzle so that the tip was just above the chain at the sprocket.

Once all that was done, I could prime it. I use GM Dexron III ATF as my chain lube in my Scottoiler on my KLR, so in the interests of keeping a common lube, I primed this Scottoiler with ATF also. Unlike the weird "Scott-oil", Dexron III is available for cheap at every Wally World and roadside Kwicky-mart in the USA, so it makes more sense to put ATF in the chain oiler if you intend to take long trips, as I do. So I shoved fluid into it using the sealed priming intake port until nice pink fluid started dripping onto the chain, then popped the cap and finished filling up the reservoir with ATF.

Tomorrow I'll need to calibrate the thing to have the correct number of drops per minute. It doesn't take much, I don't intend to ride this bike through the dirt so I just need enough slow drip drip drip to keep the chain o-rings moist and conditioned and keep the chain from rusting. Any more than that and it just makes a friggin' mess. But in case it's raining or I do go through the dirt or something, all I have to do is turn the dial turn make it drip faster, and there we go. A mess on the back of my bike is better than having a rusty chain, after all...

-- Badtux the Motorcyclin' Penguin

Friday, September 26, 2008


I needed a tow hitch. I could buy either a tow hitch that fit under the bumper, or I could buy a new bumper with a tow hitch receiver built into it. I found an Olympic Wrecker bumper for cheap (under $140), so bought that instead of the under-bumper hitch -- it preserves ground clearance and so forth and so on. But it's a little minimal (heh!)... In case you don't remember what the original bumper looked like, here's the original bumper right after I got the new tires, before I took the Jeep out and got it dirty: You'll note that there's no tow hook on this setup like there was on the old setup, but I bought a tow hook that fits in the receiver from Cheap Chinese Tool Company. The old tow hook is beat to hell anyhow, it spent more time grinding itself against the rocks than anything else, because it hung down well below the bumper.

I also added a trailer wiring kit by Draw-Tite. It was completely plug-and-play, and gives me a flat four-wire connector that you can plug e.g. a U-Haul trailer plug into. Given that the Jeep's OEM lights are trailer lights (heh!), you can see why a plug-and-play trailer light kit was so easy to make for the Wrangler...

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Adding an electrical socket

One of the things I wanted for the Nightstrom was a way to pump up the tires using a small electric pump. See, it's always wise to air down your tires if you're going to ride down a gravel road, it makes your tires ride smoother, gives you more traction because they can conform to the rough road rather than just the tips of the rocks hitting your rubber, and it keeps the sharp rocks from slicing your tires up because your tires deform instead of slicing. But then once you hit pavement again you have to air your tires back up. Given that the tires on my V-Strom 650 want to be pumped up to 40PSI, doing that with a hand pump is a PITA.

Another thing I wanted was a socket on the side that I could power a heated vest with. A Powerlet socket seemed just the thing for both, since it had positive retention for a heated vest jack, but there is an adaptor to plug a cigarette-lighter-driven airpump into it. So I headed off to Easter Beaver and got the V-Strom rear electrical outlet kit. And here it is:

The first thing I did was put the bracket on. Here is the bracket(note: click on any picture to embiggen): The bracket fits behind the footpeg mount. There is also a washer/spacer (in the little baggie with the fuses in the first photo) that goes under the other footpeg mount bolt to space it out equally. The bolts were locked on with threadlocker, as is usual for this bike (Suzuki apparently got tired of bolts rattling loose so threadlocks *everything*), but unlike some bolts I didn't need to pull out the butane torch and heat these up to get'em out, the threadlock compound let loose fairly easily. So:

  1. Loosen both footpeg mount bolts by about the thickness of the bracket
  2. Take out the upper footpeg mount bolt (the one where the bracket goes).
  3. Clean the old dried-up threadlocker compound off with a brass wire brush
  4. Put fresh new blue threadlocker on it.
  5. Slide the bracket in, and then put the bolt back in through mount and hole in bracket and tighten it until just barely snugged.
  6. Take out the lower footpeg mount bolt, wirebrush it, and re-threadlock it.
  7. Slide the spacer back behind the lower footpeg mount until you can see through it to the threads in the frame.
  8. Tighten the lower footpeg mount bolt until snug, tighten the upper footpeg mount bolt until tight, then lower footpeg mount bolt until tight.
So here is the result:

And now that the bracket is installed, now I put the socket through the hole in the bracket, with the spacers, washers, and nuts in the order specified on a sheet of paper inside the little baggie. Once the socket was tight in the bracket, I inserted the rubber boot over the end of the wires, and then shoved the connector ends into the empty socket where they belonged, and plugged in the connectors to connect it to the wire to be run to the fuse panel. Then I ran all the wires up behind the side panel to the vicinity of the battery. Here is where we are at this stage:

Now, I have an auxiliary fuse panel, previously installed (sorry that I never finished talking about that, but I'm not quite satisfied with my installation yet, oh well!). So now it was time to hook the wires up. Always pull the main fuse to whatever fuse panel you're working with, or if there is no main fuse, disconnect the ground wire from the battery. In this case, I pulled my 30 amp main fuse for the auxiliary panel, then ran the new wires to the auxiliary panel, cut them to length, stripped, and inserted into the connectors on the fuse panel. Here is the result, before I put the cover back on the auxiliary panel. The new wire is the one hooked to the 15A circuit, which is a permanently-on circuit (this being a Centech AP2, where the first three circuits are switched and the two nearest the front are permanently-on). I hooked it to a permanently-on circuit because I don't want to have to start the bike to pump up the tires. Before I put the cover back on the Centech, I temporarily replaced the 30A main fuse, and tested the socket by, err, plugging the Powerlet-to-cigarette-lighter adaptor in then the air pump, and turning on the air pump. It worked! So then I took the 30A fuse back out, and put the cover back on the Centech. Here is the final result: The new wires go through the grommet into the underseat compartment, and you can see the empty main fuse holder towards the left of the photo near the negative pole of the battery. Behind that is the relay for the Centech AP2 so that the first three circuits will be on only when the ignition is on, this was another Eastern Beaver kit, it plug-and-plays once you find room for it, no cutting of the OEM wiring harness required. The three fuse holders immediately to the right of the relay (as we look at this photo) used to be spaced along the backside of the battery compartment on three molded-in pegs, but I cut the pegs off and shoved them over to the side to make room for the Centech relay.

And anyhow, that's the end of the story. Hopefully I'll get back to providing a tutorial on electrical work, but it's hard work, and I've been very busy recently due to a project at work. If you have any questions, just ask!

- Badtux the Electrifyin' Penguin

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why C-clip axles are evil

Some folks wonder why Jeepers hate thems some Dana 35 axles. Well, it's not just that Dana 35's are weak and break if you look at them wrong. It's what happens after they break that Jeepers hate. See, a Dana 35 is what's known as a "C-clip axle". There is nothing holding the axle on but a big C-shaped clip on the end of the axle shaft inside the differential. Here's the end of the axle shaft inside the differential (note that the cross shaft and spider gears have been taken out, that's the only way to push the axles in far enough to get to the C-clip which otherwise nests in the side gears): If part A (end inside the differential) is no longer on the same physical plane as part B (end outside the differential) because, duh, the axle broke, here is what happens: Is it a little clearer, now, why Jeepers hate Dana 35 (or any C-clip) axles?

-- Badtux the Jeepin' Penguin

Monday, September 8, 2008

Zen and Now

Another Jesuit scholar examines Robert Persig's classic motorcycling tome, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Mark Richardson's new book, Zen and Now, examines Robert Persig and the connections between technology and nature...

-- Badtux the Literatary Penguin

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Two Ravens
I bought a new pair of leather gloves with gel palms and knuckle protectors today, then took the Wee-strom for a ride. Forgot my camera, alas (not the only thing I forgot). Anyhow, I rode it in a loop, from South SF Bay to CA 17 to Santa Cruz then along CA 1 to Half Moon Bay, then back over the mountain and home again. Some things I figured out along the way:
  • The Madstad bracket and the OEM windshield makes a nice combination when it's all the way down and tilted all the way back. There's no buffeting and side winds just make the bike flop left and right a little, they don't move the bike around on the highway. There's plenty of air flow to help keep cool on a hot day like today, but there's no wind blast making things uncomfortable.
  • The highway pegs mounted on the Pat Walsh guards (courtesy of some slightly shorter mounting bolts from Orchard Supply Hardware, the ones that came with the pegs were a little too long to work without the bracket) work great. These particular pegs are very heavy and have rubber insulating pieces. The location of the pegs is perfect for stretching out when on the road, without putting you into an uncomfortable position.
  • The Suzuki gel seat is just too darned hard! Folks say that the Corbin seat is hard. My Corbin seat on my KLR broke in just fine, it's not hard, it's just firm. So anyhow, I have a Sargent seat on order (the Corbin for the V-Strom is too tall for me). The seat is shaped right, it would be comfortable if it wasn't so darned hard, but I think the only way it would be a good seat would be to take the cover off, remove the gel insert, and replace it with some firm foam that shapes to your butt like memory foam. Not to mention that the gel will roast your 'nads if you leave the seat out in the sun!
  • The Rox adjustable risers rock. My handlebars are *exactly* where I want them to be. I can lean forward into a semi-sportbike position and still have good control, I can relax upright and put my feet up on the highway pegs and the bars are just there, in the exact right location.
  • I need to get some of that motocross underwear. It's like bicycle shorts, except not as long in the legs and without that padding that keeps your 'nads wet on a motorcycle (since the tank blocks the air to the 'nads). Regular underwear simply has the seams in the wrong friggin' place to be comfortable for long rides on a motorcycle...
  • The BMW electrical plug for the GPS crapped out *again*. This is two long rides I've taken, and two rides that the GPS wiring went AWOL. I think I'm just going to hard-wire the bloody thing, this is getting ridiculous.
  • The Black Raven is a sweetheart of a motorcycle. She heels over into a bank without any complaints, holds her bank without a problem, and comes back upright with no problem. She's a bit fat and heavy to flick as easily as a sportbike but she handles fine for a bike of her heft. And that 90 degree V-twin engine is just sweet, sweet, sweet.
  • Still to do: Put on the automatic chain oiler (a must for long-distance travel especially in the rain), put on the side Powerlet outlet for use with the heated vest, put on the heated grips, and maybe install electronic cruise control. Maybe. I'm not convinced yet, electronic cruise control on a motorcycle is like that damned Powerlet plug for my GPS, something is always vibrating loose and making it quit and then it's just a pile of parts taking up space until you get to a garage somewhere so that you can diagnose it.
In the meantime, I need to take the Jeep to the car-wash to have last fall's dirt washed off of it and last falls' dirt vacuumed out of its carpets (its annual car wash, yippee!) and get some new windshield wiper blades front and back to the thing. A penguin's chores never seem to end...

-- Badtux the Ridin' Penguin

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A nickel and dime problem

The recliner mechanism on my Jeep Wrangler's driver's seat quit working correctly. The pawl on the right side wasn't catching, leaving that side of the seat flopping around. The Jeep is still under warranty so I considered taking it to the dealership. But instead, I decided tonight to unbolt the seat and see what I can spot. And I found the problem.... Yes, that is literally a nickel and dime stuck in the ratchet mechanism for the recliner mechanism. Once I removed all the coins that were jammed in the mechanism, it worked fine.

I guess point of the thing is:

  1. Don't carry change in your pocket
  2. Don't rush to the dealership to get charged $110 (an hour's labor) so that the technician can have a laugh at your expense, and
  3. Sometimes the problems really are nickel and dime.
Oh -- three of the seat bolts (the 1/2" ones) go all the way through your Jeep. If you have a Jeep and haven't already, blast the underside of those seat bolts with PJ Blaster and after letting them soak a bit take those suckers out and put some anti-seize on them. They were just about jammed on my two-year-old Jeep. A little more wet weather, and I'd have ended up twisting those suckers off and having to put a nut-and-bolt setup in there...

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Why can't I find an online Jeep parts fiche?

Kawasaki provides one on their web site. Suzuki has one via a third party company. Yet when I want to find parts for my Jeep Wrangler, there's nothing?!

This is just plain nuts. Less than 3% of the vehicles sold every year in the United States are motorcycles. Yet I can find better online services for my motorcycles than for my Jeep?

But maybe I'm just not looking in the right places. What do you think?

-- Badtux the Baffled Penguin