Thursday, July 14, 2011

Am I back?

Change is always a pain in the ass, but in this case it's been quite good. Sitting here watching the sunset over the ocean, drinking a beer and smelling something wonderful in the kitchen. These are good things.

Not coincidentally, I'm feeling better on the bike than I have in a couple years. We'll see how the race goes this weekend, but I'm optimistic.

And because sharing is caring, here's some stuff:

The 3 Wings of The Republican Party

Lauderdale is good.

Gas Tax Doesn't Cover Road Costs
Some good info for idiots that think Cyclists aren't entitled to public roads.

And some more. Cyclists are not slowing you down!

Lastly: How to Cook Real Good Cheap Easy Food.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Time to put up...

The Jeep is smogged registered and ready to go. I was able to get back to SF for a short weekend and take it for a couple short drives. One was really short; really I just needed to move it's parking spot, so I drove it enough to get it warmed up before parking it again. Sunday I got to take E for a nice drive down the coast to Half Moon Bay. Probably about a 50 mile round trip, and certainly the longest drive it's been on since I've owned it. I'm happy to report no major problems, it did die a couple times at when I stopped, but each time it started right back up- I might need to adjust the idle a bit.

Tangential rant: why does everyone love stopping so much? Dear Lord people, use the damn gas pedal...

Which brings me back to the reason I got the Jeep in the first place, Las Vegas. I've maybe got another month here, so the clock is ticking. I'm thinking of driving it down next weekend- since I'll be heading back to the City to see not one, not two but three Drive-By Truckers shows (after seeing them Thursday night in Vegas!). Four shows in one week will be a first for me, and I'm pretty excited about it.

But I was writing about the Jeep... Having it here would be good, it's the getting it down here that gives me pause. It's a ten hour drive, I'm pretty sure I can't do ten hours in the Jeep, so that makes it a two day drive. Some of it is through some pretty desolate country in which, breaking down would not be fun.

So this question I will be pondering for the next few days.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Moving Right Along

Another weekend back in SF meant more stuff got done on the Jeep. I was able to pick it up Friday from GG Jeep, who has been doing most of the heavy lifting in this process. The rear end was rebuilt and some more adjustments to the carb, timing, etc. have it running pretty good. There is still an issue though with the choke wanting to close at rather odd times, this basically renders the Jeep undrivable until I stop, open the hood, pull the air breather off and put a binder clip on the choke to hold it open while I start it. Once I start it in this manner it seems to behave just fine... Until it gets restarted. My guess is that it's either a bad temp sensor somewhere, or a bad vacuum line.

I'm hoping for a vacuum line, since those are on the list of things to be replaced in the next round of fixes. I dropped it off again at GG Jeep last night, after picking it up from Proline. I had Proline redo the exhaust from the header back. Lot's of leaks are no more, the pipe and the muffler were rusty and had more than a few holes, so we just replaced everything. I still have to deal with a couple tubes dealing with emissions recovery, but that shouldn't be too bad.

I'm getting more used to it, getting more comfortable. It's still not quite as confidence inspiring as I'd like it to be, but it's getting there. The problems it has always seem to be the same, so the same fixes can keep being applied.

The goal now is to have GG Jeep fix the last couple issues by next weekend so I can ship it down to Vegas and have it with me. Then I can work on some of the smaller details- while still having it here to drive around.

Fingers crossed.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Getting Closer

Despite me not seeing it in the last two weeks, the Jeep is progressing just fine- so I hear. It seems that the majority of the problems it's been experiencing have been identified, and most of them have been fixed. The remainging problems have to do with the exhaust system, and GG Jeep doesn't do exhaust...

The carb has been adjusted, and since they've had almost two weeks of messing with it, I'm pretty confident it will be good. I also had the rear differential rebuilt (ouch), a bit unfortunate, but at least I can expect it won't break while I'm on a trail somewhere.

So I pick it up tomorrow and I'm pretty excited about it. Maybe E and I can take a drive that won't involve pushing!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

It Continues

As promised:

Dwarfing the E-Mobile

Taking adavantage of the kindness of neighbors:

The starter wasn't hard to find, but the logistics of getting it quickly while I was in Las Vegas made it more of a challenge than I wanted. I ended up with a choice of either spending $100 to get the original part shipped fast, or get an ├╝ber starter for about $75 more than the original starter but not have to ship it. Not such a hard choice. I got the starter home yesterday, bolted it up and quicker than you can say vroom-vroom, the Jeep was up and running. I really wanted to take it out for a drive, but decided that Friday evening traffic was not the time for a test drive. So Saturday morning I fired it up and E and I hit the town.

Ok hit the town is a bit of an exaggeration since it died two blocks from the apartment. But I was able to pull it onto a side street and into an illegal parking spot for the moment. After a few fruitless attempts at starting it, I popped the hood and pulled the air filter off the carb. While E started cranking it, I played with the levers, valves, etc. until it started up. Right away it sounded better than it had, and indeed a spin around the block confirmed it was good to go. So again we headed towards the empty part of the city.

Once we got to the wearhouses, which are largely abandoned on the weekends, we played around a bit. E got to drive around for a while, so she could see if she liked it, and we could figure out if counting on her to drive it in a crisis (to or from GG Jeep- as an example) was an option (short answer, maybe).

Things were going well, so I decided to expand the drive area. We hopped on 280S and cruised the freeway for 10 miles or so, discovering that the speedometer is not very accurate, and that the Jeep was not built for cruising on the freeway (just so we're clear- I knew that going in).

Ready to declare the adventure successful we headed towards Skyline Blvd which would take us to the Great Highway and then back home. I was a little concerned at a perceived lack of power, but pretty happy with the days events, until we came to the first stoplight. Crap, it's dead, and it won't start. At least we're headed mostly downhill, so I hop out to wave traffic around and had E get behind the wheel. I pushed, she steered and we got out of harms way. By the way, steering this thing with the engine off (meaning no power steering) is not easy, and she handled it well.

Applying what I learned from the days earlier adventures, I popped the air-filter off, and held the choke open while E turned the key... that did the trick and we were on our way again. Though, for some reason the idle was now way off, so I couldn't take my foot off the gas or the engine would die (and probably not start without me getting under the hood again) so I ended up getting it home by breaking with the left foot while keeping my right foot on the gas.

I adjusted the carb and we took it out again. This time without incident. So I'm calling it progress. It's still not running how it should, but it is running, and that's a big improvement.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Jeep. It's Time For Something New

Given that 2010 was largely a bust as far as cycling goes, I didn't really keep up the blog habit. Hopefully 2011 will be better on the bike, in the meantime this is going to become a blog for my new toy.

A 1986 Jeep CJ7. It kind of surprised me at first when I realized I wanted one. I think it all started with my spending a month in Yellowstone. Outdoors is a great place to be. I tend to forget that when I spend a lot of time in SF. Yellowstone got me reading about Grizzlies, and there seems to be no better author on the subject than Doug Peacock. Reading Peacock led me into reading the Monkey Wrench Gang, and that's what planted the seed of wanting a Jeep. Continuing to read Ed Abbey only reinforced it.

The most common form of terrorism in the U.S.A. is that carried on by bulldozers and chain saws. - Abbey

So after some pondering and some researching, I found the one I wanted. It had been sitting for a long time, pretty much unused, so I knew it was going to need a bunch of work, but everything looked in good shape, so I brought it home.

That drive home was a pretty memorable one- maybe not as memorable as when I flew my airplane home, but still pretty good. I only had to drive maybe 40 miles, but with the Jeep needing a carb adjustment and hitting on 4-5 of the 6 cylinders, it took a while to get home. I stayed to the back roads, which meant residential areas, which meant stop signs, so the 40 mile drive took about 2 1/2 hours.

I had already made an appointment to take it into Golden Gate Jeep the next morning. The first thing the mechanic asks me is "You know you bought a project, right?" I chuckled and acknowledged that yes, I was prepared to spend some money on my newest machine. The next day we spent about 15 minutes going over the list of stuff that needed to be replaced. Carb, plugs, cap, rotors, T-stat, water pump, vacuum lines... on and on. All was expected so I was prepared for it. So we prioritized the list and he got started.

I was hoping to have it for Christmas, but that didn't happen. Too much work needed, not enough time. Then I was hoping to have it to drive to Vegas next week (actually this weekend), but I was advised against it until I spent a bit more money on it. Since one of the reasons behind getting the Jeep was to have it to drive the desert trails around Vegas, this was a bit of a bitter pill.

So yesterday I get the call that it's ready to go, I pick it up and am pleased with it's much improved condition. I brought it home and E was helpful in getting the neighbors to move their cars a bit so I could fit in "just for a couple of days".
This morning we were going to go for a drive, nope. No starting today. So we go get a new battery- again not a surprising discovery. I replace the battery and voila, nothing (ok, not "nothing", but nothing good). So I pull the starter, yep it's busted.

Now I'm waiting for a new starter to arrive, Hopefully when I come home next weekend I can bolt in the new starter and go for a drive. If nothing else, I need to be able to move it out of its current parking space, lest good will amongst neighbors be tested.

Maybe next time I'll post a picture...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Contador, Doping, etc.

Well hell, it's really hitting the fan today. First the news of Alberto Contador, followed by the news of his compatriot Ezequiel Mosquera. All this coming to light while Fabian Cancellara wins his 4th Worlds TT championship.

First off, I don't like Contador, never have. Well before he and Lance got into it at last years TdF. Which is pretty much irrelevant to anything, but since it's a bias, I should disclose it.

My first reaction to Contador's positive was "it's about time" followed by a bit of surprise that he actually allowed himself to be caught. But as more and more is written, I'm finding that he may actually be right. Being right, in reality won't mean much. Plenty of other cyclists have been "right" and still been suspended. I've always believed Tom Zirbel got a bad deal, but then again, he was a rider I liked.

It's interesting to me that cycling has such a bad rap for doping. It's easy to see, just look at the headlines in todays sports section. Interesting because cycling seems to be the only sport with the pretense of being serious about eliminating performance enhancing drugs. Even more interesting in that riders, in the cases of Zirbel and Contador, if they are to be believed, are being found guilty of wrongdoing without them knowingly doing anything wrong.

Contador is claiming that he ingested Clenbuterol because of some tainted meat. Basically the claim is that some rancher used it to make more money from the beef he was selling. It seems this actually has some traction.

To me, the fact that our food contains products that cause athletes to fail drug tests is a much bigger issue than one cyclist testing positive. It's not enough to avoid supplements, multi-vitamins, energy drinks, etc. Riders are now going to have to even know the source of the food they're eating (which is a good idea anyway, and something I try to do).

So Contador may very well be getting screwed, but it only serves to show how little control an individual has over the food they eat. The regulatory agencies are far too cozy with the industries they should be regulating to do anything about. Big Agriculture increases its shareholdings, and the people get screwed.

Locally grown veggies are the way to go.