Jun 29
Being Fuelish
icon1 Guy | icon2 Wrenching | icon4 06 29th, 2011| icon32 Comments »
Gasoline” width=

Ethanol is being added to gasoline in increasing
amounts.

I’ve heard a lot of bikers proudly state, “I only use premium in my bike.”
I usually ask, “Was it knocking with regular?”
I can’t recall anybody ever telling me their motorcycle engine knocked using regular gasoline. If it doesn’t, then there is absolutely no reason to use premium except you’ve got too much money and are looking for ways to get rid of it. The only purpose of increasing the octane rating is to prevent knocking. If your engine doesn’t knock using regular, then you’re solving a problem you don’t have. Increasing the octane rating in no way helps remove deposits, prevent deposits or perform better. Premium and regular gasoline have the same energy density. Energy density refers to the power per unit. You get a bigger bang with a gallon of a high-energy density fuel than with a lower one.
Gasoline distributors put additives in their product they claim will do various things such as prevent and remove carbon deposits. The EPA actually requires a certain level of carbon removing additives. While there may be some variation in the formulation of additives between octane levels of a brand, it’s unlikely. I don’t see retailers hawking increased additives in higher grades, which means there is no financial reward for doing so. In fact, it is almost impossible for the average consumer to get the facts on additives for a particular brand. I’m not aware of any place that information is posted. In fact, Scripps Howard news service recently commissioned a lab to test 10 samples from five major brands for an article it was doing. An independent lab is just about the only way to get reliable numbers on the additives in a product. And since there is only a minimum level demanded by the EPA, those levels may change before you get the results back from the lab. There is simply no way to know, or any reason to believe, the additive package for premium gas is better than what you get with regular.
I’ve been a longtime proponent of ethanol. I’m originally from farm country and would like to live in a world where American farmers produce our energy instead of Middle East terrorists. Unfortunately, ethanol has some serious shortcomings when used with existing infrastructure. It has a shorter shelf life, it can damage certain seals and hoses in older engines. It attracts water and, finally, it has a lower energy density than gasoline. You’re mileage will not be as good with an ethanol mixture as with pure gasoline.
I’ve had other ethanol proponents tell me adding ethanol to gasoline is like increasing the octane. There is a little truth to that, but it doesn’t apply at the pump. A higher-octane rating, in simple terms, determines the combustion temperature of the gas. Adding ethanol to gasoline will increase its combustion temperature. But that is factored into the reading at the pump. You’re still getting a fuel with 87 octane. They’ve just used ethanol and less of another component such as MTBE. But because your fuel now contains ethanol, it is a less energy dense mixture. Mileage will go down. And if it sits in your tank too long, you may wind up with water in the tank.
But the seals and hoses in vehicles newer than 10 years old are safe with ethanol blends. And if you use your vehicle daily, then the ethanol won’t have time to attract a significant amount of water. And the loss of mileage, while real, is small enough that you’re likely to burn more gas looking for an ethanol-free supply than you will save with the better mileage.
My advise is fill it up with regular and go for a ride.

- Guy Wheatley

Jun 23
Wasps
icon1 Guy | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 06 23rd, 2011| icon3No Comments »
Grain Elevator” width=

A grain elevator similar to the one I worked at during
college summers.

During the summers between college I worked at a grain storage facility. We called them grain elevators, or just elevators. When grain is brought to the elevator, it’s dumped in a pit. At the bottom of the pit is a hopper that feeds the “elevator,” from which the site draws its name. This is just a belt with buckets attached that lift the grain to a turn-head almost 200 feet high. The turn-head is a swiveling pipe that can direct the grain falling from the top of the elevator into one of several pipes that lead to either a storage bin, a dryer or another turn-head somewhere beneath the elevator turn-head. A lot of the movement of grain is done by gravity, feeding the falling product into different pipes leading off a turn-head.
The Big-4 , named after the company that manufactured it, was an elevated grain bin that stood atop 30-foot legs. It had a slide gate at the bottom. A truck could drive under this gate and be loaded with grain by simply opening the gate and allowing the grain to fall in. When grain was sold, it would be dumped into the Big-4, ready to be loaded onto the customer’s truck.
Usually I’d be out of school for the summer and start work just as oat harvest began. We’d run 12-hour days, seven days per week for about four weeks. Then things would begin to slow down and we’d start cleanup, maintenance and waiting for rice harvest. We learned to stay busy, or at least out of sight, during the lull between harvests. And during this time, you never completed a job in an hour if you could drag it out for six hours.
One day the boss called us over the intercom to, “get rid of the wasp nest on the Big-4.” The little rascals had decided that the slide gate handle was just the place for a big nest. One can imagine that certain territorial disputes would arise when the time came to open the gate to dispense grain. We were being called upon to resolve the issue by diplomatic, or other, means. The usual procedure here involved chemical warfare. We’d climb up the legs and out onto the bracing of the bin to get within the range of a can of bug spray. Thus I found myself hanging upside down from a piece of angle iron 30 feet above the concrete as my co-worker prepared to anger a couple hundred wasps.
I watched Slick, nobody used proper names in those days, take careful aim with the spray can, then hesitate. I foolishly thought for a minute that Slick was getting nervous. I’d known him long enough to know better, but that was still my first thought. It disappeared quickly when I heard him say, “This is too easy.”
Slick had strange ideas about what was easy. I personally didn’t find the prospect of fighting off a couple of hundred angry, poisoned wasps with one hand while clinging to an inch-wide piece of angle iron 30 feet above a concrete floor particularly easy. But then I wasn’t Slick.
“I’ll be back,” Slick said as he slid down one of the legs to the ground, then disappeared into the main storage building.
True to his word, he was back barely a minute later carrying two yard sticks. He shinnied up the leg opposite from me and approached the wasp nest from the other side. Reaching around it, he handed me one of the yardsticks. Before I could ask just what in Hades I’m supposed to do with it, he began to poke at a single wasp with his stick. He eventually angered the insect to the point that it jumped on the end of the stick and began to furiously stab at it with it’s stinger. Slick then extended the wasp-laden end of the stick toward me.
“Smack it!” he answered my questioning look. I smacked the end of his stick with mine catching the wasp in between. We both watch the tiny body spiral to the ground below. By the time I looked back at Slick, he was already tormenting our second victim.
You know, this really was fun. You’ve got to be careful about poking at the wasps. Occasionally one of the smarter ones will jump off the nest and attack the stick holder rather than the stick. Try hitting an attacking wasp with a yardstick, hanging upside down, etc., etc. We took home a few whelps as souvenirs. And things could get real interesting if you messed around and hit the nest while wildly swinging at an attacking wasp. But even this was too easy for Slick, so he cut our yard sticks in half length ways making them even more narrow. It became a point of pride to have the narrowest stick. One at at time, wasps soon became an endangered species at the elevator.
Just a few days before I would return to school that summer, another one of the crew came running up as I was unloading a truck and excitedly said, “Slick found a wasp nest!” Frankie never found the thrill that Slick and I did from participating in these hunts, but he seemed to enjoy watching us do it.
Even though rice harvest had started and I didn’t really have time for this, I hurriedly gave the customer his ticket and a bum’s rush out the door. We hadn’t seen any wasps in weeks, and this would undoubtedly be my last chance this summer. Following Frankie across the yard to a different building I spotted Slick among the tangle of angle iron bracing almost 200 feet up at a turn-head.
“Hang on ’til I get there!” I admonished Slick. He was known to go solo by smacking the wasp on a wall or brace as it rode his stick. He’d have the rest of the summer and fall to wasp hunt. This would be my last shot this year, and he could darn well wait for me.
I breathlessly arrived at the battle ground. In this flat rice country, we seemed to be at the pinnacle of creation. The turn-head was 5 feet above us, above that is only sky. I could see our competition, DeWitt Grain and Storage, in the city of DeWitt 14 miles to the north. It was here, at the edge of space that this last ragtag band of six-legged refugees made their stand. And a sad little affair it was. The little wad of perforated paper was smaller than a golf ball with 4 wasps clinging to it. Something stirred in me and I looked to Slick to see if he also felt the urge to grant amnesty to this last colony.
Nope. He’s already handing me the first wasp. Oh well. Smack, smack smack smack, and it’s done.
That was my last summer at the elevator. Slick’s dad and the other partners sold it that winter. The new owners had their own crew, so I found a job on a tow boat the next summer. That was many summers ago. But to this day, I never see a wasp nest or yard stick without thinking of Slick, and the fun we had that summer. It’s an oft-repeated truth that you don’t recognize the best days of your life while living them. It’s only now, looking back across the years, that I realize what treasures they were.

- Guy Wheatley

Jun 20
Boy am I red
icon1 Guy | icon2 Wrenching | icon4 06 20th, 2011| icon32 Comments »

I finally got around to putting some paint on my trunk. Rather than haul it to a body shop and lay out a pile of dough, I just busted down to a local home improvement store, bought some spray cans of paint, and did it myself. For just about $20 and a lot of sweat, I’ve got a paint job on my trunk that looks absolutely …… uhhh …. well ….
It looks like a $20 paint job.
Call this an experiment. The red color on my bike is Honda’s R223 Red Sedona Pearl. I found that Valspar’s Royal Garnet is almost an exact match of tone and hue. Unfortunately, I could only find it in a satin finish. I figured/hoped that a top coat of clear would produce the gloss finish I needed. It didn’t.
I haven’t given up on the idea of a cheap do-it-yourself paint job. The cream section is beautiful. It was Valspar’s Ivory Almond in a gloss finish. I’m happy with it. But the satin finish on the red left an unacceptable result.
Additionally, I didn’t properly wet sand between coats, leaving a rough finish. I know this is doable because of the way the cream section turned out. I’m going to try and find the Royal Garnet in a gloss finish and try again. I’ll also be sure to have some 300 grit sandpaper. I may also see if I can get the clear coat with some pearl in it.
You can check out my efforts in the photo gallery below..

click thumbnail for larger image in a new window.
















- Guy Wheatley

Jun 17
Darkside Tire

Photo illustration by Guy Wheatley
Come with us to the Dark Side. We have cookies.

I recently joined another motorcycle-related forum. (See Link at bottom) There’s nothing unusual in that. I already belong to several. There are three forums specifically for models of motorcycles I own or have recently owned.
I host another forum for local riders and friends, and have belonged to forums for riders in increasingly large areas, like regions and states. The theme for all of these forums have been either about motorcycle riders, or riders of a specific bike.
Because all members of these forums share a common interest, there is a feeling of fraternity. Our common interest in riding or in a particular type of motorcycle gives us enough common ground to develop a sense of community. Recreational activities and brand loyalty have long been the nucleus around which groups can form.
But this most recent addition to my list of forums has a somewhat different binding force. This forum is about riding on the dark side. The dark side, in motorcycling terms, most often refers to using a car tire. Reading this forum often causes a fleeting sense of vertigo. A member will ask a question about his bike, and I automatically assume he’s on the same type of motorcycle I have. So the references to parts that my bike doesn’t have, or a part that is markedly different from the equivalent part on my bike can cause temporary disorientation. But when we get back to the main issue of car tire safety and durability, it all feels like home.
Not only are there many types of bikes represented on this forum, but myriad brands and styles of tire as well. So the binding force here is not a brand loyalty, or even general riding. It is the use of a car tire. To me that seems odd as a cohesive force.
Reading through some of the posts, I began to realize the motive force may be more external than internal. Most of us dark-siders have been repeatedly warned that we are courting instant, flaming and painful death. And there is actual prejudice out there as many have found when trying to get a car tire mounted. Very few dealerships or tire stores will knowingly mount a car tire on a motorcycle for fear of potential litigation. And most of us have repeatedly been subjected to diatribes about the danger of what we are doing.
So dark-siders come together to list places that will mount their tires, or with advice and instruction on how to do it yourself. We also share information and reviews on tires we use. And as many dark-siders my be geographically isolated, surrounded by nonbelievers, the board can be a place of moral support.
In my own case, it was a pleasure to find so many other who like me have seen the light and gone to the dark side.

- Guy Wheatley

Jun 17

Title: Grand Opening Whiskey River Harley Davidson
Location: 802 Walton Drive
Link out: Click here
Description: Grand Opening featuring the OAK RIDGE BOYS!!! Vendors, Food, BYOB, Games and good Times!!!

- All current WRHD HOG Members will have lunch and a meet and greet with the Oak Ridge Boys starting at 11:30.
- H-D Demo Truck here!
- Door prizes
- Chance to win $10,000 with the right combination from the WRHD Prize Vault.
- Live bands all day.
- LIVE Performance by the Oak Ridge Boys!
Start Time: 8:30 am
Date: 2011-06-25
End Time: 5:30 pm

Jun 10
FT-Bone

Photo illustration by Brandon Wheatley
The view of me from the perspective of the male passenger in the car I
almost T boned.

I had to run to Kmart right after work. I was on the Magna that has only soft leather saddlebags and no trunk. This meant a trip home to drop off my laptop and briefcase as I had no way to lock them up while I was in the store.
Leaving my house, I turned off Wood Street onto West Eighth Street. The speed limit here is 45 mph. It was between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. so the traffic was building to rush-hour volume. I was pacing traffic as we slowed approaching a mass of cars pulling through a traffic signal that had just turned green. I was in the far right hand lane on this three-lane street. We were less than halfway down the block approaching midway. The vehicle in the middle lane was just ahead of me. I was in his blind spot and decided to drop back a little. This proved difficult because we were both already slowing down due of the traffic ahead of us. I did manage to let the car get far enough ahead of me that he wouldn’t hit me with an unexpected lane change.
I noticed a car in the alley on the far side of the road with its bumper sticking out past the curb. I was sure it would cross the road using the alleys as soon as the pack of vehicles cleared that spot. As I was hugging the back of the pack, I wasn’t concerned with it. Even if the driver stomped the gas after the car ahead of me passed, it couldn’t be in my lane before I got past. But that’s not what the driver did.
The far left lane was empty, the last vehicle in it having passed the spot several seconds ago. Just as the front of the car in the middle lane came even with the spot, the driver in the alley accelerated across Eighth street. She had obviously, and correctly, calculated that the vehicle in the center lane would get clear before she reached the middle lane. Apparently she hadn’t seen, or allowed for, me on my bike trailing behind in the far lane.
Fortunately I had been watching her. I wouldn’t be here writing this blog if I hadn’t. But even so, I suddenly found myself in a bad spot. I’ve been in tough spots a few times in my life, and I’m always amazed at the way perception changes. I heard some describe it as, “time slowing down.” I understand why some might describe it that way, but don’t fully agree. It’s more like my brain begins to process thoughts differently. In normal times, I seem to go through a sequential process to reach an inevitable conclusion. In the stress times, I do away with a mental speech process and work with completed concepts. As the car pulled out, I was instantly aware that it would intersect my path resulting in my T-boning it. I didn’t bother forming the words in my mind, but moved immediately to the next impression. I was aware of how inadequate my situational awareness was. I wasn’t sure the lane to my left was clear from behind. Trying to go there to pass behind the car, even if I could make it, might put me in the path of another vehicle.
My body had reacted instinctively hitting both brakes. I became aware of a screeching noise and realized my back tire had locked up. Even as I accepted this information, my foot eased pressure and the squealing stopped. I remember being satisfied that there was no sudden jolt as the tire again found grip, meaning that my back end had not been fishtailing.
Another piece of data my brain found cause to store away was the fact the windows were open on the car. Temperatures were in the upper 90s and most drivers had the air condition running with windows up. It just struck me as odd that this car had both front windows down. I was also surprised that I could hear the occupants of the car. A young woman who appeared to be in her early 20s was driving. Her head was turned in my direction and she seemed to have been talking a male passenger about the same age. I didn’t make out her words, but watched in fascination as her mouth formed a perfect little O as her eyes widened when she saw me bearing down on them.
I had absolutely no chance to stop the bike before reaching the spot presently occupied by the car. But I did have hopes of slowing down enough to let her get out of the way. I remember mentally pleading with her to not hit her brakes. I also found her expression interesting. Her eyes seemed to be pleading with me to do something to somehow prevent the impending collision. Otherwise, she seemed frozen. That may have been fortunate, because she didn’t hit the brakes.
The male passenger had been looking at something in his lap. My screeching tires must have gotten his attention and caused him to look up. He would have seen me closing fast, aimed directly at his door. I heard the “Aaawwwwwww,” very clearly, but only caught the lingual consonant at the beginning of the next word before momentum carried him out of my path. It sounded like air escaping from a punctured tire.
I had been drifting left even as I continued to press the brakes. I was making eye contact with the driver and remember trying to give her a disgusted look that would convey the thought, “Lady, why did you do that?”
Then it was over. The road ahead of me was clear. I’d missed her car by little more than the thickness of a coat of paint. But that was enough to give me the chance to learn a lesson.
“Ride like they’re all trying to kill you,” a friend previously admonished me.
And on this day, it looked like she was.

- Guy Wheatley

Jun 9
Farm to Market road 51

Farm to Market Road 51 near Glen Rose Texas. The segment between
FM 205 and US 67 offers 6 miles of motorcycle heaven.

I didn’t get to ride anywhere near as much as I had hoped to. I hoped for at least a full day dedicated to exploring Farm to Market roads during this trip. I got less than a full morning. But oh what a morning.
I just didn’t have any energy. Everything took longer and I just had to drive myself to get moving.
As a result, we were a day late getting on the road. Once we did, I still couldn’t seem to get things moving at a decent pace. I would eventually discover that I had an infection that was dragging me down, and sapping my strength and energy. But on this one glorious morning, I felt full of life.
Our daughter and the grandkids were meeting us that afternoon at the campground. We were going to run into town that morning for a little exploration, and to pick up a few supplies. Going south on Park Road 59, I should have taken a left at FM 205. But on a wild hair, I turned right. I was just looking for promising roads as I made what I thought would be an extended loop back to Glen Rose. I ran west on 205 for about 6 miles until it merged with FM 51 in a T intersection. This road was smaller, more winding, and threaded its way around, and occasionally over more hills.
As soon as I turned onto it, I saw a warning sign with the squiggled arrow and advising 30mph. With the wife on the back and having not seen the road before, I didn’t fudge the posted warning speed by much. Leaving the first set of curves, I could already see the next sign for the next set of curves.
By the third or fourth repetition of this pattern, I must have been literally squealing with delight. I felt my wife’s fingers dig into my kidneys as she growled the warning, “All right now. Don’t get crazy!”
I did my best to not get crazy for the next 5 miles until we hit Highway 67 again. Another left turn had me heading back toward Glen Rose. As I approached the intersection with FM 205 on the north side of the road, I noticed that a paved road continued in the same direction on the south side. A sign read, “Down Town Glen Rose.” I hit my right blinker and followed it south along the Paluxy River into Glen Rose.
Glen Rose is a charming little town of about 2000 people. It has a distinctly “Mayberry,” feel. We found a couple of antique shops, but I was surprised and disappointed to discover them closed mid-morning on a Tuesday. I’m sure that saved me some money.
The few roads I saw this trip were not the Tail of the Dragon, or the Talimena run, but they were certainly enjoyable. The thing that catches my imagination about this area is that it covers hundreds, if not thousands, of square miles of these roads. And the map shows a spider web of county roads, many of which I know are paved. How many sets of tires could a rider wear out before hitting the same road twice?
I need to get back down there and hit at least a few more of them.

- Guy Wheatley