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Old 07-20-2012, 04:43 AM   #16
masukomi
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Location: Cambridge, MA
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Day 1 - Cambridge, Massachusetts to Endicott, New York

Dachary and I both had plenty of paying work that had to get done yesterday, and we still hadn’t packed the bikes. Fortunately, we had a checklist… a six page checklist. Unfortunately, the checklist didn’t include spare keys, which we didn’t discover until half an hour down the road. Dachary asked if we should go back or be “irresponsible”. I said “fuck it.” I wasn’t going back, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

Tired from a long day, we packed until probably 11PM and went to bed, before waking up at 5:45. We were both nervous and excited I think. The first order of business was shaving my head. I didn’t want to have to deal with any more hair in my eyes with the helmet on, and fearing the impending temperatures in the midwest I wanted the best opportunity to stay cool. The result is totally dorky looking, and Dachary says I look my age, which is somewhat sad because usually I’m pegged for about 10 years younger. :(

We showered, packed up the bikes, ate a good breakfast, and finally set out at 11:00 AM. A stop at the ATM (cash is good) and a last minute purchase at REI (collapsable bowls to save space) and we were finally, officially, on the highway at noon with no reason to stop beyond food and gas.



The highway was… highway. Having gotten a late start we wanted to make up for lost time and took the toll filled I90 west.

We ate lunch at one of those on-the-highway “service areas” where we met a couple out camping for the weekend in a station-wagon packed to the gills with gods only know what. The bikes and dogs also got fluids. The Ural was especially thirsty.

A little ways down the road and we saw three fire engines, a bunch of troopers, smoke billowing, and geysers of water being sprayed at it. A tractor-trailer had caught fire, and gotten so hot that it managed to leave nothing but a pile of slag and… whatever it is that you call the thing your wheels mount on to.



A few minutes after that the Ural ran out of fuel in the main tube and Dachary had to reach down and flip the petcock while driving. Fortunately, she is a wise and observant woman who had predicted this just after the fire, and had found the petcock switch and practiced flipping it while riding before she actually needed to.

We have a roto-pax with a gallon of spare gas, and the shoulders were pretty wide in that part of NY so I wasn’t too concerned. Mostly I’m concerned about the fact that the range on this thing is absolute crap, and fueling it is going to be inordinately expensive. I don’t think there’s any way we can do around-the-world in this without installing a fuel-cell or carrying a lot of spare jerry-cans.

On our penultimate gas stop we encountered Marty Sullivan and his band of intrepid National Guardsmen (and woman). Actually, I’ve no clue what Marty’s rank was relative to anyone else’s there. But, we’d found shade, and one of their trucks had broken down, so they joined us and we chatted for a bit.



We love these random encounters with interesting people, but we were already running behind and had miles to go, so we politely excused ourselves and suited up. One unexpected discovery during this rest stop was a pair of clip-on sunglasses for me. I lost the old-people over-glasses glasses that I was using previously, so I was pretty excited about this. They are of course shaped like your classic cop-style sunglasses, which combined with my new haircut looks totally…. something. Dachary hasn’t seen them yet.

As 7pm approached we’d done nearly 300 miles and were passing through the towns just before the campground and feeling really grossed out. We did not like these places at all and I was scared the “campground” was just going to be some lot behind an industrial plant with a pile of RV’s on rocks, but the buildings gave way to trees, our hopes started rising, and we found a surprisingly decent campground. The only weirdness, besides wanting to actually see the rabies certs. for the dogs, is that the gate closes along with the office at 8PM and there’s no getting back in unless you’re a permanent resident (all RV campgrounds have permanent residents as far as I can tell). This isn’t such a problem for the BMW but the Ural just doesn’t fit around the gate.

Dachary and I threw the tent up, and I took off to find food at a local restaurant while she finished setting up camp, because we were just too bushed to deal with cooking.

The chicken I grabbed from Pete’s Chicken turns out to be the best damn chicken either of us have tasted. This isn’t just good chicken. It’s “Fucking Good” chicken. It’s excellent. I wouldn’t drive 300 miles to get it again, and the towns preceding it are scary, but if you happen to be in the area…. it’s good.

That’s about it for the night, beyond discovering that we’d also forgotten to bring AAA batteries or put any in our tent light, which is a bit of a luxury we admit, but it’s very nice to have when you’ve got to sit around typing up a post and reading your notes from the day in the dark.

Dachary’s note:UDF, or Ural Delay Factor, is something we’ve already experienced with our rig… but it appears to be amplified by the dogs, all the gear and the custom sidecar cover. When we stopped at REI to pick up collapsible bowls, I stayed with the rig and the dogs, and we met Peter (Motorcycle Marketing Resources - MMRsite.com). He was very interested in the rig, and we had a pleasant chat.

When we stopped for gas/lunch, we met a couple on their way to a bluegrass festival in NY (whose names, I stupidly did not get)… and when we stopped for another gas break (the Ural takes a lot of gas!) we met Marty Sullivan and his fellow National Guardsmen that Kay mentioned above. Lots of pleasant chats with friendly, interesting people… we love the interactions with people, as it’s these encounters you remember long after the trip - but I forget to account for the extra time.
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Old 07-20-2012, 05:21 AM   #17
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Masukomi, we need a pic so we can judge for ourselves how dorky your haircut and sunglasses look. Maybe we'll rate this thread based on how you look
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Old 07-20-2012, 01:53 PM   #18
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Hi From Nevada

Hi you two!

Glad to see you are on the move again. I am going to be in the Denver area from July 28th to around August 6th. If you get a chance try to track me down. I will email you my cell #.

In April, a couple that had met you - Sandra and Jordan from Calgary - stopped by my house with their 650s to do a little maintainence and as we were talking your names came up. What a small world.

Have fun - Hope to see you.

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Old 07-20-2012, 08:17 PM   #19
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Day 2 - Endicott, NY to Youngstown, OH


Rain tap-tap-tapping on our tent woke me this morning, bright and early. So early, in fact, that while I really wanted to make a trip to the bathroom building, I didn't feel like dealing with the dogs. And when we're up, they're up. So I tossed and turned for a while trying to convince my bladder that I was still asleep, until I glanced over and saw Kay doing a similar dance and gave up. By then it was around 6AM.

We took turns wandering off to the bathroom building, since we had only brought one umbrella and the rain was coming down pretty steadily. And then Kay, being the trooper that he is (and the second one to go to the bathroom - hence he was already out of the tent with the umbrella) walked the dogs. And when he brought them back, we discovered how woefully inadequate our little REI pack towels are for wet dogs. And how quickly the smell of wet dogs permeates a tent, however palatial.

Putzed around re-packing things in the tent for a while in the vain hope that it would stop raining. The weather radar LOOKED like the rain would end in 10 or 15 minutes... for 2 hours. By the time 8 AM rolled around, we'd re-packed and re-arranged everything we could, and we'd torn down everything short of packing out from the tent. I volunteered for that duty, since I'm better at tetris-ing things into the panniers than Kay is. And then there was nothing left but the tent full of two dogs, a Kay and our motorcycle jackets. And it was still raining steadily.

We bundled the dogs directly into the sidecar where they could stay dry under our nifty custom cover. And yes, it was dry! They patiently waited while we tore down the tent, and packed it wet, since we couldn't really do much about the rain. And then they waited patiently while we packed out the garbage and left the campground. And waited patiently some more while we rode to the gas station, gassed up and put air in the rear tire of the Ural, since we didn't feel like tearing everything apart to get to our Cycle Pump in the rain. And then we were off! Sadly, in spite of our intention to get an early start, it was nearly 10 AM by the time we were packed, gassed and ready to ride.

And wet.

We rode for a while. The GPS routed us on state highways that were quite pretty, for a while. We rode through a part of New York that was hilly and verdant, with speeds in the 40-55 MPH range - which is exactly in the Ural's wheelhouse. The morning passed pleasantly, but by 11:30AM, we still hadn't had breakfast and the Ural wanted more gas, so we stopped at a gas station that claimed to have food thinking we'd grab something and get back on the road fairly quickly.


A couple of small pizzas for us (think microwave personal-pan style) and a couple of hot dogs for the dogs, who hadn't eaten much kibble in the past 24 hours, and I went back inside for water for our Camelbaks before we left. When I came back out, we shared a muffin with the dogs and started to gear up when a gent named Bob moseyed up. He came over to chat about the bikes - he had a Triumph that he liked to tinker with - and we ended up chatting with him about the area. I told him I thought it seemed like a great area (it was really beautiful) and he told us about how the gas companies have caused some political conflict in the town. On the one hand, it gave the town work and boosted the economy in a time when many places were dying. But on the other hand, it's a gas company and there's some unpleasantness going on...

It just reminded me of some of the things we encountered in South America where we felt people were being exploited... Bob was telling us that some of the stuff went into practically everything, from plastic to pieces of the motorcycles to... pretty much everything. I felt a little disgusted thinking about how consumer-driven our society is, and how our need to constantly "buy, buy, buy" stuff supports this type of exploitation and depletion of our natural resources. All so someone can have a plastic bottle of water. Or an XBOX. When we first got back from the trip, we were pretty anti-consumer. We got rid of a bunch of stuff. But in the past year, that attitude has shifted again and we've gone back to accruing stuff. At least this time, it's motorcycle and travel related... but it reminded me of how easy it is to go back to one's old ways and lose awareness of things like this going on all over the world. Not just in South America, but right here in Pennsylvania.

Anywho, by the time we were done chatting with Bob, it was 12:45 and we'd barely made it 80 miles. It was time to make tracks. We were heading for a campground that was 385 miles from where we stayed last night, so we still had 300+ miles to go and it was almost 1PM. That did not seem good.

The rest of the day was spent going in and out of rain bursts. For a while, it was pretty. The mist was light so the moisture wasn't too bad, but the steam rising from the hills around us was just beautiful. I enjoyed it. I would vastly prefer that type of day to 100+ degrees that we're anticipating when we get out to places like Nebraska. We kept the sidecar fully enclosed, which the dogs didn't particularly enjoy - they vastly prefer it when they can stick their head out and see what's going by - but it kept them dry.

Eventually we hit I-80, which we were to take for something like 180 miles before the GPS gave us any alternate instructions (and I think at that point it was just to stay right onto I-80). So it got real boring, real fast. And right when we got on I-80, we started encountering road works... the first one of which it took us 40 minutes of driving 5-10 MPH to get through. Which is very bad for an air-cooled bike like the Ural. At one point, we pulled over onto the shoulder and let it sit for a bit because Kay thought the engine was making some odd sounds and we were concerned it might be getting too hot. We bought an IR thermometer to check engine temps on the Ural, since we don't actually have an engine oil thermometer (it's on our list of things to buy) so we pulled a temp and the right cylinder was reading around 350 degrees. That's only about 25 degrees hotter than it was yesterday after a stretch of interstate, so we were a bit reassured, but we waited a bit longer before heading back into the fray.


'Dido decided to get in on the wet action at one point during the day. When it was only lightly misting, we left one of the side covers up to give them some fresh air. While the insides stayed dry, Bandido insisted on sticking his head out into the wind, leaving him with half a wet face. Needless to say, we rolled that side back down at the next stop.

By around 3:30PM, we stopped for an emergency bathroom break and I realized we weren't going to make it to the campground. We still had around 215 miles to cover at that point. At Ural speeds, we'd be pushing it to make that in 3.5-4 hours... and that doesn't count the stops to fill up the Ural every 80-100 miles (yes, it's a gas hog). So it would be after dark by the time we hit the campground. I made an executive decision to just try to get as far toward Anderson, IN as we could (my stop for tomorrow, where I have family to visit) and then try to find a hotel. Kay agreed, so we hit the road again. More rain.

At some point in all this, the Ural seems to have had a bump in the power/performance department. It was having trouble pulling up hills yesterday and this morning - going uphill on the interstate, we'd drop from 65MPH down to about 60 or even 55 on some of the steeper inclines - but when Kay was driving it this afternoon, it seemed to be able to maintain a steady speed or to scrub speed more slowly uphill. And on our last few fillups, it seemed to take less fuel! I haven't crunched the numbers yet, but it seems like the Ural may have hit one of those magic break-in spots where things get a nice little bonus.

At around 8PM, we stopped for gas for the Ural and there happened to be like 6 or 8 hotels at this exit... so we decided to call it a day. There was still probably 30 minutes of light left, but we didn't know how far it would be to find a hotel again, and with 6-8 we had a reasonable chance that at least one would take dogs... so we decided to be opportunistic and call it a day. We'd been on the road for 10 hours. Been up and moving around for 14. And we still had a crap-ton of stuff we wanted to get done tonight. I'm a little disappointed to not be camping tonight, but I think the dry bed and the hot shower (and being able to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without having to walk the dogs, too) will compensate.

Oh - and remember how we rode in the rain all day? And woke up in the rain? Well, things are pretty wet. It looks we exploded across the hotel room with all the wet stuff we've got stretched out to dry. And our tent that got put away wet? I came up with a creative way to dry it...


Bonus: it totally conceals the bikes. Who needs a cover?
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Old 07-21-2012, 04:06 AM   #20
masukomi
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Day 2 - followup

A few things to add

1) The Pine Hill campground place had a shower system was either ingenious or sadistic. I’m not sure which. You pulled a chain which caused water to come out. The water was connected directly to the hot water heater. The longer you pulled the hotter it got. Pretty soon you’d pull for a quick half-second blast scrub, pull, scrub, repeat until clean. I’ve never used so little water in a shower.

2) Yesterday’s drive in the rain. What with paying for a new Ural, and saving up to feed it’s gas addiction on this trip, a few things didn’t get purchased. One was hand guards. Partially because of money, partially because the only ones we know that fit it for certain are just plastic that would crumple should they actually be called in to use as protective devices. The other was rain gloves. Specifically the Rev`It H20 gloves of awesome that Dachary already has.

We’ve both ridden with wet summer gloves before, and consider it a non-issue but I think it’s been quite a while since I rode all day with cool wet gloves. It sapped my energy all day long. I was fighting to stay awake on the road, caught myself taking 2 micro-naps during the day very bad thing. By dinner time I was cold, and whiney. When we got off the bikes Dachary asked my why my fingers were all “pruney”. She’d been wearing summer gloves all day and her hands weren’t “pruney”. The difference, of course, was that she had hand-guards. After dinner she leant me her rain gloves and my mood got so much better. I think it helped me keep the energy imparted by lunch too.

3) My headset crapped the bed yesterday too. Kept turning off. We know it’s not a lack of energy, because the Scala Rider’s have crazy-good battery life. I suspect it’s rain related. Dachary disagrees because we’ve never had them repeatedly shut off in the rain. We’ll find out Saturday.

4 ) The towels never did dry from the first night. Too much humidity in the air.

5) On a non-water-related note: Dido’s totally going back to his street-dog roots. On hot sunny days when we let them out of the sidecar he’s instantly trying to get under it for shade (not that the cover doesn’t also provide good shade). He’s digesting the street food better than the normal home food. And, he’s totally comfortable with this changing environment. He just looks for something soft and curls up on it without a worry.
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Old 07-21-2012, 06:55 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masukomi View Post

5) On a non-water-related note: Dido’s totally going back to his street-dog roots. On hot sunny days when we let them out of the sidecar he’s instantly trying to get under it for shade (not that the cover doesn’t also provide good shade). He’s digesting the street food better than the normal home food. And, he’s totally comfortable with this changing environment. He just looks for something soft and curls up on it without a worry.
That's really cool, I bet he's REALLY enjoying himself
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Old 07-22-2012, 04:12 AM   #22
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Day 3 - Youngston, OH to Anderson, IN

With things dried we packed up and made the first decision of the day: where to have breakfast. Neither of us wanted McDonalds, and there was a Perkins just across the way. Dachary claims this is “kind of like a Denny’s” which sounded much better than McDonalds to both of us, but at the same time we needed to make miles fast today so that we’d have time to spend with Dachary’s family tonight. So, McDonalds it was.

On the road Dachary (we switch off who drives which vehicle every day) discovered something I’d discovered the previous day. The Ural had magically acquired some more horsepower. We didn’t know from where, or why, but it had more “get-up-and-go” than it used to. She was so happy about it that, combined with an ear-worm of Michael Jackson’s Wanna be Startin’ Somethin’ had here literally dancing on her seat.



Unfortunately, it was too good to be true. After one of our many gas-stops the extra power disappeared and took a little of the other power with it. At our lunch stop (another McDonalds …ugh) she purchased some “octane booster” to test the theory that maybe it was some poor gas from the last place. It wasn’t….

At some point the power came back, then left, then came back again, then left… and back… and….



Meanwhile my headset was following a similar pattern. I was thrilled that in the early day it worked perfectly, and then half-way through it shut itself off. Turn it on, it shuts off. After a few times of that it stayed on for hours to the dismay of both of us. But, then it started shutting off quite quickly.



At lunch we had a classic example of street-dog thinking vs city dog thinking.



Dachary decided to buy herself a pair of dorky sunglasses to compliment mine, and oblige the request from others for a picture of my new dorky haircut and cop-style clip-on shades. As you can tell from the sticker they’re polarized, as is the vizor on our helmets, which means they combine to look like a 2D movie viewed through 3D glasses. Each eye was seeing slightly different colors, and it made my brain not happy. But… at least the world wasn’t as blindingly bright.



Whilst modeling our glasses, ben managed to catch a butterfly. We’re still not sure how he managed that.

INSERT PICTURE OF BUTTERFLY

Just before reaching our destination, we spotted a large Harley sign. Harley riders use headsets all the time… We couldn’t talk, but we had the same thought, and pulled in.

No headsets. Four hundred thousand pieces of clothing and chrome plated doo-dads though… At least they had a bathroom.

Back in the parking lot Dachary decided to consult the internet for any other nearby motorcycle dealers who might not be closed yet on a Saturday, or who might have some sliver of a chance of being open on Sunday, because gods forbid the sellers of luxury items should every try and be open when their customers have time to visit them… end rant.

Anyway. Everyone was either closed or didn’t have any in stock.

We took off, and Dachary noticed I’d neglected to clip in ’Dido’s harness. Eep! The headsets happened to be on at that moment, so she told me and we pulled over, clipped `Dido in, while Dachary ran inside to pee at the gas station we’d just pulled over at, called her Grandpa to let him know we were 40 minutes outside of town, and he said they’d meet us at the hotel.

Ten minutes after we’d gotten stuff off the bike and we were surrounded by family. Dachary’s Grandpa (who raised her), his girlfriend, her uncle, aunt, and her youngest sister all showed up. There was talk of the bikes, travel, drawing, and family.

Towards the end we mentioned the problems with the headsets and Dachary’s uncle offered to take a look, having had a background in similar electronics, and had the wee little torx wrenches required to open the thing. He admitted that a bluetooth radio was somewhat dissimilar to what he was used to, but we figured it’s already broken, out of warranty, and we plan on getting a new one, so he can’t hurt it worse.



End result, we think there’s a decent chance it’s just the battery which he says he saw online for about $5. Buy a new battery, shove it in, and we’ll either have a working spare or we’ll be out $5. Worth a try. In the meantime, we’ve put it back together and will have to make-do until Tuesday, which is the earliest any motorcycle shop seems to be open and also the earliest we can get on shipped somewhere, although we’ve no clue where since the only person we have to ship something to is my little brother in Denver.

On his way out to poke at that we swung by the bike to check the final drive oil level, because we hadn’t checked it since we left. Why does gear oil have to smell so nasty? Even though we’d changed it just before leaving with a nice pink fluid it now looks just as dark and nasty as it smells, and the level had fallen to just below the lower line, but the gear box was also cool so, I’m not sure. I gave it a wee bit more, knowing that it would just weep out the top if there was too much, but we’re going to have to change that soon… of course, it’s a Ural so you’re going to have to change all the fluids soon, because the maintenance intervals are so close.

I also checked the spark plugs, which looked ok to me. Everyone’s alway told me you want a nice mocha coloring. Dachary says that’s either changing, or it’s different on the Ural and you want closer to clean metal. I don’t remember. Either way, I changed them out because the programmer in me demands the removal of variables when debugging a problem, and the web poster in me knows there will be a contingent of folks going “It’s the spark plugs!” if I don’t, and changing them will make you guys happy too. Plus if we’re wrong about it not being the spark plugs then we’ve just fixed the problem. I don’t mind being proven wrong, especially when it fixes things. ;)

Also, here’s a picture (of poor quality, sorry) so that you guys can debate their color, because I know some of you are going to want to.



It was great to finally meet her family. Her grandpa told me to be sure and take care of her and “keep her out of trouble”. I kinda chuckled at that one, as there’s little chance of that.

On that note dear friends, I bid you a fond goodnight. It’s way too late to be typing this stuff and Dachary’s sound asleep.

… half an hour later and I’m still trying to get the images uploaded. Maybe they’ll be done in the morning.

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Old 07-22-2012, 04:29 AM   #23
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Quick note re: the power issues... it was wonderful, fabulous when I started riding yesterday morning. I even managed to get up to 74 MPH on a relatively flat stretch! I was running along at 65-70 with what felt like power to spare, and actually passing people!

Then by around 11AM, we started losing oomph... I could only get up to 61-62MPH on flat stretches and it was driving me bonkers. It was down to 55MPH or so up hills again like it had been on Thursday. I had no idea what the variables could possibly be... the only thing we did between getting great performance and getting poor performance was I had flipped the fuel petcock from main to reserve, and then flipped it back and filled up with new gas. (Premium - it was 92 octane at that gas station.)

After I was having such bad performance, I started experimenting with flipping the petcock back and forth in case it was some debris caught in the petcock that was obstructing the fuel flow. It didn't help. At our lunch stop, I added some octane booster just to see. It didn't help. Toward 3PM or so I started getting the power back in little spurts... by the end of the day, I was running 72MPH again on flat stretches but it was pretty much full out.

Admittedly I've never tried diagnosing something like this before, but I checked the operation of the throttle body on the carbs while I was driving and they were definitely moving when I twisted the throttle. Something in my gut was telling me it was the air/fuel mixture... too much of one, not enough of the other. That's why I had Kay pull the spark plugs. I feel like those spark plugs are more fouled than they should be, which to me indicates that it's running rich... maybe we'll try putting in lower octane gas today and see what happens. (And yes, the air filter is fine - we swapped to a new K&N filter before we left Boston and we've only done around 1,000 miles on paved roads since then.)

So... I guess we'll see what happens today!
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Old 07-22-2012, 08:41 AM   #24
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I think your plugs look fine. Desirable is a dry tan/beige color. I wouldn't call those "fouled" by any stretch.

Given your pre-departure carb problems and the intermittent nature of the symptoms you describe, my first suspicion would be a sticky carb float that isn't maintaining a consistent/proper fuel level.

My advice, however, is worth exactly what you're paying for it. ;-)
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Old 07-22-2012, 11:49 AM   #25
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Check to make sure all the connections between your carburetors and the airbox are on tight. It could be intermittently causing you to run lean and sap your power.


If you find you have to disconnect anything, remember to build the pipes back from the carburetor to the airbox, they'll stay on better that way.
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:31 PM   #26
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Day 4 - Anderson, IN to Keokuk, IA


Unsurprisingly, we got off to a late start. Kay was futzing with the Internet in the morning, and I was, too, and my grandpa showed up shortly before 8AM to see us off. We were still packing and I was still dealing with Internet stuff, so I sent Kay down to check on the "continental breakfast" while I wrapped up the tasks. His report was uninspiring, so I made an executive decision that we were having breakfast at Cracker Barrel with my grandpa. Done. We called my aunt, who was also scheduled to show up to see us off, and advised her of the change in plans. So we met up and headed to Cracker Barrel, where the dogs waited patiently in the sidecar while I had breakfast with my family.

It was nice to have another chance to chat with them. I really felt bad about only having an evening to spend with them while we were in town - last year I'd come to visit for a week and still felt that wasn't long enough because I hadn't seen them in 4 years at that point - so it was good to be able to have breakfast with some of my family, at least. Kay was extremely patient - the time passed quickly and before I knew it 10:30AM had rolled around and we were just leaving Cracker Barrel. But he said it was totally worth getting a late start to be able to spend a bit more time with him. I feel really fortunate to have someone as understanding as he is.





Hit the road around 10:45 after a quick gas-up and it was slab, slab, slab. Slab into Indianapolis and then back out again northwest. I was glad to be on the F650 - the Ural's performance quirks wouldn't be driving me up a tree trying to figure out the root - and I could just kick back and relax. The morning temps weren't too bad even though we'd gotten a late start, and we covered good miles.

Happily, somewhere around our second gas stop, we left the slab and found ourselves on state highways through Illinois. This was MUCH more pleasant. The speed varied from 30-55MPH, which was enough to keep you alert and to keep the bikes happy (particularly the Ural, which seems to care more about speed than the F650) and the scenery also just seemed a lot more pleasant. Even though we were driving through the same type of stuff. I guess it's just because a state highway feels a lot more intimate than the Interstate - everything is up close and personal instead of far off in the distance, removed by an exit. And we really prefer traveling at this speed, which is one of the reasons the Ural feels like a good fit for our preferred travel style.



Kay's note: I have a lot of trouble staying awake on the slab, but put me on a nice back road (or 90% of the roads outside of the USA) and I'm wide awake, and taking in everything. The Ural and I like the same kind of roads it seems.

At our second gas stop, where I spotted beer being sold by the can in a big ice chest in the middle of the gas station (what's that about drinking and driving, Illinois?) Kay and I each knocked back a sugary drink to give us a jolt of caffeine and a burst of energy before hitting the road again. Neither of us felt like eating, as we'd had a big breakfast, so we just pushed on. But it became apparent pretty quickly after we got back on the road that I'd need an unscheduled stop soon. And then it became very apparent that my intestines were very unhappy. I announced that we were pulling off at the next exit, and I practically ran into the bathroom when we hit the gas station. I didn't even bother to take off my helmet and gloves - it was an emergency.

Kay's note: While walking the dogs at this stop I discovered this cool rusting car.

My intestines were, indeed, very unhappy. They hadn't been this unhappy since the time in Argentina where we had to make an emergency stop on the side of the road to address my unhappy lower GI. When I finally freed myself from the clutches of the bathroom, I made a bee-line to the Immodium and popped two as soon as I got out to the bike. I announced that it was time to go, as I really wasn't feeling well and my strategy was just to power through.

Kay's Note:While Dachary was inside exploding I met a man, and later his wife, who came over and said "Got your best friend in there?" (People frequently don't notice Bandido for a bit) and started talking.He'd just driven from Deleware where he got a new Monte Carlo. Apparently he buys and restores them. It would have been just another random encounter, except for the comment about the dogs and how "they don't fight back. heh heh" which was a somewhat disturbing little insight into his world...



The next stretch is a bit of a blur. The riding was more pleasant, but my whole digestive system seemed unexplainably angry. I'd only drunk a Mountain Dew and some bottled water from my Camelbak at that last stop, and Kay had the same breakfast as me and he wasn't sick so it probably wasn't the food... I had no idea what I'd done that could have brought it on but it was misery. I really just wanted to be whiny and stop for the day but we had far too many miles to make up to give in like that.

By the time the Ural needed its next fill-up, I was feeling a little better. Had a minor revisitation from the unhappy intestines, so I popped another Immodium and bought a Gatorade and a cookie to try to keep me from getting dehydrated and to give me a shot of energy. At this point I had pretty much nothing in my system, food or water-wise, but the idea of eating anything just felt gross after my digestive system was so unhappy. That cookie was damn good, though. Casey's General Store: if you're all this tasty, I want to revisit your baked goods.

I was sitting with the dogs, drinking my Gatorade, while Kay was off taking pictures of a load of bricks (no, I don't understand why, either... apparently they were "artistic") when a woman came over and complimented the rig. We chatted for a couple of minutes, and then a guy came over to join her. He apparently recognized us - he'd followed our RR from Boston to Ushuaia and we'd met him last year at the BMW MOA rally! We re-introduced ourselves and I got to meet Terry and Connie. And they were on a BMW K-bike custom sidecar hack! Of course we had to compare hacks, and theirs seems very well built for comfort. I was really impressed. There were things about it that just wouldn't work with our travel style, but it was clearly a well thought-out rig and I was a bit envious after some of the power issues I'd been having with the Ural yesterday.[url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/corporaterunaways/7632652600/][/ url]

Had a nice chat with them - it's always good to talk bikes with other motorcyclists and like-minded travelers - but they were going the opposite way as they were coming home from this year's MOA rally in Sedalia, MO. We were headed that way, where the heat was so intense that another canine in a sidecar hack was playing hopscotch to try to avoid burned paws on the hot asphalt - so it was time to part ways and hit the road again. But I hope we meet them again in our travels in the future!

Back on the road, where Kay commented that the air felt like a hot blast from a hair dryer. At least the landscape was more interesting, as we continued riding on county roads and backroads across Illinois. Eventually, we made it to our final gas stop of the day, just 6 miles from the "close" campground that I'd picked out. It was around 6:15-6:30, so we opted not to try for the "far" campground I'd found which was around 100 miles away. So it was just a short 6-mile jaunt to where we could set up camp nice and early, write up the day and maybe relax a bit.

I noticed a river on the map, and the state border seemed to be in the river... and then a thought occurred to me: "Is this the Mississippi? Are we crossing the Mississippi?" Well, you geographically-savvy people are probably thinking "Duh!" but it was the end of a long day and it totally didn't occur to me. But then there we were, crossing the Mississippi and heading into Iowa! It was wide and there was a very impressive dam on it... and my GPS seemed to indicate that we'd be camping along the Mississippi! Score! How cool is that?



Headed up to where the park was supposed to be located... and no park. We went down a gravel drive adjacent to the green space where the park was supposed to be. It was just a driveway for a couple of homes. We went back and turned into the next drive on the other side of the green space where our park was supposed to be located. It was a country club. ACK! Where's the campground? The next place was 100 miles away, and I was tired and hot and ready to be done - that ride just seemed too daunting. Especially with my stomach threatening to explode again. I said to Kay that we should just suck it up and grab one of the hotels in town, but he suggested that we ask the couple that was in the country club parking lot if they had any idea where the campground was located.

Success! They did, indeed, know of a campground. They gave Kay some directions, but then said that they'd be driving to the supermarket that was along the route so we could follow them that far and then navigate the rest of the way to the campground. We thought that was very generous, and Kay pulled over next to my bike while they finished loading their car. When they came around, the woman said that hubby wasn't feeling well, so she'd drop him off and show us how to find the campground, but that she thought there was also camping by the river, and would we rather do that? Well, heck yeah! We were all psyched to be camping by the Mississippi and bummed that we couldn't find the place - we'd jump on the idea of river camping! So she said to follow them while they dropped off hubby, and then she'd lead us to the river campground.

Apparently the plans changed along the way, because after a rather circuitous route, we found ourselves at the river! It was a municipal camping area. There were no amenities, but it was literally right along the river, and the woman painted a great picture of what it would be like to camp there, so we wanted to stay. We chatted for a bit and thanked them for their kindness - it reminded us of other places in the world where people went out of their way to be generous and helpful to travelers, but that has so rarely happened to us here in the US, so it was a really pleasant surprise to find that in Iowa along the Mississippi River!



After they headed out, we walked around for a bit pondering where to put the tent. I felt my energy flagging fast, and I told Kay that I was crashing and that we needed to get set up fast so I could eat the sandwich we'd bought and get some brain back.

(If you don't already know from our SA RR, if I don't get fed at least somewhat regularly, my brain just goes away. Imagine a diabetic on a sugar crash. I get kinda confused and easily distracted, and it takes me a long time to parse even simple things. I've talked to my doctor about it and been tested for diabetes repeatedly as it runs in my family, but apparently they can't find any reason for this... it usually doesn't matter but the end result is that I need to eat *something* at regular intervals or my brain vanishes.)

In spite of my best intentions of adventurous camping along the Mississippi river... I just couldn't find a good place to set up the tent. In one spot, there were a ton of spider webs and ants and a pile of what looked suspiciously like vomit. Pretty much everywhere else, there was a ton of poop. I suspect geese, although there weren't any there at the time. I'm not really that fastidious but I didn't want to get goose poop all over our tent footprint. And on, and on... the endless litany of "how about over here" quickly boiled down to one simple thing: my tummy was still unhappy. That's it. I needed a place to stay that had a bathroom. So we were going for a hotel.

Kay's note:While the area was a little questionable, and potentially noisy, we both liked the idea of camping along the banks of the Mississppi river, and before Dachary's intestines spoke up I grabbed a dog bag and cleaned a spot of all the poo. I've seen plenty of goose poo, and plenty of dog poo. Geese can not be blamed for this. As a result, I have come to the conclusion that the dog owners of Keokuk Indiana are thoughtless ass-holes. At least the ones who walk their dogs there.

Kay's note:The Johnson's however, were an example of what a difference a little bit of thoughtfulness can make. It's also an example of the kindness you seem to find everywhere outside of the United States. So, if you're in Keokuk IA looking for "Clothes for the Particular Man" check out Gary's shop. Sending you there is the least we can do in return.

The GPS had several, including a Super 8, which Kay called to verify that they'd take dogs. They would. We hit the button and got a route. Just a couple of miles away. Along the way, Kay kept calling out to me over the headset to be careful and pay attention. My brain had become so depleted at that point that I was like a small child getting distracted over every little shiny. "Ohh! Sonic! Ohh! Wendy's! Ohh! A Honda motorcycle dealer!" On and on. Kay kept trying to get me to focus on driving but I had so little brain that every thing my eye fell on became a big thing worthy of an exclamation.

At one point, a woman in a gold car pulled out from a left turn toward my lane, and I shouted because I thought she was going to cut me off or actually hit me, but it was clear to Kay that she had no intention of coming all the way over to our lane (it was a 5 lane road - 2 lanes in each direction and a turn lane in the middle - and she was going for one of the near lanes) but I was convinced that she almost hit us. I think that if we couldn't have seen the Super 8 in the distance by then, Kay probably would have told me to pull over and would have ferried me there instead of letting me drive the rest of the way.

We made it without incident, though, and Kay pulled in to get us a room. And then he instructed me to go there immediately and eat a cookie. I didn't want a cookie and wouldn't eat one. I really do get into a childlike state when I get that low on brain power - it's disturbing to think about in retrospect. Kay hustled me into the hotel room while he unpacked our luggage from the bikes and then went to go get us some real dinner at Sonic.

Kay's note: I didn't know what needed to be grabbed from the bikes, or where it lived since Dachary's been heading up the packing this trip, and when I asked her what bags I should get it was almost painful watching her brilliant mind slowly pick items off of a mental list. I immediately instructed her to eat some of the pre-made sandwich we'd bought since she wouldn't eat the cookie. I'm happy to report she'd done so by the time I got back, but it wasn't enough. The Sonic was...

By the time we got settled in, it was around 9:30. We'd left the gas station about 8 miles away at around 6:30 for a campground that was supposedly 6 miles away, just across the river. Just goes to show that the best laid plans, and all that.

Whilst Kay was doing the heavy lifting, I checked the weather for where we'd be traveling next and discovered that they were under an extreme heat warning. Ack! Temperatures in the 103-105 range, and they were advising people to limit outdoor activity and get into air conditioned environments. It had been hot enough today - we passed a sign that said it was 92 when we were heading to the hotel - and I didn't want to subject us or the dogs to that kind of heat. So I suggested that we get up really early and get on the road around sunup just to try to cover miles before it got too hot. Kay agreed, so we set the alarm for 5AM - I felt it should probably be 4:30 but couldn't bring myself to say it - and as it was already after 10, it was time to get to sleep ASAP. Updating the RR and blog would have to wait.

Kay's Note: She also instructed me to go do laundry, which I thought was somewhat insane at 10 PM when we were both wiped out, but it was not an evening where debating the validity of a course of action was even remotely a good decision. I went and did the laundry.

Quick note about the Kay's helmet headset, though: my uncle disassembled it while we were in Anderson, but found he didn't have the right battery to replace it. But he cleaned some connections while he was in there and said there were no signs of water damage. After reassembling and charging the headset, it appears to be working again! It was on for around 10 hours total today, I think, and it hadn't yet died when we stopped for the day. So I don't know what he did, but it worked! I'm thinking that if it keeps up this trend, we won't bother to replace it - we'll just keep an eye on it to see how it's doing.

Kay's note: For those wondering how the dogs fit / ride in the sidecar when they're actually moving I offer you this:



For those wondering how well they get along inside there, or in general, I offer you this:



Ben's head is rested across 'Dido's back in that one.
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:33 PM   #27
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Day 5 - Keokuk, IA to Holton, KS


We adhered to our plan and got up at 5AM - Kay walked the dogs before it was even light outside, while I worked on packing stuff up. (Kay tends to wander around inefficiently when he's doing an open-ended thing like packing, so it just works out better if he has a series of tasks, like walking the dogs, taking some of the luggage out to the bike, etc. while I do things that require more fuzzy logic.) When Kay came back, he reported that it wasn't too bad outside. He was right! Even though the weather said it was already 80 degrees, we were pleased to find that it felt fairly mild.

The Ural still had about 3/4 of a tank so we packed up, checked tire pressures and hit the road without further adieu. I was pleased that we were rolling out right around sunrise, at about 6:10AM. We skipped the hotel breakfast and made good time on state highway type stuff. After about 45 mins or so, we hit the interstate, which unfortunately was the order of the day for the rest of the day's ride.

Ran a tank (about 80 miles or so), gassed up without taking a break, and ran another tank before breakfast. By 8:45ish, we'd covered around 150 miles and the weather was starting to get hot. Gassed up again, and Kay wanted McDonalds for breakfast so we sat at an outdoor table with the dogs. I was displeased that there wasn't any shade - I was already starting to feel overheated - but Kay seemed oblivious so I didn't try to get us to move.

Breakfast for us, breakfast for the dogs (they each got an Egg McMuffin, because they'd eaten all their kibble last night like crazy hungry beasts, and we hadn't dug more out of the trunk yet), bathroom for us, bathroom for the dogs and then packing everything up... took longer than I'd hoped. And Kay suggested that we run to the Wal-Mart just down the road to buy an oil pan for this evening, since today's going to be the day we need to do the 5,000km service on the Ural. I sent him in to fetch it while I waited with the dogs, shielding them from the direct sun so they could relax in a shady sidecar. Of course that took longer than expected, too, so by the time we got back on the road, we'd been stopped for an hour and a half and it was HOT.

Ran another tank, and when we stopped for gas, we decided to play it by ear. We added fresh cold water to our Camelbaks, rolled out the Frogg Toggs Cooling Towel for the dogs, and soaked them down with some of the cold water to help them cool off. And then we had them drink some of the water, too. And we drank some. So much cold watery goodness. We felt sufficiently refreshed to run another tank and see how we were doing at that point. This was around 11:30-11:45, and the temps were probably in the mid-90s.

Kay's Note: I ran in, bought 5 liters of water, ran out, and did my best to immitate those efficient Nascar crews. Unroll the Frogg Togg thing! Water the dogs! Pour remaining water over dogs! Attack dogs with chilly bottled water! Rub water into fur! Open Camelback! Squeeeeeeze! More water! Open Camelback! Squeeeze! More water! Squeeze! Go Go Go!

By the time we'd run another 40 miles down the road, we were getting pooped. Kay said over the headsets that he was having trouble staying awake in the heat on this boring road, and I wasn't much better. And it was officially hot with a capital H-O-T! (I know - I declared it at 12:03 PM. Right before I declared that people in Missouri were worse than average at merging. Really? Merge does NOT mean come to a complete stop and/or force someone into the next lane! Speed up or slow down appropriately to fit into a slot in traffic! Geez, how hard is it, people?)

I peeked in at the dogs and Ben was panting - the first time I've seen him panting whilst the sidecar was moving on this trip - so I decided it was time to call it a day. I checked the GPS for lodging and saw a few no-name local hotels in the next town about 20 miles away. Or there was a Super 8 about 25 miles south. We'd stayed at Super 8 already with the dogs on this trip, and Kay had postulated that perhaps the whole chain was dog-friendly, so I decided it was better to go with a semi-known quantity and adjusted our route on the fly to the Super 8.

Along the way, I hit reserve - at about 120KM, which is much earlier than I've ever hit it on the Ural - and I was concerned that at that rate, I might not have enough gas to make it all the way to Holton. We carry a RotoPax with a gallon of gas in it, so I knew I could add that to the tank if we needed it, but I didn't want to stop in the middle of the direct sun and expose the dogs to that kinda heat while I topped up to get us into town. So when we saw a gas station on the left side of the divided highway, I pulled in.

Unfortunately, it wasn't operational. I don't know if it was still under construction or out of business - it looked fairly new but it wasn't clear what the status was. We started to pull out again, but I expressed my concern about the gas to Kay who suggested that we pull into the shade at the gas station to top up the tank and that way we wouldn't have to worry about it.

So we did that (with a quick detour for Kay to go pee) only to discover that we couldn't get the darn RotoPax nozzle to pour properly. It's one of those ridiculous government-compliant things that you have to turn and push down on or some such garbage, and I'm better with this kinda thing but I wasn't able to get it to work. Kay, who had successfully used the RotoPax last time (back in Boston when we ran out of gas around town) also wasn't able to get it working. In the end, we took the nozzle off and aimed as best we could at the gas tank, and got about half of it in there. The rest spilled all over the Ural and on the ground below. But we were too hot to care - we just wanted to get to Holton and get the dogs into the air conditioned hotel. While Kay was splashing the dogs with some more water to cool them down again, and refreshing their cooling towel, I took the opportunity to check the temp - officially 100.

Kay's Note: I had to pee SOOO Bad. I pulled over by a tree, hobbled slowly under the shade, and peeed, while Dachary got off the bike, removed the rotopack, connected the funnel, tried to get it working, failed, tried to pour it, spilled some... and pee was still coming out. Eventually I hopped back on the bike, and came over to help. I wish I'd thought to take some pictures but I was so concerned about the dogs in the heat that I just wanted to get everything moving as quickly as possible.

On the last 15-mile leg to the hotel, it was clear the Ural wasn't happy. 4th gear had long since given up the ghost - way too much up-and-down today and 4th gear was no longer able to get me to 60MPH, and frequently fell to 50-52 MPH when going uphill, so I was cruising along in 3rd gear. By the time we got into town, even in 3rd gear, the Ural didn't want to go much more than 50 - everything was just too hot. I prayed that we wouldn't have a soft seize (or a full-out seize) before we got to the hotel, because we had to get the dogs out of the heat.

Made it to Super 8 with much crossing of fingers and careful effort not to idle at stoplights, and discovered that they don't take dogs! Ack! This 25 mile detour in this heat was for naught! There was only one other hotel in town, which meant I'd probably have had better luck with the no-name places on our direct path instead of detouring another 25 miles south. Crossed our fingers even more and went across the street to the Red Roof Inn, where we happily discovered that they'd take dogs. JOY!

Dogs and essential luggage went into the room, and I took the Ural down the street to Burger King to score us some lunch. I was too hot to be really hungry, but I didn't want a repeat of yesterday so I knew we had to eat. After far too much time, I got back to the room with the food and was able to finally relax in the air conditioning. Not a moment too soon - I was dizzy and a bit confused and I think I was in the early stages of heat exhaustion.

As I write this, it's around 4 o clock and we're waiting until much later to do the 5,000km service on the Ural. It's far too hot out there to even consider doing something like that now. I'll probably wait until 7 or 8 and try to find some shade around here as the sun sets where we can do the service.

In addition to the normal 5,000km service items, I'm also gonna check the valves again. I don't know what else could have caused it to lose so much oomph but its performance today made me more certain than ever that something isn't right. I'll probably also change the air filter again - as I was riding today, I noticed a fine sheen of dust coating my Camelbak bite valve. Made me at least consider the possibility that even though we've been riding pavement, there might be some fine particulates on the air filter causing some issues. It's probably a vain hope, but I'm not really sure where else to go, diagnostically speaking. The performance is just so inconsistent, I feel like there's some sort of issue with air or fuel flow.

Plan for tomorrow is more of the same. Get up even earlier than we did today, get on the road at first light, and make miles before it gets too hot to ride. But I think we'll try to find a place to stop before it gets as hot as it did today - we felt rather critical about getting the dogs out of the heat ASAP by the time we stopped because I think we'd waited too long.

So much for my carefully-planned campground route.

Kay's Note: I thought that yesterday afternoon was like riding into a hair-dryer. I was wrong. It was like riding into a poorly functioning hair-dryer on low. Whenever I opened my visor to scratch an itch this afternoon I was hit with a blast of hot hot air. It was horrible. I didn't know it could be that much worse with the visor open.

My headset has survived a second day without cutting out. Maybe it was bad connectors. Maybe the circuit board and the battery just needed some time apart. I don't know, but fingers crossing that it stays working. the sound quality has been somewhat crappy since around the same time Dachary got her G9 (lots of distortion) so I do want to get a new G9 anyway, but with these unplanned hotel stays it's nice to not have to spend that extra money right now. Keep your fingers crossed folks
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Old 07-23-2012, 05:17 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AeroEngineer View Post
Check to make sure all the connections between your carburetors and the airbox are on tight. It could be intermittently causing you to run lean and sap your power.


If you find you have to disconnect anything, remember to build the pipes back from the carburetor to the airbox, they'll stay on better that way.
Ahem. This suggestion was spot on, as it happens. We're doing our 5,000km service this evening and when we went to disconnect our airbox to check/change the air filter, we saw that even though the carb hose clamps were still in place, the hoses had popped off the carbs. We're still doing the full service but I wouldn't be surprised if that doesn't fix things right there.

(And yes, now I feel suitably chastened that this wasn't the first thing I checked. Just goes to show - a perfunctory visual inspection doesn't cut it!)
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Old 07-23-2012, 06:04 PM   #29
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Interesting traveling with dogs.
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Old 07-23-2012, 09:58 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dachary View Post
Ahem. This suggestion was spot on, as it happens. We're doing our 5,000km service this evening and when we went to disconnect our airbox to check/change the air filter, we saw that even though the carb hose clamps were still in place, the hoses had popped off the carbs. We're still doing the full service but I wouldn't be surprised if that doesn't fix things right there.

(And yes, now I feel suitably chastened that this wasn't the first thing I checked. Just goes to show - a perfunctory visual inspection doesn't cut it!)

Well that probably explains the poor fuel economy, too.

The connection between the rubber elbow and the carb can be a huge pain in the ass, but once its attached without pushing on the carb it usually stays in position. Keep an eye on them when you fill up for the next few days to make sure they're still attached and watch your boots when getting on/off.

You'll find the compression clamps don't need to be super tight to keep the elbow on (too tight may actually force the elbow off the flange).

Some members of sovietsteeds have taken to attaching a short length of muffler tubing to the carb flanges to increase the surface area the elbow has to available to attach to. It's probably a good "peace of mind" mod to perform at some point.
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AeroEngineer screwed with this post 07-23-2012 at 10:35 PM
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