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Old 08-07-2012, 02:34 PM   #61
Merlin III
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That is the funny thing about trips where it is supposed to be two days camping, one day moteling rotations ; it always seems that for one reason or another those numbers get reversed when I travel, and apparently others have the same problem.
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:38 PM   #62
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Day 17 - Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada to Poland, NY, USA



During the evening a snazzy 1977 Honda… something parked beside the Ural. As we packed up the bikes in the morning I found myself talking bikes with its owner / maintainer. Apparently parts are getting hard to find for…whatever it is, but as he talked he smiled with memories of hours spent wrenching on it.

He and his girlfriend wandered off to the free continental breakfast, which Dachary and I had both forgotten about. I decided to go scout it out and see if it was worth bothering with. It seemed borderline, but eating here would save time, so we went for it. It was the wrong choice. The cantaloupe was mealy, the muffins tasted of excessive preservatives (neither of us had more than two bites), the orange juice was fermenting, the donuts were lame, the coffee undrinkable. The pre-packaged yogurt was decent, but didn’t really constitute enough breakfast to sustain us.

Time wasted, and tummies mostly empty, we set out to an already toasty morning, to find that the next exit on the highway had a KOA campground… In hindsight the extra money saved by not paying for a few days worth of data on my phone in Canada would have been more than worth it in the savings. But, “spilt milk” and all that.

At our second fill-up of the morning we had a rather odd experience. Three cars pulled up in a row in front of our bikes. Three families piled out. One half of the adults immediately began smoking, all of them stood around talking and doing the standard type of milling about one does when getting out of a car to stretch your legs at a gas station. But no-one, not even the children, gave us anything more than a half-second glance.

Now, we didn’t get the Ural to draw attention to ourselves. Most days we’d rather not have the extra delays. But, it does draw attention. It’s unusual. You rarely see a sidecar. Add in the cute dogs and it really draws attention. Especially children’s attention. They’re always “oooh doggies!” and the slightly older boys are all “oooh cool sidecar”. But no-one looked. I can understand, people in a rush, going hither and thither not looking. But these people were literally milling about 15 feet in front of the bikes. Even if you don’t care about motorcycles, or dogs, or strangers done up in full gear, the only other thing to look at was gas pumps. Surely we’re worth a glance in that context… But no.

They piled back in their respective vehicles and drove off. Very odd.

The driving was nice, but not quite as pretty this time. We made better progress, though, for having stopped in the hotel. We’d gotten a decent night sleep, and neither of us were as exhausted as we were yesterday. The dogs, curled up in the tub and kept cool.



Before crossing the bridge into the US, we stopped to water the dogs and let them do their thing, in case the border crossing was long. A French speaking couple pulled up beside us on the Harley with matching trailer. They glanced at us, but didn’t make any attempt to speak to us.



The heat seemed to increase as we approached the border. Logically, I know it didn’t, but the shade disappeared, and men in fluorescent vests waved people into evenly distributed lines, where we proceeded to sit… and sit… and sit. I commented to Dachary that it didn’t matter that these guys were just meandering around casually waving people into lines. They were totally earning their money, as it was almost 100° again.

When we entered Canada it was all “Come on in. Don’t forget to wipe your feet.” At the US border it was all “Who are you?! Take off your helmet! What do you want?! Why are you here?! WHY ARE YOU HERE!!!!!” She asked me where I lived and I told her our address in Cambridge. Then she asked me where I was going and I said “Home to Boston.” “What?!” You could see her hamster wheels spinning. “That’s not where he said he lived a moment ago!” Ugh. Cambridge, Boston. Same fucking place. If we say Cambridge to strangers they have no clue where it is, but they know where Boston is, and we’re only separated by a river. While holding my US passport in her hands she asked me “Are you a US citizen?” I’m sure it’s some legal thing so that they can have bad people lying about it on tape, but realistically there’s only one answer to that question. Either I am a US citizen or I’m pretending to be one. Either way, I’m going to say “yes”. They also asked if I was born in the US, which makes no fucking sense to me. Who gives a shit if I was born here if I’m a citizen?!

I’m tempted to go through the registration bullshit for the quick-crossing card stuff if I we have to cross again just so I don’t have to deal with the bullshit. Then again, I have to deal with the bullshit of having my life question by more bureaucrats.

Anyway… we made it through, and they didn’t give a shit about the dogs either.

Upstate NY was beautiful, and looked like you’d hope it would.



Lots of green. Lots of farms. Small towns. Around dinner time we started looking for home-cooking kind of places, but everyone we found was closed, or wasn’t where the GPS claimed it was. We gave up and ate at Arbys.

As we were about 50miles from Utica NY, and Utica is about 5 hours from home, Dachary lobbed the idea of just saying fuck-it and driving home, then left me to ponder it. The only campground on our way was a KOA that wanted $50 a night because the only sites they had had RV hookups. Cheaper than a hotel, we headed for that.

Our headsets had run out of juice again (the G9s don’t seem to be as good as the G4s on battery life) and I pulled into a rest area kind of thing as we neared the campground. We debated for a bit and eventually figured that while I was holding up alright, I could feel the exhaustion from the day weighing on me, and while we’d both have loved to have just said “screw it” and ridden the whole way, the right decision was to go pay way too much money to stick up a tent. So, we continued on towards the KOA, but not far on I spotted another campground, and decided to give it a shot. We turned around, and …. Yes, they would give us a spot in their “overflow” area, which turned out to be a big grassy field near the “games room” (building) and the pool.

Dachary was a little skeptical, but it was $20 cheaper and my past experience with campgrounds led me to believe that despite the noisy pool everything would get pretty quiet when dark hit. I’m happy to report I was right.

Before that though, the nice lady at the campground pointed us to the little caboose next door that sold soft-serve and hot dogs.

The portions were huge, and we got a “small” one for the dogs. Turns out that Ben chooses to lick, while `Dido likes to bite. So, once again, dogs are like their owners, or vice-versa.



Sadly, the nice lady, and the tasty soft-serve didn’t mean we were going to have a good night. As we settled in to bed it was over 90° and the predicted low was 75°. We left the fly partially covering the tent, and partially off, as the weather forecast had said that it might rain overnight. With the fly partially on, it would be a quick task to pull it the rest of the way over the tent and keep the rain out. We opted to put the fly over the sleeping bag, because it’s down and down takes forever to dry, and left the front of the tent exposed to the elements. At least it was a little cooler there.

For once, Dachary got to sleep fairly quickly and I laid there for hours. Eventually I began a battle with my bladder. I’d get up, pee what felt like a litre, go back to the tent. Lay there for five minutes, feel like I had to pee again, argue with my body that it couldn’t possibly have more pee, give up 15 to 20 minutes later, and then repeat the process again, and again.

Come morning, Dachary was sprawled across the top of the double sleeping bag. I was on the dog bed. Ben was with Dachary, and `Dido was on the ground. For a while I was on the ground simply because it was cooler and by the mesh door. The fly even half-obscuring the tent really retained heat in that part of the tent.

It was a miserable night. I barely got any sleep, and I was probably awake long enough to actually drive home. However, I doubt that I would have been awake enough to be safe on the roads if I had of attempted the drive, so I don’t regret the decision to stop. It did make us quite grateful for all the hot humid nights across the midwest where we’d stopped in an air conditioned hotel early in the day. While we thought we were getting very little rest, it was nothing compared to how little we would have gotten if we’d attempted to camp those nights.

The universe watches out for you. You’re just not always aware of it at the time.

Dachary’s note: To be honest, it had felt a little frivolous to give up driving in the extreme heat and get an air conditioned room in a hotel instead of camping like we had planned. I felt bad that I enjoyed it so much. The dogs helped us to justify it, as they can’t sweat and therefore are much less able to regulate their body temperatures; we sorta felt we needed AC to keep the dogs safe in that crazy heat. But it was an easy way to rationalize it for us, too, or at least that’s how it felt to me.

After having now camped in temperatures approaching the extreme heat we faced in the midwest, I’m SO GLAD we sucked it up and got hotels those nights. We just got no rest at all, and woke up feeling exhausted and gross. If we’d been doing that all the way across the midwest, I’m skeptical if we would have made it to Colorado at all, and certainly not on our timeframe. So while it felt a bit frivolous at the time, I now feel totally justified in having spent that cash even if it meant we weren’t “hardcore” and didn’t camp as often as planned. The trip would have been drastically different if we’d done things as planned - harder and more miserable, and not as safe, I think, because we would have been so exhausted.
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Old 08-09-2012, 08:41 PM   #63
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Day 18 - Poland, NY to Cambridge, MA

We’d left the tent fly partially obscuring the tent because the weather forecast had said it might rain on us, and the day started with Dachary waking me up because it was starting to rain. I jumped out of the tent and pulled the fly completely over us to keep the rain out. It seemed like as good a time as any to pack up and start the trek home, so Dachary checked the weather forecast and saw a decent window in the rain to let us get out. We packed quickly and made good time, getting out of the campground in under an hour. It felt like some kind of record.

Last night before settling in, the lady at the campground had given us the heads-up on a breakfast place just down the street, and we’re happy to have taken her advice. Good food, good portions, and a good start to 5 hours of slab. A bit rushed, as dark clouds were once again piling up behind us when we pulled out, and we’d already gotten dripped on by the storm’s advance guard.

But that was ok. We had one goal today: get home.

We didn’t pass much in the way of scenic stuff.



And it was all Highway we’d ridden before, but we were eagerly looking forward to our bed, our air conditioning, our bed, our shower, and our bed.

Hit the slab, ride, check the storm in the mirrors, gas… “Ooh Starbucks” Neither of us were really wanting it right then, but Dachary is a fan, and I figured after that horrid night’s sleep it was best to get some extra caffeine in me… Ride, slab, McDonalds nuggets for lunch (so sick of sandwiches), gas, ride, gas ride… So close!

HOME!

Pull everything off the bikes, discover rat droppings, turn on AC, walk dogs, come in, shower, flop.

The rat droppings were not a happy discovery. We’ve had a serious rat infestation here in the house before. Serious to the point that we researched how powerful a BB gun had to be to penetrate a rat, bought two, and proceeded to walk around the house armed at all times (especially when visiting the bathroom at night). We shot two, trapped two, poisoned about four and felt terrorized in our own home by disease ridden (about 22 diseases, potentially including The Plague) for weeks.



(Me literally sitting in wait to shoot rats back in November)

When Dachary found these all the thoughts she’d already been having about wanting to get out of the city, and hating feeling stuck here just came rushing back twenty fold. Combined with the fact that she’d just spent eighteen days doing her most favorite thing in the world - riding - and now faced way too many months of writing boring articles on various mundane topics left her in a very unhappy state.

We weren’t excited to be home. We were just very happy to have a chance to rest. I think that’s one of the reasons Dachary wanted to try and do the whole thing last night. Just get home and have a full day of rest, but seeing those rat droppings… made the return home even less joyful. But, we’re back now. We’ve learned plenty to start prepping for the Round-the-world trip (as soon as we can figure out the financing). We’ve got a roof over our heads, and food on our plates. We’ve just spent eighteen days seeing the US. And despite the rats, the heat, and the exhaustion… we’re happy to have done it, and happy to have been able to share it with you.



We’re working on stats for the trip. And I’ve got a few posts worth of thoughts on it, the ural, the kit, and more that we’ll get to you soon. The days, and nights, since getting back have been pretty busy though and we’re trying to catch up on sleep as best we can (yes, even 4 days after).

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Old 08-10-2012, 09:06 AM   #64
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We’ve learned plenty to start prepping for the Round-the-world trip (as soon as we can figure out the financing).
Aren't we all! Thanks for this awesome write up, the highs and the lows, everything was great, can't wait to see what's next on the horizon.
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Old 08-10-2012, 06:40 PM   #65
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How true your description of the border crossing into the U.S. Out of my twenty or so crossings back into the U.S. there have only been two occasions where I felt I wasn't treated rudely. Going into Canada, I have always been treated with respect and welcomed. Someone should start a thread on why this is so. I can't understand it. In fact, I firmly believe that the U.S.-Canada border should be an open border, why not?

I have often heard that in all major cities the rat population vastly out numbers the human population, but even in the country it is a constant battle to keep rodents out of your house.

I can't wait to hear your comments on whether or not you will be taking the dogs RTW.
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Old 08-12-2012, 10:22 AM   #66
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Dachary/Kay - I enjoyed reading your travel adventure blog. Being a mechanical systems engineer and having spent a lot of time learning and practicing the Kepner-Tregoe problem analysis method, root cause analysis and other failure modes analyses methodologies, I'm compelled to gain an understanding as to why your engine's power output changes dramatically and why your fuel economy is so poor. In addition, I'm still not convinced the plastic breather elbow melted because somehow it was defective...

I submit that your electronic ignition's spark-advance function is unreliable. This would explain engine overheating, poor fuel economy and sudden increase/decrease in engine power. If the spark timing does not advance at high RPM then the spark occurs too late for efficient fuel:air combustion. Much of the fuel:air combustion occurs late in the power stroke and the engine will over-heat. Fuel economy will also be poor. If the spark timing advanced intermittently then sudden increased/decreased engine performance would be manifest.

There are quite a few design changes in the evolution of Ural's electronic ignition system. Significantly, problems occurred with heat affecting the ignition advance curve. One solution is to retrofit a set of contact breaker points and a flyweight spark-advance mechanism. There may be more maintenance associated with this design but it is field servicable which would be an important advantage on your RTW trip. Another (more expensive) solution is to upgrade the Patrol's Ducati ignition system with a Power Arc (aftermarket) ignition system available from Raceway Services.The Power Arc employs an optically triggered ignition spark. Read this thread for some direct operating experience with the Power Arc system. If you take this route, make sure to water-seal the sparkplug cable penetrations and any gasketed flanges (to exclude water/moisture) which cover the Power Arc electronics.

If you have an ignition timing strobe lamp then you can see when the voltage pulse (spark) in the sparkplug cable occurs in relation to the engine crank position (while the engine is operating). To see the ignition timing in action (on a BMW boxer engine), there is a little rubber plug on the engine crankcase which is removed to see the flywheel's perimeter surface (timing hole). The timing strobe lamp is powered by a 12v battery (such as the motorcycle battery or a separate 12v battery). An inductive sensor lead is spring-clamped around one of the sparkplug cables.

Start the engine, point the strobe lamp into the timing hole and pull the strobe lamp's trigger. Every voltage pulse sensed by the inductive sensor will fire the strobe light. Stroboscopic-effect allows you to see the flywheel timing marks through the timing hole. The timing marks appear motionless at constant RPM. You can rev up the engine and see the timing mark's position change in relation to engine RPM. The BMW engine has marks for crankshaft piston at top-dead-center, a mark for the low-RPM spark timing and another mark for the high-RPM spark timing (full spark advance).

Perhaps engine heat affects the spark-advance circuitry on the electronic ignition module or maybe it's simply defective. A heat-affected spark-advance function might be revealed by using a hair dryer to blow hot air on the ignition module to see if it has an affect on spark-advance.

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Old 08-12-2012, 12:07 PM   #67
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I agree that an intermittent ignition timing problem is very likely the cause of the poor running episodes. But I'm not at all familiar with how this Ural motor gets its spark signal. Is there a camshaft or crankshaft position sensor feeding an ignition control unit? If so, it, or a connection to it, could easily be intermittent - and should be a warranty item.
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Old 08-12-2012, 02:36 PM   #68
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How true your description of the border crossing into the U.S. Out of my twenty or so crossings back into the U.S. there have only been two occasions where I felt I wasn't treated rudely. Going into Canada, I have always been treated with respect and welcomed. Someone should start a thread on why this is so. I can't understand it. In fact, I firmly believe that the U.S.-Canada border should be an open border, why not?

I have often heard that in all major cities the rat population vastly out numbers the human population, but even in the country it is a constant battle to keep rodents out of your house.

I can't wait to hear your comments on whether or not you will be taking the dogs RTW.
The reason it isn't an open border is so we can keep the bad people out of the U.S..
I know; it doesn't always work.
Regarding the dogs making the RTW; I'm curious as to whether the Ural gets the pick for the trip.
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Old 08-12-2012, 04:14 PM   #69
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The reason it isn't an open border is so we can keep the bad people out of the U.S..
It's arse about... it needs to keep the Americans IN.
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Old 08-12-2012, 07:02 PM   #70
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It's arse about... it needs to keep the Americans IN.
If you have a problem with Americans, the solution is simple; don't come here.
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Old 08-13-2012, 03:58 PM   #71
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If you have a problem with Americans, the solution is simple; don't come here.
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Old 08-14-2012, 03:52 AM   #72
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If you have a problem with Americans, the solution is simple; don't come here.
Wasn't planning to. They have no sense of humour.

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Old 08-14-2012, 12:43 PM   #73
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intersting trip

I've been reading about your trip and I am wondering if the Ural is the right bike for you...70mph cruising? I am not sure the bike is really made for this! I have a 2011 GU and even if HE (for me it's a male!) feels OK at that kind of speed I trust the entire community saying HE is not done for that (specially loaded!). When on freeways I am trying to stay around 58/60mph (GPS) and at that speed it looks like able to go around the world...
As said before your problem could be anything... I'll start by the valves (more freeplay), ignition (a C1 or C2) and then carbs (too much oil in the air filter?).
I was reading with interest parts about your dogs...I have two Beagles and take them in the sidecar, with my wife and apart of the "cool" factor (as you pointed when no one showed interest...) I do not think it is a good idea! Even if my dogs, as any dog, love to sleep (and do it in the nose of the tub on their cushion), this is not the most comfy place for them! Adding that dogs are "routine" animals I am not sure that the extra stress of new smells, places, foods and continual movement is right for them!
As usual: this is only my opinion!!!!
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Old 08-14-2012, 02:29 PM   #74
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Excellent ride report and pictures!!! Sounds like you two had a good time and the Ural ran well aside from the power/fuel issues (least it didn't go all Bokad on you).
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Old 08-14-2012, 02:57 PM   #75
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I submit that your electronic ignition's spark-advance function is unreliable. This would explain engine overheating, poor fuel economy and sudden increase/decrease in engine power. If the spark timing does not advance at high RPM then the spark occurs too late for efficient fuel:air combustion. Much of the fuel:air combustion occurs late in the power stroke and the engine will over-heat. Fuel economy will also be poor. If the spark timing advanced intermittently then sudden increased/decreased engine performance would be manifest.
That actually makes a lot of good sense, and at this point, it seems like a great explanation as our other attempts to troubleshoot the problem have come to naught. We'd been planning to install a PowerArc ignition at some point, anyway - it's on our list of mods before a RTW. We've been planning to contact IMWA about the issue (just waiting until we get our 10,000km service wrapped up and check to see whether we're still having intermittent problems afterward) so I guess now our decision has to be whether we want to contact IMWA anyway and let them deal with the ignition under warranty (if they agree that it's the likely explanation for our problem), or just go ahead and install the PowerArc and see if that fixes the issue. I think I'm inclined to let IMWA sort it out and get it running properly before switching to the PowerArc, just in case there are any other underlying issues that are contributing to our performance problems. It's probably better not to introduce another variable at this point.

(We started the 10,000km service on Sunday - worked on the bike for about 6.5 hours and got most of it wrapped up, now we're just down to lubricating various things and tightening all fasteners, which I'm hoping we'll get to tonight. And then we need to take it out for a test ride to see how it's running! We did find that the valves were out of spec - all had loosened - I think they were about the same as the first time we did valves. But the dealers we spoke with said it seemed unlikely that valves were the issue. I guess we'll see now that we've adjusted them and re-synced the carbs!)

We've got most of the wrap-up stuff written - Kay did a lot of the writing and I just need to add my notes to a few of the pieces, like our thoughts on the Ural. I'm *hoping* we'll get to post that stuff tonight, but if not, it'll be Thursday for sure. Then if anyone has any questions about specific kit, etc. we'll address those. And of course, the story won't be complete until we diagnose our mysterious performance quirks, so we'll post whatever the resolution turns out to be once we've got that figured out!

(But yes, I'm very happy with the Ural's performance otherwise. It didn't do any of the stuff that people would lead you to think about the Ural being unreliable. It's very simple to work on, even on the road, and no catastrophic failures - it ran even in the 100+ degree heat and even when we were flogging it all day!)
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