Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Back On The Road?

No, it's not me back on the road, not seriously, not yet.  Here in Minnesota we're in Stay Home mode.  I'm talking about my 1969 1/2 Honda CT90 Trail Bike.  It hasn't been in the garage's deepest depths but close; there's a '62 Honda Trail 55 and a '75 CB200 that are both deeper, the corner huggers.

(I'm going now to look up when the 90cc bike last was ridden....)  2015....it can't possibly have been that long!!!

No wonder the gas is sour.  I've got to share my favorite stinky gas story here...  We were Boy Scouts, camping on a farm over in Wisconsin that belonged to one of the members of the church that sponsored our troop.  Our camp spot was a lovely location in the woods, in back of a pasture along the famous Apple River.  As it was a working farm there were junk piles, or as Uncle Dale used to call them, sources of "Iron" for welding and repair.

Craig wasn't in my patrol but he was a friend from school and a key point, a student that had been in our Motor Mechanics class.  Besides being a scoutie, Craig was a budding motorhead. In one of the piles, an old lawnmower was of course lying dead, upside down partially buried.  During one of our scheduled hikes, Craig wasn't to be found.

Later, I helped him lift the mower's engine into the back of his dad's station wagon, Craig had managed to remove it from the deck while the rest of us were out Scouting.  Upside down in dad's car, more gas was dripping out and the blanket we used to hide it with was soaking up some very powerful fumes.  Craig's dad and my dad were some of the adult leaders, both along that weekend.  I learned later that when we got back to the church to unload and disperse, Craig's dad was a very unhappy parent, something he was more than willing to share with my dad.  By that time, our Coop residence already had been through plenty of experience with sour gas from our 'projects', just ask mom.  We knew and had quite the laugh imagining what it was going take to freshen up their station wagon and especially that plush, lovely blanket.

Recent experience of my own ....

Had a very challenging time getting this gasket that was at 98% of necessary length.  It just wouldn't stay in the track.  I finally outsmarted it though and was able to get the bowl back on.

You can see a bit of the 'fuzz' here in the RESERVE port.  The ultrasonic didn't seem to even faze it...it was like sticky dryer lint.  I had to physically dig it out, loosen it up and finally air removed it.  A bent piece of wire to loosen, then the tiny zip tie that would go around the elbow.

There are a few things unique about this CT90 and why some call it the 1969 1/2.  There's a triangular-shaped speedo and a reflector on the front fender that was featured only on these models.

 Quite a few changes from our 1964 that looked like this one, except ours was yellow and we had the very chrome front fender option.  An overlay sprocket (72 teeth) instead of the shiftable LO-HIGH transmission.

I've been breaking down a lot of boxes and took them over to our local recycling place.  The two cardboard doors in the dumpster were quite full and I saw a preponderance of large and some very large flat screen TV containers.  We're hunkering in and hunkering down for sure.

The river's up and I have to guess that the Mississippi bringing water from up north and the Minnesota from out northwest.

As of 3 PM Tuesday, March 31st, we are officially no longer apartment dwellers.  We are as of yet, not home dwellers either but that's to change over the next hour or so.

Good bye 3rd Street, it's been an adventure but we are so ready to get home.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Another Banker's Box

Actually there are a few of them but here I'm focused on just one.

We are getting close, set to move back in to the house at the end of the month.  The house is getting close though not quite ready....we ARE moving in Tuesday 3/31.  Since the weather hasn't been conducive to riding, weekends and evenings have been spent either working on bikes or cleaning/sorting through accumulations in the garage and shop.  I'm not done.

One box was full of old paperwork, early resumes, projects from my consulting business, souvenirs, old concert tickets....there was a little something of most everything in this one, even instructions for setting the Tillotson carburetors on my Yamaha snowmobile.  I have to guess that dad found them somewhere (not the Internet) and typed them out for me.  I was working on a farm in southern MN that winter and was having real trouble getting the GP338 to run right with its twin carbs.  It was a rich-running, gas hog.  The problem was finally solved by installing a 1 into 2 manifold and a single carburetor.

More concert, theater, film ticket stubs were found.  I knew but had forgotten how many there were.  It took seeing them again in 2020 though a few venues would have been completely forgotten about without actually being reminded.   I have only grown more appreciative, lucky to have met and to have been exposed to friends that circled in far different worlds that the one I had grown up with.  Being open to them, their ideas and (most of) what they shared has made a huge difference....I've been forever thankful.  Artists, musicians, actors and their many arts  'arrived' with appreciation that I'm sure time, place, friends and environments helped make happen.

Memories came flooding back from our many visits to the U of M's Film Society presentations.  We apparently were on an Australian film kick during that time.  Smash Palace, Gallipoli, My Brilliant Career the ones off the top of my head, most easily remembered but there were many more; we were going often.  In at least one previous Post, I've mentioned my ongoing difficulty with persistent ear worms.  For over 40 years, Schumann's "Themes From Childhood" once 'set' has been a bugger to get rid of, often flowing through my head like the big river we live adjacent to flows past our neighborhood.  That music was front and center in the film as the young Judy Davis was struggling to leave her past behind, to realize the career she'd been destined.

Sometimes, the stars line up in amazing ways.  Sunday these ticket halves were being uncovered in The Box which resulted in the tune from that AUS produced movie to once again start flowing through me.  Judy Davis hadn't been part of my world since I can't remember when.  Home from work this week and in our temporary quarters Peg was watching Mystery Road, a several episode film. Right there front and center was Ms. Davis and her unmistakable bright red hair, a local police sergeant in a northwestern Australia town.  I joined my partner, sat and watched but underneath everything, "Themes From Childhood" flowed.  Making it all that much richer, Peg asked me to guess Judy's age and I was darned close, absolutely within the margin of error.

One of my early research papers.....the artwork on the cover and sketches on various pages inside may have been this work's crowning achievement.

On my academic way....

Then my early forays into scientific research.....perhaps a signal to refocus my field of study.

My grocery store carry-out job and union membership.

The summer after I graduated little bro and I rode to TX, he on his 500cc Suzuki Titan and I was on my Sportster.  We got as far as AR and then decided that we'd had enough and headed back home.

From Gramp, an example of his sense of humor.  He corresponded with everyone, penpals in numerous countries but there were always at the very least weekly letters with our family.  I received a portable typewriter for graduation and I picked up his habit.  A semester of typing in high school and I was off and corresponding my very own self.

I grew up knowing and I mean really knowing exactly what I'd be doing for the rest of my life and that was farming.  It was only natural to go on with a Farm Operation and Management two year degree after my senior year.

I apparently found this to be a better fit than scientific research had been.

After the first year at Ag School, my future as a farmer was in question, for a variety of reasons.  There were family questions and probably more importantly, the realization that I was developing an overwhelming sense of wanderlust.  There was still a desire to be involved with agriculture in some way, even if not specifically a farmer.  There were applications put in at various firms.

Various positions were applied for, a couple of them won but turned down.  I decided to enroll at St. Paul's Tech School in the Machine Tool Processes/Tool and Die Program but only because the Electrician course was full with no openings forseen.  At that time students could enroll for free if they were under 21 years of age and I was getting very close.

Through the MN employment office I found evening work doing floor care (stripping/waxing) Twin City convenience stores (Tom Thumb) and Walgreen's drugstores.  We'd be there at store closing, typically 11pm and were paid by store served rather than by hours worked.  Stoners, those with an affinity for the drink and other night people made this my biggest adventure close to home, at least up until that time.

One of my fellow machinist classmates, Nels, was working as a 2nd shift janitor at a firm called Cardiac Pacemakers.  There was an opening in their R and D machine shop so he quit school to take it while available and encouraged me to apply for his 2nd shift janitor position, both the hours and working conditions a huge improvement over floor enhancement. There would be more janitorial bits and bobs before I was through.

I was a janitor for 3 months and then moved into the Q.C. department as a Clean Room inspector, doing various electronic tests on heart pacemakers on the 2nd shift.  When The Season was upon us, I'd ride my Yamaha AT1 enduro to school, had permission to leave at 3:00 and then blast to my evening shift.  They were long but good days.  I don't remember how many months but soon after graduating from the Tool/Die Program, another opening in the Shop was available and I got the promotion, once again taking Nels' spot as he moved to Machinist "B".

CPI was the first medical firm that Manual Villafana founded, I followed him from there to St. Jude Medical where we produced heart valves and then when he started Helix BioCore, I followed once more, starting and setting up their R and D prototype shop.  The company opened the day of the 1987 stock market crash, hinted at with the mention of Risk in this article.

It was while employed at Helix BioCore that we bought the farm in Frontenac and a short time later, we moved out of the Twin Cities and I no longer commuted to the NW Twin Cities suburb.  After various other jobs, most of them at regional medical companies, I moved on to the Hennepin County Medical Center Orthopaedic Biomechanics Laboratory where our work involved bones rather than hearts.

I was at the Biomechanics Lab for 14 years and loved it...a dream job that I miss dearly. 

In 2010, there were more adventures to follow, some orthopedic, some drug delivery until finally in 2014 I arrived where I'm currently employed, working as an Applications Engineer for a machine tool distributor.

Thanks Nels for getting me started in the right industry!!  No way would I still be involved if I hadn't taken that evening full time job.  It's been good, it's been fun.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Honda Elite Revisited

I got curious, had to go back for a look and it took awhile to find them.  My 1986 Elite 250 was brought home in April 2010 and I see that it had 2750 miles at that time, that from the photo but the details are all in my spreadsheet record of bikes owned, service performed, etc.  On the home computer, not here on the apartment laptop.

After some very high water in the Mississippi backwaters.....Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge, a favorite place to visit.

Rod & Gun Club....

Sunday, March 8, 2020

A New Day Has Dawned

We Be Scootin!

It's a 1985 Honda Elite 250, CH250 the designated model.  In the rest of the world, primarily Europe as I understand it, the Elite's were called Spacey's.  The following year, the Helix or CN250 was introduced, wheels further apart by 14".  Much if not most of the engine/running gear is shared between the two but not everything...there are a few small differences.  I owned a black with gold '86 Elite 250 at the same time I owned my yellow Helix.  Riding both highlighted the differences, length and seat height being the most pronounced.  Anecdotally they were 'geared' slightly different and now that I've had  both drive trains apart, I can see differences.  I convinced myself that the Helix did 70 like the Elite did 65.


Still warming up and working the old gas through....warmed up, it's purring like the kitten she is!  The mirrors were not yet on to ease it's exit from the shop door maze.

 A good thing I put the Mud n Snow tires on the Elite....our driveway has been a disaster anyway and with the constant contractor/delivery traffic during our remodeling project, things have gotten much worse.  We were on the edge of construction progress being stopped in fact due to delivery trucks and worker stuckness.  A load of gravel on Tuesday and another Thursday helped but barely.  The frost is coming out and the snow is still only slowly disappearing.

Backing up a bit, the axle bushing that I was waiting for and luckily was still even available to order arrived Thursday so Friday morning at the crack of dawn I was back in the shop and finished putting the scooter together.  Some detailing ensued, sustenance for that trying experience was enhanced a great deal with a little bit of help.....

I've been so very good...we've lived above a coffee shop for 8 weeks that provides, willingly, scones that are excellent.  There's the award-winning bakery across the street that opens at 5:30 AM, a place I've only been a customer of 3 times since we've been Townies.  Friday morning I felt obligated to visit once more.  The early morning aromas emanating from that location are intoxicating enough.  There are no words that sufficiently describe the goodness and strength realized from these two beauties and they were still warm.

As the customer behind me in line reminded, "All the Recommended Dietary Allowances in one fell swoop".  I was absolutely energized!


Saturday morning at Diamond's for coffee, Steve rode his 650 Honda, just like the old 650 Honda but this is a new 650 Honda, ready to continue exactly where the other one left off.  In the distance, Jeff was in on his very nice 450 DOHC Honda.  Paul's Can-Am just beyond that.  I was there in a Chrysler Town and Country.

Four point one miles Saturday afternoon....the beginning of a beautiful friendship and it felt oh so good to be twisting a grip.

 After some other chores around the homestead, I returned to Red Wing with the hopes of another stroll along the waterfront.

Fishing the main channel's open water.....

.... and in the bay where there's still enough ice to drop the line down a hole.  These photos taken from almost the same location.

 A very pleasant early March day in Minnesota!


Early this morning I dropped off my lovely partner at MSP, her flight to NYC went well and she'll be gone a week, entrusting me to take good care of all things Home.  To that end, I took the laundry to the house, completed it and then....

The north facing gravel roads are soupy with mooshy grooves.

The lower part of Lake Pepin is losing ice....

The upper section is ice-free.....

Here's a shot of what's left betwixt and between.

Everything was going SO well!!  Idle had settled down, I stopped for some fresh gas and coffee, the machine running far better than it's high mileage and appearance justified and then....

Not 20 feet from where I stopped to take the frozen lake photos, the scooter suddenly died.  I tried everything I could think of (sans tools...I'd decided I didn't need to take them).  Switches, worked, fiddled with.  Sidestand even though I knew full well there was no switch there.  Ignition off and on multiple times.  The way it had stopped and was acting as I ran the starter seemed to be indicating no spark....I could smell gas.

Have I mentioned how much I was already missing my dear Peg??

A woman (Tracy) was out for a stroll, enjoying our incredible weather just as I had been and as most every MN rider was as well by the lovely motorcycle traffic sounds down over the bluff on Highway 61.

 "Where do you have to go?"

I told her, "maybe 5 miles...up by Frontenac."  It's exactly 5.5 by road, I looked it up and I was ready to hoof it.  I had intentionally kept my loop close to home....just in case issues developed.

"Hand me your phone, I'll call my husband Mike and he can take you."

Mike did but I didn't make him drive down our driveway, the white Ford pickup was waaay too clean for our disaster.  There will very soon be something a little special in their mailbox that wasn't accepted in that roomy cab.  Thank you Tracy for making the call and to Mike for answering a strange phone number on a Sunday afternoon.

There are 2 wires going to the igniter thing....or there's supposed to be 2 wires going to the igniter thing.  It took another trip through the shop door maze to remove the panel plastics for me to find this.

An easy enough fix, but not today.  Plenty of time for that this week.  I needed to get back to town for another walk down by the river to enjoy this CDT afternoon sun.  What weather!!

The scooter is a blast and is going to be great fun, reminding me of how much I was enjoying the black '86 while it was here.  These are definitely much more scootery than both the extra long Helix and Morphous are.  Great explorations and adventures await!!

And lest we forget, a reminder in the public parking ramp stairwell as I returned the van to its parking spot on Level C.