|Posted on Monday, June 09, 2014 - 10:55 am: ||
For anyone who's interested, my wife has created a blog to document our prep and journey to Alaska and back. I'm glad she enjoys the planning phase as much as she does, because it's my least favorite part. She's the planner & navigator. I'm the "mechanic". It's my job to make sure that the bikes take us there and bring us back home with the least amount of drama in between. We've talked about doing this for the past 2-3 years and this is the year it's going to happen.
We'll have 2-3 others join us along the way and peel off or bypass various points, such as my father-in-law (priceless father/daughter riding)on his GS, a buddy from Arkansas on a V-Strom, and possibly his brother (TBD).
Follow along and/or feel free to share your thoughts or knowledge.
25 days until the adventure begins and the kickstands go up!
|Posted on Monday, June 09, 2014 - 01:12 pm: ||
That is awesome!
Having done something similar . . . . I love the way she's set the website up and it's going to make your trip a hoot.
I love your two rules.
I'll be eager to see how your hours per day, planned vs. actual, comes out. i had an algorithm I used at one time and found that if I could even approach my "planned" average is was amazing.
Can't wait to follow along!
|Posted on Monday, June 09, 2014 - 06:57 pm: ||
My newlywed wife and I honeymooned to Alaska and back on our 'Wing 32 years ago; she has kept me around since. I'm thinking we should return next summer... but I think we'll again skip the Arctic Circle road, likely be 2-up on the Victory Cross Country Tour, not the Uly.
I'm jealous of your trip! Good luck, we'll be tuning in.
(Message edited by daddio on June 09, 2014)
|Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - 10:38 pm: ||
That trip is on my bucket list. I'm jealous as hell. I will definitely be following along via the interwebs..
So you are each on you own bike?
(Message edited by bluzm2 on June 10, 2014)
|Posted on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 - 10:36 am: ||
Definitely looking forward to getting underway! Can't say I'm not a little bit nervous about circumstances that are beyond our control, but that's part of what makes it such a great adventure!
Mechanically speaking, my only real concerns are bearings & belts. Both of which we'll have spares of. It's no sweat to throw on a new (used) belt on the roadside in around 20 min, but a roadside or campsite bearing change doesn't sound very appealing. (Yet it's do-able with minimal tools.) Tires are the other wild-card. I REALLY want to make it on one set. My personality lends me to wanting to get all the good out of something before replacement. (Sometimes to a fault.) The thought of peeling off a "good" tire at some pre-designated point, just sends my mind into a tailspin, haha!
With decent mileage between our various bikes (Buells), I have a good idea of what to expect and that is to say that we've been fortunate with bearings and such. However, last Aug my '06 Uly got new rear bearings as the ESP was expiring. Then a few weeks ago I looked at the rear wheel while pumping gas after riding for about 5 minutes, only to notice rust colored water burbling out of the brake rotor side bearing. (I have cell phone video of this.) I checked my records and it'd been 8 months and 5,040 miles (And the same tire) since the bearing change... Not cool. Aside from that anomaly, bearings haven't been a problem. They usually last at least 30-45k miles.
I took it into the dealer, along with my receipt from last Aug. They needed a day to look at it and make some calls to HD to see what they could do. I think they ended up charging me around $95 or so, but I still don't feel like the situation was handled right... or should I say to my satisfaction. I feel that I either got bad parts and/or incorrect installation, or the tech decided that my rear bearings at that time were ok and just flagged some labor time and threw a new set of bearings in his toolbox. I'll never know for sure...
SO - Aside from that business... We're all good and we're going to focus on the positive and all the miles of smiles we've had on those two bikes so far. (Combined mileage of over 106,000.)
As far as stops and sight-seeing are concerned, my wife is conflicted. With the time that we have, it's a delicate balance between quantity and quality of miles. There are so many places one could visit along the way, but there just isn't time enough to take it all in. I'm just happy to ride and see whatever we see. She's a GREAT trip planner and our vacations are never dull! Previous moto-vacations within the past 4 years include: KC to the Grand Canyon (12 days IIRC) and the following year, we rode to Moab and spent a week with friends in a condo and riding Razors, etc, before they had to return home and we continued on to Yellowstone and the surrounding areas. (17 days I think)(Breathtaking!) Moto-vacations are the BEST!
I'm just happy that we're fortunate enough to take such a trip and that I have such a great and willing partner in life and all that we do.
|Posted on Thursday, June 26, 2014 - 10:06 am: ||
Fantastic couple! Keep us posted.
|Posted on Thursday, June 26, 2014 - 11:47 pm: ||
Great Site WE ARE SO JEALOUS!
The whole responsible adult thing is Highly Overated at times
|Posted on Friday, July 25, 2014 - 01:20 pm: ||
So the trip is on its final couple of days. My wife has the highlights and photos posted at her blog if you want her take on it. http://BuellVicariously.com/
It's been a good trip. We didn't make it all the way to Deadhorse, but the day we made our run for it from Wiseman where we stayed that night (just north of Coldfoot, AK) my wife & I were the only 2 out of our group of 5 at that point that were willing to attempt it due to the weather. My father-in-law on his BMW 1200GS opted out of Deadhorse completely, and our other 2 riding buddies on Vstroms decided to wait another day and try it the next day if the weather & roads were better.
My wife & I made it to within about 20 miles of Antigun Pass when we decided that discretion is the better part of valor and it wouldn't be worth it if one of us crashed and couldn't continue, so we tucked our tails and headed back towards Fairbanks. The weather can play a huge part in the roads up here. The stretch from Fairbanks to the Artic Circle that we'd blasted up the day before on our way to Wiseman took us hours longer on the return trip. The heavy truck traffic turns a hard-packed gravel road into the equivalent of a mud bod (when riding on street tires) in a matter of hours.
We've had some mechanicals too along the way. When detailed it may make our Uly's sound like the most unreliable bikes in the world, but they've been very reliable over the combined 120,000 plus miles we have on them. Sometimes things just happen at the wrong time and the best you can do is just be prepared instead of fret over what could happen.
Our bikes left Kansas City on July 4th ready for battle. Hers had around 43k on it at the time, while mine was sitting right at 70k, so you know that there "might" be some things that just wear out in the next 10k / 3 weeks. In hindsight, I should have just put fresh rear wheel bearings in the rear of her bike, along with a new belt before we left. (But I didn't want to do it if we didn't need it and it's still under warranty, so...) Instead I packed my original '06 Uly spare belt. Well, her belt broke the first week while up at Salmon Glacier in Hyder, AK. Only around 2k into the trip. I didn't think the used belt I brought would pull her the other 8k back home, so I had AmericanSportbike.com ship up a new belt to us a couple days down the road. (The belt is only about a 20-25 min roadside change and really couldn't be easier. New or old belt, doesn't matter.) Well, my used spare died a few days later and so I rolled on the new belt we had. ...well the new belt (TIGHT as we all know) really aggravated the original rear wheel bearings which had around 46k miles on them at that point (which I had pull the seals and checked / greased before we left) and a couple of days after she got the new belt, I looked down at a gas stop in the middle of nowhere and discovered the dreaded rear wheel bearing failure. The pulley side only had about 3/4 of the balls left in it and no seal of course.
I brought a spare set of bearings (front, rear, and idler), as well as some tools and a make-shift bearing puller / installer tool that I threw together the day before we left. No keep in mind that up until this point, I'd never actually done a set of bearings myself. The ESP warranty had always taken care of them up until now. I fought and fought, but couldn't get the bearings out and thought we were going to be sunk, but just when all hope seemed lost and we were trying to arrange for AAA towing to come get us and return us to Anchorage (128 miles as the crow flies) away, I tried "one more thing" and got the bearings out!
Well - My belt just arrived at our hotel and so I'm going to cut this short. It's time to install a new belt in the Hampton Inn parking lot here in Calgary, AB and hit the road towards Billings, MT which is our next stop.
See the blog for more details and maybe when I get home I can revisit this trip from my perspective. It's been a great ride!
Sorry about this post not being the most well written and laid out, but I've gotta run!
|Posted on Saturday, July 26, 2014 - 11:58 am: ||
Cool story! Thanks for taking the time to post.
Unfortunately for a mobile repair, the best way to remove those bearings involves a welder.
Al did a great write up...
|Posted on Saturday, July 26, 2014 - 12:22 pm: ||
That is amazing !
|Posted on Sunday, July 27, 2014 - 02:02 am: ||
I'll have to take some time to better document and detail our travels, trials, and tribulations, ALONG with all of the great sights we saw along the way. It's been a wild ride. By the time we roll in (hopefully) tomorrow night in KC, we'll be just a few hundred miles short of 10,000 for the round trip.
Before I left I did my fair share of research and comparing notes on all things maintenance related. Depending on who's take you read about any given topic or repair, the same repair or procedure can either be easy as pie, or diabolical. As far as bearings go... I'll say for now that it has been demystified! I'll have to post photos later of my bearing removal and installation tools. I certainly won't be taking it in for bearing replacement again whether it's under warranty or not. (Unless it's already going in for something else, in which case you can pay one $50 ESP deductible and get everything fixed.)The bearings themselves are less than the deductible and it takes longer to take the bike there and pick it back up again than it would just to do it myself.
My bearing removal / installation tool is a 12" long piece of 5/8" all-thread with 3 nuts, 4 large 7/8"? washers and a couple of 5/8" washers. ...And a cheap hardware store variety set of common slip-joint pliers! Desperation breeds creativity! I originally tried to tap her rear bearings out using a long flat-blade screwdriver, but it just couldn't get enough of a bite to be effective. I thought I was beat and we were going to be getting towed back to Anchorage, when I looked at the pliers and thought... hmmm... I found that if you wiggled them a bit in the closed position, that you could slip the jaws through the center of the bearing. After that I sat on the ground and gave it all I had to try and open the jaws as far and as hard as I could, while my father-in-law manned the hammer and all-thread that was double nutted at the business end. Turns out the all-thread ended up forcing the jaws outward against the ID of the bearing while he hammered and with several healthy blows (from a relatively small hammer), the bearing was free of the wheel!!
The bearing bore in the wheel showed no obvious signs of trauma. The other side was easier now and I just flipped the double nutted end down through the center of the wheel as it turned out to be the perfect size to fit into the wheel, but not through the bearing and the other one was out in a jiffy.
After cleaning the bearing bores up with a rag and giving both the bore and the OD of the bearing a nice coat of Amsoil 20W-50 (whatever you prefer would work fine I'm sure, haha), it was just a simple matter of stacking the washers and using a wrench to pull the bearings down into the bore. Brake side first in / first out and it gets bottomed into the bore. The pulley side bearing was next and it just gently slid down into place as well as you turn the nut down against the washers that spread the force out to the outside of the bearing and draw it down until it just touches and then stop.
Ok - Well, that's all for now. It's late and we've got a long ride ahead of us tomorrow. I think we got the last available room in Rapid City, SD tonight.
Later I'll talk about the failed left heated grip, blinker failure, blown right front fork seal (for the 3rd time in it's life) and the mysteriously melted 20A main power fuse in the fuse block under the seat. (Fuse never blew, but the plastic melted all around it.) It looked like a small wad of gum...
Oh yeah, and the bearing removal / installation plot gets thicker when I had to replace a single front wheel bearing on my wife's bike last night. Same problem as before. My screwdriver just wasn't a good fit and couldn't get enough of a bite. But this time the pliers were too large to fit into the bearing hole... Again, I thought I was finally screwed. And then it hit me! (And we were rolling again in about 40min from start to finish, for a front bearing operation in a Super 8 parking lot in Great Falls, MT... which I think must be the unofficial casino capital of the WORLD.)
To be continued...
|Posted on Saturday, August 09, 2014 - 04:38 pm: ||
An Alaska trip is on my list too. We have friends living up there for another year and so we need to go next summer if we are going to see them.
I'm trying to figure the logistics since my wife won't ride up there but I just can't see going without a cycle.
Love your blog, thanks for sharing.