The sketchiest thing I do all year.

It appears spring has finally graced Minneapolis, and that inspires me to do the sketchiest thing I do all year: Take Serenity out of the rafters.

Sleeping so peacefully, like a bat...

Sleeping so peacefully, like a bat…

You see, she spends all winter hanging from the rafters in my garage. All winter she waits for this day with anticipation, as I do with dread. On one hand, it means getting her back in the water. On the the other, I have to avoid death by falling boat.

First things first, I needed to take the casters off of the trailer, as they can gouge Serenity when they’re attached.



Then up into the rafters to attach the ratchet straps to the chain hoist…

All anchored in

All anchored in

What could possibly go wrong here? I'm sure this is totally safe!

What could possibly go wrong here? I’m sure this is totally safe!

Surprisingly, she made it down with very few problems. The largest of which being I had to turn the trailer around while avoiding the other stuff in the garage: motorcycles, bikes, and my roommate’s car.

Aaaaand touchdown.

Aaaaand touchdown.

All ready for a coat for bottom paint. (As if I'm gonna do that. Lake Pepin beach is basically sandpaper.)

All ready for a coat for bottom paint. (As if I’m gonna do that. Lake Pepin beach is basically sandpaper.)

Now to finish the sail I picked up from Polysail!

Exercises in Murphy’s Law

Tomorrow I’m headed a couple hours north to pick up a boat I’ll be adding to my fleet. Before I headed out, I figured I should do some long over due maintenance and fix my rear brakes. They had been making quite a bit of noise and I knew they were in BAD shape. Fortunately, Amazon had a good deal on brake parts last spring, and I purchased all four pads/rotors for the Subaru. (Hooray thinking ahead!)

I’ve never repaired/replaced the rear brakes, however I just did the front ones, and since these are all discs, it didn’t seem too challenging.

As the car was getting jacked up, I noticed the rear left tire was going flat. After pulling it off, it was easy to see the culprit: A shiny stub of metal protruding from the tread. Great. We’ll deal with you later, little nail…

Once the tires were off, it was clear that removing the caliper was going to be a bear. It was rusted all the hell, but I figured a bit of WD-40 along with a breaker bar would get it open.

Not so much.

Yikes. That was a first. Never blown apart a socket before.

So, less than 20 minutes into the repair the score is: One flat tire, and a broken socket. Marc: 0, Murphy: 2. Oh well, nothing a quick trip to the hardware store can’t fix, right? Right. While out shopping, I grabbed a can of liquid wrench as well.

Once I got home, I realized I’d purchased a 1/2″ socket, when it needed to be a 3/8″. Murphy scores again. Back to the store and home again. (The socket I needed was $0.53 less, so I got some change back.) Marc scores and brings the total to 1 to 3, Murphy leads…

To make an already too long story short, I am proposing a new law… Marc’s Law:

“There is no project so small that it will not allow several opportunities for failure.”

As an aside: I highly recommend Eric the Car Guy‘s videos if you’re thinking about doing any repairs on your vehicles. Obviously, a shop manual is your best friend here, but having a laptop in my garage with his YouTube page open has saved me when I’ve hit snags before. Maybe it’ll work for you too.

Ground Score!

When one is a tinkerer, one learns to keep their eyes open for potentially interesting “junk”. This is a finely honed habit of mine that I’m fairly certain will cause relationship strife over the years, as my lady is kind of a minimalist. Tonight as we headed out for a date, I noticed a neighbor had placed a small pile of items at their curb for free. I couldn’t resist slowing down and taking a closer look. As it turns out, most of it was junk. Terra cotta pots, some weird shelves, kids toys… But then, I noticed a plug that looked suspiciously like an OBDII plug coming from under the pile. Molly was giving me a sideways glance, but my inner scavenger had to investigate further.

Good this he did, because this is what we ended up finding:

Score! Maybe?

Score! Maybe?

It was exactly what I thought it might be! A small OBDII scanner, sweet! The question is: Does it work? It seemed possible likely that it might have ended up in that pile because it wasn’t working. Who would throw out a working one? They aren’t super inexpensive. What is the first thing one should do with newly scavenged items? TAKE IT APART!
The back. Thrilling.

Two screws later, the cover was off. No batteries were seen that would need to be replaced. So that’s a plus.

Closeup of the back of the board. (I apologize for the less than ideal lighting.)
The back.

And the front… Boring! Also disappointing, because the LCD is soldered to the back. Probably sturdier, but it would have been nice if it was attached to headers and could easily be removed for other projects, working under the assumption that it doesn’t actually work. Those two large copper areas are the contact point for the buttons on the front of the case.
The front

With not much going on inside the case, it was quickly reassembled. After going to the internets to find a manual, I set about plugging it into my car for the moment of truth. And….. It works!
It works!

Surprise surprise, the ERG is throwing errors again…
Stupid EGR

And that’s the story for tonight. Never hurts to keep your eyes on the curbs for goodies. Every now and then, you come out with a nice ground score.

It’s ALIVE!!!!!

News on the motorcycle front:

I picked up a new battery from Amazon for the ’84 Shadow. My very first experience in actually filling a battery with acid. Fun process, though, next time I do that I am going to wear gloves when I open the box. Despite being doubly wrapped, boxed, and bagged, some of the acid managed to leak out. Needless to say, some of the skin on my hand was pretty irritated.

Anyway, new battery installed, and she fired right up. I was shocked. SHOCKED, I say…

She hadn’t been running in probably close to a year. All the issues I had been having getting it started in the past, I’d thought she was really cold blooded, turns out I had a weak battery. Blah.

Still having some odd idle and throttle issues. For example, during the test run around the block, it was huffing every once in a while, and then it would ROAR, and rapidly accelerate. I returned home and tried to get the idle set properly (it was way low) and took a second run. This time, the throttle wouldn’t drop lower than about 4000 RPM. Bad news. Anyway, the kinks are still being worked out.


Now to decide what to do with her. If the girlfriend wants it, I think I’ll give it to her as a starter bike. If she is totally disinterested, I might have to make it a ratbike. 😉

Warmer weather and PMS.

Something about the changing temperatures over the last few weeks have given me a serious case of PMS. (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome)

While my trusty STeed, the Honda ST1100 is waiting out the end of winter comfortably in a heated storage facility, my poor ’84 Shadow is sitting in the garage. I didn’t even properly winterize her…

Part of me feels a pang of guilt about this. Another part knows I’m likely going to have to do a carb rebuild anyway. If I’m going to have to tear it apart, I may as well have it be dirty, right?