Sunday, March 30, 2008

Something Old, Something New...


I was just talking to my friend Dave and I was asking him about the blog and whether he liked it or not. He said, "yeah it's good". As the phone call progressed, I could tell he hadn't read anything beyond the headlines and he had looked at a couple of pictures. Shame on you Dave! Now go and read the blog in its entirety and get back to me.

Now to today's entry.....

It looks like I have my oil leak figured out. When I do an oil change I need to drain the oil from the transmission as well. The engine oil in this bike also doubles as the lubricant for my clutch. I've read a few posting over at another forum and they mention it a few times. So one more thing out of the way. I'm going to get insurance on Tuesday and take it for a few 'fair weather' tests. I found a motorbike mechanic not too far from me and I'm going to see if he can balance my carburetors for me. I think it's asking a little too much for me to try and balance four carburetors at home. You need some special tools and I've never done it before. I'll practice on the two sets I have on my bench before I do anything too mission critical.

After I feel comfortable with the reliability of the bike I'm going to do something really dumb. I'm going to completely disassemble the bike for aesthetic purposes only. Who takes a perfectly fine 1981 XJ650 that was purchased for $400 and dumps more money into the appearance of the bike than the mechanics of it so that I can ride through Europe for a month and than just leave it there? I'm an idiot.

I called over to a local company to get a quote on ceramic coating the exhaust manifold and mufflers. The company is called Kool Coat Ceramic Coatings Ltd. and they are not too far away from me. Sean over there was quite helpful and set me straight on a few things. It will probably cost me a couple hundred bucks to have my exhaust sandblasted inside and out and ceramic coated to a satin black finish that will never discolor, improve exhaust flow, and radiate less heat (up to 500F). They also do thermal dispersant painting of engines. The only problem is they need to be baked and that would require even more disassembly. He recommended only doing the barrels and heads. I would have to remove them from the pistons and do a top end rebuild but it would look great and keep my engine cooler. Looking good and being cool are two things that I think are important in the 40 degree(Celsius) weather that I experienced last year in August.... Here's a couple of pictures of a bike done up with the ceramic coating and no chrome:

Looks pretty sweet

a closer look at the engine.

Now add these effects to a freshly powdered coated frame and new saddle and you have yourself the most beautiful Yamaha xj650 maxim in the world. Not bad for less than $1000 and a couple of months of hard labor.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Get your Kicks on Route 66


Every well laid plan has a goal. My goal is a tiny little village in Croatia named Jadrtovac (try saying that one ten times quickly). Should be an easy enough goal. Get on plane, catch a taxi, and 'poof' you're there. Way too easy to make a story worth reading about. Could you imagine that blog? It would be about me packing, maybe a little blurb about buy airline tickets, and perhaps a misadventure about bad English and a taxi driver with poor hygiene.That's it... done.

So let's clarify the goal:

My goal is a tiny little village in Croatia named Jadrtovac.

Now let's make it interesting and add some hurdles to achieving this goal:
  1. I have to transform a rusted out piece of crap motorbike into something reliable enough to make a long journey.
  2. I then have to ship the bike to Europe somehow.
  3. I then must travel through at least 5 countries to get there.
OK that's a good set of guidelines to make this an interesting adventure. Especially when you add the fact that I know very little about internal combustion engines, I can barely speak English much less foreign languages, and I have a budget of $29.53 (thanks again to whomever is clicking on the ads) to get there (plane ticket not included in that). There that should make this down right impossible.

So five countries? I'm planning on flying into Frankfurt Germany and there is only two countries in between. I guess I'll have to take the long way. I was using google maps to try and put a rout together but once you get into the Eastern Bloc countries it doesn't work anymore. I got a great link from a European guy on my XJ Bikes forum it's called viaMichelin and it works great! It not only gives you directions throughout all Europe but it calculates how much gas (or as they say - petrol) will cost in many currencies and how much your road tolls will be. It even calculates the gas depending on whether you are driving a car or a motorcycle. How cool is that?

So here's a route I've been thinking about:

Frankfurt (Germany) to Prague (Czech) to Vienna (Austria) to Bratislava (Slovakia) to Budapest (Hungary) to Sarajevo (Bosnia) to Jadrtovac (Croatia)

Frankfurt to Budapest with Stops in Prague, Vienna, and Bratislava:

Frankfurt to Budapest

Time and distance
Time: 11h13 including 07h32 on motorways
Distance: 1066km including 865km on motorways
and 30km on scenic roads

Costs 115.10 USD
Toll costs: 0.00 USD
Petrol costs: 97.97 USD
Road tax cost: 17.13 USD

Then the next leg:

Budapest to Jadrtovac

Time and distance
Time: 13h41 including 01h43 on motorways
Distance: 972km including 206km on motorways
and 30km on scenic roads

Costs 121.96 USD
Toll costs: 2.76 USD
Petrol costs: 107.20 USD
Road tax cost: 12.00 USD

So all in all about 2000km with a cost of $237!!!

I would love to hear some feedback about places you would see along the way or routes you might take. Please use the add comment links anytime you want. I truly welcome the feedback.

I will keep thinking about where I want to go and what I want to see but tomorrow's blog is going to be about some of the rules to driving a motorcycle in Europe.

Until then....

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Shining


So now that the lawn is taken care of (for the time being) I can get back to the important stuff... my bike. So now that she's running I should start working on cleaning up the bike and seeing what I have to work with. I also looked around for the paperwork for the bike and came up short. I can't find the registration anywhere. I guess ICBC (the government run insurance company for British Columbia for all my out of town readers) will be making more money off me to get my registration papers replaced - the communist dogs.


Checked my license plate. As you can tell from the photo I haven't had insurance on this bike since November of 2004. Wow!! That's a long time to be sitting around doing nothing, I'm ashamed.

I'm still leaking a lot of oil every time I take the bike for a ride up and down the hill. It seems to be dripping down from my air breather. There's a tube tat runs from my clutch up to the breather. I must be getting oil overflow from there. How much oil is in this bike? How do I get it out? I drained the oil and barely any came out. I must be missing something.

So I started cleaning and removing the rust off my bike. I feel like I'm in boot camp. My major cleaning tool has been a toothbrush and sand paper. There is so much rust on all of my chrome parts I doubt I'm going to be able to get it very clean without ruining the shine. Oh well! Can't cry over spilled milk. Anyways... I think by the time I'm through with this bike I'm going to have called in a few favors with my guys over at Redi-Strip. I was looking for chroming and powder coating last night and I came across a process called 'ceramic coating' if anyone knows much about it feel free to post a comment here. From what I have seen I could literally coat my exhaust manifold, muffler and engine with it and never have to worry about cleaning again. The finish is impervious to heat and won't 'blue up' like chrome. I'm going to start looking around and seeing who can do this locally for me. Would be much easier than having to sand down all my aluminum surfaces by hand.So I've managed to clean up half my bike. It's not perfect, actually it's not even half way there, but compared to before it looks great... At this point that's what counts. Here's a picture thus far.


Now I just need to clean up the other side. Maybe later!

In the meantime I gotta get down and grab the registration and insure the bike. It's road worthy enough to get me down to the local motorcycle repair shop. I want someone to take a serious look at my carbs (as in carburetor not carbohydrates ->though I should be watching those too). Have them balanced at a shop and see if there is any internal damage that I need to worry about before I disassemble the bike. On a plus note my tires are practically brand new!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Field of Broken Dreams


So today I come home from work after stopping to pick up a few things to continue on my motorcycle project only to find a 12 yard pile of soil sitting on my front lawn (I use the term 'lawn' loosely as my front yard has the ability to grow rocks and that's about it!). It would seem that because my wife has had to spend the last week and a half indoors because of my daughter's misdiagnosed 'MEASLES' the she has gone completely crazy. Now it looks like I'm not going to be doing anything with my bike this Easter long weekend.


Update: This is only the first of two soil shipments. Another 16 yards will be arriving tomorrow. Time to nip this in the but and call out the big guns. I got a hold of a rental place and they are going to drop off a Bobcat tomorrow. The one thing I forgot to mention... I have never driven a Bobcat before. How hard could it be? Famous last words.

As it turns out. It's not that hard at all. I knew all those years of playing video games would pay off. Left and right sticks to turn (just like Tank Commander), left pedal up and down on buck, and right pedal tilt bucket up and down. Nothing to it. No weaponry to worry about. No enemies to track on the radar. This is a piece of cake. I should still be able to get some motorbike time in this weekend.

So after distributing to dirt around the yard, my father in law Slavko lent his Eastern European work ethic and came over and helped me level the yard using shovels and rakes. Much harder than the bobcat, but far more effective. Denis, my lazy brother in-law, decided he would be a chick and stay inside playing Guitar Hero. That didn't last too long! I totally freaked on him and his girlfriend and turned off the game mid guitar battle. It was awesome! I felt like an adult scolding his teenage son. Of course Denis is 26... you think he would know better. Anyways I put him on the Roto-Tiller and let him loose. In the end it worked out well. By day two the yard was ready to be seeded. I built some stone planters with the unlimited supply of rock I have at my place (where does it all come from?) Then I finished for the day wishing I was working on my bike.

By noon on day 3 I had the yard mostly seeded and packed down. Would have finished but I had Easter dinner at the in-laws. Gotta love the Croatians. Any religious holiday means a lamb gets slaughtered and made into yummy food.

Day 4 I was finished in an hour and then started working on cleaning the bike up. Here the front yard now.
the next job that needs to get done is widen the asphalt driveway. But that will have to wait until the lawn comes in fully. Thank God!

Now that that is finished I can return to the bike.....
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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Burn Baby Burn!



After the oil change was done I inserted the fresh battery. The leads had been bastardized something fierce so I took the battery connection leads off of the 750 beside it. I found some clean bolts to connect it and Voila! (or is that et voila?) Now to get it running.

I had a heck of a time putting the gas tank back on. There was a time 5 years ago when removing and reinstalling my tank was a daily occurrence. Now? Lord help me if I even know where to connect to the carburetors. Finally got it figured out now lets get 'er going.


oil drained? ---> Check
oil replaced? ---> Check
battery connected? ---> Check
petcock open? ---> Check
ignition on? ---> Check
bike in neutral? ---> Check

Touch the ignition button... the bike cranks? Hooray
Keep cranking....
Give it more gas... choke it...more choke...less choke
cranka cranka cranka

I continue this until there is no juice left to crank. Shoot. Now what?

Connect charger and go watch Survivor on the PVR.
Survivor kinda sucked all I could think about is the bike. Time to go disconnect the charger. It's midnight and I can't leave it plugged in overnight.

So I get out there and disconnect the charger, put a few things away (gotta stay organized), and drink the last bit of wine I left out there (one mouthful). Time to go in. OK...let's give it one more try. cranka cranka cranka...vrrrrrrrrrrr

we have ignition
we lost ignition

OK new lease on life. Lets continue. Play with the choke try again. It starts... Yippee (who really says yippee?). It stays started. OK don't breath. Its starting to warm up. Oh my it's starting to smoke. Quick check... oh right? I sprayed penetrating lube all over every bolt yesterday. It's just burning off. Will it run on its own? Yes. Set the idle a little higher. Sounds good. There's no response on the throttle but I can save that headache for tomorrow. It's 12:30 at night and this bike is sounding very loud in my garage.

What a great day. I can already picture myself driving down some windy mountain road in Austria.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Road to Recovery


When I ponder the word 'recovery' I think about 12 step programs and sponsors and "one day at a time"
I think the rehab model applies to what I have to do to get my bike into the condition it needs to be in Where do you begin such a long journey back? At the beginning? No way man! Lets start the A-Team way. Hannibal didn't do anything without a plan. How else can you sit there afterwards smugly saying, "I love it when a plan comes together". Of course I probably have more in common with Murdock than Hannibal. Lord help us!

So here's my plan (I pity the fool who gets in the way):

  1. Drain the gas tank
    1. inspect tank and recondition if necessary.
    2. clean petcock and fuel filter.
    3. remount
    4. new gas
  2. Charge battery
  3. Change Oil
    1. Change oil filter
  4. New spark plugs
    1. or clean up the old ones and regap for now.
  5. Start your engine
    1. Make new plan depending on what happens

Removing the Gas Tank. The lock on the cap is completely ruined. This will have to be replaced.
Look at my bike without the tank. What a mess the years of neglect can leave on a machine.

Here's the petcock. The fuel is flowing well through it. Good sign but let's not push our luck. Hey Look! There's actually a drain plug in the bottom of the tank. My other bike doesn't have this. It must have been added after the fact. Brass plug with Teflon tape wrapped around the threads. You really shouldn't use thread tape around fuel systems - can you say contamination? Like it would make a difference on this rust bucket.

WOW! I've heard about gas 'gelling' but I've never seen it. These little brown spots are like jellyfish swimming around a bucket of gas. Very Cool. It's times like this that I'm glad I didn't take a short cut. Imagine getting that out of your carburetors?

Well charging the battery isn't an option. It's hooped. I'll pick one up tomorrow. May as well grab some plugs at the same time. That's gonna cost me.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

My First Shipping Quote!


The following is an email I just received from a local freight forwarder. If this is indicative of what I can expect then My life just got so much better. According to my calculations Shipping should be in the $775 range and I have a choice of Frankfurt or Munich. Could this be right?

Read the following I have made some notes in red:

Hello Elvis,

Please see the current rate below for March 2008.

Air Freight YVR-FRA/MUC: 2.34/kg My bike is 230kg $ 538.20
(includes - FSC, SEC, NAV)
Dangerous Cargo Fee: 100/HAWB (house airway bill)$ 100.00
Export Terminal Fee: 0.16/kg $ 36.80
Export Declaration (B13A): 45 (if needed) Don’t know what this is?$ 45.00
Document fee: 55/HAWB $ 55.00
Pick up cartage: TBA (One of those hidden charges. I won’t include it)
Insurance: TBA My bike is only worth money to me. $ 0.00
Subtotal $ 775.00

These above estimate charges should cover you to Frankfurt or Munich
airport. For any other charges occur not included above will be charge at
cost. The airline may change the rates. Please let me know when you are
ready with the motorcycle, I will re-confirm all the rates with you again.

Transit sample:
Carrier: KLM

Usually if a shipment goes out on Monday it will connect Tuesday evening and
arrive Wednesday early a.m.
(Same for any other day.)

Let me know if you have any questions.


Speedy Air Cargo Inc. (since 1985)
Vancouver, BC Canada




This is really good news indeed. Yipee
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If you build it they will come


So... I guess all things being equal I will have to do the majority of the repairs myself. I have begun researching my bike a lot. The first thing I need to do before I even remove one nut from my bike is to... OK the first and second thing I need to do is to FIND MY BIKE! The second thing I need to do is to build a workspace to fix my bike.

(this is my carport on Saturday morning. Do you see a bike?

this is a closer look at my 1941 International. Yes it is all original. And yes, it does run. I use it to go to the dump and pickup gravel and dirt and the like.

I think I see a bike in there. Maybe two?

Wow! How did I let it get to this? Lets drag this sucker out a see what we're dealing with.

OK. We have a winner. This is the beast that's going to take me across Eastern Europe reliably. No really! I mean it. Trust me I have my doubts to. Now let's see what space I can make to work in.

The various stages of my Saturday spent cleaning out my carport/soon to be garage. I worked my tail off. New bench and some lights to work by. Then on Sunday I continued again.

Who's going to organize all these parts?

The final product. Sunday at 10:30 PM
(and they said it couldn't be done.)

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Starting at the beginning


I posted a couple of blogs already just to try this out. I think I was a little premature as I was just toying around. If I want this to be a serious blog i think I need to put a little chronology and structure to it. So let's start this over and call this the beginning...

It all started last year, August of 2007 to be exact. After a year of being with my lovely wife Izabel I finally took her up on an offer to travel to Croatia. She's been going every second year since I have known her and I have resisted. She did have an ace in the hole to get me to go... she threatened to kidnapped my daughter (Olivia) for the whole summer and I wouldn't see them until they returned. So there it was. I had no choice but to get on a plane and get over there.

You're probably asking yourself, "Why wouldn't you want to go?". It's not that I don't like to travel. It's just that Croatia was never on my A-list of places to go. Couple that with the fact that I'm a work-a-holic who doesn't like to take vacations because of control issues and you have your answer.

So I was committed, my plane tickets were booked and I had no choice. I decided to make the most of it and have a small adventure on the way. Because Izabel, Olivia, and Izabel's parents traveled to Munich where they rented a car (cheaper in Germany) and drove to Croatia. Because Izabel wanted me on the same flight home it meant that I needed to fly to Munich and make my own way down to Croatia. This is where the adventure comes in. I decided that what I would do is not make any travel plans beyond landing in Munich. I would land in Germany with luggage, passport, and a small amount of money and I would just have to rely on my instincts to get me to Jadrtovac, a village of about 200 people which doesn't appear on many maps.

Needless to say, I had the time of my life. Taking the train through Austria, overnighting in a prison converted into a hostile in Slovenia, Arriving during one of the biggest rain and lightning storms in Zagreb. My only regret that I hadn't taken longer to get there because once I arrived in my wife's village I was pretty much stuck. That being said Jadrtovac is a very nice place to be stuck and by the end of my vacation I had a tan to be jealous of. The problem? No transportation! We were pretty much at the whim of my in-laws if we wanted to go anywhere.

So that is the lead up to how I made my decision to ship a motorbike to Europe. Since I have a couple of bikes that need to be fixed and parts out my yin-yang I decided to start the adventure early and savour the whole process. I have spent my adult career solving other people's problems I figured it was about time I used my skill set to benefit myself.

Here are the problems I have to overcome:

  1. Germany is a long way away.
    1. how do I get my bike there?
    2. what route do I take to get to Croatia?
    3. what do I take with me?
  2. My transportation is less than reliable.
    1. Which bike do I fix?
    2. How much money can I spend?
    3. who's going to fix my bike?
    4. if I fix it myself, where can I do it?
I'm sure this list will grow, or at least be broken down into a few more parts but right now it's all I can deal with?

Now, with that out of the way, I can begin the whole blogging process.
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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ben's bike


Ben came over with his bike. We just got it running so today we're using it to test TCI Boxes.

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My loyal steed


This bike used to be my daily driver. As I dragged it out me the junk pile I call my garage I started to have some very strong feelings come over me. Excitement, over the adventure that's ahead of us. Depression over giving up riding for so many years. Embarrassment over letting my trusty steed get in such poor condition. WE SHALL RIDE AGAIN!

posted from my Sony Ericsson K800i cameraphone
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