August 11th, 2015

#4853: Today, maybe.

Og's graciously offered to loan me the socket I need to get the Jeep's hubs out to check them for excessive play. That's what my day's going to be like! Fortunately it's cooler and drier than yesterday--at least, forecast such. We'll see.

First, I have a crapton of links to contend with. I'll probably close most of them without commenting here, but some will survive.

* * *

Thanks to the obvious and repeated crap numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, I no longer trust any statistics from the government. Especially ones which--gosh!--just happen to come out right after Obama has pledged to uphold his campaign promise that the cost of electricity will "necessarily skyrocket".

If you read the entirety of the Arse Technica article, you find--in the third-to-last paragraph--this telling quote: "...[T]he low costs are enabled in part by a federal production tax credit...."

In other words, it's not really any cheaper; it's artificially cheaper because the federal government is giving tax credits to companies who build windmills. Those tax credits end up being paid for by higher taxes on others, or deficit spending, or a variety of other tricks.

The bottom line is--absent those tax credits--wind power is not cheaper than coal. Full stop. And because the federal government does not cut its spending by whatever those tax credits amount to, it ends up costing all of us just as much (if not more) for wind power as it would if those tax credits were absent.

Once agan demonstrating that so-called "green power" is economically infeasible.

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I don't blame him one bit. Who the fuck are the Kardashians? Who gives a rat's ass about them and their lives? They don't do anything useful; they're not even entertainers--they're just rich assholes from California.

I stopped caring about pop culture when...uh...hmm, it seems that I never actually started caring about pop culture. Why, it's almost as if I have a life or something!

* * *

Plastic is lighter than metal. It also has a somewhat lower temperature of fusion. I expect that--as is the case with other, similar stories over the past few years--the "heat wave" will turn out to be highly localized. Remember the melting street lamps? That was "global warming", too, until it was revealed that the "global warming" had, in fact, been a nearby dumpster fire.

Automakers are smart enough to specify plastics that can withstand being in the sun on a summer day. As one comment points out, note that the dashboard is unaffected by the "record heat wave". Yeah.

* * *

Even though I've seen it before, I watched this for about five minutes. I'll spoil it for you: it's not a continuous process; it's a bunch of independent "cells" stuck together. There are a few paths which let a ball cross the entire process, but no one ball goes through each stage. It's still interesting.

* * *

I have to get myself in gear, here. Things to do! Miles to go, and so forth!

According to's e-mail, my EGR gasket may arrive today. That'd be nice if I were getting next-day service for my THIRTEEN DOLLAR SHIPPING ON A TWO-DOLLAR PART. WTF.

#4854: Why, no! I'm just taking my motorcycle for a walk!

Oftentimes I come up with wisecracks which end up not destined for use, which is probably just as well.

To quote the poet-philosopher-king Kyon, today is a "ridiculously nice day", so I decided that I'd take the bike to Og's to get the tool I'm borrowing to get the axle nut off so I can check the bearings that are probably the cause of the death wobble that makes it impossible to drive my Jeep at 50 MPH, making a long-distance commute miserable and possibly dangerous. (I am deliberately trying to stack as many subordinate clauses together as I can.)

Got up with Mrs. Fungus this morning, had a Cinnabon; I figured I'd get lunch on the way home from Og's, or eat leftovers. This was just a quick jaunt to Og's place for the tool.

Motorcycle ran sensationally and I had a fine ride, all but the last mile or so.

See: they're finally finishing the blacktop on $MAJOR_FUNGAL_ROAD, and they laid down fresh oil so that new asphalt will adhere properly to old asphalt; that's fine but it's not something you want to ride on, at least not very far. Tar trails on the pants, brightwork, etc, you know, besides having less than optimal traction. I resolved that on my return trip I would eschew that route and took the back way, and was very happy to be riding my motorcycle on such a fine day.

Stopped at a gas station to tank up; bike started fine.

At Og's I had to shut the bike off again, because the trunk key is not detachable from the rest of the keys, and it wouldn't even crank. No problem; just have to push-start it--but I'd better go straight home rather than taking an extended ride or stopping at the store. The alternator is enough to run the bike, but why take chances? And I hate push-starting it, because it makes me look foolish.

At the intersection of $M_F_R and $MAIN_HIGHWAY I noticed that my turn signals were not blinking, except when I revved the engine.

"Ah," I thought ruefully, "it appears that going straight home is the best idea, because the battery has seen its day."

So I rode merrily up $BACK_ROAD, all the way to the stop sign at Route 1...and as soon as I hauled in the clutch, the bike quit completely. Just died, no warning, no sputtering, no nothin'. Clutch released, bike running normally; clutch in, off.

And push-starting yielded no fruit whatsoever. (Needless to say, pressing the starter button did nothing.) I couldn't even see if any lights were on.

Sighing, I got the bike out of the road and had a gander at the battery; it looked normal. I tried push-starting it again, with similar results to the first attempt; finally I put it in neutral and started pushing it homeward. I had an inordinate amount of trouble getting it into neutral, of course, since I was standing beside the bike on a crowned road with a slope, having to support the thing and keep the brake on while standing on one foot and trying to work the shifter with the other and-and-and.

Soon enough, however, I was wheeling her homeward. And thought that if anyone stopped and asked me if I was having trouble, I could reply that I was simply taking my motorcycle for a walk.


No one offered any help, and after a few blocks I stopped for a rest. For yucks I tried the starter again and the solenoid rattled, so I tried push-starting it, and mirabile visu it started, so I yanked my gear on again and rode home. I didn't stop for stop signs; the bike tried to die every time my speed went too low and a couple of times I had to pop the clutch to get her kicked over again. I got lucky, though, and managed to get her all the way home before she died again.

So: the battery in the bike has died almost completely, to the point that it won't run unless the engine is running above a certain speed. My big fear is that the generator/alternator/stator/WTF-ever has lost its efficacy, which would be moderately expensive and a big pain in the ass to repair, but since I know the battery has been iffy for quite some time now, that's going to be my first resort.

Heck: that battery lasted almost four years, which is pretty good for a motorcycle battery. I recall--it doesn't seem like all that long ago, but it's been decades--that car batteries used to only be good for 3-5 years before they crapped up and died. I can remember them being classified by how many months they were guaranteed for--36, 48, and so on--and I was surprised that I got as many years out of the green Escort's original battery as I had. (I think it was seven or eight.)

O'Reilly lists the CB10L-A2 at $50 plus $10 for the core charge. Well, it's not happening this week.

Their motorcycle batteries come with a whopping three-month warranty. The aforementioned car batteries--36, 48, etc--had pro-rated warrantees, so that if you bought a 36-month battery for $36, each successive month would subtract $1 from the refund you'd get if you needed to replace it before the warranty was up.

So, yeah, in all probability you can't expect a motorcycle battery to last as long as a car's battery will. That's okay.

I'm just glad that the thing died close enough to home that I could have walked it all the way there if needed.

#4855: So let's see if this is the cause of my wobble.

Thanks to Og I was able to remove the hub from the passenger side knuckle. There is a very little bit of "grunk" in the bearing, and it has a very little bit of wobble; I'm not sure it's enough to cause what I'm seeing.

But the axle shaft, now--the universal joint in it moves freely on one axis, and has to be forced to move on the other. I'm not kidding; it moves easily by perhaps as much as three degrees, after which it stops dead. I can see how something like this might cause a resonant vibration at the wheel. If this is my problem, that would be awesome, because it's a $9 part from Autozone. I can also see how this might make some noise when moving along at speeds over 30 MPH.

Besides that, then, I may want to check the driver's side, tomorrow, to see if its u-joint is in good shape. If not, replacing it will be relatively cheap.

The part for the Fiero didn't arrive, which means it should get here tomorrow. Once the EGR gasket is in place I can torque down the upper plenum and purge the fuel rail, then try giving 'er the old startup.

...and then work on her brakes, because that's also still got to be done.

Further, I learned today that my training period will not be nine weeks of 6A to 2P; after the first five, it switches to 7A to 3P. I'll get to sleep until five instead of four! Woohoo!

#4856: So much for that theory.

Og took one look at the hub and said, "That hub is trash."

Once I had a chance to really look at it, on his ultranifty and hyperkeen workbench, I could see he was right. There's a crapton of play in it; even though it's not that noisy, the play alone could be the source of my death wobble.

...the U-joint was $9, as advertised. Og replaced it for me, since he's got a vise that's big enough, and he's done it before; I helped as much as I could and learned much about the replacement of U-joints. I have a picture (which I'll upload later) of just how done that U-joint was. Suffice it to say that when the grease has turned brown and the consistency of clay, it's not terribly surprising that the bearing in question does not move freely. Holy crap.

Og said it was a testament to the strength of hardened steel that it hadn't simply broken. This u-joint did not suddenly get like that last week; God alone knows how long it's been gummed up like that, and I've been driving 60-70 miles an hour routinely.

I don't expect the driver's side to be in much better condition, but that will have to wait until I have the money for the parts. The hub is a Timken bearing, and ironically it was the cheapest one AutoZone had. The U-joint was another ten.

Getting to Og's place--I'd put the bike on the charger as soon as I got home, so I was able to ride it; but how to get sixty pounds of axle shaft there?

I should have taken a picture: my solution was to tie it to the side of the bike. The differential end got lashed to the swingarm, and the u-joint end got tied to the highway bar on the right side. I put a rag between the shaft and the engine housing, and that way it just gave me enough room to put my foot on the foot peg and operate the rear brake. It probably looked pretty silly, but it worked.

Og volunteered to follow me home, once all the banging and stuff in his shop was done, and bring the parts with him, so all I had to carry was the old u-joint and the battery charger I'd brought with, so I could recharge the bike's battery while we worked.

Anyway, it's all reassembled, but I'm waiting for daylight to take the shakedown cruise. Further bulletins as events warrant.