Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Let Me Think About This...

Being a pondering person by nature, I tend to think things through to try to get a better understanding of what something is about in order to better handle the situation, or to at least know what makes something tick. So it was with this Allstate project that we have in the works. I wondered to myself as to why I have such a keen interest in a project that is not mine.

The first thought came easily to me. I just really enjoy being in a shop environment, especially when motorbikes are concerned. Even more when vintage iron is involved. Everything about being in a shop, the smells, the tools, the motorbike itself, makes me happy. I grew up with my Dad always having an antique car in some form of restoration. It's a comfort zone for me.

Sharing my passion of the scooter world that I have embraced with someone else is quite fulfilling to me as well. Jeff has expressed his desire to be a part of the motorbiking world, and if I can provide some inspiration and information that will be helpful to him, then by all means, I'll be there for him. It's what friends do for each other.

Friendship and the common goal of accomplishing something together is probably the main reason though. I'm the type of person that shuts off the social part of my personality when I come home at night. I am truly happier to be at home with my family, tinkering with my own little projects, then being with any group of people in a social setting. I work in retail, which has me working closely with co-workers and customers my entire day. I enjoy it, but need the seperation. Unless I'm amongst friends, I keep to myself on my own time. At this point in my life, I can easily count my true friends without using too many fingers. Most of them are guys that I work with, and I'm proud to call them true friends.

For example, I brought up my want to build another outbuilding on my property to take the place of the old demolished quonset that blew away. I was offered help in the form of not only labor, but building materials, from a guy named Dave at work. This is what a friend does without asking. He will be there when I need him, and I apprieciate this.

Now Dreamcrusher and J.B. can be counted on as well, along with a few others. This is how close knit we've become as a crew at work, and as friends after hours. If ever I paint myself into a corner and call for help, these guys will show up to either jump in and lend a hand, or to stand back and point and laugh at me. Whichever the case, they can be counted on, and I will do the same for them.

So with all this pondering, I ended up concluding that the reason that I have such an interest in this old scooter, is that I get to share in the "brotherhood" that we in the motorbike world understand best.

Next episode...Part 2 of the Great Allstate adventure.

Have fun,

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Geezers Getting Greasy...Part One

The top photo is Dreamcrusher and J.B. giving the motor a once over after some cleaning. The lower photo is a look at the underside of the greasy, grimy, filthy Piaggio classic motor from 1963. The belly of the vintage beast.

The focus of todays fun was to get this cleaned up to either box and ship to a real Vespa mechanic or for us to attempt to crack into ourselves. I think we'll box her up.

I had ridden Mule over to J.B's digs at around 1:00 this afternoon to take stock of where we were on the project and help in building a battle plan for what to do in the coming days. It had been awhile since I had seen his little scoot and got to take a look at the broken flywheel cover from when the "mechanic" had been there last. It looked as though he had beaten on it for a while with a crowbar to soften it up before using the wrong puller on it. Needless to say, there will be some replacement parts being ordered in the future. Some of the internals had taken a thrashing during the bash fest. This didn't need to happen, but I guess once the dude got a head of steam going, he threw caution to the wind and common sense to the curb. I feel bad for Jeff, because he was trusting this guys word of being an "old time" Vespa mechanic. He'll have to pay for the trust in hard earned cash.

At around three thirty, good old Dreamcrusher came out after work and jumped into his coveralls and got busy. He added a real boost of energy to our dwindling desire to stay out in the unheated shop. He was gulping coffee from what looked like an oversized German beer stein and was buzzing around like a madman. I should mention that it was freezing doggone cold in the shop and the frost was still crunchy white on the ground outside. We had to make a few quick trips into Jeff's house to warm up just to keep the fingers working.

The other main focus today was the frame. We wanted to figure out how the cables were routed through and which cables went where. With this being done, we spent some time with the book Jeff bought to see how to disassemble the front fork and pull the handlebars. All in preparation for the painter.

At this point, we all just looked at each other and pretty much decided to hang it up for the day as it was getting colder and closer to dinner time for each of us. By now I had put on every extra layer of clothing that I had brought in my tourpack for this very reason. And I was still cold.

But it was a good time, and as Geezers, we did something together today, and that's what counted. Grizz called while we were tinkering to say that he was in Oregon and will be here next week to join in, so that should be a productive day. Until then, maybe we can get something accomplished during the work week. I'll fill you in as we go.

Have fun,

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My Pal's Allstate

The above photo is Jeff Joaquin's 1963 Vespa Allstate. Imported by the good people at Sears, back when you could order a Playtex Living Bra, a Craftsman drill, and a boss scooter from the same catalog. The good old days. This is the "before" picture that I promised in an earlier post. Looks pretty cherry in this pose doesn't it? It's in a whole bunch of pieces now and will become the focus of attention for Jeff in the coming weeks.

I reached out to Big People Scooters in Seattle and they replied yesterday saying that "Yes they can do the work, but get it in ASAP, because when springtime rolls around, all vintage jobs get put on the back burner". The motor is the big issue right now, because the frame, cowls, seats and most everything else are in real good shape. One of the local motorcycle shops said to bring it in and they will have a look at it, but sometimes it's better to have a wrench turner that knows the brand to tackle the project. Being confident is a plus.

The thundering herd of Geezers will be hanging out at Jeff's shop Sunday afternoon and we should have the frame completely stripped down, and all of the greasy parts cleaned up. Jeff has hooked up with a painter, so we will probably just help out with getting parts prepped and sanded before he sends it out for paint.

Geezer "Dreamcrusher" will be joining us on Sunday, and he's a good hand with tools, as well as welding and metal fab work. His real name is Brian, and he works with Jeff and I at our store. Brian runs our metal fabrication shop, and turns out anything from basic metal roof flashing, to intricate copper work. Dreamcrusher rides a rat Honda Aero 80, that just screams down the road faster than I think they were meant to go. You can spot him a block away with his big American flag flapping from a pole that he clamped on to his luggage basket. True home crafted scooter farkles.

As for this kid, I'm enjoying scootin' to work these days again since the spring-like weather has brought sunny days back to us, with temps around 53 degrees. I had a real nice putt this afternoon out to some of my favorite stomping grounds, and couldn't believe how many folks were out walking, working in their yards, washing their cars, and doing whatever else needed to be done on such a nice day. Even the motorbikes are coming out to play.

I know that spring is still down the road a stretch, but there's nothing wrong with looking ahead. Heck, it's only 56 days!

Have fun,

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Rode Easy And Put Away Clean

Today was one of those days where the weather conditions sat on the fence. On one side was rain, the other brief moments of sunshine. Regardless of the outcome, I was going for a ride.

First stop would be the Blue Dolphin Carwash. There was so much dried road crud on Mule that needed to be removed, and without wanting to unwrap my outdoor faucet, and reattach the hose, the carwash was the way to go. And this crud was really dried on. I hate to use high pressure, but had to a few times. Soap, water and elbow grease finally won over the Elmer's Mud that coated everything. So with this chore done, it was time to ride awhile.

Our next stop was out at the new facility that our company is building on Highway 101 east of Port Angeles. The siding is well on the way to being finished, then the metal roof comes next. It's better to go out on the off days when the construction crews are gone, so I don't end up being stink-eyed by someone that doesn't know that it's my store. The ride out also allows me to get up to highway speed for awhile, and that felt good.

It became obvious that the low hanging dark cloud above me was tired of retaining water, and heading back toward town was a good idea. I chose to wear a heavy leather bomber jacket today, and was warm enough to really feel comfortable cruising around with no real destination in mind. So I just wandered about till the rain shifted to a higher gear. It was as I was coming out of the downtown area that I picked up on something that I probably wouldn't have had I been driving.

For a short moment, the raindrops were coming down about the size of a half-dollar. But at that same time, the sun broke through the clouds and lit everything up, making the colors all around pop against the dark backdrop. Brilliant greens, reds, yellows, everything was so bright. I felt so good being out IN it, and seeing it, rather than missing out by being protected under it. Just a moment that I enjoyed, and was glad that I didn't miss. I had been missing the chance to have these moments.

Lately I've been doing some homework on vintage Vespa scooters, mostly to compile some information toward Jeff's Allstate project. This has given me some inspiration toward my own Vespa, Ol' Blue. I looked at Big People's Scooters website, and e-mailed them about the Allstate motor. These guys are in Seattle, and have been around for quite awhile. I'll call them as a follow-up this week, and if all is good, I may take Ol' Blue to them to run through a tune-up, and finally get my front brake adjusted. I'd heard good things about this business, and think that I will benefit from being around a real Vespa shop, with real Vespa mechanics. A road trip to the Emerald City to search out scooters sounds like my kind of fun.

I wouldn't mind splitting time between Mule and Ol' Blue as daily commuters. It would be pretty cool having two vintage scooters parked together in front of our business when Jeff is up and running. All we have to do now is just get the job done. Should be a darn good time.

Have fun,

Friday, January 19, 2007

Getting Caught Up

With work taking the front burner position this week, I haven't had a chance to get caught up with my own blog site, let alone any of the other sites that I faithfully follow. So with great surprise, I found that Steve Williams is back tooling around the "Sticks" on a new Vespa. I hate to see a good rider down and Steve is full time rider. He's the real deal.

This week has been a series of meetings for me. I attended three on Wednesday alone. Then Thursday morning we had a product certification seminar that I had set up for contractors that lasted from 7:00 till 10:00 a.m. and then I had to write an article for the newspaper for the Home Show next month, so today I'm grabbing a day off to regroup and let my batteries charge.

Local roads are suitable for riding again as the snow and ice are finally gone. Streets are now nicely sanded, so I'll have to pay attention to that, but the main drags look good. Full time commuting on Ol' Mule will begin right away. I'm glad that I had chosen to abort riding for the most part during this spurt of winter weather. There were too many evenings that had icy road conditions that would have put me in a bad situation as far as bike-vs-cage goes.

I mentioned my buddies Allstate restoration project and it looks like we will be getting started next week. J.B. will e-mail some "before" photos to me so I can post them prior to getting everyone caught up to where we are at this point. The engine is out and has sustained some damage due to "mechanics" error. He used the "get a bigger hammer" approach when he shouldn't have and the end result will be costly when ordering replacement parts. Needless to say, he's not getting invited back.

Between the four of us Geezer members that will be working on it, we have a couple of good motorheads. Grizz has proven himself to be very good, as he is the guy that I built a Honda CB450 chopper with a few years back. That beast came to him as a barely rolling junk bike and in a matter of a few months we were up and running on a hardtail, ape hangered, jockey shift, louder than *#@% chopper. And Grizz made it look like he did this kind of work for a living. He welds, does bodywork, paints, and turns wrenches better than any cat I know. And you would think that he was related to Larry The Cable Guy. A true Redneck to his very soul. And he's just one in the cast of characters that you will be meeting soon. I'll introduce "Dreamcrusher" to you in the next installment. He's a metal fab nutjob.

For now though, I'm going for a ride.

Have fun,

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I'm Ready...Let's Go!

Kind of like a dog waiting for his owner to take him for a walk, Mule sat patiently on the icy sidewalk waiting for me to stretch his legs. We didn't get far though, as old Sol couldn't put enough heat on the street to melt the ice away.

It was still around 28 degrees as we made our attempt at a Sunday joyride before the Seahawk game, but after almost putting Mule down 3 times, enough was enough. A couple of days should bring enough melting temperatures to put us back on the road.

I used the non riding time to remount the Kuryakyn tourpack on the cargo deck. I had it in mind earlier this season that I didn't want to trash it in the weather, but have since decided that the darn thing was made to be used on a bike, so by gosh, I'll use it. Besides, I find myself needing somewhere to carry my work junk and this tourpack has lots of room.

Here in the next couple of months, I should be seeing my yearly profit sharing bonus from work. I usually spend a little on myself in the way of motorbike stuff, or "Farkles" as I've come to know the term, and the rest goes to the family rainy day fund. This year I'll spend my bit putting Kenda tires on Mule. I've already told my main salesman friend Bill Rowland at Port Angeles Power Equipment that I'd like to order the Kenda's as soon as I get some bucks. After getting bested by the ice again, I can't wait to get them.

Till then, some of the Geezer cronies and I will be putting in some time getting my pal Jeff's '63 Allstate on the road. He's said many times that he'll ride to work every day, and I know that he will, but he just needs some help right now to get his ride on the road. So, help is on the way.

I'll post some shots of the rebuild here and review the progress. Should make for some comical tales, as this crew is a lot like Curly, Moe, Larry and Shemp. And I'm not kidding.

Stay tuned...

Have fun,

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Snow Day For Billy Boy

Man, am I glad that I didn't have to work today. This split day off schedule isn't so bad after all. Schools were on a two hour late start due to snowy road conditions, so I had the time to chain up the old beater and get Billy to school without having to hurry.

Yesterday's weather was, as Johnny Carson used to say "Some weird, wild stuff", with Port Angeles winning the high wind title with a whopping 64 mph gust that brought more trees down, and turned the power off for lots of wind-weary folks again. My neighbor across the street lost a big cedar tree that made front page news.

The photo above was taken in my back yard at 11:00 a.m. as another front was coming through. In all, we have gotten about 3" of snow this morning. Tonight is supposed to get down to 23 degrees and the temps should stay below freezing till Friday afternoon.

I did, however, try to get out on Mule this morning, but ended up sittin' and spinnin'. Somehow I need to find a way to get a ride in while these conditions are in place. Folks may think of this as foolish behavior, and it probably is, but I bungy jumped off a 140' bridge and got over people calling me foolish. If I don't try, then I'll keep wishing that I did.

I'm taking this down time from being able to ride every day to put some ideas together for a little scooter club that some of guys at work and I have put together. We've named it the "Geezers Motoscooter Club". The only criteria at this point in time is that you own a scooter or motorbike, that you ride the doggone thing, and that you take some time to participate in the forming of this club. Oh, and that you dig Johnny Cash and his music.

As I am a cartoonist, and do quite a bit of graphic artwork, I created a club logo that will be on club tee shirts soon. We also came up with a small service station style name patch that has "Geezers" in royal blue on white, in the Ford style font. "Ford" written like you would see on a Model "A" Ford.

The whole deal on this club is that we are just in it for a good time. We have 4 members within our company and a couple other people that want in, so in all we may have 6 or 7 riders coming to our first official meeting. Putting it together is what I'm doing now.

What I mean by "a good time" is that we get together on a regular basis and maybe do a little tire kicking, tell some lies, and spend some time hanging out and being around scoots. Nothing too heavy or full of rules and fools. There's nothing like blasting over to a buddies shop to help him wrench on his bike, or get a call to ride out to the river to fish for a while on a summer evening. These types of things are what I mean by a good time.

But that is all down the road a ways. And hopefully the road will be clear of tree limbs, snow and ice so I can enjoy it again.

Have fun,


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Mother Natures Bullseye

Well, due to some rather unfriendly weather, I opted to abandon riding for most of this week. We haven't caught a break in the weather pattern that has us losing power at least once a week.

Wind and rain have had the starring roles in this epic adventure that we call Winter in the Pacific Northwest. The winds that we haven't seen the likes of since I don't know when, have been appearing roughly every 36 hours, and end up taking down trees and powerlines with each visit. The rain total for just this morning was 1.20 inches between 4:30 and 7:30 a.m. It was horizontal from the South, and pushed water under my back door leaving a nice puddle where a puddle has never been.

It's these types of uncommon conditions that have me thinking less about my want to ride to work everyday, and more about which is the safer way to get there. It's normal now to see road cones around flooded storm drains with lots of standing water on roads all over the city. I don't like driving through this stuff, let alone riding a scooter through it.

Right now we are looking at winds again tonight (always at night) and high winds in the forcast for Tuesday, leading up to an arctic front bringing snow and freezing temperatures through Wednesday. But...the skys will clear on Thursday they say, with cold, cold days, in store.

At some point I'll get my wheels under me again and resume commuting on my Big Ruckus. Just as soon as Mother Nature quits using us for target practice.

Have fun,

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Polar Bear Ride

Here's the trusty old steed mere seconds from the start of the Polar Bear Clubs annual New Years Day Dip into the Port Angeles harbor. By the time I had made it to the beach, the countdown was at 3-2-1 GO! And in the chilling drink they went. Being less than an amateur photog, my attempts at some good followup action shots were blown because I made some stupid mistakes. Oh well, there's always next year.

The day turned out cold with a steady rain. I couldn't "ride" in the New Year by driving my car just to stay warm and dry. That would bring on some kind of guilty feeling, so I suited up in my raingear and headed to the beach. A guy that I know saw me on my scoot and instead of saying hello, he just shook his head and walked off. That alone made it worth it.

It was impressive to note how many people were out enjoying some kind of physical exercise on this morning. Aside from the peoplesickles, the runners were on the Waterfront Trail, bicyclists were out in great numbers, and there were eleven kayakers that had crossed the harbor to watch the event. A nice healthy way to start '07.

Myself, on the other hand...well, I ride. Thats what I do. And apparently I was the only one to do so while I was out and about. Hurrying home after watching people grow goosebumps didn't seem to be worth the effort, so the decision was made to spend some time wandering around the streets to see if anyone else was riding like me.

Nobody wanted to come out to play. I was the King of the Streets on a motorbike, with no one to contest me. Maybe latenight revelry had taken it's toll on their will to jump on their bike and ride into a chilling rainstorm. I'm glad I did.

As we began this year, I made no resolutions to do things that are different that what I like doing now. I did set some personal goals though. I've included some thoughtful suggestions on my short term goals list. One being a riders comparison of my three scooters, as suggested by Gary Charpentier. I'll do this up right, so it'll be a bit before it's posted. The other will be my taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course, and an even more advanced course later on. This old dog could use some training.

A recent post on Musings of an Intrepid Commuter by "Irondad" drove the last nail into a thought that has been in mind for the past few months. Safety training for anyone, no matter how long you've ridden, can only enhance the riding experience. This will also provide thoughts and words for future posts. And who I follow in the footsteps of others, I may post a culinary review of the "Fat Smitty Burger" that should add food for thought. All in good time my friends, all in good time!

But for now I'll continue plodding ahead into the gale force wind and rain that I call my daily commute.

Have fun,

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