30 April, 2010

Checkered Flag, then KABOOM

Today was the first race of the season, so we packed up RalphVee last night, and hit thr rode around 7:30 this morning. I had a 9:20am practice and a 10:40am qualifying. The track was fairly slick early, and it was very windy, so I had lots of helmet buffeting and a couple hundred extra RPM down the front straight.

Qualifying went well, and I was right in a group of cars running in the 2:09-10 range, about where I normally run.

So I gridded up for the 12:30 race. A Spec Miata got me into turn 2 on the first lap, but I had enough patience to follow him around and ducked inside on turn 14 under braking. I then pulled a nice gap over the next 9 laps. I got lapped by the leader (Formula Mazda) on the last lap, so I only had to run 9 laps, not 10. As it happens, that was all RalphVee had in him, 9 laps.

He literally blew up as I crossed the finish line, taking a checker flag and the class win in GT4.

I felt him tighten up a little, then heard a little noise. He was still pulling strong, had great oil pressure, and oil and cylinder head temps were "normal." Right as I crossed the finish, the noise got worse and I could feel it get even tighter, so I pushed in the clutch and killed the ignition. I then heard a noise, saw a tick of smoke, then just coasted around to the outside of turn 3. I came in on the hook.

The air cleaner was no longer attached to the carb, so that was a strange thing. There was some oil on the upper end of the engine, but nothing dripping underneath. Then I found some metal. I found what appears to be about half of a piston ring and some small chunks of block. Then I found the hole in the block. It was on the top of the block, next to the oil pump.

How in the hell did a piston ring manage to escape that hole is beyond me.

End result? The motor is shit. Well, the block/case is obviously shit. I assume a piston, rod, cylinder, maybe a cylinder head, and who knows what else is also shit. After a bit of time to digest, I will take out the motor and rip it apart.

Long term, I'm not sure what my plans are. I love running Ralphvee, but have had a lot of problems trying to hot rod him. Maybe I should send the 1200cc motor off to a pro FV builder for a rebuild, and learn to love 55whp.

And now the photos:

getting strapped in:

Our hero, about to blow a motor:

random bits that escaped the confines of the engine block:

Nice Hole! (that's what she said)

That might be a rod sticking up, sorta looks like it.


29 April, 2010

Tomorrow is race day!

That means when I get home, I can pack the truck and load RalphVee in the trailer. I picked up some new trailer ramps a few weeks ago that are about twice as wide as the previous ones. Hopefully, this means I can get the ramps "close enough" and not fear the car falling off of them.

Then a beer for my efforts.


25 April, 2010

Avery Brewing 14'er ESB Ale


no alc given

An exceptionally good Extra Special Bitter, with a strong fresh hoppy nose. At the same time, it has some very strong malty flavors, that border in being a bit too sweet at times. But luckily, it manages to be well balanced, despite the opposite flavors being fairly strong on there own.

Overall, quite nice and unique.


New Belgium Enlightened Black Ale


5.6% abv

As the name and picture suggests, this is a dark, thick, meaty ale with strong malt flavors. Nice head and a thick syrupy feel that coats the glass. At first, it tastes like a typical well-rounded stout, but has some very sweet flavors mixed in with chocolate. It is very good, but the sweetness was a surprise. An excellent sipping beer.


Sam Adams Coastal Wheat


bottle was recycled before I got the abv

This is one of four Sam Adams offering I'll be enjoying over the next few weeks. Susan picked up a case containing four different varieties, with this Coastal Wheat being one of them. I like wheats, so of course I enjoyed this offering. However, this was a pretty "main stream" feeling wheat. Meaning it could have been just about any generic wheat from the bigger bottling companies. Light and crisp, and enjoyable on a hot day, but not a lot of flavor, except for some light citrus hints.

Overall pretty bland, but wheats aren't usually super flavorful anyways.


Sam Adams Noble Pils


no alc given

Tagged as being one of the only brews made with all five noble hops, the Noble Pills proved to be rather bland. Maybe it is too well balanced, or the hop count is rather low, but whatever the reason, this lager is very light in color, taste, and feel. Somewhat disappointing, but at least we're having some warmer temps, so this will be a nice "light" hot day beer.


Sam Adams Boston Ale


no alc given

Unlike the other Sam Adams offerings I've tried, this one isn't bland nor set aside for the "hot weather" selections. This is pretty much what a Sam Adams tastes like, as I've experienced at many an airport bar. A nice robust ale with a well-balanced malty feel that doesn't overpower. Not much hops, and it isn't very sweet. It just has a nice smooth malt taste.


24 April, 2010

Riding Ratty

Yep, I rode it! Roughly two months after starting this strange project, I took Ratty for its maiden voyage down the block and back. It ran pretty well, though I kept it under 30mph, which was still second gear at light throttle. I have a feeling 3rd gear will be perfect for cruising around town. Anyways, here are a few pics Susan snapped of the event, including a short video.

Currently, the footpegs and kick starter interfere, so I'm installing the peg after getting it kicked over and idling. I'm still messing with the idle adjustment and choke settings, but considering it has a total of 10 minutes on it, it runs pretty good.

Yep, I wore pants and a helmet. I did a quick nut and bolt on it, but you never know what is going to fall off on the first trip!

A bit like a Monkey humping a football. I had originally installed the footpegs in that location assuming I would be sitting on the rear seat. I still haven't decided where I'll be sitting, but I need to, as that will help me finish things up.

Here is a short clip of me riding it. Oh, and Sean: Yes, the brake sucks. Besides it not really working that well, I dislike having it on the throttle hand. So I need to sort my riding position, locate the pegs, and make a rear brake foot pedal/lever.


23 April, 2010

Vroom Vroom it RUNS!!!

The Ratster runs, here is proof:

And yes, it sounds like a tractor in this video. It sounds way better in person, especially when I rev it. Not to loud though, but a nice gruffy bark.

I hooked up the fuel line, tightened a few hose clamps, kicked it over a few times, and kapow. It ran. I think the idle speed is a bit low, but it ran great with a tick of choke. It also revved fairly clean, although I wasn't revving it that high. I figure it needs a few gentle runs up and down the street to break in. I still need to sort the rear exhaust bracket, wire in a on/off switch, and generally make sure all the bolts are tight and shit won't fall off.


22 April, 2010


Tonight, Ratty got a chain. I had a spare brand new chain sitting on the shelf, courtesy Dennis Kirk. A 100 link 420 chain.

Exciting rear shot of chain installed and adjusted:

Front sprocket is a 17-tooth DRP unit I picked up from Beatrice Cycles many moons back. Stock front sprocket was 15-tooth on the 140cc motor, and 13 tooth on the stock Cub 50. Hopefully this and the bigger rear tire let's this bad boy run over 50mph.

The end.



I snapped a few pics in Macau with my wickedly bad tiny little digi cam, mostly at night when we were walking around drunk. Needless to say, not many turned out. I did get a couple of the Marina area when were at Maria Bend taking real pics. Here is one:

Nice layer of haze offshore.



that Yvon Mullers (factory Seat WTCC driver) girlfriend was pole dancing at a Russian bar in Macau. There was no nudity involved btw, just Russian girls dancing on poles while we enjoyed bad European beer.

Seeing her the next morning in our hotel elevator was priceless.


21 April, 2010

Brake and Air Cleaner/Horn

I finally figured out a simple solution for Ratty's brake mechanism. I decided I didn't want a foot operated rear brake, as I wanted some flexibility in where I mounted the footpegs. And since I don't plan on running a front brake, I decided to make the normal front brake lever operate the rear brake.

I had several sets of spare cable, some intended for brakes, some intended for clutches. I think I ended up using a spare clutch cable off a CB160. I had a piece of aluminum casting in the junk drawer that looked just right for locating the end adjuster piece on the outer cable sheath.

Cable attaches to the Trail 55 rear brake arm:

Small bracket made from spare aluminum casting found in junk drawer:

I also got the air cleaner/horn mounted on the carb:

I decided to keep the main body of the horn in raw fiberglass, and give the outer plate the rust treatment. Small wire mesh keeps out the bugs:


20 April, 2010

Rain and Thunder

It has been raining all day, which of course means much of our 21 acres at work becomes a perfect spot for some swamp buggy racing:

And we just had some not to distant thunder. Which means our power will go out shortly, since it always goes out when it rains hard or we hear thunder. Good thing I already heated up my leftovers!


19 April, 2010

Getting Ready for the Race

The first race of the season will be next Friday, on the 30th. Since RalphVee has been in hibernation since November, I gave him a gentle nudge Saturday morning and slowly awakened the beast.

I changed the fluids, charged the battery, and primed up the oil pressure. A couple jabs of the throttle, pull of the choke, and he fired right up. I ran him long enough to get temps up, then turned my attention to a few other little details.

RalphVee ready to rock:

Since the last race, I shortened the steering arm extender, so I needed to set the front toe. Which didn't take long. I also did some spring cleaning, including a full wash of the car. Then I got crazy, and did a thorough cleaning of my driving suit and helmet. I've never actually washed my race suit, so it had some funk on it. After giving it a quick spritz in carpet cleaning spray foam (I tested it on a hidden spot first) i let it soak in cool water, then gave it a trip through the washing machine. I then let it air dry in the backyard. It turned out great.

Fresh duds:

I'll pull together all my tools and spare parts this weekend, so we're ready to go come Thursday night.


Ballast Point Brewing Big Eye IPA


7% abv

A very crisp and sharp IPA, from nose to finish. It is a bit thick and turbid, with a light syrup feel that coats the glass well. Carbonation isn't very strong, but it doesn't feel flat. If anything, it feels very fresh and young.

Lots of good hop aroma that also has hints of a light bitterness. That bitterness dominates the body, but not in a bad way. It isn't a super pucker bitterness, more of a crisp bitterness that is pretty mellow. It is very enjoyable, which says something, since I typically dislike a bitter IPA. And luckily, it stays mellow through the finish too, but keeps the great taste it offers up front.

Possible my favorite bitter IPA I've ever had.


Dundee Honey Brown


4.5% abv

A light brown lager with some added sweetness done right. The hint of smooth honey awesomeness mixes well with the light nutty body. :Giggle: It isn't so overpowering with the honey flavors that it oveirrides the malty brown, so you still get all the great flavors you would expect. Just a bit lighter, and a bit smoother. Pretty light on the booze taste, which makes sense with only 4.5% abv. But it's better than a Bud Lite! Actually, it is a lot better. Pretty darn tasty actually.


16 April, 2010

Abita Turbodog


5.6% abv

I'll blog about this tomorrow. Time for ice cream.

Edit: I apparently overdosed on Ice Cream, and forgot to blog about the Abita, as Sean pointed out. Thankfully, it was so darn good, I still remember it. As you can see from the pic, it poured out quite dark, with a nice head and good cling. Fairly mellow nose leads to a strong malty body, although somewhat lacking in the typically brown nutty flavors. It is very smooth and hearty, without feeling overpowering. But like I said, not super nutty. So I would call this a very nice dark ale.


Stone Brewing Levitation Ale



This is one of the best beers I've had in a while. An awesome hoppy Ale through and through. Unfortunately, I never snapped a picture of the glass. So you can't enjoy the thick hoppy head that I enjoyed. Not a lot of malt flavor, but the hops never felt massively overpowering. If you like hops, you'll enjoy this. Zero bitterness, and zero aftertaste. Actually, the aftertaste managed to still have some great light hops flavors that lingered off. So again, I loved it all the way to the end.


North Coast Brewing Pranqster Belgian Style Golden Ale



I was pleasantly surprised by this Belgian style ale. I typically dislike anything resembling a sourish Belgian or Bavarian ale or heff. This one wasn't as bad as I was anticipating, therefore I managed to guzzle it down tonight. It still had a malty sourness, but it was tolerable. It was fairly light too, so it went well with tonight's risotto with sun-dried tomatoes and scallops. Mmm.


Mendicino Brewing Red tail Ale


6.1% abv

This is the first of several "catch up" posts. Apparently I drank several beers after getting snipped, but never blogged. Luckily, they were all very tasty so my mental notes are well defined.

Red tail was a wonderfully malty ale, bordering on an amber/red. It poured very flat, without much head or cling. But it had plenty of carbonation mixed with the malty sweetness. Not a lot of hops, but the malts were well balanced. If that makes sense.


11 April, 2010

Maui Brewing big Swell IPA


6.2% abv

Quite possibly the best can of beer I've ever had. As I've mentioned before, I love a good hoppy beer without the bitterness on the aftertaste, and Big Swell falls into that category. In fact, it climbs to the top even if one discounts the fact it came from a can. For reals.

Extremely hoppy nose that poured out highly carbonated with a thick head. Even the empty can oozed out sharp hoppy notes. The fresh hop taste is very robust in the body, yet it smooths out and takes on a mellow malty sweetness on the finish. I let the last bit warm up too, and it continues to surprise me. So much hop goodness without any funky aftertaste. Mmmmmmm.

This came out of a can?


10 April, 2010

Lagunitas Imperial Red


7.5% abv

For some reason, I never blogged about this, despite having enjoyed it nearly a month ago. As far as reds go, I really enjoyed this. It had a well balanced mixture of malts and hops. Neither were overpowering, yet both were strong enough to enjoy on their own. It also had a perfect level of alcohol warmth. Again, just enough to know it has a kick, but not so overpowering that it leaves a bad aftertaste.


Mad River Brewing Serious Madness Black Ale


8.2% abv

I was very pleased with this Black Ale. It poured with a super thick head that had a ton of flavor on its own. As it name suggests, it is very dark, thick, and smooth. But it has enough body and robustness to give it some meat and bite. It had some sweet notes too, which meant I chugged it down quicker than I wanted. Or, I really should have had a 22oz bottle of this. Hint.


Woodchuck Raspberry Draft Cider


4% abv

What goes good with a pain pill and some grub? A cider of course. A nice crisp, tart, sharp cider with a subtle raspberry hint of flavor to it. This isn't overly flavorful, which means it isn't overly sweet either. So if you like a nice dry cider, this would be a great choice.


06 April, 2010

04 April, 2010

Early Inheritance

Yesterday was moving day for my folks, heading back up to Oregon. The moving truck wasn't quite big enough, and with time being limited, we needed to jump in and rescue a few loads of "extra stuff" over to our place. We actually get to keep a few of the pieces, including a pressure washer, big area rug, a lemon tree and small spruce tree, and various kitchen items Susan in excited about.

However, two other truck loads contained either stuff to donate, or better yet, stuff we get to hang onto for a couple months until we can haul it up to Oregon. What does that mean? see below.

BBQ, patio furniture, exercise bike, desk etc.

The important stuff found a home in the garage. I think progress on Ratty will slowed a bit.

By the time we got finished, it was after 2pm. So of course I need nourishment. Susan grabbed a few things when she was at Safeway. Then I settled in for a long evening of sore muscles on the couch.

Now I get to figure out how to get the crap tossed, the long term storage stuff actually stored, and my garage reclaimed. Fun!


02 April, 2010

Wired and More Plaid

I decided to take a stab at wiring Ratty, at least in terms of the main harness, CDI box, and coil. Thanks to Tbolt, where I got the engine, they provided a basic wiring diagram on their technical pages giving me some guidance. It literally was a matter of red to red, black to black etc.

Complete harness as supplied, including additional wires for lighting:

Everything tucked inside the frame nicely:

I also decided to dress up the exhaust. This is a random front fork chrome cover tube thingy I had floating about that fit nicely over the pipe:

I'm not sure why, but I decided to upholster a "front seat" with the plaid leftover from doing the rear seat:

I've thought the bike looked a bit incomplete with the front seat missing. I think I'll still build the controls to fit me when I sit on the rear seat, but at least I'll have some options.

Now to drink some beer, after a productive evening in the garage.


01 April, 2010

Chimay Ale Peres Trappistes

11.2 oz.

9.0% abv

Now this was a nice surprise. I had no idea what this was, in fact I thought it was a stout or porter before reading the label. It poured out quite thick, with a very strong malty and sour aroma. But sour in a good way. It has a very syrupy feel to it, as it coats the glass with a quick swirl. The taste is unique, again bringing together a great combination of malts, a hint of sourness, and smooth alcohol notes. This was a great sipping beer tonight.