30 September, 2010

Upcoming weekend adventures...

Tonight is Friday night for us, as neither Susan or I are going into work tomorrow. Well, I'm working, but it will involve traveling to the West Coast Green Conference in SanFran. A friend from my old job in Oregon had a couple spare floor passes, to we can join the conference for free.

After coming home Saturday, we'll be heading up to Oregon Sunday morning for a funeral of an old friend, Wally Skyrman. I spent a summer working for Wally doing odd jobs one year. He taught me to MIG weld, paint, and a ride a motorcycle. In recent years, I've visited Wally when we would visit Oregon. He's been in poor health for many years, so his passing wasn't a shock, but it is still a real bummer.

We'll be coming home Monday from Oregon, and as "luck" would have it a gentlemen in Ashland listed a pair of Honda C110 parts bike on craigslist for $50. So of course I called him and we will be picking these up on our way up Sunday morning. you don't see C110s every day, and some of the parts on these bikes are rather rare, like the aluminum cylinder head and front fender.

"Salty" is based on a C110, so some of these parts will prove invaluable.

Chris H.

27 September, 2010

Granite Trials - PITS Property

I ventured off to my second Trials event on Saturday, back up to the PITS property outside Grass Valley. As shown in some posts below, I made a few small changes to the little Honda, and one big one (new carb.) I have been "practicing" quite a bit riding around in the front yard. Mostly just going very slowly, getting better at turning, and bouncing up and down curbs. So I was all prepared to suck less.

As it happens, I sucked way way way less. Long story short, after 24 sections of riding (three loops of the course, each course having 8 sections) I put a foot down once. So I ended this event with a points total of 1. As opposed to 28 last time.

This earned me a first place trophy towel:

Some of the sections were fairly basic on the #4 novice lane, but a few were tricky. All my practice of standing on the pegs going super slow paid off. Also, the bike was running better too. I turned the fuel mixture screw out half a turn to compensate for the higher elevation, and that was that. Never touched the bike the rest of the day. It started perfect every time, ran great, and had more balls running up the main service road between sections.

I've decided to move up to the #3 lane for my next events. I actually walked several of the #3 lanes during the event, and think I can manage with just a bit more ground clearance. There were a couple logs and stumps I would have bottomed out on with the current ride height.

So I'm already sketching up a few simple ways to raise the bike a couple inches, and will continue to practice. There is one last event on October 9th. But since that is the day before Susan's birthday, I may have to beg to attend it.



18 September, 2010

New Manifold and Carb for the Trials Bike

I was having issues with the original carb on the Trials bike. Yes, I can get rebuild kits, but they are damn near as much as a new carb. So I decided to splurge and picked up a 19mm Keihn for something like $29. I also got a new air filter for it, some fuel like, a couple small filters, and a on/off valve.

But the hard part was making an intake manifold to mount up the carb. The original is a downdraft style, while all the newer small carbs are sidedraft. Luckily I had some old washers, pipe, and a few old pipe fittings laying around. The pipe fittings proved a great way to make the 90-degree bend, and are rather hefty. After an hour or so of cutting, drilling, and welding, I make a rather ugly intake manifold that luckily is masked by some black paint.

The entire thing assembly mounted up quite nicely:

I combined both the normal and reserve fuel lines from the later model C102 fuel tank to a "Y" fitting, then to a on/off valve, then a small fuel filter. This way I don't have to spill fuel everytime I mess with the carb or filter:

The best part is, it fired right up and seems to run great. I have the mixture screw set 1 turn out, and the idle screw maintains a perfect idle speed. It runs much cleaner through the range, and seems to have more poke. Maybe 4.6hp instead of 4.5hp.


15 September, 2010

Big Hank turns 300,000

I had a roadtrip down to Shandon the past couple days, and Big Hank (the F250 work truck i drive) decided to celebrate his 300,000 mile birthday.

Happy birthday Hank!


11 September, 2010

Skidplate for the Trials Bike

I have a short list of additions/changes to the Trials bike, in preparation for the next event on September 26th. Two of those things have been checked off to the to-do list as of this morning, as shown below:

I moved the front brake lever to the left hand side of the bars. I found it difficult to operate both the throttle and front brake at the same time when I was needing to really push/pull on the bars for tight maneuvers.

I wanted to build some sort of skidplate. As it happens, I had an old krusty Trail 55 frame in the junk pile that has a Honda Accessory skidplate. After a good cleaning with a brillo pad, it actually shined up quite nicely:

The upper mount simply clamped over the main frame downtube:

The rear of the skidplate mounts to the bottom of the engine case where the footpegs mount. It is rather beefy, with a tubular perimeter and a 1/8" thick plate across the bottom, featuring an access hole for the drain plug:

Next up is a new kickstand (the original one I built is useless) and a new carburetor and intake manifold setup.


08 September, 2010

1964 Yamaha YG-1T Trailmaster

I came across the text for the article I did on my little 1964 Yamaha YG-1T, as published in Motorcycle Classics Magazine. And a few photos of the bike:


Taking it to the Trails - 1964 Yamaha YG-1T Trailmaster

When you think of a vintage small-bore Japanese motorcycle for running in-town errands or slinging mud on a weekend camping trip, what comes to mind?

For many it’s a Honda Trail 90. But if you want something different, Yamaha’s YG-1T, also known as the Trailmaster 80, might be the bike for you — and in many respects it surpasses its more heralded competition.

Out of the shadows

In the early 1960s, Yamaha was best known in America for its larger YD series of machines. It wasn’t until the introduction of the YG series in 1963 (and the lesser-known YJ series of 1964) that the small-bore crowd was treated to Yamaha’s wonderful mix of style, sportiness and 2-stroke innovation.

The YG1 was the more mainstream street-oriented machine, with a full front fender, two-place seat and sporty two-tone paint schemes. Today, the occasional YG1 comes up on eBay and would prove an excellent street machine on its own merits. But it’s the YG-1T that is getting our attention, as it deserves a little spotlight of its own, out from the shadows of the all-powerful Honda Trail.

First introduced in 1964, the Trailmaster 80 combined Yamaha’s then-new rotary-disc-valve 2-stroke engine, with a few well-chosen functional modifications to make it better suited for the occasional off-road journey. Items like the cut-down front fender, the small rubber mud flap, the solo seat with a sizeable luggage rack on the back and a skid plate mounted under the engine all work together to shout “Trail.”

In fact, when sitting next to their similar vintage Honda Trail 55 and 90 counterparts, the Trailmaster 80 fits right in, yet looks more refined. While the Hondas were based on the step-through Cub C100 series and flaunted their raw look with exposed components, the Trailmaster was based on a sportier street bike, and therefore carries over a few more stylish cues like the gleaming chrome fuel tank and low-mounted
chrome muffler.

Walk around
As with other mid-1960s tiddlers, the stamped multi-layer sheet metal frame forms the foundation, incorporating the central spine, headstock support and rear fender into one robust, yet lightweight, beam. Combined with sheet metal side covers, the frame carries the bulk of this bike’s bold red paint color. Sitting atop the frame is a tear-drop-shaped fuel tank gleaming in polished chrome. Small ribbed rubber kneepads fit snugly on each side, while an early-style Yamaha badge proudly displays its heritage. The comfortable solo seat complements the clean look, while the body-colored luggage rack hangs off the back fender, ready for a bag of groceries.
Up front, a pair of slender telescopic forks are capped by a compact combination headlight and speedometer housing. The front fender is unique to the Trailmaster and features a much slimmer cut compared to the full-bodied shape of the street-oriented YG1’s fender.

The Trailmaster is also unique in running a pair of 16-inch wheel rims, as opposed to the 17-inch setup found on most small street machines. This provides for a bit more clearance under the fenders to allow for a fatter 2.5-inch-wide tire. In fact, there is more than enough room for a 3-inch knobby tire, should one want a more dedicated trail machine.

The well-placed upper controls are simple yet stylish, and mount to a wide chrome handlebar with ample rise and pullback. The throttle, brake, clutch and choke controls are exactly where you would expect. The speedometer has markings up to 60mph (extremely optimistic given the short gearing), as well as neutral and low-fuel lights, even though the bike did not have wiring for the fuel light!

Almost lost in the chrome and gleaming red paint is the little 81cc mill mounted low-down in the frame. Being a rotary-valve 2-stroke, the engine is wider than it is long, and is an extremely light-weight unit, needing only two mounting bolts to secure it to the frame. The carburetor is out of sight, concealed in the right side case, and pulls air from a cylindrical-shaped air cleaner sitting atop the engine. The cylinder head and barrel are aggressively finned while the main engine and transmission cases have a smooth, sculptured look. This is further emphasized by the tightly radiused header pipe that runs into a slender low-mounted chrome muffler exiting well behind the rider’s right foot. The header pipe should retain its shape even after a hit or two thanks to the extremely sturdy pressed-steel skid plate mounted underneath the entire power unit.

Road and trails
Like most small-displacement 2-strokes, it only takes a gentle kick of the starter lever to bring this Yamaha alive. A couple quick jabs of the throttle clears its throat, and it settles down into a lazy idle that produces very minimal buzz in the grips.

Low gear is engaged with little fuss using the combination toe-heel lever, and after a quick check of traffic, I’m off for a short morning ride. As with most trail-oriented bikes fitted with a large rear sprocket, the gearing is exceptionally short, so much so that you find yourself barely 20 feet down the road before needing second gear.

Acceleration is quick, but it doesn’t pile on at the top end of the rev range like most 2-strokers. Detuned for better midrange, this 81cc engine almost feels like a 4-stroke in its behavior, with smooth, consistent power throughout the rev range, with no hint of peakyness. Its only fault is that it gets a little thrashy at the top end of the rev range, which in some respects acts like an audible rev limiter. Third gear proves very useful for zipping around residential city streets, as it has a usable range from a slow roll up to just more
than 30mph.

Once you make your way out on busier, faster roads, the short gearing that gives it plenty of in-town zip suddenly proves to be a handicap. Flat out in fourth gear is barely above 40mph. The bike is powerful enough to run higher speeds, so if you don’t have plans for much off-road activity — where the short gearing proves useful — it would be wise to fit a smaller rear sprocket off the YG1, which should let this little tiddler climb past 50mph with minimal fuss.

The front and rear damping rates are on the soft side, but they work in harmony when hitting bumps mid-corner. There is a touch more nose dive than I like during hard braking, but again, this is expected from a dual-purpose machine. The brakes are quite small, like most in this class of machine, but they require only a couple fingers to gain maximum clamping pressure.
Like its name suggests, the Trailmaster proved wonderfully capable on loose surfaces. It is rock-solid stable on the straights, yet highly flickable carving through tight third gear corners.

Some well-timed use of the rear brake will also prove handy when trying to imitate your favorite motard hero. It also helps that most of this fun is taking place at less than 30mph. The riding position helps, too, as the cushy seat and well-placed handlebar puts you in a very standard-like seating position. At just over 6-foot tall, I found this little bike to be the most spacious tiddler I have ridden in recent years.

Though it must be hard living under the vast shadow of the Honda Trail, the Yamaha’s YG1-T Trailmaster 80 not only escapes the shadows, it jumps out into its own spotlight. It has that perfect combination of mid-Sixties styling, fantastic around-town usefulness, and an ability to sling a few rocks and mud on occasion. And it does it with a sophistication and sportiness that only Yamaha seems to be able to create.

06 September, 2010

Brown Bottling

Last weekend I bottled up my brown ale. It turned out very tasty, and I'm eager to see what it's like after a couple months of bottle conditioning.

A thick dark brown, with a good wallop of alcohol:

Mmmmm, 2.5 gallons await:


Bottle capping machine:

I usually bottle about a dozen 12oz, three or four 22oz, and a couple of the 30ox PTE bottles:

I then brewed up two full batches of a strong Pale Ale, with fresh Willamette hops. I'll probably bottle one vessel after 2 weeks, and the other after 3 weeks.


03 September, 2010

Exploring Northeast California

I had a few days out and about for work this week, including a trip over to the Gold Mountain development, Quincy area, and Eagle Lake, which has several developments around it. Nothing too exciting, but I snapped a few shots of my travels on my cell phone.

This is the clubhouse at the Gold Mountain development, as part of the Dragon Golf course. This was an original Frank Lloyd Wright design that was never built. The developers bought the plans and had it constructed. Several of the houses in the development are also Wright designs.

A view looking out from the 1st hole tee:

You know how I know I was in heaven? They had fresh corndogs.