Wednesday, June 12, 2013

DAY Twenty-One : Fairbanks, Fresh Tires, Fouled Plugs

There is an elderly gentleman who lives in Corpus Christi, Texas who thinks that my cell phone number is that of his friend. So every couple of months he calls. This morning was one of those days. 3:30 AM (8:30 AM in Corpus Christi) he calls. Since my hearing is not what it used to be, the volume on my phone ringer is set on MAX! Woke me out of a deep slumber and everyone else in the surrounding camp sites.

Tried to shut it off asap but of course fumbled around in that not-yet-quite-awake mode without answering. Thirty minutes later he calls again. BY now am wide awake and so are my neighbors.

Had actually gotten quite cold in the night. Boiled some water for hot chocolate and ate a banana for breakfast. Pack up the camp and load Da'mit. Am on the road early, which normally is great for animal sighting, but not today. They all slept in,guess maybe no one tried to call them at 3:30 AM.

Stopped in North Pole, Alaska for a snap shot for the grandsons.

Santa likes grandpa's Da'mit.

Then on to Fairbanks and Adventure Cycleworks. Dan was already up and waiting when I pulled in. Dan is holding the three tires I mailed to him. He has a No-Mar tire mounting stand with their bars. We decide that the front tire is still looking good and no need to change it. Pulled the sidecar wheel and Dan mounted the new tires. He taught me a trick on how to remove an old tire and mount a new one without removing the inner tube. Pretty slick.

Since the new Heidenaur K37 tires have a higher lug pattern, the tire did not want to go under the sidecar fender. Had to angle it in and under to reinstall. Then we did the pusher tire. Not bad coming off, but a bit of a squeeze to reinstall the new tire. Da'mit is newly shod and ready for the Haul Road.

Will be due for an oil change when I get back from Deadhorse. Decided I should clean the air filter though. Loosen one screw to remove the end of the PVC air box, pull the filter out and give it a good shake. Sprayed the filter with K&N filter cleaner. Dan said he would take it inside to wash out. Later he returned with the filter clean and re-oiled.

When I fired up Da'mit to leave, it was running horrible. Shut it down and pulled both plugs. They were as black as midnight. Coming into to Fairbanks had noticed a slight hesitation. Plus have been thinking about going down a size with the main jets due to riding at a higher altitude than normal this last week. Proceeded to change the jets in Dan's driveway, dropping from 142.5 to 137.5. Changed the plugs too. Fired Da'mit up and still running way too rich. Plugs are again black. Dan started to think like the motorcycle mechanic he is, and a darn good one too, when I asked. "Dan, how much oil did you put on the filter?" "Like I have always done", he replied. "Spray all around and then spray it up and down." The Ural does not like a heavily oiled filter, only a light oiling or none at all. Thank god it is easy to pull the air filter. Out it came and we proceeded to de-oil it. Re-installed, Da'mit fired right up, running like normal. When I left she wanted to hesitate and cough when under load but within a couple dozen blocks of giving her full throttle, the problem cleared itself up. Is running like a top once again.

With the modern motorcycles, and cars too, when they start acting up, you have to have a computer to determine what is wrong. With the old school mechanical machines like Da'mit, a simple change can made a big difference in how they run, or don't run. At the same time they can be fixed on the side of the road, or out in the driveway with simple procedures and simple tools.

Dan of AdventureCycleworks in Fairbanks.

Rode over to the University of Alaska Fairbanks to see about getting a dorm room for the night. The former director of housing for the University, set up a program several years ago where riders passing through could rent an empty dorm room for the night. Only during the summer when most rooms sat empty. Got a room, $39 for the night, bathroom/shower down the hall.

Tonight we get everything organized for the ride up to Coldfoot tomorrow. Was hot and sunny in Fairbanks today. Trying to decide how to dress for the Haul Road. For rain? For Cold? For Hot Dusty?

Will decide in the morning.

Nite all,



  1. Sorry I wasn't able to meet you this evening. We are trying to pack up to fly out tomorrow night so things have been pretty hectic. I was at Dan's place about an hour after you picking up a K60 rear for my airhead sidecar rig. (No sidecar tires available in the right size) And he mentioned that you had been there earlier.

  2. CCJon

    I've met several URAL dealers/gurus on my trip and NONE of them recommend oiling the air filter at all. Your rough-running sounded like an overoiled air filter to me as well.

    If it does rain heavily (and trust me, I don't wish that on anyone) I'd be curious if you do experience rough-running and if so, does swapping out the air filter for a dry one (the existing one should be sopping wet) fixes the issue at least for a while or until you get out of the rain.

    I've never had issues swapping the sidecar tire when using the K37s....interesting. It's always the pusher tire that's the challenge, but not if I can jack the rear end high enough....

    Good luck on the Haul Road, didn't ride up it myself due to trust issues with my rig at the time. Take lots of pictures!