Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Elizabeth's Final Touches

  As I write this, we have exactly 15 days left until our big ole' rig is headed towards New York. Wow. I'm not sure how it got to be this close so quickly. With 12-15 hours of daily work on the bike and trailer, I haven't had much time for anything else except sleep. The past month has been a complete blur, and the next few weeks will blow by. Happily, I'm able to say that my master "to-do" list is getting pretty slim. My last few posts have really focused on the bike, and working through the bugs. Now that we're so close, it's nice to say that everything is just about complete.

  In one of my last posts, I included a picture of the "Texas-style" saddlebags that we had sourced. These bags were actually meant for a horse, so the strap between the two was going to be too long for the bike. Marking off where the material needed to be cut and re-sewed, I dropped the bags off at a local leather tooling shop for alteration. This should have taken about an hour or two to finish.....note the word "should."   Three weeks and daily phone calls later, I was finally able to pick them up. If we weren't in such a time crunch, I wouldn't have worried about it. Happily, the bags fit right on, and look absolutely perfect. I love the way that they match the color of the new seat. A quick addition that we made was to the saddlebag lids was to include two Texas star leather conchos. Hey, I have to make a statement somehow, right?

  My saddlebags were the last major addition to the bike, and really finished things out. I'm pretty sure that just about everything has been lock-tited, though I plan to sit down with the rest of the team this weekend to do a final check. Yesterday, my crew chief Shawn built a small "pigtail" electrical connection for the battery so that I can have a battery charger quick connect. In reality, I'm not exactly sure how well this will come into place--the original plan between Ken, Mike, and I was to utilise two separate 12v batteries. With our updated LED lighting and horn systems (we all have the same) Ken came up with a figure of 8 solid hours before the batteries would need re-charging, at which time we could simply swap out batteries. So having a quick connect may, in fact, prove useless, but I won't know until we're out there.

Santa Claus came early...

  Recently, it was like Christmas morning here at the house. Up to now I had waited on buying all of my "techy" and comfort equipment because I was busy readying the bike and trailer. A couple of weeks back, I went on a bit of a shopping spree for these needed items. Here's a look into what I purchased:

  • Airhawk Motorcycle Seat cushion- My friend Cris Simmons used her Airhawk cushion on Cannonball I, and said that there was nothing else like it. Airhawk cushions are made from neoprene rubber and feature interconnected air cells that act as an additional shock cushion. Mine takes up basically my entire seat (which isn't that graceful for the aesthetics of the machine), but improves the ride by 10,000 times.

  • GoPro Hero 2 Motorsports Video Camera- GoPro cameras have been the leader in outdoor camcorders for years. While not exactly cheap, at $300 a piece MSRP, the photos and videos that it presents are absolutely unbelievable. My camera came with multiple mounting options, making opportunity for differing shots possible. What's nice about the camera is the high definition quality photos and videos that it takes. I have the option of shooting in 1080p, 960p, or 720p and can take 11, 8, or 5 megapixel photos. I tested it last Friday, and was completely blown away by the quality (video to come soon).

  • SPOT Connect Satellite Tracker- After doing quite a bit of research, I kept getting sent back to the SPOT Tracker. I've been telling my fans for months now that I'd like to keep them posted on my progress along the run, and this is the way to do it. No larger than a deck of playing cards, this satellite device is connected to my iPhone, and will provide fans with a real-time progress track of where Elizabeth and I are in the US, presented on a "Google Maps"-type display. In addition to tracking my progress, there is an SOS feature which will allow me to send out an emergency distress call to my crew or local rescue workers if the need arises (which I hope it doesn't!!!!!) With this tracker, I also bought a "RAM" Mount for it to fit securely into.

  • Twin fire extinguishers- Something that I hope I will never have to use, but a needed item nonetheless. The extinguisher material is designed specifically for motorcycles or automobiles, as to preserve paintwork and not leave behind a filthy mess. I'll carry one in my saddlebags, and one as a spare.

  • NGK Spark Plugs- For some reason, walking into the local auto parts supply place with the exact make and model number spark plug seems to stump the employees with computers at their fingertips. No one could seem to understand "I need to order NGK A7 plugs..." and would usually respond with "NGK makes spark plugs?"

  • Camelbak Personal Hydration System- While I've never actually used one of these devices, I've seen and heard great things for years. Fitting on your back like a child's backpack, the Camelbak is a flexible water bladder with hydration straw. Filling this with ice and water will keep me plenty cool and hydrated throughout the day.

  My last major item on the list to order is spare chains and links for the timing chest, primary, and final drive. Other than that, there's really nothing left to do. I think Elizabeth is finally as ready as she'll ever be to cross the continent.

Look mom, no exhaust!
As a side note, I've only had a couple of minor repairs. In one of my previous loc-titing binges, I neglected to think of the downside of putting the stuff on my crankcase drainplug. Engine heat actually caused the threadlocker to pool into the bottom of the plug and melt itself together--inside of the plug tube. Of course, the newly melted threadlocker wouldn't come out with a set of picks, so I had to remove the exhaust and pull the entire plug assembly to clean it out. Beyond this small lack of thinking, the only other mechanical issue that I've had came from the manual oil pump. Recently, I trailered the bike down into Houston for a sponsorship interview. All of the jostling from back to front and side to side on the trailer created an air bubble inside of the manual oil pump, breaking the vacuum seal to the crankcase spray line. By removing the three brass screws securing the pump to the oil tank, and disconnecting the crankcase spray line, I was able to fill the pump back up and get the air out.

And this time, I do believe I'll put teflon tape on it....

I think Elizabeth is anxious to make her debut on the big scene, and is raring to go--more than I can say for me!


Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer #3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team


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