Saturday 28 November 2015

IIHTM: The Digital Workshop

If I had the money, what would the dream workshop look like?

I'm a computer tech teacher by day, and the 3d printer revolution is astonishing to behold.  The dream workshop would have the usual suspects (awesome tools etc), but it would also have some truly alien looking tech.

Ever seen a resin based 3d printer?  It's like something out of Terminator:

3d printing is about to get even wilder, with larger scale prints becoming an option.  Imagine a 3d printer that could handle motorcycle fairings... except you could do anything you want.  Want a fairing made out of dragon scales?  No problem!  Want customized etching across the entire fairing?  No problem!  Want to design a radical fairing using the stock mounting points?

Some time in Blender and you'll be ready to print radically customized fairings and other parts.

The BigRep1 goes for almost $40,000, but imagine what you could print in over a cubic meter of build space - motorcycle fairings would be not problem.  I think I'd rent one first to see what I could get away with before buying.

Using resin based printing instead of additive 3d printing means you can produce parts that have the same structural nature as cast pieces (they aren't made of bonded parts).  These pieces would be incredibly strong - they could also be made much more quickly.  Instead of hours long build times, we'd be looking at minutes...

If you're looking for futuristic workshop inspiration the Big Hero 6 garage would be a good place to start - in there he's 3d printing carbon fibre!  The holographic display is pretty dope too...

Iron Man is another film that gives you a good idea of what a 21st Century garage might look like.  Tony Stark's workshop is a holographic wonderland with built-in fabrication capabilities.

It was once thought that with fuel injection, onboard computers and digitization we would be losing the ability to modify and customize our motorbikes.  It turns out that digitization is actually handing the ability to manufacture back to individuals from the factories that took it from them.  Industrialization meant standardization and centralization in the 19th and 20th Centuries.  In the 21st Century manufacturing will return to the craftsmen it started with; localized micro-manufacturing is going to be the way of things to come.

If you're making shop space for yourself, having a computer in it gives you access to a world of information (I frequently use my to watch how-to videos and view schematics), but that workshop based computer is soon going to be providing a lot more than just information.  Do yourself a favour, get a handle on 3d modelling, it'll come in handy in the near future.

Ways to get started:
  • Get handy with Blender - it's free, and it's powerful!  There are also a lot of tutorials available for it online
  • Structure Sensor: a 3d scanner that snaps onto your ipad.  It makes making 3d copies a breeze!
  • Basic 3d printers start at about $1000.
  • If you want to give printing a try, many people in the maker movement offer 3d print services. It's a nice way to see what a 3d printer can do for you without the overhead... 3D Hubs is one such option, and they'll introduce you to makerspaces in your area.
  • Sketchfab is handy for sharing and doing light editing on 3d models.

Update:  Just saw this.  It'll print 18 x 18 x 24 inch pieces and is made by a Canadian company!  That'd do the business...

Sunday 22 November 2015

Snow's A Fallin'

It's accumulating outside.  While that's happening, I'm in the garage busy stripping the Concours down to its underskirts.

Once that's done I'll give it a final cleanup before getting into the brakes and bearings.  While the wheels are off I'm going to look into getting them refinished.  Fireball Performance in Erin does wheels, so I'll see if I can drop off the rims while they're off the bike.  I'm curious to see just how magical a transformation that can be, and what it costs.

The partially stripped Concours.  It made me wonder what a stipped Connie would look like... pretty fantastic as it happens:

Strange that I've been through the Yamaha's carbs in detail, but never the Connies...

With her skirts off, the Concours still looks good for a 21 year old motorbike that spent too much time outside.  A drop of
coolant on the back of the block has me in full suspicion mode - I'm hoping it's a bit of overflow splash, but mechanic's
skepticism tells me it'll be a leaking water jacked and a lot of gasket work - the coolant reservoir isn't low...

Saturday 21 November 2015

IIHTM (If I Had The Money): September in Spain & Then The Long Way Home

This is why it's good to be friends with Austin Vince on Facebook, it makes you daydream.

What would I do if I were free of money and the time constraints it demands?  I'd be planning a month in Spain next year!

The week of the 19th to the 23rd (Monday to Friday) would be doing the Pyrenees with Austin and crew on my Triumph Tiger Explorer.

The Arag√≥n round of MotoGP happens on the next weekend!

I'd aim to get in country with my bike in the first week of September and then have the  a couple of weeks toodling about before a week in the Pyranees with Austin Vince!  After the Austin week I'd be straight over to Aragon for the MotoGP weekend.  After a couple of days of getting organized, the long trek home would begin... the long way round!

A week riding the Pyranees with Austin Vince, and then a weekend at MotoGP Aragon!
Spain to Tokyo via Southern Europe, India, South East Asia and China, would be one hell of a ride.  A flight to L.A. would have me riding through the southern States before heading north and home in the spring.

Bike shipping to Europe?  about ~ $1000

I couldn't find anything off-hand, but I'd guess about $2000 to fly the bike back into North America.  I could always ask Austin how he did it.

Timing of a fall Spain to Japan trip?
Southern Europe: September/October
India/South East Asia: November/December
China/Japan: January/February
Southern US:  March/April

This route is about 29,000kms with 3 air cargo bits and one hell of a ferry ride:
Toronto to Madrid
Turkey to India
Shanghai to Osaka Ferry
Tokyo to Los Angeles

Thursday 19 November 2015

Stolen November Days

I'm stealing a lot of extra scenes in a November that doesn't usually encourage riding up here in the frozen north...

The end is nigh

Last year the bike was hibernating by the end of October.  This year we're getting a run of warm weather that has me still out on two wheels more than halfway through November.  We're supposed to get snow accumulation this weekend, which means sand and salt on the roads.  When that happens I'll hang up my helmet.  I'd end up spending as much time cleaning the bike as I did riding it once the salt goes down.

First ride on a newly safetied and
roadworthy Concours last March

This season started in mid-March once the roads were dry and the salt and sand cleaned off by a couple of rains.  The snow as still thick on the shoulders though.  This late finish to the year means only about four months of down time before I can get out there again.

Today I'm down to Guelph for periodontal work.  I figured I'd be stuck in a car, but it's a dozen degrees and partially sunny out there!  One last ride then!

In the meantime, we've been commuting on two wheels every change we get...

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Riding in the land of ice and snow

 Frosts in the morning.  It was -3°C when the Kawasaki first coughed to life.

There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.  With big gloves and a lined leather jacket, the five mile ride to work is still quite doable.

I might get off the bike with cold fingers, but there is still no better way to commute in the morning.

Soon enough the snows will come and salt will make the roads a caged misery.  In the meantime...

Big black S&M gloves!  That's alotta leather!

Sunday 8 November 2015

Sense of Satisfaction!

After all the Maker talk this week at a conference I attended, I was keen to spend some quality time in the garage working on the 35 year old XS1100 basket case.  It's easier to walk the walk than talk the talk when it comes to Making.  Unlike the education approach infused with collaboration for your own good, I did it the way I always do: alone in a garage.  It's wonderfully cathartic to get something broken working again, and meditative when I don't have to explain everything I'm doing.

How do you get a 35 year old motorcycle left outside for several years unattended working again?  Very carefully!

The front brakes were seized, the throttle body was seized, the rear brake is still seized, as are other things I haven't found yet.  Motorcycles aren't like cars, when they're left in the world they don't have a shell protecting the mechanicals from the weather.  Restoring a car tends to be more mechanically salvageable as a result.

I ended up having to take the end carburetor off the rack of four Mikunis that line the back of the Yamaha engine.  It was the most carboned up and filthy one, and the grit had seized the throttle body rod.  A complete dismantle, cleaning and reinstall has the carb working again (before this you couldn't move the throttle body without great effort and a nasty creaking sound...

It took a couple of hours to break it down, find the problem and rebuild it.

It was pretty before, but the Mikunis are even prettier now that they work!

Saturday 7 November 2015

Motorcycle Photography & Art

I usually toss anything graphically motorbike related that I find onto pinterest.

Here is some motorbike bike art recently found mostly as is (but some photoshopped):

The photography in Performance Bike Magazine's recent article on the Kawasaki H2 on the Isle of Mann was fantastic.
After a bit of photoshop it became my current background wallpaper.
The new Triumph Bonneville with a Scrambler kit
The bonkers new Honda RC213R - the $140k Motogp 1%er collector bike
Riding in South East Asia with Adventure Bike Rider Magazine

H2 on the Isle of Mann

H2 wheelies in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th...
Adventure riding in Oman with ABR
Adventure Riding into the Himalayas with ABR

Sunday 1 November 2015

Miles per Day

A couple of experiences this season have given me some idea of possible mileage numbers in a day of riding.

We did 300 hot, sticky miles, mostly on freeways, coming back from Indianapolis this summer.  This involved getting lost for about half an hour before we finally stopped for the day near Detroit.

Without the getting lost part, 300 miles would be easily doable with gas and snack breaks if you're making highway miles.  We were on the road from about 9am to 5pm.  400 wouldn't be too much of a stretch, and would be an 9am to 6pm with stops kind of day.

That run to Detroit was in hot, humid weather and had me saddle sore with a bad case of baboon butt.  Less extreme conditions would make those miles easier to manage, but bike miles tend to be fairly extreme even at the best of times.

On that same day our riding partner headed straight home, doing Indianapolis to Alma, just shy of five hundred miles in a single day in about 10 hours of riding.  Had I not been two up with my son I'd have done it with him.  A five hundred mile day is certainly doable on freeways.  It's a full day, but you'd sleep well afterwards.

On the way down to Indy we did two stints, from Elora to Coldwater and Coldwater to Indianapolis.  In both cases we minimized highway riding and spent most of our time on back roads (and sometimes dirt roads and trailer parks when we got turned around).  Coldwater to Indy was just over two hundred miles and took us a good day of riding.  We left about 9am and were feet up in the hotel in Indianapolis by 4pm.  Elora to Coldwater was a long day of riding, leaving about 8:30am and finally stopping just before 6pm.  Even that long day had us up and ready to go the next morning, so it was a sustainable distance.

Based on those experiences I'd say a three hundred mile day if you're minimizing freeway use is a reasonable number to aim for, knowing that you could push a bit beyond that and still not be riding into dusk.

All of those experiences were on a fully loaded bike with my ten year old son as pillion, so we weren't exactly ascetic in our riding, looking to pound down the miles relentlessly.  I stopped more frequently than I otherwise might and for longer.

What got me thinking about this was the 178 mile ride the other day that got me over the 30k mark.  In cold weather and over twisty, slow roads with no highway at all, I left about 9:30am and was home again just past 3pm, stopping for a coffee and lunch.  The cold weather made this feel longer than it was, which reminded me just how much being comfortable in the saddle makes the miles go by.

Around the world, it's a long slog!
Your typical around the world trip is about 15,000 miles, so is north to south in the Americas.  If you're managing 300 miles a day, that'd be 50 days on the road.  If you're doing 300 mile days that means you're averaging 50 miles per hour for at least six hours a day.  Not as easy as it sounds when you factor in borders, extreme weather, navigation, bad roads and other potential slow downs.  All things to consider when trying to schedule a long trip.