Road Trip!

After we got back from Arkansas, I had a work project that took me four days of travel to a dozen cities, then we both had Friday off so we could go to Turner Falls for the Okie Twisters event there.

We still had a bit of finish up work to do on Kermit. We finished the wood, replaced the windshield, put on the new(ish) mirrors. He was ready to go by about 9AM Friday.

None of those oil spots in the driveway are from Kermit, but we will be coming back to that…

We had shopped continuously for a tent trailer and finally found one we could make a deal on. Friday morning, we met the guy at his house and decided that we did indeed like it. We had trouble finding the bank to get cash but got it and purchased the camper.

Sadly, this is the only picture I have of it at the moment.

It is a great little camper. It can go from attached to the trike to ready to occupy in two, maybe three, minutes. It came with a zipper-on side room that’s actually bigger than the camper. It makes a pretty decent front porch, and only takes three poles and three guy ropes to set it up, adding about 10 minutes to the setup time, but I digress. As usual.

By the time we picked up the camper, some stuff we needed at the storage building and had run a few more errands, it was after 5PM on Friday and we were exhausted. We decided to go to bed early, get up REAL early and hit the road Saturday.

Up at 3AM, everything packed and ready, ice chest on the rack on the tongue of the camper and a few bits bungied to the top of it. We stopped to top off tanks and headed north on I35.

Stopped at the Loves just north of Denton to get beer and ice. Oklahoma is one of those states with no more than 3.2% alcohol in beer, unless you get it at a liquor store. It’s not so much the alcohol content I am concerned with as just the taste. Beers that come with only 3.2% alcohol tend to be crappy lite beers, beers so bad they usually can’t even spell “light”. Those that do manage to spell it correctly still fall short on taste. Anyway, we got some decent beer and hit the road again; no problems thus far.

Exit at Ardmore to stretch legs and maybe get breakfast and on the exit ramp, both trikes had some kind of difficulty. Kermit had the throttle cable jump off the rollers. I reeeeally hate the way they did the throttle on that one and I *will* be changing that. However, that was a 2 second fix.

Sponge Bob was stuck in 4th gear. I hobbled him into the parking lot of the IHOP by way of a lot of clutch feathering. We decided to eat breakfast so he could cool off before I tried to work on it. Long story short, I found a group of nuts on the nose cone to be loose which could have allowed a lot of oil to leak out (remember the oil spots in the driveway? I did as soon as I realized the transaxle had been leaking and probably for a long time.) and/or the shifter input to have some play that could get the gears out of sequence.

I couldn’t really seem to affect it, so I tightened everything that should have been tightened to begin with and we just got back on the highway heading north. It was just fine on the highway. Went the rest of the way to Davis and to the entrance of Turner Falls Park (where Sponge Bob had a major clutch failure year before last), through the gate, etc. Unfortunately, there is a substantial hill to climb and having lost my momentum at the base of it, I couldn’t get up it.

We tried dropping the trailer, the hope being to get up the hill without it and have someone go get the trailer, but he couldn’t make up the hill without the trailer, either. The clutch indicated it’s grievances with that particularly rancid smoke that clutches do in these asbestos-free times. I don’t give up easily, but I do know when it’s time to.

Gabby went on and found some of our guys. Troop (and Lisa) and Sammy came down. We hooked the trailer up to Troop’s trike and he hauled it on to the campsite and returned with a tow strap to pull me up. Once on flat ground, I could maneuver on my own.

We set up camp. The camper amazed all who saw it. The add on room requires guy lines to support it and the heavy wire tent stakes we had were essentially useless in the rocky ground where we set up. I tied the center one to a large tree root and managed to drive the other two in less than ideal locations, but it was adequate to hold the thing up.

We consumed a cool beverage or three and I set about a more serious attempt to beat Sponge Bob into submission. I removed the shifter from the nose cone so I could better feel what the hockey stick was doing inside. I found that I could manipulate it into a condition of semi-normalcy in which all gear positions except forth appeared to be attainable and perhaps most importantly, neutral  worked. I tried a test drive to find that in any position except neutral, the transmission was locked. Kinda like P for Park. In neutral, it properly freewheeled.

I continued to dink with it and got it back into “stuck in fourth” mode, and could indeed maneuver the trike somewhat. Basically, if we had no low speed hills or other such maneuvering to do, I could probably get the trike back home.

I was at that point still curious whether I could duplicate what I suspected had happened, that the loose nose cone allowed the hockey stick thing in to jump out of its normal timing and that maybe the proper motion to take it out of gear was simply not reachable until the hockey stick was returned to it’s proper path. I supposed that I would need a jack to lift the transaxle while tilting the nosecone to get this “misalignment” to happen.

As I was cleaning up my mess, Rickey and Richard came by to check on me and see if I wanted their help to tear into it deeper. We discussed it a bit and in short decided to give it a whirl. Richard towed me to an RV pad adacent to his motor home and we tore into it.

The ladies went shopping for the main thing we were convinced we would need if we could affect a field repair at all, gear oil.

With much pulling, yanking and jacking, we were able to raise the nose of the transaxle enough to get the nose cone off. Sadly, we were only able to verify that, indeed, something inside the transaxle is amiss. The selector shafts were all in their proper positions, but the 3-4 shaft could not be moved into the 4th gear position and selecting any other position locked it up solid.

We finally cried uncle about the time Gabby and Marsha returned with gear oil and lunch. The new plan was that we would load Sponge Bob onto Richard’s trailer and he would tow it home whilst I rode his trike.

We voraciously consumed our rotisserie chicken and headed back to our own camp just before the rains came.

It rained, on and off, for about 18 hours.

Yep, we spent pretty much the entire time at the event either working on Sponge Bob or napping in the camper because it was raining.

Well, that’s not entirely true. We ventured out to borrow Troop’s trike to go eat at The Cliff, a very yummy restaurant just outside the park. By the time we were about ready to head that way, that particular break in the rain was over, so we stayed and had hamburgers and hot dogs with the gang, which was more fun anyway.

The parade into town was canceled, but they did announce the various contest, race and trike game winners, all stuff we had missed during the day. They drew raffle tickets and 50/50 tickets, which we did manage to participate in. Roundman won first place rat trike… 🙂

As that was finishing up, it looked like it was going to start raining again, so we headed back to camp and were in bed and sorta sleeping by 9PM.

The camper performed very well, rain-wise. We had one window slightly open and a shift in the breeze made a little water come in, enough to run down a support pole and wet the bedding right next to my knees while I slept. A couple of seams seeped when water collected on top of them. So long as we were attentive to dumping the accumulation on occasion, we had a minimum of water inside.

The trip home was as good as could be expected. We had a convoy, Marsha on her trike, Gabby on Kermit, me on Richard’s trike, Sammy on his trike and finally Richard in the motor home, towing Sponge Bob. We had a lot of wet road, but not a whole lot of actual precipitation.

It’s unclear whether I was wet already when I put my rain suit on, had sweated profusely in the rain suit or had some leakage, but I was fairly damp in there. It was probably a combination of all three factors.

We had a couple of stops for breaks or fuel and split up on the north side of town, all heading to our various destinations.

After we got home and showered (you’d think we’d had enough water huh) and eaten, Gabby went to visit her Mom and I went to return Richard’s trike and have him bring Sponge Bob home.

We immediately began searching for transaxles on Craigslist and by Tuesday, I had called all the local shops and gotten pricing on rebuilding/replacing it.

Found a few on Craigslist, spread from Austin, TX to Edmond, OK. Most were in the $150 range.

One local shop offers them for either $439 for a rebuilt unit of the shelf or $439 to rebuild your transaxle. I can see if someone wanted to preserve their serial numbers, etc, the “rebuild your unit” option would appeal, but for me, I’m just gonna be happy if it all bolts up and works right.

I hope to be able to work on it this weekend, but we’ll see.

“I’ll sleep when I’m dead” – Warren Zevon

We’ve been prepping and painting so much that there hasn’t been time to update the poor neglected blog… or sleep… or mow… or laundry…

We both took a week vacation. The plan was to finish up the trike early in the week and take it somewhere, probably Arkansas, for the rest of the week.

Well, we kind of combined these two goals. We worked on the trike almost all week, realized we still weren’t going to finish in time and went to Arkansas anyway.

When last I updated the blog, There was painting left to do. Suffice it to say that everything that was intended to be green (and a couple things that weren’t) indeed became green, then became prismatic midcoated and clear top coated. All in all, we used four cans of green, 1 full can (an old half and a new half) of prism sparkly glitter stuff and two full cans of gloss clear.

Reassembly was a daunting task. I tried to avoid fixing everything as I reassembled it, especially wiring since I plan to rewire it anyway, but it’s not easy to put something you don’t like back in place when you have the skills and/or materials to upgrade it.

One place where I did not avoid repairing something was the fan/generator belt and pulley. After I discovered that the crankshaft pulley is welded on, I tried to replace the generator pulley to dress it up, but also to tighten up the very loose belt.

The generator pulley bent as easily as the crank pulley and also did not give. I had straightened it as best I could for the short term, but I knew it couldn’t stay that way. PB Blaster, pulley puller and an appropriately sized socket for hammering the pulley back on (and perseverance), as well as purchasing the right sized belt,  paid off.

Since the fuel pump was moving anyway, I added a bigger filter, a cut off valve (the one on the tank doesn’t appear to work) and a fuel pressure gauge.

Of course, it did little to help us that heavy rains came while we were trying to get the thing finished up Thursday evening.

It was shortly after the rains had subsided that we had gotten a bit more done that we decided we weren’t going to make our reservation at Queen Willhelmina State Park Lodge if we didn’t leave it at home. At first, we regeared towards taking the two currently running trikes, Gilbert and Sponge Bob, but in short order, decided that we’d just drive. We were both pretty tired to take on a 4-5 hour ride with a pretty short turnaround.

Sunday morning, back home and back at it.

The tank got replacement gauges. I had originally bought these for Puff, but ended up with a single multifunction instrument designed for motorcycles.

On the left is oil pressure, the right is a tachometer. I also replaced the two ugly indicator bulbs, which were both simply wired to keyed power, with some slick little bulbs that happen to be green. Not sure if they will both remain green, but they could…

The fuel door looks as incredible as I had expected….

The trunk required a bit of rework. All the racks were painted with “chrome” paint and occasionally put on with new hardware, where appropriate. Riveted the turn/tail lights back in. They will be wired soon.

 The wires need covering, too!! One feature we really liked was the use of an S&S air breather cover to hide the fuse block and some wiring behind. A bit of 1200 and 2000 grit sanding, followed by buffing with tripoli and the cover is nearly chrome bright.

Reassembling the pedals took longer than expected. Big surprise, huh? I disassembled the master cylinders and put on a coat of paint. Though not shown here, I rebuilt the throttle cable attachment. I still don’t like that and it *will* be redesigned.

The new fric material was easy enough to stick down on nice clean paint 🙂

More to come…