Still alive, been keeping busy with Parkour class and life in general. I did however, actually complete a project I started. For awhile, I've been wanting to learn how to sew using my 70's semi-industrial model sewing machine. A friend wanted to know if I could make a coat for their senior Rottweiler. I accepted the challenge.

Using heavy duty corduroy, fleece lining and some black fur, I came up with this:

It's not perfect but it's pretty good for my first creation. The hardest part was coming up with my own pattern. I eventually want to make a MOLLE vest for dogs. That way your pup can help carry supplies during the zombie invasion.


mobile again...

After much wrench turning and swearing, I finally made the painful decision to put myself into debt a bit deeper in order to solve my vehicle issue. The Mazda is gone. It had oil on top of two cylinders and an awful rattle from the two screws that I could never locate. I pondered the idea of pulling the head until I found out just how terribly complex that is. You need to literally half pull the engine and then use special Mazda only tools. Yeah, no thanks.

I found a car that fit my needs, was within my price range and made the awful trip to the stealership. I was honest up front about the issues with the Mazda and they were pretty cool with me. They gave me a fair price for my car (engine "issue" and some slight body damage). It pained me to add more years and dollar signs to my debt but really what could I do?

So, I ended up coming home with this:

Big enough to haul the dogs, has 4wd but still gets ok mileage. Plus, it's a stick, haven't had a manual in years. I bought it not because I loved it but because it met my needs. After owning for almost two weeks, I think it might be the most useful vehicle I have ever owned. Rumor has it, you can fit some motorcycles in the back. Might be useful when I get around to tracking down that coil issue. =]


still here.

I'm still alive.

Things have been a bit bumpy lately. The mysterious coil issue reappeared on the SECA II, all the electronic bits have tested ok, so I'm at a bit of a loss. Unfortunately, the scoot is the on the back-burner for now. My current priority is my Mazda. There is a known issue with the ViCS intake system that causes screws that hold the butterfly valves in place to vibrate free and get sucked into the combustion chamber.

Guess what happened last week? My engine ate 4 out of the 8 screws. My VIN doesn't fall within the covered range from Mazda, according to a friend that works at a Mazda dealership. So, I pulled the intake manifold and replaced all the screws and used red locktite to keep them in place.

I pulled two metal "chunks" out of cylinder 4 but I think there is still something in there that I can't reach with my magnetic probe. So, I think my only choice is to dig deeper and pull the top end. Plus, I'd like to see the damage first hand.
Over all, not a job I'm looking forward to.

I'll try to get some pics up.


two great things

Zombie Preparedness + Motorcycles =

I love it, too bad we're already invisible to everyone already.



If you have never read anything from Jack Riepe at Twisted Roads, take some time out of your day and do so. He has a way with words that I can only wish for. Sharp wit, fast bikes, booze and misadventures. What more can you ask for?

dreaming of the future...

I love my SECA II, it is a great motorcycle in my opinion. It can cover all my requirements, commuting, fun and touring. But I can't help but dream of the next bike to add to the garage. Something bigger, with fuel injection and a bit more umpfh. I've always liked the underdog, the oddball. I've always liked Buell's styling and innovations. For awhile, I had a thing for the City-X but the "monkey humping a football" seating position isn't for me. Lately, I've been like the more street oriented dual sport bikes such as the V-Strom, Versys and BMW F series.

Now, I've taken a fancy to the Buell XB12x Ulysses. Maybe they'll be nice and cheap when the time comes. =]

Mad max styling, "off-road" capability, belt drive, hydraulic valves and smooth power flow. Sounds good to me!


basking in the warm sun...

The SECA sits in the parking lot, basking in the sun after a long winter full of garage surgery. Patiently waiting for 4pm to arrive.

The carbs still need to be synced since I adjusted the valve shims and I'm still breaking in the new tires. It's nice to have tread in the back and for the tire to not be squared off! Damn kids and their burnouts.

It was a beautiful 60 degrees this morning, slightly overcast and perfect for riding. Threw my riding gear on over my work clothes, clicked on the heated grips and off I went. Every route to my work is under construction, unless I want to take the slab. No thanks.

The new tires rolled over tar snakes, rain grooves and cracks without so much of a hiccup. The old front tire tracked grooves like a heat seeking missle. With new rubber and new heavier weight fork oil up front, the transitions into curves is much smoother. The front end dive I was experiencing is basically gone. The rear shock could use an upgrade(from a CBR600) but that will wait until winter.

I'm happy to be back on two-wheels. Too bad my plans for a trip this year got squashed but that's how life goes. Maybe later in the year?



Finally got the carb parts in the mail. They're reassembled and all four get fuel now and are running well. We did a sync and found that they were pretty out of balance. We'll do another sync after shimming the valves. Unfortunatley, I ordered to wrong valve tool last fall. So, I need to track down the correct one. Then I can figure out what shims I need and if I can swap any out. I have 2 valves within spec, two that are too tight and the rest are a bit loose.

The headers also got repainted with the same paint I used for the woodstove. Seems to work well.

That's all for now...


vintage + modern

We spent part of Sunday working on the CB970. The CR carbs have been pulled and replaced by a fat set of Mikuni flat slides. These should be able to feed the fuel and air hungry engine. It was a helluva process getting the carbs on. We had to use a tie down strap looped around the engine and a ratchet strap hooked to my car as an anchor. There was a noticible lack of profanity in the garage. Weird.

The Mikunis still need to be dialed in and we have to find a K&N filter that fits between the carbs and frame. These carbs make the bike sound like a different animal, less scream more vroom. Hell, it even idles better.

No progress on my bike but I do have a second set of carb parts coming from the XJ600forum. They might even make it to my mail box this time! We should also have a fancy pants manometer for carb balancing by Thursday. I might actually get to ride before this winter!


no progress no updates

I haven't made any progress on my bike for a number of reasons. The missing carb parts never arrived, so I need to track down another vendor. Thankfully, I didn't pay for those, so I only lost time and sanity. Besides the parts, I haven't been in the garage much due to the Mrs breaking her ankle at Parkour Class. A clean break at the head of her fibula. She'll have her cast removed in 6-8 weeks. She's non weight bearing on that leg, so I am currently doing most of the domestic stuff. Keeps me pretty busy.

More news once something happens.


bouncy bouncy

Still waiting on the carb parts, so instead of wasting days, we set out to change the fork seals. I've done fork work in the past on my CB350 and it literally took all day. I was fighting 33 year old seals with nothing more than basic tools and some PB Blaster. Today, went much better (despite a few set backs).

The first mission was to find 15w fork oil and a bolt with a 24mm head. After several stops and no luck, we went back to the shop and did some more research. Turns out the bolt is going to be damn tough to find but a 5/8" will work. So we picked up some all-thread and 5/8" nuts to make a custom Yamaha tool. While digging around for PB Blaster, we lucked out and found some 15w fork oil that Papa-San had left behind.

Super Special Custom Yamaha Fork Tool

My ceiling lift took some adjustment and we finally got a stable lifting method. The front end disassembly went quickly following the manual. That is, until it went way off the deep end and began to contradict itself. A quick google search turned up this great walkthrough.

Now, with clear instructions, the swap was painless.

The old rotten seals and dust wipers.


detailed carb cleaning...

Still waiting on the mixture screw and float seats. I picked up a 6 gallon air compressor from a coworker for a good price. So, I cleaned the carbs again and blew out all the passages. They're looking good, just waiting to finish assembly and test start. I picked up new allen head hardware to replace all the original philips.

Looking good.


pics and progress

Yum. This was the best looking bowl out of them all.

I got the mangled remains of the mixture screw out with an "Easy Out" and stripped the carbs down the rest of the way. I have a new screw coming along with a few other bits. I'll be replacing all the soft screws with allen screws. I plan on doing a few more cleaning cycles then it will be time for reassembly.


dirty old bowls

Did some more in-depth testing. Cylinder 1 is dry, all four plugs have a good spark. So, I pulled the carb bank and the bowls are full of nasty brown filth. Time for an over haul. While I'm at it, I'm going to replace all the vacuum lines.

Taking a break for lunch, I'll post more details and pics later.

*update but no pics yet*

Before pulling the carbs, cylinder 1 was dry (no gas). With the bike running, pulling the plug wire for #1 caused no change. Pulled the carbs, all 4 had dirty bowls and all four had gas. Why wasn't #1 getting fuel?

Noticed the previous owner drilled out the brass plugs that cover the mixture screws (EPA regulation bs) and the mixture screw was seated all the way down. Unfortunately, when they drilled out #2, they also drilled off part of the head of the screw. Ugh.

I'm going to do a 2nd cleaning on the carbs and see if I can get that mixture screw backed out and replaced. Yay, carb work, my favorite!

To sum up yesterday:

1. Got the hoist system installed using eye-bolts and rafters.
2. Started the day with a running bike, ended it with more problems.
3. Got gas in my eyes.
4. Had a nice vapor headache by the time I was done.

Oh yeah, I quit smoking too.


shakedown run/breakdown run

Went out for a short ride yesterday. Only made it about 40 minutes north before I lost power and then the bike completely died. Thankfully, I found a nice running trail to pull onto. Cylinders 1 & 4 weren't firing, both pipes were much cooler than 2 & 3. I called for a pick up and in the mean time, decided to start trouble shooting while I waited.

Turns out, I didn't pack my plug wrench but it didn't really matter since the chance of both spark plugs failing at the same time is pretty low. This narrowed it down to the coils. After pulling the fairing (not a simple job, it has to taken apart), I pulled both coil packs and cleaned up the connections. I hit the start button and all four cylinders came to life.

Not ready to trust the bike yet, I had my "support team" follow me for a bit. Thankfully I trusted my gut because about 100 yards from the meeting point, cylinders 1 & 4 died again.

So... This week, I'll be pulling the coils, checking the resistance, replacing plugs (with the correct model, these are a bit hot) and also repairing a broken connection on my heated grips.

Things I learned:

1. I need a camera that is small enough to carry because I wish I would have taken pictures.

2. You can do a lot of work with the Cruz Outbacker.

3. Better to happen than on my way to Canada!


one step closer to a better shop

After a quick ride to the gas station this morning, I decided it was time to clean up the garage. I pulled tons of junk out and into the shed, including the CB750 and chappy frames. All misc bike parts are now out of the way. There is still plenty of organization and rearranging to be done.

The garage is now home to only garage related items. (Except for all the dry wall and french doors or our room remodel.)

Too bad I don't have a before picture.

Feels good to have plenty of room to work on the motorcycles.


Watch your six!

Stacy @ Bolty.net has a great post about keeping an eye on traffic behind you while stopped. If you haven't checked out her blog, you really should. You'll learn something.

I've been bumped in my car while at stop signs and red lights so, I've let myself become a bit paranoid about it. I also keep my bike in gear while stopped, just like keeping a round in the chamber. You think you can react fast enough but chances are you can't.

Now, to be honest, there are times when I'll stay in neutral if I can see no one is coming up behind me. I live in Indiana, we have plenty of long flat stretches of road, so this is pretty easy to do.


running in the rain

Just got back from my first ride of the year. The rain was pretty mild and all my gear held up well. The heated grips were great. I wore my new Rev'it! Zenith gloves instead of my waterproof insulated Cortech Scarabs. The Zenith gloves are great, with one exception. There is a tab of leather on the left palm that is bunched up. Hopefully that will break in and become a non-issue. My hands were a bit damp but warm.

My riding pants, AGV Telluride, are great. The only issue I have is the shell is not waterproof. Instead, they have a removable wp liner along with a quilted liner. So, my butt felt wet but wasn't. I'll end up spraying them with some TechTron or Scotchguard to fix that. Under my riding pants, I'm wearing SixSixOne Bomber shorts, which are mesh with soft padding in all the needed areas. They fit well and definitely will dampen a fall.

Still riding on my crappy tires but going slow and safe, it was no problem. Only had one wiggly moment on a tar snake/rain groove.

It was damn good to be out on two today. I woke up saying to myself, "I'm going to ride today, no matter how short.".


defeating traffic sensors!

Thanks to Gymi, I now know how to trip red light sensors. Normally, I give it a cycle and then make my move if it hasn't changed. Give it a shot, Unk says it works for him.

Taking a queue from other moto-bloggers, here's something fun for Friday:

Tom Waits cover of "I don't wanna grow up!"



When we were stripping my bike down to do the heated grip kit, we found out my fuel valve doesn't shut off in the On position (should be vacuum activated). Which means, I didn't really have a reserve setting. I pulled the valve apart and found rotten gaskets and a missing piece. "That's yer problum rite there." With some replacement parts, it's functioning like normal.

I also modified the grip kit so now I have a plug connection between the switch and the harness. It will make future fairing removal much easier. So, with heated grips on the left fairing, I added a power outlet on the right to keep things balanced and have a spot to charge my phone and or ipod.

After mounting the tank, I fired up my bike for the first time this year. It was damn good sound. Now, I have to cut the fairing for the new additions and mount them. Still a lot left to do but we have time and the weather is getting better. It won't be long until riding season is upon us.


TA Moto Gear!

Check out the latest post from TA Moto. Now selling shirts!

Tax check come, tax check go...

Got our State return today. Within an hour, it's damn near gone. I have a butt-load of moto related gear coming in the mail. Tires, rain gear, gloves, gaskets, grips and other fun stuff. The Federal won't be as fun to spend but at least we're killing debt with it.

The tires I ordered are Kenda K671s. Like these:

I emailed a few people from ADVRider who have used them and they all had positive things to say. Plus, for $68 each, kinda hard to beat that deal. I don't expect to be dragging a knee through the twisties. I want reliable traction in all weather, good tread life and a good price.

I'm still gathering info for the ride to Cananda. I'd really like to stop someplace and camp in Michigan then do the same along Highway 17, north of the Soo. There are a few peninsulas along 17 that look like prime spots. From what I've read, as long as you aren't close to the road, on someone's yard or in the way of boat loading, you're fine. Socially accepted stealth camping. Spend $50-$100 a night for a hotel or $0 and wake up looking at the lake. I'll take the lake.

I've read horror stories about the black flies, so that's going to determine when I go. The Mrs goes back to school in August, I need to go before then so I won't have to worry about a dog sitter.

A day or two of that would do me well.


More drooling...

I sat on two of these today.

I think I'm gonna start playing the Idiot Tax (lottery).

The F800GS looks like a tall, wobbly pig but in reality, it feels very light and comfortable. The riding position is very natural to me, unlike the Kawasaki Versys and Suzuki DL650. Both felt too high and visually front/top heavy. I'll keep an eye on the BMW Demo Days this summer. I might have to take a GS out for a spin.

It really is torture to go into that dealership but I'm always glad to stop and look. By the time I can park one of those in the garage, there will be plenty on the used market.



You'll notice some links have disappeared from my sidebar. The 7plus8 blog is now strictly motorcycle content. There are two new links, TA Moto USA and TA Moto Blog.

The TA Moto site is a group effort by mutual motorcycle friends to provide a great resource for gear reviews, ride reports, tips/tricks and general motorcycle goodness. There is a blog and an official website. Over the next few months, we'll be posting more in-depth gear reviews and some ride reports on the site. We have some big plans for the site and the future. Track days, Bike Nights and the Indy Dealer Expo.

You'll see some of my motorcycle content repeated on there as well.


Today would be better if.....

Today would be better if I had a dirt bike. Something small like an XR100 would be perfect. Throw on the carhartt suit, some armor and hit the abandoned streets. I'll have to keep an eye out for one this year. Would be handy for the coming zombie apocalypse.


Moto Fun Day!

We took the CB970 in to be run on the Dyno. The results should be back
later this week. After the drop off, we ran to the Ducati Dealership and
drooled over some fine Italian motorcycles. They were all pretty damn snazzy.

We met the owner of the dealership and talked to him for quite some time. I never knew we had track day training classes locally. The price seems pretty fair too, $160 for a single day, $250 for two. That's something I'd definitely like to take part in. He also told us about a few bike nights around town that we had never heard of before. I think in the past, I've been too blind when viewing the motorcycling population in my town. While we are overpopulated with squids, "bikers" and cooler than you guys, we seem to have a hidden section of regular riders and touring guys.

I have to admit, I really do prefer the BMW, Triumph and Ducati dealerships over the others. It's different inside. No skulls, flames or bad metal music. Sit back, have a cup of coffee and watch a race on TV or wander around and drool over bikes. Sign up for ride days, try on gear you can't afford. It's cool.

I know they're selling that "vibe" and I'm a willing customer.

Out of all the Ducs I saw, nothing has dethroned the F800GS from the most wanted list:

The GS is also tied with F800ST

and of course the K75s

Crap... I'm think there's a pattern going on here.


Trip idea....

So we (the TA Moto group) are meeting this Friday to discuss some ride ideas for this year. One destination is Nova Scotia, an awesome trip but not one I can make due to funds and time off. I've never stepped foot onto America's hat (Canada), I've flown over on my way to Alaska. Yesterday, I looked for the quickest way to the land of maple syrup and hockey. Looks like I can run the super slab up to Sault Ste Marie and be there in two days if I take my time. From there I can rip up Trans-Canada Highway 17 to any small town I choose. Roughly 840 miles from Indy to Terrace Bay, Ontario.

(Just using Terrance Bay as a distance marker, I don't know anything about the town.)

I have no rough idea of when this could happen. I was thinking about leaving on a Thursday, stop somewhere in Michigan and enter Canada on Friday. Head for home on Sunday.

Anyone want to take a trip to Canada? Gymi?


Yamaha XJ600 SECA II : Kimpex Heated Grips

After the cold run to Nashville, I wanted to have heated grips installed before spring. I picked up the Kimpex heated grip kit from Aerostich. They still have the fragile ceramic resistor but for $29, it's a great deal for broke riders like myself.

The install is pretty straightforward if you want to take the chance to drain your battery if you forget to turn the grips off. So, I took advice from Canyon Chasers and used a distribution block and relay. By tapping the rear running light, this will turn the relay off when I shut the bike off. No worries about a dead battery. Canyon Chasers have a great wiring diagram. *EDIT* This diagram is not correct. The relay will work but it's not the right way to wire it. Here's a correct picture:

My install is slightly different since my switch (on-off-on)has an LED. From the distribution block, I ran a hot and ground to the switch and split the ground off for the switch and grips. The hot feed runs to both the LED and the grips. All of this is protected by a 20v inline fuse between the battery and the relay.

Parts list:

- Heated Grip Kit (duh)
- Black and Red wire (18ga)
- Inline fuse (20a)
- 12v automotive relay
- 8 pole distribution block
- 4 pole jumper (split in half)
- soldering supplies
- shrink tubing *
- zip ties (plastic and metal)
- trusty electrical tape
- spade connectors
- 3 position switch (on-off-on)

* sizes for wire and 1" or larger for left grip and o-rings

I've read a lot of people saying the clutch side stays colder due to the added insulation of the throttle sleeve. The fixes range from a few wraps of electrical tape, friction tape or shrink tubing. It took me a while to track down tubing larger enough to fit over the throttle sleeve but Fry's Electronics carries large sizes that will work. You can also cut small rings and use it to secure the elements.

So, remove your old grips (knife, air pressure, magic or whatever you prefer) and clean up the bars. Measure and cut a piece of shrink tubing for the left side and shrink it down from the control side out. Now, remove the backing to the element and wrap it around the bar. Take 3 of the shrink rings and slide them over the element and heat 'em up with a heat gun. Be careful not to melt the element. Easy, huh? Now do it again on the throttle side but make sure you have enough slack and flexibility to roll the throttle from closed to wide open.

Now that the grips are on, let's wire up the back end.

Crack open your manual and find the hot feed for the tail light. Make sure it's not the brake light or you'll only have heated grips when you hit the brakes. If you're positive you have the correct wire, cut it, strip it back and solder your relay feed together then shrink wrap it. The feed wire goes to terminal #86 on the relay.

So, the relay has power, now run a hot feed from the battery (with the inline fuse)to the relay (terminal #30). From pole #87, run a hot feed for the distribution block. Run a ground from the negative battery terminal for the distribution block. You should have one pole left on the relay, #85. This is your relay ground, run this to the negative side of the distribution block.

Take the 4 terminal jumper and split it into 2x 2 terminal jumpers. Unscrew the terminals and hook up your hot to one side and your negative. Use the jumper to connect two terminals, one one each side.

It will look something like this:


I don't have a picture of my block but it's really simple, just use common sense.

With your relay tapped into the negative side of the block, all of the poles should be used. Now, run a feed from the block for both hot and ground up to your switch location. Route your grip wires and connect one from each to the ground and one from each to the hot. It doesn't matter which one you use, as long as you have one from each grip going to the ground and the hot. The hot lead splits into two wires. One has the ceramic resistor, this is your High setting. Hook it up to the appropriate terminal on your switch. Hook the other up to the Low. Secure the resistor to your frame with the metal zip ties. Make sure nothing will come into contact with the resistor.

If your wiring is all either shrink wrapped or taped and your switch is hooked up, it's time to test them. Do it now, before you put the grips on. Start with the Low setting and then switch to High. Do you have toasty digits? If so, good job, now clean up the wiring mess, make sure all your connections are covered, mount your switch and put your grips on. If you don't, go back and check your work.

I haven't put my grips on yet, since I'm having trouble tracking down 135mm grips. I'll post that adventure when I can.

I apologize for any errors, I'm beat from working in the shop since it's about 20 degrees in there. If you notice something isn't right, let me know and I'll fix it. If you have questions, let me know. I'll gladly help out.


Thanks goes out to Stacy from Bolty.net for pointing out I had the terminals hooked up incorrectly. I corrected the post, now I just have to correct my wiring.

85- Ground
86- Power for the relay switch
87- Power Out
30- Power In

I was also too worn out to give credit where credit is due. Here are all of the sites that I used for tips, tricks and inspiration:

Canyon Chasers
VFR Discussion
Weendoggy.com (for the relay diagram)


parts is parts

I got my 3 position rocker switch in the mail from Eastern Beaver in Japan. If I can pick up a set of grips (looking at Pro Grip 714s), a relay and distribution block, I can get my grips installed this weekend.

The laundry list of to-do items:

- install heated grips
- replace fork seals
- oil change, plugs and air filter
- new chain & guard
- replace gauge bulbs
- check valve clearance
- paint headers
- install mirrors
- new tires (Kenda K671)

That should get the scoot ready to roll out this spring. In addition to the maintenance, I'm trying to make budget friendly choices on luggage and a few other pieces of gear that I still need.