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Ya Just Never Know….Maggie Valley Road Trip, August 2011

“We all set out
walking to Salty Dog’s and James must’ve ran up there, ‘cuz by the time we got
there, he

was already well on
his way to hangover city. He had a drink called a, “Quaalude” when I saw him and it must’ve been doing
its job. By the time I got my broiled fish platter eaten, he was ready to
stumble on

back to his room. That was the last we saw of him
’til the next morning with his bottle of Early Times.”

Click here for pics, videos, and the rest of the story.


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Chainsaw opines on the “Harley Death Wobble”

There are two things you don’t want to hear in the same sentence:  “Harley” and “Death Wobble”.

I came across this story from KPHO Phoenix which describes the phenomenon:

A camera mounted on a Georgia state trooper’s police-issued Harley shows Officer Richard Barber traveling 90 mph along an interstate. His 2007 Harley Electra Glide begins to shimmy and wobble. Eventually, Barber is able to stop the bike safely.

 But a Raleigh, N.C., police officer was not so lucky. In 2002, 30-year-old Charles Paul was thrown from his Harley Electra Glide after it began to wobble. He died, and his family later settled a wrongful death suit with Harley-Davidson in 2008.

KPHO’s video on the topic can be found here.

Uh, really ? It gave me some pause since we ride a 2005 Ultra Classic, but not being versed in the ins and outs of the whole thing, I asked my resident expert Chainsaw.

As usual, I got a thorough answer, though perhaps more than I bargained for.

Here is his reply, written as only Chainsaw can write it:

You don’t ask the easy questions, do you?

There are a lot of things at work here, and I’m gonna tell ya more than ya expected to know.

In 1980 there were only 2 bikes that had rubber mounted motors.  The earlier models were bolted through a motor mount boss welded onto the frame, through a corresponding cast aluminum bolt hole in the bottom end or engine cases that housed the flywheels, crankshaft, piston rods and oil pump.

The one and only touring bike at the time, the FLT, was rubber mounted, and the one and only rubber mounted FX, was the FXB, or the “Sturgis” model, and it was the 1st belt drive bike.

By 1985 all models, except maybe Sportsters, were rubber mounted motors, and the Shovelhead engine had been replaced by the new “Evo” or 80 inch (1340cc) Evolution engine.

That’s when the “overnight sensations” and yuppies began to appear on the roads because the Evo motor was proported to be as tight as a thermos bottle, and wouldn’t leak oil. That was appealing to the morons that just wanted to ride and show off that they owned a Harley.

Well, I’ve dropped a thermos before.

Evos were a tight motor, and still are today.  Some folks still swear by them, but they don’t last long on an 800+lb touring bike, and these are the bikes that I am going to refer to as they have in the story.

Since the 90’s, the motors and transmissions have been “rubber mounted” with massively dense rubber bushings to the frame and swingarm in the FLH family of bikes:  Road King, Street Glide, Electra Glide Standard, Electra Glide Classic, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Road Glide, or any bastardization of those models, either for Police use, a Custom Vehicle Operations bike  which usually have a 103″ – 110″ motor on the frame, slinging massive amounts of torque to the motor mounts and swingarm mounts.

The motor bushings do wear out after a bunch of miles and normal service.

Sometimes the bikes come from the factory poorly assembled and they wobble around 80 mph, but you turn right around and go back to the dealer and tell them to shove the piece of shit up their ass, and tell them to get the paperwork out and rewrite the deal on another bike.

Then there’s the final key piece to this puzzle that Harley-Davidson won’t admit to being a factor in the “Wobble Syndrome.”

Anyone that has gotten down on the ground and looked at how the motor and transmission are mounted on the bike, or is a mechanic, will see that the transmission is not solid mounted to the frame per se, it is mounted through those dense bushings that do double duty as engine mounts and swingarm mounts.

That is the weak link in the whole scenario.

A little bit of physics knowledge will tell you that the swingarm is for the rear suspension or shocks,  for up and down vertical travel, not side to side horizontal travel, yet the motor and transmission are hard mounted together, and the rear of the  transmission mounts to the swingarm pivot point.

That’s why when I kept saying a while back that the front and rear wheel on our ’05 Ultra didn’t seem to track along the same line, it’s because the back wheel had thrown a wheel weight, and when I got a new tire put on and they balanced it, that shit was gone.  Just that little bit of that weight being thrown on changed the physics and performance of the pivot point rubber mount on the swingarm.

We’ve not had any issues with the “wobble syndrome” because of the way that I ride – I feel the bike, I listen to the bike, I become part of the bike, and if something is not quite right, I know it immediately, even when the bike is loaded down, pulling a fully loaded trailer.  I can feel the horizontal forces, but I ride accordingly.

There is a part on the market that solves the horizontal effects on the swingarm pivot point, and that is all that is required to give that particular set of bushings a gazillion miles of dependability and service.   You’ll notice on their website, a picture of someone laying hard into a corner. That’s what this is all about, the sideways, lateral forces that put the load on the swingarm bushings. At their products link, the year models of applications correspond to the beefiness of the product as the year model of bikes go up in motor size and horsepower – factory horsepower that is, not hot rodding a motor to unreasonable cubic inches like Checkered Bob’s 124″ desires.

The thing that people, and the goddamned media don’t realize  is that the laced wheel or spokes were not designed to carry the weights that touring bikes carry now -You have the weight of the bike itself (approximately 800 lbs), the rider and passenger weights which can vary anywhere from 350lbs to 500lbs…. add that together with the kinetic force of real time riding, and the swingarm pivot point bushings are performing under the pressure of over a ton.  Factor in the dainty (but cooool looking – not in my opinion) laced spoke wheels and you have a 2nd issue that can spell disaster.

That’s why Harley-Davidson and the report made mention of, “added on parts.”  You’ll also notice that neither one mentioned what add on parts they were referring to.

It’s the laced spoke wheels, or anything that adds weight to them is when the dangerous natural lateral forces come into play.

The reason that “other” manufacturers’ bikes don’t do it is because of initial standing weights and the motor mounting and drive trains are completely different.

You can’t compare apples to oranges.

The Police bikes that they referred to that went out of control needed a  steering damper,  not so much the tru-track motor/tranny/swingarm brace, as the damper is used for speed and stability.  The tru-track may have helped, but what would’ve helped out more would have been a tighter maintenance schedule as those bikes get the bejesus beat out of them and if your machine’s key components are held together with rubber bushings, they will wear faster.

This article got me pissed off.  It shows how naive the general riding public and media are. 

Hell, I’m done with this subject, I gotta go take a dump.


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I remember momma…..

Ellen Elizabeth Hoover was born June 19, 1928 in Progress, PA, youngest of four children. Her father Lancaster was a mailman, her mother Tressa a homemaker.

Things my mother taught me: If you go to London and see the Queen waving, she is waving just to you.

To her nieces and nephews, Ellen was called “Aunt Duck”. She got that name because as a child growing up in the 30’s she was quite afraid of the junk man and the ice man who patrolled the streets selling their wares. “Duck under the table !” she would say when she heard their clacking in the street. And duck she did. The moniker stuck with her. Not sure she was all that happy about it.

Things my mother taught me: You can make a soup with anything on hand.  Never throw a pot or pan out, there is always good use for it.

Ellen fell quite in love with the handsome Harry, and they got married lickity-split. He sure looked sharp in his uniform. Guess they made the right decision…they were married for over 50 years. Harry had to do his duty with the Army, but as soon as he got back they started their family and built their house with their own sweat, which still stands today.

Things my mother taught me:It is OK to hurt and swallow in misery for a bit, but only for a bit. I remember seeing her in the hospital after her masectomy. It was the only time I ever heard her say, “It hurts”. With weird tubes coming out of a chest that was no longer there, she said that it hurt. That is all.

Ellen and Harry had five children, four girls and a boy. The little neighborhood was full of kids and pools and adventures and gardens and forts….many laughs and tears that are the normal course of life.

Things my mother taught me:  That little roll that develops around your belly in middle age isn’t fat: it’s a pillow.

I don’t ever think I saw my Mom without a book or a piece of knitting in her lap. Alas, unlike my father, she did not have a green thumb: we would say a silent prayer for any bit of greenery she would attempt to nurture.

Things my mother taught me:  Watch out for the icy patches, even in July.  That’s when they can really sneak up on you.

Mom left us way too early and way too suddenly in June of 2003.   In an instant, she was gone.

Things my mother taught me:  Life is like a card game: it can all change in one hand.


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Too wired ?

Every evening when I get home from work, the first thing I do is plug in my Blackberry, my Kindle, and my iPad. There they sit, one atop the other on the end table, taking up less than half a square foot. I look at my collection of gadgets and think how totally weird it is that so much of my life is contained in such a small space.

I think of all the things they replace: alarm clock, laptop, landline telephone, address book, camera, video camera. All of these things are nearly obsolete now.

One thing they don’t replace is people. Sure, I have met some new “friends that I’ve never met” through social networks, but they aren’t breaking bread with me or telling me a story with expressions that are unique to them and that I can see and smell and touch. No matter how connected I may feel to the world through the constant stream of information that gushes through various portals, it still can’t replace a quiet dinner with friends and loved ones.

Although one can really LOL, it isn’t the same as hearing a guffaw or seeing the twinkle in someone’s eye or the unique laughlines around their mouth.

I’m not saying technology is bad. It has made our lives alot easier. Been inside a bank lately ? The last time I had a paper check I found that I had nearly forgotten how to fill out a deposit slip. It took me two times to get it right. My signature was atrocious. I’m used to a keyboard.

I have always been a techie, ever since the first Radio Shack Tandy with a 5 1/4 inch boot disk. I was a master at Pong. My job is technical, and I am basically wired 24/7. So I guess I’ve kind of grown up with the whole business of computers becoming smaller and smaller and more accessible.

The old and cumbersome familiar things are being replaced by tiny and fast things. Facebook friends become our neighbors, our coffee klatch, and our quilting bee. Farmville becomes our recreation. Blog headlines become our truth. We don’t know how to reflect anymore.

Times change and technology moves on. Overall, I think that is a good thing for society.

But never forget that a snuggle on the couch can never be replaced by the latest text message. A quilting bee isn’t just the sewing, it’s the conversation. You can send all the virtual hugs you want, but they will never replace a true embrace. An electronic book can fit in your purse, but a dog-eared old tome, marked up and read over and over, can be passed to your grandchildren.

Keep reminding yourself of that. I am.


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Spring cleaning of the soul

There is a yearly ritual that people call “spring cleaning”. Today is a good day for that. Personally, I’m still working on my spring cleaning for 2005. It’s a process.

The New Year is traditionally a time when people do the spring cleaning of the soul. There is a whole year looming, new and untried, and they usually make solemn resolutions for the time ahead. A blank slate, a new calendar. Rarely are those resolutions kept. Real-life drudgeries and traumas get in the way. Resolutions are forgotten.

I never make New Year’s resolutions. It is usually too cold and I can’t get inspired. My resolutions come in the Spring, which here in the Mid-Atlantic area is desperately trying, with fits and starts, to reveal its promise. It is this time of year, when the windows can be opened and birds are at the feeder, and small buds are appearing on trees, that one can get a real sense of renewal. Everything is coming back to life, so one thinks, “Well then…so should I.” Spring just seems to me a much more reasonable time to take inventory and make decisions about the time ahead of you. I wouldn’t call them “resolutions”…that word is too final and confining. It is more of a feeling of, “OK! Let’s ger ‘er done”.

So, in the middle of cleaning and dusting and vacuuming, I am also, in the same hesitant way that Spring is coming out, to do that spring cleaning of the soul. There are no grandiose announcements, no fanfare. Just a silent, sometimes sad and sometimes smiling assessment. You need that every once in a while.

I hope that your spring cleaning, both of the home and of the spirit, is rewarding and true.

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Escape from the den of iniquity

My very first real job was in the early 70’s. At age 16-17, I ran the concession counter at Grady’s Bowling Alley in the Fairfax Shopping Center on Concord Pike. I flipped burgers, grilled hot dogs, and dispensed the cherry cokes (with real cherry syrup). I worked 6-11 PM on some weeknights, and usually worked weekends.

On weeknights, it was the bowling leagues with their crazy shirts. There were all sorts of people: young and old, fat and skinny, men and women, all sorts of races and religions, and they always had a rip roaring time. Loud and raucous and definitely serious about their bowling, they kept me scurrying behind that counter for sure !

On weeknights the pool tables in the smoky back room were filled with quietly mysterious characters sporting long hair and black leather jackets.

Two of the unadvertised benefits of this job were that I learned how to bowl and learned how to shoot pool.

Minimum wage was about $2.75 back then. It was the best job I ever had.

I wonder how many jobs like this are out there today. It certainly wasn’t politically correct: the owner of the concession stand, Richie, asked me if I would wear hot pants (for those too young to remember hot pants, you’ll have to Google it). I didn’t give it a second thought and faster than you can say “disco queen”, there I was in my red hot pants, grilling my burgers with a smile.

I’m also sure that some well-meaning groups today might have an issue with a 16-year-old girl working in a place where there was a pool hall. Everyone knows that a pool hall is a disreputable place where unsavory characters congregate.

I learned some things in this job:

The customer is always right. If the grill closes at 11 PM and someone orders a hamburger at 10:55, the customer gets their burger. Even if you’ve just finished cleaning the grill.
Don’t judge people by first impressions. A grungy-looking dude with a constant scowl may be the most patient pool teacher. A fat, sweaty, and loud bowler may have a child with cancer at home.
Treat where you work like it was your own business. The owner appreciates it.. Be on time. Don’t whine.

So, I worked on school nights and weekends in a bowling alley/pool hall. I managed to escape this experience without falling into a den of iniquity. It wasn’t the easiest job in the world, but it wasn’t the worst, and to this day I appreciate the friends I made and the lessons I learned.

Do kids today have these kinds of jobs available to them, or are the parents too protective and the safety nannies too zealous to allow it?


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How to Determine if You’re Having a Rational Discussion

h/t ZenPundit via Maggie’s Farm


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