I bought a motorcycle..

So I bought a motorcycle a couple of weeks ago. For a while I’ve been keeping an eye towards craigslist for a cheap motorcycle, mostly so I could save a little money on gas driving back and forth from work. I’d had an interest in the 1970’s Honda CB series, which was a prime choice for cheapness, but after seeing a Honda CX in person and realizing that they are water cooled and shaft driven, ( which equals longevity and potentially less maintenance) I included them in my notice list. I’d kind of set an arbitrary price limit at $500. A non-running CX showed up on craigslist for $400, and while I was mulling it over, another showed up for $180. Thinking it would get snatched up quickly since CX’s are quickly becoming a target of folks doing “cafe racer” conversions, I called the guy and went to get it.

1980 Honda CX500

1980 Honda CX500

I think it was a little more ratty than I had expected, but in reality, it’s not bad at all. The guy bought it for a project but found a running CX before he got around to working on this one. Word from the person he bought it from was that the CDI box was dead. I talked him down to $120 and took it home.

Tank and seat off

Tank and seat off

I’ve been slowly picking it apart to make sure that the CDI is indeed the problem and see if anything else needs to be done. Short of an open resistor in one of the plug boots, everything is seeming ok. I was lucky enough to get in on a group purchase for the Inigtech CDI replacement box through www.cx500forum.com. These units seem to be the only drop in replacement for the OEM CDI boxes, and a lot of CX riders are using them successfully. Shipping from the Czech republic is a little spendy, but when you figure that this will last a heck of a lot longer than a 30+ year old used CDI (including a 2 year warranty) AND give you the ability to program your spark curves, it’s kind of a no-brainer.

I also made the decision to send the carbs out for rebuilding rather than do it myself. I’m no stranger to freshening up carburetors, at one point I could do a Quadrajet in about 15 minutes, but these Keihin units appear to be a bit more complicated, and my free time is pretty limited. After crawling around honda motorcycle message boards for a while, I found that Larry Cargill, the guy who literally “wrote the book” on working on these carbs also did rebuilds. I saw a lot of his procedural photos, and realized that even on my best day there is no way I could be that thorough. He sonic cleans everything and reopens the jets and passages to OEM sizes down to the thousandth.

Once I get these two pieces on and the engine running, I’ll have to give the brakes a little attention. The front brake master cylinder is trashed. I ordered a cheapo master cylinder and lever from ebay for $25 that should be plug and play. Hopefully autozone can turn the rotor.

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ribeye burgers

Seeing a recent news headline – “70 Percent of Ground Beef at Supermarkets Contains ‘Pink Slime’” Reminded me to make a post about one of my recent culinary experiments.

I have a tendency to buy steaks at Costco, and that results in me having lots of frozen beef in the fridge. I was trying to eat my way through a package of ribeyes before they got gross, and decided to get creative and make burgers out of one.

ribeye burger process

ribeye burger process

As you can see above, I used the blender. The resulting meat slurry ended up a little too finely ground for my tastes. If I ever do this again, I’m going to err on the side of “chunky”. Interestingly, these cooked through a good deal faster than the ground chuck I usually use.  I think this might be attributed to the fine grind – the fat is in smaller pieces, could melt faster, and perhaps deep fried the meat from the inside out?

The end result was not bad, but I think I’d have enjoyed the steak more.

urban planning – using defunct infrastructure

This is an interesting kickstarter project I saw on a friend’s twitter this morning. I think I’ve always had an interest in the defunct spaces in large cities. The pneumatic tube systems beneath New York were always particularly intriguing.  I even remember hearing about a tunnel connecting the court house and police station in the small town I grew up in.

Experiments in pneumatic tube systems in New York

Experiments in pneumatic tube systems in New York

So anyway, back to this kickstarter project.. A couple of architects have come up with a plan to use a defunct, underground trolley terminal on the lower east side to create a new park / green space. It looks very cool, and very doable. The money raised by the kickstarter project will go towards the creation of a scale mock up used as a proof of concept. I hope it happens. It seems like a really great way to take advantage of a space that’s been doing nothing since 1948.

everyday carry

Lately I’ve become a bit enamored with the idea of “everyday carry”, as introduced to me by the site http://everyday-carry.com which describes the concept as such:

Everyday Carry, or EDC, generally refers to small items or gadgets worn, carried, or made available in pockets, holsters, or bags on a daily basis to manage common tasks or for use in unexpected situations or emergencies. In a broader sense, it is a lifestyle, discipline, or philosophy of preparedness.

I think this is particularly interesting to me because I’ve always been into the idea of having enough tools to do everything I might possibly need too, and I’m also into well designed objects. There are a whole slew of websites and forums dedicated to this topic, but I get the feeling that they are less about being prepared for unexpected situations, and more about status symbols and material culture addiction. (not that I’m knocking such things, it’s how we’re programmed)

A sample Everyday Carry from www.everyday-carry.com

A sample Everyday Carry from http://www.everyday-carry.com

As I read these sites and spec and source all these little tools, I have the drive to buy a bunch of junk; expensive junk. So now I’m questioning what would actually be useful, what’s use actually justifies it’s cost and what I’d realistically want to carry around in my pockets.

Seeing the immediate need for a pocket knife, generally for cutting open packages, I set out to find the “perfect” blade or multi use bladed tool. Not having the budget of most of the contributors of everyday-carry.com, I had to skip the pretty $600 blades. For a day, I really thought I wanted the Gerber Artifact.

Gerber Artifact

Gerber Artifact

as you can see, it has a pry tool, a philips screwdriver, a bottle opener, and the novel provision to use an xacto blade, which was ideal for me, since it performed the regular knife like function, but also could be useful for design work. I was ready to buy until I started reading reviews on Amazon.com, half of them describing the user cutting the tip of a finger off.

Simple pocket tool

Simple pocket tool

Thus far, I’ve only actually bought one thing, the simple pocket tool by TT Pocket tools.  ( http://ttpockettools.blogspot.com/ ) As you can see, it has several functionalities, although I initially just wanted it for a pry tool and a wire stripper. Thus far, the box cutter has also come in handy. I don’t know the full history of these things, as far as I can tell, such things originated with Atwood Knife and Tool, ( http://www.atwoodknives.com/ ) a hobby operation by a machinist with a passion for making small tools. His pieces are quite expensive ($60-ish for something similar to the above, which cost me $18) and exclusively limited editions.

I’m still on the hunt for other useful, but inexpensive tools, as well as a means of containing and carrying them all. I’ll post more on this in the future, as well as the involvement of so-called paracord in this EDC debacle.