Thursday, June 23, 2016

Riding with a Smile

It seems like a long time since I got away from home, enjoyed some exploring, and some riding twisty roads.  My last attempt was a ride to the Smokies in May.  Unfortunately, my bike had other ideas.  You see, the day I left it was 35 deg F with horizontal rain.  I made it into Ohio and south of Columbus before so many things on the bike stopped working that I ended up renting a Uhaul and towing it home.  I admit that I was cold, wet, and miserable during the ride.  Apparently, so was the bike and it had sense enough to say STOP!

This trip went much better with only one minor issue to remind me that my bike is getting old.  I was trying to learn the proper way to travel when retired.  Although I could have gone interstates and gotten to the ride base hotel in about 8 hours, instead I took two and half days of nothing but back roads to get there.  I figure that I added 300 miles to a 500 mile freeway trip.

Along the way, I found little towns with interesting names and a few minor adventures.  For example, south of Arabia, Ohio, I found this sign.  My favorite caption is "Caution, Expensive Curves Ahead".

In West Virginia, after riding through the Cabwaylingo State Forest, I found that the road was following an old railroad bed and went through a railroad tunnel.  Normally, a tunnel is no big thing, but this tunnel was a very narrow lane wide, about 1 mile long, and had no lights at all.  My poor headlight did almost nothing to illuminate the black walls, ceiling, and roadbed.  In the middle, I was so far underground that my glasses and visor started to fog up.  You might say that I crawled through that tunnel, first gear, engine at idle, both feet out trying to sense the road.  Boy am I glad no one was coming from the other direction.  Somehow, riding in a car doesn't do the situation justice, but this video from YouTube gives you a small idea of the experience.

Dingess Tunnel

Along the way, I rode through little villages with funny names.  How about Wolfpit, Krypton, or Busy.  I guess it's not surprising that Cutshin is down the road from Smilax.  Along the way, I climbed a tall mountain on a little road that was sometimes paved, sometimes gravel and never wider than 10 feet.  It was an amazing view of the valley from the top, but I couldn't find a place to take a picture between the trees, so I am left with a cute little waterfall to remember the mountain by.

I have to say that I really enjoy these rides.  The coordinated action of leaning and balancing the bike through a range of corners and, frankly, riding a bit quickly, gives great satisfaction.  I recently saw a story about a guy who is 90 and still riding his motorcycle.  I get why.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Analog Distraction

I mean well.  I try to keep myself focused on the project list and do it in order.  It's just that I am easily distracted.

The phono preamp sounds so good, that I have been listening to vinyl a fair bit.  That got me curious about the differences between turntables and planning some experiments for a future DIY turntable.  The problem is that the DIY turntable is way down the list.

So, I found myself buying a 25 year old turntable that has been modified by it's first owner.  That is a step up from my 35 year old turntable I have been using.

It's an AR ES-1, a very simple manual turntable, but with good bones.  Also, in very good shape for it's age.  I did a few modifications of my own.  I added dampening material to the base and fine tuned the tonearm and suspension.

The modifications done by the previous owner included a better motor and a Merrill platter.  The platter is made from acrylic with lead glued on top for dampening.

He also made up some very interesting feet.  Kind of a layer cake of two layers of cork,  two kinds of rubber, and double sided foam tape between each layer.  Actually, they remind me of some cookies my mother used to make.  Gram crackers with frosting in between.  MMMnnn.

Now I just need to fix the motorcycle and get back to that project list.