Sheldon's 1998 Ural Sportsman - Week 11
7/04/98 (Independence Day) Saturday Day 71... Another day painting. Of course I vowed that I would leave the Ural in the garage and get the painting done. I did my Tour of Old Duluth in the morning. Had about a dozen tourists from all over the country, Los Angeles, Birmingham AL, Oneonta NY, Minneapolis MN, Orlando FL and a bunch more that I never asked where they where they were from. Came home and got all the painting supplies ready to go but decided that since it was such a beautiful day I just had to go for a ride first. So much for resolutions... When I got up in the morning at about 6:00 a.m. it was only 38 Degrees F., by 9:00 it was already 70 and it hit about 82 late in the afternoon, so it was a perfectly great day for a ride. Drove around for a while and ended up at the Black Bear Casino. Went in and donated $20 to the Fond du Lac band of the Objibwa. I had parked the bike at the very back of the parking lot, straight out from the back door. As I was leaving two of the casino's maintenance men walked out ahead of me. They were walking to the west until one of them saw the bike, pointed to it, and both of them started walking straight toward the bike.
I was only fifteen feet behind them so I could hear every word they said. They speculated on what kind of bike it was, and how completely "cool" it was. They got to the bike a few paces before me and were standing looking at it as I walked up and put my key in it. Of course the questions started flowing. While we were there the security guard that was patrolling the parking lot in a Chevy Blazer pulled up. The guy got out and said, "I saw you pull in, and I was wondering what kind of bike it was." More questions, and of course I had more answers. Then several other Casino employees walked up and I had to go through the whole litany again. I love doing it though...
Later in the day I took another break from the painting and went for another ride. Then about 10:00, after more painting, I decided to go find a place where I could see the fireworks from a distance. I dislike large crowds and they were expecting about 30,000 people at, or near, Bayside Festival Park to watch the fireworks being set off on a barge in the bay. On my way there two Harleys got behind me. They followed me all the way to the top of Spirit Mountain at the Thomson Rest Area. I parked the Ural and they came over. A half hour of chatting Urals later it was almost time for the fireworks to start. Just as I was getting to go find a spot to sit a young man, about 20 years old, came up to me. "What kind of bike" he said in a thick accent. "A Russian Ural" I said in a think Northern Minnesota Accent.... Well, maybe not as thick as used in the movie "Fargo", but I am sure I have one. He said, "I am Russian". I said, "cool". He said, "I've lived here four years, and I never thought I would see one here", in his very thick accent. We only talked for a minute or two but he looked to be in shock after seeing a Ural in Duluth Minnesota. It almost seemed beyond his comprehension. I wish I had had more time to talk to him.
I now have 2986 km on the bike. Only 14 more miles till 3,000... Cool!!! But it will have to wait a couple of days before I get any more miles on. I have promised myself that I would finish the painting in the morning and not ride. Ya sure....
7/05/98 Sunday Day 72... Went for a very short ride then took the truck to a friend's cabin. Storms all around when we left home so the bike stayed in the garage. Rained the rest of the day so no riding... Drat.
7/06/98 Monday Day 73... Worked from 6:00 a.m. till 7:00 p.m. tonight. By the time I got home it was after 7:30 and I when I got home I jumped out of the truck, ran in the house, changed clothes and went for a ride. Stopped at Taco John's to pick up a soft-shell then I intended to hit the county roads for a nice ride. The bike stumbled, backfired and just plain ran terribly until it got up to speed. Once up to speed the engine seems to be running smoother than ever. When I walked out of Taco John's I did my usual walk around to look for loose bolts and noticed that there was no bolt in the end of the swingarm. No long ride tonight, off for home to put a bolt in. By the time things were taken care of it was too later to have a good ride so it got parked in the garage again. I am going to call Marlow tomorrow and see if I can bring the bike down there on Wednesday and leave it until Saturday. I need the thing to be running right on the 13th through 18th for the Wolf Head Rally. They are raffling off a Ural and they want mine very visible during the rides and bike shows. Just wouldn't do to be stumbling around... Hope we can get it sorted out... Probably something quite simple but not being a wonderful mechanic I wouldn't know where to start...
7/07/98 Tuesday Day 74... Went for a ride tonight. The bike is still running terrible at slow speeds. I will be calling Marlow tomorrow and see if I can run it down there before the weekend. Picked up a new web site account today, a major pool table manufacturer so tonight's duty is working on their site. Not a whole lot of time for riding but I did have to fit one in.
7/08/98 Wednesday Day 75... Called Marlow today and he believes that the problem might be related to the fuel tank problem I have been having. I think I had explained once before, but I am too lazy to read back and find it... The gasoline sold in Minnesota is called "Oxygenated Gasoline". That means that in a scheme to help out the farmers in the state they have mandated that the gasoline contains a fairly large percentage of alcohol. Unfortunately the gas tank has some overspray of the paint inside the filler area and it appears that the alcohol is dissolving it. The paint has been flaking off and going into the tank. I do try to wipe it off on each fill up but some gets through. Marlow believes some of this is lodged in the slow speed jets of the carburetors. I sure hope that is what it is. I will be taking the bike back to him on Friday and he believes he can do all that needs to be done while I wait. Couple of important things happened today. First was that I met with the representatives of the power company in this part of the country and it looks like I picked them up as a web site customer also, and that coupled with a couple of other large accounts I have recently captured should help my income tremendously. Sooooo.... I called the local Harley dealer and put my name in for a 1999 Dyna Super Glide with the new 1430cc twin cam engine that will be coming out the beginning of next year. So then I will have a three bike stable. Should be able to find something to ride any time I want... Just have to make sure I save up enough money in a year to pay for it... Marty at the Harley dealer says I will be the first to get one. He has been trying to sell me a new bike for 10 years without success... He was ecstatic that he finally got me.... But it took a whole new engine to do it.
7/09/98 Thursday Day 76... Just went for a little ride tonight, then Son #1 helped me load the Ural in the truck. I am all ready to head out at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow for Garrison Minnesota. Daryl has agreed to go along with me for the ride. She is one of those government employees that get a couple of hundred days vacation a year so she takes Fridays off in the summer. Well, maybe "a couple of hundred" is a bit of exaggeration but I am terribly envious.
7/10/98 Friday Day 77... Just about lost the bike this morning. After we loaded the bike in the truck last night I figured Son #1 had tightened the straps. He must have figured I did it because neither of us apparently did it. Good thing I put a safety strap around the rear frame or I might have lost it going up a very steep hill with lots of bumps. I did notice the bike bouncing around back there and pulled over. It really couldn't have gone off the truck with that safety strap there but it still reminded me to check everything.
Took the bike to Northern Sports this afternoon. Marlow cleaned out the carburators, installed in line fuel filters, and synced the carbs. We ran into Brainerd and had Chinese Buffet at a wonderful little restaurant called the "Great Wall". Incredible all you can eat buffet for $5.00 each. Not a bad deal. When we got back to Northern Sports Marlow had taken it for a ride and said that it was running fine now. Then I pointed out the bolt that had fallen out and I had replaced, and I asked him why the rear grease/dust cover on the axle was sticking out so far. He jacked the bike up and checked it out. Turns out the bearing carrier has worked itself loose. Marlow took it all apart, cleaned everything, re-packed the bearings and put it all back together. Good thing we spotted that or we may have had some more major problems. One thing that seems to be more important on this bike than other new bikes is the walk around inspection. As often as you can do it, it is completely necessary. It is 50 year old technology and the tolerances are not what we have come to expect on modern bikes. But for someone willing to put a little more effort into owning a bike the rewards are wonderful.
I took the bike for a couple of rides tonight. It ran flawlessly, perfectly, wonderfully, and a bunch of other "ly" words. I ran it up to about 62 mph, even took the freeway for about ten miles at a constant 58 mph. It was perfect. At 58 the mirrors stop the shaking that is common to many motorcycle mirrors. It gets incredibly smooth. This bike seems to like about 50-58 mph the best and I was so very pleased riding tonight. The bike seemed like it took forever to break in, then it broke the rear end and was out of commission, then I got it back and it didn't run right, until today, when I finally got the opportunity to take it in to get it fixed. So this is the first time I am beyond break-in with a well running bike and it did feel very, very good. The last time I was ready to open the bike up was the day I was heading downtown to give a tour when the rear end went out. That was a dissappointing day and this one made up for it. The big test will be tomorrow morning when I have to go give another tour as I intend to ride the bike into town. I hope that this time is better than the last time. Last week the local newspaper sent a reporter and a photographer on my Tour of Old Duluth and the article should be in the paper tomorrow morning. I should have a good crowd, so I am a bit paranoid of having the same thing happen and being late for the tour. I am sure the paranoia is unfounded but I think I will leave early enough that I have plenty of extra time to get there. After the way it was running tonight I doubt that I will have a problem though. I now have 3060 km (1897 miles) on the bike.
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Last modified: March 22, 2011