Complications in Los Angeles

Sorry for the lack of posts once again, there has been lots to do out here in the last few months! The shop space I rented turned out to be a bit of a disaster. The real estate folk I dealt with told me there would be some light construction happening across the street from the space, where the city was building a new park. What they didn’t mention was that the park was only a small portion of a greater urban landscape change that effects several blocks around my new area. Raising the road grade several feet, demolishing and rebuilding a giant bridge over the nearby LA river, and digging lots of new trenches for assorted conduits, pipes, etc. The construction even goes through my yard, starting in a few months! The fence which isolates my little haven from the walking dead outside is my only defense (and was a major reason I chose this place), and soon that will be down. Here you can see the construction site that used to be a regular street in the background…

photo-4

Since about a week after I arrived, this whole area from the hill in the background to about 10 feet behind the dodge has been a 24/7 beep, beep, beep, beep from the construction equipment, as well as a constant haze of concrete dust. Jackhammers, dump trucks, backhoes, welders, and the biggest steamshovel I have ever seen have all descended on my new “home”. Add to the fact that I cannot use my central air system because it is filled with the remnants of a rat colony that occupied the space at some point. I didn’t realize this until I repaired the AC unit and clicked it on, then the smell hit me like a ton of bricks.

So needless to say I got fucked in the beard, big time.

So as fun as it was to move thousands of pounds of motorcycles and equipment, it looks like I will be doing it again soon. With the help of my friend John, I am on the hunt once again for a new shop space in the Los Angeles area. Anything from around 2500-4000 square feet, with all the typical bike shop requirements like a garage door, big flat floor, and lack of uptight neighbors. And of course I would prefer it not to be in the bowels of East LA. I am not putting a cap on the price this time around; I want to really see what is out there. Just a warning to any future realtors/landlords, I am at my whits end here and if I get fucked again, I have a plasma cutter and I’m not afraid to use it. And by the way, when this space comes up for rent again in a few months, I don’t recommend renting it unless you plan on opening a toxic waste dump, or a pet store that specializes in rodents. 2000 North Figueroa st, los angles ca 90065. If there are any lawyers who want an easy target, feel free to contact me!

On a better note, all the riding I have been doing has had my brain working overtime. I have never ridden this much, this consistently. It has given me the opportunity to really understand the shortcomings of whatever bike I am on, in this case, my dyna based custom “Interceptor”. I am splitting hairs here really, because the Interceptor is the most reliable motorcycle I have even owned, and has faithfully carried me all over this huge country without so much as a hiccup. Of course, my engineering mind is always at work and there are several things I think I can improve upon when the time comes.

For those not familiar with the Harley “dyna” series of motorcycles, I’ll give a basic synopsis (if anyone has any insight on them, or disagrees with me, please comment). A while back Harley (with Eric Buells help) realized that the vibrations their engines produce is a major limiting factor to both the comfort and performance potential of the bikes, and the “rubbermount” Harleys were born, starting with the shovelhead powered FXR in the 80’s. Since then there wave been quite a few variations on the rubber mounted design, such as the FXR’s, the rubbermount sportsters, the baggers, the Buells, and the dynas. They all isolate the rider from the vibrations to some extent, but are all quite different in how they use the actual rubber mounts.

I could ramble on about these bikes forever, but here is an observation and a question: On every design, the rear wheel swingarm is either rubbermounted by itself or solid mounted to the rubber mounted transmission. They are never attached to the main frame in a rigid fashion. Obviously it is the motor that is producing the vibration, and so it needs to be isolated. Why “rubberize” the rear wheel as well? The negative effects of this are what companies like “tru-track” are trying to control with various heim joints and linkages. Dynas are some of the worst offenders in my opinion when it comes to the “rubber swingarm” rear-steer problem, because their drivetrains are mounted on two rubber blocks in line with each other, rather than the more triangular mounting layout of the fxr’s and baggers. When I go around a corner, the rear-steer is horrible. To make matters worse, it is not simple wagging left to right, but also twisting and moving up and down. This creates very vague and unpredictable handling.

Here is the big question: why does the swingarm need to be rubber mounted? The answers I have gotten so far are 1; they need it because the rear end would vibrate otherwise (huh?) and  2; the rear wheel and sprocket shaft can’t have rubber between them (this is referring to the dyna design, but of course all the other rubber mount designs have that, so- myth busted)

Any educated input is welcome! comment please

 

 

 

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3 responses to “Complications in Los Angeles

  • Brad Cramer

    Lock, Several years back I became aware of this rear steer problem with my Road King(2001),and while in Sturgis one year I noticed this outfit from Indianola,IA selling those tru-trac systems. Bought one,installed it,and it did make a difference. Not one to leave well enough alone I took apart the swing arm and thru out the factory cleve blocks,the jelly was starting to leak anyway.Then made a set of my own bearings consisting of Nylatron and stainless steel.Nylatron is sort of like Delrin but dose not become brittle over time. So the tail end is not rubber mounted anymore and does not shake or viberate any worse than stock.
    Sorry your Cali. move has not been good so far,hope it goes better.
    B.C. Omaha

  • lockbaker

    B, thanks so much! this info helps me big time.

  • Fred Rivera

    Lock- I have a 1991 FXR with over 130K miles…still on original cleve blocks and silicone filled swing arm bushings.

    The cleve blocks and front mount are the triangle of isolators that keep the engine steady. Being as far outboard on the frame keeps the swingarm laterally stable. Big thing is the swing arm axle is rigid to the transmission casing, so it is part of the engine/transmission vibrating system.

    If standard conical bearings were used between the swingarm and the swingarm axle, they would brinell (rollers indenting the race) pretty quick because the bearing is relatively static and the rollers don’t move much at all. Needle bearings like in u-joints might not brinell, but would disintegrate if not kept greased and would be a pain in the butt – picture playing with a u-joint 2 ft wide…

    The stock silicone swingarm bushings keep the swingarm stable about the vibrating axle without degrading from the vibration. I don’t think isolation was the design intent….durability, freedom from maintenance and manufacturing costs were probably higher priority design drivers.

    The spherical bearing replacement looks pretty good. But then again, I have gotten 130K and counting out of the stock set-up. I don’t see fixing what isn’t broken, and when the time comes, it’s hard to change from a configuration you know really works.

    Hope this helps…good luck out there.

    Fred – Licensed Mechanical Engineer – also envious of what you’re doing for a living out there in CA!

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