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Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Darkside

You don't know the power of the dark side!

Oops. This isn't about any characters who do supernatural things by pointing their hands anywhere, or about stellar starfighters taking down the villainous overpowered evil empire.

This is about what the motorcycle community has dubbed "going to the darkside", a term for a motorcycle owner that has put a car tire on the rear wheel of their ride instead of a standard one. Not exciting? Then you probably don't ride.

I have heard and seen a couple bikers put car tires on their motorcycles. They love it. They said it takes a bit of time to get used to but they have not had problems. So I figured once I was due for a new rear tire on my motorcycle I would give the conversion a try.
Got every mile out of this one!

I own a 2005 Kawasaki Vulcan 1600 and I got the full 10,000 miles out of the tire. I was informed that motorcycle maintenance shops will not take in your motorcycle and change the tire to a car tire. Safety, legalities, liability, etc. etc., but this topic is being discussed by many riders so they know it can be done, so I think they are doing what's best for their business. That is understandable.

If you pull your wheel off and take it and the tire you want to a shop, some will still do the swap, because the liability falls on the owner because if anything goes wrong, faulty wheel (not tire) installation can be argued.

The Kawasaki runs on a 170/70R16 and the closest tire I could find to this size was Goodyear's 175/60R16 tire. I did the math and noted it was 5mm wider and 5mm more shallow. What that meant is that the motorcycle tire has a round profile and this one had a round/flat profile. IF you do this, try your best to keep your x/y tire numbers as close as possible to your original tires. Also make sure you have the tires in hand before starting your tire change. My tire size is rare so it took 3 days to get it shipped for me to pick up.

I found someone to install the tire and here it is!

On the second pic I use the left bracket to show that this tire is perfect for my needs. I didn't want a tire with a square edge because cornering becomes extremely difficult. The right arrow is just to show how, for a car tire, this tire has a nice radius on it. So I installed it with difficulty and here's how it looks:

Looks great! I took it for a ride and got to 70mph+. It gets there smoothly and I didn't feel anything that leads me to believe there are installation problems. Now on to the numbers and facts.

1. This tire cost $131 and will get 30,000-40,000 miles. The OEM tire costs $165 and gets 10,000 miles tops.
2. If you have a hitch installed on your ride, MAKE SURE the tire doesn't rub on it.
3. Pay close attention to how the motorcycle moves. With this tire I noticed that on roads with a grade towards the shoulder (many of them are like this) it will really want to pull you to the shoulder.
4. Your bike seems more wobbly. IT WANTS TO STAND UP. Don't let this panic you, get used to it and your riding will be back to fun very quickly.

Have fun riding and may the LORD keep you upright and bless your days.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sometimes being humble IS being proud

     I made another modification to my rifle and I talked myself out of blogging about the modification part and process. My initial thought was that I did not want to come across as "look at what I have" and fall into pride, because I have learned from the Lord's Word: "Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall." [Proverbs 16:18].

     I do, however, mean to make the most of the working talent God has given me in fabrication and metal working. So after realizing that my humility was also bordering on foolishness, I decided to document my recent project: a customized rail modification for the Saiga .308 so that it will take a night vision monocular.
     I would like to...point out that the upper NV mounting plate comes with the monocular from Holmes Tactical, a local business here in Larue, Texas. They sell the night vision monocular and the rail mounting kit for common ARs, but my Saiga rail is low on the side and more narrow than standard rails. Additionally, it specifically takes a certain scope mount and not much of anything else. This is what it looked like to start:
     Here were my options: Take the screws from the upper scope mounting and make something that would screw into those holes...

...or take out the three holes closer to the rail base and work from here to make my part:
     I felt it would be easier to work with the base closer to the rail mount piece. I went and got 3 feet CR steel angle iron from the local hardware store and gathered all the parts I would need.
     First, I took the lower rail mount off the upper scope mount plate so I could measure the mounting screw holes.
     Then I cut 4 1/4 inches of the angle iron, then trimmed about 1 3/8 inches off one leg of it. I measured and drilled three holes for the screws that attach it to the lower rail mount.
     At the time I thought the strip I cut from the angle leg would be scrap, but when I initially test mounted the NV unit, it was too far forward to look through. So I welded it to give me about 2 1/2 inches of back reach. In addition, the width of the material helped greatly because the night vision unit was about 3/8 of an inch right of center to the rifle.
     Next I put the two pieces together and it looked great for what I intended!
     Finally I put the NV mounting bracket on and used some spacer rings to get the NV center to the rifle.
     Done! I plan to develop a more aesthetically pleasing model (if possible) to sell but it functions perfectly. If you know anyone or hear of anyone looking for some modifications to their firearms (legal ones), please send me an email or send me a private message on Facebook and let's work something out!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Weapons Upgrade

     I must confess that in light of the Sandy Hook shootings, I had a bit of gun fever. Not because of fear of criminals with fire arms, but because rifle costs would go through the roof. For many years I have wanted an AR-15 but the $1000 price tag has always been a major deterrent. Instead, well over 10 years ago, I bought a Saiga Arms .308 (7.62x51). It was a basic AK-47 style 8 round capacity semi automatic rifle with a 4x32 scope for $300 and tax.
     While I was living in Washington and Colorado the most use it got was target practice. It's powerful and fun to watch the shockwave come off the muzzle when a friend shoots it in the prone position.

     Now I live in Texas and this year I have taken this rifle white tail deer hunting. I put down my second deer with this rifle, an 11 point buck on my father-in-law's property. (On a side note, everyone wants to hunt on his property now!) Now, part of the AR-15 fever is not only about the gun law revision that may or may not happen in the near future in this country, it's about the rifle accessories you can put on an AR-15. Illuminators, laser targeting, night vision, bipod, etc. I could not do that with this gun, and two years after I bought my Saiga rifle, Saiga Arms was bought out by Remington.

     I had heard that there are companies that still made aftermarket parts for the Saiga .308 so I checked a few websites. Initially I didn't understand what I was looking at or what some of the terms on the websites meant, so I wasn't encouraged by some of the $300 price tags I saw. I decided to go look into gun forums and found the exact names for the parts I was looking for. I went back and entered those names and what a difference! $55 for a pistol grip buttstock and $65 for a hand grip that takes rail mountings!

     The process of changing the hand grip and butt stock was interesting. All the butt stock instructions say about removing the old stock is "remove the old stock". It didn't tell you about a hidden screw under the spring latch cover! Luckily I didn't man handle the rifle but instead ran to the internet to get an answer. I removed the hidden screw and after sanding down one screw a little, I got the stock changed and tight.

     On to the hand grip. One of the screws needed to be sanded down a bit. Be forewarned, it didn't come with any allen wrenches so if you do this conversion, make sure you have a good set of hex wrenches. This is the gun with both pieces on it.

Looks great! Now to show what it will look like fully ready.
     Looks like Vera is all dressed up! What date will she go out on? Pig hunting! In areas where hogs are a nuisance, such as Texas, Alabama, Georgia, etc., you can hunt pigs all year around. With the illuminator on this rifle it will help with my night hunting and the laser helps with accuracy. Bacon and sausage coming up!

   The love of the Lord Jesus be with you this next year, and God bless!