More Goldwing updates

Well, I spent a good part of Sunday disassembling, soldering, drilling, and reassembling the Goldwing. I removed the speaker grilles and panel and the top shelter in about 10 minutes. I never really set out to be good at disassembling the bike, but when you’re particular like me and you want things just so, that’s just part of the deal. First, I replaced the power jack for the GPS with a barrel-style connector (center pin positive, housing negative) as it’s smaller and less noticeable when the GPS isn’t plugged in. I also replaced the aux input cord with a longer cord so that I could connect the stereo output from the XM radio into the sound system.

On the Goldwing’s dash below the key and above the gas filler cap is a rectangular logo, which I removed. I modified a circular RAM base to fit there, made a backing plate for strength, and bolted it in place. I am hoping that the GPS will vibrate less there than when attached to the RAM mounts on the handlebars. Time (and a quick ride) will tell.

Now for the more serious mod. I removed the instrument cluster and the triple tree cover so that I could get to some wires for the turn signal cancel unit. I found the wires, cut away a little insulation, and soldered a wire to each of them. I routed the wires down to the left side of the fairing. I also found the wire I needed on the stop light relay under the seat and soldered a wire there. I also ran that wire up to the left side of the fairing. The fourth wire was in the turn signal switch connector, which is in the left fairing. Now I have all four wires I need. I verified that the stop light wire was correct with my meter, as it reads 0 volts until the brake lights are on, then it reads 12 or so. I connected the wire from the stop light relay to the coil on a small relay through a diode to prevent feedback. The other side of the relay coil connects to one of the wires from the cancel unit. The other two wires connect to the NO contacts on the relay. Why would I do all of this work, you ask?

The Honda turn signal cancel design is going to get someone killed, and I don’t want that to be me. The turn signal cancels in two ways: after completing a turn, the signal will cancel; or it will cancel after a set amount of time (speed based). I put my signal on well in advance of the turn so that drivers behind me have plenty of notice that I’m turning. If you put the signal on and the cancel unit decides it’s been blinking long enough, it will turn them off. NOT GOOD, especially when you’re waiting to turn left on a two-lane highway and now you realize that you’ve basically stopped in the middle of the road with no signal to indicate ANYTHING. This mod resets the countdown timer when you are braking, and if the brakes are on, it is being continually reset. It will only count down when the brakes are released so you can indicate your turn in advance and not have the turn signals mysteriously stop blinking.

One less thing to worry about while riding, and there is plenty to be aware of while you’re on the road.

new parts on order

I just received some 3/16″ black neoprene rubber to be turned into a front fender mudflap. There are aftermarket fender extensions available, but there are a number of reports of cracked rear fenders after the extensions were installed. Some folks surmise that the extensions are catching too much wind and putting more pressure on the fender mounting points than they were designed to take. I’m going to make a fairly flexible rubber mudflap that won’t catch too much wind but will be curved enough to help hold at least part of it’s shape while moving. It should keep mud and road debris off the lower cowling and for a lot less money than the other extensions.

Also, a late addition to my over-the-road-toolkit is a Pocket Tire Plugger by Stop-N-Go. It’s a very compact kit that allows you to patch a hole in a tubeless tire without removing it from the wheel or even removing the wheel from the bike. Since two of the primary three reasons for being stranded on a bike are a flat tire or a dead battery, I’ve done what I can to cut those risks down. Now, I can patch a flat tire and pump it up using the Cyclepump Adventure 12v pump. The battery meter will help me to ensure the battery and charging systems are in good shape and hopefully to spot a problem before it turns a ride into a hike.

The third one is running out of fuel, and the Goldwing has a pretty hard to miss fuel gauge, so I can’t blame running out of gas on anyone but myself – and since I don’t intend to push the Goldwing around I WILL be watching.

And the projects continue…

I decided that the battery tender pigtail coming out through the left-hand side panel opening wasn’t neat enough. Since there is a power distribution/fuse block behind the side panel there isn’t enough room to tuck it back inside, so I moved it. I drilled an elongated hole and brought the lead into the left-hand passenger cubbyhole. Yes, the cubbyhole isn’t completely weather-tight now, but the hole is very close to the size of the wire, and it’s protected by the seat. The advantage is that it’s completely out of sight except when it’s needed.

I purchased an LED voltmeter from Digital Meter to help monitor the battery condition and decided to install it in the right-hand panel, below the lock for the panel pocket. It will be wired directly to the battery (fused, of course) so that it will operate even if the bike is off. Anything less than about 12.5 volts with everything off is indicative of a problem, and anything less than 13.5 volts while moving is also indicative of a problem. Early warning of problems is easily worth the cost of the meter. It works great and is easily readable.

I removed the top shelter to run the wiring for the voltmeter and to try and improve the shielding over the cruise control actuator. I hadn’t planned on becoming good at removing the top shelter, so I really hope this will be the last time for a while.   I riveted on a ground lead for the shield and soldered a ring terminal on the other end that fit under one of the bolts holding down the electronics.     Ohmmeter showed a good connection to frame ground.   Also, I wrapped several of the wire bundles in heavy-duty aluminum foil.   Hopefully, both the good ground and the wrapped wire bundles will cut out the cruise control noise from the audio system.

Weather permitting, I will reinstall the top shelter tomorrow and see if I’ve fixed the audio noise problem.   I sure hope so, ’cause if it’s still there it’s going to the dealer under warranty.

And the projects begin…

I finally decided to tackle a project I had been avoiding but needed to accomplish that involved removing the top shelter on my Goldwing. It isn’t simple, but if you are organized and careful it isn’t too bad. Since I’m writing this afterwards, I would say that removing the top shelter should take 15-20 minutes after having done it once.

I removed the top shelter and the first task was to run 12v wiring to power my Garmin 2610 gps. I know there is 12v power available at the left pocket, with plenty of current available, but I wanted to be able to turn the gps on without turning on all of the accessory circuits as well. Also, I needed uninterrupted power for an LED voltmeter that uses such a small amount of current that I will leave it on all the time. It will be nice to use at the voltmeter to get an early warning of battery problems before you wind up stranded. Installing that is another project, I’m sure that’s a surprise.

Second task was to adjust the slack out of the cruise control cable. I tied string to the 8 and 10mm open-end wrenches so that I could retrieve them if they were dropped and I marked the top of the adjuster barrel with a sharpie pen so I could easily count the number of turns. I had read several posts about this adjustment and the consensus was that 3-4 turns was about right. I decided to try 3 turns and that was right for my bike. Before the adjustment, the speed would drop 6-8 mph and then climb back to the set speed.

Third task was to put a shield over the cruise control actuator. There is a medium-pitch sound in the audio system when the cruise is active that changes pitch when the cruise is maintaining the set speed. Basically, this makes the audio system unusable when the cruise is active – on a long trip this is exactly what the audio system is for. I made a shield out of thin sheet aluminum and cover the edges with self-adhesive weatherstripping since the edges are sharp. There are a lot of wire bundles around the cruise control actuator and I don’t want my shield cutting into any of them – nothing good could possibly come from that.

I positioned everything and buttoned it back up, hooked up the gps, and headed out to test my wrenching. The gps works well and will be a useful addition on a long trip. The cruise works just as it should, engaging and maintaing the set speed without any noticeable drop in speed. Why this can’t be adjusted properly I don’t know, as the volume of forum posts indicates it is a common problem. However, I was only 2 for 3. The cruise still causes noise in the audio system. Maybe my ground connection on the shield wasn’t good, or maybe I should wrap the audio system wire bundle in heavy aluminum foil to provide additional shielding.

First ride of Spring

I took the first (OK, three rides, actually) ride today. The thermometer passed 70 on the way to 75 and that was just too much of a temptation to resist. The first trip was to the post office, where a wireless PCI card for my Powermac was waiting – a useful trip even though it was a 25+ mile ride and the post office is only 4 miles from home.

After the first ride I decided to complete a mod that I had planned to finish over the winter. There are bumps molded into the trunk bottom whose apparent function is to align the trunk lid, but they will quickly wear through the paint. I ordered some 3/4″ diamater self-adhesive teflon discs from McMaster-Carr (page 3327, item number 7801A33) and today I applied them on the trunk lid where the lid contacts the trunk bottom. Others have made similar changes and their reports over time indicate that the teflon works well – trunk closes properly and no paint wear.

The second trip was to the hardware store to get a replacement bulb for the reverse light on my F150. The hardware store is about 6 miles away and this trip was about 35 miles. Apparently I’m incapable of going directly to and from a destination.

The third and final trip was to a wide circle of asphalt that I use for figure 8 and slow turn practice. I spent 30 minutes practicing slow-speed handling and re-familiarizing myself with the clutch, brake, and throttle. That kind of practice leads to good control and precise handling, even at very low speeds where most riders are not as proficient as they should be. More riders should practice slow-speed maneuvers – their riding at all speeds would improve.

Fetching the Wing – part 4

I got up Wednesday morning and it was FOGGY. There was no real hurry so I had a nice breakfast and coffee with my parents. After the sun had burned off some of the fog I decided to get going. There was a lot of condensation on the windshield as I rode through the fog, lights on high beam to try and be as visible as possible. When I got to Columbia City on 30 west of Fort Wayne, the fog was almost gone.I bought gas In Plymouth and finished the trip home, arriving at my house shortly after 12 noon.

The first adventure with this bike is over, but I can’t wait for my first long trip on this bike. Stay tuned.

Fetching the Wing – part 3

The dealership, HDL of Shadyside, had everything ready to go except for a few signatures and a check. He went over everything on the bike and verified I knew how to get back to I-70 west. It was overcast amd rain was moving up from the south so I got going without wasting too much time. I thought that I could avoid getting wet by making a quick trip to Columbus. I was heading north from there and would have been able to put some distance between myself and the rain.

As I got closer to Columbus the skies started to clear and when I took the 270 bypass around to the north the sun was out. I took OH-23 north, intending to take US-30 west to Fort Wayne. I was starting to get a bit low on gas and since I didn’t know the range I didn’t want to get too low. Pushing an 800+ pound bike isn’t something I wanted to do – especially since it would be really dumb to run out of gas the first time I rode it. I thought that there would be plenty of places to get gas on US-30, since on US-30 west of Fort Wayne you cannot help but pull into a gas station. Well, I was wrong. There was no gas station in sight, the low fuel light was on and I was getting concerned. Finally, I decided to leave US-30 and head for Findlay. But, just 4 or 5 miles north of US-30 a small town had gas and I filled up to continue the trip.

I wound up at my parent’s house at about 2 in the afternoon, 300+ miles from Shadyside. The bike had performed flawlessly and was a joy to ride. Comfortable, great handling, smooth power, and plenty of range makes it a real cross-country machine. You can rack up the miles on this bike. Pizza for dinner (naturally) and a nice visit with my parents made this a great day.

Fetching the Wing – part 2

We left Chicago headed for Gary, Indiana (I travel to all the best places). We dropped off some passengers and picked up some replacements at what can best be described as the parking lot of a building that formerly was a tool distribution operation. Shortly afterwards we were back on I-65 south, our next stop to be Lafayette, Indiana. College students were heading back after the summer break.

Next was the bus station in Indianapolis. It seems that bus stations were built in the 40’s and 50’s and immediately thereafter a complete ban on improvements or maintenance was put in place. I’m fairly sure that rolling a rag, a broom, a trash can, and some random cleaning chemicals around the building does not constitute cleaning, at least not by my definition – maybe your definition is different. There is a small counter that sells substances that might be called food, but again your definition may differ from mine. There was a sign hanging from the ceiling that said “Traveler’s Paradise”. I’m familiar with the concept of poetic and literary license, but i think this was way across even those blurred lines. You could get some popcorn, made in one of those poppers that have clear plexiglass sides so you can see the enticing popcorn inside. But, this one was different. It didn’t look like it had been cleaned since the early days of the Carter Administration and the popcorn inside may actually have been made since the turn of the century.   With all the grease running down the plexiglass “windows” it was hard to tell exactly how fresh it was.   Despite the temptation, I decided to pass.

If I were shopping for jewelry, however, the carefully hand-printed sign saying “Fine Jewery” would have definitely caught my eye. I could have my choice of stylish rings for the bargain price of $3.99 and a matching pair of earrings would have added only $2.99. I’m surprised the line isn’t running outside the building and around the block, but I’m clearly not a marketing person. Maybe the thought of green skin underneath the ring and around the earlobes was a deterrent.

I had 3 hours to kill (waste) in the Indianapolis station and then we were on our way to Columbus, Ohio. At this station, I was actually to take the same bus on to Wheeling, so I was given a reboarding pass. Apparently, passengers that were on the bus when it comes into a station are given priority when continuing onward. How nice. After an argument with a large black woman that thought I was cutting in front of her in the reboarding line when she was in the boarding line, we continued on to Wheeling. By now it was about 3am or so, and most people have been traveling for a while and are in need of freshening up. I sat in the front of the bus, having been previously warned about sitting too close to the onboard “facilities”. I would like to have had my seatmate use soap and a washcloth but, sadly, it was not to be, and apparently had not been for some time. Having the air conditioning vents next to the window frame was a saving grace.

Finally, we arrived in Wheeling, pretty close to our scheduled arrival time. Just around the corner was a coffee shop and a fresh cup of coffee with a bagel was just what the doctor ordered. I called the dealership and soon was at the dealership taking delivery of my black 2006 Gold Wing.

Fetching the Wing – part 1

I decided to take a bus trip. I couldn’t find an airline flight into Wheeling, WV or anywhere really close and Greyhound goes directly to Wheeling. Seemed reasonable, and the price was too – $49.00. As I was to find out, the bargain price was only part of the cost.

For some reason that I cannot now fathom, I chose to start my trip at 95th and the Dan Ryan in Chicago. Let’s just say that the location isn’t too traveler-friendly. You get to wait for the bus standing outside on the sidewalk – rain or shine. It did both, and at the same time, too.

Now for the seat lottery. When a bus pulls up, there is apparently supposed to be a esp-type feeling that this bus is your bus because I didn’t see any other way to decipher it. And the really good part – Greyhound sells as many tickets for a bus as they possibly can, not concerned in the least that a bus has a finite number of seats. If you don’t divine the proper bus and wind up in the wrong line, there may not be a seat for you when you figure out the correct bus. But, don’t worry, Greyhound will take care of you. You can wait on the sidewalk for the next one. It may be an hour from now, it may be four hours from now, it might be 12 hours – who knows? It might rain, or shine, or snow, or sleet, ar all of them. Your next thought is – I’ll just get a refund and find another way to get there, but Greyhound has that covered too. No refunds. What a great business model – sell as many tickets as you can, knowing all the while that you don’t have enough seats, and then have a no refund policy. No wonder the number of passengers traveling by bus is climbing and the airlines are having trouble filling seats.

I did finally get on the bus, although there never was a sign anywhere that indicated where it was going. I could have been going to Des Moines, but at least I would have been leaving 95th and the Dan Ryan. That may have been good enough.

Decided to get a Gold Wing

I actually intended to buy a Gold Wing when I bought the VTX. But, I really liked the big v-twin and the Neo look was distinctive. I’ve made a lot of changes to the VTX since I got it but the trips I took and the rented/borrowed bikes I rode showed me the differences between cruisers and tourers. Even with saddlebags, a windshield, and a cruise control (throttle lock) the VTX is not the bike (for me) for a long trip over several days in many different kinds of weather.

The Gold Wing is that kind of bike for me. So, I started looking around to find a good price and for once, I was actually buying a bike at a time of the year (late August/early September) when you can get a good price. The riding season is slowing down in the northern parts of the US and the manufacturers are introducing the new model year bikes. Dealers want to clear out the current model year bikes and the prices reflect that.

I got a good deal from HDL of Shadyside, and planned to pick it up the Tuesday after Labor Day. I planned to ride to my parent’s house in Indiana, stay overnight Tuesday, and then finish the trip home on Wednesday.

Let’s just say it was an adventure.