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Sept 21 – Sept 25, 2015 : Making New Frames – Part 02 (Includes A Video)

Sept 21 to Sept 25, 2015 – Making New Frames – Part 02

I continued with the system I developed of: Chopping the quartersawn Douglas Fir decking material to nominal lengths; Sanding each board to prep them for laminating with epoxy; Ripping the precut lengths in half with my tablesaw; Glueing up the “frame kits” with System Three epoxy; Then unclamping the new frames and removing the excess epoxy and prepping them for installation into the hull.

After unclamping the frames, the first step was to level the excess epoxy to bare wood using my 8″ grinder fitted with a 36 grit sanding disc.

Once the heavy glue was removed, I followed up the grinding process with my electric palm sander and 60 grit sandpaper. This step helped smooth out the frame and remove the deep scratches that the 36 grit sandpaper left behind.

Here are the frames that are nearly prepared for fitting into the hull.

And, here is a video that illustrates what the process was like to prepare the new frames for fitment into the hull.

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Making My First Knife; An Ulu Knife.

December 23, 2014

For individuals who have spent time reading articles on this website, you have probably figured out by now that, I am not much for aesthetics.  I am a “form and function” type of person who likes and appreciates ideas and things that reflect this type of thinking. I like things that are simple and practical; not much caring for what they look like. I also like it when one object can be used for another task than what it was originally intended for. Even better is, when an object can be repurposed from its original intended use, into another completely different object of “form and function”; extending its life on Earth even farther than what was imagined for it at its creation.

Recently, I have become interested in making knives.  I am NOT interested in producing a product for sale!  Knives are incredibly important and useful tools in our lives, and I wanted to challenge my skill sets to see if I could make one.  Following my “form and function” mentality, I chose the Inuit “Ulu” knife as my first bladesmithing project. The Ulu knife is the ubiquitous “jack of all trades” blade of our northern, native cultures.  The knife design just makes sense to me!  (To learn more about Ulu knives, follow this link: The Ulu Knife Factory.)

Following is how I made my very first blade; my version of an Ulu knife.

Ulu knife designs have a curved semi-circular shape to the blade. That’s where I started with my own design.  In spying the base of my smoke detector, its diameter looked just about right for my needs.  Using a pen, I traced around the base of the smoke detector, on to a piece of heavy paper stock.

Next, I needed to create a handle for the blade.  Using a small carpenter’s square, I drew out some more lines to finish my design. Then I cut the shape out using a pair of scissors.

Before cutting into the steel that I ultimately wanted to make the Ulu knife out of, I decided to practice first on a piece of scrap 4130 chromoly sheet steel I had lying around.  I traced out the shape and cut the blank out of the sheet using my Makita grinder and a cut-off wheel, my Dremel tool with a cut-off wheel, a holesaw, and some drill bits as well.

But, as is often the case with me, once I got into the project, a different shape came to my mind.  I decided to “tweak” my original design to reflect those ideas.  In the image below, you will see the design that I came up with, and the one that I wanted to recreate for actual kitchen use.

This Ulu knife is my “practice” knife, made out of 4130 chromoly steel.

Once I had the shape finalized, I copied it to a piece of card stock paper and set it aside.

The actual working knife I wanted to fabricate out of an old, 14” diameter tablesaw blade that had been given to me by a friend.

Using my “practice knife” as a pattern, I traced around its circumference to transfer its shape to the tablesaw blade.

Next, I marked points on the design where I needed to start drilling holes to begin the cutting out process. I used a spring-loaded centerpunch to make sure that the drill bits I was planning to use, accurately started where they were suppose to, and to not wander across the surface of the sawblade.

After I had marked my starting points, using my old Shopsmith drill press, I drilled pilot holes through the sawblade at the centerpunch mark locations.

I followed the pilot holes with a “step” drill bit to increase the diameter of the pilot holes.

Then, I shifted to a one inch holesaw to remove the required material in the handhold area of the blade.

After all of the holes were drilled, I shifted back and forth between my Dremel tool, (With a reinforced cut-off wheel tightened in its chuck.), and my Makita 4” grinder, (Also with a cut-off wheel mounted to its arbor.), to cut the Ulu knife blank out of the tablesaw blade.

Once I had the knife blank cut out, I followed with fairing up the rough spots.  Again, I used my Dremel tool and my grinder to get me closer to the lines that I had drawn.  Hand files were used too!

As I was getting closer to the final blade shape, I knew that I had to think about hardening and tempering the blade.  I know nothing about this process, or even if I had to go through with it because I was using a sawblade as my stock. But, I decided to follow through with all of the usual, “normal steps” that it would take to produce a working a knife.

I sat myself in front of my computer monitor and I watched a whole host of knife making videos on YouTube and Vimeo.  I particularly focused on the ones that included the hardening and tempering process in the footage. What follows is what I came up with for my first try at this.

I drove to my local Goodwill store and I paid a grand total of $4.00 for a small crockpot.  As I watched videos online, I noticed that knifemakers pre-heated the quenching oil of their choice, (Which usually seemed to be a vegetable oil of some kind.), before dunking the blade blank into the bath.  I thought what better use of a crockpot then!  I could preheat the oil a little bit, and when I was finished with it, I could cover the oil in the crockpot with the lid, and slide everything underneath my workbench.

Because I am a 30 year veteran yacht carpenter, I have access to scrap woods like teak, cherry, mahogany, maple, and poplar.  I chose to make scales for my knife out of teak and poplar, (Which is the ubiquitous combination of woods used for cabinsoles in yachts.)

I glued up a blank of teak and poplar that I could mill the scales out of.

Then I trimmed the blank down and drilled the scales for brass pins, (Actually, brass welding rod!).

I used the drilled scales to lay out the pin holes that needed to be drilled through the knife handle area.

For the hardening process, I piled up some fire brick I have to create a crude forge of sorts.  I heated the blade up to “cherry red” using a MAPP gas torch.

When the blade was to (rough!) temperature, I quenched it in the bath of canola oil.

Once the blade had cooled back down, I placed it in my toaster oven, set at 400° F for 2 hours.

From here, I went through a lot of sandpaper to get the cutting edge where I wanted it! And, it IS wicked sharp!

Next, I epoxied the scales to the knife and shaped them to what felt good in my hand.

I added several coats of tung oil to the handle.

I also decided to glue up a “knife block” for the Ulu knife to sit at home in, when not in use. Again, I chose teak and poplar for the species of wood.

Finally, I wanted to add a “Maker’s Mark” to the blade.  I thought about this for quite a bit, and settled on a copy of a paw print of my dog, Reuben. For those that know the history of Reuben and me, they will understand and smile at the fact that Reuben has appeared, yet again, in another project of mine!

At 10 years old, I had to have Reuben “put down” the day after Thanksgiving this year.  We had a wonderful, full life together, but significant health issues had manifested themselves within Reuben’s body.  Reuben’s quality of life was affected by this.  It was time for him to move on to a healthier place, so I let him go……

A few days after I had Reuben put down, a card arrived in the mail from the vet clinic that Reuben had frequented.  It was a card of condolences, and in it was a paw print the doctor had taken from Reuben.  PERFECT!

Here is a photo of that print.

I transferred the image to my computer.

In Photoshop, I created “layers”; each of which was an outline of the pads of Reuben’s paw.

Then, I removed the background and printed out the image on to a piece of printer paper.

Next, I masked off the knife with some vinyl tape I had lying around.

On the backside of the paper that Reuben’s paw print was printed on, I heavily “scribbled” with a pencil.  Then, I cut out the little square with a pair of scissors.

I then taped the “paper paw” to the vinyl tape protecting the knife blade.

Working through a magnifying glass and using a pen, I traced the outline of each paw pad, then I removed the original drawing to reveal what would ultimately become my stencil for etching into the blade.

I am ready to “burn”!

For my electrical power source, I chose to use the rechargeable Lithium Ion battery from my 18 volt Bosch drill.

The “+ “ and “- “ signs are clearly marked on the battery which made it easy for me to figure out which lead needed to go where while etching.

To create convenient “posts” for me to connect the electrical leads to the battery, I “flattened” the ends of two short pieces of welding rod.  With this done, the welding rod “posts” clicked securely into place on the Bosch battery.

I purchased a package of four “alligator clips” from my local ACE Hardware store and made up two short electrical leads; one for “positive” and one for “negative”.  I connected the “positive” lead to the blade. The “negative” lead led to my electrode; which was a drill bit.

Next, I ripped off some “strips” of paper towel and folded them up into small square pads.  I dipped the “pad” into a solution of saltwater that I had mixed up, and then placed the saturated pad over Reuben’s paw print stencil on the blade.

Pressing down with the “negative electrode” I etched my “Maker’s Mark” into the Ulu knife.  When the pad turned black, I wiped off the debris from the blade and went at it again with a fresh pad.  I did this three times before I was satisfied with the depth of the etching.

And, the blade all cleaned up.

Here it is sitting at home in its block.

In the image below, you don’t have to look too long, or too closely, to see that the etching is off center.  I can tell you that I was very frustrated with myself for that!!!

However, my smart and lovely sister-in-law, (http://kathymoser.com), commented on the issue by mentioning the following fact. She said, “You know Barry, Reuben was a little “off center” himself.  He only had three legs which made him walk a little off center. I think this is a fitting tribute to Reuben!”  What can I say to that! Perfect!

Here is a photo of Reuben taken this past summer. He was beginning to feel his age and had begun to wind down his life here on Earth.

In this image, Reuben had been in my life for just a short period of time.  He has four legs in the photo too!

This is my favorite photograph of Reuben!  It captures all that he was! This was back in the spring of 2006.

Finally, here is the last photograph I took of Reuben, the day before he left my life.


Thanks for reading!

Sincerely,

Barry Buchanan

“Black Lab”

PS: I want to thank all of the expert knife makers who have taken the time to shoot, edit, and post their “How To” knife making videos on to the internet.  There are two knife makers I would like to specifically acknowledge, because I think their workmanship in both knife making and with a video camera are outstanding.  The first is “Trollskyy” and here is a link to his YouTube channel: Trollskyy.  The second is, Aaron Gough of Gough Custom knives.  Here is a link to Aaron’s YouTube channel: Gough Custom Knives.

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June 30, 2014 – Removing The Starboard Bilge Shoe From The Hull (Part One)

On this day, I decided to do some preliminary “poking around” to get a feel for what kind of condition “ElizaLin’s” hull was in.  Of specific interest was the area that is referred to as the “garboard / keel joint”.  On old wooden boats, this joint is notorious for breaking open and letting water in. On the wooden versions of the Golden Hind 31′, the exterior of the hull was covered with a product that I think was called, “Cascover”.  I believe this was a nylon fabric bedded into some kind of glue. On “ElizaLin”, the covering was breached along the garboard / keel joint and water had worked its way up between the fabric and the exterior surface of the plywood sheathing that makes up the hull.  This covering needed to be removed.

This is the garboard / keel joint that I am referring to, just above my fingers.

Here you can see that the original protective covering has broken down and separated from the plywood hull.

The removal of the loose covering was not much different than removing old canvas style wallpaper.  Just rip and tear!

I also did some removal of the old covering and old bottom paint with a putty knife and chisel.

To remove some of the decomposed “gunk” out of the garboard / keel joint, I used an old trick of creating a “reefing tool” out of the tang of a hand file.

I bent the tang of the file over in my shop vise.

Then, I ground a “blade” on the tang’s tip using my bench grinder.

A file repurposed to a reefing tool always works great!

I also did some exploring with my 8″ grinder; working down the old material covering the deadwood.

But, my real focus of the afternoon was to try to remove the starboard Bilge Plate Shoe.  To do this, I used my 4″ Makita grinder to clean off all of the “old scale” and bedding compound from the face of the shoe.

This work exposed the heads of a few fastenings at the very ends of the shoes.  I tried to back them out with a screwdriver, but the fasteners were just too corroded and they broke underneath the efforts of me trying to remove them.

“Plan B” led me to cut some wedges from a scrap piece of 2 x 4.

Using a hammer, I drove several of the wedges between the shoe and the hull to begin to force the mating joint apart.

This process revealed that there were other fastenings that were holding the Bilge Plate Shoe to the hull.  These fastenings needed to be located and removed for the Bilge Plate Shoe to drop away from the boat.

Here is one of those fastenings.

I cut that screw and drove more wedges between the shoe and the hull.  I didn’t get very far before I quit for the day.  The Maine mosquitoes were getting the better of me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Boat Transportation – Part One – (Video)

On June 19, 2014, I had “ElizaLin” trucked from, Knight Marine Service, located in Rockland, Maine, to The Hinckley Company in Southwest Harbor, Maine.  West Marine Transport was hired for that job and Vaughn West was perfect to work with for this phase of the project!

Here is a short music video of what “Moving Day” was like:

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Driveway Preparation

To be able to back “ElizaLin” into my driveway and into my backyard on a hydraulic transport trailer, several trees had to be removed.  A “crook” in the driveway also had to be straightened out by filling it in.

Here is an image of the entrance to my driveway.

And, looking back towards the road.

I hired a local tree surgeon to remove the trees.  But, due to the 2014 winter conditions and an ice storm, I got bumped way down the prioritized list of jobs.  I began to do some of the work myself; removing a few of the easier trees.

In this image, I have tied off the tree that I want to cut down to another tree to ensure that it would fall exactly where I needed it to.  The anchoring system was a hodge-podge of chains, a come-along, and a couple of lengths of nylon webbing.

The tree is just about ready to fall!

Perfect! (Whew!)

Removing the stump.

Finally, the experts arrived and finished the tree removal.

I cut and stacked this pile to firewood lengths.

The two large diameter maple logs in this pile I gave to a friend of mine who took them to a local sawmill to have them sliced into boards.  The rest of the logs I cut up to firewood length.

On pick up day, Joe and I levered the two large logs up on to skids, then wheeled his trailer in close to the butt ends.  Using my ATV and the winch mounted on its front end, I dragged the logs up on to Joe’s trailer.

There goes, Joe!

And, a nice clean backyard ready for “ElizaLin”!

The final step to the driveway preparation was to fill in the “crook” to straighten out the access for the long hydraulic trailer to maneuver.

The driveway work is done!

The view from the road.

The view from my backyard looking towards the road.

 

 

 

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Black Lab Adventures – 2012 Charity Fundraiser

November 13, 2012

Black Lab Adventures 2012 Charity Fundraiser

(This page will be posted until December 27, 2012, when the fundraiser concludes.)

Current Total: $1,180.00  (As of Dec 27, 2012)

THE FUNDRAISER IS NOW OVER.  THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!

I am involved with two charities. One charity was founded as a resource to help people; specifically children. The other charity was founded to help animals; specifically wolves and wolf-dogs.

 ___________________________

Alström Syndrome International

“Damlaya damlaya göl olur”  ~  “Drop by drop a lake is formed”

Alström Syndrome is a rare genetic “autosomal recessive” disorder. It is caused by a change in a gene called, “ALMS1”. Swedish doctor, Carl-Henry Alström first described the disorder in 1959. An infant born with Alström Syndrome will most likely have symptoms that effect: Vision; Hearing; Stature; Heart; Type 2 Diabetes; Blood Lipids; Liver; Kidneys; Intelligence; and Other Problems. To date, there are about 1,000 diagnosed cases of Alström Syndrome world wide.

Alström Syndrome International was founded nearly 25 years ago by, Jan and Rob Marshall. ASI is located on Mount Desert Island; right next door to where I live. You see, Rob and Jan have been my landlords for the past 6 years. I have spent time in their home helping to rebuild computers to donate to their “kids”; brainstorming web based ideas; meeting and spending time with families affected by Alström Syndrome; and I have participated in the annual, “Stuffing Envelopes” party for their own fundraiser event, each year, for the past 6 years.

Rob and Jan, have also been the caretaker of my Black Lab dog, “Reuben”; providing me the opportunity, and freedom, to ride to all of the wonderful places that I have been able to visit since 2007, (The year that I purchased my Suzuki DL-650 V-Strom.)

Here is a link that describes Alström Syndrome in greater detail: What Is Alström Syndrome?

Here is a link to ASI’s website: http://www.alstrom.org

Just a few weeks ago, the annual “Stuffing Envelopes” party was held in the Marshall home. Folding… Collating… Stuffing… Sealing… Stamping… Mailing… Pizza…

I would like to help Alström Syndrome International with more then just my talents of stuffing envelopes!

_______________________________

Loki Clan Wolf Refuge

“Lending A Helping Hand”

“If you can not give me a place to live, at least give me a place to die.”  – Chief Joseph

I literally stumbled across, Loki Clan Wolf Refuge, during one of my motorcycle riding adventures, in late June of 2012. I was studying a map, looking for rural roads that, laced their way around the White Mountain region of North Conway, New Hampshire. I found one, “thin red line”, on the map, that twisted its way through a section of woods that straddled the Maine – New Hampshire border. It looked highly promising! And, it was! But, not how I expected it to be!

The video clip below best explains what Loki Clan Wolf Refuge is, and what it does:

Since my first encounter with the wolfdogs of Loki Clan, I have returned three more times to help out where they need me to. I work alongside other volunteers; “Weed-whacking” tall grass, cutting and removing brush from the animal pens, erecting fencing for new pens, road work, building new dog houses; anything that needs to be done!

Here are some photographs of my second trip to Loki:  August Fence Party

And, my third visit:  October Fence Party

I returned to the refuge on November 10, 2012 to continue helping to build dog houses for the animals. Here is a link to a photograph album of work done that day:  November Fence Party

Here is a short clip that I shot of the wolves “singing” to each other:

Here are some special photographs that I shot from the November 10, “Fence Party”.

Here is a link to the refuge’s website:  Loki Clan/About

I would like to help both of these charities out. As a way to raise funds, I came up with what I felt was, a brilliant idea of offering up my motorcycle to be raffled off to raise money. However, friends and acquaintances quickly pointed out to me that, I couldn’t legally do that. To conduct a “Game of Chance”, I needed a Gaming License to proceed with a raffling off of my motorcycle.

I sat back on the heels of my motorcycle boots, and scratched my head for a bit; “How am I going to figure this one out, after promising both charities that I would raffle off my motorcycle, as a way to raise funds for their causes?” The answer follows below.

Embedded beneath this text are 12 “Sample” photographs. I culled through five seasons of photographs that I have shot during my adventure rides. I came up with a dozen images that have sentimental meaning to me. I felt that, if they have a sentimental meaning to me, my thoughts are, maybe they would convey, or “speak”, to other individuals as well.

1) For a donation of $10, I will send, (a link via e-mail), three full resolution images to an individual, (4000 x 3000 x 6+mb average size.). A person may choose which three images they would like to receive for their donation to these charities. Along with the three images, a free gift** of gratitude will be included with their order.

2) For a donation of $20, an individual may select any six images of their choice. I will e-mail a link where full resolution sized images can be downloaded by the individual. Along with the six images, I will include three free gifts** as recognition of gratitude.

3) For a donation of $30, an individual may choose nine photographs of their liking. Again, a link will be e-mailed to a location where those images can be downloaded. Along with the nine photographs, I will include six free gifts** of gratitude, with their order.

4) For a donation of $40, an individual will receive all 12 photographs, in full resolution size. As a way of saying “Thank You”, the individual will also receive ten free gifts** included with their order.

Important Notes To Read:

One hundred percent, (100%), of the money raised, will be equally divided between Alström Syndrome International, and Loki Clan Wolf Refuge.

This fundraising effort will conclude at 8:00pm EST December 27, 2012.

The “free gift”** will be in the form of an entry, to a drawing, where an individual will be given my motorcycle. Because of the motorcycle’s high mileage, (110,537 miles), and the amount of personal custom modifications I have made to the motorcycle, the bike has no published “book value”, or “street” value. The drawing is NOT a contest for a prize of value!

To the individual who has been determined to receive my motorcycle, they will assume the responsibility of its delivery to them, and for the removal of it from my residence. (14 Whitney Farm Road, Mount Desert, Maine 04660)

Because of the high mileage on my motorcycle, and the personal customizations I have made to it, I will not be held liable, or responsible for the motorcycle, or any part that I have made for it, in any way, once it has been determined who is to receive it as a free gift, and after it has left my residence, and is in the possession of that person. The motorcycle is being given to an individual in, “as is”, condition.

Details of my motorcycle can be seen here:  My Motorcycle/About

Added to the gift of my motorcycle will be the following:

This pile of used tires.  There is still quite a bit of tread left in all of them!

Also, a box of various spare parts, an OEM rear shock, (Needs rebuilding), an OEM Service Manual, and four homemade tools: 1) “Bearing Basher” – Used for seating a new steering stem bearings; 2) Stem nut removal and tightening wrench; 3) Socket/wrench to remove the swingarm bolt; 4) Custom wrench to remove clutch pushrod seal cover plate.

Determine what level you would like to donate to this charity fundraiser. Than, select the photographs that you would like to receive via an e-mailed link, by using the PayPal “Purchase Button” below. Within the “Instructions To Merchant” box, on the PayPal form, enter the number and description of the images you would like to receive. Within 48 – 72hrs, you will receive your images and your free gift(s).

To repeat, 100% of all money raised will be divided equally between Alström Syndrome International and Loki Clan Wolf Refuge.

(I am a “one man band” here, so please try to be patient with me as I try to juggle AND spin several plates at once!)

Thank you,

Barry Buchanan

#1 – Bar Island, Bar Harbor, Maine

#2 – Cape Breton Highlands

#3 – Gaspé Peninsula

#4 – Lac Ha! Ha!

#5 – Meat Cove

#6 – Miscou Island Lighthouse

#7 – Moncton Mud Puddle

#8 – Moose

#9 – Mount Katahdin

#10 – Rainbow

#11 – Rivière Éternité

#12 – Val-Racine

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My Motorcycle: 2007 DL-650 Suzuki V-Strom (non ABS)

November 11, 2012

I purchased my Suzuki DL-650, V-Strom on, March 31, 2007.  The day that I rode away from my local dealership, there were zero miles on the motorcycle’s odometer.  I had arrived at the dealership on a 2006, Kawasaki Concours, that I had purchased from the same store the previous spring.  I needed to have the Concours inspected so that it was “road legal”. Upon conclusion of the inspection, the Service Department Technician told me, “Your motorcycle needs new front and rear tires to pass the Maine State Inspection regulations.” At that moment, I didn’t have the money for new tires to be mounted and balanced. So, I began sitting on different motorcycles in the showroom… It was the only way that I could legally ride away from the dealership!

When I slipped my leg over the V-Strom, and grabbed hold of the handlebars, I felt an immediate connection with the motorcycle. It fit. It fit me perfectly! When I looked ahead, imagining a ribbon of tar spun out in front of me, I felt very different then when I rode my Concours, or previous to that, my 2003 Kawasaki ZZR-1200, (The ZZR was my very first motorcycle. I purchased it used in 2004, then traded it in on the Concours in the spring of 2006.). As I sat on the V-Strom, in the showroom, I clearly remember a comment that I made to myself; “I can do stuff with this bike. I can do stuff with this motorcycle that I can do with no other motorcycle. It is different. It is different in a good way!” So, I bought it. No research was done, and no test ride was needed. I just flat out bought the bike “untested” by me, in any way.

When I rode the V-Strom home, I had to weave my way around and over, many frost-heaves and pot holes that, pock marked the back roads leading to where I live. As I did so, I was grinning a very large grin, and even laughing at times! Maneuvering the motorcycle, slinging it this way and that way, through the bumps and pot holes of that early spring day, I sort of felt like I was on a set of downhill skis. The bike had “edges” to it; edges that I could carve deep turns with!  I loved the feeling! I was hooked! Unfortunately, for four days after I got my new motorcycle home, there was snow on the roads. Even though I am pretty good on a set of downhill skis, I know that any street motorcycle, including the V-Strom, is not a good traveling companion in the snow!

Five seasons later, with 110,537 miles clicked over on the odometer, I would like to share a more personal view of my motorcycle.  Below are some of the details that have evolved over the many trips I have taken with my V-Strom.

I have lost count of how many times I have dropped my bike. I have nearly lost count of how many times I have laid the bike down in the street! The first time was in the Fall of 2007 when a deer jumped out of the woods, and slammed into the right rear passenger footpeg. The deer, the motorcycle, and I, all skidded up the road on our sides. By the time I got up to survey the situation and damage, the deer was gone. She left a whole bunch of hair in the road though! Follicles of hair were also stuffed into the right passenger footpeg and the hinge area of my Pelican sidecase. The most serious laydown was in northwestern New Hampshire on an early November morning back in 2010. At a speed of 55mph, I hit frost in the road, and the bike slipped out from underneath me in a split second. The motorcycle and I skidded, and slid, close to 120 feet down the road; both of us coming to a stop in a ditch on the opposite side of the road. I picked the bike up, started it, and rode away!

All of the miles and riding experiences, on my V-Strom, helped to shape me into a better rider. The same is true for the motorcycle itself. The miles, and the experiences, shaped my bike into what it has become; a reflection of my riding style, where I like to ride, and simplicity of maintenance.

Here is a photograph of my 2007 V-Strom as it currently sits; battle scared, but ready to set out on a new adventure!

A closer look at the front wheel will reveal the following:

Custom front fender; SuperBrace Fork Brace; and Fork Boots. What can’t be seen are, a set of Race Tech Emulators sitting inside the bottoms of the fork tubes themselves.

I chose to install a Buell Ulysses headlight assembly to streamline the fairing, and to eliminate the notorious “buffeting” the V-Strom is known for. The fairing is welded sheet metal that I purchased at my local Lowe’s hardware store.

The crashbars I fabricated out of ½” Black Iron Pipe, also purchased at my local Lowe’s.

I also installed a SW-Motech skidplate. I modified it a little bit, after hitting a few rocks with it.

On one trip, I lost my oil reservoir cap. I ended up whittling a stick down to size, then wrapping the newly tapered end with electrical tape, and jamming it into the oil filler hole. I rode to a nearby motorcycle dealership, (I was on the southern shore of the Gaspé Peninsula.), with the sole of my boot, holding the temporary plug into the engine case hole. I was lucky that, the parts manager was able to find an oil cap that fit my bike! When I got home, I swore that I would never have something like this happen again! I attached the new oil cap to the frame of my motorcycle with a modified Mackerel fishing jig.

Tucked in behind the right crashbar, there is a Fiamm brand automotive horn.

In the BIG laydown I mentioned above, I ripped off the right rear passenger footpeg, and I destroyed the lower exhaust shield. I made a plug and fabricated a new fiberglass exhaust shield. I also modified both rear passenger footpegs, so that they would work with what was left of them.

The rear exhaust shield has been coated with a rubber undercoater spray paint.

In 2009, I fabricated a custom luggage rack out of steel tubing scavenged from discarded cafeteria tables from my local high school. The rack is large and strong enough to carry a Pelican 1550 case, and two, one gallon gas cans on either side of the Pelican case. The gas cans are supported by the luggage rack’s “wings” on either side.

The taillight is a LED unit I purchased from my local NAPA auto parts store. The license plate light is from a marine parts store. It is a light that a person would see on the stern of a small motorboat.

Tucked in behind the left crashbars is another Fiamm brand automobile horn. I have two of these horns mounted on my motorcycle. And, they are both wired “hot”. That means, the bike’s key does not have to be in the ignition switch for the horns to work. With the motorcycle parked, turned off, and the key in my pocket, I can “tap” the horn switch, and a loud noise will emanate from the bike. This has been particularly useful to me in getting someone’s attention quickly!

One of the fist aftermarket parts that I purchased for my V-Strom was, a decent set of “dirt style” footpegs. These have been a wonderful addition! I have always been “sure footed” while riding my bike!

Every rider eventually experiences the effects of trying to set a sidestand down on top of soft ground, (Or, soft tar for that matter!). The foot of the sidestand buries itself into the soft turf. If the rider isn’t quick enough, over the bike goes! I took care of that problem by welding an old countersprocket gear on to the base of my sidestand. After that, I never had any problems with parking on soft ground. (I don’t have any clearance issues with the SW-Motech centerstand I installed too.).

Incidentally, I modified the bottom feet of the SW-Motech centerstand. I welded short “stilts” to the feet, so that the centerstand would lift the rear wheel higher off of the ground then what the centerstand was originally designed for. I had to do this because, one season, I mounted up a set of Metzeler Karoo tires. The profile of the Karoo tire was so high that, with the motorcycle up on the centerstand, the “knobs” of the rear tire still touched the ground. I didn’t like that because it interfered with chain maintenance.

I mounted a fuse box underneath the seat.

I installed a set of Suzuki handguards that I painted to match the rest of the bike.

On the left handleguard, I installed a Datel volt meter.

At 63,080 miles, I burned out the stock Suzuki instrument cluster. Water got up inside the case that houses the gauges, and shorted the circuit board out. After doing some research, (And continuing to ride the bike about 1,200 miles without any instruments!), I settled on installing an Acewell 3901 instrument cluster. It satisfies all of my needs! Particularly important to me are, “Trip 01”, which I set and reset during each fuel stop. “Trip 02” keeps track of cumulative mileage during a trip. Currently, the Acewell odometer reads, 47,457 miles.

As a “back up”, I installed a very generic marine fuel gauge to inform me of rough gas usage. I had to electrically “trim” the gauge with resistors to obtain a workable reading. When the tank is “Full”, the fuel gauge will read at the ¾ mark. When the gauge reads “E”, the tank IS empty!

There is a 12 volt accessory socket stuffed in between those cables and wires up front. And also, the switch to operate the “High” and “Low” settings of heated grip elements I installed.

It has been one heck of a cool bike to ride all of those miles!

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