Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Day we nearly went to London

Meet Jan, she is lovely.

Jayne and Jan in Florence the Camper Van
Now Jan is a good friend of Curious Adventures, she has provided more than a few moments of fun and silliness, so when she told us that she owned a motorcycle and wanted to go to Winchester to get it, we were more than happy to make a day of it... But we did not know what was going to happen then did we?

Concerns are raised over allowing Jayne and her bottom in the van

So we loaded up Florence the Camper Van with cakes, crisps and pies and set off to Hampshire, however Carol quickly vetoed the singing of silly songs and Padre Paul cringed in the front when Jan and I stared singing Cum by arr or however the hell you spell that!

Florence with Padre Paul in the front
Now Padre Paul is not your average run of the mill Vicar, he is in fact something rather special and is in fact ordained by the same church who ordained myself. But it is always fun to head out Vicaring especially when like me, you are a swearing Nun with a motorbike fixation.

Vicar safe with children shocker!
So it was while we were trundling up the Motorway that I, Sister Sweary Jayne decided to play I Spy. My first choice was "I spy with my little eye, something beginning with C!" I was told that no one wanted to play with me because they knew that I was just being rude. So we played twenty Questions and Padre Paul proved to be really rather good at this.

Stopping at Membury Services gave us a chance to use the kitchen in the van and make a cuppa, have a pie and a banana and read a book. Biker Rock Radio DJ The Prof had lent me a book by Dean Koontz and frankly it was really not very good. The prose was poorly composed, the story line although potentially exciting, was badly developed and during the day I managed to read well over one hundred of sixty pages due to the poor nature of the writing.

Blankets and a cuppa make Jayne a happy girl

The Biker Rock Radio Outside Broadcast unit unfolds

We left Membury and continued on our journey into Hampshire and finally arrived at our Destination, the home of Jan's motorcycle, a Suzuki GP100 called Son of Dillon! The bike is blue in colour, with a matching blue top box and it was also running when we arrived. However, it does need a good clean and polish and the exhaust is a little rusty! With the machine quickly loaded into Florence we all piled back in and prepared to leave. The chap who had been looking after Jan's bike was flummoxed by a pile of Vicars and Nuns turning up, talking about Black Metal Festivals and sports bikes and to be honest, that is just how we like it!

The journey back home was cold, really really cold! The van's heater had failed us and all four of us were freezing, Carol and I sat in the back covered in blankets and still we shivered! I managed to continue reading despite darkness thanks to the dim lights in the van and my book was still failing to inspire me though and when I read out some of the poorly written prose, the laughter in the van was entirely justified. Still we ambled along the road, heading home?

The road was long and straight, Jan needed to take a turn off the M3 onto the A34, but while we were chatting, we barely noticed that it was such a long way. A very long way indeed... It was only when Carol looked up and noticed that the coming exit was for Farnborough that we realised that we had gone a little far and were in fact heading to London! So with a quick dash down some dark country lanes, bumpy B roads and forgotten tracks we found our way to Reading and the route back home. A stop for a wee was most definitely needed. But boy was it ever cold!

You never feel the cold when you soul is burning with evil
Vicar warms parishioner shocker
The motorway signs over head on the M4 told us the bad news that parts of the M5 were so heavily clogged that traffic was at a standstill, but still we headed home, joking, laughing and eating doughnuts. Thankfully when we finally hit the M5, it was all but empty and the last few miles home were rolling by. Jan learned how to flash at truck drivers! No, not like that, you dirty minded lot. As the heavily laden van trundled along the road, we would be over taken by trucks and as they went past, Jan would flash her head lights to let them know that they were safely past. Finally, bitterly cold and rather hungry, we rolled back into Weston and stopped outside a lovely Chinese take away before heading over to Jan's to eat the lovely hot food we had just bought.

It was a lovely day out, a day spent with dear friends doing silly things and enjoying being in lovely company. It is just a shame that we were all so cold on the way home! Updates on Dillon the motorcycle will be posted as soon as we can get some good pictures with Jan riding him. 

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

What a day

You may well have noticed that of late, Curious Adventures have been more curious and less adventurous and there is a reason for this, Jayne (yes OK, me) has a knackered shoulder! A knackered shoulder that makes riding her bike rather hard and painful work, after all think about how your bike steers. With counter steering, as a rider you push the side away from you where you want to go, hence the name of counter steering. Well, for those of you not familiar with the technique, please do not try steering the opposite way you want to go, it will result in you crashing painfully into what ever is not where you want to go! Counter steering is done by placing a gentle pressure upon the bar, not actually turning the bars, it works by effectively changing the push on the front wheel and banking the bike over. Now I am sure that there people reading this who have a far better understanding of the physics of this technique than I do and I would love to read how it really works, but for now that will do. Why did I mention it? Well because I just can’t do it at the moment.

So with a knackered shoulder I have been forced to endure all manner of helpful medical staff from our beloved NHS prodding, poking, pulling or pushing my bits and pieces. Most recently I have endured needles shoved deep into my muscle tissue, intense massage of my neck and exercises involving rubber bands. None of this has worked. The exercises have made it worse, the massage made it worse and as for the needles, do you really need to ask? Oh alright, yes they made it worse. All of which brings me to MRI scans. Magnetic Resonance Imagery is a fantastic science where using a combination of fantastic physics, breath taking biology and a man with a bad hair cut, the medics can have a look about inside your body with out having to slice into it like a crusty loaf!

The down side though is that an MRI scanner costs an absolute fortune and each scan costs a smaller but still significant fortune. So they are not handed out to just anyone and today I had an appointment to see if I justified having a scan. Well, that is supposed to be what today was about.

So Carol and I set off this afternoon at close to half past twelve, giving us an hour to make a journey that should only take twenty minutes. Our first stop was for fuel because my bike was showing a worrying fuel light having driven a pitiful 87 miles since my last fuel stop. With the pump droning away I filled both my and Carol’s bikes and then went and paid up the ridiculous sum wanted for a thimble full of go-go juice. Back outside, when we switched on Noreen  and tried to start the engine, it resolutely sat there refusing to burn the thimble full of petrol we had just dripped into it. We tried again and nothing happened. So we kept on trying, Carol wiggled wires and pushed and pulled switches and buttons, but still nothing. Time was counting down, forty minutes to the appointment.

We looked at each other, Noreen was going no where, Carol shook her head angrily and had a gentle word in the bikes ear. Now let’s be honest here, when Carol has a gentle word in your ear, it is wise that you listen. The bike did just that and with another push of the button, it roared into life, with just a couple of sets of traffic lights and couple of roundabouts to get through before hitting the motorway. That was until we discovered that the A370 was running at speeds only seen by your average snail! We finally got to the motorway, twenty minutes until my appointment. We raced off down the slip way and joined the busy traffic and began to make progress towards Clevedon, half way there, Noreen started to do odd things. 

Her rear light started to flash, but not in a way that is easy to explain. The rear light of the ZRX has two bulbs and they started to flash alternately, one side and then the other. The light then flicked off and relights. It flashes some more and then flashes off again. As we approached the Clevedon exit it became apparent that Noreen also had another problem, her rear tyre had decided to let all of it’s air out. We rolled to the top of the slip way, turned on to the road into the town and headed down to the roundabout, where we discovered that the tyre had totally deflated. Unfortunately, the car behind us was not completely understanding of our predicament and hooted angrily. With no real choice, we rode carefully around the roundabout, Noreen also decided that at that moment it was a perfect time to run on only three cylinders! Ten minutes until my appointment.

Fortunately there is a Shell garage just around the corner from where we pulled over, which is why we made our way there, only to discover that it had closed and was being renovated! The workmen there guided us away to another garage, but we just did not have time. So we limped Noreen, running on three cylinders and a flat tyre to the hospital. Five minutes until my appointment! We arrived, parked up and ran like buggery to get there on time and made it to reception at twenty nine minutes and thirty seconds past the hour.

The medical stuff was dealt with I walked out of the room, tears in my eyes, an intense burning pain in my shoulder and a worried Carol on my arm. Back in the car park, Noreen was sat on a flat tyre. We rolled it down the hill and out of the car park and phoned the RAC. Following a  quick chat with the call centre and we settled down for an afternoon of waiting on the pavement. Carol bought a local newspaper that took us less than ten minutes to read and we sat there, bored. Finally after an hour and twenty minutes we had a phone call from a manger at the RAC call centre who apologised for the long wait that we had enjoyed, but promised faithfully that a truck would be with us as soon as possible.

Another forty minutes passed, Carol and I considered learning to juggle to pass the time, but we were saved from this torture by Martyn, the truck driver, who phoned to ask where we were. It was great news, our Knight in orange overalls was coming, but coming from Gloucester, he had a journey time of another forty minutes. Carol and I sat there, bored, we even considered taking up knitting! Finally though, he arrived and we were able to load Noreen onto the back of the fabulous RAC truck. Martyn himself was a jolly chap and chatted all of the way home, Carol rode Sylvie back home and got the garage ready to receive a poorly Noreen. Jayne got to ride in another fabulous truck and finally at nearly seven in the evening, exhausted, Carol and I walked through our front door and sat down. It had been another curious adventure. 

Show me the way to go home, I'm tired and I want to go to bed!
I want my bike back!
No bike looks good on the back of a truck.
The urge to ride her home like that was so hard to ignore.

Monday, 8 October 2012

To oil or not to oil... Now there is a question...

Now for those of you who enjoy riding motorcycles, there is the extra pleasure of home servicing, getting your hands dirty and doing the jobs that your bike needs to stay healthy and happy. But with home servicing there is a down side, what do you do with the used engine oil? With a motorcycle like mine, the engine oil also acts as the gear box oil, it soaks the clutch plates and lines the bores. So as you can imagine, what comes out of the sump plug at the bottom of the engine is not the nice golden silky fluid that is poured in through the filler cap.

Now getting rid of used engine oil is fairly simple, as is joked about in the fabulous film (and book come to that, but I have not read it, so can't be fully sure) Fight Club, used engine makes a great lawn fertilizer! The truth though is that used engine oil is poisonous. The muck that comes out of an engine after a season of hard use is carcinogenic, it contains fragments of metal if you are unlucky and lumps of crank if you are really unlucky. It also contains the microscopic particles worn from your clutch plates and carbon particles from your cylinders, so yeah, it is pretty mucky stuff. On a serious note, really really do not pour this stuff into the environment, it is horribly dangerous to wildlife, it destroys habitats and dumping this muck out there will get you a massive, massive fine if you are caught!

So Carol and I set about an experiment, you see I had read on the internet that it was possible to use used engine oils to lubricate your chain, via the chain oiling mechanism, however with your oil full of nasty impurities who wants to spray that over the drive system of their pride and joy? So I made a filter, on the end of a funnel and we passed half a litre of dirty oil through the filter and then checked it to see what was left behind. The top filter contained the sort of detritus you find in old oil cans, but the bottom filter contained nothing but a soggy bit of oil that had not made it through. 

So the next step was to filter a little more and this is exactly what we did, so we ended up with close to five litres of filter old engine oil in a nice clean bucket! However, fitting in with our recycling ethos, the bucket was recycled too. The top was fitted into place and into this I added a little soap dispenser pump and promptly pumped a small sample out into a specimen bottle. Now you may be wondering why I did this, but lets carry on with what I did first before I explain it.

Taking the specimen bottle, I gave it a damn good shake and made sure that any nasties were held in suspension with in the fluid and then taped a very strong neodymium magnet to the side. I then sat it on its side and left it for a week. By doing this, I could then examine that part of the specimen bottle for ferrous particles by gently tipping it and leaving any bits stuck in the magnetic fields. 

Now you can ask if you have to why I did this? The answer my dears is to look for steel fragments, anything small enough to pass through the filters that could potentially damage my chain. After a week, the magnet was surprising in its complete lack of ferrous particles stuck to it. So that leaves us with a bucket of oil and a fairly clear idea that it is well filtered. 

My next step was to contact our old friends at Tutoro Chain Oilers, and ask their opinion and other than a few suggestions as to what may be useful additives, they say why not give it a try. So that leads me to this point and a question for you folks out there in Curious Adventure land. 

Do you think that used engine oil makes a good chain lube for use in your automatic chain oiler? Have you done it and does it prevent rust and keep your chain healthy or does it just spray a poisonous nasty mess onto you bike? So come on folks, don't be shy. Tell us what you think?


Tutoro Auto Chain Oiler as fitted to Sylvie

Tutoro Auto Chain Oiler as fitted to Noreen