A random collection of stuff that changes now and then, starting with my favourite old motorcycle....
The XT500 was introduced to the North American market in 1976 and continued to be manufactured and supplied until 1989 in Italy and Germany. To meet environmental legislation in the U.S.A (EPA Clean Air Act) the 1980 and 1981 US model required a special CDI and sealed carburetor idle mixture screw. In all other World markets (Canada, Australia etc.) the XT500 G and H model retained the standard points ignition. The 1981 XT500H was the last model marketed in North America.
In 1982 the XT500 was replaced for all of North America by the XT550 although the XT500 in the standard configuration (magneto/points ignition) continued to be manufactured and sold in several European countries until 1989.
For standard XT500 models there are no impossible to fix electronics or computers. The XT500 has a rugged roller bearing engine including camshafts....easy to adjust valve gear, and generally easy maintenance, along with absolute bullet-proof reliability. And it's small enough for an old guy whose legs seem to be getting shorter......
I first bought this bike in 1993 and over the years I've put it into good enough condition to qualify for "Collector" plates as a vintage machine, although it's not just a collectors display piece, it's a working and functional trail-bike that gets used almost every day in the summer.
Around 1998 I decided I should have something more "modern" and more capable.
On the left is my 1994 Suzuki DR650...a huge, powerful and heavy bike too big for me and my trail-bike habits. On the right my 1996 Suzuki DR350s...a very nice bike. I can't remember exactly why I parted with it, but it was a mistake.
In the spring of 2012 I made one last try at a newer and more modern Dual-Sport motorcycle and I purchased this beautiful DRZ400s:
In the week after I bought it I installed dozens of accessories and tires, but only a short time later my suspicions were confirmed that it was simply too much bike for a old, short, trail-bike rider. I got tired of picking it up and it was gone by the end of summer.
Thankfully my old and faithful XT500 was still in the shed, and once again I reverted back to the only bike I can ride in safety and confidence. It doesn't need fancy accessories, you just get on it and go.
For 25 years this XT500 has taken me to many mountain tops and remote places and nothing beats the confidence of knowing I understand it completely, and I can fix it easily. In all those adventures it has never let me down. Having confidence in your bike is especially important if you like to ride alone.
I do have another bike in the shed that I enjoy too and it's a 2007 Yamaha XT225. Sometimes I call it my "little" bike, but in reality it too is larger than the XT500. But it's light, the seat is low and it has electric start. My daughter and I often ride together and the good gas mileage from smaller bikes expands the range.
We've had some great rides together to some of the local mountain tops, such as Mount Baker on the left and Grey Creek pass last year in the fall.
Maybe it's not as practical, or easy to use, but the XT500 is still my favourite.....
It's often said that the XT500 is a difficult machine to start....and this is true if you are used to small 2 stroke kick-start motorcycles, or a modern electric start bike, but with a little technique the XT500 is a reliable and sure starter.
If you want to know the secrets to starting a big-bore 4 stroke single....click here.
The XT500 electrical and ignition system are simple but reliable and easy to understand. Spend some time on this page for some knowledge I've collected over the years. here.
The Triumph Dragster
Back in the 1960's I helped my brothers build a Triumph dragster using a rigid frame triumph chassis and a highly modified Triumph 650 engine. It was bored out, with Johnson Motors cams, big pistons, lightened valve gear and very rare 2" Amal GP carburetors.
The construction took place in the family garage, and the testing on the front street to the delight of the neighbours.
The picture on the right shows my brother (right) with some other drag racers at Deer Park Raceways near Spokane in 1968. All the bikes ran Avon drag slicks.
My little machine shop
In my High-School years is was common to be taught "Industrial Arts" especially if (like me) your apptitude testing determined that you should "do something with your hands" rather than your brain.
In those days the shop courses offered exposure to real machining equipment including lathes and drill presses. After my initial session running a real South-Bend lathe, I was hooked and the possiblities seemed endless. A lathe was very appealing to a teenager who loved to build machines and repair broken items and I promised myself I'd have a lathe one day.
I've never lost that interest and a small workshop is a key element in my life. I spend many happy hours making gadgets, motorcycle parts and building strange machines.
Here's a page on a project for dividing a workpiece on a milling machine the easy way.
And here's another page on a tailstock die-holder for my 7x10 mini-lathe:
Owning dogs is sometimes not an easy thing. On one hand they offer you years of companionship, love and good fun as well as inspiring you to do things like climb mountains, explore trails, take trips to the lake and even chase gophers. They become part of your family, your best friends, and always ready to make you smile. However their shorter lifespan almost always means someday you will have to face losing them. Although that occasion is sad and hard to bare it's in exchange for thousands of great days and many years of fun and pleasure.
And making sure they have a full and healthy and happy life is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
If you like dogs as much as we do, you could have a look at this page for the story of Tia and Grover.
And if you'd like to see our NEW DOG 'PATTY' have a look here.