COVID-19 and Trip Reset

Been sheltered in place in Santa Clara County, California, USA, to date a total of 14 weeks; family continues to be well and safe, lots of victory gardening in our edibles plot, and grinding away at projects that didn’t get purged before the Grand Canyon.

Casa de Lance has been sold, as has Mirthmaker the sailboat, the Jeep is under the knife, the F350 XLT truck is getting prepped for sale, and am undergoing yet another purge and trip reset to adapt to COVID-19 uncertainty.

Recently found myself bamboozled after allowing lust and expectations to wander, then quickly ejected with a pang of jealousy for the first time ever. It’s really done a lot to fire up motivation and get hyper-focused on certain priorities, in particular to keep moving along.

As the ‘ol adage rings true, most problems can be solved with a very long bike ride. Thus, as part of the trip reset am pivoting to venture out again with a rather ultralight modus operandi: motorbike. At the moment there appear to be 2 scenarios: first is to ride originating from within and only the domestic US (due to land border closures) on perhaps a cruiser or street bike, otherwise second, if able to try for the southern hemisphere eclipse, would likely fly to Chile before the end of 2020 and acquire a bike there for the return trip adventure.

Learned an African proverb to keep in mind: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Inspiration on the web:

Be well, friends. -Manolo

Sold! (5) 37×12.5 MTR Load Range E on HMMV 24-bolt paired 8×6.5 double beadlocks

For sale are (5) 37×12.5R16.5 Goodyear MTR Load Range E tires, mounted and balanced on military HMMV 24-bolt (paired) double bead lock runflat wheels with 8×6.5 rim bolt pattern.

Ready to bolt on and run; bee’s knees heaviest duty humvee wheels with the 24-bolt (paired) configuration and radial Load Range E tires. Roughly 200lbs in static weight per corner.

Also including a set of (4) 2.5″ wide aluminum wheel spacers for SRW rigs, as these HMMV rims are original military construction and not re-centered.

2 MTRs tires are new with 95% tread; other 3 including spare have 10 year old date codes, no cracks nor defects, 90% tread.

Clears Ford, Dodge front hubs and FF rear.

$1300 USD

KTM 530 EXC-R Adventure Build

So it begins.. added to the fleet, a 2008 KTM 530 EXC-R plated CA dirtbike. Taken delivery with relatively low hours & miles (180 hours; 3850 miles | 6200km) on the XC4 motor, she appears to have solid potential from the initial baseline of mechanicals and fluids.

2008 is the first year of the new generation XC4 motor. It’s a 510cc (31.1cid) 4-stroke thumper with 95mm (3.74in) bore x 72mm (2.83in) stroke at 11.9:1 compression ratio, with a 4-valve overhead camshaft. KTM split the crankcase lubrication into 2 separate oiling compartments, one for motor oil and another for gear oil. Both are specified to use 10w-50 4T motor oil, so there are 2 filler caps and 2 drain plugs with screens. Both engine and gear oil are checked with the motor cold, where the engine oil @0.6L (0.6 qt) is sighted through the glass and gear oil @0.9L (1 qt) is checked by removing a plug to ensure oil has reached its proper fill level. Am running a K&N oil filter in the engine’s pressure lubrication system with 2 rotor pumps.

The 530 is another carbureted bike for analog fuel delivery (prior bike was a 2006 KTM 450 EXC with RFS motor), where Death Valley’s elevation ranging from below sea level 0 to over 9000′ and up, will be proving grounds for jetting feasibility and AFR mixture screw range. Home tune elevation is at 100′.

First is an explanation of the build logic and intended use. As COVID-19 crushes the US to the point we’re banned from entering foreign countries and unable to cross many international borders, am leveraging the ability to still travel domestically and explore the vast USA. This bike is a pilot build for ultralight adventure travel on a dual sport, and my eyes are on the western half of the trans-American trail (TAT).

The build style as usual will be a ‘nothing fancy’ fitout, and the bike will certainly not be babied. Determination at DIY goes as far as reasonably possible, and do recognize the safeguard of utilizing a KTM or general motorcycle shop. Parts will also not necessarily be strict OEM or splurges as the expectation is to ‘run what ya brung’ and most importantly to get out there even on a budget. Much of what gets purchased and utilized on the bike is being documented, reviewed, and linked in some form.

Starting with a tear down, then assessing the inherited aftermarket bits and addressing issues from the previous owner:

When i briefly test drove the bike before purchasing from the previous owner (a self proclaimed non-mechanic, i totally appreciate his honesty), the sprocket guard (machined aluminum, orange anodized) had a visibly wonky runout to it. I first noticed it looking down as I got on the throttle out of a turn, feeling the back tire flex (it was practically flat) i could see the sprocket guard wobbling wildly like an eccentric.

Luckily, as i suspected after pointing it out and checking the shaft for play in the seller’s driveway (it had none), turns out during my tear down i find the dome compression washer is on backwards (it was mistakenly facing the guard) which caused the guard to sit off center as seen in the score marks on the guard. It was so FUBAR the guard was rubbing its way through the master link and threatened to foul it into a chain whip. Was also an opportunity to note the previous owner ran a 13T front sprocket with the 49T rear, where the first is 2T smaller than factory and probably how he liked it setup for tight narrow PNW trails, as a big 6’4″ rider.

Drivetrain is being replaced with 14T/49T gearing and fresh O-ring chain. Steel front sprocket, aluminum rear sprocket, non cushdrive hub, and re-greased chain tensioners and lock nuts with anti-seize.

With the chain off to service sprockets, the back wheel can easily come off for inspection. Right away, found a bunch of loose spokes in particular on the drive side. To true on the bike, set a magnetic base dial indicator with roller tip on a plate of steel to measure lateral runout, then over the top to measure radial runout from inside diameter of the rim. Then took the 7mm wrench and smacked all the spokes for an indication of tension by frequency tone. The goal is to bring each side’s spoke tension within a close hi-lo range, to achieve evenly distributed tension and therefore the most robust equilibrium of a spoked wheel.

Moving on to the tail and aluminum subframe of the bike, noticed the left rail had a significant downward kink. Took a cheater bar to straighten it out, and noted this area of the bike will certainly need reinforcement, bracing, and gusseting in order to support any sort of pannier load. Then drilled and routed wiring for enduro style flush taillights by Sicass Racing in the rear fender.

clean plastics and Acerbis 24L (6.3gal) plastic tank

Sold! 1997 F350 XLT 4×4 CCLB SRW

1997 Ford F350 XLT 4×4 CCLB SRW, turnkey ready and custom setup and prepped for a truck camper. *Sold July 6, 2020*

2nd owner of this clean, 4-door crew cab 8’ long bed (CCLB), with 1997 being the last year of the old body style (OBS) generation F350. 4×4 single rear wheel (SRW)

Big block V-8 petrol 460 cubic inch (7.5L) EFI engine @213k miles, E4OD automatic transmission, Dana 60 solid front axle with manual locking hubs, manual shift 2-speed transfer case (2hi-4hi-N-4lo), Sterling 8.25” full floating rear end, diesel dually rear leaf spring swap, rear airbags, Happijac tie down system, 168” wheel base, SRW 4×4, dual fuel tanks (16gal rear + 19gal front = 35gal total) with working fuel tank selector. 

CA truck, no rust nor rot, XLT trim with super clean grey cloth interior, nonsmoker, comfortably seats up to 6 adults, power windows & locks, tinted windows, sliding rear cab window, working cruise control, cold A/C, Kenwood headunit with remote, clean CA title in hand, 3 sets of factory keys with remote fobs and keys to locking gas caps.

Turnkey ready, needs nothing, everything works safely; slide in your camper, tie it down, and embark on your adventure!  Passed enhanced CA smog check on rolling dyno Sept 5, 2019. 

Cash in hand for test drive, sold as is. $7500 USD | contact: manoloalsol2020@gmail.com

Fitout* for truck camper and upgrades over factory 9200lb GWVR:

Rear leaf spring swap (5-leaf pack) from a Ford F350 dually 4×4 diesel Centurion (spring code F3TA TA EW 33 94), all new Nolathane main eye bushings and u-bolts; topped with factory overload leaf spring

Air-Ride rear leveling airbags, individual pneumatic circuits and valves, 5-100 PSI working pressure

285/75R16 (33” tall) Michelin LTX A/T2 Load Range E tires (10-ply), 95% tread, DOT 0914 date code, on factory 8×6.5 lug Alcoa aluminum rims painted black, factory steel spare under the truck bed, and bottle jack under the hood on the passenger side fender

Wireless Tire Pressure & Temperature Monitoring  System (TPTMS)

Wide tow mirrors with convex upper sections

Slotted front disc brake rotors and heavy duty pads and shoes

K&N air intake (CARB legal), ignition tune up with MSD coil (CARB legal) cap and rotor, factory muffler and dual exhaust for quietly rolling in & out of campgrounds

Happijac frame mount tie down system (set up for Happijac Quik-load turnbuckles)

Reese Titan Class V 2.5” receiver hitch rated to 18k lbs GTW

Electronic trailer brake controller

Auxiliary 7-pin trailer plug in bed

Auxiliary front pair driving/fog lights, rear pair backup lights; 3 switches in cab

Cab overhead clearance lights

CB antenna with magnetic mount and coaxial cable; add CB radio to communicate with wagonmaster and tailgunner in a caravan

Sold with removable mesh tailgate for when camper is off, including ¾” plywood landing pad in bed

New starter & heatshield blanket

New inverted-Y steering links and all new ball joints and frontend alignment

Windshield replacement (scheduled early July through insurance with Safelite autoglass)

Sold as is.  $7500 USD | contact: manoloalsol2020@gmail.com

*affiliate links included if interested in similarly building

*Sold July 6, 2020*

For Sale: Fuel Meister II Dual Biodiesel Processor

If you’ve ever wanted to make B100 biodiesel at home (using lye and methanol to react with FFA to drop out glycerine) and help save the world, am selling a used Fuel Meister II Dual tank biodiesel reactor.

Made in USA | $1000 USD | contact manoloalsol2020@gmail.com

Complete system along with WVO and methanol and lye to begin making B100 biodiesel – including full suite of instructions and CD-ROM, oil pump, a barrel of methanol, bricks of lye (NaOH sodium hydroxide), titration kits and methoxide chart, precision scale, liquid volume measuring tools, a barrel of filtered WVO that has been settling for months, and over a dozen settled cubies of WVO all from the same restaurant.



Acquired this entire Fuel Mesiter II Dual with second expansion tank, from a truck driver that made biodiesel at home for his big rig. I took delivery of everything related to the system, including all tools and raw materials, added more accessories for pre-filtering WVO, but had to put the system in storage before i could process a batch.

Located in San Jose, California. The conical reactors are lightweight and just bulky, but the barrel of methanol and the barrel of settled WVO are heavy. Team lift into the back of a pickup, or we’ll load with ramps. $1000 USD | contact manoloalsol2020@gmail.com

In particular interesting for VW TDI owners, because the factory fuel systems in these vehicles are already B100 compatible.

PSA: Wear double eye protection!

Public service announcement: wear double eye protection when grinding metal!

Been cutting, welding, and grinding away at a steel lumber rack for the truck in these hot summer days, and had a flaming spark of debris bounce off my cheek behind wrap-around sunglasses, and lodged into my left eye cornea. Despite a PPE suite of earmuffs, cap, dust mask, eye-wear, and midday swelter, was still insufficient at preventing a metal foreign body from finding a way in; best to add a secondary face shield and goggles. No amount of flushing and rinsing under the sink nor shower could clear the object, as it was about the size of a ballpoint pen dot and visible in the mirror just outside of the pupil diameter.

The following morning, was able to have it extracted by an optometrist who would first locally numb the eye surface, and then flicked the metal out with a large needle tip. Now for this first part, I wasn’t so sure how it was going to go down before it happened.

In an optometry setting, the only fixture is the chin pad and forehead stop as part of the eye examination rig. Nothing holds the eye lid open nor anything clamps the eyeball; so all i had was my intuition to stare at some imaginary point in the distance behind her head and try not to move or blink.

Then she would scrub out the rust ring crater with an Alger brush, an electric whirring device resembling a tiny burr bit, and lastly prescribed moxifloxacin 0.5% eye drops from the pharmacy. I’m expected to make a full cornea recovery without any collateral halos or floaters in my vision.

Interestingly enough, at one point I asked if she could tell that I had LASIK in both eyes (roughly 14 years ago, which was such a positive experience it literally changed my life and subsequent lifestyle), and upon another look through her examination tools, she stated how outstanding my outcome appeared as there is no visible scaring from the flap incision, which at the time was cut with a blade; this was in Taiwan.

Don’t be a dork, wear that PPE, or as motorbikers say, all gear all the time (AGATT).

Alger brush

Soquel Demonstration State Forest Flow Trail

Earning those turns mountain biking in Soquel Demo Forest, deep in the Santa Cruz mountains of California. The flow trail is a network of spectacular descent sections, in what feels like an endless carve into the forest; the trail just keeps going and yet another berm beckons. POV shot with a GoPro7 chesty on a 27.5″ wheel Cannondale Jekyll.

Mirthmaker is Sold!

The adventure continues for a pair of east bay brothers. Mirthmaker’s original port of registry is Berkeley, CA where she’ll eventually make her homecoming voyage.

1979 J/24 manufactured in San Rafael, CA USA by Performance Sailcraft (Don Trask)