Home / Journal / Counting down the days

 

Having just realized the other day that quite a bit of time has passed since our last entry, we thought maybe we should update everyone on our progress: WE ARE VERY CLOSE TO LEAVING!! Our decision to revamp the trailer suspension (yet again!) is really the only thing that has been keeping us here. But it’s also given us some space to get other things ready/completed/researched/practiced/sorted so it has definitely not been wasted time.

The Trailer

Our testing time in Florida gave us a lot of good information about how the trailer was going to work for us. While it seemed okay on paved roads, you had to constantly worry about what bumps lurked ahead—whether they be random potholes in the roadway or an uneven entry to a gas station. Ehren started thinking about independent suspension as a possibility before we even left Florida, but it took about two weeks after we returned to Minnesota to actually start fabbing something up.

We had quite a few minor but necessary projects we kept ourselves busy with while mulling over the eventual suspension solution. These projects included ancillary things like bike seat makeovers, foot peg extensions (and fabbing up additional brackets for the stock passenger pegs for each bike, since our pannier rack and trailer mount brackets took their place), installing a Trail Tech computer on Ehren’s bike as his speedometer cable broke and they do not make replacements for these bikes (mine has been long gone) and some oil temperature sensors on both bikes so we can monitor when we overheat (like we’re sure we did a few times waiting in Florida traffic), and tearing down and organizing our parts bike into shippable parcels so we can get parts sent to us if/when we break down.

My seat pad is complete, thanks to some tricky sewing by Ehren (I can at least say I sewed the quilted part!). It is quite an improvement.

Hanging with Smokey in my hometown while visiting family. It’s a two-hour ride from Bemidji, and as I tend to make it in one go, it turned out to be a great test for my fancy seat pad.

The glamorous side of preparing for a big motorcycle trip.

Building a new axle for the trailer: it has spindles on both ends so the wheel arms can move independently.

And this is one of those wheel arms. It features a spindle sleeve at one end which will attach to the suspension spindle and a spindle on the other end where the wheel hub will go.

This is the jig Ehren made to ensure the spindles could be welded onto the suspension arms perfectly straight.

Ehren working in a blur as he attaches the new trailer axle to the new brackets he fabricated.

Here are all the new brackets we made along with the axle and arms, assembled and ready for preliminary testing by placing the weight of the trailer directly onto the arms via the wheel spindles.

Holding itself up! At this point we could rock the trailer side-to-side to test the dampening and rebound of the shocks. This photo was taken St. Patrick’s Day, for those interested in the project timeline thus far.

Painting and packing bearings on the new wheel arms. You can compare their construction with our old trailer suspension on the floor.

Freshly painted and ready for road testing. This photo is from March 18, and the shocks featured here are the stock Boge monoshocks from our Elefants.

Once we got into making new brackets for the trailer suspension, it wasn’t long before we had it back out on the road for testing. We had used the stock monoshocks from both mine and Ehren’s bikes as a cost-saving measure. Unfortunately, despite rebuilding both shocks, we discovered that one was worn beyond repair. The left side shock kept taking in air no matter how well we bled it during the rebuilding process. Faulty seals with no hope of replacement permanently retired the easy option. Unfortunately it would end up taking us the better part of a month (and extensive use of Crawlpedia’s spring rate calculator) to come up with the right shocks and lower mount placements to meet our needs.

First we had quickly ordered a pair of RFY 400mm shocks from eBay (most definitely prematurely) to see if those would work: they couldn’t even hold the trailer up due to wimpy spring rate (which was indiscernible from the product description). We also had to rebuild them before we could even test them out because, even though they were brand new shocks, they arrived filled with air and not enough fluid. In an attempt to remedy the spring rate issue, we ordered some 525 lb./in. springs. Those also ended up not working for us, as the outer diameter of the springs was too big for the piggyback RFY shocks (they had originally quoted me an OD that would have fit, which was why we purchased them in the first place). So now both the springs and shocks are for sale if anyone’s interested! Phooey.

Not all was lost, however! After our previous ordeal, we went for two KYB monoshocks from a 1999 Yamaha WR400 (also from eBay). We even got a discount on one because it was in a superficially worse shape—but unbeknownst to all it turned out to be in worse shape on the inside as well. Ugh ooookay, so then we got a third KYB monoshock from the same kind of bike for the same price as the discounted junk one we got with the first order so we could have at least two in good working order. We ordered two new seal heads for the shocks, cleaned and rebuilt all three, and now have them installed on the trailer (with a parts shock to boot!).

AND IT WORKS PERFECTLY.

I rode it in the backyard. I rode it down the highway. I rode it over curbs and potholes. Smooth as silk. Stable, controlled.. I don’t even have to think about it. Is this really the same trailer? Did all of that frustration and stress actually pay off? Does that mean we’re finally ready to leave!?

Our Route

I think it’s finally safe to talk about our loosely-planned route through the U.S. as we make our way down to Baja. We are traveling from Minnesota to Southern California via South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada. We hope to visit with some friends along the way, and also plan on staying in Salt Lake City for a week to brush up on our paragliding skills (which we dusted off and attempted to use a little bit at a hill near Walker the other weekend, to little or no avail).

Once we get to Southern California, we’ll cross the border and head down the length of the Baja peninsula. At the bottom we’ll take a ferry over to mainland Mexico and head south from there. As far as timeline goes, we’re mostly playing it by ear. If we travel at an even pace, we could expect to be hitting the southernmost tip of Chile/Argentina in the midst of its summer in January/February. That all depends, however, on a myriad of factors: how long we stay in each place on the way down, what mechanical difficulties we encounter, and (most importantly!) how well we can stretch our budget.

We’re going to leave here by the end of April. Until then, we’ll be doing more paperwork prep and final packing of the trailer (along with minor tweaks to the bikes, because even though we say they’re done.. they never really are). Other than that we’ve been steadily working on our Spanish and Portuguese, exercise routines to incorporate into our daily life on the road, and figuring out other hobbies of ours we can incorporate. I’m all for indulging my green thumb, but I have a feeling I’ll have to settle for something more portable. One of our many goals we hope to accomplish during the trip is to become better camp cooks, so maybe I’ll focus on that.

Our next journal entry will be our last in Minnesota, so we’ll see ya then!

—Britt and Ehren

 
 

2 Comments

  1. Russ Di Fiori says:

    Hey Friends,

    I am really excited for you guys! Hopefully we can meet up somewheres in Nevada/Southern California this summer. Also, shakshuka is an awesome camping dish: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/shakshuka-51220220. As you can imagine, most of these ingredients are easy to find in most places and come in “can-form”.

    Keep on, keepin’ on.

     
    • Follow the Elefant says:

      Hey buddy!

      Thanks, were going to be leaving very soon so we won’t be around this summer in Nevada, I would say safely by the end of May we’ll be out of country. Well get a hold of you and keep you up to date. That looks like a tasty dish, we’re going to start experimenting with it, nice to be able to cook stuff without ingredients that need to stay cold of course. Tito says hi…

      Cheers!

       

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *