Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cat Toy

What a decadent life I live. I was brushing my teeth the other day, fighting off the cats that LOVE to drink out of the bathroom faucet and thought, "There has got to be a better way!" I Googled "cat + water bowl + automatic" and came up with this:

Yes, a cat water fountain. The Drinkwell Platinum specifically. The site says that cats would rather drink from running water and also not have their whiskers touch while drinking. Brave (dusty) Henderson checked it out to make sure it was safe but they took to it right away. Check it out at

Weekend Warriors

So what did I do this weekend? I was busy under Chris' Datsun (yes a diesel Datsun pickup) helping him pull out the transmission. I hadn't done this in a few years and it is still a royal pain but I love it. We were both varying shades of greasy black from our toes to head. After lots of cursing and head scratching the thing came apart and now the flywheel is off to the machine shop and next weekend we'll be throwing the whole mess back together.

After this project we'll be turning it into, of course, a bio-diesel truck. It is San Francisco after all. I was aching in places I that haven't ached in a LONG time. I was feeling the old man until the next day when Chris came limping into work looking just as bad as me. I've still got it.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Mat's FAQ Page about Mat

So as many of you have asked similar questions about what I do in my spare time, type of food I eat, brand of floor wax I use, etc... that I decided to start a short FAQ page to help answer questions in a more thorough and expedient way. Read on.

Questioning Admirer: You say that you love to take things apart to see how they work. What does that mean?

QA, I'm so glad that you asked that as I have a great example of what I mean queued up with photos! The rain has let up here in SF recently and I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and cut the over grown lawn. The problem is that my mower refused to start. Well, I've never worked on a mower before but I'm sure it must be simple. New plugs, gas and an air filter later with the same result. Slight backfire and random putting. A Google search points to 3 possible culprits: 1) fouled carb 2) bent key pin 3) stuck valves

OK, this is what I was talking about. Time to roll up my sleeves and see what I can break. Let's pull apart the engine, ye-haw!! Carb seemed OK. Nothing obviously gummed up. Put that back together. Took the pulley off the top and realized that option 2 had a real chance of getting ugly. Back up. Think about this for a second. Skip to option 3 as it has a lesser chance of destroying the mower and if I don't find anything, go back to 2. Pulled the head off and saw the large intake valve open, spin the engine and it doesn't close. That's it, stuck intake valve! Some taps with the persuader... I mean hammer, lots of WD40, scraping carbon off and spinning the engine. Button it all back up and things are peachy. Check out the photos of the operation below. Fascinating

So come to think of it, this answers two questions. The taking things apart question (see above) and what do I do in my spare time = not very much

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Tokyo Motorcycles

The other really cool type of motorcycle I wanted to check out while in Tokyo were the retro Japanese bikes. The retro scene has been huge in Japan, for almost 20 years now, so I guess that makes you re-think what they mean by retro. Generally it is a new Japanese bike that is modded to look like a 50s - 60s Brit bike. Sometimes it is designed that way from the factory but generally it's done aftermarket. Every once and awhile a factory retro bike makes it to the US to see if we care about the home market craze but we never do (see the Honda GB 500 and the Kawasaki W650). By far the most popular bike in Japan to be modded has been the Yamaha SR400. The SR is celebrating it's 30th birthday this year and basically is the same bike as was introduced back in 1978. It was brought into the US for a few years as the SR500. You can get whole tank and body work kits to give it the Norton or BSA look. Check it out

Nice ape-hangers and German helmet! I saw dozens of bikes like this.

British style high pipes, relocated rear turn signals and a custom seat.

Just for giggles!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tokyo Scooters

So of course the whole time I'm in Japan I'm looking around to check out the different types of home market motorcycles and scooters they have that I’ve only ever seen in pictures. They have all kinds of crazy stuff (which I’ll write more about later) but what I didn't expect at all, that was all the rage there, are these tricked out scooters. And by scooters I don't mean little 150cc putt-putts. I’m talking about the new wave of big scooters that are just starting to make their way to the states. Big 400cc to 650cc “beasts” that's engines originated in sportbikes. They were typically running some type of almost open pipe with a big chrome and carbon fiber canister barely quieting the two cylinders screaming away. They have chrome pull back bars and mirrors and diamond plate floor boards instead of rubber mats. The guys riding them were these Yakuza types with their tight black suits, white shirts and big 80s Bon Jovi hair.

Check out this one above for example. He’s polished the wheels or maybe had custom ones made (not sure), monster rear tire, lowered it, custom wind screen and headlight covers, diamond plate floor boards, custom stereo with 8 speakers, LCD screen near the instruments (GPS or ?), chrome pull back handlebars, chrome mirrors, chrome lower fork tubes, dual exhaust, maybe a blower or turbo on the rear I couldn’t tell, chrome engine covers, another LCD panel doing something above the rear license plate, clear brake light lenses, big loud straight pipe and some flag hanging off the rear end. It also didn't seem to be using a kickstand (I think I see one in the photo on the left side tucked in) and was so low that it seemed to be resting on the ground so it must have some kind of air suspension. Sweet!

This other one below wasn’t as tricked out but it had an amazing tuck and roll, white patent leather seat, usual loud pipe and chrome bars and mirrors. So fashionistas, get ahead of the curve and get your scooter sorted out before the fad gets here. Personally I’d want like a hundred mirrors hanging off the front of mine and custom chrome body work.