Friday, April 1, 2005

We are finally in San Luis Obispo and out of the bay area.

No map update tonight because we are having trouble getting the dish on-line. We are in a hotel parking lot, however, at the Sands Suites, and I found a WiFi hotspot here. I think it is actually sourced from the Holiday Inn next door, but any port in a storm.

The Sands is hosting the annual Honda Sport Touring Association rally here, as it has for the last four years running. The manager is graciously allowing us to park in their back lot, since the rally is here and the group has, essentially, taken over the hotel starting tomorrow.

We finally left Les Schwab about two this afternoon. I'm sorry to say that we did not really resolve our problem. Both sets of valve stems that were overnighted to us turned out to be incorrect for our wheels, the problem being not enough threads at the base of the stem to protrude far enough out of the wheel to engage the nut. A follow-up call to Alcoa confirmed the worst -- no such parts here in the US. As we discovered yesterday, these wheels are actually European parts (as opposed to US parts made to fit European hubs, which are different), and these parts have the different valve mounting arrangement. And here we thought fitting Alcoa wheels would mean we would finally having something more common than what we had before... The good news is that Alcoa is replacing their US product line with items similar to these European ones, so things like valve stems will become more common here over time.

In any case, we ended up having to re-install the one stem that was removed for the project upon our arrival. In order to actually fit the Equal screened valve cores to the wheels, James removed all the valve cores from our stems, and fitted valve extenders to the existing stems. The fancy screened cores were then installed in the extenders. This arrangement works, but the whole assembly now protrudes too far from the wheel, opening up the possibility of whacking it against a curb. or having a tire shop drop the wheel in such a way as to hit the stem. It is, therefore, only a temporary solution.

The permanent fix involves new valve stems from Europe, which have been ordered. They are made in Austria. Les Schwab has ordered ten or so, but they will take a minimum of six weeks. So we will return to the Livermore store on our next visit to the bay area, or possibly we will try to get Les Schwab to agree to install these at one of their stores in the Pacific northwest when we are in Oregon and Washington in July.

Even though the tag wheels did not need to be removed to install the extenders, the Schwab guys pulled one off for me so I could get the leveling actuator reinstalled. That's now working, and it's really nice to have all three levelers back in operating order after several weeks without the rear one. Also, the centering indicators for the other two levelers did not work properly with one actuator missing, so it's been hard to get those set correctly before we drive off. I need to recalibrate the whole system now, which will have to wait until we are parked on a dead level spot.

Once we were headed south, we had a beautiful drive down the Salinas valley. Neither of us has ever seen the hills flanking the valley so lush and green. It's been just a year since we were last down this way, and it is remarkable how much more acreage is now dedicated to wine grapes than even just a year ago.

Tomorrow we will unload the bikes, and reconnect with some old friends.

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