Set out to make some simple wiring changes.

I needed to change some simple wiring in my basement. The lights in my hallway were to be included into a longer lighting path. I needed to disconnect them from the power source and swap a couple of switches from 3 way to 4 way.

light switches
Mostly normal looking light switches.

Looking into the switch box I don’t see too much out of place but there’s an odd lack of wires and a wire nut that shouldn’t be where it is. Hm.

I noticed looking at the top of the wall in the unfinished part of the basement that there were some “extra” wires coming out of the top of the wall.

This small part of the wall near the door is the ONLY part of the unfinished basement room that had drywall and that was a number of pieces cobbled together. Taking a section of that out behind the switch box on the wall I found a hidden box.

Electrical box
Found behind the drywall.

What could be in this hidden box I wondered so I opened it up.

Too many wires
Is someone serving spaghetti?

That’s a lot of wires in a small space. I need to learn more. Time to pull down some insulation.

Electric boxes in the wall
Wires more exposed

Oh my. Now I get to figure out where all these wires go. So many wires twisted together. White wires painted black, red wires, so many wires that they’re tied into groups that fit wire nuts and those are linked together.

It’s really odd that there is one 12/3 wire that doesn’t exit the wall at the ceiling. I’m worried that if I take enough insulation down it’ll make it back across the wall to the location of the other 3 way switch for the hall lights.

Ironically I found something similar the same way when i was remodeling my house in VA. In that case I pulled about 15 feet of wires out that ran back and forth between the hidden box and the light switch box and ceiling where I found another box.

New Vehicle time

I used my pickup truck several times on the interstate recently. The vibration I’ve noticed before got worse. I checked the U-joints and they were sound. That meant the problem was elsewhere. Looking at the bottom side of the truck I decided to trade it in.

I found a 2009 Chevy Tahoe LTZ with a lot of great features used at a dealer in Kingsport. It had been there quite a while and the price was down already. When I called about it the price dropped again.

This was still not going to be free so I filled out an online application for a used car load from Pentagon Federal and was approved. My plan was to get the truck emptied out and drive up on July 5th when I figured both the dealer and PenFed would be open. On the 4th first PenFed called to respond to a survey I filled out. They were open. Then while I was getting stuff out of the truck the dealer with the Tahoe called telling me deals on the 4th were better. I was off and running. I forced my poor wife to go with me. Good thing. First she caught that I didn’t have the truck title with me. Later she caught a number of other things for me.

This is what I was excited about:


Note that it fits in my garage. The front is amazingly clean.


Still pretty clean.


Yep, pretty much nothing to see here. I’ll add more pictures later. The outside is pretty good but it looks like the PO backed into a pole and did some damage to the rear bumper and part of the tailgate. There’s even some rust there and over the left rear wheel arch.

Clearly the PO had a flat at some point. The jack and tools were just dumped back into the compartment they store in. Then I realized there were pretty much 6 different lugs on the wheels. One wheels worth of lugs including the locking lug nut had been lost. One wonders how they got home.

The dealer decided a vehicle with 174000 miles wasn’t worth much effort. They rinsed the outside but didn’t do ANY cleaning inside. Part way through a bunch of cleaning I attacked the console tray with drink compartment and another small bin. The lid for the drink compartment was difficult to open and gummy to close. It had a chewed piece of gum wrapped in the wrapper jammed into the hinge somehow. In addition there was a lump of bluestone.

Under the tray was more of this sad tale.

The center console drink/sunglass trays were stuck and gooey. Under that tray was this.
The center console drink/sunglass trays were stuck and gooey. Under that tray was this.

This was a gum chewing family. There was gum stuck in odd places all over the truck. The right seat pocket on the back was full of gum. Some wrapped, some not, some chewed, some not. The other side had cough drops everywhere. I don’t think they liked soda though. Most of that seems to have been poured out on seats and carpets. Simple Green did a good job of cleaning stuff.

There are some mechanical issues as well. The Tire pressure monitors are dying. Those are on order. The cruise control doesn’t work. Reading a forum it turns out that’s a common issue most often related to a bad brake light switch. That’s on order too. When I open the passenger side door I can hear stepper motors humming. Don’t know what triggers them or what they’re trying to do. More research.

Bent my RT

Taking a nice scenic ride on Monday after Mother’s Day I managed to discover a new hazard on the roads. Roads were dry after a rain but darkness under a tree in a corner caught my attention. Rightly so it turned out as that was sap from the tree wetted by the rain. Slick!

I did my best dance to keep the bike under control but came up short. I went down hard on my left side. With help from a passing motorist we righted the bike and I found fairly minimal damage to the bike. I was hurting pretty bad but still plenty able to ride.

My left side mirror had popped off. No problem I thought; it’s mounted on pins and rubber sockets. I couldn’t get it lined up though. On the 280 mile ride home from crashing that was my biggest frustration. I never realized how often I grab a peek in my mirrors.

In order to find out why it wouldn’t go back on I started dismantling the bike. This is where I am.

First a picture showing the armature that supports the left side of the fairing and the mirrors.

Overview of mirror support
Overview of mirror support

I┬ámeasured from that center cross section out to the pins that hold the mirrors. It turns out that the left side is pushed in by roughly 1/4″. Next is to figure out how to apply smooth controlled pressure outward on it to get it back in position.

Here’s just the left side. I can’t really see what’s bent but there’s a round arm supporting the mirror part. The bar I’m focused on is not overly visible.

Left framework
Left framework

Here’s the right side not quite as disassembled.

Right framework
Right framework

After moving the bike out where I can better get to it I got back on fixing it. I had tried a couple of different ways to push the mirror bracket back into position but finally realized the best tool for the job was my 20 year old Harbor Freight hydraulic ram set. It was the first thought but I didn’t figure out how to use it that time.

Being a little more mobile this time I dragged out a table that would allow me to set up the pump within easy reach of where I needed the ram. Stacking the right pieces helped too, and last but definitely not least was sawing up a small chunk of plywood to let me apply pressure to the right parts.

Here’s the ram in position.

Ram in position to push the mirror out.
Ram in position to push the mirror out.

Closeup of the block that kept me from distorting the smaller parts that support the mirror and some of the fairing parts.

Block in place

Next after moving things just 1/4″ I test fit the mirror next to the dash. After the crash it would not push back on.

The mirror fits perfectly now. No gap either.
The mirror fits perfectly now. No gap either.

And one last picture with everything put back together.

The bike back together and ready to ride.
The bike back together and ready to ride.

Old stuff is just cool

I’ve driven past this place for a while and finally decided to check out what’s here. Among other things there are a couple of large scale wood working machines. I’m pretty sure one is a planer. The other may be for making specific lengths of wood but I’m not sure.

Planer end other

Planer end

Mystery machine 1

Mystery Machine 2

And sadly a pile of what was probably once nice wood just stacked and rotting. There were several such stacks.

Wasted wood

Chasing a tag in the NC tag game.

When a friend rode over 1000 miles to bring the tag back to near TN I felt like I just had to give it a kick myself.

I left home at 12:30 and tanked up near my house with non-ethanol high test gas. I didn’t get far before I ran into a major downpour. Water was rushing down the street 6″ deep. I was in cooling mesh gear when it cut loose. I had a brief thought about putting on some rain gear. Then I thought I didn’t bring any. Oh well. About that time the sun came out and helped dry me off. I got rained on off and on all day. I spent 9 hours in the saddle and covered 300 miles.



NC tag snag


Is this an odd one armed robot or something else taking shape?

Largish metal funnel

Hm. So what is this that Pat’s building? Is it a one armed robot? Some kind of musical instrument? Time will tell. My sheet metal welding skills improved as I worked on this. Sure, it’s a job that cries out for TIG but all that time to set that up… Nah, MIG works, it just isn’t as pretty.

My 2007 BMW R1200RT’s Final Drive

Just some pictures to share elsewhere.

Wide angle view of the ring gear assembly
Wide angle view of the ring gear assembly

A closeup picture of the worn area gives an idea of how bad it is.

Part of the spline area is badly worn away
Part of the spline area is badly worn away

This is not rebuildable and BMW no longer sells this part separately.