~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Torture Rack

An eighth of an inch?? An eight of a freaking inch??? I stood there, shoulders slumped, dumbfounded that I could have spent 45 minutes measuring the $500 color-matched, Hondaline top box on my ST1300 in order to mount a new Givi parcel rack and missed by an eighth of an inch. No, I didn't catch the error in time. I'd just drilled four holes through the pristine metallic red surface of the top box after taping, marking, measuring, re-measuring, sighting, eyeballing, and otherwise making sure the new Givi top box rack would align perfectly and still got it wrong.

The Hondaline box is a beauty but has no real straight lines in the design to work from for measurement purposes and the Givi rack isn't much help that way either. Only with careful measuring could I be assured that all four holes would be just the right size and in just the right place and somehow I missed. I didn't fully realize the extent of my error until the rack was screwed down and obviously skewed. Was I upset? Oh yes. I put down the tools and walked in the house muttering and looking to drown my anger in ice cream.

Later in the evening after I calmed down I went back out to the garage, removed the rack, hogged out a couple of holes like any good, ham fisted idiot would do and re-installed the rack. It's on straight now...ok, not really, it's still maybe a sixteenth off but only a test engineer who makes his living inspecting car body and interior trim parts in the minutest detail would notice. Yeah, that's me. It will drive me crazy for as long as I own the bike but what's done is done.

So Sunday morning  I climbed onto the ST and headed for Kitt Peak National Observatory southwest of Tucson and about 110 miles from the palatial 40on2 estate. Kitt Peak is about 6,000+ feet above sea level and the road up to the top is nice and twisty. As with most good roads in Arizona, the ride to the road was fairly boring but the road up Kitt Peak was fun.  I didn't set any records up the mountain but the ride was nice and I worked on being smooth instead of fast. The ST handled as predictably as always and the excellent, fuel injected V-4, made the effects of altitude on performance a non-issue. The Honda continues to impress me with it's effortless operation and ability to get down the road with zero fuss.

These guys are numerous and have a taste for pretzel bits
At the top I wandered around, fed the wild birds, and observed the observatory complex while taking pictures and being suitably impressed by the feats of engineering technology. Several telescopes of assorted sizes including a big 4 meter unit are ensconced up there in gleaming white technological splendor. Each telescope has it's own building and each one stands like a monument to what can be done by smart people trying really hard. Thousands of years of accumulated astronomy knowledge are funneled into the creation of that place and it's difficult not to be impressed. There is a big solar telescope that doesn't look like a telescope but is made just for looking at the sun.

Solar Telescope
The big reflector mirror that catches the sun image sits at the top up a multi-story angled building that sits over a shaft that runs something like 135 meters under ground. Someone really smart dreamed up that one, someone with a PhD in sciences that in their most basic form would boggle ordinary minds.

And yet, when all the magnificent telescope building was done, when all the gleaming white paint was dry, someone discovered their calculations were just a tad off...

A closer look:

Yup, that's a rusty c-clamp, 6ft of rusty cable, and a bunch of scrap steel plate added to some sort of fancy rotating device so the darned thing will balance properly. I suddenly felt a little better about missing the measurement on the top box by an eighth of an inch.

After wandering about and seeing what there is to see and even letting myself in through an unlocked door to wander into the bowels of the big solar telescope I climbed back on the ST and trundled down the mountain and 110 miles non-stop back to town for some excellent Chinese food. I nearly forgot about the sixteenth off Givi rack but not quite. I did console myself though that people obviously smarter than me had to resort to a c-clamp and rusty metal plates to fix their mistake, all I had to do was drill out a couple of holes.


ellopez said...

what a great story. thanks for sharing.
i make those kind of mistakes all the time and so your tale has given me a whole new way to look at mistakes.

Biker Betty said...

Most of us can feel your pain. Who has been off in measurements at some time in their life. I've done it when cutting or sewing material for quilting, but it wasn't a costly error as long as I have extra material.

I believe this is my second time to your byte of cyberspace and I enjoy your posts. I loved reading about your trip to Kitt Peak National Observatory and chuckled or the C-clamp. I enjoy nature and love your shot of the bird.

Have a Good Weekend

Doug Klassen said...


Thanks for stopping by. I took a peek at your blog and enjoyed it also. It's really great to see more and more women getting into into riding and then blogging about it. Your writing, I'm sure, is a great encouragement to the women who are hesitating about making the step from passenger to rider. Keep up the good work!


Biker Betty said...

Thanks, Doug, for the encouraging words. Like you, I love riding my motorcycle. I'm seeing more and more women leaving the back seat and cars for adventures in the drivers seat. It is addictive for men and women and just loads of fun!!!

NOPCKL said...

It would appear someone with the telescope took a home course in agricultural engineering. Wonder where the vise-grips ended up.

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