As I may have mentioned
, Blayke B. is now an entire year old
. The San Luis folks came down, D did some grilling, even Lee stopped by for a loaf of bread
. Lovely day, lovely company.
From there it was a quick trip up the ol' interstate to attend the classy party for classy people
announced early that he would be rocking the double vest. I did my best to compete with the tie/bowtie, suspenders/belt, and pocketwatch/monocle combinations, but in my hurry I neglected to adorn cufflinks, a tie clip, a belt buckle, and probably several other pieces of classiness. Neither of us had wingtips so I'll call it a draw. Still, it was a fine soiree, with wine and cheese and dom pong
So over eight years of Ducati ownership I have had a few experiences with GP Motorcycles
. Two of them were bad, to summarize:
- Hi, I want belts and valves done, thanks. ...
- Okay so we did the full 15k maintenance including replacing the oil you changed thirty miles ago.
- Yeah, we didn't get to your bike today because something went wrong with a 1098 we just worked on and he brought it back. And we didn't think to call you.
Alright, so, 0 for customer service, 8 for workmanship although "something went wrong with the other bike we worked on" is somewhat disconcerting. This has been reason enough to drive an additional twenty miles to Forza
who, despite being (iirc) owned by the same people as GP, have generally been much better to me.
Okay, well this time around Forza's maintenance openings didn't work out well for me, so I decided to give GP another shot
. Josh loves them and Chris has a decent supplier relationship with them, maybe these were isolated incidents.
I dropped the bike off, told the front desk guy that I needed the usual belts and valves, and asked what else might be good to do. He read off the standard list, I let him know that it was all current
except greasing the steering bearing. Sure, do that. She hadn't been running smoothly and I'd hoped something on the maintenance list would jump out at me, oh well, maybe valves would do it.
Round about COB I called them to see if the bike was done
. My records showed that valves and belts ranged from 2.5-3.5 hours of labor so it seemed like ample time after the 09:00 drop off. They didn't pick up
. I called shortly after, nothing. Oh well, I headed down. "You thought it was going to be done today?" *chuckle*.
Silly me, assuming three hours of labor could be taken care of in an eight hour day.
The following day they called to tell me the bike was done. Sweet, I'm pretty used to shops never calling. He told me that they replaced the spark plugs
, he went ahead and did it unilaterally since they're a couple bucks each. Sure, nbd, but a little strange since I'd done them recently.
I collected the bike and got the tab. Parts cost included plugs, belts, valve shims, valve cover gaskets
. Ah, relief, yes I bet a dead gasket was the issue
. Alright, now, labor cost: 6.5 hours for 12,000 mile service
. Wat? So help me if they flushed brand new fluids again...
I went back to the service side and talked to the guy. He sort flailed on an explanation and eventually said that he really just works the desk
and doesn't do any wrenching - okay I picked up on this from a few obvious technical slipups from our previous conversations. He assured me that the work actually took more than the 6.5 hours quoted
and that I was getting a seriously good deal.
Huh? What took 7+ hours
? There was no breakdown on the receipt, just "12,000 mile maintenance". So I asked and the dude said belts and valves required 5.5 hours
(because shims and gasket?) and assorted other things (spark plugs, check air filter, replace throttle body bleeder hose (for lack of a better term), lube chain) the rest.
There are two ways to interpret this:
To be sure, the mechanic did an excellent job and was very cool about explaining what he did
- First I consider the desk guy's off-the-cuff breakdown. Replacing a hose and spark plugs takes closer to ten minutes than > 1 hour. And 5.5 hours for valves, belts, and gaskets? Having never done the work, I can only rely on the 2.5-3.5 hours it's taken GP and Forza in previous visits (unfortunately I have no data on what shims were replaced). So assuming everything is on the level, either a labor-intensive valve job takes twice as long or GP is very slow at doing the work.
- Given previous experience and cynicism, I'm inclined to believe they filed me under 12,000 mile maintenance job and decided to fill the time up to that 6.5 hour mark. One indication is that they checked and replaced my spark plugs. It may be that the mechanic checked them as he was troubleshooting the engine running weak, but considering the dubious time breakdown, I'm inclined to believe GP wanted their 6.5 hours of labor. The desk guy simply told the mechanic to do the 12,000 mile checklist that I attempted to opt out of.
, but he couldn't account for the desk guy's time assessment and the desk guy couldn't account for any of the labor.
So the desk dude initially took a condescending approach to my use of non-approved spark plugs
, probably to convince me that without their 12,000 mile service my bike was in a bad way. Unfortunately, he had recently told me that my bike had four spark plugs (it does not) and that he doesn't actually work in the shop. Annoyed, I decided to call bullshit and asked for the part back so I could return it to the vendor who had recommended it to me, visibly expressing my disappointment as Ca Cycleworks had never steered me wrong before. He at least knew the name and quickly backed off the indignation
and said that many spark plugs would work, but it's best to use the recommended one.
Right, so, no more GP
. There was enough grey area in this last experience to leave it as an option of Forza disappears, but I'll be happy never to see that place again.
Blayke turns one
next week. We did a photoshoot.
It's come up a couple times recently, so I just thought I'd mention my (fairly minimalist) photo workflow:
- Shoot (raw).
- Use the Adobe dng converter to convert .nef (Nikon raw) to .dng.
- Open the dngs in the Photoshop digital negative viewer.
- Sort the wheat from the chaff, adjust exposure, temperature, and saturation.
- Save the good stuff as jpgs, or tif if it's a print.
- Maybe do some work on them in Photoshop proper, e.g. airbrushing and vignetting.
I'm not sure how it compares to Lightroom and Picasa and such, but the dng viewer
is a pretty good way to browse an image set. Thumbnails on the left, image in the center, and just the right amount of darkroom-style toolery. Adjustments can be made to group-selected images, since lighting conditions tend to be similar.
Not that proper exposure is unimportant, but sometimes you've zip tie a camera to the back of a motorcycle and let the matrix metering go to town. So there can be over- or underexposure
Not to worry; raw captures light range beyond the standard histogram bounds
. But you have to make sure your editor hasn't already truncated those sections of the histo.
But yeah, most editing can be taken care of right there in the viewer.