Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Price of Haste when working on your motorcycle

Hopefully, this posting will help others who service their own motorcycles, avoid the mistake I made this past Friday while servicing my motorcycle.

I got home from work and had perhaps 2hrs of good light to work in before the sun set. So I made haste to get Maria prepped so I could do a valve clearance check and a throttle body sync as part of her 42k service interval.

Trying to make time, I neglected to get a tie-strap and secure the centerstand to the front wheel so she would not be able to roll forward off the centerstand while being worked on.

Part of the process I follow while doing a valve clearance check is to use the rear wheel to rotate the engine to the TDC or Top Dead Center position on the side which I am checking the valve clearances on. I had removed the spark plugs to eliminate engine compression and had the motorcycle in sixth gear as recommended.

Even with all the above, it still takes some effort to rotate the rear wheel so that the engine goes to TDC. As I was doing this for the right side piston, I must have pushed too hard on the wheel for the motorcycle moved forward! Yep, off the centerstand and it slowly fell onto its left side as I watched in horror. I could not move fast enough from my position behind and to the right of the rear wheel, no way to stop it. No, the sidestand was NOT deployed, I had raised it enabled the gear indicator display so I could tell when I was in sixth gear. Just as well since I don't think it would have stopped the fall and probably would have ended up damaged as well.

Maria impacted against a plastic shelving unit where I keep the recycle bin first, then proceeded to hit the floor with quite the horrible noise. Aaaarrrggghh.

Oil of course started coursing out of the left side of the engine since I had the valve cover off for servicing! I lost perhaps 1.5 to 2 quarts I think. The oily mess on the floor did not help things as I struggled to get into position to lift the motorcycle upright. Took two attempts to get a good grip/position but finally I was able to muscle her upright and put the sidestand down.

What a mess, spent the next 30 minutes or so putting oil absorbent sand down and cleaning up the oil spill. Then I assesed the damage. The left side driver's peg had broken off. No damage to the engine that I could see, thank the motorcycling gods, and what appeared to be a scuff mark on the lower part of the windshield.

I thought myself pretty lucky at this point since I was able to take the left side passenger footpeg and substitute it for the driver footpeg that was history. I would be able to do the weekend ride I thought.

I was also feeling pretty stupid at not securing the motorcycle as I'd been taught before working on it. Never again will I do this, although it does follow the pattern of learning for me.....the hard way is the way I learn life's lessons.

I completed the services, the valve clearances needed no adjustment and I used my hand-built manometer to do the TBS. This was my first time doing it solo and it took a good 30 minutes. Ended up having to adjust slightly the right-side throttle cable nut in order for the oil levels on the manometer to stay even no matter what the rev level was. I also corrected the idle from the 900rpm it had been on to 1100 where its recommended.

I put Maria back together, and a short test ride later I was done. It was 10pm by now and I was bushed. So much for getting everything done before the sun set!

The weekend ride totaled 1268 miles of riding as per previous posting with no mechanical issues except one. Sometime during the ride, I noticed my windshield seemed a little crooked. Hmmm, I thought as I rode, did I bend something when the windshield impacted the plastic shelving unit. The only thing I could see while on the road was that the left side windshield mount seemed to flex back more than the right side mount. Damn.

Finally got around to taking the cover off and examining the windshield mechanism last night and yep, part of the base carrier plastic unit for the windshield had broken during the fall. It's a wonder the windshield worked fine during the whole trip. Here's a pic of the part that I'll have to replace someday, I made "field repairs" last night along with the help of my loving wife that should hold for quite a while. I ordered the part and will have it onhand for when I feel brave and have more time do tinker with the motorcycle (such as during a winter storm). In the meantime, my repairs should hold and I can raise/lower the windshield at will and it feels secure.

The red line is where the plastic carrier cracked.

The replacement carrier is on order and should be here next week at the dealer. That's going to cost $60 but its way better than the original guess by the parts guy who thought you could not get the carrier without the windshield motor too which would have been $600!

The replacement left-side driver peg is onhand and I'll be picking it up today, that's cost an additional $27. Add in all the time I used and you can see what not taking two minutes to properly secure my motorcycle before working on it ended up costing me. So, always secure your motorcycle! Don't be like me and learn things the hard way.

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