Monday, October 25, 2010

Vacation becomes staycation, Natasha experiences minor Chernobyl

There I was this past Saturday, riding along C-470 westbound, going for the junction with the I-70 Super Slab and points west, destination for the day: Moab, Utah.  The day was sunny, the passes were clear with a snow storm coming in, and temperatures were in the 50s in the front range.  Perfect!

We didn't even make it out of the Denver Metro area!

I started losing speed shortly I transitioned from the E-470 to C-470 slabs and found myself unable to maintain even 60mph!  When I reached the point where even 50mph was a problem with the throttle twisted wide open, I pulled off onto the Platte Canyon Road exit to assess the situation.

There was lots of engine oil pooling on top of the right side engine jug, some of it had been caught by the airstream and had sprayed the right side carburetor and my leg with a nice coating of engine oil.  Not good.  She ran like crap and I had troubles keeping the engine going until I could park her.

I called my loving wife who'd passed me in the minivan and she turned herself along with my two sons around and joined up with me.  I called a co-worker friend of mine, Oscar, and he headed my way with his trailer.  This was the trailer we decided not to use as we'd last minuted doubts about the minivan being able to tow it and Natasha without straining the transmission.

Oscar arrived soon after I had unloaded Natasha's sidecar of trip luggage/tools etc.  The owner of the house at the side of which I'd parked came out to see what was going on.  He nicely gave me permission to use his driveway and we got Natasha loaded up easily enough.

From there, Oscar towed Natasha home with the initial intention of myself and Oscar doing the repair work.  We thought, based on the symptoms, that the rings on the piston had failed.

Once Oscar got me and Natasha home, he went off to Conifer as originally planned for a day with his in-laws.  Thanks Oscar!

I started tearing down the right-side jug but was brought up short by a small pile of fine metal shavings laying in the right side valve cover.  Not good.  I was now looking at either having to remove the engine from the chassis or the sidecar from the subframe in order to have room to work on removing the jug.  At this point, I gave up and put Natasha back on the trailer, tied her down and took her to Linden Engineering for a diagnosis.

The minivan really felt the effect of towing the trailer with Natasha on top.  So I wonder how badly we would have strained the transmission while trying to climb the Continental Divide both at the Eisenhower Tunnel and Vail Pass!

Got a call from Dennis of Linden today, the good news is he expects to have her all fixed up by the end of the week.  He found the following repairs needed:

1.  The valve guides in the right jug had come loose and had to be replaced.  This was causing all the engine compression to be blown out of all oil seals, hence all the oil coming out.

Picture from Bill Glaser's site, 
shows the valve(where finger is pointing) being slid into the valve guide 
on his Ural's cylinder head. 

As I understand the operation, you somehow heat the jug till it expands enough for the new valve guide which gets inserted and when the jug cools down, is locked into place.  Apparently not something I could do at home.

2.  He found some damage on one of the right jug's rocker assemblies and it will be replaced.

Again from Bill Glaser's site, a picture of what a rocker arm assembly looks like

3.  He's trying to figure out if he can resuscitate the Russian 35amp alternator.  He and the mechanic at Wagner's Cycle, Mike, both say the alternator is a good thing IF you mount it correctly.  Jury is still out with me on putting it back on, will see what Dennis finds upon further tearing down the adapter that mates the alternator to the timing gears.

4.  The leak I'd had in the final drive is caused by a failed seal, that'll be replaced tomorrow.  I'd had that leak for a while now and had been leery of tearing apart my final drive to get at it, now it'll be fixed.  Link to procedure on Bill Glaser's myural site.

I'll know for sure if the above is the seal that failed when I pick up Natasha at the end of the week.

5.  Lastly, he's going to check my clutch lever assembly to see what's going on with that, probably replacing the clutch lever assembly would be my guess.

So, not a great start for a week long vacation planned among the massive rock formations of Utah and Arizona's Monument Valley.  Oh well, at least she broke on this side of the continental divide, logistics to recover her would have been much harder on the west side of the divide.


cpa3485 said...

Sorry to hear about the troubles, but you must be living right for it to happen that close to home. I'll be interested in hearing further as to what might be the case.
BTW, I have a chance to look at a 1979 BMW R80 that has been parked for about 10 years. I might enlist your thoughts and advice on restoring it should it ever pan out. It won't be real soon. I have a wedding to pay for this year.

Stacy said...

Oh no! I'm sorry to hear about Natasha's valve guide meltdown, but I'm glad it happened early in your trip. There's nothing worse than that sinking feeling you get when your bike has a problem and you're a long way from home.

bobskoot said...

Charlie6: Glad you got Natasha safely home. I hope they manage to keep the repair costs reasonable.

it is not a good idea to use your minivan for towing, otherwise you most likely, would have had a transmission failure, plus you may have also stressed your brake system on the downhills.

If you plan Utah for next summer, or the Rockies as you prev mentioned, perhaps I can plan to be there too.

At least you have a spare bike . . .

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Circle Blue said...

As you say, at least it broke when it did.

And, I want a friend like Oscar! What a blessing to have a friend like that.


Charlie6 said...

cpa3485, Jim...10 years is a long time for a motorcycle to sit idle. I hope the owner "placed it into storage" correctly. I'd be glad to throw in my two cent's worth of expertise! That's about what it's worth by the way, two cents.

Charlie6 said...

Thanks Stacy for commenting and yes, it would have really sucked to get all the way to Utah and then have it blow up. Then again, it seems I probably would have blown the transmission on the minivan first!

Charlie6 said...

Bobskoot, I imagine you're correct, the poor thing has a max towing capacity of 1300 lbs.....Natasha and the trailer were damn close to that.

And yes, having a spare motorcycle is key. Now if only I can get the Ural back before snow hits the Denver area.....

Gary France said...

Oh no! So sorry to hear about Natasha being ill. I know how much you and she were looking forward to the trip (ok, Martha and the kids as well!). Get well soon Natasha and I hope that you, Charlie6, Martha and the boys can make the trip soon.

Chris Luhman said...

Bad luck with the Ural, but it sounds like they'll be able to repair all of the damage. *fingers crossed* you'll get it back soon! (and without breaking the bank)

RichardM said...

Just curious, is this a common problem or is it related to usage? I.e. number of hot-cold cycles or how hot the heads get. Or is it just a fluke?

Sorry that it messed up your vacation but you could still go to Utah with the mini van though that wouldn't be as much fun.


Charlie6 said...

Gary, thanks for the well wishes for Natasha, I hope to get her back at the end of the week....I hear there's a couple of feet of snow at the passes.....might be a good test of the repairs?

Charlie6 said...

Chris...yes, let's hope the repairs don't involve "breaking the bank"....I may have to choose as to which of my two sons goes to college.


Charlie6 said...

RichardM: Dennis of Linden Engineering commented that this is apparently a fairly common occurrence.....

Martha said...

Yep, every man needs a friend like Oscar. He had a calming presence to the entire retrieval process.

While we were slightly disappointed to have our plans changed, we know that the beauty of UT will still be there, once we get Natasha back in working order. Going in "just the cage" did not sound interesting to any of us...which is why we skipped the trip completely.
But yes, with repair costs, I fear my dream of you picking up a GS will have to be on the back burner for now...