Sunday, April 28, 2013

Uraling in Alaska - Day 23: Eureka!!!

Good day today.

Spent most of the morning checking the wiring on Valencia one more time.  Even removed the tank again to check for worn wires and connectors, nothing found.  So, I went riding around in 16°F weather, nice and sunny though, to try and induce the rough-running conditions.

Rode all over the city of Fairbanks, stopping at the auto parts store for supplies, stopping at for pictures (which didn't turn out), and pretty much the bike performed rather normally.  Then, about ten minutes away from RichardM's house, my heated grips quit working!  It was a cold ten minute ride to RichardM's house, my hands were quite frozen when I arrived.

Once I got my hands warmed up again, I checked the heated grip fuse and it was fine.  Weird, so I tried turning it on and they worked! Hmmm, loose fuse perhaps.

Did some other sundry maintenance on Valencia, and while doing so, decided to remove the front cover on the engine and spray the PowerArc sensor with a spray water bottle.  In fact, it was RichardM texting me with that same suggestion by his son Kyle, that finally got me checking under the cover.  It's quite the pain, you see, to get at the mounting screws for the cover.  I borrowed a long handled allen wrench from RichardM's toolbox and it was much easier.

Got the cover off, got the engine running and sprayed away at the sensor.  Damn if it didn't start acting like it had before on the road, sputtering and running rough....finally just dying.  The symptoms were exactly like what I had experienced near Healy!  Eureka!

I used the air compressor to spray all the water out of the sensor area and the bike started right up and ran like a champ as before.  Eureka!  

Turns out, apparently, that the wires that go to the sensor from the coil, are routed through a hole on top of the engine cover.  In that position, melting water is basically led to the sensor itself, causing apparently blockages of the optical sensor and thereby, the rough running.  

A view of the wire bundle going from the coil, into the front cover area of the engine.
The ignition sensor is directly below, you can see how the wire acts as a water conduit.
The rough-looking black stuff is just old caulking that I applied last night.

Water getting onto the sensor had led me to caulk the hole last night so had I not even checked, it would have solved the issue.  But, now I know for sure you see.

Here's the new routing path of the wire bundle, to the side of the front cover.
Kyle, RichardM's son, cut a new half-moon hole in the front cover 
to allow passage by the wire bundle.
The blue and silver disks are part of the ignition sensor system.

A view of the cover, with the wire bundle coming out of its side.
A bit of caulking was applied to seal the hole as well as the now empty hole
at the top of the engine cover.
(the red wire goes to the coil, the white wire is for the tachometer, the green wire
is for regular tachometers)

Buttoned things back up. We'll see in the next wet snow storm how things go!  My thanks to all the folks who chimed in over the last few days with advice, tips, info on troubleshooting Valencia's intermittent issues.  My thanks to RichardM for his generous support and time in getting me back and forth to the mechanic, reviewing my thoughts and actions, and providing tools!


Bob and Sharon said...

Wow that is a Eureka moment. Water and electricity does not do well together. I'm surprised that Ural didn't make that connection a little better. But at least you found a bug to blame the intermitant operation on

GlennandSun said...

Delighted and very happy for your power arc resolution. Thanks so much for detailed sharing, including the solution. Good luck going north to Deadhorse!

SonjaM said...

Good stuff! Looks like the journey is about to continue.

Unknown said...


this is GOOD news. It's always better to know you fixed it, than wonder if it is going to happen again for any unknown reason.

You are nearly ready to leave. Don't you still have parts coming that need to be installed to fix that valve overlap thingee ? (yes technical term)

Riding the Wet Coast

redlegsrides said...

Bob and Sharon: I too am surprised but not at URAL per se as the ignition unit is aftermarket....more at PowerArc, whom the mechanic called, for not having us test that.

SonjaM, yep, it shall continue, right after new parts arrive and are installed.

Bob Skoot, yep, the mechanic is ordering new parts for the left cylinder. At the very least a new valve seat (with a cut this time) and probably a new valve to go with it. We find out tomorrow what URAL will agree to replace under warranty.

redlegsrides said...


thanks for your to deadhorse, going to ride the south for a bit before thinking about that place. I am told by the locals that unless there's something important I need to get from there or I lost something important up there, don't bother.

whythedevilnot said...

Really pleased to see you've found the fault. What a relief! Strikes me there is nothing wrong with the unit its self then, just a minor rethink needed with the fitting and one heck of a place to have to figure it out. Really pleased to see Valencia happy again though.

Could I be really cheeky and beg for even more pictures.

Unknown said...

I have followed your blog with interest, and frankly it scares the heck out me! I, too own a 2011 Ural Patrol, and until reading about your escapades had always felt my rig was was pretty darn dependable. Your entires read like something out of Earnest Shackleton’s diary! After all, you seemed very mechanically inclined, this trip had the Gurus at Raceway give her, her blessings, had the internet on the edge of their seats following your every move, and still your darn rig spends more time on a trailer or causing you sleepless nights than a prewar, Chinese 650cc! What the heck? I think I will have to recalculate my next Ural journey, ‘cause waiting on the side of the road just is not my idea of a great adventure anymore

Bob and Sharon said...

Very smart move, this state is so beautiful I think so many people waste thier time going up there. Besides the weather is changing for the worse for a bit

Anonymous said...

Good news! I will look forward to reading about your continued ride.


Anonymous said...

Dom, Hope that's the last of your issue. As usual, a Ural problem is a simple problem, if'n you can find it!

Now repeat after me: "I will not upgrade anything during a trip. I will not. . ."


Good Luck and keep ridin'

redlegsrides said...

Joseph Hosner...well, all I can say is that anything wrought by man, will fail sooner or later. The picture of my 2011 rig on the trailer was the first time ever since I bought her that she'd been on a trailer....she really has been very good.

The ignition issues, can't blame Ural for that....

As to the missing cut on the valve seat though, that's some problem in their QA/Assembly process methinks...the fact she ran seemingly fine for almost 30,000KM in that condition says much for the toughness of the design I think. You have to be prepared to wrench on it, it's doing a lot of work that small engine...its just the way it is. I'm not giving up on Ural.

Bob and Sharon, yes, deadhorse is probably off the list but the Arctic Circle is not. But that's later on in May.

Farrider245, thanks for the visit and comment.

Anonymous...yeah, violated that major rule, didn't I?

redlegsrides said...

John Snelson, more pics? Sure...I assume you meant of the parts in question or just pictures in general?

Unknown said...

Fair enough and I am not giving up on Urals! I also note how loaded up you rig is for this trip. Probably a bit more of a strain on the drivetrain and everything else on this excursion. Safe travels, but keep the Vodka handy!

BeemerGirl said...

Most excellent news on tracking this issue down. That is phenomenal sleuthing on both your parts.

redlegsrides said...

Joseph, give it the TLC it needs and it will be lots of fun. As to amount of gear, I estimate I am carrying the weight of a full grown adult. Should look for a scale I suppose....thanks for commenting....

redlegsrides said...


We lucked out mostly....

whythedevilnot said...

Yeah, just pics in general for me. People, places, parts, food, friends. Anything. I'm just enjoying reading your adventure and it would be cool to see more. Saying that, feels cheeky asking as I know it's not easy getting pics all the time.

whythedevilnot said...

Yeah, just pics in general for me. People, places, parts, food, friends. Anything. I'm just enjoying reading your adventure and it would be cool to see more. Saying that, feels cheeky asking as I know it's not easy getting pics all the time.

redlegsrides said...

John Snelson, no worries re "being cheeky", taking pictures is the idea.... :)