Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Uraling to Alaska - Day 5: Repairs and Upgrades for Valencia

Today I rode over to Salem, Oregon, to have the guys at the URAL dealer there check out my clutch adjustment....in and out in a few minutes I thought.  Not quite.

I was warmly greeted by Cal and Robert who work there.  Then I was taken inside to meet the owner, Jim Petitti, who while quite a bit older than I, is still running the business and does work that he loves.  During the day, I'd learn many things from him about the care and feeding of URALs and also stories of his youth when he raced cars and also established records "on the salt" alongside the likes of Burt Munro!

But, onto the main reason for being there.  It was pointed out to me that it looked like the rear main seal between the engine and the transmission had failed and caused oil contamination of the clutch.  They convinced me to take the clutch apart for further examination.

Now, here's the best part, once I gave the go ahead....three guys, Cal and Robert who would do the more complicated stuff and Tony who did more of the general tasks jumped on Valencia and started tearing her down for repair!  It was like the entire shop was dedicated to my rig, and I'd just shown up, no real appointment or anything!  You read stories about shops going out of their way to help a rider on a trip, well these guys set the bar for such service!  Valencia became "their mission" so I could complete my trip to Alaska!

So, to give you context, here's the major tasks that were done:

1.  Replace the pusher tire, it was shot.  "I swear it had some thread on it last night!".  It would also have the upgraded bearing kit installed.

2.  Check the clutch and repair as necessary.  It would end up being covered under warranty, with several seals being replaced and of course, the clutch plates themselves.  (Warranty)

3.  Align my sidecar rig, it was set too far in it's toe-in and causing accelerated wear on my tires, especially the pusher tire.

4.  The rear upper support strut's mount was found to be loose, along with the clapper bolts both front and rear.  These are the bolts that hold the subframe to the tug.  All were tightened up per spec after the rig was aligned and leaned out correctly.  Not only was my toe-in too much, but my lean out was not enough.  FYI: They use 3/8" Toe-in as good starting point and a leanout that leaves the tug with a leanout between .7 and .9 degrees.

5.  As the clutch and seals were warrantied, I elected to have them install an upgraded ignition system called Powerarc, this will replace the stock Ducati System.

6.  Got carburetor intake "perch" rings to provide a more secure mount point for the airbox tubes.  Check and synch the carburetors after engine was re-installed.

7.  Re-route engine crankcase tube from going to airbox to venting onto a small filter.  I'll be replacing same with a catch bottle soonest.

8.  Replace bearings on the pusher wheel with upgraded bearing kit and hardware, another Raceway
Services offering.

9.  Add in-line fuel filters, upgrade fuel "T" fitting to a metal one.

10. Replace exhaust pipe gaskets with upgraded versions.

11. Cable lube kit which I'll use to lube all the control cables.  This extends their life significantly.

12.  Quick disconnect fitting for the gas tank's crossover tube.  No more spilling of fuel now when removing the tank!

13.  Replace cam shaft seal at front of engine, not warrantied item.

 Valencia's Pusher tire, as it showed up at the shop.
It was installed at 16,841 miles, and it made it to 25,000.  Not bad, it 
was a Heidenau K37, but the excessive toe-in I had contributed to the excessive wear
I was told, I should hopefully get as long or better wear from the new tire.

 Above is the engine, out of the frame and ready to be worked on.
You're looking at the rear of the transmission.  Both the clutch actuator seal and the 
seal for the transmission output yoke were leaking, causing the mess you see.

 Above is a special tool, manufactured by Raceways, to help adjust toe-in.

 Transmission is off, you can see the clutch cover plate before it
was taken apart.

 Clear evidence of oil contamination!  Enough oil had leaked into the
clutch housing to cause clutch dust to clump together as you can see above.

 Above, another special tool manufactured by Raceway Services to 
extract the flywheel.  No way in hell I could have removed said flywheel while
on the side of the road!  The flywheel has to come off to access the rear main seal.

 Here's the rear of the engine, failed seal removed and the area cleaned up.
Cal also put Loctite 515 on the screws above and re-torqued them as he
found several were loose.

 One of the old damaged clutch plates, note the cracks in the 
clutch material!

 More evidence of oil contamination, note the spalling marks left
behind as radiated lines on the above clutch plate.

 Special tool used to compress the clutch plates for assembly

 The aftermarket ignition system I bought, pricey but the performance increase!

 Above, the new sensor used by Power Arc
Below is the old Hall Effect Sensor used by the stock Ducati Ignition

 The toggle switch now controls whether the Power Arc Ignition System
is running in Advanced Mode (on) or Retarded Ignition Mode (off)
Since the rig is loaded up, I am to run in the off mode.  Once she runs unloaded, then 
I can turn the control on.  Cal said to try both modes and see how I think it performs.
The Retarded Ignition mode will work best on big hills with a full load he told me.

 The carburetor adapters/perches sold by Raceway Services.  
They provide an extended lip for the air tube to "mate onto" as
now there's a tendency for the air tube to come loose.

 Here's the crew who helped me get back on the road with a road-worthy rig!
Left to Right:  Robert, Cal, Jim and Kurt.

Jim Petitti

Even with the cost of labor and parts for the stuff under warranty, there was significant costs borne by me out of pocket for the upgrades and the fixes such as the alignment of the rig.  Still, the work had to be done, and the upgrades I truly believe will go to ensure a successful and enjoyable ride to Alaska and back.

Both Cal and Robert, while steadily working, also answered all of my questions.  I learned quite a lot from them, much to think about, a lot to rethink in terms of servicing and maintenance concepts I thought I had a handle on, and just tips and info on being a URAL owner.

My thanks to the crew at Raceway Services!  Cal and Robert were the main mechanics doing the work and they were pretty amazing to watch and they not only worked methodically and carefully but swiftly!  Every move was sure and confident and they explained what they were doing to me as they worked.  Thanks Gents!

As to that aftermarket ignition system.  I'd read about it before but had been skeptical, not to mention its pricey cost.  It's early of course, but in the run from Salem to Portland after I left Raceway Services, Valencia ran like a scalded cat!  I was not only able to catch trucks and cars on the slow lane but do it while climbing slight hills and grades!  No longer (more riding will prove this I am sure) am I the slowest vehicle on the highway!  Now, where those Prius' and gigantic RVs that passed me before?!

I didn't have to shift down to third gear any time I got to a hill on Interstate 5 and there was even some throttle left as I drove along at an indicated 60-70 mph.  Now, let me clarify, the speedometer needle (which is apparently not used to spending time above 65) is swinging a bit wildly, kind of like a windshield wiper, when above 60 MPH.  

I am going to have to get Lock-Ease, to lube up the speedometer cable to get it to steady.  I hope that works, it didn't on my previous URAL whose speedometer looked like a windshield wiper in cold weather but it wasn't really cold here today.  I am going to try and measure my speed with my phone's GPS tomorrow if I can find a stretch of road that allows this testing safely.

I don't have to roll on as much throttle anymore when coming off a standing start and while I am still getting used to the new clutch AND the new throttle performance, the power delivery is quite immediate and smooth now.

More info here on some of the upgrades I bought and Raceway Services personnel installed: (Note, all these items can be installed by rig owners, I just paid to have Raceway do it)

Power Arc Ignition Systemn : IMPORTANT NOTE: Check with your URAL dealer re warranty impact from installation of this device!

Truly a great dealer, providing great customer/rider support!  If you're in the Salem, Oregon area, stop by and check them out!  You won't regret it, your wallet might take a hit, but I think you'll be pleased.


Anonymous said...

Great write up about Raceway. Every Ural owner needs to stop by some day. Me I'm lucky. I live In Oregon and bought 2 Urals from Jim and crew. If you have ANY trouble on your trip give them call and they will do all they can to help. Jim should be a Motorcycle treasure.

Martha said...

Wifey here. Am grateful you listened to your gut and stopped in to have them check things out.n. I will rest easier knowing that you've been given the green light to continue forward. Thanks guys for taking care of my guy and his mistress!

Gary France said...

Wow. Great service! Good thing you got these issues sorted before hitting some of the more remote spots in Canada.

redlegsrides said...

Hi Anonymous, yes Jim is quite the fount of knowledge...I hope I am as coherent when I am in my 80s!

redlegsrides said...

Gary, yep then you would add in at least $500 in towing charges, lots more time lost.

Unknown said...


it seems you may have found the best Ural shop in the Country and ones who know how to make your Ural more reliable and perform better than new. Plus you have a place to call if you need help, or a quick source of parts if needed

I am sure your riding experience is enhanced now that you can at least, go the speed limit

Riding the Wet Coast

RichardM said...

Fortunately, the speed limit drops the more you head north. Alaska, like many other parts of the country, is getting buried with snow. But it'll probably be gone in few weeks. Lots of changes and upgrades. What was different in their alignment methods or is it mainly experience?

whythedevilnot said...

A good motorcycle shop/mechanic is a wonderful thing. I think youre incredibly lucky really.

Problem is, even with all your problems, reading your blog makes me want a ural. Dont think we have a ural specialist in this country though. Oh yeah, and I dont have the dosh. Oh well. Will have to satisfy myself with reading about yours.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Future Ural owne here:) Really enjoying your daily updates!

Coyote said...

A great outcome by the sounds of things. And best sorted in a timely manner. Not how much more wear you could have got from that drive wheel :).
I'm enjoying following your travels.



VStar Lady said...

There's something about those Oregon bike shop! I dropped into Bob Lanphere's, Beaverton (Portland) and was serviced right away and the nice young man even found me a "safe" end of town and clean motel to stay in. I have to say, I've found all of the bike shops that I've stopped at more than accommodating and willing to get me back on the road safely and quickly. (My feeling, if they let you watch they are confident about the quality of their work.)
Glad your back on your way and safely - hope you packed your fur lined underwear, I've just read the latest weather on Richards blog (blog.machida.us) - FFROSTY

SonjaM said...

Amazing service it looks like. You definitely seemed to have gotten a big bang for your buck.
If I were to have such a reliable Ural dealership close by I might be tempted to get one for myself...

redlegsrides said...

Bobskoot, performance is indeed enhanced however still have max cruising soled of 60-65, but quite happy with the ability I've gained.

redlegsrides said...

Vstar Lady...thanks, will go see what RichardM is reporting....happy to read you had similar great experience as well!

redlegsrides said...

It was indeed a great experience Sonja. Thanks for commenting, you can try sitting on Valencia soon.

redlegsrides said...

Pretty much same method I used, I think it was more experience and my not having checked things closely after last alignment....the bolts being found slightly loose that held the subframe probably didn't help.

As to the troubles re The main rear seal failing could happen on any brand's engine, the fact they covered the costs of fixing it to include labor was a great show of Ural standing by their product.

Anonymous said...


Glad to hear you've gotten the rig sorted. Expenseive, but worth the peace of mind.

I wonder if the perceived performance increase after the service should be attributed to the new, non-oiled clutch plates or the PowerArc? :)


Dan K.

Whojigger said...

I'm glad you went to Jim at Raceway after leaving Ketchikan! I know, so many goodies, so little money!!! It took me a while to figure out the power arc (somewhere between Carcross and Whitehorse, sure helped on the hills. Now what about the upgraded bearings? I thought yours and my 2011 had the sealed bearings??? I'll be writing you in a few days with pictures. Bruce