Monday, April 18, 2016

The Blog Where I Fix Stuff

I really thought I had published this blog but I hound it languishing in my Draft folder waiting for me to put in links.  This weekend happen late last summer before my September trip to Alpine.

This past weekend was a bike working on weekend. Frankly, it was not what I wanted to be doing on a hot Sunday out in our garage but it had to be done and it was really interesting work and a fairly easy job.
A few weeks ago I had plans to go riding and craft shopping with my dear friend Zippo. I don’t tend to ride much in the heat of the summer but I had been off the bike for a while and needed to air out my brain. The night before, like a good responsible rider, I was getting ready to air up my tires. Mr Man often helps me with this. I can air up my own tires but I’m not a small person and I’m not bendy. Getting up and down is hard on me and easy for him so he often helps because he’s cool like that. Fortunately, his eagle eye saw oil on my tire. Now as a point of fact here, tires should not have oil on them. There is no oil in tires to leak out and oil makes tires dangerously unstable. At this point I pretty much saw my chance of riding the next day diminish to nothing.
My very first thought when I saw the dark liquid on my tire was that it was brake fluid. Wrong color though, and it smelled like oil. So something with oil was leaking down the forks and onto the tire. Mr Man started tracing the oil back up my forks. Our first answer was the steering damper. Mr Man pulled it off the bike and looked it over. There was oil on it and we didn’t see any oil above it. I started researching the cost of replacing it while Mr Man looked it over. Neither of us felt comfortable rebuilding it but my heart sank as I started to see the cost of replacing it. We could do it…but we also needed to pay for roof repairs. After the oil got cleaned off the damper Mr Man thought that the problem might still be further up the line because we weren’t seeing a lot of new oil showing up.. So, rag in hand, he returned to the bike to start the search again. This time he found a definite culprit. It was my fork seals. Thank God. We can fix those and even better, parts were cheap. Inside we went to do some research. In about half an hour I had ordered parts and had found a few good tutorials on how to change the seals.
The parts came in in just under a week (thank you Max BMW) and Sunday dawned hot and humid. Coffee was made and Kolaches were eaten and out to the garage we went. I watched one more video showing me how to do the job and we got down to it. I had some concerns going in. My bike is tall and we had to jack the wheel off the ground making it even taller. I wasn’t sure I could reach the fork seals to pull them out. However, it’s bone simple from a conceptual point and I actually had a clearer picture of what I was going to do that I have ever had of any repair ever. Bone simple. You basically pop out the fork tube, pry off the dust seal, Pry out the fork seal (after figuring out how to reach it with your short arms), replace the seals and them put everything back together. For someone tall with a bit of experience it probably is the 15 minute job all the tutorials say it is. For us from start to finish was two hours. Of course, thirty minutes of that was me running to Auto Zone to pick up a socket big enough to use as a driver to get the seal set. We thought we had one but we didn’t. I also took a water and A/C break in between sides. So it was maybe an hour to an hour and a half of actual hot sweaty work. A good three quarters of that was spent on the first side. The second side when much faster. By the way…we wondered why no one suggested removing both forks at the same time. It seemed so much easier to us. Don’t do it. It moves your forks out of alignment with the handle bars and induces a small freak out when you think you have somehow managed to bend your forks. Also, keep a file handy in case you scrape the inside of your forks while prying out the old seal to copious amounts of cursing about your short height and short arms.
While we had the bike up we took care of some things that needed to be done. My front tire has got about 2000 miles left on it but I have a trip coming up at the end of August that should be about 1000 miles. Some of that trip will be off road riding and some of it will be solo road riding. The last thing I want is to have tire problems in Alpine, TX while traveling alone so I’d rather change out the tire a little early. Because of the sidecar, the tire wears unevenly so it’s easy for problems to sneak up on you. Since the tire was gone I looked the brakes over but the pads look to be in great shape so I left them alone for the time being. Now the bike is up on jack stands and my front tire is in my trunk. Hopefully I’ll be able to get that changed out after work today and we can get it back on the bike Tuesday or so. Although it’s hot, hot, hot here, I may try to get in some riding to work later on this week. Maybe on Wednesday….maybe Friday when I don’t have to worry about changing out of jeans. At the least I’ll take it down to get gas once the tire is on to make sure the forks shook out ok.

At any rate, it felt good to be covered in oil. Good to understand the job I was doing even if I needed some help. Good to make sure my bike was ready for a trip. It will feel even better to take her out for a ride.
So absolute virtual Kudos to a couple of internet sites that got me thought this. First off, Max BMW was super speedy and they included M&Ms with my parts so that kinda made my day. Also, I found two great tutorials, one at Every Day Riding right here and the other one was a YouTube video I found here.  Pardon the camera shakes and the NSFW language and the less than winning personality of the guy doing the work. The first person shooter POV was super helpful when I was actually doing the work.