Saturday, November 15, 2014

Joe mechanic...

OKAY... maybe this is just a "man" thing.  Could be a Capricorn thing, or maybe a Capricorn man thing... but it seems to me somewhere, somehow I took an interest in fixing things.  Sure my early exploits weren't always successful, I mean when I split the atom, it was only because I wanted a cheap safe source of electricity to power my power tools and look what that got me!

All kidding aside, and I will be the first to admit from personal experience, not all men are cut out to repair the toaster or V 8 hemi. Like Red Green says; "if they don't find you handsome at least they find you handy!"

Yet over my lifetime I have got a great deal of pleasure by being able to build/repair/replace things.  It's come in handy when working on my own cars and motorcycles and doing fix its at the apartment.

Pistons and rings, toilet seats and drive chains included.  Now most of this stuff is purely logical.  Even Spock could admit any reasonable earthling could do it.  If you have an oil leak, you track it down and replace the gasket or seal responsible.

A fine looking specimen

From a very early age, I have been fixing things.  At first it was things on my own bike.  I could barely afford the gasoline to run it  (25c/gallon) much less take it to a shop to install a tire, something I began doing early but didn't always go according to plan.

I remember needing to replace a tire on one of my bikes.  My folks shopped at Sears and they happened to carry various lines of motorcycles back in the day.  Yup I remember Yamaha's, Puchs and Allstates being sold at my local Sear outlet (That Twin Jet was amazing).  One day shopping for a tire with my Dad, I was probably 14 at the time, the Sears guy assured us that the tire he had in stock (a 17") would stretch over my 18" rim.  Of course it didn't, and many a screw driver zinged past our heads trying, like some circus knife throwing act.  When we tried to return it damaged as it was by gauges in the sidewall, they refused to take it back.  Lessons learned... buy only the right part and get some tools.

Over the years and especially when I had my own MC shops, we and I personally built up a decent tool selection.  Yes I wish I still had a lift and a Coats 220 tire changer, as well as the welding rigs, but still, my tools are in decent shape and I can do most things mechanical around the garage.  Servicing my ride on tractor hasn't proven to be difficult, changing tires on my XT is pretty straight forward, putting in fork seals or head bearings is do-able, and I'll even tackle minor engine work.  I draw the line at gearbox repairs, or crank problems but fortunately I haven't had any of those over the years.  Such things require specialized tools I no longer have.

That's Boo blending in with the carpet.

My Ascot 500 has been a bit of an exasperating experience.  I bought the bike days before leaving last year, not running and as I found out, its been so long since it was registered, I had to go through the entire rigamarole with a tired and equally as exasperated clerk at DMV a week ago.  On top of that, somewhere along the way the mileage was incorrectly entered and according to DMV... the bike has 268,703 miles on it. Now both you and I know that a Honda 500 air cooled single, could never make it to 200 thousand plus miles, any more than it could get over the "ton" (only when dropped from a Buffalo at 10,000 feet), but no amount of explanation from my end; "well you see, the actual mileage on the odometer is 26,870 point 3 miles..." made any difference to her, she kept parroting that I could schedule a level one inspection at any time to make the correction if I felt it was incorrect, and besides her look said to me, "I don't give a shit, it's almost 5 o'clock and I just want to get my ass out of this seat and home to a hot shower, preferably with some hot guy."

She's right of course, it's not her problem, if I wished to dispute the mileage as shown on the form, I could schedule the inspection and come back for a plate whenever after that.  Since I'm only here for short periods of time and I would rather ride, I just shrugged my sore shoulders and nodded my head.  So I must have the highest mileage (on paper) Honda 500 Ascot of all time.

Anyway, the FT is plated and running, pretty well I might add, but it has a few more minor issues.  It has a small oil leak when the engine is running, and the speedo doesn't work.  I had picked up a replacement cable but found the drive gear is obviously screwed.  No problem, I have enough experience with street traffic that I pretty much know to within a tenth of a mile how fast I am going.  As long as I don't race the Ascot (that's a joke) weaving in an out of traffic at high speed (another joke) I'll be fine.  I can deal with the issue next time.  On the other hand I may not have to.

You see, I have recently installed a 44T rear sprocket on my XT 350.  This most recent combination has altered my speed/rev range to a much more acceptable level for my riding.  First gear is now useable off road where-as it was trials like with the combination that he had originally sold me, and 6th is really loafing at 60 mph, a speed that bought with 19/55T gearing would climb straight up but errr... had a definite lack of top end.  I now find I can cruise at 4500 rpm at 60mph and stints up to 70mph only add another 1000 revs.

The bike is much less frenzied at road speed with the latest change in gearing.  The reason for buying the Ascot (besides that I'm the Dr.and a wee bit impulsive) was to have a bike suitable for cruising at highway speeds in some measure of comfort.  True, a flat track (FT) designed 35 horsepower single with 5 gears and weighing 370 pounds is probably no better suited than my current combination on the Yamaha.  The XT produces around 29-30 bhp depending on who you are believing, weighs around a hundred pounds less and with the extra gear, is now both a better dirt bike and decent street bike.

Re geared!

This is me, YAYYYY!

It calls into question whether its worth keeping the Honda at all.  Apart from the fact the the Ascot has a broader and more congenial seat/sitting/riding position, better suited to pavement riding, it has no real advantage.  I mean I can take the Yamaha off road if I see something I like, as I did yesterday, whereas the Honda would only be suitable to pavement or a smooth gravel secondary road.

Should I sell the Honda before I put more money into it or keep it.  It has become somewhat collectable and a good unit can be worth some money now.  If I went  the extra mile (or twenty thousand miles according to DMV) I could have a bike worth several thousand bucks.  It is after all, very cool and funky in a flat track sort of way, don't you think?
OEM headlight assembly from Bike Bandit.  150 bucks CDN

Points to ponder...

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