Jul 19

Taking a tumble on a Valkyrie.

I never got a definitive answer about whether a tree falling in the woods makes a sound if there’s nobody around to hear it. But one thing I know of an absolute certainty is that if a biker drops his motorcycle and there were no witnesses, it never happened! But as we move further into the 21st century, there is less likelihood that such an event will not be witnessed.
I was pulling out of the parking lot a few days ago, going to lunch. I backed the bike up a couple of times to clear a car parked next to me, then began making the small loop to pull into the alley, just as I’ve done hundreds of times. The next thing I remember is getting up off the pavement, wondering just what the heck happened.
Whenever such an incident occurs, all bikers know there are three things that you must do immediately. First: Stand the bike back up before anybody else sees that you dropped it. Second: Nonchalantly check yourself to see if any bones are sticking out. Third: Get the heck out of there before you wind up having to answer embarrassing questions.
Unfortunately for me, one of my coworkers was out in the alley sucking a cancer stick and saw the whole thing. So much for deniability. I’d pretty well determined at this point there were no bones sticking out, but I wasn’t absolutely sure they were all in one piece inside of me. To buy some time, I backed off and made a show of inspecting the bike. Luckily, the bike doesn’t seem to have suffered any damage. My coworker had reached me by now and was incessantly asking if I was OK. I assured her that I was fine as I tried to look mildly irritated but calm.
There was a little discomfort in the right knee, but the leg seemed operable. Pants leg not torn, so it can’t be too bad. The right arm is a little different story though. Pretty well numb except for a dull ache in the bicep. It doesn’t seem to want to do as it’s told, and seems a little weak. The jury is still out on whether I can ride with it.
But as the woman continued to interrogate me about my well-being, seeming not to accept my assurances, escape became more urgent. Besides, I’d used the arm to pick up the bike. How bad could it be? Giving her a final assurance, I mounted the bike and prepared to make my exit. I hit the starter, and nothing. ARRGGGHG! Now what? Then I remember the Valkyrie has an angle sensor that will shut the engine down if the bike falls over. To reset it, I’ll just have to turn the key off and back on. With the satisfying sound of singing 6 x 6 cobras, I finally depart the scene, convinced the worst is over.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, there was a television show whose theme song went, “When it’s least expected, you’re elected, you’re the star today. Smile, you’re on Candid Camera.” I know how the victims felt. Re-entering the building after lunch, I’m greeted by stares and a flurry of questions about whether I’m OK. It seemed an inordinate amount of attention, even if the lady who saw it had told everybody she’d seen. Then I get the bad news. She’d told her supervisor who had then reviewed the video from the parking lot security camera. By the time I got back, it seems everybody in the building had seen it at least once. I’m not sure the final show of The Sopranos got such good ratings.
Fortunately, such fame is fleeting and just a few days later nobody is talking about it. But the incident does bring up an interesting question. If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there, does it make a sound then, or only after somebody reviews it on a security camera?

- Guy Wheatley

Jul 16

Title: Chad Tye Benefit
Location: Whiskey River Harley-Davidson 802 Walton Drive Texarkana, TX 75501
Description: Chad Tye leaves behind a wife and 4 children, ages 5, 9, 10, and 14 years of age. Bikers will come together this Saturday at Whiskey River Harley-Davidson to raise money for the family. All proceeds will go to the family.

BBQ Brisket and Trimmings
Live Music – 50/50 Drawing – Auction
$5.00 Donation
Start Time: 09:00 am
Date: 2012-07-21
End Time: 4:00 pm

Jul 10
The film trick
icon1 Guy | icon2 Wrenching | icon4 07 10th, 2012| icon3No Comments »
Film used to repair leaking fork seal” width=

A piece of film can be used to repair a leaking fork seal.

I replaced the fork oil and upgraded to progressive springs on my Magna back in April. I no sooner finished that project when I noticed a leaking fork seal in my Valkyrie. I really didn’t have time to do it myself, so I got a quote on having it done. It was only about $100 in parts, but the labor was going to run close to $400. OK, so I do have time to do it myself.
Researching the procedure, I quickly realized why the labor was so expensive. This is not a simple repair. It requires a couple of special tools and, if done incorrectly, can damage the replacement parts. In other words, you can waste $100 in parts, and whatever your time is worth, and accomplish nothing. So I kept riding with a slowly leaking seal.
I hadn’t noticed any performance degradation yet. I knew eventually I’d have to tackle this problem, but I was hoping to put it off until winter. The Magna, with its upgraded progressive fork springs, was again out of action because of an ailing carburetor. If I tore into the Valkyrie, I’d have no bike to ride. So I wanted to get the Magna running before I pulled the front end off the Valkyrie. But there are just too many projects lined up in front of the carb job, so I just keep riding and watching the oil spot where I park the bike get bigger and bigger.
I found a wrench session about 5 hours away where they were doing fork seals on a Magna. One of the participants has experience replacing Valkyrie fork seals. He even has the special tools we need. He invited me to come up. But there was no way I could leave town that weekend, so I thanked them and suggested I might try to get up there later in the year.
In the meantime, however, somebody on the discussion thread mentioned the “film trick.”
I’d never heard of this, but apparently it is common practice among the riders of dirt bikes. It seems that leaking fork seals are part of off-road riding from debris working its way in between the fork tube and seal. Rather than replace the seals every time they see a leak, dirt bikers will take a piece of film, like used in old- fashioned cameras, and use it to try and clear the foreign material. They simply remove the dust cap, then cut a slight point on a strip of film. Then they slide the film up the fork tube, in between the tube and the seal. Then they push the film all they way around the tube, with the film at an angle. Very often this forces the contaminant out of the seal. You then wipe the oil off the tube and bounce the forks to reset the seal. You may have to repeat the bouncing and wiping several time until the seal reseats and you no longer see oil on the fork tube. But once that happens, you’ve just saved yourself a $500 repair.
So Sunday morning, I found myself kneeling at my Valkyrie’s front wheel, film in hand but no real hope in my heart. This just seemed to be too good to be true. A chrome shield that is supposed to protect the tube was in the way. But I eventually got the dust cap off and the film in between the tube and seal. Again, the shield made a complete 360-degree circumnavigation of the tube difficult, but I eventually succeeded. I looked to see if I could spot any material dislodged by my effort. I didn’t see anything. I wasn’t surprised, figuring there was little chance of this simple solution actually working. But as I began to wipe down and bounce the forks, I noticed that the seal had stopped leaking. As of Tuesday morning, the tube is still clean, and the oil spot on my sidewalk has stopped growing.
I’ve watched a lot of high-dollar, special-effect movies. I watched blue humanoids ride flying dragons, and a man in an iron suit fly. But stopping a leaking seal has got to be my favorite film trick.

- Guy Wheatley

Jul 6
Valklyrie at intersection” width=

A Honda Valkyrie approaching an intersection.

I was approaching an intersection on my way home a couple of days ago when I suddenly heard frantic honking. I was still half a block from the intersection, and I could see a guy in a pickup approaching from my left. He was also about half way down the block. I could see him looking at me as he tapped his horn. He then held up his arms in a shoulder shrug as he mouthed, “What’s the deal?” It must have taken a couple of seconds for things to register for me. I even looked around to see if there was another vehicle he might be gesturing to. But I was the only one. I eventually realized that he somehow assumed I was going to run the stop sign, and was angrily waving me off.
My knee jerk reaction was definitely negative. With my left hand committed to the clutch as I geared down and my right hand busy with the brake, I had no free manipulative organs with which to express my reaction. I did mouth back something, but I don’t really remember what. As I stopped at the intersection, I watched him roll through looking at me instead of at the road. He still had his hand up, not on the wheel, apparently completely absorbed in his feelings of injury.
Needless to say, I made my way home with less than respect for this individual. Motorcycles accelerate and decelerate more quickly than cars, so it’s possible I was approaching the intersection more quickly than he expected. But he began honking with more than half a block still ahead. It was way too early to have any idea I might run the sign without tarot cards or a ouija board. But the worst failing on his part was his complete disregard for his surroundings as he transited the intersection. He was so wrapped up in his self-righteous indignation he would have simply run over anyone, or anything, that moved into his path at the last minute. I’m sure that if he had taken out some kid on a tricycle from the nearby apartments, it would have been my fault for distracting him. Too bad he doesn’t appear to hold himself to the same standards he would hold other drivers.
Oh well, at least he saw me.

- Guy Wheatley