Sunday, February 14, 2010

Led Zepplin Saved My Motorcycle

I have a 1988 Kawasaki KLR 650. It is a terrific dual sport bike. It goes anywhere and it takes a beating. Its dignified and somewhat sexy. Through a series of discussions on bike trips it was named Raquel after the actress Raquel Welch.

During our last trip Raquel started burning some oil, like a quart every 100 miles. It didn't smoke but I had to keep filling it with oil. I rode it about 500 miles like this, a real testiment to its toughness.

When we got back we took it into the shop and diagnosed the problem. It appears I didn't seat the air cleaner as well as I thought and some of the outside was introduced to the inside. This isn't too good for the piston and rings.

By the way, the shop is a fully equiped motorcycle repair facility owned and operated by OC Bob. He is a gentile, patient, guy's guy who has owned more motorcycles than I have seen. He is presently the proud owner of 3 Harley Davidsons, 4 dual sports, at least 3 road bikes and several antique British road warrriors. He knows his stuff.

I took the KLR apart and ordered the parts more than a month ago. I installed the new piston and rings and was on the road to getting the head on. I was tightening down one of the bolts holding down one of the cam shafts and the bolt broke off in the head. It was late at night and I was frustrated so as things often go, it went from bad to worse.

As I was removing the other cam shaft bolts and beating myself up for breaking the bolt, I dropped one of the bolts in the drive chain tunnel. It seemed to go a long way down. I took a light and a magnet and tried to get it and I think I pushed it farther into the abyss. I had to call it a night.

The next morning I owned up to dropping the bolt into the engine and started to disassemble the necessary covers and parts to get to it. With some good natured ribbing and a pile of direction from OC Bob (we call him OC because he has a fettish for oil coolers. All his bikes and vehicles are getting fit for one and I think if his dog stops for more than a few minutes she will have one also) I thought we were progressing.

Then another gremlin slowed our attempts to pull off the flywheel. We mashed two nuts into the flywheel and it looked like it was going to be another long day.

You know how you don't really know when your fortune will change until you look back? We were listening to our local ancient rock station that plays "blocks" on the weekends. Mostly they played pop hits from the 70s and 80s, stuff that is better off in the background. Just as we were staring into the guts of the KLR pondering how much a new engine would cost (to OC Bob's credit the talk of scrapping Rachel's engine was coming soley from me) they put on a block of Led Zepplin. Whole Lotta Love, Ramble On and Good Times Bad Times came on in succession. Everything seemed to fall in place. By the time the block had finished we had removed the flywheel, extracated the pressed in nut and found the bolt I dropped, laying there as content as can be.

It may seem like just a silly coincidence but I believe in the power of Rock and Roll. I believe that block of Led Zepplin allowed us to get our stuff together and we were sent into the zen groove we needed to get things going. Whenever things get tough, get the Led out.

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