25 June 2005

It's Alive!

Lightning struck, Igor recoiled in terror, I hit the starter, and the Road King came to life. Right away. No sputtering, no timing issues, no fuel injection nightmares. Everything was beautiful (thank you, Mr. Stevens - now play Misty for me).

And man do I feel better now that the two wheeled instrument of death is back on the road ... I'm sleeping again at night, I've cut down on the beatings I dole out to the wife, and the kids no longer hide under their beds when I come home at night. Open heart surgery on the chrome phallic symbol is bad enough, stripping the threads on the cam support plate simply pushed me over the edge.

120 inch pounds my bitter stinking ass.

Just a hint: the cam support plate allen screws, mainly the two located in the aligning dowels, will NOT support a torque of 120 inch lbs as specified in the damned HD manual. Furthermore, if I thought disemboweling the twin cam was unsettling drilling and tapping my cases pushed me right past clear thought and sanity. Not that I needed any help ...

When the allen head screw spun free and the aluminum threads on the first bolt of the torque sequence gave up something snapped. Something synaptical. Nothing mechanical. From that point on it was all downhill. I went through the basic stages of Apocalyptic Motorcycle Trauma. Much cussing, a great deal of cold beer, more cussing, analysis and advice from armchair mechanics, more beer, a late night of debauchery with an Original Goon, reassurance and tales of woe from old-school hoodlums, beer, harassment of locals, forcible expulsion from area establishments, a 4:30 am feline funeral, a hangover, a yuppie house party, skinny dipping, weirdness, violence, latent lesbianism, another hangover, and finally: acceptance.

Heli-Coil. Loc-Tite. Less torque. A vow to kick Willie G right where his nuts used to be. All is well.

The good news is I have little or no top end noise. No idea exactly why but I like it. Since I rode the bastard home new the twin cam motor has had more top end noise than a detroit diesel. Rattling, tapping, clinking death throes. 50K miles of that had me acclimated to the clatter. The only time I really noticed it anymore was when I'd pull the earplugs to exit I-70 for gas. That's when it seemed the valve train was about to come through the tank and emasculate me right on the Interstate To Nowhere. Other than that I was accustomed to my noisy motor.

Whether it's the new cam chain tensioners or the ThunderHeader's improved breathing capabilities my motor sounds like it should have when new. I pull up next to opposed Beemers and tell them, "Jesus, is that thing about to come undone?" I scoff at Goldwings. I consider the VTX a rattling death trap. Road Stars sound like open-primary Knuckles. The hum of a gixxer seems unsettling to me ... wait, it always did. But pride goeth before a fall. And as a friend mentioned the other day, "Yeah, they always sound best right before they take a big ol' shit." Thanks. That helps.

So the Japanese engineering will likely outlast my new cam chain tensioners. But it's nice to pull up to the light next to cat on the ACE and not read his thoughts through terrified stares: "Holy hell! Listen to that fucking thing! My salesman was right, those things are junk! I'm glad I got the Honda!"

Gimme another 20K miles. It'll be back to chattering death.

The cam chain tensioner replacement was over due. Witness the above picture. That's the old inboard tensioner on the right. New one on the left. I'm thinking that's what it looks like when they're about to come undone and have babies all over the cam compartment. Wouldn't that be fun? And it wouldn't have come undone on the way to the Frisco. No, it would have taken a shit in Assbag, NE. In a rainstorm. When I was gooned.

Preventive maintenance is so cool ...

Loc-Tite, used in moderation, is your friend.

Never-Sieze is as great a gift to mankind as penicillin.

Never sleep with a woman whose problems are worse than your own.

Whoops! Slipped into a philosophical soliloqouy. That won't happen again.

Road test today for the heli-coiled and thundered-up masterpiece. A lazy roundabout route to Sparks America for the weridness and nudity one can expect at Tony's place. Rumors abound concerning the death last Saturday. But all the witnesses and folks who were there (the only views that matter) I've talked to say the same thing, "Unfortunate, but the cat brought it on himself." Hey, people die. That's what happens. It's the logical conclusion to this whole "life" thing. We're all gonna die. The trick is to live in the meantime. If your version of 'living' includes better living through chemistry, mass quantities of tequila, and tempting fate by thugging up hoodlums then the clock runs faster for you.

Hopefully today we'll gather up some of that Bad News Jimmy action out of KS and head off for some beer-soaked hoodlumery in the expanses of central OK. With highs in the upper 90s hurrying to get to the campsite so we can stand around and sweat with the unwashed masses appeals to me very little. Six hours to cover 150 miles, that sounds about right for the way I like to relax. If I wanted to get there faster I'd have bought an airplane. Besides, we don't call it 'Iron Liver' because we get lots of rest and exercise ...

As a side note, now that the Road King from hell is off the lift the Lizard Glide cop bike has a spot. If you reading this from The Sandbox, Major Del Lagarto, rest assured your two-wheeled conveyance is currently on my lift. Bleeding nasty black fluid. Waiting breathlessly for the new synthetic oil. Loving the attention. Anticipating its new salmon and canary paint job ...

I wouldn't do that. Would I? I could ...

Vaya Con Dos Equis.

07 June 2005


Having the Road King torn down on the lift makes for a bittersweet form of mental anguish and self-induced torture.

June, as the devil's month, affords me little if any riding time. My vocation's dependence on local agriculture's annual harvest of grain means the sixth month is filled with excited and demanding phone calls from the salt of the earth rather than extended trips aboard the 2-wheeled instrument of death. Granted it's only been like this my entire life, but that does nothing to lessen the sting as untold thousands (it seems) of motorsickles blaze by my site of indentured servitude. The only thing worse than wrenching on a 3500 diesel motor at 8 pm on a June Sunday is having your friends rattle pipes and honk as they pass by on a beer run. Bastards ... I hope the bugs were thick and the air was thin.

In the interest of sanity preservation and probably some sort of zen-like preventive maintenance practice (thanks, Bob Pirsig) this harvest I decided to tear the blue and silver beauty down for some minor surgery. My reasoning; I'm over 50K miles so there are things that need done, and if the bike is disabled I won't be daydreaming of ditching work and burning up the asphalt with my Iron Livered friends. The theory was I'd be less apt to get shitty and bitter about being unable to ride if my favorite bike was disabled and unridable. Plus, I've heard all sorts of horror stories about the cam chain idlers on twin cams and wanted to assure myself all was well.

The maintenance thing has panned out like a champ. In fact, the rear chain idler is cut pretty deep and a piece was resting in the bottom of the case behing the cam plate. Justification of prarnoid disassembly!

But you just can't resist the urge to ride. So I cheated. While my mount waits for a Thunderheader and I toil on cam chain idlers in my 'spare time' The Lizard's Cop Bike was just too tempting. Entrusted with his prized possession while he serves Uncle Sam in The Sandbox my legendary rationalization skills took over and dictated the motorsickle truism: "They're made to be ridden." That was all I needed. Plus you should have seen it sitting there. All alone. Forsaken and sad. Calling to me like a UNLV coed, "Ride me, You Jackass! Ride ME!"

200 or so miles later this past Saturday I'd mapped a route for the Running Of The Rats, defamed countless no-riding posers, made some new friends, spread the good word of Runs That Don't Suck, suffered wind rain and hail, backtracked to find the local Air Guitar Master hiding under an awning, and taken beauty queen and local hero Miss Meredith for a ride. In a skirt! Yes!

I can think of only a few better ways to end a short Saturday ride than toting one of your wife's adorable friends through local dives (the better ways all end with me sans wife - and friends). On the motorsickle. And did I mention the skirt? Mmmmm ... skirrrrttt ...

First time I've ridden the cop bike, with its bat-wing fairing, farther than a simple 'trade me bikes' hop. Whether it's my limited stature or just the nature of the fairing that damned thing directs a great deal of wind into places it should simply pass by. The staccato drumbeat my Oakleys tattooed on my nose left a nice red raw spot for a day or so, and the top end of the turbulence accentuated the lower annoyance by directing bugs straight into my scarred forehead. The hail, thankfully, caught me on the side of the noggan. Direct hits form hard rain suck like finding a root on your Thai hooker. The next morning. In your ass.

I know I'm not the only jackass out there who laughs out loud at the weather deities when that ray of sunlight appears at the end of a dark nasty patch. Tempting Thor's hammer cracks me up, it feels like winning. Like you've outsmarted mother nature, mugged on her sister, goosed her cousin, and had her hot mom flash you some tit. Then glided into the clearing scot-free and blameless for some sun-soaked scrogging.

Decidedly dirty analogies today. Must be some pent-up frustration.

Which reminds me, I trust everyone does so already but you have to check out Doug at 40 On 2's 'Inside The Helmet' post. I've contemplated an IPod or satellite radio for the mind-numbing monotony of I-70, et al. but wonder, "Would this lessen the time I spend in deep introspection, meditation, and the quest for a higher plane of enlightenment?"

Upon further contemplation I realized it would just get my mind off the carnal conquest roll call my mind plays ad nauseum. And I'd hate for anything to interrupt the flow of perversion. So XM and the kick-ass earbuds from Aerostich will have to wait. Besides, I spent all my money on new exhaust.

So last weekend was great. Despite working entirely too late Saturday, being cussed by area agriculturists because I do not feel a lack of planning on their part constitutes a crisis on mine, sustaining a hail welt or too (yeah, I know, "wear a helmet"), and dragging ass to work on Sunday only to be cussed again. On a Sunday. By the same folks. After they'd hit church and had a big meal. All it takes is a little ride to nice places with people who don't suck. That evens things out. At least for me.

Oh, and I thought this was funny; had a friend email me a link he found on James' site: Why Bike. Love the disclaimer next to my link. Guess I could try and tone it down a little.


Ride it or give it to your sister, punk.