Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Team East Baton transfer

Tinslinger handing off the Team Easst baton in Maumee Ohio on 3/17/2012

Team East photo in front of the Michigan Capitol building inLansing.  3/20/2012

Frank Carpenter handing baton to Dan "Hoosier Daddy" near Angola, IN on 3/20/2012.
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Big Money Rally

And so it begins.

On a rainy, cold January day, I set off to earn a primo t-shirt for participating in the Big Money Rally.

Of course, it wasn't raining when I left the house. Nature revolted as I reached the point of no return, nearing my first bonus location. By the time I had found a parking spot that would show the building with its zip code visible, as well as the bike and the required placard, rain was pouring.

Since I started out without rain gear on, I figured I might as well stay wet. I quickly set up the shot and posted it to the internet with the wrong site location. I was in Dundee, MI on Monroe Street. Monroe is another Michigan town, due East about 20 miles. So, naturally I labeled the bonus picture Monroe instead of Dundee. No matter, I punched the next address into the GPS and headed for the Post Office in Tecumseh.

By now, the rain was coming down in sheets and I was starting to re-think my choice of wearing an open face helmet. There is a sweet spot on the Goldwing that allows rain to fly above your face at speeds greater than 80 mph. At speeds of about 35 or less the rain hits your face but just gets you wet. On the way to Tecumseh, traffic required a speed between 60 and 70, which is similar to having someone constantly shooting you in the face with a low powered BB machine pistol.

At any rate, I arrived at the Tecumseh Post Office more or less intact. I composed a beautiful shot of the building. Then I sent the wrong picture in to the Rally web site. The one I meant to send is this:
When I got home I realized my error and re-submitted the correct picture. I checked the web-site later, and found the BMR scoring administrators had given me credit for the two locations in spite of the liberties I had taken with place names.

I chalk it up to the sympathy vote. They must have taken pity of the soggy guy from Michigan trolling around in a rainstorm in the middle of January trying to score a complimentary t-shirt.

If anyone is actually reading this, take a look at the BMR site. It threatens to be a fun couple of months for anyone who owns a bike and hasn't got enough sense to come in out of the rain.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall has officially arrived in lower Michigan
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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

GL1800 Starter - When good starters go bad

The Goldwing motorcycle is a wonderful feat of engineering. It is a leading edge machine, and reliable to a fault. That is what makes a mechanical problem so irksome. The machine rarely breaks. The usual routine involves adding gas and occasionally changing the oil. The first valve clearance check isn't even needed until 32,000 miles. And then adjustments are seldom needed.

When the key is turned and touching the starter button results in silence, there is a moment of disbelief. Then follows the checklist. Kill switch set, lights and other electrics work. What could it be? The ignition key assembly must be ok or the lights wouldn't come on. There is a click noise coming from the area behind the battery but no starter engagement.

Lately, I've begun to rely on the internet to solve problems whether it be a toilet tank that won't shut off or a medical condition. The usual routine is to examine a number of potential diagnoses and their respective solutions, pick one and exhaust time, energy and money finding out it has nothing to do with the issue. There's a greater than 50% chance things will actually get worse using this process, but it is irresistible.

My search for the starter solution began with checking my favorite Goldwing site; Advice was abundant when I described my problem. It was almost universally agreed upon that the problem was a bad relay which was simple to fix.

Armed with new confidence I looked up the procedure for accessing the relay. It turns out the manual wants you to remove the left saddlebag, which requires removing the rear fender and entire lower portion of the trunk.

Of course, after taking apart about one third of the bodywork and replacing the relay, I fond that when I tried the starter the same click followed by silence remained. On the upside, I discovered none of the bodywork really had to be removed to access the relay. All one has to do is remove the battery and battery box and the relay practically jumps out of its moorings. (This knowledge would be handy later).

Having exhausted the collective knowledge of all the internet experts, I went back to my roots and decided to test the starter itself. Although this endeavor eventually proved to be semi-successful, it is not a project to be undertaken by the faint of heart. Honda engineers have packed a lot of technology into a small package. Consequently, any time you want to tinker with something it requires removal or adjustment of several other systems. In the case of the starter motor, you have to remove the side panels, the dashboard, the top shelter (faux gas tank), the real gas tank, the rear hydraulic brake system, the reverse linkage, and numerous fasteners, clips, wire connectors, etc.

The starter is held to the engine case by three bolts, one of which requires the use of all the swear words ever invented to remove.

Besides the rear brake linkage, and hydraulics, the worst part of the job is getting the gas tank out of a space that is smaller than the tank itself. Once again, removal involves a liberal application of magic incantations. (Important tip: siphon out the gas before attempting to lift out he tank). Even after all the gas has been removed, about a gallon will spill all over the bike and work area even if it is kept perfectly right side up at all times.

Bottom line. The starter turned out to be the culprit. Since no one in the greater Detroit area would rebuild it. I cleaned it up the best I could and replaced it. It worked for about a year before giving up again. This time I troubleshot the job by putting the bike in gear and rocking it, then trying the starter. A few rocks and it would start. Has to be the starter. According to the internet a replacement starter for a 2002 Goldwing is worth about $500 to $700.00. A 2006 starter is $112.00 including shipping. According to the experts online it should fit. Hahahaha. Anyway, I have started stripping down the bike and waiting for the part to arrive. The saga continues.

Fast forward a week. The 2006 starter arrived via FedEx. At first glance it looked close. Upon comparing it side by side with the original, the new one is about 3/8" shorter overall. This may be a good thing since it the old one takes up all the available space to manipulate. The catch is the electrical connection stud. On the new one, the stud sticks right out of the top. About 2 inches beyond the maximum reach of the cable.

The solution is to remove the mounting collar using the three long screws. Rotate the housing 120 degrees and reinstall. Of course there is an alignment pin to deal with and the two planetary gears to trick back into the right position. The alignment pin came out fairly easily using a pair of needle nose pliers. Putting the whole thing back together was uneventful. Now-on to the install in the bike and reassembly of all the pieces.

I just noticed I never finished this saga. It ends well. After putting everything back together (including using the parts left over after the first strip down) the mighty gold wing started like it was brand new.

The moral to the story, if there is one, is to trust your own experience and knowledge (if you have any) over all the armchair experts. And secondly, no matter how devious motorcycle engineers have become, we can still fix our own broken machines like we did in the old days. It just takes more magic words.