Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bike Maintenance Adventure #1

I <3 the internet. i just bought myself a brand new motorcycle. well, new to me. it's 6 years old, and had a battery from 1999. so when i had trouble starting it last wednesday, i thought... heck, the battery's really old. i'll just replace it and that should fix 'er right up. i consoled myself when this failed to pan out by telling myself that replacing a 6-year old battery could never be a Bad Thing (tm, pat pend) and that i had at least bought peace of mind. i think that's true. however, it got me no closer to figuring out why my bike wasn't starting on command.

as my friend mike says, "You put in the key, you turn it, the vehicle starts. This is the agreement."

my bike was very new and already failing to fulfill its end of the deal.


well, in my enthusiasm for the most glorious cruiser ever built (the Honda Valkyrie, of course!) i went out and found lots of websites on the subject during my research phase before buying the bike. after i bought it, i went and joined the VRCC and got all enthused about browsing their website and their forums and such. i was just about to post a question related to my predicament when i noticed in the handy page-header link-farm that there was a standing "Tech Board" for discussion of such issues. so i browsed. the tech board had one post that pertained, and with a little clueful followup, i found the standing "Tech Talk" that amounts to a FAQ of Valkyrie maintenance. yea!

so, armed with dangerous knowledge from the FAQ, i waited impatiently to have some free time so i could work on the bike. i'd already passed up some great riding opportunities for fear that i wouldn't be able to start the bike and get home from whence i'd ridden, so i was chomping at the bit to start Fixing The Bike!

i took apart the appropriate control device, disassembled the starter switch, cleaned the electrical contacts with a pink rubber eraser, put it back together and... NADA. nothing happened. i could tell the starter switch was working because when the button is out the headlights work. when the button is depressed, the headlights go off to make that much more current available to the starter. when i'd mash the button, the headlights would go off. when i'd release it, they'd come back on. clearly, we're getting electrical contact in there, or the headlights wouldn't work. right? of course right!

two days of battery-charging, button mashing, agonizing, and heavy thinking ensue. i'll skip the boring bits.

today, it occurred to me that i was PRESUMING that because i had current flowing when the button was out, i also had current flowing when the button was in. this had NOT, however, been validated. so, after about the 500th fruitless button-mashing session, i took the switch apart again. this time, i took out the little piece that had the Crucial Bit of Copper in it. i held the Crucial Bit of Copper up to the switch, where it should have been making contact with the Other Crucial Bit of Copper while the button was mashed in, and the bike started up like she was brand new. yea!

HappyBikeStarterIgnitionButtonWorkingElectricityYippieKiYiYayHolyInternalCombustionThatEnginesGettingHotNow Dance!

so, i had to take the part of the switch that contained the Crucial Bit of Copper inside the house and tinker with it a bit in the air conditioned comfort of the office. it turned out there was a very tiny spring in it that had been compressed and kinda gotten stuck and so was not mashing the Crucial Bit of Copper against the Other Crucial Bit of Copper quite hard enough to make a good circuit. it was enough to weakly power the headlamp, but not enough to kick the starter. apparently, all my fruitless button-mashing had served merely to compress this spring even further, preventing it from making more than the barest of contacts between the Crucial Bit and the Other Crucial Bit.

anyway, this concludes Bike Maintenance Adventure #1, wherein we learn that when you PRESUME, you make a PRE out of SU and ME*. or something to that effect.

*my apologies to the woman who said that first. should she ever read this, she can take it out of my hide in the form of an adult beverage on our next meeting.


Anonymous said...

I'm telling her that you stole her line. Of course, I told you about it, so I should get an adult beverage, too, right?

Thalassa said...

absolutely. you both get an adult beverage. your choice, and i'll enjoy paying up.