Thursday, January 11, 2007

Back together

It was one thing to get the bike to the welder's shop and take it apart so he could do the necessary welding. It was another thing to put it all back together.

I was definitely worried.

Josh, at Bob's BMW, had given me the directions to Metal Specialties, in Spencerville. The last thing he told me was, "remember to disconnect the battery." So, of course that was the foremost thing in my mind when I got there, Tuesday night at 4:30. I parked outside the shop, broke out the allen wrench and started dismantling. By the time I got the top box, seats, and tank off, and the battery disconnected, it was getting pretty dark. I tried not to think about how much harder it would be putting it back together, the next day.

To get to the battery of the R1200 CLC cruiser, you have to remove the gas tank. I had done it once before, so was a little more confident. I wondered why I had not remembered to have the tank near empty after the last time, however.

Mark Bailey, the owner, came out to see how I was doing. There was one screw I could not get out on the right-hand side saddle bag. It was stripped. The rest was done.

"I should have brought the cover for the bike," I said.

"No need," he replied. He offered to help me push it up the small rise and into his garage and work shop. Most of the the parts fit into the top box. I loaded it, the gas tank and the seats into a friend, Susan's, car so they would not be in the way at the shop, and we stopped for pizza on the way home.

The next afternoon I didn't get off work quite as early. Susan picked me up at the Metro. Traffic wasn't great. We had to stop for gas. I forced myself to stay calm and bought a bottle of water to make sure I wasn't dehydrating -- thus preventing additional irritation. On the way out I tried not to think about the task ahead and silently said a prayer. It was colder, and I would have less time.

The bike was sitting in the driveway, so I got to work. It was not easy remembering what screws went where but I organized them as best I could. Lining up the gas tank, I realized that I was missing the grommets that held its rear mounts away from the frame. This scared me. I remembered what they looked like from the last time I had removed the tank, but I did not recall seeing them this time, and they were not among my parts.

It occurred to me that before I put parts into the top box, I was using one of the saddlebags. Mark had asked me to leave him the left one so he could line things up, and the right one he still had because I could not get all the screws out. So, they were already back on the bike. I looked inside and there was one of the needed grommets. Not seeing the other and not being able to go much further without it, I finally went looking for Mark.

The sign on the side-door to his garage said "OPEN." I opened it and hollered.

No answer.

He might be in the house?

I went through the shop to the door to the house and knocked.

Again, no answer.

I checked the door knob. It wasn't locked. So, I figured I would open it and holler.

Still, no answer.

I started to to worry that he might have had a stroke. What if he was inside on the floor?

Then he hollered back. Whew!

I waited and he came out. I showed him the grommet.

"Have you seen another one of these?"

"Yes, I found one and put it in your saddle bag."

"Ah! Yes, that's where I found this one. I'll have to keep looking.

It was clearly getting dark faster than the motorcycle was going together and the temperature was dropping. The weather forecast promised low 30's. I was therefore very grateful when Mark again suggested that we push the bike into the garage.

Once I had the side stand down, I asked him where he had found the grommet. He pointed to the flat part of the rear suspension.

"It was sitting on top of the swingarm."

That made sense. I went around to the other side and looked. There the other one was! Now, I could get started.

His shop was heated and well equipped. It turns out that he had lots of experience with motorcycles as well as helping people build hot rods. While I worked on reassembling my bike, he worked on an exhaust manifold that he had create by welding together steel tubing. It would be for a '32 Ford, he told us.

He thoughtfully provided a small jack that got the bike up-right and off the ground so that I didn't have to work so hard to keep the top-box and its mounting bracket in place atop the rear fender, while screwing it down. A drop light, held by Susan, helped me line up the screw holes for the gas tank so it went back together more easily than than the last time I had to do it. This time I found a way to use a screw driver as a lever to push the tank forward and up then hold it where the holes lined up as I got the allen screw started. That held it steady and more precisely than I could have done with just my hands. Once I got both screws tightened, I realized that I had used the wrong set of screws, but swapping them out with the correct set with the larger washer went quickly.

"You sure are sweating," he pointed out.

I had taken off my riding jacket, the Garmin liner and my tie but was still sweating profusely.

"Are you okay?"

I told him that I thought so.

"Well, I sure don't want you to have a heart attack and have to haul you out of her."

Only later did I realize, with a chuckle, that I had had a similar concern about him moments earlier.

As I went to seat the bracket for the top box, I found myself missing another grommet, one that I had just seen and wondered where it went. It never did turn up. Not a major problem. It would be okay with grommet for only five of the six mounting screws until Bob's BMW could get me another. More disconcerting was discovering that I was missing four screws to hold on the side vanity flanges, under the seat. They weren't really functional except that they would keep some of the elements away from some of the wiring. I realized that I had been careful to set the flanges down on the ground with the screws still in them, during the disassembly, but had at some point turned the flanges over to use them to hold other screws coming out of the bike.

Bob's would have to provide me replacements for them as well.

I asked Mark whether I should push the bike outside the garage before connecting the fuel quick-disconnects. At times, they release a bit of gasoline.

"I'm not worried about that."

It turned out that they snapped together smartly, not leaking a drop.

That done, I turned the ignition on, put the bike in neutral, and pressed the starter as he watched. He wasn't surprised, but I was greatly relieved when my reliable bike came quickly back to life.

Susan said that she would meet me at home.

"How many girl friends might you go through before you would find another one with the patience to watch and try to help in this cold?" I wondered.

I turned the bike off, then held the bike as Mark lowered the jack.

We opened the garage door and he guided me in backing down the driveway. I thanked him again. He reminded me again about the temperature and told me to drive safely. Then he said good night and went inside to his dinner.

Alone in the dark, despite the cold, I took my time putting on my gear, then when everything felt right, again pressed the starter, turned and rode out his gravel driveway to the street.

I was almost all the way home on New Hampshire when I realized that I had hit nothing but green lights all the way.

No comments: