Motorcycles, tools, and garages! A little bit of everything mechanical and technical.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Thinking can be hazardous to your health.

Was sittin there in the shop thinking (I know, dangerous thing to do...) and I realized something I thought I'd share.

When I was 14 or so, I had a motorcycle. This was a pretty big deal, since my parents had specifically forbidden any motorized two-wheeled vehicles for anyone who lived under their roof. Long story on how this all came to pass, but I had a motorcycle! It was a fairly decent looking '76 KE175 that someone had grafted a suzuki DR front end to and painted it white and some terrible shade of light blue (you can see pics of it a few posts back under "Blast from the past"). It had major engine issues, mostly stemming from my attempts to patch a broken piston land with JB weld. Ah, the joys of being young and stupid. It actually worked for about 40 feet, at which point the jb weld burnt up and chunks of it tore up the cylinder even worse, finally filtering down and destroying the rod bearing...

I'd worked on a few bikes by that point in my life, but I'd never split the cases on one. Decided to give it a go. Beg/borrowed tools from a nieghbor, took me forever, but I finally got all of the stinkin bolts found and out, the flywheel and clutch basket off, and the cases split! Felt like I was king of the world, having accomplished that impossible task!

I did NOT have the know how or tools, however, to press the pin out of the crank and install the new bearing, press the pin back in, and then true the crank. The crank was also stuck in one side of the crank case and wouldnt come out. I figured it was best to leave this job to the professionals, so I called around and discovered that the local Kawasaki shop could press the crank out of the crank case, seperate the crankshaft, and put the new bearing back in for me, all for $50. That was a fair bit of money to me at the time, but I had no other option, so I took the two crankcase halves in and dropped them off.

About 2 weeks later they FINALLY called back and told me it was done. We headed in to pick it up, and they bring out my crankcase, FULLY ASSEMBLED. What the heck? I didnt tell them to do that, and I didnt even leave all of the nuts/bolts/parts to put it back together!?!

"That'll be $375".

"Um,... WHAT?!"

"$375. Cost a little more 'cuze you didnt bring in all your parts."

"Your kidding me, right? I didnt bring in the parts because you werent supposed to put it back together!"

He was pretty upset, and I told him to just go ahead and take it back apart, because alls I had was $50 and it even said on the work order what I had requested and how much it was going to cost. He finally threw up his hands and said just take it the way it is, and give me my $50.

Thought I made the deal of a lifetime, right!? Wrong. That mechanic cause me more headaches than you could POSSIBLY believe. Generally, each headache involved removing the engine from the bike, COMPLETELY stripping it back down, splitting the cases, and fixing something else he either screwed up or forgot to do. I could literally have the engine out and dismantled in under 30 minutes. I think I took it apart 7 times before we got all of the broken / stripped bolts, MUSHROOMED CRANKSHAFT END (why bother pressing the crank out of the crankcase when you can beat it out with a sledgehammer...) improperly installed countersunk screws, the list goes on and on....

Finally did get to ride it some, wasnt a bad bike, but I could never trust it. Sold it a year later for less than the amount I had paid in parts and don't miss it one bit.

Moral of the story? The life lesson I learned from it? If you want something done right, do it yourself. Buy the tools if you have to. I think this experience has had a great effect on making me who I am today, so I guess it was a good thing... Right?

Anyways, I'm dreading the call from the motor shop, saying that my truck engine is done, its complete, rebuilt, all put together, and ready to drop in your truck. Oh and the totall comes to $3,589. Aint going to happen, right? RIGHT?!

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