December 08, 2004

Bits and Pieces Falling Apart

Posted by DaveSmith

Here's the list of stuff that's broked: Dad, me, the bike.

I can't believe I didn't name the last post "Stroke Story" as it's about a guy strokin' it and to tease my dad who either had a minor stroke or maybe it's just a pinched nerve. My parent's are still waiting to hear from the doctors on what it was. I think I'll go back and change the title though.

I thought I was having a stroke when I had my first seizure. I felt much better when I almost hit a cow a week ago at 75mph. That wasn't as scary as when I thought I was having a stroke. Sorry dad.

The other night at a lovely spot by a stream at Kulumburra (spelling?), I had a dream of having a seizure. It stopped when I woke up, but the way seizures work is, I was having a seizure in my sleep. I wasn't unusually sore the next day, so it wasn't a gran mal (that's the major one). But that nightime one was the second real seizure I've had. My arm used to twitch when I was sleeping Sarah, my girlfriend at the time said, and my brain doc said those are minor seizures. Not a good omen.

If I have a single seizure when I'm awake the trip is over. I won't trust myself to ride. I don't mind fucking myself up and breaking some bones, and I probably wouldn't croak some civilian with this tiny bike and the unpopulated country. But hitting someone because I had a seizure isn't anything I want to deal with. The thought of having uncontrollable seizures is what got me off my ass for this trip. Epilepsy is good motivation.

I've only had one seizure when I was awake and it was a doozy. I hope there's enough of a premonition to pull over. I've got a big ol' plastic needle of Dilantin in my panniers for when I think I'm going to have one.

I'd have to pull over, shove lube on the needle tip, and shove it into my asshole. Count 3 seconds as I inject, hold it in for 3 seconds, remove and keep my butt clinched for 3 more seconds. Sure it'll be embarrassing lying on the side of the road with my pants down and a needle in my butt, but there's no other choice. And that's a lot less of a pain then going into a hospital where they take 20 painful minutes (!) to inject you with Dilantin. Sure that's in the arm, butt (hardy har har) I'd rather take it in the ass for under 30 seconds than the arm for 20 minutes.

I've been thinking maybe my rash isn't caused by that weird snack food I had. The lymph nodes at my armpits are red and sore too. I wonder if it's a reaction to Keppra. Just basic overimagination as I'm riding all day in the heat. I'll still move the Dilantin butt shot to an easier place to get to.

I think when I get to Perth, I'll have to find out how much my medical benefits will cover as I explore the ranks of the Aussie neurologists to ask for a professional opinion. Thank you once again Donna for marrying me so I'd have medical insurance on this trip. If you haven't read all the posts, Donna is a friend of mine who married me so I'd have medical benefits for events like this.

So that's the long intro to parts that broke. Dad, me and the bike. I paid $9,000 Australian for this bitsa bike (bitsa this, bitsa that). It was built for the purpose of getting me round the world. Which is going to last longer? Me or the bike?

Day 1. Pick up bike and head north. Am told, and find out, the fuel cap gasket leaks. Also told the electronic ignition that I asked several times for and was told "no problem" hasn't been done because it's still in test mode and Phil's not sure how reliable it is. There's no crash guard and tachometer which I also asked for. Get stuck riding at night and the headlight quits working.

Day 2. Oil leaks start. Some minor weeping around the valve covers, the clutch cover, and the forks. Bigger leaks from the head from where there's one o-ring to keep the oil IN the engine and the bevel gear drive.

Brisbane (I think Days 3-10). Carb top rattles off. Horn attachment breaks. The already hard to kick over engine gets so bad I can stand on the kickstarter without moving it. The Kiwi Biker and I change the oil, adjust the points (which makes starting it so much easier), make a plastic bit to hold the horn on, re-wire some dodgy wiring, fill in holes in the panniers with goo to make them watertight, adjust the super high idle and while handtightening the main jet, strip the thread. Order a new carb body from Phil. The replacement shows up, but its been squeezed with channel locks so Ian McPhee files them smooth so the slide will move. Check the tires for the first time and they're both at 20.

Suggestions done as suggested by Graeme Ayers (local Bevelhead Potentate and Electronic Engineer): re-locate a new condenser under the tank to keep it cool and dry, add a connecter to the voltage regulator to bump up output but later find out that 12.68 is the most the upgraded alternator will put out. This means limited headlight and brakelight. I don't plan for much riding at night, but I want a headlight for riding in the rain. And I've had to use the headlight at dusk many times.

This is the first time I had to push the bike. Only about a quarter mile back to the Kiwi Biker's house. A lot of it was downhill. Knock on wood.

Ian takes pity on me and brazes new catches for the panniers as one of the originals rattled off on the way to Brisbane.

Basically, a lot of sorting was done in Brisbane. But if it's going to last worldwide, work is going to be done.

Day 11? Engine won't turn over, Ian tells me to put the bike in 2nd and move it back and forth. After that, knock on wood, there's no more starting problems. Recheck the tires and they're both at 20.

Day 14? At Gavs, reheck the tires and they're both low. Add a second gasket to try and keep the fuel cap from leaking.

Day 16? Fuel tank starts leaking. But, when I check the tires they're both at 32. They've held air ever since.

Spend a week in Mackay waiting for replacement fuel tank and I send my tank back to Phils instead of paying $500 for a new bottom to be welded in on both sides and a new coat of paint. Good thing, since I paid Phil $750 for bodywork and paint.

Get to Edmonton, suburb of Cairns and wait for tank. Pat Hawke and I replace o-ring which stops main oil leak and put goo on bevelshaft which stops the other leak (there's a difference between leaks and weeps). Build new gasket out of rubber which ends fuel leak out of cap.

Pat says if the dots on the bevelgears line up, that's when you adjust the valves without having the timing gear the book says you need. Adjust valves which were .3mm exhuast and .25mm intake. They're supposed to be .15mm exhaust and .1mm intake.

When putting exhaust flange back on (with Ducati tool for twins) I say, "Hey Pat, how tight do these go? I can't remember if you just tighten and wire lock or if you do it really hard, go for a long ride tighten some more and the wirelock, I think one is Ducati and the other is Norton." I spent a lot of time lurking on Bevelhads and Brit Iron mailing lists so things get confused.

Pat didn't know so I figured it was Ducati was just tight and lock. I put the lockwire on with a bit of slack. After it's tightened up Pat says "we should've put spacers in the bevelgears. They're pretty loud and we could've quietened them down". I'm glad 20/20 hindsite happens to people besides me.

I email Phil, tank is still waiting to be painted so I leave Cairns. Tanks been gone for close to 3 weeks. End up in Cooktown and there's no leaks and everything is fine. I even start it by hand. Sure it's just a 250 but I was standing on the kickstarter wthout moving it before.

Head for Darwin. The throttle cable slips out of the solder when the top of the carb comes loose again so I finish up my days ride with vice grips holding the cable.

Out in the outback I notice the exhaust flange is loose. It's the first day of lots of mileage in hot weather. I tighten it up by hand with my gloves on but the lockwire keeps it from getting tight. I cut the wire and tighten it some more. It moves a lot, so I figure it's the Ducati that needs to be tightened hot. Pull out the channel locks in the 100f (40c) degree sun and tighten up a lot. Snap one the nubs off the flange and rewire it.

The next day it's loose again. Try to pull over and I can't shift. There's an allen bolt blocking the gear selector. Hold the clutch, turn off the key, and stop. Pull out the allen bolt all the way and there's thread in the threads so it rattled itself out stripping everything as it went. The lockwire snapped on the flange. Tighten in the hot sun and snap off 2 more nubs. I don't know if the way I laughed was a good thing or a bad thing. Rewire and leave. A few miles and it's loose. Pull over and the cylinder threads are stripped. Hold it in with a lot of wire and head for Darwin.

Next day: Past 3 Ways the mirror rattles off.

Darwin: Was referred by 3 people including 2 shops to visit John Ottley Engineering. He said he didn't have the tool needed to fix the thread in the exhaust so he builds a bit to hold the header still and bush fixes the flange.

Find another mirror. Crazy Japanese left handed proprietary thread so I can't put it on right as I don't have a left-handed nut. The other mirror stems aren't long enough. Go to two nut and bolt suppliers then four shops to get it rethreaded. Can't find anyone who has a way of putting it through a lathe to remove the threads. Don't know why a wheel couldn't cut the old threads off but I'm not a machinist. I think they were just being lazy because it's a cheap job. Now I understand why Phil used the cheap mirror. I'm sure someone out there makes good mirrors for bikes that had no mirrors. Samueljohn, make sure you get good mirrors for your Comet.

Next day: Ride on the Darwin Xmas toy run. The top of the air cleaner rattles off and is run over by a motorcycle behind me. Toy run so its not like I could've stoppped if I saw it fall but it was pointed out.

Next day. Use VB beer can to make a new top of the air cleaner Use some more can to act as a wedge for the allen bolt hoping putting the bolt back will get me 2nd gear back when I upshift and 4th back when I downshift. It's better I think but it still misses gears.

I'm now at Geikie Gorge near Fitzroy Crossing. I stopped at Fitzroy for fuel and to check email and had a note from Frank Warner saying check out Geikie Gorge. I ask a lady how far away is Geikie and she says "hang a right at the Shell servo, take the next right and it's 18k down bitumen road". Nice timing, Frank.

Anyway, an engine mount bolt at the rear came loose and fell out. I check for stuff like that every few days but I reckon I should check once a day. I found a 20 year old mechanic who helped me find a bolt that mostly fits in his parts bucket. It's not correct but it's a tight fit and with some loctite it should stay until Perth.

The bush way of fixing the exhaust flange broke but it's doing okay for now. Knock on wood.

The engine piss marks its spot with oil and the frame and a pannier is oil coated (to keep the rust away). The half assed way I had the mirror working quit working so it's in my tank bag until I can get it rethreaded.

Oh yeah, I've been holding the throttle mechanism in place with my thumb for a couple of weeks. It's second nature so I've forgotten about it

Broome than Perth to get me and my bike fixed. Vee Two can do the work. I asked if they knew anyone who works on singles and they said they'd do it. I wonder if there's any Bevelhead brain docs for me noggin'.

As long as the engine holds together round the world, the price won't bother me. I change the oil every 1,000 miles or so -- bit less after Cooktown and all the dirt roads, bit more after days of riding without changing gears much. I check the plug regularily just because I'm nosy and it's doing fine. I still replace it every 3,000 miles just to make me feel better.

(this entry is closed for comments)

Posted by DaveSmith at December 8, 2004 01:06 AM

Best post yet!

Posted by: Mom at December 8, 2004 08:45 AM

so no fax for the keppra prescription yet? christ.

good post-- you're very sanguine about all the stuff rattling loose. what else are you gonna do, I guess.

looking forward to the 'finally got my prescription filled' post....

Posted by: ol' man foster at December 8, 2004 11:08 AM

Okay- yeah- I'm fully expecting to be called a 'food additive kook' again but if you were *on* Keppra when it happened, please keep an eye out on what you're eating and drinking.

Neotame- the new 'improved' synthetic verion of Aspartame has been approved for Australia (not the US yet) and might be in soft drinks, gum and sugar free candy. If you can, please avoid both. And Acesulfame K. A lot of times they are used in combination. I tried Acesulfame K (in Diet Hansens soda) a few months back to see if I could tolerate it and got rashy hives from it. Or it could have been the Sucralose- don't know. It took a few cans before I had a reaction.

Sucralose (sugar processed with bleach to remove the calories but keep the sweetness) probably isn't so good either.

Stevia is natural but could also trigger allergic reactions.

Any food with a combination of Aspartic Acid and Phenylalanine. Those two amino acids combined can have the same effect of Aspartame.

Are you getting enough sleep also?


I hope everything is okay with your dad.

Posted by: deeann at December 8, 2004 12:25 PM

I don't know if the way I laughed was a good thing or a bad thing.

That quote is why David needs to be a famous writer...and why i love him so.

Be well, David.

Posted by: lainie at December 8, 2004 01:11 PM

a siezure is a siezure. Get thee to a brainery and try to be safe about it. Also, watch out for nutso's with their packages out for grabs. I've read they're sweeping OZ like the latest plague.

Posted by: your girlfriend at December 8, 2004 01:32 PM

>>Get thee to a brainery<<

Yeah, I agree. And don't even try to play it off as if you'd read what the divine Ms. M wrote as "Get thee to a brewery", though I bet *that'd* confuse the beer-making folks a bit.

How far's Perth from where you're at now? You might want to at least stop by a clinic or something on the way at the next town you pass through and have them give you a quick look-see. If it's a little town they won't have the fancy stuff but it's better than nothing and they can probably call ahead a referral for ya.

Posted by: deeann at December 8, 2004 02:44 PM

Atta boy, keep gluing, pasting, rethreading, and vise-gripping (?) your way. From a long line of Brit Car owners (3 MG's, Austins, and a f'n Jag) and now the Comet; you learn to tighten everything everyday all the time. Just see the clinic, I plan on that stout in Ireland as well. I am not sure you will have enough time to pull over, okay?
On the happy note, the posts are poetic. But you need a sidecar just for the tools for the Duc. The Comet does have one bar-end mirror, but I don't look back much anyway, and neither should you.

Posted by: samueljohn at December 8, 2004 05:43 PM

On the basis that you can't fix a problem if you don't know what the problem is......get thyself checked my feckless son.....and keep

Posted by: The Old Man at December 8, 2004 06:29 PM

Dont they have some sort of socialized medical system down there as the Cnadians do??? Might be interesting to see what their perspectives are..

I learned all sorts of interesting things from Euro doctors while overseas. the world DOES not revolve around the US,

Did you gt my money i sent for porn?? Linda sez she wants a Aussie playgirl ype magazine as well, no weird gay stuff, But should be fn for you at the newsstand,,, dont let those reststop boys see yu with the magazines. Ill donate more at the end of the week if iget some decnt coin on ebay.
Hell at this rate even a triumph or BSA would have been far more reliable than that POS past moppett. probably cheaper too.

Posted by: Doug at December 9, 2004 12:34 AM

Hey Dave-
The Triumph is pretty much done. With Old Man Foster looking on, I rode it up and down the street the other night. No lights and the seat isn't really on, and it's f**k-all loud with the little cut-off pipes and no exhaust, but it seems to work. I guess I have several weeks of teething problems as you've described to look forward to. Of course breaking down in front of the Rubicon doesn't have quite the dire consequences as breaking down in Gullagaloogerong or wherever. Let's'll probably be coming east to west, so I'll meet you in Rancho Cordova and we'll ride the last few miles in together. Say...September 19th, 2008?
I'll post again with my two cents worth about seizure medication. Best of luck!

Posted by: C.Harvey at December 9, 2004 05:53 PM

Boy, I sure hope you get the Keppra soon. I really hope you make it out and about on that bitsa bike. At least up to Japan. And I'm sending nice thoughts out to FO for your dad, too. Ditto what Marletta said, she's smart. You should keep her.

Take care,

Posted by: Amy at December 10, 2004 01:30 PM

Good to hear you got to Perth ok and bike is now running better. It was good to have you stay with us for the couple of days mid Dec 04. Hope your happy with the tyre and it gives you good service. How is Brook long time no see? What did he say about our Exhaust clamp? Deb and I have spoken to Ian and Coleen since you left and they also wish you good luck in your travells.Our Xmas was a bit of a non event as I worked (all day in Tom Price) but had a late one and it was great. How was your stay with Tony? Well Dave good to talk to you, you look after yourself and have a good time in NZ. Hope you do realise that there is a difference from them to us, as while I was riding around USA and Canada I was accused of being a Kiwi many times. Cheers from your friends in the Pibara of Western Australia.

Posted by: Steve and Deb at December 31, 2004 02:19 PM