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Cycle Shanty

Q’s, A’s and Tech Tips – Page Four

Q’s & A’s – Tech Tips – Page Four


Changing your thermostat?

                  Well folks, this really does have to be done, however, is it really your thermostat? First, before you rip it all apart, check your coolant level, run the bike and make sure the coolant is actually being pumped through the system, if not it may be your water pump, and if it is up to par then check the radiator, radiator hoses/connections, temp switches and your spedo head. If all is well then we can get to the thermostat. Even the shop manual may not fully help you. Some OEM’s continue a previous installation in a new model or simply do not update the new manual. You will also be surprised at what heat can do to the connection between the hoses and the flanges. By all means, unless you want to trash your expensive hoses, let a competent mechanic do it.

                   On some bikes you will have a few items in addition to the fuel tank, cylinder covers, air cleaner, etc., to remove before you can get to the thermostat. Yes, you will have to drain the coolant and that isn’t a bad idea in that simply adding coolant doesn’t guarantee your coolant is revitalized. The fastest way to wreck your coolant system components is by not changing your coolant at the very least every two years and if do some riding, every year.

                   Once you have the thermostat housing out you can now remove the thermostat and take special note of the gasket, you need to replace it with a new one and I highly recommend NOT using sealer on the gasket. Any time you remove a part having a gasket, “O” ring or any type of sealing part, it is in your best interests to replace it with a new one. No, not all OEM’s give you a new gasket with the thermostat “assembly” even though the term “assembly” usually means all is included. Be sure you have all the needed parts before you begin. This includes new screw type hose clamps if all that was there were wire or band type clamps.

                     It is time consuming and it needs to be done right to avoid leaks in that you may have to break it down again to stop the leak. Hope this helps you.

Light Bulbs, Headlights and Wiring

                    You say you put a brand new pretty blue beam headlight in your bike and after you rode a while and came to a stop light you smelled something? Yes, it was your wiring burning up and you should be lucky it stopped burning when you turned the bike off. If the insulation catches a real hot fire you wouldn’t have a bike left.

                    Now then, every headlamp, bulb, horn, coil etc., has a wattage rating and if you exceed that rating you’re looking for trouble. I’ll use nice round numbers to try and explain this. Lets say you have a running light that is rated for 10 watts. You always have 12 volts to push the amperage through. That means .83333 amps are running through your wiring. If you install a higher wattage bulb, say 20 watts you now have 1.666667 amps running through your wiring. What gauge wire are you using? If your lucky the manufacturer gave you a reasonable factor of safety and that means a larger gauge of wire. If the factor of safety isn’t adequate you have a fire. Don’t count on the fuse to blow in that the fuse is large enough to accommodate everything in the circuit. It will blow if you increase the wattage for every item. Most fuses are 10 amp rated meaning the wiring can’t take more amperage than 12 amps before burning up.

                Beware of auto parts store replacement bulbs. They were designed for automobile applications and aren’t as vibration proof as those the OEM put in your bike and they usually have a higher wattage. Especially dual filament bulbs and its usually the brake light filament that’ll do it. Know what bulb you took out and don’t put a higher rated bulb in unless you can compute the amperage draw and the additional amperage is never more than 10% of the rated wattage of the OEM’s bulb. Never mind what the salesman tells you, he wants to sell you a bulb and could care less if your bike burns up.

                   Your headlight? You need to check the OEM’s wattage rating and then take a look at what you put in. I think you’ll understand what happened.

               Still not clear on this? Okay, you have 15 amp breakers in your home’s circuitry. If something shorts out and draws 20 amps the breaker will blow real fast. Lets say you have a classic television and the unit has a short in it. Before the breaker blows the lower voltage wiring will draw more amperage than the wiring can handle yet not more than 15 amps. Yes, your TV will catch fire. Believe me, it happen to my TV and I was lucky I was 20 feet away when the smoke started. Do hope this answers your question.

Oil Filters.

                      Well now, yes, you do need to change your oil filter on a regular basis. With most of the filters manufactured today it is a good idea to do so and change your oil every 3,000 miles or 6 months which ever comes first. Oil that sits around in your bike for eternity acidifies and starts to wear out your bearings and with dirty oil the particulates wear out your engine. Only changing your oil can stop acid development and build up, and only changing your filter will rid you of particulates.

                      Indeed, there are some very good filters on the market and the good ones can be found at your shop listed on the Shanty Wall – Places and Things page. What really needs to be addressed are the filters which have been evaluated and turned out to be sad. It’s like this folks, avoid Fram filters in that they use a cardboard end cap which breaks down throwing cardboard and glue into your engine and yes, one biker had engine damage from it. Purolator makes a quality filter although the problem seems to be with the pressure build up. It seems as though the pressure is so great oil is forced between the semi “o” ring and the metal engine surface causing drips and sometimes a puddle to form under your bike and it won’t stop pouring until the pressure subsides. LeMans Pro Series filters have a quality control issue. They’re made in Taiwan and distributed by a sales organization. In the filter evaluated, large globs of glue were found on both sides of the filter element and a ring of glue around the pressure release valve. What that could cause I can’t say since the filter was cut open and couldn’t be road tested. My advice to you is to avoid LeMans filters until further notice.

                     Oh, by the way, most cheap filters are not sold by reputable bike shops, they’re sold in supermarket type sales organizations where all the clerk can do is read to you what the package says. They know nothing about the product, or for that matter, a motorcycle, so beware.

                     Do hope this helps.

Pulling your engine?

                   Well, folks, at some time your engine will have to come out and this is when you will discover how expensive it is to replace a minor seal etc. Most of the Japanese machines use a double cradle frame, to do anything with that engine you’ll need more than a motorcycle lift and the job may be impossible if you plan on using your motorcycle jack. You will need a floor jack or equivalent piece of equipment to hold your engine and raise it before you can pull it out. It’s very important that you remember this before you begin.

                 Since I’m planning on pulling my engine in a few more weeks I’m looking for an easier way out and most likely I won’t find one. It occurred to me that someone out there may think he can just unbolt it and out it comes. Not so. Before you even consider it reflect on the expense of letting a real mechanic do it and have that money in the bank before you take it to the shop. Just so you know, in the long run, it’ll cost you less to have it done in a qualified shop and by a competent mechanic.

Building your own frame?

                     Well folks, you’re in for a big surprise. No matter what you read in the DIY books only part of it is right. Why? Every build is different. If you’re racing then you need some pretty stiff material and the same for off road machines. For now I’ll talk about cruisers, the real street machines. First get an idea of what you bike’s intended use is. Are you the high speed interstate type, the “hey, girls, I’ve got a motorcycle, so you’ll fall in love with me type”, the “well I bought a motorcycle, I’m a biker now and my dog’s bigger than your dog” type, the real biker who has only one primary vehicle, his bike type? Okay, a little more about rake. Build it into your frame. Its bad news to use rake cups or a raked triple tree in that either will give you a negative trail. you’ll be able to go straight although turning will be a major problem. I personally wouldn’t go with more than a 36* rake. It isn’t necessary and it will also effect your handling. For me the ideal rage is 33* to 35* it’s the best for all around riding. No matter what the rake consider the front fork. The longer the fork and the greater the rake the greater the need for heavier materials.

                     For those of you who really ride, put on a few miles every year, there is a rule of thumb. There are three primary types of steel tubing you can use, cold rolled electric weld (Crew), mandrel pulled (DOM) and alloy (titanium there is also chrome molybdenum 4130). Crew is the most popular although with the most risk, DOM is drawn and seamless, Titanium is very expensive and Chrome Molybdenum close to it, although light and strong. I personally recommend a good cold rolled (1040, 1045) seamless tubing. Be sure you’re buying structural grade as opposed to plumbing grade. Plumbing grade is measured by I.D. (inside diameter) and what you want is measured by O.D. (outside diameter). Typically, a 1.25″ O.D. with a .120″ wall thickness can be used for all except the top rail and the center post which needs a 1.5″ O.D. with a .125″ wall thickness. You will also need plate (.125 thick). Use the same spec for the plate. It’ll serve as gusset, motor mount, foot rest brackets, etc.

                    Now the tricky part, how are you going to bend it? You’re better off jobbing that part out to a fabricator, unless you’re into buying expensive equipment. Be sure and get your measurements correct. Tubing starts off straight and loses length when bent. Start out with a straight stock length about 3″-4″ longer than your need. You can always shorten the ends although you can’t stretch the tubing.

                   Now you’ll need a jig, and that costs money and time, to hold the frame in place for welding. Again, you’re better off shopping it out and letting someone else weld it. The best weld is a TIG weld in that the weld is deeper than with a MIG although it can be MIG welded. Use a pure Argon gas.

                   Had enough already? Just spec the frame and let the fabricator put it together.

Need more help? Contact the  Shanty

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