|The worst day of the trip flips into the best day of the trip.
Today is planned for another long haul - Interstate work. I am looking to get farther south before I head west. The plan is to avoid an approaching cold front - one that is dumping some snow. Farther north (if I took I-90) I would be stopping due to snow but as far south as I plan to get (southern edge of Pennsylvania) I should get only rain or some snow that doesn't stick to the roads. Right now the roads are dry and the clouds aren't spitting any precipitation. Things are sailing along - until....
I was heading west on I-84, in the second-in lane on an uphill stretch. Traffic was out but not too heavy. The tach which had been sitting steady at 4300 started to jump up. I thought the bike kicked out of gear - 6th gear pop - rare. Pull the clutch in, drop to 5, let out - same thing. Rev, Rev. I'm now starting to slow down and need to get to the side of the road. Over I go w/o issue.
Coasting up the hill still doing 50+ I start down through the other gears - 4, 3, nothing, nothing. The engine is running fine power is not getting from there to the rear wheel. Transmissin? Driveline? The hill was now flattening and I was still slowing. I coasted the bike up as far as I could and stopped. Click into first and let the clutch out - a nice RrRrRrRrRr gridning sound from the rear end. Great - the final drive went. But what went? The gears? I changed gear lube before the trip and I've not noticed any substantial leakage from it. The spline set? (the spline set is the connection from the drive unit on the left side of the wheel to the wheel itself). Possible but they were greased at the last tire change - 10,000 miles ago out in San Jose, CA. The sound seems more like gears than the spline set.
I'm now in an END OF TRIP mental state. A bummed state at that - I won't be completing the trip on this bike. Tow truck to get off the side of the highway. One way rental vehicle to get back to Illinois. Costly and again - not completing the trip on a bike - let alone this bike.
Right ahead is a "Mile 13" marker - how fitting. I push the bike up the gentle grade to that sign and start to document the end of the trip - pictures of the GPS screens, pictures of where the bike sits.
The GPS shows an exit just ahead so I start to waddle walk it towards the exit. Hopefully it will be downhill all the way to the exit. If not I'll end up at the bottom of the hill. A moment or so later a black pickup slips over in front of me and slowly backs up. The guy gets out and offers a hand. Adam is his name.
I detailed the event and he bends down to check the final drive - and the nice RrRrRrRr vibration. Adam has to get to an appointment but he'll stop back with a ramp to help me out. He thinks he has a final drive in his garage that I could use. Holy Cow - that'd be great! This also reminds me that I have a final drive at home too. My mental state just switched from rental vehicle home to fix the problem at hand.
He says I should get to the next exit, take a right, park in the "Park-n-Ride" lot nearby. A convenience store is just across the tracks so I could get something to eat and to stay warm. With an exchange of phone numbers he heads out.
I start waddle walking the bike down the grade towards the ramp. As the grade gets steeper I get to the point where it's rolling enough that I can relax and enjoy the ride - 5, 7, 14, 22MPH - WhoHoo! A stop at the end of the ramp (traffic) I started pushing again towards the parking lot. Things are in sight and the spot is close at hand. There's no rush as it'll be 30 minutes or so for Adam to get back.
The convenience store was a bit away and the parking lot was filled with graffitti. Probably only an issue at night but since I wasn't hungry or cold I decided to sit on the bike - running the electric clothing to keep even warmer (and the engine occasionally to charge the battery - monitoring voltage via the GPS). While there I made a phone call home - "please head to the garage and see if you can find the spare final drive unit for the bike - get it ready to ship". A Friday on a holiday weekend.
Before long Adam pulled in with a nice ramp and straps for the bike. We tossed options on how to get the heavy bike (unloaded) up the ramp. First to simply try pushing - dang - it worked. Plan B not needed.
Adam had family obligations - it's the holiday season - so he asked if I would join them for brunch. While I didn't want to impose more than things were I did join in. There I met his wife Suzanne, kids and relatives. It was a fun (and tastey) time. With that Adam and I headed back home to see about a spare final drive - three? on bikes in the garage but unfurtunately none was "just right". With that he made some calls - he doesn't know of any salvage yard but this would be a good time to try and find one. On the phone he asks the first number (a Honda shop - a long shot to have one but worth asking) if they have a final drive for an "84 VF 1100 c". Heck - I never told him the model number. Sure, his garage has several Honda's and a Moto Guzzi but to know the factory model number of a bike is not usual. It turns out he worked at a Honda parts counter back about when my bike was 'new'. As for the people to stop at the side of the road for my situation - Adam was the guy! Well, the Honda shop didn't have one but they did recommend a salvage shop - Cycle Salvage in West Haven, CT.
ChaChing! Cycle Salvage says they have three final drives for an 84 VF1100c with matching splines (for the rear wheel). Sweet - things are looking up. Adam asked if I had all of the needed tools - all but perhaps a wrench for the axle nut (I think the stock tool kit has one tho). He pulls out a wrench for me to hang on to for the nut (mental note - I need to ship this back). Then as well he asks about final drive lube - nothing that I carry - but he has a new, unopened bottle. Sheesh - he could probably open a service shop out of his garage with little change. Wrench and lube bottle in hand we head out for West Haven.
Not knowing where (how far away) West Haven was - we started driving and talking. Before long Cycle Salvage was at hand.
Gregg and Melonie, the owners, were there to take care of the questions I had. Final drive in hand the task of removal and replacement started. Adam had a few minutes before he had to get home so he willingly dug in as well. The final drive is an easy replacement (made easier with a hammer and drift from Gregg). Final drive wrapping up Adam headed out.
Many, Many thanks. Adam and Suzanne are really nice people. I'm sitting here with a grey background waiting for words to form in my brain - the swirl of many greatful thoughts is there but nothing is forming - what they did for me was above and beyond. Willingly. Genuine folks. What great people.
With the removal of the rear wheel the rear brake pads showed that they needed to be replaced. They were replaced back in Seattle. Wow - I didn't expect to be replacing brake pads about as often as tires. So be it.The fronts will make it to Illinois but they are getting thinner too. Gregg had a big C-clamp to compress the rear caliper pistons for the new pads to fit.
The rear wheel is on and the rear brakes are set. Since I was at a 'candy store' I thought about asking for some non-critical items - left side mirror (existing mirror moves around), airbox covers (left side missing), thermostat (I think it's running open). Sure enough - they had the items. The mirror is slightly different - but that's OK - it matches well enough and it works even better. No left side airbox cover to match the right side - so I purchased a matched set. Now for the T-stat.
Clymer - the repair book I have - says that the gas tank needs to be removed, the airbox removed. I'm thinking that is way too much work - and that it is NOT needed. One small screw to remove the right side airbox cover and there is the t-stat assembly. To pull the t-stat out of the assembly the airbox might need to be removed - but why do just that. To remove the whole assembly is one bolt and two hose clamps. A short couple minutes later the whole assembly is in my hand.
I didn't even pull the assembly apart to remove the t-stat itself. Gregg went back to his stacks - all parts are stored inside - and found a nice clean assembly to install. A couple minutes later the bike was back together and I was ready to get moving. Stopping back inside to wash my hands I wanted to take a few pictures of them.
While I was there a call for parts came in - Hawaii. They'll ship anywhere. I think they cover Japanese / metric street bikes from 1969 to current [I could be a bit off on that though - if unsure - call and ask]. Good parts, reasonable prices, they ship. I expect to be calling a time or two for other parts for the bike. If you need parts - here's their contact info:
Well, the bike is running - what a good thing - but I'm still farily far north and snow is predicted. I jumped to the other side of the freeway, food for me at Subway, food for the bike next to the entrance ramp - off I headed. Traffic was heavy but still moving. Down closer to Stamford traffic slowed to a crawl but that only lasted a 1/4 mile or so. Before long I was headed west then heading on an arch southwest. Right about midnight (Hagerstown MD) I stopped for fuel - 350 miles on the fuel load (main tank went to reserve, aux tank valve 1 opened, reserve came on again, aux tank valve 2 opened - reserve had not lit again). With the new t-stat the temp gauge showed a consistent two blocks the whole time (maybe three blocks for some short spots).
At Hagerstown MD the route would then find me heading west. Temps were to be in the high 30's to low 40's. So far there was no precipitation - but some was expected to the west. Hills - wow- I haven't had hills (aside from a short spot up to Maine) since.... since.... west Texas? Arizona, New Mexico. From there - along the coast it has been flat-flat-flat. Hills are a nice change. I wish it was light out to see the terrain. Clicking along the GPS finally said - "Tracklog Full" It must be a long day of ridig to hit that (approx 1800 data points and I have it set to 1/4 mile spacing - 450 miles).
When that happens I have a few options 1) let it be and not record any more points, 2) unload it to the laptop 3) set it to keep recording but erase the beginning data points. I decided to unload it to the laptop. The roads were wet - it had been raining as I went up and down around the hills. Pulling off the road I took an off ramp to a side stop. Wet roads but snow to the sides. Pulling into an open fuel station at Grantsville, MD / Keysers Ridge the ground was white - high enough here that the precipitation was falling as snow.
Smoothly rolling in the parking lot I found a spot and pulled out the mobile office. A few minutes later the GPS was prepped for more recording and I packed up - smoothly rolling out hoping that would be the last of the white ground..
Heading down the highway I figured it was about time to start looking for a hotel. It was now about 1:30am. Morgantown, WV listed some hotels. It seems this was a college town. I stopped at one and asked for their price - too high - I could keep riding some more.
Clicking down the road I was slowing down - the rain, while not heavy, made visibility more difficult. Not having much traffic also made it easier to ride slower. At some points I noted 52 MPH while other spots were a bit faster - 65 or 70 being the listed limit. I was in "Let's see what the next town has" mode as I went - until... Until I saw two deer - who had just been in my lane move off to my left and were in the lane next to me as I passed by. On the road - not more than 5 feet away as I pass by at 55. Adrenaline flush through the body. It doesn't matter how expensive that next town's hotel is - I'm staying there. Waynesburg, PA, 2:15am.
Late checkout requested the front desk lady set checkout at 1pm. That should be just about right..... g'night. What a day.
You might note the mileage figures for today: 548 + 43. Well the 548 was mileage with the cycle wheels on the ground. Mostly under power via the bike but perhaps one mile under power by me. The 43 miles was recorded while being in the bed of Adam's pickup. Since the bike was in the pickup on a one-way trip - and he did a round trip - Adam trekked about 90 miles for me. Above and beyond!