27 June 2008

How to diagnose an electrical problem by adjusting the clutch

The other day, Mrs. G told me that her Blast, which she has named "Buellah", heh, was making a pretty loud clunk when she'd put it in first gear while stopped. I tried it. It was loud all right, made my nutsack ascend vertically at high Δ acceleration until it banged into the stops at the thought of what was going on in the cog closet that if left uncorrected would make a lot of expensive work for me later on. I decided to adjust the clutch and see if that helped, so I set the sled up on the service stand I bought just for this bike and turned to. There's no flat surface on the bottom of the bike, so setting it on a milk crate is out of the question.The stand is absolutely essential to work on this thing and is turning out to be worth its weight in gold.

Just a note about the saddlebags. These are model-specific. There's really no place to attach brackets, so these are 'throw-overs', held in place by the seat and an array of nylon straps. The designer was either pretty clever or got the idea at a leather bar.

Click to emHUGEn

The clutch adjuster cover plate is behind the front part of the Y-shaped footpeg bracket, so that's the first part that has to come off. No way around it. Let the games begin...

I said in the post linked to above that there are two fasteners holding this thing on. There are three. After pulling off the seat and battery and moving a plethora of wires and hoses out of the way, the first two locknuts came off pretty easy after a little monkey-motion figuring out what combination of tools to use. The third one was a bitch. I think I had every ratchet, u-joint, extension, wobbler, end wrench, pitchfork, whatever was in my toolbox that I thought might work, laid out before I hit on the answer, which of course was the most time-consuming and inconvenient one of all and the one I was trying to avoid.

A breaker bar and a 12-point socket. Sigh. I like to use six-point sockets because there isn't as much chance of damaging the nut, but the breaker bar didn't have enough travel. It was turn the handle a little, reposition the socket on the nut, turn the handle a little, and so on and so on. Notice all the crap I had to move out of the way to get what little wrench clearance I got. Notice the drilled-off pop rivet that held the system relay on. I pop riveted it back on this time, but next time a nutsert is going in. There are wires and hoses down in the hole as well that had to be manipulated each time I repositioned the socket.

It was a mite tedious but eventually I got the bracket off.

I know all you wrenches are snortin' "Dummy! Why dintcha use an air ratchet?" I tried. My 3/8-drive air ratchet lacked 1/32nd of an inch in every direction of fitting in there. Grrr. A 1/4" air ratchet from the Cheap Chinese Tool Co. is heading towards me on The Big Brown Truck as we speak.

After a coupla hours of screwing around, which included smoke and cold drink breaks and plenty of throwing tennis balls for my pup Tami, this is where I was at:

A few minutes of scratchin' my head tryin' to remember why I took this piece off...

The clutch adjustment took about five minutes.

Reassembly of the footpeg bracket was the reverse of the above, but it went a lot quicker because I had the procedure figured out. Buttoned the sled up and tried the first gear shift. The adjustment had worked, just a nice 'snack' sound, pretty normal for a new bike.

Total cost for the job was about a long gone 50¢ for cable ties and a pop rivet which I always have in stock. I didn't replace the clutch adjuster cover gasket because it was in good shape and I'm saving my new one for the first regular service. I know what me'n Gascacinch can get away with.

All in all, not too bad for my very first time working on this bike. I topped out the learning curve for this procedure, which has to be done fairly often just in the general course of maintenance. It's just like racin' - first you learn the track, then you go for lap time.

Time to go for a test ride.

But wait, you say, what electrical problem did you diagnose?

Well, before you can diagnose an electrical problem, there has to be one.

I decided to go to the post office, a mile away, and pick up the mail. I didn't make it.


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