Friday, September 4, 2009

98 octane, diesel and spark plugs

January 19, 2009 - Monday

They don't mix.
But allow me to begin from the beginning.
Saturday dawned gray, dry and fairly mild. The five meters of snow that had kept me from the road the past two weeks wasn't gone, but it was melting, and I was able to roll the Beastie out of the garage. I left home around 1000 hours, geared up in half a dozen layers, and headed for Basel.
I reached the Café Sommer, where I was to meet Roger and Fabian, a good20 minutes early, but that was okay. I had a book along, as always, andI needed to warm up. Spending an hour on the autobahn was a cold pastime, and I was glad for the hot chocolate.
It was impossible to miss the arrival the other two; Roger's Triumph Rocket has one of the loudest legal - at least, I think it's legal - exhausts I've ever heard.
The plan was to go to the Polo motorcycle store just across the border in Germany, and then drive whatever roads weren't icy. I didn't much care where we went, as long as we burned rubber. I wanted to drive as many of the remaining 600 klicks as I could over the weekend so I could schedule the Beastie's first service on Monday. The autobahn trip downto Basel was already 80 or so km one way.
We crossed the border without having to show any sort of ID. If Germany wants to let in every sort of two-legged rat, that's their problem, but I'd rather stop and dig out my ID at the border than know that theoretically anything and everything can enter Switzerland without hindrance now, since that stupid Schengen law has taken effect.
Still, I did see the Swiss border patrol were looking at people's passports and cars as they passed; the Germans didn't bother.
The Polo store wasn't far off, but driving with Roger and Fabian, even through city streets with speeds limits, showed me just how much oomph my bike was missing with that stupid limiter kit in it. And I seriously want to get the exhaust changed, too. Roger's Triumph will drown out just about anything else, but I want mine to at least be able to keep up a racket with Fabian's Shark exhaust.
The Polo store was surprisingly small. Florian told me ours, in Horgen,was one of the biggest ones in Europe. I didn't know that.
The prices weren't all that great either, despite everyone's gushing about how cheap everything in Euro country was compared to Switzerland.I didn't buy anything.
Fabian bought a spare bulb and fuse kit and a bottle of tire foam(whatever it's called in English; if you have a flat you spray it intoyour tire where it hardens so you can keep rolling and get to the next repair shop without having to call a transport), and Roger bought atank backpack for his Rocket. Preparations for April have commenced. (I'm planning on just taking a backpack. I don't want to put bags on my airbrush, or leave my airbrushed parts behind, and I don't mind driving with a backpack.
From Polo we headed into the Black Forest, though we kept fairly low altimeter-wise due to snow and ice. The sun was shining brilliantly,and I didn't get cold fingers, but we did curve through some forestroads that were half-covered in snow or sported slippery patches in the curves.
Truth be told, though, I didn't mind, as it made the guys drive about athird of their usual speed and I could generally keep up on my poor castrated machine. I did realize, though, that the crash last September has set a barrier in my mind. I'm scared to death at every blind leftcurve that some sucker will round it with two wheels in my lane.
When I told the guys that afterwards, Roger said that was so, and that it can take a year until you get back into your old driving style. He evidently crashed on his blue Speedy three years ago, and it took him ayear to recover mentally. (It was a blind left curve in his case too.)
I guess it was shortly before 1500 hours when we split up, they heading back toward Basel and me taking the autobahn back toward Zürich. The autobahn bored me, though, so I left it in Eiken and took side roads home. The Beast announced it was thirsty shortly before Bremgarten, so I decided to wash it through with V-Power at the Shell gas station there. It had split several times during the drive, and I knew the spark plugs were being coated in soot as the machine drove on much toolittle air. This was what happened last year when one spark plug gaveout on me in Baar, after school, and the Beast carried me home 30kilometers on cylinder. I hoped some V-Power would slow down the process.
I refueled, paid the 18.- and headed home. I'd barely reached the stoplights in Bremgarten itself when the motorcycle started to spit and backfire, really bad.
I kept it at 4000 rpm or above, the whole way home, to keep it was drowning or dying on me. Be the time we rolled down to the garage it was spitting and hissing like a furious cat. It didn't even turn off properly, but burbled to itself for a moment after I hit the kill switch.
I left it, since it seriously needed a bath - both it and I were covered in salt - and ran upstairs to my room. It was five minutes to four, so I called up my mechanic and got Achim, the boss, on the line. I told him about the spitting and asked if I could bring it in early for the service. (I was lacking about 300 klicks to the recommended 1600.) I also told him about the spitting, and that I wanted to openthe bike up as soon as possible or I'd get stuck out somewhere in France or Germany with only one functioning cylinder. I asked him whether the limiter kit was purely mechanical, or if there was a mapping for it. He told me it was purely mechanical. Well dude, what am I waiting for?
He said I could bring it on Monday, so I said I would and went to fetch Florian.
He grumbled and growled and said he'd just barely come in; evidently he'd been working on the 50 before that. Still, like the good brother he is he came out and we tried to start up the machine.
It wouldn't. And the conversation went something as follows:
Me: "I refueled it at the Shell gas station in Bremgarten and it started spitting really bad."
"Well, what did you feed it?"
"V-Power. It said V-Power on the nozzle."
Skeptical look on his part.
"It did! There was the green for 95, red, white and black is diesel. I took the white."
Continuation of said skeptical look. "Well, it's not gonna start. Let's see."
So we set it back on the gravel, removed the left foot peg assembly,found a container after some searching and let the gas run out. Except it didn't smell like gas at all, it wasn't freezing cold and it was greenish.
I still insisted it had said V-power, but it was quite clear the Beast had been fed something that didn't agree with it at all. I didn't know that Shell offered any goofy ecological green fuel, but that's what I thought it was.
We drained the tank and filled in a couple liters of good 98 octane.
It still wouldn't start.
By that time it was fairly late, so we decided that on Sunday we'd take the spark plugs out and clean them, and hopefully that would do the trick. But before calling it a day, we loaded the empty gas canister into the back of the Bonnie and headed over the Bremgarten to find out just what the heck I'd fed the Beast.
The white nozzle said V-Power all right. V-Power Diesel.
Stuuuuuuuupid. That's the sort of thing that only ever happens to other people. I saw V-Power and didn't bother with the rest. I guess I was more concerned with my frozen paws than paying attention to the machine.

Sunday. Pastor was sick, so there was no church at our place and we were able to have the service early. Afterwards Florian and I went outside again. Luckily it was nice and mild.
I removed the airbox cover and watched Florian take out the two spark plugs. (So if I ever need to change them myself, at least I know where they are and which tool to use.)
The spark plugs were solid black. I should have taken a picture. Ishould document all of this in pictures... But I only ever think of this stuff once it's over.
Florian gave me a wire brush and steel wool and told me to clean them, which I did.
While I was busy with that, he removed the limiter kit, and cussed and swore at Buells in general when mounting the original full power cam kit afterwards. But, as always, he prevailed, and when we tried to start the machine, it sprang to life, roaring and growling and spitting on the residue of the diesel.
And boy, did it sound good. Even with the original exhaust system, it sounded great, much better than Silver had with its original exhaust. Florian got on it and took it for a couple runs up and down the road. It still spit occasionally, and he said it pauses between 2500 and 3000 rpm, and he thinks the rpm sinks too slowly when you let off the gas. He suggested I don't drive it much before taking it to mechanic's - and then took off for a last round. He scared the daylights out of me when he came roaring up the road and lifted the front wheel three times in a "sissy wheelie," as he called it. He told me to take it easy the first 500 km, just to get the engine used to all the new power.
"Giftig," was his comment, when he returned it to the garage.Poisonous. "It'll make a good stunt bike. Silver..." Yeah, I think Silver's going to be worked to death once it gets rolling again.
The Beast has a pretty short throttle pull now, so I can pull a wheelie in first gear just off the gas, or by working the clutch.
Well, we put the Beastie away, and I planned to take it in to Achim for a checkup this morning before driving it too much. Florian said I should tell Achim that diesel's run through the system, so they can do a thorough check... I really don't want to but I expect there's no getting around it, for safety's sake.
But, the Beast didn't go in for service this morning anyway. I woke up and geared up, and while I was washing my face Florian informed me that the radio warned of black ice, and I should think twice about taking the bike anywhere.
I thought, "Yeah, right," and went out with Retta to test the roads.
It was really, really slippery down by the garage. I had my doubts... And then Retta took her usual flying leap off the grassy hill on one side of the road, hit the pavement and when skittering across it on her side. That did it. If even the dog can't keep her feet on this ice I'm sure not taking two wheels to it.
It irked me something fierce. I'd really looked forward to finally taking the Beast of regular rides again. But I need to practice more patience now, looks like.
When I drove to work this morning, Joshua with me, we witnessed a scooter slide out of a curve and across the road. I was glad I hadn't taken the bike.
The scooter driver got up and limped pretty seriously. I would have liked to have helped him, but I was on the other side of the divider and there was nowhere to park my car out of the way of traffic. Luckily the Volvo driver behind the scooter moved his vehicle to one side andwent over to help the unfortunate fellow.
I called up Achim to explain why my bike wasn't at the shop, and when Itold him that after seeing even the dog fall flat I thought the better of taking my bike out on the ice, he just laughed and told me to bring it in whenever was best for me.
I still gotta find the least embarrassing way to tell them I fed it diesel instead of gas...

No comments:

Post a Comment