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Dirt Bike Fixin's!!!
One question: what’s old, loud and needs to be fixed? My 1974 Kawasaki dirt bike. It’s hard toil, but it sure as heck pays off. What really made it worthwhile was I got the thing almost FREE!
On the first day, I spent an hour scrubbing the greasy grime off the forks crankcase, and everywhere that you can’t imagine. That grease was like the grease from down- under. It clung like homer Simpson to a doughnut. I scrubbed from when the little hand was at the twelve to when it was at the one, and seventy-five percent of that brown gunk still clung to places where it probably shouldn’t have been. Then came the wires. You could not imagine the arduous task of finding where things go without a wiring diagram, but the funny fact is that after we found out where the wires go, I acquired a wiring diagram. After that, we tore into the motor. It had been sitting for a long time, and yet, the engine was almost completely clean. The carburetor was by far the cleanest object on the motorcycle. Taking apart the carburetor became excruciating because there were springs and things that pop and fling. When that was disassembled, I broke out the carburetor cleaner, which had an odor that when you smelled it for too long, you got a stomachache. To soak a carburetor, it takes however much time you have: if that thing isn’t clean, who knows what might happen.
After tedious work on the rear axle, ordering parts, and working on brake systems, we were ready to get the bike running in……… only about forty years. My nerves were so tense, if I picked something up, I couldn’t hold it without either dropping it, or doing something wrong to the bike. Finally, after thinking “When are we gonna crank her up?!?” for what seemed like hours, I wheeled the bike outside. I’m so ecstatic, I can barely even walk straight. The old Japanese artifact sits on the gravel driveway, my heart pounding. “Go ahead and step over it and kick the starter. Two stroke engines don’t need to have all of your weight and power, you just need to shock the motor into running,” Says my friend Bob.
“Ok, here goes!”
My foot lifts like in slow motion, every heartbeat feeling like an hour. Down slowly goes my bottom right appendage, and instantly the starter whips down. “Vddrunmgh!” Again, “Vddrunmgh!” Again and again my mind urges, my anticipation overwhelming my caution of flooding the engine.
“Ok, ok, stop! It’s obviously not working!” Bob exclaims loudly over the thump of my beater.
The loss of all of that excitement and anticipation made my stomach drop like right before you go over a rollercoaster, but four time worse.
“Ok, it looks like its back to the old chalkboard!” Bob stated with a grin
“Great,” I think. “Now I’ll have to assess the problem ALL over again.”
Wheeling that old thing back into the shed was one of the hardest things I accomplished while fixing my bike. Sitting on the lift, that bike looked so sad, so forlorn. “It’s not your fault,” I kept repeating to myself. “The bike’s just old. It WILL run.” After testing Mr. Sparky, we couldn’t figure it out. It was like it was tired and wouldn’t wake up. Until, however we discovered a way to wake it up: The kill switch. That little red flipper was like finding the Holy Grail of my time spent in the shop.
“AH-HA! This is the problem!” Exclaims bob. “The kill switch, or you can call it the shut-of switch, but see? When you turn it off, there is no spark. When it’s on, there is!”
“Oooh!” I say, my excitement rising again, like the mercury in a thermometer, but I’m about to burst. Out again, out again, to the gravel driveway. Up again goes my foot, down, “Vdrunmgh!” Again, “Vddrumghgrutreeeeenblublublub!” Again, with the throttle open, “Vddrumghdreeeeeeeen!!!!!” The feeling was like when you go off a jump on a snowboard, and it’s that effortless flying feeling. Then:”…eeeenblublublublub.” That was like hitting the ground from that flighting jump. Cranking it again, I shock the engine into running, and, like flying sheep, carpet fluff flies from the tailpipe, and onto the ground. Following the mouse nest, come millions and millions of pinion nuts and dark grey smoke. The smoke makes me cough and gag as it forces its way down my throat and into my lungs.
“Wow! I hope there weren’t any mice living in there!” Yells Bob over the roar of the engine.
With a nod of acknowledgement, I say, “Yeah.” Thus went the revival of the Japanese artifact.
The lesson I learned from this is even if work is hard, it pays off in the end. I mean, look at me! A free dirt bike! I hope all the people who read this walk off with my realization.