The fix is in
My dad used to tell us a story about an ethical dilemma encountered by electrical repairmen. They arrive at a house call, look at the problem appliance, realize it’s not plugged in, and have to decide: how much can you possibly charge if all you do is just plug in the clients appliance? You also don’t want to make the customer feel stupid for not having checked if it was plugged in to start with…
Chuck picked us up on the side of the highway not 5 kms (3miles) from his house. The ride back to Flagstaff from the Grand Canyon was a short one, but just past the halfway mark the bike was getting worse than ever. It was misfiring more often than not. I limped for a long while, knowing how close I was, but eventually I couldn’t even accelerate from a light without stalling out. The bike had finally quit. Finally.
The bike started acting up in Fairbanks Alaska, after the crash happened. Since then I have:
-Fixed the kickstand and clutch safety bypasses (both actual problems, but not THE problem)
-Cleaned and dielectric greased all electrical connections.
-Cleaned and moved grounds (several times)
-Replaced the CDI (Capacitor discharge ignition) …a couple times.
-Replaced the Spark plug, Cap and Cable
-Replaced the Ignition coil
-Cleaned and re-oiled the air filter
-Fixed a worn through wire (turned out to be a wire to the horn)
-Electrically tested, then opened the engine case and inspected the alternator and pick-up coil
-Cut open the wiring harness and checked all wires from top to bottom (on the side of the highway)
-Replaced the Pickup coil (side of the road in Las Vegas)
-Cleaned and rebuilt the carburetor.
-Changed the vacuum tubing.
-Changed the Alternator.
Every time I changed anything, a long test ride would follow. Often this test ride would not result in any misfiring. On we would travel, unsure whether or not the problem was fixed, until hours or even days later the problem would resurface.
I cumulatively spent DAYS repairing this bike. Some were repairs, some were “repairs”. Regardless: DAYS.
After spending all morning at Chuck and Sandra’s in the garage,Â tearing into the side of the engine, I had swapped out the alternator. It was the last possible piece of the electrical system that could be causing the issue. I had literally replaced all the rest. I was certain the problem was fixed. It was a fun test ride. I went off road, I went everywhere. Then I felt it. I wanted to cry. Back to square one.
Square one didn’t take long. I got out the wiring diagram and perused it with Chuck. It actually didn’t take long to figure out that the Diode pack wasn’t where it was supposed to be. Then the sinking feeling began to set in. Then Chuck pulled a random wire out that was tucked into the frame. Then the diode pack simply fell off in his hand. It had been stuck on the end of the cable where it belonged, but not clicked in place. A vibration or bump could have easily caused the connection to fail. And for 6000 kilometers, that is exactly what happened. The pieces fit. The problem was solved.
Chuck and Sandra: Thanks for everything. You’ve allowed this trip get back on it’s wheels!