I'd been in contact with an inmate, Ed, who offered to help me with some of my issues! I gave him the Scorpion exhaust as a gift. We got a lot done!
He taught me how to change brake fluid, which I admit seemed far more complicated than it actually was. I never knew it was supposed to be clear! The stuff coming out of the bike was nasty.
Ed noticed I had installed the chain guide incorrectly (I had the chain running along the outside instead of through the guide, haha!), and we fought valiantly against the fact that my screw-type chain wanted to rub against the guide. We inserted and removed various washers until it seemed to fit correctly. I forgot to loctite the bolts though, and a few hundred miles later found the guide dragging on the chain, one of the bolts and half of the washers lost to the road. This time I'm going to try nylock nuts and keep a better eye on it.
We took a look at the electrical wiring to try to find what might be causing the stumbling in the rain. cleaned up a couple of connections, but didn't notice anything terribly off. Damn. We removed the kickstand safety switch, just in case.
We replaced the front wheel bearings.
I've done wheel bearings by myself before, but it's always nerve-wracking, I worry about screwing up the new bearing or getting something stuck. As it turns out, we got the old bearing stuck in the hole while trying to drive the new one in, my worst nightmare. We eventually managed to tap it free after quite a bit of effort. This kind of thing is good for me, it shows me that just because something fucks up, it doesn't mean it's the end of the world. I also discovered that one of my sockets is the right diameter to use instead next time.
While putting one of the nuts back on the front axle retainer, it snapped the stud in half (likely weakened from previous overtorquing) so we removed the stud and replaced it, which was an interesting process. This was another thing that I would have become upset over if it'd happened to me by myself, but which was really Not A Big Deal.
Ed and his wife Yuriko invited me to stay for dinner. We had some delicious yaki soba and sake! They had fish tacos with it, and gave me some avocado and an assortment of other bits to put in my taco - not what I would usually eat, but it was delicious!
Thanks for all your help Ed! I had a great time and learned a lot!
I needed to replace my steering head bearings, they were feeling very notchy. I enjoy doing occasional slow-speed weaves, and I had noticed that this was becoming increasingly difficult. While researching the best way to swap out the bearings, I ran across Dave/"Smiling Jack""s post on the DR650 thread - he'd used liquid nitrogen and a 20 ton press to do his, so I asked if he'd be willing to help me do the same. We made plans and I headed south, dodging football game-day traffic that was clogging up the I-5.
I got a brief tour of the materials research lab he works in, which was fascinating!
Afterwards, we got right down to business and started stripping down the bike. After supporting the bike on blocks and removing the front wheel and fairings, the forks came off, and we suspended the handlebar with a ladder. This helped us avoid having to disconnect/reconnect wires and worry about routing.
We didn't have the right tool to remove the steering head nut, so Dave welded one up. Before I knew it, the triple tree was off the bike!
The old bearings did not look too bad, but they were a bit dry, and there was definitely some wear on the races. With the tree removed, we got out the liquid nitrogen - they have it piped into the building from a large tank outside!
I had way too much fun dunking the tree into the boiling, frosty can. I feel let down that I never got to play with this stuff in school. Liquid nitrogen is awesome! I was very tempted to bring ice cream ingredients, but I thought that might not be appropriate.
Thoroughly chilled, it was short work to remove the old bearings. Much better than some of the recommendations I'd seen - to cut through the bearing with a dremel, hit it with a blowtorch, or chisel it out. Yikes!
I applied a healthy coating of waterproof grease to the new bearings and we pressed them on with a 20 ton press.
After thawing out the tree, we reassembled the front of the bike. My left turn signal kept cutting out, worse than before. Hmm. Later, after I got back to Portland, I would take the signal apart and find the contacts were very corroded. I cleaned them up as best I could and a dollop of dielectric grease later, my problem was solved!
I brought the bash plate pieces with me because Dave had a welder and had offered his help. He welded the tabs on and we rounded off some of the edges so that it wouldn't slice into the case in an accident. There was a lot of trial and error, loosely tacking the tabs on, checking the fit, fixing it if it wasn't correct, but eventually it all came together into a complete plate! Awesome! This job ended up taking even longer than the bearings, putting the kibosh on some loose plans we had for a celebratory ride afterwards.
Dave, his coworker, (who I sadly don't remember the name of), and I went out for pizza. Thanks so much guys! This is the second time Dave has saved my butt! I don't know what I would have done without your help!
Knowing that the raw steel would turn into a fine red powder after a few months of being exposed to the weather, I sanded the crap out of it and put the can of truckbed liner I'd purchased to good use:
All finished! All I need to do is run some rubber along the metal to metal contact areas so it rattles a bit less, and it's good to go! I ran with the raw plate for a couple days, and I found an unexpected benefit - troublesome street lights change a lot more easily for me now! Nice!