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Old 02-22-2013, 05:53 AM   #1627
Jammin OP
Living on a DR
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Joined: Jan 2006
Location: New Delhi - new 'home' for post RTW
Oddometer: 1,556

The institute sits on the shores of Lake Tanganyika...

...with DR Congo on the other shore. It's a part of the Great Rift Valley Lakes and is the second deepest and second largest lake in the world, after Lake Baikal in Siberia. It takes the title of being the world's longest lake at 676 kms (420 mi) extending all along the south-western edge of Tanzania.

Enjoying a sunset over Lake Tanganyika.

Elias had a very simple home as most of his income was being sent to his young family who still live in Dar. He's lived and worked in the Middle East and is looking to get to the US at some point.

Filling up air on my way out of Kigoma.

Kigoma is probably the most remote city in Tanzania but there's new tar roads extending out from this outpost.

I got back on the mud roads and started heading south and then sanDRina stopped running. I had a sinking feeling that I hadn't solved the issue with her. Once again, she would start up if I let her rest for a while. I went along like this for a bit with her dying every few minutes. I had just left a small town and now it was 200 kms through the bush to the other side. Here, I replaced the spark plug and the ignition coil with a spare set and she ran for a bit more and then died again.

I made the call to turn around and return to the small town of Uvinza. The rainy season was fully under way but it's quite predictable here and only really rains in the afternoon. It was early afternoon by now and I could see the rain clouds coming. This was a tricky muddy section with lots of large potholes and I didn't want sanDRina to stop while I was in the middle of a crossing. I waited for a good 20 minutes before going back over my tracks and she lasted for about 10 minutes before dying again.

I hobbled back to Uvinza and got to a small hotel just as the skies opened up.

sanDRina was looking sad and I was feeling terribly low. I didn't know what else I could do. I thought I had tried everything I could think of. I figured it must be some sort of electrical short somewhere in the wiring harness and I was out of energy to strip the bike down and remove the entire harness to search for the short. I was ready to give up. I had lost my confidence in the bike. I figured it had been a good run up to now and I started making plans for getting back to Nairobi on a truck. It wasn't easy and I spent a few days languishing in the doldrums, wondering if I was really ready to stop the journey now.

I got on the internet and shared my plight with friends who've been following this journey. All of them kept encouraging me to continue and a few in particular were reminding me to check and recheck everything from the basics. If it wasn't an electrical problem, then maybe it was something with the fuel. But I had checked the carburetor and all looked fine but I hadn't really checked the petcocks in the tank or the fuel filter. Ok, I had a good nights sleep, had some oatmeal for breakfast and decided I wasn't ready to give up just yet.

The petcocks looked quite clean except for some crud on the bottom. This is the part that controls the flow of fuel from the tank into the fuel lines to the carb.

I had an audience of young kids. Curious eyes peering through the grate.

They were respectful and just watched and were happy to have their photo taken.

Ah ha, a dirty looking fuel filter. Hmmm, somehow I hadn't checked the fuel filter all this time. I had moved it to a new location on the bike during my rebuild in Nairobi and it was out of sight now, so it hadn't come to mind. This filter has a paper core, which can easily get blocked if there's been some water in the petrol as the paper swells and blocks the pores. Along with water, I guess I've been taking on some dirty fuel. This little clogged filter was allowing the bike to run for a few minutes at a time until the sediments got into every pore and chocked the carb of fuel. After resting for a few minutes, the sediments would settle and the bike would fire up again, until the sediments went and choked the remaining pores in the filter. That was it. I put in a new copper core filter and sanDRina fired up and sounded great.

The kids sensed my joy and got up for a closer look as sanDRina thumped to life. I was ecstatic. I knew now that it was the fuel filter all along. My first hunch of this issue being fuel-related was correct but I had stopped my diagnosis at the carb and didn't inspect the entire fuel system. My bad, but who cares, I had found the culprit!

I went for a 60 kms (37 mi) test ride and she sounded fantastic, revving through all the gears. The successful test ride welled up a great new energy in me and I knew I could carry on now and finish riding through Africa. I wasn't ready to give up and I just needed a little extra push to keep searching for the issue and voila, now I had surmounted the gremlins. I fueled up once again from jerry cans, as there was no other option, but I wasn't worried now. A copper core filter has finer pores for sediment but it wont clog up if there's water in the fuel.

My spirits were up again and after taking my head away from bike maintenance, I could see the beautiful little village of Uvinza.

Storms were coming through every afternoon.

A little old lady who sold me some rice as I restocked my supplies.

Crazy Tanzanian kids selling mangoes. They were all so shy at first but after I showed them photos of themselves, they went biserk and started making the funniest poses. Their joy reminded me of why I'm here in Africa. It's not to complain and whine about bike problems, it's to see and experience this amazing continent, which I was now ready to do.

My room at the Sleep Lodge in Uvinza where I tossed and turned with the decision of whether to quit and throw in the towel now or keep searching for the issue. I'm glad I could muster the energy to do the latter and win this mental battle.

The mama at the Sleep Lodge who's smile reminded me of the life-affirming experience that I was having.

The motorcycle is a machine and it only fails if its operator has neglected to maintain it or if it wasn't manufactured properly. Listening to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance reminded me to stop paying attention to the weak emotions of hopelessness when dealing with a frustrating problem and to simply tackle it rationally. Once the issue was solved, then I could let my positive emotions of achievement and success flood my brain and bring me back into this journey.
J A Y on a 98 Suzuki DR650SE (sanDRina)

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Current Ride Report: Global South | Past Trips: CDR '09, Alaska '08, Mexico '07 | YouTube Videos
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