Joined: May 2013
Location: North Georgia
Days Eleven and Twelve
Bob and Andy service the Toad
Days Eleven and Twelve
Colorado Springs and Denver
Before I started on my journey, I had made arrangements to visit my friends Bob Garner and Candy Seaton in Colorado Springs. Bob is an avid vintage racer as well as off-road rider. I met Bob years ago at a vintage motocross race in Colorado. We discovered that I now live in his original hometown of Rome, Georgia. Small world, isn’t it? Bob offered to let me use his well-equipped garage to service the Toad on my journey, which was a huge help as the Toad would need a few things after over 2,000 miles on the trail. I planned to replace my tires and tubes, brake shoes, kick-start return spring, the carb to airbox boot (which was developing dry rot cracks) and headlight. I would also need to re-jet for altitude and re-gear for the mountains. I planned to remove the cylinder and de-carbon the head and exhaust port. While the cylinder was off, I would measure the clearance between the piston and cylinder as well as the ring-end gap. In the event that I needed to freshen up the top-end, I had Bob line-up a machinist to bore the cylinder on short notice. I also had the Hodaka parts suppliers, Paul Stannard and Bill Cook, ship the needed parts to Bob’s address. Both men did a great job getting the parts to Colorado before my arrival.
After arriving at Bob’s from Trinidad, we set about our work on the Toad. After a quick pressure wash, the bike was on the work table and we removed the cylinder. When we first looked at the piston, rings and cylinder liner, all was good. All of these parts were still serviceable despite the Toad having been run virtually wide-open for the last ten days. However, the rod had too much play. The big end as well as the little end bearings on the rod were loose! Drat! The oil pump fiasco on the second day had damaged the engine. I decided to go ahead and install a new oversize piston and rings and replace the piston pin and bearing. I did not have a rod kit and related parts (or enough time to rebuild the bottom end on the road), so there was nothing I could do for the big end at this time. I hoped that a tight new top end would help reduce the strain on the bottom end, and somehow the Toad might go the distance.
The local machinist that Bob had lined-up to bore the cylinder did not pan out, so he called a friend in the Denver area, John Sawazhki, to see if he knew anyone that could do the job on short notice. John had made arrangements with a local shop in Denver, Pro Motosports, to have us drop the cylinder off at their machinist. We would then go back to the shop later that day and pick it up. John is the go-to guy to help make things happen on short notice! I remembered John from vintage racing. I always admired the cool twin-pipe CZs that he rode in the Classic classes. While we waited on the cylinder, we went over to John’s and he took us on a tour of his home and garage. At one time, John had hundreds of restored vintage bikes in his huge garage. Today, he only has two; a pristine Monark 500 and an immaculate Husky Viking four speed. John also has an impressive fleet of modern KTM and Aprilia off-road and supermoto bikes that are in the place his vintage collection used to occupy. He also has a deluxe shop that any modern motorcycle shop would be proud to own. John still has an amazing motorcycle memorabilia collection: toys, literature and artifacts. We only had time to look at a small portion of it. Best of all, John entertained us with a wealth of motorcycle related stories. I could not think of a better way to spend an afternoon. When the cylinder was ready and we were leaving, John gave us his latest business card. His new title is “Certified Emotional Engineer.” I could not agree more.
Martha at Pro Motorsports was the person John called on to help get the cylinder done for me. Martha seemed to be amused at the “Hodaka across America on the TAT” story, and insisted that I tell the others in the shop what I was doing. After hearing the story, most gave me the “this guy must be a weirdo” look, which I was getting used to on this trip!
On the way back to Bob and Candy’s the traffic was fierce due to the wildfires that were raging out of control only a few miles from their home. The fires were a cause for concern, but luckily for Bob and Candy, the fires were still a ways away and they were not yet in an evacuation zone.
The next day, we were able to get all the work done on the Hodaka. Mr. Toad was now fresher and had the proper gearing and jetting for the mountains, but he was also wounded with a weakened crank assembly with the toughest tests just ahead of him. What would be our fate?
That evening at dinner I had the opportunity to meet one of Bob’s friends, Jeff Slavins, a well-known off-road rider and businessman in the industry. Jeff looked on with amusement at the collection of Hodakas in our possession. For a fellow that helps to develop the latest and greatest equipment in the off-road world, a person riding a Hodaka must seem very odd indeed!
I feel very fortunate to have Bob and Candy as friends. Without their help, time and generosity, it would have been difficult to continue the journey.
Tommorow, the hills of the eastern slope await.
John Sawazhki- Certified Emotional Engineer