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Old 01-08-2011, 06:38 AM   #31
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Lookin' forward to more

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Old 01-08-2011, 10:09 AM   #32
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Day 2:
We had to search around Chandigarh a little before we found a hotel that had vacancy but we finally found one, had some beer and food and a good nights sleep. We got up fairly early and hit the road heading north towards Kiratpur and into the foothills toward Manali.

We had rain on and off during the first day so the broken clouds were welcome this morning. The roads were very nice around Chandigarh. They would prove to be the nicest roads we would come across during the entire journey. We blasted through Rupnagar and missed our turn. It took us 20km or so before we realized it.

There was always some great place to stop for a bite to eat usually with quite friendly staff. Most places were making fresh chipati, roti, or naan breads. We ordered Dal Fry (lentils) with almost every meal. Hey Buuurrt, what else was regularly on the menu? We ate mostly vegetarian and were careful not to eat food from the street vendors right of the get go. Surprisingly, no one would get sick during the entire trip.

After missing our turn and going another 20km out of our way and backtracking again, we got onto the road leading into the first foothills of the Himalayas. This road was jammed with trucks going both directions. The trucks creep up the hills very slow so they're pretty easy to get by. You just have to have a little patience and DON'T pass on those blind corners even though the trucks are hardly moving because the downhill trucks are usually moving too fast and seem to come out of no where.

So we're at a stop behind a line of trucks after climbing 25km or so. The bikes are side by side and idling when mine "clacks" and starts making a rackety tapping. We all look at each other wondering "what the hell"? I attempt to get it to the side of the road and it coughs dead. One stroke of the kick starter told the story: no compression in the cylinder any more. We hemmed and hawed about what to do for a bit then I popped off the gas tank and started to take a look under the valve covers while Minxter started helping herself to a little left over McDowells whiskey from the night before.

I found one of the problems right away. The exhaust valve push rod was no longer pushing on the rocker arm, it was out of place.

Here my finger is pointing at the dislodged pushrod which is no longer pushing against the rocker arm. I thought, "cool, I'll just get it back into place and maybe we'll be in business, at least to get us to a shop". Good theory but when I got it back in place there was about 1/4" too much clearance. It was like the valve wasn't shutting all the way.

I also found other things I didn't really like in there. When I removed the rocker arm I found metal shavings that had been pumped up with the oil and were jammed in the ports. I also found some sort of cobbled shims that a previous mechanic had inserted between the rocker arm covers. I suspect they also had seen these metal shavings and were trying to compensate by shimming open the covers so the oil would continue to flow. That's just a guess, but I know for sure these shims were not stock. They were cut from a can or something.

Now it was getting a little later in the day and we had to do something. We passed a hotel on the way up so we coasted back down to it and got a room for the night. I continued to wrench on the bike while the others heckled me. We were drinking beer and a little whiskey and weren't the least concerned even though the bike was dead. We knew we'd fix it. I couldn't get the valve unstuck so we planned to coast back down to Kiratpur (20km back) and see if we could fix the bike at a shop in the morning. The hotel had excellent food and great folks that worked there. We were up out of the plains and had gained some elevation but it was still a bit warm but we slept pretty good under the ceiling fans. Oh yeah, Minxter and I slept good. Seems as if I remember Buuurrt and Maja's fan was clacking all night.

Looking at the day, we advanced about 82km but rode about 145km with the backtracking. We went from the Punjab region of India and just made it into the Himachal Pradesh region which sits in the Himalaya's. We had a dead bike but weren't concerned and we were thoroughly enjoying India and all the people we were running across!
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Old 01-08-2011, 02:54 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Joe Motocross View Post

There was always some great place to stop for a bite to eat usually with quite friendly staff. Most places were making fresh chipati, roti, or naan breads. We ordered Dal Fry (lentils) with almost every meal. Hey Buuurrt, what else was regularly on the menu? We ate mostly vegetarian and were careful not to eat food from the street vendors right of the get go. Surprisingly, no one would get sick during the entire trip.
Those roadside mud huts make the most excellent dal fry going, the black bean one makes you fart like a trooper.

Ate at those type of places pretty much everyday for 5 weeks, including drinking the water and eating the veg 9 the vendors always boiled their water before doing anything with it). Rule of thumb we stuck to was to stop at the places with the most trucks, and check the state of the kitchen before digging in.

Not one case of the trots between 4 people

Liking the report too
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Old 01-09-2011, 03:07 PM   #34
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day 3

The day started by packing the bikes up, having a quick bite at the Himachal Hills Hotel (800 rps no A.C. for the room that night)and off we went with one bike dead. We decided we would coast back down the hill towards Kiratpur and see if we could find a mechanic who could help us out with the stuck exhaust valve. Once the road leveled off we would bring out the tow strap and pull it the rest of the way into town.
From India/Kashmir Trip

This technique worked pretty well and it didn't take long to get back down to Kiratpur. This town is basically like a huge truck stop where TATA drivers prepare or repair their rigs for the steep climb into the mountains. The road is mostly dirt and the dust is extremely thick. That combined with the heat and humidity made it just miserable conditions for just looking for someone to wrench on the bike.

With Joe and Minxter in tow we pulled in front of each shop that looked like they had the tools and knowledge to help us out. The first couple of shops didn't really even want to look at the bike and shewed us off with one of them saying we needed a "Big Hospital" for the bike. The traffic was thick and I was getting worked up because of the heat and dust. Then I spotted a shop with a bunch of scooters out front being worked on. I figured we would check it out. Well, I guess the bags strapped to my bike was a little wider than I thought and I clipped this guys Lambretta scooter with the bag and sent it crashing down in the dirt. Every head swung our way as the guy who owned the bike picked it up and sifted through the dirt for all his carburetor parts. They were not impressed and definitely not going to help out with the bike. So off we went.

The next shop we stopped at was totally different. Everybody wanted to help at this shop. This was our first experience with the Indian people who don't know anything about bikes wanting to tear right into the motor and fix the problem. Usually adding to the problem significantly. At this point we were still being polite to anyone willing to lend a hand. That would not last long.
From 2010-09 India Enfield Trip

This guy would not believe the valve was stuck and just wanted to braze a spacer on the rocker arm. These guys are the kings of improv and the cobb job. It was so chaotic and they just would not listen to anything we said. Joe finally accepted what was going on. You know a little Chai tea will sooth the situation. Really works.
From 2010-09 India Enfield Trip

An older Sikh man offered to take me and find a mechanic. I would load up on his scooter and he would hook us up. What the hell?

He basically stopped at all the shops we had already spoken to and really didn't turn up much new information. Luckily he did not stop at the shop I pissed off by throwing all their parts in the dirt. Even though he didn't turn up much info I felt fortunate to have spent some time with this guy. He didn't really speak much English we communicated all right. A key cast member in what was shaping up to be the second of many difficult days maintaining this sweet piece of english engineering manufactured in India.

When I returned there was a younger man who showed up and explained there was a R.E. mechanic about 20km up the road in Anundpur across from the Sikh temple. He was actually one of the few Indian guys still riding R.E. and said this is the mechanic to go to with our problem. We put the bike back together and were quite surprised it fired up with no compression and a stuck valve.

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Old 01-10-2011, 07:57 PM   #35
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Day 3.1

We arrive without incident into Anandpur Sahib which is a very special place to be. Known as "the holy City of Bliss," it is a holy city of the Sikhs and is one of their most important sacred places, closely linked with their religious traditions and history. The motorcycle shop is located directly across the street from the temple in the center of town and is owned by quiet little bearded Sikh man named Nattu.
From Drop Box

We pulled into his shop which was little most shops in India, a concrete strip of shops all about 100 square foot space in a line of around 10 or so shops side by side.
From 2010-09 India Enfield Trip

Nattu had plenty of business the day we rolled into town, which I think is a indication of the reliability of the Enfield. If you are going to be a mechanic in India. It would be a wise financial decision to choose to specialise in the Enfield.

Once Nattu pulled the exhaust valve cover off he knew instantly what the problem was and told us to take a seat and a cup of Chai. He could fix it.

You can see here the Valve seat has slid out of the head and is not allowing the exhaust valve to close all the way. This is the reason for the lack of compression and the slop with the push rod and rocker arm.

Nattu made a couple of phone calls and told Joe he needed to take the head and a young man as a translater back down the road to Kiratpur to have the valve seat pulled out. The machinist would then turn a new valve seat from scratch and press it back into the head.

This work took about took all most of the day and ended up costing us just 300 Rps for the machine work on the valve seat and head.

While Joe was off having this work done. I hung out with the girls at Nattu's shop, sipped Chai and just watched with the amazing life of the people around us.

People were constantly walking by headed for the temple. Some of the women were so beuatifully dressed in their colorful Saris.

This guy looked like some sort of Shaman toting a couple of his younger fallowers.

Other people showed up to have tire fixed for their automobiles. All done by hand. Look at that. The Minxter with a cup of Chai

Joe returned with the head and Nattu reused the head gasket and had the bike back together in no time. After doing all this work we were truly thankful and just wanted to settle up with Nattu and be on our way. It took Nattu a couple a minutes to come up with a figure and when he did we were just blown away. He charged us just 300 Rps for work he did total. We felt it was such a good deal and Nattu treated us so well, we did something I don't like to do in foreign countries. I say this because many Indians view Americans and foreigners as rich people who can be taken advantage of and in many situations they do every chance they get. I fear when you pay these high prices or allow yourself to be taken advantage of you are just contributing to the problem. That being said, we demanded he accept a tip of a couple hundred Rupees for his honesty and true character he showed when working with us. He reluctantly accepted the rupees and helped Joe start his bike.

We took off retracing out route up the hill and made it to the Hill Top Hotel in Swargat in heavy rain. We advanced just 10 km today. Those 10 K felt great..

I want to plug Nattu's shop in Anandpur Sahid. If you are in this area and need a good mechanic or just a good cup of Chai this is the guy. He is fair and honest. He is a soft spoken, gentle man with a big heart. He made a huge impression on our group.

Shop number 09872158128

Buuurrrt screwed with this post 01-11-2011 at 06:38 PM
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:12 PM   #36
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Here's a little more on Day 3. The first shop we came across, I showed they guys the problem with the valve. They had a look on their faces that was not good and one guy says in broken english "this bike needs big hospital"!

Indian taxi?

I don't know if Buurrt got across just how intense the situation at Kiratpur was. It was dirty as all get out with dust flying everywhere, trucks rolling in and out and people scurrying all over. We had a major language barrier there making it hard to discuss what was going on with the bike. Here is a very typical scene in India. Westerners will start to draw a crowd. Indians will slowly start to appear and watch. Many of them are friendly and will try to help EVEN IF THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING! But they are trying to give you assistance. It's great and I really like that they just want to help you. Others that aren't helping will just watch. And watch. And watch. Even if you're not broken down, maybe you're just pulled over to rest and have some water, Indians will start to appear and watch.

More dudes are coming out of the woodwork offering their opinions. We get Smart Motors on the phone with the main mechanic and Myheap at Smart Motors tells the guy to adjust the push rod and send us on our way. I know there's something way worse with the head then just a push rod out of adjustment.

In the meantime, we've adjusted the push rod as best we can and these guys are suggesting we try starting the bike. I'm thinking, "no way, there's something not good in the head". But we kick the thing and it fires up!! I can't believe it. It's definitely not running right but these guys say just go easy and it'll make it to the next shop. We got a tow rope so we're not concerned if it breaks down so we take off. It's mid day now.

Well, we make it to Natu's Enfield shop. Now we're where we want to be. This dude who we dub "The Guru" knows the Enfield like he was the engineer who designed it. He starts the diagnosis. He speaks no english but I can communicate just by showing him parts and demonstrating the problem. He's of the Sikh (Seek) religion. We found that we really liked all the Sikhs that we'd meet.

The Guru is swamped with customers! (tells you something about how much maintenance the Enfields need) He's doing a sort of "Enfield Mechanic Triage" which we would learn was a common task among Enfield mechanics. It consists of sorting out the customers bike issues and tending to them in a manner that keeps people flowing through, thus, maximizing the amount of bikes he can attend to.

He's constantly jumping from bike to bike, diagnosing and deciding what task is next. The Guru is cool as a cat, moves slow but deliberately and is very efficient. He's got a number of young apprentices that he keeps busy with easy tasks. If you've got more serious issues, he'll triage you out as he takes care of other easier repairs at the same time, jumping back and forth, putting his apprentices to work on the routine stuff. Things like chain adjustments and clutch issues get taken care of quick.

We decide the head has to come off our bike. Again, we put Myheap from Smart Motors on the phone and have The Guru inform him of what's the issue. Myheap agrees and we proceed. It looks scary but it's no big deal. It takes a few minutes and we get it off. Buuurrt showed photos of the valve seat that had popped out.

So the Guru sends me back to Kiratur and I'm at this little rat hole of a shop and the machinist starts CUTTING A VALVE SEAT FROM SCRATCH!! I'm totally impressed!! He's centering the piece with simple tools and measuring with basic calipers. He finishes it, pops it back in the head, laps the valve and sends me on my way for $300 rupees ($6)! I'm dumpfounded.

It's late in the afternoon now but I get back to the Guru's and we assemble the bike, he takes it for a ride and pronounces it ready. We tell him of our intended route and he give's us thumbs up. This guy had a heart of gold and was genuinely a very honest dude. I try to start the bike but it doesn't start the first few kicks. That's when he gives us a lesson on starting the Enfields. I've got big boots on and I'm kicking it like a 500cc dirt bike, just giving it all I've got! He's got flip flops on and finesses the kick starter with an easy stroke and the thing just starts purring. So that's how it's done!! I must say that when the Enfields are running properly, the do purr real nice. Just a slow quiet engine.

We hop on and once again head for the hills. I've still got those metal shavings in the back of my mind and I'm not really seeing how they were related to this repair we just did. It'll turn out they weren't related. It's raining and we put on our rain gear. Like Buurrt said, it's raining heavily and we advance 10km past the hotel we stayed the previous night to Swarghat and find another hotel, get cleaned up, have cocktails and dinner and re-live the intense day we just had, amazed to have made at least 10km headway!!
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:30 PM   #37
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We get up the next day to a little rain, put our gear on and take off shooting for Manali.

Again, this route is jammed with trucks and here's the typical scene; a truck heading right at us in our lane as he overtakes another one.

We drop down into a deep valley that has numerous busy little villages along the route.

Nothing wrong here amazingly! Just a fuel stop and of course oil fill up for my thirsty beast.

We are traveling along the Beas river which has quite a bit of population along it, scattered through the steep hills.

We take a right and start heading up a sizable tributary to the Beas river. Clouds are breaking and it's turning into a really nice day and the scenery is starting to really come on.

It's been wet in Northern India, the rivers are flowing big time and….

….. the reservoirs are full.

This is turning into an awesome ride up this valley!! We are really starting to feel the Himalaya's as we start to actually get into them.

The young Indian boys LOVE to get photos with western women. They think they're pretty cool getting photos on their cell phones to show their friends. "Madam! One photo, one photo" is their phrase which turns into a mini photo shoot that you need to cut short or you'll be there all day.

Buuurrrt's bike is starting to show it's colors now with a nice little oil drip. Mine is starting to make a deep knock. I have a good idea what it is but I don't want to admit it and I pretend that it's no big deal. Also, I'm trying to figure out if the valve tapping is getting louder or if my mind is just playing tricks on me.

The route through these little towns was quite tight and busy as we headed up the valley toward Manali.

The roads are starting to deteriorate as we climb.

We make it to Manali not long before dark and find a seedy little cheap hotel. We will climb Rohtang Pass in the morning so I decide to give the bike a once over. I pull the tank, valve covers and rocker arm covers. NOT GOOD!! Metal shavings are jammed in the ports again. We discuss this and decide to do an oil change thinking perhaps there was just some metal left from the first break down. We wander around town, have some awesome food and a couple of beers and call it a night.

The bikes went 214km and all we had to do to them this day was add oil, clean out the metal shavings and change the oil.

Joe Motocross screwed with this post 01-16-2011 at 11:51 AM
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Old 01-15-2011, 06:45 AM   #38
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Great Trip

Great trip. Curious how this turns out. Thanks for posting.
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Old 01-15-2011, 07:23 AM   #39
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This RR will leave a mark.

Only three pages in and you have made me laugh and smile more then I have on longer RR's I have read. Years from now you will just have to mention the word "Enfield" to your friends and you will break up laughing.

I can safely say this is turning into an interesting adventure.

Thanks for posting.

Yellowknife - New France New Scotland (Nova Scotia)
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Old 01-15-2011, 08:32 AM   #40
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Very interesting ride. Very heavy traffic.

Impatiently waiting for the sequel
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Old 01-16-2011, 11:41 AM   #41
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It's just starting to get good!!!
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Old 01-16-2011, 12:18 PM   #42
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I love India and love this ride report. Looking forward to the remainder!
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Old 01-16-2011, 03:33 PM   #43
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DAY 5:
We get up and decide we should all go get a Hindu Blessing thinking this will maybe help our Enfield karma situation.

There's a brother/sister team working the crowd here at the temple. It breaks your heart to see these cute kids out begging.

We grab a little grub from the street merchants for the day. Some of our group are a little apprehensive still about the street vendors but I decide it's time to mix in just a little.

We saddle up and start toward Rohtang pass which is 4000m (13000') in elevation. We are getting used to the condition of the roads. Good thing because they wouldn't improve much. Sorry to say but this is not what the Enfields were designed for. Why the XT or DR is not the workhorse of this country I'll never understand. Those bikes would be a dream here.

The road over Rohtang follows a pretty intense route.

We are getting into the thick of the Himalaya's now it it is stunning!!

We climb for a bit and decide to pull over for some routine maintenance. The girls do some eye brow maintenance while I clean out METAL SHAVINGS from the rocker arms!! Looks like the oil change didn't take care of the issue. The valves are definitely ticking louder and I can no longer not acknowledge the deeper knocking noise. At this point, all we can do is baby it.

We're climbing past the mid way point and it's raining harder. The road is not good with deep mud and there are groups of bikers that are admitting defeat as they can't take it any more. It must've been a bit embarrassing as we charge by two up without thinking twice. Buuurrt and I have lot's of desert riding experience in really hairy conditions. With two up on the Enfields, I admit it is challenging riding.

We also have to admit defeat to a certain extent and Buurrrt has to drop his passenger for a stretch. It's raining and people are stuck.

It's getting hairy now!! I will also have to drop my passenger as we negotiate this mud trying to get passed numerous stuck cars and trucks. Again, I suspect this is not what's intended for these Enfields. We're nervous in this type of conditions on these bikes. Buurrrts bike starts acting up at this point with his clutch not wanting to disengage properly, not ideal when you really need it to release!!! My bike continues ticking and knocking and we're not really babying them at this point!!

We actually do pretty good at negotiating the cluster fu%! and the road improves a little. Note the bulldozer on the switchback in this photo. We'd learn that these beasts just live at different locations throughout these passes where they patrol the roads clearing rocks and fixing washouts.

We make the pass and start to descend the other side!! My bike is ecstatic now that it doesn't have to climb any more (we're a bit relieved as well). The rain lets up as we descend.

It's time for a reality break and take it down a few notches. The intensity of the first half of the day is almost overload!! The road conditions coupled with these piece of crap bikes that are barely doing the job along with this absolutely stunning terrain we are in is about too much. We decide we need a sip to ratchet it back a bit.

Even the passengers need a little something to help mellow out!!

A couple of Indians stop as their heading the other way. They can see that we've had an intense day and are not psyched to hear what's ahead of them on the other side of the pass. At least they'd be going down hill through the madness. On a side note, what the heck is all the stuff that people pack on their bikes? I see bikes, not only in India, where people have an unbelievable amount of stuff strapped on. You'd be amazed at what you DON'T need if you don't have it. Try it some time, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Things are really going well at this point.

This valley that we're dropping into is totally amazing!!

The road is not bad and we've got a nice cruise going as we work toward our goal, the town of Keylong for a place to stay.

We come to a confluence of the rivers and start up the next valley. We are so psyched to be traveling through this stuff!!

We make it to Keylong after a very intense day advancing only 117km!! My bike is going to need attention. I don't think it's wise to continue without addressing those metal shavings.

Keylong sits at about 3300 meters (10,000'). We find a great place to stay and settle in for what would be another VERY intense chapter in this adventure.
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Old 01-16-2011, 07:10 PM   #44
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I really admire the Ladies of this story. This is a fantastic Read! Thanks for taking the time to post it.
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Old 01-17-2011, 03:33 AM   #45
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outstanding !!!
this black river never comes to an end,never gives up.
i'm always getting tired...
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