Tuesday 26 August 2014. Phoenix rising?

The last few days have seen some progress on the Suzuki DR800. The pickup coil is fixed and I've painted the crankcase cover. Before painting though, I modified it slightly, marking where No 1 bolt should go so as to ensure that I always put them back in order. I also increased the space for the wires to come out of between the crankcase. The wires I used are a thicker guauge than stock and will not bend as easily. This spot is after the seal and so should not affect oil leakage. Wiring around the instrument cluster is coming along well but photos of that for another day.

When finished painting, the crankcase will have three coats of VHT case paint, three coats of VHT caliper black satin and three coats of VHT caliper clear. When I put on the cover, I will use some 6 mm rod as guies so that it slides on perfectly in place. With a new gasket, permatex no2 gasket maker and an outside bead of RTV oil resistant there should be no more oil leak as well.

Saturday 16 August 2014. There's hope yet ...

Started work on the Widowmaker today. The 24 year old Suzuki simply stopped a few weeks ago and it has been rather disheartening. To allow time without pressure I de-registered the bike and cancelled the insurance. It was a good move because without the pressure of wasting time, I tend to work slower and more thoroughly.

Last week I did a few tests on different electrical systems and it felt like a broken wire on the pickup/induction coil. However I've basically stripped of the side covers, tanks, seat etc to check the whole wiring and can see that to make the bike much more reliable and robust, lots of the wiring needs to be changed out and now I can do that properly.

Once I had the stator cover off I could see the problem. The green cable from the induction coil was simply broken. I would guess that the solder connected had failed.Overall, the connections were in poor conditions and that would explain the occassional tachometer issue and the bike just stopping becuse the induction pickup tells the CDI unit, basically a primitive computer, when to send a spark to the spark plugs.

Here are pictures of the break.

Now thinking this through, I reckon that the failing wire must have meant that the spark plugs were not firing on every cycle and that would have meant less power. Therefore fixing this issue should mean that not only will the bike be more reliable but it must also produce a better spark and thus more power. Fingers crossed.

Saturday 9 August 2014. The Great Australian Ride Send-Off.

On Friday night I rode the old Rainmaker down to Byron Bay and yes, it did rain. Only a little. The occassion was the send-off for the Great Australian Ride; an annual event for dirt bikers to cross Australia from Byron Bay, New South Wales to Steep Point, Westeran Australia ... across the centre. Not only is the entire trip an adventure but it raises an incredible amount for the Sids and Kids charity. By Saturday morning the riders had raised over $60,000.00. As they pass through towns they also give talks on SIDS and this has helped opened opportunities for people who have lost children through Sudden Infant Death Syndrome to receive counselling and support.

This is the Byron Bay lighthouse on Saturday morning where the "Send-off" ride started from. I was there for the first leg only; from Byron Bat to Tenterfield. From there the team went to Texas. After that the main team of 16 riders and one support truck were off to on a real adventure and I hope to join the 2016 team but there is some work to do to make that happen.

The cafe at Byron Bay lighthouse served great coffeee.
 Bike and bikers, coffee and donuts, views and fumes. What a glorious start to the day.

 This is Scott, one of the energetic team behind the Horizons Unlimited event at Beaudesert this year.
Bikes, man, bikes.

Cape Byron lighthouse.

Love this custom paint job on the BMW GS1200. This bike was with a group from Brisbane who had a very diverse range of bikes and personalities, as it should be.
We left Byron Bay, clogging up the roads with too many bikes to count. The organisation was excellent, with the groups split into a number of smaller sub-groups with separate ride leaders and the cornerman system of navigation/group riding working well. A stop at Lismore whilst waiting for the Bruxner Highway between Lismore and Casino to clear gave us all plenty of time to compare notes on each other's bikes and the glorious bike riding weather. 

Once we were back on the road, up through Casino and then on to Tenterfield. Lunch at the pub. Here I had a great opportunity to meet some real characters. The first was Christophe Barriere-Varju, a genuine Dakar Rally racer. Christophe is the ambassador for the Great Australian Ride and has competed in the Dakar Rally four times and finished twice. His story is quite incredible as he largely self-funds his campaigns and he is a very genuine guy. Christophe and his friend Simon have created and released a film on his last campaign called Dreamracer. I bought a DVD copy and watched it later thatr night. Brilliant! I even watched it again on Sunday. You can find out more about Christophe, his campaign and the film on dreamracer.tv

After lunch I had an hour long chat with Tex O'Grady of "Tex and Bundy" fame. Tex is a full time charity fundraiser who devotes his life to helping his fellow man. Bundy is his faithful companion and together they ride to event after event, raising awareness, visiting hospitals and sharing joy. Tex's story is one with listening to and I'm looking forward to having him and Bundy at the next Horizons Unlimited meeting as well.

After Tenterfield its was off to my own little Titan shed/chalet for the night just outside of Stanthorpe. This is a property own by some friends of mine who generously let me stay there from time to time. Its in a beautiful setting and gave me a great chance to watch Christophe's DVD and do some study. A great way to finish the Day.

Sunday morning was the slow ride home. Again, riding weather to die for and the bike ran well. I can tell that it needs new plugs and oil but the Cunningham Highway is always full of caravans and so the slower speed suited the bike well. A great weekend and if you are wondering, next year's Great Australian Ride send off is 8 August 2014.

Wednesday 30 August 2014. The Widowmaker is dead.

Well, at least for now.

Over the last two weeks I had a look at the electrics on the Suzuki DR800. Depressing. The harness itself is in worse shape than I remember. This is because all I ever this was to wind on extra insulation tape previously. Had I looked more carefully, I would have seen that there were some real issues going on there. I have also checked the ignition pickup coil, CDI unit and Regulator/Recifier unit with a multimeter. The CDI seems fine but the ignition pickup coil has inifinite resistance so that means no circuit, a break in the wiring. Its possible that the break is in the wires to and from the coil and not in the coil itself. If that is the case, its just a matter of time and patience. If it is the coil, that's another new part to throw at the bike and I am not up for that.

The regulator/rectifier tested OK on all but one wire, the orange wire with black tracer. That may not be too bad as its possible that it may be fixable or replaceable with an aftermarket part from a different machine. I am also aware that a common swap for an older Honda Africa Twin is a regulator/rectifier built for aircraft engines, so fingers crossed there.

The worst part is an example of poor workshop practice. I had failed to disconnect both the positive and negative terminals on the battery. Whilst moving cables around, I shorted out the 5 amp cables for the indicator circuit. A bit disheartening, no actually, a lot disheartening. Fortunately upon closer inspection the damage is restricted to this one circuit and is easily fixed.

So what to do? I've grown tired of replacing expensive parts on this bike and really just want to ride. The answer is to get better mechanincal and electrical skills; that takes time and when you are paying registration and insurance on a bike not going, that's just more money wasting away. So I've canceled the rego and insurance and that allows me to take my time. Whilst I have sme basic hand tools, in the last few weeks some good friends and many web sites and YouTube videos have shown me that some better tools and techniques can really make a difference. Fortunately those same friends may lend to me the tools. Once I've mastered the tools and techniques I may purchase my own but its really good to be able to try different things without expense.

Fingers crossed that this situation will have some good outcomes. A better bike, with sound electrics and much better knowledge, experience and techniques for me.