Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Changing a Sportster's Transmission Fluid

Changing the transmission fluid is a maintenance item you do at 1000 miles and then every 5000 miles after that. These instructions work on a 2005 XL1000C but you it's a good idea to get a manual for your bike if you intend to do your own maintenance.
1. Ride bike until it reaches operating temperature.
2. Put the bike on the side stand, place a pan under the bike and remove the transmission drain plug.
3. Take off the primary chain inspection cover. Check the o-ring on each of the two hex socket screws and replace as necessary.
4. While you're waiting for the fluid to drain check the primary chain free play. It should be 1/4 to 3/8 inches with the engine hot (see note 1 below).
5. Put the bike on a jack so it's level - this allows another few tablespoons of fluid to drain out of the primary. (see note 2 below)
6. Clean the metal shavings off the drain plug.
7. Inspect and replace as necessary the rubber o-ring on the drain plug.
8. Install the drain plug and torque it to 14-21 ft-lbs.
9. Add 1 quart of HD Transmission fluid into the primary chain inspection opening.
10. Install the primary chain inspection cover by putting a little blue Loctite on the two hex socket screws, and torque them to 40-60 inch-lbs.

The official way of changing the transmission fluid involves removing the derby cover and adding a quart of fluid or adding fluid until it reaches the bottom of the clutch diaphragm spring. I figure if the HD owner's manual calls for a quart I can drain the primary and put a quart in without anything blowing up. There may be other oils you can use in the primary but picking up a quart of the HD transmission fluid gives me an excuse to go to a Harley dealer every so often.

Note 1 - Primary chain adjustment is at the same interval as engine oil and primary fluid change - at the first 1000 miles and then every 5000 miles. I adjusted my primary chain at 1000 miles because it was loose. Checked it again at 5000 miles and it was still in spec. I'm assuming the chain stretched when new, or the adjusting shoe wore some, and have started to stabilize now that they have some use.

You adjust the primary chain by loosening the adjustment locknut and turning the adjustment screw inside that locknut. Clockwise tightens the chain. After you have the slack correct (3/8 to 1/2 inch for a cold engine or 1/4 to 3/8 inch for a hot engine) tighten the locknut to 20-25 foot-lbs.

I've put pictures of the primary chain inspection cover, the primary chain adjustment locknut and a quart of HD transmission fluid below.

Note 2 - Regarding need for a jack. You don't really need a jack to do this task or to change the engine oil. Just hold the bike upright for a minute or so to let the last bit of fluid drain out. I use the $20 Bike Lift which works fine and doesn't take up much room hanging from the rafters in the garage.

One final note - regarding torque values. I like to use a torque wrench for some things where stripping a thread or having a nut/bolt/screw fall off could be dangerous or expensive - but I'll resort to good and tight, pretty tight, or snug but not too tight - for a lot of things. Of course it's up to you to decide what works best for your particular circumstances.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Weather Guessing

We've had a cool spring and summer this year. Not a lot of sun. I think that's caused me to check the forecast more often than usual to see if we have any warm/hot weather and sunny days coming up. I'm not sure if that helps much.

For example....

The forecast high for this coming Friday July 2nd in Everett is 59 degrees according to weather.com and 67 degrees according to wunderground.com. Over in Republic in Eastern Washington the forecast high for Friday is 63 according to wunderground.com and 70 according to weather.com.

My point?

I don't think anyone knows precisely what the weather is going to be 5 days from now. Pretty safe bet that Northwest Washington highs will be in the 60's to low 70's, cloudy with some sun and chance of rain.

It could be worse - or at least different.

Forecast high for Las Vegas today is 108 and clear. Phoenix is supposed to get up to 112 tomorrow. Like they say though - it's a dry heat. It's sticky and muggy in Houston right now with 85 degrees with 83% humidity. I'll take the 60's to low 70's.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

8M4991 Caterpillar O-Ring Throttle Lock

Here's a couple of pictures that show how the o-ring works to hold the throttle on a Concours C10.

The idea is to roll the o-ring into the groove between the throttle and the bar end weight to allow the friction of the o-ring to hold the throttle in position. This allows you to shake out the cramps, or get the circulation going, in your right hand on long trips.

The first picture shows the o-ring in the "off" position. The second shows it "on". If you look closely at the ribs on the throttle grip you can see I've twisted the throttle in the second picture and it's being held in place by the o-ring.

I suppose you might find a generic o-ring or even a thick rubber band, that would do this - but people claim this silicone Caterpillar o-ring is just the right stickiness and width.

I bought mine from Tornado Heavy Equipment Parts using eBay. Two o-rings plus shipping were $4.93 and took 4 days to arrive. Jet Gasket and Seal is selling them on eBay for $8.29 for ten o-rings with free shipping.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sunny Saturday - Twisting Wrenches

I spent this sunny day working on motorcycles.

I took the rear wheel off the Connie so I could get a new tire mounted.

I had to buy a 27 mm socket at Autozone since I didn't have one that big and a cotter pin at Lowes for the right side axle nut - so that slowed me down a little. I'm never in a big hurry when I'm working on cars/bikes anyway. I like to take my time, read and re-read instructions if I have them, take stuff apart to see how it works and clean/oil/grease things before I reinstall them. The main point for me is to learn something, get immediate feedback on if what I did was successful or not - and save some money to use for other things I want to do.

I put the bike center stand on a 2x4 to give me a little extra room to clear the tire from beneath the rear fender. I used some straps to secure the center stand to the front wheel so I didn't accidently push forward on the bike and have the center stand fold up.

Taking the rear wheel off requires removing both mufflers, unbolting the torque link from the brake caliper, removing the cotter pin and axle nut from the right side and then pulling the axle out from the left side. The wheel disengages from the gear drive by pulling the wheel to the right. I cleaned and greased the gear splines while I was at it.

You can see the center stand on a 2x4, straps holding the center stand and the brake caliper hanging from a bungee cord in this photo.

I put anti-seize on the axle before reinstalling it. I wish someone would have used anti-seize on the two socket head bolts that hold the rear brake caliper. They are frozen tight. I tried using WD-40 which didn't help. I bought some PB Blaster penetrating oil at Lowes and will try that when I have to remove the caliper to replace the brake pads. If worse comes to worse I can slide the axle out and take the brake caliper assembly to a machine shop. I don't need to remove the bolts right now since the pads still have over half the material left on them.

The 27 mm bolt on the right side was tight but came off with an extender bar and me pushing down on the bar with my foot. It took me awhile to figure out I was turning the whole axle and needed to put a wrench on the left side to hold it so I could remove that nut from the right side.

I took the wheel to Shiny Side Up on Rucker but they were closed this Saturday. I lucked out and found the good people at Northcoast Thunderbikes at 1911 Broadway were happy to mount the new tire for me. They charged the same as Shiny Side Up - 20 bucks. They are really friendly and quick in that place and I'd recommend taking work there. When my Sportster needs tires I think I'll check them out. The owner said they can sometimes beat internet prices.


I finished my maintenance day by replacing the front brake pads and air filter on the KZP.

Replacing brake pads is easy on that bike. You remove the two bolts that hold the caliper and slide the caliper off the disc. You can slide the caliper assembly apart and the pads literally will fall out - just be sure you watch for the two little metal pad guides that sometimes fall out too. You don't want to lose those.

Loosen the master cylinder cover and slowly push the brake piston into the caliper so the new (thicker) pads will fit into the caliper and clear the disc. Keep an eye on the master cylinder to see if you have brake fluid coming out - you'll want to clean that off painted surfaces quickly. As an alternative you could remove some fluid from the master cylinder before pushing on the brake piston. Replacing the 4 front pads (2 discs on the front wheel) is about a 15 minute job - so it took me about an hour.

Replacing the air cleaner on a KZP is easy too. You open the seat, remove a couple of screws and pull the air cleaner out. It takes a little fiddling around to get the air box cover to line up when re-installing but no big deal.


FedEx says the Concours water pump oil seal from Ron Ayers will be here Thursday so that will give me something to do next weekend. I have the cigarette lighter socket to install for my iPhone charger - and then I just need to figure out somewhere to go. That shouldn't be any problem at all...so many places to choose in this beautiful country.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Copilot Live - Motorcycle iPhone GPS App

I got the CoPilot Live iPhone GPS application last night. The US version is $5 on sale now. I spent $20 so I could get Canada too. There's no monthly charge with CoPilot so it's one of the least expensive options for iPhone GPS applications.

The main reason I wanted Copilot is that it stores it's maps on your iPhone so you don't need cell coverage like you do when you use Google maps. You can use the iPhone GPS and the CoPilot map to figure out where the heck you are and how to get to your next destination in areas without cell coverage or with poor cell coverage where Google maps take forever to load.

CoPilot allows you to choose a route for a car, RV, motorcycle, bicycle or walking. It has a bunch of features to play around with like automatic uploads of your destination and ETA to Facebook and the ability to allow friends to see your progress on a map - but I just like having the option of getting directions when I need them without having to carry maps.


I'm going to install a marine grade cigarette lighter socket on the Concours and use a Mini USB Car Charger Adapter so I can charge my iPhone while on a motorcycle trip.

Just have to get that pesky oil leak fixed. While I'm waiting for parts I think I'll remove the rear wheel and ask the local independent MC shop to mount the new Elite 3 tire so the bike will be all ready for summer riding. I wanted to wear that tire out but I'd rather replace a tire before I have to than have it fail at speed or out in the boon docks somewhere.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I've Discovered Oil

Well at least I've discovered the source of the oil leak on my Connie.

Tracing the source of a small oil leak on a motorcycle with the plastic fairings, hoses, wiring and the generally tight spaces of the engine installation is a bit challenging. It took awhile with lots of wiping and then shining a bright light up into the engine area but I'm 95% sure it's the oil seal in the water-pump. I can see a very slow drip of oil seeping from the water pump weep hole.

A new water pump is $160 from Murphs or $196 from the dealer, but I'm going to try replacing the oil seal and 0-rings before I shell out that dough.

Based on this COG C10 Technical Page - Water Pump Seal article I think I can fix this oil leak without replacing the water pump so I ordered a water pump oil seal and 2 o-rings from Ron Ayers for $11.50 plus $5.00 shipping.

92049-1416 SEAL-OIL,WATER PUMP 1 $3.81
92055-1424 RING-O,33.2X2.4 1 $2.81
92055-1271 RING-O,WATER PUMP 1 $4.88

Here's a picture of the 92055-1271 "o-ring". It's an odd shape to allow it to fit the contour of the water pump.

Based on the advice in the forums I'm going to use some red loctite (permanent) to glue the oil seal in place and Brakleen to clean the shaft up so the loctite will stick.

I have to drain the coolant (just did that a month ago or so) and engine oil (was going to do that anyway) as part of this job.

I'm going to replace the clutch push-rod oil seal while I'm at it since I'll have that cover off anyway and have the seal on order from Cheap Cycle Parts.

I'm looking forward to having the Concours road-ready so I can try out the new camping gear I got for Father's Day. I got a Jetboil, Big Agnes Seed House 2 Tent, Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Pad from REI. Nice stuff...thank you R and R and B.

Note: Once I got the water pump removed I realized I didn't need the 92055-1271 RING-O,WATER PUMP. You would only need that o-ring if you were going to open up the water pump. You don't need to open the water pump to replace the oil seal.


I'm also waiting for a CAT 8M4991 o-ring I ordered from e-Bay to use as a throttle lock. This is another cheap (frugal) idea from motorcycle forums.

The idea is the o-ring fits over the groove between the throttle grip and the bar end weight and provides enough friction to keep the throttle in place so you can relax your right hand on long rides. You can still twist the throttle closed in an emergency and you can roll the o-ring off after you've relaxed/stretched your hand a bit.

I ordered two so my bike will be symmetrical with two yellow o-rings on both handlebar ends - and I have a spare. Two o-rings were a little less than 5 bucks including shipping on e-Bay. I'll take a picture when I get them.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mountain Loop Highway

I took a spin up the Mountain Loop Highway to Barlow Pass on Friday on the Sporty. It was a nice ride - not too many people and one of the few non-rainy cloudy days we've had lately.

There are a lot of campgrounds in that area that I'd like to try out for a short camping trip to check out my gear before I head out on longer journeys

I rode up to the Mount Pilchuck trailhead access road which was interesting since there are some big pot holes with all the rain we've had. I'd be extra careful driving a car or street bike up there - I've heard of people doing some damage to transmissions/oil pan. Nice view from the the trailhead access area and there were quite a few hikers up there but it's still too early to hike to the top unless you have snowshoes and understand avalanche hazards. The June 14th USFS trail report says,

"Report of dangerous avalanche conditions and hazardous cornice near summit. Solid snow still covers more than half the trail. Trail is snow free for approx 1.5 miles. Route finding and winter travel skills and equipment necessary."

I didn't go North from Barlow Pass to Darrington since it was raining a little and the road isn't paved. Riding 7 miles on the potholed gravel/dirt road up to the Mt. Pilchuck trail access was enough gravel for me that day.

On my way out of town I stopped by the Marysville Strawberry Festival which was just getting under way. On my way back I was surprised that main street in Marysville was lined with empty camping/lawn chairs. When I passed by earlier in the day there were only a few chairs and I thought someone was selling them - but at 6 pm there were hundreds of empty chairs. The parade wasn't for another 24 hours. It must be a local tradition to claim your spot with a chair a day in advance. Or maybe the city puts those chairs out there for anybody to use. I didn't make it to the parade so I'll have to check with a local to get the scoop on the chairs.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Motorcycle Rentals - One Way Specials

Eagle Rider motorcycle rentals has some interesting One Way Specials. They are mostly Harley Davidson motorcycles but they have some BMW's and Honda's. The deals change pretty frequently.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

No Zen No Art - Just Motorcycle Maintenance

I changed the oil and filter on my KZP-19 and HD Sportster today. Both are very easy after the first time. I got to use my wood block/pipe home-made motorcycle jack to lift the Sporty a little and get it level. I used that home-made jack when I pulled the front wheel off the Concours the week before so it's coming in handy.

I used Shell Rotella T 15-40 diesel engine oil. Autozone stopped carrying Rotella T, but I got four gallons for $12 a gallon at Pep Boys - just a longer drive from my house.

I used Mobil 1 V-Twin Synthetic 20-50 in the Sportster last oil change. After reading about oil and considering the fact that Mobil 1 oil is about $11 a quart (after tax) and I need 3.6 quarts for the bike I decided it just wasn't worth the money. Harley recommends diesel oil - if you can't buy the special label HD oil (which I wouldn't do anyway), so I'm sure it will be fine.

I want to change the oil and filter on the Concours but I'm waiting for some more K&N filters to come from Amazon. I got a really good deal on 4 filters but they are out of stock right now and won't be in until early July. That's fine since I changed the oil and filter in March and could go another 2000 miles before I hit the manufacturer's recommended oil change interval (6000 miles for the Concours).

The Sportster manfacturer recommended oil change interval is 5000 miles and the KZP is 3000 miles (although somewhat oddly Kawasaki recommends only changing the filter every other oil change). Kinda like taking a bath with your dirty socks on to me.

There's a small oil drip on the left side of the Concours engine that I think is the clutch rod oil seal. It's an 8 dollar part and the installation sounds pretty simple. One of the really nice things about the Concours is they have a very good owners group who tend to do most maintenance themselves and share tips via their forum and group pages. An example is this article on the Clutch Rod Seal Replacement. It's good to know things like if I push the seal in too far it will fall into the engine and I'll have to go fishing and hope I can catch it with a magnet or a bent coat-hanger.

I have a clutch rod oil seal ordered from Cheap Cycle Parts for the Concours and a new Emgo (cheap at 8 bucks) air filter for the KZP. So that will give me something to do in a few days.


I've ridden a little over 13,000 miles on motorcycles since last August. 5K on the Connie, 5K on the Sportster and 3K on the KZP. I use the KZP for my wet weather commuting bike since it has a big windshield, fairing and is very rust resistant, the Sportster is for sunny days and fun rides around town and on short trips when I want to feel the wind in my face and the Connie works good for long trips - although I've yet to ride it in really hot weather (unfortunately).

Almost all my transportation is via motorcycle but I start up my 25 year old pickup every so often and take it for a spin just to keep the battery charged and evaporate the moisture from the crankcase. I changed the oil and filter on that a few weeks ago and used a mixture of Valvoline 10-40 motorcycle oil and Chevron 10-30 automotive oil that I had left over from some other oil changes.

My general rule of thumb these days is to change oil and filter every 6 months but if I'm going on longer trips I'll do it more often so I don't exceed the manufacturer's recommended miles between changes. I changed the oil in that pickup at 3 month/3000 mile intervals for over 20 years and put over 200K miles on it and that seemed to work. I'll test it for another 20 years using the 6 month intervals and see how that works out.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

NEOS Overshoes

I used a pair of Firstgear Rubber Rain Boots this season for riding in the rain. The pros are they are light, pack really small and are waterproof. The cons are they are easy to poke holes in and tear. For 15 bucks they are okay - but I'd like something I don't have to replace too often.

I ordered a pair of NEOS Adventurer™ overshoes that cost a bit more (4X) but I think they will do the job and last. The reviews from motorcycle riders on the Aerostich website are positive. They have a nice grippy looking sole, weigh a couple of pounds and pack down to a size of tennis shoes. I'm hoping I don't have too much opportunity to use them until next Fall - but the way this summer is going it's hard to say. I'm sure they will come in handy for commuting and on some road trips.

I like the idea of being able to wear comfortable leather boots and put on waterproof overshoes when I need to, rather than trying to find a waterproof all-around type boot. I'm afraid those would either not breathe and be uncomfortable and too hot - or breathe and not be waterproof. They might be some fairly expensive gore-tex boots that work...but I've already got a pair of leather boots I like, so I'm going to try overshoes for awhile.

NEOS is an acronym for New England Overshoe Company.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

We Needed An Excuse to Clean The Basement Anyway

We had a lot of rain in a short period of time this afternoon. The storm drains run into the sanitary sewer in this old neighborhood and the sewer system couldn't handle all the water. As a result we had rainwater, sewer water and silt gushing out of the toilet and shower drain in the basement. It's a bit of a mess.

Probably need to look into one of those flapper/check valves that prevent water from the sewer from coming back into the house - so we don't have to go through this again.

Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen

Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen

Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Like This

I got back to Everett a little after 5 pm on Tuesday.

It was a little over 1900 miles for the Everett, Naches, Klamath Falls, Auburn, Susanville, Madras, Hood River, Everett trip.

We had a blast.

It was wet, windy, warm, cold, sunny, high elevation, low elevation and even a little bit of hail.

I nicked my front tire on something sharp and ended up riding with a little cord showing from Alturus, CA back to Everett. Ordered some new Dunlop Elite 3 tires from Motorcycle Superstore this morning.

I got to ride in a 660 horsepower hot rod, on a boat on a nice lake and on motorcycles with Joe and Tim on some really nice roads in California, Oregon and Washington.

The trickiest riding was leaving Seattle on Wednesday afternoon in the rain. Highway 167 traffic was bumper to bumper for miles with ground fog and water spray coming off the cars. Riding down Yuba Pass in California was a little scary since they had sanded the road and it was curvy and slippery.

I feel very fortunate to live in a place with so many beautiful places to see.