vrijdag 28 maart 2014

The Belly of the Beast

As it turned out, The Beast seemed eager to further educate me on its inner workings and so it decided to spring a minor oil leak at the rear cylinder.

What follows now is a detailed outline of events since...

... the discovery of the leak! *cue dramatic music*.

My first reaction was one of sheer panic, but apparently it's a known issue for the older Transalps. At the specific area the engine gets the hottest, so as the bike eats up the miles the gasket is likely to harden and sweat a little oil. 

Despite no loss in performance (I only spotted the leak when I checked the oil level) I still thought it sweated a little too much for the kind of riding that I like to do. 

So surgery was in order! All panels, the seat, the fuel tank and part of the airbox needed to come off first.

When removing the carburetors however I hit a snag - for the third year in a row, there was yet another stuck screw which needed to be removed by drill. In 2012 it was the airfilter (3 screws), in 2013 it was the brakefluid reservoir (2 screws), and now one holding the throttle cable in place.

Apparently, 90s Hondas have a real hard-on for worthless screws. Then again, replacing them now saves me any possible pain on a trip.

After alot of shouting, cursing and wishing Honda would've made the thing just a little bit more accessible, I got the valve cover out. Here it is lying next to the carburetors.

It was immediately obvious that the aforementioned issue had now also befallen the Beast. If you look closely at this photo, you can see the rear part of the gasket (right) is wet with oil, whilst the rest is dry.

A bonus was that now, for the first time ever, I could have a look at how the Beast's heart looked from the inside. It felt pretty cool seeing it exposed for the first time, but I knew that the bike was now at its most vulnerable. If one little screw fell into the bowels of the thing, the engine would be scrap.

One of the nastiest jobs was removing the old glue that had kept the old gasket in place up until now. After toiling away for an hour I finally got most of the stuck adhesive out of there.

But the worst had yet to come. 

 As visible here, the gasket slots into the valve cover. That seems all fine and dandy, but once you try to mount the cover back in (and subsequently put the cover right way up) the gasket falls out... and that's a real pain if the cover itself has to be navigated around various parts of the engine first before slotting into place.

So after some deliberation and a few phonecalls, I got me some liquid gasket to keep the damn thing attached to the valve cover. That had to harden overnight, keeping the Beast's heart exposed in the process. I covered the engine and bike up as well as I could, and set to work first thing in the morning. 

As the morning of the third day dawned, I got the cover in place soon enough. Carbs back on, connected all the hoses, but when I got the coolant back in it came pouring out at a hose where I didn't bother to change out an O-ring. I figured it wasn't necessary, and also that it would be incredibly tough getting the O-ring out as it was pretty deep in the engine.

I couldn't have been more wrong; with some hooked plyers I got the bugger on my first try, within 30 seconds. New O-ring in there, coolant back in, and the leak was gone. I then hooked up the fuel, and grabbed the keys.

The last time I was this nervous I had a driving test coming up. 

But after some hesitation, the Beast rumbled back into life. I then kept it running for a few minutes, closely monitoring for leaks... but the leak was gone, and everything worked as it was supposed to.

To my own complete amazement,  it was a mission accomplished. At the moment of writing this I've already done over 200 miles with it, and it's working like a treat.

Time for the next challenge!