Saturday, November 03, 2007

Green goo that made me stronger

I had gone to the Indian consulate yesterday to get a message from the Consul General for the UBC Indian Students' Association annual newsletter. Motorcycled to Downtown and back after successfully meeting up with the Consul General himself and a promise from him for the message. The motorcycle is good and strong and I love her. I thanked the sunny day which saved me a bus commute and went back to work trying to figure out how to manipulate page tables to make OS migration a bit faster. The sun taunted me again at around 4:30PM and even though I had taken her out already that day, I decided I have to be more thankful for sunshine and also make my insurance worthwhile. So I headed down to the basement, got on her, turned the ignition, engaged the choke, pulled in the clutch lever and hit the starter button. Nothing.

Its always a bit disheartening when you just don't hear the engine turn over at the press of the button. I did have electrical problems with my previous motorcycle, but it was my stupidity rather than an actual electrical problem - I didn't notice that after locking the motorcycle, suppose I turned the key a bit more, it switched on the parking lights which overnight drained the battery, leading me to believe there was a short somewhere and even buying a new battery. But before I resigned myself to the fate of owning motorcycles with electrical problems (pseudo or otherwise), I did what the previous owner had told me to do if it did exhibit this behavior - turn the handlebar all the way to the left with the clutch pulled in and hit the starter again. And this had worked until now without fail, if with repeated, more desperate attempts. But no, all kinds of angles of handlebar and all kinds of tilts - she staunchly refused.

So I gave up temporarily - I had to get back to my page tables as I had a meeting the next day. I didn't hold a grudge against her, she did stand by me in my time of need in the morning. Conking out in the basement of one's home is the best any motorcycle can do! But it kept nagging me. So I went down again a bit later and checked the wiring diagram from the manual that the previous owner had given me. The ignition has to be in 'ON', the clutch lever has to be pulled in (to prevent total morons from hitting the starter in gear) and then the circuit completed with the starter switch. I decided to begin with the starter button on the right of the handlebar. Got it off only to feel something give from within and realized that the throttle cable was intimately entwined with the assembly I had taken off. The starter switch was solid and I was certain that wasn't the problem - the tilt to the left before hitting the starter button technique indicated a loose contact somewhere and the starter switch was like I said pretty solid - no tension on the wires leading out at all. So I screwed it back on after I managed to figure how the throttle cable fit the assembly - only to find that I had maybe a quarter of the play in throttle that I had before. So I took it apart again and this time managed to thread the end of the throttle cable in its proper notch (there were two - maybe for slack - but I have no idea) and thankfully it fit snugly like before but with the original play. And so ended that days work with despondence. The next thing to try would be the clutch switch - but the initial failure made me lose heart.

I posted on www.bcsportsbikes.com/forum asking advice on how to remove the tank so that I could trace the wires to the battery (which I had traced earlier - or I thought so - to below the tank and leading away to the rear) and suggestions in general on how to find a short. So I get a reply almost immediately from someone who says I need to study the wiring diagram and about this library which has old motorcycle manuals (mine is a 1984 Suzuki GS750E) but I had already looked at it. But then comes the heartening post from another Suzuki GS owner about an almost similar problem he had faced which he finally traced to a mossy clutch switch. So I had something to try again - and that in itself is something to look forward to after a good day of work.

And so I went down, took off the cover to the clutch switch and found green goo just like this other guy. Cleaned the goo, placed my screwdriver across the contacts, hit the starter switch and she roared! Aaah the happiness, the sweetness in that sound. JOY! The power of the Internet and the helpfulness of a bunch of motorcyclists who gave me all kinds of suggestions. So much heartache by just some green goo! The green goo that taught me a lesson in persistence, community spirit, problem solving and faith :-D

Tomorrow, I wait for sunshine!