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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Tale of “Whoa”

After buzzing up to the gas station on the motorcycle, to fill a couple of 1-gallon cans for the Civic (which I let nearly run out), I found Mrs. Fetched hadn’t returned from the chicken houses. I went there to find that the field man had delayed her, there wasn’t a problem, and she would be home shortly. I came home, dumped one of the cans into the Civic, and put the bike on the stand to clean and lube the chain (it was tight/loose enough).

After spraying the chain, and putting the guard back on, I grabbed the rear wheel and shook it on a lark. Imagine my unpleasant surprise when it wiggled… the axle bolt was finger-loose. I made sure the chain was straight and tightened it down.

That would have been more than unpleasant had the axle come out while I was on the road… I guess “check the wheel” goes on my weekly checklist from now on.

At least the front wheel and steering head bearings are good & tight.


  1. Hey FAR,
    Whoa is right! I wouldn't even want to imagine how that story might have turned out had you not checked that wheel. I'd definitely say put it on your weekly (or more often) checklist just to be safe!

  2. IVG, the thing that gets me is that my other bike (a Virago) has a slotted axle bolt to accommodate a cotter pin. I've always wondered why the Zook didn't have a similar safety arrangement.

    Just the way it was, it could have caused some unwanted wandering in the curves.

  3. Hey Far, the Zook is a new bike, eh? After "break in" I'd check everything, as tey'll loosen up a bit. Be sure to check head torque, chain tension, etc...

    That is hard to believe that hole was not provided for cotter pin lock up. Better check that front sprocket to see if it moved..

    Whew! I'd better put a wrench on "Kim" this spring. Good thing she's shaft driven! ha! ha!

  4. Thank God you decided to give it a jiggle. Little miracles like that happen every day. Definitely for the at least weekly checklist.

  5. Hi all!

    Yooper, Zook has nearly 10,000 miles on it now! But thumpers, like V-twins, tend to vibrate so checking frame bolts is part of the maintenance schedule.

    Wooly, is that why they call it *preventative* maintenance?

  6. Good thing that you checked it, Far. I had the same thing happen with lug nuts once. My mechanic (or likely one of his assistants) had not tightened all of them. I don't recall exactly what prompted me to check them at the time.

  7. Boran, Ron White had that happen to him… Daughter Dearest played me the monologue. "Lug Nut Day" is the name, as the guy at the Sears in Savannah GA was sent to tire school, but he must have been sick on lug nut day…

  8. Far .. I assume this is the same 400SM bike you've mentioned before, right?

    Where do you learn what you need to do for maintenance on those things? I'll have one someday, just not anytime soon. Too much other doom prep necessary first.

  9. Yup Nudge, that's the SM.

    The owner's manual walks you through the most common things (chain tension/lube, oil changes, clutch/brake play, etc) if you can get past the ESL (English as Second Language). Being a technical writer myself, I've learned where to read between the lines & can zero in on missing info pretty quick. For example, the maintenance schedule specifies checking the chassis bolts, but doesn't show which bolts. (There are… many.)

    If you've ever spun a wrench, and I suspect you have, it's not that hard to learn what to do. Some bike shops will have info classes. If not, you can get one of the aftermarket repair manuals by Clymer or Haynes, and they tend to have more detailed steps for doing just about anything.

  10. Heh! heh! you got that right Far! My first car was a Volvo "Sport", I had the mechanics manuael in Swede... ha! Got the hang of it and after buying 4 motors, made one great motor out of four!...shame that might not be possible today......

  11. Wow, Yooper, you must have had a nice garage to be able to build a motor in it! Did you blow three motors and make a good one out of the surviving parts? ;-)

  12. i love to read these artcles and comments, very interesting blog!


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