1992 Nighthawk – Take 3
Argh, this bike is going to my downfall. Every time I pick up a wrench to do one small thing, I end up wrist-deep in motorcycle guts. Meanwhile, laundry and dishes are piling up everywhere, the backyard looks like a jungle, and the only thing left in my fridge is a stick of butter. And I haven’t blogged in two weeks.
So, here’s a recap of my latest grease monkey adventures.
First up: The oil change — or: Things that stink, for 500.
I am not sure what I expected from 20 year old oil, but I didn’t think it would smell as bad as it did. It was black, felt like what you find at the bottom of a french press coffee maker, and had a nasty smell to it. After draining the old oil, I “rinsed” the engine with a liter of fresh oil until the oil came out looking like it did going in.
You’ll notice the funny bend in the brake pedal. Not sure how that happened since the bike shows no other signs of a drop. (Thoughts and theories welcome!)
I read somewhere that I am supposed to check the crankcase breather tube on a regular basis. Here I am, fancying myself a decent amateur mechanic, and I didn’t even know such tube existed. Oops.
I did some research on the “internet box” (Chris’ term, not mine) and came across a great forum post about the purpose of the breather tube – check it out if you made it your life’s goal to fill your brain with nerdy motorcycle trivia: Crankcase Breather (scroll down to post #3)
As you may remember, the old battery had started leaking and in an effort to prevent more acid from spilling all over the bike, I had to cut the negative battery cable*. I had ordered a new battery cable (used, from a 1997 Nighthawk) and as I was finishing up the oil change, the mail girl (what’s the pc term for a mailman that’s actually a really cool young woman?) showed up in my driveway with my new battery cable. Lovely timing!
Next, off with the tank. The tank comes off so easily, I am not sure why I hadn’t done it sooner. It’s not like I was going to try to run the engine with whatever (if anything) was left in that tank.
The frame is actually black, just really really dusty.
And before I knew it, curiosity had taken the better of me – I loosened the cylinder head cover bolts and peeked under the cover.
I could tell from the stickiness of the gasket and the trouble I had pulling the cover up that it had never been lifted before. I felt like an archaeologist accessing an ancient tomb for the first time in millennia. And from what I could see, the guts of the engine are in pristine condition. I don’t think I’ll have to mess with the guts of the engine at all. So, moving on to the carbs.
I argued with the carbs for a good 20 minutes before they realized that resistance was futile and gave up. (And when I say “argue”, I mean: apply brute force; and when I say “I”, I mean: Chris)
The carbs looked surprisingly clean. The inside of the carb insulators … not so much.
The one you see in the photo is particularly corroded, the others were contaminated with carbon deposits. Nothing a good carb cleaner can’t handle – but I can’t risk having that stuff get into the engine, so off they come!
Why is she replacing the plugs, oil, and battery +cable, but pulling off the tank and carbs, you might ask.
Rest assured, there is a method to my motorcycle assembly/disassembly madness: Following my initial success, I want to see if I can actually get the engine started, but I don’t want to try until the fuel/air system is healthy enough for that. That means I’ll have to clean the air filter, flush out the tank, check the fuel lines, and clean the carbs.
But that’s a story for another day.
*The post-mortem on that: the acid had actually evaporated and the spilled liquid was completely harmless. Oh well, can’t be careful enough with that stuff.