|Ask the Surly Mechanic
A Motobastard Special Feature
Please send all your technical advice inquiries to the Surly Mechanic. Note that Motobastard is not responsible for following any of the Surly Mechanic’s advise, especially after he’s a few cans into the Miller Lite after about 3 O’clock any given afternoon.
|Q: My bike just ate an exhaust valve. It look like it's going to cost a few thousand dollars to rebuild the engine. I don’t want to spend that much, as it will cut into my Beanie Baby collecting. What can I do to cut corners and make the rebuild cheaper?
A: First of all, don't throw away that broken valve! You can weld the head back onto the stem! My buddy Mean Gene down at the tire shop did just that on a '72 El Camino (a week before he sold it, but still…). Make sure to wear sunglasses when you’re welding. It's always important to use proper eye protection. Also make sure to remove any excess weld material with a Dremel tool+ grinder bit. Fill in any weld voids with JB Weld. There. Good as new. Also, the piston with the ½" diameter hole in it is probably still good. JB weld and some fiberglass weave for reinforcement will take care of that problem in no time. If any of the piston rings are stuck, simply remove them. Well, leave at least ONE in there to seal things. Also, after implementing these fixes and reassembling, it’s very important to never ever under any condition start your engine until after you’ve sold it.
Q: I’m not sure which type of motor oil to use in my R1150 GS. I noticed 3% higher Zinc content in the API "Q" rated oil versus the API "R" rated oil. I found someone on ebay selling the older "Q" rating oil for $20/quart. Is this worth the extra expense? Also, I’d like some advice regarding viscosity. I usually run 20 weight oil. Normally, I stop by the side of the road, empty my sump, and pour in straight 50 weight before I enter a desert setting. As I come back into a city, I again empty my sump and pour fresh 20 weight in. I’ve found that this method provides me .0267 more miles per gallon than it would otherwise. Also, I’d like to remind all BMW owners to check their valves at the recommended 3000 mile intervals. I normally stop by the side of the road and check mine at exactly 3000 miles. It’s best not to second-guess the engineers who wrote those specifications! Normally, this is a bit of an inconvenience to the groups of people who I ride with, but I insist! Also, how long should I allow my bike to warm up at idle before I ride it? I normally wait 20 minutes for the bike to reach operating temperature before I ride off. I can always be convinced to wait longer.
A: There’s a simple solution to all these very important issues. You’re a smart feller, so you obviously know that cold startups are very hard on your engine, right? In fact, 98.6676% of all wear takes place while the engine is cold. The next time you start your bike, give it a good 45 minutes to warm up. Better yet, make sure that the bike is inside the garage and that the garage door is down before you do this. Oh, and make sure that you’re in the garage, too. The heat radiated from your body will help your bike warm up quicker. I swear to god…and while you’re waiting in the garage, why not take a nice little nap until it’s time to ride…
Q: For my occasional trips on my Guzzi California EV, I first spent $900 for a popular brand of Cordura riding suit and a set of recommended Combat Touring boots. I then bought a thermostatically controlled electric vest ($150), chaps ($175), gloves($130),socks ($45) and heated helmet visor ($80). I have an array of essential camping gear including tent ($250),sleeping bag($100), solar powered expresso maker ($340), portable toilet ($55), and fleece “footie” pajamas ($125). I’ve also added a popular manufacturer’s Beetle Bags ($900), a Swanee fairing ($400) and a small array of electronic devices including a radar detector ($250) a CB radio ($89) and a GPS ($500) to the bike. I carry a laptop computer ($600) on my luggage rack ($150) that allows me to log mileage, gas useage, wind and weather conditions, friendly local characters encountered, roadkill spotted, and keep track of my remaining pairs of clean underwear. I updated my suspension to Ohlins Road and Race Forks ($2800) and dual reservoir shocks ($700) with a Magni parallelogram swingarm ($1300). Suspension components were extensively reworked by Lindemann Engineering ($900) to factor in my weight and riding style. I have a spare set of forks and shocks ($4400) set up a bit differently, to account for the weight difference between morning rides (pre 11:00 am bowel movement) or afternoon rides (post 11:00 am bowel movement). For brakes, I have billet radial mount monoblock Brembo calipers ($2500) and carbon/carbon GP rotors ($2400). My array of driving lights ($700) came from PIAA. Their combined 740 watt power consumption required the installation ($1400) of a second alternator between the bike’s two cylinders and driven by a toothed wheel. This setup allows me to communicate via light signals with low flying aircraft. I had my seat extensively reworked ($700-after 5 tries, they finally got it right) based on a plaster cast of my buttocks ($436) so that I can remain in the saddle for 8 hours solid. A 15 gallon fuel cell ($600) was necessary to allow this range. I use a JC Whitney throttle lock ($15) to keep the bike steady while I pee in a plastic bottle ($1.19) from Wal Mart as I’m driving between fuel stops. My question is this: Can I borrow $30 for gas to get to the San Diego Guzzi Rally. Oh, and $25 for the rally fee. I’m broke.
A: Sure- you can borrow $55. No problem. In fact, I’ll give you a lot more than that. Allow me to introduce myself: I AM DR ABAJABEED NJEKOMICKI OF NIGERIA. I WOULD LIKE TO DEPOSIT $800,000 INTO A US BANKA ACCOUNT. FOR YOU TROUBLE, I AM WILLING TO PROVIDE YOU WITH 33% SHARE OF THIS MONEYS. PLEASE SEND YOUR BANK ACCOUNT NUMBER, SOSCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, CREDIT CARD NUMER INCLUDING EXPIRATION DATE, BLOOD TYPE AND SEXUAL PREFERENCE TO ME FOR CONFIRMATION OF THIS BANK TRANSFER…