Thursday, February 18, 2010

... and That's Why I Didn't Grow Up To Be a Mechanic...

After being pregnant all of last summer my Harley had fallen by the wayside and has been sitting in the shop since mid-July. (July is when I took my last ride...people were starting to look at me funny and I couldn't zip my chaps anymore.) Anyway, the time has come to take it to the shop for some routine maintainance and to repair the major oil leak it has developed. It's headed in next Friday and I thought this past long weekend was the perfect opportunity to fire it up. I had to make sure it would run long enough to get it to the shop.

So, Saturday I tried to start it. No luck. Dead battery. It spent all night on the trickle charger and I tried to start it Sunday. No luck. The battery was charged, but it just kept dying. It would turn over fine, but never fire up. I'm no dummy (I say that now...wait until the end of the story...), so I figure it's a little stiff from sitting so long, so I pull of the air filter and grab the only aerosol spray I can find: carburator cleaner. (Side note: I'm sure you all know that a clogged air filter impedes air flow and makes it hard to start an engine. So, if you take the air filter off you can spray starter fluid in the hole and it helps the engine start. It is, however, extremely flammable and should be used with caution.)

Anyhow, I go about spraying this stuff into the engine and try choking it heavily, then starting, then not so much choke, then starting it - and NO LUCK! I ended up flooding the engine and after letting it sit for two hours I was back at it with the cleaner. Todd arrives with some helpful advice. "Why don't you try using the starting fluid?" He takes away the carburator cleaner and replaces it with the starting fluid. Again, exteremely flammable and should be used with caution. So, I try that for a while and still nothing. It started to do this weird clicking noise which I instinctively knew was the starter going out. Great. Oil leak, new oil filter, new air filter, new spark plugs AND now a new starter? Really? Come on....

So, I let it rest for a bit, then start in again with the starting fluid. By this time Todd has joined in on the fun and recommends letting him spray it into the engine while I crank it over. Again, I'm no dummy (I say that now...wait until the end of the story...), so I put the kibosh on that. I know (and have seen on occasion) an engine shoot fire from it after you start it with starting fluid. No way am I shooting fire from the engine. He gives it a good spray of fluid and I pump the throttle, pull the choke and start cranking it over. KABAM!!! It fires off, begins to run, shoots a HUGE puff of black smoke about 10 feet and then blasts a flame about two feet long out of the side of the engine. The flamethrower then catches the residual fluid on the outside of the engine on fire and the side of the motorcycle goes up in flames. I, not being on good terms with fire, sprint from the garage as Todd (very bravely) stays behind and puts the fire out.

I muster the courage to return to the scene of the "accident" and take a good look over the bike. We're definately going to need more than just a gasket worked on. Sounds expensive. So, Todd says, "Well, we're going to have to trailer it to the shop, don't you think?" ...and about that time as I'm surveying the damage I have a moment of clarity and realize: The fricking gas isn't turned on. IDIOT!!! So, I turn the gas on, crank it over, and it starts right up. Todd just walks away shaking his head, probably reeling from his near-death experience. I, on the other hand, spent a while putting it back together and firmly decided I will never be a certified mechanic. DUH.

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