Doubt as James Dean.

Starting off with as little mechanical know-how as a French pastry chief working on a diesel engine, when it comes to bikes, I began to take Mavis the Hell bike apart and get things up to world touring standards…

Before long, my CS (Couch Surfing) host’s front patio area looked like a motorcycle scrap yard (see images below) with bits and pieces strewn all over the place. Mavis stood there naked as I chimped about spraying WD-40 into anything that looked like an electrical connection or a moving part in need of lubrication. As I stripped her back one panel at a time, I started to get a feel for the lay out of the guts on the bike and somewhat of a handle of the lighting circuits.

Lee had most honorably given me a detailed list of things that were either broken or need attention with bike while he was at anchor a couple of weeks ago. As a suggestion of Lee’s also, I downloaded an ebook copy of the original 1982 Honda Goldwing service manual to my Eee PC to shine some light amongst the dark of my ignorance in regards to motorcycle maintenance. This would later prove to be an invaluable peace of reference material well worth the $12 download fee.

First things first, the bike was in need of an oil change and filter replaced. Also for good measure, I decided to give the bike the full works and give her an enema of the radiator. Having previously done both these routines with my first and only car (a red four door 1985 Ford Laser, Ghia hatch…which, from memory had a similar size engine to the bike!) I was one up on the service manual. I started her up once again and let the oil warm before shutting the engine off and tapping into the sump plug and letting the heated oil flow freely into a make-shift bucket made of a cardboard box and a plastic bag. Whilst this happened, I read the service manual which directed my attention to two different things I had not previously noticed. One, this bike was a direct drive motorcycle (basically, instead of having a chain to the back wheel, it has a direct drive shaft, similar to long shaft you might see spinning under a truck driving the rear wheels) and two, that there was a centre stand to put the bike up on while you worked on it (ugh!).

After draining the oil and flushing the radiator, I started to assess the fluid levels of the drive shaft. Attaching a wrench to the walnut (motorbike terminology relating to the nut that seals off the drive shaft chamber), I proceeded to break the top half off as the nut had seemingly perished over time (reminder; this bike is 27years old!). As I had to pick up a new oil filter and a helmet and gloves, I thought I’d try my luck finding a replacement to this somewhat vital part. Luckily I found a rather helpful Honda dealership and spare parts shop, Stubbs Cycles of Houston. They not only had the oil filter and O-rings in stock, but were able to find an alternative replacement walnut from a Suzuki motorbike suitable for my Hell bike.

With the fluids replaced and/or topped up, it was time to direct my attention to the electrics. Anyone who knows me, might know that I had recently applied for an electrical pre apprenticeship before heading over to the States…lets just say that could be of some use now. Regardless of my understanding of electrics, I needed to get both the front and rear brake signals working before getting on the road. Neither were giving a signal to the rear tail light when the brakes were depressed, so, as one does when they don’t know what their doing, I followed the wires from the rear light. Wherever there was a connection, I unconnected it, liberally sprayed it with WD-40 and reconnected it. I did this with pretty much every electrical connection on the bike, including in the indicator switch on the handle bars. Surprisingly, this was more than effective, and to this present time, all electrical circuits work fine (highbeam/lowbeam switch exempt!).

During the entire time of me fixing the bike up, there has definitely been an external force at my side handing me tools or advice. Every time I would think there is no chance of something working, the right tool would just seemingly appear. Or, on numerous occasions a second attempt at flicking a switch would create results. It’s something hard to explain, but the power of manifestation is one of the best tools in my toolbox, thats for sure.

After getting the mechanics and electrics ship-shape, (“ship-shape” being a very loose term for working) it was time to tackle bureaucracy. Having the motorbike title in my possession and transfer papers ready to go, it would have seemed to have been an easy task. Of course it was not! Something I had not noted prior to arriving in Houston was that on the back of the title for the bike, my brother had been inked in as the recipient of the Hell bike with a Brooklyn, NY address. This may not have been such a drama in normal circumstances, but, with my brother setting sail that week to embark on crossing the Pacific Ocean it was about to become a big problem. Now I know FedEx covers most of the globe, but I’d like to see them try and locate a 26ft sailing yacht in the middle of the Pacific ocean so he could sign some paperwork. Luckily, I managed to alternatively liaise with Lee’s Power-Of-Attorney, Max, his father and get some new paper work signed which now just made me the soul recipient of the bike. As if walking through a revolving door, I entered the County Clerks office (similar to Vicroads or the DMV in regards to vehicle registration) and was quickly sent packing with a new bunch of paper work that needed to be filled out before being able to register and transfer the title for the bike. Que FedEx – Skip to two days later.

Entering the County clerks office with fresh paperwork in hand, passing ‘doubt’ eye balling me as it leaned propped up by the wall with a smoldering cigarette dripping ash on the vinyl flooring. I walked up to the window and smiled at the clerk. She palmed my papers and then, as if my manifestation tool just clopped her over the back of the head, she asked for the monitory portion of my registration fee and handed me a number plate for my bike. Seemingly overseeing the “$90 New residents tax”, I paid the minimum fee and walked out of there $90 richer with a registered motorbike!