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Archive for November 8th, 2012

Fixin De Bike, Mebee, Mebee Not

Posted by TravellingStrom on November 8, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

This will be a composite post covering the 4-8th November and it may not be in sequential order πŸ™‚

The view from my hotel window in the early morning, and as it turns out my new home for over a week 😦 The early morning fog and mist burns off by about 11am and then it starts to really warm up, but it is getting cooler over night.

Today was bike maintenance day and I started with one of the crash bar bolts, it had started to loosen up and would soon disappear into the dust without being re-tightened. A very hard Allen screw to get to, but managed it after some struggle πŸ™‚

Then next the starter switch which I believed was the cause of all my troubles. I pulled it right down this time and noticed some dirt and build up on the contacts. As I had no Emery cloth, I just used a small screwdriver the scrape it clean, not a long term fix, but OK for now I hope.

Now, I was not that sure how this system worked to start with, and as I had lost my manual and I had sad internet I could not find a manual on line for a day or so. In the meantime, a chap called Clive was very helpful in posting some scans into my Facebook account, so when I did get a connection, I had something to work with, thanks m8 πŸ™‚ If you don’t like technical, skip to the bottom of this post .. So, in the last photo above, the top two contacts(on the right) are normally connected all the time and this allows power to the headlights. The lower two contacts(on the left) are normally not connected, one has 12V the other goes to the starter solenoid. When the starter switch is pushed in against the spring, the metal contact inside the switch slides off the top two contacts(thus turning the headlights off and giving more power to the starter motor). It then connects the other contacts, this allows the 12V to be connected to the starter solenoid.

This can be more readily seen in the following diagram. Number (4) is the starter switch, when it is closed then power is sent along the Y/G wire circled in yellow and as long as the clutch switch(3) is held in, the power can flow through the coil of the solenoid(2). A solenoid is just a metal rod with wire wrapped around it as shown. When power is applied to a coiled wire, it causes an electromagnetic effect and the rod is shot up(red arrow). At the end of the rod is a large plate, these shorts out the two heavy contacts on the solenoid and basically connects the battery direct to the starter motor, thus starting the engine.

The engine has never failed to start, which is a good thing πŸ™‚ The problem I have is the wire wrapped around the solenoid, it is broken or fused together, so it cannot fire the rod and close the contacts. 😦 So, the problem is now solved, this took a few days to nut out as mentioned due to low battery and no wiring diagrams, now I needed to work out a solution. The boys at the local Suzuki shop said they could get a part that works, I carefully supplied them with the Suzuki OEM part number and said, if they can get me one by Monday, I would pay the huge price of around $180! I also ordered one online from a website in the US, after 3 days I cancelled this as it was going to take another 6-10 days by snail mail. Then lucky for me, Johnofchar, the number 1 member of Vstrom Riders International forum or VSRI(he owns the forum) said he had a few spares on his shelf and I could have one for nix πŸ™‚ Bewdy, so I accepted the offer based on the fact I had no idea what would come from the local shop. That way, I should be able to get going at some stage in the near future.

John duly sent the item FedEx to a hotel in Chiang Rai, Thailand. The reason being, there is no FedEx delivery here in Laos and the owner of the Forest Retreat here said he knows the other owner well, and he gets foodstuffs gathered by him all the time for his place here. John even told me that I did not want to know the cost of the shipping, consider it an early Xmas present, how good is the motorbike community spirit, brilliant and thanks a million John πŸ™‚

So, now I was free to relax for a while. This is my hotel, the Dokchampa

And two doors down is the Forest Retreat, or Bamboo Lounge, it has two different names and only does western food, good stuff as well πŸ™‚

My lunch for the day, a very nice fried veggies, chook and rice at a hotel across the street that does both western and local

A couple of French girls I met the other night, they have been out on an overnight trek, kayak and camping trip in the local nature reserve, which is a major part of the business here in town with many shops vying for the tourist dollar πŸ™‚

This is Claudine(left) and Camille(right) who I had a few beers with again, this time it was Beerlau

Beerlau is a better tasting beer but the Kiwi likes Namchong, which tastes OK but has an aftertaste to me. It is no big issue, but I just make him go and buy another crate of Beerlau everyday when I turn up. The funny thing is, everyone who comes here asks for Beerlau, I think I have heard only 3 people ask for the other πŸ˜‰

Now that the bike was β€˜in progress’ I did some other stuff to it, the main one was removing the air filter and giving it a blow out using a local air compressor. It was not too bad and should last a while, and no leaks into the airbox, which is always my major concern πŸ™‚

While I was wandering around town looking for an aluminium welder to repair my top box I spotted where David and Sam were staying, not hard to miss with these super huge trucks parked out front! Their small 4B was tiny by comparison. These were the ones who drove down through China and we had met in Mongolia.

I had some lunch at Lai’s Place, it was quite tasty, but if you want iron in your diet(from a tin), this is the place to come to πŸ™‚

We even went to a disco a night or so later, another group of 3 French girls, well, Julie was the only true French girl, the other two were French Canadian πŸ™‚ They also had been out for some treks together so we had some dinner, beer then hit the local disco which was very noisy and was Karaoke, yuck, I was brave though and had some beers πŸ™‚ Here are Carolyn, Julie the tour guide and Lauren.

The next day was a total loss. This was the sickest I have been on this trip and it was not from booze, it started at 2am with projectile vomit and the other end as well and pretty much stayed that way all day, I must have had about 20 craps that day, mostly water, yuck!!! I did venture down the next day and found that there was a bug getting around, I only stayed out for some breakfast before back to the safety of my toilet roll and some privacy 😦


So, we are up to the 8th November, it is Thursday and I am feeling a lot better, I did some reading and rehydrating before attempting a beer downstairs. I had a light supper, a few beers and a great chat with the owners of the real old truck in that earlier picture. Here they are, Taryn and Lesley and Hanu , they are from Germany.

That old truck is an ex Swiss army truck, going cheap at only 3000 Euros, just the flatbed without the body which he built himself. He chose this model due to its toughness and simplicity, it never breaks down and the electrics are so simple there is nothing much to go wrong. But, it is warm and comfortable and tough πŸ™‚ They are on an extended journey, which will end when 4yo Lesley needs to start school, nice to have met you again.

So, I have decided tomorrow I am going to hire a bike and go for a ride. I can do nothing more on my bike until a part turns up, I could catch up on the blog but I have been attacked by a bout of the lazies, and you can blame my Kindle for that, having over 2,000 books is a challenge, a challenge to read them I mean, I get hooked pretty quick!

Cheers from Luang Namtha


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