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Archive for March 6th, 2013

Phuket Bike Repairs – Part 1

Posted by TravellingStrom on March 6, 2013

So, I arrived in Phuket on March 1st with a broken bike, who knows how long I would be here. I expect at least a few weeks, minimum. Thanks to Beemerbird for the following picture which helped me work out the costs involved with repairs 🙂

I am thinking number 3 myself 🙂 The first thing I did on Saturday morning was to go and arrange a scooter rental. I had been directed to this shop by Frank as they would accept a passport copy and a deposit rather than the passport itself. I actually needed my passport to go to the post office and pick up a parcel that has been waiting a while. It looked like the only scoots they had were automatic which as Frank pointed out could be a tad dangerous for me. Mainly because they do not have a clutch but have a lever there that controls the rear brake. In a ‘situation’ it is normal for me to grab the clutch, so by grabbing a handful of back brake it could end in disaster. Fortunately there was a manual Honda there which they decided to rent me, it was in a sorry state but as I needed one I took it.

Soon after sorting the rental out I went to the bike shop but the mechanic had not yet arrived, they said they would call me later. I met up with Frank and we went to the post office where I waited in line and finally received my replacement TravelSim phone SIM card. The last one with $40 credit on it went missing when I lost the phone in Kyrgyzstan. Trying to plan ahead and getting something sent to you on the road is a hard job to work out, but I knew I was heading here, because I had sent my camping gear to Franks place when I arrived last October. 🙂 I was called by the bike shop just as I was signing for the card. He said something like, they cannot do the bike, please pick it up and take it elsewhere 😦 After meeting with Frank again for lunch we both went back to find out what was going on, as they had seemed so willing the other day! It seemed to be a communication problem, the reason they did not want to look at it was because of not being able to supply parts and it could take a while to sort out. After explaining to them that I had all the service manuals, parts list and torque settings and that I would arrange for the spare parts, they were a lot happier to proceed. But, as it was a Saturday and with a bike meeting being held up north, it seemed that my bike would not be looked at until Monday. This is a Harley Davidson shop and they had a number of services to get through today. No worries, no stress, as I have plenty of time, so with that sorted I now had a few days off 🙂

After this I went cruising around with him through some places he thought I would like to know about. So, I saved these other places as way points on my GPS. That evening we headed down to a beach bar where we had some sundowners, later on we came back and went up a mountain for some night downers, then ended up at a nightclub 😉 As we headed to another nightclub later, I lost him in the traffic and so I ended up following the GPS back to the hotel 🙂

Sunday was a lazy day as it had been a big night, but that evening we went to the night market for a look around(Frank wanted to buy a Buddah for his new garden). It was a very active and hot place to be, with many varieties of food to be had, including coiled potato deep fried into a single curled chip, corn on the cob and roast duck, a tasty dinner 🙂

Of course the place was full of the normal tourist stuff, stalls upon stalls upon stalls of them. And mostly selling the same thing at outrageous prices. When they give you the ‘special’ price which is $30 off the marked price, you know you are being ripped, but they have to make a living eh 🙂

Monday I purposely stayed away from the bike shop until late in the day. I had been back to the bike rental place with Frank and after some chat, they agreed to get me a better quality scoot, one with disc brakes and a speedo and fuel gauge that worked. When I did return for the swap over we ended up in an argument. We had shaken hands yesterday on a certain rental price which they now reneged on, plus I had fuelled up the bike. I ended up getting my deposit back but they refused to cough up for the fuel, mongrels. It seems that as they did not have a bike to rent me, they had to rent it off someone else and pass the extra costs on to me, well that won’t happen. It was not a big difference in price, it was the principle of the thing.

I ended up finding a better place not far from the hotel in the other direction where they rented me a near new manual scoot for only $5/day and no need to hand over a deposit nor passport, I just gave them one of my expired drivers licences, always handy for overseas travel 😉 So, late that afternoon I went and checked out the bike and by crikey I did not recognise it, they had stripped the engine right out and stripped it down to nothing!!!

It was good news and bad news. The middle picture shows the crankshaft and conrods, well, one of the conrod big end bearings was buggered, it had heated up while it was running without oil and worn away, causing the knocking noise. The good news was that the pistons and bores were fine, they would be very expensive to repair. The bad news was the spare parts manual had FOUR different part numbers for the big end bearings and I did not know which one to buy 😦

In the above diagram it is part #6, Bearing, Crank Pin. As you can see, they each have a different colour code and all I need to know is what is my colour? I checked that evening on the forums and found the answer, depending on the marking on the crank plus whether it had been measured and checked as per service manual, would decide the bearing size. I returned the following day and we discussed the way to proceed. In the end the crankshaft has to be machined then measured, also the conrod big ends have to be machined to match the bearings, so we decided the place to do this was a machine shop in Bangkok. They would send the cranks and conrods in one piece and the shop up there would make new bearings to fit the newly machined surfaces. For my part I now needed to source some spare parts. I would need a full gasket kit and a new Tip Over Sensor at the least. Frank suggested I replace the piston rings while it is stripped down, which made sense. Of course trying to source all these parts from the one place took some doing.

One place I knew I could get parts was from the Bike Doctor in Western Australia. I had bought stuff from Dave in the past, when I was stuck in Laos. While waiting for price and availability from Dave, I also checked a number of shops in the SEA region. I ended up hitting the jackpot in Suzuki Singapore. 🙂 They had all the parts I needed when I called them on Skype. Now for the fun part, shipping time.

In the end, Dave could supply the parts from Oz, with approximately a 10 day delivery time. Or, I could fly to Singapore and pick these up and be back in 2 days! After considering the costs of staying here for 10+ days(lodging, food and booze) as compared to the flight down and back with food and lodging for one night, it was a no brainer. And that is the option I took.

So, I booked my flight, worked out a place to stay in Singapore, contacted Glen who lives there(I had met him in Chiang Mai last year), and then I could relax 🙂 What better way to pass some idle time than to go for a ride and mix in some Geocaching. 🙂 There were quite a few on this island, so I checked online at to see what was near me and decided to go for a ride to Radar Hill to look for the Phuket Radar Geocache. This was a fun ride up some very steep roads and switchbacks, the scoot certainly got a work out 🙂 But, I made it to the cache location and found my first cache in Phuket 🙂 The views were a bit hazy but I could certainly see a long way, in the bay on the west side is a small dot in the middle of picture, that is a massive cruise liner anchored up in the middle of nowhere.

Later that afternoon I met up with Frank and Jeffrey Polanja, he is Indonesian and has also been on a round the world trip. We actually nearly met up in Moscow last year, but circumstances(he was in a rush getting a visa, I was getting bike repaired) prevented us meeting at the time. We had met the other night for the first time, when he arrived back in town and dropped into my hotel for a chat, on his way home from an island ride. This evening he and Frank met. So after a few beers at the pub next to the hotel, we went up to a restaurant at the top of one of the hills here, with a good view over Phuket Town. We had a few beers and some nice food and chewed the fat for a while 🙂 It was not a late night as I had an early flight the next day, I needed to be on the road at around 8am for the hours trip to the airport. It was a great evening with 3 differently experienced travellers 🙂

To Be continued 😉

Cheers from Phuket

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