I rode my Goldwing to Ed’s place Friday for some necessary maintenance: rebuilding the forks, which had begun to leak fluid through the oil & dust seals. It’s a messy job—forks are covered in road grime and full of black oil—but the rebuild procedure is straightforward and theoretically one shouldn’t be able to screw it up too badly.
The aftermarket fork kit I ordered off the internet consisted of bushings, O-rings, and seals, but did not include instructions. That wasn’t important since we had a shop manual, but even with a manual it’s possible to put the seals on upside down. I knew this because when I ordered the kit I read the customer reviews, where one guy explained the problem and said the secret is to install the seals number side up. And sure as heck, the new seals had numbers on one side.
Well, helpful reviewer guy was right about the oil seals, but dead wrong about the dust seals. Ed happened to have a Honda fork rebuild kit on hand, and by comparing the factory and aftermarket dust seals, we managed to install mine correctly.
Then, once the forks were back on the bike and the front wheel and disk brake calipers re-installed, I noticed a solitary bolt on the floor.
The bolt, which we had obviously missed, held a brake line clamp up against the inside of the left fork. It looked to Ed like all he needed to do was position the clamp with the fingers of one hand while screwing the bolt in with the other hand, but it turned out to be impossible—impossible, that is, until Ed and I took the front wheel off again and loosened up the disc brake calipers, and then it went right in. That one bolt added an extra hour and a half to the job, but eventually we finished up and I rode home. So far, so good: nothing’s fallen off the bike and the fork seals are doing their job. Here’s to not having to do that for at least another 50,000 miles!
Not that it’s not fun to work on my bike, but rebuilding those forks took it out of me. To get down to the level of the wheel, brakes, and forks, we had to kneel or sit on those little shop stools you see in the top photo. Whenever I got up to grab a tool I found I could barely move. It probably would have been better if I just stood all the time, but you can’t do that when everything you need is down on the floor of the garage. Ed’s my age but still spry, and I envy him that. I have one rebuilt knee and one that needs to be rebuilt, and it’s really hard for me to kneel or squat and then get back up again. It could well be my orthopedist installed my seals upside-down!
Ed, by the way: a great and true friend! Years ago, when my first headlight burned out, I couldn’t figure out how to replace the bulb, so I asked for advice on an online Honda Goldwing forum. When you post a question, your name and location are visible to other forum members: a few minutes later a guy responded, saying he lived in Tucson too and would be happy to show me how. That guy turned out to be Ed, who lives just two or three miles away. I’ve been doing all my motorcycle maintenance with Ed since that day—in fact Ed does most of the wrenching while I fetch tools, but Friday he let me use his torque wrench to properly tighten the front axle nut (45 foot/pounds), so I’m slowly gaining his confidence!
Speaking of true friends, here are two more of mine, eyeballing me from the couch by my chair:
The stare, of course, is a daily dinnertime occurrence. Most nights the cat is there too. Unless we have company, the couch belongs to the pets; if you look close you can see the carpeted ramp we made them start using after Schatzi hurt her back jumping on and off the sofa.
Yesterday, while recovering from Friday’s exertions, I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices had cried out in protest and were crassly insulted. I feared something terrible had happened. Then I logged onto Facebook and discovered Donald Trump was in Tucson. My body started aching all over again.
What I need now is a good motorcycle ride. Just as soon as my forehead heals and I can wear a helmet again, that’s what I’m going to do.
© 2016, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.