Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Of Clutch Plates, Laal Ghoda & Mavathur lake

Date: 18th - 19th July 09
The 5in5 routine of the previous week had left a slight bad aftertaste. My silver bullet (all of 49000kms now) was not responding normally when I opened the throttle. There were also incidents when it would take me forever to start the bike, the kicker offering no resistance to the kick. I was determined to get it back into business on Saturday and hopefully make it to the RTMC announce ride on Sunday to Kabaldurga.

Early on Saturday I called Gurunandan to get it fixed. With Nandan nursing a collar bone injury and Tiger, his Man-Friday off on his monthly drinking binge, I had to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty (literally) and provide the much needed TLC for the clutches.
Nandan immediately pointed out that it was a case of smoothened clutch plates and that it was straight forward repair job. I got some gyan over the phone and waited till the brats (my nephews - Rishabh and Aryan) were at home to begin to remove the nuts and bolts.

· The first sign of clutch-slip is, not being able to reach the top-speed you earlier could. Frankly, I didn’t see this coming
· Kicker does not offer any resistance to the kick and goes through easily. I even tightened the kicker nut thinking that had come loose
· When you are in say, the third gear, upon turning the accelerator, the bike revs, the rpm shoots up, but there is no corresponding increase in speed, speed may sometimes kick-in after a lag

Likely problem area:
· Clear indication of the primary drive not transferring the power, suspect the clutch plates
· Clutch slip will be due to one of two causes - insufficient spring pressure or insufficientfriction between plates due to excessive slipperiness
· Worn out fiber-faced clutch plates (can be found by applying pressure on the fiber plates using fingernails, if it feels like a tile and not like rubber , it’s time for replacement)
· In my case, all the bolts holding the springs had come very loose

· Roughen the steel clutch plates with sandpaper (emery paper) or a file
· Increase the spring pressure a bit by inserting washers under all three of them or by using stronger springs. In my case, one of the bolts had a shake despite tightening it (possibly because of wearing of the threads), I used Teflon tape before screwing it back
· The oil that needs to be filled is light weight oil to increase friction, the cheapest one available is Laal Ghoda

“Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut that connects the handlebars to the saddle”

I put back the primary case & the footrest and all that remained to be done was to pour back the oil into the case through the nut. But try as I may, the nut would not budge. With the edges of the nut already well rounded, there was little hope even with my new acquired adjustable spanner. So this nut (read me!) in a sudden flash of brilliance, figured that the engine oil flows into the primary case and poured the oil from the clutch case to the engine!!

It took some undoing after a call to the bullet doctor, Nandan. I went out and bought the Laal Ghoda, took the bike to a mechanic (yes, I had to succumb) to loosen the nut and filled in the Laal Ghoda.

By evening, I had more oil & grease in my finger nails than between those clutch plates.

Ride to Mavathur lake:
The Laal Ghoda did it’s job, washing away the guilt of neglecting the bullet and on Sunday morning at 5:30AM, I was saddled up to join the newbies on the announce ride to Kabaladurga.
When I landed at Khoday’s at 6:30AM, I suddenly felt like an outsider. There were small groups where riders were socializing, but there were only new faces. This was not the RTMC that I had known at all. But what had not changed was the time keeping – Goop joined in sometime, the ride captain, Biscuit, came in at 7am.

We had an early breakfast stop just outside of town within 30mins of start and one pit stop later we were near Kanakpura. We were looking for Mavathur on the map which showed a pretty lake off the highway. With the confidence on my bullet growing, I took over as the point from here on. As we turned off the highway into Mavathur, into the narrow village roads, it was yet another of those freeze-frame-RTMC moments – in the rear view mirror, the entire roads seems on aglow with headlights of Bullets - the village roads, the fields adding to the view.
We reached the far end of the lake and after making a few enquiries found our way to the bund on the other side. The lake bund was build in the 80s and there is hill at one end of the bund. A few of us climbed up the hill to get a better view of the surrounding (quite spectacular) landscape.
After a round of introductions, we rode back via Kanakapura & Ramanagara to get on Mysore road. I continued to be the point till we hit Mysore road and broke away from the main group to get back home for lunch with a visiting cousin from UK.
Total distance covered: 180km
Pics courtesy: Ajai Kamath… more here, here and here
For more gyan on clutch plate maintenance visit here

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