You do learn a lot (or at least observe a lot) during a half century of wrenching on machines of all kinds. What often happens, usually when you are in a big hurry to complete a repair, is that the most critical part of the component or process suddenly and unexpectedly fails or dematerializes right before your eyes. Parts can either crumble at a critical juncture or they just take flight, zipping across the shop floor diving into an inaccessible recess behind an immoveable cabinet or workbench. After awhile, it seems, this becomes a new rule of physics. If you bounce a ball on the floor, the second bounce is always smaller than the first one due to a loss of kinetic energy and the pull of gravity. This experiment can be repeated scientifically over and over again, but science does not explain how the second bounce of a small, unique and unobtainable ball bearing can amplify the distance on the second or even third bounce.
So, my equation is E= “energy released” when the critical part leaves its original location and takes flight. MC2 is the “MotorCycle part’s ability to bounce higher the second time than the first impact with the shop floor. You can also “square” the amount of time it takes to seek it out which generally has about a 25% retrieval rate. If it doesn’t reveal itself within the first sixty seconds, then the time expended to continue the search compounds each minute, thereafter. Generally, if it hasn’t been found within the first four minutes, then it won’t be found until the shop is thoroughly cleaned or my grandson comes to visit (see below).
How can usually inanimate parts suddenly spring to life, darting off in directions which might have been observed for a brief moment, and become permanently lost within an eight-foot radius? It is truly a mystery of science. If the part is ferrous and metallic, it will suddenly resist the pull of a magnet which is being fished around beneath the workbench. Fragile parts seem to have a death wish, diving beneath your feet just as you back up to see where they went, only to be crushed under the weight of that size- ten work boot you are wearing.
Recently, a clutch cover which was being cleaned out in the front yard, had its clutch lever shaft spring leap into a four-hundred square-foot field of small gravel and was not to be found during a twenty-minute search. I had to order a new one, which was shipped across the country, adding three days to the repair process.
Three weeks later, when my six-year old grandson bounded out of his mother’s car on a recent visit, he spied the spring from ten feet out and brought it to me shouting “Spring! Spring!” Apparently the spring had an affinity for small children and not seasoned adults.
Motorcycle repair often requires the fitting of nuts, screws, washers and bolts in locations that cannot be seen, but only felt by hand. Invariably, the lockwasher and flat washer fall away just as you are trying to attach the nut to the end of the bolt which cannot be held in place by any known tool from Snap-on or other tool manufacturers. How do you feel when that “one-of-a-kind” pilot jet takes a dive, just as you are about to blow some carburetor spray through the newly opened hole, skittering away in the darkest corner of the garage? Just try to corral that tiny carburetor idle screw o-ring and washer once you have fished it out of those CBX carburetors. Once liberated, the smallest parts feel free to explore the world beyond that chassis to which they were attached for the past forty years. Carburetors have come to the shop missing their slide needle retainer clips and sometimes their needle jets, which you generally can’t remove without a sledge hammer. Where do they go and how did they get loose in the first place?
The worst case scenario is when you have carefully set a part aside in a “safe place” so you can easily find and reinstall it back where it belongs. There is a long knock pin that is sealed with an o-ring which guides coolant through the center of the engine cases on a CBR300R. When the cases were split the parts were noted and carefully placed aside. A week later, after the new crankshaft arrived, the knock pin’s location became undiscoverable. After ten minutes of futile searching, a longer one, of the same diameter, was fished out of the parts spares box and cut down to length. After the engine was reassembled, the knock pin and o-ring was discovered lying in the oil filter housing cover, next to the new filter that was to be installed. I suppose that one can be credited more to having one of several “senior moments” which occurred during the second reassembly of the engine, as opposed to having taken flight this time. But usually, the parts just flee on their own, without any assistance or permission from Bill. The final CBR300R mystery was just revealed when the front sprocket cover was removed so that a 15t sprocket could be installed in place of the stock 14t version. When the cover was pulled back ALL of the sprocket hardware was missing. The sprocket locking plate and both shouldered bolts were nowhere to be found. The bike has been driven like that for over sixty miles. There is no sign of the parts leaving while the cover was in place, as they would have left a lot of marks in the process. The parts can’t be accounted for in the shop and it seems unlikely that the cover would have been installed without seeing that the attachment hardware was not in place. They all apparently went “walkabout” while holding hands with each other, never to be seen again.
It is hard to estimate how many hours have been spent on retrieving the tiny springs, contacts and ball bearings which are part of the early model Honda dimmer switches. Having watchmaker skills can certainly come in handy when attempting to stuff the contact plate, spring and ball bearing back into the housing slot. Usually the ball bearing leaps out, just as the parts are pressed into the housing; taking advantage of the slope in the driveway to gain momentum and maximum travel time/distance. For those of us who have dealt with these phenomena repeatedly, searching the “spares box” which is full of broken and corroded handlebar switches is the only salvation to source the needed parts to complete the repair.
Emotionally, the “lost parts” experience causes great stress in the mind and body, which often expresses itself in language so foul that you are surely condemned to Hell for the many, many utterances which escape your normally polite lips. The demon phrases just take over your whole cerebral cortex as if a bolt of lightning had surely struck at the very core of your being, causing expressions of condemnation and curses of the highest intensity and volume. When that master link plate spring flies down the center of the crankcases, just as it is to be snapped into place, the shock and horror of the consequences of having to retrieve it and/or disassemble the engine, once again, is more than most human beings can endure in silence. Such utterances have been known to initiate divorce proceedings, as the person that was so intimately known and loved for their patience and kindness suddenly becomes an un-caged monster of the highest order. Unless you have walked a mile in his coveralls, you cannot possibly feel the intense rage and disgust at those errant parts (or yourself) when such misery befalls the hapless mechanic.
The Nobel Prize should be awarded to whoever can devise a Plastic/aluminum/brass magnet to help resolve these cases of missing miniature missiles, disguised as motorcycle parts. Please forward your patent requests to Bill and we will setup the “Go Fund Me” page immediately.