Update: Yamaha: 5 – Miss Busa: 1

No wonder I was about to pull my hair out and commit arson.

The following morning the husband, in an attempt to make me see reason, plopped down a cup of coffee in front of my lifeless body slumped over the kitchen table and waited. Waited for me to start imbibing my morning dose of liquid wakefulness. I grimaced slightly as the first sip of dark roast assaulted my palate. He nodded: “Jet Fuel. I thought you needed Jet Fuel this morning.” I respond with a half-hearted “Uh-huh.”

He waits a little while longer to make sure the first cup is working its magic, then states the painfully obvious with the grace of a news anchor delivering the latest in human tragedy: “You have to put the bike back together so you can sell it.”

I groan. “You have to be logical about this? The thought had occurred to me.”

“Collect all your parts and take your problem to a shop.”

Did he just tell me I needed professional help? He did, didn’t he?

Later that same day, I miss a phone call from said professional, leaving a VM telling me they need authorization to order some parts.

A projected bill of $160 in parts and $30 in labor confirms that I wasn’t going crazy, after all. The R1’s rear axle was so funked up that it was no wonder that I couldn’t figure out what parts went where because none of them matched the service manual nor the microfiche and none of them were actually OEM, save for the missing ones I had already acquired. All the internal bearings were the wrong type. A lot of the parts showed damage. Some of them were shoved in there backwards, which I had already surmised, and required brute force removal to free the hub of its alien internals.

They will rebuild my axle to OEM specs with OEM parts.

Another one of those situations where my lack of confidence in my own abilities caused unnecessary distress. I had an inkling something was off when I first rode the bike. I wondered why in the world the spacing between the chain and the rim was so tight that I could barely get a tire warmer squeezed in there. I had the nagging suspicion that something wasn’t quite as it should be when I shot a laser across the sprockets and found the alignment suspect. I also eventually stumbled across the reason why there was a notch cut into one side of the swingarm’s axle mount, but not the other. I had come to the realization that maybe some of the parts may not even be stock, but there was no way for me to tell for certain. I should have taken it to the shop right then. But in an effort to save money, and in keeping with my teutonic stubbornness (I can do this!) I refused to give up. On five different occasions I tackled this particular problem only to walk away from it in disgust.

I knew they had turned the axle around for some odd reason. The reason being, as someone in the know had explained to me, some racers do that on purpose, since they want the axle nut on the chain side. That does make sense, since a gearing change can then be affected from working on only one side of the bike. However, if stepping around the bike to loosen and then re-torquing an axle nut wastes too much time, you probably are taking club racing a little too seriously. But to each their own.

As for me, I don’t trust previous owner mods. I have to at least be familiar with the transformation from stock and know the reasoning behind said modification. It also needs to be mechanically sound, which in this case it definitely was not, as evidenced by stressed and broken parts. And I really don’t have a pressing need for the axle nut to be on the chain side, even though the Yami is the first bike I have owned that didn’t.

Yet another lesson learned the hard way. Hopefully, next time I trust my instincts (and my intellect) and save myself a whole lot of aggravation.

Maybe now I am one step closer to enjoying the beast without confidence-robbing trust issues. I hope so, because that girl is a ferocious beast and she shifts way smoother than the Pirate. I hate to admit it, but DynoJet’s Quick Shifter add-on is a freaking world apart from BMW’s implementation of the same principle of enabling full-throttle, clutchless upshifts. It is so smooth I occasionally catch myself looking down at the instrument panel to see if I’m actually in the next higher gear only to find the thing doesn’t have a gear indicator.

 


I Want! The Coolest Paddock Stand Ever

If I could only find this thing for sale in the US somewhere. I want! No more having to rely on the Girl Card at the track or risk your race horse taking a concrete nap on the pad while you’re trying to get off the motorcycle, preferably without upsetting the delicate balance of woman versus gravity, and then ever so carefully inchworming your way around the bike to put it on its rear stand.

I could cut myself a little “peg chock” out of a piece of wood and kick it under there with my foot to hold the bike up, so I can dismount without fuss, but that lacks class and just screams #TeamBrokeAssRacing. I have seriously considered that option; it wouldn’t cost me anything at all.

If it weren’t for this weighty issue I am faced with now: I have to unload the rear suspension to remove the monoshock, which requires lifting from the frame.

Miss Busa's Home Office

Yeah, I keep my race bike in the living room. Sometimes I even let it watch MotoGP on TV.

In a perfect world I would want the solution to be stable and mobile, so I can push the bike out of the way or reposition it, as needed. In a perfect world, I’d also have a garage. The husband would be unceremoniously evicted from his man cave, the space taken over with Hello Kitty decor and racing paraphernalia, with the  family’s truck relegated to parking in the street.

Pit Bull Jack Stands

The Pit Bull Jack Stands can lift your bike by the rearsets or the frame sliders.

Or…

I could plop down $150 and get a pair of the Pit Bull Jack Stands. I have a tap and die set; maybe I can void another warranty by modding some heavy duty casters on those later.

I could buy a set of 3-ton jacks and a couple of long bolts to jack the entire affair up by the engine block. I might as well start cutting v-shaped notches into some sturdy wood right now.

The more I think about the available options, the more I want that contraption in the video. That would solve most of the problems my race horse has with resisting gravitational pull in the stable or at the race track.

I’m getting the jigsaw. There is woodworking to be done…


It’s Tool Time!

I’m patiently waiting on the Man in Brown to show up on my doorstep to drop off a load of (highly specialized) tools, so I can get this front suspension pain in my arse taken care of once and for all.

What did I actually put on the track at Road A? Let’s just say that I was way too trusting of a bike that my hubby had acquired for me from a dude who is a mechanic by trade and the bike in question had also been set up and raced by a local racing team.

I’m not complaining, mind you. As far as I am concerned hubby got a great deal on the R1. The added up cost of the performance upgrades alone would have set us back as much as we paid for the bike itself. I’m speaking retail cost here. When you’re sponsored you could find yourself getting these things for free. I’m sure both parties came out of this deal smiling. I know I did, and Skinny Dude with Similar Spring Rate even cut me a break and knocked another five bills off of it. But it goes to show that even though I had checked the bike over to the best of my ability, with the mechanical knowledge that I had gained thus far, some things do not become obvious until you put the beast on the track and give it as much hell as you dare. I did. At the last race of the season. Yes, the finals. I went testing at the Grand Nationals and then still entered the actual race (there are some freakishly fast dudes in A Superstock); knowing it was a really bad idea, but when did that sort of thing ever stop me? But that is a different story for a different time. Maybe I’m going to tell it someday… when I’m completely over the public humiliation I received that weekend, and deservedly so.

Candy's Fork(ed) Leg

But I digress.

Finding a rolled up piece of shop towel shoved in between the outer dust seal, the inner oil seal and the ring clip that holds the seal assembly in place was the last straw. (Somebody sneaking some leaky fork seals through Tech?) The last straw in a long line of other straws that made me say WTF!?! out loud. Every one of these straws presented me with the awesome opportunity to research and add yet another tiny increase to my MotoMech Skill. I need to develop an eye for these things, I’m starting to, but I’ve got a long way to go. Vic Fasola took one quick glance at my bike and muttered something along the lines of my suspension setup being totally fooked and my grips being a few degrees off from each other! Holy hell, I measured those clip-ons as best I could with my digital calipers, which isn’t the right tool for that job anyway. They looked even to me, hell they felt even when I was riding the bike.

Later disassembly of the front forks revealed that the preload between the two legs was differing by several millimeters between right and left, the compression damping differed by 25 clicks. Absolutely nothing was right about the front suspension setup. Not geometry, damping, preload, relative positioning, or fastening torques. Nothing. Those tubes were slid so far up the triple tree that they were in danger of giving you a nose bleed when in the race tuck. A twitchy proposition to say the least. And to facilitate this extreme lack of straight line stability it was necessary to have the upper triple tree clamp half on the skinny part and half on the fat part of the fork tube. I snapped off both pinch bolts on the right side in an attempt to loosen them. I wonder how close they were to snapping when the bike was on the race track? I don’t even want to think about that. I managed to release the left-side bolts without a snap, by backing them out alternatively a few turns at a time. The bolts showed signs of fatigue. They were bent and the threads were unevenly stretched.

No wonder the bike felt weird in the front and kind of strange in the back. No wonder I was as slow as a blob of molasses hanging out in a fridge. The bike was talking to me. I didn’t understand all this feedback I was getting through the chassis. I am slowly learning, but my lackadaisical attitude, a conditioned response to balance perfectionistic tendencies with and adventuresome spontaneity into a more sensible approach, sometimes gets in the way and slow natural progression.

I get in my own way. There. I’ve said it. I’m a brainiac klutz. Leave me to my own devices with too much time to think and too much room for self-doubt, and I’ll stumble over my own two feet and land on the mental equivalent of my JLo ass. But I own my solutions and failures. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have to own something to trust in it. I have to test a theory and be able to reproduce the promised results on my own to fully believe it. I don’t follow blindly, unless the source has repeatedly proven itself, and even then I can’t help but feel the gnaw of insecurity. I like my variables to be assigned beforehand. I like the equation’s result to be known. But this is the real world… and constants aren’t much fun anyway.

In the end I have nobody to blame but myself; which is the preferable scenario to me. When the blame falls squarely on my shoulders I can spare myself the annoyance of being upset with someone else.

I should have done the research beforehand, educated myself on the things I was unclear on or was ignorant of and check all fasteners. Set the suspension up for myself instead of trusting “it must be right, because the guy is my height and approximately my weight and he raced it.”

However, too much theoretical knowledge without any real world experience makes my head hurt, it gets me frustrated by information overload and I end up winging it half of the time for lack of patience, time constraints, not having the proper tools, or simply by saying: “Ah, screw this, it’ll be alright.” After all, I don’t want to wrench. I want to ride!

I own it or am owned by it.

Sometimes I do find myself getting a little jealous of some of my friends who can call upon the experience of trusted others to help them along their way. I do most everything myself, and I fall down a lot. Occasionally, this gets a little old and I feel like quitting. Fortunately, I have Mr. Slow to kick me square in the leather pants when I start uttering such nonsense as wanting to quit racing because it’s such a pain in the ass in between. Hubby is EXTREMELY supportive of my racing endeavors. He is my rock. His is the hand that reaches out to help me up. He is the one who puts up with all my girly insecurities and the shit I dish out when I’m stressing, smiles and says: “I don’t care how slow you think you are, baby. I still am damned proud of you for getting out there. You are doing it. You just need to do it more. That’s all.”

He’s right. I know that on an intellectual level. Sometimes it is just hard to hold on to that emotionally when you’re down, but not out. I wish he could also be a master mechanic and a pro racer instead of just playing the role of my psychologist. 😉

My stuff is here, I’ve got to go!

17 days until race day.


Paint it… a Brighter Shade of Yellow

Apparently I rode it until the paint peeled off. Faster than a speeding ticket? No. Faster than a top coat with just a hint of polyurethane? Yes. And here I thought I wasn’t going fast enough. I can’t leave it alone, I have to at least make it look good from a fair distance, let’s say 12 feet or so. The motion blur will take care of the rest. I needed to fix my competition numbers on the tail section anyway, and Tech informed me that I needed to get the front number fixed before the next race, they want them straight across. Well, I suppose they’re letting a ton of people slide repeatedly on that one, since I’ve seen plenty of race bikes with number plates that aren’t quite regulation. I don’t want any shit from Tech, so I’m not going to fight them on something as simple as a number plate. I really don’t need the white glove treatment before I had my first cup of Joe, I’m not a morning person and my mouth will just get me in trouble.

I’m not spending any more money on damn paint and the tools to get it from the can to the substrate. I already spent way too much of my racing cash on my textured special FX primer cover. I should have just went to Maaco and had them apply some shitty-ass one-step automotive coat, I just don’t have the patience for applying paint properly. A girl’s gotta know her limitations.

Enough already. It’s just a tail piece… I don’t even know why I bother to post this up… because it’s one of those little aggravations that come with racing. This is starting to look as though I do have masochistic tendencies… good grief. Somebody should have told me…

Tail Redone

NOT ART!


Wired For Safety: Because if the stuff falls off…

…we’re not going to have a good time.

I don’t know what it is about safety wiring, but the task seems overwhelming and insurmountable and a big pain in the backside when you think about it; not to mention it is confusing when you first are faced with a list of stuff to secure properly to pass Tech at a track. I’ve been procrastinating this safety wiring project for the better of six months and I finally decided to tackle the subject in small increments.

Let’s start off with the important stuff:

The Tools of the Trade

  • Safety wire pliers: This is a specialty tool that is technically not necessary, since you could clip the wire to size with wire cutters and twist the stuff with a pair of needle nose pliers. Technically. Do yourself a favor and buy one of these puppies! You’ll thank me later. No, seriously! Miss Busa is making these mandatory!
  • Safety wire: The thickest wire I am using is 0.041″ T-304 stainless steel marine-grade lock wire, which is a perfect match for those 1/16″ drill bits. However, I use various thicknesses for different applications. I also use 0.032″-diameter and 0.02″-diameter wire. The skinnier the wire, the easier it is to work with, but due to its lesser tensile strength, it’s more likely to break. I like to use the thick stuff for places that have to be wired and are very unlikely to have to be undone. A medium-thickness wire is a pretty good all-around choice and I use it for most of everything that needs to be wired up. The skinny wire is great for wiring up such things as grips and rearset components.
  • Racing safety pins: Completely optional, but they make life at the track so much easier. I like to use these in places where the wiring has to be undone and redone quite often, such as the oil fill cap, the radiator cap, the oil filter, the rear axle nut. Pay attention to the rulebook though, you may not be able to use these in certain places; the oil drain plug would be a common exception to their allowed use.
  • Tab washers aka safety wire washers: Also completely optional, but these make things much more enjoyable. Also keep some of these in your tool box, you’ll never know when some extra-anal white-gloved tech inspector wants you to secure this or that and now you’re hard pressed to fix the problem since your drill is at home, no anchor point is within reach and your day could have just went down the tubes if it weren’t for these little lifesavers. 🙂 I like to use them where points of attachments are difficult or too distant to be feasible. You use them like a washer, torque the fastener down onto them, then use pliers to bend the tabs up around the bolt’s head. You can then secure your safety wire to the tab that has the hole in it. Obviously, you cannot use them as anchor points for safety wiring the exact same bolt you are attaching them to. That would be silly.
Tools for Safety Wiring

Tools to safety wire your bike: safety wire pliers, safety wire, tab washers (aka safety wire washers), and racing safety pins.

  • Safety wire drilling jig: This is another specialty tool and a must-have item if you do not have a drill press and have to manually drill the holes into the bolt heads. Miss Busa is making this a mandatory purchase as well! No whining. Just order the jig set when you order the pliers and the safety wire.
Safety Wiring Drill Jig

The safety wiring drill jig is a must-have tool if you do not have a drill press.

  • QUALITY 1/16″ drill bits. I mean it. Buy junk and they’ll break or won’t get you all the way through to the other side before they turn dull and useless! I’ve bought some DeWalt 1/16″ Split Point Cobalt drill bits which are claimed to have “maximum life in metal” and are rumored to “start on contact”. I can attest to both of these statements being fairly accurate so far.
Say NO! to cheap drill bits!

Friends don't let friends buy cheap drill bits! Just because it says "titanium" on the package...

  • Automatic (spring-loaded) punch:  Mine was broken, so I had to make do without; which isn’t a big deal IF you bought the aforementioned QUALITY drill bits. Tell me you didn’t buy junk!  This is an optional item, unless you didn’t listen and bought a ten-pack of “titanium nitrate” bits for $1.98, then it becomes mandatory. This tool is used to make a little indentation for your drill bit to sit in to get you started and to help prevent the bit walking all over the place while you attempt to do so.
  • Drill: I have some housewife-grade cheapie by Black & Decker. Variable speed, quick-release chuck, reversible. It does me just fine with those DeWalt drill bits.
  • Vise: You either have to have one of these or try and talk your buddy into holding the piece for you while you come at them with the drill. 😉 I use a little suction cup mounted articulated hobby vise I got at Harbor Freight. I have no garage or workshop, so this little guy is prefect for the occasional Tool Time session.
  • If you’ve got the cash to burn and the workshop to go with it, you might want to forgo the whole vise-and-drill thing and go out and get yourself a decent drill press. Way more accurate and way quicker, but overkill if all you’ll be needing it for is drilling a few holes into bolt heads to stick some wire through. Have a friend who has one? Pack your crap, hop on your bike and go see him. Don’t forget the pizza and the beer.
  • Cutting oil: If you’re trying to find “cutting oil” you’ll run yourself nutters. Some people use WD-40 to cool down their bits, others use machine oil, or multi-purpose 3-in-1 oil. You get the picture. You’ll need something to keep the drill bit from overheating and to ease its passage through some of the tougher stuff you’ll ever find yourself drilling holes through. If the bit gets too hot, it’ll break.
  • Safety glasses: This goes without saying. A scratched eyeball hurts like hell and you can’t ride motorcycles when you’re half-blind. Put ’em on!
Tools for Safety Wire Hole Drilling

Tools for drilling safety wire holes: drill, 1/16" drill bits, cutting oil, drill jig, automatic punch (no pictured), cotton swabs, paper towels, rotary tool, and safety glasses.

Let the Fun Commence

Today, I’m doing caps and calipers. Since I have a short attention span and find learning how to safety wire almost as coma-inducing as teaching myself suspension tuning, I can only handle this mess in short spurts. I already have my axles, oil filter, and oil drain plug done. I will have to write them up later. Fear not, as this comes together I will re-organize these posts and work them into a proper how-to. This is really just something to get you started, to give you time to gather up all the tools you’ll need and give you a general idea of what is coming. I will take the mystery out of this subject yet. Because this is one of these things: You’re totally lost when you see the list of junk in the rulebook you have to properly secure, some of it makes sense. Some of it is vaguely familiar and some of it has you drooling form the corner of the mouth, mumbling incoherently. “Oil gallery plugs” anybody? As luck would have it, those beyotches may be secured with RTV silicone; a girl can do that laying on her back in two minutes flat. 😉

  • Always take the parts you need to drill off the bike. Before taking them off, a lot of people like to mark their fasteners when they are properly torqued, so they know where to drill the holes for the wire. Plan how you are going to wire up the fasteners that you are taking off. Remember that safety wiring has to tighten one bolt as another tries to come loose, so the tension should always be to the right of each fastener, which will route the twisted safety wire in an s-shape between them once two bolts are wired together. Plan on drilling your holes accordingly. Some people drill more than one set of holes for just that reason, but I bet those are the same peeps who also own one of those snazzy drill presses. (I will post pictures of every secured bolt on my bike when I’m done. A pic is worth a million words and a hundred google searches!)
  • Secure the part in your vise. Make sure you don’t bend or break anything. Always wrap your part up in a shop towel or use soft vise pads to avoid damaging anything. That’s one reason I decided to thread the bolt into the drill jig, even though my vise has soft rubber-capped jaws. That’s not exactly how you’re supposed to use the thing, or is it?!?
Closeup of Brake Caliper Bolt (Drilled)

I used the safety wire drill jig to hold the bolt in the vise for drilling to prevent potential damage to the bolt's threads.

  • Mark your fastener with your automatic punch, if you have one.
  • Put a drop of oil on the drill bit and on the bolt.
  • Carefully start drilling, making sure that your drill bit stays put and doesn’t wander around. With the DeWalt bits I mentioned earlier this is not a problem, they stay put, even without a punch to mark the spot. Once you have the hole started, speed up the drill and add a little bit of pressure, not too much, though, if you bend the bit you’ll break it. Let the bit do the work for you. Be patient. You’ll see metal shavings piling up, I prefer to clean those out with cotton swabs, wipe the drill bit off and add some more oil, then I resume drilling. Each bolt took me about 5-6 minutes to drill. I didn’t break a single bit either. 🙂 Remember those “titanium” cheapies? Yeah, I tried those first. After 10 minutes of nothing much happening, I finally admitted defeat and changed to the DeWalt’s. A world of difference! The no-name bits are going to have to be re-dedicated to drilling holes into wood or styrofoam… they suck!
  • I decided to drill straight through the bolt heads, using the first hole as a guide to start the second hole. I thought that this may be a mistake and would make me break a bit, but it worked like a dream. The holes are nice and clean and perfectly aligned, which will make wiring these up a cinch, no matter where they end up in relation to each other. And I did a way better job than the ex-BMW dealer did on my axle nut, if I dare say so myself.
Closeup of drilled safety wire hole

I decided to drill the hole straight across to make it easier to wire the two bolts together later.

  • The caps were easy. I decided to drill the radiator cap from the back side, so in case the bit slipped I wouldn’t scratch up the “pretty side”. That was probably a mistake, since I had to use my Dremel to deburr the side the drill exited, which is probably going to cause it to rust. We shall see. If I had to do it over, I’d drill the holes front to back. I drilled both sides of the cap because I couldn’t remember which was the one I had decided to drill. Should have marked it, but thought I wouldn’t forget. I put the racing safety pin on the side that I’m betting on. We shall see if I didn’t drill that extra hole for nothing.
  • The oil fill cap is plastic and was done in a few seconds. It took me longer to put the part in the vise. I decided to drill both sides, because the cap could end up at a number of different angles in relationship to the safety wire’s anchor point.
Parts Drilled

Parts that I've drilled today: the four front brake caliper bolts, oil fill cap and coolant fill cap


Saved by RaceABS

I’m almost too ashamed to post this. But it needs to be said. Over and over again, until it’s second nature and not questionable by ill-conceived reason. Doubt has no place in going fast. Lack of confidence hasn’t a place there either and neither has the lackadaisical attitude I often exhibit when it comes to questionable situations of the “WTF?” variety. Instead of pulling over and investigating the cause for the “something’s off” warning light that goes off in my head, I make a “that must be it” excuse and keep going.

“Good gawd, I must have forgotten how to shift! I need retraining.”

Could just be that the shift rod assembly is working loose and shifting is getting less precise and when it is about to fall off you can’t even get into third without hitting a false neutral most of the time.

“Holy hell, I can’t get a proper start down anymore! I need to practice.”

Could just be that the clutch lever pivot bolt is over-torqued and slowly demolished its threads, and now your clutch is slipping like mad. Well, DOH!

What is wrong with this picture?!?

What is wrong with this picture?

“The front end feels funny. Sounds weird, and the feedback is strange. Must be the new brand of tires with a softer compound running a lower pressure.”

Could just be that you’ve forgotten to torque the caliper bolts on the right side.

Marked For Torque

Encounters of the Anal Retentive Kind: "Marked For Torque" Nm values next to the fasteners to speed up things at the track

And that is probably the main reason we have to safety wire all this junk! If the wire is undone you know you haven’t torqued the bolt. Safety wiring was not required at JenningsGP, so I was lazy and didn’t redo them when I was done. I did four laps on brake caliper bolts that were only finger tight, the upper bolt backed out and the only thing holding it in was the RaceABS sensor cable. So the BMW S1000RR’s tech saved my dumb ass again, but not the way you would have thought.

I would have to thank my friend and my new tires for negating some of the stress those bolts were under and nothing worse happening than weaker brakes. I had brand new tires and was taking it easy and half a lap into putting the screws back on, the session was red flagged due to someone trying to pass my friend Margie Lee in T2 screwing it up and taking her out with him. They are both fine, although Mr. Red Ducati was a little worse for wear. He couldn’t remember who or where he was and had a mangled shoulder, but he’s going to be OK. Margie got checked out at the hospital, got a clean bill of health and went to work the next day. Ovaries of steel. My kind of woman there. 🙂 I knew there was a reason we hit it off.

After coming in from the session, pretty much the last one to leave the track, and not seeing her nor her bike in her pit, I got worried and ended up running around trying to figure out if it was indeed her who was involved and when I was told that it was, my heart just sank. The ambulance was taking forever at the crash site and the waiting game began. After all that, I wasn’t in the mood anymore; I just wasn’t feeling it, so we packed up and went home. This girl knows when to fold ’em. I didn’t notice the caliper bolts until I was putting the Pirate back into her street clothes in my driveway the next day.

Don’t be a moron like Miss Busa. Don’t be lazy and safety wire things back up, even if it is not required at the track you are on. It’s also a good idea to mark your bolts once you’re done. If it’s not marked with your little dot, safety wired or silicone sealed, you might want to check it out, just to be sure.

Also, don’t ignore feedback. If it seems off, it most definitely is. The bike is talking to you. Do yourself a favor and LISTEN.


Screwed!

As I’m getting closer to the date of my first official race, I’m starting to see things that could use a lot of improvement. And, mark your calendars, for once I’m not talking about my riding. My wrenching could use a speed boost. Let me clarify that, it’s not the quality that’s an issue (most of the time) it’s the speed with which it drags on. I’m moving slower than a snail crossing fly paper. If you observe me long enough in my driveway you might actually see the wrench moving.

I know why wrenching usually pisses me off:

My Crappy Toolbox

It's plastic. One compartment, one tray. The hinges are broken, the lid won't stay open and falls off its hinges, it also sticks when you try to open it. The tray doesn't really fit and sometimes falls in, but has nowhere to go. Most importantly, you can't find shit in there! A good bit of my time is spend rifling through this thing. But it's mine. I'm kind of partial to it. I don't know why I'm hanging on to this piece of junk. Not a clue.

Exhibit A: I spend half the time looking for shit! Lack of organization in my driveway has something to do with it, stuff gets kicked and rolls downhill. Screws get dropped, washers disappear into the treacherous void between fairing panels. The screwdriver isn’t where I left it. Who the hell stole my socket extension? Where the fuck are my calipers? What asshole used the last of my blue Loc-Tite? You get the picture. And I am the culprit who is to blame. Mr. Slow doesn’t turn wrenches unless I make him. He damn sure knows better than to touch my toolbox unless I’m having him fetch a tool for me.

The more I have to look, the longer it drags on, and what should be an hour job turns into a three-hour metric nightmare.  I hate that. It pisses me off. The other thing is that I usually run out of daylight because I never consider my tool-misplacement problem when I decide to start a project in the early afternoon. And in the dark stuff happens. Unspeakable horrors. Horrors such as scratched up clutch levers mounts and bent springs and stripped out threads on front master cylinder brackets due to over-torquing and a host of other calamities. I have finally learned to pack it up and leave it be when it gets too dark to see the little engraved numbers on the sockets.

Exhibit B: I hate it when I don’t have the right tool for the job. And what I dislike even more is my inability to just recognize that I need to buy (yet) another tool and do that, instead of trying to rig something that will do. Most of the time I end up going to the hardware or auto store anyway, but in frustrated state of mind. Why can’t I just learn not to do that? The rest of the time, the job looks lousy, ends up in stripped fasteners, rounded out bolts, bent retaining clips and other such nonsense, not to mention the scratches and marks it leaves behind on my baby. Shame on me.

I Use Labels

Yes, I'm one of THOSE people. Labels, color coding, like objects belong together. It makes sense (to me) I can find shit. I am happy. Mr. Slow puts up with it like I put up with the cats drinking out of the crapper because he left the lid open again.

So what is a girl to do? The reason why I’m putting myself through this hell? Because I have to. I can’t afford to constantly run to the shop and have it done for me. I don’t have any friends who can help either.

For example, to mount tires on rims that are still attached to their axles when you bring your bike in rather than just the wheels, they’ll charge you $90 and that does not include the rubber which is purchased elsewhere. If you bring in the wheels it sets you back $50.  I spent a small fortune to get all the proper tools for changing my own tires. And now that I have them, it’s a matter of just doing it to get better and faster at it. I change a few more sets and I probably have recouped the cost of the tools. I tried my first tire change lacking a few essentials that I didn’t know I needed until I was actually doing the job. For instance, I needed a longer, heavier tire iron since I’m lacking in oomph just a little. But how could I have known that? Everybody warned about using too long of one and strong-arming it and bending a rim or damaging the tire’s bead. I don’t think I’ll have that problem. That was not a pretty scene, let me tell you. There’s a post about it on here somewhere. Rather embarrassing and revealing, I might add. Yikes!

Proper tools. No rigging, unless it’s an emergency. I’ve made myself that promise and I’m doing a lot better with it. For example,  the tether kill switch install was the first wrenching job that I did right from start to finish. I planned. I thought aobut it. I thought some more. Ran it by Mr. Slow, who had no clue or didn’t want to get in the “middle of it” and kept his mouth shut; then ordered the proper tools that I was lacking; patiently waited until they arrived. Then methodically worked it out. Not a single profane word was uttered during that install. Nor did I screw anything up. That one is actually save for kids under 17 to read. 😉

Now, I’m thinking about racing and what kind of wrenching is done and how fast it has to be completed… and how it would go over so well if Miss Busa threw a temper tantrum in the pits. Yeah. I can see it now… No! That’s the stuff Lifetime movies are made of, because somebody’s gonna get killed by a low-flying wrench and then the poor victim’s family spend their entire lives hunting down the killer and bringing (big twist in plot here) HER to justice.

To avoid this I’m doing something very typical of the anal-retentive borderline pathological perfectionist that I am: I’m making a list. More of a spreadsheet type thing, really. A list of tools that are needed for each fastener on the bike, with torque values, tool type and size, quantity and location. A list of items needed to affect emergency repairs that would most likely be required during a race. I only bring what I need (plus a few emergency items), neatly organized, so I cut out all that time I waste hunting down the #12 socket and the #14 box wrench. I want one of those magnetic wristbands you can stick stuff to… no, make that two and a magnetic bowl to keep my nuts in (when I’m not using them).