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  • 23 Post By Old Fox
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Thread: Do It Yourself!

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Old Fox's Avatar
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    Default Do It Yourself!

    At 45, I am supposedly an old timer as a motorcyclist. No, it’s not the age or the fact that few continue riding at this age. It probably has to do with the fact that my riding spans two separate eras of motorcycling in this country. I started riding when choices were limited to the rustic Rajdoot and Bullet, the sporty Jawa/Yezdi, the maverick Rajdoot GTS (the ‘Bobby’ Rajdoot) and a little later the exotic Yamdoot RD350. Again, it was not the bikes that made that a different era but the way motorcycling was defined.


    The Japanese were yet to come in full time. Machine reliability was directly proportional to the effort put in by the owner, either on his own or through a good mechanic. Long distance travel was almost impossible if the rider was not at the very least a basic DIY nut. Things were sure to break down and help was sure to be non-existent. Usually that is. Rare were times when you’d have a broken control cable or a clogged carb jet close to a large enough town to have a reasonably knowledgeable mechanic at his shop at that time. And fixing cables, cleaning plugs, adjusting the drive chain and replacing headlamp bulbs gone kaput were ordinary skills that almost every ‘serious’ rider acquired, usually out of necessity. Biking was wholesome. You knew your steed as well as you knew your own face.


    Today things are different. Machine reliability has made motorcycles now almost trouble-free, provided of course they are serviced regularly and the rider shows some basic machine sympathy while riding them. I know riders who have done thousands of kilometers on their bikes and are yet to feel the need to learn to adjust the drive-chain or change the spark-plugs themselves. The time between repairs is long enough to allow them to do some good long distance trips between the scheduled service and never face a failure on road. But then there’s another angle to this. Clinical reliability is rather sterile of charm and pleasure. Read any trip log and you’ll read about the sense of achievement the rider felt when he rode through a particularly difficult patch of road or weather. You can feel the excitement in the words however mundane or clichéd they might be. Ideally the ride would have been great had the roads been smooth and the weather perfect. But then would that be ‘interesting’? Would that be ‘fun’?


    The ‘fun’ and the ‘interest’ come from a sense of having the skill, gumption and courage to face direct and tangible odds and win through them. And the roots of the absence of this ‘tangible winning opportunity’ lies in the way lives are structured nowadays. As clinically reliable and predictable as the machines. The prevalent professional trend today is towards work that is mostly detached from its real end result. The man is just a cog inside a mammoth gearbox and keeps turning in sync with the rest, unquestioning in the need for the box to work. A rewarding career (read a high six figure pay-packet) lies at the end of a series of gates through ‘esteemed’ institutes that churn out ‘package winners’ by the bucketful. The ‘work’ is unimportant as long as the package is good and the organization a brand good enough to lead to even better packages. Great for the bank-balance but not so wonderful if one starts looking for a sense of identity with the work. Imagine having to sit in one place for years through an education only to ensure that you spend the rest of your professional life sitting still again at some seat or the other just to see those zero’s add up in your bank statement! Where would ‘life’ be meanwhile?


    ‘Life’ is within touching distance if you want to reach out. Though it entails dirty hands, chaffed fingers, a couple of cuts or abrasions and a temporarily painful back. Do some bit of work on your bike, even something as mundane as oiling the drive chain and then take her out for a spin. You’ll feel the new found smoothness that comes from a well lubricated chain. Open the spark plug, clean it and put it back. Tighten the fairing and bodywork. Adjust the brakes. Ride it and sense the bike talk to you. Perceive that soft glow of satisfaction that rises within you from knowing and achieving, however tiny that knowledge or achievement be. The charm of my era lay in the need to learn to fix the machines I rode. And fixing them was not just about tools and parts. It was the add-ons that mattered too. You getting pulled into a network of like-minded individuals was inevitable. You’d exchange ideas and solutions, transactions that were far from money and its sterility. Friendships were forged on the road when you helped someone in need and shook hands for payment. The satisfaction experienced from work was proportional to the intellectual challenges it presented as the urge to surmount obstacles is universal and ageless. And troubleshooting IS a mental challenge. It needs a clear head, an ego-less emotional state and loads of prior knowledge of the machine at hand. Something akin to what any ‘esteemed’ institute would claim to inculcate in its students while preparing and propelling them towards professional excellence. And yet the fallacy would be in the detachment of the work with its function. Rare would be a ‘senior executive’ who would witness the direct consequences of his everyday work.


    Agree with it or not, our work either forms us or deforms us. I remember my attempts at overhauling my KB100 Delta giving me a lesson in the fallibility of my knowledge. I had been fixing bikes for almost a decade before that and yet was foolish enough to break a piston ring while extracting it from its groove and dropped the broken piece inside the crankcase. Didn’t cover the crankcase with a cloth before working on the ring. Took me a couple of hours, the dexterity of a magician and the patience of a crocodile to fish the offending piece out. It was a lesson that even as an ‘expert’, I could fail and dramatically at that. A lesson in humility and situational awareness that became a part of my life, both personal and professional. Never since did I lose sight of the tiny details and those ‘basic’ precautions.


    Just because a roadside ‘chotu’ twiddles spanners and fixes bikes doesn’t mean the work does not need an intelligent quotient any greater than an illiterate village bum has. Just because the work is dirty doesn’t mean it is a no-brainer. Get into the DIY thing and you’ll realize the challenges it poses. And the rewards it hides within. Get into it not just to know your steed well but also to know yourself. It is here that the gap between theory and practice stretches out to its fullest before you. And YOU are the one who bridges the chasm. Working on your own bike will teach you to judge your own judgments. And in the process make a man out of the boy inside.
    I don't let my motorcycles interfere with my motorcycling...

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  2. #2
    Rusted whymail's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do It Yourself!

    agree to this & i have been a limited diy guy.
    hell, in rains, i was always scared of the dreaded 'point' on my bull & i never failed to be astonished how the local mechanic used to efficiently nitpick it & fire-up the behemoth at last.
    there were times when i was scared witless of opening up the carburetor to clean up the 'waati' [the bottom portion of the carb that accumulates all the crap / rust n what not].
    over the years, i've become a partial diy guy so much so that i can fend for myself shud i face a breakdown in the middle of nowhere using diy tools & lil bit of commonsense.
    however, in all humility, i am still way far & beyond from tinkering w/ the engine, the pistons, the coils, etc.
    yes, knowing the innards of the machine, will, by default, make u aware of how the damned things works & can be fixed whereby making u a more sensible person.
    ◦ ● 4-wheels move the body... 2-wheels move the soul ● ◦

  3. #3
    Rusted aargee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do It Yourself!

    Nice article, especially at this age when people are afraid to do a DIY. From long conversation with several friends & other wise people, my thoughts are that most people do not know what is going on. Less the knowledge, more the fear of screwing up something. That reminds me...

    In the late 80's when computers were fast catching up in schools , we all used to sit on the computer lab floor & were called one by one by the instructor; our teacher instructs us to press one key & then go back to the place where we were sitting. After this class, we come back & start making jokes like we press one wrong key & the computer would burn off would be fumes appearing from computer. Today, I'm typing it like a joke after having assembled 2 systems all by myself & fixing so many issues. Point being, unless I get into the mess, I wouldn't have learned.

    Talking about getting into the mess, few people volunteer to get get their hands dirty (out of curiosity, hunger of learning or fun & interest), few people out of necessity & the last category, who never learns. Most of them depends upon the way they're bought up, how they learned & what interests them in life.

    After rebuilding a motorcycle, I learned an undeniable truth that, most often, motorcycles are meant to be ridden on the road than to be parked in the garage waiting to get fixed.

    Our own dear forum has baptized so many DIY experts from a simple motorcycling enthusiasts. In this age of internet & social media, that has abundance of knowledge floating around, it's really easy to learn & walk the DIY way.
    Skill is what keeps you on a Motorcycle
    Awareness + Skill is what keeps you out of harm's way
    ATGATT + Awareness + Skill means you might Live To Ride another day

  4. #4
    Rusted petrolhead_chn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do It Yourself!

    Do-It-Yourself certainly helps and is very much necessary these days. In my perspective, DIY takes two forms - theory and practical that will blend very well.
    Without theory practical sessions go wrong and without understanding the theory practicals would result in disaster.

    I had developed the passion for DIY when I started looking out to purchase a pre-owned car. I learnt a lot on basics which then motivated me to get started on general DIYs like tightening nuts, cleaning rusts, etc., and then gradually to changing oils, cables, etc., and now to understanding symptoms of malfunctioning mechanical parts. Trust me, finding a good local and a friendly mechanic is also a DIY .

    While not all of my DIY(s) were successful it gave definitely took me little closer to my machines. I now feel much closer to my bike and car such that I can understand if something is wrong or even before it goes wrong. I have also lost lot of money in these DIY.

    Few of my DIY(s) include painting my dear own P150, cleaning its carbs, changing cables, brake shoes, dashboard lights on my car, 3M under body and floor coating, coolant changes, engine oil change on bike, TB cleaning and fuel filter changes on car, etc.,

    DIY is a passion for me now and I am gradually learning when my wife is not around .
    I use resources like our forum, google and chit-chat with local mechanics apart from lot of research before getting my hands greasy.

    My only wish is that someday I could do a surgery on my TVS Scooty!!!
    Miles to go...
    Last edited by petrolhead_chn; 07-17-2013 at 01:29 PM.
    My DIY(s) - Sprocket bearing change | Paint job | Custom speedo dial

    Getting angry at somebody is the same as getting angry with a bike that just won't go. You should stop and start thinking.
    A good mechanic will let you watch even without charging you for it. | Riding faster than everyone else only guarantees you’ll ride alone.

    It is funny to know that we've been imitated and copied so well
    and surprising when we notice our mistakes are copied as well.

  5. #5
    Passionate D.I.Y Guy accuengineer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do It Yourself!

    Do It Yourself - The 3 beautiful words for any passionate engineer. DIY was in my blood from the very age of 5. Used to fix the wheel of my toy car. Then as age increase so did the curiosity of how things worked. Started fixing small things in the house of course with the help of my DIY Engineer father. In fact I was waiting for things to go out of order to start working on them. Finished my BE (Mechanical) and my passion grew more for DIY. But as the machines became complex and sophisticated. I started to take more precautions like get hands on the service manual and advise from experts before plunging into a DIY. I think I became more of a mature DIY person. Doing things the methodical way. I started planning my DIY with the apt amount of time and strength to do the DIY.

    The beauty of any DIY is that it helps you to learn to be patient with things. Sometimes you could get frustrated at not achieving you required results. But then again most of the DIY is a trial and error method. It tends to test you ability to stay charm and get to the final result. As time goes by we will learn from our mistakes and take things in the correct way.

    I am working in an engineering firm as an R&D Manager. Now my passion has become my work. Thanks to the heavens.

    Cheers

    Mathews

    Smile at everyone you meet and make someone happy.

    Its better to sweat than bleed!! "AGATT "




  6. #6
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    Thumbs up Re: Do It Yourself!

    A lovely write up. Loved every word of it. Especially the part about the satisfaction being proportional to the intensity of the issue. Brilliant.

  7. #7
    Rusted ROCKRZ's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do It Yourself!

    Reading this article again after a long time brings back a lot of memories that made me realise that i am a much bigger idiot that i had assumed. dropping that timing chain bolt into the crank case and spending over a day to then remove the engine form the chassis, only to realise that the oil that is supposed to lubricate the internals is now on your external features!.
    Similar are the cases when:-
    you assemble the engine to realise that you forgot to insert the the timing chain guide into the block before asembling the head
    you asssemble the block only to realise that you forgot to replace the gasket.
    you open the block again to assemble the gasket and you find that the old gasket is stuck to the block and it refuses to come out
    you search your fully loaded toolkit to find that the blade is missing since you took it out last night and kept it on the table in the spur of laziness
    you climb up the stairs to fetch the knife, scrape off the gasket, reassemble the block.
    you put the timing chain guide on the the block, assemble the head, cams to realise again the gasket is torn.
    you get frustrated, use anabond to seal the torn portion, proceed with the assembly and now realise that the timing mark was shifted when you assembled the upper cam sprocket.
    you match the sprocket, check timing, gingerly handcrank the engine, assemble the head , double check if you missed something, finally start the engine only to relaise that the tappets havent been set and the engine makes more noise than a death metal concert.
    you curse your neighbor and the curious kids of your apartment and get to the task of opening the engine again, set the timing without filler guage and reassemble.
    you start the engine and finally get it working worse than you started.

    and the next time the process starts over yet again untill you finally achieve the OEM level of smoothness and realise that the roadside chotu isnt as dumb afterall.

    All this for geting that little bit of dirt out that wouldnt harm the engine anyway. But at the end of the day, the satisfaction of pottering arorund in a mildly less vibrating and clean bike is worth it. and the next weekend, you again get down to the parking lot looking to resolve another set of non existent niggle....
    All in all, working on your bike is like teaching your kid a new game. you get frustrated a lot and most of the time the kid does what he will do anyways. but when he does it exactly as you wanted, its the moment of redemption.. Pure Nirvana
    KnG likes this.
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