Monthly Archives: March 2012

A Tether For My Oil Cap

August 22, 2009

While returning from a recent trip, I pulled into a gas station to refuel.  I also decided to check the oil level of the bike, because this trip had been over 3,000 miles long.  I moved the bike away from the fuel island.  The Oil Level Window indicated that the bike did need oil, (I carry extra motor oil in an MSR Fuel Bottle. That bottle is stowed in my Pelican case topbox.).

I removed the oil filler cap, and placed it in its usual “cradle”; which is on the “Moose” brand  footpegs that I have mounted on my motorcycle.  I added oil.

While doing this, a couple of people were watching me.  They came over to ask the usual bunch of questions as to what kind of bike I was riding, where I had been, and where I was going.  When I explained that I had just ridden the, James Bay Road, the Route du Nord, out to the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, and was returning back to Maine via the Southern shore of the Gaspé; they looked totally perplexed.  To better illustrate my route, that I tried to verbally explain to these folks, I pulled out and unfolded my Québec road map.  Using a finger, I traced my route across the map.

Satisfied, (and still perplexed!), we parted ways, saying “goodbyes” to each other.  I packed everything away, and I took off down the road.  About 1.5 miles later, while decelerating for a traffic light, I noticed that my bike’s motor sounded different.  There was more of a “muscle tone” to its exhaust.

Knowing that I hadn’t modified the exhaust system in the last 15 mins, I looked down over the right side of the bike.  My eyes met a big, gaping hole where the oil filler cap should be!  I lifted my boot off of the right footpeg……and let out an expletive!  I had become so distracted by sharing my trip with the interested people, I totally spaced out replacing the oil cap!  It was gone!

I checked my left mirror and noticed that the nearest car behind me was about 70 yards away.  I pulled a u-turn in the road, and began riding against the traffic.  This was due to the fact that, this traffic light intersection had a short portion of a divider between the East and West bound traffic lanes.  (I mumbled to the drivers who couldn’t hear me, “Don’t worry my Canadian friends, I am just a dumb American!”).

I eventually got my bike into the East bound lane, jammed my boot sole over the filler cap hole, and prayed that I would make it back to the gas station.  Which I did.

I parked my bike next to the small oil puddle in the gas station parking lot, as the result of dropping my bike during a jump start attempt, because my start switch was fried, (that is another story!), and began looking for the oil filler cap.

I paced the parking lot.  I paced up and down the side of the road.  No luck!

I was fortunate in that, one of the owners of the gas station could speak some English.  He offered to call the local Honda dealership about 5 miles away, which I asked him to do for me.  It took a moment, but I finally got someone on the other end of the phone who spoke English and I explained my situation to them.

He told me to get the bike to his shop and he would help me.  “Okay” and I hung up the phone.

I walked over to my bike and examined the size of the hole where the oil filler cap should be.

I opened up my tool bag and removed the campsaw that I keep on board for sizing up wood for campfires.  I walked out behind the gas station and cut a small section of dead branch off of a tree.  I wrapped electrical tape around the stick, and jammed it into the hole in the crankcase.

I placed my boot on top of the stick, to keep it in place, and I rode my bike the 5 miles to the Honda dealership.  They found a proper cap, and matching O-ring that fit, (they also hot wired my starter switch so I wouldn’t have to jump the bike for the rest of my trip.   There are Great People at,, in New Richmond, Québec!

Thanks Ricky!

Thanks Daniel!

After leaving New Richmond, Quebec, I rode the rest of the way back to Mount Desert Island, arriving home around 11:00pm.

I decided to never let this happen to me again, (or at least significantly reduce the chances of it happening again!).

I rode to my local hardware store, and purchased a stainless Mackerel fishing leader.

I removed one of the hasps off of one of the side leaders so what was left was a loop.

I drilled a small hole through the grip of the oil filler cap.

Using needle nose pliers, I crushed the two plastic beads on either side of the short leader.

I threaded the loop through the oil filler cap hole I had drilled, and I cut the main leader on either side of the short leader, at lengths that would allow me loop them around part of the bike frame.

I then passed the loose ends of the leader back through the loop on the other side of the filler cap.

I drilled out an electrical connector, (I didn’t want to make another trip to the store for a “proper” crimp connection.  I worked with what I had on hand.), to allow both ends of the leader to pass by each other within the connector.

I looped the ends of the leader around a portion of the bike frame, passing them through the connector, and I then crimped the connector “closed” on to the leader wires. (Notice the swivel of the short leader.  This allows me to unscrew the oil cap without the wire winding up on itself.)

Now, when I change my oil, or add more oil to the crankcase, my filler cap hangs by a “tether”, permanetly attached to my bike, instead of resting on my footpeg!

Categories: Modifications | 1 Comment

2010 – Trip 17 – “My Crash”


On Wednesday, November 10, 2010, as I was driving home from work, (in my minivan.), out of the, “corner of my ear”, I caught an upcoming, weekend weather report being aired on a local radio station; “Sunny, and above average temperatures, throughout  the weekend.”

An idea began to percolate in my head; the next day was payday…….rent had already been paid the week before……why not put off paying some bills for another week…….and ride to Magog, Québec?

I pulled into my dooryard and parked my van.  I walked across the driveway to my landlord’s house to gather up my dog Reuben from his, “daily doggie daycare”, that they provide him.  While there, my landlord wanted to let me know what his plans were for the next several days so that we could be on the “same page”, with respect to our schedules and the care of our “children”, (Meaning his dog, “Maggie” and my dog, “Reuben”.).  By the time he was done spelling things out for me, I had a grin on my face.  It was a grin that my landlord recognized.  Before I could say anything, he said it for me, “Yes Barry, we are going to be around this weekend.  If you want to go away, we can watch Reuben for you.”

Oh, how I love it when a plan comes together!

I dashed back over to my house and shot off an e-mail to my friend Scott, inviting myself to stay at his house, in Milton Mills, NH, for Friday night.

It was one of those “Number Ten” days on Friday, when I left for New Hampshire.  I arrived late in the afternoon at Scott’s.  That night, we sat in his living room, drinking beer, eating pizza, and talking about “life”.

I left Scott’s place around 7:30am Saturday morning.  I had to scrape a heavy frost off of the seat of my bike and also off of my mirrors.

Scott said, “Remember to watch out for that in the road, too.”  “Yeah, I have been ‘down’ that road before!” I told him, (and that was literally!).

I rode up to Meredith, New Hampshire, where a former high school, classmate of mine is now living.  Peter Louden owns, Interlakes Automotive Repair, and lives right near where his business in located.  During my hour long visit with Pete, we figured that we might have seen each other briefly at a class reunion, but realistically, probably hadn’t seen each other since we graduated from high school in 1976.  Pete’s business specializes in antique automotive restoration.  He is also into flying and planes.

Here is a photograph of Peter and me.

I left Peter’s house and once on the road, headed North, I got to thinking about the possibility of making a brief stop at another friend’s house located in, South Ryegate,Vermont.  I had been to Tom’s house before, and we have ridden a little bit together.  I could alter my route to pass through his town.

When I got to Woodstock, NH, I called and left a message on the answering machine at Tom’s house.  My route of choice was to ride up Rt 112, from Woodstock, to Woodsville, NH, then into, Wells River,Vermont.  I would try to contact Tom again in, Wells River.

I like Rt 112.  I have ridden it several times over the past four years.  It has some “twisty turns” to it, and I can get into a “flow” when moving at a good clip.  It was bright and sunny this morning, and beginning to warm up.  I was riding at around 50 – 55mph, which is above the posted speed limit; but I was enjoying the freedom and getting lost in the moment and carving turns.

West of the Rt 116 jct, I leaned into one nice, right-hand sweeper.  Just at the turn’s apex, as I was beginning to “throttle up” for the straight section coming up, I passed from sunlight to shade………

…….and the bike was gone……..  In as “fast-as-fast-can-be”, measured in milliseconds, the bike and I were sliding, together down the road.  At one point, during this “horizontal journey”, I saw a whole bunch of sparks in front of my eyes.  A voice inside of me said, “Cool.  Get the camera. Take pictures.”.  I really didn’t have the time to reach down, release my lens cap, and start firing shots at the sparks shooting out from underneath my bike.  But, the idea did occur to me though; just for an instant.

Both, the bike and I came to a stop, in a trench on the opposite side of the road.  I stood up and took a photo of where the “Black Beast” lay.

I walked up to the bike, reached for the key and turned off the ignition switch.  I lay my hand on the fuel tank and said, “You just lay there for a moment boy.  You are going to be alright.  You just rest a moment while I tally things up for us.”

I took another photo from the front of the bike.

I then walked back up towards the apex of the turn, I had just been trying to navigate.  I followed the marks in the road that my bike and I made as we slid out of the turn.

I got close to the point of “release” and took this photo.

The “gouge” in the lower left-hand corner of the photo is where my right passenger footpeg began “carving” its own path through the turn.  I was already down at that point.  I took the photo here because it was sort of getting hard to see my bike in the distance!  I have no doubts that we both slid over 100′.

A small, silver car started around the bend and I made the “universal sign” to slow down.  Which, the driver immediately tried to do, and nearly lost control of his vehicle!  The driver and passenger got out of the car and started to walk towards me.  It was very difficult for them to do, because the road was so slippery!  The road was covered with a heavy frost; a “white ice”.

We introduced ourselves and walked back to my bike.

The bike slid on its right-side across both lanes of the road.  As it entered the trench, it “fetched-up” and flipped over on to its left-side.

Eric, (on the left), andTyler, (on the right), helped me pick up the bike and roll it on to the shoulder.

I had trouble getting the bike into “neutral”.  But, after several tries, I was successful.  Also, although my voltmeter told me that I had enough power, and I could hear the fuel pump “kick in”, the bike wouldn’t start.  So, I reached underneath the left handgrip and reattached the clutch safety switch.  Eric’s eyes got real “big” at this when the motor fired right up.  He couldn’t believe that the bike started.  He also couldn’t believe it when I told him that I was going to ride it.

Take a look at the above photograph where Eric and Tyler are standing next to my bike.  Take a close look at the left handlebar grip.  The clutch lever was bent fairly badly too.  But, if the thing was going to run, and it was going to roll, I was going to ride it.

Eric reminded me that there was a store about 2 miles up the road and that I could make a phone call from there to get help.  He would follow me in his car.  As I got the bike rolling and up to speed, everything seemed pretty much fine.  I “slalomed” the bike a little bit to check for “wobbles”.  There weren’t any.  When I got to the store, I waved off Eric and Tyler and kept riding.  I now had my sights on getting myself, and my bike to Tom’s house.  Tom is a metal fabricator and everything that I might need would be right there.  It was a 40 minute ride away.  Which I easily made!

When I got to Tom’s house, I knocked on both doors.  Only his dog answered.  So, I went back to my bike and started to assess things a little more closely.

I removed the left mirror.  The glass was gone.

I took a photo of the right side of my crashbars that I made last winter out of, 1/2″ black iron pipe.  This area took the brunt of the force of the crash.  The “hoop” was almost burned through from “road rash”.  This is where the shower of sparks was coming from during the slide.

I took a look at the right side of my luggage rack.  It too had some “grinding” on its “knuckle” as well.

My right, passenger footrest was bent way out of place.  Both muffler guards were broken as well.

Now, check this out.  This is something that I am very proud of.  Here is a “head on” shot of my bike.  At the very LEAST, I was traveling at 50mph.  I am pretty sure that I was traveling closer to 55mph.  My crashbars have NOT budged!  They are still right on center.

Last Winter, I didn’t have a clue as how to do what I was doing.  I am not a metal fabricator.  I am not a welder.  But, I had an idea, that I felt strongly about, as being “better” then what you can find on the market for crashbars.  The whole “system” worked perfectly.  I got up.  My bike got up.  We both rode away; together.

In the above photo, also check out the left handlebar grip.  That was the main thing I had to try and take care of and I knew that I was in the perfect place to do it.

I entered Tom’s shop.

I walked back to where I knew his metal, chopsaw was.  I am a yacht carpenter; I know that there are always “cut-offs” nearby chopsaws!  I found what I was looking for right underneath the saw.

With the short section of pipe in my hand, I walked back outside to my bike and slid the pipe over the end of the handlebar grip.

I lifted up, bending the grip back to roughly where it should be.

I did the same with the clutch lever.

I found a larger diameter piece of pipe that I bent the footbrake peddle out and away from the motor casing.

With my work done, and the two pieces of pipe returned to Tom’s shop, and the door closed, I knelt down in his driveway to begin planning my new route to Magog from, South Ryegate, VT.

Just as I finished putting my maps away, I hear a door open and close and a familiar voice say, “I recognize that bike!”  It was my friend, Tom!  He had been inside taking a shower and didn’t hear his dogs bark.  “How long have you been here?”,  he asked.  “About a half  hour!”, I replied.

Tom checked out the damage to my bike.

And we took an “annual” photo together.

I shoved off, and made my border crossing into Québec…….

…..and up to Magog to, Rancho du Spaghetti, where I have stayed several times before.

I met, Ken and Dale, outside of the restaurant.  It was the typical, “What the hell is that kind of bike?”

After checking in at the front desk, I was assigned a room, and I rode over to where I would be sleeping for the night.

I met “Johnny” in the parking lot.

And, his parents, “Richard” and “Konwenni”.

I unpacked, took a shower and took a photo of my riding pants.  Nothing else was ripped or torn.

After dinner, I took a “night photo”.

In the morning, I followed my usual route of mixed, paved and dirt roads back to Maine.

There was some snow alongside some of the roads.

I got to say “goodbye” to my old friend, “Mt. Megantic” for the season: “See you next year, Old Friend!”

As I got close to Ellsworth, Maine, I found a couple parked on the side of the road.  I stopped to say “hi” to them.  Their names are, “Marcus”, and “Meagan”.  They had driven up from Portsmouth, NH, to purchase two sea kayaks from a local sporting goods store located in Ellsworth, Maine.  The reason I stopped to say “hi” to these happy folks was, I designed the sea kayak that is on the driver’s side of their car.  It is the, “Caribou” built by Current Designs.

That’s it!  I returned  home safe and sound………and finished up riding for the 2010 season!

Categories: 2010 | 7 Comments

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