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, http://www.sportsbg.com, in New Richmond, Québec!
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!