I was just installing the parking brake on the right side of the tractor and I was reminded of a story from my past...a parable of sorts...something that might just save you some pain and anguish in your life. So I decided to share it here.
For your amusement and enlightenment, my pain and suffering...
A few years back, after a financial windfall associated with a car accident that had left me battered and bent for 6 months, I celebrated my successful physical rehabilitation with a shiny, new, blindingly-yellow, scorchingly-fast Honda CBR900RR sport bike. A mechanical marvel of a motorcycle, it was delivered to me in a crate from Japan with 0 miles on the odometer…pristine…perfect…unmolested…untouched by anyone else’s bum. From day one, I loved her and treated her as if she had been hand built by a team of angels under the close supervision of the supreme Deity himself. I broke it in exactly to the manufacturer’s specification…with such care and self-control…varying speeds and loads…never exceeding recommended RPM limits…never accelerating too hard…never decelerating too hard…gently breaking in the pads and rotors…resisting the primal urge to open it up and channel my inner Moto GP star. I polished it before and after every ride…cleaned, oiled, and adjusted the chain religiously…scrubbed bugs from the headers with a toothbrush…conditioned the seat daily…hand rubbed dozens of layers of Carnauba wax onto the exotic plastic shell…lavishing a level of attention more appropriate for a $10M Duesenberg than a $10K motorcycle. I was a complete and utter zealot when it came to maintaining the bike. It’s the age old story...a boy and his crotch rocket.
So I rode it for the first summer and never so much as blemished its glorious bodywork. Winter came and I purchased a pair of paddock stands to store it in my garage. I even installed a furnace and a thermostat to keep it warm during those cold New England nights. That winter I completely disassembled the body work, scrubbed every inch of the chassis with WD-40 and a tooth brush, and coated the plastics with numerous coats of wax. Then I reinstalled every nut and bolt with Loctite 242, hooked it to a battery tender, and tucked it in with a soft comforter and a kiss on the cheek. This was still a few years before I was blessed with actual children.
When spring arrived, the tulips bloomed, a warm wind blew, birds sang in chorus, and it was time for the first ride of the season. I caringly rolled the bike out for the inaugural hot lap of the twisty country roads that ring my town. The sunlight danced across the tank and with the push of a button, the sleeping engine sprung to life in a fast idle. Feeling like some sort of armor-clad super hero, I donned my new Vanson leathers and threw my leg over the seat. But just as my bum came to rest upon the seat, an image registered in my brain...I had noticed something amiss on the tail section…a blemish of some sort. So I climbed off of the bike to investigate and I found a crack emanating from one of the mounting screw holes. OH NO! This cannot be! I’ve taken such care! I was so diligent! But there it was in the glaring light of the hateful morning sun…my day was ruined! As I circled the bike in frustration and anger, I noticed more cracks surrounding many of the mounting points for the fairings and the tail section. CRAP! I must have over tightened the screws when I remounted the plastic. How could I have been so careless? What a fool! Why did this happen to me? WHY?! WHY?! WHY?! I carried on like Nancy Kerrigan after her assault by Gillooly’s henchman. (That’s just the best obscure reference I’ve made all week)
So, being a bit of an OCD freak, I couldn’t possibly ride the bike in this condition…it’s just not right. How could I be expected to focus on the road when all I can think of are these fractures in the surface of my pristine machine? Just imagine the increase to the drag coefficient!
With a tear in my eye, I wearily rolled the bike back into the garage and began to develop my Root Cause and Corrective Action(RCCA) plan. I ordered an entire new set of ridiculously expensive OEM plastics from my local Honda dealer and the factory service manual so that I could follow the assembly instructions to the letter. And since I was tearing things apart anyways, I opted for a new Corbin seat and a rear fender eliminator kit from some company in Europe. I can’t remember the exact total now but I believe that it was in excess of $1500. I stuffed the bike in a corner and refused to look at it. A few weeks later, all of my parts had arrived and I began the painstaking process of replacing all of the plastic pieces. I swapped over brackets, mirrors, gaskets, heat tape, adhesive foam, a lock set for the tail section, windshield, directionals, etc... EVERYTHING! Every piece transferred with delicate care...every bolt and screw installed with a drop of Loctite and the exact torque applied...every panel aligned perfectly...until, after 40 hours of labor, it was once again PERFECT.
I sat there in my garage and basked in the glory of it...I admired it from every possible viewing angle...I took pictures...I whispered warm things to it...I promised to never put it through such a traumatic experience again. Then I covered it up, turned off the lights, and went inside to pack for a business trip.
I was in Mexico for two weeks and all that I thought about was getting out on the road and honing my squid skills. I took solace in the fact that while I was away, the Spring rains were scouring the roads of the winter’s salt and sand. Surely the twisty two-laners around my home would feel like Laguna Seca by the time I returned. It was June by now and I hadn’t even ridden the bike once yet. I was way overdue for some triple digit stupidity and silly lean angles.
I returned home late on a Friday night and could hardly sleep due to the anticipation. I was like a 9 year old on Christmas Eve. I woke up at about 6:00...the birds were singing...the sun was shining...the grass was green...all was perfect in the universe. My big black Lab and I sprung across the back yard...I took a 5 minute detour to play a little fetch with her and wrestle on the lawn. There was laughter in the air. Surely there had never been a better day in the history of man.
The garage door groaned and creaked as it rose...the harsh rays of the sun pierced the dark shadows and immediately warmed the cool confines of my garage. I strode inside like a returning King and threw back the bike’s covers in triumph. I took it down off the stands and rolled it out in the driveway. Once again, the sun danced across the sparkling yellow body with blinding results. Today was going to be glorious!
As I took a victory stroll around the bike to admire my handiwork, I noticed something inconceivable...a small black line emanating from a screw head on the tail piece. Surely it must be a hair or a fiber from the cover. I tried to wipe it away with a finger but it was steadfast...it was a CRACK! In a panic, I began inspecting the body panels up close. The blazing sun and its cursed reflection burned my retinas as I tried to focus on the minutia of the mounting points. One by one, I detected more cracks and spider webs. I began jumping up and down...cursing the heavens...screaming profanities as most of my neighbors labored to sleep. I ran to the house...the big black Lab, assuming that life was still merry, attempted to pounce on me as I ran. I swatted at her and yelled and cursed some more. I stormed upstairs to find my slumbering young wife. I flung open the bedroom door and demanded to know why she had been in the garage while I was away. Why had she knocked over my beautiful yellow motorcycle and then tried to hide her transgression? What was her motivation for such a heinous act? Was she raised by wolves? How could she hate me so? WHY?! WHY?! WHY?! (Picture Alec Baldwin’s rant towards his daughter)
She sat up in bed, rubbed her eyes, and pointed out that she didn’t even have a key to the garage...nobody other than me had a key...I was way too much of lunatic to let others have access to my stuff. She had even bought her own screwdrivers because she couldn’t get to mine. Remaining calm and resolute in the face of my wild-eyed anger and accusations, she dismissed the charges and lay back down. AAAAAAARGH!!!!
I bounded down the stairs in two hops and stormed back out to the driveway. Once again, the lab pounced, but I pushed her aside and took a swat at her. I was in no mood for frivolity. Today must certainly be the worst day in the history of man. As I stalked around the bike, anger and rage eventually subsided into self-pity and sadness; Stage 4 of the 7 Stages of Grief. I investigated the garage, but found no possible disturbance that could have caused the damage. I looked for signs of forced entry...maybe a burglar had broke in, ignored all of my expensive tools, and then very delicately applied just enough pressure to the individual body panels of my bike to crack them at the mounting points but NOT blemish them in any other way. Then, said burglar, walked past the rest of my bikes, ignored the keys in the ignitions, exited through the back door, and locked it behind him. When all other possibilities have been eliminated, the remaining possibility, no matter how unlikely, must be the correct one. Isn’t that what they say?
I sat down on the back steps...sulking...the bike mocking me in the angry sunshine 20 feet away...my dog sitting beside me...perplexed by my sudden change of emotion. Eventually, my wife came out to join me with her coffee. As we sat there, I explained to her every step of the replacement process in excruciating detail. Neither of us could conceive of circumstances that would have led to the damage. So I sat...and thought...and sat...and pondered...and sat...and then...SH%T!
I leapt from my perch and sprinted for the garage. I threw open a cabinet and searched the contents. NOTHING! I flung open another and scattered the contents across the counter. Still NOTHING! I opened a third and there I found it...a little red bottle with a white cap...the size of a bottle of nail polish... Loctite® 242 Removable Thread locker. The label was smudged from countless applications but I wiped it in desperation...fearful of what I might find hidden amongst the lines of inane directions and contents. And then...there it was...half-way down the back label...in all capital letters...mocking me...taunting me for my ignorance...
MAY ATTACK SOME THERMOPLASTICS
Crestfallen...head down...feet dragging...I made my way out of the garage and found my wife surveying the damage. I handed her the bottle. She looked at it but didn’t make the connection. I told her to read the label. She obliged me but still failed to see the problem. I showed her the exact line on the label.
“What does that mean?” she inquired.
“It means that I’m an a$$hole” I replied
She took my word for it (a little too easily convinced if you ask me) and went off to tend to the flowers.
Later that day, I made yet another list of damaged parts, returned yet again to the dealership, placed yet another excruciating high dollar order for more OEM body parts, and returned home to sulk. Two weeks later, the parts arrived and I swapped them out...again...in disgust. The CBR had started as a technological marvel...a gleaming yellow beacon, signifying man’s dominion over speed and precision and the very laws of physics. Now it was a painful reminder...an ugly, yellow, glaring monument to my lack of attention to detail. I could never enjoy it again.
So, on the first Saturday after reassembly, I rode it to the dealership...paranoid that I would dump it and start the entire nightmare over again...and demanded a motorcycle made completely of metal. No fairings, no sculpted body work, no aerodynamic fluff...just a bike that won’t erode in my garage for no apparent reason while I’m away...I rode home on a new Valkyrie.
And thus ended any possibility of future MotoGP glory for me...
Edited by Hondarider, February 21, 2016 - 07:26 PM.