Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Fear of the dark

It's been ten months since I acquired the Triumph and already the fork seal is leaking. Some things never change. To be fair, the bike is 20 years old with 42 thousand miles on it and I purchased it knowing that it needed some maintenance. I've never attempted to pull a fork apart so I was a little apprehensive about doing this job. Time to put up or pay up.

If I screw this up, it's going to be expensive or worse dangerous. But the real motivation for not screwing up is that I didn't want to walk into the dealership with my tail between my legs. (real mechanics love us pretenders)  "Go slow and do your homework" I tell myself. With most mechanical work, the trick to not breaking things is to not put yourself in a position to break things. Buy the special tools, do your homework and get help from someone you trust. (better yet pay a professional) Wrench like you ride, commit or get off the pot.

Keep it clean. My shop may be a mess, but it's a clean mess. Keep the parts in the order they were removed and do one leg at a time.

A homemade tool makes things possible but not easy. The dampening rod is at the very bottom of the stanchion and requites 2 feet of extensions to reach. If installed correctly, it's locked down with 40 foot-pounds of torque. It's not going to break loose easily, making for a sketchy situation. The key to not striping the top of the dampening rod is to keep your extensions in line with the fork leg. The torque you're about to put on it will twist the extensions out of line and can cause the tool to slip.

This is a good place to screw it up big time. Strip this out and it's game over.

Don't forget to replace the crush washer. And use a torque wrench! All sliding bushings and o rings can be replaced at this time as well. All the parts (aftermarket seals and dust covers) were about $120. Labor was inexpensive but slow. 

Three days and 700 miles later, the bike is handling great with no leaks.

There's not much you can't do with a little common sense and the internet, or a competent professional. Consider stress, time and risk before digging into any project. (You probably already knew that but some of us need to learn the hard way.)

- Ride North