Motorcycle Maintenance Should Do’s

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If you’re new to bikes, you may not be hip to some of the routine checks – and adjustments – that are important to do (and keep track of).bike 1

These include:

* Chain tension (and lubrication) –

If your bike has a chain, it is important to keep it properly tensioned – as well as cleaned and greased. If you cut wood with a chainsaw, you’ll know all about how an out-of-adjustment chain reduces cutting performance – and about what happens when the chain isn’t kept oiled. The principle is the same with bike chains. At least once a year, the chain (and sprockets) should be inspected and the tension adjusted, if need be. A service manual for your machine will give you the procedure – and the spec. Typically, there are adjusters on either side of the rear wheel that can be backed in (or out) to achieve the correct tension. This job is very simple and you can save time as well as money by checking/adjusting chain

The chain should also be cleaned and then lubricated about once a year – though possibly more often (or less) depending on how many miles you ride and whether you ride in the rain and so on. See your owner’s manual or the paperwork that came with the chain to determine what type of lubricant you ought to use; the chain can be cleaned by soaking it in diesel fuel or another appropriate product – but never use gasoline.

Don’t forget to check the sprockets for signs of wear – you’ll be able to tell just by looking at them, no tools required. If they’re worn, replace them. Usually, you’ll only need a wrench or socket to unbolt them/bolt the new ones on. Easy.

* Shaft drive gear oil –bike shaft

If you don’t have a chain – or a belt – then you’ve probably got a shaft drive bike. These units are easy to ignore because there’s not much to see. So, people often neglect them. But take a look around the rear housing and you will see a large (and a small) bolt, one higher up than the other. These are the drain – and fill bolts – for the gear lube that’s inside the unit. If the bike is new, don’t worry about it until the specified time/mileage interval comes around . But if you’ve bought the bike used, it’s a very smart idea to check – and change out – the gear lube right away. The level might be low (from seepage) and/or – much worse – the lube might be really old. Shaft drives are – usually – very reliable. Provided they are maintained properly. That means making sure the level’s right – and regular gear lube changes, once every 2-3 years or so.  Most shaft drives take less than a quart of gear lube – some just a pint or so. Just remove the drain bolt, let the old fluid out, reinstall the bolt – and refill the case through the fill hole – usually, just to the lip of the hole, or to the point that fluid drips out. A bonobo with a crescent wrench can handle this one. Just be sure to use the correct weight/type of gear lube specified by whoever built your bike. The info should be in your owner’s manual – and may be marked on the side of the shaft drive case itself, probably near the fill hole.

Also look for a grease fitting on the shaft drive case; it’s typically ahead of the rear hub. Shoot some grease in there with a grease gun – being careful to clean the nipple off first, before you push the grease gun onto it.

 * Clutch cable adjustment –bike clutch

Modern bikes have hydraulic-assist clutches, but if you have an older bike with a cable, it’s important to periodically check/adjust the play. Otherwise, clutch engagement may be too weak – or too tight. It will be harder to operate the motorcycle smoothly – and it’s possible you could prematurely wear out the clutch. Don’t make the beginner’s mistake of just loosening the locknut/adjuster wheel at the lever and backing in (or out) only the threaded fitting at the clutch lever.  This is not the correct procedure.  Typically, you will have to make several other adjustments first – often starting with the adjuster/locknut at/near the middle of the cable and possibly also where the other end of the cable connects to the clutch engagement mechanism within the engine itself. You will want to consult a shop manual before touching anything. Do this right – or do not do it. But, do it – or get it done. It’s not difficult to do it yourself – all you need are some hand tools (wrenches and screwdrivers; a basic socket set) the manual – and patience.

Clutch play should be checked – and adjusted, if need be – once a year at least.

And if you have a bike with a hydraulically assisted clutch? The main thing here is to periodically (at least every other year) bleed/replace the fluid – which is brake fluid – same fluid as in the master cylinder. The process for bleeding the clutch master cylinder/line is exactly the same as the process for bleeding the brake master cylinder/lines.

* Fork oil –bike fork

Everyone knows about engine oil – and the need to change it on a regular schedule. People sometimes forget (or don’t realize) that a bike’s fork oil needs to be changed, too – and for similar reasons. It gets heat cycled – through the up and down action of the forks – and this (over time) degrades the oil. Which can lead to gunking up the internals, which can lead to problems you don’t want – and which can be  avoided by regularly draining and refilling the forks with fresh oil. Doing this will also probably help the fork seals last longer – which is desirable, because replacing them when they start to leak is a hassle (requiring – usually – partial disassembly of the bike’s front end).  The drain/refill procedure for your specific bike will be something you’ll need to look up (get a shop manual) but – usually – it’s just a matter of removing the drain bolt/screw on the lowers, then pumping the front end up and down to purge out the old oil. Then, you remove the cap on top of each fork tube – and refill with the right type/quantity of fork oil.

It’s a good idea to do this little job once every three or four years. For those interested in some more detail, here’s a story on the subject I did a few months back.

* Valve clearance check –bike valve

This is a job that’s not routine with car engines – most of which have “set it and forget it” valvetrains that never require adjustment for the life of the engine – but which is routine with bike engines. Especially high-performance bike engines.The gap between the camshaft and the valve stem tip must be a certain specified value – not too much and not too little. Over time – as a result of use – the gap will change and must be adjusted back to the specified value. Many late-model high-performance motorcycle engines require that valve clearances be checked every 7,000-10,000 miles or so. Fail to do this – or get it done – and you risk both excessive/premature wear as well as reduced performance. This is not a job, unfortunately, for the novice. Special tools – and some experience digging into engines – are necessary. If you don’t have both, it’s probably smart to take the bike to someone who does. Ideally, find a friend who can show you how.

And, be advised:  Because this job is not basic – and because it isn’t cheap to pay a dealer to do it – it often isn’t done. So, if you’ve just bought a used sport bike – or any bike that has an adjustable (needs adjustment) valvetrain – check it or get it checked. Do it now (cue Ahhnoold voice). It’s not something you want to assume was done.

Throw it in the Woods?


  1. Just a quick note on brakes. I have noticed that even if you bleed the brakes regularly, not all of the old fluid is ejected. Some often still remains locked behind the lower part of the brake pistons.

    Over the years with heat and moisture, this old fluid becomes jelly-like, causing rust if your pistons aren’t stainless. It then becomes necessary to dismantle the caliper and clean it all out.

    • I’m severely OCD about brake maintenance… I do a complete flush/bleed every season. My bet is if you do this faithfully, you’ll avoid the problem you describe. But you must do it from “new” (or freshly rebuilt) otherwise it’s not gonna save you.

      I actually kind of like bleeding bike brakes (unlike doing car brakes). It’s so easy – so accessible. I can do all five of mine in about an hour, taking my time.

      • That’s half the reason I love bikes, just the simplicity of maintenance. Everything within reach of both arms, mostly.

        A lot of their electricals such as lights, indicator switches and harnesses are more open to the weather and corrosion. Opening up a handlebar switchblock, relocating families of spiders and checking the harness/coils under the tank isn’t something done on a car.

  2. Great article Eric – just a couple of pointers for the inexperienced:

    “Don’t forget to check the sprockets for signs of wear – you’ll be able to tell just by looking at them”

    They look like curved shark teeth. The curve is caused by constant load/wear on one side of the teeth. Engine sprocket teeth will “curve” toward the front when viewed from top and the rear wheel sprocket teeth to the rear. In extreme cases where lots of engine braking was used over the life of the sprockets, the wear is spread to both sides of the teeth, making them look “thinner”.

    The engine sprocket, being the smaller one subject to some 3 to 5x more revolutions than the rear, will always wear out first. Check it every lube of the chain.

    Often, if the chain is worn internally (some call it “stretch”), The chain will slide back and forth between teeth by a few millimetres and appear loose. New chain, sprockets or both will fix that. If your chain is noisy in operation, it likely needs lube or the chain/sprockets are worn and no longer “mesh” properly. In severe cases, this can cause the chain to fly off at speed, doing untold damage to the bike, your leg (in rare cases) or cause a rear wheel lockup. Imagine that at 80mph!

    Fork oil:

    It’s vitally important to replace the oil with the correct manufacturers’ grade, type and amount. Failure to do this might damage the seals/damping mechanism and, you’re likely to end up with oil all over your legs after a hard bump.

    Fork oils come in “weights” – the oil thickness or viscosity, graded by numbers from 2 to 20 or so. 2 & 5 are very thin and are only recommended to thin down a higher grade. If you want slightly firmer damping, say from 15 to 20, only change the weight by the next grade up or it might be too firm.

    Warning: Manufactures’ specified fork oil weight is particular to the fork valving mechanisms and the weight/purpose of the bike. Too light an oil in a heavy bike – although more comfortable – will likely wear out the sides of your front tread making the profile like a triangle, rather than retaining a curve. This affects handling and causes “road steer”, most often felt at the lights where road surfaces have furrowed over time. Not a nice feeling.

    Shiny side up 😉

    • REV, your words ” New chain, sprockets or both will fix that.” Once a chain or sprocket is visibly worn, there is no fixing one without the other. A new chain might fix everything for a while or new sprockets might but the chain has already take a set to those sprockets. If you need one, you need them all or you’ll have premature wear on any new parts installed. If you try to get fancy and use a different fork oil, especially if you go thinner, this almost always causes excessive wear in the tubes due to side load and lack of proper lubrication.

      • You’re right in some respects Eight. I kinda left it up to the person to decide which part/s were actually worn considering enough info had been already given.

        I was trying to cover the anomaly that if a noob buys a bike and the chain’s been replaced over worn sprockets as well. I’ve seen it happen. Depends on the type of chain and lube as to whether it wears out before the front sprocket.

        I tend to go through about 3 engine sprockets and then a chain before I replace the rear sprocket. Of course, it’s always better to replace everything if you’re unsure or inexperienced, but the cost can be a tad high.

        I haven’t noticed increased wear in any of my bike forks from thinner oil, just unusual front tyre wear if I went too thin for the bike weight and fork damping characteristics.

        There’s a reason they have a vast range of fork oil weights. It’s not because the manufacturer specifies a weight of say 17.5 either. Changing to a different brand/type of tyre, rear preload/damping settings, carrying a passenger all the time etc. All these factors influence fork performance and bike handling. Oil weight is another way to fine-tune that, especially for track work. Guys on trail bikes even modify oil weight for each track.

        Notably, Honda specifies my CBR1000 needs auto tranny fluid for the forks! Who woulda thunk it? Nevertheless, I found that 20 weight works like a charm and it retains integrity of the seals considering they’re all made of the same stuff.

        Thanks for the heads-up tho. I’m always open to suggestions/corrections 😉

        • REV, I’m sure you’re right since you’re a dedicated biker and I’m not. I have limited experience and actually only messed a great deal with forks that have pneumatic and manual adjustment. I shouldn’t talk about this since I don’t have that much experience. I’ll bow out on this one.

  3. Oh Mang! I just busted and mounted a new rear tire on the hog. Somebody shoot me! The combination of humidity and my loss of interest in tinkering with the hog made the whole thing a bitch. I still need to weigh out 2oz of dyna beads and toss them in, then install the wheel on the bike. One moh thing dun. Had to take a shower after that episode. I think the skinny pizza cutter tires are harder to bust and install than the fat daddies because there is so little slack.

    • dom, one thing you learn fast in Texas is the heat and speed take their toll on tires. So many times you’re mounting a tire on a wheel and both of them are really wide and often really big and heavy and not conducive to mounting. Some genius came up with the perfect method of mounting tires that works so great I can’t believe I wasn’t doing it decades ago. Once you have the tire on the wheel, squirt some starting fluid into it, step back and throw a match and watch it seat itself on the bead. Works great on everything tubeless.

        • dom, It was back in the 80’s when it started here, before the specialized mounting machines for really wide tires. Nothing will have you ready to give up faster than the rear lawn mower tires. They are horrible and putting a strap on them and trying to bring them to the rim can take 3 people easily and it’s a fight all the way. I was down at the farm supply when I first saw it. Put some pooky on the beads and shoot it and throw a match, voila, perfect beaded tire. They did it all day every day there and then I started seeing it at tire places. The Firestone dealer near me has a machine now that puts those lawnmower tires on but I have seen few of them, right expensive I’d guess. Of course when you need a new machine, that’s the one to buy. YOu rarely see a new SUV or pick up without the optional wide tires and it’s been that way for a long time. You see a new pickup or an old one with 235-85 R 16’s and it doesn’t look right and then you realize no one buys them any longer. And I don’t think they even make large pickups with anything but fairly large tires now, no matter they’re not an improvement and use a lot more gas but they look good. I have 265-75-16’s on mine for use in the sand and that’s about the size you see if they don’t have 17’s, 18′, or 20’s on them now.

          • Back when I was working at a car shop I encountered a few tires that were a real bitch (like 17 years ago). Before the huge bling bling caught on my first most difficult tire I think was on a 911. It was super wide and really low profile. We had a special red strap with an inner tube in the center. I’d put the strap around the center of the tire, tighten it down good with the installed D-rings, then inflate the schrader valve on it. It’d really squeeze down the center of the tire kind of forcing the bead to seat to the rim. Didn’t always work and we’d end up using a rope also sometimes. I’ve had mounting episodes that required three people getting dirty and a couple extra mechanics providing moral support.

    • All I can say dom is damn! I picked up a gallon of tire snot from the local Napa store. The stuff’s slicker’n KY. One of my compadres refers to it as “anal ease.” Ha! It still ain’t easy though. My next purchase is going to be a good lever type bead breaker. I’ve got the plastic wedge type you hit with a dead-blow mallet. It doubles as a cardio exercise machine.

      I still say changing bike tires is like packing your own parachute though, ’cause they are the key thing between your ass and the ground. I know what I’ve got if I did the work. I don’t know if that pimply faced 19 y.o. down at the bike shop was texting his gf while mounting my tires and that’s why the bead didn’t seat. I also figure that once I’m too old to change my own tires, I’m too old to ride. I feel your pain bro.

      • I have a wheel busting machine (cheap one), but ended up using my small hydraulic press to break one side, then put the knee pads on for the other. Thinking to order one of these:

        tire bead breaker

        Oh yeah, I sold a bench in the middle of busting the tire too! I had to load it in someone’s car. Top is like 120lbs and legs are 80lbs each.

        • Dom, I’ve been looking at bead breakers and what you’ve shown looks good for it’s size in a tool box or even to carry on the road. The downside (for me anyway) is it won’t work with a pneumatic ratchet or impact. It looks like it would take a lot of elbow grease with an open end wrench to work a tire loose that pinch type tool. I figure you’d have to hit at least three spots around the bead before you could get it free on most bike tires. Maybe I’m wrong, but the wedge type is pretty labor intensive too, for that very reason. What I had in mind was more like this one: Your thoughts on it?

          • Hey Boothe, I actually have that one you just linked to. It sucks. I’ve had it for a while now and hate it. As long as I have the bead busted in one spot the rest comes separated with no issues (which makes that unit useless to me). By the way I tried the “starting fluid” technique to seat the bead last weekend. Worked like a charm and the tire was already at 30psi when I went to start filling it up. Hog is almost back together.

          • Thanks for the heads up Dom. I was getting ready to place an order today and you just redirected me. You’re right about having the bead busted in one place, so I’ll probably go with the pincer style you showed above.

            I hit a nail and took out the back tire on my Z the other night. Now the question arises, to patch or not to patch? The hole was small (3mm or less) and at almost center of the tread. I plugged it with a conventional tire plug to get home (at sub-light speeds of course). But that tire only has 1100 miles on it (a Michelin Pilot Road 2) and to replace it will be 150FRN. Since I only occasionally run in the triple digits, I guess I could put an internal patch on it and keep my speed down until I wear it out.

            I hate to throw an essentially new tire away, but I don’t want to end up with road-rash on my posterior over a buck fifty. Eric, Dom – comments / opinions please?

            • Hi Boothe,

              I’m leery about patching motorcycle tires – especially sport bike tires. This is one of the few areas where I’m extra-cautious. If there is any questions about the structural integrity of a tire, I’d replace it.

          • Thanks for the reply Eric. I’ve read several posts on the Z1000 forum from guys that (claim to) plug and patch, then continue to run triple digits on the repaired tires until they wear them out. My cajones just aren’t that big anymore. I’ve had to two rear blowouts at speed when I was younger. It takes weeks of Armor-all to get the rectum pucker out of the seat vinyl. I’m just going to order a new tire (sigh).

            I checked on that pincer style bead breaker Dom posted the pic of. It’s only good up to a 160 series tire and my rear tire on the Z is a 190. The link that BrentP posted on motorcycle tire changing gave me a lot of good “how to” ideas. Instead of using a 14″ car rim padded with duct tape for my tire changing base, I have a short piece of heavy white corrugated PVC drain pipe that fits a 19″ moto rim just about perfectly. It has the advantage of being inherently non-marring.

            Making a lever type bead breaker wouldn’t be difficult either. I haven’t tried using my shop press yet, but that should work fine too. I’ll find out this weekend. Now, about saving those Counteract balance beads…

            I am going to order the Stop & Go International tire plug and CO2 inflator kit for my Z. After that little episode the other night, I realized I’d just be SOL if I made an 85 – 100 mile run and had a flat. That kit would wouldn’t get me home at ward speed, but impulse is better than stranded.

          • @ Eightsouthman

            Dood, that starting fluid deal is sick. The Valentine One is still number one on the list of most awesome automotive accessories, but now seating a bead with starter fluid is second. I had a six foot long piece of bamboo I used to light it, so I didn’t jump too far. The wife jumped pretty good though! I just asked her, “It happened so quick I didn’t have time to do anything” is what she said!

            @ Boothe

            Even a C-Clamp is better than that buster I have. Shop press worked just fine for me last weekend.

            I’ve been watching Craigslist and Ebay for a tire busting machine. If I can find a decent deal I’m buying one to have at the house (automotive one).

          • dom, That starting fluid is “magico” ain’t it? It sorta sounds like a mortar on larger stuff and a damn cannon on tractor tires. I can’t keep from jumping just a bit every time. I never thought about using a long lighter, just throw a match at it. While I have never done this, I can’t help but think that using propane would be just as good and maybe better when ascertaining how much to use. That would be a boon for me because I always have propane but don’t always have starting fluid. Of course I must look at things as what I have instead of what I can buy since having to go to a store is a real time waster. Hell, hairspray would work too and I hadn’t thought about that. Anything without oil would be good. Contact cleaner….or maybe use my Binks washdown gun and suck up a small amount of naptha….or Everclear…….I’m thinkin….

          • Eightsouthman, back in the day when I was wrenching at a shop I’d heard stories of using ether gas to light up tractor tires. I’m not very bright, so was not able to put two and two together and try it on a small scale. I’ve always had a shop to do car tires (the high/fast pressure of the tire machine). Never really got into doing tires at home until I started thinking about it a few years ago (for motorcycles). Each time has been hell seating the bead. Not anymoh!

        • Dom, Eric – I changed the rear tire on the Z today. Its a 190/50 ZR17 so there’s not a lot of sidewall showing. With the tire snot, bead breaker and some patience it wasn’t so bad. Here’s the bead breaker I settled on: It’s light enough to carry along with a couple of spoons on my KLR. You just drive it into the rim / tire interface with a dead blow hammer like you’re splitting firewood. I first tried to angle it down toward the inside of the rim to drive the bead off with the hammer blows. Wrong. You just drive the plastic wedge in at the same angle as the crack between the rim and tire. Voila! Off she comes.

          I also bought a Stop & Go International plug / CO2 inflation kit ( for the tail section of the Z. I’ll be a little more comfortable now when I’m out of my normal home / work range. BTW, I was able to capture and save nearly all of my Counteract beads too. They laid right in the side wall of the tire as I removed it. I just scooped them out with a bent piece of cardboard and added new ones to replace the few that were stuck in the tire lube. Now to pull that ugly black plastic rear fender and install a tidy tail and LED turn signals…

      • If the tire snot isn’t getting it, go the your local electrical supply house and get some Yellow 77. It’s a lube for pulling wire through conduit. You can get it in a quart size squeeze bottle.. Good shit, Lubes without a mess.

        • Ed, I’ve used wire pulling compound being an electrician, not any difference in tire pookie I could tell. Both are water based. That made my shoulder hurt, had a flash on pulling 4 conductors of 1500 MCM through a 3″ conduit using a C-50 Chev and two of us trying to keep them all lined up and not letting any get over each other and not get sucked down the conduit. We used to build cotton gins, gas compressor stations and other such, always a killer.

          • Yeah, Eight. I did my time on shutdowns with Davis, Daniel, and BE&K. My first job as a green hand helper was at 16, and I wore a purple hardhat. You know who I worked for just from that, I’ll bet.

            Paper plants used loads of big stuff like 500 MCM going into 4-6″ rigid. You had to have the big wire for those big DC motors that moved everything.

            The old timers called yellow 77 “soap”. One old guy said, “Look, boy. There’s two kinds of soap for pullin’ wire. There’s 77 and then there’s all that other shit that don’t work.”

            I remember working 7 12’s from can to can’t. Back then on a shut down, you’d stay at it until there was nothing left in your “can do it” bucket, then you’d drag up and go sleep a week. Come back to the site when you’re fresh and they’d put you right back on, as long as you’d told your foreman a day or so in advance before you drug.

            I think all my aches and pains I have now came from industrial electrical construction. At 60, I’m as tore up as a 40 year old rodeo clown.

          • Ed, Everything you just said about “yellow 77”. Had a boss one time said “We’re gonna use this Ivory liquid, works just as well”. Shit, what a nightmare. I and another big guy are upside down hanging above the floor with our feet on the conduit hangers giving it everything we had with a block and tackle, damned near killed us getting that run in. I told the boss I’d buy a can of wire pull lube. He came back with some yellow 77 for the next round. I actually ruined my body doing that work. At 63 I’m just like you said, broke up like a rodeo clown. My wife and I were talking about my leg and she said “hell, don’t you remember how it is when you break your arm?” and could have added “and your shoulder joints and elbows”. I’ve had both arms broken 3 times, shoulder surgery and need both done again, back surgery and the last time the doc said he was afraid he’d just make it worse so I learned to live with it. I’ve had what looked like goose eggs on my elbows from just working too hard. If I could only do it all over…….

          • ” If I could only do it all over…….”

            ………I’d fuck it up even worse this time. ahaha

            The tugger winch is the greatest invention of all time, IMO. I remember when one outfit I worked for got a Greenlee tugger. It binds down onto the conduit itself, and with an offset sheave to redirect the line of pull, you dally your pull rope around a windlass and just belay one end by hand. The winch clicks its way through revolutions of the windlass and will pull until you release the running end of the rope.

            Whoever invented that is the supreme got-damned genius of all time. One man on the pulling end, a few helpers on the reels or laid out run to guide while one man soaps…..genius.

        • Dammit. I wish I knew about this stuff before. I suffered from a case of turrets last weekend pulling my wire harness through my new bars on the hog. Might not be too late to use it, I still have some slack I want to pull.

          • Get the quart bottle that has a nozzle and squirt it in both ends now that your wire is already in there. It would be great if it went to the center. Wire pulling compound is great stuff, will save you damaging wire. Did you use a wire pulling tool. They’re cheap but you can use a small piece of solid wire like very small electric fence wire that will make a corner but is still stiff to push it through so you can tape your wires to it, just turn 3/8″ back on the end, wrap electrical tape around it and the wire you’re pulling and then bend it over flat up against it all and put another wrap of tape on it. Slop some compound on it and in the conduit and pull it through. I keep a roll of the really small wire and he next two sizes on hand for any job I need some for. It’s galvanized so you can use it in permanent locations that will be exposed to the weather.

          • “Might not be too late to use it, I still have some slack I want to pull.”

            It may still help. The 77 dries out to a waxy film that still provides some lube when pulling out old wire or cable. One dodge I have used in the past is to take a single wire in the bundle that was pulled in earlier, make a small mop of cotton shop rag and secure it to one end of that wire, along with a new replacement wire, plus the additional wires you may need.

            Load the mop with 77, and pull in the replacement wire, along with any new wires needed, and use the old single wire to pull in the new bundle.

            When pulling a bundle of wires into a conduit, I always include a length of poly pulling twine and leave it with the bundle as a means of adding wire to the conduit later.

          • One more thing Dom. As ES pointed out, a small flexible *spring* wire works great as a wire snake. What I’ve found to work well is copper clad steel or SS welding wire from a wire feeder. It’s designed to run through a conduit (obviously) without bunching up. Aluminum is a no go (hence the need for a spool gun). But electric fence wire would be great too because it’s got a good bit of spring too it. Just depends on what you have on hand…

          • Ed, great minds think alike. I’ve done the same pulling into a crowded run and have even added a conductor I’d mark and turn the end back so I could use it to pull another 3 if I thought I’d be back doing it again. There are times adding another run is nearly impossible, i.e., breaking out walls, floors, trying to get joints pushed into places you can’t get remotely close to, nightmare city.

          • I know it, Eight. One thing that working with conduit does is it develops your ability to think around the corners of problems.

            A good conduit man will work the floor and put his helper up top to do the hanging. It’s easier to see where it’s all going from the floor and you just get the kid to measure how far to the 90. You can figure the amount of kick by eyeball from 20 feet away, easy.

            I bent stair handrails for another crew’s supply trailer to pass OSHA regs. These guys were all very good conduit hands, but they were amazed that I figured the bends in my head. It’s simple: figure what you have overall in the fewest number of bends and break it down by the total number of bends you end up needing.

            I was amazed they couldn’t see it. Two holes in the surface of two steps, w/ a 1 1/2″ rigid in between=180 degrees of total bend. Start w/ a 90, then two 45’s. Fat city.

          • Ed, you said it. It’s easy enough to see the amount of kick and if you’re going to have something like a 90 on each end then bend those and mock them up and get a perfect measurement for connecting them. Easy, quick. And yeah, I’d probably fuck it up even worse if I could do it again. At least it would be “new” fuckups, put the excitement into it anyway. One thing for sure, I’d avoid those things that require you to physically ruin yourself including all the time I’ve had to use a gas mask. When the pressure line broke and covered a guy with a terrible brew, he ran for the shower. I guess till the day he died he’s have yellow sweat like the crap that hit him run off his head when he was eating jalos which we always did at lunch. They keep everything loosened up.

        • Yeah, I’ll second Ed’s motion on the Yellow 77. I don’t know about using it on tires. Never tried that. But for pulling wire it can’t be beat. I’ve had to do field retrofits on gas compression skids and flare stations by myself with packed conduit. A little wire lube saved the day (and my back and shoulders). Being water based, it wouldn’t surprise me if it were safe for use on tires. But I’ve got a gallon of snot now so, I’ll just use that…probably for the rest of my life and leave the rest to my son.

          When I put the tires / tubes on my KLR, I tried a spray bottle of dish liquid solution. No good. The beads would not pop in, not even with excessive air pressure. A good swipe of tire snot and presto, both beads popped like a champagne cork first try.

          Oh and ES, 4 conductors of 1500 MCM? Holy batshit horseman! That gives me palpitations just thinking about it. The biggest thing I’ve had to deal with was 3 cond. of 500 MCM and that was more than adequate to convince me that my decision to be an Instrument Tech was spot on. 😉

          • Boothe, it’s nothing more than some heavy duty yellow K-Y, same type of thing, water-based. As far as doing construction, I don’t think anything I’ve done has been physically tougher than electrical work. I used to come in from 15-16 hr days and have bad leg cramps. I had a cramp one night when we were working 18 hr day trying to finish a cotton gin that left my leg discolored for 2 months and I’m one of those people who just don’t bruise. I was screaming, my wife was beating my leg, all the muscle was bundled up under my knee. I had to get up and limp around the house for a long time. Yep, you picked the right road for sure.

          • “I don’t know about using it on tires”

            I’m just guessing on motorcycle tires, but for those wide lawn tractor tubeless tires that won’t seat, it works like rats a’fightin’. It’s good on really tight mounts, too.

          • Boothe, doncha just love it when you pull the cover off an LB and it has the wires smashed flat? Try another run. Too many times in gas compressor plants especially that have been added to and added to, I’ve had no choice but wait till I could bring all the conduit and ass. tools. I don’t mind bending conduit but hate to be hurried doing it. If you don’t talk to me and say ‘Hurry up’ I can remember all those measurements and not have to look at the benders, etc.

          • @ Ed – “It’s good on really tight mounts, too.” I’ll have to take your word for that. I don’t know much about horses… 😉

            @ Eightsoutman – Conduit? You can actually bend that stuff?! Wow! Who knew! Now SS and copper tubing for instrument lines…okay…but only up to 3/4″. Bending rigid conduit to me is like changing diapers; ’tis one of those things I’ll probably never get the hang of (or at least admit it). Can’t really blame me, can you?

          • Boothe, if I were ever going to do electrical work again, I’d never admit to it….but then again, bending beat installing the stuff although in my day it was generally the same thing. I was in HEB one day, guys are trying to make a new run. I saw they had an end run back about a foot from the plane of the disconnect so I said If you’ll go ahead and bend a bit more kick in that one joint then you can rotate it where it lines up with the other one and not have to put any kick in the other one. They just stared at me. They might have figure it out after I left. hell, I like to be helpful if I only have to be helpful.

  4. Last chain bike I had, I cleaned the chain with acetone, then lubed it with chainsaw chain oil. The spray on waxy stuff may last a little longer but it is far messier to clean up! Now my bike has a belt, so I dont worry about any of those things….

    • Thanks, Mith!

      Wrenching on bikes can be a lot of fun – even more so than wrenching on cars – because things are more accessible (well, usually) and many procedures (such as bleeding brakes) are simpler, even though the basic principle is the same.


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