The penguin's motorcycling and Jeep blog

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A disappointment

This is a Pat Walsh Designs Engine Guard and Skid Plate combo for the Suzuki V-Strom 650. It took them over two weeks to get it to me after I ordered it -- it came in today, and I ordered it back on the 9th. When I called Pat yesterday he claimed that Paypal has not been sending him his email, which is possible, I suppose, the shipment does contain a copy of an email I sent several days ago re-forwarding Paypal's email to me, so obviously his people got my email, but did not reply to it so I had no idea what was going on. Anyhow, the skid plate is the plate. The engine guard bars are the curved bars. The cross bar is the mostly straight bar with the little zig-zag in it. It mounts sorta like this: Click the photo for a bigger picture. The curved bar mounts to the upper engine mount bolt (arrow), the cross bar, and to the skid plate. The skid plate mounts to the curved bar, and to one of the kickstand bracket bolts (lower left arrow). On the other side, the back of the skid plate mounts to the exhaust mount bracket, which is fairly sturdy but the exhaust mount bolt is sorta wimpy so that side isn't as well supported.

Unfortunately, one of the captive nuts welded into one end of the crossbar had a bad weld that impinged upon the thread area. The result was that when I tried to screw the bolt in, it seized. I had to use a pipe wrench on the crossbar and a 4-foot breaker bar to unscrew the bolt until it completely seized and I twisted its head off. This messed up the cross bar (the pipe wrench crushed it) and of course messed up the bolt, but at least I got this mess off my bike. This is the best photo I have of the damage (click on the photo for a bigger picture). You can see the welded-in captive nut, and the crushed area where I held it with the pipe wrench, and you can see the head of the bolt that I twisted off down below. The bolt twisted off at a point within the captive nut where apparently a bead of welding slag came to rest and jammed up the works -- this wasn't a case of me over-torquing a bolt (the bolt would have broken off at the point where head and shaft meet in that case).

I will call Pat on Monday and see if he can fix me up with a new crossbar and bolt in a timely manner. Needless to say I was using the sort of language in my garage that is not fit for polite company. Especially since I had to take that blasted kickstand bolt off again and it was partially hidden by the skid plate, meaning I had to use a box wrench and very slowly one tiny bit at a time unbolt it, plus my garage was hot so I was sweating like a pig... so anyhow, my bike is unprotected again, stripped of all skid plate and crash bars. Sigh.

-- Badtux the Still-unprotected Penguin


Gordon said...

That's too bad, but shit happens. They'll probably take care of you and send you another one. Just a hassle.

BadTux said...

Oh, I know that much is true. If you ain't plannin' on breakin' something, don't touch it. But then, folks tell me, "oh, I wouldn't be any good at working on [computers,motorcycles,cars,etc.], I'd break stuff!" and I just tell'em, "ain't nothing breakable that ain't fixable", as long as you can get the parts that is. I figure Pat'll have me a new cross-brace on the way ASAP on Monday afternoon via USPS or UPS tube, and when I get it on Wednesday it won't take me thirty minutes to get it all back together again the way it should be now that I know how all the pieces fit. Then I'll have a flat platform under the bike that supposedly is strong enough to put a lift under to get the front wheel off the ground, yay!

I kinda kick myself for not yanking that bolt and chasing the threads with a tap the moment it seemed harder to screw in than its mate on the other side, but so it goes. By the time my slow-ass brain realized something was wrong, it was too late. Now that it's morning I've figured out other things I could have done, but I didn't realize the pipe wrench would crush the tube, so (shrug). For example, I could have done what you gotta do to get the ignition bolts off (drill off the head), would have been a heapin' lot of drilling but then I could have gotten the cross-tube out and put it in my bench vise, drilled out the rest of the bolt, chased some new threads in it, and been back in business. So it goes. Live and learn. Now I know the limits of that flimsy 1" steel tubing, sigh!

The disappointment really isn't with the product, BTW. It's just that I wanted this done by this morning because I need to take a trip to the city and I don't want to do it on a naked Wee without protection from those mean, mean motorists (or idiot penguins dropping the thing on its side while trying to park it on a hill). So I guess I'll take the KLR again. Oh well. The dear old green mule needs exercising occasionally anyhow, heh!

- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

Gordon said...

I kinda kick myself for not...

I wasn't going to say anything about that because I figured you feel kinda silly for not stopping as soon as you felt resistance to the bolt and fixing the problem. No point in adding my insult to your injury, so I'm glad you did.

I have had to work over many, many aftermarket parts in my time to get them to fit and/or do what they were supposed to. Assembly is the responsibility of the mechanic. Sometimes so is finishing the manufacturing process.

I'm glad you have a tap the right size. I was going to suggest that if they send you another one with the same problem, round file the weld down as far as you can, then smear valve grinding compound on the bolt and GENTLY work it back and forth for as long as it takes. Sorta a po' boy's tap&die set.

BadTux said...

Well, Gordo, I live about ten miles from Cheap Chinese Tool Company, so yeah, I have a tap and die set. I wouldn't want to try to tap threads into hardened steel with that Chinese junk, but for cleaning up the threads in mild steel welded-in nuts, they work just fine. Already used'em for just that even on some things on the Suzy already, the gas tank bolt at the back decided it was goin' to be ornery on me, I cleaned it up with the right size die and cleaned up the hole with the right size tap and all is well now.

One thing that maybe has ruint my feel is that Suzuki seems to put thread locker on *everything*. Now, that's good, 'cause it means bolts ain't gonna rattle off and leave a trail behind me (my KLR is famous for that, I went out this morning to lift up the seat to do something or another and it'd already spit out one of the seat bolts and the other one was might near gone, I tossed it in the junk bolt bin and went to my stash of KLR-sized stainless steel allen-head bolts and put a matching pair in its place -- yeppers, I keep a stash of bolts to replace the ones the Mule spits out!). But anyhow, this means that nothing really wrenches smooth, it's either locked in place (e.g. had to take a small butane torch to the kickstand bolt to heat the thread lock to get it to let go, that sucker was glued to the point where only my 4' breaker bar woulda budged it and I can't fit that under there) or has a buncha thread locker granules gumming up the works so feels like I'm wrenchin' grit. I've taken to blasting it out with compressed air which helps, but just goes to show the law of unintended consequences. My bolts stay, but they're a pain to wrench. Beats leaving a trail of bolts like the KLR does though, I suppose! (Yes, I use thread locker where appropriate on the KLR -- you damn straight my brake rotor bolts and brake caliper bolts are glued on! -- but things I gotta wrench regularly to do normal maintenance but ain't no disaster if they fall out, like the seat bolts, I don't do that because the shit builds up in there and is a major PITA).

- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

Gordon said...

It's always something.

If you use stainless steel nuts on stainless steel bolts, be sure to put a little anti-seize on the threads. Those things'll seize together so tight you'll never get 'em apart otherwise.

BadTux said...

Stainless steel into aluminum will seize up pretty darn good too. And yeah, I went over the 'Strom and put anti-seize on things that need it (mostly exhaust bolts, else you ain't getting those damned things loose a few thousand miles from now), as well as checked that major bolts (brakes, subframe, etc.) were loc-tite'd (all of'em were except, oddly enough, the back caliber mounting bolts -- now they're glued in place 'cause missing brake bolts is *not* somethin' I want on my sled!).