Fixing old Georgia and disasters

The unfortunate thing about having a vintage bike is not being able to ride when it needs repairs. At least it’s simpler than a car, making it easier to fix.

Though the battery charged properly when Georgia was in the shop to get inspected, about a month later, the battery started dying. Turns out, the rectifier’s connections were corroded, and the wire leading to the relay and battery had broken off completely.

The last time the battery died a couple weeks ago, I parked close to my workshop where Jason and I keep a trickle charger. That was when Georgia was knocked over by an SUV. The front left blinker casing got a small puncture, which I decided to just fill with some translucent epoxy rather than order an unbroken one.

I had bought a new rectifier from Radio Shack to replace the corroded one, but in order to disconnect the old one, I had to remove the gas tank to reach the connector. (I didn’t want to buy another connector, so I used the original wires with the connector attached and cut off the old rectifier.)

After spilling some gasoline and storing the rest in a jug, I removed the gas lines from the petcock. But in the process, one of the brass nipples came off! Ugh. So, we ordered a replacement petcock. (I spilled gasoline when removing the gasoline tube that wraps around the bike frame connecting the right side of the tank to the left. That was a sight.)

When the tank was off, I saw that the underside of the tank was rusted. I decided to take off the rust and prime it since it was going to take a few days for the petcock to arrive.

After soldering the wires that were cut from the old rectifier to the new rectifier, I connected the rectifier and rearranged the wires so they would hide underneath the tank. I didn’t put the tank back on right away but decided to paint its underside so that it would be less likely to collect dirt than primer alone.

In Brooklyn, like everywhere else in New York City, there are parking signs that tell you when you aren’t allowed to park. Georgia was in a spot where there was no parking on Fridays. So when Friday came, I had to move her to another location where parking was legal for that day. Since she was out of commission I had to push her. I went to the nearest spot.

The next day Georgia had to be moved again. I had to work late, so Jason went to move her for me. But when he took her cover off, he found that the front brake lever was busted. Someone hit Georgia! (Someone was nice enough to stand her up.) When I went to survey the damage, I saw on the pavement that Georgia was not only knocked over, she was also dragged about a foot, scraping up her side, breaking the lever off completely, and scuffing the front tire. I think livid is the best descriptor of how I felt. I was glad, though, that the gas tank was not on the bike or it would have been dented and its gasoline spilled. The dragging also put several holes in the cover.

So, now I had to wait for a brake lever to arrive. Had she been a newer bike, I could have gone to the local motorcycle shop and picked up parts. But since Georgia is vintage, parts are not always easy to get.

Two weeks after removing the gas tank, I finally got to put Georgia back together again.

Not so fast!

With the newly painted tank in hand, I went to the bike. But when I removed the cover, I discovered that she was hit yet again. This time the rear right blinker was completely crushed. It was irreparable, so we got online once again and ordered parts.

At least we could get her running again, so we thought. I put the tank on, replaced the gasoline hoses, attached the “new” petcock and the new brake lever and poured in some gasoline. But then the petcock started spilling out gasoline at the switch. Ack! I had already brought my tools back inside, so I had to run to get them to remove the hoses from the carburetors to direct the gasoline into the jug. When I took the petcock apart, I saw that the spring was in the wrong way.

When she was finally back together again, except for the blinker covers which were just ordered, we gave her a start. But she wouldn’t ignite. In addition, the clutch was not disengaging all the way.

Poor Georgia must have had a really hard fall. Whoever hit the bike must have backed into it at speed. I wonder if the car was damaged at all.

The clutch not working properly and the engine not starting has to be because of that hit that dragged the bike on the pavement. My guess for it not starting is a problem with ignition. The impact probably broke one or both of the spark plugs. We put the battery back on the trickle charger to make sure there was enough juice, but haven’t had the chance to check the spark plugs yet.

I can’t wait to ride again.

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