Friday, January 22, 2021

Royal Enfield washing day packed with pride

It has 44,000 miles on it.
Considering its age and mileage, my 1999 Bullet cleans up pretty well. is really a sort of log book for what I do to my personal 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet. Checking the blog, it looks to me as though I last washed my motorcycle in January, 2019!

I like to say my Royal Enfield "lives in the real world." Back when I commuted to work we'd get caught in the rain often enough that drying the motorcycle off with a rag when I got home to the garage was usually enough to keep it respectable.

Now that I don't commute, fewer miles translates into less dirt. After almost a year, though, it was past time to get out the bucket, rags and Zip Wax wash-and-wax soap.

Like most motorcyclists, I like to see my motorcycle clean. But washing a motorcycle is aggravating because it has umpteen crevices human fingers can't get at with a rag.

I'm water adverse: I won't use a hose or, Lord forbid, a pressure washer. Many years of trying to operate British motor vehicles have convinced me that water intrusion into electrical devices is to be avoided.

Close-up of rust spot on wheel rim.
Oh no! Rust spots on rim of front wheel.

Most motor vehicles I've owned, British or not, rusted. Some were rusted before I bought them, but nothing I did tended to improve that. So I use the minimum amount of water I think I can get away with, hoping it will not find secret places in which to encourage corrosion.

This is one of the reasons I used to clean the Bullet only after a run in the rain: hell, it was already wet.

I'll agree that frequent washing is a good idea. It's the ideal time to check the tightness of nuts and bolts and to make adjustments.

This time, before I washed the bike I cleaned the spark plug and tightened up its gap just a bit to .020, still a fairly wide setting.

(Subsequent Note: It has started on the second kick ever since I did that.)

I also removed the kick start lever and put it back just a notch or two towards the back of the motorcycle. I'd been noticing it blocking my heel just a bit as I operated the Neutral Finder while riding. Hopefully this will fix that.

I found that the right-side rear turn signal wobbled just a bit and made a mental note to tighten it up.

Elastic sock top around gas filler opening.
I never throw away tube socks without saving the elastic tops.

Washing day was the perfect time to replace the "gasket" on my gas cap. I use the top elastic band cut from an old tube sock.  Can't remember who recommended this, but it has helped keep my tank relatively unscarred by gas over the years.

Of course one of the things that happens when you get up next to your motorcycle is you see the wounds it has collected over the years. Perfectly natural but obviously unwelcome news.

But some of these wear points pack the pride of how far we've travelled together. More than 44,000 miles, I reckon.

Close-up of rusted screw head on fender.
Rust seems to attack the leading edges first, even on a screw head.

One surprising thing I noticed this time is how rust has typically formed on the surfaces that face forward. The screw heads on the front fender, for instance, show rust damage only on the leading edges. Anyone have any ideas on how to fight that? Leave a comment below.

It's almost as if the wind is eroding the motorcycle.

I ran out of light before I could finish my job. The final step, tomorrow, will be doing a wipe with an oily rag across the shiny parts.

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