Monday, December 9, 2013

My Royal Enfield motorcycle is laughing at me

My Royal Enfield motorcycle is laughing at me.
The classic Royal Enfield Bullet is a simple machine. It has one cylinder, one spark plug, drum brakes and a gearbox designed before I was born (in the middle of the previous century).

Yet, for all its simplicity, it is notorious for its sense of humor. It will run flawlessly through driving rain and then refuse to start on a sunny day. You expect this.

What I didn't expect was a haunted gearbox filler plug. Apparently, I have one.

Some weeks ago it entered my mind to add a bit of oil to the four-speed Albion gearbox. To my surprise, the filler plug atop the gearbox refused to turn. Stuck.

Back to the tool box I went, for my largest adjustable wrench. No good. No matter how loudly I grunted, the plug wouldn't turn.

I'd recently read an article about galling, the tendency for metal parts squeezed too tightly to bond themselves together. Aluminum, like the Albion gearbox cover, is particularly subject to this.

I didn't think I had over tightened the filler plug last time I'd closed it, but apparently I had.

Ironically, it didn't really matter. I could add oil, if any was needed, through the lower plug on the front of the gearbox. In fact, that's usually what I do (squeezing it in from my oil can) because the top filler accepts only a few drops at a time before spilling over and making a mess.

It just bothered me that I had carelessly monkeyed up the top plug. But I let it go and went for a ride.

I didn't look at the gearbox until the other day, when it again occurred to me that it might like a drop of oil.

To my utter shock, the upper filler plug was partly unscrewed, standing several threads proud of the gearbox cover!

What???!!! This had never happened before, in more than 40,000 miles of riding, no matter how the plug was tightened.

You're probably thinking "Oh, that big wrench just loosened it without him realizing it and vibration did the rest."

I can't accept that. The plug was still good and thoroughly stuck when I gave up trying to loosen it.

The motorcycle is just having a laugh on me.

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