Friday, December 16, 2022

Safety ties and other Royal Enfield bodges

 Old Royal Enfield motorcycles famously like to leave bits of themselves along the road they travel. Pretty much any part subjected very long to a hot, oily, vibrating Royal Enfield Bullet will eventually undo itself. 

Over the years I've found ingenious (some might say idiotic) ways to keep things in their place. I've experimented with chemical goo, bungee cords, and even considered baling wire. But I never stop looking for new ways to hold onto my fasteners, levers and linkages. 

Different ways to make a roadside repair.
Recognize these bodges? Top: Scavenged bolt and nut to hold gearshift on. Bottom left: Emergency wire exhaust holder. Bottom right: Duct tape to the rescue.  

Years ago, as a new owner of a Royal Enfield, I noticed that members of Internet forums often cured their problem with something called "safety ties." They sounded useful. But what were they? 

As is typical of the forums, "safety ties" were often mentioned but never defined. Along with "circlips," "Dowty washers" and "Woodruff keys," safety ties were a deep mystery to me.

But I had succeeded in learning what "J-B Weld" might be by simply going out and buying some.

So, riding home from work one day I stopped by that motorcycle shop I'd noticed.

I confidently asked to buy some "safety ties."

Oh-oh. The counterman seemed a bit taken aback.

Had I asked for safety ties in an inappropriate fashion? I recalled the expression of the fellow student selling "rubbers" door-to-door in the college dorm when I had asked him what size "rubbers" he sold. (I figured they'd need to match my shoe size.)

He must have thought: "What a jerk."

Back at the motorcycle shop the counterman called into the next room: "Guy wants to buy some safety ties."

After a moment a fellow emerged from the back room and plunked four curved strands of plastic on the counter.

"Four dollars," the clerk announced. I paid, in cash. There was no receipt. They probably laughed themselves silly after I walked out the door. They must have thought: "What a jerk."

Examining my overpriced purchase it was pretty obvious how a safety tie works. And, since the ones I had paid for obviously had been used before and undone, it was apparent that they could be reused, even if meant to be expendable.

Consequently, being somewhat ashamed of my ignorance, and also a cheap guy, I've never purchased another safety tie in my life. They're found everywhere in the streets and even the ones that have been cut off of whatever they were holding can often be undone and used again.

My habit of picking up any safety tie I find littering the sidewalk has endowed me with a vast collection of lengths and widths, from tiny to industrial strength. My heirs will wonder at this.

They'll probably think: "What a jerk."

But then they may think, if only to themselves, "these could come in handy."

Safety ties in front of Royal Enfield.
Safety ties of all sizes, some reused, ride in the toolbox of my Royal Enfield Bullet.

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