Friday, 11 June 2010

On another tack.

Whilst we both love narrow boats, I was also into driving a little sporty car. But now I drive a diesel estate car - well I am at that age where mid-life crisis has been, done and gone. However, I have always had a passion for riding motorcycles. With six bikes in the garage to choose from, including my first "new" bike which is now 46 years old. Mags is also a biker but leaves all the home maintenance to me. Including washing and polishing!

I have always been a practical sort of person, I try and do basic maintenance on my bikes - leaving any skilled work to a more technically competent person. I noticed the other day that one of my main beam's on the Honda ST1300 Pan European had failed. So I bought a pair of H4 bulbs intending to replace the pair. After reading the manual it seemed to be a -straight forward - easy job for a savvy practical sort of person to do.

After fiddling around for half an hour, up the front of the fairing, a quick look down the forks from the top seemed to give far more accessibility. After a further fifteen mins and the removal of some additional knuckle skin I had another bright idea. It's time to re-group my thoughts and have a cup of coffee.

Standing on the right hand side of the bike facing the rear, I was able to get a grip of the three pin plug. I squeezed the retaining clips, and gave a little tug - nothing happened. After about a further 10 mins of practising my command of Anglo-Saxon swear words and with numb fingers because the blood supply was cut off with the pressure on my wrist - the plug just slid off. I was not even squeezing the clips at the time. It was time to have a cup of coffee and relax my nerves.

I had been looking forward to putting my feet up and having a relaxing evening watching television. Now all that’s left is just a little rubber boot to remove. The boot has a couple of small tags attached to help with removal - the tags are helpfully about the same size as a mouse's ear - So after removing my hand from the fairing and restoring the feeling by letting the blood flow once more into my hands, I eventually managed to leaver off the rubber boot.

I could now dimly see deep down in the black hole, the back of the bulb. The manual helpfully says squeeze the small retaining clip and release the bulb. After a few mins poking my finger into the bulb orifice I found a spring clip retainer. I touched it lightly and it sprang out, my heart sank I had visions of stripping the fairing off to search for the spring clip. However the clip had just moved out of place and was still attached to the headlamp. So after removing my hand from the fairing and restoring the feeling by letting the blood flow into my hands, I had a welcome cup of relaxing coffee.

After restoring the feeling to my hand yet again - and consuming the cup of coffee, I was able to get my hand back inside and extract the bulb. A quick visual check of the original and new bulb to make sure the fittings were the same, they were, it was time to reverse the process. The bulb slid into the holder, and could be positioned at any angle but the correct one. After extracting my hand and the bulb - I could see there was some marks on the bulb. Oh dear! The manual says keep the bulb clean otherwise the bulb can be damaged when operating. Rummage in the garage I find the Isopropyl Alcohol spray and clean the bulb. Another quick rummage and I find a clean latex glove to wear. I also had a cup of welcoming coffee.

After a little effort, sliding my swollen fingers into the latex glove. Hand and wrist are plunged once more back into the fairing. The bulb is twiddled into pace - then twiddled some more to get is aligned correctly. A five minuet tussle with the spring clip and voila! A quick look at the headlamp from the front shows that the bulb is cocked up at a funny angle. Feeling ever more cheerful - I have yet another idea - grease my wrist. Well gosh and golly now it is much easier to slide my hand into the fairing. Ten mins of twiddling sees the spring clip released, and with joy in my heart the bulb almost falls into the correct position. Being somewhat adept by now, I have the spring clip back in position about the same time as I start to loose the feeling in my fingers again. So after removing my hand from the fairing and restoring the feeling by letting the blood flow into my hands, I had another cup of much needed coffee.

Replacing the rubber boot was going to be easy-peasy. The boot was quite slippery from the grease on my wrist. After a further fifteen mins of struggle, removing my hand from the fairing and restoring the feeling by letting the blood flow, I have another idea. I wash the grease off my hand and the rubber boot and have a quick cup of coffee.

I rummage around and find another latex glove. I even manage to force my sausages (that were previously my fingers) into the glove. After a while I manage to get my hand back inside the "black hole of pain" the rubber boot slides on in less than fifteen minuets. This also coincided with starting to loose the feeling in my fingers once again. So after removing my hand from the fairing and restoring the feeling by letting the blood flow into my hands, I had another cup of coffee.

All that was left was to fit the plug on the back of the bulb.The pressure of the latex glove had forced the swelling down in my fingers. So I was able to slide my hand back down into the fairing. Five mins and I had the plug in place and it was time to test the lights. It was at this point that I realised that the latex glove was hung up on something under the fairing. I was unable to extract my hand. The glove had bunched up and it had my wrist in a Vulcan-ised Death Grip. The feeling quickly went from my sausages again. It took about 10 mins for my hand to come free from the fairing. After removing the tatters of the latex glove and restoring the feeling by letting the blood flow into my hands, I had another cup of coffee.

All that was left now was to test the lights. I manage to turn on the ignition using my left hand as my right hand resembled five chipolatas attached to a raw piece of scored pork skin. The low beams came on, and pressing the rocker switch brought on both main beams. It was at this time that I remembered that I had bought two bulbs intending to replace the pair. It was also at this time that I realised that I needed to go to the bathroom. The capacity of the human bladder must be enormous. After taking a prolonged physical needs break, I put the second bulb on the shelf in the garage, maybe the replacement could wait until another day. I had a cup of tea.

I am finally sat watching television, the program of interest had finished hours before. It was at this moment when the beloved arrives home from an evening out with the girls, line dancing. She asks what I have been doing and I say replacing a broken headlamp bulb on the Pan and watching TV. She gives a knowing nod and says "put the kettle on love, I'm knackered". I find it's much easier to just smile and put the kettle on.


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