April 15, 2001

happy easter.
Hope all yer taxes are in. I mailed mine off last week, and I'm still not convinced that I stapled everything together correctly. I can see the IRS sending Guido after me for that. Ah well.

the steering stem is fixed, long live the steering stem.
Today Peter and I got the steering stem on the Nighthawk fixed, and got well on our way to re-assembling the bike. Huzzah!

The first thing I did was use the spanner wrench/torque wrench assembly to put on the steering stem adjust nut (picture). After I'd torqued it a little bit, we noticed that the stem wasn't turning very smoothly in the headstock; there was a lot of drag. We consulted the Clymers again, and I realized that I'm an idiot -- it's not the steering stem adjust nut that you torque down, it's the steering stem nut. Details. So I loosened the adjust nut back up, and then tightened it so that the stem could move freely from side to side (i.e. no drag), but the vertical play was mostly gone. We couldn't get all of the play out, because it would start dragging again if I tightened it any more, but we determined it was stable and left it at that. The upper fork bridge slid onto the stem on top of the adjust nut, and the steering stem nut topped it all off (original picture. Here's a version with all the parts labelled). And that was the end of my steering stem nightmare. :)

I realized that it probably hasn't been very clear what I've been talking about all this time, so I took a bunch of pictures of both the loose bearing assembly and the tapered bearing assembly. Now, before anyone gets all smart aleck on me, the loose bearings assembly had already been degreased. And, yes, I know the tapered bearing assembly is full of debris and wood shavings. That's one of the ones that got bent up.

Loose bearings:

Tapered bearings:

but the bike isn't done with me yet.
So, after we got that put together, I put the forks back on (picture). It's starting to almost look like a motorcycle again! :) When reinstalling the forks, I found that you have to do everything in a seemingly-convoluted manner. This, I'm sure, is due more to the Joy That Is Clymers than anything else; it has great instructions like "Install the fork tubes and align them with the top surface of the upper fork bridge as described under Front Fork Installation in this chapter." Now, since y'all know the Joy That Is Clymers, I'm sure it's really no shock to anyone that there is, in fact, no section called Front Fork Installation in this chapter. There *is* a Front Forks: Removal/Installation section, but all that tells us is "Install by reversing these removal steps." If you dig, though, you will eventually come to a section called Air-Assist Front Forks, and if you happen to know that your bike has air-assist front forks, you might read more closely. And then, buried three pages later, you will find a mini little sub-section entitled Installation. And then you, dear reader, will be rewarded with a bullet point saying "Position the fork tube so that the top of the fork tube aligns with the top surface of the upper fork bridge (Figure 107)." Figure 107, not surprisingly, is a useless diagram showing what one must assume is the top of a fork, the top of which is nowhere near aligned with the top surface of the rectangle labeled "upper fork bridge." The Clymers isn't for the weak, people.

So, anyway, using our combined brain power, we chose to ignore the Clymers and instead line up the big notch on the forks with the upper fork bridge, and it all fit fine. Then the Clymers told me to tighten the lower fork bridge bolts (the two really shiny bolts on the forks right at the base of the headstock) to torque. This, I did. Then, Clymers instructed me to go back to the steering stem nut on top of the upper fork bridge and torque that. Only, I didn't have a socket large enough for the nut. So, I used my brand-new vernier caliper and measured the nut (picture) and found it to be 30mm. Peter and I hopped in his car and drove over to Orchard Supply Hardware, where I found not only a 30mm socket, but also a 3/8" to 1/2" adapter and a 3/8" to 1/4" adapter. This made me happy, since I can now use Chris's 3/8" drive torque wrench with any of my sockets, regardless of what size drive hole they have. We were impressed with OSH's selection of sockets; they stocked Craftsman gear but had a much better selection than Sears did. Anyway, we bought the goods, and I came home and torqued the steering stem nut. Finally, the very last instruction of the entire steering stem process (well, besides "Install all items removed") was to tighten the upper fork bridge bolts, which are the ones way at the top of the forks (eh, screw it. Here's another labelled picture). And this is where the steering stem had its last laugh.

The Clymers says to torque the upper fork bolts to between 7 and 10 foot-pounds, so I set Chris's torque wrench to 8 and started tightening. The nut kept turning, so I grabbed a 10mm spanner wrench to hold it in place while I torqued. The torque wrench just wasn't clicking (it clicks to indicate when the bolt is at the right torque), so I went on to the second upper fork bolt. It clicked almost instantly, so I figured that I just mustn't have heard it click on the first bolt. So I put the wrench back on, gave it a tug....and heard a snap. Only this wasn't the torque snap, this was the 15-year-old bolt having its day of reckoning. It snapped right in two, just at the nut (picture). D'oh! I said some words that probably weren't appropriate on a religious holiday, got on the SVS, and rode over to Orchard Supply Hardware, again. I cornered an employee and asked for help, as the OSH bolt selection is huge and I didn't have any idea what length or type of tread of the bolt had. He took a look at me in my gear, and asked it it was for a motorcycle. I said yes, and he asked what kind. I wasn't sure what difference it made, but I thought maybe he was a biker too, so I replied "Honda Nighthawk." "Ahhh," he said, a little too kindly, "so then it's a *met-ric*." "Um, yes," said I, a little confused as to why he didn't just ask me that in the first place. He couldn't find a metric bolt the right size, so he told me it must actually be a standard. I told him no, it was a 10mm metric bolt. We went back and forth a wee bit, and finally, he admitted that they didn't have the right size. So, it looks like I'll be calling Brad back in the morning.

So, that's where the Nighthawk stands now. If I could just get the parts to stop breaking on me, I'm maybe looking at another full weekend day of work on it, and that's it. I'm crossing my fingers that Brad'll have the bolt in stock, and I won't have to wait 2 weeks for a stupid $2 bolt, feh. While I'm chatting up Brad, though, I'm also going to ask for a price list for the clutch plates and springs that we'll need to replace on Peter's VFR. And after that, I think we're going to take a rest from mechanics (well, outside the normal maintenance, I mean) for a while and just focus on riding. Yeesh. :)

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