Monday 8 July 2013

Brewery, Brains and Bike problems

Regular posts.... This isn't right.... What's happened? What's changed? Oh yeah........

After San Pedro we headed South West to Lago De Yojoa and the D&D Brewery. There's been a small brewery on the site for many years but about two years ago Bobby purchased it and started his own brewing procedures with several different ales being produced. We were there for a couple of days so I made it a mission to try every one. Several times! On the way up we kept on passing these roadside shops selling plastic garden ornaments. They were everywhere and really raised a certain question. Who the hell drives down a busy highway looking exclusively for plastic garden ornaments? Or who, on impulse, stops at a random shop and thinks, that's what my garden is missing, a sombrero wearing frog playing a banjo! 
Who buys this crap? 
When we reached the brewery we had options, camp or stay in a dorm or lodgings. Naturally camping in a rainforest and the first opportunity to use the new tent is the only real option. We picked a campsite and dragged everything from the parking lot to the site to pitch the tent. All in all things went pretty well. Both of us are still alive with only minor injuries and slightly dented pride. It was actually all pretty easy. The tent is easy to put up and Heather had put it up once in the UK. Most of our gear fitted inside and there was an area where we could keep everything that didn't fit. True to form it rained every single night we were there, conveniently it was well timed, it rained at quarter to six every time. Could set your watch by it. The tent stayed mostly dry but a little bit damp, when it did rain it really put in 100% effort. This was not drizzle! The self inflating bed mat is brilliant and makes camping comfortable and having a three man tent makes it spacious enough to be enjoyable. I'm not sure you'd ever want a third person in there though.

The tent in all its rainforesty glory!
The brewery is a "short" walk from Honduras' biggest lake. It took about an hour to walk to the lakeside and the next day we decided to try rowing across it. Walking's quicker!!! We rowed for about 4 hours. It really was beautiful an worth it. We may have overestimated our rowing ability and underestimated the size of the lake.

It'd been Heathers birthday on the 10th, I was not a good boyfriend. I planned to buy a present but got bogged down in bike stuff and then the 10th arrived and I had nothing to give her and no plans either. We ate breakfast and walked along the beach. Luckily saw a guy selling jewelry so told heather she could pick anything she liked. She chose a necklace with a blue stone. It was time to pay so I got out some cash but the guy wouldn't accept it because he didn't have change so Heather had to pay for her own present. Brilliant.

I did manage to win back some brownie points a few days later. I'd emailed the brewery in advance to make sure they had candles and cake and the night we got there I managed to surprise her.
The candle was a bit large
The next day we went to a local river/holiday spot, hiked a bit and visited a waterfall. We even got a guide to take us under the waterfall. You quite literally walk through a wall of water and then along the rock face with water pummeling you the whole time. Eventually you reach a small opening into the cliff and can climb inside a small, dryish chamber. It'd make a brilliant hiding spot for hide n seek.

After the hike through the falls
We left the lake the next morning and headed for Danli near the border. Plugged in some music and rode. As you ride out of the mountains you hit a wall of heat. It just goes from comfortably cool to unbearably hot in moments.and you know it's there to stay. Our gear is summer gear but fully clad in armor and in mid 30s temperatures you melt a little bit. To reach Danli we had to ride into Tegucigalpa, Honduras' notorious capital city. We had thought about staying there one night but had decided against it. As we arrive into the city there is a huge tailback and the one side of the road is closed. We discovered the reason. That morning a car carrying three prison guards and a woman was driving out of the city. They'd been ambushed on the way out and the car completely shot up. It was riddled with bullets and the occupants obviously dead. Some had managed to get out of the car and one of their brains was still lying in the road. The rest of the bodies had been removed but there was a very strong police presence. They had a lot of big guns and were nonchalantly waving them at the crowd that had formed. Hence no photos!

We rode on a bit and both agreed that not staying in Tegucigalpa was probably a good idea.

We got out and continued on our way to Danli, disaster struck about 30 miles before we got there. A screeching noise from somewhere on the bike. It sounded like the front wheel, it was making an awful noise but we just couldn't find the source. at one point I though I fixed it but 10 minutes later the sound returned. I couldn't actually find anything wrong and short of a good shop to look at everything I was at a loss. Eventually we decided to push on. The sound become intermittent and we ere close to Danli.

Big mistake.

Giant fucking mistake!

I don't know if that ride caused all the damage or if it had been building and that was the straw that broke the camels back but the damage is big. Basically the output shaft, which is a rod that comes out of the engine had worn down. It is supposed to have a series of splines along the shaft which you then attach a sprocket (cog) to. that sprocket is like the front gears on a bicycle. A chain attaches to it which turns the back wheel.

When the splines wear out completely the bike output shaft can no longer drive the sprocket so you get no power going from the engine to the rear wheel. The picture below is a mechanic in Danli making a temporary fix. He is welding the front sprocket onto the output shaft. This was a last resort option. It's temporary and the full repair is to replace the output shaft. On some bikes this would be easy. On the Transalp it requires a complete engine teardown. Almost every single last nut n bolt needs to come out (that's the easy part) and be put back together (eep). Reading forums and blogs most people seem to think a replacement engine is in order. One guy took it to the Honda dealer and ended up paying thousands of pounds for the repair.

Christian working on the output shaft, it was a shirt off job!
A lot of decisions need to be made and I really didn't get much sleep for the next few days. I'll update you soon.

Friday 5 July 2013

Oh Tino.....

Tino gets a post all to himself. I met Tino while searching for tires in San Pedro. I'd been to every tire shop I could find multiple times and no-one could help or was trying beyond looking in the computer system for a tire I needed. I was just about to settle on an offroad tire that was too small when Tino poked his nose into my business. He spoke good english and started explaining what I needed to the guy behind the counter. When he saw I wasn't really happy with the offering he dropped what he was doing and told me to follow him. Within 5 minutes of meeting him I was in his truck and driving god knows where.

The whole time this is happening we are chatting away about the trip and the bike and the whole time he is trolling me. In 5 minutes he could say enough things to upset everyone around him but the whole time he is joking, you hope.

We eventually made it to a tire shop where they had a pirelli scorpion which I got for about 60 bucks. Super cheap and an excellent tire. I was ecstatic. I was really starting to think we'd have to wait for one from mexico and pay twice the price. We went to visit his shop where he has a CBR600RR he's been rebuilding. I met some of his family who I am pretty sure were thinking that he'd managed to pick up a stray.

I finally got back to the hotel, said goodbye to Tino thinking that would be the last I see of him..... I was several hours later than I planned, god knows what Heather's been thinking.... Oh she's asleep....

We left the next day for Utila, and spent a few days relaxing and sorting out the bike as best I could. Truth is, she was in a bad way. 2 years of neglect will upset most bikes, the transalp seemed to have taken it especially bad and was refusing to run properly. The carbs were beyond dirty. I cleaned them as best I could. They are complicated parts and even after a good clean things weren't working properly. I decided the best bet was to revisit Tino. Oh Dear...

We took the boat over from Utila to the mainland and Heather got her first real ride on the bike. We had taken some anti seasickness tablets before the crossing and Heather basically fell asleep on the back of the bike. Guess that means she trusts me. It was an uneventful ride, the bike struggled for power over 60mph and was drinking more fuel. Definite carb problem. We stayed a night halfway to San Pedro. Woke up to breakfast on the beach before carrying on, we got into SP the next day and went straight to visit Tino. 

Needless to say Tino continued to rib me when we got there. Joking about throwing the bike out and buying a new one.

The suggested replacement

Tino and his son worked hard on the bike for two days. Concentrating on the carbs but also helping me with other bits n pieces that needed adjusting or replacing. After the first day he took us out to dinner in his favorite local Mexican restaurant. The next day Heather and me went back to the garage to see the progress.   Things were going nicely but there were problems. The carbs were so dirty that the jets were completely blocked and nothing would shift the blockage. Spark plugs were ruined. It took a long time to get the bike running again.

Tino trying to refit the carbs. Getting them in is a complete puzzle.

Finally, with everything back together it was time to refill the tank and try and start her. No problem, started first time. Tinos son took the bike for a quick lap of the block to test everything was ok but as he was pulling in the bike died and wouldn't start again. After a good 15 minutes of panic and the alarm system refusing to allow the bike to start we found the Ignition Control Unit had managed to slip its mounting and the connection had got loose. Simple fix. Plug it back in and away we go.

We went out with Tino again for a meal that night. We paid for the meal this time and Tino dropped us off back home. When I asked how much for the bike he shrugged it off. This was two days of hard work and he didn't ask for a penny. Can't thank you enough Tino.

The next morning we set off for Lago De Yojoa in the mountains. The bike was running great, I had a big smile on my face and heather was probably looking forward to a part of the trip that doesn't center around motorbikes! So naive.