So I reached the Rio Grande to find the entrance was up a short but very steep hill. I just didn’t have the energy. I parked DJ and walked to the reception. The guy spoke no English but we managed to sort out my booking and I was shown to my room. The Rio Grande is a lovely place with about 20 individual apartments. Mine was furthest away of course, but inside there were two single beds, a bathroom with bath and a balcony at the rear. I started to ferry items from the bike to the room and in 4 trips I was ready to bring the bike up. Every part of me was already aching but this was quite literally the last push. I got a third of the way up and stopped, braced myself and did the second third. I had completed the steep bit, now just a gentle climb and flat bit to my room. I was so hot and sweaty the only thing to do was take a shower.
Refreshed but aching I went to the bike and began to take bits off. I needed to know what the problems were before I could make any decissions. The saddle and side panels first, placed in the room. The fuel tank with 19.8litres of the 20 I put in still inside it. That had to go on the balcony. Then I started looking at the engine. The rocker adjusting caps removed the valves and rockers looked ok, but its a small access hole and making any judgement at that stage would be fool hardy. The rocker cover had to come off. It’s a bit fiddley with just a pocket multi tool and basic tools, however I had packed a quarter inch socket set, well a ratchet and some sockets. 8mm was the order of the day and I had one. Having undone just one bolt the ratched broke and was then very temperamental about working. Infact it took a lot of effort to hold the ratchet together and undo the bolts of which there were 8. The cover didn’t budge. I recalled having watched a video about stripping the engine and YouTube supplied the answer, the American guy in his pristene Snap-On workshop with immaculate tools said “and don’t ya’ll forget this gnarley little 12mm critter at the top”. I had indeed forgotten that very critter and I didn’t have a spanner to fit. Back to the reception where between us we came to the conclusion that, either he didn’t have a socket set or he was just ripping into me for laughs. Back at the bike I found that I did have the spanner and yay it worked. The cover off, it all looked good. The cam bearings looked free and no signs of overheating.
I needed food and it was getting late. A quick stroll to the shops and I had hot dogs, beans and a French stick, time to break out the camping stove and dine al fresco on the balcony with the very hot, highly flammable fuel tank for company. I wrote the blog whilst most of it was still fresh in my mind and settled down for the night. It was a tough day but had ended well enough, I love hot dogs!
I slept well and was up and ready by 9am. Firstly I need to drain the oil. Being eco-friendly I drained it into my saucepan, using the plastic cup from the room as a funnel. In fairness I could have drained the oil into the cup there was so little of it. Next to get the exhaust off and then the headers. Exhaust came off fine. The headers are the two pipes that go into the engine. Notoriously difficult to remove. Honda had fitted 12mm nuts onto studs in the head. They were very rusty. My 12mm spanner was having none of it, the nuts were not only rusty but worn. A 10mm wouldn’t fit and a 12mm was lose. I tried packing the spanner with tin foil but that didn’t work. I needed a socket set. I was considering walking to town to buy a set when the owner of the place turned up to investigate why my tv remote doesn’t work. Not really an issue for me as its all Spanish anyway. Now he speaks English and I asked if the shops would be open. He replied, for food yes but not bike spares. When I mentioned tools he informed me he has a socket set and I was welcome to borrow it. Moments later a cheap 3/8 socket set looked like the finest Snap On kit. There was an 11mm socket and it undid the studs. Then the head bolts, unfortunately the bolts were very tight and I appear to have broken the ratchet from the owner’s kit. I pulled the head off, what greeted me was the sight of a piston that wasn’t flat as it should be but canted at an angle. That’s not good I thought. However if its just the piston and barrel I could get the parts shipped. I needed to get the barrel off. Six bolts later the barrel slid off. Jesus!!!! It was a mess. But still its only a piston, well half a piston and the barrel. My mind mulled it over, the piston has broken up and dropped into the engine, most of it has been mashed into tiny bits but there is still half a piston ring in there somewhere. I could turn it upside down and literally hose it out until all the debris fell out, but for now I need to get the piston off. The piston has a small circlip holding it onto the small end (the engine). That clip took nearly an hour to remove, even then the piston wouldn’t come off. I looked into the engine and saw a big lump of metal stuck beside the counterbalance gears. I used pliers,screwdrivers and multi tool to try and prize it free. It was not coming out. OK just add that to the list. I then decided to remove the left hand engine cover to check the stator (electrical gubbins). At this time I had been working non stop for 5 hours and it was getting hot. The bike looked super light though. I pulled the engine cover off and checked the electrics, all seemed good. Yay good news, I looked at the front end to see if I could access that pesky bit of metal and instantly saw engine armageddon. The crank case was split. I wasn’t completely sure so I took photographs and inspected them to make sure it wasn’t a casting mark, it wasn’t. To rebuild that is a complete engine apart job, down to individual components and that’s not possible with a multi tool, an odd array of spanners and a crappy, but gratefully received, socket set.
Okay photo’s are not in order but I will explain best I can.
1. The bike as she looks right now.
2. What’s left of the piston
3. Whats left of the engine after a days work
4. A crack in the base of the cylinder
5. The view that greeted me when I lifted the head off, piston canted and crumbling
6. The crank case cracked by debris caught between gears and the casing. Engine Armageddon.
7. Don’t all hotel rooms have engine bits on the dining table?
So that’s it, no trip to Africa this time but the adventure isn’t over yet.
In the words of Michael Caine, Hang on, I’ve got a plan………