Monday, October 08, 2012

Of hot stuff, bionic pubic hair, funny smells & polishing your pipe.

Ah, motorcycle odors. Experienced riders can diagnose a problem with their bike depending upon whether its exuding eau du exhaust, oil, coolant, or that "should've-left-that-job-to-the-professionals" smell of wire insulation burning. It was this last olfactory assault to which I was subjected during my ride to work last Friday, confusing because it seemed a tad too "plastic-y" and I hadn't touched any wiring in ages. At every stop light I looked around and saw no smoke emanating from either motorcycle or my gear (please don't let it be my Aerostich or my riding buddies will forever call me The Melty Man), so I pressed on to work, where I parked up and immediately discovered the problem.
A metal bracket had broken, and it with its attached reflector had managed to balance for on top of a header pipe for 45 minutes. Once cooled, the offending piece popped off the pipe easily, but left behind a large black glob of baked-to-perfection "stuff", which of course got even more baked-on during my ride home that evening.

I know its fairly common  so how I'd managed to not melt anything on an exhaust pipe for so many years is a mystery; usually I'd experience only small clumps of dried-up Amish horse exhaust smoldering away on my pipes for hours like a potpourri burner. Googling uncovered myriad methods for removing melted nylon gear/rubber boot soles/plastic rain suits, etc. from exhaust pipes. After due consideration of the various methods, I chose to use Acetone and grade #0000 steel wool because I happened to have both in my garage. Surprisingly,  only 10-15 minutes later, my pipe was polished to like-new condition (OK, not nearly like-new; but all trace of the burned blob was gone and the pipe looked pretty damn good for having accumulated 50K miles of road crud). Being a chronic sufferer of CBS (Clean Bike Syndrome: please give generously), I was compelled to continue on and clean and polish the entire pipe...which of course led to cleaning the remaining three, and a sore forearm.

I haven't figured out exactly why the metal bracket broke -- it wasn't corroded and it's not in an area subject to stress or fatigue.  Unless, it shared the bird-strike my left knee took back in June. The reflector was on same side and not far forward of where my knee was. Hmmmm, Beaky's revenge!?
These are your friends if you've melted something on your exhaust! 

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