Monday, September 11, 2006

Ride to Olmué and Con Con

Originally posted to El Cantar de la Lluvia on Thursday, April 20, 2006

The boys and I decided we were going to do a ride to Olmué, and then carry on to wherever our fancy took us. It had been a while since Chips and XMan had last joined us, and Camilo came too, as well as Thebny and Bárbara, Don Jano and Ben Kenobi. The first stop was just before the Cuesta La Dormida, for empanadas, but they weren't ready yet. Instead of that, we had hot bread and fresh goat cheese with orégano! Nice!

We passed through Olmué and Limache, on our way to Con Con. That's where the problems started with my bike, in Reñaca Alto.

Coming up to a traffic light, the engine stopped and wouldn't start, even when I passed it over to reserve. The tank had enough gas in it. Ben pushed the bike, but it just would not start. Eventually we got it started rolling down a slope, with the choke full on. If I let the RPMs fall from a high level, the engine would stop. The only way to keep it running was to constantly maintain high RPMs.

I rode down the hill to Vickuña Mackenna, my much loathed ex-school's street, and eventually stopped in the shade, under some trees. I'd rather deal with the problem here than further into town.

Ben and I pondered the possibilities. Overheated? No. Lack of oil? No. Spark plug? I didn't have the wrench with me, but we ruled that out, since the engine ran fine at high RPMs. Air filter? No, that was ok.

After letting the engine cool down a bit, we tried getting it started again. Nothing. Full choke, and it would start, and die immediately if it was not brought up to high RPMs. Remove the choke, the engine dies.

All this pointed to a problem with the carb. By running ok at high RPMs, we had effectively ruled out lack of fuel and the main fuel circuit (main jet, jet needle, needle jet). That left the pilot and slow circuits. With a small screwdriver, we tried different settings on the pilot screw (we went from 1.5 turns to 3 and there was no difference).

That left the slow jet. If the engine ran ok at high RPMs with our without the choke, and died at mid and low RPMs with no choke, then it meant that in this lower RPM range the mixture was too lean. That meant that something was probably wrong with the slow jet.

Everyone else showed up, since they'd recently finished lunch, and Camilo, Chips, XMan, Thebny, Bárbara, Jano and Ben and I saw that the tools I'd brought were too few and too large to get at the carb's screws. Luckily they helped me get the right tools after a few phone calls.

The carb itself is not hard to get at, but the float bowl is held in place by four phillips screws, and my screwdriver was too long to be able to get them out. In the end I managed to get the float bowl off, and as I had suspected, the slow jet was plugged with what appeared to be a tiny stone. Ben gave it a good ol' suck and something popped out. Peering down its length, I could see it was now clear. We put everything back together, and the bike started immediately.

Moral of the story: use a fuel filter, carry a tool pack that you know contains the right tools for your bike's main systems (not a couple of spanners and "I'll manage"), and remember that you won't always have a bunch of friends to help you and to wait patiently for you to sort things out.

We finally got to Con Con, where everyone else had already had their lunch, and sat down at the same table. I was starving, and some had their second helping of cheese and shellfish empanadas.

That yellow spot is the restaurant.

This amazing pic, by Camilo:

Bárbara, Jano and Thebny.

Valparaíso, in the distance.

And, after the sunset, we headed back home.



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