Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Healing Hester Part 1 - A Piece of My Heart & a Big Pile of Parts

Battered & Bruised, But Not Beat!

Last weekend, I started the Healing Hester process by disassembling the bike.  I needed not just to remove the smashed parts for replacement, but to get a deeper look inside to ascertain the extent of the damage.  It was truly depressing.  As a boy, I was notorious for my ability to reduce anything to a pile of its smallest of components in no time and while I'm still into the geek aspect of tearing things apart, metaphorically speaking, this was like a coroner performing an autopsy on a family member. 

Radio Ouch!
I started at the front and worked my way backward.  I've disassembled Hester's front end body parts before when I had my inner fairing/console painted, but I've never gone in this deep.  The fairing removal was easier than before, probably because so much of it was cracked and pretty much fell off when I tugged on it; much like how perfectly cooked rib meat falls off the bone.  Of course, reinstalling will require considerably more effort.  The entire inner and outer fairing assembly is shot and the MadStad windscreen that was attached to the top of it, was never found at the accident site.  Once the outer fairing was off, I focused on disconnecting and removing the ganglia of connectors and cables that comprised the core of Hester's nervous system.  The outer fairing protects the gauges, radio, lights, and all the interconnections between them.  One thing I remember from the first time I removed it was that space is very tight in there and that everything has to go back exactly where it was before.  I took lots of pictures to serve as reminders when reassembly commences.

Removable Frame Extension
I must have hit the ground pretty hard because the metal frame that houses the stereo, the stereo itself, and a piece of the frame were all severely bent.  Fortunately, all are removable and plenty of each are available on line.  The Road Glide is a favorite of exotic builders and as such, is one of the most customized and tricked out bikes on the road.  Those builders often sell the take-offs - the parts removed to make room for their creations - on eBay and Amazon.  Needless to say, my list was growing and big brown trucks would be cruising my street regularly very soon.

Fenders New & Old
I removed the front wheel to make room to get the front fender off.  The fender was so mangled, it would have slid right out without dropping the wheel, but the replacement would not have gone back in so easily, so off with the wheel.  This would give me an opportunity to clean it and replace the well worn tire.  With the front suspension so exposed, I figured this was a good time to exchange the mangled lower fork sliders with a chrome pair and since that required the forks to be disassembled, I might as well replace the stock open bath damping suspension with a set of gas charged Monotube dampers.  Harley stock suspension sucks and given the amount of time I spend in the saddle on my long trips, it only makes sense to perform this upgrade now while the parts are disassembled.  I replaced the rear shocks with Ohlins a few years ago.  Those, combined with the upgraded front end and the memory foam/gel pad seat modification I installed years ago ought to make Hester as comfy as she will be cool.

Moving to the rear of the bike, I started removing the lower wind guards from the crash bar.  Props to Harley designers because the crash bar took a hard hit and literally saved my ass from being squashed under the 800-pound motorcycle upon impact.  The crash bar also saved the lower wind guards from being crushed.  The left side was scratched, but is salvageable and can be painted.

Hester - Naked, But Not Afraid
Next, I removed the gas tank and rear fender assembly, leaving Hester looking like an emaciated and naked German concentration camp prisoner.  All that's left of her right now is a black and dirt colored frame, rear wheel and chrome handlebars.  At least now I can get in and clean/polish those hard to reach spots before I reassemble my girl.

The right saddle bag and gas tank console are serviceable but will require paint, so I disassembled them as well as the replacement tour pack I had bought online and placed them in the "to paint" pile along with the body parts that were not damaged.  My Shark Week friend Tom graciously gave me a front fender that had taking up space, removed from a touring Harley he previously owned.  Another Shark riding friend David gave me a left saddle bag and an outer fairing.  Those parts will be in the pile with the other pieces to be painted soon.  Their generosity is another example of the camaraderie and caliber of people I've had the honor to meet and ride with.  I am fortunate and super grateful for friends like these.
New Parts
As usual, I traveled this week for work and since I performed the above-described work last week and as such, I came home to a pile of boxes full of parts I had ordered.  I would be a liar if I said I wasn't a bit excited to see all the goodies.  That excitement is tempered by the fact that all these boxes were paid for out of my own pocket and I'm convinced there will be more to come as I begin the reassembly process.  Throughout this ordeal, I've been as frugal as possible without compromising safety, but I am taking advantage of the opportunity to replace and upgrade some other parts that weren't damaged in the accident, but that I know will need attention soon.  Both of my tires are worn bigtime.  I got over 18,000 miles on the rear tire, which is remarkable on a Harley.  While the wheels are off, I'll install new bearings as the ones in the wheels now are the originals and have been through the worst imaginable terrain and weather in the six years I've had the bike.

Bound For the Island of Misfit Parts
So now I have three piles of parts; pieces to be painted, pieces to be installed, and pieces to be trashed.  As I stare at the piles, I'm torn between a sense of accomplishment over my progress thus far and sense of sadness over the fact that this is all happening in the first place.  I know Hester will look and ride great when I'm finished, but I've yet to shake the constant replaying of the crash in my mind and wondering what more I could have done to prevent it.  I'm not one to dwell on the past.  It's time to look forward and make Hester 2.0 better than ever.  I have a private goal in mind that I'll disclose later, whether or not I achieve it.