British Columbia to Washington

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August 3, 2010

In the morning Tom and I packed up, wished each other a safe journey, and headed to our respective highways. The weather started out nice, but soon turned to rain. It started as a drizzle and quickly progressed into a deluge. To complicate matters, my engine had begun to stumble quite a bit, resulting in a very jerky ride as the engine alternately ran and stumbled. It made for a nervous ride on the curvy wet roadways. Despite this, the road was actually very nice to ride. It curved through the mountain valleys, so the view was always good. Traffic wasn't too bad, but became heavier the further south I went.

I still made good time to Chilliwack, BC where I had breakfast at Burger King. I was nearing the Washington border, and the cities were getting bigger and closer together. I crossed into Washington at Sumas, and followed some small highways until I reached I-5. By this time my engine had stopped alternating between running well and stumbling, and was now running rough all the time. I started looking for motorcycle shops when I passed through larger cities, wanting to pick up some spark plugs and front brake pads. I eventually found some along the way.

My destination was my friend Dr. Khanh Huynh's place in Vancouver, WA. I had hoped to get there by early afternoon to give me plenty of time to work on the bike and figure out what was wrong, but between the poor performance and time spent looking for motorcycle shops, I was running late and arrived early in the evening instead.

I got to work on the bike shortly after arriving. Suspecting one of the cylinders wasn't firing, I tried checking the header temps, but they were difficult to get to. After removing the tank and airbox, I started the bike and put my hand over each intake, one at a time, to see how it affected the RPMs. On cylinder #3, it had very little effect. Pulling the spark plug showed there was no spark. To further narrow down the source of the problem, I swapped the ignition coil with #1, and still no spark. Next I removed the luggage rack and rear fairings to get a look at the CDI. It was then that I noticed a bare and broken wire going to the CDI. When the rack broke, it had started pinching and shorting the wires, taking out the trigger wire going to coil #3. A wire going to my tail lights was also worn bare and shorting against the frame.

After repairing both of these wires and replacing my tail light fuse again, the bike fired back up and ran smooth. I taped a piece of a plastic bottle around the wires to provide extra protection from chafing against the rack. After a little more time spent changing the front brake pads, I was ready to get cleaned up from my time on the road. That night we went out to eat and had a good time catching up.

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