- Holidays, friends, and m/c repairs
-- Story by Chris --
email dated July 1, 2000 - "I
discovered your website only yesterday, and today I have so far read for five hours! (NY
to Burma in five hours isnt that bad...) Now I'm postponing the reading for a while
as ironically my bum is sore from sitting on this chair for so long, and I'm getting cramp
in my mouse finger.
My name is Peter, I am married to Steph and we have three kids, Marie, 13, Graham,
12, and Faye 10. We live in a suburb just north of Perth in Western Australia and
would be honored if you would be guests at our home for as long as you need to."
A few more emails were exchanged, and on Friday, Dec 15th, we arrived at the
Malones doorstep. Our plan was to meet the family, stay for a few days, and be off
before Christmas. As fate would have it, we did not leave until the first of January of
the New Year.
to R: Graham, Faye, Marie, Steph, and Peter
Friday night was typical of most of our encounters A nice dinner
with the family, sharing stories and experiences. Saturday was spent hanging around the
house, watching TV and relaxing. That evening however was to be our first experience with
what Australians call "Hot Night". This is where "the gang" (some 20+
friends/family) go to someones house for dinner in this case, the
Malones were hosting the event. The host provides the basics: bread, rice, salad,
napkins, cutlery, and access to the liquor cabinet. Each guest brings a hot dish (lasagna,
prawns in garlic, chicken stir-fry, broccoli covered in cheese, etc.), and
beer/wine/liquor of their choice. The food is all placed on a large table, and the
buffet is now ready for self-service.
This night started as one would expect, but shortly before the deserts came out, a
bizarre transformation began. The television was turned on, some music videos were playing
on the DVD, and Stephs sister Linda picked up a microphone (whered that come
from?) and started belting out a tune not just humming along, were talking an
all out performance. What TRULLY amazed me was that it wasnt some classic rock song,
but a tune by Anastia, an artist popular with Lindas teenage neices and nephews.
Within a few minutes, it was a battle between the mothers and the teenagers for who would
sing next, and which popular tune it would be. Peters daughter Marie was very
impressive, and spent a lot of the evening on the mic. As the night progressed (in synch
with alcohol consumption), the guys even got into the routine. By midnight the living room
had fully transformed into a nightclub dance floor Family life in Australia seemed
slightly different to that back in New York. Who would have thought that karaoke could be
so much fun?!?
R: Anne, Marie, Margaret, Peter, Faye, and Lauraine (front)
One of the many tasks to complete in Perth was to replace the cylinder
head gaskets on my bike. The intense heat of the north was enough to cause the aged-worn
gaskets to leak. Everyone assured me this was an easy job to do myself, but I was looking
for some experienced help. Failing this, I was going to have the local dealer do the work.
At this point I was lucky to meet Tim Wood, a local R100GS/PD rider, aircraft engineer,
and great guy who had a few weeks off from work and was looking for a project. Tim
had dropped us a line on the internet previous to our arriving in Perth.
Monday morning I went to the shop to buy the head gaskets, barrel gaskets, and push rod
seals. Bruce at Munich Motors (non-dealer BMW specialist) gave me a few pointers, insured
me that Tim and I could do the job ourselves, and even loosened the manifold rings for me
to take away that tricky part of the job. Makes sense, no? My mechanic Phil back home at
Lindners told me I would learn a lot about m/c repairs I now know just enough to be
Tuesday afternoon, Erin and I rode over to Tims house for a thorough cleaning of
the bike Tim somehow managed to get the bike cleaner than when I bought it! We left
the bike in Tims garage, and I returned on the next morning to begin the actual
work. We opened the valve cover on the right cylinder (really bad leak), and as we went to
loosen the nuts off the head studs, found the top-forward one was loose. For an instant,
we contemplated tightening it back up, figuring it may be the cause of the oil leak. As we
were prepared to do the whole job anyway, we decided to press on and complete the job. The
heads came off, the valves and seats were examined, the barrel was slid away from the
engine, and the remaining seals were replaced. We left around 7:00pm, and when I returned
the following morning, I found that Tim had continued working on the bike for a few more
Since the bike was now totally opened, I decided to open and clean the
carbs, replace the throttle cables, and replace other worn/dried rubber parts. We put the
bike back together on Thursday afternoon, and after I left, Tim even did the valve
The next evening, Erin and I returned to Tims for dinner with his wife Barbara,
and her mother Margaret. Margaret shared a story about moving from Johannesburg to Cairo
(both in Africa), when her husband got a transfer working with British Airways. At the
time, the trip took multiple fuel stops, and 4 nights sleeping in hotels or tents,
based on location Barbara was born a couple of years later in Cairo. Theyve
since lived in the Middle East and SE Asia.
Prior to dinner, Tim and I went to see why there was some oil weeping from the cylinder
heads. Tim thought the heads had "settled" over night, and recommended we
re-torque the stud nuts. This should have been a 15-minute job. To make an already long
story short, we found the top-forward stud loose just as it was days before. This
meant the stud had stripped from the engine case, and we needed some professional help.
Obviously, the stud was stripped before we did the work, and it would now have to be done
all over again. Doesnt it just figure that it was the Friday night before Xmas?
Munich Motors was closed for the holidays, and we knew most machine shops would also be
closed for the holiday week. With nothing more we could do for the moment, we headed
upstairs for dinner.
We spent the next few days checking out the area with Peter and his family, and spent
the evenings celebrating the holiday season. Peter rides an old Ducatti 900, and Steph
rides a beautiful orange Laverda which unfortunately had a bad battery and
couldnt be ridden. Christmas Eve we went to Kings Park, Perths version of New
Yorks Central Park -- for a picnic dinner with "the gang" (Malones,
extended family, and their close friends) immediately followed by an outdoor viewing of
the Monty Python movie "The Life of Brian.". Christmas morning was around the
family tree, and in the afternoon we went to Lauraines (another of Stephs
sisters) to see "the gang" for a "Hot Night" style dinner for 28
people. Boxing Day (Dec 26th) we went down to the beach for yet another BBQ
with the family.
Wednesday morning, Dec 27th, I called Motts Motorcycles, the local BMW
dealer. Brian, the service manager was sympathetic to my problem, and although short
staffed, he told me to bring the bike into the shop on Friday. He said if Tim and I pulled
off the head (again) they would repair the stripped stud with a helicoil, and we could put
the bike back together in the shop EXCELLENT! Since we had some free time, Peter
and I did a major service to Erins bike. We found Erins valve shims needed
replacement, and Randall the mechanic at Motts replaced them for us. He also gave both
bikes a good lookover, fixing bits where needed. We spent 2 days at the shop and got
charged for 3 hours labor and 2 gaskets we were very happy!
We departed on January 1st, and Marie Malone finally got her room back ;-)
We were on our way south to Margaret River, and Tim and Barbara joined us for the
first half, spending the night together in Bunburry. We arrived in Margaret River two days
later, an area popular for its many vineyards, horse farms and beautiful landscapes.
We spent the following week working our way down around the bottom of the coast, visiting
many national parks, climbing a 61 meter high tree, and doing a little bush camping.
On Tuesday, January 9th, we arrived in Esperance on the
eastern border of Western Australia. Esperance is a cute little vacation town, famous for
its beautiful white sand beaches. On the way into town, we met Ian McIntyre, a retired
farmer who recently sold his sailboat and bought a red F650 similar to Erins
bike. Ian escorted us to our caravan park, and spent the next couple of days showing us
the sites of his town.
We also caught up with our friend Andreas Fick, a German motorbike traveler we first
met in Bangkok, then again in Sydney. His Yamaha TT600 was in the shop waiting for new
piston rings, so he spent a few days on my back seat. Andreas enjoys riding his bike on
the roads less traveled, staying in the bush for 10-14 days at a time, carrying his own
food and water in with him.
L to R: Chris, Ian, Bonnie (below), Erin, and Andreas
While in Esperance we planned to go and see Cape Le Grande, a beautiful
spot in one of the national parks. We knew there was beach access to the park, and that
Andreas would coerce us into taking the "road less traveled". In preparation, we
left our luggage at the campsite. Ian led us to the beach access, and after inspecting the
sand, decided to go for it. We started off a little tentatively, but after the first
kilometer, we got the hang of it. Twenty-four kilometers later, we reached the cape and
back entrance to the park. The bays and coves in this area were spectacular! At the end of
the day, we took the beach route back to town the main road would have been an
extra 40 kms ;-) Thanks Ian and Andreas, it was a blast!
Our last night in Esperance the 3 of us (Erin, Andreas, and I) had a
terrific lamb dinner at Ians house. Ians wife Ruth almost had a heart attack
just before dinner when she learned Andreas was a trained chef not to worry though,
the dinner was fantastic! After dinner, we bid farewell to Ian, Ruth, and Andreas.
Friday morning, January 12th, we would begin our journey across the famous
Nullabor Plain and back towards Sydney
Keeping the mind occupied....