Charley Barnes Recounts His 10,000 Mile Honor Flight Northern Colorado Endurance Ride – Leg 4 [PICTURES]
Today’s story starts in Dease Lake, British Columbia. Time to find out how bad my electrical problem really was and if the ride would officially be over.
Leg 4 – 1393.6 Miles
We got up about 8:00 a.m. local time because the guy who owned the mechanic shop in Dease Lake didn’t open till 9:00 a.m. so it gave us a few hours of extra sleep; like Mike and I didn’t need it.
Mike and I notified the front desk that we would probably be a late check-out and possibly would even need our rooms for another day or two as I had no idea how severe my electrical issue was. After grabbing a cup of coffee in the lobby, we set out to run back to Ted and Jackie’s gift shop to take a good look at the bike and see if maybe we could figure something out.
Since I was sure it was the stator, we called Chuck back at Greeley Harley so he could walk us through the three specific tests needed to check that stator and if that was good, check the voltage regulator etc. I have changed a stator before and it’s not a minor job by any means but I knew I could do it if Ted had a few specific tools which I’m sure he did. The first two tests were quick and tested positive; the last one was to check if the battery was in fact charging, if it was, it would be a bad voltage regulator which would require having the part flown in. (I even asked Ted at that point if he had some extra fishing poles because chances were highly likely we’d be there for a couple days and he just smiled at the thought and said he’d take us to the best spot on the lake if it came to that.)
Mike laid down on his back to plug the stator back into the primary case and decided he would just stay in that position until we started the bike to check the charging system. Keep in mind that this was another HUGE piece of luck that he was too damn tired to get back up if he didn’t have to.
To do this final test you have to start the bike. I had brought my battery tender, for some unknown reason, so I had it plugged in all night to charge the battery as much as possible so it had plenty of juice to start. Once started, you run it at 2000 rpm to check the volts and then at 4000 rpm and get that reading. I fired up the old girl and no sooner did we get to 4000 rpm, Mike started to holler to shut it off…NOW!
We (Mike) found the problem!
When my motor blew last year and was rebuilt in Omaha, Nebraska, they ran the stator wire through the front motor mount hole instead of up around the frame and secured in the harness. So, all the miles and bouncing around rubbed two of the three wires to the stator bare which grounded each other out causing sparks to fly which meant it was shooting all the voltage straight to the ground, causing the battery to drain itself and not recharge.
You have got to be kidding me! From what I thought was going to be a very expensive and major problem to one of the easiest to fix. Shoot, we could have fixed it on the side of the road 30 miles out of town had we known, but who knew. It was only because Mike had stayed on his back that he noticed the problem.
I decided we needed to get it off the trailer so we could run the front tire up on some blocks allowing more room to work underneath and get to the wires etc. easier. It was then that Ted suggested we just take it into his shop, hook up the front end and hoist it from the rafters, just like he hangs the Moose he shoots.
So, that’s what we did. In fact, Ted himself did most of the work again with Mike’s assistance (I was too busy taking pictures; always on the job I am!) Mike and Ted got the wires separated, re-taped and Ted even whipped out the trust heat-shrink and did a number on the girl. We re-routed the cable the proper way, secured it in the harness and was done about 11:30 a.m.
We all cleaned up there in the shop and told Ted we would go check-out of our hotel, grab the gear we hadn’t left in his shop the night before and say our goodbye’s. Ted however told us that his wife Jackie had made us a home cooked lunch and we were NOT to hit the road until we ate and said formal goodbyes. With that, Mike and I scooted off, grabbed our gear and checked out then made our way back to the gift shop to load our stuff, eat and hit the road.
As soon as we pulled back into their yard, we started to load bikes and Ted immediately came out of his home and demanded we eat first as there would be time to load after. We did as we were told and went inside their home to one of the best meals I have ever eaten. Jackie had woke early that morning to cook up some sort of soup/stew in the crock pot which consisted of fresh Moose meat, all kinds of vegetables and rice. To go with it, fresh muffins right out of the oven that were picture perfect for any cooking magazine, complete with hot butter and the whole works. Ted even offered a special prayer just for Mike and I and for safety on the rest of our journey.
We both had two bowls and several of those muffins and I can still taste it. Man, it was that good. After lunch, Mike and Jackie headed towards the door and I reached into my pocket to pull out a crisp $100 (American) bill to give to Ted. He refused saying I didn’t have to do that and I told him I did. He knew what it meant by the look in my eye; we both got a bit emotional I think. I told him to take Jackie out for a nice dinner the next time they went into the city and he said that was exactly what he was going to do and with a firm handshake, we headed out to meet Jackie and Mike.
We got the bikes loaded, with help from Ted of course, said our goodbyes complete with heartfelt hugs from the both of them (He kept referring to us as “the boys”) and hit the road on June 8 about 1:30 p.m. Pacific time.
The ride from there on was pretty uneventful with the exception of missing a turn which cost us about 60 miles but we didn’t really care…we needed the miles anyway, and the best part was that it took us down one of the most scenic parts of the entire ride, including a glacier (shown in picture gallery below) and it was the first time Mike had ever seen a glacier in person.
We got into Smithers, British Columbia pretty late and another piece of good luck happened. My bike has a security system on it and when the battery starts to get low, the bike “chirps” when getting ready to start it. Once the battery goes totally dead, the bike WILL NOT START. (I learned this the hard way last year) The chirping had been going on for several days and because it was so late, nothing was open to get a battery. The place we stopped for gas was about a block away from the Harley dealer there and since we were supposed to do our oil changes there, I had the owners personal cell phone number so I called him to ask where I could find a battery. Steve Graff asked where we were and when I told him we were a block away from the dealership, he said he’d head down there and take care of it.
It was only two minutes or so and he came rolling in to open up the shop. He tried to look up the part and couldn’t find it…that was the parts guys job, so he called his wife to find out where the FOB batteries were. He searched high and low and couldn’t find them so he took a brand new FOB, pulled the battery and had me put it in my wallet, just in case. He refused to take any money settling instead for a handshake, a picture of Mike and I and we were off like a new brides nightie.
Mike and I stopped in Fraser Lake, British Columbia for gas about 2:00 a.m. (this would be the second overnight ride trying to catch up on miles) and wouldn’t you know it. My bike wouldn’t start so I changed out the FOB battery and we were on the road once again.
We rolled on, watched another beautiful sunrise and stopped for lunch about an hour from the Canadian border. We needed a break and food at this point pretty bad and I was all stressed out about my pending border crossing and our hopeful return to the Motherland, the United States of America. When we finally reached the border, we noticed a couple bikes in secondary being searched and I just knew my time was coming.
I reached the border agent about midday and man was it hot. I mean hot…like 98 degrees and both Mike and I, and the bikes, were overheating…would this be another Mexico incident? The border patrol agent was not nice at all, actually, he was rude, mean and a total…but after reading me the riot act and realizing I was not a drug smuggler, welcomed me back home and sent me on my way; Mike of course breezed right on through.
We met up at the bathroom facilities around the corner, slammed down a cold soft drink, slathered on some sunscreen and ROLLED on the throttle, glad to be back on home turf. Mike and I made or way down to Omak, Washington and then headed East across the Coulee Dam and finally made our way into Spokane, Washington about 8:00 p.m. local time the evening of June 9.
The next day would bring an oil change for our trusty iron beasts at Lone Wolf Harley-Davidson and what would be another all nighter trying to get back in the game.