|Back in November, after working at my current place of employment for over eight years, I earned my first reprimand - a five day suspension. Something to do with my riding my old Eldorado through the factory! It was later in the evening, and I swear I had no idea the general manager was giving his parents a plant tour at the time! It didn't take long until the entire plant heard about my stunt!
I was told of my fate at 9:00 A.M. on Monday morning, and by 10:00 A.M. I had the T-3 packed and was heading south. I was trying to stay ahead of a cold front that was coming in from the north, so I burned the freeway down to Arkansas where I spent the night.
Tuesday morning was nice but chilly. I finally got off the Interstate west of Memphis, travelling down US 79. I grabbed some county roads to US 165, then took US 65 to Arkansas and 159 into Louisiana. Louisiana 17 was nice down to Winnsboro, then additional state routes took me to Louisiana 28, then Louisiana 115 to Louisiana 1 outside of Alexandria. Louisiana 1 was enjoyable as the day warmed up. Louisiana 1 blended with US 190 outside of Baton Rouge, then split off as I headed south to Houma.
I really enjoyed seeing all the sugar cane fields and refineries. I tried to get a room in Raceland but I couldn't find one, so I headed towards New Orleans on US 90. I found a decent place west of New Orleans city limits, checked in and headed down to Bourbon Street for a little rum and some great Cajun cooking.
Wednesday morning I got an early start and took US 90 back towards Houma, then south on Louisiana 56 which loops with Louisiana 57 back to Houma. It was a great ride through Chauvin and Dulac with all the fishing boats and fishing communities. People live a completely different way of life down there. I switched between US 90 and Louisiana 182, travelling up to New Iberia where I went past Trappy's, maker of some great cayenne pepper sauce.
I picked up Louisiana 14 and rode west through Abbeville to Louisiana 26, and then headed north to US 165. North of Alexandria I got on US 167 and continued through Winnfield, Ruston and El Dorado, Arkansas. It was getting dark but I pushed on to Little Rock, where I spent the night.
Thursday morning is when the fun started. I started the T-3, which was parked outside the motel on a pretty brisk morning. There was a louder than normal knock which turned into a loud thunk before I could shut the key off. I hit the starter again and it made an equally loud crunch. I then went to try and push start it, but it just skidded the back tire like the motor or transmission was locked up. I rolled the bike backward a bit and it made another noise like something released, and then it push started just fine. I had a great route planned through northern Arkansas and Missouri but knew I would be without a starter the rest of the way home, so I opted for the Interstate.
After 40 miles I pulled over to top the tank off and luckily found a gas station on a hill. While I was filling the tank I saw a huge puddle of gear lube forming under the bike. There was no gear lube available at the mini mart so I put in a bottle of that thick engine oil treatment in the gearbox. I rode a little slower after that; I was losing only about eight ounces every 100 miles. When I was gassing up in St. Louis I noticed metal flakes in the puddle of oil that had leaked out. With 350 miles to go I backed the speed off a bit more to about 50 mph. Fortunately I made it back just fine and was relieved there were no serious problems on the road.
Friday I pulled the starter out and found a large chunk of transmission housing jammed in the starter drive, and it appeared that it had been rubbing against the flywheel. At least that explained the metal in the oil. I then ripped into the bike and pulled the transmission out. I was amazed to see that the main shaft nut had worked loose and actually busted out the transmission casing, leaving a hole about 34mm in diameter! I retorqued the nut and replaced the shift return spring that had been broken for over 20,000 miles. The only thing left was the huge hole. I could tell that a wingnut job was about to occur!
I returned from the hardware store with a metal plug that's used for holes in electrical boxes and a package of JB Weld epoxy. After trimming the prongs on the metal plug and a test fit, I cleaned the hole and put a bead of epoxy on the plug and the outer edge of the hole. The plug fit perfectly and looked well sealed. I already anticipated a clutch job, so I installed a good used input hub and clutch plates. It all went back together well and the bike and tranny worked just fine during the test ride later that same Friday afternoon. I rode only a few miles and parked it until the epoxy fully cured.
Saturday I rode the bike all over and it didn't leak a drop. I changed the transmission oil a couple of times that weekend, just to be on the safe side. Monday I rode the bike to work wearing the New Orleans T-shirt I picked up in the French Quarter and a bit of a sunburn on my face. Such severe disciplinary action!
Note: I have put another 10,000 miles on the T-3 since the repair job and it still hasn't leaked!
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