Engine surgery at Motocamp Bulgaria

Work on the engine starts at motocamp while our contacts in Belgium are working on gathering the necessary parts. Bert has kindly agreed to accept the delivery of the second hand bottom end from the US. Bart, our Husqvarna dealer will also send other parts, like gaskets, seals and filters to the same address. Sofie gets in touch with her employer back home, who agrees to let us use their DHL shipping account with more favourable rates to get everything to Bulgaria.

First I drain the oil. Both the filter and the magnetic drain plug are totally clean. Normally this is good news, but I am not really happy. This could mean the particles I found in Tbilisi might just have been remains that were not cleaned out properly in Tehran. In that case our whole return trip to Bulgaria might have been for naught and we could have continued from Georgia to Russia. The noisy valves since the rebuild still worry me though. Possibly the head and/or foot gasket used might be a little thin, or the valve clearance is out of spec. After a lot of umm-ing and err-ing I feel it is safer to just get on with the work and replace everything.

With some help from the motocamp crew, a number of British expats living in the village and a few other guests, I drop the engine. It is a lot of work because half the bike needs to come apart to get at the engine, but with some patience we get there. Motocamp’s wheel barrow serves as a convenient engine transportation tool to move the engine into the work shed.

 Dropped the engine

 Moving the engine to the shed
Moving the engine to the shed

While we are waiting for the parts to arrive there is plenty of time to start dismantling the engine. First the cam cover comes off. Cam shafts and all other parts seem in very good condition and are well lubricated. Same as in Tehran. I take the opportunity to check the valve clearances and those as well are spot on, in the middle of factory spec. 

Next the head is removed entirely to expose the cilinder and the piston head. There are some combustion deposits on the piston that I am unsure about. After all, this is the first time I ever open an engine this far myself. But a quick consult with the many experts that are hanging around takes away those worries as well. It all looks like it should. This leaves just the cilinder itself to be taken off. And after that, a quick check for play on the crank shaft and piston head bearings confirms those are in good condition as well. So the crank shaft revision by Mahak Ciklet in Tehran is doing its job so far. But better get on and not take chances, I decide. We’ll still replace the entire bottom end. 

 Chain tensioner removed to have enough slack to remove the cam shafts

 Removed the head

2 days after being sent from Belgium all our parts arrive at Motocamp, so we are good to go on starting the rebuild. 

 New bottom end and some other parts shipped over from Belgium

But not before a few remaining hurdles are tackled. The clutch basket nut, for example. It is really stuck on tight and without a specialised tool we can’t make it budge. We try all kinds of strategies though. Like making our own tool from a frying pan bought at a gipsy market for less than 2 euro. Graham Field very enthusiastically helps us find and make the tool, but it is not enough to undo the nut. Even a specialised tool dug up by Phil, another expat, can’t cope. In the end we give in and take the old bottom end to Chris, a Land Rover dealer in the next village. Chris’ air ratchet does the job we have been attempting for over 2 days in just 2 seconds. 

 Trying to undo the clutch basket nut

 Special gipsy clutch removal tool
Special gipsy clutch removal tool
 Professional clutch removal tool
Professional clutch removal tool

Putting everything back together is a lot easier and goes without further hiccups. Our friend J√∂rg, another guest, hangs out with me in the shed and lends a hand whenever he’s not out riding with his daughter Jasmine.

 Second hand bottom end

 Only getting started
Only getting started

Getting the engine back in requires a bit of precision and patience, but with the aid of a hydraulic motor stand and some pieces of wood we manage to get everything lined up. 

 Engine reassembled and ready to be reinstalled
Engine reassembled and ready to be reinstalled
 Engine installed
Engine installed

It was getting late though so I decide to wait until morning to start the engine. When hooking up the battery next morning things go a bit pear shaped, however. Sparks start flying from the negative pole and smoke comes from the left side of the engine. Clearly a short in the circuit somewhere. 

With the help of Xerxes, another guest, I start looking for the cause. We quickly find some wiring that is badly burned through. The plug between the regulator/rectifier and the battery has all wires melted together. It looks like I pinched some of the wires in the cabling when reinstalling the rear sub frame. 

 Seriously overheated wiring
Seriously overheated wiring

Xerxes carries a convenient pocket soldering iron and I carry spare wiring, so with a big sigh I start yet another job on the bike. 

 Xerxes helping out with the soldering
Xerxes helping out with the soldering

When all is done I can finally try to start the engine again. And… nothing. Only Ecu warning signs on the dashboard. Another setback, I am starting to get seriously frustrated by now.

The GS911 diagnostics tool I carry throws a number of errors, but one of them is a problem with the injector. This rings a bell, because I disconnected the injector plug, but can’t remember plugging it back in. Doh!

With everything connected back as it should the engine comes to life and sounds as sweet as ever. Finally things are going our way again! A short test ride confirms that everything seems normal again.

A second test ride is performed to pick up a new battery for Sofie’s bike, as that seems the cause for the remaining electrical issues she experienced since I fixed the faulty earth wire back in Turkey. On the ride from the border to Motocamp it became clear that the issue was located somewhere under the seat since all warning lights disappeared when she would stand up on the pegs. When we first arrived at Motocamp I re-did the ground wire, checked some of the wires under the seat and played around with some plugs. During our stay however, her battery went flat twice, once drained by the diagnostics tool, the second time all by itself. So we don’t take any chances and I go get a new battery in town.

With both bikes back in shape we are ready to get back on the road. But not before attending the HU meeting at motocamp over the weekend and being Chinese volunteered for a presentation there. 

Along the way, with all the problems we have encountered we really had an emotional roller coaster. With lots of doubts, second guessing decisions, moments of wanting to give up and lots of stress. We managed to get through it though and even though we could have done things differently along the way, we are still very grateful for everything we have experienced and all the wonderful people we have met because of it. 

Jo Written by:

Roamer, wanderer, nomad, vagabond.

Keen and curious adventurer who feels just as much at home in IT as in the workshop tinkering on bikes. Loves exploring the world, its people and himself, preferably on 2 wheels behind the handlebars of his beloved bike. Lucky to have found a partner in life and on the road to share this with.