Monday, November 18, 2013

Some Things Worth Doing are Worth Doing Twice

 It wasn't necessarily the Best of Times.

It wasn't necessarily the Worst of Times

Some things went very much according to plan.

Some things I thought that would be difficult, weren't

Some things I thought would be quick and easy, Weren't!

The first task was to clear off the workbench a little bit. The summer and Fall residue of various projects that didn't get all the way put back to normal were all over the place. One of the drawers to the cabinet needed a little repair. Got that Done!

Messy Work Bench littered mostly with "stuff" that just needed to be put away.

Then there was the "stuff that I wanted to get done.
1) Change Motor Oil
2) Change the Spark Plug
3) Change the Radiator Coolant
4) Change the Gear Oil

Here's the Lineup!

Castrol this and that, the NGK CR8E, and something called Silkolene for the radiator.
I like to do things for Max with the tools I normally carry on Max. That way when I'm on the road I should have most of what I need if something happens. One exception to that is a feeler gauge that just stays at home.

I also like to do the harder tasks first. Here, I thought that changing the plug would be the most difficult, so I started with that.

The shop manual calls for a .8mm spark plug gap. Of course I don't have a gauge blade with exactly that gap. But I did find a blade with a .381 width next to a blade with a .405 width, so put them together and what do you have? Something close enough for government work.

Putting two blades together to get the result I wanted
And here's a page from the shop manual, displayed on the Nook Tablet, free from the Internet. SYM apparently felt sorry for those of us now without dealers (their sales network collapsed), that they made the owners manuals free for the taking off the web

Anybody Speak Chinese? Actually the manual is pretty good!

The gap is easy to set. I just barely needed to change the gap on the plug.

You wouldn't think a little gap like this is so critical, but it sure can be.
 I was easy to get at the old plug without taking most of the bike apart. Now if I wanted to adjust or check the valve clearances, then a lot more parts would have been on the garage floor. But the plug itself was fairly easy to get at.

I compared the old and new plugs.Old one had been in for 3,000 miles. It looked to be in pretty good shape. Just normal wear, nothing unusual or threatening.

Bought the new plug at Auto Zone, was identical to the old plug. Note the hairy knuckles?
Here's the new plug installed. Swapping out the plug really took just a few minutes, easier than anticipated.

Only one panel (easily removed) to get to the plug.
 I didn't even take any pictures of the oil change. It was simple. The drain plug is underneath the center stand on the left side. The filler hole on the right side. Measured out 800 cc of oil per the manual and  filled the reservoir. I have a special sort of plastic drain case for the oils I drain off. I took the oil (back to Auto Zone) to be recycled after I completed my work.

What turned out to be more of a pain in the ass than anticipated was changing the gear oil. When I did this before, my friend Lloyd helped me. He had a particularly handy little syringe that we used. I remember we carefully measured how much oil drained out and replaced exactly the same quantity. The syringe was very handy because the fill hole is particularly tiny. Don't ask me why!

I originally fashioned together a very small funnel and filled the gear oil using that funnel. Didn't work real well and I made a mess on the floor trying to fill it back up.

The measuring cup collects the gear oil.
The problem was that I realized  that I had put in the wrong gear oil. I should have used SAE 140, but instead had purchased SAE 90, which is much thinner. Not a good idea. Must have been a brain fart moment. I though I had been careful, but.....

So it was back to the store (yes, Auto Zone, just because it is nearby)

The new gear oil with a hopefully handy new little pump tool.

I would really liked to have had a little syringe to replace the gear oil like the one Lloyd had, but couldn't find one. The guy at the store thought this little pump might help and at the time it seemed like a good idea and it was only a few $. So why not! Right?


It fit real nicely into the filler hole, but turned out to be essentially worthless. Oh well, It was worth a try.
So on Sunday morning, I did the gear oil again. To Do It Right! So I wouldn't worry. And after the fiasco with the little oil pump I decided to dump out the wrong gear oil, but use that old bottle, because it has a small nipple at the top, as my new tool to fill up the gear oil. Worked like a charm. To help me remember next time, I even placed a note on the old bottle to help me.

The lineup of gear oil bottles.
I'm still on the lookout for that syringe. Anybody know where I can get one? Can't we always use a little new farkle now and then?

And I admit, I didn't have the time to get the radiator fluid changed. We had some other chores around the house that we did this weekend, and my beloved Kansas Jayhawks even actually won a football game. (We are better known for basketball)

But the coolant replace is on the list to be done. Hopefully next weekend.

BTW, Max is running really nice with that new spark plug. It's just enough difference to be barely noticeable, but there is seemingly a new little bit of energy with each fire.


Ride On and Carpe Diem, my good friends.


  1. I'm surprised that they want you to change the plug that often. In these days of unleaded gas, most plugs will last tens of thousands of miles.One of our cars specifies a plug change every 100,000 miles. Maybe it's a harsher environment on the Sym.

  2. Yay! Follow through is a wonderful thing . . . or so I'm told :^)

  3. Richard, The plug is really cheap and I think a common plug for motorcycles and small engines. The spark plug for my Subaru is about three times the cost, but still pretty cheap. I'm sure the plug would last longer, but we got into the habit of swapping it out every 3,000 miles. Same interval for the gear oil. Do the engine oil change every 1,000 miles.

  4. Keith, sometimes things happen for a reason even if you may not know it at the time. Initially I thought the gear oil seemed a bit thinner, but didn't actually realize the mistake until later. Sort of stumbled across it. Guess I stumbled the right direction.

  5. Jimbo:

    I think I had a few of those Syringes but I gave them away. Perhaps I still have one left I could send you. They are perfect for putting oil into vertical openings. I also went to the drug store and bought one of those liquid squeeze bottles with the narrow funnel top and you can just squeeze the oil out. They were cheap . . . perhaps you have them where you are.

    I think you feel a sense of accomplishment when you do your own service

    Riding the Wet Coast

  6. BobSkoot,
    Son in Law located syringes at "Wally World", so know where to get them. Actually, I was finally able to use the old bottle as an injector and it worked pretty well.
    Thanks though,

  7. Getting down and dirty on the garage seems intimidating for those who are mechanically-challeged, but you make it look so easy and simple. I can definitely follow the steps you laid out here! But I'm just curious, do you have like a magic number in terms of mileage or time in which you have to make the necessarily fluid changes, or do you have to feel the tell-tale signs from engine performance that a fluid change should be done? Is it the same with all cars? Or am I better off having mine garaged in a shop for routine maintenance? This article has been a great help, hope to see DIY motor maintenance posts like these in the future!

    Justin @