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chrishajer
20th May 2006, 00:23
I got to thinking about this when trying to help ksoggs with the problem he detailed in this thread:
http://www.xlforum.net/vbportal/forums/showthread.php?t=28259


I was thinking today, while away from the computer (can't do computer work and thinking at the same time sometimes) that there's more than words needed to diagnose these things sometimes. I walked into a shop the other day to talk to a mechanic friend of mine, and he had a Buell M2 trans out on the bench. He was trying to find a "slipping out of gear" problem, and there was some damage on the dogs for 3rd gear. So maybe that was it.

The point is, when I was standing next to the bike talking to him, there was a horrible burnt electrical smell from the primary. I asked him if he noticed the smell and he said no, he didn't notice. Turns out the repair order had something on it about a charging system problem, and chances are it has a burnt stator. Could also be a clutch problem that caused the smell (and actually, that would make more sense with the shifting issue AND the burnt clutch smell), but the two smells are pretty distinctive and different. How would you describe the different smells with just words if we were to ask? Would you even think to mention it?

The other thing I was thinking about was that someone trying to help might have to hear the bike sometimes. To you, it might sound normal because that's always how it sounded to you. But to someone new (mechanic or friend) it might stand out as odd.

A friend asked me to ride her 2002 Heritage a while back to check for why it runs so damn hot (like on a cool evening, the oil is 280 degrees after a 14 mile run down the highway at 60 MPH - that's too hot, too quick.) So I jumped on it, and as soon as I thumbed the starter, it sounded like the bike was running under water, like one of the mufflers was plugged, like a mouse had built a nest in one of her mufflers over the winter. I mentioned it to her, but rode it anyway. Mental note made. Then at the first stoplight, I heard the unmistakable sound of the fuel pump continually running: another mental note.

Got the bike onto the highway and 'tested' the performance (it will do 90+ in 3rd gear, then 100 in 4th, etc. - her other complaint was that it would not do 100 MPH, which was quickly dismissed.) I came back; yes it was hot but it seemed to be running pretty strong.

I suggested she take it to the shop and have the fuel pump checked and to have the exhaust checked out.

Long story short: the high-pressure fuel line inside the tank had a pinhole rubbed through it, and was bleeding off pressure. First problem solved (replace the hose.) We kind of guessed it was running hot because it was lean due to the fuel bleed off problem.

But there was still something odd about the exhaust. Turns out she had been in an accident a few years earlier, and one muffler was replaced because it had gotten scraped. A couple years prior to that, a mechanic had modified her muffler baffles to get more power (part of the dyno tuning), but it was long ago, and the mechanic who did the muffler install on the wreck job was different than the one who tuned it and modified the mufflers originally. So, the new muffler (an SE II) was installed stock, without the modification that had been previously made. Turns out that accounted for the noise difference, the power difference, and the overheating. There was no tag on the muffler that said something like "this muffler has been modified by BW on 5/20/2003 at dealer #1234". As a tech, would you think to look in the muffler to check for a baffle modification before changing the accident-damaged part? As a tech, would you have made some physical notation on the muffler indicating that the muffler had been modified, internally, with no visible external change? What if the bike had been brought into another shop to do the accident repair? Would they understand the notation you made?

So, how do you describe the sounds and smells of your bike in a way that can help us diagnose the problem? Would you even KNOW it was odd if it was the only thing you ever knew on your bike?

Your comments are appreciated.

--Chris

Moderators, if I put this in the wrong forum, please feel free to move it.

chrishajer
3rd June 2006, 22:11
:bump

Nobody had any thoughts on this, that they wanted to share, I mean?

--Chris

midnitewolf
3rd June 2006, 23:33
Sounds and smells are a part of the diagnostic process but are
sometimes hard to describe in words

Hoowasat
4th June 2006, 01:33
Sounds and smells feed two different senses. Written words feed yet another, the sense of sight ... but how those words are formulated by the writer can take our imagination to many places, including past memories of sounds and smells.

Vicious circle? Not really. Writing well, especially when speaking of things mechanical/technical, takes real talent. The writer must often put himself in the position of the reader, and ask himself, "Would anybody else understand what I'm trying to say here?"

The story told above was well written. Did I hear or smell anything? No. But the story itself came across very well.

jg5150
4th June 2006, 01:59
I guess mufflers should always be replaced in pairs. kinda like brakes on a car.

XLFREAK
4th June 2006, 02:19
I wholeheartedly agree with you about the limitations of remote troubleshooting, especially over the 'net.

You can only learn so much about the situation by reading about it, and you're even more limited by the knowledge/abilities (or lack of) of the person describing the problem.

I try to help out people here on the forum when I have the knowledge in the area that they are having troubles in, but sometimes when people provide little or no useful information on what the problem is I don't bother responding because you're just as liable to point them in the wrong direction as the right one.

Also, some people need to learn their limitations when trying to undertake repairs that are way beyond their abilities and/or skills.

opiewontaylor
4th June 2006, 04:56
Forums like this one are invaluable for not only trouble shooting, but for anticipating future problems. When my shifting recently went bad, I figured that it was likely to be the famous detent plate problem that has been posted numerous times in these forums, and sure enough. Because of many reports of failed battery cables, I keep a new set, ready to go, hanging on my garage wall, right next to a new drive belt. (yeah, I admit, I'm a little paranoid about stuff breaking. I just ordered 2 snap rings for the detent plate...you know...just in case:)

Moved On
4th June 2006, 06:23
I think this forum and the net in general are great for typical problems. There are so many things that seem to crop up on these bikes over and over again. Other times when you have to go hunting for a problem it helps to have a lot of different ideas thrown at you. Most of them will be dead ends, but you learn from chasing those dead ends. How else is someone going to learn without trying different things if you don't have a mentor to sit with? Sometimes all of the suggestions may be wrong, but they get a person looking in the right area and a few days later they come back and say it was this or that instead, then otheres can learn from that. There will obviously be times that someone can't find the problem from the help they get on the net and they have to go back to the shop, but if they tried a bunch of things first they learned something and typically it just costs them some extra time to get there.

Gazza

Takingabreak
4th June 2006, 08:02
Trying to describe a sound with words is like explaining the color Orange to a blind man.

So much of diagnostics is sound a feel, there is no way to escape it.

bs2100
4th June 2006, 19:59
I think it's great. If you have serious problems then nothing will help like a professional. But maybe it's just a small adjustment you can make, or a 5 dollar part you can try replacing and that fixes it. It's way better to spend the small amount trying that kind of stuff than just taking it to a professional and having them charge the labor fees plus parts (and don't forget how they almost always charge more for parts than what they really cost).

alexcue
4th June 2006, 20:40
Smell is very important to me, since i wear earplugs sounds get muffled and i only seem to hear certain frequencies, heck the wind noise is deafining to me.

But smell helped me diagnose a problem on my bike right after i got it. Seemed the starter was getting fried, and i kept smelling an electrical burn type of thing. Now i couldn't it place it, and they replaced the battery first but the smell and problem was still occuring, after that they did some test and checked the whole system, problem solved and smell gone. So i partly agree, but the sound has to be pretty bad for me to notice, suttle sounds, in this noisy bike just get lost.

cantolina
4th June 2006, 20:47
I think the take home point about internet help is assistance with one's OWN troubleshooting...

Troubleshooting requires process, understanding of cause and effect, and general mechanical knowledge....

Sometimes, it requires advanced knowledge of certain systems that only the pros are intimate with...or at least experienced amateurs, like me. :)

CBAS5
4th June 2006, 21:53
Internet troubleshooting does have its limitations no doubt. I think there would be a lot less of it if we could trust our dealers more.

The first way is to describe sounds, smells, and appearances through analogies and descriptions.

The second way is to show sounds and appearances through wav files and pictures. Although, they are not as good as a real life inspection.

I can't think of any good way to show smells.

The forum is a great way to get many perspectives and possibilites about a problem although some things may be more difficult to do on here.

chrishajer
5th June 2006, 00:21
Sometimes all of the suggestions may be wrong, but they get a person looking in the right area and a few days later they come back and say it was this or that instead, then otheres can learn from that.

Gazza
I wish people would ALWAYS come back and post what the problem actually was and how it was finally solved. I find so many threads that end with "you should check this" and never anything from the author telling what it ultimately was. I think that one thing alone would increase the value of the information in the forum tremendously, although it's pretty valuable as it is now.

--Chris

cantolina
5th June 2006, 00:24
I wish people would ALWAYS come back and post what the problem actually was and how it was finally solved. I find so many threads that end with "you should check this" and never anything from the author telling what it ultimately was. I think that one thing alone would increase the value of the information in the forum tremendously, although it's pretty valuable as it is now.

--Chris

I've ALWAYS been big on that.....

I also wish more folks would tell us what happened.... :dunno

chrishajer
5th June 2006, 00:25
Internet troubleshooting does have its limitations no doubt. I think there would be a lot less of it if we could trust our dealers more.
:iagree

I think the forum is invaluable for helping people learn more about their bikes, and to know when someone is feeding them a line of BS.

--Chris

chrishajer
5th June 2006, 00:30
I've ALWAYS been big on that.....

I also wish more folks would tell us what happened.... :dunno
Maybe we need someone to bust some heads! :boxing

Seriously though, when I find old threads that are apparently unresolved, I try to post a "do you still need help with this" and I have a few subscribed threads that are still "open" in my brain that I am going to go back and see if there was a resolution. I hate things still being "open." It's like a scorecard in my brain.

--Chris

alexcue
5th June 2006, 00:32
Troubleshooting requires process, understanding of cause and effect, and general mechanical knowledge....

Sometimes, it requires advanced knowledge of certain systems that only the pros are intimate with...or at least experienced amateurs, like me. :)

That's a good point, someone like me only has basic wrenching skills. My dad was a mechanic, but that gene never passed to me. So i try to learn as much from you guys, but only to understand the process. My hands on skills and lack of patience limit the scope of what i can do on my own, sadly digging in on a carb is only a pipe dream to me.

As a wise man once said, "a man has to know his limitations"