Road Side Fixes — Will They Work?

Repairing my Honda Rebel in a parking lot

My road trip had taken a pause because my Honda Rebel popped on the expressway and started ticking loudly. We were now sitting in the parking lot of an abandoned Citgo station in Parma, Michigan. My friend Shelley confirms hearing the ticking noise, and I take the oil dipstick out to check the oil. Smoke comes out. That’s weird.

I wipe the dipstick off on my pants, throw it back in there, and tip my bike to check the oil. Nothing. How do I have no oil? I just put in oil a week and a half ago! I’d only gone about 500 miles on it, and there’s no leaks, drips, or burning. I knew my oil should be fine. I tried it a few more times. Okay. No oil. I’ve got some extra oil.

I put in the extra half quart of oil I have, and the oil finally makes it the bottom, the VERY bottom, of the dipstick. I shrug, it’s what I’ve got, and start the engine again. It’s a little better, but not by much.

Check the plugs

Fouled the spark plugs

The next problem I think I might have is fouled plugs. It wasn’t running like I had fouled plugs but since I was obviously having problems, it’s nothing that would hurt.

Turns out I had fouled my left plug (which for some reason I have more problems with that one). I switched out the spark plugs. No change in the ticking. This was puzzling both of us. We didn’t see any oil leaving the bike while we had it in the Citgo parking lot in Parma, where we had pulled off. At least we were fortunate enough to have good weather for the problems.

Oh, and the orange thing is a spark plug protector. I’m pretty sure that spark plugs would still be fine even if they went in the laundry with that.



I decided to do an oil change and was thinking I’d just ride my bike to the next exit and get some oil, because, obviously, there’s nothing to be found in an abandoned gas station. Shelley offered to drive up there and get 2 quarts for me, though, so I got to work draining the oil in the bike.
I didn’t exactly have access to an actual drip pan so I used my steel cook cup to drain the oil into and then put that back in the empty oil quart that I had left over from a few minutes ago, using the funnel I made from duct tape. It went relatively slow, but not as slow as it would have been if I had as much oil in the bike as I was supposed to. Here’s a set of pictures from changing the oil.


It should be good now, right?

Well the oil that Shelley brought was put into the bike (she had to go back for a second quart since one of them fell out of the cargo net on the expressway). The ticking greatly lessened, but didn’t disappear completely, as I figured would happen.

We decided to take to the road again and see how things went. Instead of getting on the expressway ramp, I kept going, because it didn’t quite feel right. Maybe the oil needed to circulate some more. I drove a mile or so with her behind me, and then turned around at a farm. We chatted a little about the bike and she was ready to head home. So I took off for Battle Creek, and she took off for home, and I decided to take it easy on the bike.

Next: Battle Creek — the final destination.

One thought on “Road Side Fixes — Will They Work?

  1. Cautionary tale. Bikes break on trips. Especially vintage ones. You’d better know what your doing when you undertake such a trip. Fortunately, Charlie knows that engine really well.

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