Okay, I lied, this may not be all that interesting to most people; but, if you own an off-road vehicle of some sort it may be important to you. Have you given any thought to the bearings in your suspension? I know, now that I have come out and said it you are waiting breathlessly on the edge of your seat.....
Suspension bearings are actually a pretty serious thing, particularly if they are not maintained. Many modern off-road (and on-road for that matter) vehicles use some type bearings in the swing-arm, shocks, a-arms, etc. Out of all the bearings on your machine, these probably take the worst abuse from water, dirt, mud, sand, cockroaches (okay, not cockroaches, just making sure you're paying attention). Unfortunately many vehicles don't have grease fittings to aid in maintaining these bearings. Which means to perform any sort of meaningful maintenance, the suspension has be taken apart, cleaned, greased and put back together. Because it is such a hassle to do this type of maintenance many of us (including me) tend to put it off until later, which normally turns into never. The problem with this approach is once the grease is gone or turned into a rock, rust begins to set in, and then it's down-hill from there. Once the bearings and races get nice and rusty they have a tendency to fuse themselves to whatever they are supposed to be protecting from wear. Eventually the individual pieces become impossible to remove without seriously damaging things like the swing-arm, or on motorcycles, the engine case. The result is a task, that is tedious and not much fun, turns into a repair from hell that can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to repair. Not to mention the tears of frustration that are shed and the time spent shaking your fist at the heavens..
Hopefully you are convinced it's time to take care of your suspension bearings, and you may be wondering how often it should be done and when to do it. Like most things in life, it all depends on how and where you ride. If you live on or near the coast or ride in sand it should be done at least yearly, maybe even more if you are riding on the beach. Those of you that are riding in a drier climate like Sunny Central Washington, it should be done every year, but if you stretched it a little you are probably okay (always assuming you aren't into mud bogging). But, use some common sense, you know where and how you ride, don't talk yourself into thinking you can put it off just because you don't want to do it.
A final thought on this subject, if you plan to do the work yourself always be very careful with anything that is spring loaded ( you know like your shock springs) and avoid getting a bigger hammer if things don't go smoothly. Of course, there is always the option of relaxing with your favorite beverage (adult or otherwise) and let our tech's shed the tears of frustration and shake their fists at the heavens while you enjoy the nice spring weather and your involuntary time off.
Time to Thaw Out!
Winter isn't giving up so easily this year, but Easter is just around the corner and the trees are budding. With everything that is going on in the world it's easy to ignore your property until things settle down. But, the reality is despite the fact that most of us are off our routines, the vegetation is still going to do it's thing and start growing. That means it's time to get your equipment started and serviced before you really need it.
One of the biggest problems we run into here at the shop is matching man-power to demand. One of the reoccurring questions we get is "how long is this going to take?" Most people look to their equipment when they are ready to use it. There are few things as frustrating as having your day planned to work in the yard and not being able to get the rototiller started or the mower. To add insult to injury, you call the repair shop and they have a wait time of anywhere from 1 to 6 weeks. The unfortunate truth is most shops have the same problem, not enough hours in the day, not enough qualified mechanics, parts that have to be ordered from who knows where and customers all wanting to take advantage of the nice weather at the same time.
So, what's the solution? The most obvious is get out there and start your equipment before you want to use and get ahead of the game. Wait times are always going to be a problem, but if you are strategic about it the down time won't impact your plans. At this point you might be thinking "that's great advice, if I had thought about it a month ago". If your in the "need it now" category you still have a few options that might work (no promises). The most common issue with equipment that sits for any period of time (even as short as a few weeks) is the gas going bad. We live in the age of ethanol, which means gas has a shelf life just like milk. Once it spoils, game over, you need to throw it away. If your equipment won't start try draining the gas from the tank and the carburetor, get fresh gas (not the stuff that has been sitting in your gas can all winter) and try again. You can also use a little bit of starting fluid to get things going. Sometimes a little squirt of starting fluid will encourage the engine to start and pull some of that new fresh gas through the system. Just be cautious with the starting fluid, particularly with 2-stroke engines (like weed whackers and chainsaws) a little bit goes along way, allot can cause serious engine damage. A couple other things you can check/replace are the air filter and spark plug. Both of these are relatively inexpensive and should be changed annually anyway.
If none of those solve your problem it's time to get your equipment into the shop, just remember when you call, be kind to your neighborhood repair shop, they are working as fast as they can; telling at the person on the phone that your yard is a jungle is not going to speed up the process. Stop, take a breath, and enjoy the fact that you have grass growing, trees budding and bugs flying around. It could be much, much worse; you know like freezing rain, snow, sub-zero temperatures and all that fund stuff!