Wednesday, November 16, 2011

16/10/2011 - The Motorcycle Maintenance Course

M and I signed up for a motorcycle maintenance course run by the St George and Sutherland Community College. It runs over two Sundays (five hours each day) and is the longest course this side of a complete mechanics certificate. All for $145 in total.Link here: The two days were split into the first which was basically theory based while the second is where you get your hands dirty.
On the first day we got up real early - and rode from Erskineville to Jannali. We got there about ten minutes late and I took a chair next to a bathtub that I later found out contained molasses. It was hot and we were in a metal shed and I don't know a lot about molasses except it prevents rust, smells like it's good for dissolving human bone and tissue and is vomit inducing if you sit next to it hungover in a hot shed.
Our teacher's name was John. He was a straight shooter with crooked teeth, was in his late fifties with the skin of someone that has spent enough time outdoors to know something about how to fix things. He smoked incessantly throughout the class. The twelve students, myself included, seemed to consist of inner-city types that go around in tough leather jackets but have hands like lilies. I guess we were all there to change that. This became most obvious when we went through all our tool kits that came with the bikes and lived under the seats. Most of us didn't know what they were but one guy had removed his entirely and replaced it with hair-gel and a bottle of cologne.
The teaching began at a very elementary level including:
  • how to safely work on your bike
  • what tools you absolutely need
  • what the similarities and differences between bikes
We then looked at all the bikes - lined up. We then:
  • checked the brake pads
  • opened up the seats to check out the electronics
  • identified the oil filter and sump plugs
  • braking systems
  • chains and how many cylinders each bike has
He noticed that my bike brake pads needed changing and we all wanted to change our oil. Some people wanted to add some components like another horn. John was cool with all these things and the beauty with having a second Sunday was that we could buy the components we needed during the week (I bought a new oil filter, o-ring, brake pads and crush washer) then attach them the next week.
He asked us what all our bikes were called - because we were all newbies to the motorbike world we had not even considered naming our bikes. He surprised us all when he said his was called Steve. I rode Steve here? Weird.
The second Sunday was all work. All eleven of us (one of the guys did not turn up for the second day) put all our bikes in the shed. Somehow I was hungover again but this time it was mercifully cold. I spent the day under my bike sweating and swearing. I even started to spit on the ground every now and again to make the whole experience a little more authentic. If I had thought about it then I would have got a nudie calendar and stuck it on the wall. John was immensely helpful throughout the whole thing. He never seemed to tire of helping everyone out. I changed my brake pads, changed the oil and checked the sparkplugs. John showed us how to change the brake fluid. By the end of the day I felt that I had a much better understanding of how motorbikes - specifically my motorcycle worked. John said that if we wanted to it would be cool for us to come back when the course was running and fix our bikes under his guidance free of charge. Right on.

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