Don’t presume or entrust

Shiny pistons sat with seals looking like newI recently took the motorcycle lent to me by my Uncle (Cheers Dave) for it’s first MOT in years. The usual place wasn’t answering it’s phone, and so out of hot-headedness, I phoned a different place to book it in. Of course it didn’t fare well and both sets of brakes had all but seized near enough completely. Rather worryingly that was identified after I’d ridden it to the testing centre! After a rather annoying foray with Castle Motors in Castleford (they took an entire week to do a few odds and sods, leaving my dear missus without a car, whilst lying to me that they didn’t have the parts in) I got the bike back.

I noticed that the breaks were much better, and for some time that was that. Over time however it grew on my nerves that the breaks were still binding a little, which after a fairly costly repair shouldn’t be the case. I decided to sort it out on a Sunday, and unfortunately (or probably fortunately as the case may be) Castle Motors wasn’t answering the phone despite their website exclaiming their openness on a Sunday.

I’m not one to be defeated as anyone that knows me will confirm, and so I took it upon myself to remove all three callipers, take all six pistons out, polish them until they resembled medical grade titanium (see my picture above), re-oil the seals, cleaned the piston housings to within an inch of their lives, check all the hoses and lubricate every moving part of the breaking mechanism. I reassembled the lot to find a slight improvement, but not anywhere near as I’d like. As I’ve said in a previous post my dad’s trade is as an engineer, more specifically building and test driving Challenger 2 tanks, and so if he can build a system to stop 63 tonnes of tank, I’m sure there won’t be much problem in stopping a bike weighing a fifth of a tonne.

I phoned him and described the problem and what I’d done, which was met with a resounding silence whilst grey matter was searched. Not an answer could be found; rather miraculously I’d addressed every possible flaw in the albeit simple system.

The next day when giving my eyes a 20 second rest from staring at the glowing rectangle as advised by my Optometrist I noticed the rear tyre on the bike looked a little too oblong for my liking. I went out with a pump borrowed from a fella that drives a Mk1 Mini to work (and consequently has to keep an entire workshop of tools in the boot, for when it inevitably breaks down) and found that the tyre wasn’t just down, it was completely flat. A few pumps later and the machine is like new.

My learning here then, dear reader, is that I presumed the mechanic would as part of an MOT at least check the state of the pressures, even visually. I know I know, it’s something that I should be doing on a regular basis anyway, but therein lies my lesson. Don’t presume people will do their jobs, and don’t entrust their perceived technical ability over common sense.

I do however have magnificent pistons, it’s just a shame no one get’s to see them.

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