|Heading back to Wanaka Blog 160 14th – 22nd April
Packing up in the rain it seems our run of good weather not to mention luck has run out. Part way back I notice the voltmeter is climbing showing the bike is overcharging. I try turning all the headlights on but it still is creeping up to 15volts which is the danger level for AGM batteries, above this the vents open and they can start losing acid. Stopping for fuel we shelter under the canopy and fit one of the original halogen bulbs in one headlamp rather than the HID one. The theory is they draw more power and should calm things down a bit until we get back to Wanaka.
This works fine for a couple of hours but all of a sudden there is a burning smell and black smoke from under the dash. Screeching to a halt I turn everything off while Karen jumps off and assesses the situation, the wiring up to the left hand switchgear is badly burnt but everything else seems to be okay. I remove the alternator belt so it’s not charging and we carry on running on battery power. The rain continues over Haast pass but as we get to the other side and descend slightly it brightens up and the rest of the ride back to Wanaka is in sunshine.
When the wind comes from the West it travels over the Tasman sea picking up moisture as it does so. It then hits land fall on the West Coast and is suddenly forced to climb by the Southern Alps the mountain chain that runs down the middle of the south island. This sudden climb makes it drop it’s load of water hence why the West Coast is so green, beautiful and wet. Arriving back in Wanaka we ride round to Tims but unfortunately they aren’t around. As everything currently seems to be going wrong at the moment we could use some local knowledge. The only other people we know in Wanaka are the German couple we met at Mount Cook they invited us to stay but we have misplaced their phone number. Googling auto electricians we find there is one in town, running up our alternator on his machine confirms that something is definitely up a there is now no output at all. They strip it and test the components individually and discover the regulator has failed hence the big surge which burnt our wiring ? Fortunately they can get a replacement regulator but it won’t be here until tomorrow, we can’t do much else but head out to the campsite at Albert town and stay there. This is an ex DOC camp a few km out of Wanaka that has now been taken over by the council, it’s a nice location but marred slightly by the amount of big RV’s with generators running all evening. It’s probably not that noisy shut in your double glazed motorhome but in a tent it echoes and we are surrounded. We have to cadge a jumpstart in the morning as we had to start it three or four times yesterday running purely on battery power. Riding back into town our first stop is to the sparky’s, the replacement regulator should be on it’s way today but just to be on the safe side I ask if we can leave the bike here and put the battery on charge whilst we go into town (it was down to 8 volts by the time we got here). There is a shortcut into town on foot, Karen wants to go and find an op shop (charity shop) to buy some jeans to replace her bike trousers. We know there is a salvation army shop somewhere but we can’t find it, Karen spots a lady loading something into the boot of her car and goes over to ask her.
The lady turns around and it’s Hil, what are the chances of that ? Hugs all around we discover they actually live in Cardrona a liitle out of town, she rings Mario to let him know and we agree to meet him by the lake in 20mins as she has to be somewhere.
Down by the lakeshore we spot Mario complete with their two chocolate labrador’s and have a good catchup whilst we take the dogs for a walk.
He asks our plans and we explain about trying to find the op shop etc and he takes us somewhere even better. Just on the outskirts of town is a recycling centre, it’s very similar to our council amenity tips at home except here it’s all sorted out into areas and it’s all for sale. It’s a fabulous place and we find some trousers for Karen amongst a few other useful things and it’s really cheap. Much better than just putting it in landfill. It’s an absolute treasure trove of building materials, metal, diy stuff, clothes, tv’s you name it they have it. I so wish we had this sort of thing at home. Afterward Mario kindly drops us back at the sparky’s and we agree to ride out to their place later. The news is good and bad, the regulator came and it’s all fixed the bad news is the price which causes a sharp intake of breath. I could buy two reconditioned alternators at home for what I am paying to fix this one. One good thing though he spots a flaw in the way it’s wired up which might be causing the regulator to fail. There is a seperate voltage sensor wire which isn’t currently wired up so we rectify that. (no pun intended) Now we are charging again we head out to Mario and Hil’s place which has the wow factor. We spend a nice evening catching up with them and eating steak and drinking red wine (our luck seems to be on the turn).
We fall asleep in a double bed with crisp white sheets and not a generator in earshot.
We still have the burnt out wires to sort out but our morale is higher and our luck improving, we have no lights but other than that everything else works. Saturday morning we are powerless to deal with the wiring as everythings shut so instead we head into town. Wanaka’s Festival of Colour is in full swing, in the high street there are street performers and we watch three one after the other. The first is a magician or so it seems with an impossibly small box on wheels, bit by bit arms and legs appear from behind the curtain surrounding the microscopic box.
It’s so convincing that it’s not until Pandora fully emerges that we realise she is a real person but acting very convincingly as a puppet complete with strings. A very entertaining show followed with lots of audience participation and they richly deserved the contents of their hat when they finished.
The next lady was called Pinky, she was a contortionist and could do seemingly impossible things with Hula Hoops including bending her body in half and threading herself through an impossibly small hula hoop. Also squeezing herself into a box not much bigger than the panniers (huumm that gives me an idea for more spares space) Whack….(that’s me getting hit by Karen)
Lastly was the juggling Mullet man who had a very cheeky funny routine with all sorts of crazy antics including juggling dangerous objects on a huge unicycle. He too involved and took the mickey out of the audience and got a big cheer after his finale. After a wander around to look at some of the art on display we head back to Mario and Hil’s for a cup of tea and a relax before we head back out again to meet Cate for dinner. Whist we are there I call Andi the president of Wanaka motorcycle club, we intended to say hello anyway but I also need to ask for his help fixing the wiring. He is happy to help and we arrange to meet at his place tomorrow at 10am. Mario kindly lends us their Jeep Cherokee so Karen can wear something a bit more feminine tonight. Cate is good company and it’s great for Karen and her to catch up. We have a nice meal in a Speights Ale House and the conversation is fun and effortless. Afterward we follow her back to her rented house just to have a look, it’s small but perfect for her. Wanaka we discover is one of the most expensive places in NZ to buy a house partly because it is a ski resort in winter too. We have had a dusting or two of snow in the hills surrounding the town while we are here reminding us that winter is not far away. Next day we leave our excess stuff at Mario and Hil’s and head into town to meet Andi and his wife Ellen, apart from the obvious biking connection they are keen to meet us as they are planning to ride from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego next year on two DR650′s. Andi is a really easy going helpful guy and after a good chat over coffee shows us to his workshop. We have struck lucky and found the right people again, not only does he have a soldering iron but also several old wiring looms to pinch wire out of. Taking the front box off we survey the damage, it has badly melted all the sub loom up to the left hand switchgear and one or two other wires in the lighting circuit. The bit that’s melted is a mess but I know we can fix it although it might take a while. We set to writing scribbled notes as we cut out the burnt parts, I can’t understand why it didn’t blow the fuse (it’s only 10amp) and I am still unsure whether the regulator letting go caused it or too much current through the wiring with the halogen bulb fitted.Once we have everything we need Andi leaves us to our own devices as they have a few jobs to do of their own. It takes all day to cut out all the damaged wiring but by the time they get back we have it all working. Ellen cooks us dinner which we are gratefull for and it turns into another social affair as her friend Megan turns up. She is a ball of energy and is very into what we are doing so we get talking and lose all track of time. Karen along with everyone else has got tucked into the wine by now, captain sober here has abstained as I need to pilot us home but as the evening gets more fun I hesitantly ask if we can stay, course you can Andi says. A quick call to Mario and Hil to explain then goody wine o’clock for me. The evening continues in the same style, it’s amazing how someones vibe rubs off on everyone else especially as she is the only one not drinking. Eventually it’s time for Megan to go home and us to go to bed, tomorrow is another day. In the morning we wake early to ask if we can stay a bit longer, we don’t want to take the mickey but before the alternator had other ideas I had my heart set on changing the piston rings at Tims. The motor is soundiing a bit clattery and has been dropping a bit of oil out of the breather lately which makes me think it’s time to change the rings. I have spares and gaskets with me, I just need a workshop.
Andi says its fine to do it here so not wanting to get a gift horse in the mouth I get stuck in. It’s a fairly easy job on a Guzz as there is easy access to the cylinders, you don’t even need to take the tank off. I pad the crankcase mouth with rags as I pull the first cylinder off half expecting bits of broken piston ring to fall out. Once it’s removed I discover that they are all intact and don’t actually look that bad. For a moment I think drat what a waste of time but after taking off the top ring and inserting it into the bore to check the end gap with feeler gauges I discover it’s not feeler gauges that’s required but a tape measure. I probably could have stretched them out a bit longer but they are well worn. While the heads are off I want to decoke everything and grind the valves in. When we checked the tappets at Jared’s a while ago we discovered there was no clearance on the inlets. They had obviously been not quite sealing for some time as the inlet valves were well coked up. Karen gives me a hand cleaning it all up and grinding the valves in whilst I fit the new rings. I discover a problem on the left hand piston, the second ring is well and truly stuck in the groove so much so that I break it getting it out. It seems to be dry corrosion and it takes hours of scraping with the old broken ring and sanding with wet and dry to get it right again. It’s not helped by the fact that I forgot to pack some spare circlips so I can’t take the piston off and the sticky portion is on the awkward back side. I must have put the new ring on and off about 20 times before I was happy with how it fitted. The bores look really good apart from some bits of molten ally stuck to the chrome right at the top. There has been some detonation going on at some point probably in the extreme heat of Kazakhstan, fortunately the damage to the piston is minimal and I can carefully remove the deposits from the top of the barrels, it’s above the line the rings stop at anyway.
I expected the whole job to take a day but it ends up being two just because it took so long to sort the piston ring groove out.
That night I fire the old lady up and she sounds sweet, a good reward for my hard work with Karen’s help. The lights are all good too so we are good to go but first a bit more sightseeing around Wanaka. Next day we walk up Mount Iron which gives a spectacular view over the town and lake. Then a ride up to view Mount Aspiring and the lake from the other side, the autumn colours have come out since we were last here and we get some great pictures. Popping in to see if Tim is back we are glad to find he is, it gives us chance to say goodbye and thank you. We bought a few little choccy eggs for presents as it’s Easter so we do our Easter Bunny bit and dish them out as we say our goodbyes. We meet up with Cate again later and go to the local cinema, it’s called the Paradiso and is an experience in itself. It’s a small intimate cinema and they have recycled lots of old sofas as the seating. There is also a Morris Minor convertible you can sit in to watch the film, see told you it was different. They also have an intermission (remember them) and sell home made cookies and ice cream. Oh yes the film we watched was called Get Low, it’s a quirky tale which we took pot luck on but enjoyed. The next day it’s time to head out of town, on our way through I notice the cinema is open, I couldn’t get any pictures last night as it was too dark so we pop in and ask if they mind. They could not be more obliging and turn on all the lights and give us a tour of the projector room. The inside of here is an unexpected treat, there are two massive 1960′s American projectors. They are lit by an arc between two carbon rods and there is a bucketfull of spent rods on the floor giving the place a great smell and ambiance. Heading out to Cardrona we stop in on Mario and Hil to say goodbye and do our Easter bunny bit again. Everyone has been so kind to us here and we are very grateful to them all.
The bike is running well and I can feel an appreciable difference, it’s good to get the maintenance done as well as fixing the problems.
Now it’s time to turn Southwards toward Queenstown.