Close but no potato


TIME TO PUSH THE IRON PIGGY OUT THE DOOR, up the hill and onto a trailer for the ride to Johnson Engine Technology. Bob and son Robert will fire up and dyno-tune the fresh motor, then I’ll ride the wheels off again, with a hi-ho silver and a potato-potato-potato and whatnot.

Can’t hang the exhaust until the crash bars are on and then piggy’s too wide to fit through the door. The handlebars need to come halfway off, too; slip one grip out the door first without messing up the cables and then the other grip and then re-secure the bars to the risers.

I said I’d be riding again by Cinco de Mayo but I’ll be in Kansas then with my old bud Mark Arsenault, ace reporter for the Boston Globe. We have some research to do there on an aviation book we want to pitch in New York this summer, see if we can get a publisher to underwrite the project. I was headed to Kansas on the bike to get that reporting done last July. Never made it. Wrote about it here, in the post entitled The River Towns Ride, July 1-8, 2011

The heat was beyond punishing, worse than any western desert I ever crossed. I turned around at a point on the Ohio River where Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia meet. The book idea has been on hold ever since, but we’re set to fly out May 4 and get the job done. The Kansas phase of it.


Right before that or right after, the bike’s got to go up this hill. Via human power. It’ll take three of us, I think.

I pushed the piggy up a hill this steep in California once, by myself. It took hours to go a couple of city blocks in 20- and 30-foot intervals with a heart-attack break between each. She was loaded with my traveling gear at the time, weighed about 950 pounds.

She’ll roll out the basement door at 600 pounds or so, no exhaust, no saddlebags, tank’s dry… But this is grass underfoot, not asphalt, so, let’s see, go by the scientific analysis X/Y, where X = whoopsie and  Y = daisy, multiply the variable, carry the 1… I come up with a .37 probability of somebody breaking their ass.


Reverse angle from the top of the hill. After I take the picket fence down we’ll push piggy through the bride’s favorite perennial garden, which is sprouting in leaps & bounds all of a sudden.


“Babe, I dig your plants.” (She don’t know I mean dig them up when she’s not around.)


Step back a bit. The last chore before Push Her Out The Door Day was to go through the fuel system. Here’s the fuel-injection gizmos that live in the tank. The tank is shallow in the middle, only a few inches deep so it can sit down over the backbone of the frame. It’s only deep enough there for the fuel filter and pressure regulator, so this assembly is articulated with a spring-loaded hinge that allows the fuel pump and sending unit to slip to one side and down into the left lobe of the tank.


Here it is with the hinge opened up 90 degrees. Both plastic fuel lines were abraded, one by contact with the inside of the tank, the other with the sending unit. Time to replace them. When they fail you lose fuel pressure and sputter about.


This one rubbed almost all the way through. The hinge is open here so you can’t see what the hose was rubbing against in the operating position. When the hinge is closed that abraded spot rests against a metal ground-wire connector on the fuel-gauge sending unit.


Where the other hose rubbed against the inside of the tank. Bob Johnson recommends new hoses every other year. I got away with mine for seven years, 70,000 miles. Running on borrowed time. But who & what isn’t?


I cut some submersible rubber fuel hose into spirals to wrap around the curvy parts on my new plastic fuel lines. Time will tell whether this DIY thing protects them from abrasion. It’s not a huge deal if it doesn’t; I can change fuel lines on the side of the road if I have to.


I was determined to find a part number on the pre-filter and take the dirty one out of service. NAPA came through for me, after much research by me and them both. There’s your Delphi part number, boys! Don’t lose it. It’ll save you having to buy a $250 pump to get a $20 fuel sock.

The stock pump is a bit of a mystery. Numbers don’t match up to anything. There’s a Walbro equivalent out there somewhere but try finding it. I think it’s a Bosch pump. Says “czech” on it. Unless I’m wrong, Bosch is the only company making fuel pumps in the former Yugoslavia.



Nobody can ever say the sending units are made in the Czech Republic. Lordy. Good thing us Harley guys can’t even spell global, globaliz, globalizay… uh, world trade.


With the fuel gizmos back in the tank and the tank back on the frame, Piggy’s making her escape from the motorcycle shop just in time. Look at how the old Ford truck parts have been taking over. Gas tank, grille, headlight buckets, nose metal, hood latch…


When Piggy goes up the hill, the old chassis will stay down below. I haven’t done much except strip the brakes out of it, knock the loose rust off and shoot a coat of black enamel on the front bumper and steering column. This summer, when the cab’s back on, this’ll be too heavy for three guys to push up the hill. The Ford will have to get winched up out of the yard. Because, baby, I dig your plants, I really do.

Tony DePaul, Cranston, Rhode Island, April 26, 2012



About Tony

The occasional scribblings of Tony DePaul, 62, father, grandfather, husband, freelance writer in many forms, ex-journalist, long-distance motorcycle rider, motorcycle wrecker, motorcycle rebuilder, collector of surgical hardware, blue routes wanderer, outdoorsman, topo map bushwhacker, handy with a wrench, hammer, chainsaw, rifle, former photographer, printer, logger, truck driver, truck mechanic, jet fueler… blah blah...
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7 Responses to Close but no potato

  1. Tarquino F. Flores says:

    Go, Piggy! Hope to read about her new adventures on the road!

  2. Vincent Ogutu says:

    Let me know when you come to pitch the book in NY. That’s assuming you survive Cinco de Mayo!

  3. Steve Billings says:

    You inspired me Tony! I have a baby piggy now.

  4. Chuck Burghardt says:

    Hey Tony!
    Give me a shout when it’s time to push Piggy up the slope, glad to lend some muscle. As long as Pam gives us a pass for tip-toeing through the tulips!

  5. Randall Pedersen says:


    Good to see you are getting ready to hit the road again. Being from Ks. I know what you mean about those summertime temps here, you will be much happier coming this time of year although it has already hit 95* here.

    While looking at the next to last picture, and loving old bikes and old cars and trucks, I looked at that grille and tried to imagine it as a handlebar mounted fairing with dual headlights or trimmed down and set up as leg guards and a dual headlight set up lol.
    Must be to much cabin fever got to get my trike out and lay down some miles.

    Have a great riding season!!

  6. Denise says:

    So I take it you are NOT riding to Kansas…;-(
    Better watch those perennials…they are religulous…(at least mine are).
    Good luck on the book thing!

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