18 May 2015

Redemption! Of sorts...

Stopped by the repair shop last week to see how he is doing with my DR-Z. Friend and long-time ex-pat Bjorn tells me that the repair is one that probably wouldn't even be attempted in the west. Though, as I've written many times before, it's Việt Nam!

An had the engine back together and was testing is as I arrived on the moto taxi, so I took a couple videos.

The rapid "thack-thack-thack-thack-thanck-thack-thack-thack" of the lifters is gone, though An thinks the oil pressure needs a bit of a boost.

This post is called "Redemption! Of sorts..." because, as it turns out, I did not run the oil level down to almost nothing—the oil pump failed.

An discovered this after he got the engine put back together and the full load of oil wasn't flowing... so he repaired the oil pump.

Total cost, 3.5 million VND (US$165); probably 1/3 to 1/4 of the cost of repairs in the west.

I was getting ready to head to Ho Chi Minh City for a few days, so An asked to keep the bike until my return so that he could make sure everything is good. No problem!

While in HCMC, I stopped in to see Hau, the guy from whom I bought the DR-Z. I called him when I first dropped the bike off with An, so he was familiar with the initial issue. As soon as I told him about the oil pump failure, he expressed concern that someone whose business is 99.9% smaller (≤175cc) motorbikes tends to believe that fixing a larger (400cc) motorcycle is the same, just on a larger scale... and it's not. I called An and he and Hau discussed what An has done and is doing, showing respect for the age difference and An's many years of experience.

The first sign of respect was when, before I called, Hau asked me An's age. Because An is older, Hau addressed him as "Anh" and referred to himself as "Em" in the same way that An refers to me as "Anh" and himself as "Em" because I am three years older. Hau also asked what An did and refrained from judging his work—even when An said he'd enlarged the opening through which the oil flowed into the engine to increase the oil volume. YIKES!

This would work if the engine were not a closed system. The larger opening will actually decrease the oil pressure. This is a BAD thing! Manufacturers design engines to perform to exact specifications. Screwing with the design should be left to the engineers and most mechanics are NOT engineers. Shit!

As soon as he finished speaking with An, Hau told me that he wants to look the DR-Z over before I ride it any appreciable distance. Today I will pick up the bike and immediately take it to the inter-city bus company who will ship it to Hau in Sài Gòn in a truck. When he gives it his approval, I will either have it shipped back to Đà Lạt or fly down and ride it back... depending on my mood at the time ;-)

Hau's findings will also determine whether or not I use An for major repairs again, though I am already leaning away from that. Had I known about the ease of shipping the bike to Sài Gòn before this happened, Hau would've had it initially. Whatever the outcome, I do thank An and his experience for hearing the thack-thack-thack-thack-thanck-thack-thack-thack in the first place. Had he not, the engine would probably be totally fried by the time I noticed it.

"It's always something..."—Rosanne Rosanadana

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