The day before I left for the trip to the AGM in Maryborough I replaced the oil and oil filter on my bike. The oil changes are scheduled for every 6,000km and I was confident that, barring any leaks developing, it would be OK for the trip. Previously I had ridden to the Albany AGM and back and didn't need a top up, however the engine was much younger then. It's a bit of a fiddle to check the sight glass as I don't have a centre stand so I just relied on the fact that there were no leaks and no blue smoke coming from the exhaust. In hindsight I could easily have sat on my bike and asked Jim to check the sight glass each night on our way up. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!
My bike has done about 157,000km and I should have known that there was a good chance that it had started to use "a bit of oil" but still I didn't look at the sight glass!
I was nearly home and spent my last night out at The Bellbird Hotel - between Orbost and Cann River (highly recommended $50 bed and cooked breakfast). Two other Ulyssians also stayed the night and we set off together in the morning of ANZAC Day. We were making good progress, turned off the Princes Highway for the road to Bairnsdale via Bruthen when suddenly my bike came to an unexpected halt. There was a loud backfire, a flash from the exhaust pipe and nothing else.
After I had made contact with RACV Total Care, the others went on their way. In due course a flat top arrived and my bike was loaded and we proceeded to the Bairnsdale RACV Depot. The Total Care lady asked what I wanted to do at that point and on telling her that I had commitments at home said she would look into getting me home. She rang back shortly with the news that there were no hire car operators open and no public transport available so she would get me home in a taxi. The taxi arrived and I had a very pleasant trip home. On the next day the RACV took my bike to the local Suzuki dealership.
By the following Monday it hadn't been looked at so I rang Total Care again and told them it wasn't going to be ready in the required 3 working days. They arranged for it to be taken to my nominated Suzuki dealership near home. Top marks to the RACV Total Care!!
Then I got the bad news. The engine had less than 1 litre of oil in the sump. The cams on the rear cylinder had seized and the cam chain had broken.
I am now waiting for a replacement engine to be fitted and all because I didn't check the oil level. A lesson learnt! Another lesson learnt was that semi synthetic oils don't give the tell tale blue smoke when the engine is burning oil. Hence my mates riding behind me didn't tell me that I was "blowing smoke", simply because I wasn't!
It was indeed a hard and expensive reminder of the importance of checking the oil level, particularly on an older engine.