Motorcycle Monday: Geezer fixes

Guest Blogging by McGyver on a Motorcycle Monday because Giggles left her ‘puter logged on and I hot wired the dashboard to her blog.


Once upon a time, back before Evo engines with Electronic Fuel Ignition, motorcycles came with a CARBURETOR, which was a device for mixing a fuel/air ratio to ensure a proper ignition in the engine. (No, this is not a course in motorcycle engineering for the Stone Age, that’s for another post). Here is a picture of the Harley Linkert Carb, attached to a flathead engine (said Stone Age post). The throttle would manually increase or decrease the amount of fuel in the mixture; increasing the speed of the engine and hence the motorcycle. This gave rise to such quaint expressions as “twisting the wick”, “screwing it on” and when the throttle cable broke when full open “Hot Shit! Holy Damn! Aieeeeh” as your engine screamed for redline and beyond (signified by a very loud expensive sound and misc. engine parts scattered across the road and possibly embedded in YOU as your motor grenaded!).  Were you able to get your motor shutdown and coast to the side of the road, you then faced the problem of getting to a nearby populated area that might have an establishment, that might have a cable that would do the trick.


Oddly enough, this situation once happened to the ol’ Poop, otherwise known as my Dad.

Being a dutiful Son, I actually paid attention when he would recount adventures he had experienced on the road.


(The man has been on the road for 67 years and is still riding. He has other rides, but I thought you’d like this one; a Harley Hummer )

Fast forward a few years and it’s 197X. I get a wild hair and take off for a while; motorcycle of choice, a normally aspirated (carburetor, thank you) over-bored Harley 74 Panhead.

  • 24 coats of gloss black lacquer.  Extended forks. High bars.  Solo seat.  P-pad.

Sleeping bag on the handmade sissy bar with my clothes rolled into it. No peanut tank, I’m running out west, not in Frisco (and yes, I know it pees you off). As I’m wandering the highways and byways of Idaho, Northern Nevada and Wyoming, I crank the throttle to the max just because. Did I mention that mostly there’s lots of free space (no urban development) in the West, even now?  So, I’m probably 100 miles, give or take, from a parts store, let alone a Harley (or any motorcycle) dealer, and all of a sudden there’s lots of free play in the throttle and the engine is headed for redline.  I shut it down and coasted to the side of the road. Hmmmphmp!  Broken throttle cable. Spare?  Don’t be silly. It was all I could do to buy gas (at 27¢ a gallon!) back then. So, I remember the important information the ol’ Poop had passed on.

How to get out of the situation.

I’m in Idaho (I think). Barb wire is important.

This is Barb Wire. Attractive, and possibly useful, but not in this situation.


Ahh, Barbed WIRE . This is useful, but not as attractive. Nice pic, though.


Next a pair of dikes. This is a pair of dykes. Though potentially useful, they probably won’t help you. (You male oppressor, you) [This is a pair of a pair of dykes, or four of a kind, and if we keep this up, we’ll blow up the blog]


This is also a pair of dikes (spelling difference). These will help you.


Right, here’s how it’s done. Go to the Barbed wire fence and cut about three foot of wire. Wear your riding gloves, it’s BARBED WIRE for Pete’s sake! Cut ONLY one strand and unwrap carefully from the barbs and the other strand. Snip the end of the free strand you just unraveled to get about a three foot length of wire. This will leave one strand holding the fence together, keeping the fence intact, and preventing a wandering cow from causing another motorcyclist a near death experience. (see what I did there, Honey?)

Make a loop in one end big enough for your index finger to fit comfortably as well as being able to slip the wire from your finger quickly.  Attach the other end to the throttle lever on the carburetor, after having determined how long your improvised finger-actuated throttle control mechanism needs to be for your bike. Voila! You have reinvented the original push pull throttle! You can ride using this, though it’s a real balancing act. IF it happens and you HAVE to do this; SLOW is the word. You are not as delicate with your MK 1 finger as your twistgrip. Get to town. Buy a cable. Replace your innovative improvised finger-actuated throttle control mechanism.

OK, boys and girls, that’s your motorcycle Monday blog of the week. Hope you’ve enjoyed the nostalgia and maybe learned a little something about what it was like when the only riders were the long distance BMW guys, Shriners and 1%s. There’s a couple of promises in this one for another post, so we’ll see what happens next.

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