04 April, 2011

Andrew Koens, Pneumonia Survivor

Ugh. I have pneumonia again. In my mind, pneumonia is something that people get in places where it gets cold, how in the world I've gotten it twice here in PNG, where the coldest temperatures I usually experience are in the low 70's (Fahrenheit) is a little bit beyond me. Nevertheless, back in 2004 I got it and now again in 2011.

It's rare for me to get sick--I was looking at my file at the clinic while I was down there today and it looks like it's only 3 or 4 hand-written pages long for a 9 year time span. I think the first entry was my pneumonia case of 2004, then a couple of foot/ankle related injuries/pains over the years and now pneumonia again.

Overall, I'm very thankful for my generally good health and for the generally good health of my family. I have noticed, over the years, that I tend to get sick during times when I am under a lot of stress of one kind or another. Right now we are making furlough plans, (furlough is always a big stress for me), and I am more or less swamped at work, and Levi has been keeping us up at night with night terrors, (hoping he gets through this stage soon!), and we've been having our biannual SIL PNG branch conference, where we've been discussing a lot of possible changes to our little piece of the organisation (some I agree with and am in favor of, others I am much opposed to) so I guess I am under a bit of stress right now. I always seem to get sick right at the time when I need to take a break.

In other news, my '85 Honda XR600 is running again! Like a Phoenix rising fromt he ashes, Brutus rides again! Only now he's more "brutey" than ever, while at the same time being easier to start than ever. Man, it's good to be back on two wheels again.

I bought Brutus from a Swedish missionary family who had gone back to Sweden. He had been thoroughly used and abused by their oldest son and all of his careless friends and was in pretty rough shape when I made the offer to buy him. I got him cheap and have been modifying him ever since. At one point, not long after I got him, I was working on somebody else's XL600 which needed a new cylinder head. I order a good used one from a place in New Zealand and although the seller assured me that thehead he was selling me was the right one, when it arrived it turned out to be a later style head that wouldn't work with the XL carburetors. The owner fo the XL was really wanting his bike fixed, so I ended up taking the cylinder head from Brutus and putting it on the other guy's bike, then I went through all the trouble of modifying Brutus to use to newer style head--that was the beginning of my modifications!

For those who are interested, here's a list of Brutus' current list of mods: (keep in mind that these mods have happened over a space of 6 or 7 years)

--early 1980's Yamaha DT 125 headlight shell with a 100 watt yellow fog light in it
--custom 36 inch wide handlebars, (I widened them myself from 32 inches to 36--much more comfy for me now!)
--I rebuilt the seat with a XR's Only Australia seat cover and new, very hard foam--believe it or not, this is actually much more comfortable on long trips than the ultra soft foam that was on there before. I won't go on a long bike trip with a soft seat--a soft seat will wear you out in a couple of hours.
--later style XR wheels--I got them off of a dead XR250L, but they are the same as later style XR250/400/600p wheels, except that the rear one has a rubber mounted sprocket. I rebuilt these wheels with new bearings, new stainless spokes and straight rims salvaged from other wheels, (thankfully I just happened to have a good 32 spoke rim off of an '89 CR250 in the shop that I was able to use).
--XR250L rear swing arm and disc brake. This was a huge improvement--the original XR600 rear wheel had a woefully inadequate (microscopic) rear brake--it actually used the same size brake shoes as the old Honda 70 mini bikes. The new rear disc is almost too powerful--it requires a lot more finesse to use it, but it is so much more effective. The swingarm required extensive modifications to make it fit. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't modify the swingarm, but would instead reposition the upper rear shcok mount, which would have been so much easier and would have been the work of only a couple hours instead of the days I spent modifying the swing arm. The XR250L had the rear shock positioned centrally, the old XR600 had it's shock mounted to one side. In retrospect, it would have been much better to move the 600 shcok to one side, I'm not sure what I was thinking.
--the engine is a real hodge-podge. The bottom end is all original 1985 XR600, but with all new bearings and a new output shaft. I can't remember for sure, but I think I rebuilt the crankshaft, too. I had re-wound part of the original stator when I first got the bike, but it had only lasted about 4 years before it burned up again, so now I have a 200W Ricky Stator unit in there, running through 2 legs of a 3 phase heavy duty regulator/rectifier out of a Ducati streetbike. The cylinder is a 1989 Honda NX650 cylinder I got in Cairns, Aus. last time I was there--I paid too much for it, especially as I had to resleeve it anyway to work with my piston. The piston is a thing of beauty, a nicely forged and machined original Honda HRC race part that I got new off of eBay for a song some time ago. It's the 628cc big bore piston with an 11:1 compression ratio. Normally, an 11:1 XR600 is a real pain to start, but thankfully eBay came to my rescue again and I was able to get a later model XR650L cylinder head with the later style automatic decompressor and anti-kickback device. The head had been portd by XR's Only in the US, and I installed new stainless steel valves in it. it already had a set of high performance springs in it when I got it.
--exhaust is an FMF Powerbomb header with an ancient SuperTrapp muffler on it. Sounds good, seems to work pretty well.

No photo today--I waited 20 minutes for one to upload, then tried again but it was going even slower so I finally gave up. The interweb is far too slow today for photos.