Dear Dirt Rider,
I have always had a fascination with the mechanics of gasoline engines. When I was about 7 my dad gave me the job of troubleshooting and repairing the broken weed whacker sitting in the garage. At first I was a little overwhelmed, as I had no idea how it was supposed to work or what was wrong with it. However through a few tips from dear old dad I soon had it open, then back together and was trimming the edges all before dinner.
Well I’m now 20 and thankfully my wrenching skills have improved. My interest in engines since the weed whacker has leaned towards motorcycles and, more specifically, dirt bikes. I have just as much fun wrenching on my bikes as I do riding them. I read “The Dirty Part” in an old (August 2011) issue about the restoration of a Suzuki RM85 and it reminded me of one of my own projects. When I was 17 I bought a seized Kawasaki KX100 off a friend for $150 and then dove right in to figuring out just how I was going to rebuild it in my garage without any special tools or a press. I ended up reading a ton of info online on rebuilds and finally figured out a plan. To split the case I used a steering wheel puller and to set the new crank I froze it and heated the crankcase halves on the grill. The crank slid right in and after applying the proper gasket I put the other half on without a hitch. I finished the rebuild with a shiny new Weisco piston. After torqueing all bolts and reinstalling the engine, it started second kick.I just want to encourage anyone into bikes to maintain your machine and that you don’t need a fancy shop to do repairs or even major rebuilds. I think some people think certain fixes must be done in a specialized shop (as I did) but I say there is no job on a moto bike too big for the average Americans home garage (or kitchen). A little creativity and determination will go a long way…. and save us lots of money. Thanks Dirt Rider for allowing me the opportunity to share my love of the sport and for putting out a sick magazine! It keeps me entertained for about an hour as I read it cover to cover the minute it arrives in the mail.Nicholas Pilato
Glen Oaks, NY
Nick, you are right on the money (and saving money). Dirt bike maintenance is something each rider should learn to do. You’ve gotten deep into an engine, but some riders will drop a bike at the shop to for a valve check. It’s taking the sport further away from the reach of many people, just at a time when we need stretch each dollar and still have fun with friends (who are likely pinching their pennies, too). Keep up the great work! -Pete Peterson