Darryl.Richman's picture

Sorry about the lack of updates, but when I had a little time in Sturgis, my computer wouldn't get on the net, I had no time in Sheridan and there was no cell reception, let alone WiFi access, in Yellowstone. I am in Jackson Hole tonight after a very disappointing day.

To catch up, we had a "day off" in Sturgis. I continue to replace head gaskets at a regular pace. Don found a sheet of high temp gasket material at a Napa store and has made 6 or 8 of the things. He also found another stash of them in my spare parts. Today, having arrived early in Jackson Hole, he contacted Brent Hansen and Brent is making up some for us, which we should have in Burns, OR. He also found a local shop here who are delivering some solid copper gaskets tomorrow morning. Don has been working hard.

The ride from Sturgis to Sheridan, via Cody, was uneventful. I replaced a head gasket on the right cylinder during the lengthy lunch break in Cody, and that carried me in to Sheridan. Yesterday was the ride from Sheridan, over Granite Pass (9100 feet) into Yellowstone Park. There was an opt-out that allowed us to carry the bike over the pass to Greybull and riding to the park from there. That meant that we lost some miles, but in my mind that was the right decision because the bike really didn't like the high altitude. Other than passing very near by a bison that was walking along the road shoulder, it was a really uneventful day.

Today dawned below freezing. After only a few miles, the bike was way down on power and making loud ringing sounds out of the right cylinder. I pulled over and started investigating. The timing seemed spot on. The right valves were close to 0.004" (don't get excited, this is the factory spec; remember, this is a sidevalve with no pushrods, not an Airhead). As much as I hated to do it, I unbolted the head. The piston was cracked across the top and it was no longer attached to the connecting rod, as evinced by the piston top not moving when I kicked the bike over. So, it was another long ride on the sweep truck.

I figured that there were two possibilities for getting past this. If the cylinder was ok, we could put another piston in it and then hopefully I could make tomorrow's ride over the Tetons and on to Mountain Home, ID. If not, then my newly bored cylinders and fresh pistons/rings/valves would have to be installed. But they require a gentle break in--immediately riding up a long ascent is not the way to do that.

This evening we pulled the cylinder. At first I was ecstatic that the cylinder bore was unharmed. But in fact the was a fairly deep scratch about 1" long around the circumference of the bore, about 1.5" down from the top. So, we used some emery cloth, some 400 sandpaper and rather a lot of strokes with the brush hone to reduce the middle half inch to something you can feel but doesn't catch your finger nail. We reassembled it and fired it up. At first it was pretty good, but then it began to make some ringing noise, which only got worse when I gave it a short ride. I could feel it in the right floorboard when under even a slight load.

So the bike is packed up tonight and tomorrow Steve and I will ride the Sprinter to Mountain Home. We will disassemble, clean and reassemble with the new cylinders, and then I will go riding on my own in the relatively flat country around southeastern Idaho. Hopefully we will be ready to resume the chase from there.

BTW, not to focus too much on the negative, the riding has been great. And the people here are great, too. We've had assistance from several other teams and have been able to share a little bit in return.


Hang in there!

Guy's picture

I cannot even imagine the disappointment you must be going through... But, it looks like you have a reasonable plan of action despite the magnitude of the challenges. And some great support from what I could read. Just for you to know plenty of prezzies have their fingers crossed for you here too, so hang in there!


Way to go!

Matz Rosenquist's picture

Hi Darryl!

Keep up the good spirit and you'll do fine!! Easy to say under those circumstances but hard to do!

Must be frustrating with your gasket problems and now a broken piston and dito cylinder. Hopefully the change to new ones plus the copper gaskets will keep you going to the end!!

As long there are solutions, there's always progress! Old proverb from the djungle!

You'll make it!!!


Go Darryl!

A. Zorat's picture

Despite the problems with the gaskets, I see that you are having a good time riding the bike. Good.

And - as Matz said - as long as there are solutions, there is progress - to which I add: and when there is (forward) progress, the final goal must be getting closer.

Bravo Darryl!

Keep it up!

Claes Lestén's picture

Hi Darryl!

As long as You get home in one piece it's been a good adventure!

Sorry we missed the old copper mine in Falun last year...

Best Regards

Sounds like you're keeping in

Barbara R.'s picture

Sounds like you're keeping in the spirit of the "be here now" philosophy & enjoying the incredible journey! We're following your nail-biting saga day by day & rooting for you. What an incredible experience, blown gaskets, scarred cylinders, cracked pistons and all! We're rooting for you. Happy Trails, Your Bay Area Fans.

Hang in there!

Jim Hansen's picture


I hope you realize as you struggle through so many problems, what an inspiration you are to others. In this case, I think that the process (the journey) is more important than the final goal or destination.

As Guy said, "Hang in there!"

Following your trip

Uffe's picture

Hi Darryl,
I'm following your tribulations by the run, truly impressed on the ongoing roadside maintenance.
All luck for the following stretches!

Go Darryl go!



beemererik's picture

Hi Darryl,

This is quite an adventure! Who would have thought you would have such an experience with head gaskets. I have used the European vendors head gaskets in my early bikes and always wondered how they would hold up over time. They struck me as a bit under engineered. You are definitely putting these through the paces. It makes me wonder if I should go ahead and have solid copper head gaskets made for my vintage bikes. The R2 I am working on had a solid copper head gasket when I disassembled it. I pondered reusing it, but went ahead and installed the European part, now I am questioning that move.

Good luck with the rest of your trip!


Looking for a "stecktank" BMW to restore!

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