Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thank God for friends with trailers

I was feeling pretty sunny when I rode my 2003 BMW K1200GT in to Seattle Grind for coffee and internet this morning.

After all, I sorted out my Zumo 550 GPS XM Navweather problem yesterday and even learned why the proprietary cradle locking screw wouldn’t come out when it was clearly unscrewed all the way.

By way of explanation, the Garmin Zumo 550 GPS locks into its motorcycle mount with a latching mechanism that is made completely secure by tightening a locking screw that requires a special proprietary screwdriver. The special screw/screwdriver arrangement is a pain in the ass for geezers like me who have trouble seeing tiny objects up close. That’s why I bought a knurled replacement screw last summer from Touratech – so I could dispense with the screwdriver tedium.

After all, if someone wants to steal the setup, all they have to do is undo the RAM mount armature, untangle the wires and walk away with the whole thing, including the XM antenna.

The secret, I learned yesterday on, is a tiny o-ring that keeps the unscrewed screw from falling out. I got out my Bausch & Lomb loupe, found the o-ring, removed it, and replaced the screw this morning.

So I had the bike and GPS functioning as it should as I rode down U.S. 49 to town.

After an hour or so of coffee and internet work, I put my netbook into my saddlebag, fired up the ignition and put on my helmet and gloves while the engine warmed.

But just as I was ready to swing my leg over the saddle, the engine faltered and quit. Efforts to re-start it were fruitless. The starter cranked normally, but the engine refused to catch.

I knew I wasn’t out of gas because I topped off the tank on the way in to town, but everything pointed to the engine not getting fuel.

Flustered, I phoned my friend Charlie Parsons, who said he was just getting KRS Fusesready to leave home for work in Paragould. Charlie offered to hitch up his motorcycle trailer, swing by Seattle Grind and pick me and the bike up and drop us off at home. What a guy!

Listening carefully to the sounds that accompany turning the ignition key, we both concluded we didn’t hear the characteristic sound of the fuel pump engaging.

Charlie has a diagnostic computer that he’ll bring by to query the bike about what’s ailing it, but everything points to a fuel pump failure. Charlie suggested I take a look at the 15 amp fuse that runs the fuel pump and check it for failure or corrosion. I’ve determined which fuse it is and will give it a try later today.

If it is a failed fuel pump, the good news is that the K1200GT’s fuel pump lives in the gas tank and can be replaced without the expensive labor to remove the tank and fairing components. Even so, the fuel pump for that model retails for $350.

The bike is due for a 12,000-mile service, so the timing is right to haul it up to Grass Roots BMW Motorcycles in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and get everything sorted out.

In retrospect, it couldn’t have picked a better time or place to fail, so I consider myself lucky. Sorta.