During 2001 and/or 2002, I worked Dell hardware tech support and ran into my friend, Darryl. He grew
up in Britain and has a British accent. Darryl quit Dell Tech Support and wrote a stunning resignation letter. I will have to get his permission
to publish it.
In early 2003, I ran into Darryl again. We immediately became close; we were very happy to see each other.
We were in very giving spirits. He provided contact for Pete, an excellent foreign car mechanic (see Cabrio). I gave him a
nice Harmon-Kardon cassette deck, which he has since fixed. He advised me on how to fix the Rabbit (see Rabbit) Much is
Darryl had acquired a vintage Honda 1000, a classic pocket rocket, an extremely rare bike. In not-so-good
condition, the 1980's bike should bring $3000. Unfortunately, It wouldn't charge the battery. Darryl had already troubleshot
to a bad rotor/commutator/field winding, which was pressed and bolted onto the crankshaft. He had removed the bolt holding
it on from the end of the crankshaft and had attempted to use Honda's tool to remove the commutator. All the threads
on the Honda tool had stripped. The commutator and the crankshaft are both tapered and the commutator was on the crankshaft
At this point we re-met. As I was offering him any help I could give him, he mentioned the motorcycle. Several
people had offered to help him with it and had never come through.
First tries involved an elaborate setup. The motorcycle was tied to his mini-SUV with rope. The commutator
was tied to a tree using cable, a strong tie strap, a come-along (ratcheting winch device), and various connecting
devices. To shorten this part of the story, repeated attempts of tightening the setup as much as we dared, while hitting the
commutator and the end of the crankshaft with a very large hammer, heating the commutator with a propane torch, spraying repeatedly
with WD-40, and other things I might have forgotten, failed. I just remembered; we also tried filling the
engine side case with a gallon of WD-40 and soaking it overnight. No help.
Darryl was under pressure from Cherrie (sp) to unload the motorcycle because it couldn't be fixed.
A few days went by. We reviewed options, like replacing the whole crankshaft, which were rejected. Darryl contacted Honda
tech support, whom he described as "shiny-happy". They not only refunded the price of the Honda Special Tool that had failed
to remove the commutator, but they aslo suggested cutting the commutator with a sawzall and using a chisel or whatever to
split it in half. I told Darryl I thought I could borrow a sawzall.
My neighbor was a heating, A/C, and ventilation contractor; he has since moved out and his son-in-law has
moved in and appears to have taken over the business. The timing was incredible. He was actually home and loaned me the sawzall
immediately. I took it to Darryl's house and Darryl started trying to cut through the commutator, which was extremely difficult.
We ended up going to Sears and buying some really hard sawzall blades. I tried cutting for awhile, it was tough.
Darryl cut some more and we pried and twisted and eventually, the outer part of the commutator came off. We peeled off most
of the copper windings and the inner part of the commutator remained stuck on the crankshaft. I point out that we were on
the verge of giving up many times. I also point out that Darryl had helped me a lot with unsolvable problems by now. I also
found out, by asking, that Darryl had no intention of selling the bike; he wanted it for himself. The pressure was on. I thought
we had reached the end of the line. The only way to put more force on that commutator was to use a strong puller, but there
was now nothing for any kind of a puller to attach to. There was no room for the kind of puller that has hooks.
Immediately, yet slowly, a plan emerged. A few days went by, I think. With the plan complete, I headed over
to Darryl's house on the very day of the deadline for getting rid of the bike that Darryl had agreed to with Cherrie (sp)
I bent two big threaded rods 90 degrees in my back yard. I took my big drill, all my drill bits, my very
strong puller, and the bolts I had bent and some nuts for them. I got to Darryl's house and got to work. With at least three
different sized drill bits, I drilled two large holes in the opposite metal "ears" of the commutator. That was very tough,
too. I stuck the bent end of the bolts, one through each hole. I attached the puller to the bolts by sliding the bolts through
the slots in the puller and secured the puller with two of the four nuts I had brought. I may have put the other nuts on the
bent ends of the bolts, but I think I remember that they wouldn't fit, but weren't necessary anyway. I tightened that puller
outrageously until it just felt like it was about to go flying off sideways. The large hammer, I had pretty much left in the
car all this time. I went and got that, and with it, I started beating on the sides of the two ears (4 total) that didn't
have the bolts through them. Still no luck. I hit the ear from the end, not from the side, a love tap. I knew this could potentially
be very bad for the crankshaft and had intended to work my way up as far as force, as much as I dared.
I didn't have to! The Commutator leaped out about a foot and landed on the ground without ever touching
the bike. Try to imagine what an indescribable moment that was for me and Darryl. Absolutely amazing moment.
I had damaged the threads in the end of the crankshaft and the bolt kept getting harder and harder to screw
in. Darryl wanted to keep going, saying this was normal and acceptable. I urged and begged him to stop. He was holding the
crankshaft with a strapwrench and I was actually feeling how tight it was getting. We almost couldn't get the bolt back out.
I ended up pounding on the ratchet against the inertia of the crankshaft to get it out. Fortunately, I had only messed up
the inner threads and the outer threads were ok. I advised Darryl (after originally being wrong, to get the same bolt, only
shorter. He got it at Pep Boys and it worked! He and I had both damaged the aluminum case of the engine trying to pry off
the commutator. Darryl fixed that with JB-Weld, which is incredible stuff. You can even drill holes in it and thread it when
it has hardened. He had one more time later when the bike would only charge at high RPM's. For that he had to clean out some
remaining copper debris.
I returned the sawzall, thanked my neighbor and told him he got some excellent new blades out of the deal.
He thanked me.
Darryl has moved to Maryland, but the last time I saw him, he still had and enjoyed the bike.
I call this one of my best works.