Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Brownsville, Texas

Tuesday, September 6, 2005 "Rose Garden Inn"

Before going to bed this morning, scattered a few e-mails, to apprise family of my whereabouts, and inquire if Issa and Larry at BMW of San Francisco have any thoughts on the source of the bike's trouble. At about 9:30, Drew called to check in and see how I was doing. We talked about some options for a while, but I had to break away for my free breakfast!

Back down for a nap again, then Jeff called. He would follow up with Lester at "Frank's Motorcycle Sales." He also suggested I might rent a "U-Haul" truck to carry the bike up to San Antonio. I priced out "U-Haul" and "Budget" trucks. About $150 -170 + fuel (6-9 mpg). Better than a $1,000 towing charge, but still not something I was ready to face.

Jeff called back after speaking with Lester. Lester said he is "95% certain" what problem is: a fuel regulator. Jeff told me to give him a call. Lester said he has seen the problem before on BMWs in Vermont, where the climate's fairly wet. He said he has gone around with BMW engineers over this. He feels it's a flawed design. The regulator mounting allows water to seep in, which eventually shorts out the printed circuit board. He modifies bikes sold through his dealership, inserting a vent tube to allow the water to escape.

Lester wanted me to take the regulator off and have a look at the housing. He gave me instructions on removing the component. It was a fairly simple operation and, just as he suspected, there were a few milliliters of water pooled inside the housing. I called Lester back to report my findings. "Now I'm 99% sure that's your problem," he said. He said I could try "baking" the regulator in the sun; that might dry it out if there has been no physical damage. Meanwhile, he said there was still time to ship one out to me overnight so that I'd have it tomorrow. He would have it covered under warranty.

I have been really impressed with this guy's understanding of these bikes, and his personal interest in making things right. Lester provides an all-too-rare example of service in today's world.

Meanwhile, I have the bike parked right outside my hotel room, next to the ice machine, plugged into the battery charger. I placed the regulator out in the sun to dry.

At about 5:00 p.m., I noticed I was hungry and asked the hotel staff for a recommendation on Mexican restaurants. They steered me to a taco stand on the opposite side of the freeway, a few blocks away. Not until you're out there walking, do you realize "no one walks." The roads here (in this area) are not even set up for pedestrians. I feel very strange walking on the shoulders during rush hour traffic (yes, they even have it in Brownsville!)

Authentic Mexican (no other gringos here). I ordered the "El Pastor" and “Limonada” (actually a lime drink, not the lemonade I expected.)

After dinner, I re-installed the regulator and tried starting the bike, but no luck.

Continued watching Hurricane Katrina coverage. All the finger-pointing: local officials at state officials, state at Federal, Federal at state and locals! Meanwhile, there are those who are just taking care of business, and leaving the blame out of it.

I have wireless internet access, but it must be another of those situations where the wireless is transmitting a lower-speed (dial-up?) service. The program I use for posting photos doesn't seem to function below a certain threshold speed.

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