Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Monday, July 25, 2005

Keeping it clean

The Sparrow kept squealing louder and louder. At the EV meeting, everyone said I needed to get some sort of dry lube for the belt. I also checked the Sparrow User Group message board (which had some info about cleaning belts), and then tracked down a Harley Davidson motorcycle maintenance page online, which had this to say:

"Since the belt is not completely enclosed, a trip down a dirt road or a ride in a rain storm can cause bits of sand and dirt to embed in the rubber belt. These bits of dirt are harder than the surfaces they are rubbing on and cause the squeal and abrasion that will eventually cause premature wear on the motorcycle belt and sprocket surfaces.

The cure for this is to put the motorcycle up on a stand so the rear wheel spins freely, and wash the belt and sprocket off with a mild soap solution. I like warm water and a small bit of Dawn dish soap. Use a rag to wipe the belt off as you rotate the wheel, then rinse with clean water. Let the belt dry thoroughly, or blow the water off with compressed air. Many times this is all you need to do, but for really squeaky belts you can spray the belt lightly with Dry Silicone Spray by Krylon that you find at the hardware stores. This will quiet the squeakiest belt."

I jacked up the rear wheel and washed the belt. I collected the "tailings" as I cleaned (didn't want to introduce that stuff into the local environment. Should I have treated it as hazardous waste? Man it's tough to know what's the right thing to do). Look at all the sludge! There was so much grit in that poor belt drive. It was rubbing on the teeth and setting up a nice harmonic ringing on the main sprocket. The previous owner clearly used something "wet" which was really good at attracting dirt and grit. As I cleaned it up, it felt like really old molybdenum (remember how that stuff smelled?).

I took her out for a spin and she was oh so mousy quiet. I'll still get some dry spray lube of some sort, but what a difference being clean makes. hummmmmmm.....

The newest bad news is the E-meter has stopped telling me what's going on. It's acting like it's completely without power.


  1. Thanks for this research Robert. No one has suggested this on the Sparrow board, but it seems obvious now. I'll have to wash the belt on my Sparrow as soon as I get it back. I'm waiting on one little bracket and then I'll be on the road again. "For want of a nail the battle was lost...." Sure hope not.

  2. It sure is hard to be driving on petroleum, isn't it? It's sort of like having to go back to vanilla wafers after getting a taste of chocolate chip.

  3. It's downright depressing like eating a big burger after being a vegetarian for awhile, or like having to go back to a real job after working for yourself, or like going mute when someone says there's nothing we can do about anything so why try.

    Then I think of how the Cubans keep all those classic 50's cars running, even machining their own parts. So maybe that will work for my Sparrow too.