|The Trials and Tribulations of riding a
CJ750 in China Part 4, Modifying an Engine Oil Dip Stick
I have a number of friends here in China who really enjoy riding their CJ750s. A curious thing I noted when I first became interested myself, was that a lot of the guys own more than one; I even have one friend who owns three. The joking response to my enquiries, or so I thought at the time, was that you needed two; one to ride, and one to work on. I did not think much of this response as I have always held the opinion that one can never have too many motorcycles, cars, or even ice cream for that matter.I know there are many other people who feel the same way; and we are always making some oddball excuse or another to justify each increase in the number of vehicles we keep.
I bought my first CJ from a guy in Beijing who had the best and most informative website, and a No Bullshit guarantee. What I received was a poorly constructed machine that started falling apart almost immediately. In the beginning, I was getting repair parts in an acceptable manner, but this deteriorated rapidly into what any sensible person would consider incredibly poor customer service, backed up by e-mail riddled with lame excuses. Now dont get me wrong. I fully expected an old school machine. All my vehicles are early models. I am a good mechanic and getting covered in grease actually soothes my nerves. But there is a reasonable limit to how much ineptitude should be tolerated.
When the engine blew with less than 2000km on the odometer things started looking pretty grim.
While I felt (foolishly) I could eventually get the folks in Beijing to honor their warrantee and help me patch things up; Spring was approaching rapidly and I instinctively knew if I was going to ride at all that summer I would have to follow my friends lead and invest in another bike.
I did not purchase my second bike from the same shop. (Dont even think it !!). I chose a place a little closer to home and it was fortunate that I did. The bike I bought in Shanghai is of significantly better quality than the one I had shipped from Beijing.
Why I did not choose the Shanghai shop in the beginning is a matter of fate. Perhaps the Gods wanted to test my mechanical ability, and for a little added amusement, see just how thin my patience could be stretched before it snapped. I believe I passed their test, due in no small part to keeping up my motto, With Beer, All Things Are Possible.
My new bike is a floor model. I did not want to wait to have one custom built. And while it is not exactly what I would have wished for, I am quite happy with it.
As satisfied as I am with my new bike, as is usual for anything, there were a few eccentricities to work through.
The new bike has an oversized fuel tank. This is great for longer trips; and coupled with the jerry can bolted to the side, I feel I can go as far into the wilderness as I care and not have to worry about running out of gas.
The only problem with having an oversized fuel tank is now I have difficulty checking the oil.
The dip stick, as we all know, consists of a long solid rod on a threaded cap. On a bike equipped with a stock fuel tank, there is enough clearance to easily remove the unit, check the oil and reinstall it.
The oversized tank extends outward from the bike so far that the rod cannot be removed without bending it first.
The process for checking the oil now becomes; unscrew the cap and partially withdraw the rod, bend the rod to remove it the rest of the way, wipe off the excess oil, partially install the rod, bend it back straight, dip the stick, partially withdraw the rod, bend the rod to remove it the rest of the way, check the oil level,partially install the rod, bend it back straight, screw the cap back on tight.
It works, but it is extremely inefficient, and of course bending weakens the rod and will eventually cause it to break. There has to be a better way. Every car I have has a flexible engine oil dipstick as well as a flexible transmission fluid dip stick. I know this problem can be solved easily.
The custom car hobby is loaded with manufacturers who will make you anything you need. I started searching the internet for someone who could assist me. I finally made contact with a company named LOKAR, and the customer service representatives were very helpful and guided me to a product that would work well with minor modifications. So thanks very much guys!
LOKAR makes an item called the Anchor Tight Locking Flexible Transmission Dipstick. One of the models is a direct mount which is very short and fits perfectly on top of the CJ engine. On my last trip home I picked up one that was originally manufactured to fit a Powerglide automatic transmission. Im sure any of the different models would have worked just as well, but I am a Chevy guy too and buying this one just seemed like the right thing to do.
Of course the new dip stick does not fit perfectly, straight out of the box. As stated previously, there are some necessary modifications that I will describe below.
In a way, it was fortunate that I had the original engine from my first bike torn apart as I could use the bare engine case to mock-up the new dipstick installation. But once again, as I did in my previous articles, I am leaving out some critical dimensions. The reason for this is because the bare engine case I used for the mock-up is not exactly the same as the engine case on the bike I am driving. It is very close, but I had to make some small adjustments to complete the installation. You will have to make your flexible dip stick to fit your own engine.
The first step is to make an adapter to fit the English threaded dipstick housing into the Metric threaded engine case. The dip stick housing comes with a 5/8-18 thread pitch. The engine case has a 24-1.5 thread pitch. An aluminum bushing was turned out on the lathe to make this adaption.
To fit the dip stick housing into the bushing, the rubber grommet had to be removed and the 5/8-18 threads had to be extended completely up the tube. Then the tube had to be trimmed as it was now too long to fit the available space in the engine.Eventually, gasket sealer would be used on the threads to prevent leakage.
When I looked inside my spare engine case to see where the new flexible dipstick would have to travel, I noticed that it was not a solid shaft. There was actually enough space between the gaps for the flexible stick to get out of line and tangle itself in the crankshaft. I decided it would be prudent to sleeve the shaft and keep the dipstick where it belonged. The sleeve would have to be attached to the dip stick housing to keep it from falling down into the oil pan.
I used a piece of ¼ schedule 80 brass pipe to make the sleeve. The top of the pipe was threaded to match the 5/8-18 thread pattern of the dip stick housing and the two are held together by an aluminum coupling I turned on the lathe. The barrel of the pipe was turned to 13mm so it fit snugly down the shaft cut in the engine case. The length of the pipe was trimmed so it stopped just above the oil pump cavity.
Another problem I encountered was the shaft cut in the engine case is not directly centered on the cap. The misalignment was small, but it forced me to have to bend the pipe slightly, insert it into the engine case first along with the aluminum coupling, then screw the dip stick housing down on top of it.
LOKAR will make you a custom dip stick cable if you wish, but I had already returned to China by this time and didnt want to wait until my next trip home to pick it up; so I made one. The actual dip stick was turned from a piece of aluminum round stock. Graduations were cut in and one end drilled to accommodate a small stainless steel cable. The cable was inserted into the dip stick and secured with an electric terminal crimper. The other end is held into the dip stick handle with a set screw.
The resulting dip stick modification provides a convenient leak free assembly. Its actually quicker than checking the oil on a stock bike with a standard fuel tank; plus it looks cool, which we all know is very important. I think I will make one for both of my bikes; and maybe a couple of spares to keep under the workbench. You never know when you might need another. Come to think of it, I bet one would look nice on that hot little silver and black number I saw down on the showroom floor Hmmmm