In a past life (my 2nd of the current one – or chapter 2 perhaps), I was an Aircraft Electrician in the RNZAF, and eventually they told me I was an Avionic Technician. Big deal, I worked on batteries, power generation, distribution and regulation, all sorts of motors used for all sorts of purposes and lighting systems. I changed bulbs on teeny weeny lights that lit up gauges and instrument panels, on small lights that lit up other bits and bobs in cockpits, on still and flashy flashing Nav Lights, on big mother landing lights and oscillating or spinny-winny anti-collision lights. I even changed anti-coll lights on the tails of DC3's and Andovers, but fortunately, since I'm just a tad shakey when it comes to heights, I never had to scramble up the tail of a Herc or Orion to change their ones!!
Anyway, one can read that I've changed a bulb or two in my time!
Well, it was recently brought to my notice that the left mainbeam headlamp bulb had blown on my ST1300. Normally I would just get the nice man at Boyles to change it on a service, but the lack of riding had me over 2,000km from a service and although there was no haste as no night riding in the immediate future, and there’s a spare fitted and operating right next to it, but I have got the big NI16 all-night ride coming up in October, plus a practice night ride before that, so I attempted to attend to the problem. How hard could this be....it's just a bulb.
So, I rang Mr Boyle, had a chat and mentioned that I needed a bulb. That perhaps I should change to Night Breakers or some other flash thingy might be worth considering, but hell, the lights on the ST are pretty damn good and it all got too hard so I just turned up one Saturday and bought an H4 off the shelf.
It was just a bulb, so when I got home that evening, I tried to fit it! It looked interesting, a ring at the base with three locating tabs, funny little dish under the main filament to direct the light output up to the top reflector.....or perhaps that was blocking the light from getting down to the bottom hi-beam reflector...should be easy enough to change!
First off, I put the bike on the centre stand, pushed the bars one way and then the other to see how easy it would be to get a hand in there and on the item in question, then I headed upstairs to pull up the workshop manual on my notebook and see what it had to say about changing a main-beam bulb....and what a load of toss that was!
I went back down to the garage, had a fiddle but nothing worked or made sense....so I went back up stairs and rang Ken because he used to have an ST and did his own servicing. Sure enough, he's changed a bulb but couldn't really remember...”go on YouTube” he says!
I tried YouTube...nothing ….so I tried the ST-Owners site, found some guff went down to try it....didn't work....so I went back to look some more and sure enough there was some more guff that was much clearer....so back down and voila!! There is a knack to remove the connector and once one has that knack, it just pops off.
I worked out how to remove the spring clip that holds the bulb in place, the old shot bulb pops out and I'm ready to drop the new one in. Yeah right!!
Being careful not to touch the glass, I get it in place and try to line it up. I spend a bit of time on this and by now, Ann is home so I call her down to assist (I can't see into the front of the headlight while working to get the bulb in from the rear.)
Ann guides me, “twist it this way, twist it that way, point it left, right, up, down”....it won't. I ask her to fetch a mirror so I can see for myself.....that doesn't work either! I find that by turning the wheel to the right, there's less room to get my hand in, but I can fiddle at the back and see in the front.....big deal, still won't work. I then give up, pulled the bulb and put the old one back in. It just slots straight in! I grab the new one,...still won't go, so I pull it and study them both.
Well I'll be damned. A close inspection/comparison reveals that the tabs on the new one are slightly smaller and where the old ones are spaced at about 135°, the new ones are about 130°!! …or vice versa…FFS!!
I eventually go back to the shop...... “Oh shit”, he says “You need the Honda one. That'll cost!!!”
I contact them again a few days later. I had already returned the $24.50 H4 and he reassures me that he’s ordered the Honda jobby and it’s only going to be $60-something!!!! “Holy Shit”, I blurted, perhaps I need to cut the tabs off the ordinary H4?....or perhaps I better re-visit changing/upgrading to some flashy bulb? I’ll probably get a pair for less than that!!” In the end I can’t be bothered and say, “Oh bugger it! Just get the bloody thing.”
*Sigh*…..I was just changing a bulb. It's something we do all the time and take it for granted. I don't consider I wasted an hour or two pissing around,….(although I might have been able to earn some coin to go towards buying the bulb in that time). I learnt (re-learnt) one of life’s lessons....or was that one of Murphies Laws? Thank God our Air Force never had any planes designed and built by the Japanese!! At least I now know I can change the main bulbs on the ST in 5-10 minutes and if I carried a spare, I could do it on the side of the road.....in the dark! FFS...it's just a bulb!!!
Umm….and I won’t be carrying a spare! I better do some homework to see what else is out there….FFS….it’s just a bulb!!!
These blogs were posted on the KiwiBiker forum but I decided it was time for a change.