Saturday, January 18, 2014

Beagle Channel and The End of The Road At The End of The World

    Once again I have fallen behind on the blog.  My apologies to all.  As you know,  we were stuck in Punta Arenas over Christmas waiting for parts to arrive.  We had hoped to be in Ushuaia at the end of the world to meet with other overland adventure riders that meet at the national park on Christmas day.  Sadly that was not to be.  We also spent New Years Eve in Punta Arenas, watching the fireworks over the Straits of Magellan.  Eventually on the second of January our parts arrived,  we took the ferry back over to Porvenir and I put the bike together and we left there the next day.  On  4 January 2014 we arrived at our destination, the Beagle Channel in Ushuaia, Argentina at the end of the world, as they say.  We rode out to the park on the 5th where the road officially ends.  We Made It!!!!! 

             This photo was taken at 9:30PM, the sun is still high in the sky.  There is around 20 hours of light this far south.  Luckily it was dark before the fireworks at midnight.

                                                          Sara Braun Mansion

   They celebrate New Years hard down in Punta Arenas.  We found these on the ground the next day


With all the time spent waiting for parts to arrive, I figured I would go over the bike and let you know what we had to contend with on this trip.  You might think it was all fun and games, just living the life... You got another thing comin'.  We didn't have GPS, cell phone, AAA, maps and very few directional signs in most of these countries.  We had the language barrier to contend with as well as changing terminology everywhere we went.  We had to find the basics,  food, shelter, gas, every day in a new town.  We had to deal with lawless road usage and animals around every turn.  Finding things like soap and toothpaste took time as well as getting laundry done when the sinks didn't work.  Don't even get me started on hot water and toilet paper. This was a great road trip but not all fun and games.  Luckily we only got sick one time in Mexico.  Here is arun down of the "fun and games" we had with the bike
Both turn signals broke off from the weight of the bag bouncing up and down day after day

With all of the weight over the back fender, the tire would rub through the wiring harness to the tail/brake light, that runs on the inside of the fender.  After fixing it four times, I finally ran some wires on the outside of the fender to the light.  Never had another problem with it.

In Nicaragua, I hit some big cobblestones in a park and broke the kickstand spring, as well as cracked the oil pan the first time.  I replaced the spring but eventually the tab that it hooks to broke off completely.  I had some Velcro tape that I wrapped around the frame and the kickstand to keep it up. With low ground clearance from all the weight, it got torn off repeatedly all the way down the line.  I used the last of it in the National Park.

I had a bent exhaust vale and leaking oil seals that had to be replaced in Lima,Peru.  Those were some of the parts that we waited for a month in Ecuador to clear customs.

The cam chain is behind that cover.  It broke the first time in Colombia.  This is what we were waiting for in Punta Arenas.  The second time it broke.

I had adjustable pushrods  loosen up after the work in Lima.  Had to fix them myself on the side of the road. 

There was a luggage rack on the back.  That eventually broke so I took it off.  I still have the seat bolt. I just left it off for quicker access.

The shifter peg vibrated off. Had to figure something out for that.

Going out through the sand, trying to get to the Salar De Uyuni salt flats, the sand grabbed me and dragged us down, breaking the shifter shaft inside where you see Judy's finger.  I thought I was done before I got started but I shifted with my heel on the linkage to the right.  Not easy but I shifted that way for close to 1000 miles through the Salar, the Laguna route of Bolivia, into Chile and finally got it welded in Salta,Argentina.

I bent the rear brake foot pedal in a crash after Death Road in Bolivia

Same crash tore the metal shock covers, both sides.  Further down the road on the  Carraterra Austral in Chile,  the shock bolt sheared from all the rugged roads we have been on.  

I broke the mirror trying to "adjust" it with my hand instead of a wrench.  The Luck Lo Mein, Chinese special works fine.

Same crash in Bolivia broke the pivot on my clutch handle.  It still works so I haven't broke out the replacement I've been carrying around since we left.

Turn signal dented my tank in that crash because the fork stop sheared off on the other side.  Forgot to take a picture of that.  

The gasahol down here has eaten the custom rattle can, wood stove, high temp paint off of my tank 

I shredded my homemade skid plate.  Also cracking the oil pan the second time.  It was replaced in Quito, Ecuador the first time.  It will be replaced at home the second time.  Seems the exhaust has a few dents also.

  One of my saddlebag ez on/off brackets broke so I had to  through bolt it with a spacer

Had to replace the battery.  It had been acting up since the cold nights under the stars in Bolivia.  When I went to find one in Punta Arenas, they actually had a Harley Davidson replacement battery.  Only around three hundred dollars.  This one says made in Japan, works great. 

The green ground wire to the starter broke in a spot I can't get to, to repair it so I punched a hole in the solenoid cover and push the plunger in with a homemade "key"

The tach works when it wants to, although it has been working fine since I replaced the battery.  It runs off of a signal from the coil so I don't know if the battery had anything to do with it or not.

Back to the crash in Bolivia, I broke two windshield clamps like you see here as well as bent the bracket you see in the picture below

Shredded the leather on the backrest from tying down gear.

One of the fittings to the oil lines you see here loosened up and spewed oil all over the bike.  That took some time trying to find that one. 

I also had to deal with finding tires for this beast.  150/80-16 tires are mostly on Harley so nobody had rear tires for this bike, much less GOOD ones.  But as with anything else you need, they can be found somewhere.  It just takes longer.  Sometimes too long.  Front tires were easier to find.  So,  I went through three front tires, four back tires and I need to replace both tires.  

I changed front brakes twice, rear brakes once, then used some front brakes on the back that still had some meat left on them.  

Four or Five oil changes, although I probably could/should have changed it more often.

And finally, one broken molar that still needs repaired.  Luckily it doesn't bother me.

Now the speech. For the Harley naysayers know who you are.  I do.
  This was obviously the wrong bike for this road trip.  Yeah I've had more breakdowns than anticipated and as you see from the list above more than a few things to contend with.  On the other hand,  I beat this bike hard, rode where nobody would take a Harley and everywhere that all the other dual sport bikes go.  This bike has been stuck in sand on the beach at sea level and thrown to the ground in the gravel at 15,000 feet.  Circled volcanos on volcanic rock roads, on four wheel drive goat paths, over snow capped peaks, through deserts and sand storms, blown across the road from high winds in Patagonia, crossed the jungle, been covered with sea salt crossing the Carribean and covered with salt on the Salar.  Note,they run the DAKAR race in the places this bike has been.  I've ridden with or met other riders on KTM, BMW, Hondas, Yamahas, Kawasaki and every single one of them had some issue or another with their bike.  One thing I never had was a flat tire.  That amazes me considering the places we've been.  I think it is from tubeless tires since these guys all run spokes and tubes. Even with the final breakdown the bike got us to the Beagle Channel and the end of the road.  True the bike said I took you to the end of the world, I'm taking a break now, no further, but together we accomplished the goal set in line one of this blog.  So naysayers, the Harley made it!!!!  Now what you got to say, I can't hear you?!
Start point in red, Peach Bottom,Pa.   Blue dot, The end of the world, 600 miles from Antarctica

    Line 5 -Here ends national route 3.  I bypassed the barricade for this shot at the end of the road.   
The day we headed south

   The day we turned our front wheel north- 22,500 plus miles.  Not counting the 3-4 hundred miles across the Yucatan without odometer because of the wiring harness issue.

We are now in Buenos Aires making arrangements to ship the bike home.  We took a side trip to Iguazu Falls which was fantastic so look for those pics as well in the next post


  1. Congratulations on getting to the" end of the earth". We are so proud of you and Judy for your accomplishment. After reading of your difficulities, I'm sure McGuyver didn't have anything on you. Also proud that you and Judy maintained such a positive attitude and due diligence when things were so frustrating. Kudos.
    Keep on is good.
    M & D

  2. See you when you get home. T T and T

  3. What up cuz..i had to laugh at the naysayer comment I know dam well you meant glad that u made it home man...the blog was awesome to say the least...again glad your home hope to see you soon...benny