Yesterday, I rode my 1957 Harley-Davidson panhead to work. After work I headed to the Redhook pub to meet a work buddy for dinner, when the panhead started to cough and buck. I’d filled the tanks the day before, but flipped the petcock to reserve anyway — no help. Finally, the motor quit and I coasted to the side.
The lights weren’t lit. A quick check showed the fuse had blown. When this had happened a couple of weeks earlier, I’d dropped in another fuse and ridden off.
I vowed to find the cause later and popped in a spare fuse that blew immediately, even with the motorcycle switched off.
I opened up the dash and found a loose switch wire. I tightened it, buttoned everything back up and popped in another fuse — which immediately blew. Not good: the last fuse.
Even if I could pull a fresh fuse out of my ear, it would fry when I installed it. Finally, I discovered the speedometer cable and regulator side-by-side a half-inch from the front cylinder. Heat had softened the cable’s coating, exposed the metal and grounded out the regulator. I found an airline ticket stub in my bag and insulated the cable with it, so it wouldn’t short out before I got home.
But I still needed another fuse!
Lots of cars go by on Woodinville-Redmond Road. Many drivers seem to be talking on cell phones. None paid much attention to a biker stranded along the road — not even the Redmond Police, who casually rolled by.
I called the pub to see if my buddy would bring a fuse, but the barmaid couldn’t find him. I was about to dig out my roadside assistance number (and figure on waiting an hour or more for them) when a voice asked, “Do you need help?”
From the side street, a lady asked if I needed assistance — the first of a gazillion passersby to do so. I told her I needed a fuse. She asked what type, and I showed her the blown fuse. She said “I’ll get you a fuse,” and drove off.
After fifteen minutes, I wondered if I should’ve called roadside assistance. O ye of little faith: suddenly, there was my new favorite person carrying a small box of fuses. I thanked her profusely and attempted to pay her. She responded, “Don’t even try,” and walked away.
With her new fuse and a couple of kicks, the old beast ran again. I made it to dinner, and made it home. I parked the panhead until I could figure out a more robust casing for the speedometer cable.
I am thankful that there are still folks in this world who will not only stop, but will go out of their way to help someone in need.
Even a biker.