Decided to ride out to WV on the modern Tiger, as my Jubilee is still one the center stand in the middle of a swingarm overhaul. Swingarm is done, but now I need to rebuild the rear disc brake caliper and master cylinder as they've seen better days....
Got together with three friends and with full-face helmet on (see: motorcycling mask) we headed out. A quick overnight in a cabin near the Monongahela National Forest, found us waking up to a cloudy but dry Saturday. One of the guys had an excellent road map, b/c unless you have a satellite GPS, the cell service is non-existent and spotty at best. We pulled into a gas station late in the morning and decided to fuel up and stretch the legs.
As we prepared to continue our ride up a mountain stretch of US 33, we pulled out of the gas station. My bike stalled. Huh. Thinking nothing of it, hit the start button and off I went in the sweeper position (see: last). As we began our ascent up 33, I noticed the bike felt dodgy, lacked power and seemed to want to stall as I rolled off the throttle to change gears. After about eight miles of this, I started to get worried. Bike was NOT running well at all. Hairpin turns, coming out of the turn, I'd give it the throttle and it bogged, smoke would start billowing out the exhaust. Giving it full throttle, it bogged at 4K RPM and wouldn't go...(think: riding with the choke on).
At this point, I knew SOMEthing was going on. My first thought was bad gas at the last fuel stop b/c it had been running flawlessly up until that point. I pulled off at a turnabout as the others continued on at which point the bike just dies.... A few minutes later, my friend Dave who was right in front of me circled back and found me staring the bike in puzzlement. He was happy too see me as he half-expected to find me and the bike off a hairpin in the ditch.
Told him what was happening, we both suspected bad gas and for some reason he said, "you didn't put diesel in it, did you?" I scoffed. "Nope, no way, no how, only an idiot would do that, yadda yada"....as my other two friends figured out they lost two of their group, they were pulling in as I pulled out my wallet. I ALWAYS get receipts for my purchases so I can reconcile my bill at the end of the month. I look at the receipt and see that I pumped about 2.5 gallons of DIESEL in a 5.3 gallon tank! How in the F**K did that happen?!?!
We began to formulate a plan. Not having any hose or tubing amongst us to siphon the fuel out, I began to get ready to start removing the plastic bits and try to reach the fuel line itself. Suddenly 100 yards ahead coming down a sharp turn, a semi pulls off to cool his brakes. Maybe HE has some tubing I could borrow? I jog up to his truck and sure enough, he has a four-foot section of fuel hose WITH a one-way, marble check valve. Talk about the right tools! After an initial mouthful of diesel and gas, were drained off all five gallons of fuel on the side of the road (sorry Mother Nature, no where else to put it), then I siphon off about a gallon of fresh fuel from two of my friend's bikes using a 20ml water bottle. After cycling the starter about 20 times, she finally caught and fired up!
I returned the hose to the trucker, offered him money, he declined. Thanked him profusely, back the way we came to the to another gas station so I could refuel AGAIN. Only lost about an hour of riding due to this debacle. It could have always been worse I suppose.
The nagging question is HOW did I mistake a diesel pump for gas? When I'm riding, a split second of inattention can be the difference between staying safe and ending up off the road. How did I have so much inattention at the pump? We actually went to that same gas station the next day and it started to make sense. They had two pump hoses/spouts attached to one pump. All the diesel handles were BLACK plastic and the gas handles were bright BLUE. Where I come from, the diesel hose is (almost always) denoted by the handle color (green or blue) and gas is black. Not paying enough attention, I just naturally grabbed the hose with the BLACK handle thinking it was gas. Even pressed the 87 octane button. The diesel pumps in the towns do not have a larger spigot like the commercial places do for the semis. A large portion of the trucks(see: pickups) in WV are diesel-engined, so the diesel spigot has the same bore as the gas spigots...
So let this be a lesson to y'all (see: ME!). Pay attention, even when you're NOT riding....especially at the pumps!
Footnote: for some reason, my riding friends have begun to call me "Diesel", which made me think......the '77 Bonneville is named "Jubee", so it makes sense: my Tiger, unnamed heretofore, will now be known as "Diesel". Or "Lady Die" for short!!
Steve, please put this down as one of those "learn something new every day things" and not that it's just me acting like a know it all.
But.........you DO NOT HAVE TO SUCK on a hose to siphon. What you do ( having a rag handy is helpful but not a deal breaker) is you use your hand to seal around the filler cap and hose...leaving a opening between your pointer finger and thumb then BLOW into the tank. That's enough to pressurize it and fuel will start to flow. Old shade tree trick. When it's a car or truck where the filler cap is recessed.....use a shorter section of hose to blow in. On a bike....it's so simple.
I had to pick up Craig (aka Bonzo) at Mid-Ohio one year when he dieseled his A65. He caught grief for years over that one.