For many riders a motorcycle is not merely a toy, but a doorway to adventure and a tool for travel, commuting and skill building. It’s a focus for intellectual growth and an opportunity for learning.
That learning takes place not just on the road but in the garage, where even amateur mechanics quickly learn that the tools they hold can be as useful, enlightening and fascinating in their own right as the motorcycles they love to create, improve, repair and restore.
That’s why, when I had the opportunity recently to borrow a high-tech new tool to investigate the performance of my restored 1932 Harley flathead, I jumped on it.
It’s a tool you won’t find in many amateur garages: a Fluke Ti32 Thermal Imager, most commonly used to ferret out problems in industrial electromechanical systems. It’s designed to capture images of the infrared radiation from materials that can indicate problems below the surface, like defective, overheated bearings or loose electrical connections. It comes with an intuitive software system that makes it easier to adjust, rework and understand the images. The Ti32 is tough enough for the toolbox, though its list price of near $9000 puts it out of range for casual users. I can’t afford an MV Agusta either, but I’d sure jump at the chance to give one a workout, so I grabbed the Fluke Ti32 to examine what might be going on inside my old Harley.
I had just returned from a 180-mile run on the bike across the North Cascades Highway in Washington State. Though I had it running too rich at first, and its “total loss” oil system metered too much 60W into the crank case, the bike had performed well, but armed with a thermal imager I was curious to learn more.
The image above shows the rear cylinder was indeed running hotter than the front which, quite likely, is normal though it may be something needing further investigation, in either case, the thermal image gives a mechanic information otherwise unavailable to the naked eye.
In addition to reporting for The Kneeslider, I develop content for Fluke Corporation. The folks at Fluke provided the Ti32. You’ll find more images and the stories on what I found on the Fluke website.