Your Compensator Nut Might be Loose, Broken Hula Girl, Back on the Road


In my last blog I was down at Tybee Island for Thanksgiving. I had a great time there but a rough ride home. The traffic was “stop and go” south of Atlanta, it was colder than I expected and the bike started making a bad noise. It was a grinding sound that seemed to come from the engine. I pulled over and checked the bike to see if anything was loose – heat shields, engine mount, exhaust, brackets – they were fine. So I continued on and the sound continued too. As I listened the sound became more familiar to me and I finally figured out that it was a loose compensator nut. The only reason I guessed this was I had had the misfortune of having the nut come loose twice in the past. What is the compensator nut? It keeps the compensator on tight. And the compensator absorbs the shock of the chain going tight and slack.

Personally, I think I have problems with my own internal compensator nut. I struggle when life is accelerating too fast and then suddenly, when it moves into the slack times. My compensator nut comes loose and I need some psychic tools to tighten her up.

Anyway, I managed to get the bike home on that trip and then tucked her in the garage until I could find time to get her down to the Harley shop. That time was today. As I rode her up to the service door two of the mechanics were outside and staring at me because of the grinding, crunching sound the bike was making.

“You guessed right.” The mechanic said twenty minutes later. “It’s the compensator nut. Want a job?”

“I’m an idiot.” I told him. “I’m the last person you would want repairing a motorcycle.”

Within an hour the bike was fixed and washed, the only casualty being a broken hula girl. In the four years since I’ve owned Big Red I’ve had a hula girl, on the steering stem cover, to remind me to enjoy the ride and not take things, including myself, too seriously.

Now that the Harley’s fixed I need to find a new hula girl. And as for my internal compensator nut? I think I need to let go of some expectations, take a few more walks, enjoy the present moment, recognize that what I do have in my life more than compensates for what I don’t have, what I’ve lost. If I can just torque that thought tighter into my head and my heart I’ll get a few more miles out of me.

How’s your compensator nut?

2 thoughts on “Your Compensator Nut Might be Loose, Broken Hula Girl, Back on the Road

  1. Sounds like you’re a better mechanic than you give yourself credit for. Anyone that can diagnose a broken hula girl has a real understanding of how a machine is supposed to run. Happy New year!

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