Doongarra Downs to Black River

Woke early and got all packed quickly for the ride to Charters Towers (about another 160km of dirt) and then on to Donnie Lyon’s place at Black River (another contact of Rob’s).

Just before we headed off I thought I would have a quick look at my air filter.

Gee that looks bad!

Gee that looks bad!


Oh, but the inside of the air filter is the same!!! F**K!!!!!!!!!!

How the heck has dust got past the air filter so badly when I have never seen the inside of the filter even slightly dirty?

The next five hours involved pulling the carb out of the bike and entirely disassembling it, cleaning it in some of my precious fuel (in a cook pot) and reassembling everything. This was a big job. I was in the shade for all but the last 30 minutes and boy did my mood degrade quickly in the heat of the sun. I have plenty of water so we both kept hydrated.

I got out a spare air filter  (I carry three), oiled and installed it.

We rode into Charters Towers. I used all m remaining oil to top the bike up and by Chaters Towers it was desperate for more.

I bought a 4L container and we headed for Black River.

It was pretty late by this stage. It was over 200km to Black River and along the way by bike began to surge. I wasn’t sure if it was the engine about the seize or just some crap stuck in the carb. I stopped quite a few times trying to decided if I should pull the pin and get it trailered (not desirable at all especially considering we had no phone service and were a long way from Black River) or if I should keep riding it. I decided it must be the carb partly blocked and kept on. The oil was disappearing fast!! There are no photos. I was not in that that head space at all.

After more than three hours we did finally get to Donnie and Dana Lyon’s place. Boy was I glad to have arrived!

So the reason why yesterday was bad is because I “dusted” my motor yesterday. For those of you less mechanically inclined, dust is like a grinding paste for motors and wears them away very quick.

I guess that is the end of chapter one for Mawson. 41,000km. Time to rebuild the engine.

7 Responses to Doongarra Downs to Black River

  1. Lorelei August 23, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    Man, I hate when that happens!

  2. Big B August 23, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Ollie bad luck on the dusting I feel for you.
    I have some contacts in Townsville (Black river is a nthern suburb of Townsville yes?) to help fix it he is old school and if he can’t help he should know who can.
    Our Cape trip went well till Gunshot where the Sand and to much weight beat us, but as they say it’s the journey not the destination. Anyway you can call me on o41nine38two37six if you need any info. Hope all goes well


    • Oliver Holmgren August 23, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

      Thanks very much! Under other circumstances that might have been exactly what I needed. As it turns out I am remarkably lucky. I am staying with people who have almost all the gear to rebuild the motor. More news on this front soon.
      Good to hear you had fun. I’ll try to leave as much weight behind as possible! But yeah, its the journey hey 🙂

      • Big B August 24, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

        You always seam to fall on your feet! Good luck with the rebuild.


  3. Kimon August 23, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    You are still your nephews’ unchallenged hero… even though you can succumb to the dusty laws of nature!!!

  4. Harvey November 29, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

    Well I rode a klr 650 up the Gibb River road, to Kalumburu then to the Mitchell Plateau.

    Up to Cape Leveque.

    Through Fransior Peron National park,

    All very dusty.

    No problems at all.

    Did you clean the air filter Every day as it says in the manual, when bike is used in dusty

    Each night I drained about 500ml from the tank and washed the filter and re-oil for the next day.

    • Oliver Holmgren February 3, 2015 at 3:33 pm #

      Great to have your input. An air filter should get clogged and make the bike run rich but never allow dust through it. In 30,000km including several trips up to Lake Eyre and around I tended to get about 1500-3000km before a filter needed cleaning. I have had some pretty clogged filters at times and yet there was never any sign of dust on the inside of the filter until this incident. I expected to have to do filters much more frequently than I had been once I got up into the top end. My travelling companion, Raman, was on an XT 660 Tenere and he would collect dust at about 1/10th the rate I would (ie he would do 1 filter for 10 of mine). At times I was changing filters several times a day. This is just ridiculous. If you are riding in someone else’s dust, sure, but the bike should not be ingesting dust from it self when you are just riding along in clean air. I have ridden with lots of big KTMs and they get around 12,000km in conditions where I was clogging a filter in an hour (approx 50km), These bikes draw air far too close to the back wheel. Also the rear mud guard is not closed off. There are gaps that dust gets through. Also contributing factors I think are square block knobby tires and hard panniers. Bother increase the “dust storm” around the back wheel in my opinion. I would be interested to know several things about your bike.

      Were you using panniers (hard or soft)?
      Was the snorkel removed from your airbox?
      What sort of tires where you running?
      What time of year where you there?
      How long before you were there had it rained?

      Once again, good to hear from a fellow KLR rider.
      I would like to be able to put a finger on the causes to help others avoid them.
      Sunken Man

Leave a Reply