Having smelt my clutch burning when I was stuck in mud, my goal turned to repairing it and leaving Gabon before my visa expired in about three weeks.

It's very unlikely I'd find the parts in Gabon, so I sourced parts online then spoke to Dad. He was happy to courier the parts to me! I ordered all the bits and other items such as a map, larger fire striker etc.

Some suppliers delivered on time. Others failed to notify me they were out of stock. After ordering everything on Sunday, Dad had received everything by Thursday.

Dad jumped into action and immediately sent the package. I was pleasantly surprised that the package arrived three days later in Gabon!

I left my camping spot at a school managed by a nunnery in Lamberene, and rode to Libreville to collect the parcel.

The courier's computer network was down, so I couldn't collect the parcel. They said come back tomorrow. The following day was a national holiday. Frustrating, to say the least!

Whilst waiting for the courier, I found a well stocked motorcycle shop. They had decent engine oil, so I grabbed that to replace the old engine oil when replacing the clutch. Hanging from their wall was a well known brand of handle bars. Couldn't resist buying these to replace mine that were bent during my accident in Mauritania. From now on, I no longer ride like my right arm is shorter than my left!

Whilst at the motorcycle shop, I met two guys riding the same route as me. Jaakko was a Finnish guy riding a Honda XT660R, and Evan was an American guy riding a Kawasaki KLR. They were sound. Very refreshing to have a free flowing conversation in English!

In Libreville, it seemed I was bait for police to pull me in when I was riding. The first time, they claimed there were problems with my paperwork. They threatened me with time in the cell. They asked for money. Unfortunately, I had handed over my passport and insurance, which they had clasped in their hands. Big mistake. After discussion back and forth, they drove off with my documents. I calmly followed. They pulled over. Within a few minutes, they returned my documents. I left pretty quick!

Another day, I was pulled again. This time, they said I needed a Gabonese license plate. What nonsense! I was instructed to speak to the chief on the other side of the road. The chief just waved me on.

After dodging police for a few days, I finally received the parcel. It was 12 days after ordering the items online. Clock was ticking to replace the clutch and get to the border before my visa expires within about a week. Plenty of time, but you never what can happen!

So, finally, I had the replacement parts, and I was staying in a hotel where I could work on the bike. I drained the engine oil and water coolant before taking off the engine cover.

Getting ready to replace clutch plates. Libreville, Gabon.
Stock clutch pack on Honda CRF250L before upgrade to clutch friction plates from Honda CBR250R. Libreville, Gabon.
Stock clutch pack on Honda CRF250L before upgrade to clutch friction plates from Honda CBR250R. Libreville, Gabon.
Catching a few drops of oil whilst changing clutch plates on Honda CRF250L. Libreville, Gabon.

It was the first time, I'd replaced clutch plates. Removing the engine cover was daunting because I didn't want a single piece of dirt to enter.

The new clutch friction plates are thicker and the springs are stiffer, which means improved durability!

New clutch plates were installed and I put the engine cover back on with a new gasket. Refilled with engine oil and water coolant. Started the engine... Oil was spitting out from the gasket/seal between the engine and the engine cover. My underwear changed colour!

I had to drain engine oil and water coolant again to inspect the problem. The gasket is a thin flexible sheet that looks like card. It goes between the engine case and the engine cover where metal meets metal. Two screws had torn a small part of the gasket causing it to be raised in two places, thus allowing oil to spit out. With great care, I flattened the raised bits. After refilling with engine oil and water coolant, there was no longer any spitting. Phew! Fixed :)

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