nr's blog

A Suspension of Disbelief 26 December, 2018

Filed under: Motorcycling — nr @ 1:48 pm

After the last exciting installment where I started work on the wheels, things have moved on a bit. Originally, I’d planned to sort out the engine and electrics before worrying about wheels and suspension. And in an ideal world, that’s exactly what I would have done, as obviously there’s no point spending money on fork seals if the thing runs a big-end as soon as I start it up. However, the world is not ideal. Actually, let me caveat that. I’m exceedingly happy with my lot in life. I have a beautiful, happy family, a roof over my head, and can put food on the table every day. This makes me very contented indeed. However, if I was to choose one part of my pink and fluffy world that isn’t ideal, it’s my garage. It’s too small. Because of this, when I have one bike up on stands, it makes it a bit of a pain to get the other one in/out, so I can go to work to keep that roof over my head and food on the table.

Admittedly, this is a very small fly in a very large jar of ointment.

But, it does explain why I decided to sort out the suspension on the SV, rather than dive into the engine and electrics. I needed to be able to wheel the bike around the place. I think we left things last time with the wheels all cleaned up, and it was a simple matter then to clean up the brake discs and refit them. I was planning to replace all the disc bolts with something new and shiny, but in the end the old ones polished up OK, so they went back in. One thing to note if you’re doing this yourself: don’t put copper grease on the disc bolts… normally I’ll put a small smear of the stuff on just about any fastener that gets installed, but on the disc bolts you don’t want them to loosen accidentally. With the discs refitted, and all the wheel bearings checked, cleaned, and regreased, it was time to look at the suspension.

Rear suspension first then. As previously mentioned, I have some incredibly generous friends, to the point where a lovely GSX-R750 shock was donated to the project, thanks to my mate Druid. This is a large improvement over stock in terms of build quality, and also adjustability. It is slightly longer than the stock shock, but this is actually OK, as a slight increase in ride height is not necessarily a bad thing. Well, it’s not a bad thing if you have stock suspension tie-rods anyway. Of course, one of the previous owners of this bike had made some shorter ones out of a lump of pig iron using a tin opener. So, when I fitted the GSX-R shock, it fouled on the swingarm at first. This was sorted out incredibly easily, when the lovely Alex at Darvill Racing sent me a stock pair from his spares box. With these fitted, the rocker arm bearings cleaned and regreased, everything bolted up nice and easily. That was suspiciously easy…

The front was altogether more involved. As already ascertained, a new fork leg was going to be needed. eBay to the rescue for this one, as one turned up reasonably local, for fifteen quid. Well, that was easy, and when it turned up the very next day, it was lovely. Beautifully polished, and spotlessly clean. Which was a lovely surprise, but did mean that I’d need to clean the other one to match. However, things were about to take a bit of an unexpected turn… I drained, and stripped the forks to replace the seals (they were both leaking anyway, so this needed doing) and gave everything a good clean up. The bottom bolts came out reasonably easily by the simple act of leaving the springs and caps in place when initially loosening them. This helps to stop the damper rods rotating in the fork legs. It’s always a messy job replacing fork seals, but it’s one of those jobs that’s pretty straightforward, and quite satisfying when everything goes back together. Surprise #1 bit me on the arse when I pulled the caps off the forks to drop the springs out – the spacers were different lengths, badly cut out of a crappy old bit of poly tube, and about 200mm shorter than they should have been. The springs then came out, and were about 250mm longer than they should be. hmmm. No idea what bike they came out of, but for sure it wasn’t an SV. Now, one of the rules of messing with suspension is only to change one thing at a time – obviously I’ve replaced the rear shock, so having completely non-standard fork internals wasn’t in the plan at all at this point. No matter, funds are tight, so I just cleaned everything up, installed the new seals, and fitted it all back together into the new fork leg. Surprise #2 then stood up, and delivered a massive boot to the gentlemans veg area at this point. The new fork leg was bent. It was a beautifully polished bent-ness, but it was very much bent. So that got thrown in the corner along with the one that I’d hacked up with the angle grinder. Safe to say, that if I had a cat, I would have kicked it at this point. But, rather than sulk about the whole affair, I devised a cunning plan – I’d pick up a set of bent forks from a breakers, reuse what bits I could, and throw the rest away. And within 10 minutes, I’d found a set of very lightly bent forks on eBay for 20 quid, and hit the buy it now button. When they turned up a couple of days later, I couldn’t have been happier. The lowers (which is what I really needed) were in perfect condition, and black, rather than silver. The uppers were only slightly bent, so, with very little trouble at all, they came apart, and a complete, undamaged, and totally stock set of fork internals fell out. This made me very happy indeed, as it was then a simple matter to rebuild them using my straight stanchions to give me a very tidy set of forks with new seals, and stock internals. So, with the wheels bolted in, things are looking good now:

20181224_125737

And more importantly, I can now move the thing around the garage again. I will, probably, fit cartridge emulators at some point in the future, as they worked so well on the TRX. But remember what I said about only changing one thing at a time? Yeah, that still holds. It’s not *all* beer and skittles though. To use the GSX-R shock I need to modify the tank fitting brackety-wotsit. This isn’t a real problem though, as I’ll be relocating the battery when I install a new subframe at some point in the future. The subframe on there at the moment is only there to make it easier to move around. It’s not staying.

All in all, it’s a bit of a milestone really. The bike is back up on its wheels. Admittedly, it’s turned into a bit of a Triggers Broom to get to this point, with new frame, forks, swingarm, shock, tie-rods and yokes. But given the biggest single expenditure so far is the replacement V5 for the new frame, I’m not worried by that. Still a long way to go, but I think this is a nice place to end the year. Current thinking for the next step is to sort out the loom and refit the electrics – but right now, I’m going to go and pop the kettle on rather than stand in a cold garage any longer.

Running total

  • Bike: £250
  • Starter solenoid: £11
  • Resistors: £1 (for 20)
  • Frame, yokes, swingarm: £11.50
  • Fork lower (bent): £15 (wasted)
  • Scrap forks for spares: £22
  • Air filter: £0
  • GSX-R shock: £0
  • V5: £25
  • Fork seals: £12
  • Tie-rods: £0
  • Rear brake hose: £0
  • Various carb screws: £0
  • Assorted allen headed fasteners: £3.50
  • Front wheel spindle: £10
  • Fork oil: £11.25

(Note – not included delivery charges where I’ve bought stuff online, as I’d have paid petrol money to go and pick stuff up anyway).
Shopping list

  • CR8E spark plugs
  • Battery
  • Carb heater (optional)
  • Choke cable (optional)
  • Clutch actuator
  • Brake pads
  • Brake hoses
  • Brake fluid
  • Rear caliper
  • Oil
  • Oil filter
  • Exhaust gaskets
  • Exhaust clamps
  • Chain
  • Sprockets
  • Rearsets
  • 41mm Clipons
  • Controls
  • Clutch lever
  • Brake lever
  • Tyres
  • Bodywork
  • Paint
  • Exhaust studs (42 x 8mm)
  • Alternator cover gasket
  • Disc bolts
  • Number plate

 

Plan of action

  • *Initial stripdown
  • *Prove viability of engine
  • *Complete strip and inspection of chassis
  • *New frame registration/SORN
  • *Engine checkover as far as possible
  • *Install engine in frame
  • *Clean, and install shock and swingarm
  • Install carbs/fuel lines
  • Sort out ignition switch
  • Install loom
  • Rebuild pipes (May need to have them test fitted first).
  • Install pipes
  • Install cooling system
  • New subframe and battery mount/tank mount
  • New alternator gasket
  • Oil/filter/coolant/plugs (basic service stuff)
  • Test run
  • *Overhaul wheels
  • Overhaul brakes
  • *Fork rebuild
  • *Install forks
  • *Install wheels
  • Install brakes
  • Fit chain
  • Controls
  • Clocks
  • Bodywork
  • Paint
  • Tyres
  • MOT/Tax
  • Gravel trap

 

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This Wheel’s On Fire 30 November, 2018

Filed under: Motorcycling — nr @ 4:29 pm

Time for a slight change of direction in my bloggy outpourings. Normally, I kind of wait a month or so, think of a song title that vaguely matches something that I’ve done, and then post a list of “first I did this then I did that” kind of stuff. Which while being easy to write, probably is a bit difficult to read with a lot of bouncing around between subjects. And besides, I was running out of song titles. So, now that the SV650 is in bits, I thought it might be better to write fewer words but a bit more often, on a particular part of the renovation. (Nearly called it a restoration, but I fear that this bike is way past restoring. Actually, it should probably be called a resuscitation more than anything else).  And, as I’m keeping track of costs, I’ll also keep a track of jobs done, and jobs to do. Both of these lists will, of course, change greatly as things happen and I discover more horrors that have suffered the repeated application of the bodging hammer.

The logical place therefore would be to start with the inspection and cleaning of the engine I suppose. Or maybe the frame, as both of these items are crucial to the success of the project, and are really the foundations of any motorbike. So of course, I’ll start with the wheels. Now, there’s not much to do on a wheel really – so this shouldn’t go on for too long, hopefully. First thing, of course, is to get the wheels off of the bike. The rear wheel came out without any problems. Just get the bike up on stands, slacken off the chain adjusters, whip the spindle out, and pull the wheel out from the back. This was made slightly easier in my case, as the rear brake caliper was already off – if it’s still fitted, you may need to wiggle things around a bit, but things are still largely the same. The front wheel was more challenging. First step is to get the calipers off, which was easy enough – no seized bolts there, so the calipers were put in a box ready for cleaning – that’s going to be another story. Next step is to slacken off the pinch bolts at the bottom of the r/h fork leg. These felt pretty loose already, which was a bit worrying – I think the threads are on the way out there. No matter – that’s easy enough to fix later on. However, the spindle was completely seized in the thread in the l/h fork leg. Normally, a good few days of soaking in penetrating lubricant (I’m currently using Halfords own brand, and I have to say, it’s right up there with the best I’ve tried) and some heat will shift most stuck threads. Not in this case though. I ended up with a three foot bar on it, and the spindle was actually starting to twist. I suspect that the last time it was fitted, is was spectacularly crossthreaded, and rather than backing things out and starting again, the butcher just leaned on it with longer and longer bars until it was kind of in the right place.

In the end, the only way forward was to get the angle grinder out, and hack off the end of the fork leg:

20181123_160021

Note to everyone out there: *Always* wear eye protection when using an angle grinder – I know, this is basic stuff. But I had a proper exploding disc moment, which took a chunk out of my safety specs. I shudder to think would would have happened had I not been wearing them. Anyway, with both wheels now out, it was time to decide which one to attack first. I decided on the front, as it’s always a pain to get the disc bolts out, so I may as well get this out of the way. Again, over the course of a few days, I soaked them all in penetrating lube, both on the disc side, and also by squirting a load into the holes in the hub, to get to the back of the threads. And when the time felt about right (errr, when I had a slack couple of hours at work actually) I got stuck in. Again, the blowtorch was pressed into service to start with, to pour some heat into the surrounding metal. This didn’t get off to a good start, as the inside of the hub was by now full of grease, penetrating lube, old spiders webs, and what appears with hindsight to have been tinder-dry wood shavings for some reason. Obviously, the whole bloody lot went up like a Roman candle, which didn’t do my nerves much good (errr, or those of the nearby Guinea Pig I expect, who sadly expired the day after. RIP Bubble) but it did a fine job of heating the threads. In fact, I may try this deliberately next time. So much so, that seven of the ten bolts came straight out with just an allen key and a bit of light persuasion from the Brummie Screwdriver. The other three were stuck fast. So, I broke out the angle grinder and flap disc to give them a good clean up, and then attacked them with the MIG welder. The normal way to approach this is to weld a bolt on there, and then get a spanner on it. This time though, I tried something different. I poured quite a lot of weld into the hex head of the bolt and then ran a bead out to the edge of the head. Then, I simply punched it around with a centre punch and hammer. All three of them came out easily enough with this treatment. This was a nice turn of events, as I was fully expecting at least one of them to snap off.

With the discs off, the next step was cleaning the crap off. First stage for this was a really good scrubbing with some three-in-one heavy duty degreaser. This isn’t really a product endorsement, just what I had in the garage at the time. With the aid of a stiff scrubbing brush, it actually made pretty light work of the worst of the grime. It’s not cheap stuff (and as such, I wouldn’t normally use it on wheels, but like I said, it was really all I had at the time) but it did the job well. Stage two was a pan scourer and some bleach. Now, I can see I’ll probably get all sorts of people saying this is a bad idea, but in my experience, as long as  you wash it off well afterwards, it’s actually pretty good on ground in brake dust. Just remember to wear gloves when using it! A quick comparison of the wheels shows how successful this was:

20181130_132422

Happy with that. Next step is to clean up the brake discs, and refit them. That, however, can wait until I get paid, so I can buy some new disc bolts. Or, more likely, given my extreme tightwaddishness, some slightly less badgered s/hand ones that I can polish up.

 

Running total

  • Bike: £250
  • Starter solenoid: £11
  • Resistors: £1 (for 20)
  • Frame, yokes, swingarm: £11.50
  • Fork lower: £15
  • Air filter: £0
  • GSX-R shock: £0
  • V5: £25

 

Shopping list

  • Assorted allen headed fasteners
  • CR8E spark plugs
  • Battery
  • Carb heater (optional)
  • Choke cable (optional)
  • Clutch actuator
  • Fork seals
  • Fork oil
  • Brake pads
  • Brake hoses
  • Brake fluid
  • Rear caliper
  • Oil
  • Oil filter
  • Exhaust gaskets
  • Exhaust clamps
  • Chain
  • Sprockets
  • Rearsets
  • 41mm Clipons
  • Controls
  • Clutch lever
  • Brake lever
  • Tyres
  • Bodywork
  • Paint
  • Exhaust studs (42 x 8mm)
  • Alternator cover gasket
  • Front wheel spindle
  • Disc bolts
  • Suspension tie-rods

 

Plan of action

  • *Initial stripdown
  • *Prove viability of engine
  • *Complete strip and inspection of chassis
  • New frame registration/SORN (applied for)
  • *Engine checkover as far as possible
  • *Install engine in frame
  • Clean, and install shock and swingarm
  • Install carbs/fuel lines
  • Sort out ignition switch
  • Install loom
  • Rebuild pipes (May need to have them test fitted first).
  • Install pipes
  • Install cooling system
  • New subframe and battery mount/tank mount
  • New alternator gasket
  • Oil/filter/coolant/plugs (basic service stuff)
  • Test run
  • Overhaul wheels (in progress)
  • Overhaul brakes
  • Fork rebuild
  • Install forks
  • Install wheels/brakes
  • Controls
  • Clocks
  • Bodywork
  • Paint
  • Tyres
  • MOT/Tax
  • Tea
  • Gravel trap

 

As already mentioned, that plan of action is very draft right now, and will change over time, both in the content and the order of events. But it helps me to keep track of what needs doing, and what the dependencies are (for instance, no point in trying to fit the brakes until I’ve fitted the forks…). Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this blog vaguely updated with the tasks as they happen. We’ll see. Whatever happens, there will be tea. There’s always tea.

 

Pulled to bits 22 November, 2018

Filed under: Motorcycling — nr @ 1:48 pm

Without further ado, here’s where we are with the SV650:

20181116_103656

(Sorry for the terrible picture quality. Taken with a phone in a dark garage in the depths of winter. But you get the general idea of progress).

First job with any project really is to strip it down, to see what you’re dealing with. And in this case, while I’d like to show you photos of every bodge uncovered, I only have about 15TBs of space for images. Nowhere near enough. I’ve been stripping and rebuilding bikes since I was at school (which was rather a long time ago now) and I’ve never seen anything quite this bad. The stripdown started with just enough to see if the engine would even turn over. First job was to pop a socket on the end of the crank, and give it a gentle turn. This was very positive actually – no creaking, just an easy turn of a complete revolution. No graunching noises, no obvious piston/valve problems. Armed with the knowledge that the bike didn’t run, I dived into the wiring. The loom was full of horrible bodges, presumably inflicted by the previous owner in an attempt to fix the non-runneriness. What made things worse was that they didn’t have a soldering iron (probably a good thing, as I’m sure they would have picked it up by the wrong end) so all the splices were just twisted together and taped. I soldered what needed doing, threw on a set of jump leads from the car, crossed my fingers, and pressed the button.

Nothing. Not even a click. A bit of head scratching followed, with the aid of some tea. So, first things first. Are we getting 12V into the starter solenoid? Yup. Are we then getting 12V out of it to the rest of the bike? Errr, nope. Not a sausage. Nothing to the instruments, nothing to the starter, nothing anywhere. This was pretty quickly tracked down to a horribly corroded solenoid, so I replaced it, and tried again. First thing I noticed was the instrument panel lighting up like a Christmas tree, which was a positive sign. Again, I crossed my fingers, and pressed the button. The motor span over, which was good. But no spark was forthcoming. I checked and rechecked quite a few things (mainly things like clutch and sidestand lockout switches, HT leads, the obvious stuff) before a mate suggested that the genuine Suzuki ignition switch had a 100ohm resistor built into it as an anti-hotwire measure. If the ECU doesn’t see the 100ohms, it doesn’t make any sparks. Sadly you can’t buy just one resistor. I had to buy 20. But for 5p each, well, I’m not complaining. Anyone want to buy a resistor or 19? A bit of hot soldering action later, the resistor was in the right place in the circuit, and it was time to try again. And this time, there was definitely sparky action happening.

Now, armed with a rotating engine and a spark, attention turned to the carbs:

 

20181014_101034

Yeah. As you can see, they needed a lot of cleaning. And before I could get any of the fasteners out, I had to invest in a set of JIS screwdrivers to even have a chance. However, with a bit of heat, and a lot of patience, they eventually came apart, and while they look like they’ve been buried in the garden for three months, they’re actually pretty clean inside, and the diaphragms are OK. That’s a relief, as replacing bits of carbs is expensive, and you always end up just chasing the least worn-out bits around the carbs until you’ve ended up replacing every single sodding needle, jet and spring. The choke plungers were a bit of a challenge to get out, but again, with a lot of penetrating lubricant, a bit of heat, and the right tools, eventually, they came out too. Everything was cleaned up, put back together, and bolted onto the bike, along with the fuel tank and a splash of super unleaded. Right then, would it fire… Oh, hold on. Oil. Best check the oil first. Good job I did, as the sump was emptier than a politicians promise. I topped it up with some old gloop I had kicking around (no point in filling it with nice oil, as I just want to hear if it fires) and pressed the button. After a bit of churning, there was a couple of pops, and the sound of an engine definitely trying to run, and the headers were definitely warmer than they had been.

I switched it off, and went to have a celebratory cup of tea. 15 minutes later I came back into the garage to find most of the oil now on the floor. Bollocks. Right then, now I knew I had a viable project my hands, it was time to tear it apart. I could post any number of photos of seized fasteners, stripped threads, horrific bodges, but I’ll just leave this one here, to give you a feeling of the kind of challenges that I was presented with:

20181028_111529

I did get the rest of that out in the end, with the aid of a lot of heat, a lot of penetrating lubricant, and a bolt extractor. Which is just as well, as I wasn’t planning on replacing the cylinder heads necessarily. Similarly, the front wheel spindle is completely seized in the l/h fork lower. I think that it’s been horribly crossthreaded at some point, and the only way this is coming out with with an angle grinder and a new fork leg. Excellent – angle grinder action ahead!!

Brakes are, of course, horribly neglected. All pistons were seized, as were the sliders. I suspect that it’s lucky that the bike wasn’t running, as it would surely have killed the hapless pilot at the first corner. But, again, with a lot of patience and cleaning fluids, they’ve been stripped, and cleaned up. Of course, they’ll be treated to new seals and bolts and hoses before going anywhere near the bike again. But that goes to the bottom of the list really – as there’s no point in having perfect brakes if the thing doesn’t run well enough to need them. Exhaust system is pretty badly corroded, but I reckon recoverable with a bit of imaginative TIG action. Controls need basically throwing away and starting again, which is OK, as it’s going to be a long time before I worry about that side of things.

Also worth mentioning the biggest bodge uncovered… one of the mounting lugs for the lights/instruments had been hacked off. Aaaaaaaaaaargh…. This is a massive pain in the neck, but easily solved, as a s/hand frame came up for a tenner on eBay. As a bonus, it came with a new set of yokes (the originals, had, of course, been horribly bodged to fit the ridiculous motocross bars), and swingarm. And to make life even better, I got it delivered for free thanks to the massive generosity of friends. And at the same time I got a lovely GSX-R750 shock thrown in the box along with a bunch of other goodies. Woohoo! It was like Christmas. All in all, things are going well so far. The bike has thrown up a lot of challenges, but I like that. Some of the bodges have just been funny (like the clipons just hacked off, rather than actually fully removed), some have been stupid, like some ****ing idiot putting back in half an alternator cover gasket, which explained the massive oil leak. But all in all, I’m now confident that with a lot more cleaning and de-bodging, I’m going to have a roadworthy bike. And a massive pile of bits spare – I’ll list them at some point, and if anyone wants anything (frame, bodywork, tank, shock, 100ohm resistor (I have a lot of these), whatever) just let me know and we’ll work something out.

Running total

  • Bike: £250
  • Starter solenoid: £11
  • Resistors: £1 (for 20)
  • Frame, yokes, swingarm: £11.50
  • V5: £25

Shopping list

  • Assorted allen headed fasteners
  • CR8E spark plugs
  • Battery
  • Carb heater (optional)
  • Choke cable (may be able to bodge something)
  • Clutch actuator
  • L/H fork leg lower
  • Fork seals
  • Fork oil
  • Brake pads
  • Brake hoses
  • Brake fluid
  • Rear caliper
  • Oil
  • Oil filter
  • Exhaust gaskets
  • Exhaust clamps
  • Chain
  • Sprockets
  • Rearsets
  • 41mm Clipons
  • Controls
  • Clutch lever
  • Brake lever
  • Tyres
  • Bodywork
  • Paint
  • Exhaust studs (42 x 8mm)
  • Alternator cover gasket. I’ll be radical and buy the whole thing, rather than just the half that I need.

 

 

Making Plans for Nigel 13 October, 2018

Filed under: Motorcycling — nr @ 8:46 pm

So, a few days ago, I was idly chatting with my mate Lippy on Facebook about this and that – it’s a regular Sunday evening thing really. We’ll start talking about bikes in some form, and just see where the conversation goes. I’ve idly spent many happy Sunday evenings just talking rubbish about bikes. Anyway, last Sunday, a group of us were chatting away, when Lippy mentioned that he had a lead on an SV650 in need of restoration, for £250. Now, call me optimistic, but that sounded like a challenge if ever there was one, so I instantly responded with “I’ll have it for that”, having never even seen a picture of it. The very next day, I got a photo:

43462917_346550755911959_4450281911947886592_n

Well, doesn’t look *that* bad, right? I mean, the paintwork is, well, not to my taste, but looks presentable enough. The motocross bars? Errr, no thanks. They’re going in the bin. That headlight unit looks like a prop from a 50p remake of Star Wars or something. That’s going to follow the bars into the same bin. And that exhaust looks to be terrifyingly, shatteringly illegal, even for race use.

Now, it’s safe to say that I wasn’t really looking for a project bike. I’m skint, after my car shat itself a few weeks back. But I have a massive soft spot for SVs, especially after racing the fabulous Darvill Racing SV at Jurby last year. So, I started putting together a plan to get up to Birmingham to collect it, and trying to work out what to actually do with it. The first part of this plan of action was made very easy when Foz dropped me a line, saying “I’ve got a van, happy to pick it up and drive it over for you”. So, earlier today, Foz and his son Bobby turned up, and we unloaded the SV, and got it out into the sunlight. We then got on with the important business of drinking tea, eating bacon & black pudding butties, and then having another cuppa to wash it down with. Foz & Bobby then headed back home, and I started to put together a plan of action.

First thing, obviously, is to see if it runs. And there are myriad reasons that I’m not even going to attempt to start it yet. Firstly, the wiring is quite horrifically bodged in places, and really needs a good going over. I have a spare ECU and loom, but I suspect that whatever was causing it not to run is down to electrical bodgery, rather than an ECU failure. And I’m in the very happy position of having some mates with excellent knowledge of the SV650, having either invented the Minitwins race series, or built, from the ground up, some very competitive bikes. Already I’ve had some brilliant guidance on where to start looking for lack-of-sparky-action problems. Secondly, the fuel system needs a good seeing too. The carbs are pretty gunged up, and really need a good stripping and cleaning up. And, finally, I need to check to see if there’s any oil in there…

Secure in the knowledge that this is a 20yr old Suzuki, and therefore pretty much every fastener will be seized, I dived in. And it’s safe to say that this bike has had a very hard life. Bodge upon bodge was unveiled, and while some of them just need cleaning up and putting back together properly (like the wiring for example), some will require either some fabrication or looking for s/hand parts (footrests for example) and at least one bodge is irreversible, and may cause a few headaches later on – one of the front fairing mounts has been removed. Bother. But, of course, none of this matters if I can’t get the thing running, which is where I am now. The airbox and carbs are currently off. The engine turns over when cranked by hand. And the wiring is being methodically checked, and un-bodged where necessary. It’s going to be a good while before it runs, as there’s a lot more un-bodging to complete, but it’s all therapeutic work, and will keep me out of mischief for a while.

Assuming it does run, what am I going to do with it? I did, for one moment, think of turning it into a trackday bike. But, that would be epically stupid, as I don’t do trackdays. No, this will go back on the road. And I’m not going to just stick a stubby seat unit on there and call it a café racer. No, that’s been done with a million other SVs. And it’s certainly not going back on the road with the existing paintwork on there. Plans will come along, I’m sure. I’ve seen some things that I like the look of, but I’m not going to start thinking about bodywork and paint yet. There are too many other things to think about right now. And if it’s beyond a financially sensible repair to get it running again (I suspect it’ll be fine, but I’m being pragmatic about this), I’ll just sell the parts on, and get my money back.

So, I’ve ended up with something that really, should be on the scrapheap. It should have been there a long time ago. It’s loud, gaudy, and in this day and age, of no use at all. Yet, inexplicably it’s been given a second chance, no doubt to be kicked and sworn at repeatedly. There are so many better options available. Really, there is no good reason to take this path at all. I know it will let me down when tough questions are asked of it.

Now, what should I call it?

Postscript: Thinking about it, and I know I probably shouldn’t do this, but I’m going to keep a running total of costs, and a wishlist of things that I need.  So, here goes:

Running Total

  • Bike: £250

Wishlist

  • Bucket of deox
  • Industrial strength degreaser
  • Willpower of a saint
  • Penetrating oil
  • Impact driver
  • Haynes Manual. (Already have the workshop manual as a .pdf, but I find the Haynes manuals to be useful to have alongside the workshop manual)

Once I’ve proven that the motor works, the wishlist will start to include things that I actually need to progress the next stage of the rebuild. But for now, until I hear the motor running, I’m not going to buy anything.

 

 

All ones and zeroes 16 September, 2018

Filed under: Motorcycling — nr @ 11:42 am

Blimey, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? All sorts of stuff has happened in the past few months, and I’ve really been a bit lazy with regard to keeping this lot updated. If you cast your mind back to, erm, July, I mentioned that I had plans for some track time and a quick jaunt to France. Both of those things did indeed happen, but in time honoured fashion, I’m not going to talk about them just yet. No, the first thing I want to talk about is this:

Untitled2

Yup, I’ve finally brought the TRX kicking and screaming (well, farting and droning) into the digital age, with a lovely Ignitech programmable ignition unit. Actually getting hold of this is another story in its own right, which I’m sure will be told later. What’s particularly nice about this story though is that there’s another TRX850 that’s just been rescued from the great scrappy in the sky, and it’s now owned by my mate Foz. I’d originally planned to buy the bike myself, but my car threw a bearing in the rear diff, and I couldn’t justify spending the money. However, plans were rapidly thrown together with Alex from Darvill Racing and Foz, and I ended up swapping a spare stock CDI unit that I had in the garage for the Ignitech unit. So, what will this do for the bike? Well, I’m not entirely sure so far… but it does mean that I can plug it into a laptop now and pretend to be in a MotoGP paddock. Current plan is to just run the bike for a while (at least until I’ve replaced the car and let my finances recover a bit), and then take it to Spike at Cambridge Motorcycles for some dyno time, and maybe some tweaking of the advance map to suit the FCR41s. This is the first time I’ve ever owned a bike that can be tuned with a laptop rather than a set of riffler files, so I’m going to bore everyone stupid for the next six months, talking about programmable dwell times and shift light outputs.

So, looking a bit further back, we went to France. This was, undoubtedly, the highlight of the year for me. It was a bit of a trek for sure, which really started a long time before ever booking the tunnel crossing… Some time last year, my friend Michael, with whom I’d shared several good bottles of wine, many happy evenings together, and even an avalanche, suggested that Sol and me, and our families, take a trip to his place in Burgundy for a week of summer sun. This seemed like a fabulous idea, so over a large roast dinner and a couple of bottles of wine, a plot was hatched. The Lovely Faye, Sue, and the girls would all jump on a flight to Geneva, and hire a car to get to Chantisy. Meanwhile, Sol and I would ride. A proper road trip. The first challenge really was to ensure that the bikes were up to the job. I wasn’t too concerned, as I use mine for work every day anyway, but as Sol has written about on his blog, his Katana was always going to need a bit more work, as it was still in a pile of bits in the corner of his garage. Here be spiders. About five months of weapons grade procrastination followed, which was brilliantly enjoyable, but not ultimately productive, and so, a week before we were due to travel, we ended up in Sol’s garage frantically stripping forks, changing the oil, and re-lockwiring everything again.

The journey down to Michael’s place was, of course, brilliant. We left Cambridge about about midnight, got the 03:20 train, and by 05:00 or so local time, we were riding out of Calais. It’s worth mentioning at this point that Sol’s mighty Katana is probably the only bike that is louder than my TRX in the country. When we left Sol’s house at midnight, we actually walked the bikes about 100metres down the road before starting them up… Anyhow, the kilometres rolled past, and the initial bone-chilling cold soon passed as the sun rose:

IMG_0609

Yeah. That Katana. It has 145bhp. You would, wouldn’t you?

I can’t remember how long the ride was. I think it was about 900kms or so, but it was all bloody brilliant. The only mechanical worry was the oil consumption of the TRX. It gets through about a litre per 1500kms at the speeds we were carrying, so I just had to keep topping it up every now and then. This simple sounding act is made more challenging by the design decision that Yamaha came to when they placed the oil filler on a vertical surface. I’d like to have words with the team that approved that idea.

While in France, we also had the pleasure of a nice jaunt through the Jura mountains, and over the Col de la Faucille. This was some of the best riding I’ve ever done, no question. The roads were brilliant, the scenery was exactly not like The Fens at all, and the weather was brilliant. But the best thing was following Sol. The Kat, being long, low, and brutally fast, is completely out of it’s element on these roads really, particularly when we started gaining altitude and encountering damp patches and damaged road surfaces due to the winter freeze/thaw cycle. The TRX felt beautifully nimble and surefooted on the excellent Conti SportAttack3 tyres. The Kat was obviously keeping Sol *very* occupied. I may have laughed out loud on more than one occasion as Sol brutally wrestled the recalcitrant Kat into some sort of shape to get around a corner. For sure he missed a lot of apexes, but gratifyingly, he also managed to miss the 300 metre drop on the outside of some of the corners too. All too soon though, it was time to head home, and leave Burgundy behind. As I sit here typing this, at the end of a quite extraordinary summer, I realise that I’ve fallen a little bit more hopelessly and totally in love with France. I could carry on typing for hours, I’m sure, about the discovery of the beautiful local Aligoté wine. The marvellous collection of old bikes, cars, and aeroplanes at the equally magnificent Château de Savigny-les-Beaune, and the brilliant French guy riding the Haga rep Mille who we kept seeing, scowling and straining the guts out of a disgracefully weedy little rollup cigarette on the journey home. But that would really just be self indulgent twoddle.

So, there was something else, wasn’t there? Ah, yup. Cadwell Park. The TRX did indeed make it back onto a circuit for the first time in a few years. And while it acquitted itself well, it wasn’t all beer and skittles.

cadders_snip

The stupid Renegade exhausts limited the amount of fun that could be had, by grounding out at every opportunity. Now, given that they are appallingly badly made, and look awful, I’m even more determined to replace them with something better. Any ideas out there, I’m all ears. All that said, other than the ground clearance, the bike was lovely to ride on the track. And, I know that I’m biased, but it’s also safe to say that it was by far the best sounding bike out there. Will there be more track time in the future? Well, given that I’ve just installed a programmable ignition unit, it would be a shame not to set up an ignition map for track use, wouldn’t it?

What a brilliant summer it’s been. And I’m sure that there’s going to be a few new developments over the coming months too. Plans are afoot. On more than one front.

 

Everything in its right place 2 July, 2018

Filed under: Motorcycling — nr @ 12:45 pm

Looking at my whiteboard in the shed [1], among some circuit diagrams, passwords, and general scrawl, there’s a small list, neatly tucked away next to my holiday dates for the year. It looks like this:

  • ✔ Forks
  • ✔ Air Filter
  • ✔ Plug leads/caps
  • ✔ Sprocket(s)
  • ? Head Bearings
  • ✔ Reg/Rec
  • ✔ Re-pack cans
  • Tyres
  • Oil + Filter
  • Brake Pads

I’m not normally that well organised to be honest, but, well, there’s a couple of things coming up in TRX world that need things to be just so. Just right. Firstly, I’ve got a trackday at Cadwell Park coming up – I’ve not been on a track since October last year, and for all I know the TRX hasn’t been on a track since, well, the first time I rode it, back in about 2001 or so. The trackday itself shouldn’t be that hard on the bike, but rather more importantly, a few days after the trackday, I’ll be loading the bike onto the Channel Tunnel, and heading to France for a week of rest and sunshine.

So, what’s with all the things on the list then? Well, that was all the stuff that needs doing before I set off. The forks were done a while back, and I wrote about it at the time. Other than maybe putting in some thicker oil to increase the rebound damping a bit, I’m pretty happy with the way things turned out. Certainly they’re a lot better than they were, and I’m happy that I didn’t have to go the whole hog and throw something like a YZF750 front end on there. So, what else needed/still needs doing?

Air filter. Now that I’m using the bike for work pretty much every day, I need to think about longevity (and comfort!) a bit more. And while those massive unfiltered bellmouths on the FCR41s looked great, and sounded even better, it was always obvious that the engine would last longer with at least some filtering in place. A bit of looking around turned up a lovely Pipercross dual filter, that fits just perfectly:

20180503_204110

I have a feeling that it has richened things up a little on the carburation, but nothing untoward. And the best thing (other than hopefully avoiding ingesting small rodents) is that it hasn’t affected the induction noise at all. It still sounds for all the world like God’s vacuum cleaner when you give the throttle a vicious twist.

Plug leads/caps. I was always painfully aware that the old plug leads were just that. Old. And it’s a quick and cheap thing to replace with something a lot newer, so why not? And at the same time, replace the resistors in the plug caps with some brass rod. The plugs already have resistors in there, so there’s really no need for further resistance in the plug caps. I’ve heard all sorts of reasons as to why these are actually there, from suppressing RF interference to allowing lower octane fuel to be used. In the absence of any actual information, I put them to one side and fitted the bits of brass rod in place. And whether it was the new leads, or losing the resistors, it definitely had an impact on the running of the bike. Throttle response is now smoother, and starting is easier. Highly recommended to anyone else with a TRX who’s reading this.

Sprocket. When I rebuilt the thing, I replaced the 525 chain and sprockets with a 520 set by JT. With hindsight, this was a mistake. The chain was junk, and I ended up replacing it after about 2000 miles with a DID chain, which is lasting so much better. And the rear sprocket was a 42T jobbie, from an NX650, as opposed to the stock 39T of the TRX. On the track, this was probably fine (the bike came with a 42T when I picked it up) but on the road, the 42T is pretty short. Particularly with the low first gear of the TDM gearbox. And while this was entertaining for unexpected wheelies, it did get a bit tiresome after a while. So, I needed a 39T rear sprocket, to fit a TRX850, but 520 rather than 525. No chance. I had to get one made – stand up and take a bow B&C express, who handled the making of a beautiful, hard anodized sprocket to fit. It looks great, and it just makes the bike a lot more pleasant to ride on long motorway trips too. The 42T may get refitted for the Cadwell trackday, but I doubt it. The motor feels so un-revvy that I doubt gearing will be critical. Besides, this is a trackday, not a race. There are no prizes for first place.

Head bearings. I’m still unsure about this. For a while I was plagued with a clunky front end, and was convinced that the bearings were shot. So, I ordered up a set of taper roller bearings, and made plans to fit them. However, I ran out of time (and patience, and humour) when attempting to get the old bearing cups out, so I just cleaned up, regreased, and refitted what I had. Since then, it’s actually been OK. I’ll still fit the taper roller bearings, but that’s now dropped to the bottom of the list. Or to whenever I have enough money and time to ask someone else to do it for me. It’s a git of a job.

Reg/Rec. Yes, the old regulator/rectifier fried itself. I’m not surprised really, as it was 20 years old, and what actually happened was that the connector block started arcing, which melted everything, and led to additional load on the reg/rec:

20180509_190357 (1)

Now, in an unbridled display of optimism, I replaced the failed 20yr old Yamaha item with a 30yr old Suzuki item, because of course, Suzuki are well known for the quality of their 1980s bike electrics… (Incidentally, I was looking at the wiring diagram for a GSX1100 the other day. The wiring there is designed to only use all three phases of the alternator when the lights are on, rather than fit a unit that could cope with running with the lights off). And this actually worked for a while, until I could get another Yamaha unit to replace it with. I know, I should have bought a lovely new MOSFET unit, but the plain fact is I don’t have the money kicking around right now, so I’m making do and mending. The new unit is soldered into the loom, rather than risking another connector meltdown. Fingers crossed, as this is the one thing that worries me for the long ride across France.

Re-pack cans. Yeah. This was absolutely necessary, and long overdue. The old packing was basically some nasty old loft insulation held in place with masking tape. Classy. A repacking with the correct size Acousta-fil matting has made the thing a lot more pleasant to be around, both from the rider’s seat and I should imagine from the side of the road too. If I was ever to stand a chance of passing the noise test up at Cadwell Park, this was always going to be necessary. I think I’d also like to apologise to anyone on the A1 over the past few months who I scared.

Tyres. Yup. When I rebuilt the bike, I put a set of ex-race Pirelli Weavemasters on there. And hated them. There was no end of grip, but really, they just didn’t feel ‘right’. I suspect they were just worn badly, as Pirelli really are a good tyre manufacturer. Not my favourite though – that accolade goes to Continental. So, last time I was on the Isle of Man, I picked up a lightly worn set of Conti RaceAttack Comp Softs. And they’ve been completely transformative. The bike turns quicker, holds a tighter line, and doesn’t kick off so badly when twatting the gas over white lines and cats eyes. Now, I’ve put a good few thousand miles on them, but there’s still enough tread for the track day up at Cadwell (and as they’re softs, no end of grip either…) but probably not enough for the ensuing few thousand kms around France. So, I have a set of SportAttack 3s on order, to fit after the trackday.

Oil + Filter. No need to go into this really. The bike needs an oil change. Motul 5000 has always worked well for me, and is nice and cheap now that its been superceded by 5100.

Brake pads. The EBC HHs on there were always a stop-gap until I could get some Bendix pads. That time has come, so I need to get these ordered and fitted to give them a chance to bed in before I get to the track.

 

So, that’s it really. The bike has been pretty reliable, other than the failed reg/rec. And if that’s the worst thing to worry about, well, I’m pretty chuffed. Actually, thinking about it, I also blew a headlight bulb, which is a pain in the arse, as the P30T-40 bulbs are hard to come by, expensive, and I need a spare for the trip through France. Dammit.

 

I’ll take bets now on my crashing at Cadwell and buggering up a perfectly good holiday plan…

 

[1] It’s a pretty cool shed

 

Flat of Angles [1] 30 March, 2018

Filed under: Motorcycling — nr @ 12:38 pm

So, things have been progressing. Without further ado:

track

That’s the first test run of the data logger. running at 5Hz. The eagle-eyed among you will notice there are no lean angle values. The reason for this is simple – the ADXL335 that I’m using will never ever measure a lean angle in a dynamic system with any accuracy. It’s measuring acceleration, so in a static system, you can calculate a lean angle with no problem. However once things are moving, and bouncing around, there’s going to be all sorts of accelerations in all sorts of planes, and so extrapolating a lean angle is next to impossible. Certainly for me anyway. I’m sure it can be done – just not by me. So, I’m now looking at a gyro, to go with the accelerometer, to give me lean angle. This may not be possible on the Uno that I’m using, due to the number of inputs I have to play with. But we’ll see.

Talking of the platform, if I was to do this again, I’d probably use a Mega, rather than an Uno for development. The extra serial pins would be useful to run both the GPS and a serial console for debugging. As it is, I’m flashing LEDs and dumping to the SD card when things go wrong, which is adequate for such a simple project. In fact, it’s quite good fun, and reminds me very much of my early days programming in 6502 assembler.

So, next step really, is to hook up the TPS properly (you can see it’s reading zero above – I still don’t have the voltage regulator built yet, so I daren’t plug it in) and work out a good way to mount all this to the bike. But, as a first test, I’m happy with that. It must be said, that building the map is ridiculously easy. Just load up the .csv file as a Google Fusion Table, and visualise it as a map. That’s all there is to it.

Postscript: So I hooked up the TPS:

tps

Nothing exploded, and there’s no sign of the magic smoke. Obviously needs calibrating, and it’s a bit jittery so I may do some smoothing. But that’s that really. It all works. Just need to sort out the whether I can get the lean angle sensor working, and why Excel is stripping the hour off the timestamp in the graphs.

[1] Still can’t quite believe that there’s never going to be another Fall album.

 

 
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