nr's blog

Short Sharp Shock 9 December, 2016

Filed under: Motorcycling — nr @ 8:47 pm

Blimey. After complaining last month that not a lot was happening in TRX World other than cleaning up a lot of manky components, rather a lot has happened in a short space of time. Firstly, the engine and mounting… well, as mentioned, the lower rear mounting bolt was seized. Completely. I got the engine out by unbolting the little brackety-wotsit, but that left the problem of how to get the brackety-wotsit out of the frame. I tried everything I could think of – but in the end, the only way this came out was in about eighteen pieces, with the aid of an angle grinder. So, feeling a little despondent that I’d need to scour breakers yards for a part that I didn’t even know what to call, I went into the spares box to at least look for another engine bolt. First thing I found was a brackety-wotsit, complete with new mounting bolt… I get the feeling that one of the previous owners tried to get the same bolt out at some point, realised that it wasn’t going anywhere, so bought the necessary spares before giving up on whatever plans they had. Still, not to worry. The bottom end of the engine was delivered to Spike at Cambridge Motorcycles to have the gearbox work done – and I have to admit, that it was only when I got it out of the garage and into daylight that I realised just how filthy it was. Sorry Spike. Along with the gearbox, I also had a new camchain fitted, as there’s no way of knowing how old the existing one was. At the same time, Spike give the cylinders a good honing and a new set of rings was fitted. New gaskets all around, the the job’s done, and the engine should be good for another 20,000 or so miles, unless I louse up refitting the top end… Talking of the top end, I’ve cleaned it all up as best I can. Really, it could do with some big valves and more of Spike’s genius cleaning up and flowing the ports. Where did I put that lottery ticket?

So, engine is good, and ready to go back in. The frame was originally going to be blasted, and repainted. However, I had a change of heart. You see, this was a race bike. It’s had a hard life. And I quite like that. So, the frame was cleaned up, and the obvious rusty parts given special care and attention, and then re-painted with silver Hammerite. Oh, and the coil mounting lug that had snapped off was re-welded. All good. The swingarrm was given a good weeks worth of cleaning. I don’t think it had ever been cleaned previously. So many many hours of soaking in all sorts of nasty solvents, and brushing with wire wool, and now it’s presentable again. It’s still got dings and scratches here and there, but remember what I was saying about it being a race bike? I quite like those scars.

So, engine OK, frame done, what else do we need? Ah, wheels. Yup. Wheels. How much trouble can a wheel give me? I mean, it’s a wheel, and just goes around, right? Well, firstly, the rear wheel. I thought it was meant to be black. Honestly. It was only when I started cleaning it up that I realised that the black was in fact about 18 years of old chain lube. The wheel is actually a beautiful deep gunmetal colour. So, the process of cleaning began, and as with the swingarm, it took days of solvents and mechanical cleaning with brushes and old socks. Looking on the bright side, the chain lube had protected the finish, and the bearings were just fine and dandy. So, onto the front wheel. Oh dear. A closer inspection revealed that the light silver colour was in fact where the finish had basically fallen off after years of neglect. So, the only option really was to whip the discs off, and repaint it. Only of course, the disc bolts were as seized as the engine mounting bolt. Hours of soaking in penetrating lubricant, heating, hitting with hammers, and attacking the bolts with an impact wrench had six of the twelve out, and the other six with the sockets completely rounded out. So, out came the MIG welder, and I started welding big bolts onto the end of the disc bolts so I could at least swing at them with a big bar, and the heat of the welding also helps to loosen things. Four of them came out – one of them was so seized that it brought most of the internal thread with it. Closer inspection revealed that this bolt was bent. So some complete idiot had put it in, wondering why it was so bloody tight, but just attacking it with longer and longer bars until it wouldn’t turn any more. The other two bolts started to move, and then both stopped, seized, and snapped off inside the wheel. Bollocks. Given how badly seized they were, there was no way that they were coming out with an extractor. So, I popped along to a local engineering works to see about getting them milled out, and re-threaded. The simple answer was that no, there was no bloody way they’d do that unless I handed over a considerable sum of money. Bother. I know that the TRX is a pretty good bike at pulling wheelies, but still, I’d need a front wheel at some point, if nothing else, it will keep the MOT man happy. At this point, a wheel turned up on eBay in perfect condition, in the right colour, for fifty quid delivered. I’ve never hit the ‘Buy It Now’ button so bloody quickly.

Engine, frame, wheels, what else? Ah, yes, suspension. The shock had damped its last some time around 2001 I guess. I’m trying to think of a polite way to describe it, but the only phrase I keep coming back to is ‘completely fucked’. Obviously, I could attempt to get it rebuilt, but a nagging feeling was telling me that this was just throwing good money after bad. So I did a little research, and found out that a shock from the right year of R6 was a good match, with a little bit of work. However, while researching this, I had a note from my mate Fozzy. He’d been racing an SV650 a couple of years ago with Darvill Racing, and he thought that there was still a lovely Öhlins shock sitting on a shelf somewhere that might be worth investigating. We got chatting to Alex, the team principal, who disappeared out into his workshop, and came back with the good news that it was about the right length as far as he could tell, and would I like to try it? Well, i didn’t need asking twice. So, a few days later it turned up, and amazingly, dropped straight in. Perfect length, correct fitments top and bottom. The only thing I need to worry about is the spring rate – which I think may be a bit high for the TRX – but the only way I’ll know for sure is when I take the bike out for its shakedown tests. I can’t believe just how brilliantly this turned out – and I owe Alex a massive debt of thanks, and several Really Good cups of tea.


So now, the frame is ready to accept the newly rebuilt engine, and is sitting on some lovely new suspendery-bits. The wheels are ready to slot back in. Obvious jobs that still need doing are the fork seals and brakes. And there’s still a lot of general cleaning up and tidying as I go along, like the wiring and vacuum hoses. But we’ve definitely turned a corner.

It’s construction time again.


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