nr's blog

Senses Working Overtime 14 April, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — nr @ 7:44 pm

So, the TRX is now road legal. Well, apart from the questionable exhaust, it’s road legal. It has an MOT. It’s taxed. It’s insured.

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And so, of course, I’ve been out for a quick whizz. More of which later. Because naturally, things didn’t go completely according to plan. I had originally booked it in for an MOT with the marvellous chaps at Cambridge Motorcycles some time last week. And all looked good. I had the day off work, so was ready for a morning MOT and a nice long whizz in the afternoon if all went to plan. So, the day before I took the opportunity to run the bike up to temperature and make sure that nothing fell off. Which it didn’t. But when I went to get on the bike the next morning there was a big puddle of petrol underneath it. Bother. I thought I’d take a chance and start it, to see if the vibration seated the float valve correctly to stop the drip. So I hit the start button, the motor span for about half a revolution, and locked solid.

Bother*10^6.

It was immediately obvious what had happened – the downdraft carbs had filled the combustion chamber(s) with fuel, and it had hydraulically locked. Hopefully, the attempt to start it hadn’t bent anything. So, I called Phil, told him I would miss the MOT, and went and sulked. Once I’d done with the sulking, I whipped the plugs out (easier said than done, as the radiator and fairing need to come off first) and put a wrench on the end of the crank. It still turned over by hand, with no obvious noises of impending carnage. So, with the plugs out, I span it over a few times on the starter, and then drained 5 litres of brand new 10W-40 out of the sump to throw away.

Bother*10^12.

Next step was to find out what was causing the leak. Well, the obvious first place to start was the fuel tap, as that was obviously letting fuel past when it shouldn’t. So, a strip, clean up, and replacement of the o-ring soon got it working as well as can be expected for such a crap piece of design. I’m more minded now than ever to throw away the Yamaha vacuum-operated piece of carp and fit a standard on/off tap. Next thing to investigate was the carbs, as I had my suspicions about the float valves. The valves themselves looked OK, and the seats looked alright. But, when I took the seats out of the carb bodies, the old o-rings were pretty crusty and manky. I think what was happening was that the fuel was working its way up the outside of the valve seats, and from there, down the throat of the carb. So a quick search brought me to Frank!MXParts, who had already been recommended to me in the past by my mate Champ for all carb-related things. 10 minutes later, a new set of valves, seats and o-rings was in the post for €30. Bargain. At the same time I ordered another 5L of oil to replace the last lot I had to throw away.

And so, a couple of days later, with the new bits fitted and everything now very decidedly not leaking, I called Phil on the offchance that I could get an MOT at short notice, and sure enough, they fitted me pretty much straight in next day. Thanks chaps. And happily, with a couple of advisories, it passed.

So. What’s it’s like to ride? It’s a complete assault on the senses, that’s what. Of course the noise is glorious. For the first time in ages, I didn’t wear earplugs. The 270 degree engine vibrates a bit as it goes through about 4500rpm, sending a nice buzz up my arms. And twatting the throttle hard unleashes the accelerator pumps, and a sudden whiff of petrol from the unfiltered carbs directly below my chest hits my nose. The revs pick up surprisingly quickly for a big old twin. And closing the throttle fully on motorway exit ramps has the motor popping and banging on the overrun, until the throttle is cracked just a touch to let the motor breathe once more. Handling is, well, not bad really. I need a bit more preload on the rear, and the front feels a bit under-damped. But it turns well, and holds a line nicely when loaded up. Chopping the throttle halfway through a corner is something that I’ll only do the once. Brakes are pretty disappointing – I picked up some EBC HH pads rather than my usual choice of Bendix, as they were half price. And while they’re OK for the road, I’ll be changing them before I go anywhere near a track.

$64000 question time: did I do the right thing swapping the ZXR for it? I’ll let you know after I’ve had a couple of track sessions, but right now, it feels good. It sounds good. It smells good. It looks good. Haven’t tried tasting it yet, but four out of five ain’t bad.

 

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Won’t get fuelled again 26 March, 2017

Filed under: Motorcycling,Uncategorized — nr @ 7:34 pm

I’ve been quite lazy about updating these pages recently. (Unfortunately, as can be seen, I’ve not been lazy about thinking of cringe-worthy links to song titles. I’m really sorry about this one). One of the main reasons has been that I’ve not had any nice photos to share, and the other reason is that I didn’t think anyone actually read this – it was a nice thing just to keep updated when I fancied a creative outlet for some stress. And then, yesterday, two things happened that got me to pull my finger out. Firstly, my mate Nick took this photo:

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Dreadfully sorry about the 1980s hairstyle, but then again, I’m probably wearing a shirt form about 1983, so it’s entirely fitting. But I thought it was a nice photo, and then when he posted it to Facebook, Mike (I know about 12 Mikes) asked when the next blog post was due. So, two birds, one stone. Nice.

Right then. The bike. When we left things last time, I think that the things that I mentioned that needed sorting out were the tyres, the chain and sprockets, and sorting out the exhaust system. The tyres were brilliantly easy to sort out, thanks to the chaps at TeamIxion (No, not that TeamIxion. Nor that one. The other one). I put out a request for any old ex-race tyres in the right size, and top racer dood Nogger had a few pairs of Supercorsas left over from last season. Perfect. And even better, I got the delivered for free thanks to other top racer dood Foz travelling in the right direction at the right time. So, that’s a lightly used pair of Diablo Supercorsas sitting in the garage waiting to be fitted. Lovely.

Next up, the exhaust. I’m still not 100% sure that this system will stay on the bike. For the sake of originality (and my wallet) I’m at least going to leave it on there for now. And if it performs spectacularly well on the dyno, I may look at it more favourably. But dammit, it’s badly made. And doesn’t fit that well. I can probably sort out the latter with a bit of time and precision adjustment with the rubber mallet. But I just can’t forgive the welding on it, nor the fact that I’ll be leaving the soles of my boots all over it, as it runs so close to the footpegs. Projection Components do a lovely 2-1 stainless system, which I may have a look at. It’ll be lighter. It’ll look better. It’ll be better made for sure. Dunno. Anyway, given that I’m currently registering around 0.032 on the financial Richter scale, this is a bit of a moot point right now.

So, lastly, the chain and sprockets. As previously mentioned, the TRX comes with a 525 as stock, with 17/39 final drive ratio. There’s no way a wheezy old 850 twin needs a 525 chain, so I determined to replace it with a 520. And while it took a bit of hunting, I found that an NX650 rear sprocket, and R6 front sprocket fitted nicely. I saved 200g on the chain by swapping a 525 to a 520, and added 400g to the rear sprocket by replacing the Renthal alloy jobbie that was on there with a cheap steel JT unit. Hey ho. It’ll last forever. Well, at least until I get fed up looking at it and want to replace it with something nicer. I also ended up running 17/42 gearing, rather than 17/39. This should make things a little more lively. Particularly with the short first gear that I have with the TDM850 gearbox that’s in there.

So, ready for an MOT, right?

Nope. Think again. I popped the bike outside yesterday for a quick run up to temperature to check for rattly nuts and bolts. And overnight, it dropped a large puddle of petrol on my garage floor. Bother. So, time to dive into the dreadful fuel system again. The more I have to fiddle with the vacuum hoses to the fuel tap and pump, the more I resolve to replace them at some point with an electric pump and normal on/off tap. Anyhow. The carbs came off, and were cleaned out, and as expected, some of the rust and crap from the tank was now sitting in the needle valve seat, which was causing the small dribble of fuel. With this all cleaned out, and put back together, I fired it up again. And this time, there was a full on torrent of fuel coming straight out of the overflow. Grrrr… I’m starting to think that this fuel system will be the thing that eventually kills this bike when it catches fire somewhere. So, once again, tank off, fuel hoses off, throttle cables off,blah blah etc. And I stripped the carbs again. And at this point, I noticed that the #2 powerjet was blocked. Now this is a proper pain in the neck, as the only way to get the powerjet out is to completely remove the bottom half of the carb, which is a proper job. Plan A was to just  vaguely squirt some air in kind of the right direction to try to clear the blockage. Needless to say, it didn’t work. So, I bodged up a small aerosol quill to my compressed air gun to a) drop the pressure, and b) get the air in the right place. And with this, I could blow air back from the jet through to the floatbowl, rather than the other way around. This seemed to work, so I had the incredible thought and foresight to check things out by squirting some GT-85 up the orifice, while looking directly at the outlet of the powerjet to see if anything came through.

I’d like to apologise to my neighbours at this point for the intensive use of four letter language that ensued when I got a jet of GT-85 straight into my right eye. Suffice to say, I’ll make sure that I’m not looking quite so closely next time.

In a foul mood, I bolted it all back together, and so far, it seems to be holding tight. I have a feeling that I’ll be sending the carbs away for a proper service at some point, and the removal of the vacuum systems may happen sooner rather than later. But, for now, if it doesn’t drop petrol all over the floor again, it’s ready for an MOT. I shall take a pair of earplugs for the examiner.

 

This Wreckage 5 February, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — nr @ 10:49 pm

So. Here’s what’s left of the TZR250:

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Now, most normal people will be thinking “bloody hell, that was a big accident”. The TZR brigade will be thinking “hold on… that doesn’t look like any one of the 357 fasteners that I recognise”.

So, TZR fetishists, take a rare, and well deserved moment where you can think “Yes! I knew that 18 years of studying Japanese part numbers would pay off! I have my moment at last…”

Those bits were drilled into the knees of my daughter. You see a few months ago, I was faced with one of those stark moments that made me realise what was important. My youngest daughter needed surgery. And the NHS wouldn’t do it. So, we’ve had a bit of a fraught few months with Millie going under the knife and having these bits firstly screwed in, and then taken out again once they’d done their job. I won’t go into details, but you can only imagine how much this has cost to have done privately.

I would have done it a lot cheaper with the Black & Decker.

Anyway. The good news is, that Millie is now dancing again. Seriously, within two days of getting the plates taken out, she was back at dance classes. The bad news is that I needed to sell the TZR to throw some money at the surgeon. It’s a karma thing. I loved rebuilding the TZR, and it gave me great happiness to ride it through the summer. And now, the time has come to share some of that happiness.

 

Germfree Adolescents 30 October, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — nr @ 3:30 pm

No photos for this update, mainly because I can’t remember where I put the camera, but also as there’s very little worth photographing at this stage. Hopefully once I get past the “cleaning the crap off and trying to catalogue the list of horrific bodges that need fixing” there’s going to be something worth taking a piccie of. So, first up… the head. As we saw last time out, it was in a bit of a state really, with a binding journal, and some tight clearances. While fixing that lot I also discovered that one of the exhaust studs has been snapped off at some point, and the helicoil bodge drilled off centre and at a rather jaunty angle. And, probably to mitigate the effects of an exhaust that wouldn’t seat properly any more, each exhaust port had two gaskets hammered into it. Fixing this would involve drilling out the helicoil, filling the hole with weld, and re-drilling and tapping the hole in the right place. I genuinely can’t be bothered with that, given that the rest of the head is pretty marginal. I may well look out for another head at some point in the future to see if it’s in better condition. Well, it’s unlikely to be any worse unless someone has set fire to it. For now, I’ll just re-bodge it, and see how it all runs.

The engine itself is now sitting on the floor next to the bike, ready to be handed over to the chaps at Cambridge Motorcycles for the gearbox work. Getting the engine out of the bike was one of the least enjoyable things I’ve done for several years. It should have all been a relatively simple process, but the lower rear engine mounting bolt wouldn’t shift. In the end, I was able to unbolt a little brackety-wotsit affair with the engine still in situ, and then allow the whole thing to slide forwards and out. It took three people though, and a not inconsiderable amount of tea. Once the engine was out, I could get to the bolt properly, and nothing I’ve tried so far has moved it. I’ve hit it with hammers, heated it, hit it again ,got a bigger hammer, soaked it in all sorts of nasty solvents and penetrating lubricants, heated it again, got the really big hammer, and even spent real money on an impact wrench. It’s still not moved. If I can get the engine back in the same way it came out, I think that’s what I’ll do. Last option for removal of the bolt is to weld another bolt onto the end of it, and get a big bar on there. Either that, or cut the whole thing out and try to pick up another brackety-wotsit from a breaker.

Which leads us nicely to the carbs. It’s fair to say that these carbs (Keihin FCR41s) were one of the main reasons I wanted to get my hands on this particular bike. I don’t think I’d have been tempted to swap the ZXR if it wasn’t for them. They suit the bike perfectly, and look great. Well, that’s to say they probably looked great. I couldn’t actually see them, as they had so much crud accumulated all over them. Honestly, when they came off the bike it looked like a massive ball of black tar with a couple of blue bellmouths sticking out of it. So yesterday I started to clean them up. And it took five hours of soaking in petrol, scrubbing, more soaking, running through the ultrasonic tank, scrubbing, cleaning etc. etc. But eventually they all came up clean, and it looks like all the jets are good. The throttle position sensor seems to be slightly out of alignment, but that’s something I can sort out once the carbs are back on. For now, they’re sitting on my bench looking lovely again. Now, seeing as my hand currently looks like this:

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I’d like to say that all of the above work was carried out in an atmosphere of complete cleanliness and ruthless observation of hygiene protocols. Only that would be a complete lie. Luckily the stitches survived most of the work, and I only had one bloody moment when I tried clamping up some mole grips on the wayward exhaust stud. That was enough of a warning note though to make me hang up my spanners for a couple of weeks. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

 

2014. A year not without incident. 31 December, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — nr @ 6:27 pm

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,400 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 40 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

 

Marvellous Juxtaposition 2 June, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — nr @ 3:38 pm

Warm garden. Cold cider. Nothing more to add.

 

Sorry 10 May, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — nr @ 10:18 pm

OK, it’s my fault. I mentioned Spring, and it’s rained every bloody day since. I take full responsibility for this, and will find out who is to blame (c) Gordon Brown.

Looking at things positively, erm, well, it’s not looking good. On the climbing front, I’ve achieved remarkably little, mainly due to the bloody awful weather. A nice morning spent at a climbing centre in Stockport with Foz was good fun, and I look forward to heading back there when I can. As far as cycling goes, I broke my road bike (to be fair, Sram are looking into the failure as a warranty issue) and flattened my thumb with a lump hammer trying to get the seatpost out of my mountain bike. And then fell off the bloody thing.

Safe to say that enthusiasm is not particularly high at the moment.

 

 
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