Sunday, June 11, 2017

Oil Filters — Part Deux.

Where are we at?
OK, so I've changed the oil twice since doing the original oil and filter change when I first got the bike. For those that remember, the filter fitted had no manufacturer's markings on it and, when I cut it up, found it to be absolute crap. 

I fitted a genuine Honda one, and since then just dropped the oil a couple of times to try and get everything running clean inside again. Today I put another flush in the engine and changed it all again. And this, my very bored friends, is how it went down.

2011 CBR600RR
Really like this bike, the paint, the shape, its agility... it's awesome. But someone decided it was a good idea to hide the oil filler cap behind that black fairing panel. Doesn't make sense that to top up the engine oil, or check the filler cap for tightness (as they do before you enter the racetrack), you have to remove part of the fairing.

Although the screws are easily accessible, the panel has to be taken out and refitted in a particular way or bits get bent/scratched/chipped. For a service item, that's plain stupid.


Moans over, panel's off. This bike is still sexy underneath it all. So with 350ml of engine flush added to a warm engine, it's run for a further ten minutes. 

I needed an indication of how much metal content would be in the oil. Always expect to see gold flecks in the oil drainer when you tip the oil away. If you see anything bigger than a couple of millimetres, or house brick, it could spell trouble. 
I cleaned out the draining pan first so I had a better idea of the debris floating in the oil.

Excuse the hopeless video. As you can see the oil is still really clean, and all this is probably overkill, but engines cost lots of money when they go tits up so it's best to keep the insides as nice as possible.

How the oil filter... well, filters.
Off with its head! Ye olde exhaust pipe cutter does a great job of seeing what gremlins lurk within.

That seal is the non return valve, it sits nicely against the top of the filter that I've just cut off. This one is perfect and has been assembled correctly. The one in the filter I first took off this bike wasn't. 

The eight smaller holes are where the oil is pumped into the filter from the oil pump.

With seal fitted, you can now see how the oil is prevented from running back to the sump and emptying the filter. This is better for the engine because there is always a certain amount of oil ready to be pumped initially. If it returned to the sump each time there would be a delay in oil supply and engine wear would increase.

The perforated tube stops the paper element from deforming under high pressure. Oil is forced through the element from the outside, filtered and pumped through the threaded section of the filter and through your engine.

Pressure relief valve in the bottom of the canister. If the element gets blocked and oil can't get through, the relief valve opens up and allows oil to flow from the pump and into the engine. Unfiltered oil yes, but any oil is better than no oil.

 No metal visible in here, happy with that. 

That is how your oil filter works. Stick with a quality item, it's worth way more than its own weight in gold.

Once the oil was tipped away, it was just tiny specks of metal left in the drain pan. You'll always get this and I'm pretty happy there's nothing amiss inside the little CBR motor.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

It's True, I'm All Torque...

And old school.
I'm trying to work out when I became old school. I guess I was brought up with old-fashioned methods of working on vehicles and there comes a point when you become the same as the person who taught you. Who knows? 
I also owned old, classic bikes when I was first able to ride on the road so my path was probably set.

What does this have to do with anything?
I often get asked about the torque settings on my various blog posts. Especially the little KTM Adventurer. The truth is, I don't know the actual values required by KTM and I generally crack on through with experience. And this stuff can only be learned over time. When I first started as an apprentice, every time a sump plug was tightened by me, it was double-checked by an old-school mechanic. Every single time. And this went on until they'd decided I was doing an alright job (yeah, they're still checking).

Of course, there are set values for most components and in this day and age of blaming someone else, stupidity and a lack of common sense, manufacturers have to give you an absolute figure for every bolt. Because they don't want to hear you whinge but, more importantly, don't want to be held accountable for anything.

In this crazy world, no longer can you keep tightening a bolt until the thread strips, and then back off half a turn. (Please don't do this, I'm being sarcastic)

Hand tight, and torque wrenches.
With all this frivolity I've forgotten what I was writing about. 

Oh yes, I was considering the small bolts like M5's and M6's a lot of home mechanics consider to be as strong as a 10.8 M12 Allen bolt. Having said that, I've seen a few "professional" mechanics do the same. There is a very fine line when tightening a camshaft cap, for instance, before the threads pull straight out of the head. Ask a Vauxhall/Opel mechanic about the 16V engines and they should be able to give you a fair indication. 

You see, you're looking for that sweet spot where it "feels' just right. You know at that point to stop dead. No further, or tears will flow. But on those Vauxhall cylinder heads, something appears to be made of case-hardened cheese. Either the alloy is very soft, or the bolts just keep stretching. Either way, it always feels like you've left them loose. But you haven't.

And mechanics needed to know. How tight do we go? The official consensus was hand-tight. Most of us, with just a hint of common sense, could get by with that. I wasn't looking for extra grief. I've been tightening bolts for years with very few issues.

But no!
Just as there is always someone in your class, when doing a manufacturer's course, that has to ask the obligatory stupid question, along comes old mate wanting to know how tight is hand-tight? 

"Well, how tight do you think hand-tight is?" asks the lecturer.

"Well, it's different for everybody. What if you're a big bloke, or a female apprentice?" retorts the mechanic (soon to be beaten to a pulp by a class full of impatient technicians).

Stalemate. Yes, everyone's idea of hand-tight is different. But give me strength! 

I see their point, but if you have to ask how tight to tighten a bolt to hand tight, are you in the right job? 

The answer.
Well some clever person at Vauxhall had a think and came up with a figure, which might've been around 5.9NM (I forget), and across the land everyone was happy. No more stressing out over loose bolts, stretched bolts, or case-hardened cheese bolts. 

Those of us with common sense rejoiced because that was one less stupid question that would keep us at the college longer than necessary.

For a while at least.
Because with that came a new problem altogether. You see, no one had needed a torque wrench that could work so accurately, and at such a low figure, before. And where the hell do you get one anyway? Oops. 

So what did old mate, who couldn't decide how tight hand-tight actually was, do without the mouse-sized torque wrench?

He went back to the old method of doing the small bolts up to his idea of hand-tight. Just like in life, the answer was there all along. ๐Ÿ˜œ

More soon folks...

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Lakeside 21/1/2017 — A Track Made For Fun... And 600's.

Boys, boys, boys...
Why do we hype everything up? What's with the banter? The underhand tactic of knocking self-confidence?

As long as there's been racing, riders have been looking over at someone's front wheel, looking up at their opponent and tutting. Anything to put an air of doubt into someone's mind and gain an advantage. And, depending on the mental strength of the other person, it's worked more than once.

But I was looking forward to this day for more than one reason. It was a chance to play with the 600RR on a track that was almost designed for it. Sharp, off-camber corners make big power a pain in the 'arris. The little Honda should be in its element. Easy to turn, easy to stop, and easy to get on the power.

The heatwave continues in Queensland and today will be tough. I'm taking my old leathers because the sweat is going to be pouring.

Nice new T-shirt, but he was shaking so much with fear that he spilt his flat white all down it. He is now employing a cheating tactic known as "taping up the brake light so your rivals have no idea when you're braking". 

It is, of course, absolutely no use whatsoever if he's always behind.

Yeah nice job Tonto. Do what you need to do. 

I will still say, that GSXR750 is an absolutely perfect bike. Just don't tell Bryan.

Glad I got this picture of him smiling before the sessions started. He didn't smile again today... well not until I bought beers.

Using my old peppered Arai today. Don't want my new one getting soaked in sweat. The two blue dots must mean I'm special. Very special.

 I'd drunk a bottle of water before we even got out for our first session. It's so hot today the tyre warmers are actually bringing the temperatures down!

Remember sparky sliders? Not much Titanium left now though, and I ended up losing one of these, much to my surprise when I started rubbing the Velcro on my leathers!

Bryan spent a lot of time in here today. Fear does strange things to you.

And that's the reason why. 

Looking for tips on Google. Seat time is what you need buddy. 

But what about action shots?
Our main man, and all-round top fella, Will Course was on hand to take some brilliant action pics. If you were at Lakeside on the 21/1/2017, your pics could be right here so give him a big shout out at William Course Photography

It was hot, but absolutely ace!
Well that's about it. A lot of crashes today stopped a few of our sessions but the little Honda was just amazing. It's so much more fun on a 600 here compared to QR and really comes into its own.

Exiting the bus stop used to be a handful on the big Gixer thou, but now you just wring the neck of this thing and it goes where you want it without lifting the front. Overtaking used to be scary on the big bike trying to get it pulled up for the corners, this thing is easy. I'm happy!

The 750 couldn't really cope with the might of the 600 today. I think it was too hot for the Aussie. Obviously going up against a Welshman is always going to be hard but, being used to the heat, I thought he may've had an advantage. There's always next time though. 
As for the Harle... KTM, I stayed clear. The vibrations upset my equilibrium and the flames out the exhaust threaten to melt my fairings!

So, until next time, when I hope to bring back a little more of the mechanical workings of... something, the last pic is Bridgey's. Not bad for an iPhone buddy.

Monday, December 26, 2016

CBR600's, Trackdays and Relearning.

600's...Taking a step back?
There was a certain criteria I was looking for when downsizing:
  • Lighter bike 
  • Better brakes
  • More fun
I've never owned a 600 before, it's always been about big bikes, more power and all the hype that goes with it. But... having tried Smithy's GSXR750 (probably the best of both worlds), I wanted something that was easier to throw around and enjoy on the track. First go on the CBR was all I needed, it was like a toy. A very fast toy.

Queensland Raceway.
I've said it before, but this track is scary fast! Glenn Allerton currently holds the lap record at around 1.08 minutes on a BMW S1000RR. And I can mooch around in the 1.24's— snail's pace when you look at it like that. 

And when you turn up at the track and see this, you realise you're about to see some real talent. Glenn Allerton and Wayne Maxwell out playing in yellow group. Think I'll stick to blue.

And how would the little CBR fair amongst the 750 and 1000 of Messrs Smith and Wadwell, on their Suzukis. Well, in a straight line, not very well at all. 

The first thing that hit me was how many gear changes were needed, still leant over. When I usually exit turn 3 on the 1000 I have plenty of time to consider going up another gear. But now I was finding myself having to hook my left foot back under the lever because i was hitting the limiter, losing time every lap. 
Going down the front straight I was also having to make a concerted effort to watch the rev counter because, again, I'd hit the limiter each time! Big learning curve.

The first session was about getting up to speed again. Too long between trackdays, and a new bike to boot. The fear of turn 4 is still firmly lodged in my brain and I found it hard to go round there at anything above walking pace (that's what it felt like). And Bryan quickly followed up with "That's what it looked like!"

With the Yamaha and Kawasaki race teams playing here today too, there was a lot of talent to watch in the yellow group, including the aforementioned Glenn. He makes it look very easy to push out 1.09's. One of the kawasaki's went down into turn 1, during the second session, so we had to wait for ambulances etc. to come and pick the poor fella up. His bike was completely mullered/torn apart.

Wayne Maxwell pulls up by my CBR for some tips... from his crew.

The afternoon is where I pick up speed, every time. But Bryan's pace has picked up immensely since I last did a trackday, so he was disappearing in all but the final session. Going up against Pat on the 171BHP GSXR1000 was ok in the corners, but a waste of time down the straights. He eventually let me go in front and left me to it (felt sorry for me).

Bryan then puts in a 1.24, now the heat is on. That's the quickest I've done on my 1000 and his 750. It's going to be hard to pull that out on the 600!

Being dragged around is a big thing, go out on your own and you end up braking way too early and go in much too slowly. Follow someone and you're always looking for places to get in front — it helps. As it was in our final session. Because he waited for me to warm my tyres for a couple of laps, it was much easier to hang on behind. The horsepower difference between the 600 and the 750 is around 30 big ones, but you can overhaul that quite easily if you're on it. 

Final session of the day, we finished on 1.25's, not too bad for a horsepower needy track. There's plenty of places for me to make up that lack of speed, the main one being bravery. Lakeside will be a more even challenge with any luck, but let's wait for some cooler weather.

Pretty consistently slow. Ready to race below.

Overall, Smithy has upped the pace immensely. Pat doesn't care and will use whatever means possible to say goodbye. I've got what I wanted, something to make me faster in the turns, but now I need to practise it. The CBR is a cracking little bike, great on the road too. And easy for my 72kg's to throw around rather than the Gixer working me over.

Seriously folks, that bike is fun!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Kawasaki Versys — from the Latin phrase...

Stone me guv'nor, what a bike!
Does any Japanese motorcycle manufacturer make a bad bike anymore? Like sports bike tyres, there are great ones, and superb ones, but not many crap ones. And so it is with today's test mule.

The Kawasaki Versys 650L ABS
I've been a big fan of the ER6-N for a while, mainly because I liked how the shock was mounted on the side. No, I haven't ridden one, but did try to lose one on the road a long time ago. And after I worked hard through a series of tight mountain bends, I managed to drop him a few metres... on a GSXR1000. So I thought it must be a pretty capable bike. It is, and the Versys?

Well, having been a big fan of the Paris Dakar inspired trailies from years ago, the Africa Twins, Super Tenere's and DR BIG's all left a lasting impression so I do like these current trail/sport bike configurations. Sat up high, in comfort, with all the important whirly bits working away metres below you. A bit like the Titanic in its heyday, ok maybe a different cruise liner, but you get the drift.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Alpinestars, Arai's and Peter Stevens.

For proper service and cock-on quality.
After the palaver I just went through to buy a bike through Team Moto, it was a pleasure to deal with a company that actually have helpful staff. 

Deciding I needed new kit, with my current Arai ticking over the seven year mark and stone chipped to death, I took a look through eBay. I soon found a new Arai Vector 2 I liked, along with Alpinestars' gloves and boots. Best of all, some of it was on sale!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Oil Filter Review — The True Cost!

Be afraid!
How do you really know what you're getting when you screw on a new oil filter? That little canister has a big job to do considering it's trying to protect your several thousand dollar engine. 
For those lucky enough to have a cartridge-style filter, most of these questions won't apply. You can see every part of the new filter element, you can eyeball all the components on the engine. You can clean out the housing to your own impeccable tolerances. You fit it into the engine using the original manufacturer's components. Boom, you're done.

But what about the spin-ons?
  • Does the material filter out all the nasties? And to what micron?
  • Does the anti-drain back valve (rubber washer) really stop the oil flowing back into the sump?
  • Does the bypass valve open at the specified pressure for your bike?
  • Is the filter element sealed correctly within the canister? Hmm...
The news.
Take a look around the net and read about filter reviews, the good, the bad and the downright ugly. I've been a mechanic for a long time and screwed on thousands of filters. And as long as they screw on, happy days. You get the odd leaker, or bad thread, and that's to be expected with a mass-produced unit.
But it's all fit and forget. You never look inside one, and don't know if it's done its job. In a garage, it's all completed in minutes. You don't look at the oil that comes out, couldn't care less about the old filter and send the vehicle on its way for another 20,000 thousand miles (or less, as the case maybe). And that's the harsh reality. You're relying on the fact that the filter is a quality component.

But when an engine fails, can you prove it was the filters fault?