Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tools of our trade

I really should continue with the tools we all need day-in, day-out.  Let's have a look at a few of the basics.

These don't have to be expensive to get some real quality.  There was a time when the cheap stuff available was likely to leave you with skinned knuckles when used on anything more than Meccano.  However, I'm pleased to say that a lot of the cheaper brands are quite capable of everyday use. 

If you do want the best then you'll want Snap-On - lots of money, lots of quality.  I also use SK, Kamasa, Trident, Britool, Draper, Stanley, Teng, SP, Sidchrome and the list goes on.

The combination spanner set on the left (open one end, ring the other) is a low-cost brand sold by SuperCheap Auto.  Ranging from 10mm to 19mm, I've found this set to be great so far but I do only use them at home.  The longer combination spanner in the picture is a Snap-On, long 10mm, and for home use is probably overkill due to the cost. 

The 16mm/17mm ring spanner is made by Trident, I've had it a fair few years and, again, has been superb considering its cost. 

The metric adjustable (doh) on the right is another Supercheap Auto special and is ideal for those huge, stubborn nuts but be careful on smaller stuff as they will slip and ruin the fastener. 

Wherever possible, use the ring when initially undoing or finally tightening.  The hexagon on a nut or bolt will become rounded if too much torque is applied with an open-ended spanner.

The best ring-type to use on very tight fasteners is a six-point.  This matches the nut or bolt's hexagon and has far less chance of slipping.  Cheaper makes are usually only available in 12-point so care is needed if it needs a lot of force to get moving.

Always use the correct size for the actual fastener.  If you are working on Japanese bikes, you'll want metric spanners.  An old Brit bike?  Whitworth spanners are your friends.  Some sizes will match each other.  For instance, a 5/8" AF spanner is pretty much the same as a 16mm metric and a 9/16" quite close to a 14mm.  Just be careful if it feels a little slack.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tenterfield, QLD to NSW

Trip on!  Two bikes, two blokes and a drinking session in the tavern at Tenterfield.  Bring it on.

We left at 10.30, Saturday morning from the Gold Coast and headed to Beaudesert, Boonah and then Warwick.  So good to get out of the Gold Coast city life and get on the cliched "open road".  Following someone enables you to sit, cruise and check out the countryside.  All makes for a great weekend.

Love to see the older-styled buildings in the countryside.  Character and a real "wild west" appeal.  Fantastic.
The roads are great out here.  A mix of long, open straights with some great bends chucked in when you least expect it.  Keeps you on your toes and interest level high.  After a few hours of riding south-west, the temperature dropped rapidly.  With only a T-shirt under the leathers, I was beginnging to wish I had a paddock jacket.  A quick stop off at a friend of Dave's and I spy a couple of potential restoration projects.

Only a few k's to go now but a diversion to a "must-see" in this area was next on the cards.  The sun was going down rapidly and the kangaroos were beginning to get dangerous - bouncing across the highway on their way through the fields.  Driving at night is hazardous out in the sticks and I didn't particularly want a 'roo across the fizzog so progress was steady.  We soon arrived at the local tourist attraction.

And we didn't have to ride to Egypt!

A few pics and we were off.  Another 15 mins to go and we could book into the Tenterfield Tavern on the New England Highway.  Get in!  A quick stop for a breath test and a licence check thanks to the local gendarmerie and we were there!  Thank f...

Not a bad place to crash actually.  Great little motel rooms and a decent sized pub.  A quick shower, a walk across the carpark and the ale began to flow - this is what it's all about!  A great night icluding a couple of Guinness's in another pub and I was well away!  The next morning my head wasn't the best but thankfully the local cafe was open for bacon and egg rolls!

So back on the road and was it ever cold!  Dave told me that the section between Tenterfield and Drake was superb and he wasn't wrong.  Incredible bends, quiet roads - this is Gixer heaven.  For 35 k's I cracked on at my own pace, stopping only when i got to the Drake hotel where I was glad to blow my streaming nose and get a coffee.  What a great hotel!  Walking in to be greeted by the incredibly friendly owners and to have these beauties sat in the bar.

Honda CB1100's, Harley's and a Yamaha IT400.  Awesome, every pub should have bikes in!
Once warmed by the real fire, we were on our way again.  I love seeing the country by bike.

Heading for Byron Bay and then back up the coast to home, we were back by 1pm Sunday afternoon.  Quick blast, great weekend - why can't I be on a permanent holiday?