Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Beast of Turin.

Cars ain't my bag... but this thing is cool, old, and I love it! Just take a look at the restoration of this huge-engined Fiat S.76 racer. 

Massive 7.5" pistons equalling a twenty-eight litre displacement! I'll leave the rest of the story to the experts.

You can read more about it, and see the engine rebuild pics, at The Old Motor or check out the guy who's been following it from the start, Stefan Marjoram.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Offroad Bike For Sale, Never Raced, Recently Rebuilt Engine, Blah 1981 Blah Honda Blah XR80A.

I can almost guarantee...
Every time you see a motocross, enduro, trail, or other off-road bike advertised for sale, it comes with those blanket statements. And what I've discovered over the years goes pretty much like this:
  • It might not have been raced against other bikes, but it will have been thrashed mercilessly from day one by someone with no understanding of mechanical sympathy whatsoever.
  • The "rebuilt engine" may indeed be completely accurate. It will have been stripped and inspected, parts priced up and found to be too expensive, engine subsequently rebuilt, with the old parts, and bike offered for sale as soon as an ad can be written. Now, if you're very lucky, but don't hold your breath, the "rebuilt engine" may come fitted with brand new gaskets. Ooh!
  • The age of the bike, and monetary value to the owner, is uber important. It's the difference between regular oil changes and a clean, oiled air filter, and a black sludge, full of metallic particles, semi-circulating around the engine, with broken bits of dirty foam floating around the air box where an air filter used to live.
It is that simple, and brings me neatly into todays little job. The bike, an XR80A, isn't actually for sale; it was given to a mate to use but, before he does, wanted to get it looking good, and running properly. So, he says to me, "I'll clean and paint the rest, but the engine just needs a new head gasket, it's leaking oil". 
Yep, all that's wrong with it - so, whip the head off, replace the head gasket, check the bore while it's apart, just in case we want new rings etc. and slap it back together. It's a walk in the park!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Met the MECGC at the Metz!

Brit twins, and others...
With the boys either not allowed to ride today, or hungover, I cruised down to Canungra for Breakfast on my tod. Saw a few familiar faces, ordered the usual bacon and egg roll and obligatory flat white, and settled down to read Classic Bike. Once consumed, I was ready to head off and take in the views before it got too hot (they're expecting 41°C today, oof).

Strolling into the car park and someone's trying to negotiate a Norton twin into the spot next to the Gixer; and there's me wearing a Norton T-shirt, carrying Classic Bike. Got chatting about Brit twins etc., and found out it was a club ride for the Gold Coast's Motorcycle Enthusiast's Club. Met a few others, some on modern bikes, and took a few pics. It's days like these I wish the Beesa was here. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Biketech7 - GSXR1000 Fuel Pumps And Filters.

Progress is made...
With the genuine fuel filter, and other bits, quickly delivered from International Moto Parts, and the aftermarket pump from Axiom Performance, I was ready to get back some of the lost power.
So, tank up and fuel line disconnected, I thought I'd try another fuel flow test. No fuel runs out of the tank at all when I disconnect the pipe - which isn't right, it should flow out under gravity. This time, instead of connecting up a separate loom to the pump wiring, I'm just going to turn the ignition on and let the bike run its own priming cycle. That way I can compare fuel amounts before the work, and after. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

GSX750ES - It Continues To Evolve.

The Fabrication.
It's just as well I took this on as a long-termer because due to money, time, and willpower, it's taking ages. 
Cutting, folding, bending and welding metal is something I've dabbled with over the years, but not something I'd consider myself an expert on. Every time I make something I'm not really happy with, I question my ability. But if you stop at that point...

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

And so we battle on.
Determined to do the metalwork myself, Im learning as much as I can along the way. I want an English wheel, but that'll have to wait. I want to make the petrol tank, but maybe on another bike. The seat/tail unit is the part I need to get sorted first - for my own sanity.
Compound curves for me at this point are nigh on impossible. It's going to be a while before I can even hope to get where I need to be, so basic curves are the go for now. The welding isn't brilliant either, but I'm learning more all the time. I bought a cheap LED tail light off eBay, and this weekend I made a few more bits to hold it in place.

This is the tail unit I began to make months ago. I make everything in cardboard, get it how I want and then mark it out on a sheet of ally. If it doesn't bend easily I warm it up with a blow lamp using the "soap-turns-black" method. Once annealed I bend it over my leg or something with a smooth curve, taking care not to kink it. This pic also shows one of the first mock-ups of the chain guard. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

GSXR1000K6 - Fuel Pressure And Flow Problems.

Modern thou's are a bit quick...
Even when they have fuelling issues. Ride this thing on the road and any problems are barely perceptible, but once on the track there's a gaping hole where power should be chiming in - and it's gutting! 

So I did a bit of investigating.
Ok, we start with an in-tank fuel filter/pump assembly. It consists of a gauze at the bottom of the unit to prevent any dirt entering the pump. The pump then forces fuel through another larger filter assembly, and the built-in regulator allows any excess pressure to vent fuel back into the tank. 
This complete unit supplies fuel, at 43psi, to a rail containing eight injectors - four primary and four secondary. The primaries maintain the low end of the engine's needs, with the secondaries starting to open at around 4,500RPM and their duration (time spent open) is controlled depending on the angle of the TPS (Throttle Position Sensor). Sounds easy enough so far.

Then there's the exhaust valve. With the standard can still fitted, I'm still relying on the actuator to open and close the butterfly valve in the pipe. A quick look through the frame at the actuator/motor, when switching the ignition on, and it's obvious it isn't moving through its complete cycle. Another problem?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Starter Motor Issues?

Slow to turn over? Doesn't even attempt?
The little GSX saga continued when I wanted to turn it over on the starter motor just to see if everything was doing what it should.
I knew the cams were turning when I turned the crank with a spanner, but there's nothing like spinning it over on the starter to listen to any clonks, or other death blows.
With a charged battery at the ready, I used a pair of jump leads to try and get it to spin, but nothing, just sparks. It's worth noting that you don't want to hold the leads on for too long, in the hope it'll start to turn. Just flick the lead quickly to earth on the frame, or engine, and see if it begins to spin. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

An Ability To See The Best In Everything - Exuding Positivity.

Taking the risks.
It's fair to say I've taken a lot of chances on eBay, and I love it. Whacking a bid on, finding out you've won and seeing how good it turns out. Great fun.
A good mate of mine never did so well; everything he seemed to buy would turn into a massive dilemma. I remember him receiving a box of RMX250 bits years ago and, subsequently, chucking it all, part by part, into the bin at work. How we laughed; no hang on, that was just me. Well now Harvey, time to get your own back.

Putting it down to experience.
The GSX750 I should be working on was a rough-as-f@#k pig when I first got it, but if you look at projects like that, you'd never get on with them. So I try to look at the best bits and work from there. Dig deep and crack on.

Today I bought a "parts bike" with an engine that "turns over", and I've been digging deep ever since!

Good bits - it's a Suzuki.

Bad bits - too many to mention.

Redeeming features - the guy selling it had wads of other parts, including straight forks to fit the GSX750. Every cloud, my friend, every cloud.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Lakeside Track Days, And The Ability To Learn... From Mistakes.

Tyres & Temperatures.
Nowadays, I don't think many riders would dispute the importance of warming a tyre before hard use. Thirty years ago you'd just be glad to see a bit of tread around the entire circumference, you didn't expect them to stick to the road as well - but hell, it was always a nice bonus when they did!
So fast forward, and what do we have? Pretty cool tech that is positively bursting from the race scene. The bike manufacturers now make bikes that are almost impeccable, delivering huge amounts of linear power, quietly, through a frame and swingarm strong enough to hold a tank together... and they are very, very hard to improve on. Where once you chose a JMC swingarm, or Harris frame, for better handling, now you just keep it standard and wonder how you ever managed on the steel cradle, flexi-frames of yesteryear. 
On top of that, the rubber things that transmit everything to the road, or you, are designed with the actual bike in mind, not just a rubber ring forged in the dimensions to suit your wheels. 

And these tyres let you get away with murder...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Removing Corrosion and Carburettor Cleaning - Definitive Guide?

So many opinions, but what really works?
I'm going to presume the carburettor(s) are already removed. I'm not going to go down the route of remove tank, air box etc. because there are way too many variables with different models of bike. If you're already at the stage of thinking your carbs need a clean, you're probably more than capable of doing a great job. So from the simplest Amal Concentric to a bank of four Mikunis, we'll delve straight into what actually bloody works at home - 'cause that's where I need to do it.

Here's the replacements I bought off eBay. They're rough, but hopefully good enough to make one set of complete carbs for my GS550.

Possible reasons for cleaning.
  • Bike not idling correctly?
  • Misfire or flat-spot at certain engine speeds?
  • Yellow varnish on the outside?
  • Covered in dirt?
  • Maybe they're corroded?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

KTM Superduke R - Brake Fluid Flush.

Talking of Hygroscopic...
A year-old, a slight leak, and the fluid's getting darker. The big Katoom's front master cylinder reservoir has been leaking for ages. Shame on you Brembo for that design, and the KTM dealer for not fixing it at first service. Maybe it's how they sell more of their KTM-branded sweat bands.

Motorcycle Motivation - Digging Deep.

Saturday afternoon watching Free Practice.
It's Moto GP from Barcelona, and the commentator mentions Rossi first winning a 125 race here in 1997. Eighteen years later and he's still running at the front! Not just making up numbers, actually able to run with the best in the world; that's a certain kind of special. World champions have come through the ranks since, long after him, and retired while he's still enjoying and lapping up every minute. Still able to win - no lack of motivation.

It's an example to anyone, no matter what they do, whatever walk of life, and it got me thinking (oh-oh!).

Where does it come from?
The dictionary definition for motivation: enthusiasm for doing something.

Two-wheeled, self-propelled frames seem to have the uncanny knack of sucking people in and changing their lives, maybe their souls, for good. From the highest level of sport, to the youngster pulling back the throttle for the first time, there's something in there, something great, that doesn't seem to let go.
For me, it happened in December '87. Dad bought a 1961 Triumph Thunderbird to restore - relive his youth maybe - and that was it for me, I was lost. A few months later and I had my first bike, a 1980 CR80R. I wasn't fast, still ain't, was never gonna race, but it didn't matter; I couldn't, and can't, get away from bikes. Love them, old or new, riding or repairing, on or off-road. I have my opinions, who doesn't, but I'll never be without bikes (while I have a say).

Different levels.
So, a racer that's been out there years, and still gives it his all at the highest level is one thing, but what about the person that toddles off out to the shed on a cold, dreary day to carry on with their restoration? Not just fixing something up because it's their only transport, but getting pleasure from being with the bike. That's enthusiasm. Of course, novelty plays its part at the beginning, ripping the bike to pieces to see what needs doing is a lot of fun. But it's the ability to find that something inside when other things get in the way.

What about the times when you just can't be arsed to go for a ride? Bike's ready to go, just needs you to kit up and get on, but it all seems too hard when the sofa's so comfy. Then you push on and get out anyway, and it all comes good, wondering why you ever thought about it in the first place. The feel-good factor of riding motivates. Being at one with a machine, immersed in nature and the elements, the speed, the balance, the excitement, the adrenaline, that fine line we think we reach between life and death. Hmm, we've probably all been there.

Great comebacks.
No, not comedy genius putdowns, but coming back from a bad place, a time where everything looked a little bleak. Rossi's doing it now after two years of riding a Ducati, he's found something that's made him stronger and, by the look of it, faster than he was in the last year of riding a Yamaha. At his age it's nothing short of incredible, and the motivation to win is obviously still strong.

But probably the greatest comeback of all must go to Mike Hailwood. After an eleven year gap from bike racing, he gets bored with his retirement, returns to the Isle of Man TT in '78, and bloody wins it! This will never be achieved again, ever. 

Winning a TT is ridiculously hard; it needs guts, ability and motivation in spades. To do that, after being out of the sport for eleven years, is beyond my comprehension. It shouldn't be possible, and must have been pretty humbling for the other racers. They were bound to be questioning what it was they were actually doing out there.

Where does yours come from?
Sometimes we all need a kick up the motivational ass to keep on doing what we love to keep doing when life isn't getting in the way of everything. Yeah, things get in the way, and we can't always be arsed to work on them, or ride them but, as long as they're still in your life, it'll always be back. That's bikes for ya. 
Time to go down in the garage I guess...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saving and Repairing Grazed Engine Covers.

On the proviso... you didn't gouge a hole right through your precious engine covers, you may just be in luck. 
After the Gixer took the fall, I was surprised to see the alternator cover was still oil tight. Yes, it was in a bit of a mess, worn down and scratched to buggery but, to be fair, it was already in need of a repaint before the accident as it was stone chipped and a bit dull. Definitely on the list of things to be done in no great urgency. Now it was a little more urgent.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Biketech7 - Track Days, Warming Tyres and Oops!

Champions Ride Days, Queensland Raceway - 31/05/2014.
With the bikes loaded up on the Friday afternoon, we were set to leave at 6.00am on the Saturday. Leathers, helmets, boots, food and a few tools for good measure, and straight up to the Coomera BP garage for a brew and meet the others. By 7.30am we were rolling into the massive complex that is QR to find a load of cars racing round the track, and a dose of bikes already unloaded.
Over to the control tower to get registered and we were soon ready for scrutineering and the rider's brief. The weather was perfect, not too hot and just slight cloud in the sky. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Double or Nothing - For a Decent Brew!

Good blast on the Gixer this morning and the fork seals are, happily, working as intended. Starting at Nerang we headed to Mudgeeraba to do Springbrook, dropping down the Pine Creek road, hanging a left and then over the border to NSW and, finally, Tyalgum.

To try out a variety of different roads, and go back in time to get a brew at Dave's newfound cafe - Flutterbies. 'Cause if there's one thing guaranteed with our rides, we'll end up getting a coffee somewhere.
The route involves a good mix up of riding, from tight twisties and wooden-topped bridges (read slippy), to open roads and long sweepers. It keeps you on your toes, and kneedown is easy enough if you want it. It was the first good test of the forks to check if they were going to bottom out, leak or just chuck me off the bike. The only thing they did was get close to bottoming so another click on compression and we'll see how it goes. Sorted.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Forking Hell - GSXR1000K6 Leaking Again!

This is beginning to take the piss!
I've never had so much grief with a fork seal before. Having changed plenty of USD and conventional fork seals over the years, all with no issues, the Gixer's forks are doing my head in. Plenty of you suffer with leaking fork seals on GSXR's so this time I'm determined to work out why. This bike's done a few k's, and had a bit of stick, but you can seal up the forks of an old 'crosser with epoxy in the rust pits and a bit of wet & dry so lets see if we can't fix this thing on the cheap.

I've heard bushing is a weak point on the 43mm Kayaba's so I'll double check them to make sure they haven't worn through the Teflon coating. Bushes are actually available through the better suspension specialists, but they're a press fit, requiring some form of puller to remove them. If I can get away with it, I will. I have slight scratches in my stanchions so that doesn't help, and I've also never fitted seals the recommended way - with a seal driver! It could all be my fault (and probably is).

Sunday, May 4, 2014

GSXR Master Cylinder Recall, the Dealers and the Bull.

It was long overdue.
One thing you should know from the start - I can't abide anyone else working on my stuff. I will always try to do it myself. Working in car dealerships for over twenty years does that to you - you see a fair variation in workmanship. So the letter from Suzuki had been festering in my rucksack for six months but, then again, any corrosion present in my master cylinder could've been present for eight years now anyway (it is a K6). 

Any signs? Sponginess?
Nothing. On original hoses, the lever still felt as good as ever. Fluid is changed regularly, or at least while I've owned it. It's not a solid lever, but the brakes are still adequate for hauling the old girl up - and light years ahead of my sixty year old Beesa:) What more could you ask for?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunrise - It's a Little Bit Special.

Took an early one this morning.
5.45am, kit up, sneak quietly into the garage, bike off paddock stands, open garage, push bike outside, roll down the drive and hit the starter button. Second gear snicked in, and head out across the top of the mountain. It's stunning out here!
With the sun due to come up at 5.57am, it's still too dark for the visor, but the temperature at this time of the year is just right. Happy rolling along at 60km/h while the petrol light flashes at me on the Gixer's dash, I'm soon at the perfect spot.

Perfect being this...

Now that's a sunrise!

GSX750ES - Switch Gear

The Intricate bits.
Fiddly, corroded, delicate, but pretty simple to bring up as good as new. Having temporarily misplaced the lefthand switch, I set into its better half. 
Apart from the throttle tube, the righthand side contains the light, starter and kill switches, and all were working ok previously. The red plastic of the kill switch has, unfortunately, faded to pink, so I've decided to paint it in satin black to keep it low key. The lettering will also be left in black (at this stage) because I don't want to draw attention to it. Of course, I may change my mind on this later on. But, without further ado, here's what it looked like.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

2013 KTM 50SX - Clutch Replacement.

Clutch slipping, loss of drive but, more importantly, no race wins!
Moving on from the centrifugal, three shoe clutch of the previous mini KTM's, they now have an adjustable, multi-plate assembly fitted. Let's have a look inside.

Monday, March 3, 2014

GSX750 - Cleaning the Carbs, Carbies or Carburettors.

Call 'em what you will...
But this is the thing, the 6Sigma jet kit was ready to be fitted; the carbs were looking a little worse for wear; they needed a damn good clean; and I bought a damn cheap ultrasonic cleaner.

That last point, and my grammar, was a problem...
Now the bike ran ok - ok it didn't idle properly (but then it was in a pretty bad state), but it gave me enough of an inkling that most of it was pretty good inside. And that's half the battle. If you have a non-runner, "do it up" and find something's not right afterwards, it can be hard to pinpoint the problem. At least now when it all goes tits up, I'll know it's probably something to do with a part I've stripped - like the carbs.

Initially, they looked like this.
Dirty on the outside and, due to an air filter that was long overdue for replacement, not too good inside either. So onto eBay for an ultrasonic cleaner.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Delivering the Volts and Sparks - Wiring Looms.

What a bloody mess!
The problem with buying non-running, old junkers is you never know quite how bad something is until you rip it apart. When you buy them unseen, it's worse.

I must admit, the wiring loom left a little to be desired when I removed it. In fairness it looked as rough as fu... I'd seen anywhere. 
  • Insulation tape covering a myriad of twiddle joints (hate those). 
  • Wires chopped off and left exposed (woohoo).
  • Multi-plugs missing and a different set of clocks wired in (aargh!).
But nevertheless, I labelled various wires that went to the regulator/rectifier, coils etc. just in case I needed it for future reference. I'd already worked out we had no functioning charging system, oil light, gear indicator or fuel gauge when I'd fired it up previously, so repairs were definitely necessary. (The gauge was actually connected up to a brake light switch circuit if I remember rightly.)
So, yesterday I decided to pull some stuff out of boxes to see what else was hidden away. There was the loom covered in dust, mud, road grime and black paint. Out it came and straight into the sink with a dose of washing up liquid, Jif, scourers and a brush. After a bit of scrubbing I could actually tell the colour of the remaining multi-plugs, the wiring colours and, as I pulled away the torn insulation tape, I came across more cut wires. Oh joy.

With it dried out in the sun, I pulled it back inside to further inspect. It's no problem to tidy up the wiring with solder joints and heat shrink (although you do need to be careful when soldering because the vibration on a bike can crack them) but, because I'll be moving the position of some of the electrical units, I'll need to wait until the bodywork is complete. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

2014 is upon us. 
Resolutions? Hmm, never bothered before, but it's 5.00am as I start this on 01/01/2014 and maybe, just maybe, I feel the need for a new start. So, without further ado, and a good cup of Tetley.

What did you achieve in 2013?
For me, apart from the boring old crap, I did get a bit done on the GSX, did another track day, at long last, and started a new job doing something completely different after years of fixing things, and handing out jobs to other techs. Everything's good, I'm surrounded by great mates (here and overseas), and have an amazing family (here and overseas), and incredible kids who love to help out in the garage when they're allowed. Does it get any better?

What about the resolutions? 
Couldn't really come up with much. Don't have enough interest in it I guess, but here goes:

1) Somehow, whatever way possible, try to get more Suzukis into the garage (I will, however, settle for a lesser machine - two wheels is its ticket in).
2) Get the GSX750 finished - ok, not finished, but usable.
3) Buy less beer, buy more parts.
4) Talk to my wife more - some would say I talk too much (but that was me).
5) Learn to walk a tightrope, play an instrument and juggle - useful skills I can no longer manage without.
6) Become a banker.
7) Stop quoting Seinfeld all the time (see number six).

I've hit a blank, no imagination so that's all - seven resolutions - isn't that lucky? Lucky for you at least.

Enjoy folks, some of you have yet to sample 2014 at this point so have a great time getting there. As for me, it's a beautifully sunny day and I'm off down into the garage while everyone's asleep...