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. 😜

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.