W/E 2nd December 2018

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I’m back! Lost my mojo but had a rummage in a box and there it was!

Mrs A came to the rescue and helped tidy the garage up – it’s still a shambles but at least I can now move around a little without knocking things over…

Visited the Classic Bike Show in Paris a couple of weeks back – and there on the Laverdamania stand was Jean-Louis Oliver’s triple…which I last saw back in March down at the Paul Ricard circuit.

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The event in Paris could’ve just as easily happened anywhere – usual format of old bikes, autojumble and a few stands from modern era classic names such as Triumph, Enfield and Moto Guzzi. The bikes were the normal stuff but with a few French ‘oddities’ such as this 3 cylinder two-stroke Mobobecane which was never imported to the UK.

It was just a day trip in the Fiat but along with the bike event we saw anti-government demonstrations on roundabouts near Caen, a medical emergency where a helicopter airlifted a passenger off the ferry and six migrants sheepishly walking away from a horse box bound for the UK. The most frightening thing tho’ was seeing scooters tear through the rush hour traffic round Paris – jeez they must provide a steady supply of donor organs!

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A bit of time has been spent on pilot jets for Atlas’s. A friend contacted me about getting replacements to richen up the starting process and Eurocarb sent short stubby items in place of his existing long jets.

After much discussion a visit to Eurocarb revealed that the Atlas was indeed fitted with long pilot jets as standard. Apparently these jets were only fitted to performance cars such as Lotus – the purpose is to ensure consistent petrol supply in extreme conditions. Eurocarb doubted they would make any difference and only had long 56’s (not the desired 58’s). I picked up the long jets and my friend got a tool to bore them out to 60 – he reports improved starting and so I got him to knock me out a set 🙂

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So armed with the new jets I decided to take a look at those on Atlas #3. The carb had the short 58 jet and tended to fire on just one at tickover. I knew the offside pilot jet was seized so spent time making sure I had the right screwdriver and started to ease it out. I got some movement going and was winding it in and out when effectively the head sheared! No problem I know a man who can sort that and in the mean time got my spare carb out. I’d tried this on one of my other Atlas’s before and it wouldn’t work – taking it apart showed why…no pilot jets at all just the stubby holders! The pilot jets both came out but interestingly the offside jet showed signs of the head shearing too – might just be worth taking the pilots out once in a while to stop them seizing?

(If anyone wants a PDF of the Dellorto carb pages for the Atlas send a message on the site and I’ll email it to you)

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Work on the Atlas hasn’t been confined to the carb’. I’m resolved to check the valve clearances but first need to get the cam cover off. I’ve never dismantled this on Atlas #3 and after many winters worth of motoring it came as no surprise that the allen bolts are in some cases seized. I’m not rushing at this because if the heads get rounded it will be an engine out job to fix. There were four bolts that needed penetrating oil and heat to budge. All out now except for one last stubborn blighter. I’m still taking my time and hope that next time I report back it will be out and I can update you on the condition of the valves etc…

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Last part of the Atlas was to start a minor cosmetic overhaul on the forks. Stage one is to start stripping the paint which I can report is very poor following years of winter riding…

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Finally a road trip down to a Laverda engine man in Wimborne with Matt has inspired me to pick up the triple projects. In between trying to open up the Atlas cam cover I’ve started to polish the RGA cam-cover. It’s been nice polishing away with the radio in the background and the rain lashing on the garage door…

More to follow…

Nick 🙂

 

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W/E 7th October 2018

Nothing new to add – very little has happened in the garage as I try to get Catherine’s Ducati running…

Still managed to update the trips section with the report on the Belgian rally so feel free to browse.

Here’s some more pictures of the bikes that showed up:

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Nick 🙂

W/E 24th September 2018

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Well the rally season is just about at an end. Spent last weekend at the Belgian Rally (report to follow soon) and now it’s time to begin work on the Atlas.

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Looking over the Atlas the damned exhaust has been at work again – further melting the sidepanel and also having a nibble at the Andy Strapz canvass panniers. Still with all the abuse the Atlas has had thrown at it I guess it has the right to bite back occasionally!

There’s the usual sorting out to be done like repairing the broken gearbox return spring but the biggest challenge is going to try and turn it in to a  more reliable starter. Had to take Mrs A out the other day and with the cold mornings it just wouldn’t catch! All this leaning on the starter motor is inevitably going to lead to more failed starters and starter sprags.

Sent off some silver steel bar to get a batch of oversize sprag rollers made up. I’ve also done a bit more digging on the Howdi sprag bearing. I’ve identified the auto transmission it comes from and got some advice that maybe the bearing is failing because it has to drag when not in use. The bearing normally works ‘locked’ to spin up the transmission but in the Howdi application it spends most of its time ‘open’. We’ll see as perhaps the solution is just to replace it every 5,000 miles? In addition to this I found that Ian Drysdale is making sprags out of used Kawasaki W650 parts – perhaps it would be easier to fit one of this into the Howdi housing?

Not been completely idle however and have posted my account of the Scottish Rally in the Trips section.

Nick 🙂

W/E 16th September 2019

A busy couple of weeks since my last post – last weekend was the Laverda meeting in Belgium and the weekend before that the Scottish rally. Reports are being written but in the meantime I’ve posted a report on my trip to Northern Ireland which you can find in the Trips section.

To get up to Scotland I had to fix the starting issue and put on new chains and sprockets.

The starting issue was traced to a defective starter motor – easy fix just take a motor off Atlas #2 – this had the advantage of already having the right gear for the Zane clutch so no whining gears on start up. I left the plastic cover off the engine just in case I needed access but so far so good.

More worrying is the wear on the gearbox output shaft.

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Worn sprocket splines on the gearbox output shaft

I had a potential fix to this problem in the form of a new hardened sprocket with a shoulder on the back. This design makes use of the full length of the splines, is a tighter fit and won’t rock. To fit the sprocket I had to fit a different gearbox seal so the new sprocket can butt up against the gearbox end bearing.

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New and old sprockets, old and new seals and tool to hook out old seal

Getting the old seal out proved simple enough – I used a hooked tool I found when out walking so not sure what you’re supposed to use it for! Anyhow once the old seal was out the new seal tapped in, tho’ not that sweetly as the outer edge starter to ‘peel’. I decided it was good enough.

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I put locking fluid on the splines and tapped the sprocket home. You can see from the picture that instead of using a lock washer I’ve gone for a simple 21mm external circlip – no need for a lock washer you just need to take up end float on the sprocket (which shouldn’t move due to the locking fluid).

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Finally hot on the heels of Matt Hale I had a visit from Dean Young on his rather lovely GTL 750. Top bike and top bloke – can’t think of a better way to while away an afternoon.

Nick 🙂

W/E 2nd September 2018

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So mixed fortunes since the last post – but let’s start with the positives…

Ended up visiting the ILOC annual rally at Baskerville Hall last weekend. Made arrangements to ride over to Hay-on-Wye with Dominique (RGS) and his friend Marc on a first series SFC – picture above. Very nice hey?

We’d agreed to meet up at Chieveley Services junction 13 on the M4 on the Friday at 14:30. At 12:00 the Atlas was still a non-starter – it would run but not start on the electric start. As is my way I’d left it too late to twirl the spanners and left it to Thursday night to begin work. I put my money on the sprag rollers being knackered yet again so pulled the Zane sprag off Atlas #2 the night before!

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The sprag came off relatively easily and revealed that when I’d assembled it incorrectly putting a spacer the wrong side of a gear – wondered why it ran so badly when it eventually fired up!

New sprag on the Atlas but it failed to run – even with Mrs A pushing it down the hill out the back of the house! Mulled it over and realised I hadn’t timed up the balancer shaft gear so stripped it down to find not only had I missed this but also had the crankshaft gear on back to front! That probably explained the noise when it did try to fire up…Stripped it down again and now found that the original sprag had got jammed on the ring gear so back together and another bump from Mrs A and it ran smoothly…still nothing on the button however.

As I was working on the bike I was thinking how dumb it was to create such a tight deadline, it also meant that working under pressure I made mistakes further adding to the stress of the situation. I did consider closing the garage door and taking my Honda NC700x (I use this for work only)…but how can you turn up at a Laverda event on a Honda! Is it tho’ better this than not to go at all? Is an event about the people or the bikes?

Still I’d warned Dominique and Marc about the lack of starter so they duly lined up and pushed the Atlas round the services carpark – they pushed it for longer than they need as I forgot to flick the kill switch back to on…

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We called in on James White-Cooper to pick up a spare set of plugs for the SFC and then headed west down the relatively empty country roads across the south Cotswolds and into Wales – the Atlas held its end up I’m pleased to report 🙂

The ILOC meeting was well attended. The atmosphere was building as the Laverdisti enjoyed the autumn sunshine and stunning views.

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The wire wheeled 3C seems to be the current ‘in vogue’ model and there were some very nice examples on show.

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Time to head home – a 200 mile range tank meant the trip home could be completed without the need to stop for fuel so a couple of ILOC member obliged with a push and I was away. The sun was sinking but the ride back via the A40/M4 provided a nice balance of twisties in the fading light and then motorway when night fell and the job just needed completing. I rolled in home at 23:00 having had a great days riding – Mrs A was exhausted and asleep!

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Sunday saw Matt Hale rock up on his way home from Bristol. His [genuine) 3CE has a beautiful patina which hides the recently installed Redax ignition upgrade.

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Look above the ‘2’ and you can see the crude ‘E’ that identifies the bike as a pukka 3CE

Spent the afternoon catching up with Matt which helped me to ignore that the Atlas still won’t start on the button and the Scottish rally is this coming weekend! Maybe I’ll take the Honda!

Nick 🙂

PS Finally completed my account of the National Rally and have added this to the Trips section if you’re interested.

W/E 19th August 2018

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Blimey where has all the time gone since my last post back in May?

In June I attended the Laverda Club de France rally near Bordeaux – I’ve posted a report in the Trip section. July saw me enter the National Rally – that report is still brewing but will be posted in the next week. Finally took the Atlas over to Northern Ireland with Mrs A and Catherine on her Ducati. I’ll get to that report soon as well 🙂

So been out and about on the Atlas but today finds me in a bit of funk as I’m up against it to have the damned thing ready for the final throw of the dice in 2018 namely the ILOC rally first week of September, Scottish rally second week finishing off with the Belgian rally the week after that. A trip out to London and then on to Seveonoaks saw me struggle with poor starting and yesterday Mrs A was out behind bump starting me away…The bike ran okay and got me to my destination but the battery seems not to have energised so I have to face up to finding out why such poor starting. Next week I provide an update.

Still let’s get to an old project on the Atlas that I’ve revised – the damn chocolate gearbox output shaft. Along with my other two Atlas’s, Atlas #3 has been whittling its output shaft away so time to find a fix. The picture at the start of the post is of a sprocket I had made up to provide a tighter fit on the output shaft and also increase the contact area. Well these sprockets had been poorly finished so I fished them out again and sent them off to a new engineer. John Hemming has re-cut the splines, blasted the finish and rehardened the job.

This is phase 2 of the project. If the principle can be proved then I intend to move on to phase 3 which will be to see if I can get some adapters made up that’ll add the shoulder to a standard sprocket. John tells me that getting my phase 2 sprockets refurbished by welding on replacement sprocket teeth is simple but I’m more inclined to see if I can develop a solution that uses off the shelf sprockets with no need for engineering intervention when new chain and sprockets time comes round.

If you have an Atlas check to see if your final drive sprocket wobbles on the output shaft – if it does then your output shaft is being damaged. If you’re in this situation or suspect you’re gonna need a solution to a problem that is going to happen (it will believe me [and replacement shafts are like hen’s teeth]) drop me an email as I’m considering having a batch of sprockets made up if there appears to be interest.

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My focus however has got a bit wider than the Atlas. The hot weather has meant time in the garage has been limited but I am starting to look at the RGS and RGA I have in pieces. I read that you have to get the stands on the frame before installing the engine so pulled out the centre stands.

The centre stands have both been damaged through rubbing on the silencers (the rubber stop bungs were missing on both bikes) – you can see the primed RGA stand has worn all the way through!

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The worn legs however are different to the main hassle with the stands which is they end up hanging down as wear occurs in the bushes and bolts. This means the tension goes out of the springs.

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I’ve been told off for not regularly greasing the bush that goes in the eye of the stand. Well fair enough but does anyone really take the stand apart at regular intervals? To me the problem is that the metal bush is harder than the standard material – replacing a soft bronze bush would have been far simpler and I may sort this out for myself.

The other feature this picture shows is that the bolt that goes through the bush gets whittled away – why hasn’t it got a shank (maybe this is non standard)? Again I will upgrade once things are fixed.

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Finally another project that I’m reviving is the ‘Howdi’ starter sprag clutch. I had this uprated sprag fitted to both the RGS and RGA. The bearing failed at 16,000 kms on both bikes. The subject came up again on Paul LeClair’s Forum so I’m now on the hunt of the correct ‘overruning’ bearing. I can get one from Australia for about £75 but want to see if one is available in the UK first.

Not sure of the wisdom of the Howdi clutch but as both my standard sprag clutches are worn out it might be that I just replace the errant bearing every 10,000 kms to work round the problem.

I can do this at the same time as I dismantle and grease up my centre stand bushes hey…

Nick 🙂

W/E 27th May 2018

Blimey a month has passed with no update!

Took the Atlas out for a 300 mile spin down to Waterlooville then up to Papworth and then home and got a headache from the exhaust noise! The noise wasn’t like a loud hole had appeared it was just that the exhaust felt harsh under power. Checked around the various joints and couldn’t find anything obvious so suspected the actual silencer had lost its wadding over time. I got the silencer off Atlas #1 and installed this and put a new clip on the connecting pipe as there was evidence of blowing. My initial thoughts were that I’d fixed it but now I’m not so sure.

Note roller on rear has ridge from being crushed. Note also the lip around the edges of the unhardened rollers which is again from being crushed

The damned sprag clutch and battery continued to give problems. The unhardened sprag rollers finally cried enough. I got my spare set of unhardened rollers and took them off to be treated. The local specialist welder heated them and then coated ’em in hardening powder for the princely sum of £20 which seems a lot. The silver steel bar cost £3.50 then there’s £14 to cut up six rollers and now £20 to get them hardened, I shall be looking at a cheaper way to produce these beauties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hardened sprag rollers as returned, hardening paste still on the surface!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The upside was that although the rollers wore there was no damage to the ring gear or the plungers and springs. I also found that the Zimmerman sprag construction provided a useful set of recesses where the plunger holes are machined to enable the use of a peg spanner to hold the crank for tightening purposes – no need for Mrs A to stand on the brakes!

 

 

 

The Harley battery failed along with the sprag. It was less than a year but I couldn’t face another round down at the Harley dealer and found a replacement sold by the KTM shop for £100 – same battery but nearly £40 cheaper! These ‘Harley’ batteries kick out the right amount of CCM but don’t seem to be able to stand up to constant use. I think I need to research a more modern lithium solution.

I boiled the chain to replenish it and along the way found that there is wear on the output shaft. I found a fresh lock washer as the old one was knocked about by the sprocket ‘wobble’ and used locktite to try and take up some of the slack. It’s clear that a solution to this perennial problem needs to be found if the Atlas is going to continue as long-term transport…

With the sprag and battery fixed I was back on the road. This was wasn’t the best ride ever as starting was far from instant which makes me nervous for the longevity of the sprag + the leak from where the alternator wires exit the engine case is still there despite a liberal injection of silicon- grrrrrr. There is also a noise from the alternator side of the engine which may be the sprag rollers or perhaps the chain…or perhaps the main bearings… At the end of the ride I put the bike back in the garage more than a little frustrated (angry?). Seems that the problems with the bike are all adding up and at this point I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by them.

Time is now ticking down for the Laverda Club de France rally in Bordeaux in just over a week’s time…

Always best to end on a positive so I’ll signpost you to the Trips section and the report on the Welsh National Rally.

Nick 🙂

W/E 29th April 2018

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Since the last post not too much has happened on the Atlas but I have had a trip down to the 24 Hours race in Le Mans – full report over in the Trips section.

The latest picture of the Atlas shows it ready for its annual roadworthiness test (MOT).

I agonised over the speedo which doesn’t work because the drive in the front wheel has sheared (common problem).

I fitted the digital speedo from Atlas #1 only to find out that it doesn’t work! I kind of remember that perhaps the sensor got hit by the magnets in the front wheel…

Having failed on that score I ordered up what I thought was a replacement digital unit only to find it was mechanical. In the end I decided that the MOT specifies that the speedo must be fitted and illuminated but it isn’t checked to see that it works. To guard against failure I left the satnav in place and was ready to argue that this is my speedo!

I bled the back brake to see if I could get it to bite a bit more. Some air came out of the system and it worked well on the bench. On the road however it must be said the back brake is still pretty feeble which seems to be a bit of a Laverda tradition!

Having decided not to worry about the speedo I slipped on the chunky off road tyres so there could be no doubting the depth of thread!

It passed with no advisories 🙂

A consequence of all this work was that I used the digital speedo wheel for the trip to Le Mans. The tyre on this wheel had more thread and also the brake disc had less wear in the bobbins. However I only discovered as I rode down to Portsmouth en route to Le Mans that the disc is warped!!! It was a minor irritation as braking into roundabouts was a bit fraught with the bars shaking their head…back to the shed I guess!

Nick 🙂

 

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W/E 18th March 2018

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Where did the time go? Been counting down to the V6 rally in Montpellier and now it’s upon me! I’ve had ages to sort out the Atlas and now I’m going to be running about like an idiot bodging it together and probably suffering the usual chaos that make my trips ‘memorable’.

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I thought I’d have everything fixed over this weekend but I got sucked in to reading ‘Porcelain’ by Moby then watched movies with my daughter and then it started to snow…This morning when I woke up we’re back to winter wonderland…and the bike was in pieces up in the garage!

I began work to get the Atlas ready by freeing up the choke with WD40 and working it in to the mechanism. This though is a sideshow compared to what needs fixing.

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Standard 10mm roller with its oversize cousin beneath

Last time I rode the Atlas the damned sprag clutch failed. The bike was lodged over at my mother’s to give me room for Catherine’s Ducati which needed checking over. I’d pondered the sprag clutch which has the fancy ‘Zimmerman’ sprag and remembered him saying he’d supply it with 10.3x10mm rollers if the ring gear was worn past 49.6mm. Even new ring gears are marginal so I set about finding a cheap way to create 10.3x10mm rollers – cheaper that is than the €70 I’d been quoted a while back.

The solution turned out to be 13/32″ silver steel bar which I got cut down in to 10mm lengths – a 13/32″x10mm roller reminds me of the difference between a traditional English golf ball and the latter day US ball of today – who knows one day all Atlas rollers might have these dimensions! I got 12 rollers made up and still have nearly a metre of bar left. The rollers haven’t been hardened so I have to hope they won’t turn to cheese in the 2,000 kms needed to get down and back to Montpellier…

So the sprag is ‘fixed’ subject to testing. The rear shock however hasn’t progressed as Falcon Engineering decided the White Power Unit I dropped off couldn’t be fixed as the lower mount was weakened by being bent…pity they didn’t make this decision when I dropped the unit off. So Falcon agreed to fix an original Marzo shock but it’s Sunday so unless I get a call tomorrow we’re going to Montpellier on a Hagon unit which seems a bit secondhand but might be alright. At the end of the day the worst that will happen is we’ll end up pogoing around and maybe bottoming out on the larger bumps – not really a big deal.

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I picked up a spare inner clutch cable via John Faulkner’s local motorcycle store. I’ve given up getting a replacement from a Laverda dealer as they come with the wrong nipple and ferrule. I’ll just feed a new inner down the old outer should I be unlucky enough that one of these fails.

So aside from booking a Channel crossing, hotels and sorting out the route I also have to attend to:

  • Swapping the back wheel with Atlas #2 to get a rear tyre with sufficient thread.
  • Putting on a fresh chain.
  • Sorting out an electrical fault with the lights that blows a fuse.
  • Checking the charging which I suspect has gone awol.

Hopefully Mrs A and I will be en route Tuesday evening. What could possibly go wrong…

Nick 🙂