W/E 8th September 2019

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They shoot horses don’t they?

Whoops where did summer go? Damn the Scottish Rally has come round quicker than I imagined!! Once again I find myself without a Laverda (Turismo excepted)…:-(

Atlas #3 refused to run on two with back-firing out of the nearside cylinder however I fiddled with the carb’ or whatever configuration of ignition and coils I ran. The cam cover is still stuck in place by that wretched mangled bolt so I can’t check the valve clearances which is what I think the problem is. Nothing for it then but to pull the engine and swop in the ‘spare’ that is currently in Atlas #2.

Now Atlas #2 engine might be no use because this engine was pulled many years ago when it ‘felt rough’ on a previous Scottish Rally. Catherine and I jumped ship and drove round the Highlands in a hire car and has the Atlas shipped home. I did once try the engine one more time but it ran like a dumper truck which I subsequently traced to the engine balancers not being aligned and the cam chain not tensioned. So my logic goes that I won’t make the same setup mistakes the second time round and maybe I was just being ‘picky’ about how rough the engine is. Time will tell because everything has to be ready by Thursday…

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If the Atlas isn’t ready then I might be able to ride Catherine’s Ducati. This started on Friday and just needs a bit of a tidy up for its roadworthiness test (MOT) scheduled for Thursday… If of course the Duke ain’t a goer then there is always the dull but very worthy Honda NC…although I still haven’t gotten round to fixing those rear wheel bearings and that too needs an oil change…

So first things first pull Atlas #3 engine:

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Let’s get stripping

So the opening picture showed that I got the engine out (with help from a hoist and Mrs A) – I even managed to get the rusted exhausts off without damaging them. Engine removal was made easier as the exhaust manifold studs unscrewed but this aside it was a bit of a pig to pull out the primary side. You have to get the engine up and at a sideways angle.

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Mrs A lends a hand…

The engine came out of Atlas #2 a bit easier because of the practice – but I wouldn’t want to have to do this and worry about the frame paint at the same time!

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Atlas graveyard

With both engines on the floor the final task was to get Atlas #2 engine into Atlas #3 –

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Back in the hole

So now all that’s left to do first thing tomorrow is plug in the electrics, plumb in the exhausts, fit the carb, sprag and starter motor. Hook up the clutch cable fill it with oil and press ‘start’.

What could possibly go wrong?

Nick 🙂

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W/E 7th July 2019

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This week saw me cobble the Turismo together and take on the 2019 National Road Rally. Full report can be found over in the ‘Trips’ section.

Nick 🙂

W/E 3rd July 2019

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So as I write this folk are converging on Breganze from all over the world to celebrate 70 years of Laverda. From what I’ve read seems to be a great adventure can’t wait to hear all the tales 🙂

Back at ‘Bent Screwdrivers’ HQ work is underway for the National Road Rally. The Atlas is still not fixed so I’ve had to fall back on the Turismo. So far so good with the bike starting and running well. Even the lights work so not too much to do – oil and a new battery to hide in the tool box to run the brake light.

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One problem that I had to sort was knackered rubber engine mounts (yes the 120 range of triples isn’t the only rubber mounted Laverda). I’d tried to get some replacements before without success so a trip to ebay and some ATV steering bushes for under a tenner provided the solution. I had to cut them down with a hacksaw and trim the edges with nail scissors and now the engine doesn’t move sideways when I pull in the clutch.

The plan is to go for a Bronze award which means 300 miles in 20 hours. In the past the Turismo has achieved a Special Gold (540 miles) but with a family crisis still roaring my low personal reserves mean I’m going to cut myself some slack. One difference however is that unlike previous National Rallies on the 100 this time I’m using maps not a satnav. I know that nothing could possibly go wrong but just in case there is the fallback ‘Daytime Chrome’ award requiring just 125 miles that I’ve put behind my ear.

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I’ve also taken advantage of the hot weather and gone back to the triple frames that need painting. The RGA frame was already black but I wanted a better finish so I took it back down and reapplied the paint. The RGS frame needed another coat of priming before I apply its top coat. It would be nice to have a triple for the Scottish in September…

Nick 🙂

W/E 24th June 2019

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I first met Cor in 2003 at Montlhery when I had the extraordinary experience of going to bed and waking up in the morning to see his Spaceframe on a trailer outside my tent! LCN had featured the bike in their calendar which I had pinned to my office wall. I was like a kid at Christmas and soon struck up conversation with Cor who was happy to chat. I didn’t realise, and he didn’t tell me, how well connected he was with all things Laverda.

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We came across each other over the following years and when the time came to ride the little 100’s down to Italy as part of LaverdaforHealth and the Laverda 60th Anniversary he was a key member of the team. I remember taking our little engines to Lisse to have them assembled and working alongside various V6 components that he was machining up…unbelievable when I look back on it now.

Cor was a leader – anything went wrong with the bikes and he had a solution. Cor also had quite a few funny tales to tell round the dinner table each evening! He was an ace networker and arranged all the fanfare that awaited us when we rolled in to Breganze addressing the Mayor and conducting an interview for Italian TV (in self-taught Italian)! The trip also showed his dedication to his family – wife Angelien, his children Mels and Aris who came along in the support van.

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2017 and the news of Cors illness and the closure of his museum. As usual Cor was in the thick of it and many people travelled to pay respects to all his many achievements. And so it takes us today, a sad day in Lisse where I am sure many a tear will be shed but hopefully many a smile as people reflect on how he enriched our lives.

God bless Cor I’m sure you’re having a blast in Heaven.

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Nick

 

W/E 17th June 2019

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A week that ended in deep shame as I finally got caught out and had to ride the Honda to a Laverda event 😦

Family crisis intervened and I ran out of time to get the Atlas running properly. My own fault of course because these days I am mainly a ‘man of leisure’ but old habits seem to die hard and so as is my way I didn’t leave enough time to sort things out.

The Atlas running had been getting poorer over the week. It would not run on two cylinders at low revs and was now starting to misfire on the transition from closed to open throttle. It was also running poorly and irregularly on the open throttle. Time to rig up the aux’ fuel tank and do some carb’ balancing…

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The problem is with the left hand cylinder so I went through various problem solving routines. I changed the pilot and main jet – the pilots were new long jets as originally fitted so I went back to the non-standard short jets which had seemed to serve me so well. Of course reflecting on this it was quite irrational because the right hand side was okay so was it going to be the jets? Still I pressed on with time counting down and finally decided on a carb’ change so robbed the unit off Atlas #3. If anything this made matters worse – it’s my optimistic and naive outlook that thinks the problem will be solved by  putting on a carb’ that’s been sat for maybe 2 years…It didn’t work. I played around with the pilot setting and noticed that whatever I did to the left hand carb’ made little difference so I turned my attention to the electrics.

I played about substituting coils and checking for spark – the spark on the left side was ‘iffy’ but in the end I just had to jump ship and prep’ the Honda. I was going to ride a Honda – what could possibly go wrong…

On a more positive note I found electrical connectors to fit the Atlas wiring harness. The digital speedo I fitted works fine but I still need to plumb in the wiring to make the idiot lights work. I plan to make up a new sub-harness so needed a nine pin connector and found Kojaycat supply the parts or rather supply parts for old Suzuki’s which is what Laverda used. At the same time I also picked up some nice M6 brass connectors to wire in my satnav to the battery – shame I can’t find the satnav wire…

Nick 🙂

W/E 3rd June 2019

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Happy New Year! Long time since I posted and to be fair not a lot has changed – same old broken and bodged collection of bikes. The only reliable bike has been the little 100 which has been running around local roads quite happily 🙂

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However the little 100 isn’t going to be any use for two up touring duties so it was time to re-commission the trusty Atlas. I’d messed about trying to get the cam cover off but one allen bolt wouldn’t shift and became increasingly mangled so I decided to carry on regardless and just put it all back together!

The poor starting turned out to be mainly a poor battery but of course in taking it apart I’d created more issues…The main issue was with the carb which had an idle jet that wouldn’t screw out fully. As I have a few carbs (along with a few Atlas’) I thought I’d rob Peter to pay Paul and duly filched one off Atlas #1.

I installed new ‘long’ pilot jets that Jean-Pierre sent from France and decided a complete gasket overhaul would be in order. This proved more difficult than expected and a month went by before they arrived. Despite the DHLA being primarily a car carb’ spares are drying up – a predictable consequence of the carb being 25+ years old and also the move to fuel injection bought on by emissions legislation (incidentally the Atlas would now attract an emission charge if I was to ride it in to central London).

With the fresh battery the Atlas fired into life – although as you will see from the Trips section it didn’t run so well on account of me leaving out a spring behind the diaphram…(oops)

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There should be a spring in there…

Still on the plus side what a cracking carb that will still run despite my best efforts (drank a lot of fuel mind).

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Still the destruction didn’t end with the bike as I decided to boil the chain to repack it with grease. The tin of boiling chain wax slipped as I lifted it off the gas and bingo molten skin! Yes that hurt.

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Still with the Atlas running it was time to get it through its roadworthiness (MOT) test. I’d not bothered with a working speedo for a few years but having got a new sensor cable for a unit I’d previously used on Atlas #1 I decided to ‘go legal’. The unit fired up once I’d wired it to a live ignition wire and bodged up an earth to the headlight metalwork. The trouble was that I couldn’t be bothered to wire up the various dash lights and find a sturdy mounting point. So I left the original clocks on because they contain the indicator, neutral and high beam ‘idiot lights’ and cable tied the actual speedo to the handlebars – job done!

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The MOT was a bit ‘disappointing’ – okay I knew the rear brake was a bit ‘soft’ but I hadn’t clocked the problems with the suspension (brake light was probably just a connection issue). Still I had an afternoon to fix things up so it was off home to get the spanners out and find the various bits and pieces.

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I had a few suspension linkages to choose from but found two out of the three had a loose bush so I made do with the least worn. A newly refurbished shock (courtesy of Falcon) was hiding in a box and the suspension was sorted in under two hours. The bigger pain was getting the rear brake to work but eventually having replaced a pad (as in one of the two pads as I only had one spare) and bending the retaining plate to stop the pin falling out we had a bit more ‘bite’. The next day saw me rock up at 8:30 much to the surprise of the garage and by 10:00 I was heading home to pack for the Welsh rally.

The MOT man had commented on the dragging clutch – I had made the cable as firm as possible but it still wasn’t clean. I have though now measured an original (but broken) cable and found the ‘temporary’ generic inner replacement I’d fitted back in July is only 1.4 instead of the standard 1.7 diameter. I’ve ordered a heavy duty Lambretta inner for under two quid which I’m hoping might give a better pull – watch this space!

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Finally I have to mention the ‘B’ word – yes Brexit, it’s everywhere isn’t it! So it turns out that my little trip to France in December driving the little Fiat to the motorcycle show in Paris attracted the attention of Le Flic! Now how do you ride/drive at 80 kph over any distance? Beats me! So in April Mrs A gets a couple of French speeding tickets (her name on the log book y’see). Turns out that had we left the EU on the 29th March these wouldn’t have been issued but with all the ‘are we in, are we out’ and resultant extension means we’re in and I’m about £130 poorer! Still wish we weren’t leaving but maybe £130 would have sugared the pill.

TTFN

Nick 🙂

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 🙂

 

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 🙂