Week 5: 23rd January

A mixture of work to do this week – firstly had to look at the Atlas to keep the Laverda show on the road. Monday morning I thought would be my first VFR day of 2012 but ironically when I went to start it the battery was flat! However the Atlas which had given me grief all weekend in France started quite easily….It was not to last however and Tuesday night it failed to start at ‘home time’. Lucky I work at the site of the dustcart service centre and got help with a battery booster – although the battery was okay, the damned thing just wouldn’t catch. The tip I got was one I already knew which is to cover everything with WD40. I also found quite a quantity of water behind the pickup cover. All was well but the bike was not spinning quickly so Saturday it was off with the sprag and sure enough broken springs and crushed rollers – all this cranking had taken it’s toll.

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The Atlas restored attention turned to the other derelict Laverdas. My plan was to get working on the RGS – I wanted to get the forks out for inspection. First off though I had to move the little 100 and to do this required the wheels to go back in.

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It was nice working on the 100 – everything is relatively clean and just having it up on its wheels meant it was one step closer to being back on the road. I took the opportunity to look at the bore which is fine. I shall be looking this week at options to sort out the valves – I have a lead on a set but also need to investigate the 500 into 100 route.

The RGS was very much down on its luck. I put the starter motor back on and then wheeled it around to get it backed in so I could work on the forks. The silencers are rusty and the right hand has a hole. The back tyre flat.

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I got the tank off and the road salt and general road grime presented a sorry picture. I had to prise the brake caliphers off the discs and then the forks wouldn’t drop through the yokes. I applied some WD40 and decided to retreat…tiredness and frustration normally end in tears and at least I’d made a start.

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Week 4: 16th January

A fallow week in terms of repairing broken Laverdas and attention turned to keeping the Atlas rolling ready for the Laverda Club de France AG at Amboise. I’d done most of the work which just left an oil change and trying to track down the cause of the poor starting. I never did get to this and so spent the weekend being bump started by Keith! I realise the ultimate Laverda accessory is a mate!

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The weekend went well aside from the starting – once the Atlas was rolling she ran pretty well. Keith was on his XT600 and the pair were well matched. I had to hurry for the channel train due to a closed M20 and the Atlas handled 30 miles at a steady 80 MPH with no worries but for most of the weekend it was 60 MPH. The Atlas’s best feature – 50 mpg + a 22 litre tank came up trumps meaning I could fill up at Henley on Thames and then 40 miles south of Amboise the next morning. Petrol is really a problem now in France – it’s supermarche’s only on a Sunday which might be a problem on a triple.

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With regard to motorcycles at the AG there were just 3! Keith’s Yamaha my Atlas and Phillipe’s Atlas – unbelievable the only time I’ve attended a rally (other than the Atlas Rally in 2011) where Atlas’s outnumbered any other bike!

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Phillipe’s Atlas is from the original run and even features a colour coordinated top box! It also starts from cold…

Highlight of the weekend however went to Keith’s ready meal – just add water and it heats itself up – I’m told the chicken and dumpling stew was to die for!

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It wasn’t a total wipe out with regards fixing broken Laverda’s. On Thursday I managed to get a replacement oil cooler for the RGS (non standard but pretty new and with all the fixtures) and at the AG met a chap who might be able to remanufacture rubber inlet tubes for the Atlas.

Week 3: 15th January

Well less progress on the ‘dead Laverdas’ than I’d hoped because I had to work on the Atlas to prepare it for next week’s ‘work run’ and also the trip to the LCF AG the coming weekend.

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The cold weather has finally hit with temperatures at –5 degrees in the morning! I’m ‘muffed up’ and part of the preparation meant fiddling with these as I thought I’d broken a wire to the front brake light – turned out all was okay so not sure why the brake light wasn’t working (?) still all working now so best left alone…With the tank off I fitted a couple of new spark plugs – the old ones looked okay but as I had access and they only cost pennies (well £7.20 actually) I thought anything to help it start would be worth doing.

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I also fitted a new SVR 14amp battery – didn’t seem to spin the motor over any quicker but it is new so I’m expecting the drop in cranking capability to be less than the loyal servant currently (sic) in use. While in the electrics I decided that I needed to give myself a winter warmer and plumbed in the harness for my Evo heated waistcoat. The waistcoat can run off its own battery pack but running it off the bike mains means two extra panels in the chest also work. The harness has a temperature control and my plan is to use it at maximum for the first 15 minutes and then to roll it back to low once underway. My logic is that this will put minimum strain on the battery…(last time I used it on the RGS I ended up at the side of the road at 1 am!

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The downside of this installation is that I didn’t wire it into the mains feed so if I forget to switch it off it will drain the battery. I’m sure we all know where this will end but before then let’s see if the whole plot works tomorrow.

Week 2: 8th January

First proper weekend of the New Year and it’s oddly hard to motivate myself to start work. Before I could start on my broken Laverda’s I had to attend to keeping the Atlas ‘fit-for’purpose’. This didn’t involve too much work other than making adjustments to the handlebar muffs I’d fitted to anticipate the arrival of cold weather. Still waiting for the cold weather but anyways I’ve enjoyed riding in hard rain and not getting wet hands. The downside however has been the kill switch being tripped by the muffs so action was required. In true ‘bodger’ fashion I used a couple of cable ties that I’d found in the street. By pulling the muffs into place with these it seemed to reposition them and make them more secure – job done!

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Work on the Atlas continued with a routine charge of the battery and then when I turned my attention to the garage tidy up plan I got distracted by an old rotting Atlas silencer. I’ve junked the original silencer because it had rusted through and getting an original replacement proved impossible. Getting a ‘aftermarket’ end can was easy and I picked up a stainless item from Motad at the Stafford Classic Bike show – £60 with a strap sorted! The difficult issue was linking the new end can to the original exhausts but this was solved with a unit made by Startwin in Holland. 100 euro’s delivered! http://www.startwin.com. Anyways I was about to throw the old silencer in the scrap bin when I decided to investigate how it is constructed.

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The silencer is made up of four chambers. The first and third chambers have steel gauze wadding. In the third chamber the ‘pipe’ is separated so that the exhaust gases go into the absorbent material and exit via a different pipe. Seems very inefficient to me. The other thing I thought was how much space there is around the exhaust pipe running through this huge silencer. I was worried about small holes in the silencer where as in truth these probably weren’t leaking exhaust gases.

Anyways back to the plan to clear the garage. I know it is a bit boring but before I start pulling the bikes apart I need to have more clear working spaces.

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By the end I went off for lunch I had two clear benches, a new shelf and felt that just getting around the garage was so much easier!

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When you clear your garage you start to find bits and pieces which you’d either mislaid or remind you of the past. I came up with a selection of some of the bits I unearthed:

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Working round this bundle there’s the pillion footpeg I fashioned out of a piece of threaded bar and a ring spanner for the Atlas. Just below the ‘footpeg’ there’s a nut which fits into the Atlas cush drive to hold on the rear sprocket. The very worn rear sprocket is off the Atlas – why am I always so reluctant to throw old sprockets away? Two outer bearing races which I’ve dremmeled slots into so that I can insert a bar to knock them out when the inner has collapsed. Linked to this a rawl bolt used for knocking out wheel bearings. There’s a spring that can be used on the Turismo for the centre stand and the end portion of the side stand spring that broke on the way back from Gent last year. A sprag clutch roller that has been crushed and a RGS valve shim. On the RGS theme there is a stud which had been used to hold the upper fairing instead of the normal screws (funnily I might use this stud on the Turismo to hold the carb to the head…).

Just when I thought I was going to finish the day without actually making any progress on the bikes I decided to put in a final hour.

The RGS couldn’t be moved because the rear shocks were on the bench. I just needed to put the spring back on one shock, jack up the swinging arm and it could then be moved. It is one of those things that only takes minutes when you are in the groove but when you’ve not done any spannering for a while seems a big deal. Out with the spring compressor and within a few minutes I was back working on the RGS for the first time in over a year – job done!

Spurred on by this I decided to go a bit more retro and tackle the 100 cylinder head. I need to sort out the valves on this after SRM Engineering marked them while repairing a knackered plug thread. I might be onto some replacement valves but needed to check the size. I also need to pull out the valves to get an overall impression of the condition. I compressed the valve springs by simply pressing down with a 17mm spanner and hooking out the collets – 23 mm valve heads and overall condition of the seats was good. I can now see if it is possible to get the replacement valves…

Feels like I’ve made progress this weekend. Clearing the garage a bit has helped me to at least get around. I can now get bits onto the bench and work on them rather than having to grub about on the floor. Putting the suspension on the RGS means I can wheel it around so next weekend I will be able to give it a clean over and get to work. The 100 cylinder head was easy and now means I can start to bring that back to life – next stop an email to my ‘valve man’…

Nick 🙂

Welcome

This blog records the success and failure of my ambition to have my five Laverda’s road legal by the 31st December 2012.

I’ve been riding Laverda’s since 1987 when I bought a 1981 Jota. I rode that into the ground and ‘graduated’ to an RGA Jota which went the same way in 2009. Along the way my RGS just got so grotty it was laid up in the garage and its place taken by my current transport a 1989 Atlas. Lurking is a 1955 Turismo which I rode to Breganze in 2009 along with Cor Dees, Gido Lodders and Dean Young to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Laverda.

My main claim to fame is that I still ride my Laverda’s most days to do the 110 round trip to work – recently I got a Honda VFR that does ‘standby’ duty but go out to the M4 and most days you’ll see a slightly used Atlas battling its way through the traffic.

My approach to motorcycles is never to fix what isn’t broken. Laverda’s fit with this philosophy perfectly in that they keep going despite their owners…

Nick Smile

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