Week 13: 19th March

Started off on Monday with the new throttle cable – a ‘Featherlite’ item from Venhill http://www.venhill.co.uk/ . What a transformation over the old unit which had started to fray. It made the inclination to rev the bike to 7,000 rpm even more likely but also allowed finer adjustment of the tickover which I set at just 1,000 rpm for a couple of days before deciding this was too low and went back to 1,500 rpm.

Problems hit on Thursday morning went the bike wouldn’t start due to a sprag that wouldn’t engage. Totally fed up I did get into the garage after the VFR day and stripped it down again. What I found was that the plungers had got stuck in their bores? Further investigation suggests the plungers are being crushed against the bungs at the bottom of the Leo Zimmerman made sprag. I had spare springs but not plungers or rollers so spent a good hour stoning the bottom of the plungers to take out the ‘flare’ and checked each one to ensure it slid smoothly in its bore. The rollers are scuffed but went back in and it works again – but for how long I wonder?

Anyway just when you think everything is fine on the way to work the bike misfires and goes onto one cylinder. I carried on into the London rush hour which was ‘interesting’ on a 300cc single and similarly limped home. Investigation showed the pickup wire had been damaged – probably when I fitted Tom’s shock the other week and twisting a few wires back together solved the problem – for now.

I’m waiting for Volker from Sachse http://www.elektronik-sachse.de/index_en.htm  to let me know how much for a new pickup plate and wires.


Week 12: 12th March

Started off the week with a couple of VFR days. Had to renew my insurance and switch companies to get a better deal. The insurance is based on the newest bike so the Honda is limited to just 5,000 miles. As I had two ‘unlimited’ days left on my old policy I decided to use them up.

The upside was that I had a bit of breathing space to fettle the carbs on the Atlas which amounted to just unscrewing the pilot jets by quarter of a turn. This did calm the popping in the silencer at low revs but didn’t improve starting noticeably and by the end of the week it was beginning to misfire if held for any length at 7,000 rpm. Finally as the weather has got milder the muffs came off – felt very different without these cumbersome, but very useful accessories!

I was determined not to just spend another weekend devoted to the Atlas – time is beginning to press on getting other Laverda’s running.

I ground the new valves in on the 100, put the head back on, decided 12 lbs was enough on the torque wrench and installed a new spring and ball bearing in the gear indicator mechanism (this got lost last June on the National Rally). In putting the head together I may have overtightened the bolts holding the valve shaft – not sure but the second one home felt a bit ‘cheesey’ – hmmm more of the same was to followed.

Checked out the valve clearences and set them at 10 either side and flushed with success put the rocker cover on, petrol tank and exhaust system. I rested the seat on and was just happy to see it all together after 9 months! I may try and start it over the coming week – there is no reason I can remember why it shouldn’t run…

I put 300 ml of 10w oil into the RGS forks and reinstalled them. A 15 minute job but it felt like progress. At the least the forks are back in.

I did have to spend time on the Atlas and the downside was the right hand plug felt like it cross threaded when I pushed it home – damn! Decided I couldn’t face up to it so tightened it up and left it for another time. If it is anything like the 100 one day it will just blow! Had to continue to try and get the damned bike to start and think I am still chasing shadows. I installed the original .58 pilot jets which got rid of the banging in the exhaust. Funny enough I think the information on the Atlas registry is wrong in that I think .52 pilots are too small. The previous owner had the larger 162 main jets and .58 pilots. When the bike eventually started (and that sprag sounds sick again) it ran well. I installed a new throttle cable and that probably made it feel better than it actually is.

I’m losing motivation with the Atlas and this is leading to mistakes like cross-threading plugs. Not sure how much more energy I can invest in the damn thing, maybe it is time to take it to someone who knows what they are doing?

Week 11: 5th March

Not much progress this week. First off the Atlas was off the road for Monday and Tuesday (two VFR days) while I waited for a seat location spacer to be made up – I lost one somewhere in the garage…Disaster then struck on Tuesday night when I pushed the bike over whilst tightening the sidepanel locating plate – over it went onto the paddock stand which put two nice scrapes in the tank!!! Lucky the tank is plastic otherwise there’d have been a mighty dent but a bit of red paint and you’d hardly notice.

When the Atlas fired up it ran okay except at low revs where it popped and banged. I’m guessing it is too weak with the 52 (as opposed to 58) pilot jets. I looked up how to adjust the mixture and found this interesting link http://www.s262612653.websitehome.co.uk/DVAndrews/dellorto.htm. The problem I’ve found is that because the DHLA is a car carburettor the adjusting screws are all on the top of the carb’…so it’s a ‘tank off’ job to adjust…I might just decide to put the original 58 pilot jets back in as it may prove easier to take the carb off (just four bolts) than to try and adjust out the popping! I suspect that the carb had some dirt in it which meant it started on one so the 52’s may not be solution to that problem anyways.

On the plus side the Atlas runs well when on the move – I looked down a couple of times and saw my cruising speed had gone up to 7,000 rpm which for a triple owner sounds awful but for the short stroke Atlas motor seems fine.

Aside from the Atlas on Sunday I rode the VFR up to Matt Hale just outside Stratford Upon Avon and picked up an aftermarket oil cooler which I will fit on the RGS. The RGS is currently running the oil cooler off the Jota. The new oil cooler is deeper than the standard unit and to my eye looks better.

Still time is slipping past with almost 20% of the year gone and still only one Laverda on the road. The weather is getting warmer and the nights drawing out so maybe the pace is about to pick up – let’s hope so!

Week 10: 27th February

Well a bad week as regards riding the Atlas which was grounded with broken cush drive bearings. Whilst inspecting the bearings I noticed the wheel spacer was battered so went off to find the part number to email OCT for a replacement – turned out that there should be two spacers not one! So that explained why I had replaced two sets of cush bearings so far and why the roadworthiness test always threw up a question about wheel alignment. An easy mistake as if you’d assume that one spacer would be correct. Anyways Mrs A was dispatched to get a couple of spacers made in the local engineering shop along with some replacement cush bearings. All would be well.

Monday evening came and armed with two immaculate spacers and new bearings I ventured into the garage…where unfortunately I encountered a seized inner cush sleelve. I just couldn’t get this sleeve to tap out of the bearing despite heat and a very big hammer (which almost broke my thumb when I missed the bearing [ouch])! Defeated I retreated for the night but the next day returned with a cunning plan involving a puller and 3/4 socket. So Mrs A was dispatched the next day to the engineering firm to get a fresh inner spacer made up…

Wednesday I was too tired after a day at work and as I had Friday off work called it quits for the week. 4 VFR days – damn!

I hadn’t been idle however and ordered up some new jets for the Atlas as I figured once it was back together I would have a go at the carb to try and get it to start more easily and save future hassle with the sprag clutch. I was a bit nervous about attacking the Dellorto car carb’ fitted to the Atlas but actually it was easy to remove. I had to remove the carb because I got a pilot jet jammed in the main jet hole (don’t ask) but it gave me the chance to straighten out the bent float and generally poke around. The two carb to air filter tubes are perished and the rubber inlet rubbers also on their way out.

I also spent some time tracking down a UK source for Atlas sprockets. I had some PBR packaging some using their reference number found that a Ducati Pantah + 3 teeth gives a 41 tooth replacement. I’m running a 42 tooth but 41 will be a nice compromise as it will be a bit taller giving higher motorway cruising potential but not so tall to make the gear box ratio’s a nonsense as I found with a 38 tooth I ran a while back. This will go on once I have a new chain to hang on it.

Friday was spent on the Atlas. Back wheel in and all looked good but when I went to start it the starter spun but wouldn’t grab the crank…hmmm. To top it off the carb started to leak fuel so I decided it was best to walk away and clear my head overnight.

Saturday the sprag came apart (again…) and it turned out that the super strength Aussie springs had pressed too hard on the rollers. The impact was to grind the rollers down by as much as .05 of a mm which taken across six rollers and a reduced ring gear diameter (49.96) was enough to prevent the sprag grabbing. I went through my rollers and came up with a set all over 10mm and fitted them to the worn ring gear with genuine Laverda springs and it worked! Next up was the carb which turned out to have a creased gasket and once flattened no leaks – hurrah. Finally it all came back together and started but by then I’d lost one of the spacers for the seat so Mrs A will be down the engineering firm first thing Monday morning…