W/E 28th July


Well it might not be pretty but the Atlas fired up! Put the Leo Zimmerman sprag clutch on and then primed the engine by opening the throttle a few times and away she went! Did sound too bad mechanically – tho’ as it didn’t have a silencer on it was a bit fruity. Really pleased. Feels like the Atlas cut me some slack and offered hope of attending the Swiss LCS rally and completing the final ‘National’ rally to get the complete trilogy.

It’s funny isn’t it but everytime you go to start a bike after it being off the road I always get a kick out of the first time it catches and starts. I know how to put the puzzle together but don’t really understand the science behind it. When I used to work on my BSA A65 first time start up where always a problem – the timing side bush was too tight or the ignition or carb knackered so it was never a smooth ‘take off’. I remember years ago when Steve Winterton assembled my Jota and it started almost immediately. When I commented on this Steve just said ‘isn’t that what’s supposed to happen’ but even so it still gives me a buzz.

The Atlas had however been sat neglected so there was quite a bit of cleaning to do. The gold on the fork legs and swinging arm was flaking off and so was the engine paint on the cam box. Got to it with emery paper and a paint brush. It ain’t a smooth finish but it looks okay from 50 yards and will protect the metal until I can get round to doing a proper job in the winter.


The worst corrosion was on the back brake carrier which had just flaked away – it’s okay but I will see if OCT can provide a replacement. If I can get another then I think I will paint it as it seems too soft to cope with road salt. Anyways fixed the paint and then checked the horn and electrics. Found an old pattern horn that was on the Jota years back and this worked so on it went.


I am also looked at relocating the electronic ignition box because if it makes it back on the road I prefer not to run in with sidepanels. I like the stripped down look. I checked and the unit will fit under the seat without getting crushed so just need to get some velcro and away we go. Looking at the unit made by Volker Sasche made me think of him and the tragic waste of life and loss to the Laverda community. Here was someone breathing life back into many a tired Breganze beast – RIP.


The only part of the electrics that needs work is the damned indicators. They are always useless on Laverda’s but I prefer the look of them on so will have a play during the week.


The front brake ‘bobbins’ seem worn – there is a lot of movement in the floating disc. I see that replacement oversize bobbins are the way to go but I’m hoping they’ll struggle on for a while. I don’t understand this bobbin stuff and need to have a good look before deciding how to solve the problem.  I think replacement discs are hard to come by.

So a successful weekend – hope to have it all ready for roadworthiness testing by next weekend…then I can start to pull out the engines in the RGS and RGA. Will it ever end?

Nick 🙂


W/E 21st July


Picked up the crank for the RGS from Keith Nairn. Keith was in Guildford picking up a 3C so it was the ideal opportunity to pick up one crank and hand over another for the RGA.

The freshly fixed crank looks the business. Keith told me that not only was the end of the crank broken off it was also slightly bent and twisted. The con rods also were slightly bent. I was pleased that I’d asked him to sort out everything including new bearings and cleaning the sludge traps. Had I stuck to plan A which was to get the end mended locally then although it might have worked the bike would never have run properly.

I had another crank under the bench so handed this over – I now have an RGS and RGA engine to dismantle ready to put the cranks in to – better get to it!

At the same time as I handed over the second crank I also decided to hand over the Jota engine. This has a rebuilt crank and I faced facts and thought that although all the bits were present it would make more sense to have Keith build the core of the engine and just leave me to install it to the frame and do the finishing touches. Keith will also check the rebuilt crank and go through the condition of the pistons and head. At least I know I will have a decent motor when it’s done.


I also got back to the Atlas and removed the sprag clutch. I was surprised and pleased to see the circlip holding the sprag bearing in had come out. That would explain the noise when the bike was last run and also why the sprag slipped and banged when I tried to start it a week or so back. Anyways I put the circlip back and reassembled the unit. I did a few trail runs with the sprag before realising that it isn’t gripping properly – the bearing although not broken is probably worn. So I have gone back to the super Leo Zimmerman sprag which was all assembled in a box. I’m going to attempt to start the bike during the coming week but in the first instance with the aid of a car battery – I want to give it the best possible chance to start and once it is going then see if the standard battery can do the same….

So some progress…

Nick 🙂

W/E 14th July

Not much to report this week. Had to spend the weekend sorting out new brake pads and tyres for the VFR – well gotta get to work.

The good news is that Keith Nairn phoned to say he’d have the crank ready by Wednesday. He thought he might be able to restore the end of the crank that had broken off by welding it up but closer inspection showed it to be bent as well as twisted. Apparently twisted cranks are quite common as both the factory and refurb’ outfits are often a bit low on quality!  So the crank needs a new primary side end and I took his recommendation to do it properly and replace all the bearings and have the sludge traps cleaned. I think this is the right decision as the 180 crank was found to have been pressed together incorrectly and for one of the journals to be beyond repair. This way I know it will be fixed.

I have also been thinking about the whole Jota project and have asked Keith if he’ll put the cases together and slip the head and barrel on. I ‘could’ do it but know having an expert do this core part of the build is more likely to result in a strong engine. I’d like it if it only had to be done the once.

So although not a lot of actual progress things are starting to line up – Jota crank ready to go, RGS replacement crank ready to go and RGA crank ready to be fixed. I do need to sort out some kind of plan to get all the bits and pieces lined up so that once all this stuff comes back assembly won’t stall through lack of bits…

Nick 🙂



W/E 7th July

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Well the 100 did it – 540 miles and a Special Gold 🙂 Go to the trips section for the report.

It was nip and tuck as to whether we’d make the start line but once there the engine felt strong enough to go round – the issue was probably more about my determination and the ability of the satnav to save time.

The engine was back in the frame Wednesday evening and started Thursday afternoon. It ran okay from the start but had two problems. Firstly it wasn’t engaging 2nd and neutral gears cleanly. This was a part of the rebuild that I thought might go wrong as you have to get the selector mechanism set ‘just so’ to ensure everything is in place. I thought I’d got round the problem by removing the gear indicator on the top of the engine. This holds the gear selector and so was just holding it in slightly the wrong position. The idea of removing it worked initially but during the rally it fell into bad habits. Something to sort out when not under pressure.

The other problem was that the bike wouldn’t pull cleanly at full throttle. The plug was very rich but it was starting really nicely. Thursday night I dressed the points and also a spare set just in case. Friday morning I was out early and it still wasn’t sorted. I’d run out of time so went back to the tappets – re-set to 6 thou’ – the inlet had closed up. Torqued the head to 15 Ifb – it pulled down quite a lot and put in the old plug – wondered if the fancy thin electrode was too flash.

Rode gingerly to the start deliberately not giving it full bore as I didn’t want to know if I was going to have to misfire the full 540 miles. Don’t know which of my Friday morning fixes worked but something changed for the better and the bike didn’t miss a beat! The only engine ‘misfire’ was that it sometimes (but not often) backfired through the carb at top speed – experience says this is probably due to slightly incorrect points gap (too tight and therefore advanced).

I was pleased with the front forks. The new nylon bushes got rid of the clunking caused by the worn top bush. I think matters were also helped by the use of SAE 30 engine oil along with the dressed and ‘no notch’ headraces. All in all the handling of the bike was much improved.

I ran a hybrid gearing with my new 420 sprockets. 14/47 which I thought would give me Turismo gearing. However calculation shows this combination is higher than standard 13/45 Turismo and possibily explains the low top speed of 45 MPH and real top of just 42 MPH! The plus side was that second gear was seldom required so in a way this mistake helped me ride round a potentially more troublesome gearbox issue.

Next stop is to try and get the Atlas to run…

Nick 🙂