Had to skip a week because of family stuff but back on the horse so to speak.
I’d got my RGS and RGA barrels measured for ovality. Laverda recommend no more than 0.05mm out of round – the RGA barrels passed but not so the RGS (not surprising as I’d run these with very low/no oil). The RGA barrels were honed but still have a slight mark at the top of the barrel which I’m told is okay – hmmm?
Wear mark on triple barrel – within tolerance?
It would be easy to just dismiss the advice that it’s okay and get everything new but if it is good enough then if I get another 20,000 miles then it’ll be no bad thing. The engineering firm have also offered to see if they can match the Laverda piston rings with those of a car to save me money & gave me Laystall Engineering as a source of re-manufactured liners.
Along with the honed liners I also took delivery of two sets of second-hand RGS pistons. There’s enough of these around due to owners upgrading to high compression ‘Corsa’ pistons. Fair enough if that’s your bag but I never found a problem with the performance of a standard set of slugs.
as good as new…
So progress on the triple front and some also on the Atlas. The Atlas is still in Glasgow awaiting Keith Nairn to complete the RGS crankshaft rebuild and send this along with bike back to me. In anticipation of the bikes return I had to start work on the Atlas original motor. The mainshaft needs replacing but thinking that this engine has a good bottom end but needs a head with good valves I figured if I sorted the mainshaft I could just pop the head of the Glasgow on when it arrived. I duly set to dismantling the original motor.
Back on the bench
Dismantling the motor wasn’t that complicated. The main hassle was that the pistons don’t go through the block attached to the con-rods so the crank is still attached to the top case. Other than this it all came apart easily enough.
I haven’t taken the head apart to check the valves but wonder if they are damaged after finding very worn oil ring spring in the right hand bore. Was this the cause of excessive oil in the inlet track? I also think that the balance weight on the primary side might be loose despite the nut and lock washer being in place. Rocking the balancer shaft created a knocking noise not unlike that in the Glasgow motor so I will check this before stripping that bike.
Bottom case with gearbox and balancer shaft
Finally to try and get back onto two wheels I have also started to see if I can recommission the VFR. Aside from the electrics which need sorting (bad earths etc) the oil cooler pipes had corroded to the point of leaking. I’d forgotten that while you can’t fault the Japanese engineering you have to remember that to make such great motorcycles as such a low price quality has to be compromised somewhere – welcome to bolts made of chocolate…On sheared bolt later and I proceeded with a liberal dose of penetrating oil and blow torch to loosen things up. Makes you respect the build quality of a Laverda even more…
Where’s that knocking coming from?
Well as you’ll see from the Trips section the final part of the ‘National Rally Trilogy’ – the Scottish ended in failure 😦
We got to Glasgow and although the engine pulled well the crank felt harsh and there was a knock under load. The engine had also drunk a half litre of oil in 400 miles but I don’t think that is related to it’s demise. Still the bike will remain in Keith Nairn’s workshop until he has finished my RGS crankshaft rebuild and then this and the Atlas will return via courier van.
Other things Laverda were meeting Piet from Germany with his RGS Executive – though this had to be rescued by Keith when its ignition failed. Chatting to Piet confirmed what I’d suspected that the Atlas gearchange return spring is different to that fitted on an RGS in that it is wound the opposite way. This construction means the spring doesn’t still parallel to the mechanism meaning it has to work across itself to work.
Talking of Laverda legends I also got word from Scott Potter that there are two sets of used but serviceable RGS pistons waiting pickup from the Royal Mail customs shed (USA import…). At the same time word has come back that the RGA barrels are within service limits (just) but I’ll need another set of liners for the RGS. So as the eight valve twin star falls perhaps the triple’s rises?
Oddly maybe I wasn’t too disappointed as it showed that getting all three rallies in one year on a 25 year old bike isn’t so easy. I’ve immediately started to think about how we can get it back on the road and the plan is to pool this engine and the original with the hope that’ll build one serviceable motor. I think the bottom end on the original is okay and similarly the top end of the incumbent works so we might have a plan!
A busy kind of week Laverda wise which kicked off meeting up with Tom Battison and his partner Jenny. Tom is on some big European tour and we spent a happy evening swopping tales. Unlike his son, Steve, Tom seems to have a soft spot for CBX’s along with his old Velo. Great company.
Mrs A, Tom & Jenny
I got a set of auxillary LED lights because the headlamp is weak – I know others say it’s not but it’s the same light as fitted to a Honda CG125… I also wanted the lights because I have the Scottish Rally coming up and don’t want to be flying down roads with deer on them. I hooked the lights up direct to the battery and they are bright! My plan is to have one light on with the dip beam and then two for full. The problem is that the lights are just too bright so needed trimming – this required a dimmer box.
Like many motorcyclists I’m not great with electrics so I was dreading wiring up the lights but it proved reasonably straightforward. I gave it a bit of thought and remembered a tip from the guy who gave me the Atlas front disc which is to use the redundant indicator switch as a source of power. It seemed, thought thinking about it unnecessary, that I needed two sources of switched power i.e. comes on with the ignition. The indicator provided one and the other came via the feed to the right hand coil. With this sorted I then realised that ‘white’ seems to be the Laverda colour for high beam wires this ‘break through’ resulted in the little blue light working on the dash!
The setup I have is that first auxillary light works independently and I have set this to give 50% of its full power. So by switching it on via the right indicator position I can run it as a daytime light. The standard lights work independently of the auxiliaries on dip beam so if I choose to just run the normal lighting I can but I can also beef it up by just switching indicator. Full beam however is always augmented by a full power auxillary. I figured that if I was using full beam it wouldn’t be on with oncoming traffic so it didn’t need an independent switch. The trick bit however is that if I have switched on the 50% unit with the dip beam when I switch to high beam this then leaps up from 50% to full power – awesome!
I tried this all out coming back across the Cotswolds and the high beam is amazing – I can see! The low beam needs a bit of work as it didn’t really impact on the dip lights but the principle is proven. The light is ‘white’ as opposed to the limp yellow I’m used to. I think a set of pukka road lights as opposed to these ‘off-road’ lamps would give a more focused beam – they are plenty powerful enough on full beam but just because they’re so bright not because the beam is accurate. Anyways they’ll do for the wilds of Scotland next week.
Lights working it was off to Wales for the weekend and a drop in to the ILOC Rally at Baskerville Hall (see trips).
Atlas on the rough
Took the Atlas up onto the Downs to model the Andy Strapz panniers for Zen Overland’s website. Nice to get a shot of a Laverda in a contemporary website hey. I’ve done some playing around with the panniers now I’ve removed the indicators and can get them at a good height. Initially I didn’t like them being so far back and wide but the location means I can fill up the mesh pockets fore and aft without interfering with the pillions legs. I’ve ridden in to London with them in the rain and although not marketed as waterproof they came through fine. Top quality kit.
The indicators got torn off in preparation for the MOT. I’m pleased I got rid of them because now they’re not there I don’t have to consider if they’ll work or not. Having ridden most of my life without indicators it’s no big deal. The MOT was fine with just a comment about the oil leak (see end of this article) and a worn top bush in the rear suspension linkage. The latter surprised me – first wear I’ve had in a mono-shock so if hadn’t been pointed out I wouldn’t have thought to look. Anyways that’s it roadworthy for another year…
Infact this last week has been a bit of a bling fest’ as I also got a tool tube which I’ve cable tied to the pannier rails. Damned good idea to have the tools stowed away like this and once again the odd spacing of the panniers means the tube fits inside between them and the rear mudguard a treat.
Sneaky tool tube
The final flourish was to bling up the dashboard with some sticky black plastic. Not the best job but good enough and now the front light leak doesn’t overwhelm the cockpit area.
All in all the Atlas is coming together…with the exception of the alternator casing which despite now having silicon sealant applied continues to leak. I may have to pull one off my spare case or with luck get one from Alan Bell’s hoard of Zane spares – assuming Zane engines have the same arrangement.
The leak isn’t bad at 50 MPH but 10 miles down the M4 at 70 MPH saw a stream of oil – not ideal when you’ve got the prospect of 400 miles motorway miles to get to Scotland in two weeks…