W/E 30th November

Well my first full week of commuting on the Atlas again – hurrah. Taking the bike into work means I now don’t have to think about traffic density so the need to be heading off at 5:30 in the morning and anticipating up to 150 minutes to get home in the evening has passed – bliss…The other notable thing is how riding the bike brightens my mood either end of the day – motorcycling ought to carry a positive health warning 🙂

Monday started off badly with the bike blowing a fuse within 400 yards of home meaning I crept in to work as dawn broke with just the front LED light for illumination. En route to London the ‘push fit’ dash fell out of its mounting three times and by the time I got home 100 miles later I’d lost one of the exhaust nuts and it was making a right old racket!

I’m not entirely sure why the fuses were blowing but it may have been I was running too low resistance. I see it ought to run 25 amp on the rectifier fuse and since I put in a 30 amp I’ve had no problems. One thing that I did discover was fuses from Maplin which glow when they blow. I blew a couple of 20’s and there in the fuse box was this little red light (like an LED). Really good idea for when you are stranded at the side of the road in the dark. Anyhow the 30 has held up for the rest of the week so it’s going to stay.

The dash was pushed back and seems to have settled down and a weekend check showed the exhaust nuts needed tightening but stayed in place. The bike appears oil tight tho’ I have topped it up with half a litre – not clear if this is being burned so a weekly check is necessary to establish if this is going to continue. Remember the new rings have to bed in and I’m heartened that the silencer isn’t oily. All the engine mounting bolts have remained torqued.

I’ve been using the LED lights and what a difference they make on full beam. I’m going to increase the output of the dip beam LED as it is just filling in the standard dip at present and maybe putting it up a notch might mean it starts to have more impact. I figure I can go brighter because on its current (sic) intensity no one has flashed me.

The only thing that ought to be fettled now is the clutch which needs bleeding to free properly. I’ve been riding long enough to be able to ride round the problem but in the heavy London traffic I have been caught out a few times meaning I’m sitting with the bike ever so slightly creeping forward if I haven’t knocked it into neutral.

Life’s good.

Nick 🙂

 

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W/E 23rd November

Join the dots...

Join the dots…

Took the bike for its first run on Monday and the vibration was bad. Power seemed fine but above 50 MPH it was shaking the fillings in my teeth. Not good. Emails posted asked for ideas and eventually I decided that I’d mis-set the valve timing and possibly the ignition timing. More getting up at 5:30 to beat the London commuter traffic…

Set the valve timing which was slightly wrong – inlet timing was retarded and then set up the ignition timing using the original ignition backplate (this is removed along with its TDC mark when you install the far superior Sachse system).

Original backplate

Original backplate

I should’ve always done this because it makes TDC simple and showed the ignition timing to be slightly advanced.

Starting up and still the bike shook and I started to get worried that there was a fundamental problem with the build – but as I keep saying it’s just four shafts in a bed, not difficult? Then I remember an email from Scott Potter who suggested I hadn’t aligned the balance shaft. Looking across at the discarded engine there were the dots on the balance shaft and crank gear. I hadn’t consciously set these so the chances of them being aligned were slim and so it proved. Dots aligned and viola end of vibration 🙂

Bright eyes

Bright eyes

So with the sun fading it was time to road test the Atlas – as you can see the LED lights can be quite bright! Anyhow it ran fine on a 15 mile circuit. I was surprised at just how much I’ve missed being on two wheels and also how much more powerful even an Atlas is than the four wheeled equivalent. Once home I decided to just check the charging was all in order before putting it to bed for the morning commute…wasn’t charging! A quick comparison with it’s sister sitting in the corner and I could see that the rectifier wasn’t wired correctly – simple fix.

So fingers crossed the Atlas is back in harness…next week my attention turns to a triple!

Nick 🙂

W/E 16th November

Almost but not quite

Almost but not quite

So almost there…

On Saturday the bike was built but the starter solenoid just clicked and wouldn’t kick the starter into action. I needed some encouragement that I was moving in the right direction so got Mrs A to have a go at push starting me down the slight hill to the garage – it tried to catch but wouldn’t…frustrating.

Swopped the starter for one off the RGS – they fit except the feed wire is in a slightly different place which means you can’t put the plastic cover on which is no big deal. Got the bike to run on one cylinder and then pop went the fuse. Checked out the wiring diagram and took advice from Rick and Hande off the micapeak Laverda list. This lead me to try and fit the Kawasaki solenoid Hande had sent me but couldn’t get it to work so checked power was coming down from the handlebar switch and it was earthing. Anyways spent quite a bit of time with the ignition turned on.

The starter worked but the bike ran badly on just the primary side cylinder. When I turned off the engine I noticed that the coil was pretty hot – the beauty of a multi-cylinder motor being of course you can check it against its cousins, which was cold. I wondered if the right hand coil was broken so set about taking this off and bingo there is a power wire that had been caught been the coil and frame when I’d put the coils on, having had to remove them to install the cam chain tensioner blade.

Bike still ran poorly so I adjusted the ignition timing to how I’d had it set previously using a screwdriver down the plug hole to determine TDC (I had got absolute TDC so I thought when the head was off but seemingly cocked this up) and the bike started and ran perfectly on two.

At around 16.00 decided it was good to go for a shakedown – wanted to start it and get to check the charging rate but when the lights when on a fuse popped and there it was dead! In addition a small pool of oil was sitting on the floor – bugger back on the bench.

Oil leak was a simple fix – no bloody cam box gasket and as the main light and it’s associated spot went out after being turned on I figured the wiring to the lights was causing the short circuit. Went through it again making sure there are no bare wires and we’re back to having a runner.

Need to be in London for 7.00 tomorrow so the shakedown can wait for when I get home. Can’t really believe that after two months I might finally have my Atlas back in harness.

Fingers crossed

Nick 🙂

F

W/E 9th November

almost but not quite

almost but not quite

Damn this bike still isn’t ready! Almost there just the exhaust, oil cooler, carb bellows and oil and we should be away.

Where did all the time go? Well first off I spent time grinding the shims some more. Settled on .15mm inlet and.20mm exhaust and got to this fairly quickly by holding the shims against a grinding wheel and then finishing on a wet stone. Time leaked away when I tried to get the cams to move smoothly.

Damaged cam bearing

Damaged cam bearing

The cam bearings are held in place by pillars that have a metal brace over them – these need to be fitted into ‘flats’ on the bearing or as you can see the ends of the bearing get mangled – no I didn’t do this someone in the past has…but I had to tidy it up with light emery. Eventually the cams ran okay but by then time was moving on.

Next hassle was joining the cam chain. First off the cam chain had become trapped between the front of the head and the frame. All bar the top rear engine mounts had to come out to cant the motor back and up to dislodge the chain. Next up the cam chain has to pass between a narrow gap beneath a bearing retainer. Using the LED light off the bike as a torch I eventually I found that the way to thread the cam is in through the back of the barrels with the cam chain adjust removed. The chain then drops onto the crank sprocket and can be fed down and out the bottom of the engine. Hook the end of the cam chain to some lock wire and thread it back up the front of the motor – oh yes with the cams removed…which you then have to check spin smoothly. If you just drop the cam chain down from the top then it goes the wrong side of the bearing retainer and seems to be a link too short (it isn’t).

Of course once this has been done the next pain in the arse is getting the wire back through the cam chain link. I reused the old wire as I couldn’t find my spare – lots of swearing and help from Mrs A.

Pain in the arse joining link!

Pain in the arse joining link!

I think decided to put in the cam chain adjuster blade – had to remove an HT coil for access and even then had to tap the blade past the top rail.

Progress was swift once the top end was built but became frustrating as I realised things had to go in a particular order. I remembered that the cover over the starter motor can only be removed with the cam chain adjuster bolt removed – that’s what I thought but found that with the cover on I couldn’t get the cam chain adjuster in to the rear of the cylinder so off with the bloody cover and start again.

It made me think that maybe you would be better off building the entire motor on the bench and once done hoist it in…next time huh!

A craftsman's tools

A craftsman’s tools

Still almost across the line and with the reconditioned head, fresh rings, smooth cams and new allen bolts this is going to be maybe my best Atlas yet…

Nick 🙂

W/E 2nd November

Almost but not quite

Almost but not quite

Well I tried but the Atlas is still a work in progress. I’d given myself most of Saturday afternoon and Sunday but just ran out of time – how long can it take to put a 600cc parallel twin together hey?

Initial progress was good with the cases going together with a dab of Loctite 518 but things slowed with the pistons and barrels.

No put em in the barrels first...

No put em in the barrels first…

Got the pistons on and the rings but then looking at my piston ring clamp decided it would work better if I put the pistons in the barrels first and then attached them to the con-rods. It took longer than I thought but I think it is the best way with the Atlas as removing a ring clamp would be difficult.

Lada rings

Lada rings

The piston rings are off a Lada (Russian copy of a Fiat) – £35 the pair! The oil scraper ring is made up of three separate pieces so having trawled through a Youtube video or two I sorted out how to fit these correctly (you put the coiled ring in first).

Getting the pistons onto the rods when buried in the barrels was a challenge because of the 180 configuration. You have to get the rods at the point where they are both at the same height and then have a bit of luck to push the gudgeon pin home. With the barrels on I took the opportunity to find the absolute TDC and mark it on the primary case – no hassle to sort the timing in the future hopefully.

Just needs the lid putting on

Just needs the lid putting on

Putting the cylinder head on was straightforward. The cylinder head had a new valve seat put in + a light skim. Skimming the head left the fins under the exhaust port very thin – hopefully this won’t matter as it is just decorative with enough meat round the port to hold the exhausts.

Skimmed head with dud valve seat on top

Skimmed head with dud valve seat on top

So switched of the lights with the engine together and high hopes it would be a straightforward Sunday…

By the time I packed things in on Saturday the cam chain hadn’t been threaded through so I did this before breakfast. I found the best method is to feed the chain down through the cam chain adjuster window and then pull it back up with lockwire attached to the end of the cam chain – if you don’t do this the chain doesn’t naturally loop round the crank.

Mrs A came down to the garage to help hoist the engine into the frame. I though the engine would go in via the primary side but not it has to go in (and come out) via the alternator side. The engine hoist is a must to avoid damage to the frame and with some deft crane work by Mrs A the lump was finally home.

Time slipped away as I put the final drive chain on the sprockets, primary case and then gear lever which enabled me to check the gearbox was functioning. With the gearbox home the next thing to sort is the valve clearances and this proved the killer. All the clearances were tight as you’d expect with refaced valves and seats so it was a case of cams off, grind the shim on the grinding wheel, cams on, cams off etc. I also lost time investigating the cams to get them to spin easily. Some very light emery on the plain bushes seemed to help here but by 18.00 on only two shims done it was time to admit defeat – tired eyes leads to mistakes…

So how damned long is it going to be before I am back on two wheels? I really thought it would be done by the end of the weekend but where did the time go? I guess when you don’t do this for a living you don’t take a time’s money approach and it’s easy to get distracted. I guess also going a bit slowly means you’re less likely to make a mistake.

The big job to do is the valve clearances, make sure the cams are smooth and reattach the cam chain. I think this alone will take two full evenings in the garage and I have a busy week ahead at work…so looks like next weekend which hasn’t raised my spirits but let’s keep looking forward hey.

Nick 🙂