W/E 25th March 2016


So Atlas #3 passes the UK roadworthiness test (MOT) at its first attempt. Had cobbled it together – had to Araldite the chainguard, put tape on the headlamp as it dips the continental way, got a new flasher unit (Fiat/Lada as per RGS but only use the two outer contacts) and settled for no headlamp fairing because I need to raise the oil cooler (put it on correctly).

I put off trying to start it until the night before the test (of course). A bit strange but I was apprehensive about it starting so just did other things and put off the big moment. It didn’t start. Spun over nicely and popped and banged a bit and then the starter just stuck – dead spot in the motor which I’d been advised about but hoped wouldn’t be there. A new set of plugs and a shove down the road courtesy of Mrs A and it fired up a treat 🙂 albeit with quite a lot of smoke coming out of the exhaust. Still once running it fired up on the button a couple of times so I ignored the rumbling noise in the alternator case and Mrs A and I agreed it sounded sweet and mechanically quieter than Atlas 1 and 2. So that was good enough and put it to bed ready for an early morning drop off at the MOT station before heading to work.

5 am Wednesday and the starter is stuck. Fortunately rocking it in gear saw it start and I rode the half mile to the MOT station parked it up and posted the paper work through the door and headed off.

Sometimes you throw a six and this proved to be one of those occasions. The tester had appreciated the Dutch logbook + a UK version from one of my other Atlas’s to help him put it through the machine – this + I can only assume it must’ve started on the button (which it didn’t when I picked it up and was back to rocking it in gear to get it going). Two advisories – loose spoke in the front wheel which I hadn’t picked up and ‘light’ oil mist on the rear shock – something I had picked up and had addressed by wiping the ‘heavy’ oil mist off the shock…lucky I have a spare. The only fly in the ointment is that I’d forgotten that you can’t just download or pick up a V55/5 registration form but you have to email DVLA who give themselves 7 -10 days to post it out…Still we’re almost there with another Atlas and I can use the next month to get it roadworthy 😉

Work to do is sort out the spoke and fit another shock. Probably rob Atlas #1 of a starter for the time being and check out the rumbling which Robert tells me is shot bearings in the sprag. I also have to look into the choke mechanism which is sticking and not returning as intended. It is though a sound basis for maybe a bike that is used for rallies – the pannier frames I have are specifically for the Mk 1 or 2 Atlas so will look better on this than Atlas #1.


Aside from prepping Atlas #3 investigations into the damned sprag have continued. Got a brand new ring gear from OCT to measure up against the box of worn ones I have. This proved enlightening as measuring the new gear gave a reading of 49.65mm which is only .05mm bigger than a worn ring gear that wouldn’t work with the uber Zimmerman sprag. So maybe the Zimmerman sprag is faulty?

I checked out getting the worn gears made up to 50mm but this is uneconomic as each unit would cost more than just buying a new gear (at the moment). I got thinking though that maybe bigger (10.3mm) rollers is what is needed – these can be provided by Leo Zimmerman but at quite a cost so my next line of inquiry is imperial 13/32″ rollers. Watch this space.


The other gear I got from OCT was a 13 tooth Zane starter motor gear so that I can install the Zane sprag and hopefully get some respite from this perennial problem.

Nick 🙂


W/E 13th March 2016


Time to renew my bike insurance got me interested in Atlas #3 – if I don’t add it now then it’ll cost me extra during the year. This gives me 30 days from Monday to get a registration so time to get moving! Spent a happy few hours putting the exhaust, mudguards and oil cooler on. Took the handguards off and freed the choke which has become a bit seized while standing. All coming together and will work on getting all the lights working during the week with a view to firing it up next weekend. Let’s see.

Continued to investigate Atlas #2 sprag and have decided to get a 13 tooth Zane starter gear and another standard ring gear. I’ve made enquiries about getting the three worn out ring gears fixed and the engineer hasn’t said no but he’s reserved his final answer pending inspection. I figure that if I can offer up a brand new ring gear as a pattern then he knows what we’re aiming at. Getting both parts also ensures a contingency should the current one fail.

Finally it’s welcome back to Mrs A on the road. After a break of what must be 20 years she set off round the block on Catherine’s little 125 – didn’t stall and it was like she’d never been away! Guess recommissioning her D14/4 just got on the work list…

Nick 🙂



W/E 6th March 2016


Well back to the perennial sprag issue this week, this is a bit tiresome when there is so much to do. So the Zane sprag was fitted but on Atlas #2 it made a ‘whizzing’ sound and during the week it was clear that it wasn’t necessarily engaging all the time. I put a post out onto the Laverdaforum and found that the starter on the Atlas is the same as the 650 except that the gear on the end has 13 and not 14 teeth. Andy Bartlett found the same whizzing noise when he fitted a Zane sprag and said it sounded like the gears weren’t meshing properly – correct and worse the gear train for the Zane is slightly bigger in overall diameter so it’s all being squeezed together which is why it felt like it was jamming (because it was…)!

I looked through my box of scrap standard sprags and ring gears and found a combination that works – interestingly the uber expensive Zimmerman sprag doesn’t but an old standard unit does. Of course it works but it is on borrowed time. There are two plans:

  1. See if I can buy a Zane 13 tooth gear for my Atlas starter motor.
  2. See if I can reclaim the ring gears by getting them hard chromed. They are only down by .5mm so maybe a layer of chrome will get them back to 50mm?


Having got Atlas #2 back running I turned my attention to Atlas #1 which hasn’t been looked at since failing on the Welsh rally last May. It was still covered in road filth and oil so I set to it with some paraffin and it’s starting to come back. As you can see however the road salt has certainly taken its toll on the rear brake carrier – that’s a chunk of alloy that just peeled away!!!

Nick 🙂