W/E 5th April 2020


Dead Atlas

So Atlas #3 is on hold until I can strip the motor and have the busted stud sorted. I walked away and went through my options and decided to re-commission my first Atlas. This bike had a top end overhaul but started to run hot and misfire so it was shoved in the shed as I had Atlas #2 on standby.

With the engine on the floor I knew I had to unseize the swinging before digging about for other bits. The swinging arm is held with two bolts that sit flush to the frame and have a 24mm nut on the back.


The primary side bolt came out easily but the alternator side wouldn’t budge – damn Laverda’s why is nothing straightforward! I took a step away for a couple of days to think through how to get a big hammer into the back of the bolt. Time to reflect is a good lesson and sure enough the bleedin’ obvious came to me of putting a bar through the opposite side of the swinging arm. By loosening the retaining nut I reduced the possibility of damaging the thread.


Now pass me the hammer…

The bolt eventually shifted and the swinging arm came away for a clean up. I’m not sure what to do with the bearings in the swinging arm as I think they may have left the factory with a protective coating that in use forms a ‘teflon’ like slippy contact surface. My plan is to buff everything up and put it back together with ordinary grease. A bodge of course but the bearing surfaces are wide so I’d be surprised if this introduced play.

All my Atlas’s have this seized swinging arm problem (and that includes the spare bent frame). The fancy coating isn’t robust and once it wears you have a metal to metal contact which with very little encouragement is going to rust. The same happens on the suspension linkages. You know you have it when a pillion gets on the bike and the suspension sticks in a lower than normal plane.


I like a tidy workshop

So with swinging arm removed it was on to the engine. The valve clearances were good except for one inlet that was tight so I was confident that could be fixed – however knowing the history of the motor I was on the lookout for a reason why it ended up running so badly. I’d been warned to check the cams turned freely and checking these showed a tight exhaust cam albeit with consistent valve clearances.


Atlas #3 supported by wood, Atlas #1 in foreground about to reveal more problems…

I played around with the cam changing bearings around to see if I’d mixed them up (quite likely) when I’d put it together last time round. Whatever combination I tried the cam tightened up. The cam also had evidence of wear on the primary end – looked like it had been run with dirty oil (not something I tend to do) so life had been hard. I took the smooth cam out of Atlas #3 and installed this. This cam tightened up too despite being free in it’s original setting. My conclusion is that Atlas #1 has a warped head… So next task is to check the spare engine cylinder head and do a swap.


Collection of 1980’s tat

Final task was to give an initial clean of the swinging arm. It’s a cheap steel item that doesn’t suggest Laverda maintained its passion for quality towards the end of production. That’s going to need the bearings cleaning up and a touch of spray paint before going back in.


Catherine’s Ducati provides a nice background

Dismantling continued on the frame and cycle parts as they look pretty derelict! First off was the handlebar fairing that still bore the crash damage from maybe four years ago when it was knocked over in the car park at work. It’s going to take some work to get this back. Fortunately I have a spare.


As you can see there’s been some pretty impressive wiring done in the past (by me!)…this was how I plumbed in the auxiliary lights. The LED lights have a clever little box of tricks that allows you to dim them – from memory I ran one at 50% until I switched to main beam and then they both kicked in at 100%. It was like night and day 🙂


It was a tussle right to the end – the forks are held in the clamps by fiddling allen bolts which are seized in place. Hopefully the steering head bearings don’t need replacing…

There is a lot of paint missing around the frame and the gold on the swinging arm and forks is totally shot. It might have been a good time to attend to all of this but I’m thinking that if the purpose is to get it on the road then maybe touching it in is the way to go? At least having got it down this far it will come apart a lot easier when I go for a proper paint job.

Nick 🙂



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