W/E 11th April 2022

Bye, bye 🙂

The Jota disappeared into the night – headed to Scotland and a Laverda specialist who’s going to breathe life back in to it! Part of the warranty was that the engine man had to start it once it was together. That’s fine with me as this way I’ll know it’s sound and in truth I ran out of steam…

Robin working on the shocks

The last few weeks have felt very much like a collective effort with many friends lending me their wisdom and encouragement. It’s also been a nice final stretch as I’ve got to meet Robin at Falcon Shocks and the chaps at JJ Cables and Cox Autoelectrics.

Following my last post tackling the rear brake mechanism was next up on my ‘to do’ list. It’s a difficult mechanism to fit because the clearance with the swinging arm is very tight. It’s also difficult on first sight because you think you’ve got to get the mechanism in the right spot and then attach a link arm. I was pleased to see a similar post on the LeClair Laverda forum and made a note of all the hints and tips + printed off the relevant parts diagram.

Holding brake in position to fit to rear set

I struggled for some time before thinking that surely Laverda wouldn’t have done this on a production line and the penny dropped that you assemble it and then fix the brake master cylinder in to position. Taking this approach means the return spring is tensioned and although fiddly I guess by the time Massimo had assembled a thousand he’d be pretty quick!

The end is too long!

Fitting the rear brake assembly however showed up another problem I’d created 20 years ago – the rear shocks are too long! Having overly long shocks means the swinging arm sits lower and ends up fouling on the brake return spring.

Long shocks was a big deal back in the day with the idea being if you kicked the arse up then there’d be more weight on the front end. It’s probably true but frankly nonsense for a rider of my skills… Still back in the day there was clearly a correlation between the size of your manhood and the length of your shocks – my top of the range Falcons come in at 380mm – even the LeClair forum only ran to 365mm. I pulled a pair of shocks I’d been using on the RGA and RGS but to my dismay found they have 10mm bolt holes where the Jota runs 12mm. Back up into the loft and the original silver Marzocchi’s were bought back into the light. They brushed up okay and fitted reminded me of how cool that remote reservoir looked back in the early 80’s. I wonder if they were actually leaking or had my ego compelled me to waste money on the Falcon’s many moons ago…

Discarded shock ends…one day they’ll come in handy. Never throw anything away…

Mrs A and I rode the Honda down to Wareham where Robin changed the ends on the shocks while we waited to bring them down to 365mm. Wareham is in a lovely part of the world and I turned the ride out into my preferred circular route by returning via the Studland chain ferry and some of the most expensive real estate at Sandbanks… Now the correct length shocks are fitted the swinging arm is raised with the benefit that the rear wheel properly clears the ground on the centre stand. I’m going to feel more confident with this set up when parking up…

I needed to fit a speedo cable. With the brake caliphers on the back of the forks the standard cable is too short. I found an RGA speedo cable in the loft and it fits but now we had the opposite problem in that it’s a bit on the long side. JJ Cables was recommended to me and as it’s only 50 miles up the road I used it as an excuse for another ride. The internet is a wonderful thing and yet somehow if you can talk face-to-face I always have more confidence in the outcome. JJ Cables is a good old fashioned concern with cables everywhere and lots of vintage machines (a six tonne hand press to create the square ends) to produce a cable just as you desire. They turned the job round in a couple of days which gave me another excuse to go for a wobble.

Scrap or gold?

I used the first trip to JJ Cables as a springboard to go another 50 miles and visit Cox autoelectrician with a box of mangled Bosch starter motor parts. Having fitted the starter motor which caused me to have a rummage I found I have two starters that I’ve ruined over the years – one engaged with the engine on the Cromwell Road when fitted to the RGA and busted the end of itself! Anyhow another example of the benefit of ‘face-to-face’. I pushed the box of shrapnel across the counter without identifying it only to be met with ‘Ah a Laverda starter motor’! I was told that as the commutator was scrap it wouldn’t be possible to make a good un out of two bad uns… but I was told to leave it with them and they’d see what they could do 🙂 It’s a no brainer really – if it can’t be fixed it’s broken and yet if it can… Fingers crossed.

So it was back to the garage and working through endless lists of things to do. Writing the lists became a vehicle for procrastination and also frustration. No sooner had I ticked something off the list then something I hadn’t anticipated had to be added.

No!!!!

Once again brake fluid got onto the front mudguard. This time out of the clutch master cylinder which I’d left dangling…I think this is the third time. My head went down and I just did a bit of cleaning, priming, sanding and rough spraying. At the end of the day it just needs to not rust and be orange! A job for when it comes home and I’m in a happier place maybe…

Broken switch – you can see the back of the indicator function has ‘escaped’ the securing tabs

Getting the horns to work became a problem. I’d get one to work but with two sometimes they would make a strangled noise and at other times nothing. I checked out the left hand switch which was full of dirt and remnants of WD40 and ACF 50. I wasn’t sure the horn connection was good and there was also a broken indicator function. I changed this out with a working indicator part from a donor switch and cleaned everything thoroughly. This meant soldering in the wires to the horn and indicator which with Mrs A’s help wasn’t too bad…

Poor quality pattern connector

Anyways still the horns were erratic at best and finally I came across the real culprit which was the rubbish pattern block connector from the switch to the harness. The pins are fiddly to crimp and just as fiddly to clip into the connector. In the end I decided against spending time to get this to work and decided the easiest solution was to cut the end off a donor switch and solder these wires. This meant I got a ‘factory’ end all made up and also a little bit extra length plumbed in. It was a lot easier to do this…and my soldering whilst not perfect was ‘good enough’.

By the end all the electrics were in place except the heavy duty earth cable and cables to the starter solenoid. What I couldn’t figure out tho’ was the brake lights. All the circuits checked out and I changed one of the hydraulic switches. I need someone ‘who knows’ to sort this…

The ignition system needed to be fitted. I’ve got a new IIS system or at least backplate and wiring harness from when I fitted one to the RGA. At the time the idea was to buy one box and two looms and swop the box. Not sure this would ever have happened but anyways… Fitting the IIS backplate was no issue but where to locate the box made me think. The solution was a thick plastic plate insulated with tap washers to the box fits behind the modern, slimmer battery.

While I was cutting up and spraying the IIS mount I also created a board to protect the battery from too much road filth. When the carbs are on it’s not visible but it should make a difference. The big headache that the IIS fitment throws up is how to make all the wiring neat. I did work on this before sending the bike off but the biggest problem is around the headstock and coil area.

rats nest

I worked to get this tidy but ultimately it was still a mess and this was made worse by the rev counter cable. I very much doubt the professionally built engine will give any trouble but I’m sure that the poorly routed wiring will come back and bite me sometime…

Silicon

I put new HT leads into the original coils after getting advice on how to do this. A wood chisel broke the original epoxy and the leads just pulled out. I started off using silicon on the new leads to hold them in place but in the end decided on an epoxy as the silicon didn’t feel secure. I think I cut the HT leads a bit short however (dumbass) so this may be a job for the future…

We have contact

Despite having years to get this ready time was running short. I set the gearbox and tried to spin the back wheel only for it to be dragging. First off it had dropped into gear but even in neutral it was ‘tight’. Poking around showed one of the bolts holding the rear calipher was maybe a millimetre too long. I spaced this with a washer and at the same time spaced the chain guard which the chain was rubbing on.

I also changed the levers – found some new ones in a box. Made me smile as I remember getting the short items. I ordered them from a Laverda specialist and emphasised I wanted ‘dog leg’ items. The guy was pissed that I should point this out and he told me ‘He’d been selling Laverda parts for 20 years and knew what a dog-lever is’. He sent the wrong levers…

Shorty and lofty

In the end I ran out of steam… pathetic. The bike was picked up and whisked off to Scotland where it’ll get proper care. Some people have a gift for mechanics and a passion for fettling. The beauty of the Jota and my inability to finish the job just tells me I’m a bodger who likes riding.

Now get out of my garage…

A Laverda specialist once told me the problem with Laverda is that they keep going despite their owners. Never a truer word…

Nick 🙂

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