The Jota lives again!
Time was ticking down to the Scottish National Road Rally (SNRR) and the whirring noise in the engine was diagnosed as main bearing failure. The engine was dismantled in the Scottish workshop and it turns out the hydraulic lock had not only blown the head gasket but twisted the crank out of alignment. The super strong Arrow con-rods had survived intact, rather than bend, which would have happened with a standard rod, the crank gave. So engine out for the fourth time and hopefully now fixed. With the repair complete Mrs A and I set off at 6 am on the Sunday morning to take on the SNRR. You can read how we got on in the ‘Trips’ section of this blog.
The engine felt good after the head was nipped down. I’d decided to ride south via the A68 and A1/M1. Heading over to Selkirk and then down to Darlington was a real joy. The A68 was a good workout, the sun shone and the Jota got lots of admiring comments which made me feel that maybe all this grief was worth it.
Having the Jota home I was keen to ride it so arranged an evening with Tony over in Leicester. The Fosse Way over was great fun and the prospect of swopping over to his SF840 ‘twisted twin’ very alluring 🙂
Tony built the special SF with his Dad. The crank is a twisted to 88 degrees it runs a Metz ported bathtub cylinder head and lots of bits and bobs off a variety of Laverda models. The Jota pipes combined with the crank phasing make it sound awesome 🙂 At the moment it’s in a ‘rust rod’ condition – which to be fair looks cool. It’s obvious to anyone this bike is special.
Out on the road I watched as Tony glided off into the distance. His SF felt more compact, revved freely perhaps vibrated more and at least matched the Jota’s power. The SF is fast but it’s total focus means I wouldn’t necessarily jump at riding it to Breganze!
So stopped to talk about the bikes and after a while it was time to return the keys and head our separate ways. Luckily Tony noticed oil on his left boot and inspection of the Jota showed a cracked oil cooler… 6 hours later I rolled home courtesy of recovery…
The nearside oil cooler pipe had cracked from the main body. Luckily there was oil left in the engine so no damage there. The challenge was on tho’ to get the bike ready for the trip to the Belgian Rally. I came up with a few options:
- Don’t go!
- Take the Honda (noooo)!
- Get a new oil cooler (not enough time)
- Fix the existing oil cooler (dispatched to a specialist welder)
- Borrow a replacement (contact with friend made)
- Plumb out the oil cooler altogether (visit hydraulic specialist)
I arranged to borrow a ‘cooler from an early triple – the type that has the horns attached to it. It looked promising as the cooler has oil pipes held by jubilee clips and it could use the ’81 mounting rubbers. Unfortunately the engine connectors are a different size (smaller) so this option wasn’t going to fly. Things were now getting a bit desperate but then a call came through that the ‘cooler had been welded so all was well. I did however still want a contingency so still visited the hydraulic specialist who knocked up the parts to make a link pipe should I have further problems…
We set off for the Belgian Rally. Everything seemed good and then the offside oil cooler pipe broke in exactly the same way! Good job I had the contingency on board (go to the Belgian Rally in the ‘Trips’ section.
So now I’ve had the offside oil cooler pipe welded and once again it’s looking good. I left the specialist welder however with a warning that maybe I needed a new oil cooler. The oil cooler I fitted is essentially what you’ll buy from a specialist Laverda supplier – a Citroen Dyane 6 oil cooler with the inlet/outlet pipes customised. I think however these coolers are perhaps not made to the same standard – the pipes seem to have been fixed to the cooler via a press process. Having mine welded will make this stronger but the system isn’t really strong enough. I see on my ’84 RGA the hoses are attached direct to the cooler via a 22mm nut. This arrangement takes out the weak thin pipes so this is probably the way to go.
Autumn has arrived and winter salted roads will soon be upon us. I’ve done my fair share of destroying Laverdas in winter conditions and with a Honda on hand have no desire to go down this road this year. I’ve therefore probably got a month or so before the Jota is laid up for winter.