W/E 27th May 2018

Blimey a month has passed with no update!

Took the Atlas out for a 300 mile spin down to Waterlooville then up to Papworth and then home and got a headache from the exhaust noise! The noise wasn’t like a loud hole had appeared it was just that the exhaust felt harsh under power. Checked around the various joints and couldn’t find anything obvious so suspected the actual silencer had lost its wadding over time. I got the silencer off Atlas #1 and installed this and put a new clip on the connecting pipe as there was evidence of blowing. My initial thoughts were that I’d fixed it but now I’m not so sure.

Note roller on rear has ridge from being crushed. Note also the lip around the edges of the unhardened rollers which is again from being crushed

The damned sprag clutch and battery continued to give problems. The unhardened sprag rollers finally cried enough. I got my spare set of unhardened rollers and took them off to be treated. The local specialist welder heated them and then coated ’em in hardening powder for the princely sum of £20 which seems a lot. The silver steel bar cost £3.50 then there’s £14 to cut up six rollers and now £20 to get them hardened, I shall be looking at a cheaper way to produce these beauties.








Hardened sprag rollers as returned, hardening paste still on the surface!








The upside was that although the rollers wore there was no damage to the ring gear or the plungers and springs. I also found that the Zimmerman sprag construction provided a useful set of recesses where the plunger holes are machined to enable the use of a peg spanner to hold the crank for tightening purposes – no need for Mrs A to stand on the brakes!




The Harley battery failed along with the sprag. It was less than a year but I couldn’t face another round down at the Harley dealer and found a replacement sold by the KTM shop for £100 – same battery but nearly £40 cheaper! These ‘Harley’ batteries kick out the right amount of CCM but don’t seem to be able to stand up to constant use. I think I need to research a more modern lithium solution.

I boiled the chain to replenish it and along the way found that there is wear on the output shaft. I found a fresh lock washer as the old one was knocked about by the sprocket ‘wobble’ and used locktite to try and take up some of the slack. It’s clear that a solution to this perennial problem needs to be found if the Atlas is going to continue as long-term transport…

With the sprag and battery fixed I was back on the road. This was wasn’t the best ride ever as starting was far from instant which makes me nervous for the longevity of the sprag + the leak from where the alternator wires exit the engine case is still there despite a liberal injection of silicon- grrrrrr. There is also a noise from the alternator side of the engine which may be the sprag rollers or perhaps the chain…or perhaps the main bearings… At the end of the ride I put the bike back in the garage more than a little frustrated (angry?). Seems that the problems with the bike are all adding up and at this point I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by them.

Time is now ticking down for the Laverda Club de France rally in Bordeaux in just over a week’s time…

Always best to end on a positive so I’ll signpost you to the Trips section and the report on the Welsh National Rally.

Nick 🙂


W/E 29th April 2018


Since the last post not too much has happened on the Atlas but I have had a trip down to the 24 Hours race in Le Mans – full report over in the Trips section.

The latest picture of the Atlas shows it ready for its annual roadworthiness test (MOT).

I agonised over the speedo which doesn’t work because the drive in the front wheel has sheared (common problem).

I fitted the digital speedo from Atlas #1 only to find out that it doesn’t work! I kind of remember that perhaps the sensor got hit by the magnets in the front wheel…

Having failed on that score I ordered up what I thought was a replacement digital unit only to find it was mechanical. In the end I decided that the MOT specifies that the speedo must be fitted and illuminated but it isn’t checked to see that it works. To guard against failure I left the satnav in place and was ready to argue that this is my speedo!

I bled the back brake to see if I could get it to bite a bit more. Some air came out of the system and it worked well on the bench. On the road however it must be said the back brake is still pretty feeble which seems to be a bit of a Laverda tradition!

Having decided not to worry about the speedo I slipped on the chunky off road tyres so there could be no doubting the depth of thread!

It passed with no advisories 🙂

A consequence of all this work was that I used the digital speedo wheel for the trip to Le Mans. The tyre on this wheel had more thread and also the brake disc had less wear in the bobbins. However I only discovered as I rode down to Portsmouth en route to Le Mans that the disc is warped!!! It was a minor irritation as braking into roundabouts was a bit fraught with the bars shaking their head…back to the shed I guess!

Nick 🙂



W/E 18th March 2018


Where did the time go? Been counting down to the V6 rally in Montpellier and now it’s upon me! I’ve had ages to sort out the Atlas and now I’m going to be running about like an idiot bodging it together and probably suffering the usual chaos that make my trips ‘memorable’.


I thought I’d have everything fixed over this weekend but I got sucked in to reading ‘Porcelain’ by Moby then watched movies with my daughter and then it started to snow…This morning when I woke up we’re back to winter wonderland…and the bike was in pieces up in the garage!

I began work to get the Atlas ready by freeing up the choke with WD40 and working it in to the mechanism. This though is a sideshow compared to what needs fixing.


Standard 10mm roller with its oversize cousin beneath

Last time I rode the Atlas the damned sprag clutch failed. The bike was lodged over at my mother’s to give me room for Catherine’s Ducati which needed checking over. I’d pondered the sprag clutch which has the fancy ‘Zimmerman’ sprag and remembered him saying he’d supply it with 10.3x10mm rollers if the ring gear was worn past 49.6mm. Even new ring gears are marginal so I set about finding a cheap way to create 10.3x10mm rollers – cheaper that is than the €70 I’d been quoted a while back.

The solution turned out to be 13/32″ silver steel bar which I got cut down in to 10mm lengths – a 13/32″x10mm roller reminds me of the difference between a traditional English golf ball and the latter day US ball of today – who knows one day all Atlas rollers might have these dimensions! I got 12 rollers made up and still have nearly a metre of bar left. The rollers haven’t been hardened so I have to hope they won’t turn to cheese in the 2,000 kms needed to get down and back to Montpellier…

So the sprag is ‘fixed’ subject to testing. The rear shock however hasn’t progressed as Falcon Engineering decided the White Power Unit I dropped off couldn’t be fixed as the lower mount was weakened by being bent…pity they didn’t make this decision when I dropped the unit off. So Falcon agreed to fix an original Marzo shock but it’s Sunday so unless I get a call tomorrow we’re going to Montpellier on a Hagon unit which seems a bit secondhand but might be alright. At the end of the day the worst that will happen is we’ll end up pogoing around and maybe bottoming out on the larger bumps – not really a big deal.


I picked up a spare inner clutch cable via John Faulkner’s local motorcycle store. I’ve given up getting a replacement from a Laverda dealer as they come with the wrong nipple and ferrule. I’ll just feed a new inner down the old outer should I be unlucky enough that one of these fails.

So aside from booking a Channel crossing, hotels and sorting out the route I also have to attend to:

  • Swapping the back wheel with Atlas #2 to get a rear tyre with sufficient thread.
  • Putting on a fresh chain.
  • Sorting out an electrical fault with the lights that blows a fuse.
  • Checking the charging which I suspect has gone awol.

Hopefully Mrs A and I will be en route Tuesday evening. What could possibly go wrong…

Nick 🙂


W/E 18th February 2018


Zimmerman sprag on the right

So the sprag saga continues…it’s becoming a bit tiring now. The fancy ‘Zimmerman’ sprag was fitted to a new starter ring gear. I’d been holding back on using a new ring gear but decided that as I won’t be covering many miles any longer now is the time to start using up these items. The new ring gear enabled the Zimmerman sprag to ‘grab’ but before I could install it the ring gear needed bearings.

I have quite a few ring gears which have their sprag bearing surface worn but the actual bearings that sit on the crankshaft are fine. It’s a bit of a faff to get these bearings out (two) because Laverda put a punch mark on the outer bearing surface to stop the bearings coming out – I’ve seen this technique inside the little Turismo from the 50’s where I thought it was used because ‘Loctite’ didn’t exist back then. I’m guessing that putting three punch marks on the ring gear is simpler in terms of manufacturing than Loctite so that’s what they use. Time spent with a Dremmel soon got rid of the  punch marks and with some heat courtesy of the cooker hob and a couple of sockets the bearings were drifted out and drifted in. I thought the interference fit would be more acute so I used some Loctite on the outer bearing just in case.

I took my time putting the engine back together and the Atlas duly fired up – the sprag seemed good. The test ride proved a success and I was enjoying being back on the road – especially with the clutch working so well. It got a bit late so on came the lights and as a consequence off went the sparks! I pushed the bike the quarter of a mile home…

The second 15 amp fuse has blown – looking at the wiring diagram there’s a problem in the lights somewhere (no shit Sherlock) so it’s gonna be out with the multi-meter. The only good news being it didn’t happen in March riding down to the V6 rally.

In preparation of the V6 rally I decided I need a spare shock. The Hagon unit that’s fitted appears okay but I’m not sure it isn’t a bit ‘wet’. As I don’t have a spare but do have a month before the rally I thought it would be wise to get another ready. The shock shown is a White Power unit. I’m told these were fitted as an option on the Mk 3’s but you can see the lower bracket is slightly bent where it hasn’t been spaced properly and has deformed as the through bolt was tightened.

I have some Falcon Shockabsorbers on my triples and they advertise a repair service for White Power. As I was in their neck of the woods I dropped the shock off and had a chat with Robin. He can fix the shock but was not very complimentary about them saying their damping systems were unconventional (presumably to get round patent restrictions) and in his view didn’t always work that well! He applied this to the newer stuff he’d had in off modern KTM’s.

I commented that I liked the soft damping the shock provided and he said this is most often because of the spring rather than the damping. Most bikes have too hard a spring to cover the range of potential rider weights and whether they take a pillion – he claimed many manufacturers compensated for the too hard spring with a soft saddle! Robin’s final comment was on the bent fork which he didn’t want to bend back in case it broke as that would be very expensive to fix…Hmmm maybe I should have had a go at bending the bracket before getting the rest of it overhauled?

Finally I spent a happy evening in Bromyard – not at Slater Laverda but at the Conquest Theatre listening to a talk given by John Roach and Geoff McGladdery who rode the Trans-America-Trail on a 350 Morini and 500 Triumph. It was a great night – suffice to say the Triumph fell short of the finish line due to a super dooper modern alternator that failed when really put to the test…you’d rely on wires secured by a cable tie inside the primary case! The Morini of course sailed to the end (with just a failed engine final drive sprocket caused by modern chain lube turning sand into grinding paste)…the Triumph owner has now purchased a Morini, which I have to say doesn’t sound like a bad idea!

Nick 🙂




W/E 4th February 2018


So time to go back over the Atlas following the trip to France and see what needs fixing. The sprag clutch was on the way out so that needed investigating, the battery seemed a bit secondhand, the clutch dragged and the chain was dry…oh and the problem with the silencer melting to the sidepanel.

First line was to get at the sprag clutch. First time I’ve done this on an Atlas with the exhaust on the right hand side (Mk 1 and Mk 2 models) and what a pain in the arse it is getting everything apart.

The exhaust system is very secondhand and I decided if I disturbed it then it probably wouldn’t go back together again – or at least not without leaking. I also thought the guard bolts seemed likely the shear if I tried to undo them so the challenge was to get the sprag off without removing the exhausts.

The alternator case just clears the exhaust guard – I was pleased to have the extra long allen keys that fit my impact driver they all came out with little resistance and no distortion of the allen heads 🙂 First issue was I forgot to disconnect the battery so once the alternator rotor touched the windings we had a few sparks!

Case off the next obstacle was the starter motor as I wanted to inspect the alternator. To remove this you have to take off the plastic cover and the cam chain tensioner block and the dip stick to pull the starter out the left hand side of the motor. Fiddly.


The sprag came apart and as usual was pretty beat up. As the picture shows one of the rollers had jammed against the back-plate and this in turn had been cracked. All the plungers are seized in their bores so at the moment that’s looking like scrap!


For the first time however not only was the sprag clutch broken but also the bearings in the ring gear had started to break up – never seen this before.

I have to rummage through the bins to see if I can build a sprag clutch. I have a hardly used Zimmerman sprag but haven’t been able to find a ring gear without wear to make it work. I do have a couple of new ring gears however so maybe now is the time to press them in to action. Time to get the verniers out and do some measuring…


Moving on I spent quite some time adjusting the clutch. The new clutch works well in that it doesn’t slip however the bar adjustment was wound right out to its limit. If it started dragging then I had no adjustment. First step was to pull the cable through which helped but in addition I played around with the small screw that presses on the clutch pushrod – my aim was to get this about half-way in to again provide adjustment. The messing around played off – but as I have no spare cable I must a new one to avoid being stranded at the roadside at some future date.

The battery charged up but I couldn’t recheck the charging because the sprag clutch wouldn’t work – I went over all the connections to the rectifier and so forth and it all looks in good order so fingers crossed when it all goes back together it will be charging…

Nick 🙂

W/E 21st January 2018

DSCN9168.JPGI’d let the schedule slide so that the work to get the Atlas ready for the French AG in Chartres was becoming urgent. The engine was in one piece and running and starting well on the fresh ignition curve (#3). There was still a little hesitation at tick over but the engine had more punch and ran more smoothly. The clutch wasn’t slipping but was dragging. I adjusted it at the bar as I couldn’t be bothered to take off the case and gain more adjustment at the engine end of things.

The main problem to solve was the back brake which refused to bleed up equally across both pistons. I got both pistons working but the outer piston was a bit lazy and came out after the inner. I worked out that if I held the inner then the outer came out so figured that once the inner had hit the disc then the outer would follow and everything would be okay…

Initially I had the bike up on the bench so could get the union at the lowest point but once I’d been for a run round the block (with the bleed nipple not done up tight so all the fluid leaked out) I did it on the ground and pressed an old RGA disc into service.


It all seemed good to go and then I noticed that the pin holding the pads rattled in the housing. This happens over time (even had it happen on my RGA) and a way back I’d had problems when the pin went AWOL and locked the back wheel! As the picture shows I wired the pin in place but my contingency was to also just not use the back brake (anyone riding from the 1970’s knows a back brake is there just for show…). And that’s how it ended up being.

The final pieces of the jigsaw was fresh oil and this time Rock 20/50 which ought to play nicely with the clutch and a liberal coating of ACF 50 anti corrosion spray.

Full report on the LCF AG can be found in the Trips section

Nick 🙂

W/E 14th January 2018


Long time since I posted but as you can see nothing has changed in the garage!

Observant readers will have spotted that I’m no longer working 😦 This turn of events provides a great opportunity to get to grips with all the Laverda ‘projects’ I have to complete. It’ll also challenge me to fix things properly rather than using ‘time’ as an excuse not to do a proper job…let’s see.

The Atlas is getting some TLC in advance of a trip to the LCF AG next weekend. The Atlas was taken down to check it in preparation – which proved a wise move.


Removing the rear cush drive revealed a bearing about to collapse. I was surprised that I hadn’t noticed handling problems beforehand. Anyhow no worries I have a spare ready to go…but this is going to be a bugger to remove.


Another surprise was that the clutch pressure plate had significant wear.

I installed a new set of clutch friction plates (same as on an SF750 btw) which I hope will stop clutch slip. I measured the new plates which start off life with around 3mm of ‘cork’ – the minimum is 2.5mm (which I was running) however with a millimetre (at least) missing off the pressure plate new plates wouldn’t have been enough. Lucky I had a spare pressure plate. While in the primary side I put on a new gear return spring…but couldn’t be arsed with new clutch cush rubbers even tho’ I have them on the shelf (old habits die hard)!


From the primary side I moved to the ignition. I found as I suspected that the ignition curve was incorrectly installed last time I had it apart. The bike had run okay on the go but hesitated at low speed making pulling away a bit of an art. I checked the Sachse website and will go for ‘3’ first off which gives a steady level of advance – ‘4’ does have a few more peaks and troughs and gives the engine more ‘feel’ but I think we’ll start off with 3. Either way ‘2’ gave too much advance low down so the hesitation ought to improve.


This picture shows the inside of the nearside panel with some heat damage caused by a hot silencer! Luckily it’s not visible on the outer side. My fault for not putting rubber bungs onto the silencer but this problem hadn’t happened before in many, many miles. The problem came to my attention when the Atlas broke down on my last trip out of London (ironic huh?) due to a blown fuse. I couldn’t get the panel off as it had melted to the silencer but I could just access the fuse box with a bit of bending and a new fuse seemed to sort it. Now of course the question anyone experiencing this should ask is ‘Why did the fuse blow?’ So far I have checked the wiring and it all looks okay – I am going to ensure all connections are clean and watertight before France + pack plenty of spare fuses and fit some silencer spacers.

The final workstream is the rear brake which wasn’t working. Stripping it showed a seized piston along with a missing locator button on a pad. The calipher now seems to be working but the outer piston still seems lazy i.e. both pistons don’t respond to pressure at the same rate.


Finally got my 2017 Three Nations trophy for completing the Welsh, National and Scottish rallies. Here’s hoping 2018 brings similar success and a host of new stories.

Take care out there

Nick 🙂

W/E 22nd October 2017


A chat with Dean inspired me to take the Turismo out for a 20 mile spin 🙂

I tried to use the Turismo a month or so back and it wouldn’t start but this time it fired up easily. I was feeling relaxed and maybe the positive vibe transferred to the tiddler and off we went. The Turismo is running well and makes we wonder if another trip to Italy could one day be on the cards…

I was premature thinking a fresh plug had sorted the Atlas. It did fire on two but because it was raining and I couldn’t be arsed to get kitted up I didn’t take it for a test ride and saved that ’til 6 am on Monday. Needless to say it only ran on one so it was back to the shed.

The good news was that swapping over the HT leads had moved the problem from the offside to nearside cylinder so I knew it was probably coil related. All the connections were fine so attention turned to the coil itself. I rummaged around and came up with a replacement and bingo (The bolts holding the coils to the frame turned out to be 8mm)! Riding the bike without the HT lead connected, following my rear-ending had burned out the coil.

Atlas #3 now has the Sachse ignition fitted. It’s noticeable how much easier it makes starting the bike and also on the road the engine feels more responsive with the more sophisticated ignition curve – if you’re still running the original ignition upgrading to Sachse will make a noticeable difference.

Nick 🙂

W/E 15th October 2017


Work still in progress…note new ‘Cox’ silencer

So back to the garage for the past week to try and cure a misfire…

When I rode the Atlas the 10 miles home following the rear-end shunt it only ran on one. I quickly found a plug cap had been dislodged when it lay on its side. Didn’t think much to the plug caps so a fresh set went on and we were good to go…then Monday saw me taking a deep breath as I got ready to navigate London rush hour traffic on one and a bit cylinders! I’ve done this many times over the 20 years commute and the trick is momentum and anticipation. We spluttered in and then back home. Being as I don’t get home ’til late I was consigned to car for the rest of the week.

The plugs were nearly new and gave a spark so I wondered about the carb’. Soon got that off on the Friday – all looked okay? Saturday was taken so I only had Sunday to fix things and so set to work…


Bare wires can’t be good

I quickly found that the wires up from the ignition triggers had lost their insulation – I’d heard about this on triples but assumed it happened down by the engine not the top end junction box. Anyhow ‘that’s it’ I thought and I spent a rather frustrating couple of hours taping the wires and then finding another set of triggers with insulated wire to try instead. Mrs A wandered down and help position the igniton rotor so I could check the air gaps. The second set of triggers seemed better but the bike wouldn’t run on two at low revs and would cut in on a wider throttle.

I looked over at Atlas #2 which was fitted with the Sachse ignition and decided I had to rob Peter to pay Paul – time and my patience was running out…


Sachse fitted – redundant standard triggers still be removed

It was pretty straightforward to switch over – though I wanted to swap to newer Honda coils at the same time but the horrid brown Motard units were held in place by a set of bolts that seemed too small for an 8mm spanner but too big for a 7 (don’t think Laverda ever ran imperial but you never know…) so the originals stayed in place. Pressed the button and…one cylinder at tickover that burst in to two as the revs increased – Grrrrr!

I decided to try an old plug I had lying around and she’s back on two!

I’d like to say I saw the funny side…

Nick 🙂