W/E 17th June 2019

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A week that ended in deep shame as I finally got caught out and had to ride the Honda to a Laverda event 😦

Family crisis intervened and I ran out of time to get the Atlas running properly. My own fault of course because these days I am mainly a ‘man of leisure’ but old habits seem to die hard and so as is my way I didn’t leave enough time to sort things out.

The Atlas running had been getting poorer over the week. It would not run on two cylinders at low revs and was now starting to misfire on the transition from closed to open throttle. It was also running poorly and irregularly on the open throttle. Time to rig up the aux’ fuel tank and do some carb’ balancing…

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The problem is with the left hand cylinder so I went through various problem solving routines. I changed the pilot and main jet – the pilots were new long jets as originally fitted so I went back to the non-standard short jets which had seemed to serve me so well. Of course reflecting on this it was quite irrational because the right hand side was okay so was it going to be the jets? Still I pressed on with time counting down and finally decided on a carb’ change so robbed the unit off Atlas #3. If anything this made matters worse – it’s my optimistic and naive outlook that thinks the problem will be solved by  putting on a carb’ that’s been sat for maybe 2 years…It didn’t work. I played around with the pilot setting and noticed that whatever I did to the left hand carb’ made little difference so I turned my attention to the electrics.

I played about substituting coils and checking for spark – the spark on the left side was ‘iffy’ but in the end I just had to jump ship and prep’ the Honda. I was going to ride a Honda – what could possibly go wrong…

On a more positive note I found electrical connectors to fit the Atlas wiring harness. The digital speedo I fitted works fine but I still need to plumb in the wiring to make the idiot lights work. I plan to make up a new sub-harness so needed a nine pin connector and found Kojaycat supply the parts or rather supply parts for old Suzuki’s which is what Laverda used. At the same time I also picked up some nice M6 brass connectors to wire in my satnav to the battery – shame I can’t find the satnav wire…

Nick 🙂

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W/E 3rd June 2019

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Happy New Year! Long time since I posted and to be fair not a lot has changed – same old broken and bodged collection of bikes. The only reliable bike has been the little 100 which has been running around local roads quite happily 🙂

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However the little 100 isn’t going to be any use for two up touring duties so it was time to re-commission the trusty Atlas. I’d messed about trying to get the cam cover off but one allen bolt wouldn’t shift and became increasingly mangled so I decided to carry on regardless and just put it all back together!

The poor starting turned out to be mainly a poor battery but of course in taking it apart I’d created more issues…The main issue was with the carb which had an idle jet that wouldn’t screw out fully. As I have a few carbs (along with a few Atlas’) I thought I’d rob Peter to pay Paul and duly filched one off Atlas #1.

I installed new ‘long’ pilot jets that Jean-Pierre sent from France and decided a complete gasket overhaul would be in order. This proved more difficult than expected and a month went by before they arrived. Despite the DHLA being primarily a car carb’ spares are drying up – a predictable consequence of the carb being 25+ years old and also the move to fuel injection bought on by emissions legislation (incidentally the Atlas would now attract an emission charge if I was to ride it in to central London).

With the fresh battery the Atlas fired into life – although as you will see from the Trips section it didn’t run so well on account of me leaving out a spring behind the diaphram…(oops)

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There should be a spring in there…

Still on the plus side what a cracking carb that will still run despite my best efforts (drank a lot of fuel mind).

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Still the destruction didn’t end with the bike as I decided to boil the chain to repack it with grease. The tin of boiling chain wax slipped as I lifted it off the gas and bingo molten skin! Yes that hurt.

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Still with the Atlas running it was time to get it through its roadworthiness (MOT) test. I’d not bothered with a working speedo for a few years but having got a new sensor cable for a unit I’d previously used on Atlas #1 I decided to ‘go legal’. The unit fired up once I’d wired it to a live ignition wire and bodged up an earth to the headlight metalwork. The trouble was that I couldn’t be bothered to wire up the various dash lights and find a sturdy mounting point. So I left the original clocks on because they contain the indicator, neutral and high beam ‘idiot lights’ and cable tied the actual speedo to the handlebars – job done!

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The MOT was a bit ‘disappointing’ – okay I knew the rear brake was a bit ‘soft’ but I hadn’t clocked the problems with the suspension (brake light was probably just a connection issue). Still I had an afternoon to fix things up so it was off home to get the spanners out and find the various bits and pieces.

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I had a few suspension linkages to choose from but found two out of the three had a loose bush so I made do with the least worn. A newly refurbished shock (courtesy of Falcon) was hiding in a box and the suspension was sorted in under two hours. The bigger pain was getting the rear brake to work but eventually having replaced a pad (as in one of the two pads as I only had one spare) and bending the retaining plate to stop the pin falling out we had a bit more ‘bite’. The next day saw me rock up at 8:30 much to the surprise of the garage and by 10:00 I was heading home to pack for the Welsh rally.

The MOT man had commented on the dragging clutch – I had made the cable as firm as possible but it still wasn’t clean. I have though now measured an original (but broken) cable and found the ‘temporary’ generic inner replacement I’d fitted back in July is only 1.4 instead of the standard 1.7 diameter. I’ve ordered a heavy duty Lambretta inner for under two quid which I’m hoping might give a better pull – watch this space!

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Finally I have to mention the ‘B’ word – yes Brexit, it’s everywhere isn’t it! So it turns out that my little trip to France in December driving the little Fiat to the motorcycle show in Paris attracted the attention of Le Flic! Now how do you ride/drive at 80 kph over any distance? Beats me! So in April Mrs A gets a couple of French speeding tickets (her name on the log book y’see). Turns out that had we left the EU on the 29th March these wouldn’t have been issued but with all the ‘are we in, are we out’ and resultant extension means we’re in and I’m about £130 poorer! Still wish we weren’t leaving but maybe £130 would have sugared the pill.

TTFN

Nick 🙂

W/E 2nd December 2018

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I’m back! Lost my mojo but had a rummage in a box and there it was!

Mrs A came to the rescue and helped tidy the garage up – it’s still a shambles but at least I can now move around a little without knocking things over…

Visited the Classic Bike Show in Paris a couple of weeks back – and there on the Laverdamania stand was Jean-Louis Oliver’s triple…which I last saw back in March down at the Paul Ricard circuit.

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The event in Paris could’ve just as easily happened anywhere – usual format of old bikes, autojumble and a few stands from modern era classic names such as Triumph, Enfield and Moto Guzzi. The bikes were the normal stuff but with a few French ‘oddities’ such as this 3 cylinder two-stroke Mobobecane which was never imported to the UK.

It was just a day trip in the Fiat but along with the bike event we saw anti-government demonstrations on roundabouts near Caen, a medical emergency where a helicopter airlifted a passenger off the ferry and six migrants sheepishly walking away from a horse box bound for the UK. The most frightening thing tho’ was seeing scooters tear through the rush hour traffic round Paris – jeez they must provide a steady supply of donor organs!

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A bit of time has been spent on pilot jets for Atlas’s. A friend contacted me about getting replacements to richen up the starting process and Eurocarb sent short stubby items in place of his existing long jets.

After much discussion a visit to Eurocarb revealed that the Atlas was indeed fitted with long pilot jets as standard. Apparently these jets were only fitted to performance cars such as Lotus – the purpose is to ensure consistent petrol supply in extreme conditions. Eurocarb doubted they would make any difference and only had long 56’s (not the desired 58’s). I picked up the long jets and my friend got a tool to bore them out to 60 – he reports improved starting and so I got him to knock me out a set 🙂

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So armed with the new jets I decided to take a look at those on Atlas #3. The carb had the short 58 jet and tended to fire on just one at tickover. I knew the offside pilot jet was seized so spent time making sure I had the right screwdriver and started to ease it out. I got some movement going and was winding it in and out when effectively the head sheared! No problem I know a man who can sort that and in the mean time got my spare carb out. I’d tried this on one of my other Atlas’s before and it wouldn’t work – taking it apart showed why…no pilot jets at all just the stubby holders! The pilot jets both came out but interestingly the offside jet showed signs of the head shearing too – might just be worth taking the pilots out once in a while to stop them seizing?

(If anyone wants a PDF of the Dellorto carb pages for the Atlas send a message on the site and I’ll email it to you)

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Work on the Atlas hasn’t been confined to the carb’. I’m resolved to check the valve clearances but first need to get the cam cover off. I’ve never dismantled this on Atlas #3 and after many winters worth of motoring it came as no surprise that the allen bolts are in some cases seized. I’m not rushing at this because if the heads get rounded it will be an engine out job to fix. There were four bolts that needed penetrating oil and heat to budge. All out now except for one last stubborn blighter. I’m still taking my time and hope that next time I report back it will be out and I can update you on the condition of the valves etc…

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Last part of the Atlas was to start a minor cosmetic overhaul on the forks. Stage one is to start stripping the paint which I can report is very poor following years of winter riding…

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Finally a road trip down to a Laverda engine man in Wimborne with Matt has inspired me to pick up the triple projects. In between trying to open up the Atlas cam cover I’ve started to polish the RGA cam-cover. It’s been nice polishing away with the radio in the background and the rain lashing on the garage door…

More to follow…

Nick 🙂

 

W/E 24th September 2018

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Well the rally season is just about at an end. Spent last weekend at the Belgian Rally (report to follow soon) and now it’s time to begin work on the Atlas.

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Looking over the Atlas the damned exhaust has been at work again – further melting the sidepanel and also having a nibble at the Andy Strapz canvass panniers. Still with all the abuse the Atlas has had thrown at it I guess it has the right to bite back occasionally!

There’s the usual sorting out to be done like repairing the broken gearbox return spring but the biggest challenge is going to try and turn it in to a  more reliable starter. Had to take Mrs A out the other day and with the cold mornings it just wouldn’t catch! All this leaning on the starter motor is inevitably going to lead to more failed starters and starter sprags.

Sent off some silver steel bar to get a batch of oversize sprag rollers made up. I’ve also done a bit more digging on the Howdi sprag bearing. I’ve identified the auto transmission it comes from and got some advice that maybe the bearing is failing because it has to drag when not in use. The bearing normally works ‘locked’ to spin up the transmission but in the Howdi application it spends most of its time ‘open’. We’ll see as perhaps the solution is just to replace it every 5,000 miles? In addition to this I found that Ian Drysdale is making sprags out of used Kawasaki W650 parts – perhaps it would be easier to fit one of this into the Howdi housing?

Not been completely idle however and have posted my account of the Scottish Rally in the Trips section.

Nick 🙂

W/E 16th September 2019

A busy couple of weeks since my last post – last weekend was the Laverda meeting in Belgium and the weekend before that the Scottish rally. Reports are being written but in the meantime I’ve posted a report on my trip to Northern Ireland which you can find in the Trips section.

To get up to Scotland I had to fix the starting issue and put on new chains and sprockets.

The starting issue was traced to a defective starter motor – easy fix just take a motor off Atlas #2 – this had the advantage of already having the right gear for the Zane clutch so no whining gears on start up. I left the plastic cover off the engine just in case I needed access but so far so good.

More worrying is the wear on the gearbox output shaft.

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Worn sprocket splines on the gearbox output shaft

I had a potential fix to this problem in the form of a new hardened sprocket with a shoulder on the back. This design makes use of the full length of the splines, is a tighter fit and won’t rock. To fit the sprocket I had to fit a different gearbox seal so the new sprocket can butt up against the gearbox end bearing.

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New and old sprockets, old and new seals and tool to hook out old seal

Getting the old seal out proved simple enough – I used a hooked tool I found when out walking so not sure what you’re supposed to use it for! Anyhow once the old seal was out the new seal tapped in, tho’ not that sweetly as the outer edge starter to ‘peel’. I decided it was good enough.

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I put locking fluid on the splines and tapped the sprocket home. You can see from the picture that instead of using a lock washer I’ve gone for a simple 21mm external circlip – no need for a lock washer you just need to take up end float on the sprocket (which shouldn’t move due to the locking fluid).

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Finally hot on the heels of Matt Hale I had a visit from Dean Young on his rather lovely GTL 750. Top bike and top bloke – can’t think of a better way to while away an afternoon.

Nick 🙂

W/E 2nd September 2018

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So mixed fortunes since the last post – but let’s start with the positives…

Ended up visiting the ILOC annual rally at Baskerville Hall last weekend. Made arrangements to ride over to Hay-on-Wye with Dominique (RGS) and his friend Marc on a first series SFC – picture above. Very nice hey?

We’d agreed to meet up at Chieveley Services junction 13 on the M4 on the Friday at 14:30. At 12:00 the Atlas was still a non-starter – it would run but not start on the electric start. As is my way I’d left it too late to twirl the spanners and left it to Thursday night to begin work. I put my money on the sprag rollers being knackered yet again so pulled the Zane sprag off Atlas #2 the night before!

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The sprag came off relatively easily and revealed that when I’d assembled it incorrectly putting a spacer the wrong side of a gear – wondered why it ran so badly when it eventually fired up!

New sprag on the Atlas but it failed to run – even with Mrs A pushing it down the hill out the back of the house! Mulled it over and realised I hadn’t timed up the balancer shaft gear so stripped it down to find not only had I missed this but also had the crankshaft gear on back to front! That probably explained the noise when it did try to fire up…Stripped it down again and now found that the original sprag had got jammed on the ring gear so back together and another bump from Mrs A and it ran smoothly…still nothing on the button however.

As I was working on the bike I was thinking how dumb it was to create such a tight deadline, it also meant that working under pressure I made mistakes further adding to the stress of the situation. I did consider closing the garage door and taking my Honda NC700x (I use this for work only)…but how can you turn up at a Laverda event on a Honda! Is it tho’ better this than not to go at all? Is an event about the people or the bikes?

Still I’d warned Dominique and Marc about the lack of starter so they duly lined up and pushed the Atlas round the services carpark – they pushed it for longer than they need as I forgot to flick the kill switch back to on…

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We called in on James White-Cooper to pick up a spare set of plugs for the SFC and then headed west down the relatively empty country roads across the south Cotswolds and into Wales – the Atlas held its end up I’m pleased to report 🙂

The ILOC meeting was well attended. The atmosphere was building as the Laverdisti enjoyed the autumn sunshine and stunning views.

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The wire wheeled 3C seems to be the current ‘in vogue’ model and there were some very nice examples on show.

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Time to head home – a 200 mile range tank meant the trip home could be completed without the need to stop for fuel so a couple of ILOC member obliged with a push and I was away. The sun was sinking but the ride back via the A40/M4 provided a nice balance of twisties in the fading light and then motorway when night fell and the job just needed completing. I rolled in home at 23:00 having had a great days riding – Mrs A was exhausted and asleep!

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Sunday saw Matt Hale rock up on his way home from Bristol. His [genuine) 3CE has a beautiful patina which hides the recently installed Redax ignition upgrade.

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Look above the ‘2’ and you can see the crude ‘E’ that identifies the bike as a pukka 3CE

Spent the afternoon catching up with Matt which helped me to ignore that the Atlas still won’t start on the button and the Scottish rally is this coming weekend! Maybe I’ll take the Honda!

Nick 🙂

PS Finally completed my account of the National Rally and have added this to the Trips section if you’re interested.

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

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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 🙂

 

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W/E 18th March 2018

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂