W/E 24th March 2018


So just changed the oil on the Atlas having got home from the trip down to the Paul Ricard circuit – full report can be found in the Trips section.

Nick πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚


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 theΒ  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 πŸ™‚




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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

W/E 22nd October 2017


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

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

W/E 10th October 2017


Man down!

First post in a while but I’ve not been idle…

The Scottish Rally report can be found over in the Trips section – pleased that the Atlas managed to complete all three National Rallies giving me another ‘Three Nations Award’ to put in the cabinet πŸ™‚

So back to most recent times. Friday evening on my way home and I’m rear ended by a young lady. Bike got pushed away from me and went down on the left side and I simply stepped off it. The damage is limited to bent bars, clutch lever, broken number plate, scratched front mudguard and maybe the rear mudguard (tho’ this seems to have popped straight being plastic). In addition its been out with the big hammers to straighten the pannier frame and gear change lever. I guess these things happen.


I’ve gone back to running a non o ring chain on the Atlas. The chain needed replacing after the Scottish’ and I had a non o ring in the shed. I also wanted to try it out as of course it is considerably lighter than the o ring equivalent and I’m hoping it will put less wear on the chocolate gearbox output shaft.

Immediate impression was how much lighter it is in operation. I’m not that sensitive but the connection to the back wheel does feel, well, lighter! To back up the new chain I’ve invested in some chain wax. I’ve boiled the chain once (started it off in the kitchen but Mrs A chased me out into the garden) to try and get grease in to the links. I’ll suspend judgement as to whether this extends the life of the chain. The problem with the chain is that it does need more adjustment – if I was to go touring with Mrs A I think I’d spin an o ring on for the tour and maybe revert back for solo use. Seems like a lot of messing about but the gearbox output shaft isn’t something that can be easily fixed once worn.


Clee Hill

Took the Atlas out for a ride to Clee Hill, Shropshire with Catherine on her Ducati. The roads through Ledbury and then out to Bromyard and Stourbridge are blinding. As you can see Clee Hill gives spectacular views.

However nothing is ever straightforward and stopping for petrol in Leominster saw the Atlas clutch cable break – my tools and spare cable were in my panniers which I’d removed and left in my shed…(arse)! So nothing for it but to plot a route involving the minimum number of junctions get a shove and bang it into first and be off. Lucky the roads to the M50 are quiet and with a splash and dash stop for petrol I managed to ride the 140 miles home trouble free.


Not even close…

The trouble began when I arrived home and set about sorting out the cable. I had a brand new cable but as you can see the handlebar nipple was too big as it turned out was the outer sheath end caps. So the new inner was threaded through the old outer and the original nipple pressed in to action (fortunately the Atlas only has a detachable nipple on one end of the cable). I’m ashamed to say this new cable was supplied to the German dealer by the UK’s very own Venhill…British quality, need I say more.

The clutch problem though does have a happy ending in that it prompted me to pay more attention to cable adjustment. I found that the cable not only adjusts at the handlebar but also there is a screw onto the clutch pushrod down in the engine case. I turned this all the way out and then back in to get the right amount of free play at the bar and it seems to have gone a long way to solve the clutch slip problem πŸ™‚ I think that the engine adjuster was pressing on the pushrod so whatever I did at the bars it was always going to slip. The extent of the ‘fix’ has been further highlighted by the use of unbranded 20/50 oil which has not induced any slip!

The clutch return spring is worn out again. It’s a simple matter of ‘pre-loading’ the change with an additional tap. It can be bothersome in heavy traffic when you’d ideally like it to cut down through the box before coming to a halt but it isn’t so bad I’ll be fixing it anytime soon! I know however from experience this is a warning that sometime in the future it will stop returning without a lot of ‘pre-loading’ so I’ll add some springs to parcel that will be arriving from Germany with ‘crash damage’ goodies…

I fitted and did a ‘prototype’ test on a Malcolm Cox silencer – very impressed πŸ™‚ The silencer went straight on to the standard front pipes and collector and sounds just like the original (quiet)…which has the effect of making me ride the bike faster!

On speed I got a letter from the Police to tell me that I can attend a ‘driver education’ course in lieu of points on my license for the indiscretion in Wales (see Trips) while visiting the ILOC rally. Still cost me Β£91 but for this I get an afternoon out in Shepperton by the Thames and the chance to mingle with other deviants…no doubt I will end up on the ‘Group W’ bench!

I’ve now done 1500 miles on it and it’s looking good – the back of the silencer gets covered in road filth and so far the finish is holding up fine. I’m not sure whether to take this off and refit in the summer before road salt starts being spread – not that I doubt the finish but any silencer fitted in this location is going to get a hard time and why waste it when I don’t have to?

This second picture shows the prototype front mounting was a little short but I know Malcolm changed this. The shape of the box is just as the original though with slightly less definition in the pressing (this though cannot be seen behind the panel). The lugs are there for the rubber bungs to keep the panel off the box – I cable tied some tap washers on the back one to keep the mudguard panel off the silencer. All in all the work that Malcolm has done in creating the complete system (left hand bend pipes as on the Mk 3) is great news for Atlas owners who can now get a top class, hand made, replacement that is better than standard!

Finally Harley Davidson have coughed up for the battery that failed after 18 months. The warranty manager was quite graceless and I suspect would be a bully to work for so nil marks for their customer service – but it must be said the Sportster battery is great for the Atlas…and 18 months and therefore 30,000 miles ain’t too shabby!

Nick πŸ™‚

W/E 10th September


Quite a bit of riding since I last posted – trip to Wales to visit the ILOC rally for the day and then the Scottish Rally.

The Atlas has been holding up well but is showing signs of getting tired. The starting has become a bit erratic, the chain and sprockets baggy and the tyres worn flat. 20,000 miles a year take their toll. I ordered up a set of clutch plates (same as the SF750) but will have to send them back as I got sent a set of steels and not corks…

The battery saga drags on with Harley now agreeing it’s covered by warranty (I think) but they want to re-examine the damn thing to check is it really knackered because their test equipment has been re-calibrated. Whatever the outcome I have to say I’d think twice about buying a bike from them…

Finally the road salt has yet again got in to the rear brake anchor and reduced it to powder. I have a spare but from now on will be painting them for the winter.


Old knacker next to Malcolm Cox replica – nice

Malcolm sent me down a replica silencer for the Atlas to test out for him. As the picture shows it looks pretty damn good. It fits a treat and sounds really quiet compared to the ‘box’ I currently run! I’m going to put a few miles on it to test the finish and fit and then they will start to roll off the production line. Nice one Malcolm!

So I have a couple of ride reports to post so will start with the trip to the ILOC rally which you can find in the Trips Section.

Nick πŸ™‚