W/E 25th May 2015

Triple delights

Triple delights

Mrs A picked up a couple of cylinder blocks and the cylinder head for the RGS. I now have all the parts for both the RGA and RGS. I’m hesitating as I think I ought to get the engine nuts refinished before assembly – hmmm am I just procrastinating? It does feel a bit like the Atlas engine build when I had all the bits but found things to delay the rebuild. I am confident that the triple engines will be straightforward but I do need to spend time especially making sure the top end is 100%.

Atlas #2 has been testing the new metal inlets all week. They have completed 300+ miles without problems. I had wondered if the bike might be prone to overheating the carb in heavy traffic but the insulating plates between the manifold and carb’ are doing their job. There is also no discernible impact of the small step between the manifold and inlet track. The only change that I have noticed is that it takes longer to warm up.

The immediate focus is to now prepare Atlas #2 for the LCF rally in two weeks. I’ve got a fresh tyre and rear sprocket to go in, need to fix the speedo, replace the headstock bearings and sort out an oil leak. My aim is to write a trip report where my bike runs faultlessly…

Nick 🙂

W/E 11th January 2015

Smoking Atlas

Smoking Atlas

Well I think the ‘road-hardening’ process is complete! Just completed 3,000 miles and all the nuts and bolts appear to have settled down, the electrical gremlins been ironed out and it’s running good. Second oil change over the weekend and this time I’ve used straight 30 instead of 20/50. I’m not one to fuss over using special oils and had I had a tin of Morris’s 20/50 that would’ve gone in as normal but stocks were too low so straight 30 it is. I’m going to monitor the oil consumption because the Atlas does need regular top up’s and I wonder if having an oil that won’t go thinner than 30 might help out. The other benefit might be less strain on start up because the weight of the oil is thinner than 50. Let’s see.

Attention now has to move towards a triple if I am to meet my objectives. I had to order some bearings for someone else’s project so loaded up the order with all the stuff for three triples. It will all be with me next week so I can press on with getting a motor built.

Cylinder liner

Cylinder liner

I’ve also put out feelers for some replacement cylinder liners. The one in the picture is from an ’81 Jota but I am looking for RGS replacements which are something like 15mm shorter. I’d put the shorter liners (shortened by Laverda for better lubrication) in all triples including the Jota. I’m going this route as standard used pistons are easy to source so new liners might work out more cost effective. If a dealer doesn’t have stock then http://www.laystall.co.uk/ should be able to help – but don’t know costs yet.

I’ve also signed up for the ACU National Rally (http://www.nationalroadrally.co.uk/2015/index.php)  – got my lowest number yet at #46, hey that’s Rossi’s number isn’t it!

Nick 🙂

W/E 20th October

Prodigal son returned

Prodigal son returned

The Atlas is back!

Delivered via courier van from Glasgow the Atlas has returned. Unfortunately the key wasn’t in the bike so it can’t started but this hasn’t stopped me having a poke about to see if there is something in the motor I’ve missed and can fix without a complete engine swop.

Took off the alternator case and can see that the Zane sprag has some side to side play which I can shim out. It might have made the noise but then it was like this from the outset so unlikely – but worth putting right for when it does run again. I checked over the balancer shaft and this is fine, no play or loose cogs. Next weekend I will strip out the primary side but this was taken apart in Glasgow and nothing found. I really need to get the thing to go again…

So Plan A – it isn’t really broken has yet to be fully explored.

Plan B – refurbish the original engine is progressing. Word came back from the engineering firm working on the head and barrels that fresh piston rings have arrived and the bores are okay following a light hone. The head has a new inlet valve seat and refaced valves. I had to supply some fresh valve stem seals (on both inlet and exhaust for the eight valve engine) which at £6.95 + VAT and postage will add an additional bill of around £100! Interestingly the seals Slater Laverda is sending are from a Honda and need a tad of Loctite 407 to fit (OCT in Germany supply the seals [presumably not Honda] for just €4,52 each).

To add the finishing touches I need a tube of Loctite 518 to seal the crankcases, three oil seals, piston ring clamps and a fresh set of allen bolts for the cam cover and outer cases – luckily the Kempton Autojumble is this coming weekend. I’ve also repainted the crankcases with cylinder black (handpaint so not a great finish but cheap and it’ll keep the road salt at bay).

Awful hand paint job...

Awful hand paint job…

Plan C – register my imported Mk 3 is stalled while I wait for someone to come back from the Continent so I can claim it is a recent import and avoid a £5 per day import ‘fine’…

Crank in a box

Crank in a box

All the action hasn’t been solely Atlas related as the deal with the Atlas was to also send down a rebuilt crank. The above is as delivered by Keith Nairn. I had a nasty shock at the state of the crank which had been sat under the bench and looked and felt okay to me. Keith reported that he had to replace three cheeks. The centre section 4 with cam drive had spun it’s main bearing rendering the mainshaft no good, centre section 5 had damage to the crankpin and the drive side crank end had been eaten away by the connecting rod! Just shows if you don’t know what you’re looking hey – I’d considered putting it in the RGA as was!!!

I also got feedback on the rebuilt Jota crankshaft – as Keith says  ‘If a 180 crank is in phase the ground steel bar should pass easily through all three little end eyes, as you can see from the picture…..

all the rods should be vertical...

all the rods should be vertical…

Just keeping looking forward and never check just how much money you’ve spent!

Nick 🙂

W/E 2nd March

Hmmm we’re now into the third month of 2014 – time is rolling along and progress is slow.

Selection of Laverda hoops

Selection of Laverda hoops

To get some action going I put the RGS, RGA and Jota wheels into the local KTM shop to have the old tyres removed. This is the first step of having them restored via shot blasting and painting. The young mechanic was not very complimentary about how difficult it was to get the tyres off! It cost £60 to have 8 tyres removed (and 6 tyres sent for disposal). That’s a lot of money but then again the time and skin saved made it worthwhile!

Back in harness

Back in harness

Final touches on the Atlas included installing the spare wheel with a good tyre. Did this and went to set off Tuesday morning only to find that the spare wheel is buckled! Ahh well a trip back to the KTM shop to have the tyres swopped over and we were good to go!

Used the Atlas for work on Thursday and Friday and then took my daughter for a spin through the Oxfordshire countryside on Saturday  – it was a joy to be back on the road with a Laverda. The Atlas is great fun, albeit a little slow. The rev hungry engine is quite intoxicating especially with a loudish silencer. Best of all however was the even tickover and general good habits of the engine. It is better than the original motor ever was. On the road I have been wrestling with an oil leak from the alternator cover – the bung that seals the engine where the alternator wires exit has gone hard with age. I ‘think’ I’ve cured the problem with blue hylomar. I don’t care if it looks a bit naff so long as the leak goes away.

Issues with the rear wheel continued however when on Sunday I decided to go round the bike having ridden it for a couple of days. Spinning the back wheel showed it to be binding and further investigation comparing the configuration on the new Atlas revealed I’d put the spacing washers in wrong…(two washers all on the drive side by the cush drive) Thing is I’ve been doing this for over a year! The wheel spins more freely now and I’m looking forward to the ride to work tomorrow and to see if we’ve a bit more oomph now the bike isn’t being held back!

Brass nuts on new stud

Brass nuts on new stud

Going over other parts of the Atlas meant I repaired the rear indicator that I broke on the Scottish Rally with a part from the Belgian spares hoard. I also re-tightened the exhaust flang nuts and replaced one with a brass original that came to light in the scrap bin – I recently bought 50 M7 brass nuts from a 2CV specialist but I’m using them as needs be and not wasting them.

I also took the first step to getting the Turismo road ready again. The bike hasn’t been touched since last June when it achieved the Special Gold Award in the National Rally. It returned from the rally with a cracked exhaust and a gearbox that wouldn’t quite connect 2nd gear so that it held under power(?).

Repaired exhaust

Repaired exhaust

The exhaust was welded up (the welder wasn’t pleased because there was not a lot of good metal left) but I looked a bit further to think through why it cracked. Looking at the system I think there are two causes; firstly the exhaust is only held at the head and via a canvass strap on the silencer. The canvass strap is supported by two pieces of metal to limit the amount it can sway from side-to-side. I’m going to investigate ways to make this more rigid…This brings me to the second probable cause which is the engine is rubber mounted and these mounts are in a shocking condition. They hold the motor but I am considering going to a rigid mount as featured on the earlier (single sided brakes) models.

RGS front engine mounting pin - is out!

RGS front engine mounting pin – is out!

Final piece of news is that the front engine mounting bolt came out of the RGS! Like the RGA this bolt was seized so I have been feeding it Duck Oil on and off. Anyways I thought I’d eventually end up pulling the engine and leave the front mounting in the frame but this was proving difficult because unlike the RGA the engine bolts were in bad shape and the nuts rounding off. In frustration I decided to give the front pin a tap with a hammer and it moved! So by next weekend we should have two triple engines on the bench…

Nick 🙂


W/E 14th July

Not much to report this week. Had to spend the weekend sorting out new brake pads and tyres for the VFR – well gotta get to work.

The good news is that Keith Nairn phoned to say he’d have the crank ready by Wednesday. He thought he might be able to restore the end of the crank that had broken off by welding it up but closer inspection showed it to be bent as well as twisted. Apparently twisted cranks are quite common as both the factory and refurb’ outfits are often a bit low on quality!  So the crank needs a new primary side end and I took his recommendation to do it properly and replace all the bearings and have the sludge traps cleaned. I think this is the right decision as the 180 crank was found to have been pressed together incorrectly and for one of the journals to be beyond repair. This way I know it will be fixed.

I have also been thinking about the whole Jota project and have asked Keith if he’ll put the cases together and slip the head and barrel on. I ‘could’ do it but know having an expert do this core part of the build is more likely to result in a strong engine. I’d like it if it only had to be done the once.

So although not a lot of actual progress things are starting to line up – Jota crank ready to go, RGS replacement crank ready to go and RGA crank ready to be fixed. I do need to sort out some kind of plan to get all the bits and pieces lined up so that once all this stuff comes back assembly won’t stall through lack of bits…

Nick 🙂



W/E 23rd June


Made some progress on the 100 – but have a way to go if I am to get the Turismo ready for the National on the 7th July…As usual you start out with loads of time, waste it and then end up running around like a fool!


Spent time plotting the route to a Special Gold Award which is 540 miles and 21 checkpoints in 20 hours.  As you have to hit the maximum number of checkpoints possible you have to locate as many 25 mile interval checkpoints as possible (18) and then top up with 30 mile interval checkpoints. The other consideration for me was to go to the east side of England because it is flatter and therefore may be easier on the Turismo. The other ‘tip’ I’d been given is that some of the checkpoints are considerably less than the stated (offical) mileage apart. This proved to be correct and my offical 540 mile route is only 466 miles! The Special Gold is on but only if I can average 30 MPH…Think I need to plot a Plan B for Gold (500 miles) and Plan C for Silver (400 miles) and maybe check what you have to do to get a day award…I really hope I can get this Special Gold and next year have a lazy ride out on the Atlas or one of the triples.

Got cables back from Venhill – ‘Featherlite’ super smooth cables for the RGS, Atlas and even the Turismo. The bad news was the price – £166 for six feckin’ cables. I couldn’t believe it. The two inners for the Turismo were produced at a whopping minimum fee of £10 a piece – they are bicycle cables for goodness sake. Things change over time and whereas I just sent ’em off to Venhill as always this time the price has moved on and next time I will look elsewhere…

Got the sprockets back from my local engineering firm and they made a mess of the beautiful Laverda hub by taking off all the original iron work leaving some shabby Jap’ sprocket in its place. Still no big deal I guess, at least I now have sprocket options as I have a 13 and 14 tooth engine and 45 and 47 rear. I expect to run a 14/47 comination as this will give the higher gearing of the Turismo but with smoother chain run (apparently a 13 tooth is prone to chordal velocity variation).

DSCN9640 DSCN9641

Some success on the piston front as I have discovered a Honda CH125 piston is similarly 52,4mm. It is only a three ring piston and has a slight dome but if all else fails it could be a starting point? I am worried that the engine is going to blow oil out of the breather if I don’t come up with a solution. The exhaust valve has a very poor seal so maybe this is the cause – dunno but won’t find out until next week when it is all screwed together.

DSCN9643    DSCN9644

Tidied up the headstock races. Dean had advised me that you can dress these some wet and dry. As he said it’s not ideal but they are soft enough and it is better than having notched steering. I was surprised how much I managed to get out and after an hour it all felt smooth to the touch and ‘good enough’. The picture shows there is still marks but it is a hell of a lot better than before and as I say smooth to the touch so ‘good enough’. Off course once we assemble the forks that will be the real test…

Mrs A took a trip over to Dellorto in Pangbourne to pick up the refurbished Atlas carb. Had a chat with them before she left and had a happy quarter of an hour talking carbs. Apparently the Atlas is the only motorcycle to have one of these fitted as standard (apparently H-D owners fit them as a performance mod’) and Laverda for some unknown reason specified a carb that normally goes on a turbo car? Anyways there was a need to replace one component which might have contributed to poor starting but otherwise it passed inspection. I discussed fitting K&N filters so I could get a bigger battery on the bike and the chap said increase the main jet by 10% – so I’ve a couple of those on the shelf for if my plans ever come to something.

The overhaul cost about £230 including the extra jets and one piece replaced. It has new gaskets throughout and a new needle valve and seat. It also looks like new. Now that ain’t cheap but now at least I can tick the carb off the list of possible reasons why the damn thing doesn’t start (oh yes I was advised not to use the choke but to prime it with a couple of twists of the throttle)!


The RGS replacement crank (out of a 120 Jota) is now in Scotland awaiting evaluation. On Sunday I picked up my 180 Jota crank which had been sorted out some time ago and was just waiting to be picked up.


The crankpin that was marked came home and as you can see it only has a small mark on it – enough however to ruin the big end very quickly. Lucky escape that I never ran it in this condition.


While picking up the crank I also bought  a replacement rear wheel. The original was butched by a tyre fitter many years ago and the ebay replacement was found to have a flat (after I’d powder coated it of course…). The third wheel I’m happy to say looks perfect. The only problem now is I think I have all the bits required to build a series 2 Laverda Jota…trouble is it’s just that ‘all the bits’ – now where did I leave that diagram…

Nick 🙂

W/E 21st April

Mayor on 100

Saturday and took the 100 over to Bristol AutoItalia street show. It was a trip of 85 miles each way so I was on the road at 6.00 for a 9.30 start. A beautiful bright spring morning with a rather chilly dose of early morning frost! I arrived in Bristol for 8.30 and didn’t go over to the meet at the M5 due to a leaking exhaust gasket. The allen screws I’d had put in after the National Rally had come loose. I borrowed a 5mm allen key off a Lambretta owner and despite the gasket being mildly shredded all was fixed. The more worrying thing was that it was clear oil had been blowing out of the rocker box breather. Hmmm the bike is down on power but doesn’t seem to smoke so not sure what this is. The bike ran far better on the homeward leg which might have been the fixed exhaust or maybe there are more downhill stretches coming east? Whatever it needs investigation before the National.


Made some progress on the 100 in getting a gasket set from Italy. The seller also has a conrod and pistons so a potential source of parts if I have got a problem. I’d put the bush stock down at the engineers and didn’t get round to picking the job up – something for Mrs A to sort out next week. I’ve also sent off the valves to Cox & Turner down in Fordingbridge. So things are coming together – though I also noticed as I looked the 100 over in Bristol that the rear sprocket is very sharp – I will have to sort out how to replace those sprockets but have been looking at possible replacements on the WeMoto site http://www.wemoto.com/.

Got talking to Alan Bell of ‘Muira’ fame (with a rather ‘eye catching’ 3C) .


I often have a chat with Alan if we’re at the same event and he gave me a bit of advice with regard to putting the Jota cases together. He thought it was no big deal to put the cases together – just a little Hylomar and none near the oil pump ‘O’ ring. He said I needed to make sure the head gasket ‘o’ rings were inside the gasket when fitting and that when the bike was first started to firstly prime all oil ways by turning the motor over without the plugs in. He thought starting the bike without the cambox on was a good idea to make sure the oil was pumping through. I left thinking I needed to get on this job.

Took a bit of time with the RGS. The main problem I have is the front brake light doesn’t work. Hooked up an aftermarket LED light unit and the rear works but so far not the front. If I run a feed direct from the battery the front works – or at least the light comes on so some hope. I’ve put a call out on the Micapeak list but also wonder why I don’t just plumb it into the rear brake feed? Still have to get on to this as I’ve entered the Welsh National Rally on the 11th May! Needed something to aim for otherwise I could be without a big Laverda for some time to come.

Anyways back to the Bristol AutoItalia – came back to find a rosette and a new trophy for ‘Best Laverda’. Made me laugh that the old shed picked up the silverware but fair do’s she’s 55 years old and still there why not. The ILOC boys on the stand said the Turismo had generated loads of interest from folk of all ranges so it was nice to think she’d been a hit – even the Mayor of Bristol swung a leg over for his photo opportunity!

All in all a great weekend and thanks to all those in ILOC. Some steps in the right direction on the RGS but need to have it running by this time next Sunday…

Nick 🙂

Week 42: 8th October

A week on the VFR – just can’t face messing about with the Atlas. Frankly pissed off with messing about with old bikes and it’s nice to be able to swing a leg over something and just go. Having said that I had to put fresh oil in and change the front tyre. The tyre change almost ended in tears when I thought I’d lost a front wheel spacer – luckily Mrs A came on the scene and suggested I was trying to put the wheel in back to front…

Talked to the crankman about the Jota crank – bad news. One of the journals has had its oil hole butchered making it useless. The crank man is going to see if he has a spare – fingers crossed hey. The only good to come out of it is that I never tried to run the crank. It was pressed up incorrectly and now seems to have had a bad journal. It I’d tried running it then I’d have it in bits by now…

The crank man can get the powder coating off the front wheel I have – pity nice coating but too grey. He also has a good rear wheel I can have so now I should have the option of original thick webs or a pair of wire SFC 1000 hoops.

In despair at not riding my Atlas decided to wobble the 45 miles over to the Banbury ILOC meet. As is often the case you don’t take a camera and end up kicking yourself. There was Alex and his NSU 250 single, Andy and his green Mirage, John and his Chott, Richard with a freshly restored CB72 (mini Laverda…) a 120 Formula Jota (one of only 4 made apparently) and Paul on his 3CL. Probably one of the most eclectic gatherings and there I am with no camera!

Best news was that the secondhand Atlas mainshaft arrived in the post. Some slight damage where a sloppy sprocket has been used in the past but the locking plate slot looks fine. Nice to know I have this on the shelf for when the engine has to come apart.

Week 28: 2nd July

A couple of VFR days but I don’t grudge that as the Atlas was being fixed by visiting American Laverda mechanic Scott Potter.

Scott got to work on the Atlas and fixed the starting problem with new plugs and trimming the ends of the HT leads. Scott also went into the motor and replaced the camchain and checked the clearances (which were not too badly out).

In addition to the Atlas Scott also set his sights on the RGS front brakes which he bled up for me. The trick was to take the master cylinder off the bars and tap with a wooden mallet to get air out of the lines. Now the brakes are sorted there isn’t that much left to get this back on the road – this will now be my focus.

The big ticket though was getting the Jota engine out of the frame and dismantled. The engine has sat in the frame for more than 5 years as doubts were put in my mind about the condition of the conrods.

My caution was fully justified when the crank was inspected. The conrods had been dressed by a grinder going across and not down the length which would introduce stressors all the way down. There was also a lot of evidence of balancing which appeared untidy if not terminal!

Another major concern was the centre pin which had been pushed too far into the web – the end as you can see has been pressed past ‘flush’.

Anyways all this can be resolved with some secondhand rods and a new balance and bearing package. This will take two months so the race is on to get everything else ready in time for the autumn build-up.

Nick 🙂