W/E 3rd July 2019

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So as I write this folk are converging on Breganze from all over the world to celebrate 70 years of Laverda. From what I’ve read seems to be a great adventure can’t wait to hear all the tales πŸ™‚

Back at ‘Bent Screwdrivers’ HQ work is underway for the National Road Rally. The Atlas is still not fixed so I’ve had to fall back on the Turismo. So far so good with the bike starting and running well. Even the lights work so not too much to do – oil and a new battery to hide in the tool box to run the brake light.

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One problem that I had to sort was knackered rubber engine mounts (yes the 120 range of triples isn’t the only rubber mounted Laverda). I’d tried to get some replacements before without success so a trip to ebay and some ATV steering bushes for under a tenner provided the solution. I had to cut them down with a hacksaw and trim the edges with nail scissors and now the engine doesn’t move sideways when I pull in the clutch.

The plan is to go for a Bronze award which means 300 miles in 20 hours. In the past the Turismo has achieved a Special Gold (540 miles) but with a family crisis still roaring my low personal reserves mean I’m going to cut myself some slack. One difference however is that unlike previous National Rallies on the 100 this time I’m using maps not a satnav. I know that nothing could possibly go wrong but just in case there is the fallback ‘Daytime Chrome’ award requiring just 125 miles that I’ve put behind my ear.

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I’ve also taken advantage of the hot weather and gone back to the triple frames that need painting. The RGA frame was already black but I wanted a better finish so I took it back down and reapplied the paint. The RGS frame needed another coat of priming before I apply its top coat. It would be nice to have a triple for the Scottish in September…

Nick πŸ™‚

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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 πŸ™‚

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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 πŸ™‚

 

W/E 23rd June 2017

Wow, sometime since I updated the blog – where has the time gone?

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Well the good news is that I’ve been doing quite a bit of riding this last month πŸ™‚

There’s been some work in the garage but the focus has been on making good use of the very hot weather. The above photo shows that I have sprayed up a few RGA parts – used the ‘silk black’ and must say it’s going to need updating with a coat of gloss. The silk is too dull and also because the finish is flat it shows up any imperfections. The parts have been shot-blasted but the rust damage is still visible. I suppose the perfectionist would get the filler out and start fresh but that ain’t gonna happen…

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In addition to paint I’ve also been a bit distracted by a polishing mop on the Dremmel. I’ve only given the rocker brief attention but the results show that with more work I can get rid of the road salt damage. Of course all a distration from the real issue which is to sort out the bloody engine which just needs the valve shims sorting!

The Atlas has been giving good service – we’ve gone to France and entered the National Rally all while racking up 500 miles per week just to get to work.

I’ve got to replace the chain and sprockets – I put on a fresh chain for France but because I ran it on part worn sprockets that’s knackered. An interim measure has been to change the front sprocket and use a secondhand chain off Atlas #3 (which is sitting idle). After I get back from holidays in August I plan all new sprockets + a non O ring chain. Given the fragile nature of the mainshaft I think the lighter chain is the way to go – it will wear quicker but be kinder on the splines.

I also have to go back in to the clutch to see if I can finally sort out the slip. I got some Silkolene Classic 20/50 for motorcycles and this has gone some way to helping the clutch. I’m going to see if replacing the oil a second time round will have flushed the clutch plates of the previous oil which was designed for classic cars. I see however that the return spring is beginning to get baggy so it might be wise to take off the primary case and have a look around. Whatever having ridden my daughter’s Ducati with a fully functioning clutch has convinced me that I’m really spoiling my enjoyment riding round this clutch slip issue.

So I said I’ve been doing some riding and you’ll see in the Trips section of the blog a write up of the LCF Rally – there’s a link at the end to pictures which helps bring it alive. Next week I will have the National Rally report ready.

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Finally congratulations to my daughter Jenny who married Tim – health and happiness to you both

Nick πŸ™‚

W/E 28th May 2017

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The main activity this week was the trip to Cor Dees Laverda Museum, Lisse the Netherlands. Thursday was the last scheduled opening of the Museum. I was at the opening in 2006 riding my RGA with Dean on my RGS…happy days.

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2006 – my RGA and RGS were both on the road

My write up can be found in the ‘Trips’ section.

Whilst in the Netherlands I picked up an LED unit for the back light.

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My friend, Rene, runs two of these on his RGS and I plan to plumb one into the Atlas. I was wondering how to then secure the rear lens but Rene tells me that as this is a ‘fit and forget’ unit he just glued his glass on to the surround – it looked good as he left the screw heads in the lens. So that’s a plan!

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I also got back to the RGA frame and put on a couple more coats of satin black. I have cut the top coat back and I’m pleased with the finish. I will do a further experiment to see if a clear coat of lacquer is worth while. I want the frame to look good but felt that gloss black would be too bright and I must say the satin when cut back does look good. Progress at last again on the RGA…

Nick πŸ™‚

W/E 4th December 2016

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The garage ‘tidy up’ continued with the new engine stand installed and filled up! The only downside of this being Mrs A got her index finger trapped under the Atlas engine (ouch!) The finger is on the mend but for a while the tip remained cold which must’ve been due to interrupted circulation. Fortunately the Atlas engine is fine…

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The garage tidy up added to my British collection as my old A65 emerged from a pile of Laverda bodywork. This bike throw a rod in the engine – the engine was rebuilt but never run because by then I’d bought my Jota…that must be nearly 30 years ago. Guess the A65 is yet another project πŸ™‚

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I carried on dismantling the RGA and got the footrest hanger apart. In all my years of riding a 120 I never needed to make use of the adjustable footpegs – whether changing the height would be more comfortable I don’t know. The truth is I always think having the adjuster anything but horizontal looks ‘odd’ so for me it’s style over function (but then that fits with the RGS ethos which is a sports tourer that is difficult to put luggage on! Anyways I decided that as it was apart I’d clean it up…

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…and of course the right hand side allen bolt has a mangled head. Heat hasn’t worked so far so time to step away and think before something gets broken methinks.

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Finally I turned my attention to the RGA bright work that is still in need of attention. The headlamp brackets are in need of fresh chrome. I was pleased that I could dismantle these down to separate components and that although the ‘bands’ that fit round the fork stanchions were rusty they have buffed up okay and the surface is not too pitted. I think the chromer will be able to get a decent enough finish – probably better than the Laverda original as these parts are cheap and nasty in truth.

The rest of the stuff requires bright zinc plate (I think). There’s wheel spacers, washers and original engine nuts which all seem worth restoring rather than replacing with stainless. I’m going to take advice on the wheel spindles as I wonder if it is just the ends that have BZP (I chromed the end of a Jota front wheel spindle and it wouldn’t then go into the fork leg so suspect these items only ever had a very thin coating of bling.

So slow progress but getting there.

Nick πŸ™‚

 

W/E 6th November 2016

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Had to get back on the RGA rebuild so sent off some bits for re-chroming. There isn’t much chrome on an RGA. I put together the top yoke nut, foot controls, rear brake spindle and plate and the chain adjusters to gauge the chromer’s quality – if he’s good then I’ll dig out the brake line guides off the forks and the headlamp brackets, the headlamp rim seems to be okay.

The challenge is going to be how well the chromer can polish out the rust on the foot controls – he seemed confident. I pressed out the plain bearings from the controls using a 10 mm socket as a drift. I’m not sure if I will use the same split bush that Laverda did. I’m tempted to get a solid bush pressed and reamed to fit. You can also see in the picture that one of the rose joint bearings had worn to the point that the ball is out of the socket and the other thing I spotted was that one of the washers that sit either side of the foot control had disappeared and the remaining three were all wafer thin – all to be expected in 130,000 miles of use and shows how you get used to riding with worn out control levers – you probably wear at a similar rate!

It was a bit of a wake up call as to how things can rust being left around as I noticed theΒ  new springs Falcon shocks that grace the Jota are pitted from just sitting in a garage that I guess gets damp. I’ve sprayed the Jota with ACF50 but fear it might be too late…and there are other things lurking in the garage that might similarly be affected!

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Two cross head screws hold the brake nipple in place – easy to adjust and just as easy for them to ‘fail’ if you brake very hard…

I managed to combine the trip to the chromer with a wobble on the 100 Turismo. I remembered the front brake needed to be adjusted and once done we were away. The Turismo ran great although the rubber engine mounts need attention as I saw the engine move when the clutch was pulled in!

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South Stoke by the Thames

It’s some time since I rode the 100 and I did wonder at first how I managed to ride this all the way to Breganze in 2009 with Cor, Dean and Gido. A few miles in though and it all came together, I’m sure I could still ride this to Italy, the main adjustment would be getting used to being constantly overtaken.

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To carry out the oil change last week I visited a new supplier of Morris’s 20/50, Royal Enfield Oxfordshire. Typically they were hidden in an obscure unit behind a farm (just like the chromer) and keep hours to suit themselves – a trait that to some is irritating but I find quite enduring. So while there I got to talking Royal Enfield sprag clutches as many years back I tried out a Howdi clutch on my triples with disastrous consequences when the sprag bearing failed at just over 15,000 miles. At the time I researched the topic and found that Enfield 500’s with electric start had the same problem which they cured by putting a 1 second delay in the ignition – this meant the engine was properly spinning before the sparks arrived meaning that if it misfired the tendency for the engine to kick back was reduced and hence the sprag stayed intact. So Β£20 got me a second-hand piece of electrickery to try when the time finally comes to fire one of the engines up…the only thing I need to find out is the bearing size (from memory is comes from an America auto transmission).

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I returned to Atlas #2 and finished off the repair to the handlebar fairing. The filling is not of the highest order but good enough and consistent with the condition of the rest of the bike. The Fiat white paint is a good enough match and once the bike has a few miles on the clock it’ll be hard to spot the repair.

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Stud came out with the nut…a job that is going to need patience

I also started the process of replacing the original collector with a replica from Malcolm Cox. The original pipes are rusting out but still serviceable. I don’t see any point putting on a new set of brilliant black chrome replica’s just in time for all the winter weather so want to just install the collector as this is leaking meaning my riding kit stinks of exhaust fumes. I don’t need this done ’til the start of December which is just as well because the exhaust nuts are seized on their studs. I think the nuts are original brass so I’m surprised these have seized. I don’t want the hassle of a snapped stud so I’ve been busy applying heat and WD40 in the hope that it will all shift over the next week or so.

Nick πŸ™‚

 

W/E 9th October 2016

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This week finally saw the return of the little Turismo. It would start but there was a terrible vibration coming through the tank which I feared might have been the result of starting it with no oil a while back…I only started it, didn’t ride it and starting without the tank on the engine sounded okay. So the solution has been some fibre washers between the front petrol tank mounting point.

The Turismo starts really well, it was fingers crossed to see if I had managed to get the gear selector in the right position (the last time it was ridden [2013 National Rally] it was jumping out of second) and the answer is ‘yes’ – though I’d forgotten that also the last time I rode it the front brake cable had pulled through the adjustable nipple due to a near miss in Leicester…my heart skipped a beat as I had to brake entering a roundabout and nothing much happened!

Riding the bike round the lanes made me wonder that I’d ridden this to Breganze in 2009 and that thought brought back fond memories – and funny enough a few miles in I reckon I could that again.

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A lot of time was also spent on the Mk 3 Atlas exhausts that Malcolm Cox is making. I’d agreed to check the new pipes fit before they’re sent for finishing and as can be seen below they’re pretty damned good! The collector needs finishing as does the guard so with these parts it was checking the jig was correctly set up.

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I also took a few examples of the Atlas silencer up to Malcolm for him to check over and decide if he’s prepared to reproduce this impossible to find item – hope he does.

I haven’t forgotten the RGA. I spent time cleaning up the rear engine mounts but then started to dig deeper and realise that I need to go through all the boxes and make sure the RGA and RGS parts are in the right boxes. It doesn’t matter that much as aside from the fairing and wiring harness everything is the same but I’d like to try and ensure the right parts go on the right bike. The rummaging also showed footrest hangers and fork brace missing – they’ll be in the garage but just got to work out where…

Nick πŸ™‚

W/E 2nd October 2016

Got space in the garage with the sale of Catherine’s Yamaha and my old workhorse the VFR800 that carried me 60,000 miles.

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The Honda has gone to someone more able to work through all the minor electrical issues and problems associated with running an old Jap’ bike through the winter…the engines are unbreakable but everything else is built down to a price and it finally catches up with you…

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Returned to the final piece of damage caused by my crash in April (the broken thumb is doing fine btw). A bolt holding a radiator cover that hangs off the bottom of the petrol tank is turning in its thread. First step was to grind the bolt head round to get the cover off and then begin spraying with WC40. I’d hoped the bolt would come out but no such luck, it’s still spinning. I intend to try out the ultra cold spray to see if expansion/contraction will break the bond – no need to hurry as Atlas #2 and 3 are both on the road.

So the focus turns to the RGA project. Where to start? Decided to begin on the carburettors and pistons, both of which gave me a chance to try out the ultrasonic cleaner. The pistons seemed in good condition but had carbon on the crowns and some blow by on the ring grooves. 20 minutes in the cleaner and they seem like new.

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The carburetors are relatively clean on the outside but it was time to open them up. I’ve decided to work through the carbs’ one at a time because I’d like to try and keep the same bits on the carbs rather then mix them about. Also as there are three carbs I figure it best not to just end up with a massive bags of bits!

The float and bowls seemed clean but the top of the carb’ with the opening mechanism was furry and the jets a bit black. I had to apply heat to one of the choke guides to get the bolt to undo but all in all dismantling was quite straightforward.

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However despite the grot in the carb’ there appears to be little wear other than on the synchronization bar where the chrome has worn – not sure if this matters, if you know the answer let me know.

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What is worn however are the brackets, fasteners and springs which have their finish ruined by all year riding. Again I need to take advice on the most cost effective way to get these back to standard.

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So feels good to be working on a triple and hopefully just have to apply routine maintenance to the Atlas twins. The autumn weather is certainly with us so need to crack on as working outside will soon become a luxury.

Nick πŸ™‚

 

 

W/E 29th August 2016

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I spied James White-Cooper’s American Eagle outside a pub while on my way home – what an unusual sight this pair make. The Eagle now has 9,000 miles up since its rebuild and is developing a nice patina. Will see James and a few more Laverdisti next weekend at the ILOC Baskerville Hall bash.

So off-line for quite a while – things have been a bit up and down and now hopefully more up than down. During these ‘lost’ weeks work on the stable has slowed but not completely stopped.

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Progress has been made on the RGA frame. The front engine mounting silentbloc bushes had refused to budge despite a diet of Duck Oil and the occasional beating with a big hammer. Time to take it all to the engineering shop and see what they could do – nothing more than me is the answer but they did cut the bushes out which meant I had no reason not to start sorting out the paintwork.

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I’ve decided a rattle can job using Hammerite Silk Black will do the job – still think that but have had to put quite a lot of effort in to getting a smooth finish. Fine filler has gone into the rust pitted surface which I initially thought was going to be a pain to do but it turned out to be not so bad. It also proved to be very worthwhile as spraying onto the freshly blasted surface gave poor results but just a very small amount of filling and hey presto!

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Filler has also been applied to the bodywork on the crashed #2 Atlas which is slowly being made road-ready. Indicators and handlebars have been replaced so now it is just attending to the cosmetics and it should be good to go.The real benefit will be having two road legal bikes to take away the need to work to ensure a bike is ready for the morning.

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I have managed to do some touring in the past few weeks, most notably a week up in the Scottish Highlands. A family wedding prevents competing in the Scottish Rally so a quick check on the forecast and Mrs A and I were off – full report in the Trips section.

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I’ve also recommissioned a Ducati 600 Monster for my eldest daughter to ride now she has a full license – just weird to see one of your children head off alone down a motorway, can’t help but feel a bit anxious and yet at the same time a little proud…

Nick πŸ™‚

 

 

W/E 29th November 2015

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Midnight and it’s done!

So pushed on with the RGA engine and as you can see got the cases together at midnight on Saturday.

I thought the engine was clean but I tookΒ  a good ninety minutes going through all the nuts and washers to clean them and select the ones with the best finish. The RGA engine appeared to only have one copper washer on the bottom of the engine (the RGS had three) but otherwise identical.

The RGA cases are in better condition than the RGS, albeit the top case having been welded following a broken chain way back. The RGA had never been apart in over 130,000 miles but I’d been quite particular in making sure I changed the oil every 1,500 miles. The result was clear in the gearbox which showed very little sign of wear.

Anyways it took two attempts to close the cases as first time round the crank tightened up so it was taken apart – the problem was slight mis-alignment of the primary side outer main. I made sure it was located up against the half ring and it went smoothly after that.

The jumble of RGS and RGA parts is beginning to reduce down as I have two large lumps of engine. There’s still some way to go but the last couple of weeks feels like real progress and a weekend cleaning and organising the next steps should see that momentum keep going.

Next up is to sort out the pistons and head but this can wait for a while as next weekend I hope to replace the broken rear subframe on the Atlas and re-fit the pillion peg now parts have arrived from OCT.

Nick πŸ™‚