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 byΒ  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 πŸ™‚

W/E 7th October 2018

Nothing new to add – very little has happened in the garage as I try to get Catherine’s Ducati running…

Still managed to update the trips section with the report on the Belgian rally so feel free to browse.

Here’s some more pictures of the bikes that showed up:

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Nick πŸ™‚

W/E 19th August 2018

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Blimey where has all the time gone since my last post back in May?

In June I attended the Laverda Club de France rally near Bordeaux – I’ve posted a report in the Trip section. July saw me enter the National Rally – that report is still brewing but will be posted in the next week. Finally took the Atlas over to Northern Ireland with Mrs A and Catherine on her Ducati. I’ll get to that report soon as well πŸ™‚

So been out and about on the Atlas but today finds me in a bit of funk as I’m up against it to have the damned thing ready for the final throw of the dice in 2018 namely the ILOC rally first week of September, Scottish rally second week finishing off with the Belgian rally the week after that. A trip out to London and then on to Seveonoaks saw me struggle with poor starting and yesterday Mrs A was out behind bump starting me away…The bike ran okay and got me to my destination but the battery seems not to have energised so I have to face up to finding out why such poor starting. Next week I provide an update.

Still let’s get to an old project on the Atlas that I’ve revised – the damn chocolate gearbox output shaft. Along with my other two Atlas’s, Atlas #3 has been whittling its output shaft away so time to find a fix. The picture at the start of the post is of a sprocket I had made up to provide a tighter fit on the output shaft and also increase the contact area. Well these sprockets had been poorly finished so I fished them out again and sent them off to a new engineer. John Hemming has re-cut the splines, blasted the finish and rehardened the job.

This is phase 2 of the project. If the principle can be proved then I intend to move on to phase 3 which will be to see if I can get some adapters made up that’ll add the shoulder to a standard sprocket. John tells me that getting my phase 2 sprockets refurbished by welding on replacement sprocket teeth is simple but I’m more inclined to see if I can develop a solution that uses off the shelf sprockets with no need for engineering intervention when new chain and sprockets time comes round.

If you have an Atlas check to see if your final drive sprocket wobbles on the output shaft – if it does then your output shaft is being damaged. If you’re in this situation or suspect you’re gonna need a solution to a problem that is going to happen (it will believe me [and replacement shafts are like hen’s teeth]) drop me an email as I’m considering having a batch of sprockets made up if there appears to be interest.

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My focus however has got a bit wider than the Atlas. The hot weather has meant time in the garage has been limited but I am starting to look at the RGS and RGA I have in pieces. I read that you have to get the stands on the frame before installing the engine so pulled out the centre stands.

The centre stands have both been damaged through rubbing on the silencers (the rubber stop bungs were missing on both bikes) – you can see the primed RGA stand has worn all the way through!

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The worn legs however are different to the main hassle with the stands which is they end up hanging down as wear occurs in the bushes and bolts. This means the tension goes out of the springs.

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I’ve been told off for not regularly greasing the bush that goes in the eye of the stand. Well fair enough but does anyone really take the stand apart at regular intervals? To me the problem is that the metal bush is harder than the standard material – replacing a soft bronze bush would have been far simpler and I may sort this out for myself.

The other feature this picture shows is that the bolt that goes through the bush gets whittled away – why hasn’t it got a shank (maybe this is non standard)? Again I will upgrade once things are fixed.

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Finally another project that I’m reviving is the ‘Howdi’ starter sprag clutch. I had this uprated sprag fitted to both the RGS and RGA. The bearing failed at 16,000 kms on both bikes. The subject came up again on Paul LeClair’s Forum so I’m now on the hunt of the correct ‘overruning’ bearing. I can get one from Australia for about Β£75 but want to see if one is available in the UK first.

Not sure of the wisdom of the Howdi clutch but as both my standard sprag clutches are worn out it might be that I just replace the errant bearing every 10,000 kms to work round the problem.

I can do this at the same time as I dismantle and grease up my centre stand bushes hey…

Nick πŸ™‚

W/E 8th January 2017

All of a sudden it’s a new year – where did last year go?

2017 kicked off with a return to the daily commute in to London. Me and the Atlas seemed to be enjoying ourselves in the lighter than normal holiday traffic until the back light failed! To add to the nuisance the rear lens also cracked off one of the retaining lugs so once the bulb was restored the lens had to make the 50 miles home with just one retaining screw…

I’ve replaced the rear unit on Atlas #1 and 2 with an LED setup because the original fitment is cheap junk!!! The housing gets slack and the bulb moves – sometimes you have a light with no brake light or maybe no light at all. This is kinda dangerous in the rush hour.

As you can see I bodged the bulb by putting strips of masking tape on one side of the bulb to push it against the earth in the holder. I had another lens in the shed but to make sure it didn’t go AWOL I put some tape over the screw holes so the screws can’t jump ship. It’s all working so far but at the weekend I’ll rig up something more robust!

Nick πŸ™‚

W/E 13th November 2016

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A slow week in the garage but Saturday was spent giving my eldest, Catherine, a go on the little Turismo. It’s seven years since Cor, Gido, Dean and I rode to Breganze for the 60thΒ  Laverda Birthday Party.Β  A lot has happened since then…

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Seeing Catherine on the Turismo made me very proud. It was quite different from her 600 Monster with just 3 speeds, right foot change, left side kick-start, drum brakes and all of 40 mph on tap! She did well, even mastered the heel and toe gearchange arrangement πŸ™‚

The exhaust still hasn’t moved on Atlas #2 and I’m thinking now that the best way of shifting it will be the bleedin’ obvious of starting it and getting it up to temperature and then try and free the exhaust nuts. Expansion forces will most likely result in unwinding the studs but that’s okay. As it stands the most likely result of my hanging on a 11 mm spanner is a busted stud!

The majority of the garage time however has been spent doing yet more tidying up. A bit dull but I have liberated so much space and even found a few parts that I didn’t remember having (a new set of fork tubes for instance)! The tidy up also liberated a project for Mrs A in the shape of her old ’68 BSA D14/4.

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The little Bantam has sat unloved under a pile of Laverda spares for many years – infact it still has a campsite sticker from its trip to the ’92 24 Heures du Mons (broken primary chain meant it came home in a van…). Despite surface rust it’s all there and thankfully not seized from all the time spent idle. The plan therefore is for Mrs A to join me in the garage – she’s sure to be on the road with the Banty before the RGA returns…

Nick πŸ™‚

 

W/E 25th September 2016

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No work on the Laverda fleet to report – been fettling my daughter’s Ducati Monster and out riding with her.

The ’94 Ducati is one of the very first Monster series. Catherine’s bike has a good service history and just 34,000 miles on the bores. The downside is poor paint on the frame, footrest hangers and engine. It’s been interesting to compare the Monster against the Atlas which runs a similarly ‘soft’ motor unlike the 650 Zane which is its contempory.

The Ducati engine has more torque but the small valve head seems to stop it revving out at the top end. The Atlas is therefore quicker flat out but in the real world for these bikes which is in the 70 mph zone the Ducati is stronger. The Ducati reminds me of my old British 650 in terms of its physical size and the way it delivers power and how easy it is to work on. It made me smile to myself to find that the Ducati has a dynojet kit (remember those) and that running the standard silencers put the carbs in conflict with the exhaust. Fitting the Bos carbon cans immediately liberated 10% more speed:-) Similarly a change from Champion to NGK plugs cured a minor misfire at high revs. Simple, schoolboy mechanics and quite refreshing.

The Atlas on the other hand feels more Japanese with the little 8 valve parallel twin howling away and even in this soft state of tune requiring revs else it will bog down (mind the Ducati similarly needs to be in the right gear). Where the Atlas also runs up short is the quality of the cycle parts. The Ducati benefits from being from the 90’s not the 80’s in this regard – it feels like it is looking forward to the next era in terms of suspension and frame. Again the Zane alternative addresses this whereas the Atlas feels like a cheap build blinged up with gold wheels and swinging arm. The brakes are cheap as are the plastics and instruments.

So I’m a bit smitten by the Ducati, especially as they can be found cheaply (a 750 Monster would be ideal) and seem to have a strong owners club. If I was starting out again then my guess is I’d be likely to buy a cheap Monster as my way into Italian ownership (which is how I came to own a Jota at just Β£1250 in 1987). Laverda unfortunately has become a defunct marque and the ever increasing prices work against attracting younger riders who someday might grow into a 3CL or an RGS. It makes me think who will want to buy all my bikes once I’m too old and need to pass on the baton…? How are we growing the next generation of Laverdisti?

Back in the garage next week I promise.

Nick πŸ™‚

W/E 5th April 2015

Not too much to do...

Not too much to do…

So the recommissioning work on the second Atlas began in earnest. As I went through the bike it was kind of like opening the door into a room that had been locked for many years. I got a sense of when the bike was alive and maybe some of the ambitions and ways of the previous owner. Lucky for me the previous owner was far more meticulous than me, the bike hasn’t deviated much from stock in its 37,000 kms.

Old battery with aged strap - like a shipwreck on the beach...

Old battery with aged strap – like a shipwreck on the beach…

A tour round the bike with a dud battery showed the horn, starter and all the lights worked except for the rear brake light. – the front chimed in once the lever had been pumped a couple of times, like a bear waking up after months in hibernation. The brake light switch is missing a spade so a new switch has been ordered – aside from having to bleed the back brake to fit it the fix is simple. I also see that one of the screws for the rear light lens doesn’t tighten so if I don’t fix this it’ll soon be long gone. There was evidence that the loom had been tampered with on the top tube but everything had been taped neatly back together. I added a couple of cable ties to tidy things up a bit more and job done. Final modification was to fit a battery tray that I’d flattened out to take the larger Harley battery I’m running on Atlas #1. I expect to swop the battery between the two bikes so this’ll save a whooping Β£125 + mean I won’t have to concern myself with charging the battery while it just sits there.

On the carb there is an interesting modification to locate an additional spring to the choke mechanism (the single, standard spring isn’t up to the job unless everything is squeaky clean) but aside from this everything is as the book.

Little piece of tin to facilitate extra choke spring

Little piece of tin to facilitate extra choke spring

The brake pads are fine as is the silencer. So on Wednesday I think I have to just swop over the missing chainguard and rear wheel (current tyre illegal), mask the front light (dips the wrong way) and we should be good to go!

I have done some fiddling on Atlas #1 with an eye to the impending Welsh National Rally. I replaced the rear calipher with a spare – though this also shows signs on wear where the pin goes through the body. It has ‘clicked’ home but I have augmented this some bearing lock. I am also going to wire the pin just to be sure. On the front end I have ordered up an FZR 750 disc and arranged to borrow a spacing plate so I can get one made up to locate the front calipher correctly. Finally I started to look at the tangle of old wire which runs the speedo and lights. My remaining problem is getting the front high beam LED back on track. I think this is an earth issue. Still have a few weeks before the flag drops so let’s see…

Nick πŸ™‚