Saturday, 27 March 2010

One Out, All Out!

The primary Civil Service union helpfully called a day of National Strike Action which provided me with the chance to run a shakedown on the B50 and re-familiarise myself with the Shiny Stormer. A call to Mark Woodford unfortunately failed to get the necessary permission to use one of his fields as the ground is still too waterlogged to allow access. Bugger! Still, rather than waste a day (I was going to strike anyway, honest!) I spent the day down Race HQ putting the finishing touches to the two bikes.

First off, the B50. I had noticed that when I fitted the skidplate there was little, if any, clearance for the anti-wetsumping valve. Chatting with Paul, he was not convinced of it’s need anyway so the decision was made to reroute the main oil feed, with the valve permanently on, so the skidplate could be fitted flush with the frame rails. If it wetsumps I’ll need to review it once again and bung a couple of spacers in but here’s hoping. The single wire to the kill switch looked a bit vulnerable and tight still so I split the wire and slipped on a bullet connector – an easy operation you would think but the Westley fingers and general mechanical ineptitude once again conspired to turn a ten minute job into a saga of oaths and a strained back! How? I here you ask. Let me explain.

The kill-switch is one of those red button affairs that shorts out the single feed wire, thereby collapsing the system, held in place by two clips that slot into the body of the switch. Simple. But in order to replace the wire you need to dismantle and reassemble the seven components of the switch, (including, crucially, a spring) maintaining the required pressure to keep everything together, whilst using your third hand to line up the pinch bolt and using your ‘other‘ hand to tighten everything up. In the words of the damned annoying meerkat “Simples!”. However, to make it more interesting the handlebar is strapped to the left fork leg and the bike is precariously balanced leaning against the wall. Just as I manoeuvred the screwdriver into position, the GLW attempted to access the inner sanctum that is the shed and diverted my attention sufficiently that the switch exploded, sending it’s component parts to the seven corners of the shed. In my feeble attempt to stop the bike falling on top of me, I twisted and ‘crack’ went my back. What fun! The GLW beat a hasty retreat muttering something about “I’ll come back when you’re in a better mood” and left me trying to locate the switch components amongst the accumulated detritus. Anyway, it was the work of just thirty minutes before, through the judicious use of sticky tape and deep breathing, the switch was fully installed.

Having checked everything else over, it was time to wheel the beast out of the shed, put the handlebars back where they should be, and try starting it up. Confident of success, I swung on the new kickstart with my normal slip-on shoes as protection. Cowardice stopped me kicking quite as hard as required and after the second half-hearted backfire I retired injured (nice bruising of the in-step) and sought out the motocross boots. A quick check of the plug, a slight flooding of the rebuilt carb., and a suitably weighted swing on the kickstart and nothing. Four or five swings later and the beast burst into life – it seems it needs a different throttle setting to the old Boyer system – but it soon settled down to a reliable tickover. A quick check that there were no obvious leaks or problems and that the oil was circulating back to the frame and I declared myself satisfied.

While it was out of the shed I thought I’d check over the running gear once more. Chain oiled, brakes adjusted, spokes ‘tinged’ to make sure they are all relatively tight and all the levers checked. While looking around the front wheel I noticed a slight bit of play in the bearings. No problem I thought, whip the wheel out, tighten the retaining nut and all done in ten minutes!. Of course, once I’d undone the retaining nuts on the bottom of the front forks, the heavens opened, so although the job only took twenty minutes (I treated the drum and shoes to a bit of a tidy up) I managed to get soaked. Of course, once I’d finished, the uniformly grey sky parted and sunshine returned within five minutes! So, with the addition of a couple of stickers, ‘The Beast’ is ready to roll.

Next came the Shiny Stormer. I knew it was in the shed somewhere and it was finally liberated from beneath sacks of rags and bags of ‘useful things’ that were temporarily being stored in the shed. Wheeled out into the garden and the handlebars safely installed, as I was still wearing the one motocross boot I thought I’d get straight to it and start the SS up. Fuel on, choke on, kill switch ‘on’, footrest folded up out of the way, and a good healthy kick and – nothing. Kick, kick, kick, kick, sweat, cough, kick, kick, still nothing. Now it’s getting personal, the SS is obviously sulking at not getting enough attention. Run through the checklist once more, fuel, choke, kill switch and then notice a dangling wire. Make the connection, a half-hearted kick, and the air is rapidly filled with blue smoke and the sound of ringing cylinder fins. Hurrah!

The repacked silencer seems to have taken the edge off the racket but mindful of the neighbours, after all they had already had the ‘benefit’ of hearing the Beast, I shut the SS down after warming it briefly. I followed the same regime as I had with the B50; chain oiled, etc.. and a quick wipe down with an oily rag. I finished off by whipping the points cover off and carefully repositioning all the wires so there’s no chance of a short and giving it the merest hint of WD40 as a precaution against the dreaded condensation. I’m just dreading when the SS sees Paul Nappi’s Stormer’s 'flaming' tank – I confidently expect major ‘toys out of the pram’ antics!

So, both bikes fully prepped and ready to go and the GLW still AWOL. What is a chap to do? Well, in my sad case, I rationalised, reorganised, and cleaned my toolkit. I didn’t, for example, realise I had four14mm ring spanners or three identical (practically useless) pliers! So, at the end of another hour or so I had two shiny bikes and a shiny, yet practical and well organised, toolkit! Strangely, when the GLW returned, she seemed singularly unimpressed, but just wait until someone asks to borrow a spanner!

Roll on Hanningfield – must remember; left foot brake, right foot gears, left foot brake, right foot gears! Another season starts with no damned practice!

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