Thursday, 10 June 2010

It's Been a Long Time Coming!

I know, I know, it’s been a long time since I last subjected the interweb to my babbling but give me a minute or two and I’m sure I can come up with a valid excuse or two! It has even got to the stage where I have been accosted by closet readers of this blog in the pits berating me for not being up to date. So a quick recap of where we were before I launch into the sordid tale of lost sparks, mud, mechanical ineptitude, and the not-so-Shiny Stormer - we were approaching the East Hanningfield meeting full of confidence that the B50 would perform flawlessly with the Shiny Stormer in the background as my trusty backup.

Easter Sunday finds the B50 attracting admiring glances from riders in the pits at Marks Tey – yes, the fickle climate had resulted in a waterlogged track so we reverted to notoriously hilly Marks Tey. Even the scrutineer made a complimentary comment and the general consensus seemed to be that it looked absolutely spot on. Riders meeting over, I return to the van and prepare to warm up the engine ready for practice. Fuel on, easy the piston over compression, and a good long swing on the kickstart and nothing! Try again, and again, and again, still nothing. Must be flooded, so I whip out the plug and clean it and try again. Still no joy and by now a number of ‘well wishers’ have gathered to watch. I’m running out of time so revert to the Shiny Stormer and make it to the start line just in time to go out in the last practice session. At least I had remembered to lower the tyre pressures as I set off on the wet and slippery track but the one thing I hadn’t had time for was a pre-meeting walk around the track. Seeing a couple of riders slowing on the approach to one of the larger jumps, I thought I’d just nip past them and impress them with my technique. Unfortunately, what I didn’t know (but they obviously did!) was that just the other side of the jump was a sea of deep, rutted, mud and I was too late to slow down! Luckily I stayed upright (luck, not technique) but the Stormer was Shiny no more and I somehow managed to get mud inside my helmet! The GLW was not impressed when I returned to the pits after a couple of more excursions through the mud but I expected my complexion to be a smooth as silk in the morning.

Back to the B50. Checked all the connections, cleaned the plug, went through the kicking routine, even persuaded a couple of colleagues to give me a bump start but the BSA had developed a terminal sulk. I was due up at the start line for my first of six (!) scheduled races so climbed aboard the Stormer and left the Beast ‘til the lunch break when I’d have a bit more time. Come lunch time, bolstered by sausage sarnies and Lucozade, I went back to the B50. A new-ish spark plug and, against Paul’s advice, I flooded the Carb before giving it one last kick, or perhaps last half dozen! The engine coughed a couple of times then actually started, running quite rough to start until it cleared it’s throat and settled down to a steady tickover with a healthy pickup. Success at last! The next two races were dead engine starts, so rather than push my luck, I reverted to the Stormer before wheeling out the BSA for the last race of the meeting. Of course, the B50 was sulking again and refused to start so the Stormer completed it’s sixth outing of the day while the B50 remained pristine in the pits.

It was a couple of weeks before I was able to look at the B50. The GLW was out catering for a funeral so I had a good four hours to make as much noise as I liked. As it was a nice day, I wheeled the bike out of the shed and set up on the patio. Seat and sidepanels off and all connections checked, brand new spark plug attached (no expense spared!) and check for a spark. Absolutely nothing. Phone Paul the engine man and check there was nothing that gave him particular grief when setting it up and get a couple of pointers where there may be issues. Off with the engine cover and check the clearance between the rotor and stator – all within tolerance, and check the timing marks – spot on, but still no spark. Phone Rex Caunt for more advice. Off with the plug cap and try to arc from the HT lead, no joy there. Check the resistance across the Stator – spot on at 160 Ohms, check and recheck the earth connections but still no sign of a spark. After much metaphorical head scratching on the phone with Rex it’s time to remove the CDI unit, coil and HT lead and post it back to him for testing. Bugger. Not a happy bunny. All that money spent and still the bugger doesn’t want to play. You can imagine the GLW’s view!

Ten days later and the tested units arrive back at Westley Towers. No faults were found but a second CDI unit was included ‘just in case’ which was a nice gesture from Rex. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to work on the bike for a further ten days (walking holiday in Wales, trying my hardest not to look like a sheep!) but I adopted a super-methodical approach to mounting the units back on the bike. All earth contacts were cleaned, and an additional earth taken direct from the coil to ensure a good circuit. All other contacts and connectors were double checked, rechecked the timing once more, and another new plug slipped into the plug cap. A tentative prod on the kickstart was rewarded by a fat spark – success!. On with the seat and sidepanels and push the bike out into the blazing sunshine so I can fit on the handlebars and try to start it. A last check of the kill switch, the donning of a motocross boot and a hefty swing on the kickstart and absolutely nothing. Five or six more kicks, and still no life. A quick tickle of the carb. failed to produce the familiar dribble of petrol so, after looking in the fuel tank, I went and got some fuel.

A good splash of four star in the tank, a tickle of the carb, and a couple of kicks and the Beast burst into life, only to die again almost immediately. Repeated the process a couple of times and it seems I hadn’t put enough fuel in the keep it running (it ran better if I leaned it to the right!). By now the next door neighbour’s kids and the GLW were looking for the source of the racket that was shattering the mid-morning quiet so I shut it down and returned it to the shed. So, with a fair wind, we should be ok for the next meeting on the Late May Bank Holiday. Hoorah indeed.

That meeting presents a particular challenge in the on the Saturday night the GLW and I are attending an Imu event (basically a whole lamb is cooked in a pit lined with hot coals for hours and hours) with a load of her food bloggy friends in Hornchurch. As I’m driving and, it seems, in charge of carving the beast I fear it’s going to be a long and stressful night – perhaps not the best preparation for a race meeting

Despite the Saturday night shenanigans, we arrived at the track in good time on the Sunday ready for battle. The BSA was fully fuelled and checked over, the track inspected from the top of one of the jumps (I didn’t want to tire myself out walking the whole way round!) and practice got underway with the customary first session for the tricycles. As I was due out in the first race I donned my gear, grabbed the BSA off it’s stand, and gave it a good kick, then another, an one more before absolutely nothing happened. Back on the stand and out with the Stormer for practice once more. Two laps completed before the lure of the mud hole proved just too strong and I hit the ground as the Stormer spat me off. Compound problems there – I managed to fall off right in front of the photographer so plenty of evidence, a large number of tricyclists were congregated nearby so plenty of comments, my riding gear and bike got a good covering of fawn goo so plenty of grief from the GLW!

No time to look over the B50 before the first race, so a quick scrape of the worst mud off the not-so-shiny Stormer and off to the line. Much comments in the holding box along the lines of “how did you manage to get mud there?” before a relatively uneventful ride. Back in the pits the BSA was still not playing games, even one of my fellow riders had a go with the same level of success so back in the van it went..So for the second meeting running the Stormer proved to be 100% reliable despite my ham-fisted attempts to drown it and I must admit I had some interesting scraps with some of my fellow riders. The start line was very congested at this meeting, so in the interests of self-preservation a number of like-minded riders tended to hold back a bit so we could have our own private 'race' which actually worked rather well.

The first three rides completed, there was a long gap before our fourth ride by which time I was starting to feel the effects of a couple of 'close shaves' off one of the jumps and my earlier tumble. Just before going up to the line, the GLW awoke form her mid-day slumber to find me talking to John and Geoff Collard and made the fatal mistake of confusing John for a rotund tricyclist! Not good. Anyway up at the line and coming out of the first couple of bends I could hear John's Gold Star barking at my back wheel and I was convinced he was going to avange the terrible sluron the Collard name by barrelling past me and 'accidently' putting through the ropes. Luckily I held on for another couple of laps before John's chain came off so I lived to fight another day but it was straight bask to the Transit, load up, and get home before the Collard Boys could regroup. I'm thinking of adopting a disguise in the future!

It looks like I won't be riding at the next neeting, rescheduled, ironically, for East Hanningfield, due to a dodgy hipand shoulder but at least it will give me time to a) restore the Shiny Stormer to it's former glory and b) sort the Beast out once and for all (or sell the bugger!)

Mustn't grumble!