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Monday, 3 September 2012

A day in the garage

As some of you will know, as of last week I'm now unemployed. Things had been going downhill at work for the last year, and I finally decided that I'd had 'enough'. Hopefully, I'll get something else soon but it gives me some time to get some work done on the bikes.
I'd bought another (white) Traveller 4 or 5 years ago, but had never ridden it. It's a 1998 model like my silver bike, and the odometer reads just over 30,000 miles (or possibly km, will find out which when I ride it). It was in reasonably good condition when I bought it, but more importantly it was cheap! Cheaper that I paid for a used MZ ETZ 250 23 years ago! Or to put it another way – so cheap that I didn't hesitate to buy it even though I didn't really need it.
As I wasn't using it, I put it in the garage and at least once a fortnight, started the engine and warmed the bike up until the fans cut in, to ensure oil was being circulated round the engine and (hopefully) drive out any water that had got in through condensation.
About a years ago I decided to put it back on the road, so fitted new tyres, painted the rusty swing arm and replaced all the bearings (slight 'clonkiness'). I'd also taken the bodywork off to repair various cracks,  had fitted a pair of Brembo calipers, and welded a rack onto the pannier mounts. Post
Unfortunately, soon after this I became very busy, so the bike was abandoned in the garage after I had squirted oil down the spark plug hole and sprayed everything with WD40 to stop it rusting.
I decided to start the process of getting it back on the road, as I might get a job which requires commuting and I don't really want to use the silver Traveller for this, so tried starting it to no avail. The petrol in the tank had become a bit viscous and didn't smell 'right', so that was drained out. I stripped the carbs to find them full of orangey/brown sludge and all the jets blocked. So it was dig out the ultrasonic cleaner and start to clean it up. I got most of the gunge off, but remember that I'd bought a 'spare' set of carbs some years ago (cheap on Ebay). I dug them out and they were very clean so I fitted them without checking or adjusting them. I just pushed them onto the inlet stubs (without tightening the clips), fitted the cables, and connected them to a remote fuel tank full of 'clean' petrol – I didn't even bother connecting the airfilter.
Connected the battery, choke on, pressed the button, and …....... the bike started at once!! However, the mixture of oil down the sparkplug hole and the WD40 burning off of the exhaust meant that I had to quickly abandon the garage! The bike kept running and soon settled down to a nice steady tickover, and the smoke soon cleared.
It ran very smoothly without any unusual rattles, and would take a bit of throttle and revved cleanly (although a bit noisily from the unfiltered carbs. I ran the bike until it got hot enough for the fans to switch on, then switched it off and allowed it to cool.
Terry came round to see me soon after, so it was back out to the garage to start the bike again. Once again it started immediately, and thankfully this time without any smoke.
After tea I started it a third time, and again it started OK. I'll probably take the carbs off to check the settings, then fit them properly and connected to the airbox that contains one of my DIY airfilters.
I'm really pleased that the bike started so easily, and it moves to project on a lot further. I've basically just got to paint things and reassemble it, but as we all know things don't always go as smoothly as we think!

This is when I started it for the 3rd time. Previously it had been in the middle of the garage, but I'd moved it to the side and put its pannier frames under it. Next time I'll remember to photo the bike before I put it away!

Note remote fuel tank. This is one of the best things I've ever bought because it allows you to adjust carbs with the engine running, and avoids constantly lifting the tank off and on. Available cheaply on Ebay.

It lives! See, look at the rev counter!


  1. Good to here its survived it's long term storage not too badly. Really need to dig my Skorp out and fire it up, but suspect the carb might have surcomed to the grunge deposits problem. Also need to see a nice man about my seat which needs recovered ;-)

  2. Really like this post Norman even if I hardly understand a word of it (if I ever get a technical translation on motorbikes I´ll be getting in touch with you)! Glad to see you´re taking the unemployment situation calmly though I find it worrying! Then again, you could turn your blog into a bike business, especially if you remember to photo everything. So wishing you lots of good luck!

  3. Hi Mo. Non technical version - bought bike the same as the one I already had, left it in the garage for years, went to start it and it started easily, will soon get bike back on road. To be honest, the way things had been going for the last year at work, leaving was a huge relief. Hopefully I'll get something soon, but the time off will give me a chance to recuperate and to get lots of outstanding jobs around the house (and garage) done. Irony is that had I not left the job, I'd be in France and Spain at the moment on the bike! Well, it'll still be there next year!

  4. Good luck with job search. I hope the situation there is better than in the US right now.

    I'll keep reading your interesting blog! Thanks.

  5. Norman, hope something turns up when you are ready for it. Been in that situation and its not a great feeling (the time off to play with bikes is great though)

  6. Thanks, Anon and Gino. Hopefully something suitable will turn up soon, and there seems to be plenty of jobs in my field (Electrical Service Engineer), so I'll keep applying. It's good to have some time to catch up on jobs on the bikes and around the house, but it can't go on forever. Keeping busy will help me avoid the stereotype of a middle-aged, single, unemployed man - sitting in my underpants, watch daytime television, and eating beans out of the tin ....oops.....have to go now, Countdown's coming on!