Sunday, 29 January 2012

CL350 update

Now I'm home I can give a bit of an update on my Honda CL350.
I got up bright and early for the journey down to DK Motorcycles in Newcastle-under-Lyme. I'd picked up the hire van the day before, and Terry came over in his company van with a loading ramp.
I got up at 06:00 to a VERY icy morning. I managed to get most of the windscreen scraped, and was going to run the engine to warm the van up a bit, but the engine was a bit clattery and loud and I was afraid that I'm wake my neighbours.
Terry came over about 07:00 and we headed off or the 260 mile (420 km) journey to collect the bike. Not much to report about the journey as it was fairly uneventful, with only the first quarter mile or so not on dual carriageway or motoway, and my Sat Nav taking me straight to the shop.
Went into the HUGE shop where I quickly found My bike. It looked exactly as the photos suggested, so it was find the salesman and deal with the paperwork. The shop has a very large stock of new and used bikes, with about 100? or so US import bikes. Some are in very good condition, but others could only be described as 'projects'. Lots of bikes that we haven't seen for years like Kawasaki 2 stroke triples, plus early Hondas like my CL. They had 2 other CLs in stock, but both were much poorer condition than mine. Most of the bikes come from Colorado (warm and dry, so the bikes don't rust much), but a few, like mine, come from Ohio. (There's an Ohio dealer sticker on the rear mudguard).
Paperwork completed and we wheeled the bike out to the van.
A happy man in an anorak with his new bike - those bars HAVE to go!

Do you think we used enough straps?

The drive back was as uneventful as the drive down, other than a few patches of freezing fog. Once back at my house, we unloaded the bike and wheeled it into the garage. It was a bit late and very cold, so I didn't do anything to it.
I'd already downloaded an original Honda manual and wiring diagram, and thanks to Ebay had bought a 'still sealed in plastic' Clymer manual. The bike didn't come with any keys, but it's from an era when Honda stamped the key number on the face of the lock. A quick search on Ebay found a seller in the US, and I bought 2 keys for £11 including postage. I also ordered some more original looking braced handlebars, the 'Easy Rider' look isn't really me!
This morning I got up and had a good look at the bike. It's pretty well all there, and there is only a few bits of rust, tarnish and pitted chrome. I gave everything a good spray with WD-40 to loosen off the nuts and bolts, and decided before starting any work on it to change the oil. First problem - the drain plug was rounded! Got it off with a pair of Stilsons (pipe wrench in the US?), and the oil that came out was suitable black and thin. 2 litres of nice new oil went in, and I gave the bike a good check over. I found that the kickstart won't turn over the engine, just making a clicking sound. Suspect the ratchet is worn, but the parts are readily available. I found a new drain plug (good old Ebay again), and had a look at a couple of websites for parts. About 90% of the bike is the same as the CB 250/350 K models sold in the UK, and spares are available from David Silver in the UK, and CMSNL in the Netherlands.
Before buying the bike I had expected to replace the tyres, tubes, battery, chain, and cables; so I'll start looking for these. Until I get the keys I can't lift the saddle, which means I can't remove the tank to remove the carbs to clean them out (look what I found on the Web), but I can see the battery has been removed (probably for shipping regulations); the cables are sticky, so I'll replace them as a matter of course (would you trust a 40 year old front brake cable?). The tyres are a mixture of a half inch too big Continental rear, and a period REAR Bridgestone on the front! The chain is very rusty, so I oiled it to make the bike easier to wheel about.
I'm really happy with the bike, and am looking forward to restoring it. I'm not going to do a 'concours' type rebuild and worry about finding the correct footrest rubbers, etc. This will be a bike for riding, so I'll make a few mods to make it more reliable and practical. For example, bikes of this era were fitted with selenium rectifiers that are not particularly reliable nor efficient. I'll replace mine with a more modern silicon rectifier from an electrical supplier. It's under the seat, so can't be seen anyway, and I'd rather spend £5 on a more reliable modern part than use an unreliable but original part.
My first plan of action is to clean out the carbs and find out what's wrong with the kickstart. Once I get than done, I'll get the engine started and see how well it runs. After that will be sorting out tyres, cables etc., and getting it registered. Then it will be time to worry about the cosmetics.
I've got a receipt from the shop and the all important certificate to say that all taxes have been paid on it. To get it registered, I first have to get an MOT (annual safety check in the UK). As it won't have a numberplate, I'll have to take it for its test in a van. The only thing I'll need to buy for this will be a 'left dipping' headlight. It's a fairly common size, so that shold be no problem.
I then have to get a 'dating certificate' from an approved club or dealer which verifies what the model is and what year it is, then get it insured on its frame number. I then have to fill in another form (V55/5) and go to the local vehicle registration office, where they will check the documents and ask for £55. Some time later I will (hopefully) get a logbook for the bike with an age related number.
As the bike was built in 1972, this should have a 'K' or 'L' suffix. As it was built before 1973 (just) this means I can have a 'white digits on a black background' plate rather than a 'black digits on a yellow background', which will give it a more 'classic' look. Also, as it's built before 1973, the tax disc is free.
Now, that's the theory - whether it goes as smoothly as that I'm going to find out!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Friday bike

... is Saturday's bike. I'll be going tomorrow to collect my latest purchase, the first non-MZ I'll have owned since 1989.
This is the actual bike, a 1972 Honda CL350. I've always liked the Honda CLs ever since seeing them in the workshop manual. They were never sold in the UK, only the US and Japan, so when one came up on Ebay, it was just a case of clicking on 'Buy'!
I've never actually seen a CL350 before, so it'll be quite exciting when I get it. It's been imported from the US, and isn't registered here, so I've got plenty of bureaucracy to look forward to. Judging by the photos, it's all there, just a bit scruffy round the edges, but no too bad for a 40 year old bike. Things might turn out to be a bit different when I try and start the engine, though!
One small problem is that it's in a dealer in Newcastle-under-Lyme, so that's a 520 mile round journey in a hire van. Terry's coming with me for the run, if he's got his credit card with him and he sees something he likes, there might be 2 bikes in the van on the way back!
Before you mention the 'Easy Rider' look, the handlebars aren't original and will be the first thing to go! It should have 'normal' braced trail type bars, easy enough to find.
No doubt Larry will be along in a minute to say that he had one when he was in High School!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Unusual fountain/sculpture of the week

Charybdis by William Pye. Seaham Hall, Sunderland, England.

 A vortex fountain contained within an acrylic cylinder. Best explained by this video

Friday, 20 January 2012

Cool women

I stopped drinking alcohol about 6 or 7 years ago. I'd stopped enjoying drinking and it made me feel depressed, so I didn't see any reason to continue. Since then I haven't really missed it, it's not as if I'm against drinking, it just that I don't want to do it any more.
This means that I've saved a lot of money, and if I go out anywhere I don't have to plan how I'll get home as I can take the car. Another advantage is that if I meet any women I won't run the risk of making mistakes due to 'beer goggles'!*
Also, there are a number of very attractive women who prefer non drinking men, I mean, check out these 'hot chicks!'

* Note for readers outside of the UK. 'Beer goggles' is the phenomenon where a woman you wouldn't normally consider to be attractive strangely becomes supermodel like after you've had a few drinks. Also known as 'seeing a woman through the bottom of a beer glass'.

Friday bike

Each week I try and find a picture of an exotic or unusual bike for your amusement. However, I received a comment from my friend Mo who said that although she always looked at the Friday Bike, she had no interest in bikes, but was more interested in men who rode them.
So, specially for Mo, here's a hunky chap on a bike:

This unusual 'piano sidecar' is used by the Purple Helmets display team, as they are British, they fit neatly into the most recent post on Mo's blog!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Cheap tools

See ALDI have cheap tools on sale from tomorrow (in the UK anyway). click
Going by past experience, the spanners and Allen keys are very good (I've used them for working on bikes), but the screwdriver bits are made of cheese! Always worth a look!


As you might know I've got a Skorpion website. I've had this for at least 5 or 6 years, and the original idea was to keep articles and technical data about Skorpions on it. At the time I set it up, there was virtually no information available, so I thought it would be a good idea to collect anything we could find and store it in the one place.
I was a member of the MZ Riders Club at the time and originally offered to author pages on their website about Skorpions. Unfortunately, the Club had become quite hostile towards the later, post German reunification models, and I didn't even receive a reply to my offer from the Committee.
So that left mr. combo and myself to set up the website and collect information. Once it was up and running it proved to be quite popular with a number of people contributing articles and information to it.
Technology moved on and the online forum became more popular. I was involved in a couple of these, and although they were fun for a while, unless someone has the time and inclination to carefully moderate them, they end up full of spammers, or hijackers who use it to promote their own views or just use if for abusing people.
So the next move is to have a blog like this one. It's more 'one sided' than a forum as the owner posts the articles and hopes people reply, but it gives the owner the ability to filter out irrelevant and abusive posts. So far, this blog seems to be fairly popular and successful judging by the number of visits, so let's hope that I can continue to write stuff that keeps people visiting! Which is the thing that can't be said about my website. Over the last year the number of visits has diminished to a trickle, and I haven't had a comment left for over a year. It's up for renewal and I've decided not to renew it. This means that the website will disappear in the next 2 weeks or so. I've copied everything from it into my computer, so some of it might be regurgitated onto this blog.
So, 'watch this space' as someone once said.
My Skorpion in France 2001 (back in the days when it was white)

Monday, 16 January 2012

Another Classic Advert

Rivetts Leathers. Mmmmm, nice! Except they weren't. I bought a gaudily coloured Rivetts leather jacket in 1979 and within 6 months the imitation silk liner had fallen apart, and one time my bike fell off its stand and as I bent over to pick it up I heard a ripping sound. Half the seam that held one of the sleeves onto the body had given way under the strain! You don't want to imagine what would have happened if you'd fallen off wearing rubbish like this!
But we put up with it because it's what was expected. All motorcycle clothing back in the 70s was rubbish - you were lucky if gloves lasted a year, and I bought a pair of very expensive 'Lewis Leathers' boots ('as worn by the Police'), and these too had disintegrated within a couple of years. Don't even start me on 'waterproofs'!
Most people used to wear Dr Marten boots or ex-German Army 'paraboots' as they were cheaper and no worse than 'proper' motorcycle boots. If it was raining heavily, out came the Wellingtons.
As far as clothing is concerned, there were no 'good old days', you were always cold and wet!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Old Spice

Classic advert

At long last I've managed to find an advert I've been looking for for years.

Yes! The CZ 250 'Custom'. Or rather, a standard CZ 250 with a bolted on silver metalflake fairing, mudguard, sidepanels and cafe racer style saddle. I saw one of these in a shop and I couldn't get over how shoddily fitted the 'extras' were. The generic BMW style fairing's headlight hole was too big for the CZ's headlight so there was a gap around it, and the mudguard was attached to the forks using 'Jubilee' (ie worm drive) clips.  As the standard CZ mudguard had a loop for the speedo cable, the cable was taped to the fork leg with black insulating tape! Quality!
The CZ 250 had only one selling point - it was cheap. It was slow, crude and badly built, but it was cheap, so you knew what you were getting. If they had been more realistic they would have marketed as a budget 'ride to work' commuter, but trying to sell it as an exciting 'sports bike' like a Yamaha RD 250 or a Suzuki X7 was just pathetic. Also, showing a bike that could be ridden by learners doing a wheelie was hardly responsible advertising. It's telling that it's a drawing and not a photo - I doubt that a CZ 250 had the power to do a wheelie, or if it could do one without something breaking!
Needless to say, the one I saw in a shop unsold was the only example I've ever seen, I never saw one on the road!

Driving foreign cars?

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Soviet Car Museum

Perhaps the word 'museum' is stretching it a bit far, more like 'old cars dumped in a field and left to rust'. Nevertheless, lots of really good photos here.
Liked this old rally car that has badges from a London - Sydney rally. Wonder if it made it?

I found this on the wonderful 'English Russia' website, full of really interesting articles and pictures, both past and present, from the former Soviet Union. Of particular interest are the 'Automotive' and 'Technology' sections, but all of it is an insight into what is the largest country in the world. One thing that surprised me was the level of censorship. I wouldn't have thought that modern day Russia was a particularly prurient country, but you find things like this:
It was from an article on a giant opencast mine (with equally giant machinery), and part way through there seems to have been a fashion shoot. Whether this is censored for a Russian readership, or as the website is in English, a presumably US one I don't know, but someone somewhere thinks that if we see bottoms or breasts we might be mentally scarred!
Despite the censorship, it's still well worth a visit.

Friday bike

Isn't that cool? Found on a blog by Mikhail Smolyanov. Of this design he says:

'When I worked on this project I was inspired by racecars of 20's equipped by airplane's engines. Engine - half of the v-shaped eight cylinders model. The result had been most likely steampunk.'

You can see what me means. Lots of other cool designs on the blog.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Unusual Fountain/Sculpture of the Week

Sorry for being a bit quiet lately, but I've had a hectic time at work and have driven over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) in the last 3 days going to jobs.
I was in Newcastle today and saw this charming statue.

Man with Pigeons by Andre Wallace
It's a life size bronze figure of a elderly man holding a pigeon with two others at his feet. It's so typical of the pose of someone who keeps racing pigeons, as he's staring at the sky hoping to see returning birds. When I was young, my father raced pigeons, so it's pose I recognise. There's certain irony about this as the statue is within an indoor shopping centre.
It's good to see 'ordinary' people captured in sculpture rather than the more common Victorian politicians. Sorry the picture's so poor as it was taken with my phone.
I found an article from a book online that gives more details, and mentions the sculpture was moved indoors following an attempted theft. With the rising price of scrap metal, statues, wall plaques, and wiring are starting to become very attractive to thieves.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Friday bike

This one's a bit, well, different. Take a Moto Guzzi engine, turn it through 90 degrees, and build it into a sort of 'minimalist cafe racer'. Whilst I admire the vision and engineering skill required to build something like this, I don't really see the point myself. But there's enough room in the world for all sorts of different views and ideas, and it would be a lot more boring place if we all rode the same bikes. Website.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Coupes Moto Legende 2

Further to my previous post I'm starting to organise my trip to the Coupes Moto Legende in Dijon in France. This is a huge motorcycling event held over the weekend of 26 - 27th May that attracts over 20,000 visitors. If anyone else in blogland is going, get in touch and we can arrange a get together.

Now, where did I park my bike?

Monday, 2 January 2012

Cannonball Endurance Run

Shamelessly stolen from the Bridge Club blog:

The Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance run is an event for pre 1930 motorcycles. In about 1930, motorcycle manufacturers mostly agreed on a standardised control layout - foot gearchange, hand clutch, twist grip throttle, etc. Before that there was an assortment of hand gear changes, lever throttles, foot clutches, hand and foot brakes. I rode some pre 1930 bikes at an VMCC event in 2010 (See GBC's blog - I was UN on this one. Pictures here), and even riding them for a couple of laps around a circuit is quite 'involving' with lots of lever twiddling, lack of brakes, and 'interesting' handling to keep you occupied. (The handling on these old bikes is a bit like pushing a wheelbarrow full of gravel - OK on the straights, but as soon as you bank they 'flop' over and you have to pull them back upright.)
I couldn't imagine what it would be like riding one of these bikes on the public road and having to mix with more modern vehicles, let alone take part in a long distance ride. And when I say 'long distance' I mean coast to coast in the US! It's 3800 miles (6100 km), broken into 14 riding days and one 'rest day'. The route takes in a dozen national parks and national forests, and they have planned four stops at museums on the way.
Even doing a trip like this on a modern motorcycle would be an adventure, so you've really got to hand it to the riders undertaking it on older bikes. Details and lots of photos from previous Runs on the website. And as blog posts look really boring without pictures, here's some from previous events:

Sunday, 1 January 2012

First Ride of the Year

One of the advantages of not drinking is that you get up early on New Year's Day feeling OK. As it was very mild, with just a slight hint of rain and some blustery wind, I decided to take the bike out for its first ride of the year. I'd said in my last post that I wanted to go out on the bike more, so I may as well start as I mean to go on.
I got the bike out of the garage, checked that there was enough charge in the battery to start it, and went back into the house to change, Strangely, my riding costume seemed slightly more 'snug' that I remembered. Looks like I'll have to do another thing I mentioned in my last post - lose weight!
I only had about a third of a tank of petrol, and didn't expect to find a petrol station open, but my local Morrisons supermarket has an automated station that accepts bank cards when it is shut. However, when I got there the pumps were switched off! Hmmm, looks like I'll be going on a shorter run than planned! So I went for a couple of hours around the deserted country roads near where I stay. I hadn't expected to see any shops open other than Asian owned convenience stores, but was surprised to see a car wash and a bookies open for business. (Note to my non UK readers - a 'bookies' is a gambling shop where you can waste your money betting on racehorses and the outcome of football matches).
Although the roads were damp, I never actually had to ride in rain, and the wind didn't get hard enough to cause problems, so I had a very pleasant and relaxing ride in the country.

This is where my water supply comes from. Usually this parking area is full of fishermen's cars, but there was no-one about.
I saw very few cars, a couple of hardy cyclists, some walkers, and only one other bike (Suzuki V-Strom). I did see a sign that I hadn't seen before:

I don't think I've ever seen an otter, but there must be some about. Likewise, I've never seen a live badger, though I have seen a few dead ones at the side of the road.
As I was close to running out of fuel I headed homewards taking in a shot of this local landmark, the Clochoderick Stone, a boulder left behind by a passing glacier millions of years ago.

There's some theories about the stone and its name. Whether it comes from 'The Stone of the Druids' or 'The Stone of Rydderick' referring to Rydderick Hael, King of Strathclyde (c. 532 - 612), or to a giant called Roderick, or whether it had been a 'rocking stone' used for dispensing justice, or a burial place; I don't think anyone actually knows, so you can make your own theory up. To me it's just an interesting big stone in a field.
After that it was a short run home. It's a pity I couldn't have gone further, but without petrol I wouldn't be going anywhere! Still it was good to get out and give the bike a run. Pity my clothes seem to have shrunk.........