Sunday 29 April 2012

Scottish IFA Day

Industrieverband Fahrzeugbau ('Industrial Association for Vehicle Construction'), usually abbreviated as IFA, was a conglomerate and a union of companies for vehicle construction in the former East Germany (German: Deutsche Demokratische Republik - DDR). Wikipedia entry.

Every year, owners and enthusiasts of IFA vehicles in Scotland organise a short run to a meeting at a museum.This year the meeting was at the bus museum at Lathalmond, near Dunfermline. Having owned a number of IFA era MZs , I went along on my post-IFA era Skorpion.
The run part of the day had started at the South end of the Forth Road Bridge, which gives good views of the Forth Bridge, one of Scotland's greatest engineering icons. I headed directly to the museum, meeting up with my brother Stuart (Yamaha FJ1200) and my cousin Ramzi (Gilera 800 scooter) on the way.
I had been a bitterly cold and windy trip over, so we were glad to get inside to warm up. The museum is spread over a large area and there is a bus which circulates the museum allowing you to get off and on at each shed.

 The bus that took us round. The driver opened the bonnet to let people have a look at the engine:

Most of the buses are privately owned and are stored and worked on at the museum. They have about 170 vehicles at the museum, with some completely stripped for renovation.

Not only buses, they also had a fire engine and a 'Trojan' bubble car.

There were only four IFA vehicles present - 2 Trabants, and 2 IFA era MZs, plus Terry and I on our Skorpions, plus a number of other bikes.

Kawa's TS250/1 nearest the camera.

My Skorpion lurking behind Ramzi's Gilera and Stuart's Yamaha

The museum also had glass cases with collections of all sorts of other things - ticket machines, old radios, telephones, and I spotted this wonderful 'period piece':

A great day out, if a bit cold, and a good chance to meet up with some people I hadn't seen for a while. My Skorpion ran well and this was the first run I had taken since fitting the new fork springs.
At the moment the preload adjusters are set to minimum, and the bike felt a lot smoother over bumps than before, and diving under braking was reduced. When I go on holiday and am carrying luggage, I'll increase the preload a bit to see if that compensates for the extra weight. Even without the adjusters, the progressive fork springs are a big improvement over standard and well worth the money.

Saturday 28 April 2012

Police vehicles 2

Some more Police bikes for you.
Some Policemen get all the luck! This bike is used by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (hence the guns).

At the other end of the spectrum, however!

This one has been circulating round the Web for a few years, but is always worth another posting. Swedish Police showing how cold weather doesn't affect them. Also funny if you grew up in the West of Scotland where 'Police' is pronounced 'Polis'.

Meanwhile in China, it's good to see the Police setting a good example when it comes to protective clothing. Like the sandals!

Friday bike

Here's something a bit different - an 'Adventure Sports' scooter.
This is the Yamaha TTX Adventure concept scooter shown by Yamaha Thailand at a bike show in Bangkok. Based on the new Yamaha TTX 115i scooter, it has chunky tyres, raised suspension, and crash protection. Probably unlikely to be seen in Europe or the US, even in 125cc guise, it might make more sense in countries with unmade roads.
Can't imagine many girls riding it dressed like this!

It's finished in the currently fashionable 'Digital Camouflage' look, and is it just me or do the panniers look like those alloy boxes DJs carry 12" records in?

Saturday 21 April 2012

Interesting Fountain/Sculpture of the Week

The monument above (The Warning, sculpted by Eric Richards) was erected in 2003 in Santa Paula, California, to mark a heroic evening in 1928.  Motor Officers Thornton Edwards (on the Indian) and Stanley Baker (on the Harley) were on duty the evening of March 12, 1928, when California experienced what remains the second worst disaster in the state’s history.  The recently completed St. Francis Dam, 36 miles upstream in Santa Clarita, collapsed shortly after midnight.   The collapse released 52 billion gallons of water, and that water was headed directly toward Santa Paula.  The Santa Paula Police Department learned of the impending danger shortly after the dam broke.  Thornton and Baker spent the next 3 hours riding their motorcycles throughout Santa Paula, notifying residents and evacuating the town.  Thornton actually worked for the State Highway Department, which became the California Highway Patrol.  Baker was a Santa Paula Police Department Officer.  Although the records from this era are sketchy, legend holds that Thornton’s bike had to be repaired during his midnight ride when it ingested water.  As a result of these two officers’ actions, the residents of Santa Paula were successfully evacuated, and few Santa Paula residents died that night. 
The water released by the dam (the reservoir had just filled, and the poorly-designed dam was not strong enough to contain it) mixed with mud and debris to form a wall of slurry that advanced 54 miles to the ocean at about 12 miles per hour.  The disaster killed an estimated 470 people, and to this day, it is still the second worst disaster in California history.  Only the San Francisco earthquake and its resulting fires resulted in more death.  The Warning contains no mention of either motor officer’s name; rather, it is intended to honor all acts of heroism, and to honor those killed during the St. Francis Dam collapse.  If you head through downtown Santa Paula, The Warning is hard to miss, and it’s worth a trip to this beautiful town just to see it.
(Special thanks for the above research to Peggy Kelly, a reporter for the Santa Paula Times.)

Police vehicles

First of what might become an occasional series.
Firstly, some chaps from Portugal's Guarda Nacional Republicana. Note lack of protective clothing, and you don't want to think what the rider's gun would do to his hip if he fell off. However, the strangest thing is that they are wearing spurs! He'll have to be careful that he doesn't burst his fire extinguisher!

Next is from the Volkspolizei (VoPo) of the old DDR. A Police bike based on a Simson Schwalbe moped. Probably OK for pottering around town, but a bit limited when it comes to a pursuing criminals in their high speed Trabant getaway cars!

Now a couple of cars from the US. Apparently, some Police forces are very strict on what you can eat at picnics!

Most countries have some form of secret Police who don't draw attention to themselves and mingle with the public seeking out people who are misbehaving. Somehow I think this force haven't got the 'secret' part worked out!

 Yes, that says 'US Secret Service Uniformed Division'!

Friday 20 April 2012

Friday bike

Looking forward to my trip to France in a few weeks, how about a French bike?

This is the 'Avinton Roadster', one of three models offered by French firm Avinton. Based around a 1640cc S&S engine and a lot of high quality components, the Roaster, along with the GT and the Race, are clearly aimed at the top end of the market. No idea where you could buy one or how much it would cost, but Avinton have a website and a page on Facebook, where you could ask them.
You never know, they might have a stall at the Coupes Moto Legende, if so I'll post some photos.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Isle of Man TT 1948

Found an interesting bit of video of the 1948 TT. Strange to see how little Kirkmichael has changed in over 60 years. A group of us stayed there 5 years ago.

Monday 16 April 2012

CL350 update

Managed a bit more work on the CL350. First of all I got rid of the ridiculous 'Easy Rider' handlebars and fitted something more sensible. These are generic 'trials' bars but are very similar to the original Honda part. They were a bit wide, so I cut 40mm from each end.

After a lot of soaking with WD40, the exhaust came off without any drama. The silencers are a bit rusty on the back, but the metal is solid so I'll clean them up with a wire brush and give them a coat of silver heat proof paint.

There should be a bracket between the 2 silencers (RHS of this photo). I found a picture of what it should look like, so will be easy to make.

The rest of the exhaust is in remarkably good condition for a 40 year old bike, so will just need a clean up and a polish.
Removing the exhaust allowed me to remove the LHS side panel, air filter and carb. Both carbs were really grotty inside, with all sorts of deposits left by the last lot of fuel that had been left in them. I tried carb cleaner but it made very little difference. A look on the Web found the suggestion of using hot lemon juice. So down to the supermarket for some juice, put some in a plastic tub, heat it in the microwave, and plop a carb in. Gave it a shake now and again, and the gunge started to come off. After a couple of cycles of hot lemon juice and a good clean with carb cleaner, the carbs were good as new.
 (this was 'before')

 I checked the diaphragms (OK), set them up as described in the manual, and bolted them back on. put the exhausts back on, squirted some fuel down the fuel lines (tank is too rusty inside to use), and spun the engine over on the starter. I got it to pop and bang a bit on the LHS cylinder, but it wouldn't 'take' and start running. This was better than I'd expected as I'd only given the points a rudimentary clean and fitted some new plugs. I'll clear the points and set the timing properly once I can get the side cover off (chewed screws!)
Whilst I had the air filters off I noticed that they were a bit dirty. I tried cleaned them, but they'll need replaced.

Genuine filters are still available, but the paper element is bonded to the unit so you have to replace the whole lot. A these cost £37 EACH, I decided to use the approach I'd used on a previous post and replaced the paper element with some foam.

That worked out at about £3 the pair, and while I had the filters apart I cleaned up the outer covers and gave them a coat of satin black.

Looking behind the filters, everything seems intact and will just need a clean up.

I've also managed to source a number of bits on Ebay. There seems to be no shortage of pattern Honda bits out there.

'Period' petrol pipes and clips, clutch and front brake cables (4 days to come from California! That's what I call service), spark plugs, special tool for removing oil filter, less rusty rear light (£4.19!), pattern Honda grips, exhaust gaskets, and indicator mounts. Since the photo was taken I've also got some pattern fork gaiters (the old ones have turned into Bakelite!)
As you can see, I've still got plenty to do, but it's moving forward. I found a company that can supply the correct colour of paint, 'Magna Red', and has any one used this company Bikepaints? As there's so little painted on the bike, just the tank and side panels, I was thinking of getting it all redone.
Finally, I know that this is a million to one chance, but do any readers in the US know anything about the bike shop that originally sold the bike - Honda of Van Wert, Ohio? I had a look on the Web but couldn't find anything, so I assume they're long gone. If they still existed I had thought about trying to buy new stickers from them as the one on the rear mudguard will probably be covered by the larger UK numberplate.

Sunday 15 April 2012


Bouncy bouncy (part 3)

Some progress on the suspension front, but not quite as much as I'd hoped. As mentioned in my previous post, I'd filled and smoothed down the surface imperfections on the forks, so I then gave them a couple of coats of silver top coat (I wanted the forks to match the frame tubes). I used Plasti-Kote paint, something I've used on numerous bikes before, and because the weather was still a bit cold for painting, I'd kept the forks and paint warm in the house, only taking them out to the garage for spraying. I was happy with the finish that I got, so I took them inside and left them for a week or so to harden fully (I've learned this over the years).
I got the forks out and started to clean the excess paint out of the threads with a tap, but was surprised to find the paint was still a bit soft and scratched easily. Something must have gone wrong at some point, perhaps they got a bit cold when the paint was still wet? However, as it's only about 6 weeks until I go to France and I don't have time to strip the paint off and start again, I decided to fit the new springs into the forks on the bike at present. These are the 'early' type fitted to Skorpions, so are a darker grey. The paint's very good on them, it's just that I don't like the colour as much.
I took the forks off, drained the oil and gave them a good clean. The standard Skorpion forks have a spacer above them, but the Hagon progressive springs are longer so don't need the spacer.

I also had made a pair of preload adjusters to allow me to alter the loading on the springs.

These were made from a pair of Honda VFR 750 forks tops that have rods attached to them that go down into the forks. I removed the rods and fitted a couple of large washers with screws into the threaded holes. Annoyingly, these have an non standard fine thread (M10 x 1.00) for no good reason I can see, so I had to source some suitable screws on the Web. I used 2 washers in case the forces generated by hitting bumps distorted one. Probably not necessary, but it's a 'just in case'. Screws were fitted with plenty of thread lock in case the come loose and disappear down the forks.
I replaced the fork oil and set the level as advised on Hagons website. They state that the level should be 160mm from the top with the forks fully compressed without springs. This is a bit fiddly to do by yourself, so to make things easier I made a 'dipstick'.

It's just a length of steel tube I had in the garage with a hole drilled to allow a blunt nail to pass through and a line scribed 160mm below it. I epoxied the nail in place, I could have welded it but could be bothered getting the welder out for such a small job, and this allows the 'dipstick' to sit in the top of the fork without falling in. I adjusted the the oil level until it came up to the scribed line.
Springs were fitted, followed by the adjusters.

This is the forks as they now look. Unfortunately, this is an 'on call' weekend for me and I have to be able to answer the phone, so I couldn't take the bike out for a ride to test the forks. They 'feel' a bit firmer when bouncing them up and down with the brake on, but I'll do some fine adjustments when I can ride it.
The big black thing in the middle is the mount for my TomTom satellite navigator, the strap with the clip on the right is the 'safety lanyard' in case the sat nav fall out of its mount. It's slightly disconcerting that they give you this with your sat nav, it's almost as if they're saying 'our mount's not very good, so you need the strap to stop your sat nav falling onto the road and smashing!'
Notice also the non standard master cylinder with adjustable span lever (and matching clutch lever). I'll write a separate post about these later.
I haven't had time to take the Öhlins rear shock off to have it revalved. It's not bad if I keep the damping set at maximum, so with time running out I'll leave it until after the holiday. After all, it's been on the bike for 6 years, so I'm not that worried about it.
I had also hoped to change my wheels for my spare pair which would have been fitted with a new pair of Avon RoadRiders, but I haven't got them back from the powder coaters yet. They said they'd have them ready for next weekend, so 'watch this space'.

Friday 13 April 2012

Friday bike

This week I thought I'd feature a bike you'll all be familiar with, but not in these guises. The Honda Gold Wing has been very successful during its production run, first appearing in 1974. Although it was originally promoted as a 'sport tourer', it quickly found its niche as a heavyweight tourer. It was built in both Japan and the US, and the US plant built over 1 million Wings between 1979 and 2009.
However, there's always someone who wants to do something 'different' with one. Back in the 70s, the Swiss Honda importer used Wings for endurance racing.

And there a website full of privately owner modified Wings.

Don't think I'd like to try riding that off road!

It does rather suit the 'Adventure Sport' look.

I first saw this as a thumbnail and thought it was a Moto Guzzi Le Mans. I think that was the idea!

This one was built by Dresda for Honda UK and raced at one time. Typical 70s 'doesn't quite fit' bodywork!

Monday 9 April 2012

Monday funny

Anyone else noticed that the waistbands of young men's trousers are getting lower, whilst the waistbands of older men are getting higher? I think old guys are doing this to make fun of youngsters - so next time you see a 90 year old with his waistband up at his armpits, remember, he's making an ironic statement!