Monday 27 May 2013

Busy weekend

Had a busy weekend working on the bikes.

I gave my silver Traveller a full service ahead of its trip to Belgium and France in July (more about that later). I didn't have to adjust the valves or carbs, so it was just a change of oil, filters and sparkplug. It's probably been a year since it was last serviced, for its last trip abroad, and that time I changed the drain plug in the sump for a magnetic one. Happy to see that it hadn't picked up any fragments of ferrous metal, so the filter must be doing its job.

I'd previously changed the carbs on the SZR 660 for an old Skorpion pair. I hadn't adjusted these, just bolted them on to see if I could get the bike started. It started a week or two ago without too much effort and settled down to a steady tickover without any undue noises or smoke from the exhaust. I was aware that it seemed to be be running a bit hot, so didn't run it for very long.
I drained the coolant to find that there was about a third of the amount that should be in it! I tried to top it up, but the water just 'bubbled' out of the filler. A quick read of the manual, and I found that I'd have to take the fairing off to top up the radiator properly.

Almost all of the screws had chewed heads, so it was out with the Dremel to cut a slot so I could use a flat bladed screwdriver. I eventually got the screws out and was amazed by how dirty things are behind the fairing!

I topped the radiator up with plain water (I'll flush it out a couple of times before refilling with fresh coolant), and started the bike again. It ran smoothly and soon got up to running temperature (C. 100 degrees on the gauge). I stopped the engine and drained the oil – needless to say it was very black and gungy, and the oil filter screws looked like they had never been out before! The odometer shows about 14,000, but I'm not sure if this is miles or kms. The 'big' numbers on the speedo are km/h, so I assume the odometer reads in kms.

The filter itself was very thickly clogged with black gunge and didn't appear to have a maker's name. (?) I replaced it with a Champion filter (just over £3 from Halfords), and filled the oiltank with full synthetic oil. I've found that engines run on synthetic tend to be very clean inside (as well as lasting longer), and my theory is that if I run the bike every couple of weeks or so, the oil will clean any gunge out of the engine, trapping it in the filter.

Looking more closely at the bike, it's a bit of a mess! It's been neglected then abandoned in a garage for a number of years, so almost everything needs cleaned and repainted. There's a lot of rust and corrosion, and most of the fasteners will need to be replaced. I want to get the CL 350 back on the road first, so the SZR can wait until I've got that out of the way. It's going to be a long term restoration, so don't be surprised if I don't mention it for a while.

Rusty steel bolt, corroded alloy frame - plenty of work ahead!

I had intended checking the valves and replacing the sparkplug, but access to them is EVEN worse than on the Skorpion. It's going to be impossible to check the exhaust valves or change the plug without removing the radiator, which in turn will be difficult to remove due to rusty screws – who said this was going to be easy!

Looking down on the top of the cylinder head. You can see the HT lead disappearing under the frame tube, and the hexagans on either side of it are the covers over the exhaust valves - look how close they are to the radiator!

I also cleared my workbench so I've got enough room to reassemble the Honda's engine – that's the next job, so 'watch this space'.

Friday 24 May 2013

Friday bike

How about a V8 based on a Ducati twin.

As you can see, it has 8 aircooled barrels fed by 4 carbs, and mounted on a Ducati V twin bottom end. But how does it all work?

Very neat, but does it all actually work? Notice that there are no pictures of a completed bike, nor videos of one running on the builder's website, but if it did run, I bet it would sound superb!

Saturday 18 May 2013

Bikes in Imperial Russia

Found a very interesting page on the English Russian website containing photos of motorcycles used by the Imperial Russian Army just before the Revolution.

Most of the bikes seem to be American or British built, like the Scott in the picture above.

Friday 17 May 2013

Friday bike

2006 Vyrus 985 C3 V4

Built by the Vyrus design studio, it was a road bike based on the Bimota Tesi racer.

I think this is one of the most striking looking bikes ever built, but my head gets sore trying to understand how the steering/suspension system works!

Further reading here, here and here.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Saturday 11 May 2013

Friday bike

This bike is so rare that I was tempted to obscure the badges and use it as a 'Mystery bike'. However, Stuart would just spend about 3 days searching the Internet until he found it.

1985 Italjet Casual 350

This was an attempt by Italjet to build a roadbike based on their successful 350T trials bike. As you can see, it ended up being a strange mismatch of parts.

You can see the trials heritage in the engine, frame and exhaust, but although the bodywork looks quite neat for the mid 80s, the saddle and tyres look like they came from a custom, the cast wheels with drum brakes just look odd, and what is that mini 'spoiler' in front of the engine?

The bike was such a disaster that Italjet avoid mentioning it! Found this comment on a website that explains why.

The late Bob Lawrence of Hailey, Idaho was possibly the only U.S. Italjet dealer to actually sell a couple of Casual 350s. He told me that they each came back with debilitating electrical problems within days, sometimes hours. He gave up trying to sell the last two new ones he'd taken delivery of and pushed them into the back of his warehouse. They were still there, with no miles on them, when I took the above right photo in 1993.

However, if that hasn't put you off, the blue bike is currently for sale. Advert.

Tuesday 7 May 2013

And you can tour on a very small single...

The route.

The bike.

East German built Simson Schwalbe 50cc moped.

The rider.

Florian Rolke

There's a German language website and a German language book. If any German speakers read this, please let us know what it's like.
This is taking 'motorcycle touring' to another dimension! Some photos from the trip:

Monday 6 May 2013

Friday bike

A bit late again, but this one's got an important place in history.

This is George A. Wyman, who in 1902 rode his Californian Motorcycle Company bike coast to coast across the US, the first person to make the journey on a motor vehicle. As you can see from the Wikipedia entry, this was a far from easy journey due to the lack of roads, mechanical breakdowns, and frequent pedalling with a dead engine. Even buying fuel must have been difficult during an era when motor vehicles were still rare.

Wyman used his 1902 California machine for his crossing of the United States. The California had a 200 cc (12 cu in), 1.5 hp (1.1 kW) four-stroke engine attached to an ordinary diamond-frame bicycle.[5][6][7] Wyman's machine was equipped with 28 x 1.5 in. tires, wooden rims, a leading-link front suspension fork, a Garford spring saddle, a Duck Brake Company front roller brake, and a 1902-patent Atherton rear coaster brake.[8][9][10] A leather belt-drive with a spring-loaded idler pulley directly connected the engine output shaft to the rear wheel.[11] Using a standard steel bicycle frame, the California weighed approximately 70–80 pounds (32–36 kg) without rider, and was capable of approximately 25 mph (40 km/h) using the 30-octane gasoline of the day, with a range of 75-100 miles.[12][13] Throttle control was not yet perfected, and engine revolutions were mainly controlled by means of a spark timing mechanism.[14] The wick-type carburetor was crude, consisting of a metal box with internal baffles stuffed with cotton batting.[15] With no float chamber, the rider had to open the gasoline tap periodically to admit fuel into the carburetor.
For such a long trip, Wyman carried a remarkably small amount of gear. A set of warm clothing, money, water bottle, cans for spare oil and gasoline, a Kodak Vest Pocket camera, a cyclometer, various bicycle tools and spare parts, and a long-barreled .38 Smith & Wesson revolver constituted his total luggage.
Wyman departed from Lotta's Fountain at the corner of Market and Kearny streets in San Francisco at 2:30 P.M on May 16, 1903.[16] He had previously agreed to keep a diary of his journey for later publication in The Motorcycle magazine, a periodical of the time. The first part of his trip took him across the Sierra Nevada, through the Nevada desert into Wyoming, then on through Nebraska to Illinois.
As the dirt trails and wagon tracks of the day were often impassible, Wyman rode the railroad tracks for over half of his journey. During the first part of his trip, he frequently slept in railroad company housing or at rooming houses located in division settlements (small municipalities founded by the railroad).[17] His motorbike suffered several breakdowns along the way, requiring him to make improvised repairs until he could get to a larger town to obtain new parts. As he neared Aurora, Illinois, his engine's crankshaft snapped, and after pedaling his way to Chicago, Wyman was forced to wait there five days for a new crank to arrive by railway express.[18]
After leaving Illinois, Wyman traversed the states of Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania before entering New York State. Outside of Albany his engine lost all power, and he was required to pedal his heavy motorbike the remaining 150 miles to New York City using a cycle path reserved for licensed cyclists.[19]
On July 6, 1903, Wyman arrived in New York City, completing his transcontinental crossing and becoming the first person to cross the North American continent aboard a motor vehicle.[20] His journey took a total of fifty-one days to cover some 3,800 miles (6,100 km). Afterwards, Wyman’s motorbike was placed on display at the New York Motorcycle Club while Wyman recovered from his grueling journey. While in New York, Wyman was present for the inauguration of the very first nationwide motorcycle organization, the Federation of American Motorcyclists (FAM)[21] at the Kings County Wheelmens' Club in Brooklyn; it was reported at the time that his hands were still in bandages from the trip.[22] Wyman later returned to San Francisco by train. His California motorbike was put on display in San Francisco at Golden Gate Park for a special exhibition commemorating the trip.

In 2003 a group of enthusiasts built a replica of George's bike and recreated his ride. Website here.

Friday 3 May 2013

50th anniversary

A previous Friday Bike had featured bikes fitted with the engine from a Hillman Imp car. Yesterday I was driving past the former Imp factory at Linwood, about 3 miles (5km) from my house, and saw a lot of people and cars parked outside what had been the factory's drawing offices, (the only part of the factory that still exists). I pulled over for a look and it turned out to be a gathering by the Imp Club to commemorated the 50th anniversary of the start of Imp production. Lots of well preserved Imps and variants.

This is what the local Police used back in the 70s.

Imps were quite popular in motorsport.

'Nymph' Imp based kit car.

The engine was an all-alloy OHC unit, advanced for 1963.

There were a couple of television crews interviewing people.

The Imp Club has a number of events planned to commemorate the anniversary.

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Serious cycling

To show that it's not just motorbikes I blog about, here's something about cycling.

In June this year, both the National Road Race Championship and the National Time Trial Chmpionship will be held near my house.

The time trial is being held on a route based around Stewarton, North Ayrshire, on the 20th.

Not too many climbs, so should be a fast course.

The road race is being held on a circuit through Glasgow city centre on the 23rd.

Those of you who know the city will see that it's a fairly challenging course, and the climb up Great George Street and Gibson Street is particularly tough. It also takes in some of the city's best architecture, so should look good on the telly. Well worth a look if you're nearby. More details on the website.

OK, you want a song and here's the most suitable one I could think of. I've used a bit of 'editorial judgement' over choice of video. When this first came out, the video included naked women riding bikes round a track. It was regarded as being a bit 'naughty' at the time and the video was shown on mainstream television programmes. There was an alternative version where the nudity was obscured by rubbish 80s video effects, plus this 'stage' version featuring only the band.
Whereas I don't think the video could be regarded as 'offensive', I think with the passage of time it's a bit 'inappropriate', and Brian May has expressed some regret over it saying 'you wouldn't do it now'. If anyone's really interested, the other versions are on Youtube, just search under 'Queen Bicycle Race', but despite what Freddie sings, the video does not contain any 'fat bottomed girls', so I hope you're not disappointed!