Monday, 20 December 2010

State of the Art, and a Word on Parallel Twins

So now a bit of easy stuff - playing the critic. Much as I love to see the cafe racer, flat track, retro and other alternative bike styles flourishing (flourishing almost everywhere other than Britain that is), I have a gripe. I get the whole, "let's use plentiful and cheap Japanese bikes with character to base our projects on" - XS650, SR400, and various other trail bikes and so on. However, I am increasingly seeing the use of bikes that where unloved when they first appeared, and often for good reason. Just cos it's getting old doesn't mean it's cool. Sorry, but Honda CM250 et al?

Yes the winner of the Deus build-off showed abundantly better skills and talent than I can aspire to, with Much Much Go, and I love the exhausts, the stance, the paint job. But the donor motor? And comstar wheels? Not for me - ever. The same goes for the brilliant Wrench Monkees' Monkee #4 using an XS500. Why would you? At least the aesthetically similiar Icon bike, The Snake Charmer uses a rabid two stoke dirt bike motor. For me there has to be some "go" with the "show" unless there is extra charm instead. A lot of the 80's Japanese bikes being re-cycled now just don't have that charm in their genes.

Parallel twins (pre - modern clever firing orders and fuel injection) are pretty low on my favourite engine configuration chart. Low power and nasty vibrations. Brit bike's make up for this with character and stroke. That character has rubbed off very knowingly on XS650, W650 so they have their charm. But the legions of dull commuter bikes that utilised this configuration, XS, Dream and Super Dream, and the equivalents from Kawasaki and Suzuki, belong where they live, in the unglamorous bit of the past. Just my opinion you understand.....

Snowy Suburbia

All is peaceful at the 'shack:

Disgusted, Betty and Wilma don't come out even when you open their door - if you can't see to peck, what's the point? While young foxes frolic in neighbouring gardens, the girls stare resentfully at the snow that restricts their menu to the usual in-house birdfeed...

However, inside the 'shack things are humming (in their usual glacially slow manner). Due to the staggeringly quick delivery turnaround of the "Bearingboys" ( I am able to continue re-building the back-end of the big rooster. I ordered replacement rod-end bearings mid-afternoon, and despite UK snow chaos, they arrived the next morning - truly impressive turnaround. And at under £13 for the pair, a complete bargain (equivalents are about £45 each from Ducati!!).

At last we come to the fun bit - the giant meccano kit phase of bolting things together that I have been looking forward to:

However, Cutter being Cutter, there is plenty to worry about in the future of the build. The micro wiring of the Motogadget clock, the lingering doubts re sprag clutch orientation, the timing (electronic pick-up positioning), how to deal with safe handling of petrol tank when time comes for weld and spray (because fumes cause a hazard when transporting tank to renovator), etc etc. One step at a time as usual. For now it's great to see the Ohlins in postion, even if I'm unsure about where to mount the remote reservoir, and what to do if I need to swivel the banjo connector to adjust hose routing, as the reservoir is presumably pressurised, so loosening it would lose pressure...

Friday, 17 December 2010

Heaven and Hell

So following the "30mins good work" anti-procrastination method I crunched across the icy garden to the workshop last night at about 10pm. The shed wasn't too cold inside and soon warmed up with the little fan heater on. I had some new shims to add in order to see if I could eliminated the side to side play in the swinging arm. If they didn't do the trick (a trick that needed to be accomplished without unduly restricting the normal movement of the arm) then it would mean a new swinging arm pivot at around £70. I tried a couple of combination of shims without success, and even managed to damage one. Then I thought I would have one more go - success!! At least I think so - it remains to be seen if there is any effect on sprocket alignment. Plus play is supposed to me less than 0.1mm at the pivot. I was estimating by feel given that this is amplified quite considerably at the end of the swingarm, and there now seemed to be no discernable play. It felt good as it had been playing on my mind, and even though it was now coming up to midnight (with work the next day) I decided to try and put the rest of the rear suspension in place, it was going to look great - yellow and gold Ohlins on black frame!!

That's when I tried to fit the rod-end bearing height adjusters I had bought on the Monster Owner's forum. It felt stiff as I did the up the rod-end bearings, and I should have been more suspicious. I unscrewed the rod-ends again and the bottom of the threads had been wiped out by the much harder threads of the adapters. Didn't seem to have cross threaded at all, which was weird.

Curses - saved £70 but wasted about £20 or £30 as would now have to buy another pair, plus hassle of hunting down the right type (note - keep better records). Good news today is that I have found them cheaper than last time.....

What do I learn from this. The usual stuff, don't work when tired, don't rush anything, don't force stuff etc. etc. However once again the top message  is don't beat myself up when I make a mistake - when will I keep that Omelet Principle in mind?!?