Sunday, October 02, 2016

The Mopedathon

This did not go well.  Team Lard failed to get the RS50 running in time (the engine had been rebuilt but has a serious water leak, and the fuel tank is buggered), so we decided yesterday to buy another bike, which we'd then sell on again.  Cue a trip to Hereford to buy a running Tomos moped.

With no time to test it, we turned up at the track completely unprepared and found it was pissing out fuel.  Changing various washers didn't help, but eventually we realised the float valve was sticking. In the process of fixing this, the fuel tap snapped off... we borrowed some fuel pipe and lashed up a new feed.  The killswitch didn't work either, so we made do with a cable-tie around the HT lead.

But the problems didn't end there... turns out the Tomos has a hydraulic gearbox (rather than centrifugal clutch), and it kept dropping out of gear.  And it was so slow it was actually dangerous - I did 30 mins of marshaling and saw our bike almost get rear ended a number of times (some of those bikes were VERY fast, I doubt I could have kept up around that go-kart track with my Superduke). So I left before lunch.

I hereby wash my hands of mopeds.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


The Rover 75 has a cheerful little temperature gauge with a sunny, optimistic attitude.  He'll tell you everything is fine and dandy in engine land, right up to the point where it reaches critical mass and does a China Syndrome.  However, you can display the real temperature direct from the sensor by careful tapping of the trip reset button:

  • With the engine running, press and hold the button
  • After a few seconds, the number 1 will appear - tap the button to advance the number to 19
  • After a second or so, Test will appear - press the button again
  • Now tap the button until 7 appears
  • After a couple of seconds, the true engine temperature will be displayed

To remember this, I think of Star Wars - 1977.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Return of the gentleman's carriage

You are looking at a FULLY OPERATIONAL Rover 75.  Insurance, tax, £240 of new tyres, £5 worth of car wash and it was good to go.  It is so lovely and smooth... multi-cylinder petrol engines will be extinct before long and it's going to be a shame.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

KV6 Trauma

The thermostat housing on a Rover KV6 motor is made of plastic; it's then plopped (along with a couple of associated pipes) right in the centre of the engine vee where it can get nicely toasted. These parts appear quite acceptable for the overflow plumbing of a toilet cistern, but certainly do not seem suitable as critical components in the cooling circuit of a complex engine.  I'm sure there's a good reason this material was chosen... I'm guessing it's because chocolate wouldn't last out the warranty period.

Predictably, after a while the housing starts to leak.  For the past couple of weeks I've been attempting to replace those parts, WITHOUT dismantling half the engine to reach them.  After much grief, swearing, cut fingers and the use of BBQ tongs, it's fixed.  There was a point where I was ready to raffle it off on Autoshite (£1 a go), but persistence paid off.  The super Pela fluid extractor pump I got for my birthday really earned it's keep too, allowing me to recover most of the expensive red coolant when leaks developed.

Needs strut top bearings and a full set of tyres now.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The recommencement of the motorbicycling

The cast came off today, I'm free!  Managed 21 miles (including hitting 70K on the VFR), but the last 5 miles was pretty painful on my wrist.  Went out again in the evening and managed 30 miles before it needed a rest.  Feeling very 'blunt' though.

I cannot begin to describe the wondrous sensation of scrubbing my freshly-released arm with a pan-scourer and some detergent... it was almost worth breaking a bone for.  The doc said it will need 2 to 3 weeks before it was back to normal, and I should avoid heavy manual work.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


I've been on my holidays in exotic NORTH YORKSHIRE.  It was bloody lovely and I'd like to have spent the entire Summer there, but alas have had to return to the penal colony of Hampshire.

Sherpa van serving ice cream - is the beginning of gentrification for the humble Sherpa?  I first came to York museum in a Sherpa minibus in 1979, which delivered me to this very spot.  

Sinister spark-plug man at Beamish open air museum.

Deltic at NYMR.  I'm not a train geek or 'owt but I admire the engineering of these.

The view from our cottage, Roseberry Topping in the background.  On one very still day the turbines stopped, and it was slightly disturbing - they reminded me of dead Tripods.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

13 days of being a burden

I'm only plastered to the elbow now, and it should be coming off altogether at the end of August.  It's had a big effect on my life though, there are so many things I struggle to do now.  Obviously no driving or riding bikes - I've only been out of the house a couple of times for hospital appointments. I've been able to work from home but it's been frustrating typing and using a mouse with a single left hand.  It's not been all bad though, I've spent much more time with the Mrs and the pace of life seems to have slowed considerably.

Bored of watching TV, this morning I started working on Roger.  The bent bar-end eventually came off with some persuasion from a hammer, and apart from the brake lever all it needs is some cosmetic work.  It even started first time.

Camera mount is toast. Odiham had banned cameras, which is just as well else that would have been wrecked too.  Side panel took most of the damage but will repair.

Monday, July 18, 2016

That didn't end well

Track day at RAF Odiham!
Roger running well, I'm pushing him hard with my usual ham-fisted technique and ignoring the squirming rear tyre.
Accelerating hard out of a corner, I give it too many beans and lowside it.  

After 6 hours in A&E it turns out I've broken my radius bone (right forearm) at both the wrist and elbow, so I'm plastered to the shoulder. 
Roger has come off much better - it only needs a brake lever to be made operational.  Lots of fairing damage but I'll just fill that and slap some more paint on.
Leathers are wrecked (almost holed on the shoulder and arse), gloves ripped.  I've got an imprint of the brake pedal in my calf, a cut finger, and a bruised face but DO NOT PANIC - I'm still beautiful.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Weapon

Chris and I collected the Aprilia this morning, from deepest Essex.  It's clearly suffered much abuse and neglect but it should be recoverable, and with up to 10BHP (once tweaked), should annihilate any Chinese twist-n-goes at the mopedathon.  It's in Chris's workshop at the moment, battery has already been declared DOA and we're expecting the engine to be toast too - but a new piston and barrel is only £40 from tatBay.

Saturday, July 09, 2016


Fixed the Saab - had to replace the oil pressure regulator assembly as the thread was stripped where the drain from the turbo attached (somebody had bodged it in the past).  It wasn't particularly difficult but I'm paranoid about it dumping a load of oil now.  Seems OK, but can't be sure it's not leaking elsewhere.  I don't like that car

Fixed the CBR too!  Used some gasket sealant on the cam cover this time, and so far so good.  I'm keeping it road-legal for another year as it only cost £68 to insure, saves wasting time at track days trying to solve problems.

KTM has had a new battery and is providing rapid commuting fun.  Piss-poor tank range is annoying me though, twice this week I've been riding on fumes.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

He's dead, Jim

I am the proud part-owner of this Aprilia RS50... well, what remains of it.  It appears to have been crashed, then left for dead for 3 years or more so some reassembly will be required.  It's for the OMCC charity mopedathon in October, a 6-hour endurance event which Team Lard is entering.

I've been pretty fed up with other vehicles in the fleet.  Roger the CBR won't stop leaking from the cam cover gasket - I've tried 3 times to seal it now, and each time I end up with a load of hot oil on my boot.  I also tried to fix an oil leak on the Saab, with hilarious* results.  It's leaking at the turbo oil drain, so I replaced the copper washers, started it up, checked for leaks... and it had already dumped about a litre of oil on the pavement and road.  That took almost 3 hours to clean up, and it's still broken.

Finally, the battery failed on the KTM on the same day.  Despite getting a push from 3 people, it couldn't be bump started and I had to push the bloody thing back up the hill to my house.

Monday, June 27, 2016


The CBR has been spaffing oil from the top of the engine recently.  I've got a theory it's the cam cover gasket that's failed and is allowing oil into the spark plug wells, which then drains out just below the exhaust ports.  Either that or it's the head gasket.  So it's time to rip the bike apart again.
That's a lot of pipework, and there are valves and stuff too.  It all looks very complicated and I don't understand it, so I'll just put it all back as before and trust that the Honda folks knew what they were doing.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Polishing turds

After ignoring it for at least 4 years, I broke out the T-Cut today:

Now that I've made it beautiful and summer is here... it's going into hibernation.

In other news, the KTM is back with the dealer having a failed exhaust o-ring replaced.  It had reached truly unsociable levels of noise... but blimey it was a good noise!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Track day for Team Lard at Silverstone yesterday, on the full GP circuit.  Bert was in attendance, his first time out in his new clothes:

Roger, Bert and official race transporters hanging around outside toilets:

Silverstone is a fantastically smooth and sweeping track, it's an absolute delight.  It is a power circuit though and more grunt would have been welcome on the straights, but the little CBR handles so sweetly it's a fair trade-off.  

Short video of a couple of laps below.  It's a big battle with little bikes in the harmless world of Group 1... then bigger boys barge in and show us up :(
This was a Focused Events Chrono day, meaning each bike had a transponder so could be put in the correct group - unfortunately somebody made an error setting them up and all the data was useless, so it was purely random where you ended up.  It's a wide track though so no real problem.

Monday, May 30, 2016

34 years late

I didn't buy ABC's 'Lexicon of Love' when it came out in 1982 - I liked it but was too busy wasting my pocket money on 'cool' shite like The Cure.  But I've found redemption by buying the Lexicon of Love II on it's release date, and it's excellent.  It makes me wonder what Martin Fry has been doing all these years if he's had stuff of this quality inside him?

In motorbike news, I've massively improved the CBR600's brake performance by freeing-off and washing out the disk bobbins with brake cleaner (I found a YouTube video on it).  I was sure they were warped as they'd pulse the lever even under light pressure, but they're perfect now!  I gave the calipers and pistons a good clean too and the brakes are better than ever.  They're still not going to take your breath away, but they're more than adequate for the level of go it has.

Sticky throttle cables and imprecise gearchange still need sorting.

Friday, May 20, 2016

7 Days of Duking

So I've had the Duke a week now, and I can tell you this thing loves it's dinner - it's been averaging 36 MPG.  Combined with a small tank, this means the fuel light is coming on every 80-odd miles! That's my only gripe though, it's stonking good fun and the instantly available torque makes it the fastest A-to-B bike I've had - it can find overtakes where the ZZR couldn't.  The impressive brakes and suspension means it can stop much more quickly and confidently than the Z too.

Of course the Z would eat it alive on a straight bit of road, and high-speed cruising is not a strong point - it's very tiring much beyond 80.  So far it's the BESTEST BIKE IN THE WORLD though (until I fall out of love with it, as I always do).

Saturday, May 14, 2016

New mug time

You had to be there to appreciate the significance of this ICL mug, which I bought from eBay this week.  These were mainframes that chomped through £70K of electricity every year, yet had less processing power and storage than a modern smartphone.

Friday, May 13, 2016

New bike time

I had a day off today, so rather than waste it watching Rainbow episodes on YouTube I popped out and traded the ZZR1400 for a KTM Superduke 990, as you do.

I wanted a change from inline 4s so the shortlist was a Speed Triple (failed to move me sufficiently), Aprilia Tuono (my insurer didn't like the naughty exhaust), or a Duke. I did find a bright orange Duke but that dealer wasn't interested in taking on the Z, so I had to settle for black. I don't like black!
It is in lovely original condition though, and has low miles.  It's actually powered by a nest of extremely angry wasps, I didn't realise that, yet somehow guzzles petrol faster than my V6 Rover.
Instruments look like they came with a Happy Meal, but I love this thing, it's massively entertaining to hoon about on.  The loud rorty engine is the first thing you notice of course, but it's the extraordinary suspension that's most impressed me so far.

Monday, May 02, 2016

The many moods of Roger

Roger's going to Silverstone next month, so there's been weeks of prep necessary - to fix the towcar. The Berlingo wants an MOT so I've had to replace a driveshaft gaiter, track-rod end, bottom ball joint, cambelt and pulleys, waterpump, drive belt, engine mount, exhaust manifold, a brand new wheel, and once I finally got it back together the engine warning light came on... it was as if it didn't want to live anymore.

After much faff I got my OBD doohicky connected and cleared the codes (was low-pressure in the fuel injection system, probably as it's been idle for months), just needs a couple of tyres and it should be good.

Roger prep has consisted of re-fixing the front mudguard.  Thinking about changing his face:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Track Day Marshalling

Spent Sunday as a track day marshal at RAF Odiham.  It was quite interesting, but not something I'd want to do again - mostly I did it as it guarantees a place on the next track day.  It was BLOODY FREEZING COLD, yet I managed to get a sunburnt face.  Some other observations:
  • Radio comms are very difficult in high winds with bikes rattling past at speed.  It was hard to keep on top of the situation at times.
  • It was virtually impossible to tell the Fast and Intermediate groups apart.  
  • There were folks in Novice going faster than some in Fast.
  • Novice had the most near-misses, thanks to huge speed disparities.
  • Fast bike does not mean fast rider.
  • Make sure everything on your bike is tightly secured.  A fair bit of track time was lost searching for parts that had fallen off.
  • If you're marshalling - bring a chair!  And a sun hat!  An earplug would help with the radio too - radio earpiece in one ear, plug in the other.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Scenes of excess from Prescott Bike Festival

First up, a Dodge Viper engined bike:
Next, a jet powered shopping trolley - well, more accurately a go-kart with an APU mounted on it, but everyone came running when it started spooling up:
Finally, the Royal Breakfast from Little Chef - it's an Olympic breakfast with a steak added to it.  I thought Chris was pulling my leg when he told me about it, but it's real and it's brilliant:
The whole thing was ruined a bit by the muddy field provided for bike parking - it was very traumatic and I'll not go again if it's been raining beforehand.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Wish you were here?

"Hello, I'm Judith Chalmers.  This week I'm visiting a fabulous new resort theme park called Silverlake Car Spares, located just outside Southampton.

"It's aimed at the new class of aspirational holidaymaker who doesn't want the traditional sun, sea and beach experience, but instead wants an exhaust manifold for £20, and maybe some crisps out of a vending machine.

"On arrival I was greeted by a cast member dressed in some wonderfully authentic-looking filthy overalls.  Staying in character throughout, he addressed me as 'mate' and directed me to the main entertainment complex.
"This comprises several hundred cars arranged in rows, each boasting exquisite patina.  There were already many holidaymakers present, enjoying activities such as spilling the contents of a radiator down their trousers.
"I settled down to a pleasant 30 mins of spannering on a Picasso that somebody had helpfully ripped the face off.  Disappointingly, at no point during this was I chased by a flock of angry geese - Silverlake could certainly take some lessons from Bacon's scrapyard in King's Lynn, who provide this kind of interactive live animal attraction free to every visitor.

"Overall I was very impressed with my stay, and will certainly visit again.  I was especially excited to find a MX5 instrument cowl for £5 that was slightly less fucked than the one I already have.  Yeah, I swear on the internet... I can do that now I'm not on TV."

Saturday, April 09, 2016

More French Misery

I've had a busy morning removing the cracked exhaust manifold from the Berlingo.  It required a lot of dismantling and although everything came apart OK, that didn't stop me bleating about how difficult it all was and cursing the French for the quality of their engineering.
All of the above (and more) had to come off.  The alternator feels a bit grumbly, as does the belt tensioner - I didn't know this previously and I was HAPPY, now it's going to bug me.  I broke the terminal off the main alternator lead too, but it must have already been very weak - perhaps that's a breakdown avoided?
The offending part.  A new one is about £285, or I can get one from a breaker near Southampton for £20... but I have to remove it myself.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"A credit to it's former owner"

I've spent a very pleasant couple of days dismantling, cleaning and servicing the ZZR, ready for it's return to the road in April.  I'm guessing the air filter has never been changed then...

That said, reaching the filter does involve a lot of dismantling.  Oil and filter changed (weirdly Kawasaki recommend a special tool to torque up the filter, as it needs more than normal hand pressure - I just did it up tighter than normal), as well as coolant, brake and clutch fluids (latter was like oxtail soup).

Just need to book an MOT and it'll be ready for it's primary mission - which is delivering me to Poole to stuff my face with ice cream.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


I should be in Snowdonia, taking part in the annual Gentlemen's Tour of Welsh Chip Shops, but the combination of rain and illness (other 2 guys sick), means it was cancelled.  Not to worry though, 'cos this means I have more time to hang out in remote lay-bys with my mates from the RAC.

The rear tyre on the CBR suddenly deflated when I was going fairly* quickly, which was an interesting experience.  The valve had split - I have a theory that the big metal valve caps it wears were the cause.  Anyway, RAC man superglues it together, and I ride it home with him following.

Had a trip to Swindon earlier in the day to visit the bike porn warehouse that is Blade Motorcyles. There's a lot of really tempting stuff in there, especially the Suzuki GSX-S1000F.  I don't have the necessary £10K though, and I've got a rule about not buying anything on-tick unless it's absolutely essential.  Being really, really pretty and awesome isn't enough.

Sunday, March 06, 2016


First proper ride-out of the year; Loomies, then Goodwood.  It was quite cold, there was sleet at one point, but there were sausages and cake so it was ALL GOOD.

Plus, it dragged me away from Stardew Valley for a few hours.

Friday, March 04, 2016


MX5 has been BASHED.  A Fiesta failed to stop at a crossroads and ran into my rear quarter as I drove past.  A visibly-shaken old boy gets out, apologises and admits he'd not seen me at all...

He offered to go through insurance or pay out of his own pocket, but he couldn't walk without my assistance and it was clear his days of independence were coming to an end... so I told him to forget about it.  Neither of us needs the hassle for the sake of a tatty old car.  It just needs a rear lamp cluster, everything else is just cosmetic - and let's be honest, it was no beauty beforehand.

In other news, the VFR is finally back on the road.  I did a lot of riding last weekend 'cos I'd become shockingly rusty - my line through bends was like a 50 pence piece.  Done a couple of hundred miles now and seem to have gotten the hang of it again.  

3 weeks to Gentlemen's Annual Wales Weekender!  Everybody has fast brand-new bikes, except me :(

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lego Digital Designer

I've been well bored this weekend, until I discovered Lego Digital Designer:
I used to build all of these back when I was a sad child.  Chappy there looks impressed with the 1300 base (blue and white one); if only he could afford the exciting 2.0 version next to it, or even better the RX sports car!

I need a week off work to play with this thing now, I've got a lot of childhood to catch up on.

Saturday, February 20, 2016


FED UP with constant rain, wind and cold, it's just been relentless for weeks now - worst winter for biking I've ever know.  OK, I've only know 4 biking winters, but anyway -VFR MOT repairs were completed last week (the 'leccy rattle gun dispensed with that massive hub nut in under 5 seconds, incidentally), but I've not even bothered booking it in for re-test yet.

I'm planning to SORN the Rover at the end of the month and fix all the niggling problems it has. I'm getting very attached to that old thing, it had better not betray me by spitting out it's gearbox or suchlike.  There would be tears.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Failure, MOT-flavour

The combination of shite weather, Netflix and World of Warships has prevented me doing anything meaningful on the growing collection of broken vehicles outside.  Latest casualty is the VFR, which failed it's MOT a couple of weeks back on rear wheel bearings, rear brake pads, and leaking rear exhaust downpipes. Oh, and illegal rear tyre... everything on the rear of this bike is busted, it seems.

First job is the leaking exhaust.  They're leaking at the joint where they go into the collector box; you can see the stains on the swingarm in the pic below:

Replacing the seals means they have to come out, but they're an absolute pig to access - it must have been built by tiny children!  I've had to strip the rear of the bike right down to reach the bolts and get enough clearance to pull the pipes free.  The alternative was to remove the exhaust completely, the bolts for which are all heavily rusted; this way is less risky.

Nearly finished this, then it's on to the wheel bearings which means removing the hub and it's 46mm nut which is torqued to 200NM.  Thankfully Chris has lent me an impact driver, which should* make this relatively simple.