Thursday, April 20, 2017

Wales 2017

It was the Gentleman's Easter Tour of Wales last weekend, now featuring 6 gentlemen and 1 lady.  Trying to keep that many bikes together was like herding cats, though it was still great fun despite generous portions of rain. 

We visited this tiny motor museum near the Horseshoe Pass, full of unexceptional rammel.  OK, there was a Jag E-type but it was the least popular model possible (Series 3 2+2), and a Alfa Montreal with worse paint than my CBR.

Plenty of ace scenery in Wales, particularly in the Elan Valley cafe:

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Van Van Urges

The CBR is fixed - it was the bottom yoke at fault.  I bought a used one from eBay, and comparing the two I could see the old one was twisted.  It's had a new rear tyre too and I've been riding it about. Dunno if it's staying... it's the ginger stepchild of my bike collection.

Visited a Suzuki dealer yesterday.  I think I have a subconscious desire to be talked into buying a GSX-S1000F on PCP, but the sales folk failed to pick up on that.  I wonder if a tatty CBR600 could be used as deposit?  Anyway, I wandered about and was tempted by the Van Van again.  The 200cc version is £4093 on the road, but it can barely reach 70mph - that's useless for my requirements.  Still want it though!  What is wrong with me?
In other news, the poxy Saab cost me £600 to have the suspension arms and wheel bearings replaced. Mrs Chump loves it though.

Monday, April 03, 2017


Got up early on Saturday to get a tyre on the CBR600, but it broke down after a couple of miles.  Felt like a fuel problem, but the battery was pretty low and it was soon flat, so after some faff we brought it home on the trailer.  It started immediately once I stuck my booster on it!  Seems fine now.  I managed to scratch the paint on Mrs B's Saab with my exhaust during these shenanigans, what an idiot!

I forgot what a very nice bike this is; the inline 4 motor is creamy-smooth, it's light on it's feet and feels properly-together, despite the hard life it's lived.  It's worth very little... I may keep it.

Have also considered putting the MX5 back on the road.  In another act of supreme muppetry I've bashed it with the Jaaag at some point over the winter and stoved in the wing, I had to pull it out (by removing the side repeater then using a ratchet with extension bar as a rudimentary slide-hammer), before the door would open.  It needs (at the least) a rain rail, diff seals, then there's insurance and tax... so another year of hibernation, I think.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Roger Reborn (again)

He's back, though he looks a bit less angry this time:
Just needs a rear tyre and it'll be ready for sale.  I used the washer from a bath tap to attach the fairing where it was broken - that's INNOVATION.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Traditional Restoration Skillz

Look what I've made today:

It's new teeth for the CBR... I've fixed it.  I completely disassembled the front of the bike and found the top and bottom yokes were slightly misaligned.  It's all good now so I've cracked on with 'restoring' the bodywork, which involved patching a hole in the fairing with the lid of a Chinese takeaway container, and much Isopon action.  A replacement set of indicators has been ordered, so it just needs a rear tyre now.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The End of the CBR600

You may remember I chucked the CBR down the track last year.  Although I broke my arm I thought the bike had escaped serious harm, with just a new brake lever and SHITLOADS of filler and thick black paint to be re-applied... but no.  I've had the front end completely apart and it seems either the OS fork is bent or the yoke is.  I've tried all the alignment tricks but it's way off.
As it was probably only worth a few hundred quid in working order, it's beyond economic repair. The insurance has got some months to run yet (and the total policy was only slightly more than the cancellation fee), so it can stay put and at least earn me some NCB.  I may break it, maybe just offload it whole on eBay.

That's definitely ended my trackday shenanigans though - I'm not buying all new kit AND another bike too.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Incoming Exocet?

I've had the MX5 for 10 years now, but it's done very few miles in the past 5; too noisy and uncomfortable to be a daily driver, not fun enough to lure me from a bike, it's become redundant. So I've started to think about rebuilding it as an Exocet:
It'd remain noisy and uncomfortable, but it would certainly increase the fun with it's turbo motor. Total cost would be around £4500 I reckon (budgeting for new suspension, seats, etc), which seems a bit strong for something only occasionally usable. And it looks a bit rubbish - the Aldi Atom, perhaps.  

I'd certainly enjoy building it, but would I actually use it? See the Jalopnik article which got me thinking about this in the first place.

Jaaaag news:  I've done about 2500 miles in it and it's not gone wrong yet.  The ABS warning light came on once, and the alternator went on the blink for about 10 seconds when it got wet, but apart from that it's all lovely.

Monday, January 09, 2017


Some pics from a visit to the motor museums at Gaydon and Coventry:
I wanted my first photo of 2017 to be this.  Thankfully this vision of the future didn't come to pass.  We got Brexit and Trump instead.
There are a LOT of Jags at both museums, this is ace as I'm all about the Jags nowadays.  

 Last-off-the-line XJ6 Sport, which was the final Jaguar to have a straight-six engine.
 And here is an AJ6 engine.  I can confirm they are really, really good at eating all their dinner.
It's Thrust, essentially 2 engines from a Phantom on a box-section metal sled.  We rode the simulator ride which comprises a 3D film and seats that move about.  It sounds rubbish but was surprisingly effective, and it looked bloody terrifying - it accelerates quite slowly to around 100mph, then within seconds it's doing nearly 600mph while the driver is having to hold the steering wheel at a 90 degree angle to keep it on track.  

Monday, December 12, 2016

I'm not in love

... it's just a silly phase I'm going through.  

Bought a complete set of new seats for the XJ on Saturday, just £70 and in much better nick than mine.  However, I reckon the seat backs can be swapped so I plan to create a lovely drivers seat by mixing and matching parts.
Old drivers seat; nasty.
Replacement; much better.  The rear seat back is the only original part left now. 
I'm also working on repairing the cup-holder.  Originally this would open with a damped action, but as they get old the springs lose effectiveness until it shoots open with enough force to break the plastic pivot points.  I'm remaking the pivot using Chemical Metal.

In other news, I have sold off my share of the Aprilia moped.  I've lost interest in track days too, so the CBR600 may be for the chop too; will see how I feel once I've endured another couple of months of winter.

I was clearly too active at the weekend and now seem to have the flu.

Saturday, December 03, 2016


Behold this MASSIVE car.  SEE how much longer and lower it is than the 75.  WONDER at how it can have so little interior space.  SMIRK at the rear legroom.
What's that, the wing is a different shade of red?  That'll be your eyes.  This is the last great car to be made in Britain, that coachwork will last 100 years.
Big fat wheels are lovely.  They ruin the ride but I forgive them.
Sporty interior - yes, it's wood, but ahhh... it's BLACK wood.  That's the sporty wood.  

There's hardly anything wrong with it.  The clock doesn't work; that's a common fault.  The radio display is buggered; also common.  All the air vents have fallen apart; again, common.  The cupholder is broken; another regular failure.  The drivers seat bolster is worn; this is pretty much mandatory.  However, the headlining is not falling down!  But only 'cos it's had a new one.

I discovered the tyres were all around 20psi yesterday.  Today I serviced it and found the oil filter was starting to rust - always a good sign.  Air filter was pretty bad too.  Changed the plugs (lovely cheap plugs, and unlike the 75 replacing them didn't involve removing the wiper arms).  ATF looks clean. Took up 10mm of slack off the accelerator cable.  Worked out how to use the trip computer, kind of wishing I hadn't now (it clearly loves it's dinner).  

It's very pleasant to work on, everything is accessible and with it being nothing more than a lightly refreshed late-80s XJ40, it's no more complex than a Ford Sierra.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Jagwah Day

I've been like a kid waiting for Xmas all week, but finally this evening it was time to collect the XJ6. How many warning lights would appear on the way home?  How many weird noises would there be? Would it actually get me home?

Thankfully it was all good - the couple selling it had all the documentation ready and had even put fuel in the car.  The 70-odd miles home were uneventful and with the exception of the steering wheel being slightly off-centre (this always really annoys me), and the digital clock not working, it was fine. It's uncannily quiet at less than 50mph.  I'm a little miffed it doesn't have cruise or fully electric seats (only up/down), it's less 'Sport' and more 'Popular Plus' - that'll be the Ford influence.  Very nice steering and very poised around bends.  

I bloody love it!

Sunday, November 27, 2016


I've won the Jagwaaar!  Stay tuned for the inevitable tales of woe.

It's (R)over

Unfortunately it's all over for the 75; I drove it through a flood and it ingested a load of water.  It wasn't very deep water, but there's a problem with the intake on these cars - the 'shannon tube' rots away which has the effect of putting the intake right at the bottom of the engine bay:

I didn't know about this until I buggered it up.  There's zero movement in the crank even with the plugs out, I suspect bent rods.  A LOT of water came out when I removed the air intake :(

It wasn't an expensive car and it's always been one-big-bill away from the weighbridge, but it's annoying when I'd put a new MOT on it a couple of days beforehand!  I've donated it to another 75 owner on Autoshite, on the understanding he makes it disappear from my drive.

Now I want a Jaaaaaaaag.  I missed out on a very cheap XJ6 'cos I was too slow (Autoshite again), but today I hoofed the VFR across many counties to look at one that's currently being very poorly advertised  on eBay.  It was worth the trip, it looks flipping SUPER.  We shall see...

Sunday, November 13, 2016

I don't live in your world anymore

No, I live in the post-apocalypse hell of 7 Days to Die.  I've been here weeks now, it's a horrifying yet hugely compelling survival game set after a nuclear war, in a world now overrun with zombies.
I lived on top of this hardware store for quite some time, in a little wooden shack.  By day I'd ransack the nearby abandoned town, dodging zombies and living on tinned food I'd scavenged.  At night the zombies can run - I'd cower in my shack as they screamed and beat at the walls.
But every 7th night it's a Blood Moon - meaning a horde of particularly aggressive dead folks turn up.  And you get bigger hordes each time.
This game features real physics, so it's quite possible for buildings to collapse if sufficiently damaged, and the hordes were doing this on such a scale I was spending days shoring it up.  I had to move out of this neighbourhood.
So I started on a purpose-built fortress -the terrifying Castle Lawrence!
Ideally located in a low-spawn rate area, it features 2 Killing floors, and enough iron spikes to entertain all my midnight visitors.
The 2nd floor comprises allocated minibike parking, and a survivalists dream kitchen featuring cement mixer, forge, and copious storage for my gun collection.
The roof terrace is great for relaxing with friends.  If they weren't all dead.
Did I mention the man-sized wasps?  They're thankfully rare but yeah, they deffo ruin any BBQ plans.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


I had to visit BRUX-ELLES (this is how is must be pronounced) on Monday.  It wasn't without trials - airport security confiscated my network cable tool ('cos it had a tiny blade), and the Ibis hotel I stayed in was rubbish (bathroom stunk of drains, room was tiny and cold, and not only had they watered down the orange juice they'd done the same to the MILK).  Plus everything seemed much more expensive because of worthless British currency.

I was planning to take some photos of the charming old buildings just before leaving, but got called back to the office because the bit of kit I'd installed had broken the phone system, so here's a shot of Heathow terminal 5 instead:

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.