Modified trailer wiring – 10 May 2017.

Here’s another “late” post!

I have been having some trouble with the electrical connection between The Fire Bike and my trailer. I’ve changed both the plug on the trailer and the socket on the bike but can’t get things to stay connected properly. The connection is too loose causing me to lose lights on the trailer. I decided that I would do away with the trailer socket on the bike and use the 5-way superseal connector I had fitted for the top box lights. Recently this has become pretty much redundant.

I traced the wiring on the trailer to check out what does what before wiring in the other half of the superseal connector. Although all 7 wires of the trailer plug were wired up one wasn’t connected to anything and two others were joined together so only one of them was needed.

Original socket;

  1. Yellow “L” – LH indicator.
  2. Blue “54g” – Fog lamp (not used).
  3. White “31” – Earth/ground.
  4. Green “R” – RH indicator.
  5. Brown “58R” – RH tail but connected to both tail lamps.
  6. Red “54” – Brake lights.
  7. Black “58L” – LH tail but connected to both tail lamps.

I therefore cut back and insulated the ends of the blue and black cables as they won’t be reused. It was then easy to fit the other half of the superseal connector to the trailer, or you would have thought so! I made a note of the numbered connections to the half already on the bike then wired the trailer the same, but that’s just too easy. The two halves are each numbered 1 to 5 alright, but in reverse order to each other! Once that was sorted all worked as it should.

Here are the old and new plugs with a blanked off socket to keep the weather out when it’s disconnected.

And connected up. When not in use the cable end is clipped up to the indicator bracket as it was before. In use it’s clipped to the tow bracket.

I’ve used the trailer twice since making this modification with complete success.

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Experimental valve clearances – 7 May 2017.

Well, I’ve finally sorted out all my old posts following the Photobucket debacle. I’ve done what I always should have and hosted my blog photos here in WordPress.

As I indicated in my last post, I have got a bit behind with things which is why this is the first of a couple or so posts with a date well in the past!

Anyway, down to business.

The valve gear on The Racing Rhino, my V7Sport, is really noisy. I know that Guzzi engines are always bad in this respect but I can’t see why there still needs to be so much noisy clearance even when the engine is really hot. However, it is important that there is always some clearance as there will be damage caused if a valve is held open due to a lack of clearance. I have friends who have run very small clearances but I am loath to do this and am naturally cautious.

The first thing to do was to see what clearances I actually have. According to the book they should be 0.25mm both for inlet and exhaust. I removed the alternator cover so I could turn the engine using the rotor bolt.

I started with the right hand cylinder so, having removed the spark plugs I turned the engine over until the D mark was in the window of the clutch housing.

and removbed the rocker cover letting it hang on the breather hose.

I measured the valve clearances using a “go/no go” method with my feeler gauges. Clearances were close to 0.25mm as they should be.

After some research I decided to use “Roper spec” – clearances recommended by Pete Roper as safe. These are 5thou inlet and 7thou exhaust or 0.13 and 0.18mm.

Right hand side adjusted, I did the same on the left ( with the S mark in the window).

I went for a ride and the valve gear was marginally quieter. There was still a clatter with the engine really hot so I feel reassured that I won’t be burning any valves with these settings. I don’t think I’ll risk going any further though.

No more Photobucket. What a shower! – 30 Jun 2017.

Well folks, Photobucket have changed their terms and conditions without giving me any notice. In the past I have put up with the clunky, interrupted service from them because they allow 3rd party image hosting for free. I received an email today to say that, to continue it will cost me $400 a year for the top price package. None of their other options allow any 3rd party hosting for blogs, forum posts etc.

I won’t be coughing up the cash for this given that traffic to my blog is pretty low. I have downloaded all my photos from Photobucket so none will be lost and, although I see photos are showing in the blog posts at the moment, this won’t last as they will soon cut me off.

Their action has caused a lot of anger in the blog community with some people not even being able to access their own photos or download them.

The upshot of all this? It will take me some time to rearrange the hosting for my photos and to edit all my old posts. Until then you may be met with a lot of broken photo links. Bear with me.

The wider implication is that, when searching the web for information, the photos will be gone. Photobucket has been used to host photos on forums and websites for many, many years. Not everyone will go back to update all their posts.

Other stuff

I’ve got behind and have a number of outstanding posts to write. I recently had a further operation on my wrist and was intending to get up to date while I was unable to ride or work on the bikes. However, I found typing at the computer difficult as well! I’m mended now and have even been away on the bike but, you know how it is…

Fuel starvation? – 4 May 2017.

It’s taken me a while to get around to writing this post. Other stuff has been going on!

On a couple of occasions recently The Fire Bike has come to a halt without any prior warning. I’d be riding normally and the bike would appear to run out of fuel. It would be just as if I needed to switch over to “reserve”. However there was plenty of fuel in the tank. The first time it happened, I had refuelled and the bike faded about 40 miles later. I pulled over suspecting a vacuum in the tank and opened the filler cap but there was no sound of air rushing in. The bike then ran without any problem for the remaining 50 miles or so home. On the second occasion I had ridden the 20 miles to Aberystwyth seafront where there was a MAG gathering. After an hour or so I left to call at some shops nearby then set off for home. After about 5 or 6 miles the bike ran out of steam again. Again I opened the fuel filler but heard nothing. The bike restarted and I carried on the rest of the way home as if nothing had happened.

I hate it when things like this happen and the fault can’t be recreated in the workshop.

General opinion amongst fellow Guzzisti supported my initial thoughts that the problem was caused by fuel starvation with a second possibility that the ignition coil was beginning to break down when hot. The brief stop being long enough for it to recover. I ordered a replacement coil, just in case, but decided to check the fuel system from tank to carbs and the ignition wiring.

Before doing that, I thought I would just see if I could get the fuel supply to the carbs to fail. I made sure there was a decent amount of fuel in the tank and that the cap was done up tight. I then disconnected the fuel line from the running tap (as opposed to reserve) and added a short hose into my fuel can. I turned the fuel on and watched as it all ran out! I had hoped that the flow would reduce until it stopped or sucked air up the pipe proving that the filler cap was blocked. However it all ran out unimpeded.

The next step was remove the tank so I could make my checks but, first the seat needs to come off.

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Now the tank itself can be removed.

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  • Electrical connections in the battery compartment. Especially earths. All good.
  • Connections at the coil. These were fine.
  • Connections to ignition switch. All good.
  • I rattled the key in the ignition switch but couldn’t make it fail.
  • Fuel lines. All clear.
  • Fuel taps and filters. Fine.
  • Fuel filters at carbs. Clear.

I went back to the fuel tank which was sitting on my bench in the sun. When I opened the filler cap I quietly swore as I heard it exhale! If the expansion caused by the tank getting warm can’t be vented then neither can air get in to replace the fuel as it’s used up. So, after going around the houses, I was back at my first suspicion that the fuel cap was the problem. This is despite the fact that the bike has run without any problem for the last 2 years.

I had always suspected the cap because, way back, I had puzzled about how it was vented. There were two small holes outside the area covered by the rubber seal but no corresponding vent hole inside the seal that I could find. I drilled a 2mm hole in the inner layer of the fuel cap where I would have expected to find a vent hole. In this picture you can see my newly drilled hole and the outer two holes to the left and right of the rubber seal.

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To test it out, I squirted some WD40 into the hole I had drilled and saw it come out of the other two. I then washed it out in petrol and refitted it.

Before I refitted the tank I straightened out the rear mounting flanges. They had been crushed a bit. I had bought a stainless steel rear tank mounting bolt a year or so back so this was fitted as well. The old one was pretty nasty.

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I haven’t got a replacement front bolt yet. This is a stepped bolt which prevents it being over-tightened and could be something to make on the little old lathe I’ve bought. It’s just about set up now.

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Anyway, Everything went back together and a few days later I managed to complete a 55 mile test ride without any sign of trouble. Time will tell if I’ve really solved the issue.

I never did fit the replacement for what is probably a 45-year old ignition coil. It arrived damaged and was returned but I haven’t bought another. I wouldn’t have fitted it anyway until I was sure it wasn’t a fuel issue.

Rhino gets a new battery – 31 Mar 2017

The other week I finally got around to taking Rhino for his MOT (annual road worthiness test). Before I could go I had to charge the battery despite having charged it only a couple of weeks before. There are no parasitic drains on the battery of old bikes like these so I knew that the time had come for replacement. It is worth noting that the old battery was bought in March 2003. I’ve still got the receipt. 14 years ain’t bad. It was a Hawker Odyssey and was much smaller than recommended for an old Guzzi.

The new battery is a Motobatt MBTX30UHD the same as I have fitted to The Fire Bike. This is the correct size at 32Ah but is physically shorter than the original “wet” battery the bike came with.

I had soon extracted the tired old battery and the cage I made to hold it. Next I added two rubber buffers – one each side – to support the new battery. I had bought these during the rebuild but left them off to fit my home made battery cage instead.

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I also bought the original style battery straps.

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The hook on the longer strap appeared to have been fitted the wrong way up so I changed it. Now it won’t try and “dig in” to the battery.

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Having never had these fitted before, I established from a photo in a manual that the longer strap with the hook goes to the back.

the straps locate behind and are then held down by tags. At the rear there is a tag on the frame and the strap is easily snapped in place because it can be pushed past the plastic lower mudguard section.

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The front one is more difficult because the plate below the battery, joining the frame to gearbox has to be loosened to get the strap in place. It goes here.

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I put a luggage strap around my new battery to make it easier to get in and out.

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Then put the battery in place. It is a snug fit between the rubber buffers. Joining the two heavy rubber straps was tough going. I also added a zip tie to the long strap to stop me pulling it apart with my cack-handedness.

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According to the parts book there should be a rubber bung in the middle of the long strap but it doesn’t seem necessary.

I ended up using diagonally opposite cable terminals as these just seemed easiest. I like the way these batteries have these connection options. My lifting strap was tightened so that it can’t move about but can be slackened to give me a hand hold if I need to lift the (heavy) battery out.

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Too many volts! – 11 Mar 2017

I’ve mentioned before that, over the last few months, the voltage warning light on The Fire Bike has been “playing about”. I fitted this soon after getting the bike so that I will know if the charging system develops a fault and can do something before I get stranded with a flat battery. I have said that the light had flashed red on one occasion indicating low voltage. Well more recently it was flashing alternate green and red which indicates an over-voltage (more than 15.2V). It may be that this was what was happening the first time but I just couldn’t see the green colour in the sunlight. Anyway, an over-voltage is to be avoided because it will soon kill the battery.

My bike has a Magneti Marelli dynamo and mechanical control box. The original fitment. I consulted with my friends on the Guzziriders forum as there is a thread there about fitting a solid state control box/voltage regulator sold as a replacement for an old Fiat. Someone had bought one from Teo Lammers but they are currently out of stock. It’s here. I decided to see if I could find one at a classic Fiat specialist here in the UK and managed to get one from Motobambino. I thought the price was good and it arrived inside 24 hours.

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There was some discussion on the forum about the current rating of the solid state regulator. The original mechanical box was rated at 25A and this replacement at 16A. The dynamo is also 25A. So far as I can tell, a 16A regulator with a 25A dynamo will work fine but, the output (current draw) is limited to the 16A of the regulator. I’ve done some searching and it looks like the Fiats had a 230W charging system as opposed to the Guzzi’s 300W. However the two systems seem to have had their ratings worked out differently.
– Fiat – 14.5V x 16A = 232W.
– Guzzi – 12V x 25A = 300W.

The lowered capacity of the system could cause issues on an original police bike running radio, siren, blue lights and other stuff but, should be fine for my “civilianised” one. I’ve used a “worst case scenario” of 12V x 16A which gives a maximum system capacity of 192W. I think my maximum constant draw is about;
– Lights (bike) – 75W
– Lights (trailer) – 10W
This leaves plenty for the ignition circuit. The intermittent draw from starter, indicators, horn and the like can be disregarded. I might have to think again if I add heated grips or stuff like that.

Changing the control box.

I removed the battery and, before I did anything else, photographed the original mechanical box in situ and made a note of all the connections.

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I disconnected the wires and undid the nuts securing the box to its bracket but I couldn’t shift it! The two bolts were too tight in the mountings and appeared to need to be unscrewed from the back. To get to the first bolt I removed the nuts and bolts securing the left hand tool box which released the mounting bracket for the control box on that side.

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I then realised that I didn’t actually need to take the tool boxes right off. I could just remove the top fixing.

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This done you have access to the back of the bracket. Here the bracket is fully floating and the old Marelli box has been removed.

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The mountings for the box weren’t threaded. Just tight and the screws had to be wound out.

Here are the two control boxes for comparison.

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The mounting holes are at the correct centres but needed to be drilled out. There was also an earth/ground terminal on the original. I found this area could be drilled to accept a terminal while still clearing the mounting bracket.

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Being a mechanical device, the old box had mountings to protect it from vibration. These are not removable.

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I don’t think these are strictly necessary for the solid state replacement but I punched some bigger holes in some rubber washers and used them to mount the plate. You’ll notice that I filed all the corners off that plate. Twas flippin’ sharp.

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You can see in the photos that the wiring connections were in the same order as on the original. I had to do some checking in my manuals to make sure this was the case as the terminology on the two boxes was (of course) not the same.
– Marelli box.              “D+ 61”  – “DF”      – “51 B”.
– Replacement box.   “51”        – “67”       – “30 +12V”.
– Guzzi manual says. “D+/51” – “DF/67” – “30/B+”.
This is the illustration from the V7 workshop manual which explains things.

Marelli Regulator Unit

With everything back together again the bike was restarted. All seemed good then it stalled. Once I’d turned the fuel on all was well!

Today I’ve been out for a test ride. Just the 20 miles up the A487 to Aberystwyth for coffee and cake on the sea front then back home. I have to say that the new regulator is an improvement. The strange messages given by my voltage light have stopped. Not only that, the light turns green (signifying normal charging) at lower engine revs than before. This means I don’t have to change down to keep it “in the green” and can potter about in a lower gear.

I have had a look inside the old control box which is clean with no obvious faults. Interesting.

Re-torque heads and adjust valve clearances – 22 Feb 2017

I’ve now ridden about 230 miles since doing the work to change the cylinder head gaskets on The Fire Bike so, it’s time to retighten the six nuts securing each head and barrel. I like to do this around the 200, 500 and 800 mile mark. That’s about 320, 800 and 1290 Km.

Before doing anything, I wanted to check something out. My Moto Guzzi factory manual for the V7 700 and 750 models and the Chiltons’ Manual both quote the torque figure for the nuts as 27.5ft.lb (3.8Kg/m). This just feels a bit low. I checked the Guzzi factory manual for my V7Sport and this quotes 29 to 32ft.lb (4 to 4.5Kg/m) for the same fixings. They’re basically the same engine so I thought I’d get some advice from members of the Loopframe Guzzi Group. The consensus was that I should use 32ft.lb (4.5Kg/m) and, given the size of the fixings this makes more sense to me. So, on to the job in hand.

The first thing I do is remove the dynamo belt cover and the spark plugs so that I can turn the engine over with a 26mm spanner or socket. The engine rotates clockwise seen from the front.

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I started with the right hand side and removed the rocker cover. Turn the engine (clockwise) with something resting on the piston to tell when the piston is at the top of its stroke. If the rockers are loose then it’s on the compression stroke which is what you want. If not turn the engine till the piston comes to the top again.

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Once you’re sure you’ve got the piston at the top and both valves shut work can begin. A word of warning. Be careful what you rest on the top of the piston. You don’t want to get anything jammed in there or to damage the piston or spark plug hole. I used a long Allen key this time.

The reason I find this setting is so that there is no pressure on the valve gear when I remove the rockers and shafts to access the cylinder head nuts. I would have to do it later anyway to set the valve (tappet) clearances.

To remove each rocker you have to take out the locating screw.

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Then slide out the shaft.

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Above each rocker there’s a spring and washer.

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Keep the sets of components together and put them to one side. The pushrods can be left where they are.

Remove the 26mm blanking plug over the sleeve-nut at the top then slacken the 6 nuts just a quarter turn.

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Do this in the reverse of the diagonal tightening sequence. So

  • Top (10mm Allen sleeve-nut).
  • Bottom (below spark plug).
  • Bottom right.
  • Top left.
  • Bottom left.
  • Top right.

Now get the torque wrench out, set it and do them all up again. This time the order is

  • Top right.
  • Bottom left.
  • Top left.
  • Bottom right.
  • Bottom.
  • Top.

Check the state of its crush washer then replace the 26mm blanking plug.

The rocker gear can go back on now. Often the adjusters have to be slackened off a bit because, having tightened everything down, the gaskets have been compressed a bit more and reduced the clearances.

Adjusting the valve clearances.

Before going any further, I always re-check that the piston is at the top of its compression stroke. I generally turn the engine backwards a little way then forward again while checking for the top of the stroke with a rod again.

Settings are 0.15mm inlet and 0.25mm exhaust.

Use a feeler gauge between the face of the rocker and the valve stem to check the gap and adjust this by turning the top of the adjuster with a slotted tool and locking it in place with the nut on the adjuster. You’re looking for a snug, sliding fit. It should be possible to remove the gauge and then reinsert it. If the feeler gauge is gripped then the gap is too tight.

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Often tightening the lock-nut will mess things up. I never seem to get it right first go!

With the rocker cover back on I can turn my attention to the other side then finally replace the belt cover and put the plugs back in.

Other stuff.

I don’t know what was going on with my voltage warning light the other day as it’s now working properly again! All the same, one day I’ll wire it via a relay because it’s always been affected by a voltage drop across the ignition switch contacts.

I’ve got to paint that ding in the tank. I’ll probably just use a small brush to fill in the damage.

My V7Sport needs an MOT test but I might leave it for a week or two so that it comes around each March instead of every February.

I did manage to get hold of a small lathe and have been spending a bit of time cleaning it up and sorting out the motor arrangement. It came with a big but slightly wobbly home-made metal stand which I shan’t be using. I’ll make something more suitable with some second-hand timber salvaged from some work I’ve just done on the house. My friend, Bunny, has been busy producing stuff for it on his bigger lathe.

It’s not been a bad Winter but Spring will be here soon, the roads will be free of salt and the riding, camping and show season will be upon us.