Clocks Forward Rally – 27 to 29 Mar 2015.

I attended the MGCGB Clocks Forward Rally for the first time this year. It was held at The Drum and Monkey near Upton-upon-Severn. Here I am loaded up ready for the off.

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There was a pretty good turnout. I didn’t count the number of bikes there but reckon there were 50 to 60. I went on The-Big-Red-One and had a great time. I always enjoy meeting up with Guzzi folks. It was nice to catch up with old friends and to make some new ones. Guy, Kate and Dave had brought their loopframe Guzzis so a photo line up was called for.

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The weather was “variable”. Although the ride there through Wales was made under threatening skies it didn’t rain and it brightened up as I neared the site. There was a little rain early on the Saturday but I explored Upton with a few others during the day. Overnight the weather deteriorated and it became very windy and then turned to heavy rain. Although I slept badly, my tent was still standing in the morning and I was warm and dry, which was an improvement over some camps in the past.

I rode most of the way home in the company of Heinz on his Guzzi Quota. It was still windy and gusty enough to throw our heavy bikes off line but the journey home was otherwise incident free. The run of about 200Km each way underlined that the bike needs a good tune up. The carbs are not anywhere near synchonised now that the throttle cables have settled down. I also need to look at the tail light as Heinz says it’s dim while the brake light is good. I could just need a new bulb. We’ll see. I also found that, once my right wrist/hand has got tired, I struggle to work the winker switch. I’ll most likely have to fit a more modern set of switches incorporating the winkers on the left. Originality will be compromised but I need to be able to ride safely and the dip/main switch isn’t quite right anyway.

First there will be cleaning to do. Tent, bike and leathers are all muddy.

Replacing the drivebox oil seal – 21 Mar 2015.

As I’ve said before, I’ve had to do this several times on old Guzzis. Changing the seal is not a big deal but it took a while, on The-Big-Red-One, to get at it . It’s basically one stage further than getting the back wheel out. Luckily I’ve still got that bike jack I borrowed in the garage. So –

  • Panniers and frames off again.
  • Remove my newly fitted luggage rack.
  • Remove the silencers and exhaust crossover.
  • Loosen the rear axle nut.
  • Jack up the bike.
  • Disconnect the brake operating rod from the rear hub.
  • Disconnect the brake torque arm.
  • Slacken the axle pinch bolt on the swing arm.
  • Remove the axle.
  • Take out the back wheel complete with the brake backplate.
  • Remove the six bolts that secure the sump to the bottom of the bevel box and drain out the oil. I left it overnight.
  • Remove the right hand shock absorber.
  • Remove the four nuts holding the drivebox to the swing arm and pull it off. Mine pulled the driveshaft out with it so I just transferred that back to the swing arm.

I found that the gasket that should be between the bevel box and the swing arm was missing so made a new one ready for later.

I levered out the old oil seal and found, as I had predicted, that the surface of the splined drive hub that it runs on was coated in rust.

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I spent an hour and a half with a scotchbrite pad cleaning up the surface and was pleased to find that there were no deep pits. A replacement seal should be all that’s needed.

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The photos make it look like the drive hub has worn to a taper but that’s just caused by my camera.

I didn’t order a replacement seal from Guzzi as it’s a standard size and can be got cheaper and more quickly elsewhere. It’s 70x85x8mm. Originally the seals fitted were the single lip type and this is what came out of the box. The Guzzi parts supplier sites I looked on showed a twin lipped type as the replacement. They both cost the same from my bearing supplier and, although the second lip is really designed to prevent muck getting into the box rather than stopping oil coming out, I bought the twin lipped sort. I did this in the hope that the new seal, with its different profile might run on a fresh part of the drive hub.

To fit the new seal, I put a little grease on the drive hub and located the new seal with my fingers. I then put the old seal on top and upside down and used a piece of wood and mallet to knock it squarely into place.

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To refit the bevel box I first greased the splines on the pinion shaft, added my new gasket and fitted the box to the driveshaft and swing arm but didn’t do the nuts up fully.

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Before tightening the bevel box to swing arm nuts you need to get the box properly lined up in the swing arm. To do this I refit the axle.

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I tighten those four nuts once the axle can be inserted easily.

This drive box is one of those made with the level plug in the wrong place. If you use this you won’t get anywhere near enough oil into the box. My V7Sport has the same type of box but the level plug is in the correct place. However, I still won’t use it as it’s very inaccurate. I have been told that the level reading is only right when the swing arm is level and to achieve this the shocks have to come off. Instead I drain the old oil out overnight then measure out the new oil (340ml of EP80w90 gear oil plus 20ml of Moly additive) using my high tech measuring bottle. This is what I did next.

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After cleaning the wheel I greased the hub splines and refitted it with its brake plate and inserted the axle. I left the axle nut slack until the brake torque arm was back on then tightened it and the pinch bolt up properly. It was then a case of putting everything back together.

The following day I did 40 miles on the bike and the oil all stayed where it belongs!

Now that this bike is usable, it’s finally looking like I’ll be able to get back to working on Rhino, the V7Sport soon.

Two more jobs done – 15 Mar 2015.

Moto Guzzi is 94 years old. Founded 15th March 1921 in Genoa, Italy.

The side stand.

Six months after my accident I’m back riding and enjoying this new beasty. I have been struggling a bit with the side stand which snaps back up like a rat trap as soon as the weight is taken off it. I understand why this is done but know that not all loopframe Guzzis have a stand like this. I’ve found that deploying the stand while astride the bike is difficult. I can push the stand out but can’t keep holding it out properly as I lean the bike over because my other foot is nearly off the ground and my right wrist is too weak to hold the bike up. On absolutely level ground I can do it but, if there’s any slope, I have had to put the bike in gear and get off it to deploy the side stand and with that weak wrist it’s only a matter of time before I come to grief.

I decided I would make a modification, which could be undone later, so that the stand will stay down when deployed. I can then lean the bike over and get off without taking any chances.

Here you can see the original stand with the bike’s weight on it.

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The top anchor point for the spring is behind the stand and so will always pull it up. I have seen other bikes where the anchor for the spring is on the stand bracket in front of the stand. This was what I needed to change. I didn’t think this would be particularly difficult but, in the end, it took me 15 hours to do!

The new spring anchor point looked like it needed to be exactly where a bolt passes through to hold a complicated plate with the existing anchor point on. I made up a special bolt to fit in the hole. This worked in that the stand would now stay down but when retracted it didn’t feel secure. I was concerned that I could go over a bump and the stand might flip down!

Second attempt involved welding a bent stud to a replica of the original spring plate. The bend would bring the pivot point up as well as forward so that the spring would go over centre both when the stand was up and down. This worked but the spring was now too short so a tab was fashioned to extend the length of the spring.

However, this plate wasn’t quite right and so a final version was fabricated this time using 2 bolts with their heads chamfered then welded together and to my replica of the old spring plate. Here the old arrangement is below my new version.

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Now the stand both stays down and stows away securely.

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I’m not sure if it would flip up if I rode off with the stand down and it caught on the ground. I’ll just have to train myself to make sure I remember to check it’s up. I didn’t have any problem on the S3 with a Cali stand and no interlock switch.

The only thing I might need to change is to cut the extra length off one of the threaded sections as I can see it will get in the way of removing the sump.

A luggage rack.

The Big-Red-One came with the police type panniers fitted but these are not very big and there is no top rack. I’m aiming to go to a rally at the end of the month so I needed the extra luggage capacity. I managed to find a suitable rack at TLM in The Netherlands.

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It’s fitted to the top shock absorber mounts and shares the rear seat mounts on the frame with the pannier frame. It looks ok.

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There’s always something else.

I had hoped to be able to just ride the Big-Red-One now and to get back to work on the Racing Rhino but it hasn’t worked out that way!

I went to the Borders and Mid-Wales Guzzi Club meet. At 60 miles each way it was the furthest I’ve done so far. When I got home and put the bike in the garage I found this.

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It looks like the big seal has let go in the drive box. I’ve had 3 Guzzis with 4 drive boxes and this will make 4 times I’ve had to do this job. Replacing the seal’s not hard but, it’s usually failed because there’s a rust spot somewhere on the drive hub. Out of the 3 I’ve done before – 1 cleaned up with a scotchbrite pad, 1 had a pit filled with epoxy filler and 1 was so bad it had to be replaced. Wonder what I’ll find this time.

It’s a nuisance but it’s what you get when you run a bike that’s stood unused for quite some time.

New boots! – 6 Mar 2015.

When I bought The-Big-Red-One it came with tyres that looked pretty good. On closer inspection it turned out the date codes stamped on them suggested they were produced in 1991 and 93 or even 1981 and 83. As the bike was released from government service in 1986, and seems to have virtually had no use in the years since then, I reckon those tyres are from the ’80s. Now, I’ve got a 30 year-old daughter with her own kiddy and these tyres are older than her!

I made a search of the internet looking for advice on tyres for loopframe Guzzis. Originally the tyres were the same, front and back at 4.00 x 18. There aren’t many options for a 4inch front tyre these days. The Heidenau K36 at £117 a pair look good and in keeping with the bike’s style but the others are from makers I don’t know. I decided to go with a 4.00×18 rear tyre and to use a 100/90-18 on the front. This seems to be the standard thing to do. The 100/90 is almost exactly the same width as the 4 inch but a lower profile. It’s actually 9mm lower than the old tyre (If I were to put a metric sized tyre on the back I’d choose a 110/90 profile – slightly wider but the same overall diameter).

My options seemed to be;

  1. Bridgestone BT45. 4.00×18 64H and 100/90-18 56H for £135.
  2. Continental Go! 4.00×18 64H and 100/90-18 56H for £121.
  3. Dunlop Streetsmart. 4.00×18 64H and 100/90-18 56H for £138.
  4. Metzeler Lasertec. 4.00×18 64V and 100/90-18 56H for £162.
  5. Michelin Pilot Activ. 4.00×18 64H and 100/90-18 56H for £121.

I decided on the Michelins. They have good reviews and were reasonably priced, bearing in mind I would have to get tubes and pay for fitting. It would be too much to ask my dodgy wrist to cope with tyre changing. H-rated tyres are not strictly necessary. S-rated would be good enough but are not available from makers I trust.

I wouldn’t want to have to fix a rear wheel puncture at the side of the road on one of these. To do so you’d probably have to remove fairing, fuel tank and battery then lay the thing on its side to get the back wheel out. I had the luxury of a friends bike lift. I took the panniers and their frame off in one piece then put the bike on the jack with a sheet of thick ply accross the “prongs” of the lift to support the sump with a block of wood under the frame further back. It was very steady but I should have undone the axle nuts while it was still on the ground.

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Removing the wheels is pretty straightforward and probably needs no description but you get one anyway!

First the back wheel. The right hand silencer needs to come off. I undid the clamps holding the silencer to the header pipe and to the crossover to the other silencer but, of course it wouldn’t come off without the left hand silencer being freed from its header as well. If I have to do this again I’ll just disconnect both silencers and remove them together with the crossover. The rear brake needs to be disconnected. The rod from the pedal (I have a left-side brake) is released by slackening the adjuster and then tied out of the way.

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Then the nut holding the brake torque arm to the hub is undone and the nut and bolt at the other end loosened and the arm can come clear of the drum.

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Now the axle can be released. There is a big 27mm nut to undo and, as I’ve hinted already, this would have been best undone while the bike was still on the ground. Once that is off undo the pinch bolt on the swing arm and pull out the axle while supporting the wheel.

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The wheel along with the brake plate can then be pulled off the splines on the rear drive box.

Now for the front. The brake cable needs to be removed from the brake drum. I slackened off the adjuster at the wheel end as well as the one at the lever to do this. Then the cable can be moved out of the way.

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There’s another 27mm nut on this axle to undo and then a clamp bolt at the bottom of each fork leg. Support the wheel and the axle will come out (and the cover plate from the right side of the wheel will drop on the floor with a clang!). The wheel with brake plate can then be lowered from between the fork legs.

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I took the wheels round to “Gerwyn the Tyres” in the village and left them and the new rubber with him for the day. When I collected them, he described the trouble he had getting the old Pirelli Mandrake tyres off. They were so tight he was worried about damaging the rims and he ended up cutting the bead wires. The new tyres went on, no problem. It was just as well I hadn’t tried to do the job myself.

Next day, I checked the wheel bearings for smoothness then refitted the wheels. It was just the same procedure in reverse. Adjusting the brakes was easy as nothing was disturbed on the brake plates.

I might have to experiment a bit with tyre pressures. The riders handbook gives solo pressures of 21psi front and 25psi at the back. Back then, tyres had much heavier sidewalls than they do today. Current thinking is for 32psi front and 36psi rear. Some advocate even higher figures. It seems important to maintain the 4psi difference front to back and, as it happens, I used to run 30psi and 34psi in the V7Sport which is not as heavy.

Other stuff.

I’ve ordered a luggage rack from TLM in The Netherlands. I might get a plate to fit a Givi box to it at some point.

I managed to get the bike onto its centre stand today by myself! The wife’s help was not needed! Clearly my wrist is improving although it’s still painful at times.

Should have taken a photo with the new tyres!