All legal – 23 Feb 2016.

Well, after all this time, Rhino is legally back on the road. Before I come to that, I made a change to the side stand stop that I made out of an exhaust clamp. I just felt that the stand, when retracted, was too close to the chrome exhaust header.

I had already wrapped some amalgamating tape around it to quieten down the clank when the stand springs back and now I rotated the extra exhaust clamp so that the bolt head acted as the stop.


This did the trick but now the stand seemed too far from the exhaust. I swapped the bolt supplied with the clamp for a cap-head type which made all the difference.



Yesterday, I phoned my insurance company and added road risks to the cover on Rhino. He had been covered for damage, fire and theft but not for road use till now. I was pleasantly surprised when I was told there was no additional premium to pay. Apparently this is because I was already paying enough based on the agreed value.

Next, I called in on my local bike MOT tester, Richard, who said to bring the bike over in the afternoon, which I did. I like to use him because he’s enthusiastic about old bikes, thorough but reasonable, clearly enjoys what he does and is just 8 miles away down mainly country lanes. He also remembers my name which I like.

I got myself and the bike ready then realised I don’t have a mirror. It’s not a requirement in the UK on a bike of this age but, I’m not as flexible as I once was and feel safer with one. I pinched the right hand mirror from The Fire Bike and clamped it to the bars temporarily. Turns out that it has just the right amount of reach to be useful although it may not be very elegant.



The bike passed it’s MOT (UK road-worthiness test) after we set the headlamp using the garage beam-setter. This was despite the discovery of one slightly loose spoke in the rear wheel. We could have tightened it there and then but I was concerned about whether the end of the spoke would poke a hole in the tube.

I had forgotten just how “strong” a V7Sport engine feels. That’s not just compared to my V7 loop but also the 850 engined S3 I used to have. This original 750 engine hadn’t run since 1979 when the chrome detached from the barrels, ruined the crank, and was replaced by the T3 engine which went into the S3 many years later. I’m going to enjoy this.

The re-lined brakes are fantastic even though they’ve still got to bed in properly.

I’ll have to take it easy for a bit as everything’s only just been rebuilt. Also the tyres, though just legal, are old (2003) so I shall have to change them soon.

The final step was to tax Rhino. I did this on line today which was painless as he’s registered as an historic vehicle at a tax rate of £0.


Finally off the bench – 13 Feb 2016.

I did a few very minor jobs before finally getting the bike off the lifting bench and onto the ground.

Adjust gear lever. The gear lever was hitting the footrest when hooked up to change gear.


Moving it around one spline on the shaft would be much too much. So adjustment was made to the linkage at the back of the gear box.


Side stand stop. Originally, a side stand was an optional extra on V7Sports. The kit comprised the stand complete, a longer front engine bolt and a stop to weld to the lower frame rail. Rhino never had this last bit fitted which prevents the stand banging the exhaust and taking the chrome off. I could welded something on but was concerned about getting it in the right place given that the bike had been fully dismantled.

Instead I bought a 34-37mm exhaust clamp for the stand to rest against. Initially I had intended to slide a piece of hose over the head of the bolt for the stand to rest against.


I held the stand down with a bungee strap after getting a whack  from it at the first attempt.


However, I found the stand and its spring were clear of the exhaust if I just let the stand come to rest against the clamp.


The underseat light was loosened and slid upward so that it now goes out when the seat is down.

Getting the bike off the bench was a bit of a performance. I put my step next to the bench so that I was standing at the same height as the bike then tried to roll it off the stand. The whole bike just slid along until the front wheel went into the wheel clamp. However, by now it wasn’t properly on the centre stand either. With my wife ready to steady the bike, just in case, I clamped the front wheel and tied the bike down by the top yoke with a ratchet strap. I was then able to jack up the bike by the sump and fold the stand up. I think the pivot bolts could do with loosening a little. The bike was lowered again and released from the wheel clamp.




A little facelift – 7 Feb 2016.

Regular visitors to this blog may have noticed that things look a little different today. I’ve been considering changing to a new WordPress theme for a while and I finally took the plunge today. I chose the previous theme on purpose because of its “grubby” look but became a bit tired of it. The blog now looks cleaner and clearer. It’s also now responsive and should be easier to view on smart phones and tablet computers.

Although it makes no difference to the functionality of the blog, I have given up on Photobucket as a repository for photos and videos. It has become slow and difficult to use with a constant string of failed uploads and other issues. It never seems to stay fixed for long.

Recently I’ve started using Imgur for my photos and Vidme for videos. Both these sites allow me to store my photos/videos privately while allowing access to individual items through links embedded in the blog posts.

I hope you approve of the changes.

Update 29 Mar 16: I’ve had to stop using Imgur to host my photos because hot-linking to them from my blog goes against their terms and conditions. I’m going back through all the posts which had Imgur based photos and changing the links. I’ve returned to using Photobucket which now seems to be behaving itself again.

Video Proof! 5 Feb 2016.

I have been contacted by a few people asking for a video of the bike running. Oh ye of little faith! This morning I checked the battery to see if it held charge overnight. It did and was showing 12.7V.

The following video is a start from stone cold. The bike is clearly running rich as, even when the chokes are off, there is some black smoke from the exhaust and it smells sooty. The annoying rattle is the wheel clamp to my bench which is why I put my foot on it later in the video.

There are still a few very minor bits and pieces to look at beside the fueling. I need to adjust the position of the gear change lever as it hits the footrest when being hooked up. The under seat light needs to be moved so it goes out when the seat’s down and I want to make a stop for the side stand.

Fuel, spark and start up! 4 Feb 2016.

A few days ago (back before I burnt my hand on The Fire Bike) I added engine, gearbox and final drive oil to Rhino. Here’s what I use.


20W-50 engine oil with a high ZDDP content. 80W-90 GL4 spec gear oil for the gearbox and final drive. The final drive gets some Molyslip as well. The ATF is for the forks.

It was then over the road to the garage to buy fuel. Petrol in the tank, turn the key and…

…no go. The engine cranked over but no sign of any attempt to start. Close examination showed the electric fuel tap was leaking slightly and when I took the spark plugs out they seemed to be bone dry. To make things worse, there didn’t seem to be much of a spark at the plugs either. I had checked the plug gap and tested for a spark like this


I have experience of holding a plug by its cap against a cylinder to check for sparks. Back when I was but a lad I had a Yamaha RD400 which was running on one cylinder. My father suggested I hold the plug against the engine in the time-honoured way and he would kick it over. I did as suggested but steadied myself by holding on to the metal upright to the car port. Suffice to say I got a series of shocks. Unable to speak for a moment my good old dad gave it another kick for good measure repeating the experience and proving that the insulation to the metal shielded plug cap had definitely broken down.

Back to Rhino. I decided to order a pair of manual fuel taps from Gutsibits. These are the type found on loads of Guzzis from the late 70s onwards and are cheap. They are a matched pair so both taps are turned toward the front for “off” and toward the back for “reserve”. “On” is down.

The new taps arrived quickly and today I’ve been back to basics checking the points and ignition timing just in case.

Points gap and ignition timing.

This is what it looks like inside the contact breaker housing. Each cylinder has its own set of points.


The top set are for the right cylinder and the lower set for the left. Points gap is 0.37 to 0.43mm when fully open so I set them with a 0.4mm feeler gauge. They didn’t seem to be far out.

I moved on to checking the ignition timing. It’s no good having a decent spark if it’s delivered at the wrong time. Now this was a bit out. I think I had intended to check this once the wiring was done but never did.  I do static timing only and this is how it’s done. You can use a strobe light and do it with the engine running but I’ve never found the need. It’s very important that the points gaps are adjusted correctly first though.

Start by pulling the rubber bung out of the right hand side of the clutch bell-housing and removing the rocker covers from the engine. Take the spark plugs out, then engage top gear so that you can use the back wheel to turn the engine over.

Start with the right hand cylinder and its contact breaker and turn the flywheel anti-clockwise (the teeth moving upward when viewed through the bell-housing hole) with the back wheel. Stop when the “D” for destra (right in Italian) with a line immediately above it lines up with the middle of the hole. The piston should be at top dead centre and, if it’s not, you’ve got trouble. However you need to check it’s the compression stroke. If it is, both valves should be closed and the rockers loose. If not go round again till the “D” comes back into view.


Now turn the flywheel back, clockwise (downward) until the next line comes into view. On the V7Sport it’s about 25mm above the “D” TDC (top dead centre) mark. This is the fixed advance (13° BDC) point and is where static timing is set. You’re still not finished as it’s necessary to go beyond this point then back to it to take up any backlash in the system. There is another line even further on which is full advance. You don’t need that one.

So now we have the engine set at the static timing point for the right cylinder and the top set of contact breakers.

Connect a light between the contact for the top (RH) set of points and the engine block. My cheap test lamp fits nicely between the cylinder fins to give a good connection. Slacken the two bolts that clamp the distributor to the engine block. Not too much but just enough so it will turn. There is a special tool to get at these bolts which makes the job easy. I haven’t got one so I take ages struggling with various 13mm spanners instead.

With the ignition switched on, turn the distributor body until the light just comes on. Then clamp it back in place.


The left hand side is similar. Again you get the engine to TDC on the compression stroke with the valves closed and rockers loose. This time the line is immediately above an “S” (sinistra for left) on the flywheel. Go on till the next line (fixed advance) shows. Then beyond it and back again to take up any backlash as before.

The lower  (LH) set of contact breaker points are fixed to a moveable plate. So instead of turning the distributor body you slacken the plate mounting screws to adjust them. This time connect the light between the contact for the bottom (LH) set of points and the engine block and move the plate until the light just comes on. Tighten the screws for the plate, replace the cover on the distributor and refit the rocker covers.

The covers are secured with allen-headed M6 screws. If over-tightened they will strip the threads in the cylinder head. To prevent this, I never use a long allen key to tighten where too much leverage could be applied. I use the “standard” short length and not the extra long sort. I only use the long one for loosening.


I checked for a spark again on each side and must have done something right as there was a significant improvement.

Fuel taps.

It was easy enough to remove both fuel taps from the tank and to fit the later matching manual ones. They have much taller filter screens but the reserve stand-pipes inside are actually the same as the originals.


Once again the taps are fitted with that strange twin-threaded nut. It has a left hand thread in one half so that you can fix it so that the handle is where you want it. I found that I could tighten the securing nut with a 19mm spanner while holding the tap body with a 17mm one.

Before putting the tank back and connecting the fuel lines, I insulated the unused wires for the electric tap at the tap end and tied them out of the way. I don’t want a live wire floating about under the tank. I did the same with the live feed at the fusebox end. I could have removed the wires completely but they might be needed one day.

These fuel taps seem much better made than the type fitted to older Guzzis.


They seem to work well and there’s no risk of the handles dropping off!

Start up.

Petrol was put back in the tank, chokes on, ignition on and…

…the battery was too low to crank the engine properly. I only fitted the new battery to The Fire Bike yesterday so that was pulled out and used to jump start Rhino. He started immediately.

I’m hoping I didn’t spend time making a new battery carrier for nothing and don’t need to buy a second battery in two weeks. However, I’ve prepared the wife for the worst! The little Odyssey battery has been charged up this evening with no error warnings from the battery charger. I’ve disconnected it from the charger and will see if it’s still got a good charge tomorrow.


Time for a new battery – 3 Feb 2016.

Just about a week a go the sun shone briefly here in Wales so I decided to give The Fire Bike a wash. The day before, it hadn’t wanted to start because the battery was flat. I put this down to lack of use and charged the battery. On the day in question the bike started in the garage and I ran it back down the driveway ready to begin. I always start the bike first because it’s a tough push back up hill into the garage with a non-starter.

The bike was given a good clean and I dried it off as best I could. It was clouding over so it needed to go back inside but, of course, now it wouldn’t start. There was just that horrible clicking noise. I had to move both the bike and my car so that I could jump start it but, by the time I’d got the side panel off to get to the battery +ve terminal and had set up the leads it was raining. Not just raining but throwing it down in good Welsh fashion.

Once in the garage I ran the bike for a while to dry the engine off and set to drying the rest of the bike. It was at this point that I managed to burn the back of my hand on an exhaust header! I made a decent job of it too. I’m still nursing it although it looks like it is finally healing.

Having run the bike for a good while, it still wouldn’t restart. My CTEK battery charger indicated it was faulty and no longer able to hold a charge.

After doing some research I bought a Motobatt MBTX30UHD battery. The “HD” bit means it’s a black one. They’re usually bright yellow which isn’t a problem on the fire bike where the battery is hidden away but might be if I ever put it to use on Rhino where it would show.


It’s quite a bit smaller than what was fitted before but is just as strong, if not better.


The old battery was held in place by this large frame which is too big for the Motobatt.


As you can see, I have made another attempt at charging the old battery but it’s definitely “had it”.

The Motobatt is unusual in that it has four terminals; 2 +ve and 2 -ve. I decided to use diagonally opposite ones so that my home made battery clamp crosses over the two blanked off ones. It wasn’t absolutely necessary but was very handy. The clamp uses the “J-screws” from the original clamp with a piece of metal between them. The battery stands on an off-cut of the non-slip matting I use in my tool cabinet. It is very secure like this.



The plug hanging down at the front is a connection point for my battery charger. I’ve tied this to the speedo cable to keep it accessible but out of the way.


I used to reach it by taking the left hand panel off but this will be better as the wall socket for the charger is on the right when I park the bike.

All seems to be back to normal now. There are a few jobs to do on The Fire Bike but I’m itching to get Rhino up and running.