Guzzi Festival – 10 to 12 Aug 2018.

As I indicated in my last post, as usual, I attended the MGCGB Guzzi Festival which was held near South Molton in Devon this year. I had decided that I would be brave and go on the V7Sport and hope that I was not crippled by the riding position. Although I’m still pretty flexible, the heavy throttle and weight on my wrists can cause me problems and this would be by far the furthest I’d been in one day on it.

Another reason was that The Fire Bike feels like it needs to be “gone through”. It continues to be reliable but I think it might be a bit down on power and possibly getting a little tired. The trailer also need new tires.

I bought a huge seatbag at the Llandovery Motorcycle Weekend last month in preparation for this jaunt. It was new old stock and appears to be an old version of the “Speedpack” by Bags Connection/SW Motech. It was very cheap which is always a good thing. The bag is actually in three parts. The main bit is fabric with some sort of aluminium frame in it and there are two rigid fabric side bags which fasten under it to give a pannier type arrangement. The whole lot is strapped down to the pillion seat without the need for a rack.

If you look you can see that there is a fault with the set I’ve got. There are two right hand lower bags. The left one is just fitted the wrong way round. It makes no difference as the shape viewed side on is the same.

I decided that I would be travelling light without any cooking gear or such. It turned out that I could get everything for the weekend including my new smaller, more compact tent into the bags. There is a nice secure waterproof cover which was tested over the next few days.

The weather forecast for the weekend was not good and the Friday departure day started off very wet. In fact, as the bike stood loaded up outside and I wriggled into my waterproofs, it was raining so hard that the rain was bouncing a foot and a half off the ground. As I went outside I questioned my own sanity but the rain stopped and the sun came out.

It stayed mainly dry for the 200+ mile run to the Festival. I’d gone well over half way before I was briefly rained upon. Although the sky was black and the roads often wet it was the traffic and not the weather which became a pain. The motorways were choked with traffic and I filtered through what seemed like miles of stationary or barely moving traffic. I will only filter at about 25mph so you can tell how slow things were.

I also witnessed a “Police incident” on the M5 where a group of police cars tried to stop a car. This resulted in a crash with the driver being pulled from his vehicle and then restrained on the tarmac. The already heavy traffic came to a standstill and, as the tailback grew, a number of motorcycles filtered to the front. After 15 minutes or so we were allowed past the scene with a “careful how you go” from the Police officer who waved us on our way. Faced with three totally empty lanes of motorway tarmac progress was what could be described as swift. Some of the other bikes were quite a bit swifter than me!

The campsite for the Festival was a field at the back of a rather nice commercial camping and caravan park with good facilities. After signing in I was invited by Dave P to pitch my tent near him and two other loopframe Guzzi owners.

The two very similar 850GTs belonging to Dave and Phil had been joined by Kev’s very nice 850 Eldorado.

There was another 850 there that I don’t think I had seen before.

These were the only examples of loopframe bikes at the event and there were no big-block Tonti-framed 750s other than mine. However I had to include this photo of an outfit complete with tandem on the roof rack.

The already large sidecar appeared to have been widened and possily lengthened as well.

I’m glad I took my few photos soon after arriving as the following day was wet and miserable for a lot of the time. I decided to not get involved in any ride-outs but wish I’d gone despite the weather. However, there was no reason to get bored on site during the day. The evening entertainment was provided by a Paul Weller tribute act who I thought were pretty good.

There was a break in the musical entertainmet for the obligatory raffle and awards. I was chuffed to be given the award for the best Guzzi at the event. Kev came second with his white Eldorado.

It was almost dry on the Sunday morning when I packed my tent away to come home. I went for a cooked breakfast, donned my waterproofs and headed out in the rain toward the motorway traffic once more.

As it happens the ride home wasn’t that bad. Yes it did rain for some of the time but it was nothing like the deluge that had been forcast. The traffic was easier as well. The Racing Rhino was a pleasure to ride and my wrist survived fairly well. I worked out that it managed 50mpg which I reckon is very good. There’s now a leak from the clutch pushrod seal at the back of the gearbox but, you can’t have everything.

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Don’t panic! 8 Aug 2018

I had spent some time getting The Racing Rhino ready for the trip to the MGCGB Guzzi Festival in Devon. I’d not gone away on it since the rebuild completed in 2015 and had decided that I’d travel light and go on the V7Sport rather than on The Fire Bike with trailer. The points were adjusted, valve clearances checked and the carbs balanced.

This summer has been very busy and I’ve had to rebuild part of my timber garage/workshop which has rotted badly already. It meant that all had become very disorganised and I was struggling to find things. So I spent a morning trying to restore some order and put the bikes outside to give me room. When I brought The Racing Rhino back in it would only run on one cylinder. There was no spark on the left. I swapped the plugs over on the off chance that it could be a duff plug but that wasn’t it.

The last ignition related things I had touched were the contact breaker points. Perhaps I hadn’t tightened a screw properly and the points had closed up. I’d done 50 miles or so since but that had to be it. I swore quietly as I removed the fuel tank and points cover to take a look and realised what I had done. It was nearly 5pm on the 8th. I was off to Devon on the 10th and I had a family event to be at on the 9th.

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The week before, the tank had been heavy with fuel so I’d tried to adjust the points without removing it. It can be done and I had just moved the points cover to one side. When refitted it had trapped the green wire to the coil for the left cylinder almost totally cutting it through in two places. It had stayed in tact just long enough for my last ride but then expired on the driveway. It’s just as well it happened then and not on the way to Devon. That was lucky!

I made up a replacement wire which includes a special connector at the points end. Of course I didn’t have one of these and used a crimp on earth tag which I then cut and filed to shape.

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My crimping could have been better on this occasion but did the job.

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The little black thing on the wire is some tape to stop it pulling through the securing block on the “distributor”. The original wire had a metal eyelet crimped here.

With everything back together the panic was over.

A tow bar on a V7Sport? – 27 Nov 2017.

All year I have been threatening to fit a tow bar to the V7Sport which generally has caused some amusement whenever it’s been mentioned. Nevertheless I did make a start on fabricating a hitch at the beginning of July. The plan had been to have it fitted and useable by the MGCGB Guzzi Festival in August but, what with one thing and another, I was nowhere near being ready and I went on The Fire Bike instead. I had been reluctant to post my progress as I went in case it all turned out wrong. However, today I’ve revisited the project and have decided to file a report as I can’t see why it shouldn’t work.

Firstly, why would I want to do such a thing? I enjoy attending camps and rallies and, having towed my trailer behind The Fire Bike, have found this to suit me. I can carry whatever I want for a comfortable weekend (without being too silly) and don’t have to crush everything to fit into panniers. My stuff stays dry and I can carry bulky but light items which I would usually have to leave at home. Now I will have a choice of bike to take on these jaunts.

Next I had to come up with a design. I don’t mind the Fire Bike being permanently fitted with a hitch but I wanted something for Rhino that could easily be removed. I’ve looked at tow hitches fitted to other Tonti framed Guzzis and found that there seem to be two main types. The first sort is bolted to the same bolts on each side that fasten the lower frame rails to the main bike frame. Tubes/bars then run back to the tow ball. This lot is then held up by stays to the rearmost part of the seat tubes where the seat pivots on a V7Sport. The second type of bracket is fastened to the upper part of the frame and then curves down in an S shape to the tow ball behind the wheel. This is then stabilised by bars running forward to the footpegs. I decided to base my design on the first style.

The first difficulty was that, on the V7Sport, things are very busy in this area on the left side due to the rear brake arrangements. The brackets can’t be fitted on the outside of the frame joint because the brake pedal is there. On the inside there’s not much clearance between frame and swing arm.

What I decided to do was to make a heavy metal bracket to connect to the two bolts and to the bolt on the footrest bracket that mounts the silencers. I could use this to then provide mounting points behind the pillion footrests and build the tow bar proper back from there. The flat brackets would be able to remain in place when the rest of the tow bar is removed.

To this end I removed the footrest brackets and used them to mark out hardboard templates before cutting out the final version. It turned out that, due to the restricted space on the left side of the frame, I couldn’t quite do things as I had wanted. I found that I could mount the plate to the forward bolt in the pair but not the rearward one. The nut on that bolt is already chamfered to gain clearance and the thickness of the plate would make it hit the swing arm. I did think about using a half thickness nut but realise this would have to be chamfered and I wouldn’t be able to get a spanner on it. I did make a smaller nut (17mm instead of 19mm) but it still didn’t really work. In the end I drilled a clearance hole and left that bolt alone. On that side the plate will be held by the one bolt here and the other where the exhaust mounts. The modified pattern is a slightly different shape to maintain strength. It was offered up before both metal plates were cut and fitted. I had to replace three of the frame bolts with slightly longer ones.

I had to cut some packing pieces to fit between each footrest bracket at the silencer bolt and my new plate.

The two unpainted plates have been left on the bike since then and you’d only notice them if you went looking for them.

I bought some solid steel bar from Eifion who made the tow bracket/pannier frame for my V7 loop. I got the same stuff as he had used. A lot of time was then spent measuring and working out how these bars should be bent. I made a template board up and then took it with the bars back to Eifion who bent them to fit. It would have taken me ages. He did it in 10 minutes.

I did weld flat plates to the forward ends of the bars after cutting them to length but that’s as far as it went. I’ve not had time to do any more since the beginning of August.

I’ve now got the bike up on the bench and the bars bolted to their brackets at the front end. The rear section is positioned on my old home-made lift. I constructed this about ten years ago to hold my old 750S3 when I put it together for the first time. It clamps to the edges of the bench and has a thread to raise the cross piece on each side. I had intended to cut it down as its height gets in the way sometimes. I’m glad I didn’t!

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.

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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Wheel balancing, take 2 – 30 Jul 2016.

Having successfully balanced the wheels on The Fire Bike, I decided to go ahead and do the same for The Racing Rhino, my V7Sport. These weren’t balanced when the new tyres were fitted. A lot of what follows repeats stuff I’ve done before but I’ve got the time to set it out again!

I started with the front wheel which is the important one to balance. To get it off:

  • Put the bike on the centre stand.
  • Disconnect the front brake cables from the hubs by first loosening them at the brake lever end. This is to maintain the relative adjustment of each brake shoe.

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  • Slacken the wheel spindle nut and loosen the clamp bolts in the fork lowers.

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  • Jack up the bike under the sump so the front wheel is clear of the ground. I use the trolley jack I still have from my days of working on old cars.

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  • Remove the spindle nut and withdraw the spindle.
  • Lower the wheel to the ground complete with the brake hubs.
  • Make a note of which way round the wheel goes to maintain the direction of tyre rotation and to match the brake drums with their shoes.

The wheel and its spindle can now go in my home-made balancing stand.

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It was clear that the wheel did need some weights added so I gave the rim a clean then put it back in the stand. I marked the highest point of the rim and started to add weights with masking tape until the wheel was balanced. The wheel now stopped in a different place each time it was spun and would stay wherever it was put. It needed just 15g.

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The area the weights would be stuck to was cleaned with cellulose thinners and the weights fixed permanently. The rims on the V7Sport are Borrani Record “Cross”. This means they are more deeply valanced than those fitted to my V7 700 and means that there is room to stick the weights to the inside of the valanced part.

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The front wheel was refitted to the bike and the jack removed from under the engine.

Getting the back wheel out of the V7Sport is so much easier than doing the job on my loopframe V7. There are no panniers in the way and the rear mudguard hinges up so the wheel can be got out without the need to raise the bike or lean it on its side:

  • With the bike still on the centre stand.
  • Slacken and disconnect the brake cable from the brake hub.
  • Remove the brake torque arm.
  • Remove the wheel spindle nut.
  • Slacken the clamp bolt in the swing arm.
  • Undo the “thumb bolts” and raise the mudguard.

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  • Remove the wheel spindle while holding the wheel and brake plate in place against the drive box. Note that there is a thick spacer washer on the spindle¬† between the swing arm and brake hub.

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  • The wheel, together with the brake hub, can then be pulled off the drive splines on the bevel box, lowered to the ground and removed backward under the raised mudguard. Why aren’t more bikes fitted with hinged mudguards like this?

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The wheel was then cleaned and balanced in the same way as before. It took a lot of weights (as did the rear wheel on the V7 700).

I must have over-greased the drive splines on the wheel before. The grease had been flung around inside the hub on the drive side and some had found its way out between the wheel and the bevel box. I had begun to think that the big seal in the bevel box was failing again but, no it’s grease. It’s sticky and doesn’t smell like gear oil at all.

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I think the drive splines on the hub are showing some wear but are OK for now. I checked the spokes in this wheel, having had some loose ones in the past due to broken spoke nipples and couldn’t find any.

When it came to refitting the wheel, I cleaned the grease from the splines on the wheel and drive box then re-applied it but, more sparingly this time.

I haven’t added Oko sealant to the tyres on this bike yet ( as I did to The Fire Bike) but probably will do so soon.

5 Aug 2016 update: I have added the measured amount of Oko Puncture Safe to the tyres now.

  • Front 90/90-18 has 200ml.
  • Rear 100/90-18 has 225ml.

I went for a 10 mile test ride and got home after covering 80 miles.

Gearbox clutch-shaft oil seal replacement – 13 Jul 2016.

Having got access to the gearbox, it was now time to tackle the leak from its front end. Just to backtrack a little, before removing the gearbox I like to tie the clutch arm on the ‘box so it can’t swing about and get damaged. It also means the return spring can’t get lost either.

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Once the nuts have been removed the gearbox can be pulled back off the engine. It needs to be pulled back squarely.

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I transferred the gearbox to the workbench to take a look at what I’d got. It was clear where the leak was coming from. As I’d expected, the oil seal around the input (or clutch) shaft had failed. You can see where the oil has run down the front of the ‘box.

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Luckily there is no sign of any oil getting to the clutch. If this seal fails or the rear crank seal fails on the engine you are usually (but not always) OK as the clutch itself is housed inside the flywheel away from the oil.

To reach the oil seal I had to remove the clutch hub which is held in place by a peg nut and a star lock washer. These can be problematic. The first thing to do is to find which slot in the nut has got a tag from the washer folded into it.

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I abused a small screwdriver to start levering the tag clear. Then used a punch with a flat end to knock it back out of the way.

To undo the peg nut holding the splined hub you ideally need three Guzzi special tools. The first is a bracket you bolt the gearbox to so that it can’t move about. The second is a tool to fit the splines of the hub and hold it still (I keep meaning to pick up a worn out clutch plate to make one from). Finally you need a four-pronged socket to fit the hub nut.

Years ago I made a special socket by grinding a 30mm socket. It’s ugly but it works. To hold the hub nut still I used some rubber on the splines and a set of stilsons which are equally nasty.

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The hub then just slides off the splined shaft. The back of the peg nut which goes against the hub is curved as is the lock washer. This is so you can reach a tag to bend it forward. Both nut and lock washer were in good condition so I could reuse them.

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It seems that when I fitted the gearbox I broke one of my own rules. I would say that it’s worth replacing this seal whenever you have the box off because it takes so much work to reach it. However, I can see that this is still an old seal and, what is worse, I replaced the clutch hub and still left the old seal in place. This was just asking for trouble!

I also recognised some old damage I’d forgotten about. It’s very old (1970s), from before I owned the bike and is to the part of the gearbox where the seal fits. I don’t know what could have caused the wear but something appears to have let go in the clutch housing at some time. The oil seal itself has been rubbed as well.

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I tried to get the old oil seal out by putting a self-tapping screw in it and levering on it but the screw just pulled out.

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However it weakened the seal enough to be able to put a small screwdriver in the hole and lever it out that way. I noticed there is some damage to the face where the seal sits. It looks like a little triangle. I think it should be fine and won’t cause any problems. In the photo it looks neat enough to be supposed to be there.

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That wear to the “boss” on the front of the gearbox caused me a bit of a problem. Normally you would knock the new oil seal in until it is level with the surface. However the surface is now crooked. I measured the depth of the housing to the outer race of the bearing with my calipers.

9.87mm at 12 o’clock.
9.74mm at 3 o’clock.
10.17mm at 6 o’clock.
9.64mm at 9 o’clock.

I made a mistake with my first attempt. I set the seal in square but too deep so that it was partially recessed. Of course it was ruined taking it back out again. I had bought two seals which was lucky. The second time I carefully tapped the seal in until it was flush at the 6 o’clock position. This meant the seal was standing a little proud elsewhere but it was secure. To check that it was actually in square, I held a small steel rule across its face and slid the clutch hub onto the splined shaft to check the back of that was also flat on the rule. I tested it at different angles and I had got it right.

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When I oiled and slid the clutch hub partially into the seal I could see that the witness mark from the old seal also lined up well. The hub was pushed on properly and the locking washer inserted. It locates in a slot in the shaft.

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That peg nut was tightened by hand then some means was needed to lock the hub again. I didn’t resort to the stilsons this time. Instead I used a piece of wood and a small scrap of metal to jam the splines.

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I can’t find any torque figure for this nut so just did it up as tight as I could manage and then bent a tab of the lock washer forward.

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I had intended to change the oil seal at the output end of the gearbox as well while I had it on the bench. They are both the same and is why I had bought two seals but, now I haven’t got one spare. There was no sign of any leak from the back of the ‘box so I decided to refit it as it was. At least if this seal fails it can be reached just by taking the wheel and swing arm off rather than having to dismantle the whole bike or crab the frame.

Before refitting the gearbox I remove the rubber blanking plug that you use when timing the engine, from the side of the gearbox. You also need to have a long-handled screwdriver handy. I get the ‘box on the mounting studs and, if the clutch hub doesn’t slide into the driven plates I can turn the hub a touch with the screwdriver through the hole until it goes together. I find that easier than having the ‘box in gear and turning the output shaft.

Un-crabbing the frame!

This is basically the reverse of the dismantling process (but you might swear in different places). There are a few things to remember;

  • Leave the final tightening of the frame/footrest bracket bolts, front and rear engine bolts, the lower crashbar mountings, and the screws holding the plate under the battery to the gearbox until they are all in place and screwed home.
  • Adjust the swing arm bearings so there is no slack but they do not bind. The pins should project from the frame by the same amount on each side (7.1mm both sides in my case) before fitting the lock nuts.
  • Take the opportunity to grease the splines on the back of the gearbox, the driveshaft, its sleeve and the bevel box as you refit them.
  • Leave the final tightening of the four nuts holding the bevel box to the swing arm until after you’ve got the rear wheel in and the axle tightened. this is to make sure the axle is properly aligned and can be removed and inserted easily.
  • Grease the splines between the rear wheel and drive box.
  • Also grease the bushes that hold the gearchange crossover shaft in the lower frame rails.
  • Adjust the rear brake cable.
  • Adjust the front brake cables at the lever to keep the two front brake drums synchronised.

The reassembly took a little longer than the dismantling because I spent some time cleaning the exhaust system and putting it together with silicone sealant. My experiment with this was a success so I’ve done it again. The only problem is that you have to leave the exhaust and sealant for 24 hours before running the engine.

Result!

As it happened it was two days before I could get back to working on the bike. Today I removed it from the bench and re-did the carb synchronising just in case! There was no gear oil leak and this afternoon I went for a quick 50 mile ride. All seems fine.

Before going out I had removed some of the blueing from the exhaust header. I don’t use commercial chrome cleaners usually as they can damage/remove the chrome surface. However I tried a little this time. I didn’t try to get rid of all the discolouration but just reduced it. The blueing didn’t reappear during the ride but I’ll just have to see how it goes.

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