Wednesday, 10 February 2016

One piece at a time

It's those tiny details that are so important.
Nut screws washers and bolts

Four tank badge oval set screws, £2.95. Inc postage.


Sunday, 7 February 2016

Let's go shopping

I've been to the Bristol Classic Bike Show where there were some very lovely motorcycles

and hundreds of stalls, the majority of which were selling the same disposable rubber gloves, and the same Bergen brand socket sets.


I have bought

8 stainless steel dome nuts that are the wrong size for my exhaust studs.
Three 50mm and four 35mm m8 metric fine stainless steel bolts.
One small vice.
one stainless steel brake bleed nipple
a packet of the aforesaid rubber gloves
one metre of fuel pipe
A polishing mop set
A pair of funky little rear view mirrors
and most importantly:

one pair used pattern Jama megaphone exhausts with down pipes. these are made of unobtanium, and sell for absurd amounts on Ebay. they did not cost me an absurd amount and will replace the efficient but very ugly Motad 2-1

And one nice new Avon Roadrunner 19 inch front tyre. also virtually unobtainable

This evening i have used many of my tools and managed to free the piston in my rear caliper and having failed to obtain a pair of first oversize pistons  it's off to the internet to buy them from the dutch. Or the germans...

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Open heart surgery

So, it's been a while.
There are various reasons for this, but basically it boils down to having a series of reliable vehicles, that aren't very interesting to write about, ("so I bought a Fiat and it was very nice, and then it got crushed by a 60 tonne crane. oh, alright, maybe that is a bit interesting)
And you might also note that the last posts coincided with the arrival of facebook in a big way.


On my facebook page a couple of weeks back I posted this picture:

This, is Cassius, of whom I have written before.

The story of Cassius

 Cassius has been stashed in my lock up for 8 years, sadly neglected, due to a lack of time, skill, and cash, quietly rotting away.

well, no more.

I rather foolishly said when I posted the picture that I was saying goodbye to Cassius because of a spate of open heart surgery, which worried a few, given that anyone like me who has been moderately dissolute in their youth (and erm middle age) might indeed be heading for the operating table.

But its actually Cass who needs the work.

So a couple of weeks ago I dropped him off with the very nice chaps at Alpha Classic Motorcycles for major remedial surgery.

Well after a day of swearing, they've managed to get her apart, and things aren't that bad. Beyond a possible rebore and couple of first oversize pistons, Cass needs not a lot else in the engine department, which, given the she was smoking like a James Bond secret weapon when she was parked up, is remarkable.

Incidentally the reason why the top end is all lovely and shiny is that she's been vapour blasted. what a remarkable thing that is because it turns this:
Into this

and this

 This is the guts of him
 And this is what the bottom end looks like. Now Simon at Alpha is a bit worried that a shiny top end and grubby bottom end might look out of place, but I reckon that it's going to look like a surgery scar. Evidence he's been in the wars and come out the other side.
And I do like a bit of patina

Looks like the engine is  going to be the easy bit though, because pretty much everything else is covered in a fine film of rust and that's going to be a job and a half...

The important thing for me is though, lets get this baby going again before the summer.

Good job I've got a bit bored of Facebook, I suppose.
Break out the WD40, paint stripper, wire brushes, spanners and paraffin. I'm going in.

Rock and roll, baby. Rock and fuckin' roll

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Legs and Co

Well I haven't posted anything in an age, but, for the 1,000 or so people who come visiting each month, here are some pictures from this years Bristol Classic Bike Show, which, confusingly, isn't held in Bristol. Couldn't find anything I could afford which was worth buying, sadly...
A Triumph TRW25. V nice

Would have liked this a lot, but a tad overpriced at nearly three grand

Some great elbow work in this shot of a KH250 I feel. Watch out for lots of legs, too

I always wanted one of these, just so I could join the Harley Owners Group

142,000 miles has gone under this CX500's wheels.

Don't imagine this MV Agusta 850 gets out of the garage much :(

A Harley-Davidson

This is an entirely British-built racing motorcycle.

Barton engine made in Carmarthen.

That Harley, close up

BSA Hornet. Slather.

Panther bobber. Drool.

Look at this row of Triumphs. Isn't it lovely?

The thieving ratbags flogging this pile of scrap wanted more for one Triumph 650 engine than I paid for a whole Ducati.

British you say? What makes you think that?

Kawasaki KH500 of utter gorgeousness


For the Emperor!

This is the last motorcycle BSA ever sold. A 100cc Yamaha with stickers on the tank. How are the mighty fallen

Now I really want one of these, A BSA B44. Not at this price though.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Automatic for the people

Anyone following this drivel will have noticed that my life has been the last resting place of what frankly were a whole bunch of dirt cheap sheds.

Most of my cars, certainly, have been merely stopping off on their way to the scrapyard.

But there is one motor vehicle which broke that mould – my Nissan Primera 2 litre SE Automatic.

Ideally suited for the executive car park

This is the single most gorgeous motor car I have ever owned.

True, on the surface it’s a very ordinary saloon car and nothing special. But after Fiat 126s, ancient Escorts and decrepit Avengers it shines like a diamond.

The Nissan was my 41st birthday present. It used to belong to my mum's husband Bob, who had passed away, and my mum didn’t want it, because it was just too damn big for her.

He had damn good taste. He bought the car as an ex-demo and being a canny devil, he ended up with a car with every single goodie added for nowt.

So I leapt from the driving seat of a rattly old Renault 11 into the world of luxury motoring. In order to get the motor I had to drive it from London to Edinburgh, and then back from Edinburgh to Somerset.
Getting behind the wheel I luxuriated in the leather seats, air conditioning, and CD auto changer – hell’s teeth, on most of my motors you had to slow down to hear the radio over the roar of the engine. It had big fat alloy wheels, and a deliciously smooth automatic gearbox.

It purred.

It purred all the way home and  purred on for another 80,000 miles in my ownership – once whisking the family of four to the Scottish Highlands on a traditional motor tour of the kind people just don't do any more,  mile-munching effortlessly with a full load up, and camping gear three feet high on the roof.
C'mon kids! It'll be fun!
The air con was a revelation in traffic jams, as was the gearbox. For a while I was loath to use the air con as I was told that it made the car use more fuel, so I drove with the widows open. Then someone pointed out that actually this was a false economy.
Most modern cars have been very carefully designed in wind tunnels for aerodynamic efficiency. Drive with the windows down and this all goes, well, out of the window.
The rush of air increases the drag, and you use more fuel as a result. Allegedly.

I spent three happy years zooming round corners, with the car never putting a wheel out of place, and it was actually quite easy to work on – just a bit chunky in the engineering department. I did get hit by a tree on the Wedmore road in it, and it snapped off the radio aerial and cracked the windscreen – yes that’s right, I was hit by a tree – not the other way round.
 It had been felled by the overheight lorry I was driving behind, and bounced off his roof, swinging down into my path.
The chaps in the cars behind had looks on their faces that said “how the hell did you get away with that?” and I’m not sure myself. The windscreen had to be replaced with a wallet-lightening bill for nearly £400.
By now with just over 100,000 miles on the clock the beast was beginning to show its age, and as one might expect the odd thing started to go wrong with it. The air conditioning only worked when it felt like it and the CD autochanger got very temperamental. For some reason it only really liked the Clash, and Wagner. It also snapped a drive shaft clean in two in the centre of town, and hereby hangs a cautionary tale. I phoned Nissan and asked if they could get a replacement shaft – just the metal bit – and they said sure – as long as I could wait six weeks for one from Japan and could pay £350 for it. A driveshaft specialist in Newport wanted £200 for a reconditioned one. So I went on the internet to look for a secondhand one. You would have thought that as the Primera was pretty popular there would be a few in the scrap yards, but no – eventually I signed up to a part finder service – who said, by a text costing £3.50, they had found one at a breakers in Birmingham – I called the breakers – they said they had one and wanted £60 for it. But it was for a car without ABS. So it was the wrong one. I figured that actually as all I needed was the metal shaft, I could use the bits off my old shaft using the necessary bit from the non-ABS one, but decided to keep searching anyway. Then I got another expensive text.
The Birmingham breakers had one from an ABS motor after all and they wanted £85. So I bought it. And guess what. It wasn’t from an ABS motor at all – it was the original shaft, they had just lied to me – by now I was desperate to get back on the road, so I cannibalised it and just decided to put the £25 price difference down to experience.
Three weeks later I got another text from the part finder service asking if I needed any more parts. At £3.50. Then another. And another. It was six texts before I finally got them to stop sending them. The lesson being, be careful who you give your mobile number to.
 Sadly, after putting 80,000 miles on the Nissan, it got less and less use.
The trouble is that  a 2 litre fuel injected dohc engine and an automatic gearbox isn't exactly eco-friendly.
With increasing maintenance needs, 240 miles a week at 18mpg and petrol at what was then a quid a litre, what you get is impending bankruptcy.
God knows how anyone affords to run anything bigger than a 1.8 now.
I started using the good lady's ridiculously frugal Peugeot 106 Diesel, rather than the thirsty Nissan.
So eventually it was parked up when the tax and MOT ran out, and with a house move on the way, an advisory note on the last MOT that the catalytic converter was on its way out costing another £600 and the impending departure of my off-road parking it had to go. I sold it to a second hand dealer for £200.
I think he sent it abroad, and it's probably being a taxi in Estonia or Liberia or something.
I do apologise to Bob, but on my salary the Primera was just a fast road to financial ruination. I doubt I'll ever own such a superb motor car again.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Hipster Chainsaw Massacre

Now, here's a curious thing.


It's a Derringer. Like those little guns saloon girls would pack in Randolph Scott movies.

The manufacturers say:

"A modern interpretation of the board tracking racing motorcycles of the 1920s, Derringer cycles capture the simple, pared-down, aggressiveness of early motorsport while delivering an intricate level of personalized customization. Like their owners, no two Derringer cycles are the same.
For the discerning rider, Derringer offers the opportunity to own a truly unique, one-of-a-kind motorbike that combines innovative engineering with a classic high-performance aesthetic.
Powered by a moto-hybrid drivetrain, Derringer cycles are built for our modern age."

But hang on, Board racers are like this:

A Board Racer, yesterday

 1,200cc deathtrap nut jobs with no brakes, designed to take you straight to Hell. Ridden by men with balls of steel, who had just come back from charging the Kaisers machine guns armed with a toothpick. Or by women with even bigger balls. It will eat your children.

 This, however:

oh look, I'm so ironic

on the other hand is a very nicely built bicycle, with a chainsaw motor shoehorned into the frame.

Is it a motorcycle, or a means to sell $650 leather jackets and $49 t-shirts to people with more money than sense?

You decide....

Monday, 16 April 2012

Renault build a better car. They just keep them for themselves.

Ma Renault Cinq cest tres petit.Avez Renault un auto midi?
Mais oui. parce-que vous would ne pas  appear so shaggable dans la..
Ces't la vie. Mon homme friend avoir moi up le duff de toute facon  
Some vehicles come your way more or less by accident, like this one. We weren't really looking for a new car, but the Escort was so very, very tired. Just down the road from the mouldering pile we had come to call home was a car dealership. Pretty standard stuff on the forecourt - a tidy line-up of resonably good small hatchbacks and saloons, all far too expensive for us.
But round the back, periodically, he would have the odd old banger. And one day I belched past in the very smoky Ford Escort, and there was just such a machine.
A gold 1984 Renault 11, with a sign on the windscreen that said: "£200." AHA! Just my price range. And I knew my Renaults, after all - this was of the gereration of cars I'd spent a far from merry year poking inexpertly with screwdrivers back in the day. I knew how these things worked. I took a look.
18 years old and only 69,000 on the clock? Surely not.
I popped into the sales office and there I met the only honest second hand car salesman in the UK.
He was wearing a yak wool jersey and reading the Guardian. He rather grumpily told me that the Renault belonged to a little old lady who had decided she couldn't drive any more, and who had bought it off him many years before. She had come to him and asked if he could sell it for her. He'd agreed. And agreed to give her every penny of the sales price.
I went and had another look round it - genuine low mileage, unmarked upholstery, factory wheel trims, the real deal. I returned to the garage with my beloved. "Well?" he said, grumpy as ever. "It looks to be a nice little car that," I said.
"Are you kidding? you can't tell from a look. It could be a bloody death-trap." he said, sighing. "But it's £200, so no comebacks, alright?"
I put it on a credit card and drove it off the forecourt..
If you squint, it looks a bit like a Delorean...

Funny little motor, the 11. A 1.4 litre engine that dated back to the stone age, huge boot, ridiculously huge road clearance, which was good given the potholed state of the roads, but did make it lurch around like that other ugly French bugger, Quasimodo. There was just on small problem. Every so often it would simply stop. Dead. You'd pull up at junctions, go to pull off and it would just die. There was no rhyme or reason for it. No special weather conditions or anything.
just Phut. Thats it, I'm going nowhere, mon brave.
And an hour later, it would burst into burbling life again. I checked for a failing coil, for petrol icing, for faulty points and condensers, but nothing worked. Just burble-burble-phut. and always at the worst times.
I wracked my memory banks. It had to be ignition related. I remembered  looking for tracking out in distributor caps - this was a problem with Renaults - they'd used shonky plastic on their distributor caps - they developed hairline cracks, and instead of the spark making its way from cap to plugs, it would run along these hairline cracks and earth out on the engine block. But the cap was fine. but, while putting the rotor arm back on, I noticed a faint black line on the end of it.
Aha! enlightenment - the rotor arm had a crack in it - but was it the cause? In the old days we had been taught to take a hand drill and perforate the cap along the line of the fault, because the errant spark couldn't jump the gap and that sent Sparky back to the plug lead. so I decided to interrupt Sparky again.
Instead of drilling a hole though, I put a tiny blob of superglue on the crack. Instant success - it never missed a beat after that. We kept ze' Automobile Francais for quite a while, or nine months in my money, eventually chopping it in as the deposit on a little Peugeot diesel when the ride started to get lumpy. They gave us £250 for it. When I took the Peugeot back because the thing wouldn't charge, the dealer complained bitterly that we had stitched him up as we'd obviously been driving around with only one rubber engine mounting intact out of three, hence the lumpiness...