Friday, 4 March 2011

Captain Cackhanded and the Brown Trousered Cowboy

The CX500 being a bit bent, I went from the sublime to the ridiculous.
There were four bikers at the depot. Apart from me, there was a crusty old bloke with another even rattier CX500, a long haired chap who would turn up on Kawasaki fours of various descriptions, and who was a 10 year member of the Berserkers MC, a highly respected but now long gone Newport outlaw bike club.
This was a chap who kept himself to himself, but a solid, upstanding bloke. I worked with him for four years, and it was only in my last two weeks with the post office that he told me he was in the club.
And there was a young feller with a 10-year-old Honda VF400F.
This was the first of a very silly series of motorcycles from Honda, with  four cylinders in a vee, three miles of cam chain on each set, six gears, four valves per cylinder, hydraulic doodads all over the shop, a big shiny dash and in-board brakes so complicated that it took Honda factory mechanics two hours to change the brake pads.
For Joe Soap it was an impossibility.

They also had air suspension.

Now, spotty the junior postman had heard about this and became fixated with the idea, that if he adjusted the pressure in the suspension, the bike would be somehow transformed.
He declared that he was going to adjust these pressures. With the post office's high pressure air line.
"Nooooo," cried the crusty old biker, the Berserker and I. The shocks only needed a tiny bit of pressure, and airline is the last thing he should use.
He listened not. And one day we all got back to the depot and found him trying to work out how to ride a 140mph motorcycle with rock solid suspension.

I helped him let all the air out of the now rigid Honda, and pumped it up again with a bicycle pump.
He was very impressed, but he was also fed up with motorcycles and wanted a Fiesta. It was at this time that I had slung the CX500 down the road, and he offered me the VF400F for £400 - about half what it was worth. I grabbed it.

So much trouble in such a small package, as the actress said to the bishop

Interesting motorcycle, the VF. Turbine smooth, insanely fast. Handled quite well, given Captain Cack-handed's efforts to bugger the suspension.
It didn't really gel with me though. It had an irritating and potentially lethal habit of cutting out completely at high speed.

There's nothing quite like the terror of riding a motorcycle down the fast lane at close to a ton, and having engine just stop dead.

And the bike had been fitted with a weird safety feature, so you could only use the electric starter when you were in neutral.

So when the engine stopped, I'd have to pull in the clutch, frantically try to find neutral, all the while piloting a coasting and rapidly slowing motorcycle through three lanes of fast moving  traffic, get to the hard shoulder, get it out of gear, wind the starter for a bit, and the bike fired and ran perfectly, with no indication there was anything wrong.

After fossicking around in the electrical circuitry, and twiddling carb connections, I found out what it was.
The petrol flow was controlled by a tiny vacuum pipe, which was stuck with one end going into the petrol tap and the other end into a carb inlet. The air sucked through the inlet pulled open a tiny diaphragm letting the fuel out. When I reached 94 mph, the rush of air was so great, that the pipe developed a leak, the diaphragm collapsed, with its own tiny pneumothorax, and petrol stopped flowing.
And thus the engine stopped, and wouldn't go again, until it had been spun enough to suck the diaphragm again, to let the fuel flow.
Boy was I glad to work that out. My buttocks were getting so clenched everytime it conked out it was giving me piles.

Having sorted that out, I took a long hard look at this insanely complicated pile of trouble, decided it was likely to be a money pit, and offloaded it to another sucker for more than I paid for it...

A result for once. Which was nice.

best advert ever...

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