Wednesday 28 October 2015

Getting there slowly

As mentioned previously racing has taken a bit of a back seat, especially whilst I sort out other stuff in my life, starting a new job in the summer and shortly to be moving house too. But I have been slowly getting the Rally bike sorted.

You may recall the slight disaster with the thread on the securing bolt for the cam shaft feed  oil screen, that wound itself out of the crankcase when I did the oil and filter change. Of course I did see the positive side, as my inability to do an oil change in Morocco meant that I hadn't had a potential retirement half way through the rally, as I doubt I could have got it fixed out there.

This was clearly beyond my workshop capabilities so on my return the bike got taken to Torque Racing Services,

As an aside, this was also a test of fitting the EXC in my Mercedes Vito. No problem as I had removed the rear seats at the time and the navigation tower and fairing had been removed from the bike. This is the secret of getting it in the “none too tall” Vito.

The fairing was designed right from the start only to mount on the nav tower itself and nowhere else on the bike. Also the wiring all goes through a single block connector, for ease of removal. So it’s simply a matter of removing two bolts and unplugging the wiring to remove the navigation tower, road book, head lights and fairing all as one unit. In all it takes about ten minutes to remove or re-fit.

It is a lot easier to do if the fairing has been removed first and this means removing six bolts that screw into captive threads in the mounts again designed for ease of removal and fitting but this does of course mean it takes a bit longer. So the plan is to replace the bolts with quick release dzus fasteners. In fact this was always the intention but another of those jobs that I ran out of time to do before the Tuareg Rally.

The plan with the bike at Torque was for Martin to fit a Wurth Timesert into the thread, however in the event the thread size was an odd one and this proved not to be an economical option. So after trying some alternative solutions such as re-cutting the original thread but discovering this wouldn't work, he employed the services of a local machine shop that made a unique solution. An aluminium insert was made that was bonded into the hole, and threaded to accept a bolt from a later model EXC on the outside, the oil screen now fitting straight through the insert.

The problem is that the oil screen fits across the cases and is located inside the securing bolt, however now the distance has been increased between the fitting inside the cases and the securing bolt an aluminium adapter was made that plugs into the end of the oil screen to locate it in the correct place. To assist fitting and removal, a threaded hole was machined into this, so all you need to do is screw an M6 bolt into the adaptor to fit or remove the screen, then it can be removed and the securing bolt fitted. A very neat solution that prevented the alternative… a new set of crankcases, not a cheap option!

As an added bonus, Martin fitted new oil filters and new oil to test that the repair was oil tight, so saving me the effort.

The other weekend I changed the coolant and despite the fact that I had been topping up the bike with plain water in Morocco, it still looked fairly healthy and judging by the colour there was still plenty of coolant left in there.

I also fitted a new stand and pivot bolt, as you may recall the bolt snapped in Morocco, causing the stand to fall off! The only downside being that I can’t remember where I put the side stand spring… I know it came back to the UK but no doubt it’s “somewhere safe”. 

Edit: I eventually found it in a box of bits!

The negative bits of the weekend was first the chain, after the rally I had sprayed it with Teflon dry lube that had worked well in the desert, Unfortunately it didn't cope too well with the journey home and I guess two ferry crossings hadn't helped, as when I picked up the bike it was rather rusty! I soaked it in oil for a suitably long time but unfortunately it is still full of stiff links, so not really fit to go back on the bike. So a new chain was ordered and is ready to go on the bike.

Next was the battery, after the hammering it got in Morocco I shouldn't have been surprised but even after a long recharge on an Optimate charger it can't turn the engine over, so it looks like I fried it on the rally. Tanya batteries came to the rescue with a reasonably priced Enduroline that as soon as I fitted it, spun the engine over easily. But it wouldn't start! I soon realised this was because I had completely drained down the tank! Note to self.... go buy some petrol.

Also on that list are some new plastics as it’s currently wearing an old black set that I had saved but they are looking a bit second hand and in a mixture of white, orange and black, the bike is looking a bit of a miss mash. Although I do have a plan as I have some white sign writing vinyl, that with the aid of a hair dryer I could "wrap" the rear mudguard and side panel in white vinyl, saving a considerable amount of money and providing a "disposable" finish that can be cheaply replaced when necessary. Let's just see if it works!

I also fitted some new lower fork protectors (in white) as the brake hose/speedo cable clamp on the left hand one had stripped the thread and they were looking distinctly second hand too.

So what next? Well there's only one thing for it.... I've entered the Hafren Rally on November 15th

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