Cracking On.

I’ve been making a few attempts to return to running, in between bouts of plague weakness, but every time I do my foot immediately starts hurting again. Happily, all my races have been cancelled this year, so I’m not losing out. The one that looks to be actually happening is the Warrington Way, a 40 mile loop of Warrington. That’s in November, due to the small field and the natural separation over that distance, it looks promising that it can take place. 

I was hopeful about doing that, but my foot is just useless. I’ve had enough of it. It’s been 21 months of bothering me, now is the time to rest it until it heals properly. This can take up to 9 months. I’m going to test it every 3 months.

The thing that decided me was the plague weakness. It progressed from recurrent, 2 or 3 day bouts,  to 2 solid weeks of feeling wasted, to a greater or lesser degree, every day. I decided to seize the plague ridden day and rest. It was that constant that I’d accepted that was it, my life was plague weakness from here on in. Then I noticed I’d been 3 days without it, 4 today. It’s not permanent. Yet. That is such a relief.

Nasty, nasty bug.

My resolve has cracked and I’ve fallen off the veggie wagon. Again.

In a karmic balancing of the scales I am back to pushbiking to work now, (to try and maintain some fitness and not die of morbid obesity now I’m not running) so I’m not destroying the planet as much that way. Not that that is a great consolation to the poor animals.

I had a sweet and sour pork and fried rice from the Chinese on Saturday. Wow. Literally the first thing I’ve properly tasted in about 3 years (since I got that bad cold that wiped out my sense of taste). Sorry piggy, but you didn’t die in vain, at least.

I’ve done a few things in the garden. I was looking at how to lay shed bases for when my uber-shed arrives (in 5 months!) and saw these plastic gravel grids.

The idea being you dig, then level an area, lay a weed suppressant membrane, click the grids into each other, then fill with gravel. This makes them strong enough to drive and park cars on, so easily strong enough to hold a shed. 

I wanted a bit of a test run, and fancied a gravel path. I have a pair of muddy boots in a bucket by the door for any time I want to walk down the garden, a path would stop that.  It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. The big thing I’ve learned is to buy a ton of sand. You can level off the dirt and tamp it down with a plank or by stamping on it, but my dirt is cleggy so it sticks to whatever is squashing it and lifts up again in clumps.

For the shed base I’ll dig in, roughly level off, then shovel in a ton of sand and level it off properly.

Anyway, after making heavy weather of the job, and it taking roughly twice the 10kg per square of gravel they said, job’s a good ‘un. I’m going to get some edging to prevent the stones from migrating, but yeah, happy with that.

It sounds like a tory drive.

Also I bought a mixed bargain lucky dip of perennials. When they arrived they were tiny and it said I had to pot them on. I did, but I’ve been wondering how to set them up for winter. Our dirt isn’t great for drainage, and they are still only small, and the slugs are a pain. I remembered I still had some plastic hoops left from when I cut up a barrel, so I made some temporary raised beds today. They should be happy as Larry in there.

Also, when I cleared the shed out to make it into my motorbike workshop I rigged up a tarpaulin roof between the fence and the shed and shoved all my gardening bits in there. It was only supposed to be a quick fix, but it was letting in water and the water that was running off was making the ground boggy.

I put up a proper roof of that corrugated plastic sheeting, with a gutter so the rain water runs into my water butt barrel. Then I cut a hole in the side of the barrel, wedged in a length of hose pipe and ran it to my bamboo. Now when it fills instead of overflowing it redirects the water to the “can’t overwater” bamboo.

These are just side issues, and quick projects.  Obviously the biggie is still the bike project.

Nath’s bike has been put on the back burner. I’m really fixating on the the NTV.

I’m getting there. I’m one job away from splitting the engine casings. Then it’s pull the rest of the guts out, clean and rebuild. *Then* things get interesting. The one job is pulling the rotor, but the workshop manual says you need a specific tool for that so I’ve ordered it today.

They say when you’ve stripped it as far as I’m doing it’s standard practice to replace the bearings and seals. To which end I’ve just got an electric oven. I was going to buy it for £30 but the woman has damaged it, huge dent in the top, so she said I could have it for free. That way I can heat (and expand) the engine cases so the (frozen and shrunk) new bearings just drop right into place. Wendy has said I’m not allowed to cook my engine cases in our oven so I had to get one for my shed. She’s still going on about “stinking the house out” and the interestingly piquant “chemical death” flavour to the food from the last time, all those years ago. Unreasonable.

One issue I’m struggling with is one of the bearings is discontinued. I want to do a proper job on them, but I just can’t source the parts. For the rest of the bits I have a plan. Instead of buying all brand new bits and second hand bits (£45 per piston, £19 per set of piston rings, £45 oil pump, nuts, bolts, etc etc) I’ve seen a complete second hand engine. I’m bidding on that. I’ll strip that and use it for parts. I’m still getting the engineering practice (twice!) but it won’t cost as much.

Anyway, here’s where I’m up to with the engine.

Actually, I’m a bit further. I’ve taken off the gear change externals (the bar sticking out on the left of the picture and the black linkages attached to it) and the starter motor (the cylindrical thing on the top left of the picture).

I need a special tool to take off the rotor (the big round thing.)

I’ve already taken off the water pump (silver thing with the pipe coming out of it).

As I say, get the tool, take off the rotor, and I can split the cases. Clean everything out, hopefully source some new bearings, replace, rebuild.

Fun times.

Later,

Buck.

PS, We’ve got a new kid.

Emelyne.

She’s got my hair.

Wendy has found some charity that feeds, educates, and save kids from being abused and trafficked.

She want’s to be a doctor, so we’re sorted when the Tories finish selling off the NHS. Cunning plan, Wendy. She’s only 5 so Wendy’s playing the long game, but still, cunning.

Extra: That engine I was bidding on. The second cheapest engine I could find was £150, (some are going for £500) then there was this one. It had only been on eBay for a day and had already had 5 bids on it. The latest bid was £26 with 6 days to go. Rather than start a bidding war, I got a bid sniper (an app that bids at the last second for you with your maximum bid). I wanted this engine so I put my maximum bid as £151.

I won at the last second!

£27!

TWENTY SEVEN OF HER MAJESTY’S POUNDS STERLING!

Hahahahaha! Brilliant!

Got it after work yesterday, 310 mile round trip (nothing is ever local. It’s the law) but with my skills and Wendy’s brawn we got it into the shed. Happy, happy bunny!

And, while I’m here, revising my blog, here’s some from Twitter:

A harsh review:

The Tories in a perfect picture (the slogan reads “From Project Fear to Project Prosperity”)

A wonderful summation of 2020 from Morticia Addams:

And cuteness:

Cracking On.

I’ve been making a few attempts to return to running, in between bouts of plague weakness, but every time I do my foot immediately starts hurting again. Happily, all my races have been cancelled this year, so I’m not losing out. The one that looks to be actually happening is the Warrington Way, a 40 mile loop of Warrington. That’s in November, due to the small field and the natural separation over that distance, it looks promising that it can take place. 

I was hopeful about doing that, but my foot is just useless. I’ve had enough of it. It’s been 21 months of bothering me, now is the time to rest it until it heals properly. This can take up to 9 months. I’m going to test it every 3 months.

The thing that decided me was the plague weakness. It progressed from recurrent, 2 or 3 day bouts,  to 2 solid weeks of feeling wasted, to a greater or lesser degree, every day. I decided to seize the plague ridden day and rest. It was that constant that I’d accepted that was it, my life was plague weakness from here on in. Then I noticed I’d been 3 days without it, 4 today. It’s not permanent. Yet. That is such a relief.

Nasty, nasty bug.

My resolve has cracked and I’ve fallen off the veggie wagon. Again.

In a karmic balancing of the scales I am back to pushbiking to work now, (to try and maintain some fitness and not die of morbid obesity now I’m not running) so I’m not destroying the planet as much that way. Not that that is a great consolation to the poor animals.

I had a sweet and sour pork and fried rice from the Chinese on Saturday. Wow. Literally the first thing I’ve properly tasted in about 3 years (since I got that bad cold that wiped out my sense of taste). Sorry piggy, but you didn’t die in vain, at least.

I’ve done a few things in the garden. I was looking at how to lay shed bases for when my uber-shed arrives (in 5 months!) and saw these plastic gravel grids.

The idea being you dig, then level an area, lay a weed suppressant membrane, click the grids into each other, then fill with gravel. This makes them strong enough to drive and park cars on, so easily strong enough to hold a shed. 

I wanted a bit of a test run, and fancied a gravel path. I have a pair of muddy boots in a bucket by the door for any time I want to walk down the garden, a path would stop that.  It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. The big thing I’ve learned is to buy a ton of sand. You can level off the dirt and tamp it down with a plank or by stamping on it, but my dirt is cleggy so it sticks to whatever is squashing it and lifts up again in clumps.

For the shed base I’ll dig in, roughly level off, then shovel in a ton of sand and level it off properly.

Anyway, after making heavy weather of the job, and it taking roughly twice the 10kg per square of gravel they said, job’s a good ‘un. I’m going to get some edging to prevent the stones from migrating, but yeah, happy with that.

It sounds like a tory drive.

Also I bought a mixed bargain lucky dip of perennials. When they arrived they were tiny and it said I had to pot them on. I did, but I’ve been wondering how to set them up for winter. Our dirt isn’t great for drainage, and they are still only small, and the slugs are a pain. I remembered I still had some plastic hoops left from when I cut up a barrel, so I made some temporary raised beds today. They should be happy as Larry in there.

Also, when I cleared the shed out to make it into my motorbike workshop I rigged up a tarpaulin roof between the fence and the shed and shoved all my gardening bits in there. It was only supposed to be a quick fix, but it was letting in water and the water that was running off was making the ground boggy.

I put up a proper roof of that corrugated plastic sheeting, with a gutter so the rain water runs into my water butt barrel. Then I cut a hole in the side of the barrel, wedged in a length of hose pipe and ran it to my bamboo. Now when it fills instead of overflowing it redirects the water to the “can’t overwater” bamboo.

These are just side issues, and quick projects.  Obviously the biggie is still the bike project.

Nath’s bike has been put on the back burner. I’m really fixating on the the NTV.

I’m getting there. I’m one job away from splitting the engine casings. Then it’s pull the rest of the guts out, clean and rebuild. *Then* things get interesting. The one job is pulling the rotor, but the workshop manual says you need a specific tool for that so I’ve ordered it today.

They say when you’ve stripped it as far as I’m doing it’s standard practice to replace the bearings and seals. To which end I’ve just got an electric oven. I was going to buy it for £30 but the woman has damaged it, huge dent in the top, so she said I could have it for free. That way I can heat (and expand) the engine cases so the (frozen and shrunk) new bearings just drop right into place. Wendy has said I’m not allowed to cook my engine cases in our oven so I had to get one for my shed. She’s still going on about “stinking the house out” and the interestingly piquant “chemical death” flavour to the food from the last time, all those years ago. Unreasonable.

One issue I’m struggling with is one of the bearings is discontinued. I want to do a proper job on them, but I just can’t source the parts. For the rest of the bits I have a plan. Instead of buying all brand new bits and second hand bits (£45 per piston, £19 per set of piston rings, £45 oil pump, nuts, bolts, etc etc) I’ve seen a complete second hand engine. I’m bidding on that. I’ll strip that and use it for parts. I’m still getting the engineering practice (twice!) but it won’t cost as much.

Anyway, here’s where I’m up to with the engine.

Actually, I’m a bit further. I’ve taken off the gear change externals (the bar sticking out on the left of the picture and the black linkages attached to it) and the starter motor (the cylindrical thing on the top left of the picture).

I need a special tool to take off the rotor (the big round thing.)

I’ve already taken off the water pump (silver thing with the pipe coming out of it).

As I say, get the tool, take off the rotor, and I can split the cases. Clean everything out, hopefully source some new bearings, replace, rebuild.

Fun times.

Later,

Buck.

PS, We’ve got a new kid.

Emelyne.

She’s got my hair.

Wendy has found some charity that feeds, educates, and save kids from being abused and trafficked.

Emelyne want’s to be a doctor, so we’re sorted when the Tories finish selling off the NHS. She’s only 5, so it’s a bit of a long game, but still, cunning plan, Wendy.

Later.

Latest Obsession

I’ve bought a 1988 V twin, shaft drive, naked Honda as my next challenge.

20200821_160238 (2)20200821_160245

The camera flatters it, it’s a bit rusty and the paint isn’t as lovely as the on the pictures.

Apparently it was stood for about 14 years, someone put it back on the road last year, and it’s blown up.

The guy selling it said he thinks it’s dropped a valve into the barrel, whilst running. (Which will have done all kinds of damage to the front pot.)

Here is the one of the front spark plugs. I’m inclined to agree.

20200823_215319

The manual says you can strip the pot with the engine in frame, which is a bonus, but it’s still a huge faff.

Just to move it into the shed (I’ve relegated Nath’s to outside, under plastic) I had to remove the seat, tank, side covers, air filter box, (must get a new air filter) take the radiator covers off, disconnect the radiator hoses from the engine, then remove the radiator.

Once I’d done that I was free to move the bike into the shed and start work.

There was a bunch of other fiddly little jobs that took twice as long as you’d expect, but I got there.

And I’m here.

20200823_175501 (2)

To be honest, that all looks deceptively pristine.

I’ll take the cylinder head off tomorrow. Then it’s all going downhill.

Fun times.

I gave it a go. There’s quite a bit to it, not just unbolt the head and pull it off.

I drained the coolant, then the oil. This came out in the oil.

20200824_200210

It’s not large, but it looks like the stuff of which the engine is made. And nothing metal should be in the oil, especially not that size.  Oh dear.

Then I had to take two 10mm bolts out. I turned the engine over a bit by hand to get at them, but you’ve only got about 3/4 of a revolution then it jams solid.  Oh dear, oh dear.

I can’t revolve it far enough to get a socket on it, to apply my breaker bar or impact driver, to stun it loose. All I could get on was a small 10mm spanner and that was rounding the bolt head. I was very frustrated. It’s simply impossible to access because I can’t revolve it and the frame is in the way.

I was despairing. Beaten at the first hurdle by a 10mm bolt, and a dead engine with metal in it.

I gave up.  As I was putting my tools away I realised the solution was in the statement. I can’t access the bolt because the frame is in the way, so remove the engine from the frame.

I said to Wendy, “if there’s metal in the works I’ll be getting a replacement engine anyway.  Either that or strip it right down…”

As I was saying it I realised I’d lost sight of the goal. I was rushing to get the bike back on the road and ride it. That’s not what this is about. I want to practice and acquire mechanic skills. Stripping the engine completely is perfect for me.

I’m refocusing.

It takes as long as it takes. Better to have a year long project to keep me busy than throw another engine in it and learn nothing.

Start again tomorrow.

Another bout of plague weakness has been slowing me down, but over three sessions I’ve managed to strip the assorted parts off the engine to drop it. It has been a pain, but tonight it finally came out.

Then I was stuck. The frame comes down in two arms, which, if the engine were on the ground, would give you just enough room to wriggle it through the V of the engine. As it was on my trolley jack it wouldn’t fit. In the end I had to get Wendy to move the trolley jack as I lifted the frame off the engine. Well, she tried. The inch she moved it was, oddly, enough. Bless her.

20200827_201249 (2)

So, here we are. I’ve moved the frame out of the shed and covered it in plastic.

I’ll try jacking it up again tomorrow, see if it’s any easier to lift, but if not I may have to strip it, at least partially, on the jack. It weighs a ton. See how it goes.

 

Another thing I’m thinking about is upgrading my shed. This is a great shed, but just not big enough. With the front wheel wedged in the gap between the bench and tool cabinet (shown above) I still couldn’t shut the shed door fully. And I have to step over the front wheel to work on each side of the bike, or swivel over the bike. Then squat awkwardly to work on each side. I undid the wrong bolt twice tonight, because I lost sight of the right one as I stood to get better leverage to break it free.

A new shed is a lot of money and faff but it would make life a lot better, if I’m sticking with this. And there’s the rub. I get mad enthusiasms, then lose interest.

Anyway, progress. Get it cleaned, and stripped. I’m dying to see the devastation under that cylinder head.

 

The good news is: once I’d raised the jack up fully I could keep my back straight and use my legs for the lift. If you think of Caine moving that cauldron at the beginning of Kung Fu, it was like that but more painful.

Kung_Fu

Done though.

20200828_180347

The bad news is that stuck 10mm bolt was a pure pain. I had to drop the engine just for that, but when I did it was too late, the damage was already done, the bolt was rounded. And, I realised after, it took my 10mm socket with it. I’ve had to buy a new one. I spent two days trying to get the bolt out. I couldn’t impact drive it, and it was too rounded to use a spanner, socket or breaker bar on it, I tried to cut a groove in the bolt head and use the impact driver to shock it loose. Nothing. I bought some toughened drill bits and and extractor kit (left handed thread, so as it bites and turns it screws the bolt out) but after two days of trying to drill it I’d only drilled in about 2mm, the extractor couldn’t get a grip. In the end, in desperation I used my angle grinder to grind the bolt head off and yanked the sprocket off. Just to rub salt in the wounds, the remaining bolt came out quite easily with a a pair of mole grips after that.

That was my penultimate ploy. If that hadn’t of worked I had left was to use the angle grinder to saw clean through the cam chain, sprocket and bolt. That would have been awful. For one bolt.

Anyway, with the 10mm out of the way it didn’t take me long to get the head off.

There’s your problem, there mate:

20200829_181217 (2)

The valve has indeed fallen into the cylinder. And punched right through the piston.

20200829_181233 (2)

And smashed my cylinder head in. Like the piston the cylinder head should be smooth.

20200829_181411 (2)

It’s not as easy to see as the piston on that picture, but it is so deeply scored it’s basically scrap metal now.

The valve should look like the black one, top left on the picture above.

Not so much.

20200829_181240 (2)

It’s Sunday today, Bank Holiday Monday tomorrow, so I’m probably going to have to wait until Tuesday, but I’m going to ring and price a rebore/ pistons/ rings for both barrels. That would be my best option, at least I know I’ve got a balanced, good as new set of barrels and pistons.

If it’s a complete rip I can get a used barrel and piston, and just get new rings. Not the best option, but should be sufficient.

I’ve ordered a second hand cylinder head off eBay. It’s still got the valves( / valve springs, retainers) in but nothing else. I’ll read up on how to check the valves and such before I rebuild it, but hopefully that will be a bolt-on replacement.

Now I have to strip the engine right down and clean every bit of metal out of it. I was talking to a professional mechanic I follow on Twitter, and he said “and replace the oil pump, etc” I hadn’t thought of that. They’re not dear, 40 odd quid new, but it hadn’t even occurred to me. That would have been a disaster, rebuild it then the pump starts releasing metal fragments or just seizes.

Another top tip I’ve learned off a different mechanic on Twitter is PlusGas. She said it as a joke reply to me posting the pictures above, but I’ve googled it and it’s the go-to penetrating oil mechanics use to free seized bolts. I’ve lost two bolts already on this job, I’ll have some of that!  Here’s hoping.