Learn By Doing.

I’ve made a start on my mechanic-ing.

I went and got Nathan’s dead heap.

It’s seen better days.

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I say I got his heap, that was a challenge in itself. How do you get a full motorbike into the back of a Mini?

Not easy.

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Which then fits neatly into said Mini.

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But, after breaking my back, it’s still a pile of broken bits.

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In preparation for my new found mad motorcycle skills I’ve emptied out my shed, put in new posts to support the fence and built a lean-to affair at the back of the shed. It’s not pretty but it’s below fenceline so not offending the neighbours and it’s behind the shed so not offending Wendy. I cut down and moved one of my shelving units into it to pile all the rubbish.

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It’s not going to win any prizes but it’s cleared my shed so I could do this:

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I’m well happy with that. The blue thing in the bottom left is a bike jack thing which my mam and dad got me ages ago and now promises to be be essential kit. The work bench is a repurposed Black and Decker (left by my dad when they emigrated). As is the rug, now I think about it. That got downgraded after a few years to shed lining. And they got me the shed.

I bought the tool cabinet. So there’s that.

Anyway, thanks, parents.

The bike was as dead as a very dead dodo, so I couldn’t just strip the engine down, tempted as I was, as there would have been no way of knowing if I’d rebuilt it right.

I had to put everything back together and try to get the bike running before I could take it all apart and play.

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That’s with the bike strapped onto the jack thing. I had to ratchet strap it on as there are no forks on it as they are totally smashed.

It’s been horrendous. The engine is quite light, as engines go, but it fits in the frame really awkwardly, and you have to hold it in position with one hand and a knee as you try and fit a bolt through the holes to support it. Then I went around fastening all the connectors and wires. They build them with oddly shaped connectors so they can only fasten to the corresponding odd shape so you can’t get it wrong. But when I’d rebuilt it there were two loose wires, no battery, and an odd shaped connector with no mate. I had the tank off a few times, searching for ages, I just couldn’t find it. The workshop manual is black and white pictures with no “what the hell is this bit?” section.

I gave up for the moment and decided to fix the bent side stand cut off switch I’d noticed while stripping it. Where’s the side stand?

Ah. It’s attached to the foot pegs (which were so badly bent I’d left them.) I went and got them and there was my blue connector! YAY!

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The battery arrived today so I fitted that as well. The barrel on the ignition seems smashed so I took that off and ordered a new one. Happily the electrical bits come out as a separate unit, so you just have to change the barrel, no need to solder in new wires. I had a play with the remaining unit and reckoned I could operate the on/off switch without the barrel for now, but still no electrics at all.

I found and changed the main fuse. Nothing. Realised the starter relay was missing a cable, attached that properly. Nothing. I took the smashed headlight apart and realised two connections were undone. I traced them back and it was the ignition. I reconnected them, messed with the ignition electrical unit, and … LIGHTS!

I gave the starter a few blasts and got the engine turning over, I checked and I’ve got tons of spark at the plug!

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I’m such a happy bunny! I’ve not got it started yet, but I’ve got a solid plan of attack. While it was just sat there, dead, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. Now I’ve got lights, horn, starter motor, spark at the plug etc, it’s feels like it’s just a matter of ironing out the petrol feed problem.

This is never going to be a pretty bike, or a source of income, but it might, (might) get to be roadworthy again.

I’m ordering the tools I need as I need them. They are surprisingly cheap. £12 for a compression test thing, (the very first test, according to my yank mechanic guru) £7 for a multimeter (tests all your electrics). I’ve had to watch videos on how to use a multimeter, I’ve no idea, but once I’ve got the hang of it I’ll be able to work out logically and definitively the source of any electrical problem. No more prodding wires and hoping for the best.

Yesterday I was thinking this was all a waste of time, that I was still a useless idiot, but now with a tidy shed. Today, now the electrics are working, I’m thinking this is going to work! I’m not entirely stupid, if I learn the logical steps to fault finding, I could actually become proficient!

This could tick all the boxes. I could satisfy my bike shopping addiction, for next to nothing, play with them until they are sorted, ride them for a bit, sell them on for a bit of a profit, and fund the next one.

THERE IS NO DOWNSIDE!

Right, enough positivity, it’s putting my karma out of kilter.

Later,

Buck.

New News!

I’ve stumbled across some YouTube videos about my bike. Specifically, how to check the valve clearance and, if it’s out, how to replace the shims (little spacer type things). It’s a bit of a huge job. But if you watch the videos, it’s actually a series of big jobs, that can be further broken down into tons of small jobs.

Here’s the links if you’re interested.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ri-xJBufe8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46_KWJXTJis

I could watch this stuff all day. It fascinates me seeing bikes broken down and rebuilt.

I wasn’t actually looking for anything specific when I found those videos, but my bike is… nearing it’s 16,000 mile valve clearance check. I actually thought it was on 17,000, and slightly overdue, until I started typing that sentence. I think it’s nearly 15,000 miles at the minute. I was planning on doing it next week, but I can skill up for a while yet. Which brings me to my new news:

I’ve finally decided to stop messing about with bikes and actually learn what I’m doing. I have enough confidence and experience (and optimism in the face of experience) to tackle most jobs. As long as it’s ‘monkey see, monkey do’, I’m fine. I’ll give it a go. That’s what workshop manuals and YouTube tutorials are for. I maintain the thing you pay for is the experience and knowledge to diagnose what the job is that needs doing.

Until now!

I’ve found a brilliant resource. I was searching for motorcycle mechanic training, and came across a recommendation for this guy’s site. He’s a bit “God and Guns, USA! USA!”, which is hugely irksome, but the site is pure gold. A picture glossary of the parts, (in American, bless) a page of fixes for each problem, but most importantly, a logical progression for problem solving.

It’s solid gold. For instance, engine not starting.

I would go with spark at plugs, fuel, and errrr….

He says first things first, compression test. Every time. (Turns out it £13 for the tool, lifetime guarantee, just take the spark plug out, pop this in, turn the engine over. That’s it.)

If the engine isn’t turning over, put a new battery in and connect to the charger. If still not turning over, disable any kill switches. Still not, connect the charger to the lead to the starter motor. If it turns starter motor solenoid is shot. If not put charger directly onto the starter motor, if it turns, it’s the power lead that’s shot. If it clicks but the engine doesn’t turn it’s the starter motor clutch that’s shot.

It goes on. It’s genius. I’m really excited. Unlike all my other obsessions (sax, Russian, martial arts, etc) this isn’t accepting it’s going to be a depressing trudge towards a distant goal. Every thing I learn is improving me right now.  I cycle round, obsessing, mad enthusiasm, dreary donkey work, failure to progress, quitting, wanting that end again, obsessing, mad enthusiasm…

Bike mechanic-ing could be a keeper of a hobby.  A recurrent tip, when I was searching for “how to learn to be a bike mechanic” was ‘Buy a cheap, possibly dead, bike. Buy a workshop manual. Practice.’

I’m up for it!

I had a 7’x7’ space at the back of my shed. When we moved in it was flooded and marshy. Which is why the shed is 7’ away from the end of the garden. Since then trees have grown and I’ve been throwing all my garden waste in the gap. My shed has become full, as sheds do, with a lawnmower, shelving, gardening tools, Wendy’s pushbike, etc etc. I’m reclaiming it as my motorbike garage. So I moved about 5’ high of tree stumps and branches, rose branches and such, out from the space at the back of the shed and burnt it all. Sorry, neighbours.

Then I dug out about a foot or so of what has become the best soil in the garden, to level the ground off to what it was. Now I have to rig a tarpaulin roof between the shed and the fence and clear all the stuff out of my shed, under it. I might go back to B&Q, get some wood and rig up a proper structure, actually. Anyway, that’s just a means to an end. The end of emptying my shed so I can get a bike in there and have enough room to work on both sides. I’ve bought a seven drawer tool cabinet. That will stash all but my power tools. At the moment they are scattered all over the racking.

So that’s all the excitement about the prep, now I need a cheap bike. The guy was saying get something cheap and work on it, that way you’re not scared of breaking it, it’s not your proper bike, so you don’t have to rush to get it ready for work the next day, and even if you don’t make any money selling it on, think of it as paying for your education.

I was looking on Gumtree. There was a 600cc Yamaha, 1990, recently stopped running, still in MOT, the guy wanted £300 for it. Fair enough. A complete bike (missing the fuel cap) for £300.

I rang him yesterday. It all sounded good so I arranged to go and pick it up today. After the Scottish bike nearly left me stranded hundreds of miles from home I’ve bought a ramp and some ratchet straps, so I didn’t worry about it being a dead bike, I just hired a van.

I picked it up at 09.00, back to ours for the ramp and ratchet straps, waited an hour as he wanted me to come at 13.00, then drove to Birmingham. I found the address, knocked on. No answer. I tried again. Finally a girl came to the door and said there was no bike for sale there. I went back to the van and tried calling him. No answer. I text him. No reply. Called him another 5 times. I checked the text he’s sent me yesterday. It was the right address and right postcode. I was at the right place. But he’d sent his sister out to lie to me. In the end I just had to turn around and drive home.

£60 for the van, £19 for diesel, £18 for a workshop manual, £23 for a petrol cap, 4 hours driving, the whole of my day off wasted, all because he didn’t even have the decency to send me a text saying it wasn’t for sale anymore, for whatever reason.  I got back and he still hadn’t replied, so I knew he’d just lied to me and messed me around, so I sent him an email through Gumtree. He didn’t reply but he took the advert down within minutes so I couldn’t contact him again.

I have been having anger management issues.

I text our Lisa and told her the above, and it seems Nathan still has his bike, I can have that to play with.

It’s only a single cylinder 125cc learner bike, and it’s somewhat the worse for wear, but it’s an engine, and the principles are all the same. And it’s free. And the parts for it are dirt cheap.

When he got it:

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What it looks like now

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That should polish right out.

I’m going to go and strip it down a bit and see if I can get it back in the car.

Well, I’ve got that off my chest. Hard to believe anyone would do that. Incredible.

Right, I’m going to bed. I’ve had more than enough for one day.

Later,

Buck

Getting Better.

Things are looking up. We had a day without rain, finally, yesterday so I took my bike for a spin. I was going to go to Snowdonia for some nice bike pics, but I got halfway there, stopped for directions and was a bit too ill to go  on, so turned around. The good news is, although it’s not a direct like for like comparison, on the first ride I did on the bike (fair nippy speeds down the motorway at high revs trying to find the power) I got 90 miles to the tank and was on my last bar of reserve. This time, after fitting the power commander,  I had done a day’s commute (mostly motorway) then rode into Wales, (motorway, fast A roads, then urban slow roads) and back, so a real mixed bag and probably more of a real world test, and I got 122 miles and was still on 2 bars of reserve! I did the maths, the first ride I was getting 28mpg, the second I was on 41mpg!

That will do nicely!

Also, since I’ve fitted the power commander, I’ve been tolerant of the acceleration, but not blown away. It is a *sports*/ tourer, after all. And from Mr Honda. Then I set off from the lights the other day, I hadn’t given it enough revs and nearly stalled. I slipped the clutch, built the revs and dropped the clutch. WHOA! Off like a scalded cat.

Sorry for doubting you, Mr Honda! It’s a hoot!

So that’s the bike totally sorted now. Big yay!

Here’s a snap from Blackpool.

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As I say, I’ve been ill again. This bug seems to go around in cycles. You get a sore throat, it feels like it’s swollen up and you can barely swallow, then the next day you feel weak and a bit lousy. You get through that and you think that’s got to be the last time, I must be over it now. And then a week or so later you start again.

4 days ago I got the sore throat. The next day I felt weak, but it didn’t go away. I went for a fast run the next day, thinking I was fine. I had to stop after 2½ miles, I had nothing. Later on it the weakness hit me again. And yesterday I was so bad I thought I’d caught it again. I was so weak I cut my bike ride short (in the sunshine!), got home and went to bed for a bit. I had the confused panicky thoughts, and was just pinned to the floor.

Anyway, that was yesterday. Today I woke up and I think I’m fine again. On the bright side I had asked to work yesterday, but they knocked me back. That would have been awful.

I wanted to go for a run today, but I was scared of it hitting me while I was out. I did the gardening instead. I say gardening, there’s nothing to buy in the flower section of B&Q, so it was basically weeding. That turned into graft though as I found a problem horsetail grass incursion from next door. I tried digging it out and thought I’d got it and the root things, but then I looked on the RHS website and they said the rhizomes, by which they spread, can reach 6 feet deep! Oh. Got a job on, then.

I’ve done what I can for now. Apparently I’ll need to get some ‘tree stump killer’ strength weed killer and apply over a period of years. Which is super if my neighbour is going to keep infesting my garden.  Ho hum.

I forgot to catch up with Twitter and such when I did my last blog so here it is.

I briefly followed a yank runner, but she loved herself so much that she thought she could be mean to everyone else because of it. I quickly got irritated with her and stopped following her. Her trademark thing was always posting oddly angled “I love me” selfies for every run.

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I did a before and after for one of my runs.

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I amused myself, at least.

Something that’s been making me laugh is Bookcase Credibility

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Which leads me on to politics, home

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And abroad

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But there was plenty of whimsy.

Historical whimsy:

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Motivational whimsy

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Some wit from Forest Fr1ends

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Avian whimsy

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And the rest

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2 months

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7 months

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Caught up. And I’m still feeling OK. See if I can run tomorrow.

Later,

Buck.