For forks sake, what is it now?

Front end job goes like a dream, but se­ri­ous mis­fire now com­pro­mis­ing win­ter trail time

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - On our Bench -

om­ple­tion of the won­der­ful XL is nearer to hand, and yet fur­ther away (if you fol­low). New fork seals are in, but a mis­fire has now de­vel­oped.

It went like this; get gear on, try to start bike. Won’t start. Choke off. Won’t start, Choke on again, won’t start. Plug out… wet and sooty. Clean plug. Starts first kick choked. Ride to work­shop, en­gine starts mis­fir­ing on part throt­tle, but OK when revved hard. En­gine starts dy­ing on tick­over, re­ally fluffy, won’t rev past about 3000rpm, then stut­ters and coughs but even­tu­ally revs out. Happy if wide open, un­happy oth­er­wise. Sus­pect part throt­tle mix­ture way too rich, but it doesn’t smell too fu­elly.

Ar­rive at work­shop, do forks. Forks come out no bother, good and straight, brake shoes look a bit glazed but still plenty of meat on them. Wheel rim and spokes all good, bear­ings smooth. Loosen top nuts on both legs, 6mm Allen bit in the wind gun, spin the bot­tom bolts loose and draw off the slid­ers – typ­i­cal – there’s no oil in one leg, and about 75ml of primeval ooze in the other. One fork seal is in up­side down. Both stan­chions are plenty worn around the seal area. Scored to the ex­tent I’d be or­der­ing up new ones (n/a), or hard chroming them if this wasn’t just a knock­about com­edy trailie.

Lever the old seals out, one needs a lot of heat be­fore it’ll even think about leav­ing its re­cess. New ones are lib­er­ally red rub­ber greased, banged in with the seal ham­mer, and po­litely asked to make up for the de­fi­cien­cies in the stan­chion sur­faces. They’re not pit­ted, but they are worn. Fact is I want to be trail rid­ing this win­ter, not chas­ing the chromers un­til April to get my stan­chions back. So the forks go back to­gether. You could call it a bodge, or you can call it mak­ing the right call with an un­re­stored 46-year-old trail bike.

It all flies back to­gether: pinch up the top yoke bolts, nip up the spin­dle caps, tighten spin­dle, clamp up bot­tom yoke pinch bolts, tighten mud­guard bolts, job’s a good ’un, or at least a medi­ocre one. I kick it up about an hour be­fore I head home, just to see how it is and it fires up first prod on choke. Warm it up, choke off, ticks over like a clock. OK then. Must be fine.

Then the fun starts on the way home. Trick­ling through traf­fic it be­gins mis­fir­ing

again. Get to the open road and it clears up again. Back into traf­fic it starts dy­ing. And this time it doesn’t re­cover when we hit full throt­tle ter­ri­tory again. We limp home pop­ping and bang­ing and backfiring.

Could be any­thing; plug, HT cir­cuit, carb. This will need some me­thod­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tion. On the plus side the forks feel a great deal bet­ter with 170ml of 10w fork oil in them. Honda rec­om­mend ATF (as most man­u­fac­tur­ers did in the dark days of prim­i­tive sus­pen­sion) and 10w is ATF vis­cos­ity equiv­a­lent. The seals haven’t let a drop of it past them ei­ther.

We’re in the one step for­ward, one step back­ward stage with the XL at the mo­ment – a part of any early doors run­ning with an old, so far rel­a­tively un­known bike. All to be ex­pected and soon to be over­come with a lit­tle bit of pa­tience, tol­er­ance and clear think­ing. I bet­ter get hold of Alan then.


Fat bas­tard makes with the big , soft wooden drift

Nearly ev­ery socket size needed for this strip

One top pinch bolt’s a 10mm, other’s a 12. What?

One popped out a treat, other needed much heat and bru­tal­ity

Donk­ing the new seals in with the spe­cial donker

One of the old seals (this one) was up­side down

All fun and games, eh?

Out with the old oil... what old oil? ‘twas empty

That’s done some work that old stan­chion has

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