PUB wimps out of a wet weekend in Wales, and has to work on the weather weary brakes of the winter hack. In disgrace she is demoted to the pedal cycle world…
PUB wimps out of a wet weekend in Wales, and has to work on the weather weary brakes of the winter hack. In disgrace she is demoted to the pedal cycle world.
RC reader Ian Keaton asked (on the RC Facebook page) how far the carburettor needles of the GS500 went before failure, in case he should look at his? The answer to that was in excess of 80,000 miles (not all done by PUB as it was a low mileage secondhand acquisition). At its recent MoT, tester Rob mentioned a couple of different models that he had seen something similar with. By contrast a one-time dispatcher reckoned that GS500s did well over 100,000 miles without trouble on the DR circuits. So possibly PUB was unlucky, or perhaps she rides too slowly, generally sticking to speed limits and riding old British bike fashion in top gear whenever possible (so the gearbox is just idling in top, and not wearing its gears). With the 500’s engine only half way to its marked redline, perhaps the carb diaphragms are able to wriggle under the intake air pressure fluctuations? If she thrashed the bike more, in speed and revs, the effect and wear might be less? No matter, the new needles should see the bike, or her, out. At any rate, the bike runs fine again, starting reliably enough even in midwinter. Midwinter, of course, means Dragon Rally time, which PUB and Morini Alan had signed up for once again.
Since the lads and lasses of the Conwy Club go to a lot of effort to put this major rally on, PUB feels it is only fair to give it a bit of exposure and magazine space in turn. The weather forecast was especially gloomy, cloudy, wet, and cold, but not icy and that is indeed how it turned out at, with a little sleet along the way. Friday night was booked at a hotel in the Llangollen area, allowing a leisurely ride and a decent lunch stop. This
hotel being out of town, dinner was taken there, although it proved too much eating for PUB, who could not face breakfast next day. However, there was plenty of time to tog up and get going, although Alan’s Morini 500 proved slightly more reluctant to start than the repaired GS500.
Llyn Ogwen marked the high point of the scenic road, where there was a little snow alongside, but not on, the road, so that the control point near Bangor was easily reached before midday. There a huge queue had built up, presumably because so many do the Friday overnighting now – is everyone retired, or is it just easier to take time off work these days? The site was not far away, one which instructions had outlined would be ‘back to basics’ camping in a field, and so it was. Actually the field was quite good, and fairly well drained, but wet through so that
the entrance had already cut up enough to require hardened boards put down by the hard working marshals. PUB foolishly went in rather than her usual ploy of looking to park on hard standing for a good exit – then carrying her tent in as required. Having got split from Alan a frustrating time followed trying to join up again, but soon badges were collected, and soup swallowed – although no tents were erected!
In spite of the continuing drizzle the afternoon was spent looking around at the bikes, and finding various friends, some of whom may only be seen at this particular event. Classic bikes are, not surprisingly, a bit rarer than of yore, but still worth looking out for. An S7 Sunbeam was especially interesting as it proved to be quite an early model. Superficially it may look like any other, but a closer look at the photo will reveal the oldfashioned inverted handlebar levers, and the brace between front fork legs with a common suspension unit in the middle. This was the Sunbeam’s own design (notwithstanding that they were BSA owned since 1943); only later were ordinary levers and the BSA fork legs adopted, together with various other changes.
Alan, meanwhile had looked at the mud potential, rudimentary toilets, and single marquee to congregate in, which would be filled with loud music later. The drizzle continued, and whilst Alan likes his camping, he prefers it not in mud and rain. PUB, in turn, had extracted her bike, rather than wait until morning when it would be harder (she is no trials rider) – but the tents were still not up. There was no real excuse, for the site was OK, and previous years have been wetter, windier, and colder (the water bottle freezing solid one year), but enthusiasm for staying had waned, especially with both PUB and Alan feeling rather off-colour.
So, for mixed reasons, it was decided to head homeward this year without camping over, possibly going all the way (which PUB doubted she was up to), or trying the hotel again (which Alan didn’t really want to pay for). Wimps both, and old or sensible enough not to be worried about being called such – been there, done that (Alan over 30 times, PUB over 50)!
Heading off into the evening the 2 degree temperature gradually reduced to a wet 1 degree, and tiredness set in, so that at Llangollen it was decided to go and investigate the hotel again. PUB laid it on thick at reception, about the long, cold and wet conditions the two intrepid riders were faced with, and managed to get a second night at the same reduced rate as the first had been booked with – very reasonable of them. Neither regretted the nice, warm bed for the night, and both contemplated this being their last rally. However, feeling better next morning, a fine breakfast was tackled, then on checking out Alan (who usually does the pre-rally night’s booking) gaily said ‘perhaps we will see you next year’.
Presumably the duo’s last functional brain cell must have died in the night.
PUB did notice, subsequently, that it was not long before other riders came past. Whilst they could have got up very early, the lack of any camping gear suggested that they too had ‘day tripped’ the rally, and by intent rather than as a late decision. Whilst PUB thinks it is not entirely in the spirit of the Dragon, she will have to consider the option for the future to save her creaky bones.
Back at home the poor bike’s chain was hanging off, in spite of having been adjusted and sprayed not long ago, so it clearly needed replacing. When that had been acquired and done, wheeling the bike around revealed that the front brake was dragging too much to be ignored any longer. Like the rear brake trouble outlined last month, this was due to salt water corrosion having disturbed the seals, so she took a few pics during the corrective work.
Previously PUB has managed to service the calliper more or less in situ, but this time the removable pin would not remove, so she needed to disconnect the hydraulic line and take it to the workbench.
However, the pistons would be very tight and hard to remove except hydraulically. Fortunately, being a fairly cheap bike, it also features a cheapo single sided ‘floating’ calliper at the front, and furthermore one brake pad even swings out of the way when the calliper is detached from the fork leg and disc. As a result the two pistons could be hydraulically ejected almost out (restraining them alternately, to ensure both moved the maximum possible). Then the hydraulic line was disconnected, and the pipe tied up with string to the handlebar to keep most of the fluid in it and reservoir in place.
The stubborn pin began to look as though it would have to be drilled out – a dodgy business in an aluminium alloy casting – but fortunately the vice was able to grip its end just enough to wriggle it free – whew, that could have been the most difficult bit. The pistons were, indeed, almost out and wriggled free with help from rag cushioned slip-joint pliers. There are such things as piston pullers, which grip the hollow insides, but PUB does not have any (in fact has never seen them). The piston outer surfaces form the hydraulic seal, so must not be damaged with tools, although the very end 1/8 inch is of slightly less importance as it remains outboard of the seals. Nevertheless, if a piston is reluctant it is better to slip a jubilee clip
over it, tighten, and then try to lever on that, rather than to try and grip the piston directly.
That was not necessary this time, in spite of the corrosion that can be seen in the photos. Actually, it is not usually the corrosion that stiffens up the action itself, but displacement and sticking of the ‘dust seals’. Indeed one of them can be seen having ‘escaped’ completely from its groove and emerged with the piston! Manufacturers will assert that both the thick hydraulic seals and the thinner dust seals must be serviced and replaced together (and they can generally only be bought together), but PUB’s experience is that the corrosion is usually confined to the dust seal grooves only. These have to be cleaned out. An electrician’s screwdriver is about the right size, but usually it cannot get all round, so PUB has bent up a bit of steel to a right-angle tool, filed to a suitable blunt scraper at its end.
After scraping out the grooves the disturbed dust and dirt generated was thoroughly cleaned out of the calliper, before fitting the new seals. PUB keeps seals in stock for when this problem occurs, but the old ones will not be thrown away until replacement new ones are sourced. They were extracted carefully and in a condition that would work again if necessary (but they’d not be easy to fit, as they will have stretched, as well as being fairly knocked about).
The pistons cleaned up easily, as they are generally stainless and do not need scrapers or abrasives. Then they were lubricated with fluid and slid back into place (not always as easy as it sounds as they need to go in squarely to pass both dust and hydraulic seals). The calliper was then refilled with fresh fluid, and refitted, spilling as little as possible. Ideally new washers should be fitted when reconnecting the hydraulic pipe, but PUB had none so had to leave the old ones in place. However, the bleeding operation went unusually well, and quickly – making sure that the handlebar reservoir was topped up during the process to keep air out of the pipe – and when it was done a check showed no sign of any weeps.
A last caution, which PUB learned the hard way, regards finally topping up the handlebar reservoir. On this bike at least, the reservoir only sits level when the bike is upright and the bars straight ahead. So that is where it needs to be when filled to the mark on the checking window. Furthermore, when parked on a sidestand with the steering locked, the reservoir lays over at a considerable angle. In this situation, the fluid level rises above the reservoir cover joint, which means that its sealing is more important than might be expected. On the GS at least, a rubber ‘bellows’ sits over the fluid, and also forms
a sealing gasket for the cover – if all the surfaces are clean. Should dirt or corrosion get any hold, then the fluid can gradually weep away, until the reservoir is virtually empty. The next thing that happens after that is the brake disappears (PUB caught hers only just in time, and learned the value of checking the level!). So the joint faces were cleaned and the top replaced with care.
Job done, attention turned to the getting a Vincent out of the shed. B44 Clive had decided to go to one of the VMCC Cyclemotor Section rallies, with his Power Pak powered RudgeWhitworth bicycle. Big mouth PUB had said she would join him, so her Firefly needed to come out of the shed where it was consigned again some months ago after resuscitation from a long slumber (12 years, according to the old tax disc). A trial run resulted in one very laborious start, followed by nix, nothing, no chance – there were no sparks. However, attending to the usual suspects of plug, points, and the tiny little main jet of the 3/8 inch carburettor (whose main jet is the pilot out of a concentric!) it condescended to fire up, and ran around 5-10 miles without problem. Morini Alan then decided to join in with his vintage 500cc BSA sidevalve, as the trailer had 3 berths and VMCC cyclemotor runs welcome other low powered veteran and vintage riders to their events.
The route proved quite hilly (for a cyclemotor), and hills seem to have got steeper in those 12 years, as PUB had to push up a number of them. Unfortunately, the bike is bereft of its proper air filter and choke, so cold starts are difficult and a long push lets the engine get cold again. That jet bunged up a couple of times too, so with a cruising speed of only 15-18mph it was a long 25 miles. Most riders have either more or later ccs (ie. proper geared mopeds instead of clipons), so were already departing when PUB regained the pub meeting place. Even Clive had been back for some time, but his bike is 1.4ccs larger!
Time to go home, thankfully not on the Firefly!
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