Thursday, June 26, 2014

Back to the Bare Frame...

A week or so ago, I visited my friend Chuy so that he could place two additional fender brackets on the rear frame loop to secure the alloy fender. What I forgot was that I also needed a new bracket for the WES exhaust system. So it was back to Chuy's shop. Above is a photograph of Chuy at work...very lightly processed with my HDR program.

While Chuy was finishing up this bracket he suggested that I might want to add some new bracing around the swing arm. The problem was obvious. On the right side, the bracing had been removed (I can not possibly understand why...) and on the left side the bracing is present but it appears to offer no support or functionality whatsoever. It looks like the sort of perforated metallic ribbon that you see holding up plumbing under your house. Chuy fixed that oversight with two new braces which will genuinely make the area stronger. Unfortunately, the gauge of the metal and the heavy handed welding lend kind of an agricultural feel to the new pieces.

The bracket for the exhaust system was an entirely different matter. Chuy found some lighter gauge steel and the weld was significantly more delicate.

Today, I cleaned up the welds and removed a couple of the original brackets which have no purpose with the addition of the alloy fender and the Sammy Miller seat/tank unit. All that is left is to once again thoroughly clean the frame and get some primer on it before all of that bare metal starts turning a rusty red. I expect to have at least a couple of coats of black lacquer on the frame within the next couple of days.

The amount of work and sweat I have put into this frame over the past couple of weeks, and before counting the initial stripping and cleaning, makes me a little jealous of those guys you read about in classic bike magazines that simply send off their old frame to a power coating firm and receive back a perfect glossy frame a couple of days later. Is that better? Or is that cheating? Of course it's not cheating, but this is hard work!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Making Sparks...

For no particularly good reason I choose to install an electronic ignition on the TY. Visions of giant blue sparks danced through my head...effortless starting...a dead reliable idle, etc....Well, here is the reality. My United States based supplier in response to my order for an "electronic ignition" sent the Electrex World unit. As I have discovered on various forums all over the world, these guys have a very patchy reputation for customer service. In fact, I am told that they recently simply dropped their customer service telephone number.

At any rate, in my case when I went to install the unit I was immediately faced with the mismatch photographed above. In my case, a customer service telephone number would have been worthless. Even the offer to exchange the unit would have been expensive and time consuming for me, so I took the matter into my own hands...actually I had some assistance from my trusty Dremel tool.

As you can see above, I removed a miniscule amount of material from a structurally unimportant locating tab on the engine case. The result is that I can now comfortably fit the Electrex World Unit.

Now my main concern is that the unit has been designed/assembled in a similarly cavalier manner. I have read very good reviews of their products and many people have had good success with this unit. But I'm going to have to wait until the engine is finally installed in the bike to see my big blue sparks.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Matter of Style

Virtually every trials bike built since the mid 1960's features tupperware fenders. If you are regularly throwing yourself and your bike against granite escarpments these plastic fenders may be a good choice. I don't care for them and my riding style doesn't require such levels of indestructibility. I am, more or less, just cruising around the gentle desert landscape of Southern Baja, with an occasional trip down a rocky wash or up a sand dune.

As a simple matter of style, I vastly prefer the pre-60's look of the polished alloy fenders. In addition, and again purely as a style decision, I am reinforcing the fender mounting points with a second layer of aluminum sheet and exposed rivets. Below is a photo of the front fender which I mounted about a month ago.

The rear fender mount will be handled the same way. I like the look of the exposed rivets. Anyone who unfamiliar with this style should Google the term "steampunk". A little of this goes a long way, but it is reminiscent of the big singles of the 50's and 60's.

For my next project, I need to mount the engine, or at least the engine and cylinder head so I can mount the exhaust and then have Chuy build a hanger for the muffler. I will have more and better pictures at that time. Thanks for checking in.

Retirement and a New Rear Fender

This project has slowed over the past couple of weeks. The main reason is that my retirement had been temporarily called off. My partner, wife, best friend and lover departed on a one week tour of the United States. Visits to Connecticut and San Diego were on the schedule. That left me in charge of the household, which includes dogs, a bird, plants, a pool, and all of the work associated with maintaining the place. Nothing overwhelming...but more than I was used to. A way to keep things moving was to get some help. In my case, this involved my good friend Chuy. Chuy is a local artist in metal. He has made gates and doors for our house and for many of our neighbors. His work is beautiful and beautifully thought out.

Above is a shot of Chuy in his lair....a somewhat disheveled, dirt floored shop. He is about to make a couple of tabs to weld to the subframe of the TY to mount the aluminum fender. As you can see from the photo below, it is hell for strong. The tabs still need some more grinding and shaping but, for sure, this fender is not going to fall off.

My next project on the frame is to remove the fender (for the umteenth time) to remove the tabs which previously located the tupperware fender and the original stock side panels. My buddy has returned so I should have some more time in the garage.

Saturday, June 7, 2014


I remember back in the 60's reading an article in Cycle (a long defunct magazine) about how to set the timing on your Bultaco with a nail. As I recall, you bring the engine to TDC, put the nail through the plug hole and make a reference mark against a fin. Then you back the piston down 2.00mm (more or less) and make another scratch on the nail. Then you just put a piece of cellophane between the points and adjust the impossibly small screws which adjust the points through the impossibly small holes in the Bultaco flywheel until the cellophane is released just as the timing mark passes your reference. What could be more fun??? Actually if you are sitting alongside the road with a mis-timed Bultaco this might be useful information.

In fact the whole mechanical experience is massively enhanced by using the correct tools. Above is a quick shot of some tools I put on the bench to demonstrate. The torque wrench, micrometers, feeler gauges, snap-ring pliers, flywheel pullers, gear pullers and a Dremel tool are really indispensable  in a project like this....and, none of this stuff is massively expensive. Start your collection now kids, you will be using this stuff until all the bikes are electric...did I mention that you might consider purchasing a multi-meter???

For the last couple of days I have been installing the seals and trial fitting the flywheel and the drive gear on the crank. The seals are easily installed. The key is to have a socket head which matches the outside diameter of the seal so the seal can be driven home....just like the roller bearings. Just keep everything straight and resist the urge to apply too much force.

Yesterday I discovered that the Electrex World electronic ignition did not quite fit. Note the picture above. The tang on the Yamaha case just interferes enough with Electrex World backing plate that the mounting screw will not engage. This is not an impossible problem. I will just mount a grinding wheel on my Dremel tool and grind the tang (on the engine case) back a couple of millimeters and everything will be fine.

The Electrex World unit appears to be beautifully made but why did they design the backing plate to be so impossibly close? Really no good reason

Monday, June 2, 2014

Time to button things up....

Before I get back into this project I need to make an announcement....Do whatever you have to do to see the Moto GP race from Mugello. (June 1, 2014) It is as good as racing gets. If you haven't seen it, get a torrent...or see it at your friends house that has a DVR, or get a Moto GP video whatever is necessary. You will not be disappointed!

Back to business. I finally resolved the whole dowel thing. I was misreading the Haynes Manual. In fact there is only one dowel with seals around the circumference and it goes in the rear upper engine mount where it serves to keep the engine mounting bolt centralized (I think...). At any rate, we are ready to go. And if you need one of those dowels, I am the guy to see. I just ordered two more off of eBay. Stupid hurts....and it is expensive!

Above are the two engine cases ready to be joined. Since Yamaha does not sell Yamaha Bond anymore I had to search around and this product (ThreeBond) was widely recommended. In the above picture, both case halves have been given a generous schmear.

The cases went together incredibly easily. Just a little gentle tapping with a rubber mallet got it done. Probably less than three minutes to join the halves. I was initially worried that the ThreeBond would harden or get displaced as I fought the cases together. That just was not the case.

Next came the stainless socket head screws. Sorry to say the supplier elected not to include the longest screw. So there is one of the original Phillips Head screws installed. Can you see it? I can, and it pisses me off. I am going to get a replacement as soon as possible.

Torquing the screws was easy because of the socket heads. I have no idea how a Phillips Head could be accurately torqued. By the way, all the screws got their own little stainless washer. When I took it apart, there were no washers.

Lastly, I cleaned off the excess ThreeBond and checked the shafts. All three shafts are turning freely and easily in their new bearings. Smooth as snot some would say. And, the transmission is happily in neutral, right where I put it.

Next up the magneto, clutch, gearshift assembly, flywheel, seals, etc....Then I need to go back to the TY Trials website and review the order in which all of these shafts and gears are tightened.

As a reward, I am going to treat myself to a long ride on the beach with my TLR....see you in a couple of days.