Wrenching on Motorbikes- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Wrenching on Motorbikes

    Since working on 4 wheelers is about as exciting to me as watching flies puke on my cornflakes, I thought I would start something on motorbikes

    Most of the bikes I have owned since the later 90s have become a bit of a science and electronic jungle, not my strongpoint, so I have steered clear of wrenching on them. But prior to that, when things were much more analog, and disposable income was more scarce, i would very much enjoy heading into the garage to spend some happy times doing the necessary with my old bikes.

    I would arm myself with whatever Haynes manual was relevant, and do my best to decipher things from it. The experience was strangely satisfying, especially when things worked out well. That happened most, but not all the time

    Back in the early 70s, I had an old '64 BSA A10 Super Rocket that had been heavily cafe'd out. My resources were scant, and I had to borrow the manual to do any work on it. It was fun tho. One day while riding down from London to Southampton, the head gasket blew on the new M3 motorway, and I had to slipstream behind trucks as best I could as the power dwindled until the next exit. I limped into a gas station, and realized the problem was terminal without some complex repairs. The station owner let me leave the bike there, and I hitch hiked on the back of a Norton Commando the rest of my way. (The Glory Days of British motorcycling!)

    When I got down to my digs in Soton, I spent a while trying to beg borrow or steal a van to go pick it up, and eventually persuaded a 'friend' to take me up there. only trouble was, I had forgotten to note the gas station's whereabouts, and had to extrapolate where it might be. My 'friend' was not too happy as we drove around trying to find the place, but thankfully it didn't take too long, and soon we were back down.

    It took me some head scratching to figure out exactly what was wrong, but as I stripped the head down, it soon became horribly clear what had happened. The main head gasket was made of copper and asbestos, and had a ragged hole blown in it which was obviously terminal. I scraped my pennies together to buy a new one, and then went to fit it and rebuild the top end. Jeez! Trying to align pushrods into rocker cups with fat fingers as the head kept pinching my skin was no fun. (I had no idea at that time that a few more pennies would have got me a simple cardboard pushrod comb). But I eventually got the rods engaged and head sitting straight. I tightened up the bolts, and got her all back together. This whole process took a few days, and the satisfaction as I kicked the thing over and it started almost immediately was intense! I rode it up the street and around the block, and then horror struck. The bloody gasket blew out again! I had neglected to recheck the torque values on the head bolts, and that was the result. Urgh!

    I repeated the whole process eventually, but it took a while. This taught me a valuable lesson about torque settings.

    I wish I still had that bike! I am quietly casting around for something similar to fettle in my dotage, and if anyone knows of a nice Norton P11 Scrambler for sale, I'm interested!
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  2. #2
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    Here's a P11 by the way... My legs go all rubbery and I start purring when I see these


    Wrenching on Motorbikes-252a47947464f459f89f3a002082a779.jpg
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockerc View Post
    Since working on 4 wheelers is about as exciting to me as watching flies puke on my cornflakes, I thought I would start something on motorbikes

    Most of the bikes I have owned since the later 90s have become a bit of a science and electronic jungle, not my strongpoint, so I have steered clear of wrenching on them. But prior to that, when things were much more analog, and disposable income was more scarce, i would very much enjoy heading into the garage to spend some happy times doing the necessary with my old bikes.

    I would arm myself with whatever Haynes manual was relevant, and do my best to decipher things from it. The experience was strangely satisfying, especially when things worked out well. That happened most, but not all the time

    Back in the early 70s, I had an old '64 BSA A10 Super Rocket that had been heavily cafe'd out. My resources were scant, and I had to borrow the manual to do any work on it. It was fun tho. One day while riding down from London to Southampton, the head gasket blew on the new M3 motorway, and I had to slipstream behind trucks as best I could as the power dwindled until the next exit. I limped into a gas station, and realized the problem was terminal without some complex repairs. The station owner let me leave the bike there, and I hitch hiked on the back of a Norton Commando the rest of my way. (The Glory Days of British motorcycling!)

    When I got down to my digs in Soton, I spent a while trying to beg borrow or steal a van to go pick it up, and eventually persuaded a 'friend' to take me up there. only trouble was, I had forgotten to note the gas station's whereabouts, and had to extrapolate where it might be. My 'friend' was not too happy as we drove around trying to find the place, but thankfully it didn't take too long, and soon we were back down.

    It took me some head scratching to figure out exactly what was wrong, but as I stripped the head down, it soon became horribly clear what had happened. The main head gasket was made of copper and asbestos, and had a ragged hole blown in it which was obviously terminal. I scraped my pennies together to buy a new one, and then went to fit it and rebuild the top end. Jeez! Trying to align pushrods into rocker cups with fat fingers as the head kept pinching my skin was no fun. (I had no idea at that time that a few more pennies would have got me a simple cardboard pushrod comb). But I eventually got the rods engaged and head sitting straight. I tightened up the bolts, and got her all back together. This whole process took a few days, and the satisfaction as I kicked the thing over and it started almost immediately was intense! I rode it up the street and around the block, and then horror struck. The bloody gasket blew out again! I had neglected to recheck the torque values on the head bolts, and that was the result. Urgh!

    I repeated the whole process eventually, but it took a while. This taught me a valuable lesson about torque settings.

    I wish I still had that bike! I am quietly casting around for something similar to fettle in my dotage, and if anyone knows of a nice Norton P11 Scrambler for sale, I'm interested!
    Cool stuff RC. You know me I love that sport. As far as knowing someone with an old Norton P11 Scrambler. I have a neighbor that has a garage packed full as well as a back yard with some old vintage stuff. I donít know him personally but he once walked me into his garage out of my curiosity when I saw several bikes out front one day. Upon entering the garage my jaw dropped. I was in awe at what he had. Lots of vintage Norton's, Triumphs, BSAís, Ducatties and various 2-stroke jap street bikes stacked to the hilt. Some restored and others waiting to be. Along with that he had several euro vintage cars. Heís deep into it and if he doesnít have a P11 Scrambler I bet he would know someone that does. If you are serious PM me and Iíll stop in and inquire for you.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  4. #4
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    I would love to find out if he does have one DJ, but they are like rocking horse shit! I cannot get one until our house move happens. My wife would kill me if we had to take a bike with us too, but once we have managed it, I am ready It may take a while!
    It's all Here. Now.

  5. #5
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    My first "bike" was a 1987 or 88 Suzuki LT250 Quad Racer. This was around 1994. At one point the top end went out. I don't recall exactly what happened, but my buddy told me he would help me do the wrenching. I was 15 years old at the time. He helped me take the head off and remove the piston. We had a shop sleeve it to match a new piston and he helped me put the entire thing back together. I learned what a torque wrench was and learned a ton about how a 2-stroke motors works. Was one of the best mechanical experiences of my life since my dad has no inclination to do anything mechanical. After that experience I was no longer scared to try something myself if I could do a little research and find it was within my scope (considering the tools, space and time required).
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockerc View Post
    I would love to find out if he does have one DJ, but they are like rocking horse shit! I cannot get one until our house move happens. My wife would kill me if we had to take a bike with us too, but once we have managed it, I am ready It may take a while!
    I understand, knowing myself like I do. On a whim Iíll probably drop in there some time just to pick his brain on it. If I find out he has one or knows of someone who does Iíll try to keep it to myself.


    Klure, I get it. My early learning of mechanics in my pre-teen and teen years being around motorcycles and snowmobiles made all the difference. Mainly watching and learning from my older brother who is mechanically inclined.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    Klure, I get it. My early learning of mechanics in my pre-teen and teen years being around motorcycles and snowmobiles made all the difference. Mainly watching and learning from my older brother who is mechanically inclined.
    My buddy and I decided to try our hand at brake pad replacement on my 1991 S-10 truck. we did not do any research, this was back in 1996 I think? No Youtube tutorials, the web was just getting started.

    It took us most of a Saturday, but I did learn a ton about what not to do. haha.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Klurejr View Post
    My buddy and I decided to try our hand at brake pad replacement on my 1991 S-10 truck. we did not do any research, this was back in 1996 I think? No Youtube tutorials, the web was just getting started.

    It took us most of a Saturday, but I did learn a ton about what not to do. haha.
    Diving in without a YouTube tutorial would be a risky endeavor with todayís youth.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  9. #9
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    Nothing like hands on experience and a few fuk ups to edumacate!
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  10. #10
    Your bike sucks
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    Not a scrambler but a nifty commando: https://boulder.craigslist.org/mcy/d...074983096.html

    (not mine)

    I like the P11 - more my style.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl Mega View Post
    Not a scrambler but a nifty commando: https://boulder.craigslist.org/mcy/d...074983096.html

    (not mine)

    I like the P11 - more my style.
    Nice Commando, but I'd junk those disgusting saddle bags so fast... I once helped my housemate rebuild his Commando 750 that he bored out to 850. I took some pictures of the end result, and it was sweet! Can't find them tho. This guy used to build bikes in our front room. One morning I was in bed, and he had been working all night to finish up a rare Honda twin he was building. I was almost propelled thru the ceiling when he started it up in there with straight pipes... I ran down to see what was happening, and he was standing there revving it in a cloud of exhaust and a big goofy grin Unfortunately, the thing wouldn't quite fit back out the door and out of the house, so we had to dismantle it to drag it out. Duh!
    It's all Here. Now.

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