Thursday, July 19, 2012

In praise of Carlo

As I explained in one of my first entries, the inspiration for this site is my amazement at the re-emergence of Triumph in the early '90s. This was an extraordinary achievement for a small team of engineers and a man with a vision (John Bloor). They started with a blank sheet of paper and drew in all the best qualities of motorcycle engineering in the late 1980s to create a real-world, real man's motorcycle for the 1990s. However, I also want to acknowledge the enthusiasm of an Italian who I'm sure would recognize my feelings about the Trophy 1200: Carlo Talamo, one of the three guys behind Numero Tre in Milan (along with Roberto Crepaldi and Max Brun).

Although his passion was ignited more by the triples in the range, he imported the first Trophy 1200 into Italy and that was a signal experience. The whole story of the bike is told on the Federotriple website. Carlo swapped the forks and brakes for Daytona items and had the bike repainted in black and green: as you can see in the photo below, a pretty stunning choice. It was the first Triumph to be treated this sort of special attention and so a landmark machine in the history of Numero Tre.

The bike was then given to Marco Marchisio as a mark of gratitude for his long association with Carlo. The story goes on to explain that, long after, Marco returned it to Numero Tre as an important piece of history, whereafter it was returned to service by one of their mechanics in 2010. 

The story and the images of its recommissioning helped to inspire me to turn my musings about bringing a 1991 Trophy 1200 back to its former glory.   I dream of the day when I too can bring you a video of the moment when she speaks again. 


Monday, July 16, 2012

Exhausting tales

The exhaust was very clean externally, as the pic below shows. It has two pairs of stainless steel headers, connected with a link pipe that runs beneath and behind the sump. 

The link pipe had a big dent - probably caused by bumping up or down a kerb. The silencers are high quality chromed items, made by Motad for Triumph. 

The exhaust is bolted to a bracket via a rubber insulating bung.

The bracket in turn locates on two of the bolts at the rear of the sump. The lugs on this bracket were snapped off. I don't know for sure but I'm guessing it was because the silencers were stuck on the headers and possibly attempts to wrestle them off had resulted in the snapping of the bracket's lugs. 

I couldn't easily tell the internal condition of the silencers so I knew I'd want to get them off the headers at some stage. It made life hard for me to test fit the pipes around the sump because the length of the system is hard to manoeuvre and the silencers themselves are very heavy.

Attempting to test fit the exhaust was hard work with the
silencers stuck to the headers
 After many months of soaking in WD40, the silencers still refused to give up their grip on the exhaust headers. I decided, with regret, that I would use my minigrinder (Dremel clone) to extend the slots in the end of the silencers to allow me to lever them loose.
Extending the slots in the silencers with a mini grinder. 
I clamped the silencer in my pretend workmate, using a towel to protect the chromework and improve the grip. It kept it all steady whilst I made the cut and then twisted the headers out.

 The right-hand headers and silencer were harder to do than the left-hand side. When I did finally get the headers out, it was clear why.

 The inside of the junction had rusted badly though this wasn't visible from the outside. Rust expands and, beneath the right-hand silencer clamp, had the effect of gripping onto the header ever more tightly. So, whilst extending the slot with my grinder released the pressure, it also just showed up the extent of the rust at this point and so a need for me to replace it.

I was then able to clean off the dirt and surface rubbish with a wire brush on my electric drill. The stainless steel is great quality - it responded well to this treatment. I was also able to reduce the dent in the lower edge of the link pipe using a six-inch extension bar from my 1/2 inch drive socket set. I hammered it in and then levered against the inner section of the dent. It's not a perfect repair by any means but will allow the passage of exhaust gases in the way the designers intended. 

Finally, treatment with Solvol cleaned of the residue left behind by the wirebrush treatment and brought out the colour of the stainless rather nicely. 

I removed the old exhaust gaskets with a small chisel, working down wards and assisted by a little hammer. Great care is needed not to put gouges in the sealing surface. As soon as the chisel had bent the old gasket out by a few millimeters, I was then able to lever out the ring.

 I used copper grease to hold the new copper gaskets (from Sprint) in place whilst I fiddled about with the exhaust headers to get them into position. I put the right-hand pair on first because these are the ones fitted with the link pipe bracket. I positioned the link pipe bracket first and then, holding it in place with my left hand, lifted and knocked the headers into their recesses with my right. The bracket is then retained with an M8 35mm stainless bolt.
Stainless steel M8x35mm bolt retains exhaust headers
at the rear of the sump.
 I had previously replaced the exhaust studs with stainless and used stainless nuts, spring and plain washers to retain the headers.
Oil cooler dangling in front of the headers.

Looking more and more like a bike engine every week.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mounting oil temperature and pressure gauges

The pressure and temperature gauge story so far: sensors installed, having sorted out the position of the oil pressure sensor so it wouldn't foul on the exhaust,  wiring harnesses made up to my satisfaction. Time to think through mounting the gauges themselves. The instruments on the mark 1 Trophy are mounted in a binnacle that bolts to the underside of the forks' top yoke. They are offset from the yoke and a bit of measuring suggested there would be room enough to squeeze in the the little gauges I'd bought.  

So the next question was how to mount them. With a bit more measuring, I could see an additional bracket would be possible to replace the bracketry they were initially fitted with. This new bracket would share the two M6 bolts that hold the main instruments in place. I'd already improved the firmness with which the main instruments are held in place so I was pretty confident about the security of this plan. I marked out my design on a bit of cardboard and cut it out to see if the idea would work in the space. 

The gauges came with a swivel mount attached to the front edge of their aluminium bodies. The only trouble with my plan was that the gauges would have to mount upside down because I'd need to attach them at the back of their bodies rather than the front. So I would have to reverse the guts of the gauges so my replacement bracket would screw to the rear edge instead, to solve the problem of the digits being upside down.

 So, idea demonstrated as feasible, I marked out the shape and holes I wanted on a 1mm aluminium sheet. I drilled the holes out before cutting with my jigsaw because it is much easier to drill into flat sheet than the something with bends in it. I decided to drill two possible mounting holes for the gauges so I could choose between two heights.

With the shape cut out, I clamped it in my pretend workmate and banged over the extensions for the gauges with a rubber faced mallet, then tidied up the roughness left by the jigsaw and drill with a my favourite fits.

 A trial fit showed the bracket was marginally too wide and the top edges of the gauges needed to move inwards and rearwards by between 5mm and 10mm to avoid fouling the top yoke and instrument binnacle.

I put a little bend into the aluminium to bring the gauges away from the binnacle (visible) and then another bend just inboard of the 90 degree bend to tilt the gauges inward towards the centre line of the bike (not visible).

I was now happy with the positioning of the gauges so needed to sort out the fact that they were upside down. I was also concerned that these car gauges might suffer in the rain. The electronics for the gauges are mounted on a small circuit board so they are on the opposite side of the mounting screw. Reversing this circuit board ran the risk of the mounting screw contacting the components. I solved this by cutting a piece of plastic sheet (actually the blister from the box the gauges came in) to insulate the electronics from the mounting screw. It was a bit of a fiddle to get it back in reversed with the improvised insulator but I got there with both gauges.

 I bought a box of o-rings in various sizes at an autojumble. I found some rings that were the same external diameter as the gauge bodies and coated them in rubber grease to help keep the water out. I gave my new bracket and the gauge bodies a coat of paint too.

 Here they are in place. I'm not sure about the purple anodisation. Purple and red aren't a great combination so I'll probably get the Smoothrite out again. Still, pretty neat, eh? They might even work ... ;-)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

45 degree street elbow saves the day

Preferred location of the oil pressure
sensor, to the left rear of the sump
I'd found a problem with the place I wanted to fit an oil pressure sensor. The sensor is a relatively bulky item and it fouled on the junction between the right-hand exhaust and exhaust link pipe.
Unfortunately, the sensor fouled on
the left-hand exhaust pipe.
I had fitted the sensor on a 90 degree adaptor. I thought about rotating it so that the sensor ran parallel with the back of the engine but that would have made it necessary to ditch a support bracket for the exhaust that bolts to the rear of the sump.

Exhaust support bracket visible at the top left of this image,
bolted to the rear of the sump. 
The silencers are very heavy and so I was reticent to get rid of the support bracket.

I did a bit of measuring and thought my preferred mounting location might work if I could find a 45 degree adaptor. Some hunting around on the internet showed a few suppliers with right part - 1/8th NPT male-female fitting, described as a 'street elbow'. I found an agricultural engineer in Northern Ireland selling hydraulic parts that had some, apparently galvanized. I ordered them up and was pleased to find, after a test fitting, that it was just the job giving approx 10mm of clearance from the exhaust. It'll still be hot there but an awful lot better than if it was in direct contact.

The underside of the engine is a harsh environment - heat and road muck will combine to make life difficult for all components here. I decide to give the sensor and 45 degree elbow a coat of Smoothrite to help them cope.

Similarly, the oil filter housing will get a lot of stick. I found quite a lot of pitting in the large circular cover for the filter so I gave it a good degrease, scrub and coat of paint to fend off the worst of the weather. New O rings and filter plus steel washers that locate either side of the filter. The steel washers were missing when I dismantled the bike. They protect the rubber grommets in the centre of the filter.

 Filter cover in place, drain plug with a new copper washer. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Progress check

Another milestone - back on two wheels, suspension fully rebuilt, electrics in place. 

The front brake discs are only nipped up with a couple of bolts at present. The other bolts are enjoying a bath in WD40 to loosen and dissolve off the surface rust on these chromed items.

It interesting to compare the bike in this state with my previous milestone moment. It shows how much substance is added around the rear shock in the form of the rear mudguard, battery box etc. Check out the attention to detail around the linkage, footrest plate and brake area. Stupid in so many ways, but tremendously satisfying for me in so many more.

Next, sort out a way to mount the oil temperature and pressure gauges and resolve the problem I have with the pressure sensor fouling the exhaust cross-pipe support bracket or touching the right-hand header.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pitted fork repair, Sprint Manufacturing 20% uprated springs, and front wheel refit

With the forks removed, I could see how much pitting was present on the stanchions - a lot, as it happens, although each individual pit was pretty small, maybe up to 1mm across.

I decided to try filling them with Chemical Metal epoxy paste on the grounds that, well, it just might work. If not, I'll get them reground and hard chromed. So I degreased them with cellulose thinners and dug as much of the dirt out of the pits as I could with a pin, wiping as i went. Then I mixed up the Chemical Metal a bit at a time and covered the affected areas. It goes off very quickly (about 5 mins) so I had to repeat the process lots of times. 

After leaving it to cure completely overnight, I trimmed back the excess filler with a sharp blade and rubbed the stanchions down with 800 grade wet and dry paper. The finish was smooth and reasonable. I've no idea how robust it will be. 

I'd decided to fit some 20% stiffer replacement fork springs from Sprint Manufacturing. I carefully measured lengths as I went. First, the difference between fully compressed and fully extended is about 145mm. Second, the standard spacer is 110mm. 

The springs I removed were 470mm in length (the shorter, darker spring in the picture below). I would say the 'standard springs', which I believe them to be, but who knows whether a previous owner changed them. The Spring Manufacturing springs were about 490mm in length. I could have cut the spacer down accordingly (to 90mm) but decided I would treat it as an additional 20mm preload to start with and then shorten if required later on. This meant being very careful in compressing the springs to refit the top nut but they went together well.

I decided to try comparing the spring rates. No pics I'm afraid but I did this by placing an old kitchen scales upside down on each of the springs and then compressing them for 1cm. I was surprised to find that the Sprint springs were about 6kg per cm whereas the ones I removed were 6.5kg per cm. In other words, harder. So maybe they aren't the originals. However, the Sprint springs have two pitches  whereas the springs I removed were evenly wound along their entire length. The manual indicates that the originals should be twin rate. I decided I'd try to see what the rate of the Sprint springs are when the close-wound section binds. I did this by clamping the spring in my workmate just above the close-wound section and repeating the scales trick. This time, it showed a rate of 7kg per cm, so about 17% stiffer by my imprecise measurements - close enough to Sprint's claim for me to believe all is in order.

 Forks reassembled, I decided to fit a pair of stone guards. The clamp just above the dust seals. Hopefully, they'll help to keep the Chemical Metal repair functional for a little while at least.

I decided to pull the forks through the yokes slightly more than standard because the stiffer springs would make the bike ride slightly higher than normal, marginally slowing the steering geometry. Again, it's an experiment. The fact that I now know the difference between full extension and compression means I can adjust the down some more as long as I leave at least 145mm between the bottom yoke and fork seals.

I found that the front wheel axel was rusted internally. There is a plastic bung on the left hand end that had been damaged, allowing water ingress. So I cleaned it up with a drill and thin wire brush, primed and painted it before coating the bung in waxoil and refitting. I also gave the front axel nut a birthday.

 I like polishing. The fork top nuts and speedo gearbox gave me a chance to break out the Solvol and bling it up :-)

 Plenty of LM grease on the axel and the wheel is back in place. The axel can be held still with a tommy bar through the left hand end whilst the nut is pinched up. There was zero clearance between the fork legs and the wheel spacer (left) and speedo gearbox (right) so it was a performance getting the wheel in place. I managed it in the end by slackening the fork clamp bolts in the lower yoke and slightly twisting the sliders.

For torquing the axel up, it is necessary to tighten two clamp bolts in the left-hand fork leg so the axel doesn't rotate. The two clamp bolts in the right-hand leg can then be torqued too.

 Handlebars and clocks loose fitted, starting to look like a bike again.