Friday, April 26, 2013

Plumbing problems

Plumbing problems beset my ride yesterday. I headed out in the Salisbury direction and found the bike started missing on the Warminster bypass. I slowed down and it cleared. I knew it was the return of the fuelling problem I had before Winter. I was trying to persuade myself it was nothing.

On the way home, she stopped altogether three times. I could see that the fuel filters were dry so there was no doubt it was fuel starvation. My guess is that when the bike heats up, the rubber fuel hoses soften and then close up where they bend. I think it is both the vacuum pipe to the rear of the fuel tap and one or both of the fuel hoses to the carbs. Each time, after the bike had cooled I could see fuel flow into the filters again and so could do some more miles.

So last night I took it all apart again to take out the fuel filters so the hoses would have an easier route to the carbs. And in doing so I managed to snap one of the t-pieces I'd plumbed in to link the two sides of the system!!! So I had to pull the carbs out too so I could remove the broken stub etc.

Ironically, I could see that the carb throats and inlet rubbers were wet with fuel. It is ironic bearing in mind the problem I was trying to solve was not having enough fuel. That suggests I set the float heights too generously. So I'll be adjusting them by 1 - 2 mm whilst I'm at it.

On the plus side, with the carbs out I could do something else. And so I have a nice new heavy duty lead from the starter solenoid to the starter motor ;-)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wash and brush up - double time

I had been slow to wash off the muck from the last ride I had on the 1200 before winter. Partly, I guess it was disappointment after the fuelling problems I was beset with at that time. Well, the bike is running well again - not flawlessly, but really very well. She has the odd hesitation just off idle when hot. Anyway, well worth rewarding with a wash.

Meanwhile, my hard working Daytona 900 had been all through the winter with just the odd hosing down so had also earnt a good wash. I got them out together for a splash. It was fun to have them side by side. The 1200 looks a lot slimmer from the front - an illusion given by the single headlight.

 It never ceases to amaze me how well the 900 comes up with a hosepipe and a bucket of soapy water. The finish on the T300s of that time is amazingly durable - '93 model year onwards benefit from coatings applied at purpose-built factory facilities. Paintwork etc. was outsourced at the start of production. I've had some issues with the original powder coat lifting from the cases, where chips have allowed water to attack the alloy and corrosion has crept under the coating. I have had the timing, balancer and crank end covers refinished. I also had the wheels done two winters ago in a satin black powder by Wessex Metal Finishers of Wilton near Salisbury. It has resisted the salt-encrusted roads to good effect so far.

The T300 family resemblance is clear from a rear three-quarter view. Bearing in mind that the chassis is identical, they each give a rather different riding experience. I have them on identical gearing at the moment. That means the 900 is overgeared and the 1200 could pull a higher ratio probably. I like enjoying the low-to-mid range tractibility of the motors.

After hosing down, I took them for a spin around the local bypass to dry the bikes off before locking them away. The Daytona is like an old slipper to me now. I've covered 60,000 miles on her since 1995 so gear changing, throttle control, steering and braking are all but automatic to me. The 900 is a torquey, soulful engine. It always feels ready to play from the off.

Well, if the 900 is torquey, I don't know how to describe the 1200. 'Thrusty'? It is so much more potent than the 900 whilst its responsiveness follows a similar pattern through the rev range. I'm just addicted to riding it. To me, it's like  a magic carpet. I get on and it feels just so easy to motor around. The steering isn't as good as the Daytona but it is perfectly manageable for all that. It is noticeably slower. The front end is harsh by comparison to the Daytona too. This may be because the oil I put into the 1200's forks was too thick. The ambient temperature here is still around 10 degrees C so the oil will no doubt thin as temperatures increase. Both bikes require rider input to change direction. I like that, personally. For me, riding should make demands on the rider or else the experience is uninvolving. The difference is in speed of response. The Daytona is not instant. I'd say millisecond responsive. The Trophy 12 is about half that speed in reacting to my input at the bars.

But then this is where the riding experience is just different. The 1200 has silky thrust the picks up ever more through the rev range. The 900 has a grittier character with power that (currently) tails off as the revs rise through 6000rpm. It needs attention, no doubt. The Daytona's bars are mounted below the top yoke - about 2 inches lower than the original Trophy bars. That means more rider weight forward on the arms, head closer to the clocks and screen. The air blasted off of the screen is difficult to avoid. The Trophy fairing is narrower and has a screen that directs a smooth air blast beneath the level of the helmet so is much quieter than the wind roar of the Daytona.

I wasn't expecting to write a comparison but there we are. Similar but quite distinct to ride and both bring me big smiles. Right now though, I just want to get on my shiny Lancaster Red Trophy 1200 and ride to the moon. She is just mag-ni-fi-cent.

Monday, April 22, 2013

On the road again

I'm rolling again. The experience is startling after pootling about on my 900. It feels like instant urge. It feels just great.

I used two T pieces to plumb in a link pipe between the petrol feeds for the left- and right-hand pair of carbs. I decided to leave the fuel filters in place as well so the result is on the crowded side. I might ditch the filters if this becomes a problem but after all the trouble I've had with dirty fuel, I'll leave them there for the time being. 

Cap masked off, mounting plate repainted
Tank fittings ready for remounting.
The mounting plate for the fuel cap was very tatty so I took the opportunity to paint it. I used alloy wheel paint. It is pretty robust and can be used on aluminium without a primer. 

 21st of April, late at night, on the road again.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lining Petrol Tank 1

My POR15 kit arrived from Frost Auto Restoration Techniques some time ago. I bought the basic car tank kit because I figured I'd have enough to do a few tanks and there'd be a bit of a saving in the long run. The kit includes a 'quart' of Fuel Tank Sealer, 'Marine Clean' degreaser, and 'Prep and Ready' rust remover solution. The idea is to flush, degrease, flush, derust, flush, and then dry before tipping in the tank sealer compound.
POR15 Tank Sealer, Degreaser and Rust Remover

I'd read a few articles and more than one stated that the process could be quite wasteful and that the writers had wished they could have treated more than one tank at a time. I decided to do the same and will post about the other tank after I've written about this one. My previous posting linked to a YouTube video from a company called Holden. They say the rust remover is reusable. POR15 says the degreaser is reusable too. Presumably both lose some of their effectiveness after each application but, even so, I planned to catch and filter them for future use. I wasn't sure how much of the tank sealer would be left over. I'd imagine it would be thick and gloopy - I was wrong about that.

In any case, it was too frosty (!) to use it for what seemed like for ever. The temperature got above 5 degrees last week and I decided I'd waited long enough. I drained the tank and found lots more of the old tank liner came out with the fuel. Plenty more was left in the tank, adhering with varying degrees of tenacity to the bare steel surface inside, as can be seen in the pictures below. I took them with an LED torch suspended through the filler neck.

I wasn't sure the degreaser would deal with the old liner adequately so I'd decided to use a couple of bottles of nail polish remover with a load of bolts before starting the POR15 process properly. Nail polish remover is mainly acetone - pretty aggressive stuff so ideal for the old liner but I was worried that it would damage the plastic parts of the fuel tap. Also, I wasn't sure duct tape would hold against acetone. So I decided to make up a blanking plate and one of the fuel tap rubber seals to keep it all in for the first part of my cleaning process. I had an off-cut of 5mm aluminium sheet that was about the right size. I wasn't concerned about the fuel level sensor because I think it is pretty robust.

Aluminium fuel tap blanking plate
Bolts and nail polish remover; fuel cap waiting at rear of tank 
With the blanking plate in place, I dropped a handful of large zinc plated bolts (12mm and 14mm) into the tank and then poured in two bottles of Lidl's finest nail polish remover and pushed a universal fuel cap into the filler hole. 

A cycle of vigorous shaking and resting ensued over a period of several hours. I had to leave it long enough for the acetone to soften the old liner so that the bolts could abrade it loose. I took the odd look down the filler hole but it was really hard to judge, not least because it was a very unpleasant place for my nose to be. I'd estimate about three hours and twelve five minute vigorous shakings later, I decided to drain out the gunk. The fluid was almost chocolate brown, with lots of rust residue which I had not expected, and came out with a fair amount of liner in it.

I then blasted around the inside of the tank with a hose which brought out a satisfyingly large amount of failed liner.  The view inside the tank is in the photo below. Some of the old liner was still there and evidence of rusting can be seen beneath the head of the LED torch. This area is one of the lowest parts of the tank so it would be where water would have collected.

Mixing the Marine Clean degreaser
I refitted my blanking plate and was ready to start the POR process as per the instructions. Marine Clean degreaser is mixed 50:50 with hot water. I decided to use half the bottle because I was treating a motorcycle tank rather than a car tank. More shaking, more resting, shaking and resting.
Inside the tank after washing out the Marine Clean

This time I left it for about an hour. The Holden video suggest at least 30 minutes and I wanted to be on the safe side.

That done, I removed the blanking plate and blasted out the tank with a cold water hose again. The colour of the drained out fluid wasn't as bad as in the Holden video but then we are talking about a post-acetone flush here anyway. It certainly brought out more dirt, rust particles and failed liner, leaving a much cleaner looking internal surface.

Fuel level sensor unscrewed from the bottom of the petrol tank
The Prep and Ready is said to be aggressive to metal surfaces so I did want to remove the fuel level sender this time. It has a brass body that screws into the base of the petrol tank and an aluminium pot on a stalk that extends up inside. I'm guessing there is a little float inside the pot that makes and breaks an electrical contact as  the level of the fuel falls and rises. I'm not sure though - how does electricity and petrol mix without explosion?

The Holden video says duct tape will be fine for sealing off all the apertures in a tank. I didn't want to take chances with the glue softening though so I got some new 3M tape for the job. I used contact cleaner around the fuel tap and fuel sensor apertures to make sure it adhered properly.

Apertures for fuel sensor (left) and fuel tap (right) sealed off with duct tape
The Prep and Ready is aggressive to paint so I made a bib out of a polythene bag and used a funnel to get fluid into the tank before sealing the filler neck off with duct tape.

Cue more shaking, turning, waiting and shaking. I left it about three hours this time. Having seen rust in the bottom of the tank, I wanted to make sure the solution had a good opportunity to remove it and provide a good key for the new liner compound.

Pulling off the duct tape from the fuel tap mounting, I drained the Prep and Ready out into a clean plastic bowl. Once more, lots of failed tank liner appeared with draining the rust remover solution from the tank. I couldn't believe there was any loose stuff left but there you are. I regret not putting the big bolts back in at every stage now to aid in its removal. However, it seemed to have done a good job on the rust. The next step was to flush with hot water so I poured in a kettle of just before boiling point, swirled it around madly then dumped it out before hosing out. Guess what - more failed liner appeared.  There was very little left at this point but some still visible for all that.

The picture below shows how it left the bare steel around the fuel tap mounting in great shape. The paint had partially failed and rust had been creeping under it just here. The acetone lifted it partly and I removed the rest with a scraper so it was back to sound paint.

The inside of the tank had a duller appearance than after the degreasing but that is the 'keying' part of the job Prep and Ready is supposed to do.
Clean and derusted but bits of old liner still visible to the right
The POR15 instructions and Holden advice is that the tank has to be totally bone dust dry before adding the tank sealer. It isn't easy to dry out a tank because there isn't much opportunity for the damp air inside to get outside. I assisted this process in two ways. I used a hot air blower to heat up the tank from the outside and aiming it down the filler. I put a lot of heat into the seams of the tank since I thought they would be most likely to harbour moisture. After that, I aimed the blower through the fuel tap hole and used a vacuum cleaner to pull the air through the tank. My aim was to get all the hot damp air out and replaced with hot dry air. It seemed to work well. It isn't possible to see into every corner of the tank though to tell if all the moisture had gone. I left it 24 hours before repeating the same procedure again. Time to seal! So more duct tape applied and ready to go.

It took me ages to get the tin open. Honestly - I wondered if it was designed to be punctured, it was so tough to lift the lid. I gave up levering with a tyre iron and used a big pair of pliers to pull up on the lid in the end. The sealer is a silvery fluid and appears to be a type of resin mixed with pigments - it took a lot of mixing to even out the silver with a clear amber coloured liquid. I poured it in with the same funnel as before (but cleaned and dried off first) and then went back into shaking and rolling mode. The fluid is much thinner than I had imagined, I was relieved to find. It flowed about readily enough and could be sloshed around without difficulty inside the tank. I spent plenty of time trying to make sure I had rolled it adequately to cover all internal surfaces. I then used a small brush to paint around the filler hole and a metal collar that extends down into the tank by about an inch. The collar is a baffle to prevent petrol sloshing out with braking and acceleration.

The inside of the tank after treating with POR15 tank sealer (though before it has settled)
Removing the duct tape from tap and sensor holes, the POR15 drained out back into its tin readily enough. I left the tank at an angle to allow the remaining fluid to settle. I thought I had allowed the excess to drain but I was wrong - there was a silver puddle under it when I took a look a few hours later.

The instructions are to allow 96 hours (four full days) before using the tank again. The puddle gave me a chance to track the process, at least externally. It has been two days so far and the puddle is completely hard. I had expected it to set to a kind of rubbery consistency - not at all. The surface is like a resin to the touch. So I'm pleased with how it has worked out so far, though the test will really come with our ethanol-laden petrol. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

I decided to use POR-15 tank sealer

The main reason why ethanol is a problem for steel petrol tanks is because it absorbs water and then releases it into the tank. So water eventually pools in the bottom of the tank and corrodes it away. It's is different story for plastic and fibreglass tanks - I think it just dissolves those but I don't know for sure.

When it comes to guarding against the dreaded effects of ethanol, there are a few products around. I'm not sure there's a strong reason for choosing one rather than another but I decided to give POR-15 a go. The reason was because it cures with atmospheric humidity (water vapour). If ethanol is a problem because of the water it carries, it seemed to me that a coating that uses water to cure was a good match.

I bought a POR-15 kit some time ago. The instructions leave a lot to be desired in terms of the practicalities, I think. Also, it has been so cold out that I haven't had the will to use it. But Spring is nearly here so it's time to get cracking.

I found this step-by-step video from a company called Holden. It has a lot of sensible, practical advice, including the use of duct tape to seal up the apertures in the tank. I like the attitude of the venerable gentleman on the right - it has given me confidence to have a go. It is for a car tank but I don't think the differences are particularly problematic. At least not yet ... I'll post again when I've had a go myself.