Monday, September 23, 2013

Fuel Consumption

I thought I'd write something about fuel consumption. Then it occurred to me that I might as well just let the numbers speak for themselves since I  keep a little book with them in. I like to keep an eye on fuel usage because a gradual change would indicate there was something deteriorating. I can also see if changes I make result in better or worse consumption.

My overall average is around 47mpg, best around 55mpg (on Shell V Formula and BP Ultimate) and worst so far 42mpg (Esso). I don't know if it means very much to say which brand of fuel gave best and worst returns since the way I was riding probably had more to do with it. But still ...

I lowered the gearing by changing from a 42 to a 45 tooth rear sprocket at 41250. I'd wondered if I'd get higher consumption afterwards. It seems to be the case, albeit marginally. 

Mileage Trip Volume Litres MPL MPG
38554 157 17.00 Texaco Supreme 9.24 42.0
38770 216 21.60 Shell V Formula 10.0 45.4
38959 188 18.80 BP standard 10.0 45.4
39181 222 21.10 Texaco Supreme 10.5 47.0
39424 242 22.99 Shell V Formula 10.53 47.8
39614 191 15.81 Shell V Formula 12.08 54.9
39856 241 21.88 Esso High Octane 11.01 50.1
40054 197 19.48 Texaco Supreme 10.11 46.0
40261 207 19.09 Texaco Supreme 10.84 49.3
40488 226 18.86 Shell V Formula 11.98 54.5
40707 218 20.29 BP Ultimate 10.74 48.8
40901 193 17.78 Esso High Octane 10.85 49.3
41123 185 19.73 Texaco Standard 9.38 42.6
41310 181 17.25 Shell V Power 10.49 47.6
41518 207 19.08 Pace Standard 10.84 49.3
41662 145 ?? Asda standard ?? ??
41832 171 16.46 Jet standard 10.39 47.2
42065 232 22.47 Esso High Octane 10.32 46.9
42289 224 22.18 Esso High Octane 10.10 45.9
42529 240 23.40 Esso Standard 10.26 46.6

Monday, September 9, 2013

T300s are old bikes

In my last post, I reflected on the fact that although I still think of my 1994 Daytona 900 as a new bike, quite plainly it is not. Just like me, it used to be young, and I can just about remember what it was like.

Age. It catches up with us all. A teeny bit at a time, perhaps, but that youthful flexibility gradually ebbs away. One becomes conscious of it when for example picking something up from the floor and, just before fingertips make contact, a sharp little twinge in the lower back intrudes. Or perhaps you have been sitting on the floor (almost certainly a rare event in itself these days), find your legs don't want to straighten out, and you are suddenly aware that standing up takes a time to achieve.

Well, motorcycles are also subject to the effects of time. T300s were in production from the 1991 Trophy 1200 to the 2003 Trophy 1200, with Daytonas, Tridents, Speed Triples, Tigers, Thunderbirds and Adventurers in between. So the most senior are 22 years old, and a full decade has already passed under the wheels of even the most junior. But it isn't really the rigours of motion I refer to. After all, a determined rider could easily cover 30,000 miles in a single year on a brand-new bike. No, the effects of time I refer to are more insidious than that. In some ways, putting on the miles can be a benefit.

The atmosphere always contains some moisture. Where I live this is not a revelation - the moisture is often visible beating on my visor! That dampness gradually infuses itself into the fabric of the machine and any uncoated components inevitably start to oxidize. After all, 22 years translates into 264 months of opportunity for corrosion to grow from a discolouration into a full-blown seized fasteners. Or electrical connections that fail to connect any more. But it isn't all about rust, verdigris or furred up ally.

Consider the carburettors on my 1991 Trophy 1200. Each float bowl has rubber components that have sat in petrol for no less than 8,030 days. For the past three years, the effects of this treatment has been made more severe with the addition of ethanol to UK fuel. The rubber ducts connecting the carbs to the head have had to cope with 192,720 hours of ozone and fuel vapour, and extremes of temperature and expansion/contraction cycles that go with them.

Yes, t-w-e-n-t-y-t-w-o years is a l-o-n-g time for any vehicle to be around. Clearly, there are a fair number of bikes still around of double that age. I'm not sure what the design life of a contemporary motorcycle is supposed to be. I'd guess five years because that is the cycle for introducing new models. Maybe ten years for guaranteed spare parts availability. Those older machines have survived certainly because of a combination of the importance of longevity for the designers and the investment of care by previous owners. Or being parked up in a dry garage for years because of a previous owner's change of life circumstances. Luck, in other words.

The point is, T300s are now almost certainly surviving a fair chunk of time beyond the point at which most machines are designed to last. And even given that breakdowns and general durability were high on the list of priorities for the T300 design team, not even they could forestall changes in petrol composition or stop the effects of ozone on rubber.

These bikes, for all their many merits, are not for the faint hearted. They are tall, solid, full-fat motorcycling experience. I think anyone deciding to take on an early Hinckley bike should do so conversant of the fact that they are no longer new. They must respect the machine for the virtues of its design when new, and also be prepared to tackle its age-related foibles as they come to light.

For all that age brings with it a dimming of the raw senses, there are fuller tastes to enjoy from the longer view made possible by experience. It's not just wines, cheeses and whiskies that develop flavour with time. Those doing the tasting can spend more time enjoying them, without being in the tearing hurry of youth.

I remember being in too much of a rush to check my chain tension as often as I should have, and oiling being a case of drowning it once a month in a guilty splurge, rather than a more regular and measured activity. Now I can take time to walk around my Trophy before a ride, because I haven't left it until the 11th minute of the 11th hour to set off, and not just look at the chain but maybe oiling the control points. And feeling the result with a smile. Or polishing the screen. Or what have you.

At a steam fair, I once saw a really old engine with the dull gleam that can only be obtained with years of the application of an engineers oily rag. I bore a brass plaque:

If I rest, I rust
If I rust, I bust
No rest, no rust, no bust

So miles can make smiles more than just for the rider.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Some Daytonic needed ... seized swing arm bearing

I've been enjoying the opportunity to take my 1200 Trophy out and about in sunny Somerset of late. So there are no new spannering tales to tell there and the trips have been too short to warrant a write up.  However, for the last few weeks, I have turned my attention towards Streaky - my dear old Daytona 900. And my goodness, some attention was needed.

With 70,000 miles under her wheels in all weathers and the passage of 19 years, despite bouts of intensive TLC on my part, time eventually catches up. I started out thinking I give her a bit of a spruce up before winter - cleaning, greasing etc. Well when I started pulling bits of bodywork off and undoing nuts and bolts, it became clear that plenty of attention was needed. And now she looks kind of similar to when I started doing all the work on the 1200. Rather worryingly.

By some strangeness of my imagination, I always think of this bike as new. Well, she is not. I've owned the bike since 1995, when she was just 18 months old and the idea of newness from back then has never really left me. Inexplicable after all the water that has flowed under the bridge since back then.
What, no wheels??
 The general finish has held up amazingly well given the fact that I really have used the bike right through many winters. The powdercoat on the engine covers failed and I had them redone two years ago. The front of the engine has suffered so touching that up is on the agenda. I've already done several jobs I'd planned in advance - fixing a broken alternator bolt and stripping, cleaning and rebuilding the starter motor.

Ruby watches on
I've been fighting with the rear suspension and subframe area most recently. The swingarm spindle was seized in place.

I finally managed to release it last night after five days of dosing with WD40 and whacking with a lump hammer. The key thing was to alternate blows from one side to another with a good solid drift, as it began to move fractionally, and to be patient. It had rusted to the inside of the right-hand bearing sleeve - it looks as though water got around the end of the arm and was drawn along the spindle by capillary action. The left-hand side is in great condition, I imagine because I have always been generous with chain lube (courtesy of a Scott oiler) and the resultant splash coating has kept water at bay.

Mercifully, the needle-roller swingarm bearings are mint though - plenty of grease on them and clean as a whistle. The bearing sleeve was rusted on its inside surface, against the spindle, but is perfect on the outer surface where it supports the needles. That's a relief. I'll need to replace the sleeve and the spindle because the spindle is badly pitted and I can assume the same is true of the inside of the sleeve.