Sunday, 28 December 2014

A Run to the Coast and a Wartime Mystery

After the Christmas gluttony and sloth I had to get out on the bike for a run. The weather on Saturday was bright but cool so I wrapped up well for a run to the coast.

I first stopped at Newark Castle in Port Glasgow. This is a well preserved 15th century building on the banks of the Firth of Clyde.
In the grounds is an old tower that used to part of the defensive walls and was converted into at Dovecote (Doocot in Scots) to provide pigeons for food in times past.
I then rode up to Lyle Hill above Gourock where there are good views over the Firth of Clyde towards the Rosneath Peninsular, Gare Loch & Loch Long. There is a monument in the form of an anchor and Cross of Lorraine to the Free French Navy that operated out of Greenock during the Second World War.

"To the memory of the sailors of the Free French Naval Force that never stopped fighting and who fell gloriously for the liberation of France in honour and victory." 
"To the memory of Commander Blaison, the Officers & crew of the submarine "Surcouf" lost in the Atlantic, February 1942"
And this is the mystery. The Surcouf was an unusual vessel. When built in 1929 it was the largest submarine in the world. At the time the world's navies were restricted in size by the Washington Treaty to try to avoid a post WW1 arms race. Submarines were initially excluded so the French build a huge sub with heavy armament - 2x8" guns in a turret and with a hanger for a spotter seaplane.   

After the German invasion of France in 1940 the Sorcouf fled to Britain and became part of the Free French Navy operating out of Greenock. The ship escorted convoys across the Atlantic and also took part in an operation to gain control of the French islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon off Newfoundland that were under control of the Vichy Government. Despite this the British Government suspected that the ship was acting for the Vichy Government by re-fueling German U Boats and attacking Allied shipping.

In early 1942 the French sent the ship to the Pacific but it was lost heading for the Panama Canal. It is thought that it collided with an American freighter but there is speculation that it was sunk by British or American forces by accident or otherwise. The truth about the loss of the Surcouf will likely remain unknown unless the wreck is ever found.

My final stop was at Largs where I considered having an ice cream, but thought better of it. It looks nice but it was only just above freezing.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

FJ Ride Height Adjustment

It is generally considered on the FJ Owners Forum that the bike benefits from an increase in rear ride height.

The older of my two FJ does seem a little low a the back - something may have sagged over the years - it happens to us all. So I thought I'd try it out. The costs are minimal and I'm always up for a bit of tinkering.

As with any bike with a linkage type rear suspension the ride height can be adjusted by making new "dog bones" with a different hole spacing. A shorter spacing give increased ride height and visa versa. Advice from the Forum is that 5mm reduction in spacing gives a 25mm (1 inch) increase in ride height. The original dog bones are single flat pieces of mild steel so replacements are easily made.

Part #15 are the dog bone linkages to be replaced.
I sourced a flat bar 35mm x 6mm x 1000m from Wickes hardware store.

The bar is the same thickness as the originals and slightly wider
It's important that the new linkages are exactly the same length so I tack welded the plates together & marked them out for drilling
A step drill is the best way to get a clean 12mm hole
The completed linkages
Given a coat of paint
FJ with original linkages (left) and new linkages (right) - not a lot of difference.
I'm not using the bike at this time of year but it felt ok during a quick spin round the block. The roads are too wet & greasy for heroics just now so I'll have to wait until spring to find out how it works. 


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

I Do Like a Good Chart….

In my days as an Engineer I used graphs & charts in my work and some of them could cleverly convey complex information in a clear manner.

This one relates to politics and predicts the results of the next general election in the UK based on the performance of the two main parties. Detailed as it is it still makes assumptions and does not include the Welsh Nationalists, the various Northern Irish parties, UKIP, the Greens etc.  

For those not in the UK "Nat" = Scottish National Party & "Lib" = Liberal Democrats

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Winter Run to the Rosneath Peninsular

The weather has been gloomy for a while but today the sun shone although it was pretty cool: 7C/45F. So I wrapped up well, cranked the new heated grips up and went for a run on the CBF around the Rosneath Peninsular. This is fairly close to home but offers some good roads & views.

Gare Loch
A resident of the loch
Gare Loch - looking south
The CBF casts a long shadow at Kilcreggan. It's mid-day but the sun is low at this time of year
The sun over Loch Long
A tanker coming from Finnart oil terminal
There are a lot of grand mansions on the Loch Long coast. Built by the wealthy in the Victorian era.

Winter warrior!

Friday, 28 November 2014

CBF Heated Grips Replacement

Heated grips are essential if you're going to ride through the Scottish winter (and spring & autumn, often) I fitted a pair when I bought the bike 5 years ago but they've given up the ghost so replacement was urgently needed. To be fair the old grips were £10 used from Ebay so they did ok.

Today I bought a set of "Dr Bike" heated grips from J&S Accessories, 272-4 Great Western Road, Glasgow. They seem to have risen from the ashes of Hein Gericke and have a large range of bike clothing & accessories.

The set consists of a pair of grips, a controller and the associated wiring. Fitting was easy. The kit has a tube of superglue to secure the grips. The left side was tight enough itself and I used fibre glass resin on the throttle grip. Superglue sets almost instantly but the resin gives you a few minutes to get the grip into the right position.

The controller has a single knob that is pushed to switch on and rotated for power. I measured the current at between 0.6 to 2.4 amps thus 7 to 29 watts. The controller is intended to be stuck onto a flat surface with some double sided sticky foam. The CBF doesn't have anything suitable so I made up a plate riveted to a jubilee clip.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Featured Bikes - Matchless Model X Reloaded & Bienville Legacy

Here's a couple of exotic bikes you're not likely to see down at your local dealers. 

Firstly the Matchless name has been resurrected with the Model X Reloaded. The bike uses a 1,900cc S&S V twin engine. Its produced by the Malenotti family who are notable for making the Belstaff brand fashionable - a feat I'd have though impossible. The original Model X was produced in the 1930's, also with a V twin engine.

The original Model X

Over to New Orleans for the Bienville Legacy. This crazy looking creation is possibly the ugliest bike I've ever seen but is interesting in that it uses the V four 1,650cc Motus engine from the long awaited MST sports tourer. In the Legecy it has been supercharge to produce over 300 bhp! The front & rear suspension consists of a single composite material leaf spring.  

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Guy Martin - Speed, Series 2, Pike's Peak Bike

Motorcycle racer Guy Martin is back for a second series of speed related challenges. In the second in the series he builds & races a bike at the Pike's Peak Hillclimb in Colorado. The bike is a turbo charged 1991 Suzuki GSX1100.

Channel 4, 8:00pm Sunday Nov 2nd

In the first programme he attempts to beat the 24 hour tandem cycling record.
Catch up at 4OD (UK only)