Friday 28 December 2018

Big Yellow Taxi

A house near me occasionally has a classic American car parked outside (presumably a visitor) Yesterday there was something interesting. It was a Checker Marathon taxi cab. 

It certainly brightened up a dull winter's day.  


Monday 24 December 2018

Seasons Greetings

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish my legion of visitors a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I say "legion" going by my audience statistics but maybe there is only a handful of real people and the rest are Russian computers (for some odd reason) if so "Веселого Рождества и счастливого нового года".

I've no great plans for 2019, just more of the same. I intend to run three bikes.

Yamaha FJ1200, Suzuki SV650 & Honda CBF250

It was good getting the little bike back on the road after some mechanical & electrical issues. It provides me with winter transport and is great for running about town. Hopefully it has a few miles left in it.     

Here's a picture from today. The CBF at Mearns Kirk on a very frosty morning.

Friday 21 December 2018

It Never Rains but it Pours (Again)

And the problems keep on coming…..

While the CBF was having its charging problems it also started gushing oil.

The oil was pouring out of the pipe to the oil cooler. The fittings had corroded & cracked. Replacement hoses are expensive but I've bodged this sort of thing before. I cut the hoses and spliced in a length of rubber tubing. The only cost was some Jubilee clips. I bought real ones as the Chinese copies are poor. The pipe was once part of a washing machine. 

Will it hold? - I think so. The oil cooler never gets very warm and is probably unnecessary in the Scottish climate.

Thursday 20 December 2018

It Never Rains but it Pours

On this occasion I'm not talking about the Scottish weather.

After getting my CBF250 back on the road after some engine work another problem emerged. The battery stopped charging.

I first suspected the battery, it's 7 years old so maybe a replacement is required. I attached my charger and it charged up ok. The bike then ran for a while but the battery soon went flat.

Now before I go any further I'll freely admit that I'm not good with electrics so forgive me if any of the following is rubbish.

To continue….the battery seemed to be discharging. If the charger puts juice into the battery then so should the bike's charging system.

It's easy to check whether a battery is being charging. Put a voltmeter across the battery, it will show about 12 volts, start the engine and this should rise to about 14 volts. I did this but the voltage didn't change - so no charging.

A quick description of the CBF's charging system. It has a permanent magnet alternator. A rotor with magnets is attached to the end of the crankshaft and spins around wire coils (the stator) This produces AC (alternating current) this goes to a regulator/rectifier unit. This changes the AC to DC (direct current) and regulates the voltage to about 14 volts. This goes to the battery to charge it.  
CBF's charging system - quite simple really
I then suspected the regulator/rectifier. So just replace the unit? Well, a check with my usual supplier gave a cost of £173.70. A bit steep for a bike in the twilight of its years. I couldn't find a used item (the CBF is fairly rare here) so I hoped that I could find something I could use. I bought a pattern unit intended for the CBR600 for a mere £7.89. The pin positions were different but I lashed up cables with spade connectors to connect the unit to the plug on the bike's wring loom.

Cheapo reg/rect
Unfortunately there was still no charging. I checked the AC output from the alternator and it was low - about 8 - 12 volts. It should be about 50 volts so it looked like the stator was at fault. There was continuity between the phases of the stator so there was no break in the wires. This indicates a short.

I removed the stator and it looked ok. I was expecting the wires in the coils to be completely burned out. There was a little "crustiness" in some bits of wire otherwise it looked ok. Worryingly the insulating resin on the stator was flaking off in small chips. A sign of overheating? The stator is inside the engine and submerged in the engine oil. These chips will contaminate the oil but are hopefully caught by the filters.  
The stator looks ok. Just a little discolouring on the odd wire.

These particles are loose in the engine - not good.
Now I had to make a decision. A replacement stator is £210. My CBF, well used at 65,000 miles isn't worth much so should I spend money on it or buy a new bike? Recent engine work revealed that the motor was in good condition and it seems a waste to scrap the bike. So I looked for used item on eBay.

CBF250s are fairly rare here so there aren't a huge amount of parts. But I did found one at £80 so I bought it. Fitting the stator is very simple. Just bolt it onto the engine casing, replace the casing and engine oil and plug it in.  
Stators old new & old

I fitted the new stator…..and I got charging voltage! 
Engine off....

....and running

The CBF ready to take on winter!

Sunday 18 November 2018

First Run of the Winter

Well, it depends on what you call "winter". For me it starts in mid-November when frosts are common and I have to wrap up well to ride.

It was cool today but blue skies and sunshine meant that I had to get out for a run to Galloway.  

My garden weather station (the bird bath) indicates that it's cold

Heading into the Ayrshire countryside

I often complain about a lack of road signs in the countryside….but sometimes they're there if you look hard enough.

Head for the sun

In the woods - brighter now that the leaves have gone

Newton Stewart

Sun over the Solway Firth

A remote hill road

Heated grips were essential today

Loch Ken was tranquil today

The Water of Ken

Saturday 17 November 2018

Fixing a Cheap Travel Shaver

No "Tales from the Road" for you. As usual at this time of year it is dull & damp and I really don't want to be riding. So here's a little "fixing" post.

I have a small travel shaver, a Remington R95, that I use only occasionally. It started to become weak - the battery was obviously not charging fully. As you will see this is not intended to be a user serviceable item but I thought I'd try to revive it. 
The razor

Now let me say that a local store sells this shaver for £12.50 ($15) so any sensible person would just buy a new one. But this is my stand against the disposable society! 

It was a little fiddly but the shaver came apart ok. The battery is a single rechargeable AAA. It is fixed to the circuit board by tabs that could not easily be removed. I think the tabs are spot welded to the battery terminals. (my soldering iron had no effect) This meant that I had to de-solder the tabs from the circuit board. 

In bits

Battery removed

I got a new rechargeable battery and soldered some copper wire to the terminals and soldered to wires on to the circuit board.

I put it all back together….and it seems to be charging.

It works!

Friday 26 October 2018

Hobbs & Shaw

There was some excitement in Glasgow this week because a Hollywood movie was being filmed in the city centre. There were many car chases because the film, Hobbs & Shaw, is a spin-off from the Fast & the Furious series.

I caught some bike action this afternoon during my regular visit to town for Friday lunch.

Stuntman on a Triumph Speed Triple (I think) connected to the film wagon


I think I'm in the shot.

This was quite a contraption. A heavily modified bike with a movie camera cantilevered out front.

It seems like Glasgow is standing in for London going by this bus (parking in my usual bike space!)

Blown up bus.

Monday 15 October 2018

Autumn Colours

As I usually do at this time of year I went looking for some autumn foliage in the Scottish Borders today. 

In the middle of nowhere (near Newcastleton)…..

…I came across a sign to Saughtree Station. It closed in 1956 but the sign remains.

Another old railway sign.

In the hills above Newcastleton

At the border of the Borders

Outside Langholm there is this monument to General John Malcolm. I'm sure there is a good view from up there.