Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Christmas fun out on the bikes with a whole mix of friends...

The festive season has seen me out and about with a fair few folk, sometimes up front, sometimes at the back, sometimes lying in the mud with a winded look on my face and the question 'what happened there then??' (or words to that effect) floating through my brain...

Lucy & I managed to get out to a trial on Boxing Day, then it's been the KTM's out to play since...

So here's a selcecion of pictures rather than many words... 

Heavy rain showers in the Lakes
Sunshine the next day

The boys at the top of the heap

And having words with a naughty KTM

Posing for a pic...

And another poser!

Fixing flooded carbs with a chunk of slate

Wheels in the air moments

Trail riding at it's best!

Oh err I dropped my bike moments

Biking Santa at the cafe in Hawes

Night time river crossings always a bit of fun!!

Working hard...

Some more days out to come before I have to get back to the 'normal' world...

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Sherco 290 2002 - Clutch Replacement

Whilst doing a trial last Sunday in the Lakes, I was heading to the last section on the first round, heading up some steep wet grass in 3rd gear, the bike was pulling fine and I could see the start of the 9th section.

All of a sudden I felt the bike 'go' and the engine rev like a beggar. I had no power to pull up anything and ended up jumping off as I over balanced and the bike nearly went over.

A bit perplexed, I kick started the bike, it wouldn't hook any gears and was trying to pull away even with the clutch in, so it stalled. I eventually managed to get it back into neutral, kick started it again and managed to get 1st, but every time I revved the engine, the bike slowed and the engine revved higher...

I did the section in first, which was an easy rocky section luckily but as I exited up the steep bank, it lost power on the climb just after the gate (thankfully) and cut out. ironically this was the only clean section I did all day!!!

Once I got it restarted I found I couldn't rev the bike past a certain point, so as it was a long & slow ride back to the start where the van was parked. I steadily crept my way back over the hillside with Lucy in tow as this was her first trial.

We stopped for her to have a go at the first 3 sections again and then I set off back to the van, having to push the bike up the slightest of inclines as there was just no power past a certain point on the clutch.

Once back home, I cleaned the bikes and the next day started to strip the Sherco down. Sherco USA produces a great service document for this job, so I simply followed their instructions...

1. Drain the oil - get it all out so leave it for half an hour to drain properly.

2. Remove the clutch casing. (4 x 4mm allen nuts) & the rear brake pedal - (13mm ring spanner)
3. Number the clutch spring bolts & mark the plate so you know where it all goes back

4. Remove the clutch spring bolts and and plates evenly - (8mm socket) & the clutch basket, (24mm socket), be careful with the washers and roller bearings, maybe even photograph the layout as they come out.

5. Inspect the lot, replace as needed  - These were just a tad worn and broken! I also checked the bearings, sprocket teeth, clutch springs, washers and seals to be sure.

6. Order the parts, then wait for delivery!

And then once you get them...

7. Soak the clutch plates in oil for at least 15 mins, to let the friction material soak up some oil.
8. Mount them carefully starting with a friction plate first & last.
9. Rebuild the basket, being careful not to lose any of the bearings/washers.
10. Replace the clucth basket back into the engine, (the central nut is tightened to 60Nm & a washer goes behind it) and tighten up the clutch spring bolts to 7Nm
11. Test the clutch action before installing the clutch cover, it should release smoothly and evenly.
12. Replace the clutch cover and its 4 bolts, check the rubber O ring for damage etc.
13. Refill the transmission with oil. SAE 75w light gear oil x 450ml

I got the clutch plates from OffRoadMoto on EBAY for £83.45 including postage for a full set. There are 5 metal plates and 6 friction plates. You can also buy just the replacement plates from the Splat Shop HERE but as I have no idea how old the ones in this bike are I preferred to replace the entire set.

Some specs below:
Clutch Hub Nut - 60Nm
6 Clutch Springs 7Nm
450 ml of SAE 75w light gear oil

Minus the post time, the whole job took around 2 hours. Most of that was because I also cleaned and checked a lot of other bits.

Clutch leaking/not working well...
Since replacing the clutch plates, I've had a mare to get the clutch to work well... it was beautiful at first, really responsive and the bike was lovely to ride. Now it runs for abour 10 - 20 minutes and then I have no clutch or a really sloppy one. I've bled it several times now and each time there is a different level of fluid left in the master cylinder, so I think it's drawing in air somewhere and/or leaking fluid.

After about the 10th time of bleeding the clutch, I clamped the piston in on the removed slave cylinder with a small G clamp and compressed the clutch lever on the bars with a full cylinder of fluid. By rights this should create the maximum pressure in the system and show up any leaks.

The only fluid I can see with all this pressure is at the slave cylinder end, the piston is covered in Dot 4 fluid. So I've ordered a new slave cylinder from the Splat Shop, with postage it's £55. This clutch has had a replacement slave cylinder before I thought, but I can't find a record of it so I'll change it now and be sure. Once this is done, it's had everything replaced except the master cylinder body now, so time will tell!

The new slave cylinder made such a diiference. it's the best the bike has ever been since I've had it... again it was a beggar to bleed through, with the new piston sticking shut and requiring a blow of compressed air through it to free it off, but once it was out, I lubed it up with some clutch fluid and refit the piston gently. After taking a long time to get the air out of the system, the clutch is now beautiful, light, responsive and the front wheel lofts lovely over obstacles... great stuff!

So it was off to the Boxing day trial with Lucy, albeit with a slight bout of dehydration from a little too much wine on Christmas evening!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

KTM 400 EXC 2002 - A New Piston?

The 400 has been burning a bit of oil lately, after my last two day trip, it had used about 250ml of oil, which when it only holds 900ml seems a lot to me, so I asked a mate, Geoff, who has built and repaired lots of engines to show me what to look for and how to check it over. I was keen to learn some stuff about doing this and Geoff is great at showing & doing this stuff...

Once the bike was at his place, we pulled it out, got changed into scruffy clothes, got the beer out of the fridge and set about getting the engine out of the frame.

Disconnecting all of the various ancillary bits, like the carb, the kick starter, the decompression lever, to name a few, was pretty straight forward. The twin exhaust pipes came off with some help from a big steel bar,they had part corroded, part heat welded themselves to the engine block, so took some effort to free up.

Also with this particular model the rear swingarm had to be dropped out as one of the engine mounting bolts doubles up as a swingarm bolt. There are three engine mounting bolts altogether for this particular bike, one at the front, one at the back and a hidden one at the bottom. All of these have captured nuts and so only come out one way.

The engine is a tight fit, it has to be taken out of the frame in a certain way which involves some tilting, some wiggling and a really bad position for your back! I can see why they have changed some of the design for the modern bikes as this would have been a pig to sort out for racing.

The frame and all the rest of the bike is filthy too from all that use, it needs a really good clean, which it can now have. If I do this again to this bike for whatever reason I'll have it completely to pieces and powder coat the frame again but for now, it's concentrate on the engine.

We mounted it onto a workmate bench and wound up the threads to hold the engine upright, then it was time to start stripping it down. oil pipe first, water cooler case, valve casings etc, etc... one of the bolts on the front of the valve casing has corroded in and it actually snapped off, so it'll need drilling out and a helicoil before being replaced.

We separated the cam chain with a mini chain tool, then after putting some wire in place to hold the chain, took the cam shaft off and laid it to one side. After a brief inspection of the valves, looking for seepage/damage, we moved onto the main engine bolts, two inside by the valves and two outside, these were really tight!

A little tap with a block of wood, saw the engine split and the piston visible, there is a lot of burnt oil on top, and the valve heads are a little caked up too, this is looking more like piston rings as we looked and discussed possibilities.

We removed the piston and checked for play in the big end bearing, looked over the bottom of the engine and then packed it with rags to stop anything dropping into it. That was it for this bit.

As for the cylinder and piston itself, it turns out the piston ring should have an 0.80mm gap, this one is 0.90mm so it's over tolerance. We didn't bother to measure the oil ring after this. After inspecting the cylinder, it has an edge to it on the front face, so it'll need replating and honing.

When Geoff was racing he used a place in Castleford called Lockside Engineering to sort all this type of stuff out for him, so we popped up there, they turned out to not be able to help, so we rang Eurotek KTM in Ripon, during the discussion and parts order, they suggested Langcourts in Weston Super Mare for the replating, so parts were ordered, due in two days time and then it was wrap up the cylinder and get it sent away.

One of the great things about the KTM's set up is the parts manual, there is no ambiguity at all, just quote the number and order the part, excellent, Eurotek also gave me a 15% discount as a TRF member, so even better! Total bill is £246.90 minus 15% = £209.87

02 January 2017...
OK so the bike is rebuilt and back on the road, running quite a bit quieter and with more punch to the power... Great I do love riding this bike!!

Geoff & I got together to rebuild the engine, but as with a lot of things, too many cooks spoil the broth. As we refitted the piston, we realised that Langcourts had pulled out the locating pins with a set of grips of some kind and chewed them up, (our fault as we hadn't removed them prior to posting), so we did the bits we could, put in the new cam chain, cleaned loads and whilst lining up the piston into the bottom of the middle section we caught the oil ring and it snapped. So back on the phone to all the local KTM dealers to get the bits, but as no one had them in stock, it was order time again and wait some more...

I got a text from Geoff, the engine was rebuilt and ready to be refitted... so another trip east and off we set to get it remounted into the frame. The job was fairly easy to do, except for lining up the engine mounting bolts which is really awkward as you have to be supporting the weight of the engine whilst straddled over the bike and someone else has to locate and slot in the bolts.

Once we'd got it all back together, it was time to press the button! Nothing, Nada... some kind of electrical fault, so we went through all the usual things, battery, connections, plugs, looked for poor earths and broken wires and drew a blank. Neither of us knew enough about electrics to sort it, so I loaded the bike up, said a hearty thanks to Geoff for all his efforts and took the bike home.

Once home I went back through everything over the next couple of days, looked again at the new stator/regulator install, looked and looked and finally gave up!

Call in a mate time. In 5 minutes he diagnosed it as the earth on the battery. Despite it being done up tight, the connection had corroded underneath and it wasn't earthing correctly, so we wire brushed and sanded off the connections and hey presto, bobble, bobble, bobble went the engine!!

I ran the bike in over 50 - 60 miles  to bed in the new piston, then changed the oil & filters again, the carb also seems to have the float sticking as some fuel is dripping out when it's standing so that's another job...

So now I'm going to replace the earth lead with a new one, this one is 16 years old I suppose and I've cleaned up the connections on all the earths. Now it's time to finish off the rest of the electrics install and get on some bigger multi day runs...

Total Costs - £436.11

Eurotek, Ripon
Piston - 89mm 595.30.007.000/11
Cam Chain - 590.36.013.000
Cylinder Head Gasket - 590.30.036.000
Cylinder Base Gasket - 590.30.035.050
Water Pump Gasket - 590.35.053.000
£257.64 less TRF discount @ 15% = £220.61

Broken oil ring - 595.30.031.000
2 x locating pins - 590.30.023.000

Clean. remove old Nicosil coating, recoat, hone to correct size + postage  - £142.20

Oil - 5 litres - Halfords - £29.00
2 x filters - Ebay - £21.80

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Punctures, Rain, Sunshine and the Lanes

I wanted to do a bit a of a shakedown on some things I've upgraded on my bike, so decided to go out for a few days with the bags packed and see how things got on... not so well it turns out!!

Tuesday was a beautiful sunny day so once I'd finished some jobs and some packing I headed out with a couple of options in mind but no real direction...

 A bunch of old classics saw me heading east towards Hawes before a bit of a camp under a wall for the night, sheltering from the wind and rain to come!

The night started out pretty cool with the big moon rising in a window of cloud, the stars were out and the wind wasn't too bad. I managed to ride all of the rocky steps in the dark, (I'm liking the new X2 light for a bit of night time riding!). Dinner was samosas, a sausage roll and a can of Hobgoblin beer!

As the night wore on though, the wind picked up, the rain came down and temperature dropped, so ear plugs were called for as the tent was moving around a fair bit by now!

Morning brought that grey mizzle so special to the northern UK, oh and high winds, I packed up inside the tent until all that was left was the flysheet, pole and pegs of the tent itself, once done I forced myself out into the weather. I loaded the panniers onto the bike then it was off onto the rest of the lane, a feat in the side ways winds!!

As I headed over to Stalling Busk, I got a puncture in my front tyre, so parked up by the side of the little flooded lake and got it sorted... a nice old farmer stopped to see if I was alright and we had a bit of a gossip, then it was back up the hill... I promptly got a second puncture after about 20 minutes and my electric start died, so it was back to kick starting the bike again.. mmm a few things stacking up here!

This was my spare tube, the rain was sheeting in again, so I decided to head back to Hawes to the cafe for some late breakfast, once there and warm again, I decided to go up to Martin at MHB Motorcycles in Kirkby Stephen and get a replacement tube. We ended up gossipping about all kinds of things and I left there at 3pm. During all of this, the electric start wasn't working and we couldn't find the reason why, but I was also struggling with lights and it appears there is a drain on the system somewhere, so it was home time before it got too dark to ride.

I took in a couple more new lanes as I headed west again, however I also found that the panniers were now bending the plastic rear panel into the tyre, which if nothing else made a right row. Then to cap it all off, I ran out of petrol, luckily about 400 metres from my next fuel stop, so not as far to push the bike!

The final ride back was cold, dark and a little scary, car drivers aren't very friendly in the UK on the whole, especially to slow moving trail bikes, and a couple were more than a little close for comfort, still my light seems to have worked fine again which makes me wonder about water ingress as well as the battery... oh well, more sorting to be done...

Saturday, 12 November 2016

KTM 400 EXC 2002 - Upgrades for a bigger trip...

My little old 400 has suffered from a general lack of electrical oomph for awhile now, so when it came time to service the little orange beastie, I decided to go for a bit of a makeover/upgrade too!

It appears that KTM enduros in general have just enough of an electrical system to start them, then if you have lights etc, the drain on the battery will slowly kill off a battery in a much shorter time than on a road bike. the stator/generator is just about enough to put back energy but a severe drain and your knackered. Couple this with pretty crap quality wiring loom and earth connections and hey presto, you need to upgrade things if you do anything outside of the 'normal' racing sphere that KTM's are built for.

As I'm new to looking into electrics on bikes, I have done a fair bit of research and talked to much more knowledgeable people than me to get a rounded general way forward for my plans with this bike.

I've added a couple of bits to the bike already, a 12v/5v waterproof charger and a 12v Garmin Montana 600 GPS unit, trouble is now  I want to add heated grips and upgrade the system to improve both starting and generating power.

So my research has taken me to the TrailTech systems. I bought from them their 100w stator, a replacement Regulator/Rectifier (£165.00) and an X2 light (£115.00) fitting. When they all came, I stripped out the various parts and refitted the new ones... Added to this was the gasket (£12) for the casing from KTM and in my case a new casing (£66.00) as mine had sheared a bolt on the inside which was just swimming around... nice!

The paperwork from Trailtech is all for much newer bikes, so are the YouTube films, they are also working on a clean unchanged bike, whereas mine is 16 years old, it's had a few bits messed around with it and the colours on the cables aren't always the same, so re-wiring the lot required some help from a couple of mates!

YouTube TrailTech Fitting Films:
100 watt stator
X2 headlight Unit

I emailed the UK importer for some help but after a week of waiting for a response I gave up, I maybe should have called them as I have heard lots of good things about their service but in this case I got no response!

The X2 was eventually fitted in place after a request was put onto the KTM Facebook forum and a really helpful guy wrote down all the connections for me, so I just had to sort them out. I had to move up the existing wiring block about 3cm to make room for the bigger light shape at the back, so I made an 2mm aluminium plate that bolted into the existing holes, then mounted the electrics there with some front standard indicators.

X2 wiring:

Bike Brown > Light Black
Bike Blue > Light Yellow
Bike Green > Light Red
Bike White > Light Red - (NB Only do this if you want both lights on at full beam)

I've just ordered the heated grips I want, so once I get them I'll be fitting them to the bike, along with a fuse board and a system to isolate the whole of the electrical additions when the engine is off.

The heated grips are the Symantec Heat Demon ones with the round rocker switch and waterproof cover, I got them from Winding Roads in the end at £47.50 plus postage, although Zen overland do the ones with the toggle switch for 0.50p cheaper!

I've added some things to a dashboard which I'm slowly building, it is basically some 3mm aluminium plate that a friend had in their garage. At the moment it's still taking shape and I also want to add a small protective screen to the front of it as now that I've raised the wiring block and added a dashboard, the rain will collect in the gap between the two. It should also have the added bonus of offering a bit more wind protection when I'm doing some of the road links.

One final thing I haven't decided upon as yet is whether to fit a key as the isolator for the electrics. It does offer the added bonus of making the bike a little less thievable by the scumbags of this world, but it's main function is actually to save the battery from being drained. Of course I will have to get someone with a greater degree of understanding of these things to walk me through the process, but hey, it's always good to learn something new!

So the little project continues, panniers are the next thing, then a shakedown trip in maybe Portugal, Spain, Morocco or all of them!

Happy days

Friday, 11 November 2016

Playing in the Autumn Light

So as the first snows have arrived in Cumbria, the temperatures have dropped into the minus areas and the tarmac roads have got ice on them, but the sunshine is still around, so we ushered in the end of the summer with a couple of days out on the lanes.

Thursday saw four of us out finishing  off some of the Hierachy of Trails updates with the Cumbria TRF Rights of Way Officer, Steve Pighills.

We had some specific lanes to ride and check out, so plenty of tarmac roads were used to get to them, but we still managed to tick off quite a few and I seemed to have clocked up 170 miles in my loop from home and back...

Steve is a mine of historical information, so everytime you get out on a ride with him, you always learn stuff. Friday was no exception,several new lanes were added to my little collection, so I have some new routes to put together to include them now plus we had plenty of chat about the ins & outs of the legal set up behind the lanes.

We were joined by two new CTRF members, Tim & Rob, both on KTM's, a Freeride 350 and 500 EXC, both good lads who are clearly pretty capable on their bikes... Rob lives in Appleby so we were on his home patch, which paid dividends with his local knowledge as he rode through all the back lanes that would have had us looking at the map all the time...

We had a bunch of fords to look at, some of them we rode, some we turned around, it was a really cold day and for once with me I didn't fancy being soaked as I headed back home for 1.5 hours as I had no van to get back into!

Lunch was a great little cafe in Appleby, really good bacon butties with a refilled pot of tea and a log fire burning, stories of lost brides were abound in the cafe as well as plenty of banter as Rob had forgotten his cash so couldn't pay!

We finished of the lanes and headed back to the vehicles, Steve handed over some more paperwork to me to fill out and the boys headed off back home. I decided to head back via the lanes in Shap and over the Coach Road, which had some really big puddles on it for once....

Once I arrived home, Geoff was waiting with his 350 Freeride, a box of beer and some bacon as we'd planned a day out around the Northern lanes. Lucy had cooked a chilli, so it was beer and chilli for tea, plus plenty of chat about the big ride we are all currently planning for... mmm happy days!

Friday morning dawned cold, crisp and with frost on the roads... Nigel turned up at my house with his bike on the back of his car, we finished off more tea, waiting for the sun to remove the worst of the ice before setting off out for the day, then eventually got kitted up and set off into the low sun and freaazing temperatures!

We all set off and promptly got seperated, so once we regrouped at a petrol sattion we were back on the trails where I promptly face planted straight into the mud! Once th bike was back upright, we were off again, me now freezing as I was covered in wet mud!

Lane after lane followed in an anti clockwise loop for a final play before blasting back to mine for more tea at my place...

Two great days out with fab folk in the sunshine... happy days !!