New News!

I’ve stumbled across some YouTube videos about my bike. Specifically, how to check the valve clearance and, if it’s out, how to replace the shims (little spacer type things). It’s a bit of a huge job. But if you watch the videos, it’s actually a series of big jobs, that can be further broken down into tons of small jobs.

Here’s the links if you’re interested.

I could watch this stuff all day. It fascinates me seeing bikes broken down and rebuilt.

I wasn’t actually looking for anything specific when I found those videos, but my bike is… nearing it’s 16,000 mile valve clearance check. I actually thought it was on 17,000, and slightly overdue, until I started typing that sentence. I think it’s nearly 15,000 miles at the minute. I was planning on doing it next week, but I can skill up for a while yet. Which brings me to my new news:

I’ve finally decided to stop messing about with bikes and actually learn what I’m doing. I have enough confidence and experience (and optimism in the face of experience) to tackle most jobs. As long as it’s ‘monkey see, monkey do’, I’m fine. I’ll give it a go. That’s what workshop manuals and YouTube tutorials are for. I maintain the thing you pay for is the experience and knowledge to diagnose what the job is that needs doing.

Until now!

I’ve found a brilliant resource. I was searching for motorcycle mechanic training, and came across a recommendation for this guy’s site. He’s a bit “God and Guns, USA! USA!”, which is hugely irksome, but the site is pure gold. A picture glossary of the parts, (in American, bless) a page of fixes for each problem, but most importantly, a logical progression for problem solving.

It’s solid gold. For instance, engine not starting.

I would go with spark at plugs, fuel, and errrr….

He says first things first, compression test. Every time. (Turns out it £13 for the tool, lifetime guarantee, just take the spark plug out, pop this in, turn the engine over. That’s it.)

If the engine isn’t turning over, put a new battery in and connect to the charger. If still not turning over, disable any kill switches. Still not, connect the charger to the lead to the starter motor. If it turns starter motor solenoid is shot. If not put charger directly onto the starter motor, if it turns, it’s the power lead that’s shot. If it clicks but the engine doesn’t turn it’s the starter motor clutch that’s shot.

It goes on. It’s genius. I’m really excited. Unlike all my other obsessions (sax, Russian, martial arts, etc) this isn’t accepting it’s going to be a depressing trudge towards a distant goal. Every thing I learn is improving me right now.  I cycle round, obsessing, mad enthusiasm, dreary donkey work, failure to progress, quitting, wanting that end again, obsessing, mad enthusiasm…

Bike mechanic-ing could be a keeper of a hobby.  A recurrent tip, when I was searching for “how to learn to be a bike mechanic” was ‘Buy a cheap, possibly dead, bike. Buy a workshop manual. Practice.’

I’m up for it!

I had a 7’x7’ space at the back of my shed. When we moved in it was flooded and marshy. Which is why the shed is 7’ away from the end of the garden. Since then trees have grown and I’ve been throwing all my garden waste in the gap. My shed has become full, as sheds do, with a lawnmower, shelving, gardening tools, Wendy’s pushbike, etc etc. I’m reclaiming it as my motorbike garage. So I moved about 5’ high of tree stumps and branches, rose branches and such, out from the space at the back of the shed and burnt it all. Sorry, neighbours.

Then I dug out about a foot or so of what has become the best soil in the garden, to level the ground off to what it was. Now I have to rig a tarpaulin roof between the shed and the fence and clear all the stuff out of my shed, under it. I might go back to B&Q, get some wood and rig up a proper structure, actually. Anyway, that’s just a means to an end. The end of emptying my shed so I can get a bike in there and have enough room to work on both sides. I’ve bought a seven drawer tool cabinet. That will stash all but my power tools. At the moment they are scattered all over the racking.

So that’s all the excitement about the prep, now I need a cheap bike. The guy was saying get something cheap and work on it, that way you’re not scared of breaking it, it’s not your proper bike, so you don’t have to rush to get it ready for work the next day, and even if you don’t make any money selling it on, think of it as paying for your education.

I was looking on Gumtree. There was a 600cc Yamaha, 1990, recently stopped running, still in MOT, the guy wanted £300 for it. Fair enough. A complete bike (missing the fuel cap) for £300.

I rang him yesterday. It all sounded good so I arranged to go and pick it up today. After the Scottish bike nearly left me stranded hundreds of miles from home I’ve bought a ramp and some ratchet straps, so I didn’t worry about it being a dead bike, I just hired a van.

I picked it up at 09.00, back to ours for the ramp and ratchet straps, waited an hour as he wanted me to come at 13.00, then drove to Birmingham. I found the address, knocked on. No answer. I tried again. Finally a girl came to the door and said there was no bike for sale there. I went back to the van and tried calling him. No answer. I text him. No reply. Called him another 5 times. I checked the text he’s sent me yesterday. It was the right address and right postcode. I was at the right place. But he’d sent his sister out to lie to me. In the end I just had to turn around and drive home.

£60 for the van, £19 for diesel, £18 for a workshop manual, £23 for a petrol cap, 4 hours driving, the whole of my day off wasted, all because he didn’t even have the decency to send me a text saying it wasn’t for sale anymore, for whatever reason.  I got back and he still hadn’t replied, so I knew he’d just lied to me and messed me around, so I sent him an email through Gumtree. He didn’t reply but he took the advert down within minutes so I couldn’t contact him again.

I have been having anger management issues.

I text our Lisa and told her the above, and it seems Nathan still has his bike, I can have that to play with.

It’s only a single cylinder 125cc learner bike, and it’s somewhat the worse for wear, but it’s an engine, and the principles are all the same. And it’s free. And the parts for it are dirt cheap.

When he got it:


What it looks like now


That should polish right out.

I’m going to go and strip it down a bit and see if I can get it back in the car.

Well, I’ve got that off my chest. Hard to believe anyone would do that. Incredible.

Right, I’m going to bed. I’ve had more than enough for one day.