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mike
I forgot to post this at the time
Wed Aug 29, 2018 12:56
108.26.64.218

There's something intoxicating about the delicious smell of Shell 2T smoke and aviation grade petrols combined esters, a scent that you never forget, just the faintest whiff brings back memories. We used to put a spoonful in the petrol tank of our bog standard plodders just to get the nasal equivalent of go-faster tape!

"Cor! Wot'll she do mister?"

"Yes, it may look like a clapped out heap to the uninitiated but beneath that rusting bonnet beats a powerhouse of flat head performance."


It's a little known fact that Kawasaki deliberately placed their airbox so that the rider hears the intake roar of air on the Ninja.

Instead of trying to silence it like Honda would, they made a point of making it as loud as possible!



Overheard outside an Army Engineers depot in Colchester

"If it won't go, erl it!"

"If it still won't go, 'it it wiv an 'ammer'"

"If it still won't go after that - it's broke."

Really true. The discussion centred around a trailer hitch. I couldn't see the rank of the instructor but he was addressing half a dozen young men.


On the subject of mechanical brutality one thing I learned from Japanese motorcycles is that force is not necessary and can only cause damage. If it won't come apart, you missed something.

The Japanese use quite small fasteners for the most part, 10mm is a favourite. If you've undone every 10mm bolt you can see and the part in question remains immovable do NOT resort to leverage or the favourite tool of Thor because it isn't necessary.

With my legacy of British bikes I had a hard time unlearning the brute force and ignorance approach and those delicate Japanese castings will break if you try that. It was an expensive lesson but worth learning because their engineers really do have a quite different approach and one that I find quite admirable and elegant.

Once you've got used to their way of assembling an engine, it makes so much sense. These are not machines for well muscled farm labourers, they require thoughtfulness and a painstaking approach preferably under almost clinical conditions. Get that into your head and the rest is straight forward, even simple.


I had the very good fortune to learn from watching a retired Rolls Royce factory mechanic at work. I'd already given it my best shot and the lump still refused to run properly.

It was a large single cylinder air cooled diesel engine on a front bucket tipper about the size of a Jeep with rear wheel steering. You had to open a valve lifter, hand crank the flywheel then pop the lifter and away she went. I dont think it had been maintained since WW2 which was when it was acquired.

I'd never tackled an injector before but figured I'd work it out for myself, so much for over confidence.

I was working at a trailer park which was mainly for retirees and my job was landscaping. One of said retirees was Alf who hailed from up North and used to work for Rolls Royce. Hearing my cursing he came over to see why and offered to take over.

The first thing he got me to do was clean the workshop thoroughly, benches, floor, walls "until yer can eat yer tea off 'un". Next on the agenda was to do the same to the offending bucket tipper - really really clean!

Then he draped cloths over the patient and the work surface, removed the injector and proceeded to do the cleaning routine himself on it. Really thoroughly. All the time came a running commentary on 'how we do things at Rolls' and disparaging remarks about 'bloody Yankees' (because the machine was American made)

Well as you might guess it ran like it was new by the time he'd gone over it but that involved a lot more than the injector which I'd pin pointed as being the culprit. In the process I learned how to make head gaskets from copper sheet using a ball peen hammer to cut the various holes by laying the sheet over the cast iron head casting.

I learned how to use plate glass and valve grinding paste to true up the head, apparently it had been losing compression for donkeys years because of being warped. Then of course he got involved with the steering gear because of the vague steering which I'd got used to and anyway on a building site theres no need for speed and you're forever waggling the steering to avoid bumps and holes and wiggle around obstructions but apparently that was knackered too.

"Be good for another 20 years she will lad" said Alf "The yanks do know how to build 'em solid, I'll say that for 'em"

  • Survivor obsession #6 - sarge, Tue Aug 21 18:35
    Great (and not so great) cars in my life. (Pt. 1) Often, the topic of conversation amongst petrolheads is, "What makes a good car?" Usually that's followed by great theological discussion, usually... more
    • I forgot to post this at the time - mike, Wed Aug 29 12:56
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