The Loneliness of the Home Guzzi Mechanic

After my trip to Tocumwal Aviation Museum, I was sitting on my shed stool checking the Breva’s engine oil when my eyes passed over the tank to the steering stem where I noticed a brake line chaffing against a sharp steel edge. As I moved the handlebars, a right turn dragged the line across the corner of the steel block.

I removed the windscreen and headlight to gain access to the area.

The line was, in fact, the clutch hydraulic line. The steel had cut through the outer layer of the line. I couldn’t see any purpose for the steel protrusion, though one lower down on the stem worked as the left-right steering stop. Perhaps the upper one was a vestigial from a previous Guzzi model and now functionless.

This was my error. Some years ago I’d removed the headlight to replace the globe. In ignorance, I’d pushed the headlight binnacle back into place without considering the routing of the clutch line and electrical cables. It was now clear to me that the lines should be moved to the right (as facing the bike) and that the headlight binnacle shape would hold them in position, away from the steering stem.

That’s why I like doing my own servicing. I have the chance to look things over and understand the logic of it all. Sure, I make a few mistakes but that’s all part of learning.

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Run to Tocumwal Aviation Museum

With Covid restrictions being lifted, I decided to fang the big Breva 1100 up to and over the border to Tocumwal. The new aviation museum was the drawcard. RAAF Station Tocumwal was established during WW2 to support Liberator B-24 heavy bombers and operational conversion.

Ran down the Snow Road towards Benalla then cut through miles of grain crops along the Benalla-Yarrawonga Road (C373) to the Murray River, the border of Victoria and New South Wales.

Crossed the Murray at Yarrawonga to Mulwala. Yarrawonga was chockas so thought I’d stop for a brew in Mulwala along the lake shore. But, alas, I couldn’t find anything resembling a coffee stop but saw a small sign to Tocumwal – had to chuck a U-ey because I went past it. This took me through a myriad of streets and onto a main road which I assumed went where I wanted. No signs!

Kept the sun off my right shoulder and rode for smegging miles without any sign or even a route name until I encountered Barooga and a sign to Tocumwal, my first indication that I was on the right track! At least the Breva has a big 22 litre tank!

On I went and had to chuck another U-ey because the (small) museum/airfield sign was right on the turnoff. Without any further signage, I meandered around and found the museum and café.

Needed a coffee by now but had to get though all the Covid check-in – the Victorian app can’t read the NSW app…what’s the matter with this frigging Federation!? And had a lovely ham/cheese/tomato sour dough sandwich and latte.

The museum had an interesting display of aircraft and story boards. A theatre ran a series of movie-tone newsreels from the ’30s to ’50s. There was a memorial wall to the men and women who had died at the airbase during WW2.

Backtracked out of the airfield to Barooga, where I crossed the Murray back into Victoria at Cobram. Fanged along to Yarrawonga. Gees, there’s a lot of houses gone up in these Murray River towns…and they’re all full of 4-wheel drives, boat and caravans. Where’s all the money come from?

Turned south for home but had a break along the way for a drink and an apple. Back home after seven hours.

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Cali EV Oil Leak

Walked into the shed one morning and spotted what looked like an oil leak at the front of the EV’s sump. No oil drip on the floor though. I cleaned it up with degreaser and kept using the bike and, sure enough, it kept sweating out – not enough to leave a drip.

I was concerned that it might be leaking out of the timing cover – a bigger job to fix. I consulted one of the bods in the MGCoV and we came to the joint conclusion that, with luck, it was the sump gasket.

Ran the big girl up on the ramp and and dropped the oil – she was due for her 55,000km oil change fortuitously – and removed the sump.

The gasket, which I’d reused from previous oil filter changes, was of a thin, plastic-type material. The new one, from Mario at Thunderbikes in Perth, was thicker and more fibrous.

Note the hose clamp around the new oil filter, which is nosed up against the pressure valve to ensure that the filter can’t loosen and spin off. That’s the theory anyway, and I’ve always done it.

I ran a thin smear of grease around the sump and the top of the gasket – it allows the sump to move around slightly as I insert the sump screws, and to seal the sump when tightened up. Filled her up with Penrite 15W50 Diesel.

I also changed the gearbox and rear drive oils as well, since the Cali hasn’t had a lot of use over the past two years due to Covid restrictions. (My Ford manual sez that less than 10,000kms per year is consider hard use for the engine oil.)

So she’s back on the road and time will tell if the problem is resolved – or if it is (gulp) the timing chest gasket.

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Run to Whitfield

A lovely spring morning for a run down to Whitfield. I had search to do in the cemetery for findagrave.com, just the excuse to to kick the Cali EV into action. It’s about a 90 minute cruise down there, along the King Valley, past all the vineyards. Everywhere was green from the recent good rain. Edi Cutting, where we hold the Spaghetti Rally, was full of campers and caravans due to the school holidays. The King River was running strongly.

I parked at the cemetery and strode along the rows of headstones but couldn’t find my man. There were a lot of unmarked graves and no cemetery key to locate gravesites.

The cemetery dates from the goldrushes in the mid-1800s and as goldfields cemeteries go, this one was grassed and attractive.

Headed back home, intending to stop at INeeta Cafe in Moyhu, which makes excellent coffee and cakes. Alas it was closed. The state government had declared the day before the AFL Grand Final a public holiday but few small businesses can afford the staff penalty rates so many of them don’t open – Catch 22!

Home for afternoon tea. Go Demons!

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The Absurdity of Climate Hysteria

reality

The author is a grape farmer and wine maker, and a close observer of climate.

It is widely asserted that grape vintages are nowadays earlier, due to hotter summers. I reject that assertion. Winters are warmer than in the past. Not summers. The earlier start to a longer growing season and enhanced availability of CO2 enhances photosynthetic capacity. It improves efficiency in the use of scarce water by the grape vine. This very likely accounts for the earlier time of ripening. In addition, when the ripening month has been in February, the warmest month, and it occurs in January, the maturation period is cooler than hitherto, an advantage.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s maintains that Australia’s climate has warmed on average by 1.44 ± 0.24 °C since national records began in 1910. But this statistic is the result of averaging monthly data that gives equal weight to autumn, winter, spring…

View original post 2,198 more words

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Run to Yabba

I had a request to photograph a headstone at Yabba Cemetery. Well, firstly I had to find it because I’d never heard of the place. The cemetery is located on the eastern bank of the Mitta Mitta River, just south of Tallangatta in north-eastern Victoria. It’s a locality, not a town.

Firing up the Breva 1100, I went up across Tunnel Gap Road, onto the Kiewa Highway to Tangambalanga. The Hume Dam was full and backing up into the feeder creeks and rivers.

The Mitta Mitta River being back-filled from Lake Hume.

The Mitta Mitta River flats were green and lush, but the north-facing slopes were already losing their colour as the grass was curing. An hour-and-a-half found me at the gate to the lane crossing pasture to the cemetery.

The entrance to Yabba Cemetery.

The day was warming up by now and there was a lot of heat and humidity coming off the pasture. A short walk took me to the cemetery. Someone was looking after the site because it had been recently mowed. A picturesque place to be buried, I thought, overlooking the river, flats and adjacent hills.

The Yabba Cemetery.

After a couple of slices of Jane’s date and walnut cake and a drink of water, I hit the frog and toad. Came back via the “cow pat highway” (Gundowering Road) and over the Tawonga Gap into Bright. Was held up by numerous road works, especially at Coral Bank.

Five hours from whoa to go.

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Breva 1100 Fuel Filter

As far as I can recall, the fuel filter was last changed a decade ago. I had Brad the Bike Boy change it when stories of the original plastic filter softening and bursting started appearing on the Guzzi forums. I had changed one before, in my wife’s Breva 750, so I had some idea of what to do.

I took the tank off and placed it upside down in a cardboard box, padded to prevent scratching. Undid screws and started to remove the pump.

The pump and filter came out without difficulty. Let it drain and took over to the bench to remove the filter.

Brad had used oetiker clamps when he’d installed the filter, which are definitely the best method. But I had obtained my new filter from Mario at Thunderbikes and he had supplied fuel hose clamps – oetiker clamps require special pliers to clamp them. The first oetiker clamp came off without drama but, as often is the way with the home mechanic, the second clamp put up more of a fight.

Noting the direction arrow on the filter, I fitted the new filter and clamps.

I inserted the fuel pump and filter back into the tank without drama and screwed it all back down, taking care to tighten the screws evenly. I went around the base several times, tightening each screw a little at a time to get it all uniformly seated.

The tank will be back on the bike in a few days time, after changing the oils and brake and clutch fluids.

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Breva 1100 Alternator Belt

The Breva is now up to 80,000km so I decided that it was time for a service. And since we are in partial lockdown due to Covid, I had plenty of time. The alternator belt was last replaced seven years ago, so now was the time to learn how to do it. I read everything I could on the Guzzi forums and ordered the belt from Mario at Thunderbikes in Perth.

First job, remove the fuel tank.

Then I put her on the bench and jacked her up so I didn’t have to scramble around on the floor.

Moved the oil cooler out of the way, and removed the alternator cover. A bit cramped getting the top screws out, but took my time.

Before I moved anything, I tested the belt tension with my fingers so I had an idea of where I was heading. I moved the coil out of the way to access the lock nut and screw. This tightens up against the alternator to tension the belt. There’re two bolts holding the alternator in position. One undid easily but the other refused to loosen. The nut at the rear was turning with the bolt. Eventually I inserted a spanner from above the left-hand cylinder onto the nut – there was just enough room and I had to get a workshop light to see what I was doing. This held the nut, and the bolt let go with a loud “crack”. (I would have liked to put some grease or CRC 5.56 on the bolt but access wasn’t possible.)

The alternator didn’t move enough to simply lift the belt off. I rotated the lower pulley crank shaft nut and wedged a screwdriver between the belt and the pulley, and she slipped right off. The belt was in good condition – I have seen photos of them being quite worn and shredding. For info, it was a Gates 4PK725, available everywhere. I replaced it with a Moto Guzzi belt, so we’ll see how it goes. The Gates was slightly smaller in diameter than the Guzzi belt and seemed more substantial.

The new belt slipped on with a turn of the crank shaft nut. Tightened up the belt by turning the tensioner screw and lock nut. I assessed the belt tension as I went – should be able to turn the belt 90 degrees the gurus reckon, and that’s how the original belt was when I tested it. Then tightened up the two alternator bolts, replaced the coil, belt cover and oil cooler – job done.

It took me two hours and I wasn’t hurrying.

It’s handy to have a variety of tools. I was continually changing from Allen keys to inhex ratchets, and so on. This el cheapo Kinchrome ratchet which I found in a “Sale” box was worth its weight in gold. Removal of the cover screw (up at 2 o’clock) would have been tedious without it.

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My “new” Moto Guzzi 850 T3

My new 1976 Moto Guzzi 850 T3.

Currently going through the process of putting it on Club plates (cheaper rego for bikes over 25 years old).


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Granya Run

The totalitarian Stalinist Victorian government lifted some of the Covid restrictions so it was time to go for a longer run, without the fear that the Stasi would intercept me.

I’m a member of findagrave.com where people put in requests for photos of their relatives’ graves.  I help out for north-east Victoria, an old gold rush area.  I had a request for a photo at the Granya Cemetery, up on the Murray River, the state border with New South Wales.

 

An hour’s run on the Breva 1100 took me up to the Bethanga Bridge, which crosses Lake Hume near the dam wall.  This leads onto the Murray River Road which, I see, is now called the Great River Road (presumably a tourist marketing promotion to leverage off the Great Alpine Road and the Great Ocean Road) and follows the Murray River into the Snowy Mountains.

The beauty is that there is bugger all traffic on this road compared with the other two.  I went from Bellbridge to Granya without seeing another vehicle.  It’s pleasantly curvy and with a good surface.  The Granya Cemetery was easy to locate and so was the headstone.  I took some photos to upload to findagrave.com.

I came back via the Granya Gap Road, which has claimed a few motorcyclists over the years.  The road was dry, except in a few corners where the sun don’t shine, and in very good condition.  Then into Tallangatta for fuel.  I could have come back via my preferred route, the Cow Pat Highway (Gundowring Road), so called because of the dairy farms along the route, but I’ve done it a few times recently so went via Tangambalanga and Yackandandah and Carrolls Road.  A big black snake was absorbing some heat – a bit late in the season I thought – it was 14C.

Back home, I cleaned the Breva, washing the bugs off with a water spray and micro cloth, then a light spray and wipe with Plexus.  This is a plastic cleaner and polish developed for the aviation industry.   It can be used on plastic, paint, powder coating, etc, and beats having to wax or polish.  It’s not cheap but a can lasts for several years.

The big Guzzi is now 14 years old and looks good as new.

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