Monthly Archives: April 2019

Bill the Bastard and other Fables

Fine weather forecast leading up to Easter so we set off for a 3-day, 1000km loop around the Riverina and south-western slopes of NSW before hot-footing down into the Murray River and home.


We tracked out via Wang and Corowa heading up to Urana on the Federation Way.  She was dry and flat out there, with a lot of dead ‘roos and mobs of emus running about on suicide missions.  Didn’t seem much for them to eat.

What we weren’t expecting were dust devils.  It was a pleasant 25C and I’ve always associated them with hot weather.  But there were a series of vortices across the flat landscape and they seemed to suck the air in from quite a distance, knocking us around on our bikes.  Columns of dust rose from the featureless plain as we sped through.

Urangaline Creek at Urana was mostly dried up and the caravan park empty of fishermen.


But after passing Urana, we entered the Riverina and the landscape greened up.  Our destination was Leeton.

One of my ancestors (my first cousin twice removed) moved here after WW1.  Victor “Garnet” Veness landed at Gallipoli in 1915 and fought in France, being wounded in 1916 and hospitalized in London.  In 1917, Lieut. Veness he took part in the 4th Division’s assault on the Hindenburg Line in the First Battle of Bullecourt.  Tanks which were supposed to support the attacking Australian infantry either broke down or were quickly destroyed.  Nevertheless, the infantry managed to break into the German defenses.  Due to uncertainty as to how far they had advanced, supporting artillery fire was withheld, and eventually the Australians were hemmed in and forced to retreat.  The two brigades of the 4th Division that carried out the attack, the 4th and 12th, suffered over 3,300 casualties; 1,170 Australians were taken prisoner — the largest number captured in a single engagement during the war.

Garnet was captured and eventually repatriated to England in December, 1918.  He married Mary Ann Turner (1882-1921) the following June and brought her back to a Soldiers Settlement property at Yenda, near Griffith, NSW.  Mary died of tuberculosis in the Public Hospital, Leeton, NSW, only two years later.  She is buried at Leeton Cemetery.  TB wouldn’t be cured until Australian Howard Florey and Ernst Chain developed penicillin during WW2,


Garnet later moved to Queensland, farmed tobacco and remarried.  His diary, in which he describes a medic with a donkey at Gallipoli, is held by the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.


Mary and Garnet in their house at Yenda (Griffith Genealogical and Historical Society).

We had booked into the Historic Hydro Motor Inn, which was very comfortable and in the centre of town.


The next morning, we headed off to Junee to visit the Junee Licorice & Chocolate Factory.  A lot of renovations and additions have been done to this old flour mill since our last visit ten or so years ago; restaurant and coffee and outdoor dining.  Well worth a visit.


Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory

Off to the east for lunch at Planted Cootamundra; the three cheese toasted sandwich with ham and tomato and a coffee, and very nice it was, too.

But Murrumburrah-Harden was our aim, to see Bill the Bastard.  We were fortunate to meet Carl Valerius, the sculptor, and he gave us the gen.  The wax model of Bill was there, the bronze casting was taking place in Sydney at this time, and two troopers were left to cast.  Each trooper cost $45,000 to cast in bronze.  The total cost so far was about $800,000 but the statue had recently been awarded national significance which was helping with public donations.  It’s expected that the statue of Bill and Major Shanahan rescuing the four Tasmanian troopers will be unveiled later this year.


Bill the Bastard was rideable only by Major Michael Shanahan, hence his name.  During the Battle of Romani in August 1916, the pair rescued four stranded Tasmanian troopers who piled onto Bill as he galloped almost three miles to return them to safety; two on his back with Shanahan and one standing on each stirrup.  The Anzac Mounted Division stopped the Turkish advance and prevented them from seizing the Suez Canal.  Shanahan was wounded and had a leg amputated.  Bill the Bastard went to Gallipoli after the war to help with the cleanup of the battlefields.  He died in 1924 at the age of 21 and is buried at Walker’s Ridge in Gallipoli.  Because they weren’t wounded or killed during their rescue, the names of the four Tasmanians have never been determined.


Major Michael Shanahan with Bill the Bastard, 1915.

Perhaps the best road of the trip was between Harden and Jugiong.  A fabulous ride before stopping overnight at the Jugiong Motor Inn where we met up with the Moto Guzzi Owners Association of NSW.  About thirty of them had made the trip, some camping on the adjacent river flat.  We had a very nice dinner from the Irish chef and a few different ales from the bar, sitting outside in the warm evening.

Up with the chirps on Sunday morning for the fang back home.  Hit the freeway for a few miles and turned off for Adelong, intended having breakfast.  Pretty rough and ready road.  But cafes were closed until 10am, so we refueled and headed off to Batlow and had brekky at Coffee and More.  Then a pleasant run through the hills, valleys and forests to Tumbarumba and Corryong, stopping for a break at the Southern Cloud Memorial.  The three-engine Avro 10 airliner crashed in the mountains behind the tree in 1931 and remained undiscovered for twenty seven years.


Horrie the Wog Dog allegedly lived in Corryong after he was smuggled back to Australia by soldiers returning from the Middle East in 1942.  The evidence is, though, that he was put down by quarantine officials in 1945 – heartless bastards.  We stopped for a cuppa and to give him a pat.


Two hours more and we were back home to our boys, Paddy and Mick.  The Breva clicked over 75,000km on the trip, so time for an oil change.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

California EV Fork Oil Change

I’ve owned the Cali EV for 3 years now and don’t know the previous maintenance history.  So it was time to replace the front fork oil.  Reading the manual, it was apparent that this wasn’t as straight forward as doing the forks on my Breva 1100 or my previous Metal Stone.  Eventually, I decided to follow the procedure outlined by Bob Schantz in the Guzzitech archive.

First off, removed the windscreen, front wheel and mudguard.  I jacked the bike up under the sump and let her sit there.  I unwound the fork adjusters (at the handlebar) and kept count of how many turns — 15 and 18.  I wrote them down.  I don’t know if it was necessary to do this but it couldn’t hurt I figured.

Undid all the fork pinch screws and slid the forks down.  I used a screw driver to pry the fork clamps open.  Part way down, I re-tightened a pinch screw and undid the fork cap with a crescent.  The manual says to place the fork in a vice for this but I don’t like doing that.  The cap isn’t very tight anyway.

fork collage

I undid the cap, which remains attached to the rod; unlike the Breva and Stone it’s not spring-loaded.  I poured the old oil out which initially came out clean but the last third or so was quite dirty.


I pumped the forks a few times to extract more oil then left them overnight to drain — more came out.

Last year I’d saved a plastic mojito bottle which had an interesting spout.  This proved ideal for pouring the fork oil into the opening at the top of the strut.  I measured out 485ml and poured it into the mojito bottle.  I have a bit of a jaundiced view of this exacting measurement – it’s impossible to know how much oil is left coating the innards of the fork and the container I’m using.  Why didn’t Guzzi just make it 15ml more to 500ml?  I pumped the forks up and down occasionally.

oil collage

I screwed the caps back on and slid the forks up into the clamps, stopping momentarily to secure a pinch screw and tighten the cap with the crescent, taking care not to overtighten and damage the O-ring seal.  Using a screwdriver to prise open the clamps occasionally, I twisted and turned the forks up into position.

At this stage, I didn’t tighten the clamps.  I put the wheel, axle and mudguard back on then tightened the clamp screws.  Seemed logical to me…but who knows?  Replaced the brakes and pumped brake lever.  Put 15 turns onto each of the fork adjusters.

Went for a fang.  I felt that there was a detectable improvement in the front forks but perhaps not as much as I’d felt when I did the Metal Stone years ago.  Anyway, another job out of the way and a pleasant way to spend a few hours.


Filed under Uncategorized

California EV 50,000 km Service


It was time for the 50,000km service on the EV, so with the Chief’s help, I ran the big gal up onto the lift, tied her down, and jacked her up.

Firstly. drop all the fluids.

fluid collage

Then remove the sump to replace the oil filter.  I use a car jack to support the sump while I loosen the screws – it’s not heavy but it leaves my hands free.  The gasket wasn’t damaged in the process so I reused it.  As I have for the past 15 years on my Calis and Breva, I used a Ryco Z418, obtainable anywhere.  It’s the same filter that’s used in the Toyota Landcruiser V8.  I don’t like the Guzzi recommended UFI filters – they’ve always leaked on my Breva 1100.  I use a a hose clamp, with the boss hard up against the oil pressure regulator valve, to minimise the risk of the filter loosening.


A smear of grease on the pan surface, then onto the car jack to replace the screws.  The grease allows the pan to slide around slightly on the gasket as I search for the first couple of screw holes.

I had some left-over Penrite 15W-50 Diesel and Penrite HPR10 10W-50 Synthetic, so I mixed the two together and gave the Guzzi a 3 litre cocktail.  Used Penrite 80W-90 gear oil in the gearbox and rear drive.  Since Guzzi recommend adding molybdenum to the rear drive, I gave it and the gear box a shot of Penrite Shift Eze.  As you can tell, I like using Penrite – it’s easy to get where I live.

Next job, check the tappets.  One exhaust gap needed to be reset.  I use a drinking straw or wood skewer to determine top-dead-centre, rotating the engine with a spanner on the alternator nut, watching the valves close.  I use a light hand on the skewer – I don’t want it break in the cylinder!


A light smear of grease on the rocker cover allows the cover to move slightly as I find the screw holes and protects the gasket.

rocker collage

Note how clean the rocker covers are.  Years ago I used to get white, creamy smegma in them but that stopped when I changed to Penrite.

While she was on the ramp, I had a good look underneath her, checking for loose centre-stand bolts and gear linkage, particularly where it joins the spline at the back of the gear box – that came loose once on my ’01 Metal Stone.  All OK.  The side-stand boss was showing some wear where it supported the weight of the bike.

New spark plugs and she was ready for a test run  Next, the fork oil and the brake fluid.



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized