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).
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.
Life gets in the way. We took a month off to drive to Perth and back, towing an Avan across the Nullabor, to visit our daughter. Covered about 9000 kms all up, visiting rellies and so on Missed the Spaghetti Rally!
Then the bushfires surrounded us, so we were stuck at home in smoke for weeks on end. Couldn’t leave in case the emergency services blocked off the roads while we out and wouldn’t let us back in. Then heavy rain (“It won’t rain until May” said the BoM) and flash flooding. And it’s pouring as I write this.
So we only got in a few local rides for a coffee and to keep the engines oiled up.
Now we’re locked up due to the Corona Virus! Apparently, riding my Guzzi is a bigger threat than joining the walking and jogging throngs out exercising, so I’m not supposed to go for a fang. Going out for a slab of beer from a supermarket filled with shoppers is OK but not riding my Guzzi on my own.
But we’re allowed out for specific reasons such as getting food.
We’re having kidneys on toast for Sunday brekky, the Chief announced. And none of that wussy devilled lambs kidney. Get me an ox kidney! And a loaf of Milawa Cornbread for crispy toast!
Sadly, ox kidneys are not sold in town but require a trip to another location (sob). Hmmm, should I take the tin-top or the bike? Easy peasy. But which Guzzi? I tend to alternate between bikes so it was the Cali EV’s turn. Off I sped to Myrtleford Foodworks, which seems to be one of the few supermarkets that sells ox kidneys. I took the direct route, the Cali running like a dream in the sunshine.
Packed the merchandise and considered the run home. Such a nice day, it’d be a shame to waste it. I headed north to Mudgegonga for the turn onto the curvy Carrolls Road.
Carrolls Road wriggles along quite pleasantly, especially today without traffic. A lovely valley with Mt Buffalo often in view. I didn’t have any 4WD up my arse, or running wide on the bends coming towards me. Dodged a large black snake – I often encounter snakes on this road. The recent rain had washed gravel and sand into some of the bends. Carrolls Road ends on the popular motorcycle fanging route, the Happy Valley Road, which links the Great Alpine Road in the Ovens Valley and the Kiewa Valley. Motorcycles coming between Corryong and Mansfield often take the Happy Valley.
A bit more twisting and I came into Ovens ( home of the Happy Valley Hotel , a popular motorcyclist pit-stop).
I’m a volunteer with www.findagrave.com, helping family researchers with photos of their ancestors’ graves and headstones. I had a request to find a grave at Barnawartha Cemetery, so I kicked the Cali EV in the starter and headed off in sunshine via Beechworth.
Beechworth is up on a plateau; as I climbed the temperature dropped and the sky became gloomy and depressing. But as I descended down the other side, the sky cleared into sunshine. Don’t know how people live there!
I turned off onto the road to Barnawartha which was a pleasant meandering run down the valley and across the Hume Freeway into the old town. The cemetery is big in area but the graves are in localised areas of religious denominations; they apparently expected the town to get much bigger.
The chap I was looking for was named “Baumgarten” who had immigrated from Germany and died in 1877. Alas, although I found some descendants, his grave – as were many – was unmarked and had returned to the landscape. Others were marked but without names. One of his relatives was gaoled for receiving stolen horses from the Kelly brothers who lived in nearby Greta.
I slabbed it down the Hume Freeway for a smooth run to Wangaratta then home.
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.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
No sooner had I sorted out the CARC issues on my Breva, another problem arose. Well, she is thirteen years old now. While refueling the bike I noticed a small oil splatter on the ground. I assumed that it was from a previous vehicle, but when I arrived home, I put the big gal up on the centre stand and slid a sheet of paper under the sump. Yep, there it was the next day…an oil spot.
Groaning around on the floor, I determined that it wasn’t the sump plug — I keep reusing the sump plug washer and was sure that I was about to be punished — but that it was coming from the blow-by-system oil pipe where it attaches to the sump. And it wasn’t coming from the metal fitting screwed into the sump, but from the textile-covered oil hose where it attaches to the fitting. A new one retailed at about $150. Heck, how much oil goes down this hose, anyway? Maybe I could put up with an intermittent oil drip.
No, I couldn’t. I drained the sump and pulled the fuel tank off, after an argument with the quick-release fuel line, and examined the hose’s route through the engine. Cripes. Then, an epiphany…a brilliant idea that occasionally comes to bods who work on their own bikes. I pulled the starter motor off, after extracting the 30amp fuses, and all was revealed. Five minutes work and the hose was out. It seems that the hose had perished at the join and was oozing oil. The manner in which the bike had been assembled — with the fitting hard up against the back of the engine — had put pressure on the hose at this point, and it had perished at the junction over time.
I headed off to ENZED Wangaratta (the “Hose Doctors”) to see if they could repair it. No probs but they didn’t have the textile-covered hose…could have it on special order. So, I settled for plain hose and 30 minutes later, and $30, it was in my hands along with a couple of hose clamps.
The new hose was quite flexible and fed easily through the engine. Attached this end, attached that end, replaced the starter, replaced the tank, replaced the 30amp fuses, REPLACED the oil — it’s easy to get too enthusiastic — turned the key, watched the needles do their thing, and thumbed the starter.
She started. No errors displayed. No left-over nuts or screws. Oh Magoo, you’ve done it again!
I noticed that the front tyre on my Breva was scalloping on the right-hand-side. I think that there’s about 10,000km on the Michelin Pilot Road 4s. It never occurred on the Road 3s that I had used previously. A search on Google revealed quite a few complaints from riders of heavy bikes, such as Yamaha FJRs.
I had a chat to Clint at Morrison Moto Garage. He said it was common and it was unlikely to be my suspension. So, I swapped it over for a Pirelli Demon. I’ll see how that goes. The rear still has a bit of life left so I’ll replace it with a Pirelli later this year.
The Breva lives! Some months back I detected a strange noise coming from my ’07 Breva 1100. By the time I arrived home, it was so loud that my neighbor came out to see what it was. I was unsure if it was the CARC or maybe the alternator. I freighted the bike up to Moto Moda in Bungendore. Then Michael had his accident and Peter Roper was in North America, so the bike languished for a time. Finally, Roper determined that it was the CARC but not the wheel bearing. Something deeper. It was not cost effective to break open the CARC, for which parts and spacers are hard to get, to repair it when secondhand ones were readily available. Peter and Jude brought the Breva back to Bright for the cost of a tank of diesel, overnight accommodation and a few pints. They like visiting Bright, they said. Lucky me.
I’d forgotten how enjoyable the big Breva is — that comfortable seat and sitting position, its mile-munching, loping motor with the Beetle map, its touring capacity, its crap rear brake.
Crap rear brake? It felt crappier than I remembered. Upon parking the Guzzi in the shed I saw the tell-tale signs of a leaking CARC seal with oil splatters on the wheel rim. Yanked off the wheel and there was oil on the seal and brake rotor.
Spoke to Peter and a few bods at the Spag who all seemed to think that, if I could replace fork seals, I’d be capable of replacing the wheel bearing seal. One Tuesday I ordered the seal from Mario at Thunderbikes in Perth and it arrived in Bright at midday the following day. Wow!
Removing the CARC to the work bench, I couldn’t get the old seal out; had to resort to a technique that I’d only read about. Using my trusty drill, I attempted to screw a self-tapper into the old seal. It wouldn’t go in! That Viton seal is hard. I didn’t want to rev the drill any faster for fear of drilling into the bearing beneath. Selecting my smallest drill bit, I drilled a pilot hole. That self-tapper then slipped in as if into butter. Grasping the screw with pliers, I easily levered the seal out.
A smear of grease on the new seal, I tapped it in with a mallet, using a piece of wood to keep it flush with the housing. Reassembled the bike, added Penrite 80W-90 to the rear drive, and went for a fang. A fortnight later, no leak! I hadn’t realized what a simple system it was.
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