Moto Diaries

Don't pay bribes in the former Soviet Union

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 22 June 2015 | 1 Comments

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The role of traffic police in the former Soviet Union is well known and has little to do with controlling traffic; the primary role is to extort bribes to supplement their miserable salaries.

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The Indicator Switch

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 1 May 2014 | 0 Comments

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How to change a broken indicator button on Moto Guzzi Stelvio. 
Step 1: Build a Mark 1 paint spray booth.
You would’ve thought changing a plastic indicator button would have been fairly straight forward. Tiny piece of plastic, straight glue on job. 
But you would’ve thought this without acknowledging the superior design skills of MotoGuzzi Engineers.
I rode over to see those great guys at CorsaItaliana in their lair at Walton Thames.
“Hi, the plastic indicator button seems to have snapped off. Can you get me a replacement please.”
“Not directly, no. You’ll need a complete switchgear assembly.”
“A f**king what? How much is that then?”
“£140.”
I didn’t take up the offer. 
A year passed with me jamming my thumb onto the tiny metal blade that was poking out of the switchgear. In the end, ineffectual indicating in thick winter gloves prompted me to get a fix.
To eBay, and a used but totally intact black shiny switchgear unit replete with black & blue switches for lights, horn, computer menu button, and a trapdoor on the tank complete with long and hideous multi-coloured wiring entrails was quickly purchased and equally quickly delivered. 
One day later and the task of replacing the switchgear was studied with care. First, and as an addendum to another moto-engineering task that had to be attended to at the time, the screen was dissembled, the computer removed and the petrol tank lifted out of position to get to the wiring loom. All of which was done; but on that day it was getting late, we couldn’t see the switchgear connector and I had places to go. So we buttoned up the bike and left the switchgear still to be repaired. Three hours of work; little achieved. Except, unknowingly, we had created the seeds of the need for the Mark 1 paint spraying booth. 
A few months later – Spring, thinner gloves, not so much of an indicator problem so I decided on an easier, simpler way to replace not the switchgear, just the broken button. All I had to was take out the old indicator switch, and replace it with the one in the new switch gear assembly. 
Steel Balls & Tiny Springs – a new and interminable pinball game.
I took apart the bike mounted switch gear; a fraction more prodding with a precision screwdriver and the soft snick of sound as if a timer on a delicate but nonetheless enormous bomb had started and lo! A tiny plastic box sprang open to reveal electro mechanical decorations sparkling in the sun. The snick? A 2mm spring and 2mm steel ball bearing rolling free.
I replaced the spring and tried to capture the ball bearing to refit the sub assembly. An hour later and another idea for a simpler, easier way occurred to me. I would practice on the new, and still completely assembled switchgear – but on my desk where it would be more manageable. Two hours later… the sub assembly dissembled and all the ball bearings were lost, never to be recovered.
I am not easily defeated. The next morning my lovely daughter and her baby son were coerced into driving me – I have no car and my shiny red and chrome Victory Vegas had some timing problems severe enough to stop all progress – on small adventure to a motorcycle repair shop to buy some second hand ball bearings. 
There are ball bearings for sale all over the internet, but no size 2mm are stocked in the UK. Shipped from China in packs of one hundred for a mere £2.50 the waiting time was two weeks. No, no waiting, not for me: scrabbling for micro size steel balls in breakers yard is a much simple, easier way.  I salvaged and bought five, for £2.50
Thence to Maplin’s to buy micro magnets, multiple pairs of precision tweezers and other useful tools. Back at my desk, and three hours of studious pinball games. Until I had lost three of the  bearings and both micro springs.
The solution was obvious. 
With a heavy hand I clicked the fast dial Skype direct line to Guzzibits and ordered another pre-loved replacement switch gear assembly – less than dealer retail, and only another £75. To include delivery of course.
Day 427. Or thereabouts.
On the Stelvio to the Two Naughty Boys Speedshop Bar & Grill. With switchgear assembly fully assembled.
Off with the screen, computer and plastic, petrol tank moved to rest on the battery, the machine laid bare. New switchgear in place – a more determined search had located the snap in sockets – and a thought comes to mind. 
“While we can see the frame let’s just run a new USB power point top the handlebars. Cable direct from the battery. Take 3 minutes.”
Cable run, just need to attach to the battery. And moving the petrol tank, a soft snick and petrol gushing with gay abandon over the bike and across the floor.
Hmmm.
After 50 seconds of heart racing activity the elbow joint that connects the tank to the petrol line was located. Broken. Snicked in half.
Hmmmm.
Petrol poured carefully into a 5 gallon spare Adventure Tank and the problem, when the upturned bike tank was inspected revealing the elbow joint to be irreparable. Expletives were muttered, but after 427 days, and before the Mark 1 spray painting booth was built, the odd harsh word was to be expected. The Skype speed dial then, and a new piece of plastic – just £27.50 including delivery – was winging it’s way toward us.
Meantime the sheared off end of the elbow had to be removed. So the pump assembly is unbolted and removed from the tank before the delicate task of drilling out the elbow could begin. My, how we laughed and danced a jig as five different stud removers had no apparent effect. Eventually A BIG DRIIL BIT, possibly made from TITANIUM was shown to the elbow and more force brought to bear. Success, the elbow surrendered with drilled out swarf falling into the petrol pump. How we laughed and jigged again.
Day 427 and half started pleasantly. More costly than it’s weight in gold, the new plastic elbow arrived in the post.
Work, for money, not for fun, had to be attended to but by the spring day’s noon the rollers on the Two Naughties Speed Shop groaned upwards and the work space revealed.
Tank and pump cleaned out with generous swigs of high octane petrol, heady fumes abound. Elbow fixed, the pump to the tank. Six nuts to be hand tightened. And on the sixth, to accompany the words “I must not over tighten these” a snick was heard.
Soft, gentle, but nonetheless a snick as the sixth bolt sheared.
There was little jigging or laughter. The sun went in behind a cloud. Petrol fumes still hung in the air as, with a steely determination, the pump was unbolted, removed from the tank and laid aside. 
Drilling out the sheered off stump was the work of minutes. Well, fifteen minutes anyway as the task was executed with acute tenderness.   And then fixing a new bolt with two part, twenty four hour curing Araldite.
A silence lay heavy as the twenty four was contemplated. 
And then. A new, fresh, unique and bedazzling thought spiralled from the outer reaches of the brain and presented itself fully formed.
“I’ll paint the effing engine guards”
Oh joy – Guzzi coloured engine guards in metallic paint and varnished to help make the world smile back.
The engine guards lifted from the floor, into the car and transported to the Manor. The patent Mark 1 spray paint booth designed, erected and engine guards undercoated all in a trice.
And on the next day from Halfords, that renowned emporium of all matters paint, vehicles for the use of - a deep dark scarlet metallic paint is procured.
Except. It says on the tin, do not use in cold or damp conditions. 
And, as I look out of my window at the rain falling on the Mark 1 paint spray booth I know the paint job, and the buttoning up of the motorcycle will have to wait another day.
I won’t yet be able to ride to Manchester and visit with my hospitalised friend, and I’ll miss Graham Field’s talk at Moto Adventure Nights.
Heigh ho. It could be worse. I could be a trained mechanic.
If the job doesn’t get finished don’t worry. You’ll be made to read about that too.
If something like this has happened to you, let me know in the box below. I’ll enjoy the read and maybe recover some self-respect. 
If you upturned a lip, or even the glimmer of a smile click on like for the Facebook page. Ta  

How to change a broken indicator button on Moto Guzzi Stelvio. 

Step 1: Build a Mark 1 paint spray booth.

You would’ve thought changing a plastic indicator button would have been fairly straight forward. Tiny piece of plastic, straight glue on job. 

Guzzi Stelvio indicator switch

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Touching the World

Posted by on 28 February 2014 | 0 Comments

I finished last night, with no small emotion, the story of anordinary guy and his partner who made an extra-ordinary journey across the world on a motorcycle. The guy was Bernard Smith, his partner Cathy Burchill; Cathy was blind.>

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Navigation and GPS in Russia

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 6 February 2014 | 0 Comments

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I was asked today for some advice on GPS systems for travelling across Europe and Russia.

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Motorcycle adventure, Mongolia, Kazakhstan

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 8 January 2014 | 1 Comments

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I was asked recently what sort of motorcycle can be used to ride to Mongolia via Kazakhstan.

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Biker helps emergency services battle through blizzards

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 18 January 2013 | 0 Comments

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EmergencyAt 09.30 this morning intrepid Motorcycle Adventurer Derek Mansfield battled through blizzard conditions and 5cm snowdrifts to help the emergency services recover a stranded vehicle.

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The motorcyclist diet

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 14 January 2013 | 0 Comments

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Moto Guzzi service issues - surprisingly good!

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 9 January 2013 | 2 Comments

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Stunning service from Moto Guzzi – a great heritage brand that really does care.

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Does biker black leather and grunge put young people off biking?

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 19 December 2012 | 1 Comments

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Over the past few months several non-biking friends have mentioned that they are put-off motorcycles and motorcyclists because we always look grungy and dangerous.

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I am resolved to

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 16 December 2012 | 0 Comments

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In a few days time, December 21 more or less, it’s the shortest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. 
Amongst the ancient Norse, Germanic and Brit tribes it was called the Winter Solstice or Yule. And it’s at Yule, not New Year when you should make your resolutions.
My resolution for 2013? Start my annual journey in April, not June. Destination? Ostende then follow the sunrise for several thousand miles.
What’s yours?

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