Tuesday, 31 January 2017

On the road

So, the registration process took longer than I thought it would and I missed the opportunity to ride her in Europe (I went in the hearse in the end and enjoyed a lovely week flopping around the backroads of Belgium in a lumbering old wagon-of-death)
But like all things in life, everything works out in the end and the Manurhin did eventually get her registration documents, and I was able to legally ride her on the road.  I haven't been far on her - probably no more than 50 miles at a time, but she has been reliable and fun, and I haven't felt at risk amongst the modern day traffic!  The most exciting ride being the Distinguished Gentlemans Ride around Birmingham and over to the Motorcycle museum with 150 other classic motorcycle enthusiasts

Monday, 14 March 2016


Many people have told me "you dont need an MOT for that aged bike" - they are partly right.  
Any motorcycle registered pre 1960 doesnt need an MOT.
But as I am applying for a new registration for this bike (ie I dont have a reg number, or log book), she has to have an MOT..... and indeed, as this will be considered as a 'first' registration, she will need an MOT every year from here on.
In theory she is eligible for a non-transferable age-related registration number, but this will be seen as a 'new' registration
Not finished (plenty of trip work still to do) but good enough for a first road test

So, 3 hours after riding her for no more than 100 yards, and pulling the brake lever no more than 5 times, I donned my helmet and pulled her out onto the streets of Birmingham.  And I liked it!  I felt very relaxed and comfortable on her.

1/4 mile down the road, at the traffic lights, she conked out.  I pushed her to the side of the road (she is very lightweight) and through a cloud of smoke I had a look inside the body cowl - I couldn't see any obvious problem (i was particularly on the look out for leaking fuel - Id only ever put fuel in this original tank for the first time 3 hours earlier) - so I tried to start her again, she fired and ran.... so I pressed on...... for another 1/4 mile....... another conk-out, another inspection, another restart..... another 1/4 mile, and another conk-out.  I began to suspect fuel starvation.  I'd only put a litre of fuel in the tank, and wondered if maybe there wasnt enough fuel in the tank to cover the fuel tap filter, so I turned round and headed back to the workshop to fill up with another 3 litres of 2-stroke [I noted that this is going to be an issue that I will have to plan ahead with - you dont just pull into a garage for more fuel - you gotta mix the oil, and not many petrol stations these days stock 2 stroke oil)

The ride through Birmingham was lovely - I felt very sedate.  She did stall a couple of times (im now suspecting a fuel tap problem) but with a little pause on the side of the road, she restarted and ran with no problem.  I even had a few toots from fellow motorists - Im not sure if they were acknowledgements of a jolly little vintage motorcycle, or expressions of anger at my ambling progress.  My speedo suggested I was doing 20 - 30...... but 20 - 30 whats??  She was built in France, so maybe kilometers per hour?  But she was built for the British market, so maybe miles per hour?
I didnt really care.  I was enjoying my new found pace of life (despite crossing 2 of the busiest roundabouts in Birmingham at rush hour)

I made it to the MOT station and enjoyed the banter and curiosity of the guys there.
First MOT.  12 March 2016
She passed her MOT - even though in order to check the tail lights, they had to bend down and peer into the rear light cluster to see if anything was glowing in there.  Everything does work.... but its only sort-of-bright when the engine is running at a good speed.
I am seriously considering taking some clip on bicycle lights with me on this "6 Cuntries" trip - I dont plan to ride at night, but it might be a sensible safety measure if i do get caught out on a remote French country lane after dark

I rode back to the workshop with a big grin on my face - I was exhausted from the adrenaline rush, but completely satisfied with a good days work.
So - Now to see if I can get her registered quickly so that I can get some proper road testing in before May

Does she ride?

I welded up some bracketry so that I could stand the Manurhin on the bench with its wheels free to rotate - allowing me to run her in situ while I worked on electrics and fuel.

There is no battery on this scooter - power comes from the magneto, and only works with the engine turning, and so to test my circuitry, I needed to start her - regularly...... and man, does she smoke!
I rigged up an extractor fan and pipe to try and remove most of the carbon monoxide from the workshop, but I have to say, this stage of the project was not a pleasant time.

In previous stages of this Manurhin resurrection Ive taken loads of photos and tried to write about my experiences here on this blog.  Now I was singularly focused on getting the bike ridable - I learnt lots of stuff about the electrics and had to make some sweet little brackets and fittings to get her all together, but I simply didnt have time to document it.  I took the good part of a week to get her to the point where she was ready to get off the bench and road test.

Lets just take a pause here and consider the numbers;

  • She's 58 years old.
  • We suspect she was taken off the road, stripped of registration number and shoved in a barn at least 20 years ago
  • Ive had her for nearly 5 years - 4 of which she's been in a shed
  • Ive have the engine running several times for no more than 2 minutes at a time
  • I have never sat on her, and never seen the engine power the wheels
Now was the moment of truth!

I rolled her out into the yard of my workshop, and started her.  The Beltomatic safety switch seemed to work, holding the engine revs low enough to stop the belt catching and powering the rear wheel.
I flicked the safety switch, twisted the throttle, and sure enough the bike began to move forward! This was rather exciting!  I tried the brakes - they are shit!... More of a deceleration device than a brake.  I rode her twice around the yard grinning and feeling very proud of myself......
And then something strange happened - it was as if I had become possessed by a guiding light or a visionary angel........ without any thought, i climbed off the bike, took my phone out of my pocket, phoned the local garage, and booked an MOT..... for that afternoon...... in 3 hours time.
Not only had I not tested the bike properly, but now I was going to ride her across Birmingham city center.... at rush hour.

The pressure is on

My mind has been occupied by 2 distinctly different topics, that I hope will converge into one awesome adventure;
Firstly, I have to get the Manurhin roadworthy, registered, and road tested before I can sensibly consider her for a travel adventure.  And Secondly, I have an adventure to plan!

Lorne and I met over a curry one night - with a map.  We knew we wanted to ride in France (our last trip to the South of France on Vespas in 2012, was fun so why shouldn't it be again?) Our only real challenge now was the constraint that Lorne reckoned that he could only manage maybe 80 miles a day on his pushbike (I had no idea if this sort of cycling distance was supposed to be impressive or pathetic - I just worried about the stress on that little 75cc 2-stroke engine) and we had one week (plus 2 weekends = 9 days) to do it in.
A loop from Dunkirk was decided....... and if we pushed ourselves, we could ride through; France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Holland, and England - The "6 Cuntries" adventure was born.  We dashed back to Lornes house and booked our Ferry from Dover to Dunkirk.
May 14 - May 22, 2016.  It was suddenly real

Now, we live in Birmingham UK - about 200 miles from Dover - about 2.5 days cycling for Lorne.  We didnt want to be wasting our available holiday time riding up and down through England, so we needed a plan to transport our 2 'rides' down to the south coast.  Lorne could take the train with his pushbike if he needed to, but the Manurhin would have to be ridden or transported, and as I also didnt want to waste my time riding around the smoggy M25 I started to investigate vans and transporters.

Once again, after a few days of online browsing of ways to transport a motorcycle, another vision came to me in the night.....
Now I think it is truthful of me to say that I wasn't drunk, but I was most certainly hungover (and I did have Hugh mischievously egging me on) when i placed my eBay bid on a 20 year old Hearse.  I really did think it would go for more than £800.
I'd always wanted a hearse since the age of 16, and now seemed like a perfect excuse to own one - with the coffin deck removed, it was the perfect vehicle for transporting both my scooter and Lornes pushbike to and from Dover.
It took me 2 days to steal myself to tell my wife about the Hearse - I was right to prepare..... she hit the fucking roof!  One month on, and we still never talk about it, and i have only ever parked it outside our house when she is away.  This could quite possibly be the (forgive the pun) 'final nail in the coffin' of our marriage.
Hugh kindly offered (i think he was feeling a little guilty) to drive me the 300 miles to Devon to collect the Hearse.  There is no doubt about it, she is awesome - knackered, but awesome.
I had her serviced and MOT'd for £200, and I managed to sell the coffin deck for £250 to a man in Kent who was converting his 1930 GUY flatbed truck into an "alternative Hearse".
So far Ive driven the Hearse nearly 1000 miles - she is slow and lumbering and liable to over-heating (I had to sit on the hardshoulder of the M5 for half an hours waiting for the steam to stop billowing from the sides of the bonnet) - but now with the coffin deck removed, I think we've got ourselves a sweet van for getting us off on our "6 Cuntries" adventure.

Now all I have to do is get the Manurhin up and running!

Blowing away the cobwebs

I cant believe that my last post on this blog was May 2012 - thats nearly 4 years ago!
What happened?  Why did the project grind to a halt?
A lot of water has passed under the bridge during this time (including 2 Royal Enfeilds, and a Harley) and during this time, the poor old Manurhin has been tucked away at the back of my garden shed gathering cobwebs.

However, that all changed as we celebrated the coming of the 2016 New Year.  My Brother-in-law, Lorne suggested that we should do a "ride" this year, and I of course said YES!  However I misunderstood his definition of "ride" - Id assumed that he meant engines, he assumed that I'd agreed to buy myself a pushbike.  Definition clarified, we started to wonder if we could actually ride together - each on our own preferred ride of choice.  Perhaps Lorne could cycle a straight line from the south of France back to England, with me riding a Harley chopper zig-zag fashion across the country, meeting up with him on the evenings?  We were a couple of weeks into our preliminary planning when a vision came to me in the night (literally)....... What about the Manurhin?  If that was running, then perhaps I could ride that ALONG SIDE Lorne on his pushbike - What speeds do cyclists make?  15mph?  20mph?  I had no idea..... but I suddenly became very excited about resurrecting the Manurhin!

I arranged to get it taken over to my workshop

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Everything has to be right for the timing

So the new plug was in, and sure, she was trying to fire but she just wouldn't run.
I gingerly (i didnt want to strip any threads again) tightened things down in the attempt to ensure that there was no air leakage in or out of the barrel (weak fuel mix / low compression) but to no avail.
I checked the contact breaker points gap, and investigated the advance/retard timing.  A fellow Manurhin owner and regular rider (so therefore knows what he is talking about) had told me that the easiest thing to do was to rotate the stator plate hard to the left (anti-clockwise) - no timing adjustment required "it works for all versions" - but it wasnt working for me - so I spent a long time finely adjusting the timing - bearing in mind that each adjustment required the starter mechanism to be removed and refitted - it was all very boring - and nothing was helping my engine to run correctly.

Eventually I reasoned that my condenser was knackered, and having the spare engine from the old black donor Manurhin, I looked into exchanging the condensers (and perhaps the stator and flywheel)
I should have guessed..... it was never going to be that easy!
My flywheel on left,   donor bike flywheel on right
It turns out that I have 2 manurhin engines of different designs.  Which, while didn't help me resolve my problem, was interesting to discover and learn about.  I don't know for sure yet, but I think I am looking at the difference between what the spares manuals call "Polygone coupling - cone 1.75" and Polygone coupling cone BNA 15%" This has always baffled me - The exploded parts diagram shows the crankshaft with 2 part numbers and these two descriptions.  I need to strip the latest engine to investigate further but for now the 2 first obvious differences are 1. my engine has a pin dowl to position the flywheel on the crankshaft while the other engine has a woodruff key, and 2.  My engine has a far smaller diameter crankshaft than the other - which means I couldn't swap the flywheels even if I wanted to without swapping the crankshafts too.  This investigation; to be perused one day when my scooter is on the road and my bench is clear.

More importantly though, as I removed my flywheel from the shaft I found, to my horror, that the pathetic alignment dowl (that i had had machined especially) had sheered!
When had it sheered?... and then I started to wonder...... if the flywheel was out of alignment due to a sheered pin then maybe this is why the engine wasn't running correctly?
I wondered how the pin could have sheered - granted it is a pathetically thin pin - 2mm dia - and I had only used silver-steel for the pin (preferring this to be damaged if anything was going to be damaged - So actually this was a perfectly designed fail!) - but I wondered if I had tightened the flywheel onto the tapered shaft enough? The trouble with 'experimental' rebuilds (as opposed to a known rebuild) is you are always fitting and removing so sometimes don't do a proper tighten-up of nuts...... had I let the flywheel run loose?
Whatever the reason for the fail, I was motivated again to see if this was the simple solution to my running problem.  A quick drill out of the sheered pin, another pin made up, some careful refitting and lots of tightening, and....... bugger me, she started and ran like a dream!
I've said it before, and I'll say it again...... I am a nobhead! ;-)

Kids, do as I say, not as I do

Been trying to get my engine running.  The bike is all set up on the bench with my new 'prototype' electrical loom in place.  I've replaced the head that I stripped (grrr :-( and I've lashed up a gravity fed fuel supply from an old baked-bean can - So why isn't she starting properly?

DKW workshop manual - note someones penciled reference
a little historical time line of all my sparkplugs

Well first up, Ive been a bit concerned about my spark plug after seeing that it doesn't seem to be long enough to reach well into the firing chamber (should it?)  I looked back at my emails to The Green Spark Plug Company who I first turned to for advice for a new sparkplug.  They were very helpful especially as they didn't know the bike and I had very limited information to offer them.  At the time (remember this was way before I had access to manuals, handbooks, and fellow Manurhin owners) the only thing I had to go on was the old spark plug in the engine.  I ASSUMED that this was an original specification [you wouldn't think that I made my living out of helping people to overcome their assumptions would you?].  Now with the benefit of workshop manuals, my assumption was in doubt

The DKW Hobby workshop manual (that I now have) suggests either BOSCH W225T1, or BERU 225/14u2 (and in the copy of the manual I have, someone has penciled CHAMPION L85 and BOSCH W5AC as well)  And just to make the whole picture even more mud-like, My scooter was fitted with an AC 44-5, and the old black manurhin that I acquired has an NGK B6HS

All this additional data is of course a good thing, but it did have me pulling my hair out for some time (interestingly, none of the owner handbooks give a sparkplug reference - though they do state an electrode gap)  Fortunately the Green Spark Plug Co have a very good comparison table on their website and so with a bit of detective work I got to a point where it dawned on me that I have been trying to run the scooter with the wrong spark plug type (it should be a 12.7mm reach and not a 9.5mm reach)  I had foolishly ASSUMED that the plug in the bike as I had bought it was of correct spec! Will I ever learn?

For sake of completion on this topic - I have now fitted an NGKB7H-S