Saturday 26 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Hope you all had a good Christmas yesterday, I did, alcohol abuse as ever on the agenda but over the last two days also some walking to try and catch some decent photo's. Still freezing here and I'm now officially bored with Winter, roll on the Spring!

A couple of general Winter shots

And here we have a daft bird thinking it's hiding in a tree!

Monday 21 December 2009

Blues Jam session Pitcairngreen

I spent a nice evening at the monthly Jam session at the Pitcairngreen Hotel yesterday. Excellent jamming from local musicians,and a fine way to while away a very Wintery night. My brother John on top form as usual with his Air Guitar!!

Jimmy the moothie Harcus on top form

Wang Dang Delta (Blues and beyond)

John Attempting to emulate Pete Caban on Air guitar!

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Slow Progress

Progress on the Guzzi rebuild has been slow due to having to source a UJ at a reasonable price. I eventually ended up ordering a second hand one, justifying it with the reasoning that I only do about 2 - 3000 miles a year on this bike so a second hand one should last a while hopefully.

Anyway not much motorcycling going on this week but some photography which I thought I'd share.

Taken on Saturday, a frosty day over the Strathearn valley with a sliver of sun providing relief for the feeding cows

Sunday evening, wierd light conditions over Edinburgh, Arthurs seat near sunset

Wednesday 9 December 2009

No as bad as it could be

Stripped the Guzz today that had the death rattle at the weekend, I found the UJ had exploded, very similar to the experience I had with my first Lemans many years ago (and it happened on the A1 as well!) So the gearbox seems shrapnel free, the filler plug has no metal attached and no nasties appeared out of the drain plug thankfully.

Bad news is the cost of the joint is now outrageous, 2 main Guzzi suppliers quoted £195 & £283.75 respectively. So sounding out the Guzzi community at large to see if someone can come up with a good secondhand one. It's not as bad as it could have been but at this time of year it's expense I could have done without.

Funny I sometimes think about the differences between my Guzzi's and Nortons, The Norton needs more TLC and parts more often but at least the parts generally dont require you to take out a mortgage. The Euro / £ exchange rate has got a lot to do with these ridiculous prices and that situation is down to the state of the UK economy which is particularly bad because of the banks. So a natural conclusion is that it the bankers fault that my Guzzi is off the road at the moment while I seek out a cheaper option ! Bankers, I always hated the bastards and now I hate them just a little bit more.

Just to add to the rant I heard the Chancellor just say he will put a 50% levy on bank bonuses over £25K this year..............£25K , how many of you get bonuses like that? The majority of these bankers and politicians should be in the jail for fraud anyway not getting big bonuses!! Then the price of my Guzzi spares may come down !

Gearbox although dirty appears fine

The UJ should be one piece and not have the exploded parts!!!

Sunday 6 December 2009

Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance

Of course those of you who have read Robert Pirsig's tome will realise that it didn't have much to do with motorcycle maintenance at all and funnily enough todays blog has more to do with motorcycle wrecking than maintenance.
Out on the Guzzi today (the Mk3 Lemon to be precise) and I noticed a little more vibration than normal in the footrests, at first I put it down to not enough of a Sunday morning hangover but no it was really there and seemed to be getting worse the more over the speed limit I was going. All of a sudden the vibration got worse and then a terrible crunching rattling sound as if you were using a cement mixer to mix engine casings, looking behind there was an increasing plume of smoke eminating from under the bike, not from the exhausts, I looked around for an enemy fighter to see if Jerry had managed to sneak up on me and let a few rounds off into the fuselage without me noticing, then I remembered I was on my Guzzi not a spitfire and the war ended a long time ago.
I crunched to a halt with Fiona looking a trifle concerned at the smoke display, stupidly I rode another five miles or so rattling and crunching before dumping it at Fi's parents place. I say stupidly because I suspected a gearbox problem and you should never drive a bike with gearbox problems or death can often follow (Don't try this at home children, I am a certified lunatic with several certificates in riding unsafe motorcycles)
Anyway my diagnosis is a Broken cardan joint with perhaps some gearbox issues arising from that. I'll let you know when I summon up the enthusiasm to go and collect it and strip the damn thing. Nice day anyway and I enjoyed the rest of the day piloting the ER6!

Friday 27 November 2009

The world is mad!

Well the weather here in Scotland this week (and most of Europe I think) has been terrible, extreme rain and winds have caused havoc with peoples lifes, flooding and landslides which is quite depressing. Those motorcyclists amongst you will probably be like me, satisfying their two wheel fix by working in the garage all the time praying for an early return to Spring. The next two month's are the hardest but just think in four weeks we have (in the UK) the shortest day so after that the nights get longer and just as naturally as Autumn ended, Summer will return. The sun is out today though and that lifts the spirits, so get out there and spend at least 15 minutes staring at it or if you don't want to go blind turn your back on it and feel the heat! Just back from the shops, if there is a recession then someone hasn't told the shoppers, already I can see the Christmas frenzy around, complete madness, I wish I was famous enough to get the shops to open only for me so I didn't have to navigate my way past hordes of people not sure what they're shopping for! idiots!

I found this photo yesterday (rainy day = boredom!) which I thought I would share with you, just to prove my moustache was Black a while ago! Taken in the Hotel bar in the Isle of Man in 1987 with my mechanic John Thomson (also sporting a zappa like moustache) and Norrie Pattie. Just noticed John holding my First Isle of Man replica so I assume we had just come back from the prizegiving (Geoff Duke was handing out the trophies that day, an honour indeed!) If you look at the collage of photo's behind me you can spot one of me leaping Ballaugh Bridge and one of me on Crutches (and with a mega hangover) at Beveridge Park road races in Scotland. Happy days indeed but god knows how my liver survived!! (Thanks to Lindsay Barrie who seemed to be around to take most of these compromising photo's at the time!!)

Monday 23 November 2009

Norton End of Season Party

This year we moved to Killin in the Perthshire hills for our end of season meeting. The weather was warmer than last year but the rain and wind made up for it. It wasn't so much like rain but more like someone pouring water out of a bucket for most of the journey. The people who took their bikes were suitably soaked and although my waterproofs kept out the dampness on the day by the next morning it was unpleasant pulling on very cold and damp clothes. The biggest challenge was navigating through the small rivers running down the road. Well worth the effort though, the Sunday was just as wet and a fair bit colder!
I cannot recommend the Killin Hotel highly enough, superb food and service and all at a reasonable price, the early start took its toll though and there were some early casualties, the pictures tell the story better!

Thursday 12 November 2009

A cure for the winter blues

I hate Winter, thats official! When the nights get darker and there's the horrible dampness, coldness and even worse ice setting in it makes me depressed, not in a clinical way of course just my mind isn't as happy as in the summer. Anyway I got up today and went into the garage for a while then realised the sun had broken through the gloom so decided to seize the opportunity to get the old Guzzi out for a run. I must admit it lifted the spirits and I returned back with a smile on my face and my head in a better place. The roads were quiet as well and although there is evidence of the over active salt spreading routine the surface wasn't as bad as a few days ago. I could do with a job for the winter to keep me from going mad but then I couldn't take days like this out on my's a tough life!

Sunday 8 November 2009

Holidays (again)

Another trip up to Applecross for a few days to relax, we were blessed with great weather apart from Friday and great conditions for photography. Unfortunatley we got Applecrossed on Saturday night and I've had a hangover all day! Oh well back to my version of reality.

Another spectacular sunset

Perfect reflections

Looking over to Raasay

A Herron stops for lunch, no chips with it though!

Getting ready for a Stag party!

Looking over towards Skye from the top of the Bealach

Well worth a visit, if you haven't been you're missing some of the best scenery on the planet (and the pub is good as well!)

Tuesday 3 November 2009

The shortest 30 MPH section?

This is a village I passed on Saturday, I've passed it many times before and always laughed at the stupidity of this set up, a 30mph Zone lasting 100 yards, no warning, you come round a bend doing 60 then its a 30 limit for this short period. A brilliant place for the police to set up a speed trap but theres no room and little or no traffic.

Thursday 22 October 2009

It Runs!!!!

Finally after much head scratching and replacing of parts the 750 Commando is running sweet as a nut now. Issues I found were that first the head gasket was blown, one of the head nuts was missing, the Boyer ignition despite being new seemed to not be working properly and both main and reserve petrol taps were effectively blocked up. So New rings and gaskets, new Pazon Ignition (quality bit of kit!) New 34mm Mikuni carb and some good functioning petrol taps and it runs great. This thing has done less than 9000 miles from new and is the nearest thing to a new Commando I've worked on (despite being 37 years old... the bike that is, not me! ) For a while this bike had beaten me but not now, another Norton tamed!!

Sunday 18 October 2009

England for a short visit

It was such a nice day it would have been bad manners not to go out for the day on the bike. We headed down the A68 (despite the speed cameras the complete cretins in their cars not paying attention and the scourge of country roads Horse boxes being towed by the country set) Before we knew it we were at the border which seperates this uncluttered land with our much more cluttered neighbours, an interesting fact is that Scotland has an average of 168.2 people per square mile whils England has 1023 people per square mile so you know where to come if you want peace and quiet! A superb day with the countryside resplendent in deep autumnal colours, almost worth a poem!

A run back towards Edinburgh via Kelso Duns and Gifford** on the small roads ended an excellent day (**sorry we never stopped at the tea shop but it was getting late)

A view of our bonnie land from the border

We passed Hume Castle just outside Kelso, originally build in the 12th and 13th Century but rebuilt as a folly in the 18th Century



Thursday 15 October 2009

Tartan Rally

This years Tartan Rally held in Killin in Perthshire was different as the weather was Ok and not peeing with rain. The afternoon started with a Chimpanzee's tea party

It had been Ian's birthday so Alison got him a cake with his picture on!

Following the afternoon's overdose of Chocolate cake and a small whisky I retired to bed early due to being overcome with tiredness, however when I saw the photos of the carnage I was glad that I did! The last two pics show Ian with his photo on the front of his new Versys and Bob doing some unplanned maintenance on his old Honda!!

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Back together again

Well thsta the thing mainly back together again, just a few final adjustments. Thanks to Alex for doing a great job of Aqua blasting the head, what a difference! New rings, valve seals, Carb and a general sort out so hoping it goes as good as it looks. Update soon!

Monday 5 October 2009

Norton 750 on the bench

Finally decided to try and get rid of my 750 Commando but first I wanted to see inside the motor to check all is well before offering it for sale, the engine had allegedly only done around 8000 niles from new.

Just before the head was unbolted

Off it comes

Might as well have the Barrells off as well

All is revealed, very clean and no wear at all

Even the bores and followers are unmarked

So thats it then, a front bolt missing from the head and a gasket which looks like its seen better days and apart from that very happy with the rest. Going to try to get the head blasted and cleaned up then build it again, hopefully it'll run sweet after that then the dilemma will I sell it or not Hmmmm

Sunday 4 October 2009


Seen at the lothians classic club meeting last week this nice example of a Norvin unusual these days. A great turn out including a vincent and a square four .

Tuesday 29 September 2009

That castle again

Wet and Windy

Thats the best description for the weekend! Arrived in Applecross over the Bealach in thick mist and it started raining just after getting the tent up. Still plenty motorhomes and CDB's going around (CDB= Caravan driving bast*rd) making life not so pleasant but certaily not as bad as it was a month ago. There is something theraputic about sitting in a tent listening to the rain and wid battering against the canvas but only if its dry inside which it was so thats good. The pub is a bit quieter now as well which makes it all the more pleasant. Met a load of Classic cars going over the hill in the opposite direction, most were well behaved but as always there's always one, a w*nker in an old golf GTI thought he was a real racer and almost crashed in to me, I was not happy or in control really, not good when there's a serious drop off the side of the road! I stopped a guy 2 cars behind to pass on a message for his aquantance. Apart from that and the strong gusting wind on the way home a perfect weekend.

Saturday 26 September 2009

Eilean donan

Possibly the most photographed castle in scotland . En route to applecross now. Good run up the road today hopefully the weather will hold up.

Monday 21 September 2009

Nottingham NOC weekend

Luckily the flu left me last week so it was down to Nottingham for the Norton Camping weekend on Friday. A run which started cold 12degC but which warmed up nicely the further south we went. It's amazing the difference in temperature a few hundred miles makes. As always a well organised weekend and full marks to the Notts branch for their choice of campsite. The meeting was at the National watersports facility and the sun shone all weekend. We all ajourned to the local pub on the Friday and Saturday, the barmaid was having a 30th birthday party on the Saturday and invited us along, it was an 80's theme night and as an outsider it all seemed bizzare but a good time was had by all. The run home was good, we turned off the A1 and came up the A68 which was good, not a speed camera in sight on the English side of the border but around 20 on the 50 mile run from Jedburgh in the borders to Edinburgh, could the speed camera brigade get a grip, its not smart or clever and I'm sure if anything they contribute to accidents due to idiots braking for them even though they are still 10mph short of the speed limit. A good turn out from our Branch with George, Sandy and Davie travelling together, myself Alex and Fiona left later due to Fi having to work on Friday morning. As we headed up the A68 the temperature started dropping again, welcome home!!

Spotted this in a services on the A1, 990 Rotax motor, not quite sure what the point of it is though!

Saturday nights outfit of choice appeared to be Adam and the Ants!! Bizzare and reminded me just how crap 80's music was!

Thursday 10 September 2009

Flu - Swine or otherwise

I've been feeling poorly since I returned from my last trip, it feels like flu but hopefully its leaving sometime soon. In an attempt to make me feel better I took the Breva out and parked up near the Forth Bridge, one of the worlds engineering icons. I reflected on the meaning of life (but never came up with any answers!) but all the time I felt I wasn't there, in body yes but in mind no, strange the effects a high temperature has on the mind. I took this picture and "cartoon -ised" it to reflect my non in body state of mind. Hopefully normal (saner) service will be resumed soon.

Monday 7 September 2009

Scottish Classic club meeting at St Fillans

Always a great meeting and getting slightly bigger every year, a good turn out yesterday at The Achray House Hotel in St Fillans

My Mk3 Le Mans and & Daves Ducati

Just to prove I'm not racist, a Triumph!!

Another Triumph

George Peddies old Falcone

The famous George Martin's Triumph

My camera batteries ran out quickly so thats all the photos I got, good day out and see you all again next year!