Monday, 16 May 2016


I've been very busy in the shed the last few weeks preparing for round 2 of the DTRA flattrack series. After the electronic/coil ignition failed at Rye House my family clubbed together to buy me a brand new BTH magneto so the first job on my list was to fit that.

Naturally the TriBSA has nothing as sophisticated as timing marks so it was out with the timing wheel and piston stop.

With the magneto installed and the TriBSA running I turned my attention to my Sportster. The reason for this is the DTRA are running a mini-series of Hooligan class racing, basically 750cc and above bikes with stock frames. In the states this class seams to be dominated by Sportsters and Harley are sponsoring then UK series. So seeing as I happened to have a Sportster halfway through a street tracker conversion it made sense (at the time) to enter.

The biggest problem is the engine looked like this;

However after a couple of weeks of long nights in the shed I had a hooligan racer ready for when I had to leave for Peterborough on Friday evening.

OK it hadn't actually been run other than a quick test firing of the engine but I had run out of time and had to leave.

I got to Peterborough just as access to the campsite was closing for the night so that was well timed.As I had been up since 6.30 and spent the whole day either working on the Sportster or driving to Peterborough I decided an early-ish night was a good idea, especially as sign in was 7.30.

Saturday morning arrived all too soon and I signed on and unloaded the Sportster. It was at this point that I noticed that the clutch perch on the TriBSA has somehow broken in transit. The Sporty then decided to join the fun as the gear lever broke as I was adjusting the gear lever while making last minute checks. The lever had basically broken in two, cracking on the side opposite the pinch bolt. I found that by doing up the pinch bolt I could still change gear I decided to go ahead with the racing on the basis that if I launched in second I wouldn't actually need to change gear for the whole race and I could put it into gear by hand rather than using my foot (which was in a motocross boot with the worlds heaviest steel shoe strapped to the sole).

So having signed in and passed tech inspection I nervously waited for practice, mostly because I was worried that the freshly rebuilt motor do something that made the broken gear lever pale into insignificance.

Practice went OK, with a 1200 lump I found the bike both easy to spin up and rather heavy compared to the TriBSA. The Hooligan racing saw me stuck at the back for all three heats but with only 11 riders competing I still made the final where I continued my form and came last.

With the days hooligan racing over I headed off to the auto-jumble to see if i could find a replacement clutch perch. I came up trumps when I ran into Mark on his stall who gave me a complete brake lever and perch that looked like it would do the job.

Saturday evening started with bodging the clutch cable and the brake lever to a point where it looked like it would do the job. I won't go into details but two sizes of cable tie were involved. With the mechanical problems sorted I headed off to the bar where I drank a modest amount of beer before heading to bed  at a little after 11 in an attempt to get a good nights kip before another 7.30 sign in. This plan was foiled by the freezing weather, I ended up wearing jeans, tee shirt, two hoodies and my Belstaff and I still felt like I was freezing to death.

So Sunday morning saw me get up bleary eyed and cold to go and sign on for the Vintage class. Tech inspection passed we were given a few practice laps to get a feel for the track. The best word to describe the track was slippy. In, I assume, an effort to keep dust at bay the track had been watered quite heavily and even at practice pace it was all to easy to either spin the back wheel, slide the back wheel, slide the front wheel or all three at the same time (or at least that is what it felt like). I came back into the pits grinning.

One of the things I have found when racing is how easy it is to get flustered and forget details like where on the grid you need to be. In an attempt to avoid this I wrote my starting positions for all three races on a piece of gaffa tape and stuck it on my tank. I then waited for first group of vintage bikes to go out, with the plan to start the engine once their race was underway so I was ready to go. Suddenly one of the marshals started pointing to me and indicating that I should go out. I was confused because as far as I was concerned I wasn't due until the following race. He came over and pointed at my race number on the running order. This was the point when I realised that my attempts to overcome pre-race flustering had come to nothing.

 In my agitated state I had forgotten that my the hooligan races didn't run under your DTRA race number and I had made a note of the timing and grid positions for number 5 (my hooligan class number) and not 123 (my DTRA number). Now doubly flustered I set out and joined the starting grid in my place on the middle row.

This first race saw me finish in my usual last place. I was telling myself that its the taking part that counts.

I don't remember much about the second race, started at the front of the grid and finished last again. However I did have a couple of 'battles' with people overtaking me. Previously people had just come flying past but now I was able to hold my own, for a while at least, before they got past, which felt like progress but I was still telling myself that it was taking part that counted.

With two last places in the bag I figured that I wouldn't make the final and decided to just make the most of my last race. Before I knew it I was in my position at the back of the grid staring at the starting light (it just goes straight to green now red, amber, green sequence) like my life depended on it.

The light went green and I shot off, somewhere before corner 2 I actually overtook a couple of riders. I figured that they would be hot and my heels and pressed on a bit. Just before corner 3 I glanced behind me to see if they were behind me and didn't see them anywhere. I was now in front of at least two riders! I spent the rest of the race pushing hard enough to maintain position without letting ambition outstrip ability.

I came in fully expecting to be packing up for the day when someone said to me 'well done you are in the final'. It seems that by at least finishing (i.e. not crashing out) all three races and coming in ahead of a couple of riders in the last race I had done well enough to (scrape) into the top 12 earning a place in the final. I was chuffed to bits.

There was very little time to turn things around and before I knew it I was taking up my designated spot in the back of the grid. Having made the final I was determined to finish so I didn't pusj things as hard as the previous race and was the last to cross the finishing line but by my reckoning the fact that two bikes either failed to start the final or died just after starting and at least one rider crashed out I reckon I managed 9th overall which, on my 2nd meeting (I'm ignoring last months broken ignition system fiasco) is a big confidence boost.

It would be an understatement to say I was a bit chuffed by the result (even if it was mostly down to other peoples mishaps with mechanicals and gravity).

Next meeting is Greenfield on 11th of next month, and the week after that is Hells Race in Belgium.... bring it on!!!

Monday, 18 April 2016

Just practicing.

Well after getting the bike ready race day was a big let down.

Bike started ok for practice. Did a few laps getting a feel for the new right hand side footrest and brake. The left hand footrest came loose but that just needed nipping up.

When I came in from practice the bike went into neutral OK but the engine stalled, or so I thought.....

When it came to race one the bike refused to start, investigation revealed no spark further investigation revealed the coil had gone bad. Ironically on a bike made of parts mostly between 30 and 60 years old a modern component failed and stopped it from working.

My solution? I'm ditching the electronic ignition and replacing it with magneto from BTH.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Race Prep continued

I machined up some alloy pegs that take BSA footrest rubbers.

The next step was to make a brake pedal, and a mount for the rear master cylinder.

I didn't have an easy way of mounting a reservoir so I decided to use a HRC kit I had lying around. I could have used a bit of clear PVC pipe but apparently brake fluid can react with that and the HRC kit uses a silicone hose. The only problem is the Brembo master cylinder I am using has a different reservoir pipe diameter. Fortunately I have a lathe and a stock of scrap...

I then bled the brake, this is when I found that the stainless plate I was using for the master cylinder bracket wasn't up to the job and was flexing. So with a day to go before race day I found the thickest bit alloy plate and milled a new bracket. I now had a working rear brake on the right hand side.

Finally I fitted number boards and at far too early on Sunday loaded the bike on the trailer to go racing.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Getting ready for race season.

I've entered the TriBSA for the DTRA Vintage class on 10th April. It's the first race of the season so I have been spending some time getting the bike ready. There are two main things I've been wanting to change. The first is the height of the bike and the second is the footrests.

I've started on the height by ordering some 310mm shocks to replace the 350mm ones.

Last year I fitted rear sets, these gave me the folding footrests required by the regs but, while I found the left hand peg location OK I didn't get on with the right hand location. 

Before fitting the rear sets I was using a set of clamp on footrests that I believe are rare original BSA scrambles items.  Rather than modify the original parts I made a new top half of the bracket that placed the footrest lower and slightly further back.

I'm quite pleased with how its turned out.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Going Racing!!!!!!!!!!!

After Dirtquake I decided that I wanted to have a go at proper flattrack racing. The two day meeting at Amman Valley was out due to family commitments which left the September meet at Rye House. As soon as entries opened I sent off 40 quid and had my place confirmed.

This meant I needed to race prepare the bike. Some parts of this were easy, remove the front brake (if you are racing you don't want something designed to slow you down right), fit a lanyard kill switch to prevent your bike running wild when its spat you off and fit a 'shark's fin' chainguard to stop fingers and toes getting cut off by the rear sprocket.

So far so simple. The only other thing that needed attention was the footrests. At Dirtquake the regs required non-folding footpegs to be 'taped' (because a piece of gaffa tape will stop a footpeg skerering your thigh) and the regs stated that "The ends of the footrests must be rounded with a radius of not less than 12.5mm." The footrests I had on the bike neither folded or had radiused ends, they are also quite rare BSA scrambles parts so I was unwilling to modify them. With this in mind I decided to fit the Barleycorn rear sets I had bought for the project years ago.

The rearsets originally came with fitting brackets, unfortunately one of the attachment points for these brackets was the pillion footrest loops, the loops I had removed to get the swingarm to fit. This meant I had to machine up new mounting hardware. This was actually a good thing because I got to use my Bridgeport in anger.

In the end I didn't get the rear sets fitted until the evening before the race as I had to wait for a new (longer) gear lever and for a HSS die to thread a new stainless actuator for the rear brake master cylinder (funnily enough the cheapest set of metric taps and dies on ebay turned out to be shite for anything other than cleaning up threads).

With the light failing I had a test ride up and down the lane. I could change gear ok but the brake was shite, hardly able to lock the rear wheel. As I hadn't actually used the rear brake much at Dirtquake I decided I could live with it for one meeting.

I suspect the problem is with the geometry of the lever, the distance from the bivot to the actuation rod is about 1/2 the distance from the pivot to the toepeg. I think this ratio should be closer to 4:1 than 2:1.

As darkness fell I loaded the bike onto the trailer, pushed the pair of them into the workshop and headed home.

The night was full of anxiety dreams, not of crashing of anything like that but of having forgotton something needed to race, you know crash helmet, boots that sort of thing. After fitfull nights sleep I woke up at 6:30 headed off to the workshop and attached the bike and trailer to the car.

The drive to Rye House was uneventful, no tiedowns snapped or undid themselves and the bike and I got there in one piece and in plent of time.

Signed on, and bought a day licence then hung around for a couple of hours until the riders briefing. It's funny but before enduros/rallies I never got that nervous but I had pre-race nerves, then again thats to be expected seeing as I've only ridded a proper oval once before.

Practice came and went, sort of got used to the new footrest positions and realised I had forgotten to attach the kill switch lanyard once I was back in the pits but I had got the bike round the oval and not fallen off which was all I wanted from practice.

My plan was to wait until the first vintage race went out, start the bike and wait for my race. A good plan, as long as the bike starts. It usually starts first kick so no problem.

You see the word usually there? Well just as a bike won't start first kick with an audience it decided that this was the perfect time to take a few attempts to get going, this combined with the pressure of a race starting in a couple of minutes left me flustered. I was about to set off when I noticed that my footrest was still folded (it needs to be folded away when kick starting). In my rush to get going I reached down with my right hand, forgetting about the lanyard and killed the engine. I couldn't get restarted and missed my first race. Oh bother.

For the second race I made sure I got the bike running nice and early which alleviated anxiety about not starting but replaced it with anxiety about overheating. For this race I was on the front of the grid on the outside. The race is supposed to start on a green light, no red, amber just a single light. To be honest I'm not sure if I even saw it come on I just went for it as soon as every one else set off.

Looking back its all a bit of a blur, I remember a guy on an Ironhead sporty going wide and hitting the perimeter fence, the following restart, a very close overtake and being 2nd to last for most of the race. I did my best to keep in front of the backmarker but on the last lap he got past just before the checkered flag.

I suppose technically as the guy on the Ironhead DNF'd I didn't come last but, to be honest I don't care where I came. The race lasted a couple of minutes maybe but it was a couple of minutes of fast, furious fun and I was grinning at the end.

As I entered the pits I met up with Flymo who agreed to take the position of pit bitch and help ensure I made the last race.

The last race was uneventful, no crashes and I was at the back for the whole of the race, unable to make up time lost from a poor start. I can see why people say that flattrack races can be won and lost on the first corner.

Confident that after a DNS and coming last finisher in two races I wasn't going to make the finals I loaded the bike with Flymo's assistance (thanks Flymo!) and went to watch the finals with a big grin on my face. I had completed my first ever race....

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Brrrrm brrrrrm....

Bike runs, ticks over and I've got good oil pressure and oil returning to the tank.
I think all I need to do is check the timing using a strobe, then its Mot time

Monday, 25 November 2013

WTF No Post since August.

I knew it had been a while since I last posted something but 3 MONTHS...jeez.

I have been up to stuff, the timing cover has been off and on again, this time with a tightened crank nut behind it. The grearbox has oil in it as does the engine and oil tank. I've also fitted a Hi-de-hi Oil Filter. Uses a Triumph/BSA triple filter, lovely bit of kit and a nice price.

I've done loads of small stuff like fit plug caps, the breather pipe etc.

This has meant I've been able to take the bike off the ramp...

... to give it a good kicking until it produced sparks (you'll have to imagine those)

I've bled the front and rear brakes, the rear was a bit of a struggle but after reverse bleeding with a syringe seems to be OK. Weird thing is when I finished the brake lever sat too low so I had to make up a new linkage. Here it is being fitted for size...

...and this is the finished article after adding tapers to both ends.

Feels as if I'm close to trying to start the engine, which is nice.