Friday, 16 November 2018

The XS Triple Sidecar - winter prep

Even though the sidecar had been running great since I swapped out the alternator and did a little bit of fine-tuning on the carbs, the old girl was by no means ready for Winter. (And she isn't now either...)

Step one, the front mudguard has worked itself loose again, not exclusively down to me using way too thin washers and them getting bent into funny shapes as the front forks on a sidecar are quite heavily loaded when cornering.  (There's a reason, why I am still running this rather substantial steel front mudguard as it doubles as a fork brace!)


The new washers are both bigger in diameter and about twice the thickness, so they should not get bent out of the way again.


Step two was to swap out the tach, for one with a high-beam warning light, as that's mandatory overhere to pass the annual safety inspection. But first, as it was very cheap, hook it up and try it out.


Then add a second hole for the instrument light. No idea which model this one was off, not an XS850, I think as the redline on those would have been 8500rpm.


Step three  (a.k.a. the vanity fix), I had an old XT or SR one piece steering stem bolt instead of the original two piece item. Not entirely sure, why I wanted to do that swap, but the original one bugged me. And honestly: that's a good enough reason for me to do it.


And lastly (thanks mum in law): Handlebar-muffs. I am pretty sure, I somewhere own a set of good Winter-motorcycle-gloves, but I haven't used them in ages. They look a bit odd, but my fingers stay warm (and dry), so that's good enough in my book.


Oh and thanks to all wishing me a speedy man-flu-recovery... couldn't sit at home anymore, so that's got to be a good sign. The only big things missing for Winter usage: 1) fit a new rear tyre as the current one is bald and 2) spray the whole bike with anti-corrosion wax/spray/oil to protect it from the salt.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Workshop life - running Ignitech software under Linux with WINE

Hardware has got the unpleasant habit of failing. Even more so, if we're talking about rather old hand-me-down laptops. Recently my trusty (and by my standards) almost new T60 thinkpad, decided it wouldn't want to boot anymore. I fixed it later on, but this made me think about setting up another old laptop for workshop use and made me rethink using virtual box for running a simple, single application. So I decided to give WINE a shot as the "new" laptop in question is an Asus eeePC 1005p, named minimus. It's not exactly a powerhouse with an Atom N450 and 2GB fo RAM, but it sports a very small form factor, which fits rather easily into my backpack and a battery that will actually last about 5hrs in a realistic usage scenario.

In order to get going, there's two things we'll need:
  1. the windows executables from the Ignitech website (can be found under downloads)
  2. a wine install
Depending on which bike and as such which ignition box you install the software for, you have to download the correct executable. For my dad's CX500 with a CDI-ignition, it would DCCDI-P2, in the case of my old TR1s, we're talking about TCI-p4.

As I am running LUbuntu on this laptop, installing wine is a simple case of running apt-get install wine-stable or if you're more graphically inclined, simply use one of the many graphical package managers.


I suppose some of the more modern and elegant window managers will allow you to link a certain file-type with a program more easily, but in OpenBox this works by right-click, choosing "open-with" and then "custom command line", in which you enter "wine %f", the lower box should be filled out as well, e.g. "wine" or the link will not be permanent.


The thing that got me in the past was the fact, that I simply couldn't get my laptop to talk over the serial connection with the ignition box. This was down to my user not being member of the usergroup dialout and thus not being able to access the serial devices.


The next stop, unless you're running a serial cable on your laptop directly, is to access your $home/.wine/dosdevices directory and create a symbolic link from one of the (higher) COM-ports to the correct USB-serial device. Plug in your USB to serial cable and run lsusb in a terminal. If that's the only USB-device you use it should show up as USB0. Then replace the symbolic link com30 pointing to /dev/ttyS30 with one point to /dev/ttyUSB0. 


It turns out, while the above is certainly possible, there's a more elegant way introduced after upgrading to wine 3.0 (and above). If you run "wine regedit" and then create a new string under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Wine\Ports and link it to the correct USB-device, e.g. USB0, this works fine even after reboots or upgrades.


I chose COM30, because it's easy to remember in ignitech (highest port) and because I sometimes use traditional nullmodem- and serial cables as well and don't want my USB-port mapped on COM1.


Fire up your ignitech software and it will just work and find your bike on COM30. Admittedly, I am not entirely sure how you would do the same on a Mac running OS X, mainly because I am not sure if the serial USB device would be named in the same fashion or some weird BSD-way. If you just came here to find a simple way how to run Ignitech on Linux, follow the steps above and you should be fine.

Addendum: I altered the config to point COM1 to /dev/ttyUSB0 as that made it a lot quicker to find the TCI.


And there you have it: Connecting to the ignition like an absolute boss and no more overhead with a full blown Windows XP or Win7 install.


 Oh and there's a little outlook for you: also working on a native OS X application.


But that one still needs a bit of the old tweaking here and there to work and be "a tad" more lightweight as currently it weighs in at a healthy 590MB.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Everyday TR1 - etymological explorations of the word "Gestaltungsanlass"

German, the language that turns beautiful words like "Farfalla" into "S-C-H-M-E-T-T-E-R-L-I-N-G" (literally, little crushy thing), but also provides words like Zeitgeist and Gestaltungsanlass. Now the latter is when due to an external input you are forced to redesign something (superficial).

So in short, as the angle of the dangle wasn't up to spec...


I had to re-angle the numberplate to be more upright.


Now in all honesty this looks absolutely horrible. So a better solution had to be found and it came in form of a lovely Guzzi Falcone taillight and holder. But first a few holes had to be filled.


A bit of old copper plate as a backing does the job nicely. 


 Some grinder action and lots of paint later and the fix becomes invisible to the casual observer.


I like the look of that old Guzzi taillight...


I admit the solution with pipe-clamps and thick rubber hose might be absolute overkill, but in all fairness, this is my daily... 


Additionally there was a slight whine coming from the front cylinder (I am fully aware, that the pictures show the rear one, but lighting isn't what it used to be in my workshop and opening the door means letting the cold in – no good fun), turns out the bolt, which is clamping the bearing (in stock form just a bushing) wasn't as tight as the rear one, which then reminded me of some trouble I had getting the bearing all the way in as the bearing seat was a wee bit tight.


As I am using a different breather arrangement than stock, I also got rid of the splash guard on the camshaft sprocket. Let's see if I regret that decision shortly, but as I have a very steep breather-tube, I think this should be ok. Additionally it makes finding TDC on the camshaft easier. 


The verdict is still out on these last two mods, but if that was it, that would shorten the task list rather nicely on the Everyday TR1 – basically only consisting of a new tach and speedo (with better lighting) and a respray of the fuel tank with some proper 2-pack-paint.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

The XS Triple Sidecar - alternator swap (and various other fixes along the way)

To be fair, the last time I worked on the old girl was approx. 4 months ago. Then I was left stranded twice with an empty battery, which led me to investigate into the cause of that mishap. Turns out, it wasn't the reg/rec-unit (well, now I have a spare), but actually the alternator being fried.
Contrary to my fears, it was actually dead simple to get a new alternator. Removing the old one was not. But if it would have been, that wouldn't have made such a nice post, would it? 😏

As per the norm, the sidecar had to come off, in order to make access to the alternator easier.


Unlike on my other bikes, the alternator is not oil-cooled, so it should have been just a quick job of taking the cover off and that'll be it – I thought.


Unfortunately some numpty (me) had routed the alternator cables through what seemed like a suitable groove in the back of the engine cases. This meant that now the engine had to be lifted as I couldn't pull the cables with the plugs through.


Well, greasing various bolts and axles will save me from a lot of hassle at some other date, right?


From that point on the whole exercise was fairly straightforward and just meant replacing the alternator and then rerouting the cables correctly and greasing up the connectors. 



And charging again: almost 14V at a bit over idle and stops nicely at 14.4V. On top of that, I was finally able to put my new toy (a clamp-on multimeter) to use. At mid rpm, the alternator pushes out around 6A, at max. rpm almost 10A. Sort of explains, why the old battery gassed out every now and then.



Ka-Boom. Looks cool, eh? Trust me the neighbours love me. 😅 Unfortunately this was the first indicator of one of the coils packing in. Luckily about two years ago, some guy in Vienna parted out his XS850 and so along with an engine, I also bought various bits that I thought might come in handy down the line, e.g. coils, a spare CDI and various other this 'n' that's. 



As I needed some time to work this niggle out, I turned my attention to another one of those problem areas. For some odd reason, the rear brake shaft tends to seize in the frame of those old XS-Triples. Mine was no exception and as such the only sensible solution was to fit a grease nipple. And as you can see in the picture below, even though I re-greased the shaft about a year ago and I was rather generous, mind you, it didn't prevent the build-up of rust.







 Now the stock green tach and speedo are dead cool, but unfortunately at least on my old girl, the speedo had decided to call it a day and get stuck at the highest speed driven and then come back down to zero very, very slowly over the next few minutes. (Gives the phrase: "Looks fast, when parked" a completely new meaning...)

As I am not made from money, I didn't have a genuine XS850 speedo, but only an old XS400 unit from the old RatRacer XS400. Though this only had a provision for a single bulb to back-light it. So a second 13mmwas necessary. Now, if you're good at maths you'll notice, that there are actually three bulb-sized holes in the back. Let's just say I found out, that the hole on the left is cool 'n' all, but it's somewhat less likely that I do 200kph than the other end of the spectrum of the range.



So I had found' out about the dead coil and the bike fired up again, but based on my experiences with the 38mm flatslides and the fact that the old girl was running dead lean at low rpm, switched to running dead rich at mid range only to fall on its face again at max. rpm, I decided to take the air-jets (1.0mm) out and give the bike a test-run without them.



Whoops. The bike was a bit hard to start, but then rev'ed like mad and well... ran a tad lean. By now the pilots have been increased by 12.5 points, mains by 20 and the needle raised 1.5 notches (it uses a funky system of notches and shims to fine-tune the needle) and we're starting to get somewhere. 

Give it another two-and-a-half hours, even larger pilots and mains (#40, #138, needle on the middle setting (no shims), mixture 3 turns out) and a bit more ignition advance and all of a sudden the old girl finally runs and idles like it should.



And lastly while cleaning up the workshop I found some old breather hose I had originally bought for the Everyday TR1 and which was *just* long enough to relocate the breather to a spot where riding in bad weather will not allow water to get into the engine via the breather. 


A bit more tweaking might be necessary on the carbs, but now we're definitely getting somewhere and for the first time, since I've had the flatslides on, it will start just fine when hot.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Dre-XT-Stück - reverting stuff (part 5.1)

Last time you saw me swapping that airbox. Now we're swapping it back, because it had turned out, that despite the seller's claim that it was an early 43F airbox, it was a later 2KF one, which is about 15mm wider on each side.

The elepahant in the room was the fact that old airbox had a lot of "extra venting" or in other words, it was cracked in multip places. 2-part epoxy didn't make it look any prettier, but at least it's sealed for now. (Until it cracks again, but then I will probably use some sort of seam-sealer or gasket goo.)



 Just as last time: In order to get the airbox out, the rear shock has to be disconnected and out of the way. Unlike last time, this time I did with an engine hoist and promptly one of the straps snapped. (No harm was done, but it s*cked big time.)



As the old glue wouldn't come off, a bit of the old flat black made it look nice(r).


K&N YA6084 ftw. 


Stock airfilter with the outer foam removed and the inner crumbling and falling apart. Some people will (quite rightfully) point out, that the K&N isn't quite the first choice for offroad use, as you can't put a sock over it, but I'll work on that, when I really get to a place sandy enough. (Over here it's mostly packed dirt and mud...)



The one thing missing in those pictures is the fact that I welded up the kickstart-stop on the right footpeg, because that was completely hammered away and repaired a broken lug on the sidecover. As I did a nice 100km roundtrip on the old girl yesterday and found nothing else except for a really well worn seat: That's it for now until I find a nice XT600 engine and maybe some extra time to re-upholster the seat.