Saturday 3 December 2022

Comrade Car - pandora's box (Part 5)

I am not entirely sure how you would call the engine compartment of your esteemed classic vehicle, but for reasons, which soon shall become obvious, Comrade Car's is referred to as "Pandora's box". 

So as a first step, let's dress up the engine a bit as that will surely be the best way to approach any starting or running issues. (On a more serious note: I had to swap the valve cover, because the older Weber-license carb needs a different mounting point for the carb linkage, which is part of the valve cover.)

It's not like it wouldn't run on the previously installed Solex carb, but the amount of vacuum and coolant lines going to and from the carb, plus a solenoid controlled economizer, which is legendary for being the reason for not having any reliable idle, all defy the concept of a simple, rugged and reliable 1980ies vehicle. (Yes there's a carburettor hidden in the picture below.)

Slightly non-stock carb return spring - and even more lines and hoses.

With the carb off, the valve cover was swapped in after having a casual glance at the cam chain guide, which appears to still be in one piece. (By now I have all the spares to do the camchain and guides...)

One of those smug-grin moments - this really made the engine bay look a lot nicer. Also at the left end of the valve cover, right underneath the filler cap, the new pivot point for the throttle linkage is visible.

And that's the Weber slapped on. One fuel line, one vacuum line (for ignition advance, because... well you know the motto of this blog) - a reasonable choice. Also it's leaking and flooding.

This box is another one of those reasons to get rid of the electronically controlled Solex carb. This is the economizer controller. As I found out, one of the previous owners wasn't overly happy with it either, as the 12V powersupply cable was cut.

It was at this point that the Comrade was granted refuge in my dad's garage and with it having moved (and thus) run for a few minutes, an oil change was well overdue. 

No nasty surprises in the oil, just old and it smelled like a bit of gas was in there. (The Weber was flooding and leaking from almost every orifice, so hardly a surprise.)

The sound it made though... a terrible knocking and rattling once rev'ed up ever so slightly. To my great relief it turned out to be the fan shroud being broken and at slightly higher revs the fan blades hit it, but rather infrequently. And so started the welding ordeal that at the time of this writing is nearing its completion.

I may have not stressed it enough so far, but I do like working on the lil' Comrade. Stuff like fitting the choke cable? Drill a hole, feed it through, install the clip and the choke cable literally finds its way to the carb on its own. 

Quick customer service photo (I may have to get back to this one at a later date myself) on what to hook up where and how the linkage is to be set up correctly. 

With the under-the-hood-area being in the process of getting cleaned up considerably, it was really about time, to address another matter (at this point the sills were welded in and the door reinstalled - it'll be in one of the upcoming posts), which was the steering wheel. Now the foam being fixed with some electrician's tape can most likely be considered perfectly up to par with how much love other areas of the car received in previous years, but then again an almost new steering wheel came in at a bit over 30 Euros...

And there it was, an incredible "smug-grin" moment. Sitting in "MY" car and for the first time enjoying the thought that the little comrade might actually end up on the road again.

It should only come as a moderate surprise that a 40 year old, second hand carb had some "slight" flaws.

This used to be an accelerator pump diaphragm...

... and this once was either the front cover of the Pravda or more likely the gasket between the halves of the carburettor. The float was working fine though.

As I would find out (a lot) later, somebody had installed two 150 main-jets instead of a 112 and a 150 in the float bowl, but hey, once it's cold enough the lil' Comrade starts up like he's due to take part in the May day parade.

The label on the side is just to make sure you don't forget where this carb was made.

And at this point, the engine was running on the internal tank for the first time. (The green tint comes from some chainsaw-fuel stabilizer that was still left in the petrol can.)

As the first attempts at driving around weren't overly successful, I followed some advice to have a look at the ignition components. Whilst the spark leads and spark plugs obviously weren't the originals from the USSR anymore, the distributor cap and finger most certainly were and when parts are cheap and available, why not give it a shot?

New parts with a significant absence of "CCCP"-markings. 

Mechanical and vacuum advance inside the dizzy.

More a testiment to the low state of tune that the engine would still run (relatively) fine, with completely stuck fly-weights and next to no ignition advance. Also, if the new finger doesn't fit, remember it has to be lifted up a bit to engage correctly with the finger.

Rather interesting to see Czech "Brisk" sparkplugs labelled as official Lada replacements. (Also they were cheaper than regular Brisk LR15YC spark plugs. 

Still, this did not solve the problem of a flooding carb and thus running stupidly rich on cylinder #3.

In case you were wondering, that's a new float valve needle, which disintegrated after only a few minutes of use.

Turns out the warning was true, you have to buy repair kits from multiple vendors as some get the float valves right and others the jets...

Another incredibly useful internet find was this table, coming from an old GDR-repair manual for the Niva and the various Lada Nova variants, outlining all the service data for Lada carbs up to approx. 1986/7 models. 

And I guess some of you may want to hear the Comrade sing the song of his people...

Unless I find something more interesting, the next post on Comrade Car will most likely be another post of epic length dealing with all (?) or at least most of the sheet metal work, the exhaust and maybe even a few modifications to the towing hitch.

Saturday 26 November 2022

Everyday TR1 - half a year in a single post

As a matter of fact, it's a pretty good sign, given the reliability of my other vehicles, if all major stuff with a bike and it's maintenance can be compressed into a single post. 

In fact only two things had to be done: First the K&N airfilter needed a good cleaning and oiling.

And secondly some time in September starting the old girl became significantly harder. Turns out that the roughly 41 year old regulator-rectifier was slowly dieing. Luckily this was roughly at the same time as when the electrics on the Dre-XT-Stück played up so I went through my stash and had found two new aftermarket regulators. Only thing with these (and even the stock one for that matter) is that the cable coming from it, is very short and thus the plug sits UNDER the engine, where it is prone to getting wet. Add about 15cm and the plug can sit behind the battery, not only keeping it dry, but also making frame separation much easier. 

Thanks to a friendly TR1-forum member I got hold of a set of (like) new steering head spoilers, after the original ones had reached the point where most of it was various kinds of glue...

Finally a new set of Superbike bars as they are commonly referred to instead of the Dragbars I had on it before were put on. Mainly as I discovered that, when riding short distances they were absolutely awesome, but sit in the saddle for three or four hours and my wrists and shoulders would let me know, what their opinion on these bars were.

As the Everyday TR1 is currently the only bike in my stable with less than two catastrophic engine failures (yes, the bar is truly that low this year), I haven't tried out the hot cams that have been sitting on the shelf for almost ten months for fear that piston to valve clearance wouldn't be sufficient at high rpms and quite frankly, as much as I have a severe crave for speed, I do need at least one bike that runs. That being said, the XT is running fine now... so might be about time to take some chances, eh?

Saturday 19 November 2022

The SR500 sidecar - some setbacks on the way to becoming a usable daily

Admittedly I haven't cranked up quite as many miles as I would have hoped, but definitely have broken the engine enough times during the Summer months, so I guess this kind of evens out. But even then a few things have come apparent: 

The clutch lever I had on there, even though labeled for an SR500, definitely wasn't and I have to find a spare brake lever, but it's this weird ball and socket setup and I have to find out from which bike the master cylinder originally was. 

The other thing that drove me (mildly) nuts was the fact that the exhaust, despite my best efforts, was rattling itself to death and leaked at the joint between down pipe and muffler at the same time. Also, I am a strong believer in touching up the welds, for optimised flow. 

Also a proper joint and not the wobbly mess I had so far did wonders just to how rigid the whole setup felt. As can be seen in the first picture, the original tube had actually been eroded away from the muffler and the down pipe oscillating at different frequencies.

Added a slip joint on the muffler, so the exhaust gasses would have to do a 180 to get out, which makes it a lot more likely to seal up without a gasket than if you put it in direction of the flow.

... and then shortened the header pipe by roughly the same amount, so one would fit into the other.

What followed were a few days of happy thumper-ing along, when my sporty ambitions came back to me (maybe somewhat helped, by rather abysmal starting at even slightly cold weather) and I decided to throw that second hand TM36 back on. Instantly a few more kph of top-speed were found, but something didn't feel quite right. 

At some point, I had a look at the mix screw and found that the actual tip had snapped of inside the carb body. Throw in a few desperate attempts to get that tip out and it was decided to do, what I should have done from the get go.

Get out my wallet and buy a new TM36 and simply enjoy it. 

Not without swapping those JIS-screws out for some stainless allen-heads. (Whilst rejetting to the same jets I used on the previous TM36.)

You may not believe this, but it took two kicks and the SR idled like... well like a bike with a carb that no one has fiddled around with.

So I fitted my elephant ears (even without snow they are super handy to get the wet and cold away from your fingers), put some fuel in my freshly painted tank and...


Removed the paint with fire (don't - I am a professional) and then repaint it with 2K-paint.

As I only had spray-can primer, I pre-heated the inside of the tank until was (very) warm to the touch, which made this whole affair doable, even though it was only about five or six degrees above freezing outside.

And that's it. Put on some wax and then find out if the new TM36 responds well to my jetting efforts or whether my timing might be off - guess we'll find out. (Oh and for those wondering, yes I am currently mostly working on the Lada, but not quite there to show some updates, as in: lot's of work, yet not quite as much to show for it...)

Little addendum: The carb setup is pretty close, starts nicely and can finally take full speed/full throttle for a while, which makes me quite happy.