Fury Project: final drive & body panels

With the snow finally falling I’ve had time to start into the naked Concours project.  The first thing that needed addressing was the final drive unit which was leaking from the inner seal.  When the Clymers manual says you can do it but it’s a big pain in the ass, it’s best to have a practised hand do the work.  I took the unit off (easily done as it’s held on the drive shaft by four bolts) and loosened all the fasteners on the inner plate.  

Two Wheel Motorsport, my local Kawasaki dealership, said they could do the work and estimated two hours of shop time and a twelve dollar seal.  I dropped off the unit and got a call back four days later saying it was done.  It was a nice surprise to find that the work took less than an hour and my $250 estimate was suddenly a $120 bill.  You hear a lot of negative talk about dealerships but Two Wheel did this job professionally and quickly, and then didn’t overcharge when they easily could have.

I cleaned out the shaft drive end and re-greased everything.  Reinstalling the unit was easy and straightforward.  With the grease holding the spring in place I was able to simply slot the drive unit onto the shaft splines and re-torque the four nuts.  Everything went together smoothly and the drive feels tight and positive.


Since this was the only mechanical issue with the Concours I was able to begin thinking about the customization side of things.  With over 100lbs of plastic and metal removed from the bike I needed to start thinking about how to minimally dress this naked machine in order to cover up the plumbing and electrics.  Having a metal shop at work means handy access to fabrication tools.  Our shop teacher is also a Concours owner and is eager to help with panel building.  He suggested I do cardboard cutouts of the pieces I need and then we can begin the process of creating metal body work.

Body work craft day in the garage.

Doing the cutouts is tricky even in cardboard.  The left side cover goes over some electronics including the fuse panel and needs to bulge outward in order to contain all of that.  The right side is more straightforward but still needs cutouts for the rear brake wiring and rear suspension adjuster.  I’m curious to see how close the metal cutouts come to the cardboard templates.

The shop at school has a plasma cutter and we should be getting a laser engraver shortly.  With such advanced tools I’m already thinking about engraving panels.  Collecting together a bunch of line drawings of iconic images and sayings in a variety of languages would be an interesting way to dress up the minimal panels on this bike.  If the laser engraver can work on compound shapes I might drop the gas tank in there and engrave Kawasaki down the spine of it where the gold stripe will go rather than looking for badges or decals.


I enjoy the mechanical work but now that the Concours is working to spec I can focus on the arts and crafts side of customization.  Next up is trying to figure out how a minimal front panel that contains the headlight and covers up the electrical and plumbing at the front will look.






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3d modelling madness

I got a Structure 3d scanner this week at work. We’re using it there for all sorts of educational activities, but I find myself painting the various Kawasaki products in my garage.

This thing costs about $350 bucks and straps on to an ipad.  You walk around your target ‘painting’ it on the ipad screen (it looks like you’re covering it in clay) and then you’re done.  Any of these motorcycle models took about a minute of walking around the bike…







It didn’t take me long to get some remarkably detailed images of the Concours












Because it’s so easy to paint an object and create a 3d model out of it, you tend to try all sorts of angles.








The scanner will also take a swing at rooms, though I’m not so good with them yet.  This is an image of the garage.  The Ninja is on the left, the Concours is further in on the right.

The file generated is basically a list of vertices connected by lines.  The sensor measures distances and constructs a 3d mesh out of them.  The result is a three dimensional image.

How could something like this be used?

You could scan a fairing or other part, get accurate geometry out of it and then modify it digitally before printing out a replacement.



I think I’m about five years away from being able to 3d print my own digitally modelled custom fairings for any bike.  The hold up right now is a 3d printer big enough to manage large prints.  What I’d really like is a high resolution Terminator 2 style Formlabs printer like the one below that’ll print up to fairing sized pieces…

Frank Lloyd Wright’s House

Lloyd Wright’s only motorbike… he designed 70 odd cars though.

What does Frank Lloyd Wright have to do with motorcycles?  Well, he designed one.  In addition to that one 1930s Harley he also designed dozens of cars, including some pretty iconic ones like the VW Mini-Bus and the original gull-wing Mercedes 300.

I went on a tour around Wright’s house, Taliesin West, in Scottsdale and was blown away by this polymath’s genius.  I’m not that sharp, maybe just bright enough to recognize genius, but it leaves me in awe.  I always end up leaving places like Taliesin West thinking that a big part of genius is just not giving a shit about what other people think.  Free from social constraints geniuses are able to follow their urges and amaze the rest of us with their discoveries.  Just don’t get too close to one.


It’s covered in soot because it belches fire…

From reading Nietzsche to wandering around the Van Gogh Museum to seeing the world Wright made for himself, you can’t help but wonder what it must be like to be that free of social expectation.  That freedom is what Wright exploits to create an aesthetic that is truly iconic and unique.

Being free from the shackles of society, Wright, like Van Gogh and Nietzsche, make a real mess of their lives.  It’s in that glorious mess that their genius is realized.

Sherlock does a good job of showing just how broken genius can be.


Our tour guide told us the story of Taliesin’s water.  They used to haul it up onto the plateau where it’s located (miles from the Scottsdale of the day).  Wright decided he wanted a well dug so he called a guy up and had him dig even though the guy had been up on the ridge before and knew there was no water to be had up there.  


At 200 feet the well digger stopped.  He didn’t have the gear to go any further.  Wright made a fuss and told the guy to go and get what he needed to go deeper.  He finally struck water at almost 500 feet, and Taliesin has had its own water supply ever since (it’s wonderfully cold and tastes fantastic).  Wright never paid the well digger.


You have to wonder how many people geniuses use and throw away in order to express their genius.  Teliesin West is a work of art that needed water and Frank made it happen, but he broke a man’s livelihood in the process.  No one remembers that though and the art lives on.  The social calculus of genius is interesting – many people continue to benefit from Wright’s genius.  The people close to him who paid for it are all forgotten and long gone.


I wish I could go back in time and buy that well digger a beer.  It sounds like he needed one.

The house that Frank built (and didn’t pay for),

 

Naked Connie: 3d modelling customized motorcycle bodywork

I’ve re-3d-scanned the stripped down ZG1000 Kawasaki Concours in order to better work out what the rear lights will look like.  You can wheel in and out and manipulate that model below with a mouse.  The scanner did a bunch of software updates which led to a much higher resolution 3d image.


I modelled it with the stock seat on with an eye to taking the pillion seat off and building a very minimal back end.  With some careful cutting I’ll be able to use the seat dimensions to figure out how best to render the rear light assembly.  I’ve been doing 2-d drawings but they don’t deal with the 3d complexities of the real thing.  I’m hoping this solves that.

Using the 3d scanner with cardboard body panel templates gives you a pretty good idea of how it will look when it’s done.


As far as electronic parts go, I think it’s time to get the lights sorted out.  At the moment I’m looking at some integrated LED head and tail lights to minimize stalks sticking out of the bodywork.

A single brake and indicator unit from Amazon.
Integrated LED headlamp from Amazon.



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A Quick Motorcycle Chain Switch

After previous experiences breaking and installing motorcycle chains I figured this time it would be fairly straightforward thanks to a good tool and knowing what I’m doing.  The Tiger’s chain had a pretty severe tight spot in it. When I set the tight spot to spec (40mm of slack), the loose part was wobbling around with twice that.  If I set the loose part to spec the tight part would rumble on the sprockets.  You could actually feel the difference in chain tension under acceleration as a surge.

The tool I got last time was quick to set up.  The blue 500 size chain pin pusher slotted right in out of the handle where it had been sitting since my last chain change on the Ninja over two years ago.

The Tiger chain is a 535 sized chain (wider than the Ninja’s, but the same pitch length between the links – the Ninja was a 520 chain).  
With the pin pusher piece in place I tightened the outer bolt with a 10mm ratchet and it easily pushed the pins out of the old master link with only mild force on a small ratchet.


With the old chain removed I spent some time cleaning up the sprockets, which were in great condition.  The front sprocket was packed with years of gum from chain lube and it took a while to get it all out, first with a screwdriver and afterwards wiping it up with some WD40.  With it all cleaned off it looked like a bit of rust had found its way onto the front sprocket.


The rear sprocket was only covered in chain oil remnants and cleaning it up was easily done.


If you’re not yahooing around and yanking on your chain like a madman all the time sprockets tend to last, especially big, beefy 535 wide ones; this bike has only been owned by gentlemen.  I might swap out the rear 46 tooth sprocket for a 47 tooth one to lower the revs slightly on the next chain, but that’s years down the road, and with the sprockets in good shape, it seemed silly to do a full switch now.

A master link came with the chain which is a bit off-putting because Fortnine immediately filled the screen with master links after I purchased the chain, which I took to mean I needed one.  I guess I’ll hang on to it, but if the chain I’m buying comes with it letting me know seems like the polite thing to do rather than encouraging an upsell.

The master link that came with the chain had an interesting process for installation.  I’m told this is quite common on bicycles now.  The master link pins have a threaded piece on the end of them.  You thread the long pins on the chain and then alternate tighten the bolts until they won’t go any further.



This snugs the outer piece of the master link onto the pins.  When you’re done you back off the nuts a few turns and then break them off with a pair of pliers.  It worked well.

A chain so new it’s still covered in the wax it was packaged in to stop rust.

With the new chain set to 35mm of sag top and bottom and lubricated with chain wax (preferred because it doesn’t make a gooey mess of things, sticks to the chain well and is also a lovely honey colour), it was time for a test ride.  A twenty minute ride in the setting sun up to 100kms per hour demonstrated all sorts of improvement.  The surging feeling was gone making the bike much smoother under acceleration.  In corners that surging could destabalize the bike, it doesn’t any more.  The new chain is also noticably quieter.

This time round I think the actual chain removal and installation took about 40 minutes moving slowly and deliberately.  The cleanup of the front sprocket was what took the most time, though it probably did a lot to quiet the new chain (not running through a tunnel of goop on each revolution has to be better).

While I had the tools out I finished the counteract balancing beads install I started earlier in the week by doing the back tire as well.  With beads now in the front and rear tires vibrations through the handlebars are gone and the whole bike is rattle free at speed.  I never really got to try them out on the Concours, but what little I did seemed to work, and seeing as the beads are cheaper than taking in tires to get balanced anyway, why not?  I’m glad I did.

The Tiger is now as arrow straight and smooth as it can be.  It was a joy to ride it home as the sun set on Sunday evening.

Escarpment Murals

A hot and sunny Sunday ride up and around the Niagara Escarpment looking for murals, though the twisty roads were the main focus…


Part 1: goo.gl/maps/QseRL6TWNhq
Part 2:  goo.gl/maps/BgC2rUvH2qQ2
293kms


The PTTR Grand Tour is going on all summer through Lobo Loco RalliesPaint the town red 2018 Grand Tour   That one is closed now, but there are many other weekend rallies going on if you’re interested in exploring long distance motorcycle rallying.  


Murals Discovered:
Grand Valley 43.898875, -80.315307



Creemore 44.326060, -80.106099



Ravenna Country Market 44.469285, -80.417343



Clarksburg  44.546531, -80.461742



Some other 360 imaging from the ride.  Made using the Ricoh Theta camera on a flexible tripod attached to the bike:

The twisty bits on River Road

In Thornbury on the shore of Georgian Bay – the temperature was easily ten degrees cooler.

Beaver Valley

A busy Sunday in Creemore.

Through the wind fields outside of Shelburne



You can learn how to get shots like this HERE.

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Haliburton Highlands Fall Colours

With the weather beginning to turn we’re in for a Canadian treat:  Fall Colours.  I think I’m going to aim for a couple of days out Haliburton way in October for a last big ride and a chance to soak up the colours.


Last time up that way I did Highway 60 through Algonquin Park.  This time I’m going to stitch together another route that is as different as possible.


Algonquin does a colour report that I’ll keep an eye on and see if we can time a couple of days up that way when the colours are peaking.  Discover Muskoka does one too.  Last year we went up to the Kawarthas for Thanksgiving (early October in Canada): 



…and it was right before the colours changed.  Only the somac was in full colour.  I’ll see if I can time it a bit better this time around at sync it up with a big last ride before the snows come.


Autumn on the Canadian Shield is a beautiful thing.

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Triumph Tiger 955i Engine Remapping

There are a number of posts on this blog about working out the kinks in my 2003 Triumph Tiger 955i,

and this is another one.  I’ve been playing with the Tuneboy engine management software that came with the bike, which works well, is put together well and is easy to use.  In working with the Tuneboy kit I discovered TUNEECU, a more open-source option for programming your own engine maps.

If you’ve never wrapped your head around engine maps, they’re not very complicated.  Tuneboy does a good job of explaining how it works in their primer that comes with their software.

Back in the day you had a carburetor that used screws and jets to set the amount of fuel that got metered into the engine.   If you changed altitude you had to start swapping hard parts (usually the jets that sprayed fuel) to keep the bike running right, and sooner than later you had to manually trim the whole thing to keep it running right.  Electronic fuel injection took that all away.  A computer under the passenger seat on the Tiger takes inputs from sensors in the air-box (barometric pressure), in each of the three injectors , the fuel pump, radiator (engine temperature) and a crankcase sensor to constantly adjust things to use the most effective amount of fuel to make the bike go.  Put another way, carburetors are a mechanical, low resolution solution to feeding fuel into an engine.  Electronic fuel injection is a responsive, high resolution fix to the problem of delivering the right amount of fuel to a motor.

Tuneboy map editor – you can change settings and tell
the ECU (electronic control unit) what to do under
certain circumstances.

A fuel map is a spreadsheet of numbers.  Sensors feed the computer what RPM the engine is turning at and how much throttle is being asked for and based on the number in the fuel map, the computer delivers a set amount of fuel.  The ‘fuel map’ is literally a map that directs the computer to deliver a set amount of fuel.  If you’re at high RPM and have just shut off the throttle, a smart EFI system will cut fuel delivery entirely, saving both fuel and emissions, something a carb couldn’t manage.  If you suddenly give the bike a handful of throttle at low RPM, the map will direct the fuel injectors to deliver an optimal amount of fuel as it picks up speed, whereas a carb will always just send a mechanically set amount of fuel based only on how much wrist you’re giving it.

In Tuneboy’s system, you can change fueling and ignition maps, and modify things like idle speeds. The issue has been that the only maps I can find for Tuneboy are the stock ones from Triumph, which were set up to favour fuel economy and emissions over smoothness and drive-ability.  Meanwhile, TUNEECU (if you can navigate their 90’s style web design and atrocious apostrophe use) offers you modified tunes that can smooth out your lumpy OEM map.


Of special interest to me were custom edits that made the list and have been on there for 9 years.  I don’t know who Deano from South Africa/SA_Rider is, but they know their stuff.  The map on there does wonders for your Tiger’s smoothness and pickup.  It might use a bit more fuel if you’re heavy handed, but the difference in motor operation is impressive and worth it.


I was unable to find a digital tool to transpose the HEX files from TuneECU into my Tuneboy DAT format, so I opened up the modified HEX file and transposed the numbers over to the Default Tuneboy 10120 Triumph engine map and resaved it.  You can find that modified Tuneboy DAT file with the TuneECU South African mode here.

Finding this stuff isn’t easy, and it’s only getting harder as these old bike recede into the past, so I’m hoping this post help you find what you need to get your Tiger purring again.  It did wonders for mine.
Even though the old vacuum pipes held vacuum, I swapped them out for some similarly sized clear fuel line I had (you can see them going from above each injector to the idle stepper motor.  The TUNEboy software also comes with a diagnostics tool (with very cool 90s graphics!) that lets you test the radiator fan, idle stepper motor (which moves up and down modulating the vacuum in that black thing to the left/bottom in the picture) and the RPM gauge.

LINKS

You can find TUNEboy here:  www.tuneboy.com.au/
It comes with a cable that’ll connect to your Triumph and is easy to get going, and comes with all the stock tunes.  It also lets you tune on a dyno, if you’re minted.  It ain’t cheap, but the minted guy who bought my bike new was, so he sprung for it and I’m still enjoying his largess over a decade later.

TuneECU can be found here:  www.tuneecu.net/TuneECU_En/links.html  Try to get past the out of control apostrophe use – they’re better at software than they are at the speaking English goodly.
The older version is free, but finicky with Windows’ old serial port drivers.  You can buy the app on the Android store for fifteen bucks, which seems perfectly reasonable.  You can then connect via bluetooth from a phone or Google tablet, though I understand you miss some connectivity that way.

It gets tricky these days finding the On Board Diagnostics (OBD) serial cable you need to connect the bike to the PC.  You can buy ’em from the UK, where people like fixing things.  CJ Designs in Wisconsin will sort you out with one too:  cjdesignsllc.com/?s=TuneECU

The modded engine maps for Triumphs on TuneECU can be found here: www.tuneecu.net/Custom_Tune_list.html

The TuneECU page goes into detail about how you might use the TUNEboy cable, but it requires so much messing around with knocking default Windows drivers out of the way and forcing others on that I wouldn’t bother (I didn’t).

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NCK Cycle Salvage

I took a nice, long autumn ride through long shadows and cool setting sunlight to NCK Cycle Salvage in Woodstock, Ontario this afternoon.


Google Maps was determined me to walk me through the middle of Kitchener-Waterloo in the middle of rush hour and then along a 401 covered in construction.  I forced it to route me around the population and construction, which Google Maps took to mean sending me down increasingly small back roads until I was riding through a deep, dark forest tinged crimson with fall colours on a rutted, dirt road.  I think at one point I was being chased by a pack of wolves, but hey, I never once sat in traffic.

I eventually wound my way down to Woodstock and found NCK in the west end of town in an industrial estate.  I used to do a lot of work on cars, so  I was expecting something like a breaker’s yard with bikes laying out in the weather.  I was once told by an old motorcyclist that bikes don’t last well in the weather because, unlike cars, they don’t have a cover;  NCK agrees with that biker wisdom.

I was worried that the carburetors I was picking up for the Fireblade project were going to be rusty and nasty, but instead they look almost brand new – far better than the battered carbs the muppet who owned the Honda before me had molested.


I was surprised at how organized and dense NCK’s layout was.  Nathan, the son of the original owner, is in the process of taking on the family business which has been running in Woodstock since the early ’90s.  He took me on a quick tour and explained NCK’s process.  They dismantle and warehouse parts as bikes come in.  I asked about the lack of European bikes, but Nathan said they tend to either be repaired or written off, whereas Japanese bikes are more common and less expensive, so that’s where the spares market is.  They often get bikes from dealers who don’t want an inexpensive bike cluttering up their showroom.  Where possible they sell the bike on complete, when it isn’t possible they dismantle the bike, check the parts in to inventory and keep everything organized in their dense, 5000+ square foot warehouse.  That inventory system is what allowed Nathan to immediately get back to me with confirmation of the parts I needed when every other motorcycle salvage operation in Ontario was radio silent.

Support a local business indeed!  Nathan is the second generation running NCK out of Woodstock, Ontario.  If your only experience with junkyards is piles of rotting cars in a field, NCK will show you how it’s done efficiently and with the needs of motorcycles front of mind.  This ain’t no field of rusty wrecks.

Since it’s all inside, you’re not getting rusty, rained on left overs and the parts look like they’ve actually been looked after (because they have).  We had a walk through the warehouse and I got to see the next project they’re working on, an originally painted mid-70s Yamaha air cooled big twin.  It was already in shockingly good condition (the old fellow who owned it lost his storage and had to move it on), so now it’s at NCK getting some TLC.  You can tell this is as much a labour of love as it is a well run business.


If you love Japanese bikes and are anywhere within a stone’s throw of Woodstock, Ontario, you owe it to yourself to drop in to NCK Cycle Salvage and have a look around.  If you’re working on a Japanese bike, this place could save you a pile of money.  I got the ’97 Fireblade carb for $250CAD (they are going for $250US+shipping+customs on eBay).  When I was sourcing new parts that the muppet who butchered the carbs before me had broken – strange parts like choke plungers (not even sure how you would break one of those) or carb clamps (because this goof had tried gluing them to the engine!), I was quickly running up a bill into the hundreds of dollars US, plus shipping and border taxes – and that’s even assuming I could find the parts, many were not available.


A nice ride through the countryside on a sunny, autumn afternoon and I’ve got a donor carb that looks to be in even better shape than the low mileage one I was looking for parts for.  What I was going to use for parts I’m now swapping in.  I’ll take the old one apart and sell off the pieces.  I’m only a couple of online sales away from breaking even on the carb purchase.


I can’t recommend NCK enough – they know what they’re doing, do it well and if you’re looking for parts for an older Japanese bike, they might not only save you money, they might be the only ones who have what you need!


Maybe it’s just me, but a place like this scratched an aesthetic itch.  That’s a lot of Japanese colour to take in!

Where possible, and especially with older bikes, when a good tank comes in it gets special treatment.  Wherever possible they try and keep the tank and paint as original and unblemished as possible.

Fairing bits that might simply not be available any more, or cost you as much as the bike did in a dealer…

Little bits, big bits, mechanical bits; organized and accessible.

Fenders… so many fenders.  Got a cafe project?  These aren’t so dear that you’re afraid to modify them.

NCK also offers a purchase and store option where you can buy a used bike in the fall and pay it off over the winter while it sits in heated, safe storage in the warehouse – no extra charge.  Nice, eh?

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Motorcycle Carburetor Rebuild Part Eleventy-Seven (airbox boots)

The carburetor rebuild grinds on.  It took the better part of a week to get the airbox boots in, and when I opened the bag they came in I’d been charged for four but only got three.  I tried contacting Two Wheel Motorsports to ask if the fourth boot was sitting around there, but they didn’t get back to me.  

The Concours uses two types of boots to connect the carbs to the airbox and one of the old ones still had pretty good flexibility in it, so I used the three new ones and the best of the old ones.

I tried for the better part of two hours to get the carbs mated to the airbox properly with the stiff, old airbox boots without success.  With my home-made hooked screwdriver (to slip the boots onto the intakes) it took about ten minutes of adjusting to get a good seal on all four carbs.  If you’re doing an old carb rebuild, buy some new airbox boots, it’ll save you a  lot of frustration and swearing.

The old airbox boots look rough, but the real issue is that the rubber has hardened over time and no amount of heat will soften them up.  The new boots were supple and easily went on the carb air intakes with minimal fuss and bother.
I pay for four and get three.  Fortunately one of the old ones was still pretty supple so I could reuse it.
Ten minutes and the carbs are back in place.  Get new airbox boots if you’re rebuilding an old carb!