The glistening gearbox

Other than the obvious religious festival and the giving and receiving of gifts, Christmas is traditionally a time of feasting and as we all know, a good feast relies on lots of cooking.

After leaving the bearings in the fridge overnight to marinade in coldness I waited patiently until the coast was clear and whacked up the heat on the oven.   5 minutes later and with barely a sniff of Castrol permeating the kitchen and the old bearings were out and replaced by new ones.   As it is panto season I had a bit of an Aladdin moment thinking about new bits for old and then another more scary moment as I heard footsteps coming down the stairs.   “She’s behind you!” I thought but oh no she wasn’t.   It was the cat coming to see if there was any potential protein coming her way as the oven was being used at an unusual time.

I had very carefully dissembled the gearbox prior to the oven adventure.    Everything was lined up in the correct sequence, cleaned, placed in the correct place on the clean side of the sink (obviously I mean workbench there, sink is just what I call it sometimes) ready for being rebuilt.

IMG_1623

The way the gearbox works is there’s a big barrel with wiggly grooves in it (you may note that I am being very technical here).   There are three forks, the handles of which nestle in the wiggly grooves and the prongs nestle between the cogs of the gearbox.   When you change gear, the big barrel rotates slightly and the wiggly grooves make the forks lift or drop (depending on whether we are on an up wiggle or a down wiggle) and so the forks make different gears engage together.

I made two mistakes.

As I was carefully laying out the cleaned parts I was not quite so careful about which way round they went.   This wasn’t so bad with the cogs because it was sort of obvious (and I had a picture) but the forks are asymmetrical and I had no idea what way round they went.    I spent a jolly three hours trying them in all combinations possible until I was happy that they were correct and then carefully put everything back in the crankcase – Fellow rebuilders, do not do what the maual says and try to put it all in as a job lot.  It is impossible.   Start with the shafts and then build them up slowly from there.   It’s a bit like tetris but backwards.

This was my second mistake.   After reassembling it all and standing back to admire my clean, mouse-free, working gearbox I noticed the little white bag that contains the new oil seal for it so everything had to come out again to replace it.

In an ideal world we should be joining the cranks together this weekend.   If that happens it means that I actually managed to get my Christmas shopping completed.   Yeah, right.

Everything but the kitchen sink

There is a Japanese concept (or maybe a philosophy, or maybe just an interesting take on life) called Wabi-sabi.

It’s a bit difficult to describe and it doesn’t translate too well but it can very roughly be imagined as seeing (or maybe feeling) the beauty of imperfection.  The concept comes originally from the Bhudist teachings of the three marks of existence and is most closely associated with Anicca – everything is in a state of impermanence – The other two marks of existence are Dukkha (Nothing physical can bring lasting satisfaction) and Anatta (The illusion of self).

Curiously, the word “sabi” (to quote from Wikipedia) implies “beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear, or in any visible repairs“.   In spoken Japanese it also means rust (the kanji characters are different but the sound is the same) so in many and different (but satisfyingly pleasing) ways I think we can say that Little Project fits perfectly in with the concept of Wabi-sabi.

Don’ t tell anybody, keep it under your hat.   I had access to the (warm) kitchen again this weekend rather than the (cold) shed.   I thought I would continue cleaning up the scuzzy bits of engine that haven’t seen daylight for many a year.    Here are (obviously darling if YOU are reading this, photo-shopped) a couple of pictures of what might have happened if I had been brave enough to try and remove 30 years of grime in what should be the cleanest and most sterile room in the house…

sink Dirty

I did a really good job of clearing up and putting everything back where it should be, I even remembered to wipe the spots of oil and roadkill off the back of the sink.   The only flaw in my plan was forgetting to put the bottle of Gunk away and so was questioned “Why is this bottle of Gunk next to the sink?”.     Failed.

It is apparent that the bearings in the crank case that hold the gearbox in place need replacing so I’ve ordered some replacements that may or may not arrive any day now.   Reading the manual on how to replace these bearings it suggests the easiest way to do it is to put the new bearings in the freezer for a few hours (to make them shrink) and to put the crankcase in the oven for 5 minutes at gas mark 7 (to make it expand).   Then the old bearings fall out and the new bearings slot in nicely.  I’m not quite sure how I’m going to explain that one.

The gearbox is covered in lumps of things.  Some of it is undoubtedly ex-conrod but I fear that other bits may have had a more organic origin.   I suspect that bits of dead mouse may have leaked into it at some stage.   The gears did look like this

 gearbox

But I’ve taken them all out now so they look like a metal version of a children’s puzzle.   Little Project lego, if you will.

On the positive side I took the advice of Seat and carefully prepared my workspace so that everything will be to hand when I come to rebuild the engine.    The rather untidy bench of last week has now been transformed into a pristine example of a motorcycle workshop with everything ready for re-assembly.

Bench

The piston is my favourite bit.   I can’t remember seeing such a diminutive piston before.   It’s all shiny and completely unsullied by small explosions.

Piston 2

One day I hope it will actually go up and down in a true piston fashion, rather than with me just waving it about and going “brmmm, brmmm” to let it know how it should be working.

I am fortunate enough to be able to spend the week trying to work out how all of the gears go back into the correct position.   I’ve got them all labelled with the exception of a couple of washers that just appeared from nowhere.   I wouldn’t normally worry about a couple of washers but the manual keeps reiterating “Don’t lose the thrust washers”.  It doesn’t add “that are going to fall from somewhere whilst you are not paying attention you idiot” but I think I might write to Mr Clymer to get this added in for the next edition.

There’s a man on Facebook that has a wiring loom for sale.    In an ideal world, it will be mine before the next full moon.   Wish me luck!   In the meantime, have an enjoyable week and try to think of ways that I can cook the engine without anybody noticing.   I’ve considered suggesting that it is an avant-garde baking tray but I’m not sure that will swing.

Thanks for taking the time to visit.