Oh yeah…the blog…I forgot about that…it’s kind of hard to write blog posts when the XS750 project is still in a million bits, much the same as last time I wrote here…I have been busy spannering in the garage through the summer but unfortunately not on the XS750.
I had lost a bit of enthusiasm for this project due to numerous things deciding to shit themselves…as a colleague at work stated today….when you started this job you had a car and two motorbikes that worked…now you have no motorbikes that work and a broken car! I appear to have picked up something of a Midas touch this summer when it comes to vehicles…except instead of turning them to gold, they end up turning to shit!
I had bought another bike to do the NC500, an amazing route around the north perimeter of Scotland, with some friends at the end of May. What you see below is my Yamaha TT600, which I have affectionately called scrambles…The TT600 is a tuned up version of Yamaha’s hugely popular XT600.
It came with several differences to its brother including slightly different engine internals (sleeved cylinder and piston), more enduro style frame and slightly different suspension set up. I had great intentions of riding this around the windy northern roads. It’s powerful, torquey single cylinder engine is well suited to blasting up hills and off-road suspension taking any rough roads in its stride (and any opportunities I could find to rip up some of the beaches!). Being lightweight, kickstart (this appealed to the kid in me) and having a spare Dakar style tank I snapped this up…it even came with a Clymers manual (little did I know this would be the most used part of the purchase). I rode the scrambler to and from work for a couple of weeks, thinking it was nippy enough but not amazing. I had put my Harley up for sale as there wasn’t much room left in the garage with two bikes, and it was ideally time to move on. It had served me well over 4 years.
Two weeks before the NC500 trip, I decided to take scrambles on a shakedown test, an 80 or so mile ride to make sure it was reliable over longer distances. Scrambles decided to throw the toys out the pram in the form of a substantial exhaust gas leak out the side of it’s cylinder…not to worry….Having only put the Harley on the market that morning, I had a back up…and off to Braemar I went. I got to Braemar and had a missed call and several emails….someone wanted to buy Thor badly. I detoured home via the prospective buyers house and ended up doing a deal there and then, even leaving Thor with it’s new owner and hitching a lift home. I was quite gutted but also happy too see it be enjoyed by someone else…I still miss that ear-splitting V-twin sound (hence the name…). This left me with a big problem…I now had one very ill motorbike that needed fixed prior to the NC500 trip…pressure on!
I set about using that handy manual to strip the engine apart and fix this issue. Speaking to someone much wiser when it comes to motorcycle mechanics, they suggested starting with trying to tighten the cylinder head bolts. The logic being that single cylinders have a habit of rattling themselves loose so this would be an easy place to start when trying to fix the leaking cylinder head gasket.
Following the detailed instructions in the Clymers manual, I was able to access the cylinder head bolts with the engine in the frame. I took Tom’s, well mine now (possession is 9/10ths of the law!), torque wrench and tried to tighten the bolts to the desired torque. two bolts were perfect, but the other two just kept spinning. These loose bolts coincided with where the engine had decided to make a new exhaust port and shit a healthy concoction of oil and semi-burned fuel/exhaust gas. it would have been too easy if it was a couple of bolts needing tightening…..
I was now in unchartered territory in terms of mechanical ability and left without a bike for the NC500 trip.
I had my trusty and not at all cheap to run or maintain Impreza wrx (called Rumble) I bought last year as a cheap run around…don’t ask (the curse of Rumble could be a book in its own right – let’s just say the amount of money that has gone into it, I could have bought the same car again…or an STI…). This proved to be an amazing back-up option to take on the trip. The three of us that went are complete petrol heads so taking a car was ideal, as the other two had their cars also. The Impreza performed flawlessly and I encourage any petrol head to at least have a shot of one at some point….that boxer engine is almost as good a sound as a V-twin…..almost ;). The stars appeared to align in terms of weather, clear roads and places we stayed on this trip as we all had an amazing time exploring the idyllic parts of Scotland. If anyone is looking for any tips on where to stay, go, eat etc then drop me a line.
Whilst I have had a spat of bad luck recently with vehicles, one thing that has continued to grow is the realisation that I absolutely love working with my hands regardless of whatever it is – Car, motorbike, furniture etc. The whole reason I started this blog was to share my learnings and to create a handy resource for like-minded people- so I will – and I will get this bike finished…please be patient…I may detour off that path now and again.
Scrambles shitting the bed has actually been a blessing in disguise because I have learned a lot more about engines than I had planned to. It has also taught me the perils of buying a second-hand bike can bring…could I have noticed this issue? Maybe…I was possibly blinded by how cool the bike looked and sounded that I didn’t notice this. I now know what to look for (and I will share these learnings)
This saga is still ongoing – to save breaking it up into too many posts, I will cover the diagnosis and repairs of the engine in the next post…which won’t have a 7-month hiatus….promise.
To be continued,