Atlantic Vintage TT 2002

If youíve been following some of my posts you would know that for a couple months I was planning on riding the chopper to the Atlantic Vintage TT sponsored by British Cycle Supply http://www.britishcycle.com/atlanticVintage.htm (I have no affiliation with these guys other than it being the place I buy stuff) at the Atlantic Motorsport Park with my brother, who Iíll refer to as Bep from here on out, who was visiting from Ottawa with his Triumph T100 chopper.

Prologue

Bep got here from Ottawa last Monday and weíve been spending our time working on the bikes and taking them for short test runs.  All week Iíve been fighting electrical gremlins, and as a result I was ignoring a problem that I suspected I had.  Wednesday night we took the bikes out for a ride after fixing a problem that I was having with the left side not firing. This was causing black gas to come out of the exhaust and leak out over the head, the problem turned out to be a simple one, a bad plug, once this was fixed the bike ran great. We went for the ride and after about 30 minutes my lights got really dim and the bike started running poorly, I made it back to the house and tested the battery, damn, only 5 volts across the leads, not good.  I checked out the battery and the fluid levels were way too low, so we topped it off and charged it up. We also found a connector that had worked itself loose, this connector would have prevented the bike from charging, perhaps we found the culprit.

After working on Thursday we hooked the battery up and went for another ride.  This one didnít last long, I got about 1/3 of a mile from the house and the bike died, no gas, I had asked Bep to check my tank while I took care of something else, turns out he didnít bother, even though he told me that he did and that there was a little in there, but thatís another story.  After pushing the bike the remaining 1/3 of a mile to the gas station I topped it off and tried to start the bike, nothing, wouldnít start up.  We pulled the plugs and checked them, only one was getting a spark, but not enough to start the bike. Bep went and got the truck and we got the bike home. I knew that the battery had been abused, so I resigned myself to buying a new one, but why was only one plug firing?  We quickly switched the leads coming off the points to see if the problem was with the points or possibly the condensor or coil. The problem seemed to follow the points, the condensors and coils seemed ok. By this time it was getting late and the women folk wanted us inside helping with the boys.

Friday, I go to work and my brother stays home to work on the bikes. He finds out that the problem with the points is that the washer that prevents the lead coming off the points had cracked and the lead was grounding out, an easy fix. He also picked up a new battery since the one I had didnít seem to want to hold  a charge anymore, not surprising, it had been abused and not taken care of. I left work early on Friday, making up for some late nights, and we worked on the bike some more. Bep had re-wired the bike a bit, making it much better to work with and less likely to shake something loose.  We played around with it a bit and then started testing the charging system.  I had purchased a new stator the week before and we were now getting great AC voltage out of it, to the tune of 40volts AC when not connected. The next piece was the Tympanium (a black box that replaced the rectifier and zenier diode), this is where the trouble lied, it was not converting all that nice AC voltage into a decent amount of DC voltage.  The result of this is that we couldnít charge the battery when running. By the time we were convinced that this was the problem, confirmed by hooking Bepís Mity Max (combination rectifier and zenier diode) up to my bike and checking the DC voltage again, it was too late to get a replacement.

So here we were, Friday night, nobody around here sells the Mity Max accept British Cycle Supply, and theyíre closed for the weekend.  My only resort is to call their number and leave a message that I needed a Mity Max in the hopes that they get the message before they open again on Monday and give me a call.

The Trip <click pictures to enlarge>

Saturday morning rolls around and itís raining out, but the weatherman says that itís going to clear by afternoon. I call a couple more bike shops, theyíve never heard of a Mity Max.  We hang around a bit while it rains and when it starts to let up a bit we start packing the truck up.  The plan was that Bep and I would ride the bikes and my friend Brett would follow us in Bepís truck in case of a breakdown. As you can see from the picture below, this isnít how things worked out.

The only good thing in this picture is that the roads are starting to dry up, it was still pretty cloudy, but no more rain by the time we were ready to go.  It was close to 1:00pm by this time, a slow start, but today was just the qualifying round of the races, so we werenít missing any real racing.

Once we were all packed Bep fired up his bike. We could only let it warm up for a short period on account as we were afraid the EPA was going to showing up soon to lock us all away.  Bep had also fought with a plug that wasnít firing the day before, the smoke is mostly from burning off all the crap that accumulated in the cylinder that wasnít firing during the last ride.

The plan was to stick to the smaller roads with few stops and starts, not terribly difficult accept for one stretch. During this part of the road we ended up at a red light for a couple minutes and Bep let the bike run at idle, this turned out to be a bad thing.

Once the light turned we headed off, only problem was that Bep wasnít going very fast up the hill we were on. He pulled over and we got out to see what was wrong. Only one cylinder was firing, we pulled the plugs and checked them and sure enough only one plug would spark, switched them and the problem stayed with the plug.  Looks like all that idling at the stop light fouled it.  Bepís already tried adjusting the carb to make it run leaner, and heís tried with little success to get hotter plugs, but no luck.

We promptly replaced the plug with a spare and were off again, with a much dirtier bike now that black gas had sprayed all over the side from the plug not igniting it. We made it about another 5 miles when Bep slowed down once again and pulled off to the side of the road, I couldnít beleive that he had fouled another plug this quickly.

Not a bad plug this time, he had pulled over because as he was riding he was watching the bolts holding the top of the springer on start to back out, not a good thing. He tightened them up, Brett had a piss, and we were off again.

Take note of the nice clean downtube.

We made a pit stop at Canadian Tire for a few spare plugs, just in case, and then it was all twisties with no stops for pretty much the rest of the way. Bep wasnít sure of the route so he followed behind and we made sure he didnít drop out of site on us.  It was still a damp and cloudy day, but we didnít hit any rain.  The ride to the races was probably about an hour after the pit stop at Canadian tire, not a great distance by any means, but longer than Bepís bike has gone to date, at least since he bought it as a rolling basket last summer.

We arrived in one piece, although Bepís bike was a little dirtier than when we left, the sun never came out so there was nothing to dry up the mud on the way into the park. You can see the dirt on front downtube of the bike, Bepís face and jacket had a similar look, thereís something to be said from front fenders. The place had lotís of room to setup without crowding somone if you didnít want to, and it wasnít long before some guys came over to check out the bikes.

One gent quickly pointed out the missing inspection cover for the valve guides.  Bep didnít even have a chance to look over the bike before they came over, so this was news to us, but sure enough, one of the caps was missing.  To keep it clean until he could replace it Bep put a couple peices of electrical tape over the opening, as seen in the picture.  The engines a Ď68 or Ď69 500cc T100 Tiger for those of you who are wondering.

We setup camp on the edge of the hill overlooking the twistier part of the track, the tent was on a little bit of a slope but the view was good.  The sidecars were doing there practice runs when we got there, those old sidecars (this being a vintage event) are something else, I never realized how low the driver sat in those until we walked through the pit area and saw them up close.

After relaxing for a few minutes and talking to a few people we decided to go get some grub and try to see if we can find the swap meet in order to look for anything that would get me on the rode for a ride with Bep before he had to go back to Ottawa. I had a Mity Max in mind, but would have settled for a Tympanium (although thatís what I was replacing and only had it for a year) or even the original style zenier diode and rectifier. We couldnít find anyone selling anything and even had a couple people comment on how if they knew it would be like that they would have filled their cars with parts and brought them out.  We had no luck on the parts search, it looked more and more like I was out of luck, so whatís a fella in Canada to do when things arenít looking good, have a beer of course. The rest of the evening involved telling stories, checking out what other people brought along, answering questions from all the guys who used to own a Triumph and wish they never sold it.  I donít think Iíve met anyone yet who said that they were happy to get rid of their bike.

As the evening progressed we had a few more beverages, got to walk the track, you donít realize how long it is until you stumble around it in the dark, and went back up to the pit area to look around.  We came across a guy working on a T120R for Sundays race and started talking to him about it, apparently for racing they donít bother using any kind of charging system, they run straight off the battery and then recharge it after the race.  Nevertheless, this old fella had a Mighty Max sitting in his truck, not connected to anything, problem was he mumbled something about not wanting to part with it because then heíd just have to pick up another one, fair enough. But knowing that he didnít want to part with it, I think it was a bit cruel to bring it out and show it to us. Iím standing there with a few beer in me thinking that Iím standing two feet away from the part that will get me on the road to ride with my brother tomorrow.  Itís a good thing Iím civilized.

Eventually we called it a night and for the first time in a long time I slept on the ground, the tent helped but it didnít keep out the noise of the two loaded guys about 20 feet away.  It was one of those sleeps where your not in your own bed and the night seems to drag on, although it did seem shorter than I thought when I heard one of the drunk guys say that the sun was starting to come upm so I must have dropped off for at least a couple hours.

A quick trip to the facilities, a breakfast sandwich and a hunt for the supposed swap meet is how we spent the early part of the morning waking up. Still no luck with the parts that I needed, and this old fella was the only real approachable guy in the pits, so I called up the wife and confirmed what I thought the retail price of the unit I wanted was. We walked over to his truck and I told the guy that Iíd kick myself later if I didnít at least make him an offer on the unit. Knowing it was used, but knowing that I really wanted to ride, I offered him $10 more than what it would cost me to buy it, pay taxes, and have it shipped to me from British Cycle Supply. The guy was happy to take it, I guess having the money in his pocket versus a unit heís not using at the moment made it an easy decision for him.  I was happy as a pig in shit, I was going to be able to ride, we brought the bike up on the outside chance that weíd find what I needed and it paid off, good fortune had smiled on us.  So we brought the truck up and unloaded it in front of his trailer, he asked if we wanted to wheel it into his pit area so that we could hook it up and test it out.  It was quite a site to see us working on the chopper in the middle of the pit area where everyone else was gearing up their racers, I was so happy to be hooking it up that I didnít even think to take a picture.  We made up a couple new connectors and fired it up, worked perfectly, I was now getting a decent amount of DC voltage, plenty to keep the battery charged, or run without the battery if desired.

I rode the bike back down to the campsite, and for the first time since Iíve had it, I beleive I was now riding a mechanically and electronically sound bike, albeit dirty and messy as hell. I parked by Bepís bike and noticed that we could probably do an ad for Mity Max (theyíre both mounted down by the battery boxes).  The unit itself is not cheap, so my plan is to pick up a rectifier and zenier diode to carry around with me as a replacement in the event that it craps out, itís not something I want to have to replace again if I can avoid it.

Now that the bike was running we took some time to enjoy some of the racing, pretty cool seeing the old bikes zoom around the track, but to be honest with you it turned out to be a beautiful day and all I wanted to do was hop on the bike and go for a ride.  We started packing up between races, caught part of the sidecar race and then decided to hit the road, it was probably only about 12:00 noon at this time.  We called the women folk to let them know we were on the way and snapped some shots of a couple other custom Triumphs that were there and then we were on our way.

The ride home was a great one, the roads were dry and twisty, the sun was shining and the traffic was minimal. The racetrack is in the middle of nowhere and the ride out of there takes us by lots on farmland, nothing like the fresh smell of cowshit on the open road :-) . The ride back only lasted about an hour but it was a fun ride notheless. The only mechanical issue was when I lost my back brake, the nut on the brake line (no hydraulics here) started backing out, so pushing down on the peddle had no effect.  A quick fix was to re-adjust it and then wrap some electrical tape around the threads behind it, this seemed to do the trick.  When we got home I checked the voltage across the battery, about 12.5 volts, excellent, Iím finally charging my battery, my next step is to add a brace to the battery box, currently it shakes like crazy, not a good thing for a battery according to a certain owner of a certain Triumph Chopper list.

After all was said and done I was able to accomplish our goal of going for a nice ride with my brother before he had to return to Ottawa.  It was looking pretty grim on Saturday morning with no part for the bike and the rain coming down, but it turned out to be a great weekend,  The bike still needs a lot of work, leaky petcocks, lose bolts, bad paint, and I lost the air cleaner off of it last night while riding, but all this stuff can wait until winter, including the air cleaner, right now Iím tapped financially so Iíll just enjoy it for the rest of the summer and hope nothing goes wrong with it until the cold weather hits.

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