Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wow, it's been awhile since the last update.

The cause of my previous issue was simple - I had a jury-rigged strap holding the battery in place. This strap had a metal hook which caused a short and blew a fuse. Blowing a fuse mid-stroke also did a number on one of the spark plugs. A new fuse and spark plug were all I needed to get back on the road. I also removed the metal hook from the battery strap to avoid any other incidents.

Since then, the bike has been running like a champ! Unfortunately, the riding season here in the Northeast is basically over. The weather has only been good enough to ride perhaps 2 days out of 3 weeks. Perhaps over this Winter I'll have time for two projects - installing a speedo/tach and installing turn signals. Also a horn. Although I've been riding fine without them, I'd sure feel safer in NYC traffic with them. Being able to legitimately pass an inspection might be nice too. ;)

I mentioned previously that I was working on a document which compiled the various information I've come across. I just put the first version of it up, you can check it out here. Hopefully some one out there finds it useful.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Some days, the motorcycles Gods are just not on your side. It's been an eventful few days. I started to have some issues with the idle on my bike, so I decided to try rebuilding the carburettor. Perhaps not the best idea, but a learning experience. Amazingly, I was able to remove and disassemble the carb and the bike still ran afterwards. Unfortunately. the idle was even worse! I took my bike to the local shop and they adjusted the carb, and while they were at it they adjusted my clutch and fixed my bent footpeg. Thanks guys! Works Engineering is my local shop and I highly recommend them. Along the way, I found some great resources on carbs I'll post up soon.
So this morning, I woke up to a beautiful day. And it's a vacation day. With my bike tuned up and ready to go, I was looking forward to a day of riding. Went outside and what did I find - my right side fuel line had ruptured during the night. Not only was the hose toast, but I lost whatever fuel I had in my tank. Of course, that had to be the first time I ever left the fuel petcocks open all night - and you can bet it'll be the last. A 2 mile walk, $.99 worth of fuel hose, two gallons of gas and two hours later, the bike was fixed. Now I was ready to ride. But ten minutes later I found myself stalled and unable to get the bike started again. There seemed to be a complete loss of power. Luckily, I was on a small hill and just last week I read an article about how to push-start your motorcycle. I pushed my bike down the hill, threw it in first and hit the gas..and it started! I was able to get her home under her own power. I've got the battery on a charger now, hopefully that resolves the power issue...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Well, I was right about the basic clutch adjustment being straightforward. But that doesn't mean I was able to figure it out on my own! Ha.
Even with the shop manual and the Haynes manual in front of me, I was pretty clueless on this one. Luckily the folks over at the TriumphRat forums were able to help me out. Check out this thread for a rather detailed explaination of the basic clutch adjustment. It's threatening to downpour right now but I'll take the bike out in a few days and see if the adjustment did the trick.
I'm starting to put together a document which captures the information I've come across on Triumphs so far, I'll host it and post a link here when it is further along.

Monday, September 22, 2008

After a bit of troubleshooting on the ignition path I determined the right-side condenser was bad, so I replaced it today. The right-side exhaust still expels cool air, but the bike doesn't die immediately when I pull the left plug. So I think the right cylinder is running, but perhaps not very well. A timing/valve adjustment may be in order.
This week's new issue is with the clutch. The bike always dies when I put it in 1st from neutral unless I have the throttle open a bit. Also it seems to require a couple of taps to get it into 1st, seeming to catch somewhere in the middle. Lastly, the other day it was creeping forward when I was trying to get it into 1st gear with the handlebar clutch lever fully engaged. I guess I'll try adjusting the tension on the clutch cable as that is fairly straightforward.
Ah, the joys of owning a vintage bike! Actually, it's not so bad. I enjoy troubleshooting the bike and I can still ride it around. My riding skills are improving, hopefully I'll feel confident enough to take Pearl out for a medium length trip before the riding season is over here in the NorthEast.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Houston, we have a problem. I'm pretty sure my bike is only running on one cylinder. Symptoms are cool air coming out the right side muffler, and if I pull the left side plug when the bike is running it dies immediately. Hopefully this isn't anything major and I can resolve the issue myself.
Since my last post I finally got the tank correctly mounted. I also did a bit more work towards getting the bike cleaned up, mostly spending a lot of time trying to get the spokes shining again. Soon I'll be fixing a few spots on the paint job that need attention. I'd also like to come up with something to cover the battery without resorting to the stock side panels. There may be a minor nagging issue with the electrical system. The other day I took the bike out for a spin at night and after about 15 minutes it took about 5 minutes to get it started again. I have a strong suspicion the battery isn't holding a charge well and running with the lights pushed it over the end. Some tests last weekend seemed to confirm that (the battery won't hold more than a 12.3v or so charge, not terrible but not great; load testing the battery gives results in the lower end of the acceptable range). I may end up replacing the battery and praying it's not the alternator.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I had a day off work today so I made time to install a few minor cosmetic upgrades. I reupholstered the seat, which really makes a huge difference in the look of the bike. The kits will run you about $60 - $70 USD and are easy to install - I'd say it took me about 45 minutes to complete the job. All of the rubber parts on the bike were shot so I installed new handlebar grips, new rider peg covers, a new shifter bulb, and a new rubber on the kickstart. There was a chrome bolt and washer missing on the chain case so I replaced those. I also installed a bar-end mirror on the left side since there were no mirrors on the bike and I feel a little safer with at least one. After all this, I gave the bike a good washing and a bit of polish on the chrome. What a world of difference these little things make! Last but not least, I installed a metal bar which bolts underneath the tank to hold the tank down. It also helps prevent the tank from flexing. Next projects: new rubber tank mounts and a new kill switch.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Welcome to my new blog, Triumph of the Clueless. I thought it might be interesting to journal my adventures as a new motorcycle owner. I just purchased my first motorcycle, and her name's Pearl. She's a '77 Triumph Tiger. Being an older bike, I assume she'll need regular maintenance. Unfortunately, I don't know a thing about motorcycles - hence the name of this blog. So I suppose I'll be talking about learning to ride a bike, learning about how motorcycles work, and also any modifications or repairs I make.

And now for today's trials and tribulations: This morning I woke up early to take the motorcycle out for a ride for the first time. I only picked her up 2 days ago and this is the first opportunity I've had. Also since I'm a beginning rider and I don't feel very comfortable in traffic, I wanted to ride at a time when traffic would be minimal and I could practice - Sunday morning is perfect. So at 7AM this morning I suited up and got to it. At first Pearl wasn't very cooperative, idling a bit rough and dying before I could get her moving. But after a few minutes she was warmed up and ready to go. I ambled around the neighborhood, enjoying the empty streets. My two biggest problems: stalling at stop signs and lights, and finding neutral. The combination of these two things can make for painful intermissions from riding. After about 45 minutes I felt a bit more comfortable getting the bike moving from a dead stop, but I was still having some issues. And here's where disaster strikes. I had come to full stop at a stop sign and planned to make a left turn. There was a row of cars parked on the right side of the street I was turning onto. As I began to turn, the bike started to stall out. I tried to give it a little gas to prevent it from stalling, but I was a little heavy handed and the bike lurched forward suddenly in a wide turn - heading towards the cars parked on my right. Like an idiot I jammed on the front break while the bike was turning. Of course it went down. Since I was going all of 5 mph the only damage to me was a very small scape on my knee and a bruised ego. There was however an issue with the bike - the battery was on the street about 5 feet from the motorcycle. I remembered that the battery was not strapped into the frame, so the jolt had sent it flying. I threw the battery into the frame and pushed the bike a few blocks to my apartment.

Once I got home, I had a closer look at the bike and realized I had absolutely no idea how to hook the battery back up. Under the seat was a tangle of wires, and probably about 5 or so places that looked like they could be somewhere the two leads of the battery were to be plugged into. Now if I can't figure out how to plug in a damn battery on my own, there's no chance I'll be able to do even routine maintenance on the bike. So I pulled out my handy Haynes manual and went to it. The first step was to determine if my bike was Positive or Negative earth (for the uninitiated: basically, if the positive or negative side of the battery is grounded to the frame). The '77 TR7Vs like mine were among the last to be Positive Earth - so the positive end of the battery terminal needs to be grounded. Digging around I saw a red wire dangling loose in the harness, and following it I verified it terminated in the frame. So far so good. Reviewing the Haynes wiring diagrams, I saw the Negative end of the battery should go into the Rectifier. After some difficulty, I was able to locate it - only to discover that nothing was plugged into it. If it were being used, it should also have been wired into the Alternator. I looked around a bit more and came to the conclusion that the Zener diode had been removed from the bike. What's going on here? Finally, my attention was drawn to a small box mounted behind the battery on the rear mudguard. I noticed it had several wires coming out of it. "Tympanium" was stamped on the side. A quick check on Google turned up this very helpful page. Turns out the Tympanium box is a solid state regulator which replaces the stock Lucas Regulator and Zener diode. That's good for me, as it means the bike's electrical system should be more stable and easier to maintain. Wiring diagram in hand, I went to try to resurrect my bike. I ended up wiring as follows: loose red ground wire in the harness to positive terminal on battery, negative terminal on battery to black wire on the Tympanium unit, and red wire on Tympanium unit directly to the frame. I stuck the key in the ignition and was delighted to see that the oil light came on - we've got power! There's only one weird thing - I'm almost certain that based on the conditions of the wires when I started that this is not how it was hooked up before. Hmmm...strange. But, the lights work and I can start her up, so I'm happy. I also invested $2 in a thick rubber bungie to tie down the battery. Hopefully that'll be the last time it flies out!