Pip Higham – ‘I’ve seen enough to know I’ve seen too much’.

Retirement is a word seldom used in our humble kennel. I’ve tried it a couple of times with little success, but recently I’ve become more inclined to consider its merit.

Then the phone rang: could I hop in my van and collect a pal’s fallen scoot relaxing behind a hedge on the road to Southport. If I wasn’t busy. Sure, the hedges can wait. I retrieve the lifeless pup from its leafy sleepover and drop it off at said pal’s house. As I again pick up Black & Decker’s finest, a set of 1000 EXUP carbs appear under the gate with a brief note: “…stumbling at 3000, enjoys choke, big hole at the top end, luv Steve”.

Carb only diet for Pip in ‘retirement’.

I can sort that. With a handful of brass bits, jets, emulsion tubes etc. getting ultra-sonic’ed the phone goes, Bill (brother) has the welder in da house after lunch, and I’ve got a bottom yoke minus a lock-stop and a kit form centrestand that needs Chris’ magic touch. I weld prep the yoke and collect the jigsaw pieces, soon to be a stand and hot foot (on Bosch assisted push bike) to Bill’s.

Next morning I pop the carbs back together and get a phone call from Stuart. Can I have a glance at his Morris 8? I rebuilt the motor for the ancient Moggy a couple of years back and it’s developed a bit of a start/ stumble/stop thing. Things certainly improved when we removed vegetation from the fuel pickup. The next morning the doorbell rings while I’m still halfway through my porridge.

Young Mike is on the horns of a dilemma about the finish on his new (beautiful) Harris frame. Two coffees, three phone calls and a bit of debate and we are all set. A few days later and Mike picks up the Harris frame all bright and shiny in Electro-less nickel courtesy of Dave at Nipro.

The afternoon promises a couple of hours’ ‘me’ time, by that I mean time to lace the hoops for my latest 125, well nearly. Halfway through truing the front I get a call from Graham: what chain/sprockets for his Bandit? Hmm, OEM? Internet cheap as chips?

I suggest he uses B&C, nice people, great service. I tell him to give me a shout when they land and we’ll do the deed, I’ve got my trusty CP zip gun to make sure that front sprocket nut stays snug forever, and we’ll swap lies and generally have a laugh while we’re installing his bits. Keanwhile the hedge is looking a bit more unruly, but it’ll wait. The next few days see an interesting assortment of tasks come my way, dismantling the con-rods and measuring/ inspecting the journals on Loz’s Benelli Sei crank, fitting some bracing to number one daughter’s electric gate and making a new needle jet for one of Barry’s 50 year old Dell Ortos!

Pip hedging his bets.

People often ignore the blindingly obvious: although the slide inevitably wears on any old carb, the effect of this is unlikely to prevent the old girl from performing in a reasonable fashion. Take a look at the needle, it wobbles around and slides through the needle jet constantly all the time the engine is running. Something has to wear: the problem is that the time honoured way to measure the needle orifice (with a number drill shank) just doesn’t work.

Invariably poking a correct size drill shank into the jet will indicate that it is sized correctly: not so. Needle jets wear elliptically so although the smaller dimension is correct there will be gaps on each end of the ellipse due to the needle wobbling around in use. Get it? It’s hard to see but believe me, it’s there. What’s the fix? Change the jet, and the needle if poss.

d to make new needle jets and just sneak the orifice down from 106 thou to about 104 to compensate for needle wear. And if the need arises to richen up the mid-range a tad, a quick rub with some 1000s wet and dry on the needle will soon ease a shade more fuel in there!

Oh well, looks like the hedge fairy still hasn’t worked his magic: out with the steps and ropes and three different hedge cutters. As I’m surveying the task Dave from Nipro pulls up in the street: any chance I can pop up to his place and measure up for some new safety rails? ‘Course I can, what else would I be doing? I’m retired you know…

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