Monday 26 December 2016

A Short Tale

So, one sunny July evening Mr. Piston was enjoying a nice trip along the wonderful roads of The Isle Of Man, just outside Castletown to be precise.

He was feeling rather good, going up and down, and all was good with his world.

He could hear his next door neighbour doing the same, and it was a nice feeling that he was flying along one of his favourite roads, doing what he was designed to do.

There he was lost in his own little world when he got an unexpected surprise.

It was Mr. Valve.

'Hi,remember me, Mr. Valve, you said if I was ever passing to drop in.'

And drop in he most certainly did, at about 14,000 rpm.

I finally got to strip the head and piston out of my 400 engine that went pop at this years Southern 100, and this is what I found.

A bit of a mess, to say the least.

So now starts the rebuild, and as it's apart I will try and squeeze some more power from her, seems rude not to.

Luckily I have quite a few spare engine bits as they are starting to become harder to find, but have enough for a couple more rebuilds.

It's a shame as there was talk of running a 400 class at The Classic TT next year, but that isn't going to happen, but am sure there will be a 400 class on the roads.

Luckily I enjoy rebuilding engines so it will be no hardship.

Some bits are already being prepared so I will update as we move along.

So with Christmas over, it's back to the garage for me.

Have a great New Year and am already looking forward to the new season, just hope I will be ready for it.


Friday 28 October 2016

Fun With Fibre Glass

Well it's all been busy here at Black Dub HQ, and for a change it's not involved spanners and oil, but fibre glass.

I picked up a GSXR fairing off 'the bay of e', but it was in quite a sorry state, hence why I got it for £35.

The seat unit was ok, it just needed a few holes filling and new ones drilling to mount it onto the Mini Twin. The top fairing was a bit bashed about, so just needed a few cracks filling and making pretty, but the belly pan was in a bit of a mess.

When I collected it the guy said he didn't know which model Gixxer it came off as it was fitted to a Kawasaki when he got it.

As such whoever had fitted it had cut the belly pan down the middle and loped the rear end off it.

Now to be suitable for racing, the belly pan has to hold the contents of the sump, in the event of it leaking, so a lot of work had to be done to make it water tight again.

Luckily my Dad is a trained boat fitter, so what he doesn't know about fibre glassing isn't worth knowing.

As a kid my Dad was repairing a boat he had bought, so I remember many a day helping him mixing resin and laying fibre glass. This is also where my love of the smell of fibre glass came from.

So with the knowledge I had I set about fixing the fairing.

Ideally I would've had a mould to work from, but no such luck, so had to build it free hand.

After purchasing an industrial size amount of matting and resin, a hefty £15, I started to work out how I was going to tackle this.

Firstly I made 3 pieces of fibre glass sheet by laying the matting on a piece of glass, so I would have a nice flat side. So the resin doesn't stick to a mould, you should use a special polish, I found Mr Sheen works just as well.

The sheets turned out fine, but I realised that attaching them to the fairing would be a pain, so it was back to the drawing board. After a chat with my Dad I realised I could cut one big piece of matting, attach it to the fairing and then use my glass mould technique to make the sides and the bottom of the belly pan.

So over 3 evenings I managed to mould the two sides and the bottom in one piece. This just left the end piece. Luckily I hadn't thrown out the 3 bits I had made earlier, and one of these, when cut to shape, fitted perfectly. It was then just a case of attaching this to the belly pan, which was simple enough.

With it all dried, and as one piece I offered it up to the bike, and with minimal fettling, it fitted great.

There is a lot of making good needed, but that's ok body filler is quite cheap.

Overall I'm really pleased with the way it has turned out. It's not great but does the job, and once painted, you'll never notice it.

Now it's just a case of fabricating some brackets to hold it on, and job's a good 'un.

So it's back to the garage for me.


Saturday 8 October 2016

Thruxton 8th October

Hi all

Well this must be a record for me, an update on the same day I raced. Oh the joy of racing at a circuit 10 minutes from my house.

I thought I was for an early start today as the entry form said that scruitineering was from 0700 to 0800 race day. Luckily on the final instructions I found out that I could get all this done, and sign on the day before between 5 and 7pm, happy days, a lay in.

So I loaded the van and set off for the circuit yesterday evening shortly before 5. I was back home, tucked up, before 6, result.

This morning we awoke to a dry but chilly day and set off for the circuit. By 8am we were ready to go, so just waited around until first practice just after 9.

This is where things started to go down hill.

I haven't raced at Thruxton for 20 years, and although it still goes the same way, I'd forgotten how flat and barren short circuits are. No trees, lamposts, buildings to judge anything by, so it was a real wake up call and took some getting used to.

The bike went well, but didn't feel too stable and after practice had a good look over her.

Nothing had come loose, there was nothing missing and no leaks, so all was good there.

I paid particular attention to the front end, but could find nothing untoward apart from the headrace bearings which needed a slight tightening, which I put down to bedding in.

During the first race the steering got worse, so decided to pull in rather than trying to ride around the problem.

Upon inspection I could find nothing wrong so set off to get some expert advice.

Luckily I found Will from JHS Racing, who specialise in tuning SV's, the guys I got my crank from. He set the suspension up as best he could but said that what I had wasn't really up to the job.

I went out in the second race and to start with she felt a lot better, but as the race went on and the suspension worked harder the oil in the forks and shock absorber, got warmer and thinner, so the problems started to reappear.So again I pulled in rather than risk a coming off.

So despite not finishing either race the day was somewhat of a success as it was really a shakedown to see if the bike was ok, and by and large, she was. All the work I did on the engine seems to have been ok and she held up well, but sadly the bolt on suspension needs some more work. Still I would rather find out now than at the beginning of next season, as at least I have the Winter to get the suspension looked at, in readiness for next year.

So rest assured I have already started one of my famous lists, but luckily, it's not too long, for now.

As you can see she looks pretty good, not a great colour match for the tank and fairing, but the rest looks pretty neat, and was certainly not the worst looking bike at the meeting.

Luckily I was given number 42, the number I was given by North Gloucester, as it was then, over 20 years ago.

Sadly that is my season over now. I can't believe how fast it has gone, but it has been a short one for me this year, especially with Killalane being cancelled.

But all being well, I will be back out next year, as still have my passion for racing, so hopefully the long cold Winter months spent in the garage will fly by and I will be up and ready for next year.

I will keep you up to date with whats happening in between now and next season, so please keep checking in for updates.

Until next time, stay safe


Friday 23 September 2016

Remember Me?

Hi all,

It's been a while, just been really manic here.

So what's been happening?

Well Skerries and Southern 100 were the main things obviously.

Skerries was a wet and wind affair. 400 went well, but the Supertwin races were a case of changing between wet and dry tyres, and usually me ending up with the wrong ones.

John was my help for Skerries, and he later claimed that he'd never changed wheels so many times in his life.

The second Supertwin race was a washout, and after the sighting lap I decided that as I had The Southern the following week, I'd rather save the bike for then, rather than drop the bike and having a lot of work to do before racing started. The race went ahead but the following Superbike race was cancelled, so felt I made the right decision.

Shame as the bike felt good after the work I did over the Winter and looked great with her new fairings painted and fitted.

As you can see she's looking good, you can also see how windy it was by our neighbours awning.

The more eagle eyed of you can see a new name sticker gracing the screen. Thanks to Shuffy for designing it for me.

The 400 went well, but I went out on wets on a dry track. I was later told that you could see her moving around a lot coming out of corners, and I just thought it was me.

I went over to The Isle Of Man and had a week 'off', basically it was a week working on bikes, but out of a different garage.

This bits a long story, so get a coffee.

Earlier in the year I got a given a SV650 after Gordon's son ran it out of oil, he thought it was the cam chains making a noise.

So I decided to turn it into a minitwin to use on short circuits to get more track time.

Before I went to Skerries I started it up to see how bad the damage was.

On tick over she sounded ok, but open the throttle and it was a different story. To replicate the noise, first get a sturdy bag, fill with spanners, then put it in the washing machine, get the idea?

So I decided to take the engine in the van over to The Island and strip her down to see what damage had been done.

Upon our arrival John and I stripped her down, and was greeted with a mess, but could've been worse and damage was limited to the crank and rods, so project minitwin was go.

Southern 100 went well, great organisation and good weather made it a great week.

Sadly I blew up the 400 engine in the first race, when a valve broke.

Luckily I had a spare 400 engine in the van, as you do, so Steve and I set about swapping the engines over.

Engine swap went well but on the first lap the clutch cable came adrift, so that was race two out the window too.

Supertwin went well and had some good races, despite getting a puncture, luckily just as I came back into the paddock.

Next up was Killlane, which sadly was cancelled, two days after I booked my ferry, which lost me over £200, but can't be helped.

So that was a very short roads season this year, but onwards and upwards and I'm entered to race at Thruxton on 8th October.

I haven't raced at a short circuit since 2006, and I last raced at Thruxton in 1996, sure it still goes the same way though, so is going to be a big change for me.

The bike though, is looking good, but still loads to do according to by ever present list.

Hopefully getting her finished won't mean too many more late nights and I will have a good run round.

I'll try not to leave it so long until my next update, and if you are at Thruxton come along and say hello.


Monday 18 July 2016

Southern 100 On TV

Hi all

Just back from almost 3 weeks away, firstly Skerries followed by Southern 100.

Will write up a full report once sorted out, but just to let you know highlights of Southern 100 will be on ITV4 Wednesday 20th July at 8pm.

Keep an eye out for number 99, as that's me.


Thursday 5 May 2016

Tandragee & Cookstown Race Reports

Hi all

As always apologies for delay in an update only the last few weeks have been flat out rebuilding my supertwin, which has been a nightmare, but am getting there.

So before I knew it I was loading the van for my first races of the season.


We arrived at Tandragee and had to be towed into the very wet paddock, not a great start. Once we set up the bikes were of to be checked over before getting the all clear to race.

Sadly the 400 had to have an engine case protector made, luckily I keep all sorts of odds and ends in my 'come in' pile in the van, and a it wasn't long before we had one made.

Practice went ok, with a few teething problems, mainly due to the bikes having been laid up since Killalane, some 7 months earlier.

I did get black flagged in one 400 session as oil was leaking onto the exhaust, a case of a bolt coming loose and nothing more serious, or expensive.

Saturday arrived nice and dry, so was looking forward to the racing.

I was out first in the Junior Support race on my 400. I usually race my 650, but as it's still in bits took the 400 out instead. Which made the fact that I was keeping up with a couple of 650's even better. I also found out later that I'd beaten my personal best lap time by 7 seconds, which is some doing.

600 race didn't go so well and I pulled in as the bike was spluttering and wasn't pulling full revs, but I still got some valuable miles under my belt.

I had another good dice in the 400 race and then it was time to pack up and head to Cookstown for racing the following weekend. 

We had a week between races so we had a good look over the bikes, which resulted in both bikes running a lot better the following weekend.


The weekend didn't start of great as the fork seal on the 600 started leaking, so she was put back in the van where she sat for the weekend as I didn't have any spare seals with me, that and I hate changing fork seals in my garage, so didn't fancy doing it in a field in Northern Ireland.

Still the 400 sailed through, but we had to wait until late in the day to actually practice. We got out once and then waited until last knockings only to be told our practice would be held on Saturday morning.

Saturday started off wet at some places around the circuit, which wasn't very confidence inspiring, still we had been told weather would improve, so fingers crossed for that.

Had two really good races and once again improved my fastest time around the circuit on my 400 by 5 seconds, so still improving, and more importantly enjoying it.

Am back home now and once the SV is sorted I'll be getting ready for Skerries in early July, can't wait as missing it already.

So until next time, take care


Saturday 12 March 2016

Spot The Difference

Hi all 

Here's a little teaser for you, can you spot the difference between the two photo's below?

Give up? Well I have to say it's not that obvious,but the answer is about 2 bhp, that is according to Slick.

For those not intimately familiar with ZXR400 engines, it's the fixing for the oil filter, which I have been told that with the oil way removed from the end, hence the difference, and the fact I don't use an oil cooler, allows the oil to circulate better and means I am using all the oil in the sump rather than losing what is directed towards the oil cooler.

And according to Slick this means another couple of horse power, which is good, plus I've saved a bit of weight too. So all good news, and even better was free.

If only all hp gains were that cheap.

SV is coming along nicely with the engine back in the frame and various other odd jobs have been done. Am now working on removing the dents from the exhaust before refitting so I can get on with trying my new fairings on for the first time.

Hopefully this won't be that far away, and will update you as soon as I can.


Tuesday 23 February 2016

Quick Update

Hi all

Been a while I know, apologies for that.

I recently caught up with my SV at my Northern Irish base and was greeted by this

Yes the Moneymore post office had been working hard delivering various parcels, it was like Christmas, only the wrapping paper wasn't too festive.

Lots of nice bits to stick on my SV. These included a new front end, a lightened flywheel and some cylinder heads which Slick Bass, he of Foggy fame, had done some work on.

As you can see my SV was in need of some love after my Killalane off.

The biggest parcels were a complete front end which I bought from a guy on the SV Forum. I don't need a whole front end just the forks, but at the price it was worth taking the lot.

First job was to put the new forks in so I could move the bike around. With this done I set about fitting new piston rings as wasn't sure when this had last been done.

All was going well until I found the rear cylinder had some surface rust due to a leaky roof in the shed. I mean what are the chances of putting the barrels under the one place the roof leaked?

I've now got to see if this is still ok to use or if I have to source a new one.

As time was running out over there, and my van needs an MOT, believe it or not an MOT issued in Northern Ireland is not valid in the rest of the UK, I had to bring the bike and van back home.

So I now have my bike back and plenty of time to work on her, just as well as Tandragee is rapidly approaching.

Am really looking forward to getting started on the engine as I find rebuilding an engine strangely therapeutic,I must get out more.

Hopefully my next update will be with the engine assembled and back in the bike.

So until then, take care