Moment in time – Against all odds | VIBE
Who: Matt Thompson
What: Getting there against the odds
When: Easter 2016
Why: I’ve started so I’ll finish
Leaving South West London in the early morning drizzle I was aware my bike wasn’t running quite as crisply as usual. Riding around the North Circular it misfired just a couple of times before I hit the A1 northbound, heading for Whitby. As the speeds increased on the A1 the engine appeared to sort itself out and was running sweet again. I pulled in at the Black Cat services just north of Bedford where I was due to meet fellow London Lambretta Club members Big Ian, Monkey Boy and the Archer. They rolled in 15 minutes later and after a quick coffee we hit the A1 with a plan of riding up to Blythe Services where we were due to meet some of the Derby & District lads. I fell in at the back and we’d ridden no further than a couple of miles when suddenly my scooter lost all power. I pulled on to a turning into a field. The scooter was still running but when I opened the throttle it spluttered and backfired. I killed the engine and immediately diagnosed the issue as damaged reeds. Panel off and carb removed, a quick two finger analysis of the inlet manifold confirmed my suspicions that one of the reed petals was knackered.
By this time my phone was ringing. The guys had pulled in a mile up the road having realised I’d dropped off the back and wanted to know if all was well? I explained the problem and told them to go on without me, I had spare reeds with me and so I’d make a roadside repair and head on later on my own.
Now getting the reed block out of my TS1 is a pain in the arse, to get all four manifold bolts out involves removing the head cowling so the rear runner had to come off, then the exhaust, rear shock and eventually the head cowling before starting the tricky task of getting a cut-down allen key in the small gap between the frame and inlet manifold. A couple of minutes later I was looking down the inlet at a Tassanari reed cage, which used to have a stuffer retaining the centre 4 petals. The petals were there but the stuffer had disintegrated and even though I had spare petals with me there was nothing left of the reed cage to attach them to. Where the hell had the cage gone? Hopefully straight out of the exhaust! This was well and truly game over, or so I thought…
So after sitting on the grass verge on the side of the A1 for an hour or so waiting for recovery I decided to take a photo of the knackered reed block and share it on Facebook, announcing that my rally was SLUK’d! Within minutes I was getting messages from people asking what the problem was and if they were able to help. By the time some hours had passed and the AA recovery driver eventually arrived to take me home an alternative plan had been hatched. Instead of heading south back to London I was being recovered to Diablo Moto in Nuneaton where Alan Terry greeted us with tea, biscuits and a brand new Yamaha reed block! Talk about a sight for sore eyes.
Within minutes the bike was on the bench and we were measuring up the new reed block to make sure it fitted. As we dropped the reed block into the cylinder and we turned the engine over to check the reed stops that the Yamaha unit had weren’t catching the piston we heard a nasty scraping noise from somewhere in the vicinity of the crankshaft. It didn’t sound good at all and on closer inspection we concluded that the noise was coming from behind the flywheel. We whipped the cowling and dust cover off to check the stator only to find that when we looked through the windows in the flywheel when we rotated the flywheel the stator was going around with it! Removing the flywheel the stator literally fell out in three pieces. All the coils had come adrift from the back plate which in turn had snapped in two and parted company with the mag flange. It was well and truly knackered, how the hell it had kept running God only knows.
Luckily I was in the right place, Al had a replacement stator and as the list of borrowed parts kept getting longer we both set to work. I was fitting the new reed block and re-assembling the head cowling, exhaust, carb, rear shock etc. while Al was cracking on with lengthening the wires on the good stator because they didn’t reach my CDI and then fitting it and strobing the timing. I’d lost pretty much the whole of the day but by 7pm the bike was back up and running and half an hour later as I left Alan it was dark, cold and Al told me I still had 170 miles left to cover to Whitby. Unfortunately within minutes of leaving Al I was lost in the Warwickshire countryside, heading in the wrong direction south west instead of north east but eventually when I did come across some civilisation if that’s how you describe Coleshill? An elderly gent pointed me in the right direction for the M42 and eventually the M1. Another detour off the M1 at Barnsley cost me some extra miles but once I’d picked up the A1M at Doncaster I was back in the game, my 57 year old Lambretta was running like a dream and as I hit the A64 the clear night sky was lit up by a full moon and I was grinning from ear to ear. There was nobody on the road but me and I was having the time of my life. On the advice of a petrol station attendant I elected not to take the route via Pickering due to a lack of petrol stations at that time of night and not really knowing the distances between them I hit the coast at Scarborough and headed up the coast road, which in the dark felt like I was riding a roller coaster. Eventually rolling into Whitby at 12.30am and falling into the first fast food shop I could find open! The 170 miles from Nuneaton had eventually turned out to be 225 but I didn’t care, I’d made it and I was having a pepperoni pizza to celebrate. Happy days!
Moment in Time
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