Log of spannering

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Here's a log of occasions when spanners have had to be lain on the venerable Bullet. Another page that may be of most interest to bike geeks like myself. Of course the bike is not as reliable as a modern one but as most effects have a cause I feel, through a sense of loyalty to a machine that has brought us so far, to offer up an excuse for most of the misadventures... Routine services have been left out.

Elefonisi, Crete - front puncture. Caused by rocky road and well worn front tyre!

Marmaris, Turkey - new head gasket. It was so exciting to find that they sold 100 octane petrol in Crete that I had to buy a tankful. The increase in the Bullet's 'grunt' was marked and then shortly after the head gasket started blowing a bit. Taking it apart to fit a new one in Turkey I realised I had forgot to tighten the head bolts after running in. Whoops.

Antalya, Turkey - new rear tyre. Left home with a smooth treaded part worn thinking cunningly I could buy a cheap one on the road. Proved right on this one and got a pretty good gnarly treaded tyre in Turkey for 20 quid. Sweet.

Antakya, Turkey - new swinging arm bearings. The swinging arm was decidedly wobbly. Took it apart and found out that it had not seen fresh grease pretty much since the bike rolled out of the factory in '55. Foolishly this was the only moving part on the whole bike that was not checked before leaving home.....

Hama, Syria - front puncture. That darned worn tyre shoulders the blame.

Hama, Syria - new tyre. Above tyre replaced with Indonesia's finest from Aleppo bazaar for 9 quid.

Hama, Syria - new piston. Hama is reading like a bit of a Bullet killing field. The bike had been rattling badly since Turkey. Decided to give it a quick top end strip. Taking the barrel off half of the piston skirt tumbled off and on to the ground. Not a lot of excuse for this except that the piston came off of ebay and was off dubious parentage and was far from fresh on leaving home. It had already gone from Lands End to John o'Groats and diced with a Vincent Comet on a track day.

Qasr Ibn Walden, Syria - new front wheel bearings. Related to above puncture. Normally I would fix my own but I was lazy and the muppet who did it tightened the front axle up way too much. 50kms later they both suddenly collapsed. We carry spares and they were fitted roadside with a tyre leaver and a heavy 'King Dick' spanner!

Aswan, Egypt - new rear shockers. The old ones were sagging a bit under the weight making the rear wheel occasionally scrape the mudguard and giving Sasch a bumpy ride! We sourced a Taiwanese pair made for a Jawa twin at 20 quid and being slightly longer they increased clearance too. A bargain so it seemed, see below...

Somewhere on the road to Khartoum, Sudan - broken rear shocker. One of the above bargain shockers snaps at the top weld after just two days but is held together by it's shroud and the pannier frame and luckily carries on more or less working.

Somewhere on the road to Khartoum, Sudan - fractured pannier frames.

Somewhere on the road to Khartoum, Sudan - bent front forks. We fall off and bend the forks. That evening a bit of brute force gets them slightly straighter but the bike is steering right in a straight line. As they still however work fine apart from that we leave well alone.

Khartoum, Sudan - new rear shockers. The defective Taiwanese Jawa shockers are replaced with a pair meant for a Suzuki TS 185 dirt bike. We have to have new bushes made to suit. They work well.

Khartoum, Sudan - clutch and alternator rotor are loose. Tightened them up. Easy!

Khartoum, Sudan - rear wheel bearings worn out. They were new when we left home but they've taken a beating so put some new ones in.

Gondar, Ethiopia - fractured pannier frames. waited until Ethiopia to weld them up as the heat in Khartoum sapped the will to do much.

Gondar, Ethiopia - bike is rattling badly. A top end check reveals that most parts are well worn but nothing seems to be actually properly worn out.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - still rattling badly and it unnerves me. Another more thorough check reveals a worn out exhaust valve. In absence of a spare a new seat is fitted. It still rattles after this but runs with more power.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - pannier frames welded up again, the last repair lasted about 200kms, this time they are strengthened.

Moyale, Kenya - pannier frames welded up yet again, it's becoming so regular that I don't think I shall mention this again.

Marsabit, Kenya - new fork oil, the first time it's been replaced on the trip - whoops. It has the dampening performance of a cup of water.

Isiolo, Kenya - puncture

Nairobi, Kenya - new rear tyre, the old one still has tread but the belting is sticking through and threatening mass punctures. Another bargain tyre - 15 quid.

Nairobi, Kenya - swinging arm thrust washers re-manufactured and fitted, it's been riding as if hinged once again.

Nairobi, Kenya - broken frame welded up, the rear subframe has fractured - probably because the pannier frames were flapping around so much on the rough roads. I had a sleeve made and then oxy-acetelene welded the frame back together

Nairobi, Kenya - new rear brake shoes, they were pretty much worn out but one had fractured too.

Msuzu, Malawi - new rear sprocket bearing.

Msuzu, Malawi - steering bearings adjusted.

Msuzu, Malawi - new rear tyre, the last cheapy was fine on the road but truly scarey off. As it happens this new one costs fifty quid and is brilliant off but a liability on. Doh!

Johannesburg, South Africa - there's been so much here that writing it all down as above will take forever. Here's a list of what you can get for a Bullet for about twelve hundred quid..... new piston, new steel conrod, the old rod was probably OK but I was a bit worried about it. New valves, guides and seats. New roller big end and crank balanced. New fork stanchions and dampers. New rear shockers. Gearbox adjusted. Both wheels trued. New petrol tank - the old tank had been treated with a sealant which had started flaking off. I couldn't find a way to remove it so fitted a new shop-soiled tank from the Joburg RE shop. New seat - the old one was badly uncomfortable and a shop soiled one was cheaper than recovering. New rear wheel and sprocket bearings. New primary chain and engine sprocket. New gearbox sprocket and drive chain. That's pretty much everything. A full rebuild and two weeks' work....

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