August 17, 2009 GMT
Biting The Bullet

Went to the dentist the other day. Was due a checkup anyway, but common advice is to have your teeth checked before a long trip to far-away places.
The man with the big drill and pliers persuaded me to have the remains of a tooth removed. A large piece had broken off of it about 8 years ago.

“A direct off-road route for bacteria straight into your jaw!” he said.
So he wriggled and jiggled with his pliers, surprisingly gently, and announced, “All done!”
Unbeknownst to either him or me, the tooth had broken into three pieces. The bit remaining in my jaw was split in two all the way to the base, so came out easily.
Wonder how that happened?
Anyway, his conclusion was that any passing bacteria had had a full-blown dual-carriageway route into my jaw, so removal was a job well done.

So, it was just as well that I had bitten the bullet a few days earlier, and decided to rip the gearbox out of my TTR. Barely six weeks before departure. As I rose from the torture chair I surveyed my dentist’s operating area, and tools area, so that I could clean and arrange my garage similarly before starting this most major of motorbike heart surgery.

I had been agonising for almost a year over the tiny, but relentless, increase in gearbox whine. Was it really getting louder or was I paranoid? I hovered between the two. My old Serow had a gearbox whine, but it was constant and went on for thousands of miles, between the Artic Circle, home, and the south of Spain. Never giving trouble.
My old Ducati 900SS Desmo also had a whining gearbox, slightly more sinister-sounding, so years ago I whipped it out and replaced the top gear pinions. I never took too much notice of those Ducatisti who insisted that only a Trained Mechanic could work on those engines. Especially, after having had Trained Mechanics work on my Ducati during its warranty period, I arrived at Brands Hatch one day (after a service in the Hands of a Trained Mechanic) to find half the oil merrily pumping out of the oil-cooler union, which said Trained Mechanic had failed to tighten.
The gearbox job on my Ducati was successful, even in my archetypal back-street garage with no electricity, and the repaired machine carried two of us to Istanbul and back in double-quick time and many more journeys subsequently, including many (uneventful) laps of the Nurburgring.

So I stopped agonising, tidied and cleaned my garage, removed TTR engine from frame and removed gearbox from engine. All straightforward.
Fifth and sixth gear pinions were well and truly ‘shot’. But more worryingly, the threads on the output shaft, for the sprocket nut, were also ‘shot’. Or flattened, to be precise. Someone must have used a six-foot pole to tighten that nut at some time in history.
Own up now, whoever you are…….

Lots of zeros after the pound sign loomed, but a second-hand bottom-end was for sale from a source that seemed to have a good reputation. And the innards from that, now in my garage, all look OK.

So here we are:

Replacement gearbox shafts on the operating table.
Pages from MotorCycle Monthly spread out to prevent the spread of MRSA.
NHS Hospitals, please note.

And the patient, still on the ward:

Honda Dominator behind keeps the patient company, but confuses the picture.
Yes, this is a TTR with no engine.

The surgical team (me) now only awaits the delivery of oil seals, gaskets and circlips to enable reassembly to commence. So please, Mr Yamaha, if you read this, get your deliveries to Whyteleafe as soon as you can. Tomorrow would be excellent.

Posted by Ken Thomas at 07:23 PM GMT

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