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Thumper Diaries

About the blog

This blog is to be a diary of our activities and the trials and tribulations of owning a Royal Enfield Bullet 500.

For spares and such, I normally go to Hitchcocks Motorcycles

For a complete log (linked index) of all the posts in this blog, go here: Diary log

Removing the Dent

Maintenance Posted on Wed, August 31, 2016 19:26:03

I was forced to step off a while back. By a female jogger who had made herself deliberately deaf to the traffic by using ear-buds and blind by looking at the indispensible iPhone in her hand. She ran out in front of me and I was forced to drop the bike to avoid wiping her off the face of the earth. Luckily, I wasn’t going that fast.
The resulting contact with the road wasn’t too bad but my left knee caught the tank and left it with a sizeable dent. That was two years ago. Here’s the offending blemish.

Finally annoyed enough to do something about it, I decided to consult a professional. Not easy, because the body shops are good at cars but are, for some reason, unwilling to take on bikes. I finally found a newly started business and approached them. Reluctantly, they agreed to take on the job. I met up at ten in the morning and waited for the youngster to have a look at Thumper’s dent. “I’ll try.” he said.

I explained that I had seen a hot glue puller thing on the TV. He agreed that would do the job and so he got started. “My first bike.” he explained. “I know.” I said. Reassuring him that I knew the risk involved and would hold him blame free in the event of a catastrophic failure of the paintwork, he applied the glue and the tap and got to work with the puller.

Two minutes later and the dent was gone. He then got to work with a dorn and a hammer and dressed the area around the now non-existant dent. The result was about as close to perfect as anyone could get. The dent is gone for ever. Here’s the result.. Nothing to see.

There are those who would try to do this as a DIY project. There are kits that can be bought and there is also a process of heating the area and then rapid cooling with compressed air. I’m sure some will have had some success with this. I tried the heat and cool thing mysef but it didn’t get the dent out despite my concerted efforts.

In the end, I’m glad I went to a pro. We both learned something and, for him, my money is as good as the next mans. Maybe they’ll take more bikes now.
My sincere thanks to the young man who did the job. He’s a clever lad. I hope the business does well.

Crash bars

Customisation Posted on Thu, March 10, 2016 12:58:27

The one thing you hope you’ll never need.

I ordered a wrap-around type, mainly because I liked the look of the thing. It came complete with a fixing kit and no instructions. I suppose these things should be self explanatory. Here’s a picture of said kit, in all it’s glory, laid out as I think it should be.

I think I am missing a couple of nuts and bolts..

The two long brackets fit to the lower end of the frame. The bent bits at the top bolt together and pinch the frame just beneath the fuel tank. Don’t forget to release any cables from their plastic ties before you put this on.

Now one needs six hands but has only two. Which is frustrating to say the least. The trick is to mount the brackets and not tighten anything up. Juggling with the ‘u’ bolts and the brackets is not easy but gradually tightening the grip as you go will eventually pay off. Centre the whole shooting match up before finally tightening all the nuts.

Re-tie your cables.

Clean up and put the tools away.

I had to move my pump but found a spot on the crash bar where I could re-attach it.

All in all, I’m happy with the result. Now I only have one worry. The shed door isn’t exactly wide. I have to wriggle Thumper out and more so on the way back in. I hope there’s room enough..!!

Here’s a picture or three.. OK, the second one isn’t very clear but I’m sure people will get the gist of what’s going on.

Re-wiring the GPS

Customisation Posted on Fri, February 19, 2016 01:27:36

I know. I’ve already done the GPS thing. But I wasn’t happy about the wiring arrangement. It worked OK, but I didn’t like the thought of having it hooked directly to the battery, albeit with a switch between the two. I needed to find a wire to ‘T’ into that goes ‘hot’ with the ignition. The headlight nacelle is a birds nest of wires and I didn’t want to go in there. I’ve wrestled with this over the past year or so.

Then, a revelation!

Reading a post on the Royal Enfield forum, some bright spark pointed out that the horn goes hot with the ignition. That wire is easily found. Actually, there are two wires to the horn. One is live and the other is an earth, which goes to the horn button. Two minutes with the multimeter and I’d identified the one from the other.

I stripped out my original GPS set-up and simply re-routed the cable down the front of the frame and cut to length plus a bit. I clipped the horn wire and married the two ‘hot’ wires in a cable clip.
Obviously, this can’t be done on the earth side, otherwise the GPS would only work when the horn was being sounded, so I needed to find a good earth connection. Luckily there is a threaded end of a bolt protruding from my crank case so a simple connector could be placed there. Not being able to buy such a thing, I made one from a piece of thin steel plate and set it fast with an 8mm nut.

All connected up, I placed the GPS in its cradle on the bike and turned the ignition on.
Success! All works as it should.

I’ve since covered the connectors with shrink wrap. Looks really tidy now.

Here’s a few pictures of the wiring..

High Output Alternator

Customisation Posted on Fri, September 04, 2015 18:13:18

I was having problems with holding charge in the battery while out riding. I believe it is the result of having fitted electronic ignition and then adding a GPS. The problem really started with the addition of the GPS, which drains the battery within 35 Kilometres of leaving home. Switch it off and all is well. So I reckon the electrics were running at full capacity and the GPS was the tipper. After much deliberation, I decided to fit a higher output alternator. Beefing up the DC side can only be a bonus anyway, so the decision was made.

I found one in the Hitchcocks catalogue. Lucas. Stator and rotor. Expensive but necessary I thought. I ordered it.

I did some research. I’ve never refitted an alternator. I found a few video films on Youtube and asked around on the Royal Enfield forum. Feeling fairly confident, I set to work.

The footpeg and footbrake lever have to come off. Then the primary cover. The oil spill is spectacular. There is no drain plug on the primary so the cover comes off and the oil, well, ATF, just pours out along the entire length of the case.

I locked the primary chain in place with a block of wood wrapped in an oily rag. It’s easy, just rest the wood on the inside of the primary chain and turn the big nut holding the rotor in place. This action jams the wood between the chain and the sprocket at the clutch end and the whole thing locks up. I carried on and unscrewed the rotor. Then the stator. 3 nuts and don’t forget the washers. Then I disconnected the wiring from the loom and eased the wires out of the primary casing through the grommet. The stator can now be pulled. And then the rotor.

Time for tea and a fag, I thought. One has to nurture the inner man.

Duly revitalised, I returned to the shed and mounted the rotor. Again, use the wooden block to jam up the works and tighten the retaining nut. There’s a spring washer under that nut holding the rotor in place so give it no mercy and really get a good purchase.
On to the stator.
A note here. The high output stator from Lucas will require the OEM spacers on the mounting studs to be in place. I saw a video where the spacers had to be removed from the mounting studs due to the thickness of the stator.
I had also measured the diameter of the rotor and the internal diameter of the stator. The difference is 0,5 mm. Which means that one has 0,25 mm clearance all the way round. Not much to play with. Luckily, The Lucas stator has soft plastic or rubbery cushions fitted in the bore on either side of the pick up blocks that are the stator. So you don’t have to fiddle with feeler gauges. Smart. Mount and fasten the nuts and washers.

The wires leading from the stator should be on the outside and at the top. If you didn’t get that right, take it off and do it again. Then feed the wires out through the grommet.
The hardest part of that was getting the cable sheathing through the grommet. This required more tea and a little profanity. The truly frustrating part was, that the connectors on the wires were of a slightly larger size than the originals, which means one has to expose the female connectors and prise them open slightly to get a fit. Not easy with a confined space to work in and hands like shovels. Finally, it all fitted and the connectors were covered.

So far, so good. More tea, a smoke break and pat the dogs who had been following my progress with great interest.

Back to work then. While I was there, I adjusted the primary chain tension. Easily done and the primary case was off anyway, so why not? Cover on, brake pedal on, footpeg on. Then fill the primary with ATF and clean up the mess and tools.

Job done, I decided to start the machine. Thumper fired up on two kicks. The headlight works, the indicators work. I measure 13.2 volts at the battery at running speed. All seems to work.. Success…

..except the brake light and tail light. There is power to the brake light but it is weak. The tail light refuses to shine.

I’ll have to investigate… Oh, the joys of owning a Royal Enfield.


Update: 06-09-2015

I found the problem. Just a loose earth connection to the rear light. I loosened it off, gave it a wriggle and, hey presto, I have lights again. This will need a more permanent solution later in the winter but it works for now.


A Trip to the Swedish Woods

Travels Posted on Tue, September 01, 2015 23:07:04

And a night in a hammock..

I’d been planning a trip out with Thumper for a long time. I’d even found where I wanted to go so it was only a question of weather. Finally I could see two days of sunshine on the horizon so I packed my rucksack and saddled up and set off to the North.
Getting to Sweden from Copenhagen is easy enough. You take the bridge. OK, there’s a tunnel involved in the trip too but that’s the easy bit. Crossing the bridge is the hard bit. Well, it is if you are travelling directly into a stiff breeze from the East and travelling uphill to reach the apex of the bridge. The wind does get going over the open sea. It was a case of hang on and grin and bear it. Thumper did well enough though, holding a steady 50 mph all the way. Once off the bridge the wind settled down and the short stretch of motorway past Malmö went without further effort. Finally I turned off the motorway and headed East to my chosen destination. Häckberga.

Surrounded by woods, it looked like the ideal place to stop. One can camp almost anywhere in Sweden. I found out very quickly that I had picked the one place that I couldn’t really camp in. It was a nature reserve. Luckily I found a placard sign that defined the limits of the reserve and I spotted an area where I could raise my tarp and set up camp. I headed off.
I met two German lads who had also used the same spot for the previous night. They were just breaking camp as I arrived and after a brief introduction they offered me coffee and cake. Gratefully recieved and very good it was too. I set up home at the edge of the woods allowing myself a view of the surrounding countryside.

Parking in the woods wasn’t easy. The ground was soft so I had to find something to support the side stand. A log sufficed but to be sure, I strapped Thumper to a tree for added support and threw a cover over him.

Having set up my shelter and hung both hammock and mosquito net up, I set up my field kitchen, which is no more than a solid fuel folding stove and made a brew.

Not wanting to turn this into a camping monologue, suffice it to say that I spent the day wandering through the woods looking for wildlife and then settled down to a late dinner and an early night.

The trip home was uneventful. The roads in southern Sweden are good, even out in the cuds and very pleasant to ride on. They turn gently and the landscape rises and falls at a gentle rate. Traffic was light and I made good time getting back to the bridge. Preparing for another battle with the elements, I steeled myself for another ride into a headwind which never really materialised. The return journey was a much more pleasant affair.

I will do this again but preferably with some company. The evening drew out for me in the woods and although I don’t mind being alone I must confess to feeling a bit lonely at times. Even if I was surrounded by hares, deer and other wildlife which I couldn’t see but could clearly hear.

On the up side, Thumper performed like a trouper and never missed a beat. A truly grand experience and, as I said, one I will be repeating at some point.

Out With The Old..

Maintenance Posted on Fri, April 17, 2015 23:49:26

..and in with the new. Oil, that is.

It isn’t easy finding 20w/50 oil in Denmark. In fact, it’s virtually non-existent for some strange reason but being a stubborn old sod when I need to be, I found a supplier in Jutland. Jutland is a bit like a foreign country for us here on Zealand but they do have Castrol in real tin cans. I ordered a gallon.

I’ve never done the complete oil change on Thumper before. OK, I drained the sump once and the tank, if you can call it a tank but this time I drained the pump and timing chest as well. A lot of very black oil came out but no swarf. Which means that all is well inside the engine. I didn’t strip out the pump though. Thumper has only done 2300 miles (3700 km) so it shouldn’t be necessary until next time, or so I am told.
Getting the old stuff out is relatively easy. Remove the three drain plugs under the engine and the quill bolt at the bottom of the timing chest. Then leave it to drain for a half hour or so..

According to the manual, the whole engine holds 2.25 litres. About 5 pints in old money. For those that may be interested, a gallon is 3.8 litres

Filling it up again was a bit more problematic. To avoid a dry start, it’s a good idea to refill the timing chest. One can pour oil in through the push rod cover but how does one pour horizontally? One doesn’t. I fashioned a syringe like affair with a half litre water bottle and a piece of neoprene tubing. Bore through the bottle top and insert the tube. Make sure it’s a tight fit. Fill the bottle and put the cap on. Insert the tube into the push rod channel and squeeze the bottle. It takes a while, but it works.. After that, simply fill the engine with the remaining 1.75 litres of oil and the job is nearly done.
Start the machine and let it run for five minutes or so, checking for leaks. Stop the thing and wait a while. Pull the dipstick and see if your level holds true. Mine did.

Job done. smiley

GPS – Tomtom Rider

Customisation Posted on Sat, March 28, 2015 17:09:23

I got this for Christmas. I have one in the car but never thought I might have one for the bike. I didn’t think I’d ever need it. Still, not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth I decided to fit the thing and see if it would prove itself to be useful.
The handlebar mount isn’t exactly elegant. In fact, it looks amateurish. If I was to design something to hold this expensive piece of kit, I would have put a design team on the job instead of presenting the almost bodge job that it is. Oh well, you use what you have. Here it is..

According the somewhat sparse instructions that follow the GPS, the only thing necessary, is to find a wire that goes live with the ignition on. Connect the live side to that and then find an earth for the other wire. I looked behind the headlamp at the birds nest of wires and gave up before even attempting to unravel it and identify the ignition wire. Hook it up to the battery, I thought. The damn thing can be switched off so no problem.

But then there was. A problem.

The screen unit sits on a plinth, or base unit or whatever it may be called. Even though the screen unit is switched off, the base unit draws a current. That current flattened Thumper’s battery in the run of a week. Here’s the base unit:

And with the screen unit fitted..

So… Plan B.
Simple, I thought, I’ll put a switch in between the base and the battery. I know that will work, but… where to put the switch?

Not wanting to clutter the headlamp nacelle more than it already is, I decided to mount a switch near the battery. I thought about using the battery box but decided there wasn’t room there, so the next idea involved making a plate to mount on the back of the battery box and place the switch there. That was simple to manufacture out of some thin steel plate and it is held in place by two pop rivets. Luckily, I have all the requisite tools and material and a little know how.

I measured the distance at which to separate positive lead and fitted spade connectors to fit the switch. The switch screws into the plate. A lick of Hammerite and the job is done.

Just to be sure it worked, I started Thumper and tried to switch the GPS on. Nothing.
Flicked the switch and bingo.. all worked as it should. Switch off and the GPS powers down.

Cracked it!

All I need to do now is plan myself a tour across the water to Sweden and take a weekend in the woods.. Bring on Summer. And, an added bonus, I can check my speedometer with the GPS.

More on that later..

Going Electronic

Customisation Posted on Thu, November 06, 2014 22:55:17

I’d heard a lot about electronic ignition. If you’re not the type who enjoys playing around with the ignition and points and so on then this may be the way forward. I’d heard that once fitted, you can forget all about it. Set it up once and that’s it. I went off to investigate..

I found a Boyer Mk4 electronic ignition unit at Hitchcocks. I rang them up. I’m not an electrical wizard so I needed some reassurance that even I could fit the thing if I bought it. I was told that even without the advanced strobe timing light and such, it was easily done if one followed the instructions that come with the unit. I was also told that any technical support, if needed, was only a phone call away. That said, I ordered the thing.

There’s not a lot to it. A sealed box unit of electronic wizardry with 5 wires hanging out of it, two plates, (one metal with magnets, one plastic with two coils and wiring hanging off said coils) and a bolt. It all looked innocent enough.

Instructions were simple enough too. Disconnect the battery. Then I had to dismount the saddle and my electrics cover to get to the coil. Then I had to identify the positive side of the coil. My eyes aren’t what they were but eventually I found a ‘+’ mark. So far, so good.
I mounted the unit in the left hand toolbox, drew the wiring out though the back of the toolbox and proceeded to hook it all up. One wire goes to earth, one to the coil, two to the electronic timing plate and one to the old wire that connected to the old points. That bit went well enough.
The points and auto advance mechanism has to be removed from the distributor and then you have to find top dead centre. I have a tool to help me with this.

Once found, the metal plate with the magnets gets mounted on the distributor spindle. Insert the bolt but don’t tighten it fully yet, according to the instructions. Then mount the plastic plate and set it up turned as far anticlockwise as it can be. Then you line up the magnets on the metal plate with the coils on the plastic plate so they all form a direct line across the plates. Tighten the metal plate and then rotate the plastic plate clockwise to midways between advance and retard. Tighten everything. That’s it.

With a good degree of trepidation, I decided to fire it up. Reconnect the Battery, fuel on, ignition on, kill switch to ‘run’, start help on and give it a swift kick.
OK, two kicks..
VROOM..!! Thumper fired up! Success. Woohoo! I ran round the shed with my arms in the air…

Then I had to reassemble the bike with all the bits I’d pulled off it to make the wiring and so on accessible, but what the hey, that was the easy bit.

I think I got lucky. I didn’t have to adjust anything or fiddle about with the plates to get the timing right. I think I was lucky enough to have hit the nail on the head at the first try, which is not something I’m used to but the simple result is that I converted Thumper to electronic ignition within hours and he runs like a good ‘un.

Which proves that even with as limited electrical skill as I have, anyone could fit this sort of thing.

Roll on Springtime…

Update 11/11/2014

I took Thumper out for a test run today. It wasn’t good at the start. Misfires and poor acceleration. I was ready for this and made roadside adjustments to the timing, advancing it slightly. The difference was tremendous. Ready response, even tick over and an eager engine that wants to run and run quickly. Had it not been so cold, I’d still be out there.
This is a success.

Lean and Mean

Customisation Posted on Thu, July 24, 2014 12:34:41

After having replaced the broken brake lever I decided it might be a good idea to get a side stand for Thumper. It may make getting on and off easier and it certainly helps when I need to park at the roadside.
I went for a big and sturdy part in chrome and fitting the thing took only seconds, which was a great relief as I had expected a heap of work to hang the thing on the bike frame.

There are no instructions that follow these parts so one has to look carefully at the possible mountings. The left hand side foot peg and spacer have to come off and the nut holding the centre stand. The bracket that carries the side stand then fits neatly on the two protuding studs, the spacer and foot peg are then replaced and the two nuts are put back in place. Nip it all up tight and the job is done. Never has anything been so simple.

My only complaint is that the side stand does make getting the centre stand down a bit more difficult as the ends of both stands almost touch. The manual does state that one should place the bike on the side stand before attempting to use the centre stand. I suppose that makes sense in some weird way but I would like to have the chance to make my own mind up as to which I prefer, depending on how and where I’m going to park. Not only that, but one has to think a bit before pulling away to ensure one has not forgotten to kick the side stand back up after using the centre stand..!! You wouldn’t want to corner hard to the left with the stand down.

Another point to note for all us amateurs; never run the engine for any length of time while the bike is on the side stand. It plays hell with the oil circulation as the oil in the sump is naturally draining away from the oil pump as the bike leans to the left.

Broke Brake

Maintenance Posted on Sat, June 07, 2014 18:03:51

Sometimes my own eagerness catches me

Having decided I needed to exchange my existing tyres for something more
rounded and modern I contacted my local workshop and asked if they could order
and fit tyres for both front and back. Indeed they could but they didn’t have
anything that fitted a piece of British iron, so they had to order something
extraordinary in relation to their stock. Two weeks later, the guy rang me up
and explained that he couldn’t find a tyre for the rear wheel, did I have any
ideas? Yes I did, and duly pointed him in the right direction. Another three
days passed and they were ready for Thumper.
I delivered him early in the
morning and rang later to hear if they were finished. Yep. They were.. but.. one
of the counter salesmen had sold my front tyre in the meantime while we were
waiting for the rear, so the job is only half done…


Oh well, I collected Thumper and we are still waiting for a new tyre for the
front wheel.

I got him home and looked at the state of him. Covered in greasy
fingerprints. I decided to polish him up and get rid of the offending blotches.
Putting Thumper on the centre stand I got busy with the rag and wax and, soon,
he was looking fine again. Then I did something stupid. Taking him off the
stand, I let Thumper fall away from me, I couldn’t hold him and the brake lever
snapped like the proverbial carrot.

Here’s a picture of the resultant injury. I immediately ordered a new one
from Hitchcock’s and had to wait five days for the part to arrive. It arrived
today and I’ve fitted the thing already. So I can ride again.

Lessons learned: Don’t take the bike of the stand unless you are astride the
bike. Cast alloy is weak as s***. I now know how to fit a new handbrake

Whatever doesn’t kill me…!

And I still haven’t heard from the workshop about my new front tyre….

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