My Motorcycling Life Chapter 6 by George Smith

May 9th, 2020

As the Moto Guzzi 1000s Was now in good running order time to Start on my 1994 Moto Guzzi 750 Nevada project.

As mentioned in the last chapter this was a cheap purchase with a dodgy stalled restoration.

Delivered to me with parts loosely bolted on it soon became obvious that a full strip down was required. Things like side panels and headlight brackets fitted upside down, cables and wiring all over the place showed a lack of care.

   With 50,000 miles on the clock some work on engine was expected but these bikes have been known to cover over 150,000 miles without major work with regular maintenance  and oil changes.

Quite a lot of money had been spent before being abandoned. New exhaust system, Akront aluminium rims with stainless steel spokes and new brake discs, new seat base and cover, frame powder coated.

Downloaded workshop manual and parts list to complement my Guzziology book.

The bike must have been dismantled to have frame powder coated, put together in an haphazard manner in an attempt to get engine running. Wiring fitted to ignition system with the rest taped up and labelled, heavy duty wires attached to starter motor. Thought it would be a good idea to see if engine would fire up before dismantling.

After fitting new battery first problem appeared.

When pushing starter switch current is going through clutch cable, preventing starter operating. Direct short from engine casing to handlebars through clutch cable. That is weird (wired). Remove clutch cable starter operates. Only one option shut the shed door, have a cup of tea and a good think.

Next day removed starter to strip and check over. Starter solenoid contacts in good condition. Rotor brushes good look almost new, has starter been stripped before? Time for full strip and inspection. All looked good had fresh grease on planetary gears. Cleaned parts and as assembling noticed rubbing marks on planetary gears grease cover. Problem solved cover is dished and had been replaced back to front causing a dead short from rotor to earth. After fitting starter worked perfect. Current passing through cable damaged, new cable put on shopping list.

Second problem:

Have sparks but engine would not run, trying but backfiring, suspect ignition as even if carbs not set up right should still run for short time. Ignition is operated by one of those new fangled Digiplex electronic boxes with sensor operating through raised tabs on flywheel. Digiplex  no longer available, no way of checking if working or not.

Saw second hand one for £180 thought this was a lot for something I might not need. Asked on Moto Guzzi forum if anyone had one I could borrow to check if mine was faulty.

While waiting for replies, used DigiPlex in working order advertised on eBay for £30. Lucky me, purchased and fitted, unlucky me, made no difference. Renewed sensor, problem same. New plugs caps and HT leads problem same.

Engine cranks OK, good sparks, exhaust downpipes get hot with occasional backfire (unburnt fuel in exhaust?) occasional backfire in inlet. My impression is that ignition timing is wrong, sparking after TDC. There are no timing marks on flywheel

Time for some gardening leave and forget about bikes.

I think we can all get so wrapped up with a problem we ignore the bleeding obvious. For me it was while planting some bulbs I had a lightbulb moment. Why not check timing with timing wheel and strobe.

Checked timing. Correct static timing is 7 degrees BTDC. Reading is 53 degrees ATDC 60 degrees out. Clutch housing / flywheel is connected to crankshaft with six bolts so must be one hole out. Time to remove engine for inspection..

For those of you not familiar with Guzzi vee twins the engine is not removed from frame. The frame is in two parts and after disconnecting wiring the frame is removed from engine. Sounds complicated but is straight forward.

There are painted marks on crankshaft and clutch housing / flywheel and yes they are one hole out. A good day today.

Could this be the reason why abandoned, because the previous owner couldn’t get I started.

Whilst out I will renew clutch plate, replace weeping front crankshaft seal and check engine.

Found sump plug hole thread worn, fitted helicoil. Good thing I noticed disaster if lost oil all over road.

With sump off crank bearings can be seen, no play found so left intact.

Barrels worn. Got good used replacement barrels / pistons / rings from Gutsibits. Company specialising in Moto Guzzi and very helpful. New valve guides fitted, valves lapped in.

While waiting for parts painted tank, mudguards and side panels. Pleased with result for first six months then lacquer coat crazed. I call it my leather look.

Got some help replacing engine as it’s a bit heavy for me now days. Everything put back together. Fingers crossed,

No worries started second push. Now to get ready for the road. Carbs tuned and balanced.

Hooray. First MOT for ten years booked, passed. Went for short ride. This is a very easy bike to ride for a short old boy like me.

Ready for the first ride out.

The first summer was enjoyable and included a round trip to Festival of 1000 bikes.

Had a few small problems but nothing serious, as summer passed got used to bike but found riding position uncomfortable. Changed handlebars and moved foot rests lower and back small amount. Fitted screen. Replaced tyres. Perfect comfort. I shall keep this bike until I can no longer push it out of shed.

Is there anything I don’t like, yes the tank only has a range of 100 miles and have to remember to fill up before VMCC runs.

Finished one year after purchase, now 25 years old and OK for VMCC

Now that this is my all time favourite bike time to sell the Golden Arrow and think about another winter project.

  I have taken an interest in the lightweight Moto Guzzi’s and think this might be a good way to go for when I am older. I will leave that for the next chapter.

Moto Guzzi – A very brief history

Formed in 1921 by three Italian pilots from world war one, making it the oldest motorcycle company in continuous manufacture, Next years centenary has had massive plans for celebrations at the Italian factory, still sited in the original town. No one knows if this will go ahead given the terrible times we live in.

Carlo Guzzi was an innovator and always striving to advance designs with firm engineering practice.

1928 first bike mass produced to have rear suspension with mono damper. Named Norge after one of the partners rode to Norway to prove viability of rear suspension.

1930s some models had upside down forks

1935 double victory at TT,250cc and 500cc,  bikes ridden by Stanley Woods.

Dustbin fairings, tested at their own wind tunnel, adopted from1954 and soon imitated by rivals.

Many types of engines used for racing, single, twin, three cylinder, inline four cylinder and the first and only vee eight cylinder 500cc, clocked at 180MPH in 1954 before Guzzi withdrew from racing. Who knows what would have happened given development. The vee eight also had trellis frame.

1958 first successful mass produced bike with chrome bore. The 98cc Zigolo two stroke using a 50 to 1 mix, unheard of in those days.

1964 Vee twin designed for Government civil and military contracts, later altered to V7 sport from which the LeMans 850 and all various Vee twin models were born. Design is still based on 1964 with all the bits required for modern day use.

There is much more of interest about this Marquee but perhaps will be boring to anyone not into Italian machines.