A few weeks ago, I had the chance to ride my bike for the first time in months, and the last time prior to it's 18K-mile service.
It's a full service, including valve clearance checks and all the goodies, and I wanted to do it right.
Spark plugs before anything else, because I wanted to know how my carbs were tuned. All had tan insulators. Perfect!
So, I started out next with the most troublesome of the service items, the valve clearance check. It turned out to be truly troublesome.
First, I needed to learn how to read a set of feeler gauges. My set included measurements in thousandths of an inch (mils) and in hundredths of a mm. I took my initial set of measurements in mils and it looked like I needed to replace all of my shims! A few emails back and forth with Greg Andrews and I realized that I was looking at the wrong set of numbers on the feeler gauges. Whew!
After measuring everything, it became clear that I ought to replace 4 shims on the intake cam side. I could probably have gotten away with leaving them another 6K miles, but I didn't want to. I'd rather have loose valves than tight ones.
So, I started looking into how to get the shims out and measure them. There was a bit of talk online about using the Triumph tool, but it sounds difficult to use, and I wanted to get measurements on all of my shims for future reference. I opted for the track of removing cams, but found a discussion on Triumph Rat where someone said they were able to do it without disengaging the cams from the chain by just lifting the cam. I realized during my research that I was going to need access to the crankshaft to manage the timing chain on its lower sprocket, so off came the bolts on the right main cover and I found myself wondering how in the world I was going to get the cover off. Did it have a lip that provided a positive fit, or was it a flush fit and would just drop off if the rubber seal weren't adhered to the crankcase? Some mild tapping didn't dislodge it, so I took an X-Acto knife to the seal and it popped off. Unfortunately, the seal was damaged a bit, but hopefully, it wouldn't leak when I got everything back together.
So, I made a trip to Northern Tool for a couple of T30 sockets (3/4" and 1/2" drive) to remove and reinstall the cam caps (marked beforehand with a sharpie and also by the factory, I discovered later) and then I tried it with the intake cam. Guess what, it worked. I quickly got measurements on my shims (and took photos for the Triumph Trophy wiki). Light was failing, so I stopped for the day.
Feeling really good about my results, I started on the exhaust cam the next day. I learned something. Those torx bolts can handle the torque needed to tighten the cam cap, no problem. But after they've been sitting there for 14 years, they don't really want to come undone. I noted that my new 3/8" drive Torx socket had a bent tip. I also found that the forward bolt on exhaust cap #2 and the rear bolt on the timing gear cap stripped out on the inside of the Torx head. Not good.
More calls to Greg to see what he knew. First, he's had the same thing happen to him. Second, most of the remedies involve a drill bit or vise-grips. I really don't like the idea of creating metal shavings right above my valves. I once dropped a valve at 70mph on an interference engine (Ford 351 Windsor) and although the valve didn't punch a hole in the piston, it was still a mess. I could just imagine getting a shaving down in the valve guide and have it turn the inside of my engine into guacamole as it locked-up. Not a fun thought.
I have had Allen or Torx bolts do this before. My remedy has been to get the next-size larger Torx bit and a good hammer, and whack that bit into the mangled hole that the smaller bit made. I tried it with the bolt next to the timing gear and voila! I was able to snap the bolt free. BTW, another thing I realized. I was trying to ease the bolts loose. I needed to snap them loose. Just a thought...
The #2 cylinder cam cap wasn't going to be as easy to get to. I'm glad I have a 4-cylinder, because I bet that cam cap is directly under the frame tube on a BBB. As it was though, I needed to come up with a way to get the hammer force to the bit, preferably without removing the engine. This took me 2 weeks of thought and fretting, plus the purchase of a 20-oz ball-peen hammer and eventually, a set of bit-driver extensions.
Since my engine was open to the air for an indeterminate amount of time, I covered it with a garbage bag while I wasn't working on it. I found that I couldn't work after dark because I didn't have enough light, and also because bugs would come in from outside, circle my lights, and fall into my engine. After scooping out a few oil-coated gnats, I just decided that I needed to work in the bike in the daylight, and also realized that I probably would only be able to work in it on the weekends due to my work schedule. Yesterday was the next time I had the time and nerve to work on it.
I mentioned not wanting wayward metal bits inside my engine. Well, I didn't want any of the bit-driver extensions to turn into wayward bits all over my valvetrain, so I uncovered only the offending bolt and went to town with the hammer. After about 20 whacks, I removed and inspected the T-35 bit, then finger-fit it back into the hole it had made and whacked it again. I'm glad that I used the cover while doing this, because the magnets inside a few of the extensions sacrificed themselves to the shock of the blows and I found magnetic metal dust inside the driver extension sockets after I was finished.
It worked. I was able to remove the #2 front bolt and measure the shims. Greg had recommended that I go to Ace and get some replacement hex-head bolts, so I did. I then called the Triumph dealer south of me that I normally go to and they didn't have shims.
Now I've read that any dealership worth their shop should have shims lying around, so I was pretty disappointed that this dealer had nothing. But, there's a new Triumph dealer east of me, and a bit closer. They had the shims in-stock, so off I went to get shims. While there, I also talked with them about the bolts, and they sent me to the service area and handed me a box of bolts from taken-apart bikes and told me to find the bolts I needed. I picked out a set of 20 cam cap bolts with 6mm hex heads and headed home thankful for that new dealership. Once home, I cleaned them with WD-40 so that a 1.0mm pitch nut would pass the entire length of threads without catching on any grit. Then, I reinstalled the caps for the exhaust cam last night before the light started to fail (hand-tight bolts), and today, I re-measured and replaced shims on the intake cam before torquing everything down. (I got myself a 1/4" drive torque wrench for my birthday and it came in super-handy today). I found that the chain had hopped one tooth on the exhaust cam, so I fixed that before I was done and rotated the engine several times while measuring minimum tolerances on the valves again. Then, I made another trip to Ace for some socket driver converters (I needed 1/4" drive to 3/8" drive for the cam tensioner center bolt).
On went the cam cover, in went a new set of spark plugs, added a bit of gas to the carbs, and she fired up on the first try (but cylinder 4 wasn't running). Futzed around with the #4 lead, but still no joy. Then, when I added some more fuel to the fuel lines, they burped and cylinder 4 started running. I guess there was something blocking fuel flow to carb 4.
I hooked up my homemade manometer and think I have the best balance I've ever achieved on my carbs now.
Then I noticed the drop of oil on the garage floor. The side cover leaked. Looks like I need either a new seal or at least some RTV.
While I was at it, I checked the headstock and front wheel bearings for play.
Next:Coolant drain/flush/change (It's been 2 years and nearly 12000 miles)Brake/clutch fluid check (oh wait! I just remembered that it has sight windows, so I got up just now and checked them - done)Oil change (to get any bugs out)Chassis lubeChain lubePut her back together and ride
One of my co-workers has been giving me grief the last month for missing the best riding weather of the year. Hopefully, I'll be able to finish up and be back on the road by next week.
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