MCCruise control revisited

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid MCCruise CIU throttle servo cablesWhile the Caponord was stripped for the vacuum check-valve replacement, I decided to get my act in gear and finally, once and for all, unequivocally ….. Sort out the MCCruise control/throttle cables. Last year I relocated the CIU (Cable Interface Unit) to the left hand side of the throttle body. This had pros and cons ……….. The upside was a lighter feel on the throttle grip, the downside, the Servo/CIU and CIU/Throttle body cables were overly long and the Servo cable fed into the CIU from the wrong side. However, the cruise was working perfectly and so it became one of those ‘mañana’ jobs!

Well today is that tomorrow! First I jotted down a list of what had to be done:

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid MCCruise CIU cable interface unit1. Make a spacer to fit onto the side of the CIU. This is to move the throttle cable adjuster further out and make the inner cable a better fit on the spool.
2. Drill new cable holes in the CIU so it can be rotated 180° so the Servo cable enters from the rear not the front as is the current arrangement.
3. Shorten the CIU/Throttle cable while allowing for the new spacer at the CIU – 350mm down to 190mm.
4. Shorten the 1,150mm Servo cable to a more reasonable 750mm!

I have to say here and now that I do like learning new skills or adapting old ones to suit a new task. I also have to admit that in a good few years on this Earth, I’ve never made up or adjusted Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid throttle cablethe length of clutch/choke/throttle cables before! So time to adapt the electronics soldering skills and brush up on required technique courtesy of the Internet. Now I’m not going to bore you to tears telling you how to do it – there is tons of advice on various websites/YouTube. Suffice to say, sort out the duff advice from the good, have the right equipment to hand and practice, practice, practice  …… do the job once and do it right! All the cable bits and pieces I needed came from Venhill in the UK.

By late afternoon everything was buttoned up and the cruise control recalibrated after the throttle bodies were rebalanced, fault codes cleared and TPS reset via TuneECU. As the sun faded behind the hills I cracked open a cold beer happy with how the day played out …. Time then to put the tools away and get back to revising for the next Amateur Radio Exam!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid MCCruise controlThe MCCruise has been installed for approx. 25,000 miles and worked perfectly throughout. The CIU was relocated because the initial location proved to be problematic – causing slight binding of the throttle cable. This meant that the cables supplied in the kit (as specified by me) were now the wrong length and the orientation of cable entry into the CIU was wrong.This is not the fault of MCCruise, what they sent is what I asked for! Should anyone else wish to go down this route I will of course be glad to provide notes/measurements etc so a kit will be a simple bolt-on job.

Posted in Cruise control, Engine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vacuum check-valve …….. part2

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid check valve AP8104251The new vacuum check-valve (AP8104251) arrived yesterday and today, while the rain poured endlessly from a depressingly black sky I set about swapping out the bad one on the front cylinder. Just to be Boy-Scout ready, I’d also made sure to have some new hose and stainless steel click-clamps to hand – just in case! Getting the old one Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid AP8104251 failed check valveout is a real trial of patience and dexterity believe me! Here is a pic of the old valve cut in half and you can see that the valve has broken up completely.

 With the valve cycling anywhere between an estimated 11-73 times a second depending on RPM, it looks like the 0.5mm thick valve flaps suffer from fatigue and  rips develop where the material flexes most. The valve doesn’t completely fail until the flap is ripped away as my other (rear cylinder) valve is testimony too. That valve flows in one direction but also a very small amount in the other and when Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid AP8104251 valve stress testviewed end on, light can be seen through the valve flaps leading me to think that rips have already begun. So now another new valve is on order and I guess I’ll make a note to check these again in 15K miles or so, it’s easy and quick to do – simply pucker up and suck or blow! 😳

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid AP8104251 one way valve section Oh and I’ve been asked a couple of times …. why not use a cheap Ebay ball-valve replacement? Well it seems to me they’re just not designed to cycle rapidly, a ball/spring valve may well be susceptible to the same phenomena as an engine valve train at high rpm – valve bounce/float. Of course in the real world it may make no damn difference what so ever and I’m just a sucker for buying genuine Aprilia parts! :-)

Posted in Engine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 years on ….

Aprilia Caponord Rally-Raid ETV1000 2010 Icelandic ash flights cancelled2010 ……. A year we made a mad-dash to the UK by Capo when an Icelandic volcano rather unsportingly blew its top. A year we gained a Kitten (Sam-Sam) and lost a cat – my venerable old friend Joe. A year when Kelly the English setter lost a foot but found a strange kind of companionship with a chicken! A year when the Capo went MoSFET and sported a nice new headlight switch ……. But most of all, it’s the year when the moto-abruzzo WordPress website/blog went live. 5 years to the day to be exact!

Way back then, Jan told me that something like an estimated 75% of blogs are abandoned after the first three months, so I’m glad to have dodged that particular statistic …… also that the ‘in’ joke websiteamongst the blogging glitterati is that most blogs have a readership of 1. Looks like I nailed that one then!

The reality is of course, that a site mainly dedicated to one particular bike is never going to have much traffic. In truth I suppose I have written it more as an aid-memoir for the Capo in the  years to come, a diary of one particular bikes journey and it’s issues along the way.

The intention was always to keep it clear of advertising and not ask for funding to maintain it, other than that, it just goes where time and content takes it. Maybe when the Aprilia Caponord Rally-Raid ETV1000Caponord (touch-wood!) hits 100,000 miles next year I’ll look at winding down the site and porting the content over to a self-publish book to put on the shelf, that way the content won’t disappear if the server/host decides to pull the plug one day.

Until then of course, the increasing miles on the Capo will generate a proportional increase in site content as a consequence of needing more restoration work. There’s also the question of a possible stable-mate ……. Do I plough on with the Capo regardless, or wind-down the mileage after 100k and look for something to take over the long-distance Euro trips. If so what? Inevitably I seem to go full circle and come back to square-one – another Capo, a Rally-Raid of course. I suppose it makes sense – reasonable price, ample spares to hand and a working knowledge of the model, and it does exactly what I want from a bike, period.

Either way, 2016 will be a landmark year with (I hope) plenty of posts and new pages.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pucker up and suck or blow …. your choice!

Here’s todays little quiz ……

  1. What’s this?
  2. Where does it go?
  3. How many are on YOUR bike?


Of course the smarty-pants among you will scream out the answers to 1 & 2 in double quick time – it’s a check-valve or none-return valve and it fits between the throttle body and clutch in the vacuum line. Excellent stuff, spot on …… but question 3 …… one valve or more than one? Hmmm.

Here’s what Aprilia show in the parts manual (click to enlarge) …..

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid pneumatic vacuum clutch and one way valve

The front cylinder throttle body port has nothing but a piece of clear hose and a bung – the manometer/VAC gauge test point. All the slipper-clutch hose/valve assembly is ONLY attached to the rear cylinder throttle body port and TPS port. This may well be fine and dandy for an 01-03 bike.

But if you have a Rally-Raid or an 04-onward bike, next time you’re under the fuel tank/airbox take a good look at the front hose …… my guess is you’ll have a ‘T’-piece and more black hose disappearing downward below the mire of cables and wires running alongside the frame. Now this might be no surprise to you, but it had me scratching my head for a while I can tell you! 😕

And this is what I’ve got on the Rally-Raid (click to enlarge)……

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid slipper clutch pneumatic vacuum lines and check valves

A second complete set of pipes AND a second check valve connecting to another ‘Y’-piece. Why do this? Well this is my hunch, guesstimation, call it what you will ….. the 01-03 Capo has I believe a clutch pack that is 43.6mm thick, the 04-08 is 44.9mm thick. A difference of 1.3mm – in other words the valve springs will be compressed an extra 1.3mm on later bikes and that means a little more spring preload for the vacuum system to overcome when getting the clutch to slip, hence the second set of connections to improve the vacuum – 2 cylinder are better than 1! Also, two sources of vacuum from cylinders running out of phase (60° remember) may well help smooth out the pulses you can sometimes feel through the clutch lever. It simply looks like Aprilia modified our blessed Caponords and just didn’t bother to update the parts manual.

So what’s all the hullabaloo, why rip this poor little thing from the Capo’s delicate innards? Well the long and short of it is that one of them is pooped, shot, completely knackered ….. where air should only flow one way, it flows happily in both. Looking at the defective duckbill valve reminds me of Daffy-Duck cartoons, the ones where Elmer Fudd rearranges his bill with a shotgun! No worries, simply order a replacement …….

……. Aprilia part no AP8104251   Just make sure you’re sitting down when you look at the price! :-(

I’ll shortly open up a new page with some more 3D images to try to better illustrate how the system is operating at different stages and how to go about testing the valves and what to expect.

Posted in Engine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dashboard repairs – a reminder

AItaly Abruzzo Civitaquana road closurefter being contacted by a few folks over recent months, I decided to post a quick reminder that I no longer do any dashboard repairs. This isn’t through choice, more a necessity. Since the land slides in March, we’ve yet to see any work start on the badly damaged road network around us ….. bad enough they stuck up ‘no cyclists’ and ‘no motorcycles’ on 80% of them! In fact I only have one viable way out by Caponord and even the journey to the local Post Office is now over four times further – 28Km to be exact.

Unfortunately this simply makes collecting/delivering parcels too costly in fuel and time, especially if I have to use the old gas-guzzling Range Rover! Sorry folks, but until something is done to sort the situation, dashboard repairs will remain shelved indefinitely.

Posted in Civitaquana | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Oil in the Airbox …..fixed!

You may (or may not!) have read the post a couple of months ago – Fixing a few Capo niggles. That was where between Continental trips, the original air-box molded connection for the crank-case vent was drilled out and a new 90° bulkhead coupling and Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid extended airbox drain tubepipe fitted to drain any oil into the front of the airbox, well away from the throttle body and IACV (Idle Air Control Valve).

Now with the Caponord seriously (+1,000 miles) overdue a service, I got stuck in and removed the tank ready for plugs/air filter. I admit to being really pleased to see no oil what so ever in the upper part of the airbox and only a tell-tale smear in the front section. A syringe sucked what oil there was from the drain tube – approx. 5cc @ 3,000 miles WITH the oil tank filled to the HIGH mark.

Previously it didn’t seem to matter where the oil tank level was, oil kept getting thrown into the airbox and sucked down into the throttle body. Look closely at the design of the airbox and you see the ‘fenced’ in area (red) around the velocity stacks – and of course, the two slots in the stacks (arrows) for excess oil to drain through.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid new crankcase drain inside the airbox

It’s pretty obvious then that Aprilia/Rotax EXPECTED regurgitated oil – and tried to ensure it was fed back to the engine and burnt. Unfortunately that isn’t always the case and when some bikes are left on the side-stand oil manages to get over the ‘fence’ and muck up places it shouldn’t!

Of course a little hot oil can spread a long way and look far worse than it really is ….. I guess it just niggled the hell out of me each time I lifted the airbox lid. In hindsight it’s one of those quick jobs I wish I’d done years ago.

Posted in Engine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Flat-line dashboard

Franken-CapoWith just over 82,000 miles on the Caponord, the dashboard died. Yes, while about to set off from a rather innocuous little shop car park on a hot and humid afternoon, the dashboard shuffled off its mortal coil … Curled up its toes, bought the farm – as dead as the proverbial Dodo.

On the way home I mulled over the possible cause, was it the additional microcontroller/hardware I added in 2013 or simply a failure of some part of the original Magneti Marelli circuit board? By the time I got home, I had a few possibilities rolling around my head, but nothing concrete. 15 minutes after cutting the ignition, the dashboard was on the test-bench.

Ultimately the fault was traced to a ‘Via’, a hole where a signal/power track passes from one side of the board to the other. In this case, where there should have been 12 Volts, there was 2 Volts! A simple wire link bypassed the problem and the dashboard popped back into life.

So is it a design flaw or manufacturing defect? I’d say probably a bit of both! Below is a photograph of the faulty area on a Mk1 and Mk2 board. Notice the Mk2 (right hand) has a much larger track area AND has 4 Via’s instead of the Mk1’s single Via bringing power from the top of the board to the underside. All well and good BUT both boards still only have a single Via (red dot) to pass power to the regulator on the front ……….. And it’s this Via that failed!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-raid dashboard track

 It seems that this was known to be a troubled area and was re-designed …. sort of. But the fact that the last Via was never upgraded, simply left this as the weak link – unfortunately, one of many on these boards!

Anyway, this one’s a runner for now ……. and that’s a jolly good excuse for a run around for an hour or two to thoroughly test it out! 😀

Posted in Dashboard | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Upgraded to Intermediate Amateur Radio Licence

Yes ….. RSGB (Radio Society of Great Britain) docs hit the door mat in the UK, a quick phone call and then onto the Ofcom website for a new call sign. A quick rummage around for a vanity number (free) and hey-diddly-ho I manage to get:


Now if I can only pull of the same stunt with the Advanced qualification in a few months time! 😀

Posted in Amateur Radio | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Another trip, another exam

Aprilia Caponord Rally-Raid ETV1000 2015 MOTThe Capo and I just returned from the last UK-Italy round trip for this year … as seems the norm, the trip was uneventful and the Capo ran fantastic as always. Just before I left the UK, she had a new MOT – no advisories and good for another 12 months. 48hrs later, she rolled into the barn with the odometer reading 80,892 miles and 37c on the air temp gauge – hot, hot, hot!

The fish-tank line used to temporarily fix the vacuum hose just before I left for the UK worked fine and is still in place as I write ….. the new silicone lines are stuffed away in a box somewhere …. I guess they’ll stay there until winter now!

LEFARSThe highlight of this trip was visiting LEFARS (Loughton and Epping Forest Amateur Radio Society) once again. This time to take the RSGB Amateur Radio Intermediate practical assessment and exam. I had a great day, a mixture of learning, testing and having a good laugh in a relaxed atmosphere all leading to an exam pass and a new call sign next week. Goodbye M6FMZ, hello 2E0??? ……. maybe I can get ETV this time!

Now I can concentrate on the distance-learning course I started in June for the final (Advanced) licence. No more practical assessments, just a 2 hour exam to be sat in December, if everything goes to plan!

On a different note I have to say a HUGE THANK YOU to Andy (Beasthonda) and his employer ABSL Space Products. It seems they decided to give away a bunch of perfectly serviceable bench power supplies they were replacing, rather than scrap them. Andy thought of me and now I have a very nice twin – Thurlby 30V-2A PL320. It’s absolutely fantastic and ideal for the stuff I’m doing with Arduino/sensors and development boards. Andy I owe you a nice cold beer …… ABSL I’ll definitely come to you when I launch my first satellite!

And finally back to the Capo. Well she’ll have a couple of months of light use then a partial strip ready to take a bunch of brackets, plates and tube-work back to the UK for powder coating. Then over winter, for the first time ever, a major tear-down of the steering/rear suspension and quite likely a complete replacement of all the Earth (ground) lines as well. I might even get around to doing the fuel tank lining with Caswells when I replace the fuel filter …… very messy but in the face of the dreaded E10 fuel – neccessary.

Posted in Amateur Radio, General waffle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Down the tubes

Boy doesn’t time fly. It only seems a few days ago (weeks really!) I got here and already I’m packing again to head back to the UK on the Capo. Other than a check over, the Capo’s as she came back – unwashed even.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid vacuum pipesBut this morning, with only a couple of days to go, events took a turn for the worse. Off we went for a little run around and suddenly, out of the blue, she’s running rough at idle …. Cough, cough, snuffle and splutter. In all honesty, only one thing came to mind – vacuum pipes.

Anyway it didn’t spoil the day and we got home with no drama (she ran fine at higher rpm) and 15 minutes later the tank was lifted … and here’s the culprit. One split vacuum hose on the front cylinder. So for now a generic bit of fish-tank plastic line has been press-ganged into service and a couple of nice new silicone hoses have been ordered of Ebay – one blue, one red. Colour coded vac pipes for each cylinder!

After 12 years and with almost 80,000 miles now on the clock I guess it’s probably a job that was getting towards the top of the to-do list!

Posted in Engine | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment