Bye bye Karoo 3 …. hellooooo Anakee 3!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid with Michelin Anakee 3 tyreWell yesterdays arrival of a spanking pair of Michelin Anakee 3’s makes the total number of tyre types fitted to the Capo a head spinning …… 5. The OEM fit Tourance, oodles of TKC80’s and Karoo 3’s and one fantastic set of Anakee 2’s. They were by far the best with excellent grip and long life – so the Anakee 3’s have a hard act to follow, I wonder how they’ll compare.

With the back wheel dropped out, I decided to give everything a once over and quick scrub-up – nice and shiny like. The vernier showed the rear disk had finally met the minimum thickness (4.5mm), so off it came and on went a nice almost-new one from an Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid rear wheel and disk with Michelin Anakee 3 tyre07 bike …. a floater instead of fixed. Now I must admit to being more than a little perplexed at what the hell Aprilia were thinking about when making the rear a floater – front yes, but rear! What for, where’s the benefit? With 74,710 miles on it, I can’t ever remember riding around thinking ‘damn this bike’s just screaming out for a floating rear disk’ But in the end, it’s what I had in my sack of goodies, so it’s what went on. With the rear done, the fronts looked a little sorry for themselves, so I pulled them off and gave them a once-over and spring re-tension …… I must say they do look rather nice again!

Rear wheel bearings, seals and cush rubbers are original and all in perfect condition, so the spares can stay in the cupboard for a while longer yet. The front bearings and seals that I replaced back in 2009 (@11,700 miles) are also fine – packing the void between the bearings and seals to prevent water getting trapped seems to work wonders! So now she’s all buttoned up and a final wipe with a soft cloth and ACF50 to fend off the corrosion gremlin should do the trick nicely.

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Cool running Capo

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Agip Permanent Plus coolant (Antifreeze)After fiddling around with the cam chain tensioners, it was time to refill the coolant system – something Aprilia say to do every 2 years and MotoA has successfully neglected for almost double that! The handbook says to use either Agip Cool or IP Ecoblu. While Ecoblu is still available, the Agip coolant has apparently been superseded by Agip Permanent Plus and Agip Permanent Spezial ….. and wait for it ….. they’re about to be rebranded again as ENI Antifreeze Bike P and ENI Antifreeze Bike S. So which one do we need for the Capo? Well the ENI website says Bike S, while AF1 recommend Permanent Plus (Bike P), so I ordered Permanent Plus before the headache-of-confusion got any worse!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Agip Permanent Plus coolant (Antifreeze)What’s the difference? One is blue and one is red …….. but it goes a bit deeper than that! I must admit that the heady and scintillating world of antifreeze has past me by for most of my adult life, my knowledge pretty much stopped at – it’s green (mostly) and it stops my engine exploding into an ice block during winter-woolly-wearing time. Oh no, it seems that is most definitely NOT the end of it, our aqueous boffins have been brewing up a positive Smörgåsbord of antifreeze variants and as you can guess only some are suitable for our precious two-wheel companions. If you want to fry your brain with antifreeze techie stuff, have a read here. Otherwise it simply comes down to the difference between the two Agip products – Permanent Plus (Blue) is hybrid technology and good for 2 years while the Permanent Spezial (Red) is OAT (Organic Acid Technology) and good for 5 years – hence the ‘long-life’ tag.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid coolant expansion tankBut in the end, whatever you buy just make sure it’s good down to -40c and nitrate free and pre-mixed or mix it to a 50/50 solution. Remember that over time the corrosion inhibitors will be used up and the solution will slowly become acidic. Consider buying a PH tester for a couple of pounds/dollars to check the PH level in the radiator when doing a service, ideally it should be 8 or higher when new. If the PH is below 7 then the coolant definitely needs replacing before the acidity starts to eat away at the engine.

So now the Capo has had a nice flush and refill with Permanent Plus and the spreadsheet has been updated to give me a gentle nudge when it’s due to be changed again, rather than the fill-it-forget-it method I’ve used to date!

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Cam chain tensioner – part 2

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally Raid cam chain tensioner AP0236252Sorting the rear tensioner yesterday took all of 20 minutes, but I knew that the front was going to be a different kettle of fish altogether because of the coolant pipes. No worries, I thought – a good excuse to change out the coolant as well.

So in I went and oh what fun it was! Off with the crash bars, side panels and sump guard, move the coolant bottle and release the radiator bottom hose and drain the system – so far, so good. Remove the airbox and release the clamps holding the throttle bodies in the inlet rubbers ….. hmmmm – looks like they’ve got a few deep cracks I’m thinking.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally Raid inlet manifold rubber AP0267150Take off the rest of the hoses, cables and electrical connectors, now a gentle pull and twist to release the throttle bodies and ……………… oops! I think the cracks in that rubber were a tad deeper than first thought and a touch beyond repairing with a splash of rubberised goo. Luckily I’ve a spare pair to hand from the l’Aquila stash. However, this momentry inconvenience isn’t the task of the day ….. so onward once more. Hoses, cables anything and everything moved so I could at last get to the two clamps holding the ‘Y’ hose in place  – then finally the goal was in sight, the pot at the end of the rainbow …. the front cam chain tensioner!

Aprilia Capononrd ETV1000 Rally Raid inlet manifold rubber AP0267150With a heave, a grunt and too many fingers trying to get into too small a space I managed to retrieve the tensioner from its hide-away, gave it a squeeze and ……… it was fine, solid as a rock! Never mind, a flush to clean out any debris and a refill with clean oil never hurt.

Then it was rebuild time. The tensioner’s in place and the cap torqued down to 30Nm with a swanky new copper washer. The super-shiny inlet rubbers torque down at 19Nm and the rest of course is then a reversal of strip-down – with the intention of NOT ending up with any washers, screws or clips left over! And so with the sun ready to slip behind the mountains it was test-time. Glad to say she fired up first hit of the button and sounded so much smoother, funny how you get used to little noises and ‘character’ over time – now she’s idling smooth as can be, a tweak on the throttle body sync screw had the manometer within a couple of mills AND it stayed that way when the motor was reved, something it didn’t do last week. So I’m guessing the cracked inlet rubbers were an issue after all! 😳 So that’s it for today, other than updating the Capo’s history spreadsheet ….. the Capo has now done a pinch over 74,400 miles and other than a couple of valve shims and plugs, it’s the only work the motor has ever needed.

Next stop – tyres, chain and sprockets. 😯

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Cam chain tensioner – part 1

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally Raid airboxYesterday I spent a lazy morning installing a couple of sensors inside the airbox (more in another post) and with the tank propped back in place, fired the Capo up to check the fuel lines…….

…… and just for a second or so after she fired up there was a distinct rattle from the rear cylinder and frankly it didn’t sound too special as the bike warmed up. To be honest, I’d heard it before on a couple of occasions but couldn’t pin down which cylinder it was. With the tank lifted and stood in just the right position, it was obviously the Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally Raid cam chain tensioner AP0236253rear. As it was lunch time, I decided to have a look a bit later – and promptly forgot! Well I got back to it in the evening and pulled the cam chain tensioner out. Soggy as a knackered bed spring! :-(

So it had a thorough flush out and re-charge with fresh 15/50w oil and firmed up nicely (phew!) …. it looked as though contamination had built up in/around the ball that seals the oil in, in this case letting it out just as easy. Buttoned it all back together, fired the motor into life and revelled in a quiet(ish) Capo motor – just in time for a cold beer and MotoGP on the box, bliss! As I sat watching the race I kept having a niggling thought … what if the front one is the same?

Tomorrow feels like a let’s-check-the-front-one day ……….. 😕 

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All things being equal

gaugeIt’s been a while since the Capo was serviced and one job has still remained outstanding – in fact it has been ‘outstandingly’ outstanding for the past few services since I lost my old Davida vacuum gauge set! Yes, the perplexing throttle-body synchronisation*. Truth be told, the Capo has been running just fine for ages, but it never hurts to check it once in a blue moon!

I wasn’t about to lay out a fair-sized wad of cash for another (excellent) Davida set or buy a Carbtune II again in a hurry, so I thought it was about time to go the Poundland route and build my own manometer for a few pennies and with a bit of scrap kicking around the barn. The nice thing is that there’s a mountain of info on the internet about how to do this yourself, just pick what suits your needs best and modify for your own bike.

So what do you need? Well just a sturdy board, door or wall on which to mount the kit, a length of 6mmID clear tube, a suitable liquid and a way to connect it to the bike. That’s the nut’s and bolts of it, but a simple addition will make the setup ‘user friendly’ as you’ll see later. Although the tube is straight forward, the liquid is a bit more controversial …. Some say coloured water, some 2 stroke oil, some EP90 gearbox oil …… you get the idea! I chose some good old Scottoil Blue. Why? Because it was on hand, because it is basically ATF and has a fairly low viscosity, because IF it gets ingested by the motor it won’t cause any damage and because it turns out (purely by chance!) to work REALLY well!

*Workshop manual page 4-18-00

Now for a bit of physics ……

OU-1970's-styleFirst off, what kind of vacuum are we looking at from the Capo motor? From measurements, it looks to be somewhere in the range of 22-24cmHg (based on an erratic Carbtune II) per cylinder measured against atmospheric pressure …. Now that’s not much for a mercury manometer – barely the length of a sheet of A4 paper. A nice compact manometer then, except that unfortunately mercury is almost impossible to get hold of because it’s deemed way too dangerous for us potato-heads to use safely. So what does this mean in terms of manometer height if we use liquids of a lower density? Well…..

Mercury 22-24cm (Ideal!)
Water 299 – 326cm (free-ish and known density but hard to see at a distance)
Light oil 345 – 376cm (coloured – easy to read, density varies on type of oil)

20150413_manometerSo here’s our first problem …… measuring each cylinder individually will require a water manometer at least 3.5m tall and an oil one even taller, clearly not exactly practical or compact! The solution? Well the Capo comes to the rescue …..

Being a twin, the Capo simply needs a differential setup – that is, measure both cylinders against each other, not against atmospheric pressure. In theory they should cancel each other out if perfectly balanced and so the manometer would read zero. Any imbalance will have the liquid slightly higher in one tube and lower in the other …… so by measuring differential pressure we don’t need a manometer anywhere near as tall, but remember, even small differences in pressure will make big changes in liquid level, so the manometer still needs to be quite tall. In the end I built mine on an old wardrobe door – a total height of  155cm, with about 60cc of Scottoil filling about 40% of this. With hindsight, it’s about twice as tall as it needs to be, but hey you live and learn!

Putting it to use …..

20150413_monoWith the Capo nicely warmed up after a little ride, the tank lifted and the manometer plugged into the Capo’s vacuum ports, she was fired up again. The oil level in the tubes drifted apart and settled at approx. 9.5cm (equivalent to approx. 0.6cmHg), a gentle nudge of the screw for the front cylinder on the throttle body saw the level drop to just below 2-2.5cm (approx. 0.15cmHg) – comfortably within the 0.5cmHg accuracy quoted by Synchromate and oodles better than the 2cmHg per division of the Davida gauges. So that’s a £2 rig versus the commercial £70/£170 rigs ……..

….. and one other thing, this was without ANY damping (valve/jet/cotton wool etc.) in the line because the Scottoil works perfectly well as its own damper. It pulses gently by no more than about 2-3mm in the tube but is viscous enough to respond reasonably quickly to changes in vacuum. Oh and that addition I mentioned …… simply two small sealed containers greater than the volume of oil in the manometer, one placed in each line. Now if either vacuum line should come adrift the container on that line acts as a trap to capture the oil before it can get swallowed up by the motor!

Arduino motorcycle vacuum gaugeSo ultimately it’s cheap, self calibrating with excellent resolution around the balance point ….. but not exactly portable! And so in typical MA fashion, the mind wanders off to thoughts of a compact electronic version. Powered by the bike, self calibrating – kind of like this one!

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The slow road back to normality

20150313_bigWhere to start …. ‘wow, what a week’ … doesn’t quite seem to cut it really! :-) I guess it’s fair to say we were in a bit of a state of shock on the Friday/Saturday following the evacuation notice/snow-storm and then of course, having no electricity, phone/Internet just put the icing on the cake. We began packing but were so distracted by inner thoughts that we seemed to have no direction or purpose – stuffing all manner of things in bags willy-nilly. Honestly, looking back now I think it was more like Shaun of the Dead meets Supermarket Sweep! The word on the grapevine was that power would be anything up to a month as so much of the infrastructure is down. In the end the region has poured in loads of industrial generators to power groups of homes – ours went online at 18:30 Wednesday evening, so that’s at least 6-8 happy families in our neck of the woods!

Today we took a drive out in the sunshine and popped in to the machine shop to see if Gabriele could knock up a part for the Capo – ready tomorrow afternoon he shouted cheerily over the generator running full tilt outside the workshop door. You can’t keep a good workshop closed for long! On the way we saw first-hand more evidence of the damage to trees, power and telecom lines, and also the speed the system gears up to get services back on line – generators being installed or chugging away merrily on a street corner, a fleet of trucks loaded with new poles heading inland, cherry pickers and workers buzzing around pylons and substations.

The word in the media seems to suggest that this was the worst the region had experienced since the 1950/60’s and that two villages 40 minutes drive south of us may have broken the world record for snowfall ….. over 100 inches (2.5m) in 18 hours, apparently that’s more snow than Boston had in Jan/Feb! Here’s a couple of links:-

http://www.meteoweb.eu (Italian)

http://www.weather.com (USA)


And finally …………..

Unfortunately these kind of events have a knock on effect ………… and that means for the forseeable future there will no longer be any Caponord/Futura dashboard repairs until life returns to some semblance of normality, sorry folks.

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Abruzzo a region on its knees

A quick update and a heart-felt thank you from Jan and I for the kind messages of support. The storm destroyed our road, half a valley, felled power and telecom lines and ruined about 20% of our Olive trees. On the bright side the house and barn are fine!

The evacuation order will only be lifted when the road is repaired …… and that I fear will be well in excess of the one month they told us. Looking at the damage, it will be more like 6 months……so we are now looking at our options.

First we have to obey the evacuation order and leave, second I have to somehow extract the Capo. If the weather holds I may be able to ride over the other side of the valley (thank God I hadn’t swapped out the Karoo 3’s for the Anakee 3’s!) ….. if that’s not possible then more drastic measures will be called for because she sure as hell isn’t staying there!

As a neigbouring farmer said yesterday “Abruzzo e stato massacrato” ……. Abruzzo has been massacred. Said it all really ……..

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End of the Road?

Abruzzo landslide March 2015 - road closedWe’ve had a bit of a rough start to 2015 in the Abruzzo region, well actually that’s not true ….. it goes back to the tail end of 2013! That’s when we had the first of the terrain-changing rain and snow fall. The following months seemed to fair no better, with higher than average rainfall throughout 2014, so much so that the Olive fruit fly thrived in the humid conditions and the Olive harvest crashed into a national disaster. We all so wanted 2015 to fair better ……

…… alas that hasn’t been the case. More rain and snow has seen numerous landslides throughout the region – our own road included. Only a few kilometers away in Civitella Casanova 45 people have been evacuated and homes destroyed because of land slippage. Roads are closed all over the region and teams of specialists have been drafted in by the authorities to help deal with the situation.

But it seems life has one more kick up the arse for us ……. yesterday was sunny, almost 20c with a light breeze. Today is 2c with heavy snow and winds forecast to possibly top 100Km/Hr Abruzzo landslide March 2015and it will last 48hrs, with another 48hrs of rain following on. Of course that’s only the start of it, any extra damage will be slow and insidious over the following weeks as the already saturated land tries to absorb the extra water ….. my gut feeling is that it won’t cope, it’s already at capacity and that can only lead to more landslides.

Valentino RossiMelodramatic? Maybe. But two weeks ago we were told that the authorities were considering re-locating use. We got a reprieve because we have no kids or elderly here, nor do we require regular medical attention plus none of the damage was within a few hundred meters of our home.

I have to say, we’ve had better weeks. But then out of the blue, life has a way of throwing you a bone, a little something to bring a smile to your face. In this case a snappy supplement cover of ‘Saint Valentino’! Reading that mag over a hot brew and suddenly things don’t look so rough ………

 UPDATE

Seconds after hitting the ‘publish’ button the phone rang ….. guess what, they were serving an evacuation notice on us in the middle of a raging snowstorm. I honestly can’t think when Jan and last felt so low ….. me, I just want the Capo out of here …. and us with it.

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Auel Wax Fix soft ….. bye bye bug splat!

Take that Spongebob!In the flush of youth I was the same as most fledgling bikers I guess, spending endless hours cleaning my bike with mates over a cold beer and loud music  ….. of course all that changed when riding a bike became a job five or six days a week. Washing the bike turned into a chore, something to be endured not enjoyed through endless ice-cold winter weeks, honed into a slick process to illicit the most benefit from the least input.

A working bike, one you put food on the table with ….. has to be as reliable and resistant to the degradation by the elements as is possible. To that end I’ve lived by the mantra of checking a bike over daily ….. battery, bearings, chain, electrics, suspension, steering, tyres  etc …. there are numerous mnemonics kicking around to work with. Washing the bike was just as much a way of helping do those checks as it was presenting a clean bike to the world at large and sailing under the radar of bored Metropolitan Police officers, whose sole existence appeared to center around the idea that any dirty motorbike was undoubtably an illegal one.

Yes it’s fair to say that cleaning a bike for me has long since lost any interest, it is simply a means to an end …. jetwash the main muck (avoid bearings and seals), hose pipe and Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid & Auel Wax Fix softbucket of sudsy-wudsy car shampoo and rinse off. Air line some bits and chamois the others ….. then coat liberally with ACF50, either sprayed directly or wiped on with a soft clean cloth. Total time, less than 30 mins or I’m slacking. This method has stood me in good stead for many a year – and let’s face it, snake-oil cleaners come and go, just like gimmicky brushes or wonder sponges.

That of course was until Manuel from Motrag stuck his oar in! He’s tried for ages to convince me about this amazing product he uses – in fact he says he hasn’t actually washed his bike since Moses was a little boy. Instead he uses ‘Auel Wax Fix Soft’ – wipe on, wipe off ( no silly Karate Kid impersonations please)….. and when he recently sent some dashboards for repair, he snuck a can in the box to try out. Hmmmmmm.

So yesterday, I took a notion into my old numb-skull to give it a go on the Capo windscreen. Spray on, wait 30 seconds, wipe off ….and …………….. JEEZ! This stuff actually works!!!

Residual bug splat going back years just wiped away – over 95% of it. The other 5% just took a second spray/wipe. So out came the hex-key, off with the windscreen and I did the inside as well, no smears, no waxy (forget the misleading name on the can) residue, noAprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid windscreen apparent static build up either. Just one unbelievably clean windscreen, so much so, that I can see the stone chip damage that once hid among all manner of splattered bug guts. Afterwards I tried it on mirrors, hand guards and panniers …. anywhere buggy-bits accumulate. excellent results every time.

Manuel tells me he’s been using this stuff since 1996 and I can see why. No, it won’t re-write how I clean my bike, but I think an extra 5 minutes tagged on using Wax Fix isn’t going to break the time-bank either. The downside seems to be getting hold of it ….. Ebay has a couple of suppliers (approx €10-€13 a can) – not cheap, but Manuel says a can does go a long way when you get used to using it. Hopefully he’ll be able to supply it through Motrag in the future.

Meanwhile all these smooth and polished surfaces must be worth an extra 5mph! 😀

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TuneECU (Android) update to V2.2

TuneECU Andriod app V2.2 - Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Sagem ECUStop the Bus (or your Caponord) and grab yer smartphones again, TuneECU has just been updated to V2.2 ………… worthy of mentioning? Oh Yes! Alaine has addressed the poor connection (cable) AND the screen freezing if you swiped it when logging issue. Now TuneECU connects to the Capo quick as you like, just as it used to. I tried it numerous times and never once had a problem – fantastic! All-in-all a positive step forward …..

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