Thumper Diaries

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

A Trip to the Swedish Woods

TravelsPosted by exile 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.

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Out With The Old..

MaintenancePosted by exile 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

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GPS - Tomtom Rider

CustomisationPosted by exile 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..

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Going Electronic

CustomisationPosted by exile 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 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.

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Lean and Mean

CustomisationPosted by exile 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.

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Broke Brake

MaintenancePosted by exile Sat, June 07, 2014 18:03:51

Sometimes my own eagerness catches me out…

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 lever.

Whatever doesn’t kill me…!

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

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CustomisationPosted by exile Fri, May 09, 2014 22:17:00
I suppose I'm not the only one who worries about getting a roadside puncture. I have a can of that liquid puncture repair stuff that one simply squirts into the punctured inner tube through the air valve but how does one re-inflate the tyre? Not wanting to carry a large foot pump with me on my travels I needed something smaller but equally effective. I found it the other day. A cycle pump, almost like the ones available for push bikes. It is really compact, no more than 9 inches long, has a built in pressure gauge and comes complete with a mounting bracket which can be attached to Thumper's frame. The bracket is great to have as the pump is too long to fit in the tool boxes.

Here it is:

Folded out and ready for use, it looks like this:

I mounted the bracket on the front of the frame with zip ties, allowing room enough to not foul the steering. I had to customize the bracket slightly to let the ties fit securely round it but, all in all, I reckon it turned out very well. It sits discreetly out of the way but is still easily accessible if I ever have the need to use it.

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A Great Day Out

TravelsPosted by exile Wed, April 30, 2014 21:15:38
We've been having some lovely weather lately but, alas and alack, today might be the last chance for a ride out for the next week or so. Deciding to take a chance on it, I brought Thumper out of the shed and set forth to visit an old mate who is a bit poorly after having been operated on for a bad ear. He's going to be off work for the next month because he's off balance and partially deaf, albeit temporarily. He lives about 85 kilometers away and the ride to North Zealand is fairly pleasant, even in the winter. Open roads and very little of urban disturbance make for a good day out.

Avoiding the motorway is not exactly easy from my home as the bridges off the island are either right in the centre of Copenhagen or carrying the motorway but I can reduce the amount of mileage I cover on them by turning off of the main route as early as possible and then take the ring roads round the city. Open country is not that far away.
Once you get off the ring roads, you're out in the open on country roads. Holding a steady 80KpH where possible, I reached my pal after an hour and a half, including a ten minute stop to get off the bike and regain some circulation in my backside.

We sat and spoke for about an hour, he assured me he'll be fine and then I left to visit my daughter, 13 km further down the road but actually in the homeward direction.
A cup of coffee and a good chat later, I started on the return journey.

Strangely, the only real traffic I encountered was on the last section of motorway close to home. Slow moving and concentrated, I made better time on the 'A' roads than I did on the E20 to Kastrup. The final 20 kilometers took me an age to get through.

Thumper never missed a beat all day. Solid and steady, I never had a moments concern for the bike. The more I ride him, the more relaxed about his performance I become. I find myself truly beginning to trust him.

Roll on Summer. We'll be doing much more of this.

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CustomisationPosted by exile Tue, April 15, 2014 17:13:26
Not that I'm storming into the middle distance with all guns blazing.. just that I wanted to make it a bit easier for myself if I need to put Thumper on trickle charge every once in a while.

Instead of having to remove the battery box every time, I have fitted two charging poles to the box and wired them into the battery terminals. Now I can connect the charger with a couple of banana clips and I can also check the voltage with a touch of my voltmeter. An added bonus is, that I have a 12v take off if I need it without having to get the cover off.

I separated them to each side of the box so I don't risk dropping anything across the two poles and cause a short circuit. Negative on the left, positive on the right. The whole job cost me pennies and the only hard part was the soldering.
Here's the result:


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TravelsPosted by exile Mon, March 31, 2014 18:19:37
The clocks went forward this past weekend, which means it's officially summertime. The weather seems to have turned for the better too so in lovely Spring sunshine, 15°C and a light breeze from the West, I decided to take a day out at the seaside. It's not really that far away anyway, so why not take a peek? It was gorgeous. I met a few other bikers on my travels including an elderly gent of 78 years on a chinese chopper. As he said, "I can't walk that far these days but I can still ride the bike." Respect to him..

We compared machines. He was impressed with Thumper, I praised his machine. He said he'd had it for five years and has never taken a spanner to it. I told him I have owned Thumper for a year and I've made a few moderations. He looked and nodded his approval. "Nice bike." he said, "I wish it was mine."

Anyway, we had a good day out, the weather was lovely, Thumper went like the wind and sounded like thunder. This is what life should be like.

Here's a couple of pictures of Thumper at the waters edge..

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