He was our boy. We will miss him so much.
Repairing and refinishing the badly corroded aluminium part of the enclosed rear chain was a tricky job. Cleaning off the old paint revealed ally that looked like it had been attacked by worms. I filled the holes and rebuilt the tattered edges with Devcon aluminium putty. Brilliant stuff, as the before and after shots show. Very easy to use and can even be smoothed and shaped with a wet finger when still soft.
Wiring sorted (well, the dodgy bits by-passed), fresh oil, and this is how she sounds without laying a spanner on her.
Almost tempted to stick that single seat back on her and run her as is for the summer. Mmmm.
In truth the frame of the Spada Royale, with its wafer thin original matt paint, should be given a bare-metal respray. But it’s spring already! – I want to ride her, not strip her – so we will have to make do with a touch-up and a tidy up. That said things are looking pretty neat back there now. And the crowning glory is a pair of new shock absorbers from Agostini Mandello. Made by Oram in Italy, they use Ohlins technology inside. Beautiful. Once I’m certain they work as good as they look, they’ll be available from us here.
Had a visit from Mike Fordham, maestro at Influx Magazine. Cool guy and very ‘simpatico’. This was the result.
He’s done a great job of the photos. The Sport 15 looks peachy. Can’t see how the others could be bettered without a time machine or a bit of plastic surgery. (Now, where’s my Dremel?)
You remember that the Gilera is supposed to have ‘an intermittent ignition fault’? That it runs, but roughly? Previously, horribly twisted wiring fixes, hidden under insulting tape, chilled the heart. A points gap you could pass a spanner through can’t have been helping either. But it gets worse (better, I mean, since we are moving towards a happy ending).
Poking around with a multimeter in here – the Clapham Junction of Italian bike electrics – reveals that the words ‘current’ and ‘consistent’ were divorced some time ago. I bypass the jumble of ancient switches, fuses and bullets to bring reliable power to the coil and … bingo! We have spark! This is it!
Fresh fuel. Kick, kick, kick. Nothing, still.
This word ‘intermittent’ is beginning to bug me.
All that fresh fuel is getting through, isn’t it? Fuel pipes off. Taps on – both of them. Nothing. The workshop floor should now be awash, but there’s not a drop. Both taps are so clogged they won’t pass a whiff?
In the picture the top tap has already been unblocked, though not yet properly cleaned up. Those two holes through which fuel must flow were so packed with crud they were invisible. (I should have taken a picture but in my excitement forgot – novice bloggers, eh?) The bottom tap is still untouched, with its holes mostly blocked and the passageway behind them still completely solid.
Intermittent? I think not.
Is now the time for a topical Jethro joke?
Mate: “Bloody bike won’t start.”
Jethro: “It’s either shit in the fuel or shit in the tank.”
Mate: “How often do I ‘ave to do that?”
I brought the 2TR from Cheshire in a tiny weather window at the end of November when the west side of the country was still virtually snow free. We loaded her up with thick snow on the ground. For four hours I dreamed of riding the Laverda to the rescue of snow-bound maidens on Bodmin Moor, but in fact I hardly saw another flake for 350 miles – until, that is, the last 2 miles. Our lane was impassable for a van, and unloading a bike, on ice, in the dark, would have been folly. I left the Laverda tucked up overnight in my brother’s heated garage in town and rode her home through four inches of snow the very next day. I can’t say that that six mile ride taught me very much about my new steed, except for one thing: the gearing was way too low for an event like the LET, in which the plentiful off-road sections are connected by some very long road rides. The Cornwall start at Plusha, near Launceston, is 90 road miles from the Bridgwater collecting area. Revving the guts out of that lovely little bike at 50mph, hour after hour?; my mechanical sympathy just would not let me do it. Anyway, even a brief ride had revealed room to raise the gearing for the road without spoiling the bike’s off-road hill-climbing abilities.
The 2TR has a fully enclosed drive chain, which is a very good thing indeed, generally speaking. Tales of enclosed chains and sprockets blessed with immortality are legion in certain quarters. The picture shows it with the rearmost cover (for chain lubricating, retained by just two small screws) already removed. Enclosure does make an otherwise simple thing like checking/changing your gearing a bit more complicated though. But since the rear sprocket housing was clearly in need of some cosmetic TLC, disassembling the whole hub was hardly an extravagance.
The handbook reveals that 2TR gearing options are many – 13, 14 or 15 teeth at the gearbox; 38-45 at the rear – but the standard combination is 14/40. Laverda Club specialists will tell you that a 15-tooth gearbox sprocket will do damage to your casings in the end. I am not about to test this lore (yet), so it’s a 14 on the front for me. Turning to the rear (so to speak), I find a 41! A tooth lower than standard. So I ordered a 38 from the ever-helpful Jane at Sprockets Unlimited, and up it turned in half the quoted fortnight.
Our Laverda 2TR is a beauty, and in great original condition, but it’s previous owner did use the beast in anger (in spite of its great rarity), and so it needs a thorough checking over before I use it in this year’s Lands End Trial.
A couple of significant problems quickly emerge.
One of the two plugs comes out only very reluctantly, and the reason is soon apparent. Only the last couple of threads are respectable and the rest look like they’ve been attacked with nails. It must be possible, with great care and patience, to get the plug back in, but that’s not for me. Sweet little copper insert is the answer.
The front engine plates are mounted to the frame with four M7 bolts – one good, two loose, and one missing altogether. The three bolts still present are all showing thread damage where the engine plate has sawn gently at the bolt. Time for replacements. My solution is to use some camshaft retaining bolts from Alfa Romeo (thanks Graham!). Things of beauty, they have M7 threads but a lovely flanged 10mm head. They also benefit from having that short, slightly oversize shank onto which, if I insert them from the inside, the engine plate can rest. Nuts on the outside are not so neat, but worth it.
The sidestand has been strengthened to make it possible to kick the bike into life from a standing position. You can see the bracing behind the spring. It’s a great improvement which provides a very stable perch for the one good swing it takes, hot or cold. It will probably make nocturnal puncture repairs a bit easier too. It’s time the bracing had a lick of orange paint though, and I’ll touch up the frame while I’m at it.
Since we are talking frames, this is my opportunity to show you the Laverda’s adjustable headstock. Three different positions: road/’regolarita’ (30 degrees), motocross (27.5 degrees) and trials (25 degrees). As you can see, we are taking the middle way at the moment, but I am looking forward to trying out the other settings.
Aprilia (not the modern bike maker) was Italy’s Lucas, and had a similar reputation (Prince of Darkness and all that).
But this unusual logo is a little period design treat.