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LOCKDOWN LIFE #1

Lockdown is teaching us to love the ones we're with, whether that's our wives, family or our bikes. One day in the future some seriously fettled bikes are going to be set free...

A month into lockdown and finally I’ve got on to my bike. Not to ride, but to fettle. It’s kind of a reward for this past month where, evenings and weekends, I’ve been going around the house doing all those jobs that have been put off for the last year. Painting the exposed rafters and the eaves outside the garage. Stripping, repairing and repainting the doors to the brick shed. Endless bloody gardening thanks to Mrs B. Even repairing and tuning the broken derailleur on Sonny Jim’s MTB, not to mention replacing the worn-to-the-metal brakes. And, for good measure, recommissioning Mrs B’s old hybrid bicycle (for use by ‘guests’!).

And finally, a garage sort out, which really is nothing more than organising the same mess just a little more neatly, although I did manage to offload son’s old school desk onto the neighbour to gain a precious extra square metre of space. Oh, and by crikey, it’s a job keeping 13-year-old son occupied for a whole day. Mrs B is a nurse so she’s gone all working hours, so it’s my job to keep him occupied and it’s wearing, so wearing…

Oh yes, one other project – a sanding and oil of the workbench
Son's homemade flapjack – recompense for MTB abuse
Donjoy brace is doing a good job of keeping me moving while waiting for indefinitely postponed operation on knee ligaments
Polished bench means suddenly I'm taking care not to scratch or blemish it – maybe it wasn't such a good idea

So my lockdown project is of course my Honda TLR250 trials bike. My ongoing project of some 20 years now (ahem). It does, though, inspire me every time I bring it out. The design, the colours are just timeless – just looking at this bike makes me happy. However, it’s in much need of maintenance.

I’ve had in my ‘stores’ for some time now new wheel bearings and steering head bearings and these I’ll be looking to fit in the coming days. A little more tricky, but hopefully not too tricky, will be fitting new fork seals. The fork sliders have some little dinks in them, but I can’t bring myself to getting them rechromed so I’ll dress the nicks with emery cloth for now, taking any edges off and seeing if they’ll leave the new seals alone. Although first I need some new fork oil, which I don’t have – that’s an online purchase these days. Oh yes, and I have a pair of spacers to fit, to preload the fork springs – the ultimate poor man’s fork tune…

Still not got the garage where I want it, but this will do for now, TLR – even as battered as this – still looks 'factory'
Exhaust off at last. The TLR (nearly) always manages to look cleaner than it is
Dome-head nuts meant the exhaust studs were rust free
That rust will just have to stay for now. Note oddly angled cross brace!

Because I work in reverse order of importance first job has been fitting the new-ish exhaust I bought over a year ago. It’s a modified stock system, not the prettiest, but unique and it just looks right for my TLR. Getting the old system off turned into a night’s work. All the bolts, even the nuts on the exhaust studs came off easy. But the connection between header and muffler – joined for well over 20 years – refused to yield. I’d soaked this for days in penetrating oil. It didn’t shift. I took a heat gun to it, playing the heat over it until the metal fair smoked –still wouldn’t shift. Biggest hammer yet plus drift… didn’t move even a millimetre. Physically prying off the tangs on the muffler? Nope. In the end – and, oh, the shame – it came down to a hacksaw to separate the two. So no reuse of the header, although I’ll be able to salvage the muffler, for what purpose I can’t imagine.

As I write this I haven’t fitted the new exhaust yet. I’m doing a gentle clean around where the exhaust routes first, and just looking to see if there’s anything else I need to do before bolting the exhaust in place. Actually I’m kind of putting it off because I know I’m going to be pretty chuffed, excited even, when I see that exhaust on the bike. Together with the new Ozo shocks there’s a bling factor here!

Baked-on dirt has resisted all attempts at cleaning
Original mudguard snapped up for £35 on eBay
Yeah, the tank's becoming porous. A future fix...
Newish exhaust isn't perfect, but has a charm

So that’s me for now. In the meantime I’ve encouraged the rest of the RUST team – Warren, July and Craig – to chip in with what’s going on in their lockdown workshops/garages, so lookout for their blogs in the coming days.

And what about you? What have you been up to? Feel free to reply below. Seriously, we’d love to hear from you.

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