Monday, February 27, 2012

Troll Auspuff

The Troll was off the road for most of last year due to problems with its kick-start, steering and gearbox. The guys at The Vespa Shop got her fixed up smartly once I'd finally tracked down the replacement parts. I must admit that it felt strange riding her after so long. I found myself struggling again to remember which side was the gear change and which was the brake! One thing I did notice though was the engine was very spluttering and smoky.

A major part of the problem is the quality of the reproduction exhaust (May 2009 - Reproduction exhausts are available from a number of suppliers such as and other vendors on German ebay. The original exhaust was made from a long extruded tube that wrapped around itself much like a paper clip. All the seams in the original exhaust were welded making it very robust. The reproduction exhaust however was constructed of several interlocking pieces, making it much easier to manufacture but requiring a larger number of joins. None of these joins are sealed.

Shortly after I began running in the Troll in May 2009 the exhaust began to leak. The leaks were small though and a smear of sealant was enough to plug them. But over time it seems the exhaust has warped under pressure and heat and basically every seam was spewing gas, coating the sides and underside of the scooter in black soot. When parked, black oil residue dripped from a dozen places.

So it was time for a backyard repair. The exhaust was surprisingly easy to remove. A single bolt holds the exhaust to the footplate and a compression ring joins it to the exhaust pipe. It was positively filthy. The component parts were easily dismantled by removing two bolts at the front of the exhaust and all were given a good wash in degreaser.

The chrome came up well and all the soot was removed. After drying off I reassembled the parts. They are generally badly fitting and required a very liberal smearing of exhaust sealant around every join.

It was a bit of an effort to get the exhaust back on - these things are always easier to remove than reinstall - but I was pleased with the result. Although it hasn't completely solved the problem - there are still a few minor leaks - it's working much better than before as most of the exhaust is going out the back end, as it should. Next weekend I'll give her another good run and see if this has improved the performance. Maintaining pressure in the exhaust is critical to obtaining the correct compression in the engine and a leaky exhaust will substantially degrade the performance of a two-stroke engine.

One more point. I normally use Silkolene synthetic two-stroke scooter oil in all my machines. I find it works well and is low smoke. On a whim however I tried Valvoline racing two-stroke oil, which sold itself as a performance product with low smoke. In my experience to date it hasn't quite lived up to that claim. Maybe it is a better product and I've just used too much but the Troll now looks and smells like an archetypical East German machine, trailing an enormous cloud of blue smoke behind it. I'll give it another crack when I get to the bottom of this tank but if it doesn't improve I'll be saving the Valvoline only for East German car rally's!

Update 4 March 2012

I took the Troll out for a series of runs to test the resealed exhaust. I was pleased to note that the repairs provided a definite improvement on performance. The engine was a lot quieter and much more grunt. It was easy to run her up to 70 kph and I could feel that she had more in her. I should also mention I cleaned the carburetter.

That said though, the exhaust still leaks, but not as badly as before. Of course the leak is on the seam at the top of the exhaust where it bolts onto the floor plate so I'll need to remove it and reseal it again.

Since cleaning up the exhaust last week it's been easier to find where it is still leaking. If it can't be sealed up I might consider welding all the joins to solve the problem for good.

Update 10 March 2012

This weekend I removed the exhaust and re-examined the seals. The seal under the mounting bolt had completely opened up again.

I filled the exhaust with water to precisely locate the leak. The still shot doesn't quite do it justice but water pretty much gushed out of the seam on the left hand pipe.

The leak was far to serious for a smear of sealant so it was out with some exhaust tape. It's an unattractive but last ditch solution. After reinstalling the exhaust I took the Troll for a long ride to cure the silicone tape. I'm afraid I'm not convinced it has actually worked as there is already a long run of black oil along the edges of the tape. I think it's time to look for a replacement.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Big Al's Poker Run 2012

Big Al's Poker Run was held on Saturday 12th February 2012 and was bigger and better than ever. I think there were a few less hot-rods and 1950s American cars and a much bigger contingent of Australian classics this year. There were also some classic cars on display.

This magnificent 1930s Chevrolet car had a career as an endurance racer.

The boat tailed bodywork was constructed from canvas stretched over a wood frame. This made the car both streamlined and light. The two cockpit-like seats in the rear were actually built to hold double fuel tanks for endurance racing. In the days before safety regulations the on-board mechanic's would refuel their cars and check and top up the oil while the cars were in motion, moving back and forth along the running boards.

Shelly chatting with the owner.

Rusty the co-pilot takes a rest

1927 Pontiac Sports Roadster. Apparently one of only three in the world.

1927 Chrysler Model 75

1938 Dodge

A lovely 1940 Ford Deluxe.

Not all cars, there was a few odd balls like this 1940s tow truck.

A stunningly restored Edsel.

The Edsel can't escape its reputation as "one of the worst car's of all time" but that's scarcely fair. The Edsel was a relatively good car for its era with lots of excellent and unusual features. But it was ill-timed, coming on the market just as the American economy went into a downturn. And of course its marketing was ultimately to blame, trumpeting the Edsel as something more than it really was - which was after all just a car. The Edsel was in production for 3 years.

Push button gear shifters appeared in several American cars in the 1940s and 50s but only the Edsel put push button gears on the steering hub.

1955 Cadillac. A gorgeous car

Something new this year - a stall selling toy cars and other collectables.

The Ford Customline was a popular car at the show. I think we saw about four there.

Ford Customline

1961 EK Holden - lovely cars

Part of the American contingent

1959 Chevrolet Impala. I always wanted one of these beautiful cars. You gotta love the wings!

Thunderbirds are go!

A bit of an oddity among the American cars - a hotted up Triumph wagon

A Lincoln Continental

Those amazing outward opening doors are just made for a big entrance. This is the kind of car you'd expect John F Kennedy to have ridden in.

Ford Mustang

Ford Fairlane

A HR Holden (right) and EH Holden (left)

Holden Monaro. These now obtain ridiculous prices.

1970s Aussie muscle - Fords versus Holden

Chevrolet Camaro

Pontiac Firebird

Ford Falcon interceptor. Some might find it odd, given my taste in arcane vehicles, but I almost bought one of these when I was seventeen years old. It was this very model with the green and white paint scheme and was $6000. Not a lot today of course but at that time my annual wage. Then my grandfather died and inherited his 1963 EH Holden which I drove and loved for almost ten years.

Mad Max's Ford Interceptor. What a car! What a fantastic opening chase scene. As a teenage boy I loved that film and watched it over and over on video. It was this car that made me want to buy the Falcon pictured above.

The sleek lines of the Chevrolet Corvette

Here's a really interesting car. 1948 Debonde Sports V8. Although you wouldn't recognise it now this was originally a 1939 Ford V8 sedan that was stripped down for racing. In 1948 Fred Debonde and Ron Possett stripped the ford down to its chassis and installed this new, sleek bodywork. A 4800cc Ford Mercury V8 engine was slipped under the hood and the car went on to a successful racing career in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

A wee rippa! Honda S600. With these little cars the Japanese were able to undercut the market for light sports cars that was dominated by British brands like MG and Triumph.

The run gets underway

The Edsel hits the road. I don't care what anyone says - this car makes a statement.

A jet boat roars past on the river side.

For anyone who missed the show or can't get enough there is the Max Murray Auto Xtravaganza on Easter Saturday 7th April 2012 at the Sir Ross McLarty Oval, Pinjarra. Details can be found online

For photos of previous years shows -