Tag Archives: MZ

There is a light that never goes out…

For some reason unknown to Western capitalist running dogs, you can take the keys out of an MZ but leave the lights on. So a few weeks ago when I was in a rush to get to a meeting at work I accidentally did this and came back to a flat battery.

Put the Optimate on it in the garage, came back a few weeks later (I know, but it was winter and I’ve done my time riding in the cold and the wet) and it was flat again. So I brought it into the kitchen (the battery, not the bike) and put it on the car charger.

Built its strength back up, put it back on the bike, this time it held its charge but the red light that warns you that your revs are too puny to run the system wouldn’t go out.

I treated the bike to a new battery just in case.

Thanks, said the bike, but I’m just going to carry on with the warning light.

Now, it seems to me that you should be able to run a bike with a flat battery even if you can’t start it, but it’s different for MZs. In a rare burst of good luck, the new battery had just enough juice in it to get back to the garage and I thought I would see if the headlights brightened when I revved the engine, because I have a vague memory of that revealing whether or not your charging system was shot.

Turned the lights on and the engine stopped.

Yes, we have a problem.

My grasp of electrics is about the same as the Wingman’s grasp of particle physics. I know that a circuit has to go power – switch – component – earth, though sometimes on the MZ it goes power – component – switch – earth. If the circuit isn’t working you have to check that the fuse isn’t blown, that the wires aren’t broken, and that the thing that is supposed to be working isn’t borked.

If that’s a light it’s easy. If it’s a thing with six diodes on it, not so much.

What a man can do, remember?

I have a multimeter, a wiring diagram and the might of motorcycle Twitter behind me.

How to keep your Volkswagen Alive For Ever” recommends that before starting a new task you should grok the scene. Robert Heinlein is rather out of favour these days, but that’s no reason not to take the advice.

The charging circuit includes the battery, the generator, the regulator and the rectifier. The regulator and the rectifier are under the seat. Like Ant and Dec, one of them has a large shiny dome and I’m never quite sure which is which.

The Blue Book has three pages of instructions on what to test if you’ve got a red light that won’t go out. The Haynes manual has the same but their tests require you to “unsolder” several components – I have a soldering iron but not an unsoldering one, so I am not keen on this!. The Blue Book’s tests just need a bulb and crocodile clips. And by fortunate chance (and an afternoon in a Trabant graveyard having my leg humped by a Jack Russell) I have an actual IFA test lamp. I dig this out in the hope that the bike will feel more inclined to co-operate with the testing equipment of its people.

Electrical fault-finding needs ample supplies of tea, a good desk lamp and a notebook. I’m trying to learn to love it as it’s nice to do some work on the bike that doesn’t leave me clarted with shite or bleeding.

I got to play with my brucie bonus caliper, which would have been better if I’d remembered how to read the vernier scale and hadn’t had to resort to just putting the brush on top of the ruler part to make sure it was longer than 9mm (dear reader, it was.)

I got to refresh several fuses (never mind stockpiling bog roll, I’m going to have to clear Halfords out of 15amp blade fuses if this needs doing again).

Apart from me short-circuiting things several times, nothing actually seemed to be broken.

And then it just started working again. Wiggling the Regulator (or Rectifier) about resolved some sort of earthing problem and that was us.

I’m a great believer in quitting while I’m ahead. Yes, it would be good to understand a bit more about what was wrong and why it’s not wrong any more but I’ll just make sure I’ve put the Communist Test Lamp into the tool kit and keep a scan of the test pages on my phone

Hasta la Victoria Siempre! ( to mix my marxist metaphors).

1 Comment

Filed under MZ

Hammer to fall – auction house brucie bonus!

I don’t get lucky very often. And sometimes I take decisions that don’t quite work out. I put some absentee bids in at an auction about 90 miles away from home because I wanted the MZ ES150 they were selling and fancied my chances. And it would have made sense to make a 180 mile round trip to pick up a motorcycle and a box of random shite.

So when they emailed to say the bike had been withdrawn from auction I should have nixed all the other bids too.

Forgot.

On the Monday after the auction they called to tell me I was the fortunate winner of a box of studs and bolts.

Arse.

So I went to get it, because a winning bid is a contract, and I met up with BikerPaul for tea and crumpet on the way home, so it wasn’t a total wreck of a day, but by the time the petrol had been included and the tax and fees it was a 50 quid box of bolts.

In the evening I finally had a look to weigh up the true extent of my folly and among the stainless studs there was a shiny silver lining – a Sheffield steel Moore and Wright vernier caliper. Now I know you can buy digital ones for about 7 quid but it looks like this style sells for more like 70.

It was rusted solid, of course, but that’s only a matter of patience and penetrating oil.

And there’s something rewarding about bringing old tools back to life. I don’t know whose garage was being sold off in lots but I hope they will be happy for their calipers to make MZs run better.

22 Feb 2020

1 Comment

Filed under Garage stuff

Here we go again…

What is life without a two-stroke rolling project? Dull, that’s what. And I felt my hard-won sidecar piloting skills leaking away over the summer, so I have been trying to buy a new rig for months.

I had bought my ticket and arranged insurance for a magnificent classic Suzuki and Watsonian chair on sale in Ayrshire when the vendor changed his mind. 100 quid down on an non-refundable fare to Glasgow Central. Cheers, twat. Though I did once do the same to a man on his way to buy 2Moos, the Africa Twin, so perhaps it was karma catching up with me.

This one got posted to the Federation of Sidecar Clubs facebook group and was, I thought, snapped up by another member who has been on a quest for an MZ outfit for a long time while I was haggling over the Suzuki. I sighed, and cursed our Scottish vacillator.

Then I got a message in my inbox, from the son of the seller. I turned out he was a local chap who I’d visited back in the spring to see if I wanted to buy his Monza (I decided against putting a chair on the Triumph in the end so didn’t.)  Dan had passed on the rig, was I still interested?

Oh yes!

A deal was done,  and yesterday I collected my rental trailer and trundled off to collect the outfit. It is always a bloody rugby day when I hire trailers which means bringing them back requires dodging through the security and the parking chaps in hi viz around the arena to get back to the yard. A 2CV can tow 400kg. The trailer weighed 228kg empty. An MZ250 weighs about 150kg. I was a bit worried.

I shouldn’t have been. The old girl is indomitable and after Matthew and his dad pushed the outfit up the ramp we trundled steadily home.

Last time I brought a bike home on a ramp I borrowed a neighbour’s husband to help me back it down. These days I am an Independent Woman and did it on my own, though one of my new neighbours did watch to make sure the ramps were in the right place. Mainly because she was waiting to get her car into the garage and a pile of Eastern Bloc iron on its side in the alley would have represented an unacceptable delay.

Today we have been out. Once without the Wingman, in case of catastrophe, and once with, as he was sat by the door complaining at being left behind.

“Is the sidecar just for the dog?” asked a chap in the garage as I was filling up.

Yes, I said. I didn’t tell him that the dog also has a three-wheel kit car and a doge chariot. I think he would have thought that to be too many wheels.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Sidecar