Replacement stainless steel fasteners

I really like fasteners, I hate rusty, corroded or damaged fasteners. There it is out in the open, plain and simple. I think there’s something tragic about lots of hard work going into an assembly, only for those old jaded screws/nuts/bolts/washers to go back into holding it together. On the other hand I’m not a fan of those OTT ‘custom fasteners’ – pike nuts etc or gaudy anodised fasters in any colour of the rainbow. For me, they are way overkill. What I want is an upgrade from the manufacturers items that were no doubt chosen with cost in mind. I like something that looks a little more up-market, in a material that is mechanically safe for the task in hand – safety has to override looks every time! They are there to do a job and complement the work that went into the parts they represent. 

What am I upgrading then?

So as part of the brake line upgrade, I’ve swapped out the stainless steel cap heads I had holding the hose supports to the fork leg with lovely Racebolt flanged hex head ones that better reflect the items originally fitted by Aprilia. A waste of money? Quite likely. Hell the cap head bolts did the job and were also in stainless steel, but they always looked like an obvious swap – a generic item – these new bolts look like Aprilia MIGHT have fitted them if build cost wasn’t so high on the list. In the end, these things are personal and one owners pike nut is another owner duct tape … they both hold things together I guess!

Ultimately I invested in a few little upgrades … the fork axle pinch bolts went from home-drilled cap-head to lovely ‘race spec’ (drilled for lock wiring!) flange bolts and the brake/clutch master cylinder cap heads were replaced for the the none-drilled versions. Last but not least, the rear axle adjuster bolts have been upgraded to stainless steel versions.

Conclusion

After putting a fair amount and time and effort into brake lines and calipers etc. it only seemed logical to add the finishing touches by upgrading certain fasteners to ones similar (but better!) to those fitted by the manufacturer. It’s not a cheap exercise by any stretch, but it does remind me of the old saying;

Don’t spoil the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar

SPOILER ALERT – It doesn’t have anything to do with ships! Ship was dialect for sheep. The meaning is, don’t lose a good sheep by not putting a protective layer of tar on wounds or sores to prevent infection by flies etc. Over the years folk have taken ‘ship’ literally and besides, it sounds far more grandiose to think that a cheap amount of tar could cause the loss of a very expensive ship! Here endeth the lesson … 🙂

New lines, new seals, new fittings, will it ever end?

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Venhill Power Plus brake lines and stainless steel banjo boltsWell this little job just got a whole lot more involved and costly! The idea of having lovely clean and refreshed  calipers made me think about the old banjo bolts (M10x1) and bleed screws (M8x1.25) … OK, so new stainless ones were ordered from Racebolt, that’s fine. Then it got me thinking about the old tarnished hydraulic hose ends … sigh … OK, so new hoses as well then! 

I went for the ‘Powerhose Plus’ range of hoses and fittings from Venhill down in Surry. I chose ‘carbon’ grey (smoked translucent sheath that shows the hose weave below) with all fittings in stainless steel. I really like these hoses because the end fittings can be rotated – thereby reducing twist in the hose and allowing the hose to sit naturally. This is something I hate with other swaged hoses. With that type, I have nearly always had to induce an amount of twist in the hose to get one banjo to fit the caliper or reservoir. Fair to say, I like neat hoses (and wires!) and I have a smattering of OCD about me when it comes to symmetry … both left and right hoses will HAVE to mirror each other!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid front brake hose lengthsThe standard hose assembly is  a single hose from the reservoir to a T-piece just below the lower fork clamp, from there a single hose down to each caliper. To replicate this was actually more expensive than using two individual lines from the brake master cylinder. So that’s what I went with – A double banjo bolt at the reservoir and two lines to the calipers using 2 x 45º banjos at the reservoir and 2 x straight banjos at the calipers. For the Rally-Raid the Venhill right hand line (as sat on the bike) is 950mm long and the left hand line is 1,100mm, these will need to be slightly shorter for the standard Caponord. The important point is that the lines plus fittings have to be long enough so that no part of the line, banjo-to-banjo is under tension when the forks are fully extended.

The lines came with three hose support grommets each, and I ended up removing one as it was not needed. Both lines use one grommet located within the existing support grommet that fits in the plastic tray below the headstock, the second is used within the P-clip bracket on the mudguard fixing screws, so two per line (see pics below). The third I used to help buffer the left hand line up at the handlebars … hopefully I’ll get around to designing and printing a 3D bracket to make this support look more ‘factory’ and finally the third support on the right hand line was removed.

So with the lines sorted it was time for the calipers. The left one was removed, stripped and cleaned with Gtechniq W6 Iron and general fallout remover … a rather pungent and powerful liquid that does what it says – strips off 95% of the dirt in one go. Use in a well ventilated place with gloves and goggles, this is nasty stuff! After that, the pistons/seals were stripped out and everything zapped in the ultrasonic bath for a couple of 20 minute cycles until totally clean. Once dry, everything was put back together with new seals, O’ring and bolts (2x 40mm, 1x 35mm). Once everything was back together it was time to bolt the caliper back to the fork leg (50Nm) and have a nice warm brew before starting all over again with the right one.

Conclusion

In all fairness, I couldn’t get over how good the old seals were after 115K+ miles and almost 20 years. The pistons and springs cleaned up beautifully and looked almost new and the anodising inside the bores was hardly marked – totally amaze-balls when I think how badly some Japanese calipers fair after only a couple of winters. I honestly think it is all down to the coating on the pistons and the anodising of the casing that make the difference. As for the cleaning process … I got there in the end! Brake calipers are probably the worst thing to clean on any bike and unfortunately there is no getting away from good old elbow grease … well that and a really aggressive cleaner made for the job! The ultrasonic bath put the icing on the cake, but in all honesty wasn’t strictly necessary, but did remove a little more dirt and added  extra sparkle.

Below is a selection of pics showing hoses and before/after shots of the calipers along with a couple of shots that highlight the kind of crap the Capo put up with for 10 years on a certain Italian road …

Bath-time 2 – In at the deep end!

A bit of feedback on my first outing with the sparklingly shiny new 6 litre ultrasonic cleaning bath, the highlights and lowdown’s. First off, here’s my simple bullet point list to get things going:

  • Be patient!
  • Fill with pre-heated plain water or whatever your preferred cleaner pre-mix is
  • Be prepared to help the cleaning process along with a soft brush etc
  • Let it do its thing in peace – wear earplugs or get out!

That’s it in a nutshell! YouTube video’s make it look like you’ll clean a 50 year old gunked up prop-shaft in two minutes – wrong! Not in a domestic cleaner you won’t. I used a mix of (so called) ultrasonic bath solution diluted 10:1 as specified. I made the mistake of filling the tank from cold believing the in-built ‘heater’ would do the business … well it does after a fashion, but oh so slowly. It would have taken about 2-3 hours to go from 13ºC to 50ºC – so I boiled the kettle in the end and made up a solution that was almost at the required temperature, so no wasted time waiting around! The old rear caliper was dug out of the parts store and stripped down. It came off the Capo back in January 2013 with about 40K miles on it and had simply been boxed and hidden away, unfortunately since it’s return to the UK it looks like damp had got in and caused some corrosion. Luckily this was confined to where the pads sit and nowhere else, thankfully the pistons and seals came apart beautifully.

So time for a quick pic, then into the bath!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid rear caliper ultrasonic clean

Initially I ran it for five minutes, unsure of how aggressive the solution/ultrasonic cleaning action would be. The solution was noticeably discoloured, but the calipers looked hardly touched. So in they went for another ten minutes. They looked much better this time … so in for another ten minutes. One half was now almost perfect, but the other needed two minutes of  TLC from a rotary brush, then they went back in for a final 10 minutes. Hence, be patient and be prepared to give the process a helping hand!

In the end, as the saying goes, all good things come to those who wait:

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid rear caliper ultrasonic clean

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid rear caliper ultrasonic clean

It only remains to mention my final bullet point. Initially I sat about 6ft(2m) away from the bath while it was running, the noise is not pleasant but bearable or so I thought. After about five minutes I started to feel a little nauseous. The lid was on and it was operating in a well ventilated area, so I didn’t think it was fumes from the cleaning solution, so figured it was exposure to sound I COULDN’T hear – it is an ultrasonic cleaner after all! In the end I left it to do its thing and sulked at the far end of the workshop and within a few minutes felt better again. The unit doesn’t come with any warnings beyond electrocution (lots of them!) … so be careful folks and don’t stay too close when it’s operating! 

Conclusion – I’m happy with the results bearing in mind that the caliper was well used and had suffered in storage. Now it is resplendent with new seals, a light wipe over with ACF50 and new home in a Zip bag and a better box. I’m really looking forward to using this cleaner on the triple bridge Brembo calipers and that may well be sooner rather than later, as Mr Postman has just this minute delivered the new brake lines and banjos from Venhill, wahoo!!!

Time for a bath …

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Brembo P34 (4 pad) seal kitSeems like brakes have become one of the hot winter topics of late, both on the AF1 forum and in the Moto-A household. The Caponord’s Brembo P34 (4 pad) calipers are getting a little sluggish and starting to drag the pads on the front disks. I’ve cleaned and exercised the pistons but they still feel the same. To be fair the seals are probably somewhere around 20 years old and have every right to feel stiff these days!

So I ordered a seal set from Powerhouse in the UK for £66 (both calipers). They seem to get excellent reviews and I have to say the kit is comprehensive – even containing a little bag of Brembo grease! Of course one thing led to another and thoughts of how best to clean up the calipers resulted in another fine purchase – a 6l ultrasonic cleaning bath! Now that just leaves me watching YouTube videos and experimenting with various cleaning solutions to find the one most suitable for the brakes, luckily I have a stash of old ones kicking around that are perfect for experimentation. 

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Digital Ultrasonic cleaning bathWhen health, weather and motivation are all in alignment over the festive period I’ll make sure the camera battery is charged and do my best to document the little adventure for posterity on the website. It will also be a great opportunity to try out the new torque wrench that I don’t know I’m getting for Christmas ….. 😀 

V990 workshop engine mount

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Clarke engine mountIt seems that over the years several Caponord and other bike/car related websites have ported themselves over to Facebook – such that I eventually capitulated and joined, albeit in a totally locked down way. And of course over those years I’ve been inundated with zillions of worthless adverts ….. until now. One has proved very worthwhile indeed!

More specifically – JB Fabrications – who were advertising an engine mount adapter specifically for the V990 engine. At £48.45 including postage I was in. Working on a lump like the V990 on a workbench (or the floor!) is a real pain -literally! I’ve spent more time than I care to recollect having to drop tools mid-job simply because my back has tweaked up because of the awkward position I’m working in. This adapter will apparently work with Clarke and Sealy engine mount stands – I chose the Clarke CE340, which can handle engines up to 340Kg (V990 = 65Kg). This stand allows the engine to be rotated 360º and locked off at 45º increments.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Clarke engine mountThe adapter only took a few days to arrive. It was well packaged and the paint finish and welding all appear to be decent quality. The engine stand took a few days longer to arrive, but to be fair it was ordered later! Assembly took about 30 minutes with a crafty tea-break thrown in. This of course, is all well and good …. however the engine has to be lifted about 1.5m into the air to get it into the adapter, and that’s no easy task at nearly 70Kg.

Thank goodness there is an electric workshop hoist to hand – rated at 150Kg/300Kg capacity. This is mounted to a cross-beam in the workshop and is more than capable of lifting the engine nicely into place, especially when using the 300Kg setting as this reduces the raise/lower speed by half – handy when trying to jiggle a bolt into position. Of course It also comes in rather useful for doing other bike related tasks as well!

 

Access at last ….. update

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid ECU ELM327 Bluetooth OBD-II and TuneECUFurther to the last post about accessing the Caponord ECU, I have added a couple of new pages under the ‘Aprilia Caponord Rally-Raid / ECU’ drop-down in the menu. A further page will be written shortly I hope. Apologies if they seem to ramble somewhat, but a terrible week, a stint in hospital and some rather strong pain meds have left me a little tired and woolly-headed. But I needed to get this stuff down before I forgot it all again!

I guess I also need to say that although I’m 100% for innovation, curiosity and experimentation ….. if you do decide to experiment with your own ECU and ultimately turn it into a rather decorative door-stop, please do not come running in this direction! The info I provide is not verified and could quite easily have typos –  make sure you are 100% confident about what you are doing and that you thoroughly understand the consequences if you get in too deep. If you are unsure about something then feel free to drop me a line …. I’ll happily try to assist.

Access at last ……

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid ECU connection OBD-II TuneECU It has been a long time coming … and I mean a looooong time. Think a decade! Back before we had TuneECU a few Capo owners pooled thoughts on how to get access to the ECU and read its contents, but we all gave up when TuneECU came along because it did it all for us – for (almost) free. Now however there is a real need for that access if the new dashboard display is to do what it is supposed to, and that has been the hurdle of hurdles to get across. If I am totally honest this problem alone was guaranteed to bring the project to a grinding halt if nothing was. So for the past few weeks, I put the display to one side and concentrated on cracking the ECU.

Well I’m not only chuffed, I am totally blown over backwards because as of this afternoon, I can finally access and interrogate the ECU independently of anyone elses equipment or software – ECU serial number, map number and all the sensor parameters plus self test functions and TPS reset! I’ve still got work to do interpreting some of the data, but that is not such a big issue and should be finished tomorrow.

Tonight though, I think a cold beer or two are in order!

The Scottoiler is dead, long live the Scottoiler!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid ScottoilerI posted about this thing in 2012 and planned for it’s replacement in 2013.

Like it or not though,  it is now a rather pants 2020 …. and  I have finally replaced the ageing and somewhat cantankerous Scottoiler VSystem and HCR (High Capacity Reservoir). With a total of 19 years, four bikes and somewhere in the region of  360,000 miles under its belt it was definitely time to replace it. To be fair, the last 5,000 or so of those miles it has only been along for the ride as I had finally turned it off sometime late last year due to it functioning in ‘all or nothing’ mode and ‘all’ really was quite a bit of oil to go sloshing around the back wheel! The RMV (Reservoir Metering Valve) had been refurbished back around 2013-14 and back then, the diaphragm was already getting a little stiff. I guess like my old joints, one day it just stopped flexing at all.

In the big scheme of things, this package has only cost a couple of pennies a day and given sterling trouble-free service for 99% of its days, so there is only one clear viable replacement in my books – another VSystem and HCR. I did look at the very 2020’s techie ESystem but frankly, I couldn’t justify the 2.5x price and having to fiddle with yet more wires and mount yet another ‘control box’ on the handlebars somewhere. No, the VSystem works well and will simply be a plug-in replacement and that suits me just fine. Total cost for both parts in the UK came to £127.96 and that is not a huge hike in price over almost 20 years.

Put it another way. A DID 525ZVMX chain costs £100-£110 ish to replace and by my rough calculation the Scottoiler has saved me the cost of at least three chains, probably more during its time on my bikes. So not only has it long since paid for itself, it has also saved me a tidy sum in sprockets and the time and effort to replace them. I can comfortably live with that.

I’ll end with a brief explanation of how I mounted the HCR to the Caponord. Firstly though a disclaimer – Scottoiler do not list the HCR as compatible with the ETV1000. If you do decide to install one, it is entirely at your own risk. Personally, I am more than happy that the installation I have is safe, secure and allows the system to function as it was designed to. This is how I did it.

Using the template (download here) I have made a mounting bracket from 4mm thick aluminium plate. In the pictures below you will see the plate in perspex – this was the ‘sanity check’ test piece to confirm the drawing was correct before committing to cutting metal. This piece is mounted by two M6x20 countersunk screws, washers and nyloc nuts through the existing ‘number plate’ mounting holes in the mudguard. The HCR is mounted to this bracket by two M6x30 cap head screws, washers and nyloc nuts and a third M6x30 through the pannier frame/mudguard.

On the Rally-Raid or any Capo with the Givi pannier rack the rear brace attaches to the mudguard and provides the 4mm standoff for the HCR bottom mount to bolt through (M6x? cap head, washer and nyloc nut) – if you don’t have this bar, then you need to provide a spacer between the mudguard and HCR – a couple of M6 penny washers will work fine. You will need to fit the RMV to the HCR before fitting the whole assembly to the mudguard as there is not enough room once the HCR is fitted on its own. After that, just follow the instructions provided by Scottoiler regarding filling, mounting the feeder pipe and attaching the RMV to the vacuum system. The only additional thing I did, was drill the mudguard so I could feed the oil/vacuum pipes through to the subframe rails and hide them out of the way.

 

LCD Dashboard end of May update

Just a quick update on the LCD dashboard – yes it’s still a work in progress! Lockdown here in the UK has freed up time for all sorts of fun and games and the LCD dashboard has hogged more than its fair share over the past few weeks. The board finally went from a desktop/fake-input dummy display to a fully enclosed dashboard with real-world inputs yesterday evening.

Apologies for the rough and ready video, but a long day was coming to an end, so I just grabbed the nearest dashboard case, blew off the dust and slapped the whole thing together to get the video. I appreciate the tacho needle is missing and the clear-lens has some scratches, but hey …. this is a prototype!

Next step … finalise the power on/off circuitry and maybe a nice splash screen for a few seconds at key-off, let’s see. But by far the biggest job is still to get the ECU data to the display in a way I’m happy with. One thing I’ve come across which is proving really useful is a software package called Megunolinks which allows real time graphs of data buzzing around the system – the demo version already helped massively while tweaking the various inputs and how to filter the data …….. next stop, the pro version! That should really help speed things up.

One thing I was always sceptical about, was the displays ability to function properly in bright daylight. I honestly expected this whole thing to be nothing more than a what-if project that would stay on a workbench. But I’m pleased to say that it doesn’t appear to be the case at all …. yesterday, the display was perfectly readable throughout the day with very bright sunlight streaming in through the garage door – square on or at an angle I had no problem reading it.  And that alone has boosted the enthusiasm to see this move from workbench to bike … let’s see how the next few weeks pan out.

Well I never ….

I don’t know if I should be flattered or annoyed … or a little of both, let me explain. I had just had a chat with my wife about a press release from ACEM regarding the dire downturn of European motorcycle sales. As the conversation started, she got confused with ACIM – the Aprilia Caponord International Meeting …. and that sowed a seed at the back of my mind to have a look on the internet to see what ACIM was up to. All well and good.

Later that evening I found them on Facebook and lo and behold, the group banner picture is of my old Caponord on a back road in Abruzzo! In fact it’s a picture of mine lifted from a post I wrote a few years ago (the post). So now I am a tad curious to see if someone from ACIM reads this over here then says something over there ….. 🙄 

Anyway, I’m glad someone liked it enough to use it!