It had to be done ……… but

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid valve service and cam covers replacedAs I sit looking at the vast expanse of white in the WordPress editor window, fingers poised over the keys and acutely aware of the aches in my fingers and wrists and subtle waft of soap barely masking the hint of worn out engine oil clinging stubbornly to the creases  in my old hands, I think to myself ….. aaagggghhhh why did I bother!

Yes, another Caponord service is over – with a valve check. Don’t get me wrong, everything went well, couldn’t have gone better in fact. Air/Oil filters and engine oil, plugs, hoses, fuel tank drain lines etc … are just perfect … but this time I had to fight my way in to check the valves, last done sometime when Crackerjack was on black and white TV’s – or so it feels.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not a hard job, just a fiddly one, especially the front cam cover bolt beautifully obscured by the coolant thermostat, oh and the buggeroo of a screw at the front of the cam cover, behind the radiator and below the finger shredding plastic mount for the front coils … otherwise, all good.

It’s none of that that bothers me in reality. It’s the fact that when you get in and measure the valves after what seems like way too many miles since the last visit, they’re all bloody fine! Couldn’t just one be out, just one require a shim change just to make the whole visit worthwhile – please! Oh well, I guess I had to console myself with fitting the powder coated cam covers and savouring the moment in the golden hour at the end of a beautifully warm day. 

Take the strain out of the drain

Aprilia Caponord Rally-Raid ETV1000 magnetic plug AP0241782 KTM 8030021100I think it’s reasonable to say that Aprilia got it right when they chose Rotax and the rock-solid V990 motor for their range of bikes in the late 90’s. Bullet-proof doesn’t quite do it justice, especially in the de-tuned Caponord variant. But even this wonderful piece of Bavarian engineering has it’s weak points, and probably the one most obvious from a service-by-service aspect is that damn annoying magnetic plug in the crankcase.

Yes, little old AP0241782 can be easy to install, but a stress-breeding mega-monster when it comes to it’s removal. Stubborn is just too understated for how this little sucker can behave! Even with a brand new, high quality hex-key you feel the fear rise in your throat as you apply more and more torque – until finally with a loud ‘crack’ it gives way while your knuckles accelerate toward the floor at light speed. Or as has happened on the odd occasion, the head sheers off!

Over the years I’ve tried removing it with the engine hot, cold and in-between …. with prayer, witchcraft by a full moon and plain old cursing. In the end the best remedy I stumbled upon was a bag full of the little suckers donated by a friend. Spoiled as I was, I could afford to be decadent and change the plug for a new one every three services. By that time the fit between the screw and hex-key was getting a little stretched. But then one day,  the bag ran dry …. oh my!

Aprilia Caponord Rally-Raid ETV1000 magnetic plug AP0241782 KTM 8030021100A little online digging threw up a bit more info regarding Aprilia numbers and options. It turns out that the magnetic plug AP0241782 has now been superseded by 2R000498 AND there is an optional washer offered if you want to use one. The 07-09 RSVR and 07-10 Tuono used the same plug AND also had the crush washer AP0250640 fitted. This washer is now sold listed as a usable option on all engines that use this plug. Does it make a difference? I’ve no idea as I’ve not tried one, but I guess it moves the mating surfaces from the taper to the screw head/crankcase and washer. In the end I went a different route used by many others over the years.

Following the recent footsteps of my old mate Beasthonda, I dipped into my pocket and purchased a KTM mag plug – 58030021100 for the princely sum of  just under £9 compared with the Aprilia part retailing at £32. This saving alone is worth moving away from the Aprilia part! Now the eagle-eyed among you may have noted that the magnet on the KTM plug is longer than on the Aprilia one and be concerned that this could cause a possible oil restriction – fear not. The 10mm magnet (versus 8mm) fits into a cavern …… the space inside the crankcase behind the magnet goes back at least 50mm, so there’s tons of room around for oil to flow by. So, job done ….time to move on with the rest of the lockdown service.

 

Quick update ….

Just updated the heated grips and helmet graphics on the display, much nicer I think. 👍 Sorry about the stripes in picture, it’s a camera v display thing!Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid dashboard improved display graphics

Time on my hands …..

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid When a chicken damages your front mudguard, the day doesn't end so well for the chicken!

It’s fair to say that these strange and worrying times will touch all of us in some  way or other, so may I firstly send each and everyone of you all my best wishes as we each deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. That said, life still moves on and this site is about the beloved Caponord ETV1000 we are lucky enough to enjoy, so it’s content will stay focused to that end. 

Recently the fantastic company I work for has taken the difficult decision to furlough us until the end of May, but the flip side of this particular coin is that I’ll now have a lot more time to add new material to the website and spend some well needed hours spinning spanners and generally giving the Capo the TLC it so richly deserves. So please, stay safe, and pop back once in a while and see what’s been added! 

First on the list ……. the front mudguard. I’d only had the Capo a year or so, when one fateful day a rather inquisitive chicken decided the front mudguard was a smashing place to perch, but not very grippy. So after lots of slipping around and trying to dig its claws in, it gave up and flapped away in a huff leaving nice scratches in the surface of the mudguard. Since then, a coat of black bumper polish every now and then has gone some way to masking the marks, but it needs applying every few weeks to maintain the effect. Later that fateful day, the chicken mysteriously decided to perch inside a hot oven with some lovely roast spuds ….. and close the door. Who knows what goes through a chickens mind eh!

Last year … yes, last year (the shame of waiting so long!), I got hold of a rattle-can of ‘Plasti Dip’ satin black. This stuff is quite interesting, it sprays like a paint but can be peeled off later like a vinyl wrap. Just do a search, there are loads of YouTube videos about this stuff. So the plan is, off with the guard, a good wash and degrease then when thoroughly dry, a few coats of Plasti Dip – if I don’t like it, simply peel off re-polish and put it back on the bike – nothing lost. That’s the cunning plan anyway …

Next on the list …. another little update to the 4D Systems screen software! An extra page has been added that now allows control of heated grips and seats. Here’s a little video of it in action … again, it’s a work in progress and will have a couple of graphic tweaks and an extra function added into the software, but for now it’s a working prototype with three PWM (Pulse Wave Modulation) outputs (one per heater set) that will drive a high power circuit controlling the heater elements. These circuits are capable of handling 12A each, so more than tough enough for grips/saddle heaters.

It uses the 5-button switch assembly so that the grips can be adjusted on the fly, rather than have to use the smartphone app like the other info pages. The basic functions are:

  • Press and hold OK to access the screen or return to main screen
  • Use the UP and DOWN buttons to select the heater you want to adjust
  • Use the LEFT and RIGHT buttons to adjust the heat settings – a single press adds/removes 1 block (10%) while press and hold a button ramps up or down until released
  • Double click the LEFT or RIGHT button to set all heaters to 0% or 100% instantly. When set to 100% there is a five minute timer, then the grips return to preset values – this is ideal as a pre-heater on wintry mornings!
  • Finally, Double click the OK button to return all heaters to preset values
  • In-built safety cuts all heaters when the ignition is turned off

Updates in the pipeline …… addition of a settings page in the smartphone app to allow some flexibility. For example – a timer when the ignition is turned off, so the grips can remain live for a few minutes (like the Oxford grips do) … and the ability to inhibit the pillion heater completely if you never carry a pillion or feel the need to heat luggage you have strapped on!

New places, new tyres

I’ve just done a quick search of the website and realised that I haven’t mentioned tyres in three whole years. That’s probably because for the past three years I’ve been very happy thank you very much running around on the Michelin Anakee 3’s. But now I have a need once again for something a bit more 50:50-ish to tackle some seriously dilapidated roads, more like tracks across ploughed fields really!

Of course I could just opt for the venerable old TKC 80 or Karoo 3 but I wanted to give another manufacturer a try. I’ve read pretty good things over the years about Mitas tyres, a  budget tyre made in the Czech Republic, so I opted for the Mitas e07+ based on reviews for our wheel size and bike style and ordered a set from Pneus Online – £146 the pair, delivered.

Well they arrived by two different couriers from two different warehouses on two different days – but they arrived! Both were manufactured within the last few months, so no old stock which is nice. I unwrapped both of them and stood back in amazement ……. I guess we’re all used to the hairs/bobbles (vent spews) on new tyres, but Mitas has REALLY gone to town. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such hairy tyres before! These things have never bothered me in the past, but this amount gives me a real urge to reach for a craft knife!

Dashboard – Multi function display screen – 4

First off ….. a bit of code change to the website should mean that all other pages, not just the front page will now display at a greater width than previously. I hope you find the general readability and layout better.

Secondly, I’ve now swapped from an Arduino Uno to an Arduino Mega 2560 to drive the 4DSystems display. This was due to the Uno only having one hardware serial interface, while the 2560 has three. Now I’m driving the display off one and a HC-05 Bluetooth module off another. After a frustrating few evenings playing with the MIT App Inventor, I managed to get a working app on my Note 10 that drives the display. It flicks between screens, resets the two MPG indicators and allows me to change the time of the Real Time Clock.

Dashboard – Multi function display screen – 3

Here we go then …. the plastic inlay carrier was treated to a real good bash around and the display popped into place. Looks nice with the inlay on top, but believe me, there’s plenty to do underneath to make the mount safe for thrashing around on a motorbike!

The good and the bad so far ….. the good – fits (ish) and should be straight forward to finish off, it’s as good as the original in bright light and looks kind of nice as in black as opposed to grey when it’s turned off. The bad … we’ll the eagle eyes among you may have noticed that the plastic pegs for the ‘Mode’ and ‘Set’ buttons are missing. The display is just that bit to long for everything to stay. So I’ve decided to not only move them, but replace them with a 5-way switch that will allow better interaction with the new screen. The old buttons will stay simply to look retro!

Dashboard – Multi function display screen – 2

Burning a couple of hours each morning before work has proved beneficial in the end. The 4D display now has working fuel and engine temperature digits and graphics, plus the ‘clock’ is now actually attached to a real-time clock and showing the correct time. The board also runs a ‘self test’ on startup so that the pie slices cycle up/down along with a nifty ‘Aprilia’ splash screen. The lugs have been removed and an inlay panel is sacrificing itself to the Dremel tool …. all in the name of prototyping!

Dashboard – Multi function display screen

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Arduino 4D Systems SDK-ULED-35D-AR displayMore years ago that I care to remember, fellow Caponord owner (Beasthonda) and I discussed the idea of replacing the dashboard LCD panel with an LCD screen that could be made to display just about anything we wanted. At the time, we looked at 4D Systems and made a few notes on feasibility,  but in the end the idea fizzled out – primarily because at that time the panels were expensive!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Arduino 4D Systems SDK-ULED-35D-AR displayWell here we are, a toe-dip into 2020 and the idea has been resurrected. This in part is due to the panels being better and cheaper now as well as the Arduino boards being much more powerful and faster than the old generation. So as I write, winging it’s way from Australia is an SK-ULCD-35D-AR kit …. basically a 3.5″ non-touch sensitive screen with all the cables and bits to program and connect it to an Arduino device.

The idea is to emulate the existing panel layout for day-to-day riding. However the device will have alternative screens available. The first will be the real-time display of sensor data from the ECU, the second will be a detailed trip computer, displaying continually updated fuel consumption and fuel tank range among other things. The next will display GPS position using a fusion of on-board GPS and Bluetooth mobile link for map downloads.

The display turned up a few days ago. Early the next morning, while the world shivered outside, I managed to program it with a couple of basic screens and power it up for the first time. The displays need to be scaled to fit the aperture in the dash overlay, but other than that it’s pretty much ready to hook up to some data. Role on the weekend!

Powder coated cam covers

** I intended to post this back in October!**

Let me start by saying they were cheap and I was curious ….. They were cheap for a reason though. They were most definitely NOT the magnesium cam covers in the EBay advert photographs! Oh well, they were physically fine, just scratched and one had a little surface corrosion under the paint. 

So I had a brainwave, take these and the spare pair of Caponord cam covers to be powder coated. Use them as test pieces before letting someone loose on more important bits of the Capo. A lovely idea in principle, but around here powder coaters are thin on the ground, so Google was my best friend for a few minutes. Initially I looked at the ones with websites and they were either too industrial or too far away. Then I looked at one about 20 minutes from where I work. No website, but good reviews from other social media and some examples of his work – so I made contact.

Aprilia Caponord Rally-Raid ETV1000 powder coated cam cover

And here is the outcome of that meeting …. One of four cam covers in ‘Anodic Bronze’, with a one week turnaround for £60 inclusive. I’m happy with that. I think it’s fair to say that Sam is a man of few words, who’s happy squirrelled away in a modern workshop out in the sticks, doing what he enjoys. Communications were excellent and he did a great job in the time frame quoted, at a reasonable price. Next then a Caponord oil tank, passenger footpeg hangers and some crash-bars and various brackets – In RAL9011 Graphite Black.