Friday, May 29, 2020

Rinse sump while changing Royal Enfield oil?

Hand holds small bottle of clean oil in front of motorcycle.
My wife prepares to pour clean oil into my Royal Enfield Bullet.
Getting oil on my hands (and on the garage floor) is part of owning an old-fashioned Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle. Mine is an iron barrel Bullet, the original British design of 70 years ago, but built in India in 1999.

Modern Royal Enfields are nothing like this, I assume, as they have a single drain for motor and gearbox oil, and a spin-on oil filter cartridge.

Not so my old Bullet. Never mind the gearbox, which has its own drain plug. My motor has a drain plug for its oil tank, a drain plug for the motor's sump, and an oil soaked filter to be inserted, dripping, into its home.

Changing the oil is still a simple process but, since nearly every instance is messy enough to be memorable, I've described changing the oil before.

In the previous episode I described how only 1.75 quarts of dirty oil emerged when I drained the oil tank, the separate sump and the oil filter.

The book says that the motor holds about 2.4 quarts of oil. So either I was more than half a quart low on oil, or that much oil remains inside the motor even when drain plugs are opened.

Last time I guessed that since I only got 1.75 quarts out, I should replace only 1.75 quarts. But I found afterwards that the motor tended to show well under the halfway full mark on the dipstick after a run.

So, this time, I decided I would replace the 1.75 quarts of dirty oil I (again) recovered with slightly more than two quarts of fresh oil.

But first, I wanted to conduct an experiment.

Once, years ago, while changing the oil I accidentally added fresh oil to the oil tank before plugging up the drain holes! I watched in horror as oil shot out of the bottom of the tank onto the garage floor. But I also watched in interest and surprise, as the stream of escaping oil was at first black — not clean.

In my carelessness, had I helpfully flushed out residual dirty oil in the tank? I wanted to find out.

So, this time, I videotaped the drain holes as my wife poured a bit of clean oil into the tank. Watch the video. The stream of oil emerging from the drain hole looks pretty clean, but a photo of the recovered rinse oil shows a distinctive dirty tinge. And much less oil came out then went in!

Hand hold small glass bottle now filled with recovered oil.
Recaptured rinsing oil shows a distinctive dirty tinge. And there's less than went in.
Perhaps, by rocking the motorcycle from side-to-side, as I now do, I had managed to drain out more dirty oil than I used to. This is supported by the fact that less oil drained out than the sample my wife poured in; presumably this "loss" equals the amount of oil that remains in the tank but can be brought out by rocking the motorcycle.

In any case, I conclude that "rinsing" the tank is a help, but rocking the motorcycle slightly from side to side also encourages more dirty oil to evacuate.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Romantic view of Royal Enfield motorcycles

Period advertisement shows couple on Royal Enfield motorcycle.
Romantic Royal Enfield advertisement of 1928.
The benefits of club membership are legion, no doubt, but for an American member far from the British Isles, the jewel of the Royal Enfield Owners Club UK is The Gun magazine.

The Gun is delivered bi-monthly to my In-Box by email. If I miss an issue, I can find it at the Royal Enfield Owners Club website archive.

The magazine amply carries out the club's high-minded goal to be a forum for information "on the use, restoration and maintenance of Royal Enfield motorcycles and machines both old and new."

But that's not why I read it.

I read it for the romance of owning a Royal Enfield motorcycle. That emotion is coincidentally well represented by the vintage advertisement "Romance of the Road" that graced the cover of the most recent issue of The Gun, for April/May 2020.

Let me just quote from the account in The Gun of a fine ride-out conducted by the Cornwall Branch of the club (reprinted by permission of The Gun editor). You must read all the way to the bottom to discover the name of the author, although you may guess as you go along.

"On Thursday 24th October, six motorcycles and seven hardy souls met at the Cornish Services near Victoria, and set off for the Royal Enfield dealership at Bude.

"But, as Fran was leading, we knew it was to be no easy route. Of course, why would we entertain almost perfect roads when winding lanes and hairpin bends beckon!

"We hugged the river Camel from Nanstallon (just outside of Bodmin) along narrow debris laden single-track roads through Grogley, and down over the steep Cotton Hill towards the Camel, crossing over the Polbrock Bridge and up a never ending hill eventually emerging at Sladesbridge before entering civilisation as we know it at Wadebridge.

"Never be fooled in the comfort of known roads, as we took another turning past little Dinham, and hugged the Camel again! This time the tidal part of the river the estuary and mud flats, for those that dared to look, was stunning, especially as we descended into the lower side of Rock, and caught brief glimpses of Padstow, the azure looking bays and bluffs that came and went with each corner.

"Rock soon became a distant memory as we headed towards and through Port Gavern, and down to the narrow streets of ITV’s fabled Port Wenn, otherwise known as Port Issac.

"Did we stop? No.

"Onward to Port Somewhere, sorry I made that up as I was lost! Toilet break! Typical Fran, was a lay-by and hedge. It’s just outside of Delabole, but we did not go to Delabole, as we turned left down lanes so wet and mossy that scenery was taken over by the will to survive.

"Just North of Trebarwith we headed up another single track lane and into Tintagel, across the top of the road bypassing civilisation and down to Boscastle where we did stop for a comfort break.

"Cheered by the fact we had got this far with no mishap we started our steeds, three Enfields and three other oriental mounts, we continued to Crackington Haven through ancient woodlands older than time itself, ever aware that Fran mentioned it gets narrower from here on in! And it did!

"Narrow, mossy single-track roads with wonderful seascape panoramic views slipping in and out of view with each and every corner, and then a left-hand hairpin bend that you would tell your grandchildren about.

"First gear, go as far to the right as you can and pray you meet no oncoming traffic, and get around it. Then jubilation as you realise you'd made it, and just as that thought settles in, the breathtaking site of the cliffs and rolling seas.

"Widemouth Bay comes into view, sheer elation of this beautiful country that we live in. The bay gave hope of life and inhabitants, surfer vans, cafes, pay-and-display car parks, bungalows nobody can afford, and still the road rolled on.

"Bude appears like magic, hiding in the terrain and the low hills shrouded in cotton wool clouds and blue skies as we descend towards the canal, which floods almost every year, and mad people surf the surge, ducking under the low bridge until they fall off.

"Fortunately we take the road over the low bridge and head to the Enfield dealership for a well earned breakfast bap and coffee.

"Nothing much happened on the way home, as it was back to normal, proper roads; traffic lights in Camelford was about as exciting as it got.

"A great day out. Thanks to all who came.


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