May update

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid rear panelsWell it looks like the website is up and all the links work again – hooray! In the end it took about 24hrs of fiddling in the database to sort out, but I got there in the end thankfully.

Meanwhile, the rear panels were removed from the Capo for a trip to the paint shop. The years have been pretty kind to the base coat, but not the lacquer unfortunately, especially where the decals are located. As luck would have it, I already have a set of decals that were kindly given to me by Manuel from Motrag.com a few years ago.

We use chippingnortonbodyshop.co.uk for some parts on our autonomous cars and the results have always been excellent, so it’s fantastic that they are willing to have a look at the Capo panels for me. Plus it’ll be great to finally get a color match given that Aprilia don’t provide paint codes.

Finally back again!

Saturday 27th April

Oh boy, where to start …… first, last year was a real learning curve with a new job., so the number of posts fell through the floor. Then is late 2018 my website host said they were shutting their doors – move your domain (and name) or lose it. I did ….. and that’s when everything went horribly wrong!

Through December to February I tried all sorts to get it to spring into life again, but nothing seemed to work ….. and frankly I was steadily getting pissed off with the whole thing. In the end I hardly glanced at it for a couple of months.

Then this morning, while thinking of something totally remote from websites, an idea popped into my head and I sat down at the PC ….. a couple of hours later, the website popped back into life-ish! Unfortunately, it’s still not right, but it’s a start and I think I can get the rest of the links to work over the next week or so.

Sunday 28th April

The website theme has been updated and is now based on the WordPress 2017 one … the old one was from 2010! This adds a load of new functionality (some good, some a nuisance!)  but should look better on bigger screens. I’ve also sorted the links to loads of pics from pages … yet to do posts. The downside (more frustration really) is that the links to PDF documents won’t sort themselves out. The links are fine but they just loop around to a 404 page. Oh well, that’s for next week!

INNOVV K2 – a quick update

OK, so this is a no-frills post while I’m on the road in Italy …..

Some folks have asked how the INNOVV K2 is getting along after I fitted it to the Capo a few weeks ago. Well here is a quick update for you! The install is a semi-permanent arrangement – the recording unit and GPS module are in the under-seat storage area and the front camera is hung from the right-hand fog lamp, while the rear camera hangs from the right-hand pannier rail. Both are very much temporary mounts and as such suffer from a little vibration (front mostly) but it’s only noticeable at certain RPM’s. This will disappear once they are mounted permanently on more robust mounts.

The 12v/5v power supply sits in the same spot as the old unit – on top of the ECU. 12v is taken directly from the battery and the sensing/switching connection goes to the tail lights. No lights, no cameras!

The system has run faultlessly from day 1. Start the bike, turn on the lights and away it goes …. no fuss, no drama. I have not experienced any of the shortcomings of the old K1 – corrupt files, frozen recording etc. The K2 has done its job exactly as it should, in fact I’ve got so comfortable with it that I no longer check the video or setting on the app every ride …. I just fire up and go! At the end of the week I’ve checked the SD card and been really pleased that all the files are recorded just fine with no corrupt or dropped frames in sight.

So that’s it as far as a quick update is concerned. Once I’m back in the UK I’ll go more in detail about image quality etc, but for now I’m really pleased with the K2, it’s a real improvement over the K1 in all aspects. 

Getting ready to role!

A few weeks ago I wrote:Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid 131,313 miles

With the Capo fresh out of its winter slumber, we set off for a quick shake-down before (hopefully) heading back to the UK on Sunday. Along the way the odo clicked over to 131,313 miles and I couldn’t resist taking a quick pic! The ride was uneventful and it now sits in the sunshine waiting to be loaded up ……. but even then it may not turn a wheel. That depends on the weather forecast through Switzerland – oodles of snow and -15C doesn’t float my boat these days, so I guess if push comes to shove, the Capo can hibernate for another month or two until I can get back over here for it. I’ll make the call on Friday evening …. thankfully I managed to snap up a cheap-as-chips return flight for Saturday. Just in case!

In the end, Ryan-Scare it was …… hideous delays and a landing like we’d been shot down included in the discount price! Now the time has come to finally make the run once and for all. Ticket and ferry booked, all docs to hand and weather on  route between 9-20C with a bit of rain in North Italy. Much better than last time! It’s going to be a real whirlwind trip, but worth it to have the old Capo with me once again……

Dodgy solenoid hmmmm?

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid L1 50A starter solenoid burnt pitted contactsI honestly couldn’t believe my luck ….. dozens of perfectly normal starts after the one stuck-solenoid moment during our 10 days away and then, this morning in the comfort of the old barn, first start of the day it stuck again!

So it was off with the seats, top deck and right hand plastics, disconnect the battery Earth (Ground) then snip a few tie-wraps, unclip the two-pin connector and twiddle the 10mm spanner to undo the battery/starter cables from the old solenoid and voila! One dodgy 50A and 14 year old solenoid confined to the bin …… by way of stripping, measuring and knocking up in CAD!

It’s pretty obvious from the picture that one side of the contacts has been burnt and welded together such that the return spring couldn’t provide enough force to pry it apart again – that was the job of a swift whack from the all-powerful 1/2″ ratchet!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid L1 50A starter solenoid cutawayThe new solenoid (AP81129275) was bench tested and shows a coil resistance of 4.4Ω pulling 2.9A at 12.8V – approximately! Now 2.9A is quite a current draw in itself, especially when you take into account the amount of wiring (under specified?) and switches/diodes along the way. The only way the solenoid really has of reducing pitting/burning is by opening and closing as fast as possible – opening is purely by return spring but the closing speed is proportional to the applied Volts/Amps ……. and if this is low then the solenoid will become sluggish and more susceptible to damage. So tomorrows little job will be to look at losses through the entire circuit up to the solenoid. In fact looking at the circuit diagram and simulating it in ‘EveryCircuit’ (Android app) it seems that the best possible current flow path you can give the solenoid is – bike in neutral, side-stand up AND pull in the clutch before hitting the starter … this adds a mighty 0.1V over ‘neutral only’. In comparison bypassing the diode block completely could elicit another 0.55V at a struggle!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid L1 50A starter solenoid exploded parts

Volt of no confidence

It was a little after 1.30 in the morning, warm but foggy. I’d just had a hot drink and bite to eat while reflecting on the 138 miles covered and 1,200 yet to cover. The Capo was running fine but my eyes were already beginning to sting from riding with the visor up because of the fog – hopefully that would clear by the time I hit Switzerland.

So I saddled up and hit the starter ……. In an instant the early morning optimism bubble burst. The starter rolled over, then stalled. The dashboard went dark and as I turned the ignition key off I realised the starter was still trying to turn the motor over. Suddenly it began spinning the motor rapidly, so I turned the ignition back on and the motor fired up and the dashboard lit up like normal. but the battery charging was only showing 12.2V because the solenoid was stuck and still powering the starter motor. As quick as possible it was off with the seats (handy having the spare key in my jacket!) then whack the starter solenoid with a 1/2″ ratchet – and the voltage jumped back up to 14V as the solenoid released.

Now the dilemma …… carry on, turn around and head home or wave the plastic card of defeat and get recovered. In for a penny in for a pound as they say …. soldier on! Today I’m typing this up in warm and pleasant Oxford reflecting on the choice I made. As it turned out a good call, the Capo never missed a beat or hesitated once when starting for the rest of the journey. Fixed? Of course not, maybe that was a warning of things to come, so today a 150A starter solenoid has been ordered along with a replacement YTX14-HBS battery.

My thought is that the stuck solenoid was a symptom not the cause …… the question is, why did the battery voltage fall through the floor as soon as a load was placed on it. Thinking it through, if it were a short at the starter then a huge amount of power would have been grounded and yes the solenoid contacts could weld, however I’d expect the battery to get hot and that didn’t happen. So that leaves the possibility of an internal problem with the battery …. maybe a year of bouncing over a dirt and stone road has caused a crack to develop between plates. All I know is I don’t have confidence in it or the solenoid anymore so out they go!

As well as these two new parts I’ve also bit the bullet and ordered a new set of power/ground cables from John Walker in the UK and figure the old girl could well do with a spruce up of the wiring.

Meanwhile on with the show! 😀 

I love windy days ……. not!

I hate them with a passion, I mean bone-deep hatred. They’ve made me grind my teeth so hard they’ve fallen apart quicker than celebrity marriages – I’m talking about that nefarious combination of plastic (especially plastic bags) and a windy day!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid plastic on road and in the tree

If they’re not pinned to the nearest hedgerow or tree (‘witches knickers’ as they’re called in Ireland) they seem to spend their time floating on, around or above every highway and byway waiting for an unsuspecting biker. Then they pop out from underneath the vehicle in front, wave tantalisingly at you then dive straight for the radiator – or preferably some nice exposed headers to melt onto ….. swine that they are!

I once rode around for ages with OCSET (TESCO for those outside of the UK!) smeared like some naff tattoo across a set of nice new exhaust headers on my old GS550 ….. pissed off or what! That stuff just didn’t want to come off chrome at all. Thankfully the Capo’s headers are protected, so when this baggie set of plazzie-knickers shot out from under a passing car, they slid off the sump-plate and the rear wheel did for them ……

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid INNOVV K1 dual camera plastic debris in the road

…… seeing it float off down the road in the mirror gave me a kind of warm glow in pit of my stomach to accompany the smug smirk on my face. The sheer satisfaction that I’ve once again successfully out maneuvered an amorphous mindless mound of plastic debris. Damn I’m easily pleased these days! 😀 

“And now a word from our sponsor …..”

Firstly, a new page has been added to the menu for the HAAS (Renault V6) coil and the Tech-Auto (Amrish) coil page has been updated to bring that to an end.

catSecondly, I have also added another widget in the sidebar – a PayPal donate button. Simply because for the past six years I’ve been self funding this website and won’t use advertising to clutter it up. Over that time costs have increased and it’s time to ask the Capo lovers among you to consider helping to keep the site running if you feel it is, was or will be of use to you. As they say, every little helps! 😀 

Italy earthquake 07:40 30th October 2016

Central Italy earthquake 30/10/2016Central Italy has been struck by yet another earthquake, this time a magnitude of 6.6. I’d just sat down at the computer with the first cup of tea of the day, when at 07:40 the house began to shake.

Unlike the two earthquakes last week (26/10/2016 – magnitude 5.5 & 6.1) that struck in the evening, this one set objects rocking, pictures and mirrors moving on the walls and all manner of strange noises emanating from the structure. I bolted for the door! It was most surreal to see trees, fences and power/phone lines and poles swaying and the car rocking on its suspension. Likewise, Jan had made it to the upstairs door at the same time having been rudely awoken!

As I write the injuries are few and thankfully no fatalities. Many of the villages at the epicenter were already mostly evacuated from last weeks events. Unfortunately, structural damage has devastated some villages such that they’ve almost been wiped off the map. In Norcia the basilica of San Benedetto has been destroyed. Damage has also been reported in Teramo, l’Aquila, Chieti and as close to us as Brittoli and Civitella Casanova – only a few kilometers away.

Norcia - Basilica of San Benedetto before and after.

Time for a new fuel cap!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Oberon keyless fuel capOn the eve of another little trip the half-key fuel cap has decided to throw its toys well and truly out of the cot. For the last couple of months the half-key has worked perfectly, but yesterday it just didn’t want to budge but the spare half-key still worked – go figure! Unfortunately I’ve now lost confidence in the cap opening as and when required. So two things happened …. first, out came the security bolt** and second, I ordered a nice silver/silver Oberon keyless cap to meet me at journey’s end. Now at least I can unbolt the whole cap assembly when I need to refuel if I have to ….. tedious but I won’t be left stranded!

**The cap is held on by four screws, three in the top of the cap (the other three are dummies) and one inside the filler neck. So if you can’t open the cap, you can’t remove the fourth screw and you’re stuffed!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid fuel cap security screw