Monday, 24 September 2018

T-Max fuel pump cactus

The other week I was down in the capital (200Km from home) and my bike wouldn't start. Turned out to be the fuel pump.

My bike is a 2006 bike, which in my view is the best of them before they went stupid with putting the battery behind the windscreen, tilting the seat in a stupid way and belt drives (among other mass marketing madness).

The Yamaha manual suggests that you need to do heaps of work to get at the fuel pump, but I found that by just lifting the seat (as one would do putting groceries under it) that you can access the pump space neatly. Indeed there is enough space to pull it out with only taking off the vinyl cover (removing the two small fixings).

and then it just moves out of the way easily

with just a little bit of force you can pull back the plastic and easily remove the ring that secures it into the tank.

That little white cap on the fuel line is actually designed to prevent the sides being squeezed in on the fuel line (and is essentially a safety). You'll need to pull it out first, (pressing on the front) and then pressing on the side detach the fuel line and then the connector for the fuel pump / fuel level sender.

The manual makes it look more complex, with item 6 being the assembly.

Basically when you get the fuel pump assembly out, you'll want to detach the bottom section which also has the "gross particle filter" on it (at the bottom). You'll see three "press clips" and if you apply CAREFUL pressure with a flathead screw driver you'll be able to remove it without breaking that plastic.

In Australia that plastic is only sold as one assembly and is $750 ... which contains the motor too and sender too.

To actually get home the day I broke down I pulled that apart and had a go at cleaning the pump (which didn't seem dirty), but ran again when I tested it outside. So I reassembled the whole lot and put it back in and got home. So thats the reason the above looks so clean. It looked like this when I first accessed it

so I blew it off, brushed it off and carefully took it off.

As my hands were covered in fuel I didn't take any pictures of that.

I got my pump today and so pulled it all apart again and fitted it

if you're even faintly mechanical it'll be pretty clear what you need to do to fit the pump.

The pump itself cost AU$50 including shipping (from Italy), so that's an enormous saving over buying the Yamaha part. I did find an entire assembly at a wreckers for $150 but figured that given its age it'd probably need replacing too. But it was good to have that as a "backup" in case I broke the plastic housing.

Just take your time juggling it out (the sender lever comes out last and put the assembly at an angle), and you'll need to pull up on the seat to ensure it has enough clearance ... it only just fits in that hole.

Its worth noting that the wires which clip onto the tags are also held in place by a small spring lock, which will become obvious when you're looking at it clearly. There is a small part to press (with a small flat blade screwdriver) that allows it to simply pull of the tag.

So, then I just re-assembled it and the whole process (this time) took an hour (at most).

I'd suggest nitrile gloves if you're worried about getting fuel on your hands.

Go wild

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Gunna do it up

an go water skiin'

understanding and properly identifying idiots

One of my favorite books is called "Shop Class as Soulcraft"  by Matthew B Crawford; its an excellent book for those who love to do things with their hands and happen also to be deep thinkers.

In that book Matthew discusses a piece from Pirsigs well known classic "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". Let me quote from Matthews book and how he deconstructs that below:

The shop was a different scene from the ones I remembered. The mechanics, who had once all seemed like ancient veterans, now looked like children. A radio was going full blast and they were clowning around and talking and seemed not to notice me. When one of them finally came over he barely listened to the piston slap before saying, "Oh yeah. Tappets."

Three overhauls, some haphazard misdiagnoses, and a lot of bad faith later, the narrator picks up
his bike from the shop for the final time.

Now there really was a tappet noise. They hadn’t adjusted them. I pointed this out and the kid came with an open-end adjustable wrench, set wrong, and swiftly rounded both of the sheet-aluminum tappet covers, ruining both of them.

"I hope we’ve got some more of those in stock," he said.
I nodded.

He brought out a hammer and cold chisel and started to pound them loose. The chisel punched through the aluminum cover and I could see he was pounding the
chisel right into the engine head. On the next blow he missed the chisel completely
and struck the head with the hammer, breaking off a portion of two of the cooling

Finally he gets on the road, only to discover that the shop had neglected to bolt the engine back into
the frame; it was hanging on by a single bolt.
I found the cause of the seizures a few weeks later, waiting to happen again. It was a little twenty-five-cent pin in the internal oil-delivery system that had been
sheared and was preventing oil from reaching the head at high speeds.

... Why did they butcher it so? 
... They sat down to do a job and they performed
it like chimpanzees. Nothing personal in it. 
... But the biggest clue seemed to be their expressions. They were hard to explain. Good-natured, friendly, easygoing—and uninvolved. They were like spectators. You had the feeling they had just wandered in there themselves and somebody had handed them a wrench. There was no identification with the job. No saying, "I am a mechanic." 
"Nothing personal in it." Here is a paradox. On the one hand, to be a good mechanic seems to require personal commitment: I am a mechanic. On the other hand, what it means to be a good mechanic is that you have a keen sense that you answer to something that is the opposite of personal or idiosyncratic; something universal. 
In Pirsig’s story, there is an underlying fact: a sheared-off pin has blocked an oil gallery, resulting in oil starvation to the head and excessive heat, causing the
seizures. This is the Truth, and it is the same for everyone. But finding this truth requires a certain
disposition in the individual: attentiveness, enlivened by a sense of responsibility to the motorcycle. 
He has to internalize the well working of the motorcycle as an object of passionate concern. The truth does not reveal itself to idle spectators.
Pirsig’s mechanic is, in the original sense of the term, an idiot. Indeed, he exemplifies the truth about idiocy, which is that it is at once an ethical and a cognitive failure. The Greek idios means "private," and an idio¯te¯s means a private person, as opposed to a person in their public role; for example, that of motorcycle mechanic. Pirsig’s mechanic is idiotic because he fails to grasp his public role, which entails, or should, a relation of active concern to others, and to the machine. He is not involved. It is not his problem. Because he is an idiot.

After reading the above when I read the book some years past I understood the problem with the modern world. In a world awash with selfies and the clamor for "look at me ... mum look at ME" attention seekers (like a pack of reproducing birds) that more and more people are failing to emotionally develop as part of the normal process.

This results in a bunch more people (perhaps even most of the population now) having some form of NPD (which is no longer regarded as a disorder because its become the new normal).

One of the attributes of a narcissist (well and, curiously, a psychopath too) is the inability to empathise or think externally ... makes for a bad mechanic (just for starters). I wrote a post on this subject a few years back here which takes a different angle on it.

So to me the problem with idiots is not that they are stupid, its that they can't function in many roles at all ...

Monday, 20 August 2018

New battery for my shed

Well my 3000mAh Li-ION battery arrived today, it has two leads, one for "output" and the other for "charger" ... given that it had to be turned on to charge I was suspicious that it had no electronics and the leads would be the same. As I wasn't sure I opened it up and looked. Below is the only "electronics" that existed in it.

So yep the wires were just in parallel so I could have just plugged it into the charger and left it "un cut" and let the Solar Charge Controller look after the voltages.

You can see that its just three cells in there... something I suspected but wanted to confirm.

So the 12.6V rating is quite optimistic because it will only deliver that for a short time (as maximum safe charge on a Li-ION is normally 4.2V (unless you don't care about their lifespan).

Indeed it says 12.6 - 10.8V ... which is interesting as this means cells are pulled down to 3.6V (you know, 10.8 divided by three) and that's low for a lithium cell as normally you'd want to discharge them to around that at worst case.

None the less in my shed I expect that the lights will be on for no more than half an hour per day ... so all good.

So with the (quite compact) battery now prepped for sticking into my charger....

I did just that:

Of course I'll be measuring actual voltages as we get some time "in service", and not just relying on the controller's set voltages to be accurate (although I've found them pretty close).

But for $15 its pretty decent (well you know).

I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, 18 August 2018


I love garlic in my cooking, but I'm not fond of peeling it.

Some years back I found that a couple of Fruit and Veg shops here sell garlic peeled and whole like this:

Its about $3 a punnet like that.

Of course if you're a restaurant this is great, but most of use "home users" without a vampire problem will never use this before it "goes off", however (perhaps because I'm a biochemist at heart) I came up with a solution ...

Olive oil and freezing.

So what I do is tip the cloves into a "zip seal bag" of sufficient size; tip in some olive oil (enough to have all of it covered but not "filling the bag") (important that).

Then pop that somewhere flat in the freezer; making it easy to break off the garlic as needed without thawing it.

The garlic does not "freeze to itself" in a lump because of the olive oil (and what could be more natural than using olive oil in garlic related cooking?).

Win Win

Monday, 13 August 2018

solar shed lights

To me its a no brainer that solar energy just suits small scale projects which don't need to be "on the grid". So with that in mind I thought I'd show you where I'm up to with my small solar shed lighting project.

Some time back I put this small 10W panel on my shed roof, with two things in mind:
First keeping the battery of my pajero topped up and in good order when I went over to Finland for a few months (meaning I wouldn't come home to a dead battery) and
Second being the basis of a lighting power source because running power down to the shed seemed like an enormous pain in the wallet for just a bit of used some times lighting.

So I needed for this project:

  • LED lights (I sort of made them)
  • a battery (scrounged an old flattery from a mate)
  • a IR movement sensor (so as to automatically turn it on)
  • some patience
I made the LED lights by gluing LED strip (bought of eBay for $15 for a 5meter roll) onto some 1 meter lengths of angle aluminium.

This results projecting the light out in a nice diffuse manner basically at the same coverage as the angle, the side reflects quite well and so you get a nice fan. It has the added bonus that acts as a heat sink for shedding the heat from the LED's and helping prevent the glue from separating from the strip.

I then mounted the strips at the tops of the walls, so as to shine light down where I need it (which isn't on the roof of the car all that often).

...and actually when you stand back you can hardly even see they are there.

So that the lights aren't on all the time I've got a small PIR movement sensor after the controller 12V output to turn the lights on when I walk / drive into the shed. As you can see, its just wired roughly at the moment...

The controller is quite interesting, it's very well priced and has some good features. Many online reviews have slammed this little guy because its not MPPT ... well so fucking what? I'm charging a single battery from a 10W panel and MPPT would bring what? 10% more to the table? I could achieve heaps more just stepping up the panel size to 20W...

The pay back is its fucking cheap and has some great features which the online reviews seemed to ignored, perhaps because they don't "get it" in terms of usage (just testing and spec sheet gazing).

What I like about this controller is that you can set a bunch of features:
  • to only engage the load (12V output) after sunset
  • to optionally engage the load after sunrise
  • to individually set how long the load should be available for after those events
  • manually set the battery protection level voltage (the voltage it cuts off the load to protect a battery from over discharge
  • manually set the battery charge shut off level (where it just applies a tiny mA float)
That it will handle a 10A load makes it all pretty good for $30

So, how does it work?

There's still things to do, for example I'm yet to:
  • add a 12V Li-ION battery (which will be much smaller and probably last ages given the loads)
  • mount the controller and PIR onto a board for making it look neater
  • make up an adapter to allow me to charge the battery in the car still, (which would then also run the lights), so that when I am not using the car for a while I can just switch it over to charging my car battery (so its dual purpose)

I'll link to that when I get that bit done.

Friday, 3 August 2018

pumped (by pumps)

Just thought I'd put up an image of the pumps I use in my floor heating system, I guess people imagine all sorts of things, but they're quite compact (and low price).

I buy them on eBay for like $15 each and this allows me to have simplicity on getting consistent predictable flows in my water circuit design.

This batch have been iterative improvement over the previous ones, with the impeller shaft being (what appears to be) Stainless Steel, not a bit of plastic (which broke in a few of my pumps last time).

Given the magnets showed signs of rusting I've used LANOX liberally inside (disassembled the pump which is pretty simple, just 4 screws) to ensure that its well coated with lanoline (which should resist washing off).

I'll add more as I go

Thursday, 2 August 2018

why all phone drop tests aren't worth shit

I've had this phone with Gorilla Glass 4 on it for a little over 2 years now.  I've never had a case on it because I wanted to "see how it went" (having never had a case on any phone I've ever had).

Its been dropped multiple times (like from the first week) as happens despite care, and never had more than a kind of scrape in the glass (you may call it a scratch, but that's a bit finer). These have resulted in something hard (like granite pebbles thrown onto foot paths in Finland for grip) leaving their marks in the glass.

Its fallen onto concrete face first, edge first, corner first and the plastic has done a great job of absorbing the impact without transferring the energy straight to the glass (and it smashing).

Yesterday it tumbled out of my pocket while I was sitting cross legged on the ground and fell like 20cm to the ground. I reached over to pick it up, expecting to just dust it off, and found this fracture:

I was stunned ... totally fucked it in the most insignificant of tumbles.

Looking at that edge (where the shatters radiate out from) one sees this:

The crack radiates out from a point on the edge

so the strike would seem to be right on that rolled edge, so that would seem to be the critical danger point ...  I'm expecting that (as it was dropped onto plain ground) that there was a small stone right there on that roll.

Perfect ...

This would seem to make all the "drop tests" completely pointless because (being brutally honest) it all just depends on how it lands. The luck of the draw so to speak,

This new design is interesting because all the narcissistic personality disorder selfie generation want the new bezel-less phones which pretty much ensure that any drop that hits and edge is going to shatter that screen (and generate new income for the phone maker (or the spare parts maker).


maximizing the exposure to this critical place.

Of course you could always put the phone into a protector case ... which makes it bigger and uglier. But the NPD among us will "imagine" their phone as it was on the corporate advertising, not as it is in their hand.

Corning has progressively enhanced their glass to be stronger and to withstand impacts, but it would seem that the fashion set has fallen for making phones even harder to protect from drops.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

owners who "really look after it"

I bought my current T-Max of this Italian fellow in Melbourne. I have often wondered how little sympathy most motorcycle owners have for their bikes, and how much less they often understand them. (as an aside, Matthew B Crawford has an excellent book on this and its relationship to NPD, consider this a strong recommendation for reading that).

I've documented here already my experience with the variator (and I'd explicitly asked if the variator had been touched). So clearly he's bullshitting me or he's a fool, or both.

The most common bullshit given to a new owner is "I just had it serviced" ... and of course if they're a dipshit they'll believe it. Myself I just assumed it had not been serviced and changed the oil and filter in the engine straight away after I got it.

So, as its belt time I thought I'd do the rear (fully enclosed) chain oil.

My first glance at the dipstick made me think "oh fuck" ... So when I took this muck out I was aghast ... it was the filthiest shit I've ever seen.

So basically I put in the new oil and again shook my head at the level of maintenance this bike has had.

That its still working so well after over 100,000Km on the dial is a testimony to Yamaha.

Some people seem to think that all a vehicle needs is to be washed and spoken with nicely.

For reference the bike has a two stage chain that's fully enclosed and neatly tucked away from view (and harm) in the swingarm.

The first stage runs from the pivot to about half way, then (and you can see the swingarm step out) it has a second run to the final sprocket at the axle.

This means that the rear sprocket can be smaller (to fit in) while still allowing the "normal" gearing up.

The chain is thus protected from all the muck in the environment, is quiet, makes no mess, and only needs the oil changing every 10,000km

Its a peach to change, take off that black cover (two screws, and use the right size screwdriver, and be prepared to use an impact tool to tap it into moving (it might never have been taken off),  you take out the dip-stick (often tight), loosen the drain plug at the back and dump the oil ... takes like 5 minutes and is actually slated in the service manual for doing every 10,000 (I've been known to leave it in there for 30,000 if the oil I'm seeing on the dipstick looks ok).

Simple and cheap, yet still people don't do it ... fucked if I know.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

more-on Electric Vehicles

I noted the other day an interesting propaganda piece in the ABC in their ongoing desire to push their religion, and one of their agendas is pushing Electric Vehicles. The article was written in a "no questions asked" "please just believe me" manner common to the (failed) modern journalistic manner.

This is a link to the article (maybe they'll change it in part later, as they've done in the past).

I'd like to discuss some of the major points.

Warnings played down

The headline and about the 4th paragraph warn that its dangerous to do your own home brew setups. I'm an engineer myself and I agree entirely with that. However its not till near the end of the article where the real points are brought out when they add interview with a professor of engineering who says:
"I don't think this is something that anyone can do and I don't think economically or financially it will stack up just for the average person to go and do.
"It makes more sense if you have some kind of vintage or classic car that you want to retrofit."
Dr Whitehead said it was important anybody interested had an appropriate background as an electrician or an electrical engineer and consulted relevant groups to obtain expertise.
If someone's thinking this might be a cheap way to get an electric vehicle I would say it isn't, unfortunately," he said.

This point should be at the beginning, so as well as brushing over the (hard for most to grasp) main dangers they don't explain what sorts of fire hazard this thing is should it be involved in an accident (probably even minor). The Fire Department would be horrorfied if someone was trapped in the vehicle and would have to face even higher risks in helping them.

But of course, it won't happen to me right?

The Costs and the economy of it

To me being "economic" means to not spend more on doing something one way than by doing it another way.

In Australia a new Nissan Leaf costs AU$33,000 yet this guy has spent $35,000 on munging up an old (unsafe in a crash to start with) shitbox ute into something which has undoubtedly got far less sophistication and far worse aerodynamics than the Leaf ... meaning it will chew more electricity to drive ...  I encourage you (if your interested in an EV) to go look at a Leaf as its a well appointed little car (see wikipedia or other sources).

Any sane person would stop here.

What else is wrong then?

Claim that "its well and truly paid for itself"

Quoting directly from the article I see it says:

He spent about $35,000 converting the Hilux to electric but believes the amount he's saved on fuel means the car has "well and truly paid for itself".
"This is now 11 years as electric drive, this ute, and … the kind of savings I've had, just in fuel alone, is more than $40,000," he said.
The car is charged for free at home using off-grid solar, or at free electric charging stations up and down the Queensland coast.

Qick Analysis

Ok, first, lets look at what he spent to "save fuel" and how much money he's saving on that. Assuming that fuel costs $1.50 per Liter (which it does at the time of writing) and assuming your shitbox old Hilux:
  • gets horrible fuel economy like 10L/100km and
  • that you drive 20,000km per year
the costs of doing that driving are $3000 per year using fuel; less if you get better than 10 (as I expect you would). So with his electric home brew mung up he's had to pay more than that and we haven't even counted the cost of electricity yet. For those who will say "but he did this over 11 years" ... what's 11 times $3,000? Would it be $33,000?

Then he says he has a "Off Grid" solar setup (not shown, nor discussed) that charges it for free at home (meaning its not driving around in the day) and claims it charges it in 2 hours. Quote:

"If I charge from a public charge point I can charge it in two hours, if I charge from my own solar I can do it in two hours, if I'm charging from a standard wall outlet it will take me about eight hours."

We don't know how often he uses his solar rig, how far he drives, but he does sponge of the community in "free outlets".

As a side note the substance of that claim "free charging outlets" is referring to this article: in the ABC. Which uses wording like "will be installed" and "would be made free for at least 12 months", so the long term freebie-ness will indeed be questionable.

So are you smelling that carrot for what it is?

Anyway, we don't know anything about his battery system, but lets assume its as perhaps good as the Leaf (or he won't get far in said car, given the newer Leaf with a 24kWh battery gets a range of 135km on a full charge) and say that its 24kWh capacity ... meaning you have to supply it 24,000Watts for an hour, or 12,000Watts for 2 hours or (as he uses 8 hours for wall charging) 3000W for 8 hours

Now because most people don't have the faintest clue about power (even though they pay for it) I'll put that in context.

A typical fan heater like this one, sucks 2400W. Most people soon learn that they cost a lot to run (indeed they should be given away free by the electricity companies to help drive consumption).

So if you would balk even more at running one of these for 8 hours you'd probably balk at charging that shitbox death trap EV for 8 hours.

Unless you're a nutter hippie who wants to have the cachet of saying "I've got an EV, that I made myself , that saves me money" (when it doesn't).

Then if his Off Grid PV system can charge it in 2 it has to be producing 12,000Watts ... FuckMeSideways ... that's a big rig. 

8Kw is expensive if its installed, but if you go to eBay and buy Chinese Pannels (which may or may not be good, that's a whole can of worms there) you'll pay a minimum of $135 for a 250W roof top panel (which is bloody good compared to a few years back, so one wonders what he paid for his rig (or if he's just telling porkie pies or is a dope and didn't do his sums right)).

Four 250W pannels gives (in theory, on cool days) 1000W costing $540, and you'll need 12 more bundles like that to get 12,000Watts, so add another $6,480 to that (and we haven't costed frames to hold them, where to put the fuckers or wiring needed to adapt that and charge controlers (so it doesn't all go up in smoke).

So that's a bit over two years petrol right there ... probably 3 years if you bought a more efficient car.

Its well worth reading the Wikipedia on the Nissan leaf and its energy requirements: here. And keep in mind the figures there are based around a 11c per kWh of electricty. In Australia its commonly 27 or more (unless you use off peak when its 17c (see here, and be careful to read the terms and conditions on that)).

Wikipedia reports that the power usage of the Leaf is 2.19 cents per km, which works out to be about 3 cents Australian,  but when you also factor in the difference in what they pay for power (its less) we would pay about 7.3c per km.

Assuming you get 10L/100km that would be 15c per km ... and of course less if you drove a more fuel economical vehicle which is comparable to a Leaf ... say a Hyundai i30, which uses about 6L/100 (or 40% less) thus you'd use about 9c per km.

Hmm ... 9c per km VS 7.3c per km ... not exactly "free" is it. When you add in that an i30 can be had for less than the Leaf (like $23,000 vs $33,000) that ten grand must buy you something .. maybe you could invest it in something or even just put it in a term deposit.


He says: 
"The battery pack I've got in there is $23,000, so most of the electric stuff is not that much [money], but batteries are the biggest expense. But that battery pack is going to give me more than 10 years of use"
But hasn't he already done 11 years? Does this mean that its about dead then??

Like so many "believers" reality seems too hard to accept ... and worse they're often putting others at risk with their own delusions of "doing the right thing".

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Exploring the IR thermometer

An IR thermometer (or indeed a thermal imaging camera if you have the funds) is a useful tool for anyone wanting to understand heating, insulation and heat losses around their home. You can learn a lot from them, but you need to understand some of the important facts, like how they work and they are not magic.

There is an illusion that the eBay cheapies aren't worth having, but depending on your needs they are most certainly worth having.

The primary limitation of the cheaper ones (like $10 ~ 20 range) is that they only provide readings of temperatures within a certain range, in the case of the two I own that range is -50C to +380C

Not enough for a blast frunace operator or someone checking temperatures of exhaust systems of diesel tractors (near the manifold), but totally fine for my uses (checking the floor and measuring food temperatures when cooking).

So today I decided to do a comparison using a thin walled plastic cup with hot water in it that would enable me to use a known high quality thermometer to measure its temperature and compare that to my IR thermometer. Interestingly I found them to be within a degree C (over repeated measurements) of the actual thermometer (which is a high grade one intended for laboratory use with the usable range restricted to that of liquid water).

The plastic cup is essentially a source of heat, and heat is actually part of the same spectra of stuff that is light. (see this link: It is that "light" that the IR thermometer is reading and measuring.

However while the aluminium foil is a good reflector and conductor of heat, its not a good radiator. This is because of a property called emissivity.
(read this link:

The above video makes it clear why reflective and shinny surfaces are problematic for reading what can be thought of as "light" from the surface. The issue is are you seeing the source or a reflection from a surface.

As it turns out glass blocks thermal IR but the glass (being a good conductor itself) will show its own temperature. You just need to be aware of hot things reflected in it on your side of the glass, like a furnace).

So armed with that information I hope you can feel more confident in how to use an IR thermometer some of the pitfalls, and what to avoid you can go grab one and start gathering useful data.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Solar Floor Heating (again) (part 1)

Well its been a while since I moved in here, and the first winter was almost over when I bought the place. I busied myself with other more pressing issues (like a car space, fixing some plumbing) and after some time needed to go back to Finland (which is chronicled here as well).

So I've managed to stop procrastinating (a bit late) and have started the project to make the house both warmer and less of an energy hog.

As in my previous project I'm installing first "under floor" heating and some insulation under the floor to do what I can to bring up the interior temperature duing the day by transporting in what heat is available outside. This is best done by allowing solar to heat water (in pipes) and move it under the floor. See this post for a series on that project on my old house.

So basically this time I'm going to show a bit more of what I'm doing in installing the pipes, because that was missed last time (because I was fucking busy doing it and forgot to photograph it, this time I'm taking my time a bit more)

This is a typical "raised on stumps" Queenslander, built in the 1920's, so my underf-loors are easy to access (with a bit of head bashing involved. This is a shot of the place from the back yard (from when I inspected it before buying).

The house is on a sloping block, so the back is higher off the ground than the front. So its relatively easy to get in under it and work on the floors, which of course look like this:

This is from under the "house proper" looking back the opposite way to the above shot. Here you can see that there "back filled veranda" has a different arrangement of floor joists to the rest of the house ... which isn't exactly regular anyway.

This makes planning the run of pipes interesting, but not impossible (assuming I wanted to heat that area, which I do because that's my kitchen / dining area). Looking back "up hill" to the street we see the area of the "house proper" (as I call it) with a black water pipe being visble leading to the bathroom on the left (as viewed in this picture).

 Of course the bathroom has had some water damage over the years:

it looks visually worse than it really is, and some of the bad stuff has been cut away and replaced, or supported. This is the beauty of hardwood houses, you can see exactly what's what and repair is simple and mostly inexpensive (compared to a concrete slab house).

This is a sample of how I run the pipes:

with them "held" against the floor at first just by a cable tie and a staple like this:

Its fast to install, ample to support the small weight and only for install purposes because soon I'm going to be fitting in polystyrene so that it fits under the pipes (thus sandwiching it to the floor) between the joists. This will then be "capped off" with standard sarking (usually used on walls and rooves). This will air seal the pipes and their insulation (but allow humidity to transpire out) giving better transfer into the floor, and reduce losses in the evening and when windy.

Last time I didn't  bother running the pipes "through" the joists, but instead looped them around by going "under", however this time because its so much colder in the evenings and windier here I'm doing it this way.

Similarly to last time I divide the floor into two halves, and each half has its own pair of circuits of water flow. This gives two pipes between joists (which my earlier experiment revealed to be sufficient) and results in shorter runs for the small pumps to push the water through.

As you can see (if you look carefully) I run the flow of each circuit in the opposite direction, so that as each direction starts warmer and sheds its heat the other does the same in the opposite direction ensuring more even temperature.

The pipes from each circuit are gathered together and run towards the junction box where water from the floor meets the water from the solar collectors.

Here you can see that some are going through the joists (which are actually looping back as part of another circuit) and some over the joists (going straight to the junction box).

This is where the project rests at the moment ... I'll continue adding posts as progress occurs find-able under the tags of "solar" and "home improvement". That gives me a record of what I'm doing for me too. After all blog comes from log and this log is also for my own reference too ...

Friday, 13 July 2018

T-Max using my new sheave holding tool (and fitting a new belt)

This is essentially part 3 of a series

  1. identification of a problem
  2. replaced the major part

So this is sort of finishing off ...
When I did the work on my T-Max back a couple of weeks ago I didn't have a sheave holder to hold the sheave (pulley) but instead got it off with an 18v electric rattle gun. Now as I mentioned in that post I didn't know what the amount of torque that the rattle gun would be (although the maker says it's good for 215Nm (and the manual says 160).

So this post is about double checking that and providing a few observations missing from my previous post as well as some significant changes to my measured RPM.

New Sheave Tool

Normally I'd have "munged up" my own but after moving out of my old house I just don't have the workshop setup to do that right now so I decided to buy one. Having seen some ones on YouTube bend I was cautious, but I got this one off an eBay seller in Greece (not China) called f1sport (link to his profile) and while it worked out a bit for me (in Australia) I think the price is totally commensurate with the quality as its about US$83.

Here are some pictures I took of mine, its simply an amazingly high quality bit of steel

Basically all the bolts were in an included bag, and you need to assemble them ... given you're clearly mechanical buying anything like this the lack of instructions are more of a pat on the back of your intelligence than an omission.

The steel is impressively thick

Todays work

So with the variator held by the sheave tool tried using the torque wrench (set to 160Nm) to see if it tightened any, it didn't (setting off the small "click" in the head). So I loosened the nut, and then tightened it with the torque wrench and then tried to undo it with the rattle gun. Unlike last time, this time it did undo, it moved very slightly at first (if you weren't looking you'd be forgiven for thinking it wasn't moving, it took a few seconds of "rattling" before it was starting to move at a pace where I knew it'd spin off fast soon.

Basically I'm now confident on how much torque to put onto the nut with the basic electric rattle gun and have it pretty close to right (and lets face it the torque wrench isn't calibrated anyway, so there's bound to be error), which is what I did 2 weeks ago (and it seems I was on the money anyway).

So now I know.

The other purpose of todays exersize was to pull the belt off and put my new one on. I didn't do that last time because the surfaces of the new sheaves looked a bit rough (not polished) and so I was wanting to let the old belt "polish that in" for me before putting on my new belt.

This gave me the opportunity to have a look more carefully at the secondary sheave (which I didn't do last time) and see the extent of damage that may be there (as less was visible the way it was). While I didn't like what I saw, it wasn't as bad as the primary suffered.

Unlike the primary, the secondary suffered its impacts much closer to the center with just a few hits further out in the sheave ... this is consistent (in my view) with the "hard bit of shit" getting in there at highway speeds (where the wrap of the belt would be tight to the center at the rear and out on the perimeter on the front sheave.

Indeed a closer look makes it clear that some parts of the interior have not seen the belt yet as the dings are still rough and not filled with rubber dust.

The red arrow points to dings which seem to be sitting on the highest gear point of the belt, the green seems to have not seen the belt and I think the blue is the boundary.

I decided to put the new belt in and when I measured the older belt I was surprised to find it was significantly under spec. I'm sure that when I put the new sheave on that the old belt was 31mm, however when I measured it today it was 27, or at about 3mm below tolerance!

So I don't know if I did measure it properly or didn't ... vexing.

With the new belt installed (and knowing it was thicker) I took it out again for a ride and observed the rpm speeds with this new belt (and of course the installed 2 weeks back 19g standard weights). What I got makes me wonder if I indeed failed to measure the belt (or look properly at the vernier).

So now at 100km/h my tacho is showing (about, its not digital) 5,250rpm (more than 5200, less than 5300) which is actually much better, and closer to what my stock 2002 model was doing (which was 4830 and I had a digital tach fitted to that)

It goes like this now:
speed revs ratio

60 4000 66.67
70 4300 61.43
80 4500 56.25
90 4870 54.11
100 5250 52.50
110 5500 50.00
120 5870 48.92

With the "ratio" being how many revs per km/h, showing that the bike is now giving lower and lower revs per speed as gearing increases.

This data also shows that I clearly can't have measured that belt properly because

  1. its unlikely that it could have stripped off 3mm of belt in 2 weeks without there being a mess in there
  2. I further dropped the revs as I got it it was 5,800 @ 100km/h, after the weights it went to 5,600 and today with the new belt to 5,250


This is the data for my old 2002 model (previously discussed)

speed revs ratio

60 3740 62.33
70 4080 58.29
80 4250 53.13
90 4520 50.22
100 4830 48.30
110 5340 48.55
120 5800 48.33

which now looks pretty close, although the older sheave seems to be fully engaged much sooner than the new one. I did a video today (forgot to do one on a fortnight ago) and interestingly my observation was that the weights overcome the spring to fully engage the front sheave at about this rpm.

As it happens I have a theory on why its later to engage. The answer can be found by looking a bit further around the fixed side of the secondary sheave at the spring

which is BLUE !

I'm pretty certain that Yamaha don't colour code their springs which means it (like the malossi weights) are after market.

Looking around on eBay  I see that there is indeed a company making blue springs, but its not Malossi as their springs seem to be Red (+30%), White (+13%), Yellow (+7%) and Green (-39%).
The company selling Blue is unclear about it because their kit also comes with some other adjusters to allow you to increase the spring tension  more.

This then is consistent with modders without a clue because putting light weights in with heavy springs will restrict the engine to a narrower rev range (never getting top gears) and be super revvy (when the engine was designed to be super torquey).

I guess that the next things on the agenda are:

  • keep an eye on the belt wear and see of those marks are causing it to wear faster (and the heavier spring won't be helping)
  • I still have no idea what caused the damage, so perhaps its pull apart the secondary sheave and have a good look. I'd have done that today but I didn't have a 27mm socket which would fit

Given that its got relatively high mileage and an unknown service history its probably a good idea just to pull that secondary apart and give it all a lube up...

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Nut Bags

In Australia we call people who are crazy "nuts" ... thus those who are "as crazy as a bag of nuts" are often called Nut Bags.

The ancient Christians once used symbols on caves to mark their meeting places or declare themselves (usually a fish symbol), and here in Australia I've observed that Nut Bags are identifying themselves discretely with their own iconography:

Nut Bags may also associate with other merchandising

Friday, 29 June 2018

T-Max replaced primary Sheave

Since I got my T-Max I've been a bit concerned that its revving too high (compared to my last one). Its nothing I can be "sure isn't design" and its getting good fuel economy  ... but still 6000 RPM at 100kmh is too fukken much. So I decided to wait till the belt inspection interval.

In my last post about my T-Max I found something "amiss" when I went to check the belt (at the inspection time)

To save repeating myself I recommend reading that (short) post here.


I think that the problem is that the weights are too light (and there is probably some misinformation about the standard roller / weight mass out there).

I think that the current situation (with the new parts) is pretty much "spec" but I can't actually know as a lot of this data isn't published.


So, in this post I wanted to just discuss some details about the work involved and to talk about outcomes.

Firstly for those who haven't done this, but are thinking of doing it, I'd say that its not difficult at all. Having had the earlier version (the differences I'll speak of in a minute) this newer system (which is about the same right through to the newest ones) makes the task of removing the weights (or rollers as the manual itself variously refers to them as) quite simple. The task of taking the primary sheave apart (making belt inspections a peach) is itself not hard.

There are a few points in the workshop manual (which I assume you have) that seemed more complex (perhaps only to me) than they were actually in fact.

The first point is the removal of the primary sheave, reading the manual (and some of the on line videos) makes it out to be a process which needs a special tool ... the sheave holder. If you have a decent "rattle gun" (or impact driver / wrench) then its actually totally un-needed to have the "sheave holder".

The trick is to not break the tension the secondary sheave has on the belt with the bolts as prescribed. The friction of the belt already in place (from the last time the motor was shut down) is entirely enough to allow the removal of the nut ... and thence pulling off the "right hand side" of the variator sheave to allow the belt to simply droop onto the axle of the primary sheave (which happens to be the engine crankshaft).

Its a peach.

The rattle gun I intended to use wasn't strong enough in practice (red rectangle) , but was in theory. I suspect that the previous mechanic put it on with too much tension. It should be tensioned to 160Nm torque and in theory my rattle gun is good for 215Nm ... it wouldn't budge so I borrowed this brute.

which undid it in about 2 seconds. My (smaller) rattle gun was used then to put the nut back on and (not knowing the exact tension it would deliver) just rattled it on "briefly" with the merest of "whacks" (NB not going spakko on it). I intend to check the tension later with a proper tool.

When you first start to pull the covers off the crankcase housing you'll see this:

This is actually the nut you'll take off and yes that's the crank (and yes mine looks like its been punished).

When you take the crank case cover off, you'll see it like this:

And its that spacer (or "collar" as it is mentioned in the manual) which takes that BT grease, the rest (only in a few places) takes "assembly lube"

As you can see that collar has holes (4 actually) and as well as the O-rings has a groove on the inside (which is obvious when its off) that you pack a little more of the BT grease into.

When you pull the crank case cover off you'll see that it has a bearing, which the "collar" sits in (and that's why it wasn't visible in the earlier shot).

This is the crank case cover removed and seen from the "back". The collar sits exactly inside this bearing. You can perhaps just see the two black lines where the O-rings rest inside the inner race. While the bearing is free to turn, the BT grease is just to ensure that the inner race of the bearing has a layer of lube between it and the crank "collar", and the O-rings ensure the lube doesn't get to the belt (a bad idea).

Now in the workshop manual its all a bit more confusing:

as well as all the instructions on what to lube and with what. 4 in the dotted lines there is here:

The weights I took out of my original variator were all within the diameter spec (25mm, min 24.5mm) given in the manual. However the manual doesn't specify weight. They weren't Yamaha ones quite clearly.

They were "Malossi" (and the previous owner swore it was all stock ... sigh) and while they had a few visible flat spots the should otherwise be good to go.

... except when I weighed them (on a scale that is only reading in grams) I found they were some 18g and some 17g ... when I weighed the bunch they were 143g (or 17.8g on average).

Interestingly the Yamana ones were on average 19.37g (or 155g for the lot) which as a whole mass acting on the variator is about 12g heavier ... which will mean that it takes a higher RPM for the mass of these to overcome the spring (in the secondary sheave) and mean a higher RPM before the "front" is fully engaged.

Taking a look again at the image of the primary sheave it was clear that the lighter mass resulted in the sheave never being fully in its highest gear:

as the red arrow is pointing to the maximum run out of the belt, and there is still a good centimeter of pulley left to occupy (again explained in the first post). This suggests that for those who favor weight changes to alter the power distribution in their T-Maxes it is akin to just riding around in a lower gear. Meaning your engine will be doing more revolutions per journey and thus wearing more.

So, with the new weights in the new sheaves I put the BT grease only onto  the thread, the back of the nut and inside the collar, reassembled it and took it out for a test ride.

This is where I found interesting things. I have (now) 4 data sets of RPM vs speed

  • my first T-Max
  • a fellow on the internet who sent me his 2009 T-Max data
  • this T-Max before changing weights
  • and this T-Max after changing weights
Here's what I found.
  • my 2002 T-Max was much higher geared, doing 4830 rpm @ 100kmh (I bought an external Tacho for it that worked off the spark plug lead because it didn't have one) and the gear ratios seemed fully engaged (biggest it got on the front, smallest on the back) by about 100Kmh (sensible)
  • the fellow with the 2009 model was doing 5100 rpm @ 60 mph (curse the USA for still being imperial) which is about 96kmh
  • my current (2006) T-Max was doing 5800 rpm @ 100kmh (which is a fair bit higher than either of the above)
  • after the rebuild of the variator it is now doing 5600 rpm @100kmh (which isn't much lower but is lower)

So where next?

Clearly I need to double check how much further the belt is coming out along the variator at higher RPM, is it making it all the way out? I also need to pull the rear sheave off and see if there is anything amiss there (and I still don't have any explanation for what caused all that damage to the inner sheave).

However I'm thinking that "perhaps its just different" ... I mean its getting good milage (4.5l/100km (or 52US miles / gallon)) and there are differences in the models. For instance:
  • the 2002 model developed peak torque at 5500 rpm (a bloody smart location really), while my model develops it at 6250 rpm (marketing wankers involved I'm sure). This means that to keep the cruising speed (assuming highway use) close to the peak torque they'd need to move the rev / gearing ratio. As it happens its almost at the 5500 revs of the older motor and probably within 90% of peak (its a not a steep curve) right now.
  • Opening the throttle sees the rpm rise quickly (faster response than my older bike) to over 6000 which is getting near to where this motor develops its peak power
  • Peak power has been moved from 7000 rpm on my 2002 bike to 7500 rpm on this (the 2006) bike
Its quite likely that the lack of publication of Yamaha weights has led people to perhaps measure the early model and then not double check that the parts haven't changed.

Perhaps too, the change from Carburetor to Fuel Injection (and some years of service experience) has led Yamaha to decide that slightly higher revvs isn't bad for the motor?

The older model

Having had both now (and serviced both now) I can say that one of the steps backwards to me is the variator. The older one was much more robust in design and was actually well lubricated (while this one is dry). Lets take a quick look at the older one from the manual:

Things to notice are:

  • heaps more sliders to stabilise the sheave to the cam (as the outer sheave is not actually attached to the crank and relies on the internals to prevent slippage)
  • the weight rollers are deeply embedded in a bath of BT grease, so really are massively protected. I never once had any problem in 160,000Km of daily riding (including traffic, dragging cars at the lights, mountain roads and touring)
  • the whole thing is easily kept into one piece when inspecting and changing belts, and indeed being a bit smaller I never needed to take it off to change a belt (unlike the newer one).
Note in the assembly instructions just how much grease is involved...

so as you can see even when you remove it, that sheave does not "fall apart" in your hands (as the newer one will when you remove it if you don't keep a good grip pressing the parts together).

Combined with the more relaxed rpm range of the older one I feel that Yamaha has bowed to the "wanker" set (I mean, they've got the money right?) and taken the T-Max from a practical and comfortable general purpose motorcycle towards a "wanker bike" when the reality is that it can never be an FZR-600 (and if you want one of them you should get one).

The removal of the fantastic and practical and discreet tie down straps from the passenger grab rail (I've loaded plenty of cartons of stuff onto the older one as a real work horse) and the increase in this direction of the newer models says that even more loudly.


So looking now at these numbers perhaps it really is all back to standard now.

Anyway, when my sheave holder arrives I'll need to pull the crank case off again and check that the rattle gun put the right tension on that nut (it was a guess, but it can't be more than 215Nm because  that's all its good for, and who knows how accurate any torque wrenches actually are anyway) and I'll be able to inspect (after run in) how far that belt is getting up along that sheave.

I'm impressed with just how reliable and robust the T-Max is, having done 160,000 on my first one (most of that being my mileage) and now having this one with 107,000 (and I've only done 13,000 of that) I see that belts last well, maintenance is straightforward and they can tolerate an amount of shit without breaking. I seldom got 20,000 km out of a "chain and sprockets" on my bikes, and with belts being less work and about the same price its quite encouraging.

more as it comes to hand ...