Joe Blogs

(Not so) Mysterious Cutting Out


I got on Marlene yesterday to run some errands. She started up nicely, but every time I tried to engage 1st gear, she cut out instantly.

Given that it was instant I had an idea of what it might be. There is a safety cut-out on the side-stand, that prevents you from going into gear with the stand down.

I got off and took a look, and lo and behold, the switch (a plunger type) was stuck in. I was in a hurry, so I simply pulled it back out with my nail and went on my way. Next time, it wasn’t an issue, so I’ve just squirted it with some lube and worked it in and out a bit and hopefully that’s that.


Fuel leak


The morning after the MOT, I noticed a dark patch under the bike, and assumed it was oil. It was towards the back of the bike, so I thought maybe it was the drive shaft leaking. I didn’t have time to look at it, as I was working.

During my lunch break, I took a closer look, and discovered it was fuel, not oil, but it was difficult to see where it was originating. The drip (very slow) was coming from the underside of the exhaust.


I was quite concerned that it was a cracked tank or something nasty, as there was a lot of muck and rust in the area. Looking at manuals and on showed that removing the tank is quite a job. It sits inside the frame, under the seat, and seems to require removal of the rear wheel and swingarm, and other gubbins to do much with it. Even it it were a dodgy fuel hose, that could be quite a job.

After work, I had another look, with a torch and it looked as though it might be the drain bolt, but the whole lot was so mucky it was impossible to tell, except that that area looked wet with fuel and nothing higher than that was wet.

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I had a little scrub with a wire brush but that just spread the muck around, really.IMG_20130625_150200 IMG_20130625_150209

A bit more degreasant and cleaning up with an old sock (pro tip, save old socks they make good rags) made things a little clearer, but it still wasn’t entirely clear where the leak was.

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After leaving it for a little while, it became more apparent. The leak is from the fuel level sensor. Additionally, when cleaning it up, one of the wires to the sensor became completely detached, which probably explains why that hasn’t been working (knew about that when I bought it).IMG_20130625_151846 IMG_20130625_151911

It looks likely that the problem is simply the o-ring for the sensor, and I think I can get it out by draining the tank and just unscrewing it, as I can access those bolts without removing the tank or wheel (I think).



I have the replacement o-ring, courtesy of my local Motorcycle Parts Centre. I also bought new bolts and a new drain plug washer to be sure. The leak has actually slowed or stopped since I used up some of the fuel in the tank, riding, so I’m going to wait until I’m back from Hayling Island, to avoid jeopardising that if I run into problems. I’ll also try to solder the sensor wire while I’m at it.

I was interested to find, in the Haynes manual, that they include a check on this in the 4000 mile routine service:

Check for leakage from the level sensor in the base of the tank.
If it is leaking, tighten the mounting screws (see illustration).
If leakage persists remove the sensor and replace its gasket with a
new one (See Chapter 4)



Welcome to the family, Marlene


Having passed the MOT without any advisories (except informal ones to replace the tyres when I can), I feel I can finally welcome my new bike to the family. I was stumped for ideas for a name (don’t question the naming, I just do, OK?) so I put the matter to Hannah and Oscar. Oscar, my 6 year old son, immediately suggested Marlene, after the otter in Penguins of Madagascar (that he’s been watching a lot of recently).

I wasn’t exactly smitten with the name, but lacking an alternative decided to roll with it. It’s growing on me, and seems quite suitable, now.

Marlene is an otter bred in captivity. As long as she’s inside the walls of the zoo, she’s quite cutesy and mild-mannered.


The moment she sets foot outside the walls of the zoo, she becomes a crazed, wild animal.


Seems somehow appropriate for a bike that looks rather like a cruiser, but if you open her up, takes off like a bat out of hell (bred for the drag strip).




Little things


Always nice when things work out…

I thought I’d better do some minimal pre-MOT checks ahead of Monday.

  • Headlight – working dipped and main beam (as it’s a US-model, no “Off” option)
  • Rear Light – working
  • Brake Light – working for front and rear brakes
  • Horn – *PARP*
  • Left Indicator – TAKAKAKAKA (fast)



That’s the indicator that I replaced the stem on when I first “received” the bike. Could have sworn it was working OK when I last checked. But did I? Or did I make a bad reconnection. Or has the bulb blown (hope it’s that).

I was going to wait until the morning, pull it apart and hope I’d still have time to get down to the Motorcycle Parts Centre (highly recommended) before they close (being Sunday). The possibility of an MOT failure for something so simple (on the face of it) was weighing on my mind, though so decided to try to take a look in the gathering dusk.

Took the lense off. Drat, the filament is intact and can’t see anything wrong with the bulb. I took it out anyway to see if I could see anything bad with the housing. Didn’t have to twist it much to get it out, and wasn’t sure it had re-seated properly so made sure and re-tested. Bingo!

I gave the assembly a bit of jolting and waggling to make sure it wasn’t getting dislodged again, and it’s still working. The other side was OK already.

I also checked the tread depth on the front tyre, and I /think/ it’s at least 1.6mm all over. My tread gauge isn’t very precise, but it looks about OK. I intend to replace it anyway, but not until I know there are no other nasty surprises from the MOT. I believe that a re-test is usually free within 10 days, so if it fails only on the tyre that shouldn’t be a problem.

Fingers crossed. I’m itching to take the old girl out for a spin.

She’s here!


I’ll document the saga of getting to this point, some time soon, but for now…

My V-Max is on MY driveway at last, and running again. MOT is booked for Monday. Bit dubious about the front tyre, but decided to suck it and see, in case there were other hidden issues. It was an advisory at the last MOT, but not done many miles since then, and the other advisories have been dealt with.

Here she is, at dusk, on the driveway:



The next morning, Hannah and Oscar met my new girlfriend ;-) Don’t know if she’ll get a name, yet.

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I’m a little bit excited :-)