Monthly Archives: October 2016

Suzuki XR69 – the Story

Suzuki XR69 – A collection of Posts from my blog about the Suzuki XR69 race bikes built by John Sim at his Silverstone workshop.

25/11/2011 – Post – Suzuki GSX-R Factory.

With three classic GSX-Rs in various stages of disarray and shipping date for the South Africa Winter Series of races very close it’s all hands to the pump to get them ready in time. I nipped down to the Silverstone today to collect one of the motors that has been rebuilt and took the opportunity to steal a few photos when I was there.

The two bikes that gave Michael Dunlop trouble at the Manx Grand Prix this year were both in the Silverstone workshop.

This is the bike Michael won the Manx on last year. It was pressed into service for this year’s race when the 2011 bike gave trouble in practise but didn’t finish.

The blue bike was for this year’s Manx Grand Prix. Michael has clocked 120mph laps with these bikes.

and this one with the Maxton twin-shocks is being built complete with Dominator lights for Endurance racing. I’ve got the same lights on my gixxer. I hope the rider isn’t depending on them to light the track at speed.

It’s one thing to love your Suzuki but to sleep with the bodywork is taking things a bit too far!

If you are that keen on Suzukis then you must have a tidy full power GSX-R 750  too —



26/11/2011 – Post – Suzuki GSX-R Thou

That aircooled GSX-R thou is a big lump of a motor – bet yesterday from Silverstone was the first time one has been carried in the boot of a Smartcar but she’s home nae bother and we bolted her into the frame this morning.

Did I mention the traffic on the M1? Absolutely horrendous Friday afternoon. All it needs is a minor collision and those Traffic Management people in their highly painted 4X4s manage to make a drama out of a crisis. Clearing the road appears to be the least of their concerns.

No worries – back at Bill Simpson’s Dalbeattie workshop work things are taking shape. The motor I brought from Silverstone has been bolted into the frame  —

Just the iron-mongery to fit and she’ll be ready for the crate.

here’s one that was prepared earlier —

The standard fitment is 18 inch rear with a treaded tyre — but if the rules allow – a 17ins wheel with a 180mm slick can be shoe-horned in – just!

The crates are due to be collected Tuesday for shipping to South Africa.



Looks like Monday might be a busy day.



14/04/2012 – Post – Suzuki XR69

The iconic Suzuki XR69 —

No she isn’t pulling a trailer although she has enough ‘grunt’ to do it. That’s the starter behind her which works by driving a motor driven rubber tyred wheel against the rear tyre of the XR69. Get up to speed – engage gear on the XR69 and Bingo! She will fire up!

But only if the clutch clears and this one didn’t. The motor in the XR69 hadn’t been run for five months and we were unable to free the clutch sufficiently to get the thing going. So – clutch was pulled apart and both steel and friction plates cleaned of oil. The oil level was dropped because the heavy when cold Silkolene 10-40 grade was reckoned to be the main problem causing stiction between the clutch plates —

With the oil cleaned off the clutch plates and the level dropped below the lip of the clutch basket so she wouldn’t pickup any more she fired up first time and the job’s a good un:-)

Well not quite – running a 190 section rear tyre in this bike brought it’s own issues —

Namely – getting clearance between the final drive chain and the edge of that wide 190 tyre.

No worries – the ever-resourceful Buffalo turned up some neat spacers with his lathe down in the corner of the workshop and this baby is ready for the truck to go testing down in the warmer climes of southern Spain some time soon 🙂

Ok – Jessica – just for you – the ‘cheesy grin’ —

I don’t expect to have the overalls on again for a while – but – Aldo has promised me a couple of fresh brown trout so I could do with that recipe you promised me 🙂

No that I’d ever thought there would be a special recipe for trout. I’ve been salting them – peppering them – coating them in oatmeal and throwing ’em in the frying pan since I was a kid. Doesn’t come simpler than that. On one memorable occasion I cleaned ’em and fried them on the riverbank without the oatmeal and condiments. I think they were the best 🙂



28/10/2012 – Suzuki XR69

The Suzuki XR69 – isn’t she a beauty! From a time when men were men and sheep ran scared —


Suzuki XR69







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Posted by on October 29, 2016 in Motorcycling


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THE FJ1100 Story

Two years ago I went out to buy a thirty years old bike just for something to mess with in the workshop that would keep me off the streets in the winter months —


but  for once I arrived home wishing I had been sold a pup —


Wee Toby was the star turn – just a few weeks old and so full of fun and mischief. Here he is sloping off towards the forest in disgrace after getting a rollicking from his master for pulling old Bracken around by the ears 🙂

Sold a Pup

Buying the FJ1100 —

The FJ1100 was a short-lived sensation when introduced by Yamaha back in 1984. Not for the first or the last time Mr Yam was caught with his pants down when his very nice air cooled four cylinder machine was quickly overtaken by more modern oil and water cooled fours from the Suzuki and Kawasaki stables.

But that was back then. Believe it or not even now – thirty years later  – that air cooled four cylinder motor is still produced and sold in the current XJR1300 roadster where it has a strong following amongst knowledgeable bikers.

‘So where am I going with this?’

Right here —

Let haggling commence

Deep in a Dumfries and Galloway forest where the current owner and his dog appear to be decidedly unimpressed with my starting offer for the FJ1100 which he has up for sale.

No worries – coffee drank — deal done – it is time for me to wrench the bike from the previous owner’s adoring grip and hit the highway —

jump start

I would have taken his shiny boots as well if he had let me but in the end I had to be content with the FJ —


Yes she’s tidy for a thirty year old bike —

FJ 911

But I see plenty in need of my particular brand of TLC to keep me busy over the coming winter months 🙂


Corruption is everywhere these days and no more so than in the motorcycling field where the ubiquitous 36Y inlet rubbers fitted as standard on the FJ1100 are the ‘must have’ tuning accessories for the XJR1300.

bikeshed 019 (3)

The late arriving XJR uses the same motor but Mr Yamaha strangled the beast at birth when he specified a cumbersome exhaust system and matched it with 33mm inlet rubbers.

bikeshed 053

Fitting a free-breathing Akro like the one on my old bike above – plus a set of these 36mm inlet rubbers stolen from an FJ releases a few more ponies as well as lowering the all up weight by a worthwhile margin.

tidal 017

But my FJ rubbers are going nowhere ‘cept back onto the inlet’s whence they came —

tidal 020

There’s still work to do on the cam cover seen here in a ‘before’ shot —

tidal 023

but what goes round under it looks to be in good order with minimal apparent wear on the cam lobes and what appears to be a sound cam chain set-up —

tidal 024

The carbs are coming along nicely – it’s just a case of deciding how far to go with them in house. Providing they are reasonably clean inside I won’t send them off for ultra-sonic cleaning as it’s my intention to keep the costs sensible —

tidal 026

A tidy bike – running like she should is my aim.


But I will have to wear my mask —

tidal 031

and go rob a bank if I want to make her like new 🙂


Hoping to bolt a few bits of the FJ together soon.

I lifted the motor down off the table and set it on wooden blocks roughly at it’s finished height —

FJ 005

It will be a matter of checking through my auto-jumble of bits for things like –

the airbox and carb rubbers which are still at the cleaning stage —

FJ 001

the carb heat shield which is hanging up to dry after de-greasing. A tidy up with my rubber mallet should see her shipshape again —

FJ 003

I found the lower frame rails looking sad but when I’m happy with their condition I will give ’em a coat of paint ready to bolt into place —

FJ 002

after I wrap the main frame around the motor.

FJ 004

The carbs didn’t appear to be all that great with what looked like thirty years muck on them but I’ve made a start on the cleaning process and I think they will come up ok —

FJ 006

Just to have something shiny to play with amongst all the muck I bought myself a treat off ebay.

A nice set of soft jaws for my vice. Invaluable when it comes to holding parts that are easily marked – firmly —

FJ 008

No doubt I will find other bits on the shelf that should be fitted before marrying the frame to the motor – but –

Rome wasn’t built in a day 🙂


The saga of my FJ refurb has reached the first milestone with the painting of the motor and upper frame virtually complete.

I have yet to decide what to do with the peely-wally rocker cover. I will probably go for a more attractive finish on it and the clutch cover – perhaps some type of plating to catch the eye —

done 002

I have brush-painted the motor with heat resistant Satin Black High Temperature paint from Halfords and it appears to have stuck – so far —

done 006

For the frame I opted to use an aerosol can of Hammerite which should do the trick —

done 004

But time will tell and while I allow both lots of paint time to cure I will give the FJ a rest and head for the MoT Test Station on the Tenere tomorrow —

done 008

I checked the Ten out today and all she needed was a few psi in the tyres and she is ready to go.

Let’s hope the sun continues to shine on the righteous 🙂


I slapped some more paint on the old FJ motor today then left it to cure —

mot 003

while I tackled the frame —

mot 004

The purists may shudder but with costs in mind this was never planned as a nut and bolt restoration – just a good clean then deal with the rusty bits before freshening the paintwork. I have never used Hammerite before and I hope I don’t live to regret my decision to use it on the frame —

mot 005

Time to take a break from painting —

mot 006

and with an MoT due on the Tenere it wasn’t too difficult to move her front and centre where she will get the once-over ready for a dry day for the trip to the Testing Station —

mot 007

I will be surprised if I find anything wrong with her as I’ve overhauled the rear shock linkage bushes since the last MoT —

mot 008

When I see her up there looking so good it’s all I can do to wait for spring before getting the maps out and heading off some where.

Come to think of it – I never did get to Corsica —

Tiree 213

But there’s time yet 🙂


Paint it Black – or bits of it. Painting frightens me – one of the few things apart from snakes that does. Being colour blind doesn’t help and ruins the confidence.

No worries – even I can see this is BLACK —

paint it black 003

or Satin Black to be more precise —

paint it black 007

I played safe and started with the sump as it will be hidden by the plastic belly pan which should cover a multitude of sins. And if the belly pan doesn’t hide my mistakes – I’ll leave her in the box —

paint it black 002

We’ve just had our coldest night of the year – eight degrees of frost. Luckily I stumbled over that cardboard box while rooting about in the dark next door this morning. Coupled with my electric fan heater it made a perfect auto-clave to warm the motor before painting and to cook the paint afterwards to help it cure —

paint it black 008

I even found an old duvet cover to help hold the heat in after switching the power off and heading home for the night. I will decide tomorrow in the cold light of day whether the runs are bad enough to make me start all over again 🙂


I’ve never actually done anything like this total refurb before but having said that – I hadn’t made marmalade either until these past few days and it worked out ok —

No doubt there will be a few expletives flying around before this refurb is done but I have n’t reached that stage yet. Nope – the blanks I’m referring to are to stop the ingress of degreaser, muck and whatever else is going during the cleaning and painting process.

The exhaust ports were the first to get blanked after stuffing them with rags and bubble wrap —

Blankety Blank 001 - Copy

Then it was the turn of the 36Y inlets —

Blankety Blank 004 - Copy

followed by the two little oil gallerys in the sump where the oil cooler lines fit —

Blankety Blank 002 - Copy

Blankety Blank 007 - Copy

At least that ol’ motor is looking fresher today than she was yesterday —

Blankety Blank 006 - Copy

I hope to do a better job of the paintwork than the previous owners did and by the looks of things ——————–

that won’t be difficult 🙂


Little did I realise when I bought the FJ to have something to wrestle with in the chicken shed over the winter months that she would turn out to be such a challenge —

FJ frame

But – today I had a willing helper. Not only does H make a better job of cleaning the frame than I do.

She takes clearer photos too —

FJ frame2

Too good in fact. That frame doesn’t look quite so pristine in her pics – and the motor is showing every one of the five previous owners and thirty one years —

FJ motor 2

I was able to leave the frame in the capable hands of my sidekick and lay the motor on it’s back —

FJ motor

Where the stubborn cap screws fixing the lower oil cooler feed lines to the sump soon surrendered to a bit of heating and beating and unscrewed nicely without further drama.

Fj before stripping

First intentions were just to refresh the old FJ cosmetics and show her off at some of the local vintage events in the summer but once she’s stripped down it’s difficult not to go overboard and poke and prod even further.

Time will tell 🙂


FJ1100 Shiny Bits – I wish. There’s a long way to go but it’s early days but I have made a start and she’s coming along nicely —

FJ 1100 Shiny Bits 004

I’ve got most of the diamond hard chain lube residue off the affected bits and it’s the rusting frame tube joints where the paint has peeled from the weld that need my attention now —

FJ 1100 Shiny Bits 001

but not half as much as making that old motor look respectable. A previous owner has had a go at painting her and she’s neither one thing nor t’other —

FJ 1100 Shiny Bits 002

The oil cooler should come off out of the way before I go much further but there’s a couple of stubborn bolts on the lower oil line fixings that will need persuading before I can separate it from the motor —

FJ 1100 Shiny Bits 003

The motor is original and looks rather sad but I’m sure I’ll find a way to spruce her up a bit. It can’t be that difficult —

Can it 🙂


I could hear lumps of ice rattling off the roof this afternoon but the FJ and I were as snug as a couple of bugs inside.

lumps of ice 001It’s nice to have a job to do under cover when the weather turns wicked even if it’s to do it twice as in the case of this rear shock.

I had already bolted it in place a few weeks ago after a cursory clean up. Out she came again to clean the flaking red paint from the spring and give her a fresh coat of black gloss. Then it was a case of greasing up the shock linkage before putting her all back together again.

lumps of ice 004

That’s better – next to go in were the front forks —

lumps of ice 012

The headstock on the FJ is so well braced – from memory the only bike I’ve worked on with this amount of metal around the headstock was an upmarket Bimota sports bike.

lumps of ice 014

Doesn’t that paint look the dog’s danglies!

lumps of ice 013

Even if it did come from a Hammerite aerosol can.

Better still —

lumps of ice 019

By the time I was ready for home the river by the back door was still between it’s banks and the skies were blue overhead 🙂


Winter will soon be over so I had better make a start to putting the FJ back together. With the heavy lump of a motor already sitting on wooden blocks mating the frame to the motor wasn’t too difficult.

Simply a case of laying the main frame over the top —

fj rebuild 001

Lining up the bottom rails —

fj rebuild 002

offering up the side plates —

fj rebuild 015

and sticking a few bolts in.

fj rebuild 003

Before bolting the inlet rubbers in place and hanging the carbs on 🙂


FJ1100 Luing Scrambler? That’s the plan anyway. If Ducati – Triumph plus Uncle Tom Coblers and all can build a scrambler out of what is basically a road bike then surely I can build one too —


My MSX 125 runabout keeking through the curtains looks unimpressed – or does she? I reckon the little sweetie looks pretty scared as well she might once that 4cyl 1100cc beast comes back to life! Even the Tall Tenere who seldom backs off from a photo-shoot has taken to the shadows on this occasion —


No worries – not a lot more can be done to the FJ till H brings our new shed home —


My fault it’s running late really for I’ve prevaricated over the rebuild for almost a year since I got to the stage where I would have had to cover up all that lovely metal with her original plastics and couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Now here she is anxious to be completed and out there – but – unfortunately two hundred miles from our new home —


Who is the Daddy 🙂

Thanks for ploughing through this marathon of a post folks — it’s a proper mish-mash consisting of the ten or eleven FJ related posts on here since i bought the bike around two years ago. I had little idea what I would do with the bike but at least I have an end product in sight now in THE Luing Scrambler.

Unfortunately the FJ and I are separated by 200 miles of road for the time being so it’s not as if I can nip out in the morning and bolt a few bits together.

No worries – I am more than hopeful that she will be housed by my front porch up here on Luing before Christmas. In the meantime I will try to bring some sort of order to this series of copied Posts in the hope that the FJ1100 Story will make more sense and with my fire rekindled perhaps I will now ‘horse on’ and complete the project.

I don’t suppose ‘Colin the Post’ will be able to squeeze my FJ in here —

Bards - post

Don .. aka givitsum 🙂

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Posted by on October 17, 2016 in Yamaha FJ1100



Island Odyssey

Here in October 2016 I am at the start of an Island Odyssey – but it’s not my first. Back in Jan 2013 when recovering from an operation that had gone horribly wrong I wrote about my first ‘Island Odyssey’. It was in 1995 – a bit different from my current situation but enjoyable in it’s own way.

Here it is – My original ‘Island Odyssey’:

When you are feeling below par what better pick-me-up than to look back to better days. My recent mistake with the WordPress Media Gallery where I inadvertently dumped 1500 photos and screwed up a large number of my posts has given me the chance to return to the mid-nineties.

I was involved in motorcycle grand prix racing and had three weeks to chill between the Malaysian and Japanese GP races. The rest of the team had gone to their respective homes in various places round the globe but I was going walk-about. A chance encounter with Giamaco Agostini as we left the hotel that last morning gave me an idea where to go. He told me instead of following the masses to the ‘fleshpots’ off the west coast such as Phuket – to go east to Khota Bahru and pick up the backpackers trail for the South China Seas. I promptly bought a rucksack on the market in KL China Town – dumped my suitcase in left-luggage at the airport and bailed out!


Redang Island was my first stop and the transport was by cigar boat. Kuala Terrengannu was the jumping off point on the mainland so I caught an internal flight up there from Kuala Lumpur. Cigar boats are long and thin with no cover, just a pile of merchandise plus wooden plank seats for possibly six passengers and two crew. A similar seating arrangement to the rowing boats on your local pond in fact. The important bits were hung on the stern – two humungous Yamaha outboard motors!

Boy could this thing go! The Malay driver pushed the boat off from the wooden jetty – aimed her at the horizon – Hawaii – the Philipines or whatever and wrung her neck!

I don’t have a pic of my more rustic twin engine boat but I have found one of a smaller boat along similar lines to set the stage —


After what seemed like a few hours of skimming across the waves Redang Island hove into view. D’ya like that word? Hove? Very nautical of me. I must have picked it up when I was learnng to sail dinghies on Loch Earn – nice to know all that money wasn’t wasted.

Anyway we ‘hoved’ into Redang right by the wooden huts that were to be my home for a few days. I didn’t meet anyone that first night – just found something to eat in the Tenko style mess hut then returned to my wooden cabin and slept like a log.

The sun rises early and so did the breakfast chef! Along with lots of smiling Malay faces – it was hard to tell who was staff and who were guests. Then Dusty introduced herself – an air stewardess from one of the former African colonies having a six month sabbatical to backpack all through the South China seas. She had been as far south as Bali and was working her way north before flying home from Singapore in three weeks time.

We explored the island together – snorkelled over the coral reef and in the evenings after dinner joined everyone in the karaoke hut. It was just so much fun!

South China Seas Dusty on dive tree

The pic shows a ‘me Jane – you Tarzan’ moment in the jungle. Yes being a sporty type she dived beautifully off that branch into the pool. Things didn’t stop there – she refused to come out until I had followed her in.

Coward that I am – I didn’t trust the branch to carry my fourteen stones but I got out there. My next challenge was to release my strangler’s grip on the limb and dive in! Not easy! I’ve survived one broken kneck in my life and diving headfirst into that dark pool could easily leave me with another. Cpn Sensible wasn’t with me that day and eventually I let go the branch – closed my eyes and went for it!

I must have passed some sort of test – maybe it was my singing at karaoke as Dusty suggested we team up to visit our next port-of-call – the Parenthian Islands.

A kiss of life for the fish – Dusty style —

grand prix days (2)

A few days were sufficient on Redang – it wasn’t primitive enough. It had running water and electricity. So it was back to the mainland then up the coast by mini-bus to Kota Bahrur to catch a cigar boat ride to the Parenthians. They were well out in the ocean and it was dark when we arrived and were dropped off on the beach – and that’s where we stayed till morning.

Get any romantic thoughts out of your head – this was hardcore roughing it. We pulled every bit of clothing we possessed over our heads and lay down on the pitch black beach to sleep.

I think this is an everyday situation for tough-as-teak girls like Dusty and soon she was snoring softly. I on the other hand flinched everytime I felt movement under me! In the morning we were soaking in the cold heavy dew and learned that the movement under us had been sand crabs. They spend the hot days in their burrows and come out onto the beach in the cool of the night. Yes we had been lying on the entrances to their burrows! Better that than with snakes in the jungle!

I’m not sure of the spelling but I think this small jungle clad island was called something like Wee or Wie. There was only one place to stay and this was it. Fortunately some of the backpackers were moving on next day and Dusty was able to share a shack with a posh girl from the home counties while I got the lovely hut just above the beach.

grand prix days

There were no doors – no windows and you’ve guessed it- no toilets. You either risked going for bush or used the latrine pit Tenko style. Oddly enough I never felt alone – at least not after I found my first snake slithering in through the walls!

I was invited by the Malay owner to return later that year after the GP season was over to help develop his operation but something else came up and I went to Spain instead. Another ‘What if’ in my life but you can’t do everything and I often wondered how those low lying islands fared when the Tsunami roared through a few years later.

The proprietors family had what we would class as an idyllic lifestyle – he lived in the big hut on the right and we all ate on the open deck of the lower hut with a few more guest houses dotted around the jungle above the beach —

grand prix days 002

We all ate at a big plank table on the communal mess deck attached to the owners family hut and if you wanted a shower you filled the overhead bucket if there was water in the well – soaped up then tipped it over you. Mostly we washed in the sea! The days were spent swimming or snorkelling over the coral reef and walking the beach. The adventurous climbed palm trees for coconuts and there was an occasional boat trip to a neighbouring island which was slightly more civilised than ours.

The view from my hut —

grand prix days 003

There was no karaoke on Wei or at least no karaoke machine. We lit a fire on the beach at night and talked or sang. With backpackers from all over, songs were sung in a few languages but anything by the Beatles was guaranteed to have everyone join in. Out at sea the bright lights of the squid fishing boats lit up the night as they scooped everything from the shallow depths and tore up the coral reefs. It takes man but an instant to destroy what nature has taken years to build.

After the second week we returned to Kota Barhu up near the Thai border on the mainland. Dusty caught a flight to Singapore for her last week of freedom before heading home to Zimbabwe and I got on the Jungle Train to Kuala Lipis right in the centre of Malaysia. I could have gone all the way south to Singapore by train cos that’s what the Japs did to surprise the British forces in the last war. The Brits were expecting to be invaded from the sea and prepared their defences accordingly. The Nips came down on the jungle train and sneaked in the back door! Like taking candy from a baby!

Like I said I only went halfway but that was an eye-opener. Through mountains – across rivers – past logging camps and native villages – it was a wonderful journey. I still had a week to myself before flying on to Japan for the next Grand Prix and I was going to make the most of it.


From Kuala Lipis I caught a long-distance bus to Kuantun on the east coast then another one south to Mersing where I took a boat out to Pula Tioman for a few nights – the island where South Pacific was filmed. It was nice enough but too civilised – not a patch on the rustic Parenthian Islands and I guess I was missing Dusty. She had been great company with never a dull moment when she was around!


I spent a couple of days back in KL before my flight to Japan – most of it in Chinatown. One night in the YMCA hostel and my last night in the comfort of the Swiss Hotel.

Island Odyssey


and what became of the delightful Dusty? Well we kept in touch for a few years – as you do – then life intervened and regular correspondence took a back seat. The last I heard from her she had been selected as a crew member of the Presidential jet on a State visit to Brasil – yup – there’s never a dull moment when that girl is around 🙂

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Posted by on October 8, 2016 in Uncategorized



FJ1100 Luing Scrambler

FJ1100 Luing Scrambler? That’s the plan anyway. If Ducati – Triumph plus Uncle Tom Coblers and all can build a scrambler out of what is basically a road bike then surely I can build one too —


My MSX 125 runabout keeking through the curtains looks unimpressed – or does she? I reckon the little sweetie looks pretty scared as well she might once that 4cyl 1100cc beast comes back to life! Even the Tall Tenere who seldom backs off from a photo-shoot has taken to the shadows on this occasion —


No worries – not a lot more can be done to the FJ till H brings our new shed home —


My fault it’s running late really for I’ve prevaricated over the rebuild for almost a year since I got to the stage where I would have had to cover up all that lovely metal with her original plastics and couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Now here she is anxious to be completed and out there – but – unfortunately two hundred miles from our new home —


Who is the Daddy 🙂



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Posted by on October 3, 2016 in Yamaha FJ1100


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