Gwent Classic: Mynyddislwyn

A last minute decision to do a trial (after all the other ones were cancelled) was well rewarded with a venue I’d not been to before. a farm near Mynyddislwyn.

Gwent Classic trials are AMCA (and theoretically no helmets) and usually no observers, so you observe yourselves as groups. This has disadadvantages, but one main advantage. Last time on the venue, they ran a single lap, 30 section trial. This time it was two laps of 15 sections, with a single route (which makes a nice change too)

5 groups of riders (with 4,5 or 6 in the group), made up of 1 pre-65 group, 2 twinshock groups and 2 modern mono’s., Sections 1-4 were set out in woodland with some nice camber’s, loose corners and tight-ish turns.

Section 3: Kevin tackles the awkward turn

Sections 5 to 12 were all in the stream, the main feature of the venue. Its a good place for classic trial and allows sections to be set out Scottish syle, that is a marker on each bank. The bottom section, number 5 was probably the most difficult, with some greasy solid steps, rather than the loose rocks further up. Picking the right line was key and having a go at the sections. Proper trials.

Section 10: in the stream

Section 12: top of the stream

Sections 13 was an awkward turn off-camber followed by a sharp climb to the end cards, whilst 14 was an off-camber route through trees, followed by an awkward slope and step to the exit. The last section, 15, was a through a muddy stream before a turn right out and up a slope.

Section 15: Alan on his TL250

Section 15: Roy Trump

All good sections, and which made for an enjoyable day out. Riding as a group can slow you up, but it can be a pretty social occasion. I rode the SWM 320TL, which was fine except for a broken brake lever (section 5 on the first lap) and slipping kickstart (which was a result of not putting it back on right after using on the SWM-Gori project.

Maybe its the assumed unreliability of my SWMs (an urban myth as I never failed to finish a trial on one), but there are now more Honda’s than ever on trials, though it was nice to see a couple of Montesa’s out, even if the 349 sounded like someone shaking a bag of marbles.

Many thanks to Sean and Mark for running the trial, as I’d forgotten how good the venues they have are.

SWM Guanaco Sidecar: why oh why ?

After some persuasion and a certain tendency heading towards the loonie bin I acquired the sidecar outfit from Martin Matthews . What was I thinking

First job, to get it running. After assembling the Gori to SWM project, for some light relief we thought we get the sidecar up and running. No oil in the crankcase, so we poured some in, only for it to pour on the floor through a knackered clutch cover bolt which had been threaded. Did that up finger tight to stop the leak and then looked at why there was no spark.

I seemed to have been through a lot of condensors in the last 12 months, and used another as we stripped out the stator plate and sorted the wiring. Result a nice strong spark, as we spun the flywheel using an electric drill and Gavin’s handy adaptor.

Just after completing its run down the road

Like most used SWMs this has a knackered kickstart shaft. so with Graham in the starting position, tried to bump start it “Cool Running’s” style on the road outside of the house. First attempt just resulted in heavy breathing and swearing as we ended up outside the next house down the road with no luck. One small backfire seemed to indicate timing might be the issue, so back to the lawn for a fettle.

Retarted the timing slightly and changed the plug, which was wet, so carburation not the problem. Back to the start line at the top of the drive; engaged fifth gear and pushed; A couple of metres later and she fired up, though I was soon out of sight as a large cloud of blue smoke billowed up out from the engine.

The bike ran, no major knocks, a bit sluggish but most the energy from the bike was creating smoke. Keeping the bike straight seemed to be bit of a challenge and after crashing through some nettles managed to turn it round, head back up through the smoke in the direction of the house.

Picked up Graham and managed to get the down the road and back in one piece, though it seems that the bike was burning a significant amount of oil, so probably knackered crankcase seals. Managed to get back to the lawn in one piece, stopped the bike and then noticed there was quite a bit of oil on my legs 🙂

All good fun.

The Gori->SWM project

The aim originally wasn’t to restore the bike, but this seemed to be the best course of action…it was too good to split for spares.

The only problem is the restoring a Gori is that the green plastics are not available. The tank had already been sprayed a different colour and the only things I had to work with was the already faded (and painted) side-panels.

Prior to Strip

So, as its mainly an SWM, I could “convert” it ethically. Though a 1981 bike (I think) the yellow SWMs of the period had different frames (no bottom loops) and were not cush drive. Having both a 1978 and 1980 SWM, the best option would be to make it into a Red/White SWM, though it would have different steering geometry, Betor forks and some other subtle differences. Also, both front and rear plastics were available for the early SWMs so decision made. She’s going Red and White.

The strip down showed the following:
– the kickstart shaft splines had been rounded slightly, but were no worse that those on some of the other bikes. The bottom knuckle had been renewed, but it did seem to be thinner than normal, so perhaps this was causing it to slip off.
– the barrel, bore and piston all seemed fine, with no marking and no obviously large gap between piston and bore.
– the clutch plates were firmly glued together by old oil and lack of use. Will run up the bike and then see if the clutch plates need replacing, but should be ok.
– the clutch basket was badly notched, preventing the plates moving under action. Filed these out to allow for smooth movement


– On Gavin’s TL320, when he reassembled it, there was a significant knocking that was caused by the gaps between the conrod and the crankshaft being greater than tolerance and allowing for too much free play. This also seemed to true for this crank, so split the cases and pressed the crank so that the gap was correct. – the flywheel was of the better, heavier type so all seemed good there.

Crank setup

– the frame was straight, with no dings in it, as was the swingarm, forks and top-yoke.
– the original rear shock units worked, but would probably need replacing if the bike was going to be competitive.
– chain and sprockets were all servicable and should be ok with a clean-up, rather than replacement.
– the carb worked fine after an initial clean, so should be ok with some further cleaning. The exact jetting needs to be checked however; the jetting seems to be different for every bike I’ve seen.

The strip down went ok, except that removing the front boss/bolt on the crank took some heat, a long bar and two people. It’s a standard left hand thread btw; iie normal (we had to check…). Compared with some of the other bikes, engine is in good condition and really looks it hasn’t done too much work. The small and big end bearings have been swapped before at some point (the old ones were supplied in a box).

So onto the rebuld and sorting out the paintwork.

Rebuilding the engine wasn’t too bad. The test run of the bike showed that all the gears were there and hopefully by keeping the gear cluster and selector in place I’ve managed to ensure that all the gears are still there.

Spent sometime cleaning the clutch plates and removing all the old oil. The clutch cover and cases are all fine, with no holes or cracks, which is a good sign for an SWM. After sorting out the big-end side gaps, also cleaned up the bottom chamber, which as it had been stood for a while, the bike had picked up marking on the magnesium. Nothing too serious.

So the decision was made, to turn the Gori into a Red/White SWM, so set of work on the frame and tank.

A neighbour shot blasted the frame for me and I applied a liberal amount of Nitromors to tank, followed up by some time with an air-sander.

With painting, I had a couple of choices:
– powder coating; though this is what I’d done with the Jumbo frame, I’d not been too happy with the final durability, as the coating on swingarm had split and flaked.
– painting, could get a local paint shop to do the work on frame and tank
– paint it myself.

I learn’t a while ago that although tempting, doing your own paintwork could at times be a little fraught and be time consuming. Trouble was, that it was a while ago, so the lesson needed re-learning all over again. Though I had access to a compressor and sprayer, I wasn’t that keen on getting involved with two-pack paint. So a trip to Partco and Halfords quickly identified that VW Mars Red is a very close match to the original red.

With the aim of producing a decent bike that could be used in local club trials. and maintained cheaply, I thought that this may be a good option. So 2 tins of VW Alpine White, 4 tins of Mars Red, some primer and some petrol proof lacquer were purchased.

Frame Respray

The frame came up really well and finish was pretty good. The only problem was when I put the lacquer on the tank and it effected the lining (black lining used in modelling) and caused it to move slightly. The only other issue I had was with the plastic (and green) side panels. You can’t currently get the red panels, so opted for spraying with plastic primer and then red and white cellulose. The finish is not brilliant and it shows up some of the scratches and marks on the panels too well. But overall not too bad.

Tank preparation