Beta Alp 4.0

A collection of information as it arises. There's not a lot out there!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Day 10 Arras to Home

Breakfast was running a little late at the hostel this morning and then the bread was defrosted in the microwave. That's not very French; but it is a relief that the French can be as idle with regard to cooking as the English. The jam was excellent anyway so I managed to get a good fill for the day.

There was a little dampness in the air, but for once, not rain and I set off for the Autoroute to Calais. I'd decided that the final 110km were always slow and dull and that it would be best to get them over with. The toll was just under €4 and so not a major cost. At 200km the reserve fuel light came on and I hoped to reach the Chunnel terminus without a stop, just as well as there wasn't anywhere to fill-up. The check-in formalities were rapid and we were boarded well in time for departure. Then there was announcement that we would be delayed due to a 'technical problem' ... and another. After 20 minutes they decided we would have to be transfered to another train, of course the next departure had already been loaded. So the doors opened and we all drove off. Just outside the train the Alp's engine died and wouldn't restart. Out of petrol! I quickly found my spare 1 litre bottle and poured it in, after a pause pressing the starter to get away again.

The starter spun the engine but it didn't fire. After a few attempts one of the staff came over and asked what the problem was. I explained that I was out of fuel and that my top up must have been inadequate. After a few minutes the recovery LandRover arrived without a fuel can and we drove off to get some; I was hoping that this would get things going. Eventually we got back to the Alp with 5 litres of petrol and poured it in through the world's slowest nozzle. Still nothing!

By now the next train was about to leave, luckily from just where I was parked so they let me push on to the train. At least I'd be broken down in England. What could the problem be? I'd just ridden 110km without problem, restarted and then nothing. Surely there couldn't be a serious fault. As the train set off I thought about the simple combination of sparks and petrol. I couldn't check for sparks as the train has some sort of flash detectors. The plug lead was dry and the plug looked fine, it's colour was perfect. What about petrol? In the service before leaving for the Stella Alpina I'd backed out of draining the float bowl as the screw was stuck. Now it had to be done and with my self-gripping wrench pressed firmly on the screw cracked open.

I ran some liquid onto a tissue, it didn't even smell of petrol. That might be the problem. I found my lunch box and ran the whole float chamber into it; refilled the chamber and drained it again. The run off was 50% water and full of bits of debris; this might have solved things. I was desperate to try to start the engine but couldn't until we reached England. As soon as we stopped I pulled the enricher out and spun the engine. It ran! Importantly it stayed running and settled into an idle as the train was unloaded. I agreed with the recovery that they would follow me to the edge of the tunnel area which they did. I topped up and decided to try for home.

After I'd completed the M20 I was relieved until I realised that I'd have to risk the Dartford tunnel. Four lines of lorries and no hard shoulder. The engine ran fine through this and I pushed on to Cambridge where I refuelled, flushed the float chamber again and continued homeward.

Occasionally I believed that the engine misfired but I can't say for sure. It certainly maintained an idle at junctions and picked up to higher speeds in every gear. At last I was at home and could relax.

It's always said that you shouldn't get down to the bottom of a fuel tank but as there's no real reserve on the Alp you're always drawing from the bottom. Secondly, I often run it close to empty to get the range out of it; I'd done it at least 3 times on this holiday. I blame water in the carburettor (and conceivably in the fuel tank) and possibly a critical grain of dirt in a jet for the acute lack of running. The misfires, if they really exist, might be due to a slightly clogged airfilter as the tracks in Italy were very dusty. That will be revealed at the imminent 12000km service.

110km in France, 380k in England


At 4:36 pm, Anonymous louis said...

amazing awinspiring you are aware i have the alp also but probably never dare a journey
beyond 100 mile because of the discomfort, i have a vfr750 for distance work but maybe i will chalenge that extra mile or two
due to your fantastic blog
cheers louis
ps. i am goin with a couple of pals
to rhaydar wales of roading next weekend

At 4:49 pm, Blogger Adrian said...

I agree that the seat is !$*$! uncomfortable. However it is transformed with an Airhawk pad. These sit between you and the seat with a few straps to secure. Easily removed each night and can be deflated if you're short of space to store it. Could be used as a pillow if you're camping too!


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