Category: "TZ250"

New Favourite Meeting?

May 30th, 2018

I think I've said before that the reason I go racing is to be able to race the TT course. If I couldn't do that, then I probably wouldn't bother at all. But for the last couple of seasons the Pre-TT Classic has become a firm favourite too, and this year was no exception.

The run up to the event was not exactly smooth, as described here. But after both bikes ran well at Jurby, most of my fears were laid to rest, and I felt a lot more relaxed. I'd arranged my travel logistics to stay across on the Island for the few days between Jurby and the Pre-TT Classic, and my very understanding boss was ok with me working remotely for three days, so I was 'in the office' sat at keith and Becca's kitchen table for 3 1/2 days. I took a few hours out of my work day on Tuesday to grab a decent spot in the paddock, and pitch my awning and the team tents. By the time I'd finished, I had the new awning up, and full with both bikes, tools and equipment, gas fridge and camping cooker, and it all looked full factory! The weather was scorching, and looked set to remain so for the duration.

Thursday was first proper 'event' day. I headed down to the sea terminal in Douglas at lunchtime, and met Alex and Simon off the 1pm boat. Alex had cycled the near 100 miles from his house in Shropshire to Liverpool, setting off in the middle of the night to make the 11am ferry check-in! He has these regular "get fit" periods, and has dropped 20kg since Christmas. To cap an epic ride, he'd crashed on the way and suspected he might have cracked a rib. Turns out he hadn't (we think), but alcohol and ibuprofen were pressed into service over the next few days to manage the pain. Simon was on his rattly K75, which was sounding like a tractor due to a cracked exhaust manifold. So not so full factory, then.

We spent the afternoon sorting out the workshop area and living space, and doing a few little jobs here and there. Signing on was at 7pm, and I got there 30 mins early to find half the field had a similar idea. But everyone was very good natured, and when the doors opened we all got processed through, checking riding gear, licence, transponders, etc and I was out in good time. I headed back to the paddock, grabbed the guys and we went into Douglas to eat. My partner Vanessa was on the 10pm boat, and after eating I met her off the boat and we all returned to the paddock.

Friday - First Day of Practice

The great weather continued, with Friday dawning bright and sunny. First practice was this evening, with the roads closing at 6pm. The bikes were basically ready, but there were a couple of small jobs to attend to, and a lot of lock-wiring of items that you don't worry about on short circuits - front fork clamps, brake caliper bolts, etc. The consequences of a failure on a public roads circuit are obviously much more serious, and if a bolt is lock-wired, the scrutineers can visually assure themselves that is is secure. As usual, the Southern 100 club ran things with military precision, and we had times for scrut'ing both bikes, and out practice sessions, written on the white board in our awning. Both bikes were given a clean bill of health by the scruts, although the TZ250 was given an advisory to check a hint of play in the head-races, and were soon sat up on stands with tyre-warmers on in Parc Ferme.

TZ & ZXR in Parc Ferme before practice

As usual before a first practice session, I was very nervous, and had to keep finding things to do to keep my mind occupied. But the time soon ticked away, and the roads closed on schedule at 6:15pm. The newcomers were out first, led round by a travelling marshall, and then the various classes each had their turn. The TZ250 is in the "Post-Classic Junior Superbike" class (the name makes no sense to me), and our slot soon came round.  Alex and Simon warmed it up (using my fancy, and quite expensive, socket-with-a-clutch-in-it on a battery drill to start it), and soon they were pulling tyre warmers off and I was heading out to the colecting area with more than 20 other ring-a-ding-ding two strokes. The class also allows 600s, up to 1986, and the were a handful of GPz600s out too, including my good manx mate Andy Cowie. We set off in pairs, and I was soon re-acquainting myself with the circuit, and reminding myself of how good a TZ250 on song feels. I was pleased that I could remember the circuit pretty well, and felt comfortable with where I was going. My braking points still felt way too early, but that is as much about reminding myself with just how well the TZ can stop. While out, there were a few spots of rain on my visor, and the marshals did put out the 'rain' flags (red diagonal cross on a white background), but the road itself never got wet, and I don't think I slowed much if at all. It was only the first practice, and the session was soon over, and I had some laps under my belt, and was confident that I'd qualified. As was the case - the rule was that you had to be within 118% (for an 8 lap race) of the average time of the first three riders, and I was comfortably within that. In case you're interested, this margin is calculated to minimise the chance of slower riders being lapped by the leaders.

Once back on the 250, we parked it back in the awning, and waited in par ferme for the practice session for the ZXR750. However, we heard the bikes go silent in the preceding session, and concluded that there'd been an incident, and the session red-flagged, which was the case - three riders down, and one airlifted to Nobles hospital, but fortunately without serious injuries, we later heard. But by the time the marshals had cleared everything up, and the air-med helicopter returned, time for the evening had run out, and our practice session was cancelled. Such is road racing. So we packed everything up and went to find food and drink in Casteltown.

Saturday - Practice Day 2

Saturday was similarly bright and sunny, and hot too! Practice was during the afternoon, and we had hoped for an extra session for the big bike, so that if we had any sort of problem we'd have chance to fix it and run again. However, the race office said no, we'd just have 5 minutes longer! And then, when scrutineering came round, the 750s were put through first, and we were told we could do a couple of 'speed controlled' laps behind the travelling marshal, with the newcomers. This at least gives the bike a run, although at slower than race speed. (How I found this out was by word of mouth, and the one criticism I have of the organisation by the otherwise flawless Southern 100 club is that they could really do with a tannoy in the paddock, or some other way of getting information to teams and riders. Even a chalk board would be an improvement on the current system of hearsay and rumours. I shall write to the club!).   After this we were back on the scheduled practice programme, and due out on the 250 in the fifth session. As the alloted time came around, Alex and Simon fired up the TZ to warm it, blipped the throttle a few times....and then it suddenly died. We instantly diagnosed some electrical failure, as the powervalve servos were not cycling when first switched on. We didn't panic - Simon and Alex worked the problem, found a broken wire (to the charge system sensor I'd fitted months ago) which was shorting to earth, fixed it and got me out just as the rest of the field had headed out onto the track. I was all alone, which was fine. Some four-stroke had dumped oil on the racing line from Iron Gates to Ballabeg, which wasn't. I initially thought the oil might be from the previous practice session, but the marshals were busy trying to tidy it up, so it must be fresh, and only just happened. After a couple of laps a bike in front came into view, and it was my mate Andy Cowie on his GPz600 - he'd also been late getting out in the session, and was also being very cautious over the oil, so I managed to catch him up, and waved as I went past. I was six seconds faster than Friday evening, and was actually 9th fastest, but this might just be down to me being a bit braver over the oil. Still, I came in buzzing, as I usually do from riding the TZ.

TZ at Casteltown Corner

The session for the ZXR was important, as this was the only opportunity to qualify. A gang of around 30 growling and rumbling late 80 and early 90s four cylinder four-strokes gathered in the holding area, and we were then waved off in pairs. The field felt fast! I became embroiled in a group of 4 or 5, and picked them off one by one. On this circuit, at race speed, overtaking takes some planning - fortunately, my £300-stock-road-engine-from-ebay seems pretty fast, and I was able to pass a few on the straights (obviously due to my superior drive off the previous corner - honest!). The bike felt like it was flying, until as I crossed the line for the fourth or fifth lap, it hesitated near peak revs in a high gear. It felt exactly like fuel starvation, a problem that had plagued us at last year's Classic TT. I started changing up a few thousand rpm early (10k instead of 12k) and this kept the bike running ok. "Touring" i.e. riding round at a much reduced pace, is strictly forbidden - there have been some awful accidents when a rider running at race speed hits a much slower machine ahead of him, so I was prepared to stop, but my pace had only dropped very slightly, and I judged I was safe to finish the lap. The chequered flag was waved as I crossed the line, so it was the last lap anyway. I brought the bike in and reported the bad news to the guys. We set to and stripped the fuel system and Alex seized the canister-type fuel filter and said "what's this piece of crap doing back on the bike?" We'd removed it as the suspected culprit at the Classic TT, and, er, I'd re-fitted it. This time it went in the bin, and we checked everything else, including the tiny filters in the carbs, and everything seemed good. And then we tried to re-start it, and the starter solenoid just clicked! So we traced the system, and found the mating surface on the (cheap, second-hand, remember?) engine to the earth strap was corroded. A bit of emery paper cleaned this up, and everything was fine again. As this was first night of TT practice, we piled into the van and headed to the Railway Inn at Union Mills to watch the evening session, and get something to eat. The weather was still glorious, and watching the TT boys scream through on their modern bikes, while eating chicken curry in the sun, was a good way to end a great day.

Sunday - Race Day

Unusually for this event, race day was on Sunday, rather than Bank Holiday Monday.  The roads closed a little after midday (to allow the faithful to get to church, I think) and the first race was the 'Support' race, for all the non-qualifiers, across all the classes. There was a very varied mix of bikes, as you might imagine, but this system at least means that if you have a problem with your bike in qualifying, or are just a bit too slow, you can still get a race, and a race finish. After this we were onto the full program, and the TZ race was around 4pm. I stayed hydrated in the sun, drinking lots of fluids, and consequently making lots of trips to the portaloo! I was nervous, as you should be before a road race, but comfortable that the bike was ok, and I knew what I was doing.  My combined practice position put me 11th - middle of the fourth row, a little ahead of midfield. We formed up on the holding area, then followed the course car round for a sighting lap to the grid.

TZ on grid

The start marshal's board went up - "select gear", then "watch lights" - the lights came on, then off and we were away. Getting the TZ off the line is an art, and today I didn't do it well, losing lots of places as we headed away. But as the TZ came on song, I got some of those back, got good drive through Ballakeighin, and got my head down to wind in some others as we headed down to Iron Gates, making back a couple more places. A guy a couple of awnings along in the paddock, Adrian Skaife, on his Honda RS250, was just ahead of me, and I was lining him up for a pass at Cross Fourways, when suddenly a green Kawasaki came past me on the brakes, and nearly t-boned Adrian. I tucked inside the Kwack, and chased Adrian through Church Bends. While his RS is probably more powerful than my TZ, I must have got better drive off the corner, as I came alongside through Great Meadow, and was able to outbrake him into Stadium corner. And then I just had open track in front of me - the next group of bikes were obviously running faster lap times, and soon there was no-one to be seen ahead of me. Mind you, I knew I was going faster than practice, as the TZ was getting a proper headshake on through Ballawhetstone - the steering damper could do with a few clicks more! But the was no chance of me doing that while riding the bike, and it wasn't scary - the bike was just letting me know what was going on.  My clear view ahead was then interrupted when by that damn green Kawasaki came past on the brakes again! I tucked behind him, and out-dragged him down the next straight. We did this a few times, which at least kept me honest and focussed.

TZ chased by Kwak

Unusually for me, I had kept count of the laps, but I was, as usual, relieved when the last lap flag came out. By this time I think I'd managed to gap Mr Kawasaki, or perhaps he'd outbraked himself again, and I crossed the line and took the chequered flag with no further drama. Those 8 laps were some of the most intense I'd experienced - the TZ is such a focused machine that racing it damn near fries my brain!

I got back to smiles all round, and a very welcome drink - it was still so hot! And it turned out I'd finished in 10th place, which I was very pleased with, with a best lap of 2:54, which was 6 seconds faster than Saturday's practice time. And, symbolically, prize money is paid for the top 10, so I'd wn £50!

The roads were due to open for 45 mins at 5pm, to allow the locals to come and go, but as I wandered up to parc ferme at 4:30, I heard some modern four cylinder machines head out. It turned out that, because the programme had run ahead of schedule, the Post-Classic Superbikes, the class for my ZXR, were getting an extra few laps of practice to make up for the loss of Thursday. But, again, this info had not been communicated. Please fix this, Sourthern 100 club!  It would have been useful to check that we had solved the fuelling problem. Anyway, time ticked around, as it does, and the 350 Junior race, the one before us, went out. But then the road went silent again, as their race was red-flagged. We were told that the 350s would come in, and we would go out next (instead of the more usual immediate re-start of the red-flagged race).  So it was quickly warm up the engine, and within 10 minutes we were rolling off the stands and heading to the holding area. For this race I'd qualified much worse - down in 18th place, on the 6th row. I don't think I'd gone any slower than normal, just that the class had got more competitive. We did the warm, formed up on the grid, selected gear, the lights went on, then off and we were away. I got a much better, but not perfect start, with a bit of a wheelie, but definitely made up a bunch of places on the way into Ballakeighin. One chap (Alex Whitwell, I think, on the Funky Monk Racing GSX-R1100>, was a bit forceful round the outside, but I drew alongside him in the braking zone to Iron Gates, and was a bit forceful back. And then I was chasing a few others, and actually racing them, outbraking people into Ballabeg and Cross Fourways, and racing wheel to wheel down Great Meadow to Stadium. This was brilliant! I was riding what I think of as 'the back section', from Ballabeg to Cross Fourways, better than ever, but still losing ground to some bikes ahead of me, so I can find some improvements there. But the bike was wheelying off the crest before the Billown Dip, and felt like a proper superbike. I got in front of the bikes in my bunch, and focussed on the guys ahead. I thought I might be able to draw up to them, but then on the fourth lap, as I came down Great Meadow, there were waved yellow flags, then a red flag at Stadium Corner. I naturally assumed some 'incident', and we were sent back to the paddock. But that was it - the result was called after three laps. It turned out a very sudden but intense shower had drenched the last couple of corners, and with half the field on slicks, the race had been red-flagged to stop people barrelling into a corner on a soaking road. And, with no time in the programme for a re-run, especially with the previous race also having been red-flagged, that was the result called. I was placed in 11th, which was dissappointing, as I'd hoped for slightly better, but in that class field I should be happy. But just outside the money! The shower was gone as quickly as it arrived, and we were in the paddock sun again, cracking open the beers for the team.

Epilogue

With an evening race, we'd thought we might struggle to get out to eat, so Vanessa had prepared a fabulous chili, which went down very well with more beer and wine.  And then we walked into Casteltown and, er, had some more drinks.  It was a great evening, as usual after a successful day's racing.   The next day Simon headed home, and Alex, Vanessa and I had a day of being tourists - we went down to the Calf of Man and the Sound, and had an ice cream and a beer.  The we called at the Chasms, a set of rock formations on the coast with big splits down them, and then drove north and had a beer and a chinwag with the Cowie's.  And then we could put it off no longer, and returned to the paddock to tear down the awning and load the van, ready for a early ferry the next morning, 

This was another fabulous Pre-TT Classic, and it is now firmly cemented as one of my favourite meetings of the year.

Pre-TT Classic 2017

May 30th, 2017

The Pre-TT Classic is now embedded as a key part of my season, especially after having such a great meeting last year - utterly glorious weather, and a 7th place (and prize money!) in the Classic Superbike event.  This year I was looking for a repeat, but with the TZ250 added in too.

I loaded my new long wheelbase van (the previous short wheelbase van being much too small for two bikes, wheels, tools, awning and camping kit for 3 people) on Wednesday evening, and headed to Heysham, collecting Alex on the way, early on Thursday morning.  By early evening we were set-up, with the bikes and tools in the awning, and the palatial Purple Palace next to it.  We do manage to look like we know what we're doing

On Friday morning my great friend Keith McKay was hosting a track session at Jurby circuit as way of a stag party (more later), so we headed north, pausing at the airport to collect Simon as he arrived.  Jurby, like the rest of the Island (and the UK) was scorching hot, and we ran a few sessions on both bikes, sorting some niggles on each (lack of water in the ZXR [ahem], and a replacement battery for it; tweaking the jetting on the TZ), and got them both ready for the evening practice.   The evening brought little respite from the heat, and my new Held leathers, while of the usual excellent quality, were a bit stiff and restrictive (note to self: break in new leathers before a big race meeting), so I wore my old scuffed ones from last year.  The TZ was still on TT gearing, and we didn't really know what to use for the Billown Circuit (to give the Southern 100 club's circuit its official name), so we tried it as it was.  This proved a bit tall, and I had to slip the clutch in first gear out of the three slowest corners (Ballabeg, Cross Fourways and Castletown Corner), which made me fear for the life of the clutch.  Noted for later.  We went out to practice on the 750 in the Classic Superbike class, only for it to be red-flagged on the first lap, due to someone have a big blow-up and smearing oil all over the braking zone and entry to Ballakeighan.  This took a while to clear-up, and we didn't get out again until gone 9pm; fortunately, the Isle of Man is far north and west enough for it to still be light until about 10:30pm at this time of year.  This time I got 4 or 5 laps in, at a reasonable pace, and I was comfortable that both bikes would be within the 118% qualifying cutoff (based on the average of the top 3 riders' fastest laps).

The weather forecast for Saturday was bad; fortunately, it was also wrong - after a light shower before 9am, the day stayed warm and dry, although not as hot as previously.  My girlfriend Vanessa was on the lunchtime flight, and I had time to collect her in the van (how romantic!) before practice started.  This time we had an issue with the TZ - we fired it up in the holding area, and it didn't sound right - the rear cyclinder was only firing at high revs.  There was no time to investigate, and the primary suspicion was a blocked pilot/primary jet, so I took it out to "see if it would clear".  It didn't, so after two laps I brought it in - I'm learning that with this bike, you don't run it unless everything is just right.  This was annoying, but I'm also learning that it's part of the deal with full-on GP race two-strokes.  The session on the 750 was uneventful, and by now I was really starting to get comfortable with the back part of the circuit, from Ballabeg to Crossfourways, that I'd never really got my head round before.  The TZ issued turned out to be a loose reed valve block, which was a bit of a shock, and must have loosened off during the practice session on Friday.  Easily fixed, anyway.  Taking positives where I can find them, I was pleased that I could immediately hear the TZ wasn't running right, and also that I'd learned not to run it when there was something wrong.

Sunday was a bit different - long time friend Keith was getting married to his partner Becca.  Vanessa and I dressed up and arrived by van at the ceremony in Ramsey, and then went on to the reception in Laxey.  We then got changed into regular party clothes and went to the evening event, which in Keith and Becca's inimitable style, featured an Iron Maiden tribute band! It was all good fun, but might have contributed to Alex and Simon getting as drunk as I've ever seen them.

Monday was race day, and it was wet.  Persistently wet.  Still, the Billown circuit provides decent enough grip with wet weather tyres, and the Southern 100 club are the most efficient racing club I've ever had the pleasure of racing with (by some margin), so racing started on time, rain or no rain.  I was in race 5 (Post-Classic Junior Superbike, for 250 2-strokes and 600 fourstrokes) and race 8 (Post Classic Superbike, for 750 fourstrokes up to 1992, and 1000 four-strokes up to 1986).  After the problem with the 250 during Saturday's practice, I'd missed the opportunity to go faster, but everyone else hadn't, meaning I was in 19th and last place on the grid.  But I'd still made the 118% cut-off, fortunately.  For the 750s, I was 13th on the grid.

Simon and Alex fired the 250 up in the holding area...and it sounded sick!  We quickly decided it was electrical - maybe the ignition had been left turned on?  I ran to the awning, grabbed the spare battery, and the guys quickly swapped it, and got me out in time.  The bike coughed a couple of times on the warm up lap (as the spare battery wasn't fully charged), but after that it was fine - phew!  We lined up on the grid in steady drizzle, the lights changed, and I got an awesome start.  It felt like I overtook about 10 people on the way to the first corner!  I'd not ridden the TZ on wets before, but it was lovely - the bike is so light it doesn't stress its tyres at all, and the wets offer huge grip in the rain.  As always happens after a great start, a couple of guys with better pace caught me back and passed, but I still had a good run, and finished in 11th, which I was quite pleased with.   And here's the TZ, looking more capable than the chap sat on it:

The 750 race was after the lunch break, and the drizzle slowly eased off, but the track was still mostly wet.  This time I was in the middle of the grid, but still got a great start, and was able to capitalise on it still, catching and passing manx mate Mark Bamford on the run to Iron Gates.  After that, the fast guys in front stretched away from me, and I was by myself - until lap 5, when Colin Croft passed me!  This woke me up, and I quickly matched his pace, and passed him back.  He wasn't giving in easily and came back again, so I re-doubled my efforts on the last lap, and managed to stay ahead of him, to claim 6th place, which is one better than last year!  Very pleased indeed about this, here's a great photo from Jules Watterson showing how close Colin was

Back in the paddock, looking grubby but lovely: 

So that's another successful Pre-TT Classic, which has now cemented itself as one of my favourite race meetings.  The bikes both ran well, and I seem to still have it in me to go reasonably quickly.  There's a few little jobs to do, as always - the first is to wash the bikes!

 

Bad start to the 2016 season

March 22nd, 2016

It's been a long winter, and I've not updated my blog for six months or more.  Which I should have done, as I had some big-ish news.  

Over the winter the organisers of the Classic TT announced that they would be introducing a new class for 250 GP bikes - purpose built two stroke racers.  There's a lot of Yamaha TZ250s, Honda NS250s, and a few Aprilias too, out there and looking for somewhere to race. When I heard this news, I thought this would be an ideal second string to my Classic Racing bow, and started looking for a suitable bike.  I eventually found a TZ of the right age (1996), specification (4TW1), provenance (full history) and price (*just* affordable), and collected it last month.  And so I was itching to get out on track, so I entered the opening meeting of the season with NGRRC at Brands Hatch.

And here she is, ready to go:

 TZ250 ready for my first outing

This turned out to be my worst race meeting ever.  Well, not really - I'm not in hospital, after all, so I've definitely had worse.  But as non-crashy meetings go, it was pretty bad.

Having prep'd the TZ last Sunday with a couple of mates who previously owned TZs (thanks NeilR & Sol), I was really looking forward to getting to actually ride it.  The NGRRC meeting wa sa two day event, so I booked for the MSV ACU track day on the Friday. I got up at silly o'clock Friday morning, loaded the van and headed round the M25.  I unloaded the bike and got its warmers on, and signed on etc, and was ready to go out in the 4th session (which was preferable to the first session, as it was so cold and slick that Pat crashed his R6 on the out-lap).

I rolled out, and...there I was, riding my TZ250.  As I'd been re-assured, it's "just a motorbike", and behaved like one.  First session was definitely just about getting some laps under my belt, which I did, and all seemed fine.  Then on the last lap of the session, I missed a gear, or it jumped out.  I didn't think much about it, but the next time I select 3rd, there was a awful noise - a biscuit tin full of nuts and bolts sort of noise. I grabbed another gear, and the noise went away.  And then I was in the pits, and the bike seemed to rev cleanly.  I couldn't believe it was a gearbox issue, so I decided to try again in the next session - but as soon as I selected 3rd the noise was there, so I came straight back in. I ran it on the stand, it was definitely a problem with third gear

I phoned a friend (thanks again to NeilR), and he sent me a video on how to remove the gearbox, which is indeed very easy to get at.  But the sight meeting me sunk my heart - broken gear teeth in the bottom of the casing, and the gears for third (on both shalfts) completely mangled.  And a tooth missing from fifth on the clutch shaft too.

  

 

What I should have done at this point is packed up and gone home.

But a chap wandering round the paddock came to chat, called Mike Webster, and he said he had a TZ (a 92 4DP1), and had a spare set of gear shafts, and I could borrow them.  And he lived close, so off he went to get them.   I put my awning up, with a work bench, tools ready and read the section in the manual several times.  Mike came back with the two shafts, and they slotted into the gearbox beautifully.  I bench checked the change mechanism up and down the box, and even got one of the guys from A&R racing to check it with me, and he said it all looked good.  So I slotted the box back in and started to re-assemble everything else.  This was very fiddly, and almost certainly where I made a crucial mistake (ominous music).  I lost a lot of time here, and so didn't make the last practice session of the afternoon.  

Following multiple updates on Facebook, I got a phone call from a mate on the Isle of Man - he put one of his mates on the phone who told me not to forget to clean out the strainer in the oil pump".  Oil pump?  I didn't know there was one!  But the manual did, and the gearbox does indeed have an oil pump.   

So after cold and fitful night's sleep in the roof of mechanic Simon's camper van, we were up at 7:30am and pulled it all apart again.  The pump is inside the gearbox, so it all had to come out.  We got it on the bench, and Simon found and cleaned the filter, while I signed on.   We re-assembled, being as careful and methodical as we could, but under a little time pressure.  But still, I got out for untimed practice, and did 6 laps (on wets, cos it was *very* cold, and slightly damp) and everything "seemed ok".   

Next outing was timed practice, for 15 minutes.  Out I went, circulating ok (tho the rest of the grid seemed *much* faster), and the flag came out, so round we went on the in-lap, and on the Cooper Straight - the rear wheel locked solid.  Pulling the clutch in made no difference - the gearbox was seized. 

I was recovered back,we got it on the bench, pulled it apart, and it was carnage.  The gearbox I'd borrowed was trashed - every gear broken, I think.  Worse, a piece of broken gear had made a hole in the casing.  Tellingly, the oil pump drive was missing teeth too.  I spoke to Graham File, and he is so busy he's not taking on any work until May at the earliest.  He told me to talk to Dennis Trollope, who was in the paddock,  I went to see him and basically begged him to take the engine from me and see what he could do with it.  I think he took pity on me, and agreed.  So Simon and I took the engine out, and carried it over to Dennis with a box of clutch and gearbox bits.  Dennis sucked his teeth a lot, but on seeing the broken oil pump drive, he said this would have been down to mis-assembly - he said 15 years ago, when there was a grid of 30+ TZs, he'd sell at least one of those gears every meeting. 

I don't know what this is going to cost, but it's going to be a lot.  And of course I have to replace all the broken gears on the shafts I borrowed from Mike Webster.  So it looks like my descent into bankruptcy due to TZ ownership has started apace.  It was a bit of a stretch to buy the bike in the first place, and I so didn't need this now. 

Human beings are pattern matching engines, and we want to assume that two gearbox failures are connected. But I don't think they are.  The second one failed because we had it apart to fix it the first time, and Simon and I, who know how to use a set of spanners, were not wise in the details of re-assembly.  And the manual did not cover this potential 'gotcha' at all,  Why the first gearbox failed is a mystery, and we'll probably never know. 

I'm definitely normally a glass-half-full sort of chap, but I did sink into a bit of a deep dark hole over this.  But, writing this a few days later, I've recovered my normal equilibrium.  The one saying that fits everything in this game is "That's racing".  And, as I said up there - at least I'm not in hospital.