Saturday, 6 November 2010
A few weeks ago, a friend from the TOMCC told me he had a Scottoiler that he wasn't using, and offered it to me free of charge. Fitting one of these was on my 'to do when funds allow' list for the Bonnie, so I bit his hand off and he passed it to me a few days later at a club meet.
A motorcycle chain should be lubricated regularly - even as often as every 200 miles in wet or dusty weather. For those that don't know, a chain oiler is a small reservoir of oil that is fitted to the bike and delivers a metered amount of oil to the chain while the bike is running. There are several makes and designs, but my preferred option is the Scottoiler. I have fitted these devices to two of my previous bikes, and they work well. One fill of oil lasts about 1000 miles - enough for most tours, or 6-7 weeks of commuting for me. I generally lube the chain on my bikes every week, but the Bonnie (like many modern bikes) lacks a centre stand, and so lubing the chain involves either walking the bike to and fro while trying to keep the oil bottle or spray in the right direction, or putting it up on the bike lift: more hassle than I need for a simple and regular maintenace operation. I would recommend a chain oiler for any bike in regular use that doesn't have a centre stand. It saves time and hassle, and you can't forget to do it.
The great thing about the Scottoiler is that it is fully automatic. It works by gravity, with the oil reservoir above the chain height, and with a narrow tube leading down to the rear sprocket. A little nozzle ensures that the oil is delivered to the exact spot. The reservoir has a valve which is opened by engine vacuum, so when the engine starts, so does the oiler. It delivers about one drop per minute, so standing in traffic with the engine running is no big deal. All you have to do is fill the reservoir every so often, and check periodically that the chain is moist with a coat of oil.
(Note: the version I fitted is called the vSystem - for vacuum - and used to be called the Universal Kit. There is also a system using electronics to meter the oil delivery called the eSystem. This costs over £200, and as the original system works perfectly well, I can't see why you would want one. Unless you want another module on your handlebars telling you how much oil it is delivering, which might be interesting to technojunkies, it's just more complexity for no benefit that I can see.)
The Scottoiler that Andy gave me (thanks buddy) was minus a couple of essential bits, but these are all available from the company's website: www.scottoiler.com. Ten quid for the extra bits was well worth it, considering the full kit now costs £90. (Still worth it even at that price, though.) So today I got round to fitting it.
Fitting is pretty straightforward. You start at the delivery end, and make sure that the delivery pipe is in the right position relative to the rear sprocket and chain. The kit comes with a lot of brackets of various sizes and designs to make this as easy as possible. Fortunately, I had lots of bits left over from previous installs, so I was able to find a bracket that suited the Bonnie perfectly. It fits to the main axle bolt and I bent it round to get the nozzle right on the sprocket at the 7 o'clock position. I took the right-hand silencer off to make access a bit easier.
After this, you work upwards. A plastic guide for the delivery tube is glued to the underside of the swingarm, and the tube glued into the guide (Superglue provided in the kit). You need to make sure that the place you are sticking it onto is clean and free of grease, which means a bit of work with the old degreaser and then roughing it down with a bit of sandpaper. Three cable ties for extra security and we're done. Then you fasten the reservoir to the frame somewhere. This is usually the most difficult bit - not the fastening, but finding somewhere suitable. The reservoir needs to be about 12" above the chain, and as near to vertical as possible. When I fitted the device to bikes previously, I tried to hide it away somewhere, but this just means more hassle when fitting, and taking off body panels and parts when the time comes to fill it up again, so this time I just cable-tied it to the frame in full view. The Bonnie is a fairly nuts'n'bolts type bike anyway, and it doesn't look out of place. If I had a Ducati 1098, I might make more of an effort to hide it. But this way, I can see how much oil is left without having to take anything apart, and filling is similarly straightforward.
The only other thing to fit is the vacuum tube which activates the valve in the reservoir. This involved simply removing a rubber cap from the carb intake and fitting a rubber elbow with the vacuum tube attached. It's a bloody tight fit (and should be), so soaking the elbow in hot water and applying a dab of Fairy Liquid helps.
The reservoir has a breather tube that needs to be tucked away somewhere - I put mine under the seat alongside the battery.
After that, all you need to do is fill the reservoir, prime it, and adjust the flow rate. The breather tube is detached, and a bottle of oil is plugged into the nozzle at the top of the reservoir. You set the reservoir dial to 'prime', then start the engine (to release the vacuum valve) and squeeze the bottle until oil comes out at the delivery nozzle. You must do this until there are no air bubbles in the tube and there is an unbroken column of oil. Once the oil is flowing through, you adjust the dial until oil is coming out at the rate of about one drop per minute. Let me tell you, this can take quite a while and is a very dull activity.
Then go and make a cup of tea. Here's the whole installation, and I don't think it is too obtrusive.
I shall check the state of the chain and the amount of oil flung onto the number plate and rear wheel for the next few days of riding, to make sure the delivery is enough but not excessive. Adjusted properly, there should be very little oil flung about. There is always some, but I regard that as an acceptable price for having a chain which is constantly lubricated and therefore efficient.
There are PDFs describing the fitting of a Scottoiler to almost every bike known to Man on the Scottoiler website, and there is a very friendly telephone helpline, so there's no excuse for getting it wrong.
The Scottoiler is simple, robust and foolproof. I'm happy to recommend it wholeheartedly.