Rebuild of Benelli 750 Sei engine

My father and I have a few 70’s Italian motorbikes, one of which is this 1973 Benelli 750 Sei.  Sei in Italian means six – the bike has a straight six cylinder engine with accompanying 6 exhaust pipe – its madness – hideously over engineered but at its heart it is very similar to a Honda 750 from the same era but with an extra 2 cylinders.

We have owned it for about 4 years, bought it not really running and unregistered.  Registration of it was a bit of a drama but it was eventually achieved, however, it has always smoked from number 1 cylinder (the left hand side one).

We pulled the head off about 3 years ago thinking it was valve stem seals or something at the top of the engine leaking oil – replacing of all valve guide seals and a new head gasket didn’t fix it and it got progressively worse so that now 1,2 and 6 are blowing smoke.

There was nothing else for it but to pull the thing apart again so about 3 years after the first pull apart off we go again.

Its turns out the piston rings, in particular the oil rings, were all odd styles and were not doing their job, of the 6 pistons there was about 4 different oil rings being used, 3 of which were not tight enough in the bore to do anything really and one of which was badly damaged – no wonder it blew smoke like a two-stroker.

The problem with having such an obscure bike is that the suppliers of parts are fairly limited so it was to the rescue with a new set of piston rings, head and base gaskets and various o-rings that we may as well replace while we have it open.  We also purchased a tool that compresses the piston rings so that they will slide into the bore.

After having the barrels honed and the whole cylinder block bead blasted it was time to put the new rings on and “try” to get the 6 pistons into their cylinders.  To say it is a little fiddly is an understatement.  There are 6 cylinders, all at various heights going into a cylinder block that is one piece.

After about 2.5 hours of fiddling we had managed to get cylinder 2, 3,4 and 5, however, 1 and 6, because of the clearance between the bottom of the barrel and the top of the crank case, were much more difficult they need to go up into the cylinder but to do so required the rotation of the crank which resulted in pistons 3 & 4 coming out of the bottom of the cylinder so in the end at 1:30 in the morning we called it a night and decided to take the cylinder block off again and start again another day.  Never mind, nothing broken at least which is the biggest problem with things like this when you are frustrated and tired.

Cycling – the 3 month mark.

After riding to and from work 3 times a week for around 3 months now the following has happened.

  • I’ve bought my own bike after borrowing a friends for the past 3 months  It didn’t cost me a great deal but its had very little use in its 6 years of life and it has full Shimano Dura-Ace (but not the wheels).  It was a bargain
  • Despite getting faster the cycling doesn’t get easier.  You are always pushing yourself the same amount but this just translates into faster times.  I log my rides on Strava so I’m always inclined to get better and better – faster and faster, I’m not sure how long this can go on given eventually the improvements will become smaller and smaller but I guess I’ll find out one day and I recon I’m some way off.
  • I’ve started riding the long way home a couple of times a week which is around 28km while the normal way is just 14km.
  • Hills are hard work and I have note really started on some super big ones yet.
  • I have become acquainted with what my heart rate is when I’m really pushing myself – its anything above 176 bpm and I can kind of feel when my heart rate hits this or exceeds it, I guess it has something to do with blood pressure or something.
  • In cycling there are some real freaks that can just power up hills, I’m not yet (and may never be) one of them and when I look at the power output for some of them in Strava I’m about a third of what some of the real freaks are pushing.  They either have a biomechanic advantage over me or they are more fit than I am or they are comfortable with the real pain of pushing yourself up a hill.  I;m still working on trying to enjoy the pain but I can see how you get a kind of sick addiction to it – it feels good when you stop.
  • My pants are looser.

Google Wallet Update – Got it working

I messed about with my phone again tonight – I was bored.

I uninstalled the existing Wallet app and then side loaded another wallet app (in .apk format) from  Set market enabler to Verizon and was successfully able to start he app and creat a new Google Paypal card with $10 free.  Now, just need to figure out how to top up the card from Australia 🙁

By Martin De’Pannone


I hate being sick, stuck at home bored – not least of all I can’t ride to work and back. Hope I don’t loose too much fitness.

Mongoose Spin rebuild finished.

Well after about a month of getting bits and pieces, painting etc I have finished the rebuild of my sons Mongoose Pro BMX.  From the searching online I believe it started life as a Mongoose Pro Spin.

I’m really happy how it turned out.  I replace many old crappy bits with new ones and reconditioned the bits that were used again.  In all I replaced:-

  • Tires
  • Grips
  • Cables
  • Front and rear brakes (it had none when I got it) including levers.
  • Seat
  • Rear sprocket – larger one, to change gearing so its a little easier to pedal
  • Pedals
  • Chain
  • Crank
  • Stickers
  • New Two pack paint job thanks to my old man

Its a bit big for him in length but he’ll grow!

BMX Restoration

I’m kind of getting into restoring bicycles now days.

I “found” a mid school Mongoose BMX 6 months ago and thought it would be good for my 8 year old son.

I stripped it to bare frame, had it painted by my old man in metallic gold and am now building it back up after cleaning and polishing the bits I am keeping. Will be replacing several parts as well. Here is a snap of it as of yesterday.

Just a few more bits and a few more hours.

After restoring scooters and motorbikes bicycles are much easier and mush less complicated.

Google Wallet and outside of USA – don’t bother

I have been very interested in Google Wallet since it as announced but very disappointed that the roll out of the product appears to be very very slow with only a couple of devices supported.

Today I had had enough and in an effort to get the thing going for me here in Australia proceeded to do some “work” on my Nexus S that is now running ICS 4.0.4.

Step 1
Get Wallet installed on the phone.
There is a way you can get it on your phone without side loading but geees is it involved and basically requires you to try loading it in the app stpre then somehow foolin the thing to get it by using the web browser. It all a bit long winded but it does work.

Step 2
Unlock the phone.
Using fastboot you must first “unlock” the booloader which has a couple of consequences not lest of which it wipes everything, data on SD card stprage – everything so mack sure you backup your apps and then back up the SD Storage to your PC as after unlocking its all gone. The other consequence is that it factory resets as well so you need to set the phone up again including APN if you are using non standard one.

Step 3
Again using Fastboot flash the TWRP reovery image. Which, among other things allows you to do the next step

Step 4
Install Superuser
Save Superuser to your phones storage and using TWRP while in recovery mode install/run the superuser script.

Step 5
Install Market enabler
This will allow you to spoof a US mobile carrier which then will allow you to start up Google Wallet butthis is where it get tricky.

The issue
To run Google Wallet you have to spook a US mobile carrier, to do this you need Market Enabler but to run market enabler you must root the phone and here is the issue, Google Wallet will not allow you to creat a Google Pre-Paid card using a device that has been rooted.

So there you go kiddies, rooting your phone to take advantage of Market Enabler almost gets you what you want but you are ultimatley thwarted by the fact that you have rooted your phone.

My advise – be patient and wait/see if Google Wallet is released to the massess – till then unless you are living in the USA it may be a waste of time, let along the issues you are likely to face to be able to associate aything but a USA credit card to the prepaid card.

If anyone has a more clever idea which gets around this whole issue let me know.

Started riding to work – need to get fit……

So I have done bugger all exercise now since I finished rowing in 2004, that’s 8 long years of doing stuff all.

I have been meaning to start doing something again for a few months and after getting sick and tired of the bus trips to work taking an hour (for a 14km journey) I though I may as well cycle to work.

Luckily a mate had a road bike he didn’t use, another mate lent me his cycling shoes and gave the bike a once over and so now, I have started to ride to work. This weeks the first week, its hard work but if I ride to and from work I’ll do close enough to 30km a day – that’s 150km a week if I ride every day. I’m guessing that doing this should have the desired effect of getting me fit and loosing the extra 5kg’s or so that I have slowly put on over the last 8 years.

I have installed a widget that displays my rides I upload to on this blog if any one cares to look.

Bitcoin needs to stop being a thing of specualtion.

Just read that Tradehill has closed its doors and that Paxum is no longer accepting Bitcoin funded accounts.

Wow! – I thought, I wonder how that has impacted prices as I have noticed that Bitcoin rate compared to the USD has risen fairly steadily over the last few months from its lows of about USD2. Looking at MtGox it looks like the exchange rate has softened 25% for the day ad is trading at about USD4.20.

Looks like the various policies recently being put in place to start controlling the use of Bitcoin is starting to bite (I was asked to ID myself before being able to use a particular exchange I had already used before).

My theory is that BTC will soon stop being a thing of speculation (and demand a premium because it is “l33t” or Anonymous) and will soon float with the USD at a price that reflects the cost of creation of bitcoins. Then and only then will Bitcoin become a currency/method of wealth transfer that will gain greater usage around the world.

Twitter’s Bootstrap frame work for webpages

Having recently moved all my services back to Australia after my from Amazon’s EC2 experiment I thought my old website needed a bit of a re-fresh so that I have one main page from which you can bounce around to all the other bits of my website – enter Twitter Bootstrap.

Now I am no website developer but this thing is very very simple to use. All I do is make sure I point the web page to the CSS code that resides at Twitters github repo and then just code the page using the bootstrap CSS elements e-voila and I created my home page ( Dead easy and looks really really nice if I may say so.

If you are interested in using Twitters Bootstrap as well see here….