Author Topic: Tabitha 1200  (Read 6138 times)

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January 19, 2021, 07:13:06 PM on

Offline Lee337 (OP)

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Tabitha is a 1993 Triumph Trophy 1200. She was first registered on 4th August 1993 and lived most of her life in the Milton Keynes area.

She’s the first of the bikes designed and produced by Triumph Motorcycles Ltd, established in 1983 by John Bloor after Triumph Engineering went bust and new triumphs were rolling off the production line by 1991. Made in Hinkley, the first Triumph Trophy 1200 was released into the wild in March of that year.

Tabitha’s first owner bought her new and owned her for around 11 years before her 2nd owner bought her on 28th  August 2004 and here’s where her story gets a little muddy. What I know for certain is that when I acquired her, she’d been sitting in a back garden for a number of years under a tarpaulin.

This is the story of how Tabitha came to be resting in my garage, alongside my 2006 Triumph Tiger 955i, how she got her name and at least some of the story of how she got back on the road.

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January 19, 2021, 07:15:39 PMReply #1 on

Offline ghulst

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What I know for certain is that when I acquired her, she’d been sitting in a back garden for a number of years under a tarpaulin.

Man, that image is enough to make people tremble... Fantastic that you picked her up. Looking forward to the story!
Triumph Tiger 800XC '12 and a 1994 Ducati 600 SuperSport. - Ex Triumph Tiger 900 T400 1993

January 19, 2021, 07:20:23 PMReply #2 on

Offline Lee337 (OP)

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I’d been looking for a project bike for some time and had even bought a 1989 Honda CB-1, a 400cc import some years ago. This was pretty much a non starter as while I’d stripped it down, well, most of it was already in boxes anyway, I hadn’t done as much as I intended. I managed to get the frame shot blasted and resprayed it, fitted new head bearings but then ill health got in the way and the project was pretty much shelved, or to be more accurate, atticed. It’s currently sitting in the attic of my garage, where it will probably stay, at least until I’ve finished my current crop of projects.

Then in November 2019, I was offered a 2005 Triumph Tiger 955i. The seller (a member here) said it needed a good clean and a new clutch, maybe a couple of other things, so I thought this would be a nice easy project for me to do over winter. The idea was to keep it as a green lane bike. It was another 3 months before I got around to picking it up.

In the mean time, I knew of a Triumph that had been sitting in someone’s back garden for some time through my Uncle Mike. I’d made a couple of enquiries over the years but nothing really came of it. Then during Christmas 2019, Mike said he’d spoken to Keith (the owner of said Triumph) and I could have it, I just needed to go and pick it up.

At the time I didn’t have any details other than it was a Triumph. I didn't know the age, model, condition mileage, even colour. But, it was a free bike, Keith didn’t want anything for it.I even offered a case of beer (Keith is known to like a sip or two), he refused, I just needed to take it away.

So it was, one January day in 2020 myself and my brother, Paul, hopped in his car and off we went to Bletchley (Milton Keynes), with trailer attached, graciously loaned by another Paul, a member of my local Triumph Owners Motorcycle Club (TOMCC). Now both Paul and I know Bletchley fairly well as we have family there and it turns out Keith lives not far from where my parents lived around 50 years ago, not that I remember much about that house other than the name of the road and where it was, so finding Keith’s address was easy. It helped that his rather distinctive car was parked outside.

Not long after we arrived, so did my Uncle Mike. Keith’s sister had the kettle on as soon as we walked in the door and before long there were 6 of us in the kitchen tucking in to Bacon and Black Pudding butties with our coffee.
I still hadn’t seen the Triumph but was told it had one headlight and was blue.

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January 19, 2021, 07:37:10 PMReply #3 on

Offline Lee337 (OP)

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Keith had uncovered it before we arrived but it had been left untouched for around 3 years. He had got it started at that time but it was running rough, which he suspected was down to the carbs. It ran ok above 4000rpm but like a dog below that.

The story is that it was laid up in his garden when he bought a Street Triple, around 5 years ago. He’s since traded in the Street Triple for a Triumph Scrambler. He thought about selling the Trophy at one point but as he couldn’t get it running properly, just put it back in the garden and covered it up again. The side panels had been removed and because the petrol tap was leaking, the tank had been drained, then it ws just left.

In Keith’s words ’ I just want it to go to someone who’ll get it back on the road again, rather than strip it down for parts. One condition, when it’s done, ride it back to show me’. I can do that Keith. 

As expected, the brakes were seized and both tyres were flat, so it was a five man job getting it out of the garden and on to the trailer (me, Paul, Mike, Keith and a friend of Keith’s)  and things didn’t get any better.

I’d brought three ratchet straps with me to tie down the Trophy, two of them snapped almost as soon as we tied the bike down. This was the point I realised they’d been sitting on a shelf in the garage for 16 years, so I borrowed a strap from Mike and with some nylon rope, secured the bike for it’s trip home.

I still knew very little of the bike or it’s history aside from what Keith told me so as Paul and I wheeled it on to the workbench, I felt a little research coming on.



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January 19, 2021, 08:28:27 PMReply #4 on

Offline ghulst

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Great story.  :><  Really enjoying the read.


Did you get the side panels? When I go pick up a bike that has been sitting, I always bring a tire pump and I always have a little 12V air compressor in the van. When you get the tires inflated, often the brakes can be coerced to release their grip. Or I loosen the brake bolts to get the calipers off, so I can push it on a trailer. Oh, and straps are vital. I always carry lots. Which is mainly because once I picked up an XJ550 on the back of a flat non-motorcycle trailer and I thought I lost it on a speed bump. ;)
Triumph Tiger 800XC '12 and a 1994 Ducati 600 SuperSport. - Ex Triumph Tiger 900 T400 1993

January 19, 2021, 09:35:43 PMReply #5 on

Offline Lee337 (OP)

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Yep, got side panels, they'd been removed but were in the shed. Only thing I didn't get were the fairing bolts, which I now have.

I did have a small compressor and could have loosened off the brakes, but there were 5 of us, so it was easily manhandled out of the garden & on to the trailer. Once I got it home, my brother & I manhandled it onto the bench.

To be honest, I didn't really think about removing the calipers as we managed to get it rolling.
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January 19, 2021, 09:48:22 PMReply #6 on

Offline ghulst

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Always better to get it rolling. ;) I like to inflate the tires, so that I would be able to get those friends to join me on one of those trips again. ;)
Triumph Tiger 800XC '12 and a 1994 Ducati 600 SuperSport. - Ex Triumph Tiger 900 T400 1993

January 20, 2021, 02:02:38 AMReply #7 on

Offline Sin_Tiger

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This is going to be good  :new_popcornsmiley

Tabitha, not named after the cat that customised the seat by any chance  ;)

The coatings on the casings look very good, don't they put salt on their chips in Milton Keynes?
I used to have long hair, took acid and went to hip joints. Now I long for hair, take antacid and need a new hip joint

January 20, 2021, 10:25:02 AMReply #8 on

Offline Lee337 (OP)

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There is a reason for the name, not cat related but all will be revealed later.

The engine casings aren't too bad, even close up although not perfect.
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January 20, 2021, 05:53:27 PMReply #9 on

Offline Lee337 (OP)

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It wasn’t in the best of condition, not surprising really and a quick glance showed there was going to be a lot of work to get it back anywhere close to roadworthy. First look showed:

  • The seat needs replacing
  • The fork seals had gone
  • The forks were rusty
  • The brakes needed rebuilding
  • The fuel tap needed replacing
  • The fuel filler cap was seized
  • Tyres needed replacing
  • Fairing bolts were missing
  • Battery was dead


I could also see that the chain was rusted and the entire bike was covered in spider poo, cobwebs and dust/dirt of varying sizes. I even found some straw tucked behind the rear shock.
On the plus side everything seemed to be there aside from the fairing bolts. After taking copious photo’s, I shut the garage door and left it while I put together a plan.

No matter how smart you are you can never convince someone stupid that they are stupid.

January 20, 2021, 05:58:51 PMReply #10 on

Offline Lee337 (OP)

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The Trophy is a 1993 model, first registered on 4th June 1993 and is one of the early Hinkley Triumphs. It has a 4 cylinder 1180cc engine with a claimed output of 141bhp.

My Trophy has had two owners prior to me, Keith purchased it in 2004. At that time, it had covered approximately 12,000 miles and including two European trips, Keith rode it another 5000 miles (approx.) before he bought a Speed Triple and parked it up in his back garden.

I’m the 3rd owner of this Caspian Blue Trophy and it’s mileometer is sitting firmly at 17,128 miles. I acquired it on 18th January 2020. The original colour for blue Trophy’s was Caribbean Blue, but a model update in 1992 led to the Caspian Blue colour of my bike. At the same time, the 1200 Trophy became the Trophy 4 to distinguish it from the 3 cylinder 900cc version.

Aside from looking up the specification, I also decided to look up the MOT history, except there isn’t one. Now I’m certain that Keith wouldn’t have ridden it without an MOT and as the on-line MOT checker was introduced in 2006, there seemed to be some doubt as to how long the Trophy had been sitting doing nothing.

Keith said he parked it up when he bought his Speed Triple and a quick search on his Facebook page shows a photograph of his Speed Triple dated sometime in 2008. This would seem to tie in to the on-line MOT checker not showing any history. Assuming the bike had an MOT at the time, the latest it could have run out would be 2007 for it not to be recorded (max of 12 months after the on-line system was introduced).
It appears that the Trophy was sitting doing nothing for closer to 12 years.
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January 20, 2021, 06:02:29 PMReply #11 on

Offline Lee337 (OP)

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With the Trophy sitting in the garage, I left it alone for a while so I could come up with a plan. I managed to find a Triumph Service Manual and also had a Haynes Manual, one of the few things that came with the bike, so I put together a service schedule, the idea being I’d go through the bike and action every item on the schedule, including renewing brake lines, coolant pipes, fluids etc.

Armed with a sort of plan, I confidently walked in to the garage and…

WHAT HAVE I GOT MYSELF IN TO THIS TIME!

The confidence went out the gaping open garage door and I just stared at this Trophy sitting on my workbench. I sat there, staring at it while I drank my coffee then, armed with the one key that came with it, carefully inserted it into the ignition and turned the key. Nothing, nada, nowt, not even a faint glow from the dash. I wasn’t expecting anything really, but I thought I’d give it a try.

Next up, the fuel tank. In goes the key to the fuel cap lock, a quarter of a turn and nothing, nada, nowt. No click as the lock turned in the barrel, no fuel cap popping open and try as I might, I could not turn the key far enough to open it. What’s more, the key was beginning to bend. I had some WD40, so sprayed the lock, then left it. I was going to get another key cut before I tried that again.

I thought I’d start off with the easy stuff, by removing the seat, all the bodywork and fuel tank, just to see what lies underneath. Each fairing panel was hoovered, washed and polished with Autoglym car polish, before being stored in the attic above the garage.

Depending on your perspective, depends on whether what I found when removing the bodywork was a horror show or not. The bike itself appeared sound, again nothing missing but it was what had been added that would horrify some.

It seemed the whole bike was covered in spider webs, spider egg sacs and spider poo.


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January 20, 2021, 06:06:13 PMReply #12 on

Offline Lee337 (OP)

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It’s not every day you start cleaning your bike with a hoover but it seemed the best way to get rid of most of the spider stuff that had accumulated over the years. You'll be pleased to know I didn’t use the better half’s hoover, I have an old one in the garage I use when cleaning the cars, and it was a fun filled few minutes emptying the bag after I’d finished.

Next up, armed with soapy water and a damp cloth, I started removing the spider poo and any remaining cobwebs.

I also removed the battery to put it on charge and see what condition it’s in, and the rear brake calliper from the bike so I could free up the wheel. This allowed me to check the gearbox. By rocking the wheel back and forth allowed me to run through the gearbox, 1 – 6 and back again and despite the engine/gearbox not being turned over for at least 3 years, probably longer, it seemed to go through the gears easily. However, the clutch doesn’t work.

The last thing I did was to put the rear fairing back on, mainly because I’m having space issues and there’s nowhere else to put it where it won’t get in the way.

No matter how smart you are you can never convince someone stupid that they are stupid.

January 20, 2021, 06:11:45 PMReply #13 on

Offline Lee337 (OP)

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There are, I'm sure many lows in this project, some of which I needed assistance with. The fuel cap is one such low. I'd watched a couple of videos on YouTube to see how other people solved the problem.

Armed with this new-found knowledge, my first angle of attack was to again fill the lock with penetrating fluid.
This time I used Duck oil then left it for 20 minutes. This didn't work. Next armed with a rubber mallet, I hit the filer cap which is supposed to help dislodge the corrosion that is sticking the locking mechanism. This didn't work and I could see a pattern emerging here.

I'd seen another video which suggests picking the lock with a couple of pieces of wire and a screwdriver. This allows you to apply more torque to the lock. However, the video also suggested that there's a good chance of breaking the lock, so I didn't try this one. Yet another suggestion was that you may be able to gain access to the locking mechanism from the underside of the tank and removing the fuel tap and low fuel sensor. This seemed a sensible approach, having a Triumph Tiger with a hand sized access panel, I thought I'd give this a go.


Off came the rear fairing again and three bolts later (it should be 4) I removed the fuel lines from the tap and lifted the fuel tank off. On to the workbench it went and as I turned it over, I could see two possible ways to access the inside of the tank. The fuel sender is too small, being only around 20mm and having removed the fuel tap, I could see this solution was a little more difficult than I thought. Another suggestion from the good and wise YouTube contributors that didn't work.

There was a small amount of petrol still in the tank, although it smelled more of turpentine than petrol. By shining a torch through the fuel sender hole, I could just make out that the inside of the tank appears rusty (was hoping it wouldn't be) but I couldn't see the underside of the fuel filler cap. Despite that, I sprayed the inside of the tank liberally with Duck Oil and left it upside down on the bench to see if I can free the lock up that way. In case it doesn't work, I ordered an Endoscope camera with integral LED lights I can attach to my tablet or phone to see if I can see what's going on inside the tank.

No matter how smart you are you can never convince someone stupid that they are stupid.

January 20, 2021, 06:21:08 PMReply #14 on

Offline Lee337 (OP)

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You may be surprised to hear, Duck oil didn%u2019t work. Another 24 hours of soaking in a mix of stale petrol and Duck Oil and still no joy with the fuel cap. It seems I need another rethink. While I was leaving the tank to soak, I needed another problem to keep me entertained, so I started looking at the brakes.

I removed the front brake callipers and pads from the bike and used the hydraulic pressure to free up the cylinders. One side was freed up but while working on the other side, the brake fluid was pumped out of the master cylinder. No problem, I thought, just remove the cap and put some more in, I have an opened bottle somewhere which would be good enough for the job.

Of the two screws holding the master cylinder cap on, I chewed the one made of cheese and the other was firmly stuck. I'm going to have to drill them out.

A quick but necessary job as both screws were well and truly chewed from my attempts to undo them. The clutch master cylinder cap screws were the same but they can wait a while, until I'm ready to make a start on the engine.

Once I managed to remove the cap on the master cylinder, I cleaned out all the crud that had accumulated in the bottom of the fluid reservoir, then topped it up. I still couldn't manage to pump it through the hydraulic system, I suspect the seal on the master cylinder has gone and needs replacing. However, I tied the brake lever back to the grip to see if the air trapped in the line will rise out and thought I'd have another look in the morning.

More thinking late at night and I thought I'd better rebuild the whole brake system and replace all the seals, after all, it is a safety critical bit of bike. There are plenty of places to get kits from. I also decided to purchase a pair of brake piston pliers as I have 10 pistons to remove (front and back). Should make it easier and speed things up a bit.

I think it's also time to spend some money on seals for both front brake callipers.


No matter how smart you are you can never convince someone stupid that they are stupid.

 


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