Several years ago I made the inane decision to purchase a twenty year old Moto Guzzi CX100 from a gentleman on the east coast who professed a race prepared machine in as new condition. Pictures looked good, the list of accessories and tuning done to the bike were noteworthy, and to make a long story a bit shorter, I flew out and rode the bike back to my home in western Colorado. Since that time as I came up with the funds, I started a restoration project that is still ongoing. At present, the bike looks quite nice thank you, except that it doesn't run.
While I did ride the bike back across the country I felt I was doing the right thing by going through it piece by piece so I'd know what I had and there would be no surprises when I was to venture out across the deserts and mountains of the Southwest. This wasn't going to be a museum piece! While this isn't my only machine; I have an older BMW RS that I pretty much have owned since it was new, the Guzzi has a soul that makes it very special.
This is my second CX100, having owned a 1981 model, and also a 1978 850 LeMans which I spent as much time staring at as riding. Restoring several machines in the last nine years, I now have the disease with plans on restoring at least several other Guzzis and BMWs in the future. Part of the restoration on this Guzzi saw me replacing the infamous Leggo type switch gear. I can't say I have ever had problems with these switches, but that was years ago and thought it might be prudent to update the switches. The left light switch is a plug-in affair and while still not working quite correctly it does work. The right kill/starter switch is from a Honda RC30 or possibly other Honda's for that matter and is not a plug-in affair.
I enlisted the aid of a friend who does this sort of thing for a living and with a test light, some clippers and the latest GMC electrical gadgetry, the new switch was in and working in short order. Dave Richardson of Moto International recommends this fix. Looked a bit classier than the Leggo type gear.
My first few outings after that were uneventful except for a bad batch of gas that caused me lots of grief and embarrassment (pushing your loaded with camping gear Guzzi down the street is not good advertisement).
Shortly after that disaster in which I belatedly drained the tank, cleaned out the petcocks for the second time and installed additional inline filters, I went for a ride. This was the latter part of June with the temperature hovering in the low 100's. Things were just great! It was about seven in the evening as I rolled/thundered through the idyllic countryside of western Colorado. The engine seemed so smooth after the previous experience with bad gas. Life seemed so good, though just a bit warm under my Belstaff jacket and full helmet etc. I proceeded to stop at one sign before making a right turn through the fields and four miles of rolling blacktop back to my home. The bike picked that spot to die and when I looked down, I saw smoke pouring out from under the starter motor. I shut the ignition off quite pronto, dismounted and put the bike on its center stand. I stood there staring at the dissipating smoke and made a mental note of my options. I could knock on the door of the home whose driveway I stood in and ask to leave the machine until I could return with a truck/trailer or I could push the machine home. I gave that about three seconds thought and started pushing. With my gear still in place including tall riding boots that were definitely not made for walking, I felt a bit dejected not withstanding hot, as in furnace. I must have gotten perhaps a quarter mile when an older gentleman with a pickup pulled up to a dirt driveway where I had stopped to drop dead. It was tough with all the gear and 100 plus temperature, not to mention the hill I had just climbed. He mentioned he had seen my plight from his garden and called out, but I had not heard. Since he had no plank or tie downs or such to help load and secure the bike (his son had everything in his pickup along with his dirt bike, elsewhere that evening), I figured the wise thing to do was to remove my gear and along with my heavily ladened tank bag, place it in his cab while he ran interference for me by staying behind with his four way flashers.
So started the next three and a half miles or so, pushing the bike down the straights, up the hills and coasting down the other side. Sometimes the gentleman would stop his truck and help me push the bike up the rougher hills. I was sweating like a pig and again not real good advertisement for Guzzi at that point. I remember one young woman just staring at me as I pushed the bike past as though I was the creature from Planet X. A few more hills which felt more like Mount Everest and finally down my street into my garage and onto the maintenance lift.
[Ed Note: I remember back about 36 years ago when I was pushing my '65 Norton Atlas (my old snortin-Norton) down a hill, trying to get it started. One of my neighbor's said to me, "Sure is cheap on gas!" Grrr. -FW]
Thanked my new found friend for his help and let the Guzzi continue to cool while I took a well deserved shower and pondered on what to do next.
Next morning I made several phone calls after pulling the starter and visited the local repair shop. I should have said the word Valeo to the shop personnel, but all they could tell me is that they couldn't get parts for twenty year old Bosch starters. Still not thinking clearly I sent the starter to an out of state repair shop that takes care of some of my electrical needs/problems after first emailing the owner and explaining my predicament which really wasn't a predicament just stupidity. The shop cleaned up the starter, installing new brushes and field coil and checking everything else over. In addition a new starter solenoid was installed. I figured the culprit for all this horror was a small area of wire devoid of insulation that hooks into the spade connection behind the starter motor which is for the solenoid. I introduced some new shrink tubing to the area, cursing myself for not having attended to that earlier.
With the new rebuilt starter the bike still wasn't cranking over. I checked the ring gear and flywheel along with the starter gear. On bench check everything worked fine, so thought we might be overlooking something. I made sure that the ground cable on the bike was good and not filled with corrosion. I did note that the new starter switch - whether the switch was positioned off or on still supplied power to the starter solenoid, but it was just not engaging. I checked the battery and switched batteries with the Beemer and my car. Brought my mechanic friend back over and on further inspection noticed that the motor was turning backwards. A quick email to my starter motor repairman and a further phone call on his part secured me a spare Guzzi starter case, field windings and new brushes. That should take care of things I hope and I believe several of us learned something. Now I'm waiting on getting the new motor, so I can install it and enjoy this great fall weather we've been experiencing.