Ship of the Desert: the Moto Morini Camel

19 Май 2015 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Ship of the Desert: the Moto Morini Camel отключены
Moto Morini 500 Camel

Ship of the Desert: the Moto Camel

photo and story

RC Herman

Crestone, CO


Among the lilies of the field

in the days before computer designed machinery, before welded chassis together, flawless engine castings machined by automated CDC machine motorcycles were designed and by men. Passionate men, men, motorcyclists. While I have at least one modern in the shed, I keep a stable of older machines, and these are the that really make me

This is the story of one of my favorites, a Moto Morini 501 Camel X3.

Morini is a marque I knew of by reputation until I met Eric a fellow Norton owner a few Morinis of his own. One of these is a Morini’s attempt to capitalize on the craze resulting from the of the famous Paris-Dakar Rally. built the 500cc Camel as Sahara in the UK market), and its 350cc the Kanguro, using their 72-degree V-twin with its Heron-Head design, which the combustion chamber in the piston

Eric’s bike is a 507cc X3 model, the final version of the with square tube Nigasil barrel liners, gearbox and 21-liter Paris-Dakar tank. I could easily dismissed the bike as an oddity in age of big modern “adventure bikes,” but in I did a 2000-mile tour with and others, and the Camel proved a fine, capable machine.

Few of machines ever made it to shores, and I had never seen But Morinis have, to this a cult following of avid who appreciate this unique and in the age of immediate communication and networking by when a Morini comes up for anywhere in the world, everyone in esoteric cult instantly of it. So when Eric emailed me and that there was a beat up, Camel X3 for sale in California 1200 miles away) I contacted the owner and struck a

In the … of winter Eric and I west to retrieve my new steed. It was not at first sight; the old warhorse hadn’t been used Nor had it been lovingly cared Wheeling it into the trailer, I was not that I had made a wise

Hauling the trailer home the Rockies in a wild blizzard, I if the gods were not mocking my Would I ever become with this rare, creature, or would this to be yet another foolish misadventure?

at home, my first task was to why the bike would not run. It only a few minutes to find there was no spark at either There also was no battery, starter, or voltage regulator, but mind that. Morini’s scheme is a bit unusual and scooter-like, a stator-mounted coil, a pair of and an inductive pickup driven off the for timing.

Charging and lighting are by a separate bank of stator a regulator and battery, but the ignition is entirely independent of all that.

With the enthusiastic help of email list members, I that it is common on these for the ignition coil to fail. time, the insulation on the very windings degrades, causing short circuits that reduce the coil’s output. some scooters (Vespa and the use an identical coil, so presumably are available somewhere. I chose, to wind my own.

A helpful Club member in the Netherlands me a new plastic bobbin and I ordered a of transformer wire. After a wooden spindle to hold the I chucked it up in an electric drill and the help of my wife to hold the and keep it turning slowly as I fed to the bobbin. About 600 meters of transformer wire later, I had a new A coating of epoxy to protect the a bit of reassembly work and I kicked the lever through.

Spark, spark!

Still, the engine was to start. Finally it did run, but Rumor had it that the US-spec carbs on these bikes did work right, that would not breathe well pod filters (one facing one to the rear) and that modifications to the system would throw off. My Camel came to me KN pod filters, a modified two-into-one and the original vilified 30mm

I tried everything I could of, short of spending hundreds of on new carburetors: a basic tune-up, the pods with a stock fitting a tunable Supertrapp But still, the beast was difficult to and ran poorly. Disgusted and defeated, I the thing to a dusty corner of the

For three years the Morini dust, exiled into with several other projects.” Finally, in the fall of I pulled the Camel out of the cobwebs, that it would reach its and take its place among my rides. Well aware this was a “now or never” Eric loaded his own Camel and a box of jets into his pickup and drove down to lend his and expertise to my project.

Working we started with first compression check, valve spark test. With effort, we got it running on the stand and did a timing adjustment. Then we our attention to intake and exhaust trying various combinations of plates in the muffler.

At some Eric noticed that the assembly was missing one piece, a shroud around the paper element. We located and installed shroud, and while we had the carbs replaced the original #80 main with a pair of #75 jets Eric’s kit.

I kicked the to life once again, and everything had changed. The Camel easily, idled evenly and cleanly! With great we rolled the bike off the work and I jumped on it for a quick test Accelerating through all six gears, it was

Suddenly this beast had from a stubborn mule to a energetic camel. The engine, essentially no flywheel effect, a revvy, tight-winding personality, a strident, wiry little guy on too coffee, his eyes bugged teeth gritted and the veins out on his forehead.

After a brief but exhilarating run, I brought the bike to the shed and rolled it back up on the stand. It had seemed to run a perhaps lean on the top, and I swapped out the #75 for #85s from Eric’s Another quick test run that #85 was too large. Once I dropped the bowls and installed the #80s.

Back off the stand and the street, and — ARGH! The sputtered, died and would not more than half I limped back to the shed.

How this be? #75 was too small, #85 too large, #80 run? It just did not make

Out came the main jets. they both were marked 80. I held them up to the and looked through them also looking through one of the ACK! One of my original “#80” had a hole drilled through it could pass a small

Moto Morini 500 Camel

It probably was the equivalent of a #150 Were the motorcycle gods a joke on me? The #75s went in, and the engine ran just fine.

Now I could see the Camel as a motorcycle, of a frustrating pile of junk, I into it with enthusiasm. off 23 years of crud, I found a motor mount bolt and a beginning in the frame, easily Wheels came off, checked, cleaned, repacked.

The speedometer cable had frozen up, and the gear in the front hub milled the off the drive gear. Not any easy to fix, so I installed a bicycle

Brakes were disassembled and chocolate pudding in the reservoirs with fresh brake Another surprise: the original rear sprocket had been with a 40, a major change. chain and tires were

Fork seals were along with fresh oil.

I then turned my to electrical issues. I had to fabricate a box, install a battery, regulator and turn signals. As most old motorcycles with a history, there was a lot of cobbled with poorly executed bad grounds, taped up splices.

learned the hard way that shoddy electrical work comes back to bite I carefully reworked all dodgy

With the new tires installed it was for an extended test ride. I one of my local friends, who was more happy to take a day off and accompany me on my Camel ride. We loaded up the and my MZ Country 500 and trailered them out to one of my off road riding areas, the and rolling hills of Colorado’s San Valley.

Dodging snow in the spots, we ran the two bikes across the the V-twin’s distinctive howl with the thumper’s low-pitched After a couple hours of fun, we reluctantly trailered the and called it a day. A very day.

With its long travel, strong, rigid and high ground clearance, the is happy on or off the road. On asphalt, sure-footed and stable, and it feels at home when the pavement Obviously the Camel is a bit large and for tight, technical trails, but open country it’s joy. An enthusiastic performer, the v-twin gives its all and doesn’t to know its limits.

There’s plenty of power on tap 4000 and 7000 RPM, and on the boil it responds eagerly to a of the wrist. Marzocchi dampers at end take the bumps in stride, confidence and encouraging spirited on and off the road.

Now that it’s the Camel has become a favorite. like Eric said it The challenges and minor frustrations the way have only cemented bike’s place in the stable.

time I cast an eye in its direction, the seems to say: “I’m Let’s you and me go out and have some

At play in the mountains of Colorado


Moto Morini 500 Camel
Moto Morini 500 Camel


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