Keep a log

22 Aug 2018

Teenage girls aren’t the only ones that keep a diary. If you’re modifying your car or bike keeping a diary (or if you want to be more ‘manly’ – a log) is a good idea. 

Carb tuning is a prime example of where keeping records comes in handy. Jotting down jetting changes together with notes on weather, temperature and effects on performance, gives you a concrete reference of progress (or otherwise) that’s useful as you’re going through the process…and even more useful six months later when you go to make more changes and can’t remember how you left things.

Suspension and gearing mods are other obvious areas where keeping a record of changes and results pays off in both the short- and long-term, but why stop there. The more information you record, the bigger and better your knowledge base.

Taking copious notes about your bog-stock daily driver might be a bit redundant (although there is an argument that recording fuel and oil consumption will show you when things are about to go bang), but modified vehicles are another matter.

To take a really simple case. Updating the Toyota HiAce’s wheels and tyres, from 6.00x14 truck crossplies on 4.5J rims to 6.00J rims with modern 22/60R15 rubber, left tyre pressure a bit of a guessing game. The van doesn’t get much use, so it took a while to arrive at the ‘best’ pressures but…and here’s the important part…there’s a record of what works and it’s written down for future use (alongside rim specs, tyre OD, load rating and other stuff that will be useful come replacement time).

Perhaps just as importantly, should the time come to part ways with the HiAce the new owner won’t be completely in the dark. Like service and log books on a stocker, or the possibly pretentious provenance of a classic car, a solid record of parts and modifications adds value to any custom vehicle.

How OCD you want to be about it depends entirely on you, but it only takes a few minutes to write stuff down and that’s far quicker than having to dredge through your memory or go through parts lists and measure stuff up again.

For instance, the XR600R tracker has been languishing in the garage while other projects took precedence. With the seat/tank unit slowly edging towards completion I felt the need to finalise the forks, so I dipped into the diary. While it was disappointing to realise there’d been bugger all done for many months, it was reassuring to roam through the notes, pictures and engineering drawings, and get up to speed on what needed to be done.

Notes, pictures, drawings? OK, I’m OCD. I keep a basic diary for each vehicle (date, mileage, mods and comments) supported by separate files specific to any modification (planned or otherwise). Doesn’t matter how you do it – an old envelope stuffed with faded prints, receipts and notes that previous owners kept for the Triton was absolute gold when it came to sourcing parts and resale – but a ring-binder full of annotated beer mats is better than nothing, and with cheap drives and cloud storage there’s no reason not to go to town.

Which brings me to the reason for this little diatribe. I recently stumbled across a sweetheart deal on some parts for a bike I bought years ago that’s tucked away in a shed right across the country. It took me a couple of hours going through my old stuff to find the year model, let alone specific details of the parts that I knew I was going to have to replace, so I ended up missing out.

But that was before I kept a diary. Teenage girls understand life so much more than you think.