Thursday, April 26, 2018

The American Dream with a Servi-Car

Here's a slice of absolute pure americana. It's all so instantly recognisable it could not have been taken in any other country. To top it all the photo has the note 'Hollywood Boulevard' on the reverse. 

Harley Servi-Car on Hollywood Boulevard.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Veteran Minerva

Belgian brand Minerva hasn't featured on this blog before so here to rectify this is the below photo. I would put the date of the bike as circa 1905 - the Minerva v twin was introduced in 1905 and this one has a trembler coil rather than magneto. The bike seems to have been modified as the pedal gear has been removed and footboards fitted.

For an excellent history of Minerva motorcycles check the Minerva Motocyclettes 1900 - 1909 site.

c 1905 Minerva v twin.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

BSA Bantam rebuild

It was slightly inevitable wasn't it, my Bantam that has not been used for thirteen years and that was thrashed around by seventeen year old me has turned out to need a rebuild. After reviving the little Beesa three months back it has proved to be a difficult starter and a most prodigious leaker of oil. Old two strokes have many qualities which some folks find endearing and others less so, but oil leaks are not normally one of them. This particular example dumps its full load of gearbox oil out within a couple of days. I can stand a small, or even medium sized oil leak, I don't mind a few spots left in the pub car park but this is next level and unacceptable.

One leaky Bantam.

Easy, a quick rebuild was in order. New gaskets to cure the leaks and new seals whilst it was apart: should be do-able in an evening or two. Of course life doesn't always work out as planned and the scope of the job expanded considerably.

It can't leak without an engine....

The motor came out of the frame wonderfully easily. I haven't worked on a small two stroke for a good while and it was a joy not to have to strain with lifting up a brutish lump of British cast iron four stroke. It did not however come apart quite so willingly. The points cam should slide off as it is just held on by a small nut and a keyway. Such was the confidence of BSA engineers that it would just slide free once the nut was undone that they made no provision for a puller to fit it at all. So I gave it a couple of light clouts with a hammer to shock it in to action. The clouts gradually increased in magnitude. Next step I gave up on salvaging the cam and resigned myself to buying a new one so out came the mole grips. Still nowt in the way of movement. OK, hammer combined with mole grips, next step, oh crap, the end of the crank has snapped off.

Whoops! Broken crankshaft.

In mitigation of my seemingly mechanically inept actions there is no easy way of getting a stuck points cam off a Bantam and after it had snapped off it did indeed prove itself to be rust welded to the crank. lesson from this to share with all is to never assemble keyed components dry, use oil and preferably, if the application allows (as a Bantam points cam does), copper grease /anti-seize.

Here's the points cam complete with snapped off end of the

The rest of the motor was happily a breeze to dismantle. Rather remarkably as the engine has not been apart for well over forty years and was ridden by teenage me the bearings were all in fairly decent condition. The seals however were completely shot to the point where they were in two pieces with one part turning with the crank and the other sitting in the cases and a healthy gap between the two. It is a minor miracle that it ran at all.

The options for the crank were a second hand crank that would more than likely then need rebuilding or to go for a cdi ignition system that wouldn't need the points cam so I could use the original crank. I decided on a new ignition as the sparks were rather weedy and it seemed that in the end it wouldn't cost much more than a refurbed crank. There are two different cdi options available for Wipac flywheel magneto equipped Bantams, the Rex Caunt designed one now sold by Rusty Rooster Motorcycles and the Electrex World one. I've heard good reports of both but I went for the Electrex World item as it is a plug and play job whereas the Rusty Rooster kit requires you to send in your old stator plate for light modification. I was in a hurry to get the job finished and off my workbench plus the Electrex World item is stocked by my local old bike suppliers Feked.

Spanky new Electrex World ignition fitted.

A Bantam motor is a nice and easy motor to put back together and I gained some respect for the design engineers behind it as it all falls to place nicely, each part has its obvious place and it really is fairly hard to get it wrong. The cdi ignition was equally doddle like to fit in place and time up. I hid the coil and regulator /rectifier away between the battery carrier and tool box. I was a bit sad to see the characteristic Wipac rectifier go as, to give credit where due, the lighting was always pretty good on the bike even if the sparks were slightly feeble.

The ignition part of the Electrex World system is simplicity itself to wire and get going. The charging circuit is claimed to be very easy to wire in, as indeed it would be if you were to wire from scratch a simple battery charging circuit. If you are looking to match it in to your existing wiring to go through the ammeter you need to get your thinking head on and a multimeter out...

And here's the Electrex World stator plate. Just strip down the
Wipac stator and this bolts straight on.

With the motor back in and wired up the bike fired up fairly readily. A few kicks to get it primed and going, after that it was pretty much a first kick job. So far so good then for the Electrex World ignition. I'm not convinced it will make a whole load of difference out on the road, I'm confident I'll still need to rev the nuts off the bike in second at thirty at the sign of an incline and not have the added flexibility to chug up in third. However if I have only gained easy starting and been saved having to throw away the original crank I shall be happy.

I'll post again after a few miles have been covered to give the Electrex World system a proper review.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Family photo with NSU Max

Absolutely no idea where this photo was taken, all I can say is nothing about it looks very British, the bike is German, the foliage looks vaguely tropical or at least in warmer climes and the building perhaps Asian though just maybe from the Dolomites or even South America. And the family? No idea.

What is easy though is to identify the bike as a very distinctive NSU, either a Max or a Super Max. It looks rather well used, though is evidently cherished enough to include in a family photo.

Make up your own back story for
this photo of a family and their NSU.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

BSA M20s in Germany

At a guess from the smiling faces and German writing in the background the war is at an end and these lads can relax a bit. The bikes are BSA M20s.

Many thanks to James Kelly for the loan of this cracking photo to scan and post.
The war is over and you get to ride a
BSA M20, happiness!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

1954 Liner Portly

Big thanks to Colin Gibson for getting in touch about a couple of photos of an early fifties Liner that I posted a short while back. Colin has identified the bike as a 'Portly' model from 1954. Liner was the brand name of the Kitagawa Motor Company who were taken over by Yamaha in 1959. A quick search on Kitagawa reveals that they also made a clone of the Sunbeam S8; worth a look if that sort of thing interests you.

Colin has kindly fowarded a copy of the Liner Portly brochure for publishing. If the Portly takes its design cues from the Triumph Terrier the frontispiece of the flyer is an unashamed rip off of Norton advertising material! Whilst Norton may well have laid a decent claim to being the 'World's Best Road Holder' Advertising Standards would have had something to say about the Liner Portly had they been around in Japan at the time. It seems that Portly was a reasonably apt name as the machine had only six horses to push around its 120kg. None-the-less a fascinating machine and piece of history and it would be great to see one in the flesh. Incredible how this was the level of machinery Japan was producing in 1954 but just four years later the Honda Cub appeared. 

The Unapproachable Liner Portly!

Liner Portly tech details.

And one of the photos previously published.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Vic Edwards Condor twin tube hellenic frame 1982

I try to stop myself accumulating projects but evidently I am weak willed as here is the latest heap of work in two wheeled form that has come my way. The frame is branded as a Condor and is believed to date from 1982. From those not in the know Condor is a large London based bicycle shop and brand. Back in the day they would sell frames made by well known London frame builders alongside their own in house frames and off the peg jobs.

Vic Edwards Condor twin tube hellenic time trialer.

Vic Edwards was one of the builders who would regularly supply frames to Condor and it was he who built my latest project. Vic also sold frames under his own brand name of Rondinella. I'm a sucker for steel road bike frames of unusual design and this particular one scores highly for unconventional features. Whilst both the split seat tube (twin tube) and hellenic (rear stays joining the top tube rather than seat tube to create a triple triangle) features were both used by several manufacturers from the thirties through to the current day I am not aware of any other frames that combine both.

The split seat tube design gives a slightly shorter

It is believed that this frame is one of two made by Vic, the other was sold as a Rondinella. As if the twin tube hellenic design is not enough the frame is made from Columbus Air tubing which was the first generation of teardrop shaped aerodynamic tubing. The intended use of this frame was for time trialing, as such it does not have provision for a front gear mech, indeed it would be quite difficult to fit one with the twin tube design.

I've thrown a few parts lying around at the frame to make it in to something rolling so that I can visualise it better. The accumulation of appropriate parts is slowly underway. I had thought to fit a Shimano 600AX groupset as this was a first generation aero groupset but unfortunately with the brakes being centrepull they will not work with the hellenic design. One stumbling block that I had not anticipated when I bought the frame is that the seat post is also of aero profile to match the tubing, it was originally supplied with the tube set and is now as rare as the proverbial. Not to worry though I am not in a rush and these things have a habit of turning up eventually.

Eek! Very unusual seat post required....

Next step is to imagine a colour scheme and parts that will do the frame justice. It is eighties so I am thinking something pearlescent. Originally the forks, rear triangle and headtube lugs were all chromed, this has flaked beyond use and given the cost of re-plating and some concern about how thin walled the tubing is I cannot replicate this. Hopefully the very ends of the rear triangle and the forks will polish up to an acceptable level and perhaps the head lugs can be of a different colour to the rest of the frame to echo the original style. I'll post up as the project progresses...

Chromed Condor branded forks, chromed lugs and single aero
gear lever.

Here's what this frame is all about!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Josephine the Ariel

This photo is noted to the reverse 'July 1948, Josephine'. Josephine would have been nearly new July 1948 and she is an Ariel twin port NH350.

Twin exhaust ports were all the rage pre-war but decidedly old hat post. The only two British manufacturers I can think of who made twin port machines after the war were Ariel and Royal Enfield with their J2.

Josephine is an Ariel NH350.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Parilla Greyhound

The owner of this lovely Parilla Greyhound, Philip, got in touch from France. If anyone can help him out with a copy of a workshop manual please contact me and I'll pass details on.

Update: workshop manual now found but if anyone has a spare glovebox to fit beneath the speedo on the legshields it would be appreciated.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Fitting Velocette swinging arm bushes

On a recent check over of my Velocette I noticed a little bit of slop in the swinging arm. Time for new bushes. For anyone not in the know Velocettes have an unusual swinging arm arrangement whereby there are two separate forks which clamp on to a trunnion (shaft) passing through the frame of the bike. The bushes are phosphor bronze and are pressed in to the frame.

Why did Velocette do it like this? I'm not too sure. The manufacturing must be a good deal cheaper and it is lighter. You might think that there would be issues of rigidity but Velocettes are good handlers so this isn't an issue. For the mechanic the main drawback is the need to make sure that the forks are aligned with each other on re-assembly. Like a lot of quirky Velocette engineering the bottom line is that it all works quite well so rejoice in the eccentricity of your machine and get fearlessly spannering.

This post is not a step by step how to it is more a few pointers non what not to do from myself who learnt the hard way....

Velocette rear fork trunnion. Yes the bike is used more than

First point to be aware of is that it really is not worth trying the job without taking off the chainguards and chain as a minimum. I thought that access was good and it would be a sinch without, I was wrong - I struggled and then gave in and took the lot off. You could have a crack at it with the wheel left in place as I did but to make life as easy as possible you might as well invest the time in removing the rear wheel and sprocket and the suspension units. 

Using a socket to drift out the trunnion.

Next point, it you think that the trunnion will just easily slide out you may be in for an unwelcome surprise. Mine had to be beaten out with extreme prejudice. The easiest way without proper factory tools is to use the good old socket of appropriate size as a drift trick. Once the trunnion is poking out the other end either use a long drift to smash it all the way through or grab and twist with a pipe wrench or mole grips. A bit brutal maybe but essentially the part is scrap anyway.

Trunnion on its way.

Once the trunnion is out the forks will drop away allowing you to now have a crack at the bushes in the frame. In the absence of a slide hammer puller a long drift has to suffice. Once one side is out the old trunnion can be used as the drift for the other.

Shiny new trunnion courtesy of Grove Classics vs old
trunnion. The wear is fairly easy to see.

Now in with the new bushes. Ideally here make a fitting tool with a length of threaded bar and a mandrel turned to size. Failing this gentle persuasion should do the trick. Either way keep the bushes in the freezer for a good while before trying to fit and heat the frame gently with a hairdryer or hot air gun (just don't go so hot that you strip the paint....)

Remove chainguards and chain before starting the job! The side
stand lug is now also fixed.

With the new bushes in place fit the new trunnion through the swinging arm forks and frame. It will be a snug fit but shouldn't require too much persuasion. Oil it for fitting and grease once in place.

Now time for alignment. Folks seem to labour over this rather a lot but essentially once you've got the wheel back on and the shockers in place alignment will pretty much come naturally. To get the job perfect two straight edges will do the trick - one across the swinging arm and one against the wheel vertically. If they are 90 degrees to each other then the job is a good 'un.

There we go. Job done. If you take one piece of advice away from this it is to remove any parts that look like they will possibly need to come off to do the job comfortably before you begin. I tried without so that you don't have to.  

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Early fifties Liner motorcycle from Japan

Here are a couple of very unusual photos. They came to me with a small number of other pictures taken from the album of a well travelled family of motorcycle enthusiasts. It must have been rather out of the ordinary for a foreigner to be out on the roads on a motorcycle in Japan in the fifties.

I've struggled to find out anything on the bike other than the brand on the tank, it is a 'Liner'. Whilst stylistically it takes cues from a Triumph Terrier or Tiger Cub (look at that petrol tank badge) the machine overall is very much not a copy and the motor is quite individual. If anyone out there knows more about Liner motorcycles please do fill us in...

Japanese Liner brand motorcycle from the 1950s
Showing some leg in a Japanese village
with a Liner!

Japanese Liner brand motorcycle from the 1950s
Japanese 'Liner' brand motorcycle from the

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Rudge 4 valve 4 speed combo

Slightly blurry photo but what a cracking combination. It is a mid to late twenties Rudge four valve four speed with a lovely 'zeppelin' styled chair as was the fashion for sporting outfits of the period.

Rudge four valve four speed sidecar outfit

Sunday, April 1, 2018

BMW R100RS - back on the road again

1976 BMW R100RS hits the road again.

To my shame my beloved R100RS has been off the road for nearly two years. I was halfway through a programme of minor improvements when I lost heart with it and parked the bike up with the intention to take a short rest and finish off in a couple of weeks. The weeks turned in to months...

The source of frustration was a conversion from the under tank master cylinder to one on the handlebars. This is a popular mod for owners of airheads fitted with the ATE brakes. The problem I ran into though was that the system seemed to be pretty much un-bleedable. I don't know where the issue was but no amount of pumping brake fluid through would get rid of the sponginess in the lever. The solution in the end was to give up on it all and go back to the under tank master cylinder. On reflection I should have taken that route in the first place, really before undertaking any performance mods to power, handling or brakes one should always make sure that the standard kit is in top fettle before trying to improve it.

Try your brakes indeed...

In the case of my R100 the brakes were very much not in top fettle. I had to rebuild both calipers and if I had just decided to rebuild the under tank master cylinder too from the start I would have saved myself much gnashing of teeth and workshop time all the while keeping the old girl on the road. Lesson learnt. The standard system is now performing better than any other time in my ownership of the bike, though it is still lacking by modern standards. I am not convinced that changing the master cylinder would now give much improvement event if I could get the damned thing to bleed properly...

Tyres have been changed too. On the advice of and with the kind assistance of local BMW guru Ian Clarke I fitted a pair of Bridgestone BT45 Battleaxes, 3.25 by 19 front and 4.00 by 18 rear. Handing is immeasurably improved, I went from headshakes with a fully wound down steering damper to the damper in zero position and surefooted confidence. That's not to say that handling is what you could call good, it's still a heavy 70bhp bike running narrow tyres but at least it feels a good bit more manageable than before.

It's always in the eye of the beholder but in mine this bike is
a beauty.

Final mod was a set of new shocks. Being economy minded I didn't like the price of the Boge originals or the popular choice of dial-a-rides so went for a suitable pair from TEC. The TEC ones are nice in that they are available with a chrome body and black springs to match the originals and can be tailored for rider weight and desired ride height. The big bonus is the price, just fifty quid. So far very impressed, they look and feel of a far better quality than their price suggests and out on the road the performance is good. Recommended.

So there we are, back on the road it feels like being re-united with an old friend. Great news now is that from May there is no need for an MOT and there's no road tax either. Not bad for a bike that can still run down the autobahn over the ton, just make sure you leave a good braking distance!

New TEC shocks.