Thursday, April 30, 2020

Late thirties Rudge

Nowt more than another old family photo featuring a motorcycle. This time a Rudge from the late thirties and inscribed to the rear, 'Mum at Chenies' (apparently a village in Hertfordshire).

Someone's Mum on a late thirties Rudge.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

De-Rusting with Citric Acid

I acquired a nice pair of Catos adjustable alloy toe clips for my Baines cycle a while back but they were slightly too crusty to fit straight off. As is the way of things I've only just gotten round to sorting them out to fit.

The main body of the toe clips are alloy and were fine but the part that fits to the pedals and carries the adjustment was what needed attention. I could have just set to work with a wire brush but decided to give citric acid de-rusting a go.

Above are the offending parts pre-treatment

First procure your citric acid. The beauty of it is that it isn't particularly polluting, is very cheap and is easily available at your local Asian supermarket.

Measure out the solution. 30 parts warm water to 1 part citric acid is a good benchmark.

This is immediately after submerging the parts in a plastic container. The citric acid starts to work quickly.

I gave the clips a couple of hours. After taking parts out they need a light scrubbing with something non-abrasive, an old tooth brush is pretty ideal. Tip the citric acid solution down the drain, wash your the cleaned parts with fresh water and then allow to dry.

This is the finished product. Quite a satisfying finish I think. The advantage of using citric acid is that is quite mild but effective for removing light rust and at the same time will not attack paint or plating.

And here are the clips on the Baines.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Watsonian Cycle Sidecars Brochure

A couple of updates in order received:

First thanks to my good mate and sidecar guru Matt Little for pointing out that the date of this brochure is most likely 1945. The clues are in the limited supply stated on page 1, the code at the bottom right of page 1 that includes '45' and the look of the brochure which does have an air of material shortages and austerity about it.

Second, a big thanks to David Blasco of the ever excellent Royal Enfield Motorcycles blog for working his graphical wizardry in stitching the centre page images together in to one. Image added below....

Not too sure of the year of this one but in the text it says that the bicycle sidecars were 'first introduced over 15 years ago' so, combined with this and looking at the bicycles featured, a good guess is late thirties.

Bicycle sidecars were once a relatively popular way of transporting your little one around, much like bicycles trailers these days. Complete survivors do survive in limited numbers and are charmingly evocative of times past. They were made from the twenties through to the fifties. 

The brochure is a fold out one and slightly too big for my scanner, so apologies for the way the images are cropped - I've done my best with what I've got... 

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Weymouth Run photos from the Seventies

Scans of a few photos that came my way recently. As I looked through them everything looked rather familiar. The buildings have got something of a seaside town air about them. I cross referenced against images on the web and the location is Weymouth in Dorset. The VMCC Weymouth Run was for many years one of the major events in the old bike calendar, at least locally anyhow. The event still runs though has been on the ebb recently as events often do after a while.

Judging from the cars in the background and the riders' outfits the era is the seventies.

Late twenties / early thirties BSA.

Dunelt V2 Model from 1934 with Villiers 249cc motor.
Identification courtesy of Lars Erik's Dunelt site.

Exotica - a thirties Indian 4.

Norton postwar single - ES2 Model?

Early thirties Sunbeam.

Sunbeam S8 - funny to think that at the time of the run this
S8 would only just have come inside of the VMCC's 25
year rule.

Finishing up with a pre-War Triumph Tiger 100.

Friday, April 17, 2020

BMW airhead pushrod seal replacement

A point came a while back where getting oily boots every time I took a ride on the R100RS was really beyond a joke. I took my usual course of action which was to park the errant bike in a corner of the garage and move on to something else that worked slightly better. A few months on having now broken that bike which I had moved on to and continued the cycle my attention turned back to the Beemer.

I placed an order for a top end gasket kit and sparkly brand new stainless pushrod tubes from Motobins. The parts arrived next day and then I sat on them for another couple of months. A few days ago with all the extra lockdown workshop time many of us have been experiencing of late I decided to knuckle down and do the job.

For some reason it seems like it might be useful to share the experience with others... Two points first though:
1. I take a perverse satisfaction from doing jobs on my bikes without workshop manuals and taking the time to work everything out for myself as I go along. I only refer to a manual if I get really stuck. So, if you are like me please feel free to read on and then ignore all to experiment for yourself.
2. This was a really easy and fairly quick job and I wish I had done it earlier rather than put up with an incontinent bike for quite so long.

First job should be to clean up the dirt and oil from all around the heads, barrels and base of the barrels. This should be before even ordering parts. If I had done it the correct way round I would have found out that my bike already had stainless pushrod tubes and I would not have then bought another set and then sat on them for several months - way too long to send back for a credit note

Next up remove the carb by undoing all the jubilee clips and wriggling it free. It's easiest if you take the carb to airbox connector tube off first. Remove the downpipe lock ring - easy if you always keep the threads lubed with copper grease. Valve cover off next then spark plug out.

Take the head off next, always just slightly loosen each holding nut before undoing any single one all the way. 

Lay it all out on a clean cloth or sheet of paper in the order it comes off and in the right position. 

Turn the motor manually so that the piston on the side you are working on is at top dead centre or thereabouts. Wiggle the barrel to free it off, give it a tap with a leather mallet if necessary. Someone has previously tapped the fins on my barrel in the wrong place and too hard.. Slide the barrel up to the skirt of the piston so that the gudgeon pin is exposed. The first side I did I exposed the rings which meant that I ended up taking the barrel all the way off and then had to remove the gudgeon pin and piston to re-assemble and get the rings back in the barrel safely. As I learnt (and would have surely known if I had used a manual!) there is no need to do this at all, it's perfectly easy to replace the seals with the barrel sitting as per the above picture. On the plus side I discovered that the bores on my bike are in very good health, far better than I had expected.

The old rubber seals for the pushrod tubes should come off easily. I cleaned the mating faces of the base of the barrel and crankcase and applied a smear of gasket sealant before re-assembly. In an ideal world you would replace the o rings on the upper studs but this is an extra complication I personally didn't want to bother with and in my mind isn't really necessary. If you really want to replace these o rings you can of course pull the barrel off altogether or remove the studs with the barrel in situ to fit new ones. Now put the new seals in place, make sure they are aligned (there should be an arrow to face downwards but even without the marker the alignment should be fairly obvious).

Slide the barrel back in - it wont go all the way until you get the head on and tighten it down a bit. The new seals need some pressure to seat themselves.

Now back on with the head and rockers.

For the head bolt torque settings and valve clearances there's a handy table for all 1970-85 models on the Horizons Unlimited site:

Once again, I strongly recommend using copper grease on the exhaust ring thread.

Once all re-assembled move over to the other side and repeat.

And now you can go out for a test ride wearing your finest brogues.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Royal Enfield Model 182 Sports combination 1927

A top of the range sporting outfit of the era in front of a large new house. Lucky man if they were both his.

The bike is a Royal Enfield Model 182 Sports and the sidecar a matching RE Model 4 Sports. The chap seems to be wearing a uniform but I have no idea for what it is.

Royal Enfield Model 182 Sports combination from 1927.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Lockdown vintage cycling

With my hour a day exercise being taken up getting my two eight year old girls out in the open it was beginning to feel like I wasn't really getting that much of a workout myself. My Bob Jackson Super Tourist is a delightful cycle to ride but tracking eight years olds on a eight to ten mile ride with a snack stop at the halfway point I was beginning to feel like the whole exercise was probably a net calorie gain for me.

Inspiration struck and I dragged out the 1923 James racer. Tall fixed gearing and a feeble front brake guarantee a far greater work out for the legs. So it proved to be, not only was the ride harder work it was also far more enjoyable. You've got to make the most of what you have got and despite the many negatives of the lockdown it is a great opportunity to get out and cycle along quiet lanes and tracks. 

1923 James, surprisingly lively and comfortable.

Stopping to pick some wild garlic to have with
a salad for dinner.

Riding the James along bridleways and tracks gives some idea
of what the first owner of the cycle must have experienced
nearly 100 years ago.

Family bicycle line up.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

RTV Vincent

Here's the sales flyer for the ill-fated Australian Vincent resurrection, the RTV. Rather than re-write the story here take a look at Philippe Guyony's Egli Vincent site.

An attractive enough bike but not massively dissimilar from other v twin muscle bikes of the time. With hindsight a retro might have gone down better, even in 1998. After all Godet's replica Egli Vincents were steady sellers. And for Pete's sake, why was the catalogue bike in red rather than black and gold!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Ghost rider on a Quadrant

I've become something of a Quadrant enthusiast being lucky owner of two of them. As is often the way of these things my Quadrant ownership was slightly accidental rather than the culmination of a lifelong ambition. Now I've experienced the marque I've developed an appreciation for them as well engineered and quality machines. So, nowadays, I search out Quadrant related material wherever I can find it, even if in somewhat poor condition. Such is the case with the below snap - double exposed, but at least the bike is still visible.

As best I can work out the Quadrant depicted is a 1906 model (though possibly 1905), the exhaust seems to be different from the 1906 example pictured further down otherwise the bike seems identical.

1906 Quadrant with half a rider.

1906 Quadrant image from:

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Condor Mixte Frame Cycle

This Corona Virus lock down we are going through gives the hobbyists amongst who are lucky enough to stay well a huge amount of bonus time to get on with our various projects. I've just completed this Condor Mixte Frame Tourer from the early eighties.

I've enjoyed using my Bob Jackson Super Tourist gents tourer so much I decided that Mrs M should share in the happiness. This Condor eventually turned up as a bare frame with Weinmann cantilevers fitted. As far as I can acsertain it dates from the mid eighties, I have seen similar Condor frames in the past but this one carries no frame number. To me it looks like a Vic Edwards frame - he was one of the builders Condor used during the period for their bespoke frame orders. I've built it up to be an upright comfortable ride that will hopefully be easy and fun to use.

It has taken a little while to complete as for me part of the challenge of a build like this is to use as many second hand parts as possible. To that extent I've managed to only have to buy new tyres and tubes, saddle, handlebars and gear levers. The bars I struggled to find the right bend in second hand, thumb shifters are tough to source in good condition and of high quality used and, as for the saddle, I felt like a good used Brooks ladies would be just the ticket but she wanted some extra padding.

The great thing about bicycle projects at the moment is that you can actually get out and test your handiwork as daily exercise.

Early eighties Condor Mixte.

Weinmann cantilevers came with the frame.

Leftover Brooks leather bar tape was used as grips and corks
as disposable bar plugs.

The frame is Reynolds 531ST. ST was the tubing Reynolds made
aimed at touring bikes.

Mixte frames are pretty and the best way to make
a ladies cycle.