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Monday, April 3, 2017

Weekend Work...

While I didn't achieve everything I wanted to on the weekend, I did get a few jobs done.

The first one had been bothering me for some time.  The right cylinder head had a long since seized spark plug stuck in the threads.   This was a very old KLG F.E. 125 which had probably been there for 50 plus years.  I started applying PB Blast over a year ago and would periodically take a stab at loosening it up.  I decided that it was time for some more radical action! 

The first step was to find 4 screws and washers to drill into a thick block of wood.  I made sure the washers would seat just below the head of the screws in order to prevent damage.  

I then secured the block into a work bench, found the appropriate socket and a large 'breaker' bar.  This is a large wrench lacking a ratcheting head.  


With the increased leverage, I was able to get it out although I did fight me.  I was quite pleased that there were no crossed threads.  Now if only I could get those valves out.  

The second accomplishment was the polishing of the AJS timing cover.  I have started getting better at repairing/cleaning up damaged pieces.  I find myself in a zen state while performing the repetitive movement and feeling the change to the surface.

Here is what I started with.  The cover had been cleaned up prior, in order to see clearly what needed attention.

The scars ran deep!  I imagine a combination of poor storage and having been dropped at least once.   While I would be wrong to erase fifty-plus years of character, leaving it this way was a touch too tatty.  

I began by putting a small flap wheel on my Dremel multitool.  If you lack one of these in your arsenal, I highly recommend getting one.  They are great for jobs like these where the work is confined and somewhat detailed.  Not to mention the multitude of other hobby related uses.  The variable speed option is quite handy as you run a lower risk of gouging the surface material.  I start by applying thin strokes over the damaged area, applying no pressure.  I let the flap wheel do the work and do it gently.  The more uneven the surface, the more work it is to even the surface.

This photo illustrates the piece after much of the grinding had been done.  I like to make a few passes over the area to smooth the surrounding out as well.  It is always a good idea to run a finger over the surface for feel.  I wear a mask, safety glasses and gloves as I don't want to breathe or wear aluminium dust.  

Normally I would start sanding with wet/dry emory cloth, starting with 400 grit and working up to 2000.  

This time I took a different approach and used a couple of different sanding sponges with soapy water.  This worked very well in my opinion, allowing me to cover the whole piece evenly, especially over and around the two humps.

This also saved quite a bit of time as well.  I did use a 1000 grit emory cloth for finishing purposes.

At this point, the worst of it had been removed, leaving only minor blemishing that I could live with.

Finally, I took some white compound and polished it out with my bench top buffer/grinder.

Needless to say I am quite pleased with the results!  One of the great things about restoring motorcycles is that if a single task meets an obstacle, one can move on to something else while waiting for a solution, part or tool.  Small jobs have a magical way of building you up and keeping the spirit of the project alive.

Until next time....

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


No Sleep, Dreams for Me

Great Unfinished Work Haunting

Ghosts needs completing

Whirlwind of Vision

Ideas of complication

Still my busy hands.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Matchless by any other name....(redux)

Let me start by winding the clock back to almost exactly one year ago;  In the throes of winter, I found myself bored, tired of sitting idle and started perusing Kijiji.  The result was a van full of Matchless/AJS parts that had been left forgotten in a loft for almost three decades.  The basis of  two potential projects present, I was very pleased.

I always wanted an AMC twin, mostly because my father had one and he spoke highly of it.  They are a little different which also appeals to me.  I hope that my father can swing his leg over one more time, even it is just a quick rip up the block.  It has been a steep learning curve but there are excellent resources available such as manuals and parts books online and a great club.  The members of the AMC community are outstanding as well and I can't say enough about them!

My original plan was to make one bike up then save the remainder to build a second bike later on.  I read a great deal about the volatile nature of the G12 engine and decided to start with the safer 500cc (G9).

While I did have a great mountain of parts to work with, I have had to acquire a lot more!  These include extra wheel hubs, magnetos (did get a great deal on a lot of 4) nuts and bolts, seals, headlight, tank, cylinders, pistons, valves and tools and much, much more. This has been a piecemeal operation which recently included the purchase of a set of clean AJS model 20 cases.  At under a $100.00 CDN from a seller in Canada (who also sold me some Jampots, Thanks Ray!) I figured the Model 20 Frame should have a Model 20 motor even if the difference is a semantic one.  A '55 Frame with a '54 motor isn't concourse, but it is a nice pairing nonetheless.

So there we have it, with a few items from Walridge Motors and some cases I am now building a Model 20.


Clean, thanks to some simple green and elbow grease!

Another upshot is that these cases have proper serial numbers which were lacking on the 2 engines I already had.  This may make registration less of a headache.

I hope to have a roller by the end of April, once I rebuild my first wheel and my first engine without any assistance.  Daunting tasks, but challenges that need to be met and overcome.  The men that were 'there' in the first place shrink in numbers each year.  I see it as a responsibility to learn the old ways and skills in order to teach the next generation.  God willing, there will be a next generation to teach!

While it is entirely possible to get the bike done this year, the real push needs to be on finishing the Beetle and driving it for the fall.

Until next time!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Triumph Bonneville Bobber Launch Party....!

Welcome to my 50th post!  When I started four years ago, I had no idea how long or how much I would end up writing.  I just knew that I had thoughts, ideas and dreams that I wanted to take to paper (the virtual kind) for the sake of prosperity.  A lot has changed since then;  I have moved, found a good job and gotten married.  The bikes have changed as well,  moving from some Japanese bikes to an all British stable (and one German car).  I am very happy with things and have high hopes for the future!  Throughout 2017 I will have some long overdue updates;  Even though there may be long gaps between posts sometimes, there are always things going on in the background.

It seems appropriate that the topic of a 50th post should be about a party.  Not just any party, but a Triumph party!

I was invited to the launch of the Triumph Bonneville Bobber event last Friday at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.  This was on the merit of having purchased a new bike from my local dealer a few years ago, however it is still nice to be asked out! 

It was a very well planned event, everyone got a free drink and trays of hors d'ourves were available to guests.  I always love seeing new bikes and for me the street scrambler and T120 Bonneville (in red and silver) were the stars of the show.  Triumph clearly have an ear to the ground and a keen eye on the budding custom scene of the last few years.  My beloved Scrambler was due for an upgrade after a decade, especially with Ducati and Yamaha throwing their hats in that arena.  The bike fits the bill nicely, I won't go into technical detail here but from what I have read the bike is a winner.

I do grow tired of the drab, matte paint schemes. Where is all the glorious two tone paint?  Thankfully on the T120 it is abundant and stunning from every angle.  This to me is the true measure of Triumph's success. Showing us all that can be whilst remembering all that was.  

As for the Bobber that all the fuss was about?  It was nice, but didn't really excite me although the crowd certainly loved it and I suppose that is the most important thing.   I will let the pictures do the talking for me...

An old friend met me at the gate.

There was no expense spared with the 2017 catalog, very high quality  glossy paper was used. 

Who doesn't love Snoopy?  This would look great on a gas tank...

Quite a pleasant paint scheme up close

Triumph has a new Bobber, apparently. 

Easily the most beautiful bike in the room...

The Triumph bus parked behind the main stage

The Bonneville Black.  It certainly delivers what it promises!

And again

Fortunately I didn't need this to escape the venue!

Beautiful from every angle. 
Until Next time!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Put a Tiger On The Tank!

Happy New year!

I thought I would post a quick update and product review;   I have spent the last couple months working on the Matchless G9,  mostly gathering parts and getting a tonne of stuff powder coated.

Powder coating has become my preferred method of cleaning up old parts,  especially the black stuff. (I will get some snaps of all the lovely and shining bits in a future post) Now that the shop I use does sandblasting as well, it saves me a lot of time.  It is affordable, durable and looks very sharp.  This works very well when the surface of the item is in good shape,  but what do you when there are dents or damage?

Here are the Matchless tanks, (oil and gas) both with some damage/pitting.  I was certain that I would have use a stud welder to pull the dents and hope for the best.  I really didn't want to get these items painted or bondo and paint them myself.  The side cover and tool box are good and solid but badly pitted from years of neglect.  A decent set would have been around the $400.00 mark so I needed an easy solution!

Fortunately for me,  the powder coat shop had just the thing for me;  Tiger Epo Strong epoxy.  The fellow I deal with had purchased some to do a gas tank, had some left over and sold it to me at a discount.  This is similar to bondo, mixing the epoxy and hardener in a 2:1 ratio.  Unlike Bondo, you have time to work and shape it as it takes 24 hours to cure at room temperature.  Application is done in 5mm layers and then you can sand and shape as you would any other variety of filler.  Once satisfied, the item cures in the oven at 400F and can then be coated.

Here is what the product looks like, mine came complete with instructions in German!

The epoxy goes on quite smoothly and fills in dents easily.

So far so good,  I am slowly working with the stuff and am happy with the results;  The final test will of course be the final coating.   I hope to have that done in the next month or so.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Scrambler winter checklist....!

So the time has come. My beautiful Katie has a few miles on the clock and now needs some freshening up.

I have already started the process by ordering another set of superbars (chrome) from NewBonneville.    These are what I have grown accustomed to over the last 5 years, the stock bars not working for me and my makeshift solution too cruiser-like.

Now what?   At 32K it is definitely time for chain and sprocket replacement.  The teeth are starting to wear and I have noticed the decrease in output to the rear wheel.   I am looking at the following kit:

Scrambler chain and sprocket kit

Cost:  $264.00 Canadian

Rear shocks;  Mine aren't exactly worn,  however I have noticed a decline in sharpness.  Also, some patches of rust have formed on the chrome....Not acceptable!

Hagon Shocks

Cost:  $290.00 Canadian

New Seat

Cost:  $400.00 Canadian

My poor old seat cover is fading away and starting to lose a bit of shape.  I intend to keep going  into my golden years and frankly comfort can be an issue on long rides.  I like the look of this one and the reviews are good.

Cost: 160.00 Canadian 

The one I have now has some scratches and is plastic.  It looks the part, however I have longed for a polished item since the day I brought her home! 

Total costs:  $1114.00.   Needless to say that will have to be spread out over several months.

Other jobs?  Bleed the brakes and fill with new fluid, oil change and spark plug check.  I will also do some detailing and finally get that damned dent pulled out of the tank!  I have started and made some progress but it takes a lot of work.  

Until next time....

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

After the Fall....

Well it happened.

Flashback to the Friday before last, wet ground, misapplied brake (I believe) and down I went.

As far as accidents go it was relatively minor and I am merely bruised, so I certainly count my blessings!

I was however reminded of just how vulnerable we as riders truly are.   I only fell and slid a couple feet but caused the following damage:

-My helmet is likely no good anymore (as my head hit the pavement), so I will need to find another Davida Jet ($$$).

-The clutch lever snapped,  luckily I found an OEM one for a good price on Ebay.

-The handlebars were twisted and bent and are now scrap. I was actually surprised how light and thin they turned out to be.  I think they had come from British Customs or New Bonneville.  I didn't want to wait for another pair so I modified an old set of 1966 TR6 bars that were gathering dust.  I cut two inches off of either end to get the right fit.

-The brake reservoir (which seemed to have succumbed to UV damage and was quite brittle) snapped at the base. Once again it was Ebay to the rescue.

-My foot lever was damaged, I ordered an aftermarket replacement that looked good but was unfortunately flimsy.   I ended up sanding out the damage to the lever, drilling out the broken pin and using an M8 40mm bolt and some copper pipe inside the salvaged rubber.

The tank has a dent from the bars on the top which I hope to rectify with a dent puller.  As you might have guessed, there will be a full product review of said dent puller in an upcoming post.

Lastly, my clutch cover is scratched so it will need replacement.  In the interim I will wet sand to smooth out, then paint.

While I spent several hours adjusting and fettling,  I decided that now would be a good opportunity to install the progressive fork springs purchased in 2010!

In my defense, these were in storage and I only uncovered them recently.

Between the bars and the springs, it almost feels like a different bike.  The riding position is quite comfortable, more akin to a cruiser.  The front forks soak up much more of the road, by comparison to the old it feels like an air mattress.  I have to say that after a day of adjustment I really love the new feel, however I seem to have sacrificed the nimble turning stance I had previously.

As I mentioned earlier, the replacement parts were ordered through Ebay and shipped to the US for pick up.  There are several reasons for this:

The biggest reason being that my local shop doesn't seem to stock any parts anymore.  Not even a nut, bolt or pin.  In the event that you do need a part, you are looking at a 2 week turnaround.

It seems the days of shops having inventory (sundries) is a bygone one. Sad.

The second reason is the postal service here in Canada.  Ours has had looming job action for some time over a pension dispute.  This has left residents unsure of when or if items sent would be delivered at all.   

Speed and cost.  Shipping within the US is cheap, fast and sometimes free!  Packages that would normally take 2 weeks to get to me from say, California arrive in Niagara Falls, NY within 3 days.  

I found an exceptional service near the border called US Address at 3909 Witmer Road in Lewiston.
They charge a flat fee of $5.00 for each package under 50 lbs.

US Address

All told, this post could have been worse or not been at all.  I am renewed with gratitude to be back on the road and in one piece.