Well, here she is. First time out of the garage after refurb. Doesn't look much different from the as-found picture, but a lot has gone on in the background. First off, I have not touched any of the paint finish. The bike has a good patina (including the dents in the exhaust system) and I'm leaving it like that. Other stuff I've done is as follows:
magdyno refurb by Moathouse Magnetos (first class job and came in UNDER estimate!); carb rebuilt as new by Martyn Bratby (far less than the price of a new one, and an amazing job); new tyres and tubes; new drive chains; battery
platform sourced from British Only
(Austria); new gel battery
fitted in dummy case; complete rewire; non-standard but q.d. brake-light fitted for safety (after a VERY unpleasant experience last year on my 1927 Raleigh that almost saw me become the mascot on a car radiator); genuine Lucas
replacement ammeter fitted; petrol tank cleaned out and leaks soldered up; replacement period petrol tap fitted but with modern in-line filter; all new Bowden cables made up and fitted, including metalwork for new front brake cable; clutch sorted out (thoroughly cleaned plates in petrol, but couldn't get it to work properly at first. I had dismantled it carefully and kept it all in the same order so thought that putting it back ditto would be the thing. I then discovered three things: the first was that no matter how I tried to set it up, the plates just wouldn't separate. I got out the spares booklet and checked the rod. Sure enough, somebody had fitted the wrong one in the past, and it was around 13/16 too short. Soon fixed by making up a new one, plus discovering that the ball in the operating arm was missing, naturally. Second discovery was that somebody (him again!) had assembled the plates in the wrong order. I found a sketch of the clutch online and was able to reassemble without resorting to trial and error. Imagine the dismay when I found that it was still dragging, and no amount of adjustment or swearing would cure it. Several beers later it dawned on me that the thrust bearing in the cover plate at the business end of the clutch was badly worn down, even though made of hardened steel. I softened it and drilled it out, then made up a new one of bronze which I made to screw into place. I'll be keeping an eye on the wearing quality of this mod.); engine oilways cleaned out; barrel honed ; hopefully correct grade of oil/grease added to gearbox (certainly quieter now anyway); brakes stripped and cleaned out before being rebuilt; wheel bearings cleaned and readjusted; all frame greasing points cleaned out and re-packed while checking for wear; plus probably n other jobs I've forgotten about.
Question; does it go? Filled up the tank, turned on the petrol, operated the tickler and kicked. There is a sequence, technique, call it what you want. Idiosyncracies might be a term. I didn't have the knack, so it took maybe eight kicks to get her running. The correct sequence is, turn on petrol, operate tickler until petrol floods from bottom of carb. Make sure advance/retard is set right back at retard with air closed. Turn engine over at least four times to draw fuel in. Find compression, ease over it with the valve-lifter then give it the swinging kick it talks about in the books and BOOM, off she goes first time. Tick over is quickly established as the engine warms up.
And to ride? I've reached my 70th year by being careful, so the first thing I always check on a bike is the brakes. These are good for a vintage bike, and with a bit of thought and planning ahead are quite adequate for the kind of speeds envisaged. The kind of emergency stops possible with modern brakes are not to be contemplated, so don't is the maxim. The gearchange is smooth and the gate is well thought-out. The gears drop into the correct slots without you having to look down, which is not the case with a lot of old bikes. The bike has a twistgrip throttle, which makes life a lot easier than the usual period lever device. My old Raleigh had one, and I could never get used to it. The times I have sat at traffic lights wringing its neck to no avail! Acceleration is brisk if not fast, and it is perfectly capable of holding its own in town traffic. In my opinion, with limited road time, it is a bike in advance of its time. As for managing the advance/retard and air lever, there is no difference from the ancient heaps we learned on in the 1950s. If you forget it, it will soon remind you and you adjust it.
So there we are. I've managed to secure a ride in the Banbury Run on 21st June and if you are there then say hello. I'm number 66 and just hoping for a safe ride and a finish. I'm now turning to my next project, which has been waiting for two years - an ex-Auxiliary Fire Service Matchless G3, another case of reliving days gone by when I had one in the 1960s as they were being sold off cheap. If anybody has any comments on the Sloper or questions, I'd be pleased to hear from you.