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Interesting conversation....I believe if you need a pile of precision measuring tools to check what the machinist did with his pile of tools, you may need to use a different machinist.. I am just a run of the mill hobbyist mechanic and a poor machinist on old equipment with dull tooling.
The 650 Triumph land speed racer I built from a pile of parts was the first 650 pushrod modified production gas fueled bike to set a record over 130 mph and it set several records right off the trailer, no trackside tuning....I simply brought the pile of parts to a machine shop that does mostly Chevy engines and told them the necessary clearances and to hold them as close as possible...The head went to Rob Hall.....I checked no clearances at home other than wiggling stuff to make sure it had some clearance.....I did trust the shop....maybe a bit risky...I did use a dyno for jetting and intake lengths...
Was this engine blueprinted? Yes..But blueprinting alone is not enough, the whole package must be in harmony...


79 T140D, 89 Honda 650NT ,61 A10 .On a bike you can out run the demons
"I don't know what the world may need
But a V8 engine is a good start for me
Think I'll drive to find a place, to be surly"
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Originally Posted by Hillbilly bike
I believe if you need a pile of precision measuring tools to check what the machinist did with his pile of tools, you may need to use a different machinist..
Was this engine blueprinted? Yes..
A "good" machine shop would be able to work to the tolerances required of an old British motorcycles, so you are fortunate in having such a machine shop available. Someone who had their own pile of measuring tools could confirm the shop they used had the same standards, as well as serve as the independent quality-control inspector to catch any possible mistakes that slipped through a "good" shop.

Racing is somewhat different than the general case since actual measured performance, not the number of square feet of chrome plating, is what matters. Blueprinting the internals of an engine is essential for your purposes, but the question is whether documentation of such blueprinting, along with the essential chrome plating, would add to the sale price of a bike at auction.

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Back in the day BSA by & large used steel tooling that traversed a fixed distance between two stops or till the turret tripped the cam and rotated the tool holder . And most likely plain high carbon steel to boot as tool steel was expensive back then and carbide only justified for defense work .
As such, the tool movement was the same , hopefully , each & every time .However this tooling did not take into account things like heat build up in the job & tool nor tool wear nor tool pick up or even the ambient temperature and particularly in the UK stillages full of metal parts that have been sitting in the open courtyard all night so are at 2 deg when clamped into place.
Thus no two parts were ever identical which is why each & every part was gauged and usually stamped.( what does this funny star mean ? )
Now when assembling the bikes the parts could be blueprinted for want of a better term to match over sized shafts to over sized holes thus hopefully yielding a motorcycle with everything within reasonable levels of fit that today would have the bike sitting in the line at the mechanical rectification station. And I seriously doubt the go-nogo gauges would have been measured to an accuracy of +/- .001" let alone +/-.0001"
Also remember they were built to a price not to a quality standard , one of the contributing factors identified in the decline of the UK motorcycle industry.
And where they were built properly ( eg Some Gold Stars ) then they either costed substantially more or were sold at a reduced margin or even a loss as again more than one historian has pointed out .

While it can be beneficial to repair parts to a tollerance far tighter than BSA did , the burning question is of extra cost vs utility.
Now if I was considering to do the WA to NSW cannon ball run or I am a person such as Mark Parker who's thing is to push the envelope way past what BS A intended then it may be a worthwhile use of my time .
However as most of us do the odd rally & occasional Sunday ride with friends/club members then we have to justify weather cutting seats with a very expensive & time consuming Sunnen machine ( or similar ) that we use so infrequently that it takes a full day to do a 10 minute job against the surface finish from a set of Newey cutters that require very little skil and even less time would be just as good for our purposes ?

One only has a finite time on the planet so one has to choose weather spending a large chunk of it learning a new skill that will get very little use is justified againts being out there riding the bikes .

As for You Tube being populated with shaved monkeys with over active egos & under active brains , well yes I have to concur that the bulk of what is on there is trash which makes life difficult if you don't know any better and were actually trying to get proper instruction.
Mechanics ( in NSW at least ) used to get basic training in machining , heat treatment , metallurgy & surface finishing , for a few years I taught the odd class in some of those subjects and to be quie frank it was a waste of their time, my time & taxpayers money .
They used to get basic foundry practice & blacksmithing too but both had been dropped before I got there in the early 80's .
TAFE courses change to reflect what is the actual shop floor practices & by the 80's it was just measure & replace where needed .
Shane & I found his out when we were trying to find a maching skills course to enrol in.
Not any more it is water jets, plasmas , erosion & CCM

Then there is the question of precision tooling vs the calibrated wrist.
I can usually set mower engines to .004" valve lash +/- .001 by feel as it is a daily task and can tell if they need to be reset by the sound of the engine cranking & running . If you go back & look at the British Pathe' movie inside the BSA factory note the assembly production worker tightening the A 10 con rods. no tension wrench, pure feel & experience. Note also the book end piston ring compressors & the fact they cranked the pistons up into the cylinders as distinct from trying to drop a heavy cylinder on the pistons squarely as most people do. Which would you call the better praqctice ?

Then there is the difference between doing it for fun and doing it to eat
The old addage of " I can do it good , I can do it cheap , I can do it fast, - but only one at a time " is God's own truth when you are trying to make a living from mechanical repairs
I can remember spending hours polishiing microscope specimens down to 0,5 µ cleaning all the old diamond dust off the cloths, before starting & between samples suiting up in disposable PPE with hair caps in uni lab sessions to take perfectly focuses micrograps without a blemish, then I went into industry where it was 5 minues a hit . one 2 oz tube of paste per 100 samples and specimes like rail crossings , just so long as what we were looking for could be identified &/or measured as these had to be costed and some one had to justify that cost .

The trick as I have learned in being a mechanic ( well tech actually because I was not apprenticed ) is to know what the customer wants
Good, fast or cheap and in most cases it is cheap so cheap dictates that stuff I do not regularly do or can get done cheaper, like rebuild Hydro drives gets farmed out the person who does them all day every day & I get back a ready to instal tranxaxle for less than the wholesale price of the rebuild kit and 1/4 of e price of a replacement.

Before it became illegal to straiten motorcycle frames down here I have had 5 SR 500's bent back into shape
3 by the Aldersons who did the whole thing by eye using long levers and 2 at a workshop using one of the Motoliner with jigs & rams
Dennis did the job same day for something like $ 100 while the motoliner was around 3 times the price & took over a week.
The proof was in the riding & the hand done frames rode a lot straiter than the jigged frame did.

If a workshop down here was to have done what you did to your Ariel then the bill would have been close to $ 50,000


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A good shop will check the machined parts with his tools while you watch...I said the crank to rod clearance should be .0016...I gave him rods with .010 bearing shells installed and torqued and a slightly worn standard crank..He told me that nitriding and normal machine tolerance might be a 10 thousand or so off on the tight side...He would allow for this...We had a meeting of minds so no problems...And the meeting of the minds is very important to avoid problems...


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But a V8 engine is a good start for me
Think I'll drive to find a place, to be surly"
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Originally Posted by BSA_WM20
If a workshop down here was to have done what you did to your Ariel then the bill would have been close to $ 50,000
So little?...

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Originally Posted by Magnetoman
Originally Posted by edunham
I also question whether working to that standard would be commercially viable.
That's a very important question, and certainly has direct implications for this thread. But, it's a complicating factor that's hard to deal with in the context of this thread.

Originally Posted by MarcB
the documentation is nice-to-have but I'm not going to pass up a purchase because it's not included.
Private purchases usually allow for starting a bike and listening to how it sounds, and possibly even a test ride. Auctions do not.

Consider the following hypothetical scenario. A shiny bike of a type that should sell for ~$15k comes up for auction, and at the same time in an alternate universe the same bike comes up, except with detailed documentation of the mechanical work done in its restoration. Would the you in the alternate universe bid more for that bike than the you would for the documentation-free one? If you would bid $15k, how much would the alternate-universe you bid?

There is a reason why every BSA I own or have ever owned looks like trash.
and that is because I only buy trash .
By doiing that you know the bike will need a full strip down, bottom end job and probably pistons & valves to boot so you don't end up paying a fortune for a mudguard ( shinny on the top S#*t underneath.)
I really can not remember a BSA add from when I rode daily that did not say "Just had a bottom end job done"
By which most meant they had cchanged the oil & cleaned the flkes of metal out the sump.
As for buying at auction the same principle applies, factor in a full rebuild no matter what the bike looks like because you never really know what was done & how well it was done as auctions are as is where is no warranty.
A little off track, but I bought an L300 on the grounds that it should have had a near perfect motor as the previous owner had paid $3600 to a Mitsubishi dealer for a full rebuild.
The engine had an occasional ticking sound that came & went over a specific rev range but it did run quite well for a short time.
The ticking ended up being a balance shaft which when placed ( hammered most likely ) in the block, pushed the bush it was supposed to run in 1/3 of the way out of the hole


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When buying from an auction, or private party, one should always take into consideration the phrase: "as is, where is!"

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Quote
Finally getting to the point, the acceptable quality of restorations in 1976 when Jeff Clew wrote his restoration book was considerably lower than when Radco wrote his just ten years later

I don't see how any conclusion can be drawn between acceptable quality of restorations in two books written by separate authors ten years apart. Does that mean for example that a bike restored in 1976 should be avoided whilst a bike restored in 1986 will run perfectly, clearly not I imagine.

What's missing in this discussion is the simple fact that many motorcyclists don't have the time, money or inclination to do the work themselves and so as a result, farm the work out to machine shops who are more capable. This is a simple principle of division of labor which is to assign different parts of a manufacturing process to different people in order to improve efficiency.

One of the unintended consequences of farming out work to others is that the results may not turn out as expected, which is why the customer should do as much research as possible into the supplier, furthermore once the parts are returned the customer should measure as much as possible to check the results.

I've recently had some engineering work done on my Commando 750 using a local company which included a re-bore/hone & crank regrind using the 0.090" filet radiuses. I've checked the work as far as I'm able and can find no fault but there is a limit to the precision measurement I can do.

I've been working on bikes for at least 40 years and don't feel there has been any decline in machine shop standards. More likely is that some owners have taken short cuts to get the job done as cheaply as possible, and this is something which has been going on since immemorial.


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Originally Posted by reverb
doing 1000 miles per year... those miles at low speed... is nothing to worrying about.
Race bikes aren't the only ones that need blueprinting. Even though blueprints don't exist for most of the 90-year-old machines, I'm sure most bikes on the Cannonball received more than a "standard" amount of attention to the mechanicals. Well, with the possible exception of some of the 14 that didn't even make it as far as 1000 miles. Even so, an additional 11 had dropped out by the end, so nearly 30% of the field were too broken to fix along the way in order to make it to the end.

I'm sure there are reasonable explanations for some of the failures,[*] but there's nothing about the designs of bikes as "modern" as a 1927 Harley, 1928 BMW or 1928 Indian that make them intrinsically incapable of covering 3400 miles at speeds of only ~40 mph. As evidenced by the 33 bikes, as old as 1911, that made full miles.

Ignoring penalty points awarded to a couple of bikes for reasons I don't know, by the end of Stage 5 only 54 bikes (61% of the field) had made the full 1160 miles to that point. The point is, data from the Cannonball show that even the 1000 miles per year at low speed that reverb says is "nothing to worry about," actually is something to worry about when considering the mechanical aspects of a rebuild.

[*]Team Norton had two original cast iron pistons come apart, which is something that could have happened even when the bikes were new.

Originally Posted by gunner
I don't see how any conclusion can be drawn between acceptable quality of restorations in two books written by separate authors ten years apart..
That would be a fair enough criticism if there were only two data points, but they were just handy examples at two fixed points in time that illustrate what other examples also show, that cosmetic standards have evolved.

Originally Posted by gunner
What's missing in this discussion is the simple fact that many motorcyclists don't have the time, money or inclination to do the work themselves and so as a result, farm the work out to machine shops who are more capable.
That's certainly true, but it's a separate discussion from the questions I raised in the post that started this thread. Intrinsically built into the question "would someone pay more" is the assumption that they actually have more that they could pay if they wanted to.

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Perhaps this is naive, but doesn't the job card show the nominal dimension and tolerances of each surface to be machined when given to the machinist, and the measured dimension after the work is sone?

I know that for the cylinders I've sent out to be rebored, the shop has wanted the piston(s) and clearance tolerances as well. Those are machine shops which specialise in engine work, so they aim to have the fit within spec.

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Originally Posted by Shane in Oz
Perhaps this is naive, but doesn't the job card show .

I'd had a number of cylinders rebored, by the Iocal Repco shop - they did excellent work,
but I don't think I've ever seen a job card for any of these.
The bill simply sez rebore, blah blah $xx
So I'd have nothing to show really in the documentation dept to back these up,
other than something was done.

I'd also comment that some of these were big bore kits for jappa trail bikes,
and the instructions that came with the piston were 0.002 clearance.
Well it was immediately obvious that this was waaay too much, sounded like a bucket of bolts.
New oversize piston, rebore, and now 0.000 clearance - sweet ....
Repco guy took note of this - nice work - and gave me a fair discount to boot.
But the invoice showed nothing of this, just blah blah $yy

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Originally Posted by BSA_WM20
They used to get basic foundry practice & blacksmithing too but both had been dropped before I got there in the early 80's .

Oddly enough, I've done those courses, as a prelim/adjunct to Engineering 101
Probably the most interesting parts of it, the rest was a blurrr ..

Thinwall iron casting, only about 1/8" apart from the detail bits
[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

And something rescued from the skip, after we'd had a turn on the 100 ton drop hammer.
1/2" steel plate, done cold with one mighty WHACK. !
As you can probably see, this one failed.
[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

We diverge ...

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When i was racing i competed against quite a few blokes that used to take their engines to
named engine builders/tuners and bore the huge costs incurred. Those motors would have
rods replaced every xx hours etc etc and were 'blueprinted etc etc. I don't remember any of
them actually winning championships against the many that did all their own work and used
their own practices to build engines and gearboxes. I've ridden a few bikes that were prepared
in that way and in all honesty, i could not tell the difference between a 10,000 quid engine and
a 3000 quid engine as far as how well it went and sounded. Like many here i don't expect these
old things to do huge mileage before requiring rebuilds, they were designed that way. i feel
happier knowing that i put it together rather than someone i don't know. Yes i check all the important
stuff but putting your own 'take' on assembly (which i like to do) is what it's all about, blueprinting
means building the thing as the factory would have, and with the old irons i own, that's not that
good. As for stuff like boring with torque plates fitted, i'v'e only ever done that when racing, the
possible 0.5 thou extra wear at 20,000 miles never concerned me. Things like trying to improve
valve geometry and compensating for poorly designed gearboxes does. Blueprinting would have
those assembled as per the design, not what i would want.
Finding shops that are interested in 'one off's' is harder these days as all the old boys are dying or
packing it up. It will become a lost art soon. There's little money in one or two cranks for old
beezers as opposed to hundreds of hondas.
But hey, each to his own.
Nick

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Hi MagnetoMan; no doubt that I did not thought about the Cannonball motorcycles, but more in the way of what a Triumph; Norton Bsa of the 60s could do. Technology development is an important factor. 1000 miles per year for a 2021 bike is nothing; but a lot for a 1915 bike s technology. Also Triumph that worked the same motor design since the 30s actually is not the same regarding reliability for those 1000 miles per year a later model than a pre unit from the 30s. so quality in the assembling and machining is very important but design is way more important; with modern design came modern way of assembling and better machinery.

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Originally Posted by NickL
When i was racing i competed against quite a few blokes that used to take their engines to
named engine builders/tuners and bore the huge costs incurred. Those motors would have
rods replaced every xx hours etc etc and were 'blueprinted etc etc.
,snip>
But hey, each to his own.
Nick

The racing Triumph triples reportedly had the crank changed every 2 race meets.
THATS how you get racing reliability ...
Thats pretty top level racing, of course.

Nortons Factory race team reportedly changed the clutch before EVERY race in the Isle of Man.
AND the valve springs.
And after practice.
This in the 1930s.
THATS how you get racing reliability.

NASCAR engines apparently get their rods changed after every race.
9000 rpms out of a hefty V8. Steel crank.
THATS how you get racing reliability.

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Interesting topic, MMan.
FWIW these are my thoughts/views on the subject.
These days the cosmetics have assumed more importanc4e than the mechanicals as I see it.
Why?--because the vast majority of bikes do very low annual mileages (if they are not in a museum).
This is in stark contrast to when I began motorcycling 60 years ago in UK.
Then bikes were used for everyday transport (most people could not afford a car) and were cleaned every Leap Year!
But--the area where I grew up (Coventry UK) was in engineering country.
Engineering work could be done for you as a foreigner in any number of engineering shops for the standard fee of a packet of 10 cigarettes.
It was reckoned that kids were born with suds oil in their veins rather than blood!

These days in US the old style shops specializing in Brit bike machining are dying out with the old guys with the knowledge and skills either dying out or retiring.
So if you want to send stuff out it is now not local but can be hundreds of miles away.
Personally I try to do as much of the work as possible myself armed with a lathe, mill, drill press, welding equipment etc.
As mentioned earlier i grew up in Coventry and at that time the biggest machine tool factory in the world was located there--Alfred Herbert employing 12,000 people--so skills and machine tools were plentiful and you learned a lot quickly.

Having said that when rebuilding a bike I only blueprint on a selective basis.
Since these bikes were first built there have been significant advances in knowledge, techniques and materials that IMHO it would be silly not to utilize them.
When I rebuild a bike I do it as I think a present day Meriden engineer would have done it.

Then we have accuracy and tolerances.
Having run engineering businesses in England , Europe and US I would certainly have given a design engineer a bollicking if he had specified too tight a tolerance to do the job.
Tight tolerances cost money so in commercial terms you want to do the job with the loosest tolerances possible.
This is because as a commercial entity you want to provide a minimally satisfactory product at maximum profit.
Now as a hobbyist I do things for personal satisfaction and am happy to spend hours to get a fit "just right" rather than "good enough".

Would I pay extra for a bike with full detailed documentation.
Perhaps yes.
Why only perhaps?
Because documentation in terms of receipts etc (ignoring the possibility of falsified documentation) do not tell you of the care and skill with which the build was carried out.
That is why I would never buy a bike from auction or from a dealer.
When buying a bike I want to meet the seller and previous owner and spend time with him.
I want to assess what sort of guy he is, see his shop, understand what makes him tick, see the state of his tools etc

Sorry if I have gone on a bit but---that is my two cents worth.

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Originally Posted by Tridentman
Interesting topic, MMan.
FWIW these are my thoughts/views on the subject.
These days the cosmetics have assumed more importanc4e than the mechanicals as I see it.
.


My father called this a "liquid recondition".
A coat of paint !

He was army trained in engine rebuilding, before joining the paratroops.

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Originally Posted by Rohan
Originally Posted by NickL
When i was racing i competed against quite a few blokes that used to take their engines to
named engine builders/tuners and bore the huge costs incurred. Those motors would have
rods replaced every xx hours etc etc and were 'blueprinted etc etc.
,snip>
But hey, each to his own.
Nick

The racing Triumph triples reportedly had the crank changed every 2 race meets.
THATS how you get racing reliability ...
Thats pretty top level racing, of course.

Nortons Factory race team reportedly changed the clutch before EVERY race in the Isle of Man.
AND the valve springs.
And after practice.
This in the 1930s.
THATS how you get racing reliability.

NASCAR engines apparently get their rods changed after every race.
9000 rpms out of a hefty V8. Steel crank.
THATS how you get racing reliability.


How many average blokes would be able to do that?
You would have entry fields of 2 or 3 riders if everyone felt that necessary.
I never raced a formula 1 car so i don't know what they do but it's probably
the case there too.
I can sight lots of instances of race teams replacing gear every race, great
if you have a sponsor who's paying eh?
Even when doing all that, they still blow engines up, funny eh?

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Originally Posted by Tridentman
That is why I would never buy a bike from auction or from a dealer.
At the Irish Rally people show up in the middle of nowhere (Killarney), ride their bikes for a total of ~500 miles over four days, do any necessary repairs at night on the wet asphalt (it's Ireland) of a car park using whatever tools and spares they have. Because of this, especially for a foreigner, lack of reliability is a real problem.

I once mentioned to a well-known dealer (who shall remain nameless) who is a regular attendee that there could be a market, at a premium, from foreigners for bikes guaranteed to be in good condition. He replied that his customers loved being able to fix things on the bikes they bought. Needless to say, I wouldn't let my worst enemy buy a bike from him… OK, that's not correct; I'd actually encourage my worst enemy to buy one of the guy's bikes.

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Wasn't it the head of AMC's _____* - whose name escapes me - famous for quoting "that riders like nothing better
than to able to grind their valves etc on Saturday morning" when quizzed about every day reliability of the product.

You can see this attitude, quite widely, across the (british) bike industry, for many a decade.
The J*p*anese didn't get a reputation for attention to detail for nothing ...

Edit. * Donald Heather ?

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Originally Posted by NickL
Even when doing all that, they still blow engines up, funny eh?

Wasn't it Bill Ivy (?) that did something like 22 (?) top flight GP races without an engine failure/problem ?
He attributed it to not pulling it back into a lower gear for engine braking "until the revs had dropped off a bit".

And wasn't it Paul Smart, really p**ed off about having to race, that "held it in 3rd down the back straight" at full throttle,
and after a few laps "decided maybe this thing could win after all". It was a Duc desmo twin...

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I'd be here all day listing the ones that blew up eh?

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Thats why engines that were designed and built as racing engines will always be better ...

Try listing those from the pens of brit designers.

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There are a few. Duckworth wasn't bad of DFV-DFZ fame.
Hart's turbo's were pretty good too for budget lumps.
It's unusual for a single bloke to undertake a whole engine design now,
most are done as teams of blokes with computers etc.

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And as they say in collector circles "a racing engine is only as good as the chap that rebuilt it last."

Which effect is somewhat more immediate than a classic bike purchased sometimes years or decades after ...

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