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Well thats a couple of hours I won't get back.


And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth'

An interesting point given recent events.

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Originally Posted by Gordon Gray
.....you'd fit in that "famous owner" category.
Aw, you make me blush.

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Quote
Are people who buy restored old British motorcycles today unlikely to put enough miles on them to reveal shortcomings in the mechanical work?

I think that would depend on how the bike is ridden and subsequently serviced. I imagine that most riders will ride less than 1000 miles annually and for most of the time the bike will be sitting in a warm garage and get an annual service. On the other hand, some riders will thrash their bikes relentlessly, pull wheelies and rev the bike past the red line and try cruising on the highway at 90mph. I guess that the former type of rider will not experience any mechanical failure for at least 15 years whilst the latter will probably blow the engine in a year or so.

The issue here is not so much the quality of the restoration but the fact that British bikes are fragile and don't respond well to mistreatment.
end Quote

That is total rubbish. If you bought a T120 or a Spitfire back in the day, you wouldn't have bought it to poodle
around on like it was an M20 or similar. Those bikes were designed as sports bikes and be ridden like sports
bikes. If i build any engine/gearbox and it blows up with my normal riding style, then i deem it as a failure.
I like to ride my bikes as they would have been back in the day, you may feel it's thrashing them, i don't.
Both of these motors had a red line around 7k that's what i use them to, not all the time but as and when i
feel like it, if the motor fails then it's my fault no-one else's. I've built enough of them over the years to know
what you can and can't get away with for a reasonable budget. I have never had a catastrophic failure.on any
of my road bikes I spend what time and money i deem necessary and use outfits i know to do machine work.
I check what i feel is required based on experience. I wouldn't pay stupid money for a bike built by some
expert as he may have different ideas on how it should be used.

I apologise for returning here as i said i'd sod off, but some comments just need answering.

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Originally Posted by NickL
I apologise for returning here
The comments in your post are relevant to the thread so there's nothing to apologize for.

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In the days before mobile phones, the fact that you could quite happily ride a BSA twin for 100 miles or more on one cylinder provided you did not push it too hard was a big +. Try riding a Honda 4 on 3 cylinders and see how far you get .
So fragile they are definately not.
Coming from the age of log table & slide rule engineering, when proof could only be done in metal most British bikes are way over engineered for their invisioned use because the factory could not afford to engineer them to fail completely the second warranty expired like can be done now days . It is only in modern times of computer simulations where with a few key strokes on the right softwear work out the consequences of making the casting thinner in 0,001 incriments or sit at your desk and investigate timing variations measures in radians .
And when it comes to carburettors you will never get any modern carb to even start a bike if they were worn or mal adjusted to the level of a lot of Concentrics I have seen on a lot of members bikes , running quite happily


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Originally Posted by Magnetoman
Aw, you make me blush.
Originally Posted by Gordon Gray
.....you'd fit in that "famous owner" category.


Thats actually where I was going with those comments about Jay Leno etc.

Folks would likely be more interested in buying from a known enthusiast than whether
anyone had DIYed the valve guides and seats !! ?

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Quote
If you bought a T120 or a Spitfire back in the day, you wouldn't have bought it to poodle
around on like it was an M20 or similar.

I don't disagree with you Nick, but the original question was about recently restored bikes rather than bikes back in the day. I think there is a big difference between a bike back in the day relatively fresh from the factory and one recently restored by someone at home. At least with a factory fresh bike, there was a degree of confidence that the factories knew what they were doing, and the bike could be relied upon, whereas with a home restoration, who knows whats been done.

Every Sunday, I hear modern bikes being thrashed mercilessly on the local bypass, apparently without harm, yet when I go out on a club run or spot other brit bikes on the road, I've yet to see any being ridden at much more than a sedate pace. I like to give my bikes a bit of stick now and again, just to feel the rush of acceleration, and it's great, they all perform well up to the red line, but only for a few seconds and not sustained.

So my comment is based on how I see brit bikes being used where I live, and of course, this could be different around the world.

Quote
the fact that you could quite happily ride a BSA twin for 100 miles or more on one cylinder provided you did not push it too hard was a big +.

That did make me smile and reminded me of similar stories from the outback. One which sticks in my mind is a driver whose transmission failed in the back of beyond and then tried driving 300 miles home in reverse gear. I'm not sure what this tells us about mechanical design but it certainly shows the determination and ingenuity of the driver/rider.

Anyway, just my ramblings whilst I'm on a break at work.


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Back on the topic of machine work. I am an untrained machinist often using the wrong dull tooling.
In this photo I'm turning down a Triumph flywheel .030 for more cam lobe clearance.. Notice the tool set up... but it did the job and no one was injured...
A typical engine build doesn't require this.. I bet quite a few who install higher lift cams don't check the clearance...On a street engine it may not matter...On a racer with the engine at high rpm for an extended period it may matter...

D1EC59BA-CF5B-492B-9069-A4D5385A1275.jpeg

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Originally Posted by Hillbilly bike
Back on the topic of machine work. I am an untrained machinist ....
For what it's worth, I'm a self-trained machinist so it is possible to learn the skills.

To digress, but not really, for some years the thought that I "should" have CNC capabilities has been festering in the reptilian complex of my brain. Then, two weeks ago, Tormach's largest CNC mill showed up on the local Craigslist, described as in excellent condition and at just over half list price. This forced me to actually think about it, causing me to realize CNC is the wrong tool for the job of rebuilding or restoring motorcycles. A CNC machining center would be great if I wanted to machine an Al muff for an A10 from a solid billet, or produce a quantity of identical parts, but for the one-off nature of rebuilding/restoration, turning knobs by hand is the way to go. Thankfully, the listing was removed after a few days, before I could reconsider my conclusion. History shows that given enough time I could have come up with a justification for making the bad decision to buy it.

Also, for what it's worth, and towards what end I don't know, I've been working for some months to create the manuscript for a comprehensive book on rebuilding/restoring old motorcycles, containing a fair amount of machining content. The present manuscript consists of 22 major sections and 29 sub-sections and, although I'm not nearly done adding material, it already has as many pages as Radco's 'The Vintage Motorcyclist's Workshop' and Purnell's 'Motor Cycle Restorer's Workshop Companion' combined.

As a trivial example of contents, I researched all the materials I used when rebuilding my Ariel and know that, for example, the bronze I decided to use for the timing-side crankshaft bush lasted the 3000+ miles with no measurable wear. So, if I ever need a bronze for a similar application, a quick look at the section on 'Materials' will tell me to use C544. A few other examples are brazing a cast-iron head, Magnafluxing parts, balancing a crankshaft, unbending a frame, etc.

Unfortunately, I'm afraid the market for such a book would be quite limited so it will never get past the rough draft stage on my computer. So, why am I wasting time writing it? Good question, for which I don't even have a bad answer. If responses to this thread are even somewhat representative, only a fraction of old bike owners (or owners of old bikes...) do anything beyond routine maintenance, and only a fraction of that fraction even have an interest in owning a micrometer.

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...another point of view on the subject is that for most the "peace of Mind" is a real factor. No doubt that if you rely the work onto specialized shops is better for that than a home made cheap build.
However; I maintain what mentioned before about that if you use the motorcycle between 300-1000km per year! at an slow pace (70km/h or so) that is nothing to test or compare between different qualities of build.
Also if you always ride at less than 74% of the max RPMs you are not hurting the engine.

To the guys afraid to use and crank a bit these bikes. I want to say that I really used my bikes and are not perfect nor done by an specialized shop (due to there s none here) Not because I am cheap; I spent Money in these bikes due to previous owners were heavy on its.
The other day I spent 1000 Dollars in a used crankshaft for my 79; I spent 4000 Dollars on the top end for this same bike. I send the head to R Hall there in USA. Now I will buy new connecting rods etc.
I try to say that:
-CHEAP is a factor. You cannot have a right bike if you still trying to deal with 50 years old carburetors that are worn out or the same points. I mean; go ahead and buy the spare parts to fix them or buy new.
-Knowledge is a main factor
-Design is a very important part (think in a bit more modern design like the Honda cg125; that is capable of many things that an older bike cannot)
-Great machinery of course is important; but are rare and in most cases these bikes do not need such luxury.
-TRANSPORTATION: Most stopped to use it that way some 40 years ago and that is an important factor hence the cheapness...you do not car so much if you do not need to go to work every day or commute. Also a factor that you learn to fix the bike here and there to keep it going.

-I put about 10000km per year; now a bit less and at strong CRUISING speed so I maintain the speed. For example in a 48 pre unit 500 (that now does not want to start) I use it at 90km/h to cover normally 30km - 240km. That is a lot for an old machine at constant speed. The engine (the parts) is worn out (I bought that way some 27 years ago)
With the 79s I use at the same distances but at 115-120km/h constant with accelerations of 130-140km/h for a few seconds.
I put about 40000km on the pre unit; 13000km on a 79 (since that I have it) and 35000km on a Vespa all on the road; all in those distances (plus some long trips to other Countries)
NEVER let me down on the road; I had stranded; but somehow I managed to keep on going in most cases.

-I am not saying that whatever build is better than a quality build; I can testify that CLEANLESS is everything (seems many many engines in these bikes were rebuilt not only wrong way but with dirt)
I never found dirt or pieces in any of my rebuilds. No doubt that many are so cheap that do not use right oil or do the changes at 1500 miles as per manual.

Is like when you watch a clip talking about how good such motorcycle jacket is regarding cold and rain...all good up to 80km/h but the same NOT so good at 120km/h or more...


---We users need 3 things that the market do not have:
new crankshafts; new; heads and new cases. Yes; at some degree and for racers there are but you need to transform everything to use those; and should be the other way around; Is not a plug and play part so we have everything except the most important things.

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'Having a pre-1930 motorcycle cover 3,000+ miles in 2 weeks is an achievement, just as it was when they were new. Doing the same with a late 1930s machine is much less challenging, and one would be rather disappointed not to do that with a 1950s machine, even a "grey porridge" commuter.'



Hmmm, I'd like to know what major developments in British motorcycle design there were that made completing a cross country trip on a 1928 bike a major achievement but on a 1938 bike it is a walk in the park and on a '50s era bike completion of said trip (with a pillion passenger no less) is an absolute doodle. Not to diminish Magneto Mans achievement but I might point out on the Cross Country Chase (both events are put on by the same people) no support of any kind is allowed, you have to carry anything you'll need and do your own work. On either event a big element of luck is involved and I would guess the attrition rates are fairly similar.

Apologies to Magneto Man for another divergence but some statements cannot go unanswered.

Last edited by slow learner; 10/26/21 4:56 pm.

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Originally Posted by slow learner
I would guess the attrition rates are fairly similar.
Not really. The Chase is shorter, with the post-1930 bikes in it covering 1341 miles in the latest event. Despite having to carry on the bike everything needed to keep them running, at the end of it 70.7% of those "modern" bikes had made full miles. In contrast, at the same point in the Cannonball (1398 miles) only 37.5% of its ancient pre-1930 bikes still had full miles, despite trailers full of spare parts and mechanics to help keep them on the road.

Further, the Chase was harder in that all its miles were covered in five stages (268 miles/day), where at the same mileage the Cannonball had six stages (233 miles/day), so the older bikes were somewhat less stressed on the road each day. Anyway, at least for the bikes entered in these two events, the data certainly show that "modern" bikes were much more reliable than older ones.

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I see that it got edited but I think as a group you’re selling us short doc. Most of the fellows on here I know personally can and have re-built their own engines. (myself included) My bet is we all have ways of measuring and do so. It’s just that when it comes to machinist work most leave that to the Healy’s, Halls and Ed Vs of the hobby.

Gordon

Last edited by Gordon Gray; 10/26/21 8:55 pm.

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Promised last word on this. There were great technological advances made in the first 20 years of motorcycle production. By the mid twenties reliable magnetos, carburetors, clutches, gearboxes etc were the accepted standard. It could be said the basic mechanical pattern for what would carry through to the end had been established. Most of what was subsequently achieved in the design of the big single was an advancement in comfort , style and convenience. Anyway, personally, I do this sort of thing ( The Chase) for fun and adventure not to prove anything so it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks as long as I'm satisfied and I am, but if I ever get a pre-'29 bike......


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Originally Posted by Gordon Gray
as a group you’re selling us short doc.
I wrote that "a fraction" did their own work. In my defense, 99/100 is a fraction...

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Originally Posted by Magnetoman
[quote=Hillbilly bike]Back on the topic of machine work. I am an untrained machinist ....


Magnetoman,

Just to pick up on this point. Back in the mid 1990’s we decided to setup a new business to remanufacture components for British 1950’s engines ( not motorcycle), and from the outset we went CNC and specified them with Renishaw probes etc, so we could reference datum’s on previously made parts.

We have never looked back, and we would have never survived, let alone thrived without going this route. Many people thought we were quite mad going into a declining market of engine rebuilding as it was, and the idea of automation, production techniques and tooling etc to do very low volume work dismissed as crazy.

Our secret of course was to stick to a limited catalogue of engines and components which we know well and of course this way, we could tool and jig up and of course we know all of this issues they have in service. For example as we can incorporate adjustment of tolerances, such as to deal with a known tendency for a particular piston / cylinder on a multi to seize first should the engine overheat, so set that one up on top clearance, and so on.

The Jobbing machinist / engine man has of course a much harder job all round, as every customer coming through to door brings a different problem. I would maintain CNC can and often is still a better tool for one off’s as the ability to generate cutter paths such as for valve seats with simple tooling saves on inventory. Swinging a rotary table etc old school can be done, but is an expensive lump of kit mostly found lucking under the bench doing nothing, and a workout to use too!

However, we will always have a place for our Adcock & Shipley license built Bridgeport, sometimes it is just the tool and really there is not much you cannot make on the simple screw cutting lathe should you need to set you mind on it. The Sunnen (Delapena in the UK) hone is worth its weight in gold, and a key element to any jobber’s tool room. This is of course if you care about 10’ths and the surface finishes of holes you finish.

You are not entirely alone in the quest!

Roland.

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Originally Posted by slow learner
Hmmm, I'd like to know what major developments in British motorcycle design there were that made completing a cross country trip on a 1928 bike a major achievement but on a 1938 bike it is a walk in the park
Lubrication, mainly, along with more robust bottom ends, better knowledge of materials, and improved cooling.
Recirculating oiling was one of the major advances because it provided much more lubrication and the oil helps with cooling as well on OHV and OHC machines.
From memory (probably faulty), the late 1920s Franklin Indian V-twins had recirculating oiling, which helped with the claim that "You''ll never wear out an Indian Scout".

Magnetoman's Ariel was designed by Val Page. The 1937 M range BSAs were designed by the same chap, and had recirculating oiling, a far stronger crankcase arrangement with a much better supported crankshaft, and much more cylinder finning. I wouldn't hesitate to ride an M23 that sort of distance.

Originally Posted by slow learner
and on a '50s era bike completion of said trip (with a pillion passenger no less) is an absolute doodle.
The pillion passenger would get a sore bum on an early 1950s rigid or plunger machine, but would probably be fine on a late 1950s swinging-fork machine.
As to the post-War advances, it's largely improved materials along with some further beefing up.

To focus on Val Page designs again, the post-War B range BSAs had further strengthening of the bottom end, with an outrigger plate for the camshaft and magneto gears instead of the shafts running directly in the outer timing case.
A smaller subset of the pre-unit B range had further strengthened crankcases with additional strengthening ribs and bigger main bearings, along with aluminium alloy cylinders and heads with ever-expanding area of fins, though that was more Roland Pike's work.


Singles still used roller bearing big ends, but post-War twins had pressure-fed big end bearings with replaceable shells, Most 1920s and early 1930s plain bearing engines still had splash feed and white metal deposited directly on the big-end eye.

To make some pretence at relevance to the thread, parts were manufactured, and machines assembled, within tighter tolerances as well.

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so you want to talk Sunnen ?
My two brothers and I went to "summer camp" on lake Sunnen , in the Missouri Ozarks , for a few summers in the mid-60s .
There were some company cabins there available to select Sunnen employees .
My mother worked for Joe Sunnen as his executive secretary .
Sunnen had build the dam that made the lake , which I suppose gave him naming rights
And of all the possible names in the world he chose , Lake Sunnen , which as a kid , I thought it was an amazing coincidence
I remember I did meet him once at the company picnic . .. but I'm pretty he didnt remember me .

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Originally Posted by Shane in Oz
From memory (probably faulty), the late 1920s Franklin Indian V-twins had recirculating oiling, which helped with the claim that "You''ll never wear out an Indian Scout".
.

Yes you are jumping the gun there, Indian didn't get recirculating oiling (in the twins) until the mid 1930s.
Constant loss before then.

The catchcry in advertising was 'fresh oil every mile'. (And there is some truth to this claim.)
Even if it was a few drops.
(To which the counter-reply was 'recirculating sludge' for the new fangled fad of recirculating oil.)

Indians had very solid engineering in the crankpin and bearings and lower end.
(And frame and clutch and brakes and cycleparts)
A lot of english stuff was quite skimpy down there in comparison.
I've a Scout engine, which I bought simply to have a look at ...
The late 1920s 101 Scout model has been proposed as the best all round riders motorcycle of the 20th Century.
And not eclipsed for many a decade.

I'd comment that better metallurgy was the hallmark of the 1930s over the 1920s.
Assisted by the British Army insisting that motorcycles they purchased had to able to go 10,000 miles without an overhaul.
This prompted much research, particularly by BSA, that improved stuff, muchly...

We diverge, a bit, in the interests of accuracy.

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Originally Posted by slow learner
There were great technological advances made in the first 20 years of motorcycle production. By the mid twenties reliable magnetos, carburetors, clutches, gearboxes etc were the accepted standard. It could be said the basic mechanical pattern for what would carry through to the end had been established.
All good points. During the 1920s, the major advances were drum brakes and the move away from beaded-edge tyres.
The 1930s had recirculating oiling, electric lighting and foot-change gearboxes.
The 1950s had telescopic front forks, multi-cylinders, OHV, and swinging arm rear suspension.

Despite the claimed slow pace of change, there were ongoing improvements in materials, strengthening, and (don't laugh) improvements in component and build tolerances.

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Originally Posted by Rohan
Originally Posted by Shane in Oz
From memory (probably faulty), the late 1920s Franklin Indian V-twins had recirculating oiling, which helped with the claim that "You''ll never wear out an Indian Scout".
.

Yes you are jumping the gun there, Indian didn't get recirculating oiling (in the twins) until the mid 1930s.
Constant loss before then.
I was right about my memory being faulty, then. Thanks for catching and correcting that error.

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I can feel the wrath of MM coming down, we've strayed from machining !!
AGAIN.
(but got it back on track there - phew.)

Has anyone mentioned the repeatability of CNC yet ....

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Originally Posted by Magnetoman
Originally Posted by Hillbilly bike
Back on the topic of machine work. I am an untrained machinist ....
For what it's worth, I'm a self-trained machinist so it is possible to learn the skills.
Machine work is too precise grin. I really like doing fabrication ,frames , suspension etc..using simple tools. This can be a job built to acceptable quality...and some guesswork...

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But a V8 engine is a good start for me
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Originally Posted by Hillbilly bike
Machine work is too precise ... I really like doing fabrication
I'm a fan of fabrication myself, having made plenty of things that look very much like those in your photograph.

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Maybe my treatment of bikes i own and have owned makes me feel that
engine rebuilds every 25-30k miles are the right thing to do.
I like to measure rod end eyes and suchlike before returning to service.
Probably if i knew they were ridden gently, that interval could be extended.
But that's not the way i ride them so i'm happy to do rebuilds.

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