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I'm taking a hard look at purchasing a 1947 Square Four in nice condition. I'd like to make it a regular weekly rider or ride it to events that might involve a hundred mile ride.

This isn't destined to be a show bike at this time -- I'm more interested in a fun, "reliable" and comfortable bike to ride around town, and an occasional weekend with my Matchless/Velocette in the Wisconsin Driftless Region or the Smokies, etc.

I know this is a cast iron head/barrel model with rigid frame. What mods are common to increase reliability and make the bike more enjoyable?

Is it sacriledge to install a later full width brake? Later head and cylinders (do they even fit)?

Where can I get the kind of info I need to really make a plan?


Danilo Gurovich
Marine City, MI
1957 Ariel Red Hunter
1961 Matchless G12CSR
1966 Matchless G80S
1967 Moto Guzzi V700
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I think you’ll want the owners’ club.

http://www.arielownersmcc.com/


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I'm currently working to resurrect a '53 mk2 square 4. The person who talked me into this project (shortly before he died) was AJ Lewis. He was a noted tuner back in the '40s and '50s and did a lot with square 4s. His favorite set up was a mk2 top end grafted onto a mk1 bottom end. He liked this combination as he preferred the plunger oil pump to the later gear pump. Some modification needed to be done to the cases to pull this off as the studs do not all line up. Now days you can get a Morgo pump so no need for such shenanigans. I can't really speak from personal experience yet, but in basic terms heat is your enemy. The more oil flow you have and the more oil capacity the better off you are. You might consider fitting an oil cooler and an oil filter. I think they make a Morgo pump for mk1s and they are said to increase the volume of oil flow. The new thicker head gaskets available are considered essential. These are essentially two parallel twins siamezed together. Not a real complicated thing but benefits from careful assembly and there is a lot jammed into the space normally occupied by a conventional single or twin engine. I hope to use mine on this years running of the Cross Country Chase. That event will follow old route 66 from near Chicago to Santa Monica California. I wish AJ was still around to help me with this thing. According to some road test I've read the alloy front brake is not a big improvement over the item you have. To use the alloy hub you would need to change the fork sliders.


Laurence Luce
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Originally Posted by Danilo Gurovich
Is it sacriledge to install a later full width brake? Later head and cylinders (do they even fit)?

Where can I get the kind of info I need to really make a plan?

With the likely cost of all that converting, you'd quite possibly be better off just finding a 4 piper to begin with ?

Someone here took the all iron 1000 on a week long 'tour', in about high summer.
With rather predictable results. Yep, blown head gaskets, big time.

He solved this in a somewhat unusual manner.
Went to the nearest local Dealer, and purchased a nice XS2 to finish the rally. !
Pushed/parked the 4 in its place, to be collected...

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Ariel partially corrected the overheating problem with much larger oil tanks.

An oil cooler (like Tridents had) would have been a better solution.

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Originally Posted by Irish Swede
Ariel partially corrected the overheating problem with much larger oil tanks.

And the alloy head with 4 pipes.

Oil flow back then wasn't exactly large numbers.
These days a number of rice burners do more than that in mere minutes, rather than per hour ...

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There is the oil pump upgrade and there is also some upgrades to the crank to improve oil flow. One design issue with all the square floors is the sludge traps in the cranks are small and plug up easily. This starves the rear cylinders first then has ruined many a motor. I do have a couple articles working on the Square four and on modifications. The u.s. Ariel Owners Group and the English group are helpful. When you join the English group that gives you access to parts that only they can get. Feel free to PM me for that info

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Got my '53 sq 4 running for the first time in the 20+ years I've owned it the other day. I have always been a singles guy (Velocette and BSA) so this is something completely different for me. It is not really user friendly to work on (too much jammed into a small space) but it is definitely a different riding experience.. Crank it on and it goes. Surprising (to me) performance for what was essentially a luxury touring bike. Advertising tag line for these bikes was " 5 mph to 100 mph in fourth gear with no chain snatch". Probably not advisable to ride that way due to the potential for detonation but the motor would probably do it. If I can make this thing reliable it should be a fun ride. No race bike but just the ticket for an old coot who appreciates flexibility in a motor but sometimes still likes to crank it on.


Laurence Luce
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I joined the owner's club and bought a 57 Red Hunter that, after rebuilding the gearbox, is dead reliable. I'm educating myself on the Square four once I get the G12CSR Matchless I have on the stand sorted.


Danilo Gurovich
Marine City, MI
1957 Ariel Red Hunter
1961 Matchless G12CSR
1966 Matchless G80S
1967 Moto Guzzi V700
2019 Royal Enfield 650 Interceptor
Some Vespas
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Did the Cross Country Chase on the '53 Square Four with the wife on the back. Made it from Illinois to California border then had problems. Turns out the culprit was the distributor cap. Motor and drive train worked fine. That's 2000+ miles under widely varied conditions of weather and roads, heavily loaded and no technical support. I had only ever ridden this bike about 250 miles prior to this event. I think it did pretty good considering the hack who put it together (me).


Laurence Luce
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Danilo,
Your name is familiar. Did you used to have a Parilla?

Ed from NJ

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Yes!

I restored it and rode the heck out of it until I realized that I weighed more than the bike, and after 200 mile days on it I was pretty much numb from the waist down, and at least two or three things had vibrated off. It was faster than it had the right to be and super fun. But a german gentleman offered me an insane amount of money for it and he does long distance rallies in Europe with it now. I prefer old Brit iron, with a more relaxed seating position. Had a Velo Thruxton for awhile, but it was more like a giant Parilla than my other Brit Thumpers.


Danilo Gurovich
Marine City, MI
1957 Ariel Red Hunter
1961 Matchless G12CSR
1966 Matchless G80S
1967 Moto Guzzi V700
2019 Royal Enfield 650 Interceptor
Some Vespas
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Danilo,
I am a pretty big guy also. I have a Parilla Tourist, a Parilla Wildcat, a couple of little Benellis, a Gilera 124, a few BSA unit singles, an old high pipe Suzuki x6, a Velocette Venom, a Bsa Spitfire, a Norton Atlas, a Triumph Trident, and a Chonda I bought for my grandson. Everything runs.

Ed from NJ

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Glad to see the Square Four people out there. Laurence, I think I bought a Velo scrambler tank from you. I am in the middle of rebuilding my MKII four motor. Having new babbitts poured for the crank bearings. Looking forward to assembling and riding it.


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