Saturday, October 14, 2017

Engine Rebuild Part VII - Top End Assembly

Once the engine was in the frame it was time to start its final assembly. The cylinders were bored and honed by EV Engineering in Howard City Michigan and Ed did a great job.  Now it was on to fitting the rings. The end gap was checked in the cylinders and half were good while half required filing to make end gap meet workshop manual specs. Once calibrated to the bore the rings were fit to the pistons and the pistons were mounted to the connecting rods.

Measuring ring end gap.

Filing a ring to increase end gap. They were close but two needed slight adjustment. 

Pistons mounted, ready for ring compressors (so I thought) and cylinders.

Fitting the cylinders to the pistons is a straightforward procedure on my BSAs. I have a set of motorcycle ring compressors that work very well for this task. When I tried to use these on the Interceptor I found they did not compress small enough for the RE. No problem, they're not that far off so just make shims, right? Wrong. With the shims they would not fit between the cylinder bolts and I don't know how I would get them out if they did work. The bottom of the cylinders have a nice taper so I gave the old screw driver method a go and it worked well. I proceeded gingerly as I did not want to break a ring as this looks like it would be easy to do.  

My various methods to place the cylinders on the pistons without breaking the rings. Standard MC compressors, shims to make them fit the RE, a reversed zip tie, and my trusty screwdriver. Guess which one worked.....

The pushrod tunnels have aluminum rings around them which is not the way they left the factory. This is someone's attempt to eliminate oil leakage. It appears to have worked as the RE was relatively oil tight in this area and I left them in.  A rubber seal fits into a recess in the head and compresses them .04 in on these aluminum rings.  Non-hardening Aviation Permatex was used to seal things up. 

In this photo I am using an aluminum drift to re-install the "non-factory" sealing rings.

This is the first time I have encountered the Cross rings used in place of a head gasket. Cross rings are tapered rings that get pressed into a mating surface in the cylinder by the head. This setup replaces a conventional head gasket. I have read mixed reviews on them and was very careful torquing them down to keep things fitting properly. The torque value is rather low at 20 ft/lbs. I used two base gaskets to seal in oil and no compression plate which is an option used to lower the compression ratio. I have been using high-octane non-alcohol fuel which should make them unnecessary.

Cylinders mounted and Cross rings in place. 
Just add pushrods and bond to the sealing areas and it's ready for the head.

When I removed the heads there was no sealing compound found on the Cross rings although the manual directs its use. I reached out to my friends on the Yahoo Interceptor group and they recommended assembling the Cross rings with non-hardening Permatex, which I did.

Torquing the head to 20 ft/lb and making sure everything stays square by tightening in 25 in/lb  increments. 

The valves were adjusted using the new elephant foot adjusters. A good upgrade in my opinion although there is not much movement left for future valve adjustments. If I run out of room I will remove the heads and grind material off of the adjuster lock nuts. (I would have done so before installation if I thought this might be an issue)

The Interceptor's split cylinder design facilitates cooling but has the disadvantage of making a weaker engine assembly. Owners have devised methods to overcome the weakness which I have also included on my build. The head steady was strengthened with straps that tie the heads together. While not as strong as a one piece design it should improve the assembly and increase engine operating life.

The head reinforcement plates were made from 12 gauge steal and mount under the head steady. The head steady top mount hole's bottom end was lengthened to allow for the thickness of the plate while the top of the bracket cleared the frame as is.  

The top end installed and adjusted. Next it's on to cables and electrical.  

I'm currently reading Phil Irving's "Motorcycle Engineering". 
A great book for someone who enjoys learning the reason behind the design. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Engine Rebuild Part VI - Timing and Primary

Mounting the engine went well although devising a method that wouldn't damage my nice paint job required some thought. The process took about 20 minutes after I had a plan. Once the engine was in place it was time to install its components. Most parts had already been cleaned up or replaced as necessary.  I elected to start with the timing side.

A bit rusty but overall in pretty good shape.

One of the things I like about antique motorcycles is that they are mostly mechanical. I enjoy learning about mechanical designs I have not run into before and the Interceptor has provided a number of them. For example it uses a unique layout for its timing side.  The camshafts are mounted high and rather far apart with an offset pin idler sprocket to adjust chain tension. Turning the pin adjusts the chain tension. A rather clever assembly. The camshafts can be removed without splitting the cases which enables relatively quick changes if needed.

After inspecting everything I placed my final parts order (I hope) to RE specialist Hitchocks Motorcycles in Jolly O'l England. Time to button up the engine! 

The camshaft lobes and bearings measured minimal wear but the idler sprocket bushing was well worn and replaced. The exhaust cam timing end oil seal journal was a bit corroded but polished up well in a lathe. The cam sprockets were pulled to inspect the bearings and to check for corrosion. Although there was a bit of discoloration no issues were found.

The cam sprockets were removed to inspect bearings. All looked good. 

The idler sprocket bushing was worn and a new one was ordered. 
A clever design using an offset pin for adjustment. 

Assembled , three sprocket timing marks aligned, and ready for the cover. 

The oil pump is also a rather clever setup although an odd affair for a BSA guy. I rather like it and hope it works well. I have read that it does. So how does it work? The crank drives a worm geared shaft that has an offset pin in its end. This in turn drives a plunger residing within a pump body which pumps in both directions. It seems like a lot of moving parts for what it does. I bought the Interceptor for many reasons and its unique character is one of them. This is a great example of that character. 

The oil pump parts set. Note the "home made" lower oil seal retainer which is documented in a previous post:

The oil pump plunger and body. An interesting design. 


The timing side with its cover....waiting for points and condensers. 

Although the timing side appeared like it had not been apart, it was obvious the primary had been worked on over the Interceptor's life. The clutch plates had been replaced, one of the clutch bolts was new and the chain tensioner adjusting pad had been lengthened to possibly accommodate a stretched chain.

The Primary side "as found".

The RE clutch has a drum with bonded sections in its bottom. The plates had been renewed at some point but these sections were not and were soft. I scraped the old ones out and bonded new ones in place with an epoxy called JB Weld. This stuff is touted to work miracles if you read the package and is actually quite good. The bonded plates all measured close to new and the steel plates were flat. I renewed the springs while I had it apart. The chain appeared stretched and the nylon pad on the tensioner was deeply grooved.

While assembling the clutch basked a bolt broke off quite easily. My lovely redheaded assistant purchased me a set of left hand spade drills many years ago which made quick work of removing the broken bolt. One of these bolts was new and probably replaced one broken by a previous mechanic.  All three were  renewed before final assembly. A good note to take for future rebuilds.

Parts inspected, cleaned and new sections bonded into the clutch basket. 

Time for a new wear pad. 

Chiseling off the old rivets and installing a new wear surface on the tensioner shoe. 

Final drive assembled and the primary housing in place. 

Building up the clutch ....don't forget the retaining clip!
Although it is mentioned in the workshop manual I did not see it in the parts book. 

Primary components installed and ready for adjustment. Check out Don Morely's "Greabox Rebuild PT5 Clutch"  for tips on setting it up.

A recent read and a very good one. 
If you own an Interceptor you would enjoy Andrew Strait's "The Mighty Interceptor"  




Also.....The Hornet recently took 3rd in the Masters Class at the 35th Annual Battle of the Brits in Milford Michigan. It was another great show put on by the Metro Triumph Riders. Check the pics out on my Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/pg/Britishmotorcyclerestorations/photos/?tab=album&album_id=327478124381207







Monday, August 7, 2017

Engine Rebuild Part V - Engine Installation


Getting the power unit back in the frame was a milestone I was looking forward to achieving. The chassis was built up, the engine cases were together, and this was the next step in turning my parts pile back into a functioning motorcycle. I was a bit apprehensive about this step as I did not want to mess up my paint in the process.

Taking the engine out was pretty easy...no worries about scratching paint.

The RE engine and transmission is rather large and difficult to manage as an assembly. I wanted to minimize its weight and simplify the installation process.  I elected to leave off the primary, timing side, and top end to make it more manageable. It seemed like a common sense approach.

Setting up the engine to roll into place....attempt one...this alignment won't work....

Being a stressed member of the frame the Interceptor's engine could be loaded from the bottom or so I thought. This line of thinking ended quickly as I surveyed the parts in the way for this approach. I ended up putting it on a rolling RV jack with the trans end tilted up and positioned it between the mounts.  This seemed to be the best way to get a clear shot into the frame. The lower frame rails were spread slightly with a reversed wood clamp to facilitate entry of the rear transmission bracket. This meant the swing-arm had to be loosened and side stand had to come off to allow movement.

Opening up the frame slightly to facilitate installation of the rear mount. 

I chocked the front wheel in a "Pingle" mount, took off the side stand, slackened the swing-arm nuts and put in my clamp to open up the frame. Once the rear trans mount was installed the front bracket was put on to secure the engine. From there it was a matter of affixing all of the components. I was finally able to mount my new skid plate and oil cooler. Overall the approach worked well.

The engine front mounted and ready to fit all of the components. 


Engine installed...time to finish its assembly. 

Another sidetrack....replacing the steering arm on my F150. Ironically I drive an old truck so I can afford to work on old motorcycles. I am not overly excited about working on four wheeled vehicles these days.....   



Sunday, June 25, 2017

Engine Rebuild Part IV - Crankcase Assembly

The engine bits were rebuilt and ready for assembly. The cases were soda blasted, questionable threads had a die run in them, the crank was rebuilt, and new bits were ordered  from England. The cam bearings and lifters looked good so they were cleaned up and left as is.

The crankshaft ready for the drive side bearing to be installed. 

Once everything was cleaned and reconditioned the cases were heated in an oven and a new drive side bearing and timing side retainer were drifted in. The drive side case and bearing returned to the oven and were heated together to facilitate installation on the crankshaft. Per the manual I tightened the drive side roller bearing down using a spacer to hold its location when the cases were brought together. 

The drive side ball bearing in place.

 The crankshaft fit into the drive side bearing and a spacer holding things in location. 


The timing side roller bearing outer surface staked into place.

The engine case was propped up on blocks with the timing side up. The roller bearing was heated and installed with 1/8 shims between its bottom and the crank cheeks to maintain a 1/16 spacing from the journal outer end. This spacing is called out in the manual and was measured before the old bearing was removed.

Timing side roller bearing in place. 

An oil cooler and skid plate were options for '69  and I am putting them on my Interceptor. The oil cooler came with longer bolts to accommodate its brackets but not the width of the skid plate. I also missed on the rear engine mount as it requires a longer bolt for fitment of the skid plate. Back to the RE parts store for more bits. I find many parts added to a build need to be fit. The skid plate was no exception as its bolt holes were off by 1/4 inch. The rear brackets were bent to get things close and the holes were opened up. The front holes had to be elongated by 1/16 of an inch to put things right. It lost a lot of paint in the process and was refinished. Another lesson relearned. 

Checking to see if all the holes line up and finding they do not. Brackets bent, holes opened up a bit, items repainted and on we go.....  

"Honda Bond"  was applied to the drive side case and the assembly was bolted together. The hardware was tightened down and excess sealer was removed. The Honda Bond seals well and is grey in color which I like. 

Bolted together.......


The transmission installed and the whole unit prepared to go in the frame.

Now that the engine cases are together it can go back where it belongs. All of the pieces have been refurbished or replaced with a few exceptions. Top end assembly should be pretty straightforward...so the thinking goes. 

Out of the archives.....Dad was building Chevy's in '55. 
#baseballhotdogsapplepieandchevrolet 





Tuesday, June 13, 2017

2017 Gilmore Car Museum Vintage Motorcycle Show

The Gilmore Car Museum Vintage Motorcycle show is one of the largest of its kind in the region. It is hosted by the Wolverine chapter of the AMCA, the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club, and the Battle Creek BMW owners club. All great organizations that do a nice job with the show. The great thing about this event is for the price of admission you also get access to the automobile museum which is one of the finest in the country.


The show has something for everyone; a swap meet, a judged "Masters Class" and categories for "Exhibitor's Choice" awards. My Hornet was entered in the "Masters Class" while the 1970 BSA lighting was in the "Exhibitor's Choice" area. The Lightning highlighted its upgraded electrics featured on this blog. While there is a lot of interest in this topic I find some purist quite put off by modern electrics. I think there is a place for each and will continue to embrace both. My Interceptor will be true to the core and retain its points, Zener diode, and rectifier while my daily riders will be upgraded. To each his own.

Lined up for judging with a mostly original 1913 Indian twin in front. 

The 1970 Lightning set up and ready to go.

My brochure showing what's under the Lightning's covers. 

Backing up a bit...... the Sunday show is preceded by a Saturday ride through the country surrounding Hickory Corners Michigan, which is the show's location. This is an area with many lakes traversing  nice farmland. The ride features the twisty roads us motorcyclists like to explore. There are slow groups and fast groups consisting of about 20 bikes each which are led by AMCA members. A great ride to partake in if the opportunity presents itself.

Nice country for a motorcyclist. 

The Lightning barely made it to the end of the ride last year due to electrical issues. I didn't want to repeat that performance at this year's event or anywhere else for that matter. During the past winter I upgraded the BSA electrical components to make it a solid rider. My effort paid off with an uneventful ride from a maintenance standpoint. I hope this holds up throughout the season. A couple of pics from the ride follow.

A 1964 Ducati. Check out the tank...a work of art. 

A 1955 Triumph Canadian Military motorcycle. The flat head twin ran quite well.

Now back to the show....once again it was one to remember. The weather was sunny and 90 degrees F with a bit of wind to cool things down. The swap meet was quite large this year and I was able to bring home a Lucas 679 tail light lens for the Interceptor. It needs to be polished out but has no cracks. Score! The Japanese and custom classes continue to grow as a new generations of enthusiasts enter the scene. There were a great number of bikes to check out no matter what marque you prefer.

One of several very large and packed parking lots. 

A sizable main show area - people's choice contenders. 

A fine line of machines. A Craig Vetter Mystery Ship, A Triumph Hurricane, a Gold Star, a Norton Production Racer Replica, a Kawasaki Z-1 Turbo, and a John Player Norton. Wow!

A 1950's BMW factory racer and one of twenty four made. 

A '63 Bonneville in the Masters Class. Don Hutchinson Cycle's last retail paint job and a fine one at that. The Bonneville was built and shown by Jack Pine Cycle.

A fine looking JPS Triumph in the Custom Bike Class. 

One of my favorites. A 1946 Indian Chief  in my preferred color.

Masters Class judges giving the bikes a once over. 

The detail work I completed last winter paid off as I took home 1st in the Masters Class. I will give the Interceptor a go here next year if all goes well this winter.   

Another side track.....At a previous swap meet I found a new tire to replace the Norton's rear which had about worn through its rain grooves. This should have been an uneventful early Sunday morning job but was not. The axle was a bugger to get out requiring me to fasten a puller and slide hammer for its removal. It was rusted in between the drum and wheel bearings.

Pulling the Norton axle with a slide hammer. 

Out...lets remove the grease and see what we have. 

Although it was greased when installed there was rust between the wheel and brake drum which had to be pulled through the wheel. 

The cush drive buffers were rough too. 

Cleaned up and ready to go. 

With all of the bonking the bearings will need to be replaced at some point. The chain and sprockets are also in need of attention soon but will make it another 500 miles or so along with the bearings. It's all back together, it's summer and time to ride.

All cleaned up and back together with a new tire and buffers. Lets go riding!