Thursday, May 17, 2018

Interceptor - Final Tuning & First Ride

It's been three years in the making but I was finally able to take the Interceptor for a spin. After all of the work I have put into it, tackling many mechanical features new to me, I was hoping everything was assembled correctly and I would have an enjoyable first ride. I had it running briefly during the winter months and was confident there were no significant issues to confront in the spring. Hopefully final tuning would be enough to put me on the road.

By mid April I should have taken my first ride on the Interceptor. 
Instead we had 1/2 inch of ice and sleet..... 

The fuel tank is a  Ross Thompson restoration and looks great as you would expect from him. It was flushed before installation and a small amount of fuel was left in it overnight to ensure my restored petrol taps didn't leak. A small leak around one's base was remedied but the taps seals held up. While the tank was off I installed the air filter, fit the battery, tidied up the wires, and placed the cover over the electrics. Fitting the rear section and installing the tank finished up the process and it was outside for startup. Time to tickle the carbs, turn on the juice, and give it a boot.....

New petcock sealing washers from Hitchocks'.  These things work great! 

The tank was flushed and a small amount of fuel was left in overnight to check the tap seals. Installing the rear tank mount was a bit of a bugger.  

After fitting the air filter it was on to the battery box. Unfortunately it was then that I realized there was not enough room to install the battery cover so off came the air filter. 

Although initial timing was set statically, final ignition tuning of the Interceptor was completed dynamically with a strobe light. Each points unit was set to align the timing marks at 3000 RPM per the manual. I thought I had them pretty good statically but they were quite advanced when checked with the strobe. Once the timing was adjusted it was on to the carburetor. Preliminary adjustments put me pretty close and only fine tuning was needed. The pilot and idle screws were set and readjusted once the engine was warmed up from a short ride. The "drill bit" method put me within a couple of turns for the idle screws. The Interceptor starts easy, idles smoothly, and has a fine running power unit. The reproduction glass packs sound great although my neighbors may disagree.....

Final setting of the timing with my trusty old "Suntune" strobe. 

There were a few bugs to work out as with most major overhauls I have undertaken. The battery mount I had devised and its cover had to be re-engineered as the mounting base material was too soft and the whole unit shook quite severely.  There were leaks around the oil filter, primary cover, and tachometer drive unit which mostly disappeared when torqued down a bit. Although I am sure other bugs will work themselves out after riding it a bit, the RE is off to a good start.

The Interceptor ran quite well after final tuning.

As found before restoration......

What were my "first ride" impressions of the Interceptor? I was not disappointed as the bike ran through the rev range as it should and the Albion went through the gears in what I assume is its factory "heavy" shifting. I may have a bit of adjusting to do on it but I have to admit I like the neutral finder. It appears that I had done things correctly as it goes straight down the road and handles fine in the curves. I feel no discernible vibration or grabbing from the clutch and it seems to function well. The front brake was a bit weak but adjustment at the brake end of the cable put it right. The rear pedal also required tightening a bit to get its stopper working well too. 

I am used to riding BSA's and Norton's with little experience on anything else from the early 70's. Those machines both have their own unique feel. The BSA with its nimble steering and the Commando with slower and steady characteristics. The Interceptor fit closer to the Norton than the BSA. I think the wider front tire made it a bit heavier feeling in the turns but it does seem to respond to commands reasonably well. The Albion takes a deliberate effort to shift. The long lever and large gears contribute to this feeling I believe. Not a bad thing just different than the BSA's short lever length and the Norton's custom rear-sets, or "awkward for me" Norton factory arrangement.

The Albion is a different experience for a BSA & Norton guy but it works well. 

The bars, as I expected, gave the RE a different feel than I am used to on the highway. Their off-road design made me catch more wind than normal at speeds over 60 MPH which is faster than I normally ride anyway. The Interceptor has more of a dirt bike than a standard street bike stance. A unique feeling for a road going machine. The seating position is typical sit up British style which I like. Overall an enjoyable and exciting machine to ride.

The bars provide a unique feel for a road bike. They should work well for the short trips I take although I can't help but wonder what a "home market" setup would be like. 

So what worked well?  The Hagon shocks are a nice replacement and I will use them again. I have purchased cheaper units in the past and have not been happy with them. The oil cooler is a good addition although I have not tested it yet as it is pretty cool here this time of year. One improvement I have made on all of my bikes is to increase the gearing for reduced RPM at higher speeds. This was accomplished by adding a one tooth larger counter-shaft sprocket. This provides 3200 RPM at 60 MPH which is the speed I cruise on secondary roads. Acceleration is still good even with the higher gearing. The RE handles 70 mph well. This is the speed needed for our primary highways which I must ride on from time to time. The Norton has no problem running 70-80 MPH while the BSA will do 70 MPH but feels like parts are on the verge of shaking off. The RE a bit South of the Norton.

Old and new counter-shaft sprockets for comparison. 
I like adding a tooth to increase the gearing  for secondary road speeds. 

The engine on the Interceptor is impressive to me. It has good power from low down and engine vibration is not too bad. I assume this is due to its long stroke configuration and the dynamically balanced crankshaft. A very smooth system especially for its era. I look forward to putting many more miles on it in the years to come.

My first run with the Interceptor...I confidently declare initial success....cautiously.

My plan for the Interceptor was to take it back to its original configuration and show it for a year or so. I stuck to this plan quite closely. After taking it to shows this summer I will make several upgrades that are working well on my other bikes. A Trispark ignition with 6V coils, LED lights, and solid state electrical components for starters. The clutch may get a bit of attention too.

The Street tracker look has always appealed to me and I will probably leave the tank and bars alone although I am tempted to install home market bits if I can find them. The European configuration looks like a more enjoyable setup to ride and I like their styling.

Royal Enfield employee Marlene is seen here on a UK Market Series II Interceptor.

I have thoroughly enjoyed getting the Interceptor back to its factory new condition. I have always obtained satisfaction from bringing things back to life. Whether its grandpa's antique lantern, grandma's washing machine engine, or a barn find BSA, I have enjoyed them all. On to the next......

Tuned up and ready to roll up some miles....

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Final Assembly - Bits & Bobs PT II

The mechanical work to the Interceptor's drive train has been finished. The carbs were primed and it was started for a short time to make sure everything was ready for its final tuning in the spring. I cannot run it for any length of time in my shop as it is attached to the house and fumes work their way into the living space. Here is the sorting out of the final bits.
Tuning the carbs....setting sync in this pic using .187 drill bits. 
Following John Healy's Amal carb tuning guide. Thanks John!

 I am grateful to find an air filter which was an option in '69  but it did need a bit of repair. In this pic I have filled voids in the glass with black epoxy and worked the mounting holes to fit the carbs. Assembly on the carbs was a bit of a job and makes me appreciate the velocity stacks. 

Voids filled, edges painted and ready for assembly. 

The fuel taps were taken apart, cleaned in my ultrasonic cleaner, and the flippers were re-chromed. They came out looking like new. Let's see if  the new o-rings hold fuel in. 

Time to make fuel lines but first I need a crimping tool. The Interceptor fuel lines were a bit larger than my BSA lines requiring a new tool. A fun project. 

Finished and ready to go. 

Putting my new crimping tool to the test.....

The lines came from Hitchocks with crimped fittings on the tap connections but screw clamps elsewhere. I added crimped ends all around. 

After searching for original handlebars for three years a pair came up on eBay and I decided I would pay whatever crazy money necessary for them....and I did. That was only the start as they needed to be refinished. Chroming a set of handle bars with a cross bar takes a lot of labor and cost about double my crazy eBay purchase price. It also took several trips to the chrome plater and several months to match results with my expectations. That being said I am happy with the final finish. Although the "Made in England" reproductions were very nice they were two inches narrower than stock and the cross bar was way to big. Why spend all of the time and money on a restoration to miss on such a prominent part?  I will feel better about this in a couple of years when I forget how much it cost. I still have heartburn over the price of Lucas reflectors and have not yet popped for them as they are less obvious parts.

My eBay find. An original set of MKII bars.....a bit rusty but not pitted. 

Back from the chrome overpriced eBay find OEM bars.

Reproduction (bottom) and re-chromed original bars. Although the reproduction bars are very good and the bend is the same, there are obvious differences that would jump out at an Interceptor owner.

Heating up the foot-peg rubbers in my lovely redheaded assistant's oven so they will fit over the pegs. She really should read this blog to find out what I am up to while she is away. Let's not even bring up the dishwasher and my aluminum engine parts.....

Precision measurement of fork oil.  
We had to many mixing cups in the kitchen anyway....

The exhaust system went on after the foot-pegs. Pipes are original and coated internally with high temp header paint while the mufflers were rusted beyond repair and replaced. 

The seat and rear fender assembly fit and lights working. An original Lucas lens was purchased and polished to look as new. The OEM grab rail will be installed after the RE is finished as it appears difficult to work with. 

The upper front fender bolts were missing as someone had taken the brace off for another project. The ones I have seen on original machines have dome heads which I could not find. I put flat ones on but after looking at them for several months I decided to make the correct ones. One less thing to distract from originality. One more trip to the Cadmium plater. One more cost over run. Anyway, I think it's going to be a blast to ride and a novelty item at the regional shows. Let's do it right.

New screws with heads being machined to dimensions of the originals. 
Off to plating they go... 

Final checking of all bits - tighten, align, and confirm I did everything right before starting in the spring and final tuning. The air cleaner and grab rail will be added later. 

On to the next.....Now that I have finished Phil Irving's "Motorcycle Engineering" it's on to another of his classics. I am sure "Tuning for Speed" will be great too. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Starting it Up

Now its time to be excited and a little bit nervous. Although there is a lot of finish work to do on the Interceptor it can be started to verify the engine work was done correctly. All of the work of the past three years is about to be tested. Do I have the camshafts timed right? Do the Cross rings seal? Did I setup the points right? Did I put the cases together in a manner that holds oil? I sure hope so and its time to find out. Let's put in the oil and figure out how to get it pumping to all of the right places before starting it up.

A progressive lubrication system for its day; dual pressure, wet sump, and an oil cooler (not shown), although it was fed by a plunger oil pump design. It seems to work well. 

I elected to fill the Albion with Valvoline full synthetic 75W-90 weight oil which has worked well in my other British bikes and is close to the 50W motor oil recommended in the manual. The Albion held oil which was a relief.

The point of leaks I expected the most were in the gear box. None yet although the real test will come when it's on the road. I'm filling the oil filter cavity in this pic. 

The Interceptor's lubrication system is different than any I have worked with in the past. Dual oil feeds and pressure relief valves, an oil filter, and a cooler. I filled the engine with 20W-50 Valvoline conventional motorcycle oil. Oil was poured in the valve oil returns to let it drain down on the cams and I filled the sump until it was at the dipstick high mark. I also used a syringe to pump oil through the oil cooler feed line until it came out of the return line. It took a surprising amount of oil and made a mess in the process. Finally I filled up the oil filter pocket. Next I kicked the engine over until oil came out the filter bleeder hole. I loosened a rocker feed bolt but never got oil out of it although I kicked way past my physical endurance. I even put the bike into 4th gear and spun the wheel a while. Still no results.
Syringes were used for oil system priming. I cut the end of one to fit over the oil cooler intake fitting. Although it made a bit of a mess I was able to get oil out of the return line. 

When the bleeder screw was removed oil came out which is a good thing. No such luck with the rocker oil feed bolts. I also had a bit of a leak from one pressure relief valve.

Filling the engine sump and the primary case.....

It's early morning and I am ready to go. Better wait until folks wake up to give it a kick or I will not be very popular around here...... 

My shop is attached to my house and the fumes bleed into the living space so it's a bad place to run bikes. A snow filled back yard make it impractical to take anywhere to run....time to exercise patience.....With that being said I still need to know that I have things close enough for final tuning in the spring... it's time to put gas in the fuel lines, tickle the carbs and see if it will start. After about 3-4 kicks it fired up but ran rough. I shut it off and checked the rocker feed oil lines which now had oil in them which was good to see. Next I went back and rechecked the timing. It was retarded about 5 degrees which I corrected. I am not sure if something moved or more than likely I had it setup wrong to start with. I also may have flooded the engine by pushing to much fuel into the carbs with my syringes. Adjustments made and on to the second attempt. 
Once again I called on the syringes to prime the fuel system. I pushed fuel in until it came out the ticklers when they were pressed. 

With the timing readjusted and a bit less fuel pushed into the carbs the Interceptor started up on the 2nd kick and ran well. It seems to be oil tight and no unwanted mechanical noise can be heard. This will do until I can get it outside in the spring, properly warm it up, and fine tune the carbs and timing. It smoked a bit which can be expected until the rings seat and the assembly oil burns off of the cylinders. A compression check showed 125 lbs on each cylinder. Not a bad starting point I think.

One thing I was fearing was oil leaks. The only one I found was from the top end oil pressure relief valve.  I tightened it down a bit but it still leaked. I added Aviation Permatex to the sealing washer and we will give that a go. I know more opportunities for leaks will arise when I get it on the road but for now I am quite pleased with the results. It's time to finish up bits and bobs until I can get it on the road in the spring......its -6 Deg F here this morning...cold even for this part of the country.

Check out the Interceptor's start up video on my Facebook Page - link below.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Electrical Part II

So it's been a year getting to the assembly phase of my wiring project. Things were refurbished or replaced and put on a shelf until the rest of the build caught up. Now that most of the mechanical bits are installed electrical pieces can follow. Bits ready to go, shop manual open to the wiring diagram, pics called up on the PC and the old harness laid out as a guide. Here we go....

My intention with the Interceptor is to recapture the form in which it left the factory. While I have had great luck with Trispark ignitions and coils I am keeping the original Lucas system on the RE as I want to experience the bike with its original character. I have not setup points in a few years and am looking forward to working with them again. If I decide to go Trispark at a later date it's easy to swap the system out. So on to rebuilding Mr. Lucas......
Original components ready to be reconditioned.

A new harness was purchased from England and looks close to the original that came off the RE. Most original Lucas bits are being reused until they give me trouble. They will all be checked after the bike is started as this is the easiest way I know how to inspect them. The RE ran well before I disassembled it. New condensers were purchased while the original points look good and will be reused. The plug wires were a bit stained but cleaned up and should work fine as they are copper cored.

Original parts cleaned up, inspected and ready to go. 

The headlight washed out and connectors cleaned. 

A new UK made wiring harness and the quality is great. Insulation on the old one was brittle requiring a replacement. There are a few differences from the original but overall a pretty good match. 

The electrical panel being lined up with the battery box tray and tightened down. It was a bit wonky when I took it out. I straightened it before painting but it still required a bit of tweaking to fit. Par for the coarse so I have found. 

Sorting the new electrical panel connections. 

Hmm....a few extra wires and not all connectors match up to my electrical components. The old harness was labeled as bits were removed to help with installation. A good idea since electrical is not my strong point. 

Scraping the ground points bare and checking continuity engine to frame. The same treatment was given to the Zener diode mounts. All zeros on the multi-meter engine to frame.

The lights and horn work with a battery....on to the ignition system. 

The points unit getting ready for an update.

Cleaned up and ready to go with new condensers. 

I have not worked with points in a while and this was a chance to get reacquainted with them. I followed the factory workshop manual's instructions in conjunction with a multi-meter to get things setup. I will fine tune the timing with a strobe once the RE is running.

Sorting out the points. Fitting from scratch requires a bit of  re-learning. 

Timing marks lined up with RH cylinder on the compression stroke. The marks have been filled in with paint to make them more visible with a strobe light. 

Tools used to setup the points & advance unit. 

 A special fixing washer is used to hold the advance unit in full advance position while timing is statically set. It will be checked with a strobe light later.

Everything went together well and appears to function properly. The spark is good, the lights all work, and the horn makes a proper blast. On to the fuel system and final bits. 

Snow's here and the bikes are officially locked in for the winter. It will be a while until I can take the RE for a ride but I will have to start it once it's together.