The first restoration I did on my Firebird was done without much of a plan and knowledge. Since then I have learned a lot about the operation of British bikes and have a better idea of what I should do verses hiring out. As a starting point I looked for an original spares manual, but could not find one. I settled on a reprint for 1967. I purchased this from British Only in Garden City, Michigan. Shortly after purchasing this I found a set of BSA manuals on CD in PDF format. Awesome! I would recommend purchasing a set of “Kim the CD man’s” manuals. I bought mine from British Cycle Supply Company in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. They also have US operations. Although I buy parts from many sources I find these guys very good to work with. I have been buying parts from them for 25 plus years. Before taking anything apart, and while dissembling everything, I took a lot of pictures. Thank god for digital cameras. I am not sure how much value some of these pictures will be since the bike was so messed up, but at least I have a reference point to start with.
It didn’t take me long to figure out how much was wrong with the Hornet and what it would cost to get it back together correctly. Most of the hardware had been replaced with UNC course thread bolts or had been rounded off by using the wrong wrenches or screwdrivers. The front forks had been cut off, shortened, and welded back together. Why? If you cut off your fork lowers and your damper rods are too long how do account for this? It looks like a great solution is to cut them off and use door springs to keep the forks from coming apart when you do a wheelie. I’m not making this up. Check out the picture below. I will ask the guy I bought this from why he made these changes when I run into him again. He also liked lug nuts. What do you do if the brake rod nut strips out? Weld a bolt on and use a lug nut to achieve the correct spacing. What is easier than replacing a stretched primary chain? Weld a lug nut to the adjusting bolt. No kidding. It actually works, but is not good for the long term life of the bike. Valve adjustments appear to be a waste of time too but that is for a later posting. You have to give the guy credit though, he kept it running well after most would have given up on it. At the time he made these modifications it had no collector value.
Before breaking down the bike I had to clean it up. It had been run through clay which was baked on to everything. I tried power washing with minimal success. Simple green didn't touch anything and neither did engine de-greaser. I put on rubber gloves and scrubbed it down with gasoline. I ruined the gloves and the brush in the process, but it came out relatively clean. When all of the baked on clay was off I went back to simple green, it still didn't work, and engine cleaner, which did. Components were cleaned off in a tub of kerosene, which worked quite well. Below are pictures from my tear down.
Baked on clay. Nothing but gas would touch this stuff.
Check out he lug-nut spacer for the brake.
UNC castle nut was threaded on the rear brake pedal pivot.
Creative use of old nuts for clutch spacers.
Who needs two of the same shocks when they are on opposite sides?
If you put on a bigger tire just cut and re-bend everything until it fits.
The fork legs were cut off and welded back together.
Creative use of screen door springs in place of damper rods.
No ferrules? Electrical tape appears to work just fine.