Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Chrome Plating - PT II

The first batch of Interceptor parts I received from Atlas Chrome Plating in Houston Texas looked very good. I sent them the rest of my parts this fall hoping to have them back for Christmas so I could build my wheels and rivet the front fender back together during my break from work. Everything was returned the week before Christmas and looked great. I love it when a plan comes together.....

The first job I sent Atlas was finished to their "OEM" spec and looked good. When my latest project was sent I opted for their "show" finish as the price was not prohibitive to do so. The fenders, chain guard, headlight bucket and rims will be focal points for the RE. I wanted them to be good ones.

The original front fender.....complete with dents.  
They were removed before the fender was sent for plating. 

A pic of the fender where dents once resided.....the show chrome finish is very good. 

The batch as sent to Atlas for plating.

The batch as received from Atlas. Nice!

The trade mark mostly survived the process but is a bit washed out. 
A blend of keeping the trademark Vs eliminating pits had to be made. 

The smaller parts look fine too.

Overall I am very pleased with Atlas' work and am glad I went the "show chrome" finish route for this batch. I will use it from here on out for most things. I am not sure if it contributed to the wash out of my lettering on the rims and will need to check on this. If so I may go OEM finish for the wheels next time. Thoughts to ponder.

Although I had not planned to re-chrome the pipes I had a change of heart and am sending them to Atlas. The left pipe had several small dents, mostly difficult to see, but I fixed them as I know they would bother me. Since they were quite a way down the tube and not very deep I tig welded them up and filed them smooth. The right pipe had some rust but no dents. Both pipes should look good as new when plated.

Dents getting filled. 

 Benched and ready for plating

Now it's time to finish up the BSA repairs I am midway through. I will also build the Interceptor wheels and rivet its front fender back together. I have never done the riveting before. It does not look like a difficult job for an old tool and die maker to tackle. More to follow.....

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Summer of '16 - Life with the Norton and BSA plus Bits & Bobs

The past summer was hectic and gone before I knew it. During the past winter I worked to fix an oil leak on the Norton  and de-coked the BSA Lightning in an attempt to eliminate spark knock. I entered the riding season confident that I would have a couple of excellent riders and efforts to keep them going would be minimal. My optimism did not last long as both bikes started the year with problems which took significant time to put right.

The Norton oil leak, detailed on my Norton page, was mostly cured with the addition of an XS 650 breather valve early in the spring. By the end of the summer it was spitting a bit of oil again from the front of the head which means I have more work to do although it is not poring out as it was previous to the XS breather addition. After riding it a number of years it also needs additional attention; new tires, isolastics adjustment, clutch inspection and cleaning, etc. All good winter projects. 

The Commando oil leak mostly fixed but still leaking a bit. Before the breather it shined my boots on each ride. I am not sure I can stop it completely without a new head.

The BSA has been through an entire summer of trouble shooting and the situation has been a significant learning experience for me which is detailed on my 1970 BSA lightning page. I have found frayed bullet connectors shorting on the frame, a bad electronic ignition module, replaced worn carbs with re-sleeved units, put in the correct 6V coils to match the ignition module, installed new copper core wires with 5K ohm caps, and added a Lucas high output alternator and a Podtronics unit. I will put some miles on it and see how it holds up. The carbs still need a bit of tuning. 

I have always used suppression plugs with OEM caps and wires. When my troubles started in the spring I replaced the 12V OEM units with 6V Lucas coils and installed new wires with suppression caps. The spark is significantly improved and starting is much easier.

One upgrade worth noting was the addition of  a Sparx box , which was later replaced with a Podtronics unit. I think the BSA ills are finally cured. The Sparx unit did not handle the current from my high output Lucas alternator and responded with an explosion as loud as an M80 (my cooling setup was poor too). My son in-law was riding the bike at the time and I was slightly ahead of him when the bike let out a blast and went completely dead. He was passing a couple of horses and this must have startled them although I did not see them misbehave. This disruption culminated in the BSA’s second truck ride home for the season and a drive of shame past my Harley driving neighbor. Luckily he has been a “Big Dog” owner and suffered a similar humiliation in front of his friends. He was a bit sympathetic as a result. Another “Hot Rod Driving” neighbor had no such reservations and was in my driveway before I had the BSA unloaded. He teased me with an offer of $200 to take the non-running BSA off my hands which I promptly declined.

Prepping for the "Ride of Shame" through the neighborhood. My wife took about a dozen pictures and videos. Quite amusing to her I guess

The poor little Sparx box did not like the Lucas alternator. I am told the larger Podtronics unit should hold up well.  

The Podtronics unit is much larger than the previous unit and should be up to the task of handling the high output alternator.
The new unit mounted on a heat sync which should greatly reduce its chance of turning into a small bomb. I will also put heat sync paste between the unit and sync to facilitate cooling. Poor cooling could have been an issue with the Sparx unit so I will take part if not all of the blame for its premature demise. 

Even though its running good the BSA will need more work this winter. The clutch plates must be renewed, the chain and sprockets will be replaced and a 21 T counter shaft sprocket will be used to reduce RPM’s at highway speed – 55 MPH or so. The primary case chain oiler will be plugged and I am debating going back to 30W oil in the primary. The ATF leaks from many places and I do not know how to stop this without gasket sealer that will bond the cover to the machine. Tips from anyone?

ATF leaking from screw and plug holes. I guess you know oil circulates well when it comes out screw holes at the top of the case. 

I am planning to strip and replace the wiring to finish what I have started. My hope is to have a battery free bike which should be possible with the components I have assembled. It starts and runs alright now without a battery but does not seem to generate enough power at idle. Lost voltage due to old wiring? We will see. The rear fender has cracked which will need to be TIG welded. This BSA is a rider so paint or a sticker will cover the repair. If I am ambitious I will take apart the steering head, which is a bit sticky, and add tapered roller bearings which have been a nice upgrade on my Hornet.

Time to remove and repair this crack as it is growing. I am looking for a good sticker to cover the weld. Suggestions?

My daughter was married this spring and her friend, who was an English exchange student with our family, brought her father to the wedding. Him and I have traded history books for years and we share many common interests. He stayed on for a bit after the wedding and he enjoyed riding the BSA and Norton. A vintage Triumph Bonneville owner himself he was at home on one these machines that shift on the right. Aware of the problems I had been having with the bikes (luckily not occurring when he was here) he told everyone that I had to bring him over as a consultant from England to get things sorted out. I enjoy that English sense of humor. 
Heading out for a ride with my "English Motorcycle Consultant”. We had a great time on the bikes although he found it distressing to ride on the “Right” side of the road.

My English friend is as much of an aircraft guy as I am a bike guy so a trip to the Dayton Ohio "National Museum of the United States Air Force" was in order. This is the “Barber Museum” for airplanes and a wonderful place to spend at least a day. You need to go there. 

A paratrooper's best friend complete with a cart. I knew I would find something on two wheels if I looked hard enough. 

My wife is a redhead….she expects me to do things like this……I told her I was writing a letter of protest to the museum to get the plane’s name changed.

My second favorite plane was “Fiery Ginger”. I think my wife is alright with that name.

The RE Interceptor has not progressed much this summer although I have inventoried parts that I need and ordered about half of them. Most of the chrome has been sent to Atlas plating. I will rebuild the engine and wheels this winter after the Norton & BSA are ready for next summer.

Parts heading to Atlas.  

The current state of the Interceptor. Wheels are the next step followed by the engine. 

My final fall ride, and the only one of any distance this year, was to FSU in Big Rapids where my old “Tool & Die” buddies and I went to school. It was our annual pilgrimage for a Schuberger and as always well worth the trip. The new Hagon shock on the '96 Trophy performed well and the weather cooperated for the most part. Time to take care of fall chores and get things ready for snow.

A picture of me at Schuberg’s in about 1984. It looks the same today and the burgers are still great

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

2016 Gilmore Car Museum Motorcycle Show

Last year I took the 67 BSA Hornet to the Gilmore show although it was not up and running. I was planning to place it in the infield and get feedback from people at the show. A judge requested that I move it to the "Master's Class" which I did as the weather was horrible and entry in the class was low. I received a lot of feedback which I used to improve the Hornet during the following year.

Great weather and a strong showing of bikes. 
Attendance is growing fast for this event.

This year I also attended the Gilmore vintage bike ride which was held the day before the show. It was well planned and covered 70 miles of the nicest roads Michigan has to offer. Great job Wolverine Chapter of the AMCA!  I rode my 1970 BSA Lightning which I had been "trouble shooting" all spring. A new battery and coils seemed to fix my problem,although half way through the ride it started missing at low RPMs. A problem I am still working out. Anyway, I finished the ride and did not have to suffer the humiliation of being the only bike to be hauled home.

Lunch at the halfway point of the ride. The BSA ran great up to this stop but not so well after sitting in the 88 deg F temperature.  Problem finally solved...i think. An overview is on my "70 Lightning page"  

This year I was ready for the show. The Hornet ran great and many upgrades were made; cables taken to the correct length, proper wire ties added, correct foot peg rubbers installed, misc. hardware CAD plated, oil and gas leaks fixed, etc.

The judges giving it the "once over" in this pic. 
The Zundapp on the left with the sidecar stole the class. A real beauty.  

Some of the competition in the "Master's Class" and a great looking lot. 
The Black Shadow won "Best of Show".

An old Zudapp on the infield with a newer Honda(?) motor. Unique and well done. 

Awesome board track racer replica which was displayed in the "Custom Class" Great workmanship, a custom made frame and tank - with hand stitched leather! Driven around the infield by crusty old board track champ "Rusty Balz". 

The weather was excellent and the turnout was impressive. When I saw the quality of the bikes in the Master's Class I was just happy to be considered eligible to be among them. A Vincent Black Shadow, Triumph Hurricane, John Player Norton, 1948 Triumph Tiger and a beautiful 1969 Triumph TR6 Trophy were competing entries. There were also several nice BMW's which ran like watches. The class winner was a 1954 Zundapp KS601 with a sidecar. I took one of two Gilmore awards in my class to place in the top three. The Black Shadow won "Best of Show" and it was well deserved.  I am pleased that my BSA can compete with the other classics and it provides motivation to continue with the Series II Interceptor restoration (not that I need any prodding).

A few post show pics follow.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Chrome & Nickel Plating - PT I

The RE needs to have much of its chrome re-plated as well as nickel for the spoke nipples which I have not sourced in the past. I decided to try Atlas Plating in Houston Texas for this batch of parts. Atlas has two levels of chrome, street and show. Their site does a good job explaining the differences between the two levels. The steel for my parts was in good shape so I selected their "Street" finish. I have found other sources also use similar standards and processes.

The before photo........

The after photo.......

Atlas' price was what I would expect, timing was good, and the quality meets my expectations. I sourced their "Street" level finish. It uses no copper plating below the nickel and chrome. My parts were not pitted so I thought this would work well and it appears to have done so. I will reassess this for my remaining work. You will find Atlas on my supplier list page. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Electrical Part I

So I thought I would be riding old bikes by now and putting things up for the summer but that is not the case. It has been cool and rainy for the last week or so giving me a chance to get a bit more done on the Interceptor. Rain is not necessarily a bad thing here as it washes off the salt and sand applied to the roads during our snowy and icy winters. Anyway it's time to sort electrics.

Although it had been sitting in a small storage shed for many years the Interceptor fired up and ran well once a battery was installed. It idled well, the lights and horn worked fine. The system was typical of one 40 plus years old. the connectors were all yellow and a bit corroded, the casings were cracked and the cloth harness was soiled beyond cleaning. Although it was tired many components were still serviceable with a little help.

A video of the Interceptor running when I purchased it....thought it was a '70 at the time but it's really a '69 titled as a '70.

Typical of old wiring, dirty and a bit corroded. 

I won't be using these....

The first order of business was to take many photos. Although I have a wiring diagram and read them alright there is no substitute for pictures. Once everything was documented components were removed and put on the bench to take inventory. Things that could be cleaned and saved were put on the shelf to do so while bits beyond repair, such as the main harness and the turn signals, were set aside. As usual missing components were added to my buy list.

More additions to the parts list.

The electrical system ready for assessment and repair.

I am familiar with plastic polishing from my work in the prototype industry and the efforts on my BSA Hornet. I used 3M "Perfect It" it polish for all of the plastic switches and small harness pieces I could save. The amp meter was cloudy but returned to its original finish with "Novus" polish. This polish is used for wind visors and helicopter windshields. It worked well and the gauge was made usable again.

Before, a bit cloudy and nicked up. 

Polished and looking like new again. Let's hope it works as good as it looks. 

Novus polish is made for windscreens and works well on hard plastics. 

I have found that Lucas headlights get dirty inside and yellow with age. This causes light output to be yellowish as well. Windex outdoor window cleaner works well to bring back the shine. I put a diluted solution inside the lamp, about a 50/50 mix, and shake it well. Rinsing thoroughly gets the soap out. Sitting the unit to drain from the pilot hole stops water spots from forming. This soap is formulated to minimize water spots and it lives up to its claim. (I also use it on the exterior house windows when my wife makes me.)

Ready to "Windex" the headlight. This one is not to bad. I have seen much worse. 

Cleaned and ready to reinstall. 

The bullet connectors also clean out well when worked with a brass brush. I use a .177 caliber brass bristle brush used for gun cleaning. I coat the connectors with dielectric grease to keep corrosion from coming back.

The Zener diode and rectifier were in good condition but needed to be touched up. Paint, rubbing compound, and polish did the trick and they are ready to go.

The Lucas brake switch re-plated, cleaned up and reassembled. 

Plug caps and switches before polishing. They were a bit oxidized. 

Polished and ready to go.....

Electrical components cleaned up and looking presentable. 

Finished and going on the rack...

Another up a kerosene lamp. This will be a table decoration for my daughter's wedding this fall. The brass is getting the vinegar treatment and will be polished with a felt wheel in a Dremel and Semi-chrome polish.