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!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

BSA Wiring & Mechanical Upgrade - Follow Up

The upgrades completed on my 1970 BSA Lightning last winter required a bit of tweaking but are working well so far. (links to previous posts are below) The spark is good and the Beezer starts well with the timing set at the factory spec.

The lights all work as they should including oil pressure and high beam indicators. The head and tail lights are bright at idle including the brake light. The bike will not start if the lights are on which  I accounted for by wiring a setting on my headlight switch that turns all lights off. I confirmed this was necessary when I was showing a friend how well my new setup worked and I couldn't get the Beezer started. Off with the lights and it started right up. The LED headlight has not failed as it did last year when I first went battery free. My starting capacitor blew just before the LED failed which may have contributed to its early demise. I have four hours on the bulb now and will report on my "LED Headlight" post if it goes out again.

Off, pilot, and main beam settings work well. Nice and bright at idle.

The LED tail light showing up quite nicely at idle. 

What didn't work? The horn blew its 5 amp fuse promptly and was replaced with a 7.5 amp unit which blew as well. On to the internet for a bit of research. It seems that Lucas horns draw 3.5 amps each which make a 10 amp fuse a reasonable choice. It is installed and both horns are working now. The only problem is that the engine must be at 4K RPM before an audible blast is made. The horn button almost substitutes as a kill switch as the bike cuts out when its pressed below 4K RPM.  One reasonable argument for a battery in the system I guess.

Sorting through fuses to set the horn right. I like the individual circuits. 

The bike ran a bit rough at the start of the season but smoothed out with a bit of jet tweaking. The heat sync for the Podtronics unit works well as it gets a bit warm but not hot and I will declare success on the this setup. I am running 90 octane RV gas (non ethanol)  with Marvel Mystery Oil to lube the valves. Although I do not have spark knock I am looking for higher octane RV gas since knocking may occur when the weather heats up this summer.

No speedo.....Time to take the drive out and see what's wrong although I think I know. 
Let's grease the cables while we're at it. 

The speedometer gear drive cogs looked a bit rough when last apart and I thought they may be an issue this year. When the speedo quit working this spring I knew what the likely culprit was. Apart it came and my suspicions were confirmed. A new unit was purchased, the cables greased, and it all went back together and is working fine now. 

The bad Beezer unit on the left next to one with its drive cogs.

The 21 tooth counter-shaft sprocket which replaced the 20 tooth one puts me a bit under 4K RPM at 60 mph which is perfect for the roads I like to ride. I took the BSA up to 70+ MPH but don't want to tempt fate by running there very often. The new cork clutch plates connect well and have eliminated the sticking plate syndrome I had with the old ones. The SRM tapered roller bearings in the steering head are silky smooth and will be put in all of my Beezers. Finally, the welded cracks on the headlight and fender have held up so far. I am not ready to declare success but am feeling good about them. Time to go riding.... 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tach & Speedo Cables

One of the enjoyable things about antique motorcycle restoration's is working with people sharing my passion for bringing old bikes back to life. I have run into many great companies and people in my mission of  "Keeping the Rockers Rolling". My latest quest for authentic SMITHS cables led me to yet another purveyor of fine spares, Vintage British Cables.

Vintage British Cables is a company located in Medicine Hat, Alberta Canada, our friendly neighbor to the North. In addition to making some of the world's best beer and bacon, Canada is a home to many people passionate about keeping British bikes running. I have purchased parts from several Canadian suppliers which are listed on my supplier page. Vintage British Cables specializes in SMITHS instrument repair and cables. They have a variety of product and service offerings.

Rev counter cables for comparison. 

The cables on my Interceptor, although serviceable, were nicked up and rusty. Being very visible components I wanted to replace them with exact, high quality replicas which I was pleased to find in Medicine Hat. Vintage British Cables' site provides an overview of their product and process "Using NOS Fittings & Original SMITHS Presses and Dies". Their products are also presented well on their site making purchases simple. I had a few questions about my application and sent them an inquiry. The response was quick and thorough and my order was filled promptly. As advertised the cables were authentic replicas, but don't take my word for it, check out the comparison pictures above and below.
Old Vs New
Authentic knurls and crimps. 
Another modelling job well done Marvin!

While cables won't make or break a rebuild they are one of the details that can make a restoration stand out from others. I am glad there are companies like Vintage British Cables keeping us "fanatics for detail" in high quality parts. Thanks!


So where are "Keeping the Rockers Rolling" readers from? The order by most views; USA, France, UK, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and Germany. I started a journal to document my BSA Hornet restoration process and to guide my future projects. After keeping notes for a while it came to me that others may benefit from my "learning experiences".  I have been surprised at the amount of interest in my foibles. Thanks for checking out my blog and especially for sharing your comments with me. 





Saturday, April 8, 2017

Engine Rebuild Part III - Crankshaft Rebuild

The Royal Enfield Interceptor crankshaft is a heavy duty assembly. It is dynamically balanced which was not common for its day. The rods are substantial and the bearings are well designed for their job. The Interceptors are known as smooth running machines due to the attention paid to this assembly.

The crankshaft is out....time to rebuild. 

One thing I was a little concerned about was the sludge trap as the caps can be difficult to remove on most British motorcycles. I have heard many people drill and use an EZ out to overcome the stubborn little buggers. I was hoping I would not have to resort to that.

So what is the sludge trap? It is a cylindrical cavity in the crank center that collects the tiny metal shavings that flow through the oil ways. I did not expect to get much out of the RE as the engine looked pretty good inside. I was wrong about that as sizable chunks of rusted steel particles were found. This reaffirms the notion that cleaning the sludge trap is a "must do" when the crank is out. My RE has only logged 12,993 miles yet the collection of metal bits was pretty substantial. My BSA Hornet, which had a severe life, also had blobs of steel wool looking material inside the crank. After thoroughly cleaning the trap the caps were reinstalled, staked into place, and secured with Locktite.

The Allen wrench wouldn't budge it....my manual impact driver didn't move it......

The air impact easily popped both plugs out with minimal damage to them. 

Well this doesn't look like something I need in my crank....little metal bits rusted back into a solid.

Cleaning out the sludge trap with a 12 gauge bore brush.  

The bearings looked good but while I had the engine apart I decided to replace them. 

The crankshaft journals measured within spec and were not ground. The connecting rods were bead blasted and reinstalled with new "nominal" sized bearings in the caps. The small end bearings also measured within spec and will run on new wrist pins. The rod cap bolts were torqued and safety wired into place. Loctite was used for additional insurance. 

Safety wiring the rod bolts with stainless aircraft safety wire.  

Reassembled, wired, and ready to go into the cases...time to build up the lower engine unit. 

Grandpa Ken in England  in the early 40's. He is second from the left in front of a bomber with a very politically incorrect name.