Thursday, 15 December 2011

Been busy...

...though not much with the toybox. Lots of work, sleep, and too bloody cold when I do eventually crawl out of bed. And frustrating delays.
Ordered a parcel of triple bits, which allowed me to rebuild the fork legs. I've done this on all the bikes I've owned, you wouldn't belive the shite you get in them. Came apart fairly easily, though you need a special tool to undo the damper rod. Take a full hex 14mm socket, and squash two flats together in a vice until it grips the noggin on the end of the damper. Then, find every extension bar you have, and your lodgers/neighbours/Dads, and put them together so you can get down the fork leg.
Putting together was a pain. First, the paint took a while to get right. No matter how tasty the girl at Wickes is, their paint won't get better! Second problem was getting the wrong fork seals sent, but full marks to for sending the right ones out very quick.
I also tidied up the fork top nuts. Much as I like a little patina, chewed up bolt heads and scabby machined finishes really p*** me off, especially on my bike! Below are before and after top nuts. I faced off the slight dome on the lathe (the one not done in the pic still had a bit of scarring after machining, but I can live with it). Filed up the flats and the scabby turning on the lower diameter, then some tender loving abuse on the buffing wheel. I'll doubtless get crucified for modding original bits, my excuse is it saves weight :D

I've also painted up the switchgear:

The killswitch gave me some merry fun. There's a little ball that gives it the notches for off-on-off, and a c clip holding the lot together. I ordered a load of c clips online, but what about the ball? At that moment Andy the lodger came into view, and the answer was obvious*...
...the next day, a bemused tatooist was rooting through his piercing bar ball ends helping some fool in a silly helmet mend his knackered old relic.
Dave, who I bought said relic from, popped round today, and I told this tale. "Oh" said he. "The killswitches are rubbish, we just leave them out..."

Finally, a puzzle. These bits were stashed in the empty master cylinder. Any idea what they are? If they're not important I'll probably flog them to a concours type for squillions.

*Andy has a lot of piercings. Think Pinhead in Hellraiser.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Stainless steel frustration

A while back I ordered a stainless replica of the 400/4 downpipes. This arrived monday. Tried fitting it last night. Not a bloody chance! Here are how the headers line up where they should join the collector box:

And how they line up when fitted to the box, with old exhaust for comparison:

Bit annoying, but I'll wait until I've had chance to talk to the makers before getting cross.
So, today I took the front end off the triple, leaving it look a bit silly.

Should get some pretty sweet wheelies out it now! Forks are in bits, one lot all cleaned, painted etc ready to go together, the rest in the process of cleaning. Stanchions look OK, a few little pits I'm hoping will take a little superglue. Just missed out on a pretty much as new, rebuilt set of forks. Arse! My own silly fault though. More on that later, including the special squashed socket for removing the dampers-especially for any despairing KH owners who come visiting here.

Saturday, 29 October 2011


Today I've been KH250ing.
Managed to get the number plate/tail lamp bracket painted acceptably. Not a great job, I'm using thinned down wickes paint (cos there's a bloody gorgeous lass on the till, and its in walking distance) in a dusty shed.
Anyway, put the repainted coil brackets and fuse box holder back on last night, followed by the purple tailpiece. This was followed by a brass pin for the seat, followed by bed cos it was 2 in the morning, again. I also threw the excelsior back together and put it in a corner out the way. I was supposed to have been demolishing the bottom wooden shed, so it can be replaced with a concrete machining palace, but I'm starting to think by the time I've done that and dug foundations it'll be snowing, and hence I'll be months with less shed. On the other hand, I don't like messing builders around, and I'll only fill it with shit again.
So, back to the KH. Today I put the bracket on the back, then fitted tank and sidepanels, being as I've still not seen it all dressed in purple. It looks bloody gorgeous, can't wait to terrorize the streets of Derby with a triple's scream :D
To top it off, I put the headlamp on to see if it suited the cheapo cafe racer brackets:

I'm rather pleased :) Amazing how bloody weeks of making stainless bolts shiny, spacers, cables etc make hardly any difference, but a morning slapping bodywork on and you'd think I'll be MOT'ing it next week. Would be nice...
Two generations of stroker have a staring contest.

Talking of MOT's, patched up the 400/4 exhaust for a test on monday. First patch fell off whilst being flogged round the outer ring road-forgotten how much I love that bike. If anyone saw a screaming blue thing ridden by a piss pot and torn jeans, hello! Football traffic soon put an end to that though...perhaps I should take a leaf out of the nimby's trying to shut Firth Rickson at Darley Dale and demand Derby city united or whoever bugger off from near my house.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Excelsior engine

Despite best intentions of getting other bits done, after work tonight I had a look in the engine. As mentioned before, it turns over very smooth, and I was curious how good it is.

The answer is, very! Took plug out first, torch down the hole showed a nice clean bore-no rust/tide marks/bits of mashed up cylinder. Head off, again all very good. The fasteners have been good too, soaked them in penny oil monday and had no drama so far. Anyway, the bore isn't great but it'll run I think. Bit of a lip and some scoring, so will need a rebore eventually. Still very good compression though.
Next, I took the cylinder off. Here is the crankcase:

You'd think it were put together yesterday! Can't feel any play in the big end, and once the flywheel was off it felt lovely and smooth. So I squirted some 2t oil in with a syringe, and bolted it back up. As you can see, it was last apart after red hermatite was invented!
I do strongly suspect the crankcase seals are gone (they usually are after being stood), but it is difficult to tell as there is a lot of blow-by between the ports. Probably doesn't help the magneto mount bolt holes go straight into the crankcase. Talking of that, the flywheel is unusual for villiers in having a right hand nut holding it on. Usually they are left hand, or occasionally no hand after being stripped by the unwary and a mallet.
So, next job is to rebuild the electrical sparky bits, then check in the gearbox. Might get a tune out of it soon!

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


 I'm starting this as an excersize in laziness. I have a couple of project bikes, which are tied to various forums. It is an utter pain in the arse typing up and putting in pictures 2-3 times, so I'll put any progress here and link it.
Above is the bike that pushed me to this: an early 30's Excelsior 125.
For anyone who's interested (hi mum!), I'm a recently qualified machinist with an unhealthy amount of old bikes, varying from tatty to utterly f*cked (above picture sums that up quite nicely!). The shiny thing above was my first classic bike (second bike after a much-abused honda CG125, which Dad now has), a 1970 BSA Bantam. Bought it as a rolling frame, then got bored for 2 years and cafe racered it. The build was documented on (before and after the bauergrinch fiasco). It'll crop up occasionally, still a work in progress until I find a powerband within it...stop giggling!
Fourth bike (after a D14 banny I sold last year) was my much loved, slightly modded and well used honda CB400/4, another rolling work in progress (and due for MOT next thursday, eek!). I also have a very scruffy BMW R100RS for touring, a Kawasaki KH250 project and the little excelsior. There's some others kicking about but that'll do for now.
So, this excelsior. Bought it off A10 Newbie from the Realclassic magazine messageboard ( Pure chance I saw it-I only go once in a while at the moment, with overtime and a house to finish off I've barely time to scratch my arse. I've been after a rigid/girder pre war bike for ages, but the prices are ridiculous, until this came along. Bought in a job lot of bikes found in a field on the Isle of Wight, Mr Newbie has been selling on to good homes. I got a good price on it, so I will try and justify his faith in me.
Look how tiny the controls are! The whole thing makes my bantam look like a bloody lorry. I intend to do it up mechanically, and ride it to work for a bit. Cosmetics will wait, unless I get carried away. I love the look of oily rag stuff, but some of this rot is going to be terminal if left forever. Probably won't get ripping into it straight away, got Kwak and part of the shed to sort first.
Talking of the kwak, here is current progress for those on the KH owners board ( Micron pipes with bellies resprayed in wickes finest stove black. Was a matt colour, but polished to a lovely satin sheen with an old t shirt. Not had them warmed up yet though. This bike will be H2 purple, cos triples can be as purple as they damn well want, done to a good standard but not conkers or very original-period boy racer look where unobtanium bits are needed. You don't really care about standard indicators when riding it.
Final pic from the excelsior...think the moths have been at it! Strange, I Dad hasn't even been near it never mind opened his wallet nearby. Took it off to compare measurements with a talisman twin tank on fleabay. Sadly not a direct swap, do you have one hidden in a sock drawer?