Friday, 28 December 2018

Greenford Police LE Update 4

Greenford Police LE Update 4.

Around this time of year I get the treat of having bike magazines arrive through the post along with the Christmas cards. I recently received my copy of Road magazine that is the bi-monthly print of MAG. I know a few of the members among those from Reading and Wycombe and I was able to get to the Stag at Flackwell regularly but not the new venue of the Dashwood Arms in Piddlington. I know Paul and Anne as they have supported my efforts in getting people to the Museum and helped out with the distribution of flyers at Chinnor Byke Dayz. A fantastic event with more entertainment, food and booze than I can cope with but I remember that Paul didn’t look quite as fit and well as he did last year and I was saddened when I read in the Road magazine that ill-health had got the better of him and had passed away at the end of October. My tribute to him was that he always welcomed people with a smile and his friendliness made you fit in straight away. My wife and I shall miss him and our condolences go out his family. He was a genuine Great Guy.

The Museum is still going and another quarter of the rent has been found to get us through to the end of March I am hoping that I will have the Greenford Police LE back together by then. I have completed the welding and started to get on with the filler to hide all the blemishes I’ve added to the body repairing the rotted bits. I think I have doubled the weight of the body with the amount of weld I have put in the repair. I’m not sure how good it will look as some of the repair has been over seams so they have disappeared but it should all look smooth when done.

I did have a problem with a runny nose while I had a cold and I’ve had to clean up some rust spots that appeared after my runny nose had dripped too much and was caught by the metal work. 

I didn’t realize how corrosive snot was! To keep more rust from appearing I got hold of some paint on primer to do the inner body and save on spray cans in a hidden area. Not something you should do in a confined space as the fumes are a bit strong but I can’t wait to put on a second coat! 

I now have the toolbox lid repaired, filled and, with the aid of a coat hanger wire a hinge for it to pivot on, fitted in place. It has taken few days to get all the filler in place and suitably smooth to get a coat of hand painted primer on everything. It has taken some effort to smooth off the welds and fill the indents and I now have the body in a level of readiness that rubbing down for a final top coat to be applied. That will be on a warmer day than this time of year permits.

As a Christmas present for granddaughter we bought a tricycle. The start of more smiles per mile I think. It took some deliberation when we bought it on-line as you really can’t see how substantial these things are but I elected for a tubular frame and some features like roll bars and a push facility. It has a canopy but, as yet, no tassels. 

Put together the day before Christmas eve I was well impressed with the quality of the trike and how well thought out it was. The push facility also controls the steering so little one can be controlled. I had some fun building it but there was much more on the first run out. All the family wanted to push! Now I have an idea that perhaps there should be a bigger version with an engine and without pedals and perhaps an additional seat and, and, and………

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Greenford Police LE Update 3

Greenford Police LE

Update 3.

As you may remember from the last update that everything had been primed except the body that has some remedial work still to be done on. The welding on the front mudguard went well and I have not managed a top coat and the front end is ready to be assemble. Trying to weld inside the front mudguard so that there was little weld to foul the front fork covers was an awkward job as the metal was so thin it would burn through so a heat sink plate was put behind the area to prevent the flame from blowing weld too far.

I use oxy-acetylene as my welding medium. Little cleaning up was needed even at the split at the front of the guard. At the same time a few minor repairs were done to the panniers, removing a dent and welding one of the support brackets back in place. This has had a bit of a top coat too as I could only spray one side at a time and the other side needs to be done. I ran out of paint and bought more from Colorite. I did not know that the paint I had used was not petrol proof. It was a two pack paint but was deactivated to prevent going off in the can and could be used for months. I now know a bit more about rattle-can paints. For the main body I needed to have a petrol resistant paint and there is one. It is a two pack paint that has the hardener in the can. There is a button in the lid that is removed and is used to press a valve in the bottom of the can. Mix it and then spray immediately to activate. If you don’t spray straight away the paint will go off while you hold the can. Once a little spray has been released the paint will remain viable for about four days. Choose the time to spray wisely. December is not the best time but it will get done soon.

I now have a copy of Neil Spalding’s MotoGP Technology, third edition and when finished I’ll report back. I’ve had a quick look through and can’t wait to have good read. The technical detail is amazing and it is the stuff that I want to hear about. I might be a bit of an anorak about technical details but it was the stuff I was brought up on in my youth when all the bike magazines would tell you about bore and stroke of the engine, the gear ratios, primary and final drive reduction and sprocket sizes. Frame head angles, trail and suspension travel. Brakes didn’t seem to matter much unless it was an 8inch twin leading shoe! Now what do we get? Spats between the riders, primadona humps and no idea what the guys and girls are riding. It would be more interesting for me knowing what specification of engines, gearboxes and frames that are being used. I am ever hopeful I may be enlightened one day.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

November 2018

All the parts in a Row

Another week and weather has changed from pleasant to cold. That means painting the Greenford Police LE is on hold until it gets a bit warmer. During the week I collected all of the parts except the body which is having some welding done from Eltec in West Drayton and got on with the priming creating a Hanging Garden of LE bits in my garage. 

It was race against the weather to get some paint on the bare metal to stop the rust appearing again. I have a few bits that have top coat on now and only have the front mudguard to top coat and I can reassemble the front end. In between painting I was playing with my next restoration project. That being a 2CV van so I can carry around more bike stuff in the future. Over the weekend of 10th and 11th November was the Federation of Historic Vehicles event at Brooklands. I missed that one but the AKD from the Museum was featured in the event program and we had some free publicity.

 At this time of year there is not much happening so it is the time for review and anything I can find interesting to talk about. I spotted an article in the Classic Motorcycle of June 1983 about an Excelsior Manxman a 250cc four valve head that on many races in its class in 1936, 37 and 38 and many more in the early fifties when there was no purpose built 250 available for racing and many people resorted to creating 250’s from 350’s. 

Fred has a 250cc Gold Star from that time and there were similar things done to Nortons and Ajays. Surprising it has twin carbs but I remember that the early Villiers Starmaker engine also had twin carbs. Moving a bit more recent with Moto 3, do those 250cc engines have twin carbs? So little detail is given about the specifications of these machines, How many camshafts? What compression do they have? How many gears? I find all this quite interesting as it would help me to see why one machine is better than another at a race track. I remember when Motorcycle did racer tests in the fifties and sixties and they would publish the compression ratio, valve timing, Ignition timing and gear ratios for Nortons, AJS ( the OHC ones) and, if available for Velocettes, BSAs and anything else they tested. 

In the same magazine was a reprint of a 1961 road test on a 350cc Norton Navigator, the 250 was the Jubilee. I was surprised that the top speed was only 85mph and fuel economy was 88mpg at 50 mph. Now I dream of fuel economy like that although having had a Harley Davidson FLT 80 it would get to 63mpg at a steady 55mph not bad for a 1340cc lump weighing 330 kg. I could also get something approaching that with my 58 Kawasaki ER6F but rarely more than 54mpg about the 09 one that I have. In between Kawasaki had remapped the fuelling as it was too lean and with my 58 model it would falter on an even throttle as there was not enough fuel going in to keep it running. I didn’t mind that as I was getting over 60mpg!

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Green Police LE Update 2

Greenford Police LE

Update 2

The LE engine is now back at the Museum and I have collected the body parts or rejuvenation. It looked in quite poor condition and each time I looked at it more rust holes appear. I don’t mind cleaning up small items but this is a big job also I try to avoid breathing in too much dust so the best option is to have it sand blasted to save my energy and lungs for other things. 

The body has a battery case of rust and major corrosion in the lower mudguard portions that had previously been glassfibred in. I have a good mudguard portion that I can take panels from to get it whole again. There are some cracks around the front seat mounting point and the toolbox wire hinge will need to be fixed too. A small project had become a lot of work. The front mudguard has holes in it too. Headlamp and nacelle require some TLC and when I get all these back from being blasted I’ll need even more paint. In preparation I had to remove the strengthening tubes that edge the body also the suspension supports seat mounting bracket and the rain guard that was hanging on by a small screw and a rivet. The panniers need work too along with the front forks. It all adds up to a box of bits soon, I feel, to come back squeaky clean but with more holes in for repair. I have already cleaned up the headstock and fork yoke and after painting will reassemble them.

I'm not doing anything with the footboards. They are too far gone and new ones complete are £40 from the LE Velo Club.

All is not cleaning up the LE. I have been off to Norfolk again for a trip to the Broads again in the El Cid.

While away the Valiant became incontinent and was leaking fuel through the tap eventually adding more oil to the sump. I discovered that when I removed the carburettor only after removing the fuel pipe and the tap would not shut off the fuel. I removed the carb to check that the main jet on the right hand carb was seating properly. I just could not get the mixture right no matter what I did to it. It turned out that when the jet was removed there was not even ring of sealing at the point of contact at the end of the jet. On inspection I saw some corrosion and did my best to clean it up. The edges of the hole where the main jet was supposed to seal was dark and pitted. The left hand carb had a nice bright ring showing that it was sealing. I used a main jet thread size drill gently rotated by hand to clean up the edge and refitted the main jet. I’m now waiting for the wind and rain of storm Callum to go away before doing a test ride to see it my work has been successful.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Greenford Police LE Update

Greenford Police LE

It has taken ages to get the flywheel off this Lucas electrics engine. First I had to get hold of the correct extraction tool only available from the LE club tool loan department and that seemed to take forever to arrive. The flywheel was supposed to come off with light pressure and a tap on the end of the extraction tool. That didn’t happen. 

It was so secure on the taper with woodruff key that I had to drill out the key before it would move. Even then it needed constant high load to move it fractions of a millimetre. The generator rotor that is in front of the flywheel would not go over the thread at the end of the crankshaft and I borrowed a suitable puller from my mate Bob to get it off the last bit. Finally it came off and I still could not see why it had been so difficult. In comparison the oil seal that was leaking was quickly replaced and everything back together with the engine running in a matter of a few hours. I certainly don’t get this sort of problem with the Miller generator flywheel. 

The engine and gearbox are now ready to be returned to the museum and it is now time to get on with the body work. 

Transformed into this.

I have cleaned up and repaired the leg shields that now have a new coat of paint on. I have found a radiator and that is now bolted into the front subframe and ready for assembly. I need to keep things as component parts so I can move them around easily. Progress has been quite slow but other things get in the way. In August I went off to the 2CVGB National Rally and managed to be part of the Cromer Carnival Parade. 

The El Cid was decked out with marigold garlands and Gita and I were in traditional Assamese costumes. While staying in North Walsham a visit to both the Norfolk Motorcycle Museum and the Caister Car Museum had to be done. The Norfolk Motorcycle Museum has regular exhibits on show but there are always interesting bikes passing through that they are working on.

Bradshaws oil boiler in this OK.

The Caister Car Museum has quite a few motorcycles on display but many are at the back and end on so they are not easy to see. I do hope they move these around and get some better lighting so there is a better view. Needless to say another pleasant visit. 

Having travelled to Norfolk and past Snetterton many times even being a mechanic at a 2CV 24 hour race in 2004 it is not that far but just seems ages to get there and of course a trip to the distillery just a few miles away is in order at some point. Norfolk has some great country lanes and can be enjoyed on any capacity bike. Worth a visit for the quiet life.

Sunday, 29 July 2018



Decidedly warm temperatures at the Museum means tee shirts all the time instead of thermal underwear for me. I like the warm temperatures like you get in Arizona but more to the point the connection is with Phoenix Arizona and Buddy Stubbs Museum that I have visited in an earlier posting. A young man from Phoenix, called Vincent, visited the LMM last Monday and was looking for information about motorcycles. Vincent had visited the Buddy Stubbs Museum too. He was specifically looking at Vincents and asking the question why are they so expensive. My usually reply is that some people have more money than sense and it is just an old second hand bike that was of that era. Provenance is what gives it value. Who owned it and what they did with it. Thinking of T.E. Lawrence and Boanergese, Ernie Lyons and the GP racer spring to mind and the famous record breaking Vincent in a swim suit of Rollie Free that is in the Solvang Motorcycle Museum, and how many there are reputed to be around.

The answer is investment. Good or bad it is driving the price of old, incontinent, British bikes higher and higher. I see it as a dwindling market in that the people who buy them for nostalgia are becoming fewer along with those who are able to maintain them. There are few young people interested in either collecting them, restoration and maintaining so how long is the market going to be buoyant? The auction houses are cashing in on the market and this is what young Vincent is looking at. What makes an old bike saleable. How many special Vincents are there out there that have some provenance. I can only recall a few, one is George Brown and Nero and Super Nero and not many raced the Comet so there is little racing history to follow up but other avenues about who designed what and Phil Irving is prominent with Vincent and with Velocette. He first put pen to paper in the design of the LE which was put into reality by Charles Udall the point on this is that significant people in the motorcycle world of the time add to the interest of the machine and Edward Turner being one of those people. Vincent is on a mission to visit other museums for more information before deciding on which mark to follow.

During the previous week I had put a new flywheel housing oil seal in the Valiant and after getting it running I had a leak from the oil return union on the cylinder head. The threads had given up and the union needed to be replaced. It was 1/8 BSP and 1/4 BSP. I contacted the LE club for a replacement but in the mean time I went off to a plumbers merchant and got a couple of fittings. My fiend Bob helped me out and managed to marry up the fittings to make a suitable replacement. It works too and no longer have a leak. This Valiant is the most incontinent Velocette I have ever had. My LE is dripless. Why at the LMM I noticed a magazine called “Tiger” that I had not seen before. It was from Holland and is the magazine of their Triumph Owners Club. 

Featured in it was a report from a visitor from earlier in the year and I had the fun of doing the guided tour. I still need it to be translated but I’m confident that it was glowing. So for all those in the Netherlands read the feature and come to visit.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Chinnor Byke Dayz 2018

Chinnor Byke Dayz 2018

After being at the Wey Valley observed first Sunday of the month on another hot day that brought out a record 216 bikes for a sunny ride, Monday was back at the Museum and just laying around was this odd mag-dyno. Close inspection revealed it to be a Simms. Mr Simms, an entrepreneur was a Boche rep for London in the 1900’s so to see something like this was extraordinary. As Mr Lucas bought out the Clyde Motorcycle Company to obtain the Simms magneto and production of the Clyde ended in 1907 I am guessing that this type of mag-dyno was of that era. It looks like it. However the Lucas magneto did not really get going until World War one when no one in the UK could get hold of any Boche magnetos. Up to that point Boche was everyones favourite.

Having started the week with removing the flywheel oil seal that was leaking on the Valiant progress was halted by the fact that I was not able to find the oil seal I had ordered weeks before form the LE Velo Club and had to wait for the delivery of the replacement. Another job waiting for completion along with the one to do on the Greenford Police LE. 

Another pleasantly hot week and Friday I was off to Chinnor. Arriving at seven in the evening a band was already playing and more cask ales on tap than I could sample in a day set the tone. Some decent food was available and the evening disappeared with grand entertainment. Dr Blue doing two stints in his particular style. Gita was with me and this time we didn’t camp. The field was full but with so many more cars than before. It is not surprising as we are all getting a bit older and crawling into a small tent to sleep on a thin mattress is not so easy to do. I avoid if I can. It is not so much the comfort as the ease of getting out of it for a midnight pee. Years of body abuse has taken its toll.

Back on the Saturday morning in time for the first band to play the brave soals who did the morning ride out to return and show off their bikes were not as many as last time but were still just as interesting. A 1950’s Panther stole the show but the most interesting was the Lambretta. This three wheeler was their version of the Piagio Ape that Valentino Rossi did much of his early riding on the roads with. His parents would not let him out on a two wheeler knowing how enthusiastic he would ride. 

It was a very warm day Gita and I tried the various food stalls and the afternoon had an additional feature. We enjoyed the music as many enjoyed the England game on a big screen in the dinning tent. Best bit was that England won for a change. I tend not to watch England play as when I do they loose! A bit like going for a bike ride and the black clouds and rain find me!

The bands played on Billy Watman got my vote for the most interesting performance. Explaining how he achieved his unique style with a few bits of gadgetry. Being a solo artist and guitar player he had us all singing along to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Good choice, as between all of the audience there was a passable performance. 

People’s Front of Judea gave another over the top performance. It was getting late and cold! And we had to be up early in the morning so we missed the last performances. Shambolic always do something interesting and Nemesis would have been great to see but that will have to wait for another time. Chinnor Byke Dayz is a MAG event with half the proceeds going to MAG and the other to the Air Ambulance Service. At £15 I think it is fantastic value and better than many events that you pay a lot more for. All credit to Paul and Anne who are the lead organisers for this event. Long may it continue.

At the Museum on Monday I picked a cutting from one of the roses at the back of the Museum and brought it home  on the LE at the end of the day. Three blooms on the cutting and the flag of St George in the back ground as a tribute to Englands win.