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.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Not A Biking Trip

My French Trip 2018

Sometimes things do not work out as planned. Having booked everything in advance and paid for most of it the only things left to do were the final check over the Buell and an MOT. The MOT was due at the end of the month so as I would be travelling in France I thought it best to get it done before I go. On checking the final drive belt it had splits in it between the teeth and needed replacing. I would not have bothered if I was just travelling in the UK as I know there are not that many Harley shops in Normandy where I could get a replacement belt if it broke. This was ten days before departure and should have been enough time to get things sorted. I should have changed the belt myself and gone on my merry way. However advice was given that the sprockets would need changing too! This has lead to a whole series of disasters that meant my treasured Buell was not ready to take to France. The Kawasaki was not suitable with Gita on the back and to carry enough luggage for two for a week. I needed to make a reasonable choice of which set of wheels to take and decided on the Burton two seater sports car that Gita could also drive. 

Turned out to be a good choice as we had lots of fun driving around in it and admired by many as it is so different from ordinary cars. Taking the Newhaven to Dieppe crossing with the first night in Le Harve followed by a day along the coast via Honfleur to Caen. Day two to Dinan via Mont St Michel then on to Laval where there was a music festival. All free and out doors. This happens on a particular Thursday all over the country each year. Something to remember in mid June. Finally arriving in l’Aigle to meet up with the guys from the Wey Valley Advanced Motorcycle Club for the annual “French Trip” that is not always to France. While there we had a trip to Le Mans to see the Bugatti circuit and the Motor Racing Museum. 

It was well worth the visit with features on racing stars over the decades including Steve McQueen. There are not many bikes there but for me an interesting steam powered one, a 1907 Paul Buard. I did enjoy looking around the older cars as they were modified production models but the later ones start to look the same as the aerodynamics take over and everyone comes up with the same ideas. 

I have discovered that over the years when the concept is right there are very few alternatives that work as well. The last time we went to France it rained most of the time and the glorious sunshine has prevailed for weeks making me miss the Buell even more. The Kawasaki is getting more miles on it and so is the LE and now I am finally getting around to changing the front oil seal on the Valiant in an effort to cure it incontinence. After taking off the generator flywheel and removing the faulty seal I discover I can’t find the oil seal I ordered from the LE Club months before. I am now waiting for one to arrive in the post. I seem to have gremlins around me at the moment where bikes are concerned. Still some fun to be had as Chinnor Bike Dayz is upon us with more canvassing for the LMM and hours of live music.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Southern Classic Bike Show 2018

Southern Classic Bike Show 2018

As usual preparations start much earlier in the year, making the booking for the stand and asking anyone who would like to display their LE along with their details to register them for the event. Easy enough for me as all those who display their bikes last year were turning up with the same ones this year. EasyI only have to fill in another form. Hopefully for next year Chris will have his LE running and will not need to borrow my trailer again. It seems it is the only time it gets used. I had been away in America doing the touristy West Coast and National parks and a few motorcycle museums along the way as well as contracting cellulitis and the use of my right hand until the second dose of antibiotics got to work. For a change, this year the weather was good, but not the day coinciding with the Royal Wedding and Cup Final! These guys should have better planning! As I was single handed, literally, George helped set up the stand on the Friday afternoon and we were ready for an early start on Saturday morning. What a lovely day! It was sunny, warm for all of us who rode our bikes to the show. Me on my much modified LE, George on his KSS as his LE is still work in progress, Philip on his Valiant that runs very well and Chris with his Police LE. All set up and ready for 09:30 when the punters come in.

It was a busy day with so much interest in the stand and recruitment of new people to the club. I did a stint on the LMM stand and that generated a great deal of interest with the museum taking home a couple of prizes for best original with the Dunstall Triton and best in its class the P1 first triple. As the temperature outside went up more people flowed into the hall it was a busy old day. 

I usually get out late morning to have a look around but this time it was not until after lunch and lots of things had already gone. Most of the stalls appear to be selling the same stuff as last year, only with more rust on and Tiger cubs are coming out of the woodwork for sale. Prices for old bikes are stupidly high as well as are parts but there are some really nice things on show like this Motobi and the MV racer. 

Lastly I have some saddlebags that I used to get stuff home and now my LE looks like it is ready to go places. In my quest for information I keep looking for examples of early Villiers engines so far I have got back to 1921 fitted to a Francis Barnett “built like a bridge” model. 

Here is a 1924 example. 

Villiers Road works was where John Marston had his cycle gearbox manufacturing but on selling the company to his son in 1902 the interest in engines developed and in 1912 the first engine was produced, a 350cc 4 stroke. It was later that year a simple 269cc two stroke 70mm x 70mm was made and this was fitted to a number of motorcycles. In 1913 the Sun-Villiers was launched and by 1914 these remarkably simple engines had been fitted to Alldays, The Royal Ruby, Bown, Coventry Eagle, Sparkbrook, Ixion, Invicta, Juno and Roulette.

Friday, 29 June 2018

West Coast Road Trip 7

A Road Trip

West Coast 7

Flagstaff was our stop off point for the Grand Canyon. The plan was to travel early, get to the Grand Canyon and stay there all day to possibly watch the sunset. We did a few walks and filled in most of the day at the scale of this vista. It was getting colder still and decided we had had enough and that sunset could wait another time. The journey back was a bit more interesting as we were leaving a few small flakes of snow were falling. On the road we could see a weather front moving in with big black clouds over Flagstaff. The closer we came to Flagstaff the heavier the snow was falling and the roads were soon covered in snow with disappearing tyre tracks. Once in Flagstaff the volume of traffic kept the roads clear. The next day it was warming up but the car had a layer of snow on it. Today we were supposed to go to the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest but that there was no point as it would have been covered in snow! A day off and time to explore Flagstaff. Another town with a Route 66 sign.

It’s a boy’s town with small breweries everywhere and not much shopping for the ladies. It is also a ski resort. The snow was not enough to to get anyone interested in doing some skiing though. I had a visit to local emergency department at the hospital there as I had a painful swollen hand that required an xray and some antibiotics to get it on the mend. There difference between private health care and the NHS is unbelievable. No queues!

The next destination was Bryce Canyon with more scenery to be awed by, followed by Zion National Park. A drive through Las Vegas was all I wanted. The spectacle has to be seen even in day light. Shopping was on the list and another suitcase was bought from Macey’s for all the “stuff” purchased on the way. Just beyond Pahrump is Death Valley National Park and some amazing roads. 

Pahrump was a stop over on our way to Yosemite. Nothing much, but we were spreading the travelling to ensure the little one was not in the car seat for too long. In early May I chose to go up the east side of Yosemite which has a mountain range running north-south with only a few passes to get across. The one we wanted to take was on Highway 120 and all the reports said it was still closed. It was a gamble that when planning accommodation that the other passes along the 108, 4 and 88 would be open. We decided on Mammoth Lakes as a stop off which was closest to the shorted route the 120. As we had snow a few days before I thought that everything would be closed.

Leaving Pahrump we headed into Death Valley that on this day was a cool 43 degrees Centigrade. Taking the 127, 190 and then the 395 thorough and onward to Mammoth lakes. Once off the interstates these other major roads have bends in them and, for me, provide a lot more interesting driving. Death Valley is the place where aircon in the car stops you boiling. At one stop in the valley a group of German bikers on Harleys were on an organised tour. They looked hot. I could not think on anything worse than having to travel slowly with a massing engine roasting your nuts as well. Brave lads but no speed keeps you cool at that temperature. Death Valley needs to be seen but not for long and soon we were away from the desert and into greenery as we headed north through Bishop to Mammoth Lakes also a ski resort. The 120 was still closed so we had to do another 200 miles to get around the mountain range. Good news in that the 108 via Sonora to Mariposa was open other wise another 100 miles would be added to the journey. The 108 was a delight. Snow was still piled high on each side of the road as we climbed through pine trees up and over the pass. Not many people talk about these roads but they have all the features of winding country lanes, enough to test anyones abilities. There are some straight bits too!

Yosemite has changed over the years with commerce getting its way and it was worse that the Lake District on a Bank Holiday. Yosemite is a popular place and you have to see the sights. I could not believe that it was so busy. Most of it was viewed from the shuttle bus as it was the easiest way to get around. The final leg was back to San Francisco doing more touristy stuff visiting the “Hippie” area and just before getting on the plane, lunch in the Latin Quarter where the murals add so much colour to the streets. Back home I discover I have carpel tunnel syndrome from the infection and can’t grip anything. Reason for no recent postings, my excuse, can’t type!