Taking a grinder to Britain's motorcycling heritage.
This "Blog" represents the thoughts and actions of the author. It is created for academic interest and entertainment only. It is neither intended or implied that any person reading any article contained within, imitates or recreates any work described.



Monday, 26 August 2019

1952 Triumph Thunderbird Survivor (Part One)

Just when you come to the conclusion that the well must now be drawn dry, they float to the top again. Pete discovered this 6T in his native Portland Oregon area.

Here's what he says about his stroke of good fortune 

Just unloaded this matching numbers 1952 Triumph Thunderbird 650. It was bobbed back in the 50’s, and sports a PK Lamp taillight, Flanders #26 bars, Bates seat, and a small custom headlight. Interestingly, it still has the large stock tank. The bike spent many years in the Portland area, and allegedly has local drag racing history, but the verdict is still out. It’s got good compression, spark, shifts through all the gears, and all the cables are free, so it SHOULD run. It’s got a Connolly Cam badge on the timing cover, so I’m excited to see what’s in the motor.

Sunday, 25 August 2019


If there was one thing the British motorcycle industry loved at showtime, it was a sectioned engine to show prospective buyers the inner workings of their products. BSA, in the Fifties, decided to take it one stage further. This complete BSA Gold Star has been fully opened up from stem to stern to unveil the treasures that lay within. Originally built by BSA for the season-opening 1953 motorcycle show in London's Earl's Court, it was not only fully sectioned, but also motorized to show the functioning components of the engine, including piston, crankshaft, clutch and valves.

 If that didn't bring the crowds flocking to their stand, a second electric motor drives two eccentric discs which not only simultaneously turn the front and rear wheels, but the cam effect of the eccentrics move the wheels up and down on their suspensions. Static sectioned parts include the petrol tank, the oil tank, the toolbox, gearbox and front fork legs, even the Lucas horn! Brakes are also sectioned and the rear suspension damper bodies are reproduced in clear Lucite to show the flow of their oil supply when working. 

This must, surely, be the pinnacle of the cutaway art form.
BSA modified the Gold Star for the 1956 show when developments made the CB components of the 1953 model were no longer on the cutting edge of Small Heath deveopment. It returned to Earl's Court as a DB/DBD model. 

The trail taken by these cutaways after their show days is never clear or straight forward, but Bob Schanz, owner of DomiRacer vintage bikes and parts in Cincinnati, Ohio, was surprised to discover the Goldie in the hands of famous New Zealand racer Rod Coleman and his brother at their motorcycle shop in NZ in 1986. Long-term negotiations ensued as the Colemans were reluctant sellers, but Schanz persisted and eventually the BSA became the pride of his collection and was placed in front of the parts counter at DomiRacer for a long time. 

In Schanz's care, lettering on the base was redone in time for the BSA to be loaned to the AMA Museum for exhibit. After it's tour of duty was over in the museum a great deal of detailed restoration was needed to bring it back to it's former show stopping glory . Now fully operational, the mechanism is powered by its two original electric motors, rebuilt to plug into U.S. 210-volt outlets. In the process, it was geared down so it now turns at approximately 9 rpm, half the original speed. Only a maker as big as BSA could be expected to invest the money in a fully motorized and articulated display motorcycle, and this is believed to be the only one ever built. Certainly, BSA never did another


Sunday, 18 August 2019

1967 B44 Rear Brake Shennanigans

This is the rear brake pedal arrangement on a 1967 BSA B44.

By 1967 the threat to the British motorcycle industry was not something that was hiding somewhere over the far distant eastern horizon, it was, in fact. a clear and present danger to the very survival of the industry itself.
Including the pedal and various washers there are 27 components that go into this assembly alone! Whilst their passion for maintaining good and solid engineering principles can be applauded, the cost in parts and labour must have been very high, and this is a pattern carried on throughout the bike.
At 441cc this bike was in direct competition with the fabled Honda CB450 "Black Bomber" and, one suspects, had to be sold at a loss to bring the price down to compete on the showroom floors.

We all know what happened 5 years later!

Saturday, 17 August 2019


The world's strongest Triumph crankcases are being manufactured by Donny Coveney in Australia.

 CNC machined from aircraft grade "6 series" aluminum alloy, rather than cast like others, ensures accuracy and consistency of every pair. These cases are the ideal foundation if you fancy a Triumph that puts out double the power of any Twin that came out of Meriden. Capable of handling the horsepower from big bore cylinders, hot cams, nitro fuel, stroker cranks, and superchargers without coming apart at the seams.

Supplied with a timing cover set up for RH crank seal and RH ignition as used on unit Triumphs, but maintaining the ability to run the original rear mounted ignition, these cases have got most every option covered when putting a motor together.

Designer Donny, has used these cases in roadracers and dragracers that produce 90 plus horsepower, and are capable of taking much more. 
They come Complete with hardware, these cases incorporate many improvements over stock Triumph cases, and are definitely the way to go if building a Triumph to be reckoned with.

Allen bolts are stainless, base stud inserts are 4140 chromoly, and cases are supplied ready to accept 72mm Superblend crank bearings for the ultimate in reliability.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Pre Unit Triumph Finned Timing Cover (Pt 1)

Missing Link Fink, a good friend of this site has recently obtained this piece of custom gold.
The problem being that nobody seems to have seen anything like it before!

Consensus of opinion has it that it was made here in England rather than over the pond in The Land Of The Free.

There is no method of fixing it to the timing cover, other than Duct Tape which is what's defying gravity at the moment, but that's not the final solution of course.
Personally I think I would dress the back side until the contour matches that of the timing cover and weld the two together. With a good weld and patient blending it should be a cool and rare head scratcher.

If anybody does recognise this part please get in contact or post in the comments.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Chris' T140 Has Grown A Pair!

Chris has owned this 1977 T140 for the best part of 10 years, and never really been enamoured with it.
More used to riding big singles he expects the motor to pull from a lot fewer revs than the T140 motor is happy with. Anybody who's ridden one must agree that they are much more lively in the upper reaches of the rev band, this is a result of Triumph's strange choice of cams, there's a few explanations on the interweb, but this is the best explanation HERE if that's what John Healy reckons, it's more than good enough for me.

The motor came apart at the start of autumn to  be looked at, and by and large things were not bad, but it's a low mileage bike.
The crank was checked and the sludge trap thoroughly cleaned. The assembly, along with an equal pair of pistons were taken to Basset Down Balancing to be spun up and balanced to 74%. This really is a must do on a Triumph, once you have your crank in your hands!! The result is phenomenal, they will waffle around on the throttle quite happily afterwards.
A pair of Newman Cams ground to the 650 T120 E3134 profile went in along with "R" followers to put a few hairs on it's chest, and to deserve the name Bonneville. The head received a full and thorough overhaul, valves, guides and springs following a visit to Peter at I Cleenz Macheenz  for vapour cleaning along with the rest of the main castings.

The rest of the bike was freshened up with parts that were needed rather than a no expense spared restoration, so what you see is still 90% 1977.
As for whether the engine work was worth it? If you ask Chris, the answer is a resounding yes. It pulls stronger from lower down the rev range and with a smoothness that a lot of people would not associate with a Triumph twin.
It can now, justifiably, be called a Bonneville.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

The World's Greatest Old Bike Mag.

The cover of this month's Vintage Bike Magazine, showing a piece of true Triumph exotica, the fabled pre-war Bronze Head adorning an early Tiger 100.
There is only two thing wrong with this magazine, firstly, it should be twice as thick and secondly, it should come out twice as often!
Written by men who are passionate about the subject with a lifetime in the industry, it goes to levels that other monthly classic comics fall lamentably short of.

Here's how they describe themselves;
Vintage Bike is written for those interested in British motorcycles in general and the Triumph in particular. The magazine includes how-to-do-it articles, stories by and about owners rebuilding and riding their bikes, and authoritative interviews with people who were there during the colorful history of the industry by such well-known authors as Kevin Cameron, Mick Duckworth, John Healy and many others.  Subscribe now. Articles and resources here on our website include an index of back issues.

Do yourself a favour if the description appeals to you, your life will be richer for subscribing to this magazine.

Friday, 9 August 2019


Dick "Bugsy" Mann started his career hurtling 'round the oval on an early A7.
Makes me want to get the spanners out on mine!

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Tom's Born Free 11Triumph

 Tom was an Invited Builder at the year's Born Free Show and credit where credit is due, the folks in charge of handing out the invites were right on the money contacting Tom.

This 650 Trumpet oozes Sixties show bike style and panache all the way from the axle plates of the chromed frame, right through to the rockers of the original 1930 H-D Peashooter springer front end.

The frame is a '53 with the classic light stretch in the lower rear rails to straighten out the line from the head stock to the rear axle. The motor consists of a set of T110 cases, restraining a heavily massaged crank that saw action in a Hill Climber back in the day. This is topped off with a set of 8 stud barrels carrying an early T120 head.

Although it was declared a winner at BF11, in the valley of the V Twins, it rightly caught the attention of the head honchos at Mooneyes as Tom received an invite to attend Yokohama 2019 and that's a validation of quality in anybody's book.

Thanks Tom. 

Sunday, 4 August 2019

One for Phil H

Bumped into my old mate Phil at a bash yesterday and he expressed his disappointment about the lack of activity on here for more than a while. I promised him I would try and get my shit together, so here's a shot of a big Enfield from an NCC run down to Oxford around 40 years ago.

Good to see ya Phil!

Monday, 25 September 2017

1954 Triumph Tiger 110 (sort of)

Worked on this with Chris a couple of months ago, loosely based around a 1954 Ton Ten, there are parts that span the '54 to '59 production period. 

Complete overhaul of the front end along with a general tidy up and recommissioning. 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Spreading the rails

On the mid sixties 250/441 BSAs there is 1/8" spacer on the bottom engine stud, on the drive side between the frame lug and the crank case. This is often overlooked during reassembly, resulting in the lower frame rails being tweaked in. 
Using a 7" length of M10 x 1.0 studding with two nuts on the inside of the rails the gap can be spread to the specified 4 5/8". 

Once the motor goes back in there will now be clearance which can be measured accurately and a bespoke spacer made to take up the gap minus 0.002" resulting in minimal movement of the frame when tightened.