Sunday, November 27, 2011

All of my posts should be titled "it's been awhile"...

Even if it hasn't.

I've made a bit of headway with the Interceptor's front forks. Got some machine work done to adapt some foreign fork legs to fit the R-E casquette fork crown.

This involved cutting a 26 tpi thread at the top of the stanchion tubes to allow them to screw into the casquette. I also cut a groove into the tops of the sliders so that a standard BSA/Triumph style rubber fork gaiter will work on them. There's a lip at the bottom of each gaiter that mates with the grooves in the fork sliders.  (Note that my use of first person above doesn't mean that I actually did the machine work.  As the machinist who actually did the work would be among the first to agree, it's best that I never learn to use machine tools, I'm way too prone to making stupid mistakes!)

I also filed off the "Made in...." that was part of the fork slider castings.  These will be powder coated red to match the frame.

I'm now working on cleaning up a couple of rear brake drum/sproket/cush drive units.

I'm also tentatively looking at options for the damaged 500 crankcase. I've got a spare crankcase, but it  needs work too.
The oil drain plug, which is hollow, and encorporates a mesh strainer with internal passages to supply the engine oil to the feed pump is well and truly stuck. It's made of brass, and I suspect some kind of dis-similar metal type of electrolosis process for causing sufficient corrosion to bond it to the aluminum threads in the crankcase.
Someone had made attempts at removing it long before I acquired the crankcase at a swap meet, and corners are all worn off the hex head. I've used pb blaster, as much heat as I thought the crankcase would tolerate, various types of tools, including the last resort, drilling the head out and using a large easy-out.
Still stuck. To get this out is going to require carefully drilling as much of it away as possible, then somehow picking the remains out of the threads.
The question is, will this be easier and faster than getting the damaged cam tunnel in the other crankcase welded up?
It would be great if I could take the good half from  one and use it with the good half from the other. But they're line-bored as a pair, and each half of the crankcase is stamped with the same unique number. Mixing them up is a guarantee of failed bearings and short  lived pistons.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A pair of alloy mudguards (fenders, to us yanks) came in today.

Bought them from the online shop for the US Royal Enfield distributor.
The fact that there are new parts made in India which will substitute for missing parts on our old Enfields is such a luxury after so many years of scrounging and making do when parts aren't readily available.  These fenders cost all of $135 + about $30 for shipping. Can't get any cheaper than that, and the quality is more than acceptable.

The fenders aren't for the Interceptor, which is a good thing. Then the bike would look too much like this Enfield, owned by a fellow Enfield enthusiast, which happens to have the same fenders as the ones I just recieved. I'm really not copying this bike, although I really admire it. Once I'm done with the Interceptor, you'll see what I mean.  This picture is just so you can see what the alloy fenders look like.

I guess I didn't mention it yet, but the plan is to do the bikes in the same colors, but with the color  scheme reversed, so the Indian will get a silver grey frame with red sheet metal (except for those alloy fenders!), and the Interceptor will have the red frame and silver-grey sheet metal.

My rationale for doing them this way is that the Interceptor, being more of a custom bike has a lot more room for playing around with colors, so it gets a red frame. The Tomahawk, I've decided, is going to go back to a more original configuration, which had red sheet metal, with alloy fenders. All the frame parts should be black, but I decided to customize it just a touch so that when I put both bikes together, they look like a matched pair.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Long Time No See

At this point, I'm fully recovered from my medical issue, and trying to get back to my life. Finally starting to get serious here.

I have the wheels nearly ready to go. Bought  all new wheel bearings, polished the brake plates, and I just have to get them trued up, and they're ready for tires.

I also took one of the frames in and had it powder coated. Red. This is the Interceptor, and since it's not going to be anywhere near original, I figure I can play around with the colors on it.

The fenders and other sheet metal parts will be done in a silver-grey for contrast.

Here's a photo of the frame parts I had powder coated. The picture turned out looking very orange for some reason. There's definately an orange cast to this color, but not as bad as it looks.

A little progress. Let's see if I can gain some momentum on this thing now.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Been awhile....

I wonder if this blog has been abandoned long enough to be picked up by that artist in New York who has a blog about abandoned blogs?
Prolly not.

I haven't made much progress in the last month. I had to go to the hospital for major surgery on July 14th, and when they discharged me, it was under the condition that I not lift anything heavier than 10 lbs, and limit my activity.

So, as of Thursday, the 11th, the restrictions are lifted, so I'm back in the garage. Found someone to repair the damage that I found in the Tomahawk's crankcase. I just need to get it clean for him.  Welding on these is tricky, and this guy is supposedly a welder that other welders go to when they get stuck on a job.

I've also been working on wheels. I did most of the work before I went in for surgery, but I just finished lacing up the last of three wheels. Two of them for the Tomahawk, and one for the Interceptor.

New stainless spokes from Buchanan's, and polished up the aluminum hubs.
I'm not aiming for 100 point Pebble Beach Concourse quality, more like "cool bike" at the Pizza place on "bike night" quality.

Here's what they look like so  far. I still need to get new bearings in them all, and the rear wheels need the drive sprockets and brake plates cleaned up. The one  front  wheel of the three has had the brake plates polished (double-sided brake drum), but still needs the brake parts cleaned up and put back together.

Lacing  these after having them apart for 6 months was an interesting excersize. Two of them laced up pretty easily, using the same pattern as the BMW wheels I did back in May. (also the same as some BSA 441 wheels that I have on hand)  These were the 19 inch wheels on the Tomahawk.
When I tried to do the 18 inch rear wheel from the Interceptor, the spokes just didn't seem to want to work out. I ended up with all the inner spokes on one side being way too long, and all the outer spokes on the other side way too short.
I check of my Interceptor shop manual, and the  Indian Tomahawk/Trailblazerl/Apache manual didn't have a lot to say  about spoke lacing, except that  the Interceptor front and rear wheels are laced in "one over two" pattern. While the Indian  front wheel is laced "one over two" and the rear wheel is laced "one over three".   I presume that's the number of other spokes that each spoke crosses over.
I looked up several websites that describe  wheel lacing techniques, and none of them specifically said what these terms mean. They were all bicycle enthusiast sites, which described many different patterns, most of them probably completely inappropriate to motorcycle wheel building. 
The two wheels that laced up easily were laced with all the inner spokes (the ones you put in first) on both sides angled the same direction in relation to the hub, and all the outer spokes laced the opposite direction. This is also how BMW /2 spokes lace up.
I decided to try alternating the inner and outer sets of spokes in relation to each other on the Interceptor's wheel, so that the inner spokes on one side of the wheel were angled the same direction as the outer spokes on the other side of the wheel, and vice-versa for the other sets of inner/outer spokes.
Went together very nicely that way, and I think you can see the difference in the lacing pattern when  you look at the wheels.  The oddball pattern is the bottom picture. 
I'm not sure why the Interceptor back wheel is different, it should have been the Tomahawk rear wheel that's different. The 18 inch rim  I used on the Interceptor is the one that's been on it since I put the bike together in 1972, but it's a replacement rim, laced up by a guy who worked for the Royal Enfield dealer in Atherton, California, near where I lived when I bought the bike. Could be the rim was drilled in a non-standard pattern compared to an original Interceptor rear wheel.
As for the Tomahawk rear wheel lacing up the same as the front wheel, that's probably because I'm using the 19 inch front rim off the Interceptor.  I took the best three of the 6 old rims I had available, and must have ended up with two front rims. No big deal, there's no difference other than the lacing pattern necessitated by how they're drilled for the spokes.

Tomahawk 19 inch rear wheel

Tomahawk Front  Wheel

Interceptor Rear Wheel

The rims are original. They were good enough for my standards to use with just a good cleaning with 000 steel wool and WD40.  A few nicks, but no rust pitting, and the chrome isn't peeling anywhere.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Another distraction. VAX Interceptor discovered in a barn!

My barn. Some parts that I bought back around 1975 or so have been identified as the most important parts of a very rare model of Royal Enfield.

When I first heard about the 1960 Royal Enfield 700cc Interceptor, I attempted to argue with the guy who told me about them. Turns out they're real. Enfield was working on the Interceptor design, and built a few prototypes using a hot-rodded Constellation engine, and shipped them to the US in 1960, two years before the formal introduction of the 750 Interceptor.
According  to the wikipedia article about Interceptors they made 163 of them. Other sources put the number at 170 and 211. According to Burton Bike Bits Interceptor Registry there are only 9 (not counting this one) known to exist, either as complete bikes or as correctly numbered crankcases or frames. Mine would make 10.
I discovered what this was after I sent a list of engine numbers for crankcases that are in my possession to the REOC-UK to help them update a database they're compiling based on factory records vs what is known to exist now.
The  following is copies of part of an email exchange I had with the REOC president regarding the engine and frame numbers that I sent to him.

Hi Carl,

Thank you for the engine numbers.

We didn't have any of the YB numbers you gave, so that's another three added to the listing.
This unfortunately also means that I cannot date or verify your comlete machine as it is not in our records - will have to assume that it is an original pair for now.

The damaged cases with a VAX number are from a 700cc Interceptor despatched in April 1960.

Your Tomahawk is even more interesting as the frame number has nothing recorded against it in the ledgers. The machines either side have similar engine numbers to yours, however, so it is an original machine although it was probably despatched in 1957, possibly '58 but definitely not '59.

As we do not have this machine in the records, I would most grateful if you could take a picture of the complete bike and close ups of the frame / engine numbers and let me have them as email attachments.

Please let me have the numbers of the frames you have as well - I can let you know what they are (hopefully) and annotate our records that the bike has been broken up.


I was asked to send in any frame numbers that I had, which I did.

Graham, I've found three Enfield frames in my collection of parts that I
forgot that I had.

I think they're all 500 or 700 twin frames.

The numbers are 6828, 7651, and 11051.

The two lower numbered ones don't have the large plate-type head steady
lug welded to the main tube. 11051 does have one of these, plus holes
for the triangular aluminum block behind the gearbox. It has an older
style swingarm with bronze bushings and grease fittings.

I hope this is of help in completing your records. Two of these frames,
6828 and 11051 are still usable, 7651 was "re-engineered" by some
shade-tree mechanic who thought an Enfield frame would work better as a
full-cradle frame. I'm afraid that if one was to cut off the crude lump
of pipe that was welded to the downtube, it would weaken the downtube
enough that it wouldn't be safe to use the frame.

I'd love to hear what model/year these frames are from.


The reply.

Hello Carl,

Thank you for the numbers.

7651 is a December '58 Apache (Brockhouse).

6828 could be either a May '58 Apache (Brockhouse) or a July '63 500 Sports
Twin (Shores).
I don't know enough about these to verify which one, even with a photo of

11051 is an April '60 700cc Interceptor, often referred to as the "VAX"
model, this being the engine prefix.
All these engines had 60xxx numbers, but the damaged cases you have are not
from the engine originally fitted to this frame.



After realizing that I had some potentially valuable parts, I dragged them out into the light, and realized that I'd misread the frame number, so I sent an email with the updated number.

Graham, I've got several people who are very interested in that vax
interceptor frame, so I got it out of storage to take some pictures, and
discovered that I'd misread the number.
It's 11059, not 11051.
Is this outside of the range for a VAX Interceptor?



Confirmed that I had an engine and frame which came from the same bike.

Hi Carl,

Assumption correct - your "corrected" frame number 11059 was indeed shipped
with engine VAX 60219 fitted during April 1960.



Then I got to thinking about the number stamped on the front of the same engine. I'd been told that this number represented the number stamped on the gearbox that was originally shipped with the engine as parts of the same bike.
Once again, I discover that I had a serial numbered part that came from this same rare Royal Enfield.
Another piece of the puzzle dropped into place when I remembered that I had one crankcase with no number stamped on it. This was among the parts in the purchase I made which included the VAX Interceptor. It's believed that Enfield shipped un-numbered crankcases to their dealers to install when an engine wasn't found to be repairable. They were probably expected to stamp it with the number from the original engine. This crankcase was probably the replacement for the one that was broken by a thrown connecting rod. Why the original owner bothered to keep the broken one, I don't know, but it was a good decision.
Here are pictures of the parts I have to build a VAX interceptor. All the other parts can be obtained, either from newly manufactured parts, or used parts. I have most of the engine parts that are needed.
Now I need to decide if I want a third Royal Enfield project, or if I should pass this on to someone else.
I've recieved offers.

The frame:

The engine.

The gearbox.

The replacement engine:


There's one more email I should copy. The REOC president said he found the factory record for my Tomahawk. It had been mis-filed in the ledger for the 700cc bikes.
Hi Carl,

I have just chanced upon the entry for your Tomahawk in the factory ledgers.
Some fool wrote it up in the 700cc book, so I have transferred it into the correct 500cc file on my spreadsheets.

It left Redditch on 28th November 1957 for the Brockhouse depot in the UK, then on to USA.



Monday, June 20, 2011

Buchanan's Spoke and Rim.

Nice people to do business with.

I called them up last week, and ordered a set of stainless steel spokes for the rear wheel on my Interceptor.

They don't stock spokes for Enfield wheels, but they'll make a set for anyone who wants one.
As long as it's for an Interceptor. They don't have specifications for spokes to fit any other model of Enfield. (until now; if you have an Enfield with 19 inch wheels at both ends, and 6 inch brakes)

I had to send them two of the old spokes from my Tomahawk so they could duplicate them.

The Tomahawk has 19 inch wheels front and rear, and 6 inch brakes front and rear, so both wheels take the same spokes.
Got the Interceptor spokes in a few days ago, and they're making the spokes for the Tomahawk as I type this. Time to start cleaning up some hubs. (the  rims have been ready since February)

Another bit of progress I've made is that I got the Tomahawk's crankshaft out. I'll take some pictures. There's some nasty, but repairable damage to the inside of the drive side crankcase caused by a thrown  rod, which wasn't fixed when the  rod was replaced.
Check back, I'll add the pictures to this post when I have them.
I don't know how some guys ever get any work done, stopping to take a picture every 10 minutes.  I prefer to work first, take pictures later.

Pictures of the damaged crankcase.
First, the washer on the timing side that the end of the crankshaft was rubbing on.
Just a sideshow. Here's the important stuff.
The broken area near the cam tunnel on the right side crankcase half.
This is a view from inside the crankcase looking up into the hole where the cylinder spigot goes.
Another view, this time from the top/rear of the case looking down into the cylinder spigot hole. There's supposed to be a hole there, just not quite as big and jagged as this.
And some marks on the inside of the crankcase where bits of metal bounced around. 
The oil return baffle. There are two screws missing, and it's bent. 
And here's the crankshaft with rods. One dirty, old looking rod, one shiny new looking rod.
  So that's it. Needs new bearings, and some welding. The rod bearings feel ok. I'm not even going to take those off.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Time's awastin'

I've got less than a year to go here. Gotta get to work.

Ok, here's what I've done recently (no pictures!)

The Suzuki forks are awaiting my friend's lathe to have threads cut in the top of the stanchions so they can screw into the Enfield fork crown. He's also going to cut a groove in the tops of the sliders to accept a standard Triumph style rubber fork gaiter.

I've started work on the Tomahawk engine. It has perfect looking top-end, cylinder bores, pistons, valves don't like like they need to be reworked.
The bottom end is a different story. It made an awful grinding sound when being turned over by hand, and felt very rough. I assumed the main bearings were breaking up.
What I found after partial disassembly (the drive side bearing is holding onto the crankshaft very tenaciously, and I'm looking for a suitable puller) is that the crankshaft wasn't quite installed correctly. It's supposed to be held in place on the drive side bearing using a spacer on the inside of the bearing race, and the engine sprocket and nut to pull the entire assembly tight. This establishes a certain amount of clearance on the timing end of the crankshaft.
Whoever put it together (I assumed, given the apparent low milage of the engine, that it was a "friday afternoon" factory assembly job) didn't pull the crankshaft tight against the drive side bearing, and the other end of the crankshaft was rubbing against a large sheet metal washer that's installed in the timing half of the crankcase to cover the bearing and end of the crankshaft.
Further inspection revealed that at some time, the engine had suffered a broken connecting rod. The case wasn't broken in the typical manner, so it didn't show up as a big hole in the front of the crankcase.
It did cause internal damage to the exhaust cam tunnel in the right side of the crankcase, and someone replaced the broken rod. This explained why the rod on one side was dark from age, and the rod on the side where I found the damage was still white aluminum.
The cam lobe on that side was rubbing the damaged metal which was pushed into the cam tunnel. Putting it together without fixing this damage was a mistake, because the damaged area was bad enough to allow oil to pour out of the cam tunnel, which is supposed to have a certain amount of oil in it at all times to lubricate the cam. I see no serious wear on the cam, either because there's still enough oil in there to keep that cam wet, or (more likely) because after reassembling the engine, they only started it up briefly, then shut it down and never ran it again. There wasn't much wear on the parts that were rubbing inside.
So once I've got the crankshaft out of the drive side case, I'll need to get some aluminum welding done to restore the cam tunnel. Didn't expect to have to be doing something like that!
I'll update this post with pictures after I've finished the disassembly.

I've also ordered some spokes for the wheels from Buchanan's.
They don't normally stock Royal Enfield spokes, so they had to make them up special.
They keep spoke specifications in a database, but the only Enfield spokes they listed were for the Interceptor. I ordered, and recieved a set of spokes for the rear wheel on the Interceptor. I also ordered a nifty spoke wrench which has one end that will work with most British wheels, and the other end will work with BMW slash-2 wheels. Its listed as the 210250 spoke wrench. That's because one end of it is 0.210" and the other end is 0.250".
I also sent them two spokes from the Tomahawk, which has 19 inch wheels with 6 inch brake hubs at both ends, so the spokes are the same. So if anyone needs replacement spokes for an Enfield with a 19 inch rear wheel, or a 19 inch front wheel with the 6 inch brake, they'll be able to make you a set.

Some progress. Not much but at least I'm moving on it.

Reply to Montoya's several comments.

When I first read your comments, I was a bit put off by your tone. You come across like one of those Concours afficianados who won't even put oil or gas in their trailer queens for fear they'll hurt the resale value or points scoring ability of their bikes. I plan to ride both of these when they're done, so "correctness" as determined by concourse judges or auctioneers is just not a concern for me.

But since you took the time and effort to compile your critique and suggestions (appreciated despite our difference in opinions), I feel that you deserve a reply, and since this is my blog, it seems easiest to reply in a new post, rather than cluttering up the comments section with more comments.

I'm not a purist, and never have been.  Both of these bikes were acquired by me with missing and incorrect parts on them, the Interceptor particularly so.  I originally put them together the way I wanted to, with limitations due to lack of knowledge at the time, serious lack of availability of parts, and lack of personal wealth.
I bought both of them back when very few people had any good information about them, and parts were almost impossible to obtain. They also both suffered from the typical period "modifications" of previous owners, removing front fenders, hacksawing back fenders, throwing "unnecessary" parts away.
The Interceptor was wrecked at least twice before I got it, and it had a set of Triumph forks installed (very, very badly).

I bought the Interceptor in 1972 (hard to believe it got to the state it was in after only 6 years), as a pile of parts. I was friends with the current owner, who took it apart to restore it.  It had the Triumph forks on it when he bought it, no front fender, a standard Dunlop rear fender with homemade stays, a Bates solo saddle, and numerous other aftermarket parts.  At the time, I was just a young kid who wanted the biggest bike I could get for the least amount of money. I simply put it back together with the parts I was provided with, and rode it around for several years like that.
Replacing all the missing parts wasn't an option at the time, although in hindsight, I probably could have. Since that time, I've purchased several stashes of old R-E parts, although tinware has always been very uncommon in such parts stashes.

The Tomahawk was purchased around 1982 from the original Indian dealer who had sold it new. I had no idea what it was supposed to look like at the time. It had no front fender, a chopped back fender, JC Whitney mufflers... It did have the original gas tank, front forks, engine, gearbox, toolbox and seat (not on it in the picture in this blog). When I put it together, I purchased a front fender from a Domi-Racer sale catalog that was listed as for an Indian Enfield, and given the low price (plus at the time, not knowing what the original front fender should have been) I snapped it up.
The toolbox on the bike is actually from my 1966 Interceptor, the original Tomahawk toolbox had been modified by a previous owner, who drilled four large holes in each side cover, and at the time, I didn't know if they could be fixed, so I just used the Interceptor toolbox. I've since then, gotten the holes repaired, and plan to use the original toolbox during this project.
For the record, this is one Tomahawk that does have all matching numbers, confirmed by the REOC-UK who has the original factory records. The frame, engine and gearbox all match for a Tomahawk that was shipped to the US in November, 1957 .
As for the nuts and bolts vs "resale value", like I said before, I don't care about resale value, I'm not in this for the money. As anyone who's ever restored a motorcycle knows, you're not going to make your money back on a restoration project, so you're a fool if you worry about things like resale value. I've restored other British motorcycles using SAE stainless fasteners altered to look like the original Whitworth or BSF fasteners, and nobody's yet gone over my bikes with a thread guage to determine if the fasteners are "correct" or not.
If/when these bikes are passed on to another owner, replacing the nuts and bolts, should the new owner care about that kind of thing, won't be difficult to do.

Regarding the Suzuki front forks, I'm putting them on for no other reason than because I want to. If you look at the picture I photoshopped, you'll note that I show an Enfield "casquette" headlamp/fork crown on it. I'm having a machinist friend modify the Suzuki forks to fit the Enfield part (which I purchased new from an Enfield dealer a couple of years ago). It's a "because it's there" kind of thing (and I have a really cool mod for the brake calipers which I'm not going to reveal until I've got the forks ready to install), plus, no matter how bad the Suzuki forks/brakes are compared with modern Japanese forks and brakes, they've got to be better than original Enfield parts, this is a cafe racer build, after all not a restoration. The only parts which will be irretrievably altered are a pair of old Suzuki fork legs. (now I'm going to recieve the wrath of Suzuki GT 750 fans!)
I am not planning on throwing the original Enfield forks away, and putting them back on the bike would take maybe a couple of hours of work if I decide I don't like the Suzuki forks.

Given the purpose of this project; to have two complete, presentable bikes for display at a motorcycle show which features Royal Enfield, I'm going to be making compromises, up to and including putting the Tomahawk back together with all the incorrect tinware if money and time prevents obtaining original parts.
I'm going to aim for having it completed with correct tinware if possible, but if I can't, as time and money permits,  I can continue to acquire more appropriate parts for the Tomahawk and return it to original specification.
My point here being that no future owners of either of these bikes will be cursing me for putting them together the way I did.  No changes to the original bikes are being performed which can't be easily changed back to original specification, and all the unused original parts which I currently have are going to be kept with each bike if I pass either one on to someone else.

Since my most recent post was a distraction, I guess I should conclude this one with an update to that distraction.
I've finally had a chance to use those cheap tires for what they were intended. (concours purists, you may want to close this page now to avoid damage to your sensibilities!)
I can report that they perform amazingly well on both pavement and dirt. Two of my friends who also own vintage BMW's bought pairs of these for their own bikes and we took a trip in Eastern Oregon which consisted of 50+ miles of somtimes very rudimentary dirt road, including two stream crossings, and the tires worked beautifully. These are by far, the best tires I've ever had on my R69S.

For anyone who's interested, these are Shinko 244 "Golden Boy" tires (made in Korea) in 3.50x18 size, and these old beemers handle both on and off road like these tires were made for them.
I may even put a pair on my Tomahawk, should I be able to restore it to original configuration within my timeframe. From looking at pictures of original Tomahawks, I get the impression that they were intended for light offroad use.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


So, I haven't been too active in this blog recently. Not that I haven't been working on my Enfields. I've done a bit of work on the 500cc engine, and I'm working on adapting a set of Suzuki GT 750 front forks for the Interceptor.

But I got a bit distracted by my 1965 BMW the last few weeks.
I've got this idea that I need to mount some dual sport tires on it. Obviously, I can't run this type of tires all the time, so I needed some wheels. I have wheels. All of them rather tatty, a bit rusty...
So the distraction from my preferred project was rebuilding two of these old wheels to mount a pair of Shinko 244 3.50x18 dual sport tires ($44.95).

I didn't take any "before" pictures. Here's what I ended up with after a two week distraction.

The BMW is now ready for any adventure.

And back to work on the Enfields. Stay tuned, I'm almost ready to post pictures of a very interesting set of forks.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'm still sorting parts. Got all my Enfield wheels taken apart and the rims cleaned up. All of them are useable as-is. I've picked the best four out of the six to use for this project.

Then I got to thinking about the cafe racer front wheel. It really needs something better than the single leading shoe 7 inch drum brake that's standard for most Enfields. Hitchcock's lists an India made twin leading shoe front wheel for 127 English Pounds that would be a nice upgrade, and should go right into my old Interceptor front hub.
But I think I can do better than that for a custom cafe racer. I've got an old Suzuki GT750 "Water Buffalo" front fork and wheel with dual disk brakes that I bought years ago because someone wrote an article in the Royal Enfield Owners (USA) Newsletter about how those would mount right up to an Enfield frame.
I'm not sure what that guy was smoking, but they don't just "mount right up" to an Enfield frame!
So, the thing sat in my barn for 25 years. Forgotten. Until yesterday.
Maybe there's a way. I went and got it.
The original problems were that the steering stem is the wrong length, and the bearing races aren't the right size. The idea presented in the article I read said that the fork bearing races were the same diameter, so you could use the Enfield parts that fit in the frame with the Suzuki parts attached to the fork triple clamp. That turns out to be wrong. They can be assembled that way, but the bearings would have very short lives. I didn't even try it.
However, the upper stanchion tubes are the same diameter as the Enfield forks. What if I adapted the Suzuki fork legs to fit into the Enfield triple clamp?
This might work.
A bit of trial fitting, and I knew that the Suzuki fork legs would have to be cut down, and I'd have to thread the ends of them because Enfield forks screw into the upper triple clamp. The Enfield triple clamp is also narrower than the Suzuki one by about 2mm, so I'd have to cut the brake caliper bosses on the suzuki fork lowers 1mm on each side to maintain the caliper position relative to the rotor positoins.
But it could work.
The big advantage being that I can still use the Enfield trademark "casquette" combined headlamp, speedometer houseing, fork crown.
I've cobbled up a crude picture of the Suzuki fork with an Enfield upper triple clamp.

So, for the three of my followers (I'm sure there will be many more to sign up now that I've lowered myself to using Japanese parts!), what do you guys think?
You know how to reach me outside of this site.
Some of my purist friends are aghast at this. I should be using a Norton Commando front brake, or at least a Water Buffalo drum brake! Sadly, I didn't know any better 20 years ago when I bought this front end, that four leading shoe brake would be nice.
Well, this is what I have, and it's the best possible front brake I could use on this bike while avoiding spending excessive amounts of money. If it doesn't work out, I'm keeping my Enfield front forks.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

No News is Good News?

As I promised, I'm not updating this blog on a daily basis. I don't have time for it.

But I haven't been ignoring my project.

What I learned when I restored my BMW R69S and my BSA 441SS "Shooting Star" was that the only way to finish a restoration in a timely fashion is to do something on it every week, if not every day, no matter how little you can get done sometimes.

So, since I last updated this blog, I've been sorting and cleaning parts. The goal being to decide what's good enough to use without major re-working, what I can sell off to help finance this adventure, and what's just plain junk.

Don't expect pictures of me removing spokes from wheels, knocking old wheel bearings out of hubs or washing parts. I'm not going to waste my time taking pictures of every single thing that I do. (I don't want to get my camera dirty, or waste even more time, cleaning up so I can touch it!)
I will post pictures of significant items as they're finished. It's going to be awhile before I need to bring the camera out to the garage!

I've taken apart two rear wheels in the last couple of days. One with a 19 inch rim that will work for the Indian, and one with an 18 inch rim for the interceptor. Both rims can be used after a good cleaning with WD-40 soaked steel wool.
The hubs will require careful cleaning, and maybe some polishing.
The one with the 19 inch wheel had a Dunlop Trials Universal tire on it that's probably been there since 1960. It was so hard, I thought it still had air in it!
Getting it off was simple. I used my Sawzall. Cut all the way around it, with the blade facing up. Once it was split, I worked the inner tube out of the way. Whoever put that tire on really did a lousy job. The tube was pinched under the rimlocks, and also for about half the circumfrence of the rim, the tube was pinched under the bead of the tire on one or both sides. Great job.
After cutting the tire in half, I used a dremel tool with an abrasive disk to cut the wires in the bead. Waited for my wife to leave the house for an errand so I wouldn't have to explain why the garage was full of burned rubber smoke.
For the wheels, my next major step will be a call to Buchannan's to order some stainless steel spokes. First real money to be spent. About $100 per set x 4 sets.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Where did I get all this junk?

I just spent a pleasant hour and a half digging through my storage shed for Enfield parts.

I had no idea.  That I had this much Enfield junk.

Here's a picture of some stuff that I thought would be good to have on hand  as I decide what to use for this project. In the picture are one front wheel (with tire) and one front hub, two back wheels (one with, one without a tire), four Armstrong shock absorbers, two Enfield steering stems, with upper and lower triple clamps and bearing races, one with the cast-in tach and speedo mount, one "customized" with  that part sawn off. Two inner primary  cases, one outer primary case and a  timing side cover, two boxes full of engine  mounting studs and nuts of various sizes, engine plates, a sidestand a centerstand and a rear fender. A large box full of small parts from Enfield, BMW, Kawasaki, BSA, and a bunch of generic stuff like cables, handlebar controls, etc.  which I didn't feel like sorting.

Still in the shed are at least 6 Enfield twin crankcases,  I don't know how many barrels and cylinders, three or four more primary cases, half a dozen transmission cases or complete transmissions, three frames, two more sets of front forks, and several boxes of miscellaneous parts.

I had no idea that I had this much stuff. This is what I get for buying every Enfield part that I see at swap meets and vintage rallys. If anyone reading this cares, I'm going to be wanting to sell off most of this stuff after I've completed my project.

Here's the back of my truck after I got home with a small fraction of my stash.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Just a couple of items to report today.

Did a bit more disassembly and clean up.

And, I had a go at cleaning up the heads of some 1/4-28 stainless bolts.

Here are the results.

I should have placed them on a white cloth to snap the picture. They're not gold colored!

Before and after. 

The process requires three steps.

1. Rough sand with a belt sander.
2. Fine sand with 320 grit wet drum sander.
3. Polish with tripoli polishing compound on a cloth wheel.

It goes pretty fast. I took about 1/2 hour to do 24 of these.

I think  I'm  going to have to bead blast them after polishing. This is too shiny. They  won't look enough like the original Enfield stuff I need to use for places where bolts screw into threaded holes.  I think after bead blasting, these should be pretty close to the appearance of cadmium plated bolts.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I've just returned from the Industrial fastener store, where I bought a box of 100 stainless 1/4-28 by 1 inch hex head bolts, and matching nylon locking nuts and washers. I also picked up four stainless 5/16-24 by 1-1/2 inch bolts, nuts and washers. I wanted to get a box of 100 1-1/4 inch, but they didn't have any  of those in quantity, so I got the four longer ones to experiment with. If I can lengthen  the thread on those easily to suit applications where I need a shorter bolt, these will  work, but I don't want to buy 100 of them if I can't cut the threads by hand.

I've also done a bit of thinking, and made an important decision regarding how I'm going to finance this project, and secondarily, how I'm going to clear enough space on my cluttered workbench to take apart a Royal Enfield 500cc twin cylinder engine.

I'm going to sell of all my vintage motorcycle stuff that's not Royal Enfield or BMW related.
I'll get some pictures and an inventory as soon as the weather improves enough to dig everything out and line it up outside where it can be photographed.
In the meantime, here's a quick list of what I have that's going to be sold off. There are people who've already expressed interest in some of this, but that interest may not extend to the point where they actually put down their money, so I'm going to list it all

1. A 1975 Kawasaki H1F, which I bought new, and took apart to restore 15 years ago. This will include a spare bike, less the engine, many new parts purchased over the years from old kawasaki dealers, powder coated frame. The engine is in one piece, but needs the crankshaft taken apart to replace worn out seals. (that's been using up space on my workbench  for 10 years)
2. A 1970 BSA 441 Shooting Star. This bike was restored in 1995, and is still very presentable as-is. The engine is currently out for a top-end job, which is basically completed, it just needs to be reassembled, which I plan to do before I sell it. This bike includes most of  a 1969 250cc BSA, which  are the same, except for the engine.That includes very nice plastic gas tank and side covers which look good on the 441.
3. A 1968 Honda CL 125 twin. This bike is running, but very rough, and will include two spare frames and other parts, a spare engine (not running, as far as I know).
4. A 1965 Honda CB 160 twin, not running but complete. Someone installed a "CL kit" on it, so it has high exhaust pipes instead of the low pipes.
I haven't determined prices yet. After I've checked what these are selling for on Craigslist, Ebay, and Walneck's, I'll set prices that will be competetive.
A lot of this stuff could be sold individually on ebay, probably for more money,  but doing that would take time away from my Enfield project, so I'd rather sell them as lots and be done with it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Can I restore two motorcycles in 18 months?

My plan is to rebuild two Royal Enfield Motorcycles, starting in January, 2011, to be completed by May, 2012, in time for Oregon Vintage Motorcyclists May Show, which will have Royal Enfield as the Featured Marque.
One bike is my 1966 Interceptor 750, the other is my 1959 Indian Tomahawk (more about Royal Enfield Indians later).

The Interceptor was restored in 1984, and I acquired the Indian as a “rolling basket case” from the Eugene, Oregon Indian dealer, C. R. Saville around 1985, with plans to ultimately restore it.
By 1990, I had done a restoration of the frame and cycle parts from the Indian, but didn't have the financial resources to get the engine rebuilt (one child, and another on the way can put a damper on projects like motorcycle restoration).

I liked the looks of the Indian so much that I decided to sacrifice the Interceptor in order to get the Indian on the road. (one of the nice things about old Royal Enfields is the amazing interchangability of various parts over the entire range of models and years).
So, in 1990, the Interceptor engine went into the Indian frame, where it's been ever since.

Now that my vintage motorcycle club is going to feature Royal Enfield, and since I'm one of the Royal Enfield experts in the club, it's a fairly high priority that I have both of mine in a state suitable for a motorcycle show.

So, on January 12, The Indian was dissasembled. The next day, I went to the storage shed where I have the frame and other parts for the Interceptor, and gathered everything I could find in my driveway for a “before” photo.

Here's what each bike looked like after they were originally restored years ago.

The  Interceptor

 The Indian.

I should point out, that neither bike is "factory original", nor will they be  after I've finished this project. I  do them the way I like them, not the way a concourse judge thinks they should be.

So, here's the plan.
The Interceptor's engine was completely rebuilt from top to bottom nearly 27 years ago, but hasn't seen more than several thousand miles of use in all that time, and it's still pretty sound. It's leaked a lot of oil on itself, and acquired a lot of dirt over the years, so I'm going to get it “media blasted” (a process that uses various forms of non-abrasive materials to clean the metal without damaging it, or risking abrasive crud getting inside)
It will require a bit of internal attention, but I won't have to strip it down and rebuild it.
The Indian's motor has  immaculate, shiny cylinder bores, showing almost no wear on the original pistons. The valves also look good. What's wrong with it is that the main bearings feel like they've got gravel in them when I try to turn the motor over with the kickstart lever. It's going to have to come apart.
I'm hoping that the rod bearings are in good shape, and I intend to determine that just by feel without taking the rod caps off. Doing that necessitates getting new bolts, and considerable risk of things coming apart later. I think if they don't feel loose or gritty when I rotate them, they should be ok to use without any further attention. Enfield twins have always had good quality oil filtration, and that should have prevented whatever grit is in the main bearings from finding its way back into the rest of the engine

Since taking the bikes apart, and snapping the “before” picture, I've completely stripped both frames, and am gathering up all the metal parts that need to be powder coated black, along with the frames.
I've also gone through my stash of old nuts and bolts, and collected everything that originally came off a Royal Enfield. (I've had my Interceptor apart enough times over the years, that I have no trouble identifying stuff like that).
Most of the nuts and bolts that hold stuff like fender stays, license brackets, etc. on the bike will be replaced with new stainless steel parts. I'm not going to waste my time and money trying to find “correct” British Standard or Whitworth items, I'll go to the local industrial fastener supply house and buy a couple of boxes of 100 each, 1/4 NF and 5/16 NF (American National Fine Thread) bolts, nylon locking nuts and washers. That will cover pretty much everything on both bikes. Anything that bolts directly to the frames or engines will have to be original parts, and I think I have pretty much everything I need there. The stainless bolts will each be chucked in a hand drill, and rotated against a belt sander to give them the domed shape that's common on all the British motorcycles from the 50's and 60's. To finish them off, I can use a “wet” drum sander that's designed for gem and jewelry work. They should look just right when I'm done, and few will know that they're not the real thing.

So, that's where I'm at as of 1/19/2011. About 3 hours into the project.  I don't know how often I'll be updating this blog, and for the few out there who may actually find this not to be a waste of their time, just check back once in awhile. I'll update the blog as the project progresses.