View Full Version : Restorations.

Valentine One Radar Detector

02-15-2008, 02:33 PM
Restorating a classic motorcycle is a satisfying project. Here is a partly serious partly humourous guide to the ions and outs of restoration. Read it, have a chuckle, maybe give a wry smile or two. But, if you have been there and done that, let us hear about it and see the pictures of your successes and disasters. My grateful thanks to Cedric Norman at http://www.classicbikes.org.uk who gave me permission to reprint his article. If you are interested in classic bikes, visit Cedric's site, it is a mine of useful information.


Renovation - Where to start

You are the proud owner of a motorbike but you would like it to shine a little more, get rid of that rusty rim or do up that faded scratched paint work. Where do you start? It seems an impossible task! Can I do it myself? Over the years I have seen many restorations, some from a box of rusty bits, others professionally done at a cost to their owner. So I thought I would put down a few words to help the owner who is asking these questions.

Firstly take a good long look at your bike, your bank balance, your family and your work commitments.

Know your bike

Next get whatever books and photo's you can of the bike you have. You will find a parts book invaluable. The workshop manual is also high on the list and there are several books about on the market, which tell you what you need to know. The key here is to get to know your bike and the bit's that make it work. Make a list of suppliers for the various parts that you will need and talk to other owners who have restored their bikes before you. There is nothing new under the sun, so learn from the experience of the years. Find out where the shows and auto-jumbles are, as you will not be able to buy all the bits brand new (Remember the Star is a good source of knowledge for suppliers and the BSA Bazaar).

Set your goal

Now decide what you want to achieve. Are you a purist, who wants every detail restored back to its original state? Are you a practicalist who wants a good looking bike that can be used on the road and is reliable? Or do you want to build yourself the Perfect bike by changing the few details that made your BSA not quite perfect and adding an alloy tank and clip-on's for style. Remember rule 'e' you will not please everybody, which ever route you take.

What tools?

What tools do you need? Well you will certainly need spanners, screwdrivers, allen keys, old cloths, small plastic bags, labels, etc. But there are some special tools, which will hopefully be identified in the Workshop Manual and you will find that you cannot buy them all (remember BSA when under some 30 years ago and made their own tools as well as bikes), although quite a number are now available. A couple of tips, buy good quality tools, as they will last and also do less damage to your precious parts and get the right tools for the job in hand (A hammer & chisel should be a last resort, not a universal device).

Set out your stall

Where are you going to do the work? The dinning room may be a bit contentious, although the rationale that it is convenient as it is next to the kitchen where the parts can be cleaned is understood. Maybe a garage or garden shed, with lighting and heating for the long cold autumn & spring days (most people give up in the winter) and power for the electric tools, which make light work of some tasks. Remember that you are going to need at least three times the area that you bike normally takes.

What shall I do first?

OK, ready to go. Well there is another decision you have to make. Which order? Do you do the engine or the chassis first? Also are you going to do the whole job or part? You may decide to renovate the chassis and send the engine off to a specialist for a rebuild maybe with some technical improvements (which is OK providing you are not a purist).

Take lots of photos.

Oh, one last thing! You will need a camera if you are wise. Take as many photos' as you can. Every angle you can think of. Every detail, however small. These should include Front, side, rear, other side, close-ups of the tank, petrol tap, pipe to the carb, front brake, cable runs, mudguard, stays, exhaust brackets and pipe, brake pedal, brake light switch, centre stand spring/mechanism (both up and down), side stand, decals on the oil tank, rear brake, chain guard, foot pegs, headlamp nacelle, speedo mounts. These are just the start. You should take a photo whenever you remove parts like the tank and the seat, which will reveal the coil & battery positions, also the oil tank mountings, etc. You may think I am mad, but I guarantee that in six months time you will be looking to find out how the centre stand mechanism worked or where the clutch cable went?

Restoration Rules

1) Upon commencing the restoration tell the family and friends which is the most important. They are sure to ask once you have started.

2) Always triple the money you estimate the restoration will need.

3) Always quadruple the time the restoration will need.

4) Remember that the man with the part you most desperately need will have disposed of it last week.

5) Accept the fact that however good the finished product, an ?Expert? will always find fault.

(Courtesy of the Birdwood Museum in South Australia.)

Further Restoration Rules

a) If you add on parts to make up a minimum order, the company will have the extra parts, but not the bit you desperately need.

b) The date of your bike was manufactured will be dead on the change over date for the part you need.

c) If you need a gearbox part, your machine will turn out to be one of only three ever fitted with the 6-speed, slick-shift, pre-select, auto
synchromesh, delta hypoid gearbox.

d) No other machine of your type was ever fitted with electric's that yours has.

e) Upon stripping your engine you will find that your cylinder bores are in perfect condition. Unless they have already been bored to maximum oversize.

f) If you have 12 critical holes to drill, the first eleven will go fine, the drill will snap off deep in the 12th.

g) The seized bolt you have just snapped off turns out to be a left hand thread for no reason at all.

h) The guy not only disposed of the part you most desperately needed last week, but he actually scrapped it.

i) Take loads of photos before you pull apart. 4 years later you won't even remember what the bike looked like!

(Courtesy of George Gerc & Mark Flett learnt from Bitter Experience.)

Sods Law

1) If it can go wrong or get worse, it will. The part you drop will always fall down a drain or into a crack.

2) If all else fails ? Start from scratch and try to remember where you went wrong, and learn from your mistakes, because
you're going make a stack of new ones each time.

3) No matter how many times you have removed and refitted your parts they never seem to go back on in the order you put them on last time.

4) That special tool you see in the same place every day will have disappeared the day you most need it, only to turn up a fortnight after you
have completed the job.

5) Buying a ?Basket Case? because it was cheap, is going to cost you more time and money to restore than going out and buying a concourse
bike that?s on the road.

6) We never learn ?. A week or two after our nightmare re-build is completed we go out and buy another ?Basket Case?. Because it was cheap
and it will be in mint condition inside a fortnight at no more cost than a few fish & chip dinners and a tin of Hammerite.

7) The Wife wants to know why there are engine-cases on the draining board, oily sludge in the sink, what happened to her favourite
tea-towel and her new family sized bottle of Fairly liquid.

8 ) The day you buy that very expensive rare part you will find it a lot cheaper else were, or more likely, you find the same part in the bottom
of your parts box, even though you have emptied it 3 times and not seen it before.

9) No matter how good your memory is, you go to an auto-jumble and completely forget what you went to buy.

(Courtesy of Dominic Tasker)

Words of Hope and Encouragement

Some blokes just settle down into a life of drudgery with only a few well chosen phrases to get by , like, ?Yes dear? and ?Wonderful your Mother is coming to stay?.

REMEMBER ! No matter how bleak the outlook is, 'There is always someone worse off than yourself' .

Things generally look better in the morning.

When you look at the finished bike, it will all have been worth it.


02-16-2008, 03:19 PM
I love it!

Having been through this drill quite recently, I can only add "amen" to much of what is written here!