Somebody please help.
I am trying to get the one or other thing produced for rigid Velocette’s and would prefer, if possible, to be able to initiate or keep (once established) the production process here in the UK, close to the market centre and close to central distribution-channels.
I am not able to manufacture anything myself in my present circumstances, my activities being restricted to pattern-making for the foundry industry, including core-boxes. I can also do a little turning, at present restricted to a throw of about seven inches, which precludes working on brakes, I’m afraid.
Well, motorcycles are not made entirely of castings and once cast properly, those finished castings still have to be machined in some way or other before they can actually be fitted and used. When I design and make patterns, I mount them on boards with separate runners, to ensure through thorough testing, an absolutely consistent result regarding dimensions, density and surface finish, also to determine the ideal material for the requirements of the job.
Here is a CAD drawing of the pattern showing the core but without the split in the pattern nor the added thickness where machining is required.
So, my main problem is finding someone not only capable of, but also willing to cast relatively short runs and together ‘putting the work in’ of initial testing and proving the integrity of the work, which is (hopefully!) only required at the outset. As any foundry-man will tell you, this can be a time-consuming process, depending on the particular expertise of the ‘shop’ doing the work. Close cooperation with the pattern-shop is also required and at the beginning a number of minor modifications to the runner-system may be required, before a casting comes out ‘just right’.
Compound to this that traditional sand-casting foundries tend to specialise in ferrous and non-ferrous castings, further broken down into a separation of iron and steel and maybe aluminium light-alloys or those containing (or NOT!) magnesium… and of course the ‘heavy metals’ like brass and bronze etc. and the story becomes potentially confusing and confusing. Even confusinger is the further splitting and specialisation in lost-wax and ‘die-casting’… which for most of our requirements is irrelevant.
Unfortunately, foundries of any kind are few and far between in the non-motor-vehicle-manufacturing environment and even there they are disappearing due to ‘environmental’ legislation (arguable) and so finding someone to do anything other than large quantities is almost impossible and has also become expensive (a secondary issue, quite frankly – compared to the cost of pattern-making, anyway)
So that is the first problem in a nutshell.
Number two is what I would quaintly call tin-bashing (sorry!). After castings the next largest group of items making up a bike are fabricated in some way from sheet material, in the old days steel and later, of course, incorporating some aluminium sheet, especially for mudguards and fuel-tanks. Specialist tank-builders and -repairers are a rare breed indeed, and those that make, don’t necessarily repair and vice-versa. Smaller parts like oil-tanks, tool-boxes, chain-guards and the like are usually not quite so bothersome to find someone to make, but mudguards present a different problem altogether. Without specialised and dedicated (and expensive, space-devouring-) machinery, the process is just so hit-and-miss and requires a disproportionate amount of time to get right and so becomes prohibitively expensive. Due to the large number of variations in cross-section, length, radius and structural supports, ribs, beading and edges, the number of configurations is sheer confusing!
Closely related to those parts above, are the plethora of different mudguard-stays and other parts made of steel tubing, which have to correspond to differing profiles and radii, too, so each by no means ‘universal’ in their application.
Wheel-building also comes under manufacture, I suppose, but there doesn’t seem to be such a great problem there, as there are many trials- and cross- bike shops that still offer this as a service. Here it is imperative to go armed with the correct offsets etc so that they can do the job properly, even perhaps having to also supply them with the parts, which are readily available from a few reliable sources.
I don’t wish at this stage to delve deeper into the field of rebuilds, as it is simply vast: the number of (necessary) splits into the various different areas of engineering and electrical items is simply immense and the bandwidth of services offered by each is from extremely narrow to vast, just to confuse matters further. Engine, fuel-system, gearbox, clutch, ignition, lighting, running-gear, tinware and finishing (‘paint’) being common demarcations, this is by no means an exhaustive list of sub-categories and specialisation that are possible…
As mentioned in earlier blogs, I am having immense problems getting ANY work done for me. I have had answers to my queries ranging from disbelief to rudeness, from vague promises to laughter, none of which found remotely helpful. When I mention the quantities initially required, or the standard of materials or finish, THAT is when it becomes ‘sensitive’. Usually the requirement from the other side is a commitment to production runs over and above the total production figures for Velocette over 20 years, or prices in a similar range or delivery-dates beyond my life-expectancy!
Is there a solution to this problem? Does anybody out there here my cry for help?
I am already working on some castings/patterns for some parts of the Webb heavyweight forks and other parts and am ready to ‘farm out’ some other parts that I see sadly misrepresented as exact replicas on eBay and also at retail outlets.
The trouble here, as usual, is the ‘well it’s all I can get, so you’ll have to make do’ attitude of the wholesaler and retailers alike.
I would like to start small, perhaps with a tube-bender capable of making up the stays for the front and rear mudguards on rigid models (so for the MOV/MAC, MSS/KTS, KSS MkI and II and any GTPs out there with round stays) in stainless and the headlamp-stays for Webb and Dowty forks for the 8-inch headlamp (yes, I know that the Webb ones weren’t tubular originally, but they do need to be).
Maybe 10 sets of each to ‘test’ and see how they fare in the marketplace? Each of the models DO require different stays and there is definitely NOT a one-size-fits-all solution, any more than there is with the mudguards, another ugly story that has to be retold from the start…
Then we have the famous mudguard story propagated by our fiends on the Indian sub-continent… MOV/MAC guards are DIFFERENT to the MSS/KTS guards, as are the KSS ones. They are NOT the same, and the differences are not only in where the holes are drilled! The two frames are entirely different, as is the proximity of the rear guard to the chaincase, for a start. The KSS ones are completely different, being of different width and section, NOT having a rib down the centre and of course different diameter to the other models, too! (another reason for the stays being incompatible…)
And there is NO EXCUSE for them not fitting, if they are constructed to fit on an original frame. If they fit on one, they will fit ANY of the original frames of the same model, without question, so why are they so inconsistent? (the same goes for the fit of petrol-tanks, just by the way…)
Another question… Why they should already be corroded on arrival (even the primed ones) beats me… the excuse offered on the Velocette technical forum by the manufacturer (who has been very quiet since the following comment was made…), that they “can’t get the material of the same specification and quality of the originals” is a non-starter, of course… in the meantime, there is a much wider and potentially much BETTER range of material specifications available – at a relatively LOWER price…
There are plenty of other parts that need desperately to be made readily available (some brake-shoes come to mind!) and I am open to suggestions. I cannot make them all myself, but I am glad to be the initiator of and to oversee production and distribution of ANY part, no matter how it is manufactured,
SO HERE IS THE CHALLENGE:
Is there anybody out there WILLING AND ABLE
…to co-operate in short-term, short-run manufacture of parts that will need to be produced from now until forever?
Low volume per year, but basically until the end of time?? These bikes will be around forever and even if they are ‘legislated out of existence’ for daily use, there will ALWAYS be a market, even if slow-moving.
Not forgetting that there is a huge number of un-restored or damaged bikes languishing in sheds and workshops, only because certain parts are not available to ‘get them on the road’ again… I suspect that damaged or incomplete front forks would also make up a large proportion of the figure…
Yes, I shall soon be establishing a base in the Ukraine to be closer to possible production in Poland and the Ukraine (where legislation is not quite so restrictive and the good old pattern-shops and foundries still exist en masse), nonetheless, I would still prefer to have a capability here “at home”…
© peter gouws 2014